Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Because guess who is injured yet again. This time it's the top of my left foot. I mention briefly how my calf muscles have locked up and my left foot was bothering me, but I woke up this morning and found myself hobbling to get anywhere. It honestly feels like someone drove their heel into the top of my foot and broke a bone. Which begs the question: have I been getting into street fights in my sleep? Because I can't figure out any other way I'm getting this random-ass injuries.
Again, it is very frustrating to have to sit out again, especially after spending a week on vacation. The 16-miler is in three weeks and I've yet to run any farther than 10 since my half-marathon. Part of me is hoping for a snow delay, even though there's a good chance that the snow delay will land on a day I have classes.
I think the most frustrating part is the fact that this is just more proof that I'm getting old. I'm not at my physical peak, and, what's worse, I didn't take advantage of said physical peak. I was just a standard teenager/college student who thought so much of herself when she would go on the elliptical for a whole 30 minutes. And now I'm 27, finally interested in what the human body is capable of, and I'm getting injured left and right. For fuck's sake, there was no such thing as sore legs when I ran track, even on the days they'd surprise us sprinters with a 3-mile run.
But, really, the only thing I can do is give myself the rest I need. Being mad that I'm not a spring chicken anymore isn't going to get me anywhere. I just need to do some yoga (and do my homework for my impending yoga class), relax, enjoy New Year's Eve, and see where life takes me. Because, as I'll recap in my crafts blog, I went on quite the journey in 2013, figuratively and literally.
Monday, December 30, 2013
It's going to be a busy couple of weeks. I start up my new tai chi place next week. There is a second place that has been alternating between coming up with a huge promotional plan and dragging their feet. I continue to write for Thought Catalog, only now I'm trying to space out my essays in a way that would work for the potential release of my e-book. And then there's my modeling memoirs. Granted, e-book through Thought Catalog is on a much lower level than, say, a nationally published trade paperback, but I still want it in its best shape. I've been chatting with one of the producers at Thought Catalog and he's already passed word to the publication department, which really puts the pressure on for me to deliver.
And then there's the Derry 16-Miler, which, to be honest, I still don't know how I'm going to be ready in time. I've somehow injured the top of my left foot and, combine that with dual muscle cramps in my calves and an ice storm, turning the roads into an ice rink, I'm already a day or two behind in my back-up-to-my-back-up training schedule. But, eh, what can you do.
It's been over a month since I've touched my third manuscript, and I really want to get back into writing it. I'm a solid 2/3rds of the way done, which is simultaneously exhilarating and frustrating as all getout. It's the 10-mile mark on the 16-miler, if you will. You've accomplished so much and you're closer to the finish line than where you originally started, but - fuck - you still have your work cut out for you.
And then, of course, there's this blog. Which, if you can't tell by the string of more personal diary-esque posts, is becoming a bit more difficult to keep up. But I'm inching in on the halfway mark, and like hell if I'm going to quit now. I'll seriously have nightmares where I find out that I forgot a day.
But I like that. I like being busy. I like having layers when it comes to what I put on my plate. Or, should I say, I like having had so many pokers in the fire. I like being able to look back and go, "Look at all the stuff I was able to accomplish. Look at what I could do."
There are some other plans in the works, but, again, man makes plans and God laughs, so perhaps a later time I'll be discussing those.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
It is the one sport that I will watch obsessively. So help me God, from a free Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 to a pay-per-view gem, I am there. I'll miss hockey games (even Bruins games). I'll miss a LOT of football games. But I won't miss fight nights.
Last night cemented the fact that 2013 was quite possibly the craziest year for fighting. In 2013, we've seen a heavyweight fight go five rounds in an incredible display of technique (which just does not happen with heavyweight fights), we've watched guaranteed champions lose their belt, keep their belt by the skin of their teeth, defend their belt, only to find out that they had broken their toe in the middle of a round (Google "Jon Jones Broken Toe" to see what I mean). We watched George St. Pierre -- arguably one of the best fighters ever -- step down from his post and we watched as Anderson Silva -- also arguable one of the best fighters ever -- get knocked out after clowning around in his fight.
And last night? We watched Ronda Rousey go more than one round in a very technical and precise fight with Meisha Tate.
Oh, and Anderson Silva broke his fucking leg on Weidman's knee.
Everyone knew that Ronda Rousey was going to win her fight. No one knew who was going to win in the Silva/Weidman rematch. And definitely no one expected the fight to end with Anderson swinging a leg, catching it on Weidman's knee, and splitting it clean it half.
Silva has powerful kicks. He's kicked a man flat-flooted against the chest and broken his ribs (and stopping the fight). So I'm not surprised that he has enough force to break one of his legs if the kick is interrupted by a solid force. But that didn't stop the horrified look on my face as I watched Silva's knee go in one direction and the shin go in another.
This year has been an insane year for fighting. From the rise of women's MMA to the downfall of many a beloved fighter. This last card for 2013 was filled with incredible fights, culminating in one of the biggest surprise endings ever. I can only imagine what 2014 will have in store.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Is this the meaning of life? Reenacting Sisyphus, pushing our burdens uphill, fruitlessly hoping we’ll make it to the top, only to watch it all tumble back? Is the quest for happiness nothing more than the walk back down, counting our footsteps, calculating just how far we have to go until we’re happy again?
I’m sorry, Zeus, but I’m leaving my post. The quest for happiness is a misguided one and I have no interest in pushing the boulder anymore.
Some would be so naïve to say that I’ve left this journey because I am somehow already there. I don’t need to be Sisyphus if I’m already at the top, right? If you can check three or more things of the socially accepted list of accomplishments, then, congratulations, you have arrived at your destination. They point this out to me like I’m not already aware of my luck.
And I am lucky. Absurdly lucky. Even by First World standards, I’ve been given a life that I probably do not deserve. I am lucky. But not necessarily happy. At least not – especially not – all the time.
I’ve given up the quest for happiness because no one is happy all the time. One cannot hope to be happy all the time. Happiness is an emotion, one that will come and go, like sadness and anger and frustration. How exhausting life would be if we scrambled for a constant feeling of desperation the way we do for happiness. I do not want to scramble for happiness, eschewing all other emotions because they’re somehow harder to process. Happiness is not a destination; it’s a type of weather we experience while on the road.
I’m on a new quest: a quest for peace of mind. A quest to find an inner balance that can take the good, the bad, the melancholy, the tragic, the beautiful – take it in equally and see that the whole range of human emotions and experiences aren’t necessarily sectioned off in such neat categories. I’m on a quest to live in the present with my eyes wide open, thinking no less of myself if I am laughing or crying or sighing wearily.
I’m on a quest for connecting with the rest of the world. As Bishop Desmond Tutu once said: I cannot be human on my own. I want to take that step forward and be in the universe. I want to help others and maybe through kindness and charity and providing a moment of happiness for others, I find meaning and satisfaction and quite possibly a moment or two of happiness for myself.
I’m in the pursuit of life as music. Happiness is one note, striking sharp or flat and not much more. I want to experience and appreciate life the way I appreciate and experience music, with the crescendos and decrescendos, the high notes and the low notes, the brief cacophony before the symphony unfolds. How foolhardy would it be to pursue of a note – one note – and demand it be played indefinitely?
I’ve given up the pursuit of happiness for the same reason I’m not in the pursuit of the C-sharp. It doesn’t matter if one note might be harder to come by then the others. In the end, it is just noise if it is all that is played.
In short: I’ve given up on the pursuit of noise. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of melody.
Friday, December 27, 2013
Today is our last day in Ohio. The week sped by, so much so that the gym/running routine we planned on ended up falling completely by the wayside. But that's all right: my right hip had been feeling slightly out of its socket and my left knee had been giving me trouble, so it was nice to take a week off, even if that means I only have 3 weeks to train for the 16-miler.
Aside from events and gettogethers (and shooting a rifle outside in a ditch, but that's for another time), it's been a flurry of emails and order forms and preparation for the New Year. It's been a constant stream of emailing my yoga instructor, my future teacher, the place I will be teaching tai chi at and the place I used to teach tai chi at. I've been emailing one of the producers at Thought Catalog and getting things finalized for me to submit my modeling memoir to them (which is FINALLY fully-written and in the first stages of editing) as well as submitting various essays (and thinking up various essays). The latter part has been incredibly difficult: I am a firm believer in writing only because you have something to say, not because you want to say something, but I want to keep my presence on the website open, making people more likely to buy my (e)book.
