Friday, November 15, 2013


Right now my cat and companion is in the pet hospital and I am at home, moving back and forth between a midterm paper and looking at pictures of him, telling myself he may not get better and hoping he does. He's dealing with- and has been dealing with for some time, although I didn't realize it- a very serious, common feline disease that mainly strikes the boy kitties, and it strikes them hard.

For the last few days, I have watched him progress from struggling to pee, to failing to pee, to failing to move. Last night, he walked slowly down the hallway to our bedroom, hopped so softly onto our comforter and dragged himself to my side of the bed. When I laid down next to him, he hit his face against mine like he always does, and that was the last time he interacted with me. This morning I woke up and called the vet to ask him how I could help Willie die.

Steven and I had decided that we couldn't afford the very expensive, possibly ineffective treatment that Willie needed. We talked again and again about how Willie is an animal that we love, but an animal nonetheless and that the money we have is already assigned to needs in our life. Like rent and my graduate school program; the money we have is only enough for maintaining Willie's life, not saving it. But we have been trying so hard to save him.

Several trips to the vet, syringes full of medicine, water and mushy food to get him even the littlest nutrition. We've been sitting by his litter box for hours, holding hands, watching him shake and strain to pee. We've counted all the little dots of his urine, shoved muscle relaxers into his little mouth, and helped him onto his pillow when he couldn't make it himself.

This morning, I brushed my hands on his fur and willed my love for this tiny, dependent creature to make him well. I begged his body to fix itself and I catch myself begging still, please just get better, Willie. But so far this process has been a disappointing one and I don't have much hope that he'll stay better, even if the treatment works.

When I asked the vet what I could do this morning, he tried to schedule a hospital visit to do the emergency catheter and fluids, but I told him we couldn't afford it. He convinced me he would figure out a price that works and that he really wanted to help Willie. Steven and I agreed that, one time only, we would pay the amount and try the treatment. Most everything I read online says that once isn't enough, that cats with this problem need to return for the catheter again and again; ultimately, surgery is the best bet. So, we're back to where we were; biding our time, hoping for the best, expecting the worst.

I think I have spent the last 48 hours saying goodbye, smelling his fur, telling him I'm sorry.

I am sorry for him and I'm sorry for us. And I'm embarrassed about how carried away I am at the thought of losing my friend. I think of my dad and Steven's Burkinabe friends and what they would think of ME and the visceral grief I feel for this feline. I think of so many reasons why I should just pull it together, value the time I had with him, and embrace the reality of life and death. I am judging myself for feeling too much and for not being able to "do enough". The typical stages of grief, I'm sure. Or whatever.

Right now I just want to embrace my kitty without hurting him, even if it's to say goodbye.

If you've read this far, you care about my cat and so I wont be embarrassed to list a few things about him:
Willie gives me hugs and I love them
Willie loves salty snacks and he always tries to steal our movie popcorn
Willie has ten different meows and they all sound like words to me
Willie follows me from room to room, he keeps me company when Steven works long night shifts
Willie has the happiest tail

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Letter to Myself

I am now a full time graduate student, which means that I spend most of the day in my pajamas telling myself I can't watch anymore TV until I do some work. Today, I completed one of my first assignments: a letter to myself, reminding me why I want to become a teacher.

