Earlier this fall, I interviewed for a programs writing position with the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), a nonprofit waging peace in conflict zones. I didn't tell but a handful of folks because I knew from the start that it was a longshot job. I have little writing experience (in the grand scheme) and zero international writing experience, but I took a chance, and went ahead and applied for it anyway because I appreciate the mission and history of the PLC and wanted desperately to be a part of this.

You see, since I left teaching, my life often feels a bit void of meaning. I really don't mean to be melodramatic, but teaching was everything for me (which was actually part of the problem). For me, teaching was an act of social justice. Much of my teaching was an act of defiance--a pushing back and maneuvering around confining standards. It was picking the books and the articles and creating the assignments that went above and beyond the standards and fanned critical discourse. For me, teaching was an outstretched hand to the kid whose hand had been slapped too many times. But, there are dark days to teaching...many dark days, and many days I left whatever school I called home feeling like I had the shit kicked outta me by administrators, parents, colleagues, and kids. Even on these days, though, I knew my work had meaning. But I don't feel pulled back into teaching. (I know that sounds so woo-woo, but I feel like I have a new, undiscovered purpose.)


On going home

Today I drove back to my hometown, Columbus. My parents no longer live there, and my grandma has passed on, so it's been awhile since I've been back. Today my visit was a somber one. One of my first friends from when I moved there in the seventh grade, my college roommate--lost her mom too soon. Today we celebrated her full, fun life.

Driving home

Just like death has a way of digging up the bones of old memories, so does place. Things I hadn't thought about in years suddenly became vivid recollections as I turned off the highway:


The morning after

The election is over, and many of us are approaching today differently based on our own set of personal beliefs. I've said quite a bit about the election over the past year, so it's no surprise that I have something to say today. 

To my kids--J, who cried this morning and whispered that he was scared; K, who meekly asked me if we'd ever have a woman for a president:  
Some of your classmates will be scared today. Comfort them and be kind to them today. Look for ways to be kind--that's how you can fight hatred. Try not to worry or be scared; it's okay to feel this way, but remember--we serve a God who is bigger than our government. There will probably be lots of talk on the playground or at lunch today about our new president. I don't want you to talk politics with your friends. I want you to be a kid and do kid things today. And don't forget to always be kind even when others aren't.

To my former students: 
Remember all the social justice work and talk we did in class? This moment is what you've been training for. Don't forget Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s four steps for non-violent direct action (par. 6). Don't forget about the Anti-Defamation League's Pyramid of Hate and Pyramid of Alliance.


Yesterday I ran away

This last week was ROUGH.

My work schedule was slammed with students. As a writing coach, I meet with students one on one to help them improve their writing skills while empowering them to understand the rhetorical situation and make their own smart choices. It becomes mentally and physically draining when I'm logging almost 6.5 hours of back to back contact time with students four days a week. I usually have Fridays off, but instead, I went in to work for a few hours to meet the needs of my students.

Thursday my husband came down with the cold/sinus/blah junk that I had a few weeks ago.

On Friday night while attending a play that a friend of mine was directing, I got word that my great-grandma passed away. I have beautiful memories of her from when I was a child. She lived a long, full life, but death has a way of dredging up unexpected emotions.

Saturday my husband and I spent much of our day trying to diffuse tantrums.The bedroom walls endured their usual beating from our kids' unspoken emotions--likely frustration with our boundaries, sadness at all the loss they've endured, confusion about who to be mad at. A sense of helplessness reverberated throughout our house. The last tantrum stretched on until 10:30 PM, and my husband and I collapsed soon after, our conversation about solutions always cut short by sleep.

On Sunday morning I picked my son up from Sunday school and the volunteer teacher reported, "We had some problems with him today. He wasn't listening and the other kids were saying that he said bad words. You might want to fix it." I know she has no context of our situation, but her words were just another reason to call myself a failure as a parent.

Yesterday I ran away.