Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Labor Phenomenon, or Naked and Afraid, or Whatever!

I just noticed that Nevadanista left a comment on my last post. "I really wish you'd start blogging your brains out again," it said.

I really wish I would too. But I'm just too preoccupied right now. Playing solitaire. And when I'm not playing solitaire, I spend a lot of time standing with my feet firmly planted, arms outstretched, jaw tightly clenched, trying to stop this:

This is my life. It has no brakes. I can't stop it. I can't even slow it down. I try. OMG, how I try. 

Just last week, for example, I had an idea in the middle of the night and I jumped out of bed to make it happen. The next morning I woke up expecting to hear Sonny and Cher singing as my clock radio flipped to 6:00 a.m. 

But my clock radio was gone. 

"Uh . . . why are all the clocks in the freezer?" called my husband from the kitchen. 

Needless to stay, I didn't get to live that day over again. Or any day since. And now I only have four days left to play solitaire before my oldest son leaves the nest and flies away. 

Far. Far. Away. 

I haven't cried about it. As much as I've wanted to. I think it's because I started drinking Mt. Dew again. It's supposed to take the edge off, but I think it puts the edge on. And I can tell you exactly how long it takes if you're consuming at a steady pace. Four hours. That's when the little men in your head pull out their mallots and begin pounding on your skull. 

I don't mind though. Laying in the dark with an ice pack on my face draws attention from the little men pounding their mallots on my stone cold heart. 

I swear they won't stop until they break it.

But whatever. Just don't do the Dew. That's my best advice. Even if freezing your clocks doesn't stop time. 

And never, under any circumstances, drink and cry. Or text and cry. And if possible, don't cry and cry. 

Have you ever noticed that you're more prone to addictions when your children start leaving the nest? Or when your brother-in-law gets cancer that starts at stage four? Or when your mom gets a new knee which requires emergency surgery and infectious disease specialists and six weeks of IV antibiotics? Or when your hemophiliac son gets a thigh bleed which requires a mattress in the living room and all nine seasons of The Office. Plus all six seasons of The Wonder Years. Plus Shark Week. And two seasons of Scooby Doo. Plus the Catfish documentary and the Sea World Documentary. And Food Inc

When my daughter left I got addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies. But with my son leaving I'm hooked on Naked and Afraid. It's not the nudity that draws me in, it's the fear. And the misery. There's so much fear and misery. The dangers are so immediate that being naked in front of a stranger isn't even on the Richter scale. 

It reminds me of what I call The Labor Phenomenon, which is that moment when the intensity of the baby pain makes having a needle the size of a pencil jammed into your back feel like chicken soup for the soul. 

There is something about the combination of fear and misery and nudity that brings people to their knees. All that humility man, it's breathtaking. 

All that humility makes me root for them. I want them to catch some fish with their traps, but they never do. I want them to start a fire during the monsoon so they can purify water so they don't get dehydrated, but they never do. 

But I still hope for them. I hope that they won't get yellow fever or Malaria or diarrhea. That they'll get their shelter done before dark. That the snake that just bit them will give them enough protein to create enough energy to keep their fire going after they chop off his head and roast him. 

I hope that the leeches won't suck the marrow out of their bodies. 

And that the cancer won't suck the marrow out of my brother-in-laws body.

And that the infection won't suck the marrow out of my mom's body. 

And that the bleed won't suck the basketball out of my son's body. 

And that my kids' absence won't suck the marrow out of my body. 

Okay, I take back everything I said earlier. Do the Dew! Just Dew it! There is not cry, only Dew! 

But when you're laying in bed with an ice pack over your face, make sure there's a clock in it. 

And make sure that clock says Whatever!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

GUESS WHAT!? . . . nevermind . . .

Guess what!? I'm craving spaghetti, which means only one thing: I will be throwing up later tonight. I never crave spaghetti unless I'm about to get the stomach flu. It's a strong indicator.The fact that everyone else in my house has the stomach flu is also a strong indicator. And also the fact that I have a funeral to go to on Thursday. The last time I had a funeral to go to on a Thursday I also got the stomach flu. I went anyway, and made it all the way to the church, but not all the way out of the car.

I would love to explain these two deaths to you, but as soon as I start, my words get tangled up in my emotions and I think, nevermind.

I have a student who says this all the time. But first he raises his hand with astonishing enthusiasm. He raises his hand with his whole body, but as soon as he tries to gets his thoughts from his hand to his mouth, his body deflates. "Nevermind," he says.

Nevermind is the writing mantra I have had to adopt since I've become a teacher. I do try. I really, really do, every so often (four times, to be exact) try to get my thoughts from my hand to my mouth (or vice versa in my case). But halfway through the process I have to duck and cover because another set of thoughts come rushing in, demanding my attention. They come in waves. Endless waves of never ending, half finished thoughts.

Either that or I lose my train of thought.

In March I started writing a post called Sometimes I Don't Feel Like a Fatherless Child after I attempted to sign my son out of school early and ended up standing in the hallway with sweaty eyeballs listening to his seminary teacher compassionately explain to the class what happens to souls after they commit suicide.

Nevermind, I thought, halfway through the post.

I also started a post called, No Room in the Laie Inn, after I found out that BYU-H was getting rid of their sports programs. 

Nevermind, I thought, after working on it for hours. There ain't even room in the Laie Inn for the Laie Inn.

And what can I do about it, anyway?

Then I wrote a post called Life Before about how it felt to find out my brother-in-law has Leukemia.