The nice thing is, is if I get any inclination, any idea, I can just stream-of-conscious write it here until I feel like I have a decent base, polish it up, and send it. This blog idea was probably one of the best ideas I had for 2013, second only to leaving teaching/picking up a tai chi gig.
Our goal is to make it back to New England by nightfall. If we don't, we'll stay at a hotel and try again in the morning. Although no intentional pitstops in Hershey, PE, this time around =)
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Then I found out that my favorite yoga studio was hosting a teacher training for 2014. The teacher in charge came down to our studio to run a Saturday morning class (along with a Q&A about the training afterward). I went in only for the class, as we had just purchased a house (with a sudden and unexpected jump in our closing costs), I was only teaching a few classes a week (and the model jobs were sporadic at best), and were gearing up to buy a second car. It made little sense to spend thousands of dollars on yet more classes, especially since that was what I had did three years prior to become certified as a teacher in Massachusetts (and look where all that additional education led me). I enjoyed the class, joked around with the other yoga students I knew, and left.
But leaving felt wrong, to be perfectly honest. I went back feeling like I departed from a party just as it was about to get good. Gut feelings don't put money in the bank, but I couldn't ignore it.
Even though you can't ignore your gut, you can forgo any actions based on your gut. The deadline for enrollment came and went and I was still very much at home, not signed up for the teacher training. I thought, "Next year, next year," and then I thought about how, next year, there's a very high chance that I'll be trying for children, and there's nothing more frustrating than having to drop out of something because of a pregnancy. I shrugged my shoulders, realizing that the timeline for "things to do before kids" was getting unmistakably short, and decided that maybe yoga training would just be on the back burner indefinitely.
Two weeks after the deadline, we finally bought our second car. We went to Target, bought a big red bow (big for presents, but comically short for cars. Because Lexuses get the big bows and Subarus get the Target ones), and declared Merry Christmas. We decided that the car was essentially "our" Christmas present, and vowed to get relatively small things for each other come actual Christmas time ("small" being the relative term, as both my husband and I tend to go overboard on presents if we're not given parameters).
Cut to Christmas. My husband received a bunch of comedy books, as well as a Star Wars sound effect machine (which coincided nicely with what his brother and wife got him, but that's for another time). I opened my box to see a pile of textbooks and the new student questionnaire. I read the page over, not really processing what I was reading, and promptly looked up at my husband with tears in my eyes.
"Is this the teacher training?"
As my husband so puts it, he gave me the gift of homework. I had to chuckle, because a homework assignment was actually sent out two weeks prior for the first day of school -- which happens to be next Saturday, the 4th. It reminds me of college, getting a huge reading assignment to finish in days. It's going to be a lot different than college was: science was never my strongsuit and teacher training focuses heavily on anatomy. But I'm ready for it. I'm ready to read and take notes and do what it takes to become a registered yoga teacher.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
To be honest, I'm so bleeding heart liberal when it comes to religion that I don't even like the term "salvation", because that implies a path away from hell -- something I do not think exists (and Pope Francis is with me on this one, too). The same way I don't think God is the type of god to take attendance at church, I don't think God would create this complex system of death and birth, survival and killing, and then say, "Yeah, but unless you do this, this, and this, you are going to suffer forever."
I believe in original sin, but not the biblical kind. I believe in a type of evolutionary original sin, where everyone in the present day has that potential for evil already built into their DNA, thanks to years and years and years of natural selection. And I don't think that abiding by a specific set of rituals will magically abate that inner evil.
Here is how I see religion: I believe in God. I believe in an entity who created all this, who is omnipotent and omniscient. I believe that there is a lot more going on than we can even hope to understand -- the same way there is more going on in the universe than we could even hope to understand. After that: ideas. I got some ideas. Ideas that I think are good ideas, but ideas I'm willing to change if the mindset calls for it.
One of those ideas is in the contradictory idea of a million "right" religions -- including agnosticism and atheism. As I see it, if the Christian God can be God and the Trinity, if Jesus can be man and Son of God and God Himself -- then why not have an infinite set of paths towards salvation (or enlightenment, or not having a shitty life, etc), all of which proclaim, "THIS IS THE RIGHT AND ONLY WAY!" and all be correct at the exact same time?
Pope Francis also talks about how people are so obsessed with dogma that they are ignoring the most important facet of Christianity: love. FINALLY, someone in charge says it. Stop worrying about what every minute detail and action the Bible says is right and wrong and start loving thy neighbor.
(Sidenote, I find it very interesting that people like to point to the "gays are bad" part of the bible, decide it is not up for discussion ... but, oh, bring up the, "Call no man rabbi, call no man priest, for you have one rabbi, one priest and that is the Lord," and suddenly shit is up for interpretation.)
And on that very opinionated note: Merry Christmas everyone!
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Day 141 of 365: 10 Ways to Make Sure a Person Never Falls in Love with Someone You Want Them to Fall in Love With
2. Tell them that they need to fall in love with the Person right now or really bad things are going to happen to them, especially after they die.
3. Use “proof” as to why they should fall in love with that Person. Point to literature that they might not believe in. Point to it often. And when they tell you that they don’t necessarily believe the proof, tell them that they’re wrong – and point to another section of that literature to prove it.
4. Exclude them from gatherings, conversations, and events because they don’t love that Person. Not-so-subtly hint that you’ll only really include them again once they accept the Person into their heart.
5. Commit acts of hatred, bigotry, prejudice, and violence in the name of that Person. Swear up and down that you do it because you know that the Person would approve of your actions.
6. Tell them that any act that isn’t done for that Person is a not-okay action. If you’re singing, you better be singing about that Person. If you’re reading, you better be reading about that Person. If they’re not, tell them that they are horrible human beings.
7. Tell them that receiving that Person’s love and kindness is kind of like an exclusive club. If you don’t fit the very specific requirements, then you don’t truly love that Person. But it’s okay: that Person will love you anyway, so long as you change.
8. Decide you know everything this Person stands for and believes in. Decide nothing is up for interpretation, decided that things are always in black and white, and inflict this confidence on everyone you know.
9. Say that everything that is wrong with the world is because more people aren’t in love with the Person. It doesn’t matter that people say they’re in love and still do horrible things anyway. There is no other explanation other than Person-less-ness.
10. Berate them when you find out that they once loved that Person -- or at least tried to -- but found that they couldn’t. Don’t they know that things like love and belief are as much of a choice as the type of pants you put on in the morning? Tell them to go through the motions anyway. Tell them that it’s better that way; tell them they’ll be punished if they are true to how they feel and do not follow, or love, or believe in that Person.
And for extra credit: see nothing wrong with how you conduct yourself in the name of that Person. Ignore the blatant hypocrisy. Pat yourself on the back, even though, at the end of the day, you pushed more people away from the Person than towards. Because if they don’t love that Person, if they are going to be punished in the afterlife because they don’t have the Person in their hearts, that’s their problem. Not yours.
(snaps if you know what/Who I'm talking about.)
Monday, December 23, 2013
I've driven around Cleveland more times than I can count, but I've never been in Cleveland proper. Being a proper Bostonian (who sees anything west of the 495 loop as Thar-Be-Dragon-Town), I didn't think much of what Cleveland would look like. I remembered the houses from The Drew Carey Show and that was about it. So, much like Salt Lake City, I came in with next to no expectations for the city.
We drive into the downtown area and I'm shocked that it reminds me so much of Chicago. Much like how we drove into Salt Lake City and I was shocked at how beautiful of a city it was.
Preconceived notions are funny like that, especially when it comes to cities and towns. I remember going on downright missions with my old high school friends to other areas in New England after I moved to Nashua, if only to get a better feel for the all the different cities and town in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, etc.
And -- color me shocked -- I really enjoyed myself in Cleveland, the same way I enjoyed myself in Salt Lake City.
I don't really know what the point of this entry is, except you never know until you try -- or visit.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
It's almost like weather is a larger-than-life phenomenon that we cannot even hope to accurately predict.
In a way, I'm happy for the rain. There are few things as foolhardy as owning a white car in the middle of winter, and I appreciate the rain washing away the layers of filth and dirt and salt (which, interestingly enough, has made my car look a proper shade of gray. One might even say 50 shades. One might. But I wouldn't. Because that book is crap).
Plus, I am from New England. New England prides itself on making sure there isn't a white Christmas. We could have an absolute blizzard on Halloween, only to watch it melt just days before Christmas. Weather is unpredictable, and hoping for a white Christmas is a lot like hoping that you'll catch a double rainbow every Friday morning.
