Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sun Used to Shine

There used to be a bright side to teaching, but it is currently under an eclipse. Let me tell you about when rays of sun used to beam in room C6. You know, despite the fact that our classroom has no windows.

I know that my kids last year loved me and still love me, and they know that I thought they were special. I get about three old students (now 5th graders) popping into my room in the morning, or saying hi to me after school, or giving me hugs during recess drop-off. It was mostly the girls, but Tyler is faithful to me after school every day, and three of my favorite boys visited in the morning on Tuesday. I hear from the 5th grade teachers how it is so weird that these kids are so good, and I like to think they are talking about the kids that were in my class.

What I enjoyed the most about my class from last year was that they left me loving Jerry Spinelli as much as I do. You mention Jerry Spinelli to any one of my old kids, and I guarantee their eyes will light up. After our second Jerry Spinelli book, I remember TJ saying "I think Jerry Spinelli is one of the most genius authors of our time." This comment, from the 10 year old kid who loves football. We laughed over Fourth Grade Rats. We cried over Eggs. Our futures were changed during The Library Card. And all three of those things happened during Maniac Magee. Then there was Steven, who was a high level reader and had the privilege of reading Wringer independently.

Those were the moments that I have to hold on to, in hopes that they will happen again.

Thank you so much to the people who have sent me encouraging messages. It's nice to hear those things from someone besides my mom. I was happily surprised on Wednesday. And maybe I was a bit pathetic and teared up slightly.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Future Whatever

My sister and I are driving downtown. We've just gone and eaten some really delicious crepes for brunch, and now we're on our way to the paper store. I adore paper. If I wouldn't become dirt poor, I would open up my own paperie. Joelle's Paperie. Or Kokomo's Paperie (Kokomo is the nickname my mom sometimes calls me). So we're in the car, driving, right?

And then we're stopped at an intersection by the mall, and I see the backside of a really attractive man on the sidewalk. He's got a wheelie cart, like the ones people sell hot dogs out of, only there isn't a hot dog or snow cone in sight. He's talking to a woman who is clearly older than him. I'm jealous. He's got on faded jeans and even though I can only see the side of his face, I know he is beautiful. And he's got a bit of facial hair, but I can look past that. He's probably about 26 or 27.

I point him out to my sister and she informs me that he's been there awhile. Or maybe not him, specifically, but that she's seen that cart parked there several times. I try to figure out what he sells, because the woman isn't holding anything. I spot a red cooler underneath the cart. I use my super 20/20 vision and zoom in on the counter of the cart, whereupon I spot a jar of peanut butter, Nutella (mmmmm), and a bear of honey. I start to dialogue with my sister about what he might be selling.
 "Maybe it's crepes," I guess. Because you know, we've just come from eating crepes. And Nutella crepes are delicious.
"Maybe waffles," my sister ventures.
Because clearly it's some sort of carbohydrate, because all of those toppings go on bread. Bagels just seem so lame. Like, why buy a bagel off of a street cart when you can buy a bag of them in the grocery store?
"Did you see how hot he was?" I ask Jess.
"Yes, partially. And he owns his own business." If you could count a wheelie cart as your own business. "Maybe you could marry him," my sister finishes.
I ponder a bit, thinking.

"This is what I could do. Since he had nothing on display, and we have no idea what he sells, I could walk up to him and say 'Can I have one, with everything on it?" We both laugh a bit.
"Did you see anything else?" my sister asks.
"No, nothing except peanut butter, Nutella, and honey." I pause, thinking. I turn to look at Jess, who is driving. "I've got it!" I say. "I know. He must sell toast. He's a toast vendor."
She looks at me and we both giggle. But honestly, it makes sense. You put peanut butter on toast. You put honey on toast. And most deliciously, you put Nutella on toast.