I wrote other things too. I wrote some hilarious jokes about how many socks it takes to raise three teenage boys, and I wrote some hilarious bios for my son when he was nominated to be in a beauty pageant. He asked for funny, and I gave him funny. You know I did. But he didn't find any of it funny. Probably because it was all true. I had to explain to him that great humor is derived from not-so-great truth.

Am I right, or am I right . . .

Wait, what was I saying?

I just lost my train of thought.

Nevermind.  None of this has anything to do with what I wanted to say anyway. What I wanted to say was, GUESS WHAT!?

I have this other student who always greeted me this way. "GUESS WHAT!?" she'd say, just like that, in all caps. I always expected something extraordinary to come out of her mouth, but it never did. She just wanted to remind me that I needed to get her grade up. She was passionate about me getting her grade up. This helped me see the importance of being passionate about what you say, even if it doesn't make sense. And what I am about to say does not make sense, but GUESS WHAT!?

I think I'm in love. With being a high school teacher. I think I get it now. The appeal.

Crazy, huh?

As part of my final exam this year I asked my students to tell me the most important thing they learned this year in history and language arts. They said they learned that teachers make typos too, and I'm grateful I could be the one to teach them that. But GUESS WHAT!? They said other things too. Not the things I expected them to say, like "I learned that George Washington was a studmuffin,"  or "I learned that slavery sucks," or "I learned me some mad annotation skillz, and MLA format rulez."

But they didn't say these things. They said things like, "I learned that writing is inspirational."

"I learned how to tell a better story, and how to live a better story."

"I learned that sharing my opinion helps me, but it could also help others."

"I learned that true courage is being true to yourself," "that in order to be self reliant I have to be self reflective," "that I have the power to do anything with virtue, honor and courage," "that we all have the ability to do something amazing," "that I can help people," "that I should doubt my doubts," "that I can make decisions."

"I learned that I write good stories," "that if you want something, go and get it," "that you shouldn't do good to appear good, you should do good to be good."

"I learned to figure out where I stand on issues," "that conformity is the thief of originality."

"I learned to own my actions and thoughts."

"I learned to embrace my differences."

Some students wrote whole paragraphs, and one sweet girl went home and typed two pages about what she learned. Single spaced.

This is why I'm in love. Because what's not to be in love with, right?  What's not to be passionate about?

And GUESS WHAT!? There ain't no nevermind in passion.

(But there is passion in the stomach flu) (Just sayin') 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Best Days of My LIfe

I’m not one of those girls who cries a lot.

But lately I feeeeeel like crying—like when I'm listening to Dave Matthews, or when I’m hiking with my dog, or when I watch my sons studying.

Or when my students say “AHA!” or “Thank you,” or “This is so exciting!”

It feels like being pregnant, only without the vomit. 

Maybe I've discovered an alternative to pregnancy--something that creates a similar amount of emotional tenderness, but doesn’t include the stress over what you’re going to be able to eat next.

I think it requires reading and discussing ideas. On a daily basis. With a bunch of sassy pants teenagers.While simultaneously not getting enough sleep.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but sometimes during my classes, I forget to look at the clock. 

And sometimes I don’t wish I was the custodian.

And sometimes, when my students are interrupting each other to tell me what the sunshine represents in The Scarlet Letter, or why the ending is satisfying, I think to myself, “why did I want to get cancer again?”

Once in a while, I even think, “Why did I want my students to get cancer again?”

This I think, even if they call Hester Prynne a “Ho” or an “Idiot,” or Dimmesdale a Jerk.

I know, right? How did this happen?

Once I even thought, “If I were at home right now washing dishes and folding laundry I would have missed this conversation.”

But then I went home and we were out of clean dishes and clean socks, and I felt like crying all over again.

But I didn't.

I'm just not a crier.

Except in my sleep.

This morning I woke up and my pillow was wet. My face was wet too.

I had  been dreaming that my daughter was jumping around in our driveway in Hawaii with my three sons, who had little round crew-cut heads. She was 8 years old and her hair, parted in the middle, bounced off her shoulders as she spun around, singing with her signature raspy voice. As she turned toward me I caught sight of her face, dotted with familiar freckles, and I ran to her, pulled her into my arms, and hugged her tight.

I didn't let go either.

Then I burst into tears and said to my husband, "These are the best days of my life."

. Photobucket

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How can you tell you're in love . . .

. . . with your AP Language class?

Something about the way the students groan when the bell rings, then say, "We need to come to school earlier."

And how can you tell you're in love with your daughter?

You just know. Even before your water breaks at Kentucky Fried Chicken you know. And even after your heart breaks as she goes off to college you know.

But now she has gone off to study abroad in Paris. In other words, she's living my dream.

I would have lived my dream myself, if I hadn't decided to live my dad's dream of studying abroad in Isreal.

I could have lived my dream with my daughter if I hadn't decided to live my grandmother's dream of teaching high school.

Maybe someday, after I die, my granddaughter will live my dream of blogging across America in a van down by the river with my dog and my Nutribullet.

Sometimes I lay awake at night and think about how far away my daughter lives.

Instead of counting sheep I count miles. That's how I can tell I'm in love.

From God's view, I look like this, only with bigger hair.


Only a few days ago I could walk down the hall and down the stairs to reach my daughter.

Only a few months ago I didn't even have to get out of bed to talk with her through the closet between our rooms.

Only a few years ago, I could rub my belly and feel her reassuring kick.

But now she's in Paris.

She also got her mission call to Nashville, and she leaves one week after she returns from Paris.


I couldn't be happier.

At least I've got my AP Language class.