All I know is that I'm happy we didn't deal with any snow on our drive. Last year, it snowed just in time for Christmas. Which meant flights were grounded, delayed, canceled -- and our drive through Pennsylvania was hair-raising the say the least. So, as nice as a white Christmas is, I'll take a wet one over a hellish holiday commute.
Friday, December 20, 2013
My husband and I are on a trek out to the midwest. We decided to stop in Hershey, PE, and stay the night, using the long drive as a very thin excuse to enjoy all that Hershey has to offer (spoiler alert: it's chocolate).
We decided to find the cheapest hotel that had a king bed available (because that is what you need when both you and your husband hover around the 6 feet range). We knew that such economy rares would come at a price, but we weren't here for a pool and a balcony. We were here to rest up until we stuffed our face with confectionery sugar.
We should've known something was up when we walked in and our room was cold. No, not just cold: freezing. We walked in and felt no difference in the air from outside. We cranked up the heat and the room was still an igloo (sans large chunks of ice). It wasn't until we stepped into the bathroom and felt a breeze strong enough that you could fly a kite that we realized why the room wouldn't heat up. So we closed the door, prayed we wouldn't need a shower, and continued to shiver.
When the room finally warmed up and we were finally ready to go to sleep, we pulled back the covers, only to find that someone had tried to make the bed with a set of standard-sized sheets. Poorly. The fitted sheet was stretched beyond its means, and it still only covered half the mattress. The other sheet attempted to hide this fact by covering up the other half.
What transpired after was a night of restless sleep, filled with the room dipping to absurdly low temperatures, only to soar to absurdly high temperatures. I cocooned myself with the (standard-sized) blanket, which I am pretty sure was stolen from a high school shop class's emergency fire extinguishing set, only to toss the covers off and, on more than one occasion, give up on sleep and say, "Fuck this; I'm going on Twitter."
It's a good thing that we're in Hershey, PE. I'm gonna need a lot of chocolate to keep me awake for the rest of today.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Last week, my current employer told me to give the second yoga studio a call, because the website had never been updated and they hadn't had a tai chi instructor in quite some time. After a few emails, a few phone calls, and a meeting later, I was set for teaching at the studio in the new year.
It feels good to finally have a place to touch down in the new year. With everything constantly being up in the air like it has been, losing the yoga studio made things just that much more chaotic. And it only got worse as I went from place to place, and either got rejected or the runaround. There's still a lot that needs to get sorted out, a lot that needs to be ready in time for the new year, but it's good to finally have a place that, at least for now, I can call my own.
This is a really crappy blog post, but I'm about to drive 12 hours to Ohio, so take it as you will.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Yesterday was just not a good day for running. The temperature that morning was -6*F, reaching up to a whooping 5*F by the afternoon. A storm was approaching. I was already a day behind in my schedule running, and it was starting to look like yesterday would not be a running day, either. I factored in my lack of training, my shortened runs due to the weather/setting sun, and the fact that I would be gone for a week for Christmas. I decided that it was time to admit defeat and pull out of the race.
I go on the website, and in big bold letters I see: NO REFUNDS FOR ENTRY FEE.
Well, now. That was enough to force me to prep up, lace up, and run.
I decided then that, no matter what, I was going to participate in that race. Maybe I'd have to bow out halfway through. Maybe I'd be the very last person to cross the finish line. But, regardless, I'm going to do it.
It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from The Ultimate Fighter. The idea that "failure in not an option" is ridiculous. Failure is always an option. It's the most readily available option. But you have to make a choice: do you work hard or do you give up. Do you go down path A or path B.
So I might be on my hands and knees, crawling across the finish line come January, but, dammit, I'm going to do it. Because failure is always an option and I refuse to give up.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
You should date an unremarkable girl.
You’ll find her at the bar, glancing furtively around as she chats with her friends. Confirm that she is still smiling even when people are looking away. Buy her a drink. Make with the small talk. Find something to talk about, at least something that can count as a conversation in a loud, dark bar with the alcohol flowing through your respective veins. Make a joke. Watch her laugh, but never offer anything of her own in return. But that’s okay: you’re looking for an audience anyway, and who likes a heckler?
Stay until last call. Share a cab and wait until she’s in to sheepishly suggest going to your place. Watch her agree with a bit too much flippancy. Take her back to your place. Make love to her. Fuck her.
Call her back. Take her to dinner. Desperately find things in common with her. Give up and settle on the broad ideas. Good food. Enjoyable music. Having fun. Ask her about her career. Listen as she complains about her job and later admits that she spends most of her day on Facebook anyway. Ask about her hopes and dreams and get met with a shrug. Continue to date her.
Make sure she is as good as illiterate. Listen and breathe a sigh of relief as she admits that she hasn’t read anything that wasn’t required since she was in junior high. Facetiously roll your eyes with your buddies at the bar, recounting all the nights she made you watch her insipid reality shows. Go through the motions, but never really mean it. Because you know that she won’t question you if you’re out until too late. She won’t get upset if you drunk dial at 3 in the morning. She won’t even notice when your shirt smells like the perfume of another woman.
Decide that you should get married, because you have been dating for all this time and it would be considered a waste otherwise. Find a generic ring and slip it into her champagne during dinner at a fancy restaurant. Fumble through a minor speech and propose to this girl. Plan a wedding. Fight about the wedding. Get married. Buy a house and move in. Try to raise kids. Fail miserably at it.
Grow more restless and bored. Go on walks feeling far too ethereal, like you could blow away or disappear with the next gust of wind. Flirt with one of your co-workers. Start an affair. Be covert about it. Be less covert about it over time. Come home one night and find out that your co-worker was overcome by guilt and had told your wife everything.
Listen as she cries. Listen as she screams. Feel terrible, but mostly because you got caught and getting caught has led you here. Feel a surge of anger for your co-worker. Listen as she threatens to divorce you. Listen as she admits wanting a divorce the same way others admit a dirty secret. Listen as she suggests couples counseling. Listen as she suggests it again and again, each time with less gusto than before. Watch as she drops the subjects entirely, but sleeps just a little farther away from you in bed and sips her coffee just a little slower than before.
Take no stock of the life you two have made together. Find to day-to-day pleasures. Watch TV in another room. Start having your meals with your buddies at the bar. Shrug your shoulders and decide that you’re too old, too tired, too strapped for cash to get a proper divorce. Live this way until your existence becomes just as non-corporeal as you feel.
Do this, dammit, because you want nothing to do with the opposite. You want nothing to do with the girl who has passion running through her veins. You want nothing to do with the girl who experiences life intensely, who will claw at the marrow of life until she has gotten exactly what she has wanted. You don’t want to be burdened with the girl who feels deeply, who cries when the moment calls for it and laughs when the moment even hints at it. How exhausting it is to love a woman who loves back completely and unapologetically. How tiring it is when you have to think and compromise and be considerate of another's feelings. Who wants a strong woman when strength can mean stubbornness? Who wants a woman who wants so passionately when it can mean you might not always get your way?
And, for the love of God, avoid the girl who reads. The girl who reads has vocabulary. The girl who reads understands syntax. She can articulate the difference between the man who loves too much, the man who can’t love back, and the man who has never truly loved anything at all. She has the words already forming when she has something on her mind, and she doesn’t fear putting them out there.
She understands plot and story arcs. She has no time for tales that go nowhere and instead craves the rises and falls, the tension and the climax and the resolution. She wants people in her life that will challenge her and drive her forward, the same way the antagonist does for the protagonist. And if you hurt her – if you betray her? – she will leave you. She will break her heart even further and say goodbye, because that’s what you do when a story ends. She has no time to stick around, praying for an epilogue or a complete rewrite. She simply closes the book, places it back on the shelf, and walks away, regardless as to how hard she is crying.
This woman will be nothing but trouble and annoyance and you want nothing to do with her. So, for the love of God, date that illiterate, unremarkable girl. She’s the only one who is truly meant for you.
Monday, December 16, 2013
The owner of the yoga studio had gifts for us, partly as a Christmas present, partly as a "thank you for being my employee" present. It was a simple, smooth stone, with the words "Begin Again" engraved in it. We all started tearing up when we opened our gift, the owner included.
Everyone talks about starting over, turning a new leaf, creating a new chapter (and all other clichéd metaphors) with the new year. I feel like I've been beginning again (and again) for the last six months. And it's easy at time to feel completely lost with each new chapter. I swore I had my footing when I landed the tai chi position, only to realize that I needed to begin again.
