Monday, July 11, 2016

Looking ahead and looking behind

Source unknown
I know, it's been a while since I've posted!

Still here, still alive. I can't even claim to be too busy, since I'm on summer break right now, and if you're friends with me on social media, I've definitely been posting there. I guess I've been preoccupied? by a lot of other things.

So what have I been up to? At the time of my last post, I was in the middle of jury duty, and it was kind of an intense criminal case. Then I developed an eye infection and a really bad cold. And then I got better and went to Disneyland with two of my dear friends, a grown-ups only trip (since my trips over recent years have always been with Jolie). I've been reading and writing and knitting and sleeping and thinking a lot about the current state of the world and listening to Hamilton.

And now? We're two weeks away from moving. TWO WEEKS.

Am I excited? Totally. Am I nervous? Yup, definitely. Am I daunted by the sheer amount of THINGS that need to be packed up/thrown out/given away? ABSOLUTELY. I've been thinking about this in abstract for the past year, and now it's time to actually put things in motion. It's GO time.

At this point, I feel like what I'm looking forward to even more than Oregon itself is just finally taking the step forward. I feel like I've been living on the cusp for this past year (especially this past month), where things have to be halted and put on hold. A lot of things are up in the air for me right now, and lately I feel like I'm standing at the starting line for race, perpetually waiting for the gun to go off, but it just hasn't yet. Like, I've been holding my breath and waiting for an entire year.

Well, I only have two weeks more to wait, I suppose.

I've been trying to say my goodbyes and wrap up my business. Like, June was full of an onslaught of medical appointments, squeezed in before my work-covered insurance ran out. I'm trying to see as many friends as I can, visit as many of my favorite spots as I can, and just generally soak in California-ness before I go.

One thing I haven't been doing enough of is lifting. (Seriously, I apologize if you started following my blog or social media because of my lifting videos, and then got... nothing.) After my competition in March, I went straight into running because of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in May (and not doing much of either since), and this is pretty typical of the inner pushing and pulling that I feel, between these two sports, between past and future, etc.

The more I try to get back into the running, the more I've realized that I really am just not capable of it right now - not until I lose some weight to alleviate the impact on knee, not until I've fully internalized the fact that I just can't do high mileage runs anymore. I would love to be that person who says "Screw medical advice!!!" and actually proves them wrong, and maybe I actually CAN do that, but I can't do that and ALSO expect to be able to squat heavy. Right now, I HAVE to choose.

And I've decided that I'm going to choose lifting. Even if I do get around to losing weight, the truth is that my running trajectory has been capped - there's only so far I can go at this point (literally and figuratively), with the damage I've done to my knee. I'm never going to run a faster marathon (or even run another one, period). I'm probably never going to complete an ultra. I know I could try to improve my 5k and 10k times, but to be honest, those are not distances I'm interested in dedicating myself to. There's nothing wrong with them, and certainly there are AMAZING elite runners who stick to 5k and 10k races, but for some reason, my heart has always belonged to longer distances. It's just what I love.

But powerlifting... it's still new to me, and I feel like the sky is the limit. I don't feel like I've done nearly everything that I'm capable of in powerlifting, and it's exciting to think of how far I can go. I have this crazy idea in my head that I could compete at USAPL Nationals someday. (And maybe it's not such a crazy idea, because I think my last meet total, if I had done it at a sanctioned meet, would qualify me NOW.) Just to GO and compete would be such an amazing accomplishment, and I really think that I can do this.

Looking ahead, of course, I have already found a powerlifting gym near-ish to our new home that already trains lots of competitive lifters, so all I need to do is, you know, GO...

But we still have two more weeks. And so, I'm still holding my breath. Waiting.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let me tell you about Jimmy.

I talk about a lot of aspects of my life, but one thing I generally refrain from talking about much is my long-time relationship with my boyfriend/the father of my child, Jimmy. Mostly, it's to respect his privacy. He's a very private person, even more so than I am, and I know he would not appreciate my sharing every little detail of our relationship on the Internet. But it's Father's Day, and I have let many Father's Days pass without talking about this person who has been central to my life for so long, so I'm going to do that now.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Race recap: See Jane Run 5k in Alameda

For some reason, I thought I had already done this blog post, and it turned out I hadn't :)

This is probably going to be my last race for a while, as I get ready to move and then get settled in at our new place. And appropriately, it was a leisurely, fun walk along the bay with my daughter.

Friday, June 3, 2016

What does it mean to matter?

Watch the full vlog here. It's worth it.

