Showing posts from September, 2017

My Confession

Even when I was young, I thought Confession at my Catholic grade school was suspect. I get to be awful, and all I have to do is go in a little box, say I'm sorry, maybe a couple prayers, and everything is forgiven? And even if I do the same awful things again, I just need to repeat the process? That's it. Forgiveness: eternal and unconditional. 
Christ, that's not how any of that works. 
I actually pride myself on being a fairly forgiving person. Actually, really forgiving. To a fault. Sometimes I forgive where others think I shouldn't. And the truth is I'm okay with that. It is a trait that has occasionally frustrated other people in my life, especially when it means I maintain relationships others think I'd be best without. Yet of all the crappy things I've forgiven, I've never regretted giving someone a second--or third, fourth,or even eighteenth--chance. In the end, it's always been the right choice. I'm okay with forgiving.
But lately…

My 90s Anthem or How Not To Stay

I love Lisa Loeb, completely and unabashedly. Okay, I love the one song from her I know. Her song "Stay" is, without a doubt, the anthem of the 1990s. Recorded for the movie Reality Bites, that song was my jam (yeah... I was 10... what of it?) To this day, the whole world pauses for me when it comes on. I hear the opening chords and I freeze. And then, I sing (loudly and badly).  But there has always been one part that drove me crazy:

"I thought that I was strong
I thought, "hey, I can leave, I can leave"
Oh but now I know that I was wrong
'Cause I missed you."

See, the implication is that if you miss someone--if it's hard to walk away--then you're weak. You were wrong to leave. You'll never get away.

Lisa. Come on.

Because the truth is, if it's easy to walk away, if it doesn't hurt or make you sad, then it doesn't require any strength. You don't have to be strong to walk away from someone you don't care about, and you d…

A Little Black Stool

This worn, chipped, dusty stool is probably the single most important thing in my entire classroom. It means more to me--and to many of my students--than any of the hundreds of notes, pictures, or even cards that line my shelves and walls. It's more important to what happens in my room than the laptops, the pens and pencils, or the books. This battered black perch is why I teach.

This stool has been privy to a lot over the past ten years. Every day, students drag this stool to the edge of my desk and settle in. Sometimes they have their laptops open, sometimes a notebook, sometimes just their hearts and stories. But as they sit there, that's where the real joy of my teaching begins. I love the moments in front of my classroom, watching my freshmen read Romeo and Juliet out loud and giggle at Mercutio. I love watching my sophomores fume over Daisy's betrayal of Gatsby or my seniors as they tear up as Hamlet takes his last breaths. These moments with my entire class can some…

What I'm Left With

Spoiler Alert (that will surprise approximately zero people who know me): I am horrible at letting go of things.

I don't just mean slightly worse than average. I mean awful. Appallingly, shockingly awful.

Ever since I was young, the idea of losing something--losing people--has preoccupied and terrified me. So, when confronting a potential loss, I have the super awesome (ahem... read: annoying and pathetic) tendency to hold on as tightly as possible. I mean, who doesn't love clingy, amirite? But the flip side of this is I've never been a person who lets others in very easily. In high school, my best friend of three years told me one night, "You know, you're really hard to get to know. But once you let someone in, you're for life."

It's 16 years later and she's still my best friend. So, you know. She wasn't wrong.

I don't let people in easily, it's true. I invest a lot of energy in people, but at the same time, there's usually an emo…