And I am. My plans for the new year might be as scattered as my brain right now, but I'm still going forward. Things are going to fall apart, fall through, and fall by the wayside. And I'm excited for what is coming. Yeah, my yoga studio is closing down, but I might have my footing found somewhere else. Yeah, no agent is biting at my manuscripts, but I've already had two essays go viral (btw - that "To the Women Who Choose Not to Have Kids" essay? Over 250,000 shares and nearly a million views. Featured on Buzzfeed and everything. How do you like them apples.)
So there we go. Time to take the advice of a smooth stone and begin again.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
"Miss Anderson -- MMA just made society a more violent place!"
And, while it's easy to point out the hypocrisy of treating boxing like a gentleman's sport, to be watched with a cigar and a whiskey, while treating MMA like an illegal dogfighting ring, my focus is purely on the mindset that we need to ban things like professional fighting because they are making us violent people. Because the only thing more flawed than singling out MMA is using the argument that a violent sport makes us violent.
Why? Because it's operating under the assumption that we are a naturally peaceful species that gets whipped up into violent frenzies due to evil outside forces. And maybe we once were. But our ancestors soon killed them off when resources got scarce.
We are not a peaceful species. Not too long ago, a water main break occurred in my hometown, forcing the city to switch to its reserves. The water still flowed through our taps, and the likelihood that it was at all contaminated was incredibly small. And even if it were, 3 minutes of boiling and any microbial was dead. And if you took your chances and guessed wrong, the worst you would get was an upset stomach. And still, people flocked to the supermarkets, crowding around the bottle water aisle, fighting over the last case of Poland Spring. People were getting punched out over spring water -- simply because there was a slight chance that the water that was still coming through our pipes might make you have to go to the bathroom.
The tiniest little blip in our structured, civilized way of living and people start swinging fists. And we don't even need a disruption in our day-to-day lives: the number of people assaulted, wounded, arrest -- even killed -- on Black Friday this year was downright unfathomable. Forget hoarding the bottle water: people were pulling knives because they wanted a good deal on an Elmo doll.
To reiterate for the folks at home: we are not a peaceful species.
We are around today because our ancestors were aggressive, territorial, jealous, and never fully satisfied. Crack open a history book to see what happens when one society stumbles upon another society that just happens to be a little less aggressive, or a little more trusting, or a little less able to kill indiscriminately. We all have this in us, and it doesn't take much for it to come out. If you're reading this and shaking your head, check your emotions next time you're stuck in rush hour traffic for hours on end and some douchecanoe nearly bangs into your car as they cut you off.
We are not a peaceful species. To deny it is to deny a huge part of who we are at our most basic level. Violent sports will not make us violent if those tendencies were already there in the first place.
So, now that we've established that we are not peaceful, let's bring it back to MMA. Let's bring it back to boxing, to hockey, to football, to any sport where physical contact and force and a touch of violence meet. Let's look at these sports that require skill and strategy. Let's look at these sports where there are strict rules in place, overseen by referees and judges and a whole damn panel of experts. Let's look at these instances where it doesn't take too keen of an eye to see the art in "martial arts".
And let's look a little further into these professional fighters. Let's look at how they high-five and touch gloves before they start swinging those fists. Let's look at how, when the last round is over, they are shaking each others' hands and giving hugs. Take a second to appreciate that pattern of respect, violence, admiration. Because that right there encompasses the beautiful dynamic of what it means to be a human in 15 short minutes.
We are aggressive, territorial, violent creatures with a huge capacity to love and respect and admire. We are flawed, greedy creatures who want to do right in this world, whatever that "right" might be to them. It is the coolest, most interesting part of the human condition and we ignore it so intensely, swearing up and down that we are all civilized now. That those honking their horn or kicking their feet are the different ones.
Watching and participating in violent sports is no more linked to our violence as a species as Hungry Hungry Hippos is linked to the obesity epidemic. And who knows: maybe if we accept that we all have that side of us, resting dormant in our climate-controlled homes and comparatively abundant supply of resources, maybe we can gain a better understanding of what makes us tick. Maybe we'll stop pretending we are something we are not, and instead find a way to coexist without immediately descending into said swinging fists when our easy way of life is disrupted.
Nah, you're right. Better to ban MMA.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Watch as the older females around you fuss over their own wedding. Scan through the wedding magazines they pile up in your mother's kitchen. Scan through the "inspiration binders" that accidentally get left behind at the frazzled bride tries to get everything together.
Meet the one you are destined to spend your life together with. Meet your life partner. Or meet someone you wouldn't mind marrying and figure you should since you're about that age and you guys have been together for so long anyway. Get engaged. Compare your engagement ring with every single one around you. Feel inadequate when it's not as big or as pretty.
Get bombarded with emails. Sign up for a million wedding websites. Be told that DIY weddings are the best. Feel inadequate when you hire vendors instead. Feel inadequate when you try making crafty things for your wedding, but fall short.
Have absolutely no idea what you want to do. Listen as wedding blogs tell you to go big, go small, go simple, go elegant, go fancy, go retro, go modern. Feel criticism when you forgo a traditional DJ. Feel criticism when you decide you want a traditional DJ. Feel criticism when you hire a live band or a string quartet or both.
Make a guest list. Realize it's too big. Realize it's too small. Feel guilt over those you aren't inviting. Feel guilt over the fact that you're inviting way too many people. Worry about it being too formal or too cozy. Consult the websites and become even more confused.
Try on dresses. Hear about the disdain for strapless a-line gowns. Hear about the disdain for cocktail dresses in lieu of wedding gowns. Bite your lip when dresses hug you wrong, or emphasize all the wrong areas. Pretend that you feel like a princess even if you feel like your waist is going to explode out of the corset, or your chest is a solid foot from the edge of the top of the bodice. Avoid all clichés while still being traditional and living up to this nagging voice in the back of your head telling you that you're falling short of the Perfect Wedding.
Worry over money. Have people invalidate and worsen the worry by telling you that you're spending way too much money on "a stupid party".
Process a million people's varying input at the exact same time. Listen as your mother wishes to invite the people she wants to invite. Listen as your co-worker clicks her tongue over the style and layout of your invitations. Be called extravagant by your cousin. Be called stingy with money by your sister. Take everything in with a smile, even as the corners of your mouth descend downwards.
Stress out. Be told not to stress out. Be told how juvenile weddings are. Be told that you're silly for getting so worked up over one. Watch as they nonchalantly shrug their shoulders and talk about how they won't be falling into the same traps that you are falling into. Be reminded that you're spending way too much money and you could've spent those thousands of dollars on something way more pragmatic.
Pay attention to the magazines, the Pinterest boards, all the wedding shows on premium cable. Have people think less of you because you do. Decide you aren't going to pay attention to them, only to catch a wedding magazine out of the corner of your eye at the drugstore, telling you all the ways you can lose weight for your wedding.
And, above all else: smile! You are the center of attention, if people haven't made that abundantly clear, either genuinely or sardonically. This is supposed to be the best day of your life! This is your happy ending with Prince Charming! Everything just needs to be perfect, and you just need to be nonchalant about every possible screw-up or setback, lest you be called a bridezilla or immature. No big deal or anything.
Hey, why are you crying?
Friday, December 13, 2013
In some weird twist of fate, the last six months have gone by in the blink of an eye. And I only know it's been six months, because I forgot to take down the countdown marker. When I went to that particular window on my mac to use the calculator widget, I saw the countdown marker tell me, "6 Months Since Last Day of School!"
I think the back of my brain was already cognizant of this, because I've been thinking a lot about being a teacher. I realized that I'm still trying to piece together everything that happened over the last 4 years. There's still a part of me that hasn't exactly forgiven myself for burning out; there's still a part of me that hasn't forgiven myself for every time I was a crappy teacher. Every time I lost my cool, or rolled my eyes, or just gave up when the old me would've figured out a way around. I think about the last few months when even I could tell I was digging in my heels and being uncommunicative and doing the bare minimum necessary to squeak by.
I've had a lot of (former and current) teachers tell me to not be so hard on myself. But it's definitely easier said than done. It takes more than a pat on the back to come to terms with the five-year plan you so expertly laid out crumbling in front of you. I went from researching M.Ed programs to staying as far away from working with children as possible.
