Hudson

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So, I made a baby. He’s resting up against me, propped up with pillows, after he fell asleep during a feeding.

I made his feet. I made his tiny hands, I made his lopsided ears, and my heartburn made the healthy layer of hair that covers his whole body and gives him little sideburns. For 39 weeks, I sculpted and created this specimen. Last night I realized I recognized this boy on the outside to be the same boy as the one on the inside. He’s the same boy that didn’t kick much, but instead dragged his foot across my tummy like a matchbox car while I chased it around with my fingers. This is the same boy that I made.

All That I’ve Met

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A few days ago, I brought Maeby inside from a morning piddle and found my grandma with her arm around my father singing, “My home’s in Montana, I wear a bandana, my spurs are silver, my pony is grey! When riding the ranges, my luck never changes, oh yippee ki, yippee ki, yippee ki-yay!”

She’s commissioned the entire family to learn it while she stays with us this winter. Recently, we were all indulgently singing along, and my father pulled up a quiet Youtube video of ambulance sirens which could only be heard by Maeby. The sirens prompted Maeby to howl along while the rest of us were Yippee Ki-Yaying. We all giggled happily afterwards, but there was a subtle profundity to the experience too.

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I woke up this morning in, what I realized too late, is my very favorite place in the entire world. I’m actually still here. I have to soak it up, because I’m here for the last time.

I’m in the middle of my bed, snuggled in between my husband, who’s arm is tucked under mine like a teddy bear, and Maeby, who has been grunting lately when she doesn’t get her way. She just let out an expressive groan when I dove (gently) under her belly to find my cell phone so I could capture this moment with words. Technically, there’s a baby in the middle with me too. He’s doing little flips in my tummy as we speak. 

Hard Things Can Also Be Good

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Tonight on my way home from tutoring, I saw a hardened old, grocery store clerk snarl at another employee while arranging a strange winter display of watermelon outside the storefront. And just when my mind was made up about said curmudgeonly store clerk, I watched him secretly slip an ice cube from his watermelon display to an aging golden retriever passing by on the street. It was a quick reversal of thoughts–from resenting this old man for yelling publicly at a coworker, to loving him for sharing an ice cube.   Of course as frequently happens when a pregnant person experiences two emotions too close together, this little gesture made me tear up at the crosswalk between 92nd and 93rd street. 

Kangaroo Testicles

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“Good luck, sweetie,” my mom told me, “I’ll rub my kangaroo testicles for you.”

She said it so off-hand, as though this were a perfectly normal thing to do for your daughter.

Of course I spluttered back, which I am sure was gratifying for her. Apparently my mom’s friends from Australia sent her a pair of Kangaroo Testicles, the Australian equivalent of a rabbit foot?

“I love them,” she admitted. “Sometimes I hang them from my chandelier to see if the ladies during my book club notice. Here, I’ll send you a picture.”

She forgot for a few hours but then finally did send me the photo of her good luck charm. I felt strangely–so strangely–comforted. Maybe Kangaroo Testicles would do just the trick.

I’ve never been one to believe in luck, to be honest. I believed in hard work, and grit, and sure things. That’s part of the reason why I went into teaching. Teaching was a defined path with a clear outcome–one that could be obtained by hard work and grit. And I think, save for a few tired weeks, I was mostly a good teacher.

I’ve dreamed up blog posts where I offer up an explanation the hiatus I’m taking from teaching, but I’ve agonized about how to write them. Ultimately I realized that I don’t really owe anyone an explanation, and what’s more, I couldn’t give you a great one except that taking a break felt like the right thing to do. And Un/Fortunately, taking this break has forced me to take a little step onto an unknown ledge. A ledge that I’ve always steered far away from.

I’m learning what it’s like to sit in uncertainty, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t deeply uncomfortable. What I will say for myself is that I’ve gotten much closer to a part of myself that I’ve always liked maybe even more than my teacher self-my writer self.

I’ve done some great freelancing in the past, but I’m hoping to break into more professional writer circles, so I’m looking to pick up a few more freelance gigs. I’m looking for leads. I’m going to (gulp) network. Here I am, on the edge of discomfort, asking any of you for leads.

I think I am going to need my own pair of Kangaroo Testicles.

Teachers are Like Teachers

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To the Graduating Class of NEST+m,

I like to put the cap of a pen back on after I’ve written something decisive. Similarly, I’d like to put a cap on this year, something tidy to end a decisive year of discovery. But I’m finding that “tidy” just won’t do. There was nothing TIDY about this year of English, yours or mine. This year might have looked like a cursive sentence written by a third grader. Messy, sure, but a finished product that someone could be proud of.

Dearest Utah

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Utah Valley experiences something called “Inversion.” It has something to do with the Great Salt Lake and pollution. Scientifically, I can’t explain it to you, but imageistically, it looks like you are peering into the distance with a pair of glasses covered in soot. Inversion feels like crunching six or seven flecks of sand between your teeth. Inversion is like bugs on a windshield hiding a really great view.

I’ve been Captained, and I’m a Puddle of Happiness

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There’s something completely irresolute about finals week; as such, unless explicitly directed, I avoid giving final exams. Instead, I like to leave my students thinking about the final chapter of their high school career with something less final and more… open-ended, more upbeat. I want my students to leave my literature class thinking about morals and the self–because, at least for me, that’s what literature actually is–words that express morals and self, and those concepts can’t really be tested by an end of year exam.

Resigned.

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Today I submitted my official letter of resignation from Timpview High School, but I forgot to sign it. I marched down to the main office, letter folded crisply, neatly–decisively. I handed over my letter to Michelle, the kindly office secretary, with resolve and explained that it hadn’t been an easy choice, “but I really can’t pass an opportunity like this up.”