So the toast guy is going to be my future husband. Or whatever.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Last September

I think this may be the last September. I pray to God that it will be. I had hope that things would take a turn for the better, but instead we've turned a sharp corner and rammed straight into a pile of garbage cans. I'm not sure how much longer my voice will hold out. I was on the elliptical at the gym (first time in about 5 weeks), thinking that maybe this is the last September I will need to prepare for. That my last first day of school may have passed for good. That this could be it.

If you have a child who goes to school, then I hope you pray for their teacher. They need it more than anything. God bless teachers, they are abused. I did the math and I get paid $0.81 to teach each child per hour. If I had a child, I think I would be willing to spend much more than that. I mean, heavens, would you hire a tutor for your child who thought 81 freaking cents was fair? I would pay more and I would request that their class size was no larger than 15. Teachers can't save everyone, we just can't.

I did some more math and did a very low-ball estimate that last year I spent an extra 245 hours at school. Minimum. That is the equivalent to 30 work days. Would you want to work for 30 days for free? I mean, lord, try paying your rent with that kind of wage. 

I'm not trying to make myself out to be a martyr. I'm just telling you that I don't think I can last much longer. I keep thinking back to a book I read about time and finances, and how you need to tell yourself "I am not on sale." Because I swear, everyone seems to think teachers are on sale. That we should go for a bargain. And we do. You are getting a damned good deal.

But enough of that. Let me tell you about how recently I have been consuming a lot of Dove chocolate, because 1) the chocolate is divine, and 2) the wrappers have little messages that I sort of take as cryptic letters from God or whatever. I kept this one that said "What would you do if you could not fail?" Because what would I do? My word, I have a list. It's the list that excites me to think about, the list that makes me bubble with joy to think about.

And I think to myself, what would I give to get out? What would I do to rescue myself from this? I think about how much time I have wasted not doing what I love, and of how much time I have spent trying to do something that I thought I would love. And I think of how I have failed.

I am not usually one to give up. But there comes a point when you need to realize it's just not worth it. This September is it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Death Steals Hearts

Death steals hearts. It steals the hearts of the ones we love right out of their beds at night. It not only takes them, it takes you.

Death can take our hearts and make them bitter. It can nab our hearts and make them lonely. Or death can steal our hearts and make them sad. When one person dies, we might feel a bit of ourselves go as well.

Even when we’re expecting it, we fall apart. Death takes us someplace nothing else can. It makes us think about our own lives, how we could have loved more, how we could have loved differently. It takes us deep into the past, thinking of every little moment we can remember with that person who is now gone. Hanging on is dear, but letting go is dearest of all.

I’m standing there, under the gorgeous blue sky, rays of sunshine beaming down on me. I’m standing there, clothed in black, surrounded by family, all of dressed like raven birds. I’m standing there, looking out on the hilltop, past the headstones, and what I see is all the fields and farmhouses and animals. Because here we are, here she is, back where she most wanted to be. Less than a mile from her childhood home. Less than a mile from the church she grew up in and got married in. Surrounded by our heritage, encased in the setting that supported hard work and saving. Here she is, lying next to her husband again, under the glistening sun. She would have wanted to be here the most. She had been waiting.

Let me tell you about my grandma.

She grew up near Hillsboro, in Bethany. She went to the Presbyterian Church near her childhood home for years and years, even got married there. She married my grandpa, Roy, and they had a dairy farm together. The story that I heard this morning goes like this: Grandpa had some young men out working with him in the hay field. It was lunch time and one of the men opened up his lunch to reveal a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My Grandpa Roy said “What the hell is that?” And the man said, “It’s lunch.” Roy told him it sure wasn’t, and that he’d better come back to the house for a real meal. They got there and my grandma had a proper lunch going. Cheese and sausage, I’m sure. And probably potatoes and applesauce, along with some bread. Undoubtedly. The man said there was more food there than he’d seen at his Thanksgiving dinner. Well, from then on he left his lunch at home, because he learned that Betty knew how to feed the farm boys. I remember walking in that white farm house door at ten o’clock or two o’clock, she always asked you if you wanted something to eat. And when you said no she put food in front of you anyway.