But, to steal a line from an old blurb here: where I am on that path doesn't matter, so long as you're going forward. And forwards on I go. Just after I delete that stupid countdown marker.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
And then I kind of forgot about it. I thought about submitting it to Thought Catalog, but I decided against it, because it felt a little pedestrian and I felt like I had to "one up" my teaching essay. But a week went by and I had no ideas for a new essay, so I decided to spruce it up a bit and submit it.
Within hours, I had over 100 shares. The next morning? It was up to 750. It's only been out for three days now, and it has already been shared 10,000 times.
I find this very fitting, because I'm currently working on sprucing up my first manuscript. A manuscript that I had completely given up on. I'm submitting a pitch to somewhere in January (again, petrified to talk about it until it actually happens, so we'll be chatting about this after January 14th), and it almost makes me sick to my stomach to be working on this book that I have spent so much time, blood, sweat, and tears on. The likelihood of things going no where is so huge, but the payout if things going somewhere is so big.
But you never know. Or, if you're a Bostonian: ya never know, kid. I never thought my (second) teaching essay would take off the way it did. Especially after it received a moderate-to-tepid response when it was first published. And I never expected it to go so viral as to reach even my own former teachers, friends of friends who were teachers, long before they realized who wrote it.
My life has been a whole lot of topsy-turvy ever since I left the early education world. And, if last night was any indication, I'm a long ways from fully coming to terms with my time as a teacher and my decision to leave (but more on that later). I've definitely questioned my choice to be so whimsical as to write and model and do tai chi in place of a sensible full-time job. But, again: you never know. One day you're scanning Monster.com in a defeatist manner; the next, you're replying to hundreds of emails from people commenting on your work.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
First step? Re-establish a routine. The reason why I was so intense with yoga and tai chi while still working full-time was because I had a very established routine. Exactly one snooze on the alarm clock, followed by making coffee, followed by a yoga sequence and at least one form practice, followed by a shower, followed by getting ready and finally drinking that wonderful coffee (which, ironically, I didn't really need after exercising and showering, but an addiction is an addiction). And I had the same routine when I came home for break: clear the sink of any dishes (or unload the dishwasher) before having any lunch.
Routines are vital for the human brain. It's why they say routine is so important for little kids (something a good chunk of the parents whose children I looked after never really seemed to get but that's for another time). If there is a routine you can stick to, you're more likely to do whatever it is that you need to do, as opposed to getting it done randomly throughout the day.
So I'm back at it. Yoga every morning, no excuses. One tai chi form practice right after that, no excuses. And then I write in this lovely blog, no excuses. And then I work on my novels or my collection of modeling essays. If writing is more or less my main job right now, I need to treat it like a main job. And that means getting to my "office" (aka the kitchen island) at a proper time and logging in the hours, even if I don't feel like it. Writing is my main gig, with tai chi and modeling as part-time jobs. Not the other way around. I desperately want to get this collection of essays out in time for spring, and I'm still holding out hope that I can sell a manuscript before it comes times to try for children.
I'm easily distractible (as evidence that I've gone on five different sites while writing this entry), so a solid routine is what I need to kick my ass into gear. The nice thing is, much like a kid, I could totally schedule in a no-if-ands-or-buts nap for after lunch (because, like a kid, I find every excuse not to nap, even when I'm exhausted).
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I don't know the exact moment. Somewhere between 15 "Facts About my Pregnancy" posts, pictures of shots before they are taken at the bar, and reposts of glittery pictures saying inane shit like "Kids Get Their Coolness From Their Aunties!!!", I found myself going, "Who CARES?"
Granted, I've been rolling my eyes of some of the posts for a while now. But spontaneous positive reinforcement is funny: you can be sick to death of a website, but so long as it sometimes gives you something you enjoy, you'll keep coming back. And now, I'm not even concerned about the positives. What used to be my go-to page when I first went online is now something I check about as regularly as I check my email. Which is still too often for my liking, but it's a start.
This was something I realized when I was talking with my husband last night. We talked about how much more productive we'd be if we didn't have the internet. And while the internet is why I have any type of audience when it comes to my reading, I'm still woefully unproductive because of it. Youtube has been my primary killer: I could practice my new form, or I could watch "Everything That's Wrong With Spiderman in 4 Minutes or Less". But it's not Facebook anymore. I'm not diving through the newsfeed and constructing my own statuses and carefully picking out which selfie I want as my next profile picture.
Maybe it's the end of Internet 2.0 as we know it. We're all so super-saturated with the internet being a "social experience". Youtube wants to crosspost my comments onto Google+ (and they still won't admit defeat and give up on Google+). Every single retail, news, and entertainment website wants to you to share their stuff on everything from Pinterest to Twitter. And I don't think I'm alone in saying that I'm just exhausted by it. I don't care about that picture of a karaoke machine. I don't care that you "had your baby on the exact due date!" And while I like that I can keep in contact with practically everyone I've known since forever, unless I actually know you and consider you a close family or friend, I just don't care. And, odds are, if I care about you enough to read about it on Facebook, there's a good chance I already know about it through actual talking.
It'll probably be a long while before I stop Twittering (at the very least, because Twitter is like a release valve for my scattered brain). And it'll probably be just as long before I stop swooping over to YouTube to check out an old fight or a cute kitten spazzing out. But it's a step in the right direction.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Driving in this muck reminded me why I used to dread winter as a teacher. If I had perfect administration, perfect class sizes, perfect everything else, I think I still would've eventually burnt out because parents will drop off their kids during the most dire weather situations.
The joys of working for a private school: the owner of the school was in charge of when the school closed or not. And the owner prided herself on staying open no matter what. Even when Massachusetts issued a no-drive curfew for all its highways (and we were just on the MA border), we were still open. And the few times we closed early, we had parents begrudgingly picking up their children at the last possible second, because how dare we close down in the middle of a hurricane?
I fully recognize that some things are out of the control of the parents. Some people just have to work, and some people have jobs that really don't care if there's two feet of snow outside. And some parents picked up their kid past emergency closing time, making comments about how they didn't want to bring their kid home because they're such a handful on snowy days.
Hey, remember when we were kids? Snowy days meant dressing in our fluffiest apparel and enjoying the damn snow. If we were too young to leave the property, we went nuts in the front or backyard. We went nuts on the sidewalk. We learned how to make snowmen and created snow angels. We tired ourselves out in a way that you can only do playing around outside.
Here's a crazy idea: the next time the weatherman calls for a blizzard -- and you have the abilities to take some personal time -- take the day off. Wrap up your kids in the fluffy apparel. Take them outside and teach them how to have a proper snowball fight. Run and dive into snowbanks. Get exhausted. Go inside and warm up with some hot chocolate. Take a nap or wrap up in some blankets and watch a well-earned movie.
Sounds like a great time, right? A lot nicer than fighting traffic into a job you really don't care for anymore anyway, slogging through the tedium, getting the call that the child care center is closing early, rush back, take your kids -- who are mentally exhausted from child care the same way adults get mentally exhausted from work, but that's for another time -- and drag them home, hoping to God they'll be somewhat obedient until it's bedtime.
One thing I used to tell other teachers when talking about parents who seem to never be there is, "It's your children's childhood to miss." It goes by so fast, even for those who can be with them full-time. If a raging storm and some extra personal time available isn't reason enough to enjoy a day with your kids, then nothing will be.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
I don't know exactly why Christmas traditions mean so much to me. I once wrote my dad a 3-page email in college, arguing for a Christmas tree, because he wanted to skip getting any type of tree that year. In a world where people dread seeing their in-laws, I get excited over going to Ohio for Christmas, because of all the traditions and rituals and general fanfare surrounding Christmas. More so than Thanksgiving, Halloween, Fourth of July, my own birthday, New Year's, I love everything involving Christmas.
In fact, the only thing I couldn't care less about when it comes to Christmas is the one thing that everyone puts an over-emphasis on: presents. And maybe that's why I'm so gung-ho about Christmas: I avoid stores like plague. I do my best to do my Christmas shopping online, or in passing throughout the year, and I focus on the parts I love most. The traditions that hold everyone together. The love and the kinship that can get taken for granted, especially during the harsh winter.
There's a quote from the show Community that I absolutely love. To paraphrase: there's something beautiful in the fact that we all look forward to a holiday that takes place in the coldest, darkest time of year. We put up lights and sing songs and see family and friends in the heart of winter. It's why I love Christmas and I'm a-okay with it being just days after the shortest day of the year (even though, if we're getting technical, Jesus was born in the springtime *sigh*).
