The (Late) 2017 Bucket List

At the beginning of college I got my first credit card. Don’t worry, I’ve always been ridiculously responsible about budgeting, this story’s not going down that road. What I recall almost as deeply as the nightmares I had about the possibility of interest payments, is getting my first statement.

It wasn’t that I’d spent a lot of money, it’s that every line item on the statement was a fast food restaurant or something I ordered from the internet. My credit card statement was a story of me as a shut-in. It was not an untrue story.

I wish I could say I saw this sad story and immediately changed; went full Eat, Pray, Love and traveled the world, sky dived and moved to a new city, danced like no one was watching. I did none of those things, because isn’t life lived in the small changes and the tiny moments?

Yes, it is.

So I went to a few more stand up shows and plays, I made my meals out into dates with friends, and I traded a few pretty dresses for road trips and ridiculous midnight adventures. I learned to get back into the world and be a bit more brave and a bit less tied to things.

When I heard about Eventbrite‘s GOMO, or Get Out More Often, I thought “that sounds pretty baller.” And then I thought “damn, son, you need to stop picking up slang from your students.”

In all seriousness though, there’s a huge life lesson here and you know how I love those. So in the spirit of GOMO! (something I will be yelling randomly all over NYC’s subways), here’s a list of 10 adventures I’d like to have this year.

*I’m putting a couple on here I already did, because, well, I want to brag a little too*

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1. Go To the Oscars

I did this. So…

2.  See a Play

I hadn’t totally planned on it, but I did this today too. Casually went to see Hamilton with my students. More on that later.

3. Get Out of Town

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New York is draining, which is surprising since I’ve yet to live in a New York apartment with decent sink and shower drains. In our year plus here, Boyfriend and I have only left the city a hand full of times, mostly to fly home or get out for a weekend camping trip. This year I really want to go somewhere quiet, stay in a B&B and relax for real. I want to be not just New York relaxed, but actually relaxed.

4. Have a Picnic

It doesn’t have to be in Central Park or Prospect Park or any park. I just want to make sandwiches and pack them to green, nature area and eat them in the company of those I love.

5. Go Camping

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This tends to happen a few times during the summer but it’s something that I really like and Boyfriend LOVES. Nature is the great healer and no matter how hot/humid/disgusting this summer is, we have to get out there.

6. Write a Story

I’m keeping expectations low because I won’t even finish grad school until August. So, not a novel, nothing epic, just a story. I have ideas in my head all the time and I used to do a lot more writing them. Time to get back to that.

7. Do a Yoga Retreat

Yoga brings me as much peace as nature does and I’ve been wanting to try one of these for a long time. This year I want to bite the bullet and go all in for a weekend (or maybe a week).

8. Take the Train

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Not the subway. Dear god, never the subway. The actual train. I don’t even really care where I go, I just want to go. On the train.

9. Be Present in the Blogging Community

I have made a few great blogging friends and interacted with other bloggers and I genuinely love this community so much. Grad school and teaching tend to keep me from both blogging (whoops) and making deeper connections with other bloggers (double whoops). This year I want to get back to the blog and jump in to the community.

10. Get a Tattoo with Boyfriend

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I should note: I definitely don’t mean matching tattoos. I truly believe though that it’s an experience worth having with someone you love and Boyfriend has not yet gotten a tattoo. I’m working on designing one for him and as for me, who know, could turn out as anything.

Best of luck.

P.S. Eventbrite also has some crazy cool planning tools, like this one. Check them out!

I Couldn’t Hate Them If I Tried

Something I’ve learned many times before but continue to learn every day is that nothing in education will turn out as expected. The “solid gold” lessons won’t be received as you imagined (or hoped), the “total crap” lessons will hit some just right, and the emotions and break-downs and fights you expect will not happen when you expect them.

My first term as a high school teacher just ended in December and nothing went as I expected. Kids I thought would throw fits over failing didn’t, kids I thought would fail pulled it out at the last second and some that I thought would pass lost their momentum too soon.

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Overwhelmingly though: I am continually floored by how much I love these kids. How much I want to hug them when they cry and tell them it’ll work out even though it feels terrible right now.