Later, when my grandparents moved away from Bethany, my grandma still was a faithful Presbyterian. She went to the same church for over 50 years. As I was sitting in that same church for the funeral, I learned two things. First thing was, Grandma helped run that church. She taught Sunday School in her early years and helped build part of that church. My Grandpa Roy was building the wing and Grandma was on the phone calling everyone saying “You’d better come down and help my husband build the church.” Years later, after my grandpa died, Grandma worked in the church office. And even later, after she had to move off the farm and into a retirement center, she was still there every Thursday at 9:30am to fold bulletins. The pastor said he knew he couldn’t be late those days, because you could count on Betty to be there at 9:30 sharp, ready to fold those bulletins. She came, even when she had to use her cane to hobble across the parking lot. She was too stubborn to use a wheelchair, of course.

She was too stubborn and fed you right, that was my grandma. She was faithful and worked hard.

If you should learn anything from reading about her, then learn this: work hard and take care of people.

Yes, Death steals hearts. But Love can take it right back.

Betty Jean Grossen
Sept. 1, 1928 to Sept. 16, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Make It Rain

Friday, 9/24/10  8:23pm, my bedroom

I went to my Grandma's funeral today. Life right now just feels so surreal, like none of it can be true. Because how did I get to this? How did I end up here? The parts of life that I hate the most are the parts where I don't get to choose. Sure, I can pick what college I go to, but I can't decide when death will take my family. And I can choose which house I live in, but I can't decide who is going to love me. The parts that mean the most to me are the parts I have no control over. They are unexpected. Having faith that God loves me when I feel like he has abandoned me is tough. Believing that this is all part of a beautiful plan is not easy. But I still have a tiny sliver of hope. I've written this before, but I'll write it again: My hope is like a single blade of grass poking through the crusty dirt clods in a barren dirt field. It is tiny, nearly invisible, but it is still there.

Make it rain, God. Make it rain.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Read About Something Happy Instead

If you are looking for something to make you feel better about your crappy life, then continue to read this post. If you want out, then take a happy diversion and read this instead. Because I'm about to tell you why my life sucks so bad. I felt so bad about my life today, that I went to my sister's to cry and to watch Hoarders on her cable TV. Because Hoarders reminds me that other people have anxiety attacks much worse than I do, and that at least I don't have 17 dogs and 22 cats living in my house defecating all over the place, and at least protective services isn't about to take my kids away from me (though right now I sort of wish they'd take 30 from me).


I'm not going to tell you all of the reasons my life really sucks, because some things are too private, even for the world wide inter-web of blogging. But I will fully let you know that I spent a solid 11 hours at work today. I was at school until 7:30 last night for Open House, so that I could meet parents yesterday. I'm not even counting yesterday, that wasn't the 11 hours. Even though I was there so late, I had to wake up an hour early today so that I could get to school early this morning and prep all the stuff I needed for teaching today. And then I stayed for three more hours after school was over.

Because of this, I missed out on my kickboxing class since I was there too late. Which means that on top of being mad, I am also probably getting fatter. Because you know, I've only worked out for 3 hours in the past four weeks. And believe me, you don't want to mess with a fat, angry teacher. We're fierce.

You are just lucky I went to my sister's first and didn't come straight home and start writing. If I had done that, then this post would have been full of curse words. Probably even the f word spelled out in its entirety. And I don't even cuss.

Oh my word, I think I am turning into a psychopathic person with split personalities.

Now that you've read this far, I probably trust you enough to tell you other things. Like a truck driver traversing America, you're in it for the long haul. So why did I need to spend 3 extra hours after school? Well, because I had to plan for a substitute for Thursday and Friday. And I can't just write up any old rubbish, though I got so mad when the clock neared 6:20pm that Friday afternoon is not looking good for the kids.