This is one big "why I like this me me me me me" post, but, oh well. Fresh batch tomorrow. Hang tight, kids.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
And like that, my pseudo-stoner mind went into overdrive: what if the Land of Oz is the collective unconscious? And Oz was so much of a megalomaniac that he imprinted on it first, naming it after himself?
It's not too much of a jump: Dorothy does end up waking up back in Kansas, surrounded by people who played the characters in the Land of Oz. And, much like Dorothy, part of Oz's story involves interacting with the Land of Oz versions of people he was having conflicts with.
Maybe I'm just too much of a Jungian, because I love the idea of the collective unconscious and archetypes (and his findings on extroversion versus introversion). But thinking about this made the movie incredibly entertaining -- even after Mila Kunis's lackluster acting took center stage.
These are the posts you can expect to get after a late night, followed by a really weird dream that switched back and forth between "zombie apocalypse" and "demon apocalypse".
Friday, December 6, 2013
Now I'm an adult, and, while I still enjoy the occasional concert, my focus has now shifted to comedians. If I've laughed at their stuff on the comedy channel on Pandora, I probably have them on Ticketmaster alert.
That being said, my husband and I are seeing John Pinette tonight. We were introduced to John Pinette during one of our Ohio road trips. We had our comedy channel on and could not stop laughing over his jokes. He has a gentle nature about him -- until he gets frustrated. Suddenly his voice changes and he goes, "Son of a bitch!"
Speaking of seemingly-non-sequitur, I prefer swearing in Spanish. While my Rosetta Stone classes have been slowly chugging along, my Spanish is still on par with a stuttering 2-year-old. However, I have an arsenal of swear words that would get me kicked out of any day care.
What does one have to do with the other? Other than it's my blog and everyone can sod off? Because, when I'm getting really frustrated, swearing in Spanish (or saying, "Son of a BITCH!" the way John Pinette says it) helps break the tension. I'll never really get while shouting, "¡Mas puta!" will help calm things down, but it does. Perhaps because there's a disconnect between the words and the meaning for me. The same way "Son of a bitch!" is said in such a comical way that I can't help but see the humor in the situation.
Heaven knows I said, "Son of a BITCH!" plenty of times when we were dealing with our painters. It helped when things went horribly over schedule, when they lost the knob to one of our light switches, and when they, gee, got the colors mixed up and didn't prime the area to fix it up.
Speaking of the painters: I got an email from them a few weeks back, apologizing for everything and saying they appreciated what I had to say on Yelp. Not the first time I had companies track me down for something I said on Yelp, but that's for another time.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
During this break time, I've gone back to a previous writing project. This is the one I've been incredibly cryptic about, if only because I am leary of talking to much about hypothetical futures (what's that saying again? Man makes plans and God laughs?) but now that I'm at least halfway through it, I feel comfortable enough to talk about it.
Writing essays has been my thing for the last, gee, 123 days. Writing about what's on my mind and what has happened in my life has become a lot easier than it was in the past. Granted, this effortlessness results in a lot more grammatical errors (and weaker sentences and poor use of idiomatic phrases...), but, still, it has opened a lot of doors for me. As someone who has been toeing back into the world of modeling, I decided to get retrospective and look back on the funny, infuriating, embarrassing, and just plain interesting times as a model.
And I decided to write them all down.
I only have about 15,000 words worth of essays write now. The goal is to at least double it and then... we'll see. Again, I hate talking about the hypothetical future because it can all come crumbling down before you know it and suddenly you have egg on your face, but I have some high hopes. I'd like to think having a viral essay has given me a bit of a leg up, but, again, we'll see.
It's a murky day again. I've decided to fight fire with fire -- or, in this case, fight water with ovens. I'm cooking up the most aromatic foods I can imagine. If the outside is going to look like misery, the inside is going to at least smell like heaven.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Because female athletes have been discredited from day one. Everything from "but men are stronger!" to "but women aren't as entertaining!" has been thrown out. And the few branches of athletics where women compete on the same platform (namely, the Olympics) either requires the women to wear ridiculously skimpy outfits (like beach volleyball) or get derided because the women aren't sexy enough (like gymnastics or swimming).
I know my feminist soapbox is started to bow in the middle from all the times I've stood up on it, but I really don't care. The reasons to exclude females from athletic divisions are weak at best, sexist at worst. While I'm not here to say that women are, pound for pound, training hour for training hour, as strong as men (because biology is against us there), I still found it ridiculous to say that there are sufficient reasons to have sports be male-only.
Because the "men are stronger" argument is completely invalid. If that were the case, we'd only have heavyweights in boxing and MMA. We'd only have linebacker-looking guys in football. Only the absolute biggest, most-muscle-y guys in baseball. Nothing but the biggest, strongest men, because who would want anything else?
Because different strengths bring something different to the table. You need the running backs, you need the flyweights, you need different body types to get certain things done. They all bring something that can be just as entertaining as the biggest, strongest guys.
Actually, there is one sufficient reason why sports are male-only (and the few female-included sports have the women dressed up super skimpy): people still treat sports like a man's club. We have terms like "pink hatter" for the women who pretend to like sports for the attention, but no term for men who do the same (and you know there are men who pretend to love the Patriots but couldn't tell you what offsides are to save their skulls). We have websites like WhileTheMenAreWatching.com, which is so insipid and patronizing that I actually lose a few IQ points whenever I think about it. We are so wrapped in what we've been told since we were kids -- sports are for boys to play and watch -- that we have a hard time changing our thinking, even when we see what female athletes can do.
Patrick Rothfuss (one of my favorite authors) brought up similar mindsets. His main message was that it's okay to have these mindsets -- you are told things as a kid, your brain develops around them, and it's hard to even realize you're thinking them because they're just that ingrained -- but it's not okay to realize that the mindset is wrong and refuse to do anything about it because "that's just the way things are".
And, really, if you're that comfortable in your masculinity, seeing women enter the mainstream athletic world should not threaten it. Even if they could kick your ass any day of the week.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I truly believe that the seasons affect our behavior. It's why New Englanders are so rough and brazen, but southern Californians are so laid back. It's why we feel super productive in the spring and just want to snuggle in the fall. It's why most of us love sunny weather and feel morose when it rains.
My trepidation for winter was only intensified as a preschool teacher. Winter (and bad weather) meant no playground time, which meant an entire day filled with high-energy kids who seriously just needed to run around for a bit. It meant naptimes that weren't really naptimes (all the while, administration saying things like, "Well you can obviously can get that done during naptime."). It meant watching the skies go black before the kids even got picked up.
Now that I'm out of the early education world (and my teaching schedule is a lot more scattered), I assumed that this feeling would go away. But it's still there. I'm not stressed and anxious, but the desire to just stay in my PJs and screw writing, screw practicing, screw contacting studios for potential employment, is strong. And days like today, where the fog is still settled even at 9:30 in the morning and I haven't seen the sun in almost a week, just depletes my energy even further. It's dark at 4:00 and, if I'm not careful, I mentally check out on the day at 4 as well.
For some, that's okay. Just watch a lot of TV, go on a ton of websites, and enjoy a slow-paced life. But I'm not like that. I'm the type of person who can't sit and watch more than a show or two at a time. I like doing stuff. And that part of me isn't completely quelled by the weather. In fact, that part of me is losing her damn mind because the rest of me is in slow motion.
But, referencing a super-old post, sometimes you just have to kick yourself in the butt, say, "it's not a choice," and continue on. Time to clear out a sink of dishes, get a good yoga practice in, and log some running miles.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Paul Walker died a few days ago in a tragic car accident. I'm a huge fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, I recognize the horrific irony in the situation, and I don't find the jokes all that witty.
I might be completely wrong. Hollywood is all about image and faking it, but Paul Walker seemed like a pretty stand-up guy. He was under-the-radar involved with a ton of charities. He saw an army serviceman looking at rings with his to-be-fiancee and he told the jeweler to put their purchase on his bill -- a story that didn't come out until after he died. In a world where pretty boys in Hollywood become the biggest douchebag party-goers, Paul Walker seemed to keep a pretty low profile. And I respect the hell out of that.
My heart breaks for his family -- especially his 15-year-old daughter -- as well as the family of his friend, the driver of the car. My heart breaks for his co-star Tyrese, who visited the crash site and broke down. People are getting up in arms about how "speed might have been involved" and so on. But who doesn't disobey the speed limits? God knows there have been a few times that I've sped down the highway going near-80 when the speed limit was 55. And, if you're an avid car fan and used to driving fast cars, you don't think about those things twice. And, touching upon a very old entry in this blog, if we are going to act like they deserved to die because of something like speeding, then we all deserve to die for the stupid shit we do on a daily basis.