You're on your way to becoming a teacher. At moments, you feel certain that this is what you want. You imagine all of the wonderful men and women who taught you over the years and you are overwhelmed with gratitude. How did they do it? How can you be like them? As a student you saw your teachers (the good ones, anyway) as wise, kind and constant. Now that you are stepping into their shoes, you imagine that there must have been times when they felt as you feel now: scared and small in the face of all you must do and be for yourself, your students, their parents, and the system. You know there are moments when the job you do will feel impossible. Fight the fear, push through the frustrations, and remember that there are ten reasons for becoming a teacher for each one against.  
You love people, especially young and awkward people. You love to share with them and to learn from them. You treasure their stories and their potential, you are humbled when you think of the opportunity you will have to be a positive presence in the lives of your students. What's more, you love adventures and working with people is always an adventure. Remember, however, that adventures are not always fun. You also like to be bossy and this is your chance. 
When you think of becoming a teacher, you think of some of the things you loved about being in school: the challenge of learning something new and how good you felt when you accomplished something that was not easy. As a teacher, you will be challenged every day to be an expert in your content area, to create lessons that will engage and grow your students' knowledge. Being a teacher will be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but that is part of the reason you want to teach. You can see that the most difficult things in life are often the most important (like not eating an entire bag of chocolate chips in one sitting even though you really want to). Your character will be refined as you are constantly striving to be the best of yourself. You will learn things from your students you did not know they could teach you. 
You want to teach because you can't help but to keep returning to the idea of teaching. You have tried to stay away, to find a job that pays more and requires less. (You could have been a movie star if you weren't always eating bags of chocolate chips.) You looked for jobs like teaching, all the while telling yourself you didn't want to spend the rest of your life in a classroom... But you do, you want to teach and you want so badly to be good at it. You want the chance to share your favorite books; to lead meaningful discussions; and to equip your students with the skills they need to make reasoned, well-supported claims in their writing and in their lives. You want to provide a safe place for those who need it and a scary place for teenagers who think they are the shit.  
You are at the beginning of the process but you are not far from having a classroom of your own. Now, act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly as you join the ranks of some of the most special humans on earth: (English) teachers. 

If you are already a teacher and you are finding some serious (albeit adorable) misconceptions in my letter, don't tell me. Finding out for myself will be half the fun and, then, if I call you crying one day because none of my students appreciate Shakespeare, you won't be able to say "I told you so." 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Ravings of a Potentially Homeless Twenty-Something

When I woke up this morning, I jumped on Craigslist first thing, as I have been doing every morning for awhile now, to find our next apartment. Link after link of places that we can't afford, don't like, aren't real all in the hopes of finding the perfect place eventually. As long as eventually comes around real soon. And we've found a few places, and gone to look at them, and even really liked one or two, but none so much as the one we looked at this morning. Oh, we liked it so much. Enough to ignore the lack of closet space, or cabinets in the kitchen, or height of the shower. Enough to say, wewantitwe'lltakeit and have the landlord say OK, it's yours! just fill out the application I email to you later and write that deposit check when you get home.

OK we said, and the world was a f**king dream.

And for the last several hours I've been clinging to that dream like an (insert metaphor here), while sitting in front of a computer trying to pound out ten pages worth of a grad paper, My Reflections on Adolescent Literacy. I have not been doing a good job, writing and un-writing paragraphs that have no direction, on the edge of freaking out that this paper might never happen.

Hysteria mounting, I checked my email to see if the beautiful application to our apartment would be waiting for me! And it was, with a note from the landlord saying "I've never been in this situation before but, bla bla someone else also really liked the apartment too, and says they'll pay more than you, so, if you want to match or exceed their offer, then THIS time, it's yours!" NEVERMIND that he stood there in the kitchen saying some bullshit about first-come-first-serve.

Now I'm crying in front of the computer, not writing my paper or functioning as an adult human, but rather a baby human, writing the book Reflections on the Evening I Lost My Mind. 

I can feel myself collapsing inward, rubbing my own back in the sickest display of self-pity that says "Papers are hard to write, thinking is hard to do, no more please."

And maybe I'm PMSing, but I'm also just scared. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Where Are They Now?

I’ve been prompted multiple times since college -when trying to decide on a career- to think of what I would do if no one were paying me. What would I do if it weren’t about the money? I know this is meant to be a liberating question- the clouds should part for the sun to shine on the one thing-the sum of my talents and joys- that would lead to purpose, meaning, AND a paycheck, but that hasn't worked for me yet.

Before starting my undergrad, I asked myself What do I like to do?
I like to read books and sing show tunes. I like to drink coffee and eat popcorn. I like to ask foreigners how to say __________ in their native language and then I like to repeat that phrase back to them every time I see them. I like to make friends. I like to pull my suitcase through airports, especially when wearing a scarf.
With that list in mind, I became an English major. I read a lot of books and drank a lot of coffee and watched the movie versions of those books and ate a lot of popcorn. I saw my friends in shows, but didn't do any myself. And then I graduated and started looking for a job. And I found a job, but not THE job. I'm still hoping for THE job, but maybe there is no such thing. In which case, What would I do if it weren't about money? That, my friends, is called Saturday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hello Again

I’ve been doing a lot of online window shopping, browsing shoes and international flights. There is a pair of boots I have my eye on that would go VERY well with London. I’ve also been uncomfortably full for a couple days now, but I keep on eating. I’m currently dealing with some stresses in the form of questions about my/our future, in the form of doubt about where we are right now versus where we should be etc. And I’m sure some of you might argue that where you are is where you should be but we all know that is not always true. We are not always where we should be. And then, there are many of you who would say be where you are, but I’m not very good at that. Which is part of why I can’t stop eating. The other part is that food is just so darn good.

