Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My words went on a road trip

You should probably head on over to MoreLoveLetters.com and read this article that I wrote. It just got published today. When is an article not an article and more of a blog post? Do I have to write for the Statesman Journal in order for my writing to be considered an article? I might have just written a blog post, but it fully includes an interview, so I am calling it an article because that sounds more professional.

Essentially, these four really talented hipster* musicians from my church are on tour, and I smuggled a parcel full of love letters on board for them to distribute around the country.

But you should go read the entire blog post article here. And then follow tourofsorts on Twitter. Unless you're my best friend, Natalie, who doesn't believe in Twitter. She doesn't even need it, because every time I read a really good tweet, I just text it directly to her iPhone. She really appreciates it.

*They'll probably tell you that they are not hipsters. But if you live in Portland and have worn a fedora, then you are a hipster in my book. Unless you're K-Fed, who never lived in Portland and is so 2006. Kevin Federline would just be described as...well, as a word not fit for this blog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

one year anniversary of freedom

Yesterday was June 17th, which marked my one year anniversary of not being a public school teacher. Is anniversary the right word? Can a person have an anniversary if they are not married or dating anybody?

June 17th was a big deal a year ago. I finished. I wasn't a quitter. I finished the school year and didn't give up. You have no idea how hard that was. As I reflect on the new life I have lived in the past year, it's amazing that all these great things happened. In the past year I....

*Spent glorious summer days being unemployed and floating in rivers
*Stopped having to take medication in order to sleep
*Stopped having dreams where people/animals where trying to kill/hurt me
*got a gmail account
*Started a business (small though it may be)
*Joined Hannah Brencher by becoming a letter writer with her project moreloveletters.com
*Became a children's church coordinator
*Participated in a three month discipleship group
*Met a teenage boy who didn't know how to read and tutored him
*Wrote curriculum for an after-school enrichment program focused on communication, digital media, and journalism
*Taught Bible Club to public school children four days a week for 8 months
*Was able to pay all my bills and didn't starve
*Joined a community group of girls from my church
*Had a social life with the BSG girls (Emily, we miss you!)
*Hosted a detective mystery party and a mustache party
*Wrote truth
*Scored a temporary job working full time with teens in an awesome program

But you want to know something that you might think is insane? Tomorrow I am submitting an application to teach middle school language arts in the fall. Part-time. It might turn out to be a yes, it might turn out to a no, but whatever happens, I know God's got me taken care of and that it's his best plan.

I'm looking forward to another year full of blessings.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Erin Brokovich is dead

I won't forget what my friend Leslie told me after she learned that I was volunteering my time four days a week to tutor a teenage boy who had never been to school. She said, "Joelle, you're like the Erin Brockovich of education." That's a lot to live up to. For one, my chest fails the expectation that Erin had of her own boobs. No amount of push-up bra will ever make me look like her.

Second, I didn't change anything. I failed, and it hurts. I didn't fight hard enough. I lost the battle. After getting Azarious enrolled in school for the first time in his life, and after four months of driving to his high school to teach him how to read during third period, it ended. When the second semester started, I was no longer put in to Azarious' schedule for one-on-one tutoring time. There's a lot that could be said about this, but I won't say it all. It does no good to point fingers at people's bad judgment calls. They can' t change their mistakes.

Azarious isn't going to school anymore. He dropped out before the school year ended, and I don't blame him. Yes, he had the physical ability to get to school and could have taken on the responsibility. But I get it. It's like telling a third grader that they need to take care of themself from now on, because no one else will help them. They don't have the training. As much as they want to take care of themself, it's hard. They need support.

I don't know what else to say. As much as I tried to be a hero, I failed. I guess it's God's reminder to me that try as I might, I can't save people. This thought doesn't help me sleep at night. But I know I serve a God of miracles. I serve the same God who held back the waters of the Red Sea, the God who brought Jericho tumbling down, the God who gave infant life through a geriatric woman. Though I fail, the Lord still does great things.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

a letter to Not My Husband

Dear Not-My-Husband,
Let's be honest here, Not My Future Husband has a greater probability of reading this than my future husband does, and I like to write for a larger audience, not just one person, so I am writing this letter to all the men who will never be my husband. Don't call me a cheater.

So Not My Husband, I have some things to tell you. First off, there are no hard feelings. You don't want to take me out to dinner and I probably think your car smells funny. It never would've worked out. You might already be married, or have a girlfriend, or you're ten years older than me, or eight years younger than me, or you are only attracted to blondes, or you only date models, or you find me annoying. The possibilities are endless, really.

You're probably wondering what it is I have to say to all the men who are not ever going to love me or be married to me, and it's this:

You are a good man. You may think I'm a liar. You may be thinking "How can Joelle use the collective 'you' with an audience she doesn't even know? What is if a child abuser is reading this right now and he is told he is a good man? I just can't believe anything you're saying."

Take it easy, fellow. I put a special filter on this particular post, and if you are not a good man, what comes up instead is a link to a virus. Your computer knows everything about you.

You are a good man. Too often we hear men spoken of in a negative way. Let me speak of the good men I have known. Chances are, you're one of them.

Good man, you make others feel safe.
You do the hard work when no one else steps up. 
You are cheerful to serve.
Good man, you are brave. 
You think through tough problems and come up with working solutions. 
You are kind. 
You stand up for your family, your friends--even a stranger. 
You speak truth. 
You make others laugh.
You have amazing talents, and your passion for what you love is inspiring.
You are honest.
You are a good man.
People are proud to know you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

dreadful gifts

It's totally abnormal, but I'm home at 8:20pm on a Thursday. This is nuts. I might have time to clean the bathroom, or do laundry, or take a shower. Or maybe I'll just tell you a story instead, because I haven't told one in a long time.

You know how you used to be little, and for your birthday each year, you would have a family birthday party with your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and siblings? I remember my last family party. I stopped inviting the relatives after it, for good reason. I was ten years old.

On my tenth birthday, I invited the usual characters over for some cake and ice cream. Maybe when you were ten, you had friends over for your birthday, but if my memory serves me well, I didn't have any friends. That left me stuck with blood relations. To be completely honest, I probably wasn't even going to have a birthday party when I turned ten, but I figured I wouldn't get any presents if I didn't, so I better invite the relatives over. Big mistake.

When it was time to unwrap gifts, I unwrapped a clothes box from my aunt. It took one glance for me to know I hated what was inside, but everyone kept screaming "Hold it up! Hold it up!" And so I lifted the horrific nightmare out of the box for all to see. It was a bubblegum pink nightgown with sheer sleeves and a giant picture of a Barbie printed on the front. I about died. Didn't they know I was turning ten, not five? To make matters worse, someone yelled "Hey, I think there's something else in there too!" Sure enough, there was. It was a pair of pink panties, size 12. [I would like you to know that I usually do not refer to underwear as panties, but in the previous sentence, the word came after pink, and I have this thing for alliteration. So it had to be pink panties. But in real life I call them underwear.] I remember being appalled that the underwear was a size 12, because those were incredibly huge for me. I remember thinking "does my family think I'm fat?" So not only was I receiving a childish and embarrassing nightie featuring Barbie, but I was also receiving a pair of underwear the size of a tent to go with it. But I am a gracious person and told my aunt thank you anyway.

 Then as fast as I could, I shoved the clothes back into the box. That's when I decided I would not have a family birthday party the next year; they could all mail me checks instead.

Question: Have you ever received a mortifying gift?
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