Why do I need a substitute for Thursday and Friday? Well, because death steals your family, that's why. I didn't want to bring my Grandma into this because she doesn't deserve to be thrown in with an angry post about how much my life sucks; she deserves one devoted just to her. But I'll let you know the gist of it.

My maternal grandpa died in the middle of August. It was sudden and unexpected and now he's gone and my mom no longer has her father. Last Thursday my paternal grandma passed away. It wasn't a huge shock as her health had been failing, but it is still a loss. And now the other side of my family is hurting. She's gone, and my dad no longer has either of his parents. Two deaths in less than a month is kind of hard.

You don't need to care, you really don't. But I just want you to know that I'm not some perfect person with a really awesome life. I'm real, just like you are, and right now I feel like I'm suffocating.

If I left you feeling a bit depressed, I'm sorry. Just remember, probably somebody out there still loves you. I will if you want me to. For reals.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nikita: a TV review

I watched the pilot episode of Nikita, and I think so far so good. It has Shane West in it, which was a big motivation to watch, because you know, he's so handsome. But I mainly watched Nikita because I still miss Alias, and Covert Affairs is sort of lacking on the action. After watching Nikita, I read some of the comments posted on the show site, and boy were people riled up. I could tell they were people like me: people who watched and loved Alias.

Let me tell you the weird parts. In Alias, Sydney Bristow thought she worked for a black ops division of the CIA, (but it was really evil SD-6) and they had her fiance, Daniel Hecht murdered. Then Syd found out and joined the real CIA, whereupon she fell in love with the super hot Agent Michael Vaughn. Sydney worked to bring down the people she used to work for, SD-6.

In Nikita, Nikita worked for a hidden division in the CIA called simply, Division, as an assassin. Then she fell in love with a civilian named Daniel and he was killed by the CIA. Then Nikita has a relationship with another CIA agent named Michael. Nikita is working to take down the people she used to work for.

The CW show currently airing is based on the 1990 French film Nikita, 1993 remake Point of No Return, and the 1997 television series La Femme Nikita. Apparently Alias was a direct copy of La Femme Nikita. Now, I haven't watched the other Nikita, so I can't compare it to Alias, but I think that Alias had a good run and was an excellent show, even if it did share conceptual ideas. I sort of feel like the current Nikita has a lot to live up to. The tail end of the pilot had a surprising twist, though, so I have been hooked and plan to keep watching.

Any one else watch it? It airs Thursdays at nine on the CW.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekend Recovery??

The weekend is a really great time to drown out the horrible reality of my life. So what I did was on Friday night I watched an episode of Covert Affairs on Hulu, and then I watched the pilot of Nikita (of which I will devote an entire post to soon, like maybe Monday or Tuesday). And while staring at my computer screen, I rapidly put peanut butter M&Ms in my mouth. They are my Jack Daniels. I also searched various websites for job openings, and found ducklings for sale on Craigslist. Then I went to bed at 9:15.


On Saturday I did two really great things for myself, to help get my life back on track. The first thing I did was put away the mound of clothes that I had worn in the past two weeks. Plus I did laundry. The second good thing I did for myself was actually brush my hair. I was about to jump in the shower, and was like "hmmm, maybe I should comb through this mane before washing it." Only I don't have a comb or a brush, I have a pick. You know, like for afros. The teeth are very much spaced apart, kind of like in the mouths of people from select towns in Alabama. While combing through my hair with a large amount of difficulty, I started to realize something. I hadn't brushed my hair probably in four days. Because what I do is take showers at night, go to bed with wet hair that I don't comb, wake up, and fix the curls. I didn't wear my hair straight one day last week, because it is a lot of work. So there I am, pulling through my strands, losing enough hair to make a wig, thinking this is not so good. But don't worry too much, because I still have enough hair for the both of us.