I push them hard every day, nobody is allowed to take the L. I expect greatness from everyone, no one is mediocre. I don’t hand out good grades until they’ve been earned. I get called mean on the regular, I’m always “extra” and “doing too much.” I get mad sometimes because CAN EVERYONE STOP TALKING OVER ME?

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But still, when they celebrate, I celebrate. Nothing is better than seeing that smile they tried to hide when they find out they passed.

And when they cry, I cry. Nothing is harder than seeing the despair they’re trying to hide when they find out they won’t pass.

There was this small part of my brain that thought I’d feel justified and righteous handing out failing marks to those kids that have blown off the work and made bad choices. Because I’m teaching them lessons in social studies but I’m also teaching about consequences and professionalism. I thought somehow it might feel good to give a well-earned failing mark.

I was surprised at how much it hurts me when they hurt, even when the pain is necessary.

I’ve known these kids for three months, but something clicked in the hall with Elle while I held her and let her cry through my sweater. Something clicked when Steven laughed out loud at the news of passing my class and couldn’t stop grinning. Something clicked when Kam came in late to study hall and begged me to let him finish his work and pass, and his relief when I let him.

These kids are magic. And I am forever honored to be connected to them in even the smallest way.

Best of luck.

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Relationships Are Like…

People are strange. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, just when you’ve read a really poignant article (or blog) about human nature and interactions, they do something unexpected.

I should say ‘we’ as I am including myself in this, don’t worry, I know I’m strange too.

As my 25 day blogging hiatus and enrollment in grad school have shown, I am living in a very high stress world, around a lot of very high stress people. Reactions are immediate and drama builds like forest fire. Fights that might take weeks to come to a head in normal life, turn into explosions in hours.

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All of this has made me really consider friendships, relationships, and timing.

Time is such a strange thing. As a kid, I planned out my life many, many times and it always left room for me to fall in love, date that person for a few years, marry them, wait a few more years and then have children. Time was very important. More time meant a greater possibility that everything would work out. Relationship timing was like expensive whiskey, the more I let it age, the better it would be.

Friendships felt the same way; the longer I’d known someone, the stronger our friendship. Putting ‘one of my oldest friends’ or ‘who I’ve known since elementary school’ into a description of a friend felt like the ultimate achievement. As though in telling you I’ve known them since childhood I was telling you something about the quality our of friendship. Adulthood has found it hilarious to slap me in the face one that one, with old friendships crashing and burning because of opposite growth. But, it’s also thrown me a lot of great new friends who I grew with and loved faster than I’d expected.

The thing I’m getting at is: nothing is whiskey. Well, whiskey is whiskey…really, it’s that relationships are not whiskey.

Relationships are more like baked goods, each with their own unique recipe, oven and ingredients, each needing it’s own time to cook. Some come together in minutes and others take years, but there is no one equation.

Except…they also keep growing and evolving, so maybe they aren’t baked goods…they’re more like…people. Connections between people to be more specific, what’s the word for that? Oh, relationships…

Relationships are like…relationships.

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What Happens When Your Soul Sister Visits

This weekend I’m lucky enough to have the love of my life visit me: BFF Jess. Don’t worry Boyfriend knows his place: directly behind my Jess. He’s cool with it.

In honor of this spectacular event, here are the stages of what happens when your soul sister visits.

Stage 1: The Planning

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Everyone tells their friends they should visit, everyone makes superficial plans for a “one day” visit, but the real planning typically starts with a text.

“What does May look like for you?”

This is where the timing and the plane tickets and the time off work come into play. This is real.

Stage 2: The Countdown

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Typically starting casually, this stage causes all conversations to end with a mention of the impending excitement.

“You’re going to be here in nine and a half months/two months/one week/TOMORROW”

For BFF Jess and I this usually comes to a peek the week of the visit, when we relentlessly annoy our friend by posting photos of us on Facebook and reminding the world that THIS IS HAPPENING SO SOON.