I had lunch with a friend today. It was delicious, thank you, and while we visited we talked about the periods of life when you feel like you’re all over the place and everything is coming up question marks:
What do I want to do? Am I preoccupied with the idea that there is something unique for me to do?
How can I get my hair to grow faster?
Why is it, exactly, that I have MULTIPLE pieces of clothing with safety pins holding them together?
Where can I find the Willie Wonka candy that tastes like a three-course meal? Girlfriend NEEDS to stop eating.

As you can see, I have a lot on my mind. It makes me want to take a leave of absence, borrow allthemusicals from the library, and sit on the couch with my cat.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hide It Under a Bushel

Over the last few months, Steven and I have lost our power twice.

Oh man, how NOT awesome is that?!? Worrying about the food in the fridge, relocating what you can to a friend's freezer or the fridge in the work breakroom. Throwing away a jar of salsa that could not be saved... one of the saddest things I've ever had to do. And then, of course, the small nuisances like flipping the light switch only to be instantly reminded that the power is out and, funnily enough, has been out for days, but your body continues to go through the motions.

Then there's the bathing in freezing cold water and the way getting dressed and applying makeup has become dependant on the use of a headlamp and the small sphere of light it casts in your bathroom mirror. Which, honestly, is pretty creepy.

Oh headlamp, I have known thee well.

I can't even enjoy thunderstorms anymore, a supreme bummer, because they've always been one of my favorite things. Now when the sky gets dark, I turn into Mrs. Banks from Mary Poppins, grabbing the vase on the piano and holding the picture frames like a cannon is about to go off.

I'm not joking.

Losing power has reminded me that I am not actually in control of anything except for how I respond to the circumastances of my life. And how I respond is to get really angry and begrudglingly play UNO with Steven in the dark, and criticize the way he lays his cards down, and to only smile when he takes a picture of me to post on instagram.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Late Bloomer

I found out yesterday that a local community theater is holding auditions for a summer musical. Since I spend half of my waking hours wishing I were a famous actress and the other half reading about famous actors, the thought of acting again dazzled me.

I found the theater group up online and scoured their archives for photos and videos of past productions. Initially, I thought that it would be a piece of cake to land a roll, and maybe a good roll, if I pulled myself together by Saturday morning. I compared myself to what I was seeing and figured a group that operates out of a school auditorium would be right up my alley.

But then I started watching videos of girls who were five years younger than me, adorable, confident and talented. And then I started reading everything I could find about the actors: articles in local papers, facebook about me sections, and interviews... these people have been acting together for years and years! They spend their summers building the sets and the show, and then hundreds of people turn out for their weekend performances.

I felt really intimidated after all of the digging and comparing. My voice is decent, but my range is limited and I haven't had a voice lesson since I sang Josh Groban for senior night at SHHS. I don't have character shoes or tights anymore. I weigh twenty pounds more and carry half the confidence that I used to...

And then I wondered if it were even possible for me to commit to rehearsals two nights a week and every Saturday. Between both of our schedules, we're already pretty busy. And would it matter that I'll be gone for a week in June?

In an evening, I explored the sides of myself that are extremely irrational and whiny and the part of me that can be practical. Folks, I even dreamed about auditioning, and it did NOT go well. Trying to decide if I want to try out for a musical has stirred up a lot of questions in me about what I want to do as a twenty-something. Are my hobbies the same? Am I dis-interested or am I just afraid? Do I even want to write or act or sing or dance, and if I actually wanted to do those things, wouldn't I be doing them?

Am I doing what I want to do, is it the same as what I used to want to do?

Blast it, I don't know.

I'd just like to be at peace with who I am, where I am. I thought I was old yesterday, looking at those high-schoolers, but I'm pretty much a big baby. A giant baby, using mini cannolis as pacifiers (um, delicious) and without a clue in the world.