Then later on Saturday I went to the Oktoberfest with my sister in the pouring rain, but we were ready for it in ponchos, galoshes, and umbrellas. Okay, so actually just a light jacket, we're Oregonians. When I got home from eating deep fried mushrooms and strawberry shortcake (which comforts the soul), I did something that is not so great. I watched Teen Mom on MTV.

The thing about watching Teen Mom is, it really cheered me up. Because I don't have a step-father named Butch who has a mullet and is also my boyfriend's father, and I don't have a baby, and I'm not living in a ghetto apartment. Plus, I fully have my high school diploma. So watching Teen Mom really makes a person feel better about their crappy life.

After watching MTV and finishing off the large bag of peanut butter M&Ms, I finished reading my overdue library book. I'm not even going to tell you the title of it, because it was about a girl who had her brain swapped with a super model, so now she's living in this really hot body. Only her employer is trying to murder her, and the actual super model wants her body back, and the girl has a computer hacker boyfriend who wears fingerless leather gloves. Which is enough to make me say, "hey girl, maybe this guy is a bit sketch." But I probably shouldn't be so judgmental of people's clothes because he ended up saving her life three times. At any rate, you probably don't want to read it, and the only reason I did was because it was the last in a series (yep, I read more of them prior), and it was written by one of my favorite authors.

On Sunday I went to church and then spent four hours in my dungeon-like classroom. Which brings us to now. Now I am sitting in front of my computer about to hate life all over again, because tomorrow is Monday and I'll have to go back to work.

Hope you're doing better.

Friday, September 17, 2010

If you're not a princess you have to rescue yourself

I don't own a tiara. Not even a little one from Claire's. The white horse wasn't mine. I don't sleep in a canopy bed, and my maid service never showed up. Like Taylor Swift said, I'm not a princess and this ain't a fairy tale.

Now I've got to rescue myself. No one is coming after me to get me out of this mess. If only I could freeze time like Briar Rose. One hundred years of sleep sounds blissful right now.

What I've got to do is pull up my britches and get to work. I've got to learn to tread water fast, because I was too dumb to put on the life preserver, and no one's throwing me a floating ring. It's no one's job to rescue me, and no one's going to volunteer for it either. Taking care of me is something no one will ever do. I vainly think, who is stronger than me? Who has more of a Titan shell than I do? But then I must think, whose core is as broken as well? Perhaps instead I am mistaking hardness for strength.

But I suppose at this point it doesn't much matter, because when I was soft it didn't do me any good either. I just cried more. When no one is there to wipe your tears away, you learn to hold it in.

No, this is a rescue I'll be forced to do alone. The thing about not being a princess is that you've got to steal the horse for your getaway.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Count me out

This is the part where I make myself sound like a really big jerk. It's the part where you will find out that I am a mean, terrible person. It's the part where I complain and whine and am full of anger and despair. In short, it's the part where I lose it.

On Tuesday, September 7th I almost posted this entry where I was going to be all inspirational about my incoming class. It's a good thing I didn't, because I guess I don't mean any of it. I was going say "I will meet 28 new faces, and I will be given 175 days with them to influence, change, and transform their lives. One-hundred-seventy-five days to do God's work. Because this is more than a job. If I were looking for a way to make money, I would have picked something else. This is different. I do this job because I have to. Because if not me, then who? If not now, then when?"  But then you know, 28 faces turned to 30. 175 days was more like 182. And transforming their lives turned into me sitting at my desk while they were in PE, wanting to cry. Most significantly, if not me then you. And if not now, then later. Or never.

It's not like I hate my kids. I like them all as individuals. But trying to teach 30 kids who will never shut up is basically impossible. They make me be mean to them. I don't like who I become when I am standing in front of them. 