Stage 3: The Reunion

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THIS STAGE IS IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE OMG MY BFF IS HERE AND I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE’S HERE AND SHE’S SO PRETTY AND PERFECT AND I LOVE HER AND I NEED TO TELL HER EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENED IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS EVEN THOUGH WE TALK EVERYDAY AND SHE ALREADY KNOWS EVERYTHING.

Breathe. Ok. LET’S JUST HUG AND JUMP UP AND DOWN SOME MORE.

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I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’m off to forget I’m a grad student and an adult for a weekend of adventure with the greatest human I know.

Crazy Faces

Best of luck.

What Happens When Your Soul Sister Visits

An Open Letter to People Who Ghost

***Ghost: verb (ghost, ghosting; past: ghast) The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. See: being a douche.

Dear Crap Weasel,

You. Yes, you. You suck. Alright, that’s out of the way, that was very important and you should remember that, but let’s get down to the details.

Why did you feel it was appropriate to disappear off the face of the planet after days, weeks, months of spending time together? After binge watching a new TV show together – one I will have to give up now. After telling me all of the things you love about me – my laugh, my eyes, my sense of humor, my brain, my blahblahblahyousuck.

Hem. Sorry.

Why did you feel you could walk away without so much as a peep after we went to that sketchy looking Chinese buffet and spent two days throwing up in front of each other? After getting drunk together and crying to me about your relationship with your dad. After telling me you never wanted to leave my side, that you’d never stop loving me.

What compelled you to go, dear Crap Weasel?

The thing that kills me the most is your words. You had so many for me before: love, together, forever. And then one day you lost all your words. There was no more love, no more together, no more forever. Suddenly you were gone and I was nothing to you.

What made you wake up one morning and decide I wasn’t worth your words? Forget love, what about goodbye? What about sorry? I wasn’t even worth an emoji?

I’ve been sitting in my room for three days now. I drank whiskey-sodden ice cream and cried over you, I texted you too many times and let my words turn sour, and then I took a shower, I listened Lemonade and danced around in my underwear, and I remembered that I was me before your words and I am me without them.

You, my dear, you’re nothing. No words, no love, no nothing.

You’re just a ghost.

Sincerely,

The Living

STUDIOS

Competition

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Yes it’s been a while, I do apologize for that. I could make excuses about grad school and mental health and the impending gorilla attack on mankind, but who has the time? Instead, let’s get back to it, shall we?

I would not characterize myself as a competitive person. I also would not characterize myself as a not competitive person. On a scale of “come on guys, aren’t we all just here to have fun?” to Abbi from Broad City requiring a full nelson to calm down, I’d say I’m a six.

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No matter how obnoxious you are playing board games at Christmas with your family though*, I’m referring to a more dangerous type of competition. I’m talking about that guarded, self conscious, ‘am I the smartest/most qualified/prettiest/most liked person in the room’ competition that cuts down others in order to build you up and still leaves you feeling like a caged animal.

When I started my fellowship in January, the first step was to meet the highly qualified, highly terrifying group of other fellows. I went in smiling, but behind that smile was a pure, unfair hope to be the best, the obvious best, to demolish all tasks. Oh you want me to read and annotate this article? I will annotate the living hell out of it! I need to sign this form? My signature shall be the loopiest, most beautiful and professional that’s ever been seen! I shall introduce myself such as none has ever done! I shall crush these ice-breakers under an iron fist!

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You get it.

It was unhealthy, it was stupid and it made me so nervous and on-guard that I don’t remember much about the meeting. The competition that I felt had absolutely nothing to do with anyone else in the room, it came from me; my insecurities about whether I belong in a prestigious program at an ivy. It came from my fear of what happens if I fail here. About what it means if I’m the lowest of the fellows.

 

And who, exactly, is deciding whether I belong or I fail or I suck?

Me.

That’s the truth of it. I’m in control. I’m the one manning the positive thoughts and negative thoughts lever. I’m the monster in the machine. So this monster is going to try to be more logical and love herself enough to crush the negative thoughts instead of the competition.

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Because if you rearrange the letters in competition, you get “I comp one tit” and neither one of these is free…also, competition is stupid, love yourself, etc.

Best of luck!

 

*You are, they’ve all been meaning to talk to you about it