That's my post for today. That's how I feel. It might be made more intense by the murky weather but, again, oh well. Here's my chair, here's my opinion, take it or leave it.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
But somehow I did it. A thousand words a day on a novel I was sludging through, 50,000 words total. My characters did things that surprised me. I wrote sentences that I knew for a bloody fact I would have to rewrite someday.
I am far from done with this novel. Given wear I am in the story, I'd say I have at least 30,000 more words before the novel is done. And then I edit. And I edit. And I edit forever.
So what is next? First off: a break. Whether that means I take a full break from this manuscript or I shrink my daily word count to something a little more bit-sized, I don't know. Part of me wants to capitalize on my essay going viral, but the other part of me knows that agents hate December, because December is National Amateur Novel-Submitting Month (NaAmNoSuMo?).
But -- holy crap -- I am exhausted. If that's not abundantly clear by the scatter-brained nature of this post. I'm going to update my (crafts) blog, maybe read over an essay I want to send to Thought Catalog, and, for the first time in a month, breathe.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
I don't blame society for this behavior. I just blame human nature. The triggers that made human beings fight their way to the top of the food chain are the same triggers that cause shoppers to punch each other out over Tickle Me Elmo. It's the same trigger that makes us agitated when stuck in rush hour traffic, or if we're in line for a certain item and we notice that said item is quickly dwindling in numbers.
It's just human nature. There have been countless post-apocalyptic books that showcase how everyday people will behave when resources are scarce or they perceive a threat to what they have. It is far too easy for us to switch into a more animalistic mode and see other people as threats to what we want (instead of, gee, people at a Walmart). Is it ridiculous that people get that way over a watch and some slippers? Obviously. But it comes from a very primal place.
My prediction? We won't see an end to Black Friday insanity. The same way we won't see an end to honking cars in gridlocked highways and we won't see an end to people punching each other out when a water main breaks and the tap water is contaminated. There's a chance people might get sick of this crap and just forgo shopping on Black Friday altogether, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Friday, November 29, 2013
I don't know what's more disturbing: the act itself, or the fact that we have seen countless surveillance videos of innocent people getting knocked out cold in the streets. Every major news outlet has covered the story at least once. Boxers and MMA fighters have weighed in on it. Articles online were shared with a scary veracity. People link-baited, speculated, and then scratched their heads as to why the stupid act caught on like it did (all the while preparing their next segment on how it's turned into a "craze". More on that at 11).
And now I'm talking about it on the internet, so I'm obviously part of the problem.
That's the modern age for you. We live in a time when ideas go viral. We live in a time when the word "viral" has gone viral. Information doesn't spread anymore: it invades with an intensity that would make the British Empire blush. No matter how inane, sophomoric, or esoteric the concept is, it's bound to resonate with someone on the internet (and a few will take root for no real rhyme or reason. Remember planking, anyone?)
But I'm not here to rail about the internet like an old man denouncing those darn kids skateboarding on his sidewalk. I see things like Knockout and all I can think about is Fahrenheit 451.
Hey, remember that book? Y'know, the one with that Michael Moore sampled for his Fahrenheit 911 documentary? The book that is simultaneously banned and lauded? I know, it's been on your "to read" pile forever. And once you're done sharing that Vine video of a man smearing bathtub bubbles on his head and making a face, you'll find the time to pick it up. But you remember the gist of it, right? With the book burning and the censorship and stuff? And, hey, maybe they'll make a movie about it and you'll watch that. It's basically the same thing.
The focus on Fahrenheit 451 has always been on book-burning and censorship. But what people tend to gloss over is the part where a society where everyone is placated and nobody thinks has turned their adolescents into raving gangs of sociopaths. In a world with wall-to-wall television and "digital friends", teenagers go on joy rides specifically to find someone to kill. In a world without critical thought, introspection, and retrospection, people are run down for sport.
There has been a lot of talk about how "kids these days" aren't learning empathy (or any valuable social skills). Even without knockout, there's something to be said in the advent of online bullying, adolescent suicide, and sick activities all done in an effort to have their own video "go viral" (that usually involves recording one kid -- or a group of kids -- viciously beating up another kid). Everyone is quick to blame one factor over another: it's the internet, it's the parents, it's "just the way things are now". But I've yet to hear anyone make a parallel between a weirdly contented and shallow society and the rise of sociopathic behavior.
So we can all sit back and figure out what is to blame for this idiotic and dangerous Knockout "craze". Or we can turn off our TVs, put down the tablet, and, just for a moment, actually think.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
I'm grateful that I had a nasty dating life. I'm grateful for the high school boyfriend who dumped me before junior prom. I'm grateful for the freshman-year pseudo-relationship that drained me of most of my emotions. I'm grateful that I got stood up and cheated on and dumped for the ex-girlfriend. If those shitty relationships had never taken place, I probably would never have met my husband. I would've been in an all right relationship with someone I wasn't really compatible with (but who realizes that when they're in puppy love?) Or, worse, I would've never left my hometown at all, opting to stay with whatever high school boyfriend that treated me right.
I'm grateful that I didn't take off as a writer when I wish I had. Because I'm learning something new about my skill every day. I'm slowly but surely getting just a little better at storytelling and character development and dialogue and conflict. I'm slowly but surely finding a little more insight on grammar and syntax and sentence structure. And it will make it all worthwhile when I finally sell a manuscript.
I'm grateful that I didn't have the easiest upbring in the world. Because it taught me self-reliance and independent thought. It showed me that you are not restricted to the man and the woman you get your respective halves of DNA from when it comes to guidance and love and support. It taught me understanding and empathy. It helped me realize how flawed we are as humans, even when our intentions are good.
I'm grateful for every little thing that has gone awry, because I wouldn't be where I am today without it. Nothing ever has to be 100% negative.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
A few days ago, I started getting emails. People were contacting me about that particular essay. Some were thanking me; others were point out the glaring grammatical error (which I find slightly ironic because the next paragraph is all about nitpicking a teacher's spelling and grammar). But the emails kept coming in and I couldn't figure out why. I eventually chalked it up to spam on overload and went on my day.
Then I got tagged in one of my former English teacher's post. I clicked on it, ready to laugh and untag myself. Since my first name is Abby, I tend to show up first on a lot of people's lists, which leads to a lot of accidental tagging. But instead of finding a random picture, I found my article. I thought to myself, "How in the world did she find this?"
I click on it, and I learn that my essay had gone viral.
Right now it's at over 100,000 shares on Facebook and a couple hundred on Twitter. I know that, in this day and age, something going viral usually results in a few million shares and views and likes, but still. Compare this to the couple hundred shares my "27 Things" got -- and I considered that a blooming success.
I fully recognize this entry is me just patting myself on the back for something I had absolutely no control over. Things go viral the same way a certain disease epidemic will start (hence the fucking term "viral"). For crying out loud, this essay is over a month old. But that's how those things work. It's how the "Woman Throwing Puppies into a River" randomly resurged (even though this happened in 2010, went viral in 2010, and resulted in the woman getting arrested and, miraculously, all but two puppies found and saved in 2010).
All I can say is it feels damn good to be able to put "successful essay" as part of my writing résumé. It seems silly, but editors and agents and publishing houses only care if you can pull in an audience. So fingers crossed for me and my writing future. EDIT: And, duh, if you haven't read it but want to, here's the link: http://thoughtcatalog.com/abby-rosmarin/2013/10/parents-need-to-be-reminded-that-teachers-are-people-too/
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The same with my book. I've been going into the last few scenes completely blind, and I hate that. I'm only five days out from finally being done with NaNoWriMo this year, but the idea of churning out 5,000 in the dark is frightening. The last few days, I've been writing a few hundred words at a time, constantly updating NaNoWriMo to see just how much I had to do before I got my minimum in. It seems really inviting to say, "Well, 25 out of 30 ain't bad," and call it a month.
In the words of Ron White, "Like my mama always said: that boy's got a lot of quit in him." It's way too easy to give up when things get tough, when you find yourself investing more than you bargained for. There are so many reasons why you could stay exactly where you are and stop trying so damn hard. There are always so many reasons why you should stay in a job you hate, stay in a town you you hate, avoid taking that risk, and so on, and so forth.