Time makes this task feel impossible. I have to plan for modeled reading lessons, guided reading lessons, science, math, interventions, and writing in about a 45 minute slot. Plus you know, analyze student work. I get to work early, stay late, then work at home. All I want to do is sleep and dream, because when I am doing that I can attempt an escape from this overwhelming pressure. Unless my kids haunt my dreams, which they often do. This is time in my life that I will never get back, sanity that could be forever lost, and I have to ask myself is it really worth it?

I want to be terribly selfish right now. Find a job where I am respected, a job where I don't have to play mom to 30 poorly behaved children. A job where I leave on time. Something that doesn't make me want to cry. It's not just the degree of rottenness in the kids, either. It's less of that and more of other things. It's the span of the skills that I feel I can never teach. I have students who are more than two years behind grade level. How will I ever get them to achieve? I know it's possible, I know people can do it and have done it...I just don't know that I am one of those people.

It's all too much.

I want to change lives, I want to love kids, I want to help them succeed. But when the only life I am changing is mine, and it is for the worse, I think this game needs to end. I think that this may be the last.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Proposals

When I was in college I went to this girls' college group mixer. We were supposed to get to know each other better. Everyone brought something for dinner, we ate, and then we branched off into smaller groups. In one of the rooms, my group started off the conversation with "what is your dream proposal?"

I was kind of taken aback by the question. It was honestly something I had never thought of. Dream guy, yes. Dream wedding, yes. But the proposal? Not so much. I mean, with a wedding you have at least a 50% say in the matter. But why bother ever thinking about an awesome proposal when you can't control a bit of it? It's not exactly like I'm going to write it down on paper and then slip it to the guy in an envelope.

We went around the room and all the girls shared their fatasies of beach sunsets and carriage rides and Eiffel Tower moments. Then they got to me.

"Uh, I guess, maybe, like....the guy and I are in a car and we're being pursued and shot at by some criminals or something, and we think we're about to die. And then he's like 'I love you, Joelle. If we make it, will you marry me?'"

To which all of the girls sort of dropped their jaws and replied "so like, you want him to propose only when you're about to die?" Well, when you put it that way. But I thought it sounded romantic. I guess we could be in an airplane that's about to crash, too. But why build up some perfect moment in your head? Because if it goes anyway but that, you could be disappointed.

If I ever do convince a man to propose to me though, I know what kind of ring I want. Edwardian style setting, white gold, size four. Kind of like this.
    or this

Friday, September 10, 2010

Survived

tWhat you really need to know is that my classroom's space is maxed out at 30 students, my feet ache, my voice is hoarse, and that on the 2nd day of school we had a lock down because of an attempted murder nearby. I really like all my kids, but they are a handful. More later on all that business. I just got home from a massage and some tasty Panda Express, and am on my way to my sister's for a hot tubbing extravaganza. I'll probably fall asleep while I'm in there, at like, 8:23. And then I'll dream about school. My dreams are basically like my prep time, because last night I fully dreamed through the whole scenario on how I would teach word study and dictation, which helped to prepare me for today. You totally covet my life, I know.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cub Ears

Oh my gosh I sort of mostly want these. They also have a detachable crocheted bow. I also sort of wish I were Elsie from A Beautiful Mess.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

D-Day

Oh my word *said in a southern accent*, I am going to throw up. Kids come tomorrow morning. God save me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things that make you laugh

The first weekend in August my mom, aunts, grandma, sister, and I all went to Lincoln City to stay in a beach house and have girl time. Chocolate was abundant, dinners were delicious, the casino was visited, shopping was done, and the beach was enjoyed. But nothing beat game time after dinner.