Hank Green, again, voicing the thoughts that I needed to hear most, right when I really needed to hear them. 

I would be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason I'm no longer going to teach is that my Impostor's Syndrome gets pretty crippling, and more often than not over the span of my teaching career, I've generally felt like I'm not making difference, I'm not effective, I'm not ENOUGH. That I really suck at this job, and that I don't deserve to be here, and that anyone could do my job a hundred times better than I could. 

I'm not perfect - no teacher is! - and while I have had exhilarating, triumphant moments throughout my career, I have also found that the flipside is, this job has a million and one ways to break your heart. This indefinite hiatus that I'm taking is for me to patch over the cracks and figure out if I'm strong enough to handle more in the future.

I'm always surprised more than anything else, then, when students tell me that I did, in fact, matter. In the past couple of weeks, I've had quite a number of students drop by to tell me that they will miss me, to tell me how I've impacted their lives and how they were really glad to have been in my class at some point in their high school career. 

It blew me away every single time.

Like I said, I'm not perfect. I didn't always do things well, but I can promise that I was always well-intentioned. Some students I got along with horribly, while others ended up becoming my friends. I'm never going to be one of those teachers who gets a book deal and a Hallmark Channel biopic, but I can confidently look back and say that I've changed some kids' perspectives on important things. Or at the very least, I helped some kids find books/films/other media that they now love, that they wouldn't have sought out on their own. 

These are not huge things that will change the course of human history. In the grand scheme of things, my ten years of teaching high school English will not matter to the universe. _I_ will not matter to the universe. 

But to the many students (and adults!) I've cared about and interacted with over the years, I like to think that I've mattered. And this is what I will hold on to as I figure out the next part of my life, whether that involves returning to the classroom or not.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The end of an era, and an uncertain future

(Design source unknown)
It's the last week of the school year.

It's my last week at MHS, and it's also possibly my last week of teaching, period.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of bittersweet feelings about this. I've been here for ten years (eleven, if you include my student teaching year), so of course this place, this job, has changed me immeasurably. I've grown a lot since the first day I showed up here, and the friendships I've made over the years run deep. There are a lot of memories wrapped up in these walls, good and bad. I have always wanted to move to Portland, but there was always a reason to stay; I'm not saying those reasons don't exist anymore, but if I keep waiting until I'm perfectly ready, it'll probably never happen. (And as much as I love my job, I'm not super keen about being stuck in this particular town for the rest of my life.)

It's hard to walk away, but it's made easier by the fact that I have something amazing that I'm walking toward. I'm not just leaving my hometown, but also my long-time career. I'm walking away from a very comfortable, familiar life towards an uncertain future, and while it's scary (thank god I have safety nets), it's also exciting, because it's full of possibility.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not often struck with moments of profound sadness at the steps I'm about to take. While I have spent this past year cataloguing things that I will NOT miss about my job (item #1- stacks and stacks of essays to grade), there are also many, many things that I will miss. And especially in recent days, now that the school year is drawing to a close for what is potentially the last time for me, I am reminded that not only has my life been not that bad, it has actually been pretty awesome.

I've gotten to share some of my favorite books and films with my students, and watched them open up their minds and blossom. I've forged bonds with some of them that have lasted beyond their high school years, and I've gotten to see them grow into amazing young adults. The teachers I work with are some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever met. I have a fair amount of autonomy and control over what I teach in my own classroom, and even through the roughest of times, I've felt confident that my union and my district are taking care of us - not all teachers can say that. MHS has a community of teachers who really fight for each other, and if I'm being absolutely honest, I couldn't have asked for a better place to start out as a teacher. In fact, one could say that I've been spoiled being here.

I'm not going to lie, I've shed many tears this year (mostly in private) about everything that I'm leaving. I've lost sleep thinking about the impending goodbyes. I've been struck dumb by the outpouring of caring that I've received from people who I didn't realize cared about me that much. I've had almost an entire year to mentally prepare myself, but I don't think that time has made it any easier, actually.

And I haven't even begun to discuss all of the non-job-related things I will miss about living here in the Bay Area, namely, the fact that my whole entire life is here, from my family and friends to my favorite running trail and my gym. (And this also doesn't even touch the surface of what Jimmy and Jolie are leaving behind too.)

But at the same time, I've never felt more ready to go. I could offer many reasons why I would prefer to live in Portland instead of the Bay Area and why I would like to, if not quit teaching altogether, then at least take a year off and explore other interests. But to be honest, those reasons and those desires have always been there; it is only now that I've felt ready to make that leap.

One more week. I think I'm ready.