But that's what separates an interesting life from a mediocre life. That's what separates a person who lives in their hometown with a job they've had since high school from the person who ventures off and experiences new things and builds an amazing career.
My third example: I've been trying to find more studios to take me in as a tai chi instructor. I thought I had a great lead with a karate dojo a week or so back, but it's been radio silence since our follow-up emails. Part of me really likes the idea of not even searching for new studios. Part of me loves the idea of just quietly stepping away when the yoga studio I currently work at folds and just doing my own thing. But that's the same part of me that loves the idea of not running, of not writing, of giving up projects before they can even start.
So I'm off to lace up my shoes, run in this cold, snowy environment, and come back to write my 1,000 words. Maybe I'll even contact a few more studios. Because quitting is not an option.
Monday, November 25, 2013
In a way, I'm shocked it took this long. Monday morning classes are a hard sell. Even if you work off-hours (or don't work at all), anything on a Monday is going to take extra effort. If there was anything over the weekend that could be deemed at all strenuous, a Monday morning class is going to be the first on the chopping block.
I'm surprisingly okay with having my first no-show experience. I worked on my own practice, taking full advantage of the studio's mirror and dancer's bar, and I left early. Maybe it's because the studio is closing down, so I've already have been saying my good-byes and preparing to close that particular chapter. Maybe it's because I stayed up too late last night, so my head wasn't in the game to begin with. Or maybe it's because I have been so invested in my novel this month that, even for the few hours a week I actually work-work, I'm starting to phone it in.
It might also be the approaching winter. I'm getting right into hibernation mode and finding it very difficult to get out and do what needs to be done.
Of all the entries I've made in this project, this is easily the most pointless. But, oh well, they can't all be winners.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
However, like a marathon, even though the end is within reach, I genuinely have no clue how I am going to get there.
I've already talked about how exhausting keeping up this blog and competing in NaNoWriMo has been. November has always been a crazy month in terms of finding/buying a new car, finding out that my place of employment is going under, contemplating a move that would be a complete change of how I conduct business, and searching for new places to teach. And, somehow, even though winter is usually a dead time for modeling, I've been put on availability-holds and go-sees for everything from Neiman Marcus (which I didn't get) to Volvo (which I did, somehow. Still don't know how I managed that one).
But, somehow, I've been able to make serious progress in my book. But now, I'm at a spot where I've written everything that I planned out linearly, I have the ideas for the story for about 50 pages later to the end, and I have absolutely nothing to fill in between.
Writer's block is so stupidly common, and I've been able to surprise myself by just writing a scene to see where it will go. I've written scenes that were absolute bullocks and eventually scrapped, and I've written scenes I never intended to write, scenes that made my heart break for my own damn characters. And while it might be the exhaustion talking, I genuinely do not know if I have it in me to write out a scene blindly 1,000 words at a time.
But we'll see. We will definitely see. I'm excited by the idea of finishing this book by the year's end, but I'm also not going to beat myself up over it if I don't. Heavens knows that it's a lot longer of a process than just writing the damn thing.
So I guess, in a way, this isn't like running a marathon. This is like running a marathon, only to cross the finish line and find out you're in a StrongMan competition. And I don't even get a free shirt at the end of this.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Rhonda Rousey is a tough fighter. Anyone who doubts why she is the champion has obviously never seen her fight. She gets a look in her face that would make a grown man cower. She has an arm-bar that has broken an arm or two. And she has no issues going toe-to-toe with interviewers who are more interested in her as a walking set of boobs than a fighter.
Rhonda -- along with Meisha Tate -- have been coaching this season of "The Ultimate Fighter" (aka one of the few actual reality shows out there). Cameras follow 18 fighters as they compete for a UFC contract. No dumbass gimmicks, no "alliances", no voting anyone off any island. Just 18 fighters fighting each other and the best man (or woman) wins.
I have never been one to relate to Rhonda Rousey. I'm probably on the other end of tough. I cry when I watch YouTube videos of soldiers returning to their children. I start wringing my hands over the tiniest reason to be nervous. I'm emotional and I'm overly critical of myself.
In the last episode, one of Rhonda's fighters couldn't make weight. He had over 5 pounds to lose on weight day and was doing everything to delay cutting more weight (Google "fighters making weight" to see what fighters have to go through to make weight in time for a fight). I watched as Rhonda nervously walking around the gym and fretted over the fighter's future and got upset when she realized her fighter was quitting. When the fighter was ultimately disqualified for not making weight, Rhonda suggested that she make weight for that following Tuesday as penance. As she saw it, since she couldn't get her own fighter to make weight, she'd go through the rigorous task herself. You could see how much it bothered her that one of her fighters lost over something like weight (which is a huge rarity for the show).
And like that, I realized there was as much difference between me and Rhonda Rousey as I had previously thought. Don't get me wrong: she could kick my ass any day of the week, while jetlagged, blindfolded, and battling the flu. But I saw a lot of myself in that episode. The nervousness over something you don't have any control over. The emotional responses. Feeling like it's your fault, like somehow you could've done more. The berating of oneself and the need to somehow "right" the wrongs by essentially going martyr.
There isn't much point to this entry, other than it's incredible to realize that you have more in common with some people than you think. Everyone has a second side, everyone has had experiences that you can relate to. Even kick-ass, solid people like Rhonda Rousey.
Friday, November 22, 2013
I'll mention that I used to teach preschool and early education and people coo over my former career field. They'll gasp at the idea that my job could ever be stressful. They'll then ask, "But do you miss it?"
I know they don't necessarily mean it as so, but I hear, "But do you miss it?" as, "You know you'll eventually return because you love those kids so darn much, right?"
But I won't. That's the thing. I love the kiddos, but it's not enough to stay. And it will not be enough to return. As someone who plans on staying at home when she has kids, if I want to devote my time and energy to teaching a young child about the world, I'll do it with my own children. Because there is so much I don't miss about teaching:
1. I don't miss the large classroom sizes squeezed into small classroom spaces. Everyone gets agitated when they're confined to crowded spots (just look at how people act during rush hour traffic). So much of the behavioral issues I saw could've been avoided had the kids had their own space. So much of what frustrates teachers would be alleviated if the overall number of students were cut in half. The worst feeling you can have as a teacher is when you realize you are not teaching, but serving as crowd control.
2. I don't miss the long hours. Very rarely does preschool/early education fit into school-hour format. So many places open at 6 in the morning and close at 6 at night and some of those kids get dropped off at opening and picked up at closing. And for some, that's unavoidable. But it doesn't make a teacher's life any easier when they walk into a room already filled to the brink with students and leave at night with so many students still there. It's not healthy to be constantly on with next to zero down time.
3. I don't miss my students forgetting who I am. With the exception of my Pre-Kers, none of my students will remember who I am. Case in point: a month before quitting, I ran into an old student and his mother at the grocery store. I exchanged a few pleasantries with the mom, said hi to my former student, and went on my way. From behind me, I could hear, "Mommy, who was that?"
Oh, no one. Just the person who taught you how to wash your hands. Just the person who snuggled you as she gave you your nebulizer after getting pneumonia. Just the person who taught you the beginning of sign language and the alphabet. Just the person who looked after you for 40 hours a week for an entire year.
4. I don't miss administration. I don't miss the general lack of support when things got tough. I don't miss being told to work nights and weekends and during my break -- without pay -- because it was "for the children". I don't miss watching leader after leader after leader shrug their shoulders at me and go, "You're the teacher. You need to make it work."
5. I don't miss parents who felt I could do no right. I've been yelled at for everything from a 5-year-old leaving his mittens behind on the playground to a 2-year-old who was teething. I'd then hear my own friends and family members talk about their own children in child care, accusing the teachers of everything from, "They let the kids climb on the chairs," to, "They lied about his fever so they'd have one fewer kid in the classroom." I'd hear it with that sinking feeling in my heart because I know that, verbatim, that is what my kiddos' parents were saying about me.
6. I don't miss being stressed out to the point that I didn't understand why I was doing this job in the first place. Burnout turned me into someone who dealt with the aforementioned and couldn't even see the point of it. People would say it was for the children; people would say it was to raise a better generation. But I didn't see it anymore. All I saw was stress and frustration and a dead end.
I don't regret being an early education teacher. I met some incredible people, learned some interesting things on how children act and interact, and walked away with just a little bit more knowledge than I had coming in. But I will never -- ever -- return to teaching.