The first night we played Apples to Apples, which was pretty good. The second night Aunt Brenda told us how to play "Things." Things is an actual game, but since we didn't have it with us, we made our own cards. I jotted down on a piece of notebook paper a bunch of things. Like, things that smell good, things that blow up, things that are warm, and things you wouldn't say to your boss.
Then we got to "things Gram does that are funny." It was my turn to read what people had written about Gram when the laughter overtook us all. I had read "just be herself," but several people thought I had said "just pee herself." This is what happened:
video

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Things that make you brave

1. Wearing a costume or a mask, especially Superman, Batman, or a mascot that completely covers your body in fur so that nobody can recognize you
2. being put in charge
3. losing someone you love
4. alcohol, especially tequila
5. having someone believe in you and tell you they think you can do it
6. starting over with nothing 
7. wearing sunglasses, especially the big Jackie O type ones
8. thinking you are about to lose something or someone you care about
9. emergency situations, like when you have to dial 911 or save a person's life
10. holding someone's hand

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Beautiful Day to Die

August 12th was the most beautiful day to live. The sky was clear, the sun was shining radiantly, and the summer air was fresh as line dried laundry. August 12th was also the most beautiful day to die.

Everything was perfect.

Papa had spent the weekend before that Thursday with his family. His son and daughter-in-law came to visit from Washington state, along with one of his grandsons, who came all the way from Washington D.C. Papa also got to see the daughter of his who lived farthest away, along with her husband, who might as well have been his blood son. Ron thought of Alan as his father, and they spent the weekend together having adventures.

That morning, Papa woke up and had cereal with blueberries and bananas, toast with jam, and coffee. He had ridden his bike for thirty minutes, taken a shower, and shaved. From the way things began, the day should have been smashing. And oh, how it was.

It smashed our hearts. Smashed them right into bitty pieces. Because there was my dear grandpa, their father, her husband, leaving us for good. Departing from us the day before his 71st birthday. He winked at them right until the end, trying to let us know it would all be okay, even when there were no words left.

He took all the words we wanted to say with him: I love you.

That night, while most of us laid our tear-stained faces upon our pillows for a night of restless sleep, something else happened. The Perseids meteor shower lit up the night sky. Hundreds of meteors sizzled through the atmosphere, and I think that Papa wanted to be a part of it. He had to leave us so he could make it there in time.

What I do is shut my eyes and press on my lids until I start to see a light show. And then I begin to imagine. I'm lying on my roof, or some grassy hill, and I'm watching the meteors fall. Light streaks through the sky, the tails disappearing. And there's Papa, a goofy grin on his face, blitzing through the raven sky. It's a flash of light, a blink--him winking at us from far above. He's a piece of cosmic dust burning through the Earth's atmosphere.

While we were holding each other that night, hugging one another like we'd never let go, Papa was being held, too. The stars were holding him that night.

Alan J. Schmidt 
August 13, 1939 - August 12, 2010 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Recalculating...your soul

Let's be honest. I don't know who you are. You could be a perfect stranger, or my best friend, or somebody I'm trying to impress. Let's forget the pretense; I'm going to be straight with you.

Life is like you're driving along with the guidance of a GPS, trying to reach your end goal. You've punched in the address you want to get to, you've selected your favorite male accent to read you the lefts and rights, you're just listening for what to do next.
But you keep making mistakes and are really bad at reading maps and just recently learned which way is North at age 24. God is the GPS, and every time you make a wrong move, he recalculates you. This path isn't going to work out so he takes you on a different route. It could have worked, but you messed up, or someone else changed things for you, so now your path has been recalculated by the Almighty GPS.

It is said so calmly, too. "Recalculating." Never a "don't worry, I'll get you there," not a "boy, you really screwed that one up," just a simple "recalculating."

But this is how I feel. I feel like my car has a dead battery or a flat tire and my brakes are out or I've taken 25 wrong turns. I get no cell reception and my triple A card has expired. Everything is so lost that there is hardly a hope of getting back on the right road. I've felt like God has abandoned me. Straight up left me on the side of the road. Or maybe in the middle of the road with a pile of cars lined up behind me, honking at me fiercely and telling me to get the hell out of the way.

I feel like there's some fatal end to all of this. Now that I'm lost on a country road all by myself, my car's engine is going to ignite into flames. And I don't have a fire extinguisher.
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