January Thoughts

I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe it’s winter. I’m still a southern girl at heart, and New York winters always put me in a funk. I’m always cold. I rarely go outside. Lack of vitamin D makes me feel grumpy and brittle and out of sorts. I don’t see much of my friends, or anyone else for that matter. Then the existential crisis creeps in.

Or maybe I’m just exhausted by the world we live in. It seems to me that whatever we’ve got going on in 21st century America is the pits. I see people work really hard and never get ahead. The solution, people say, is to work even harder, be persistent, chase those dreams. But once you achieve your dreams, you don’t get the kind of peace you wanted. You just enter a different kind of rat race.

I want to be published. I want to be a teacher.

The more I learn about publishing, the sadder I feel. My girlhood fantasies of writing a bestselling novel and being a full time writer just aren’t realistic anymore. It sucks when your fantasies are pulled up short and given a stern talking to. The best I can hope for at this point is bestselling author. I will always have to work. Even if I get published. Which, from my perspective at the moment, feels like a long shot.

And I (finally) love what I do. Substitute teaching has brought me back into the classroom and reminded me how much I love education. I would have become an English teacher years ago if my mother, a teacher, hadn’t threatened to cut me off financially the day I signed up for my first education class. Her career suggestions (waste management, police dog handler, and CEO of a fortune 500 company) were laughable. I got the MA in English, and then worked a series of soul sucking, personally unfulfilling office jobs, with a brief stint as private school teacher sandwiched in between. I’ve always wanted to teach again.

Now, with my boys half raised, and time on my hands, I could do it. I have heard from other teachers that there is some rumored way I, with a masters degree, could get certified quickly, by only taking a few courses, but literally nobody knows any details about this mythical certification pathway. So I googled it, and yes, such a program exists… however, in order to initiate said program, and become accepted into one of the two overseeing programs in the state, a school district would have to agree to employee you provisionally for three years…

I have watched my friends, who graduated from acclaimed teaching colleges in NY, with fancy. shiny, perfectly-acquired certifications struggle to find a job in local schools. What do you think the odds are that I, with no certification whatsoever, am going to convince those same schools to hire me for three years?

But let’s say they do? Then hello stress. Right now, I waltz into school in the morning and waltz right back out at the end of the day, happy as a lark. And free to go do my life. I don’t have to grade any papers, go to any meetings, call any parents, think about the curriculum, plan any lessons. Nothing.

It’s all of the fun, and none of the stress.

I just can’t stop the nagging feeling I get that I haven’t achieved anything… And being a substitute is a mere half life for those who like teaching. It’s all the teaching without the relationships with the students, the sense of accomplishment and pride, the sense of community in your school, the friends on staff.

I am an all or nothing type of person, so not going whole hog into something feels all wrong to me.

I usually can transfer that can do attitude into a craft project–make something pretty and feel that welcome sense of thorwing myself completely into a project. But even that has fallen short lately. We have a tradition in my family where everyone has a stocking made for them–it’s made of felt and sequins from a kit. In my zeal to leave everything intact for the boys after the divorce, I mistakenly left the boys’ stockings at their dad’s. So a few years back, when I got my wits together again, I endeavored to make new ones for them, for my house. A train one for Sam, because for many years he was train-obsessed. An airplane one for John, because he still is plane-obsessed.

I lost them for a while and rediscovered them recently. I have made several of these, so it’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing. And forgive me if I sound like a crabby old lady at this point, talking about the good old days, but either I’m losing it, or these stocking kits were made by a clueless someone with poor design skills and zero appreciation for the materials. NOTHING is going right with Sam’s stocking. The knots are unraveling and the sequins are pulling out, and it probably has something to do with the thread being made of some weird material that isn’t cotton. I’ve spent approximately 92 billion hours of my life sewing. I don’t think I’ve suddenly forgotten how to make a knot. The appliqued pieces don’t fit the pattern. The pattern is visible where the pieces don’t fit together. Plus, the beading needle provided has a twisted hole that is nearly impossible to thread. My sewing skills are thwarted at every turn. You can’t fix stupid and you also can’t fix a poorly-designed stocking kit with shit materials. I’m so frustrated I might just throw the whole thing in the trash.

I’m trying my best, but it’s hard to salvage anything that was designed to fail.

So I decided to take a break and picked up a book (or six) instead. Because nothing is as calming and transportive as a book.

So I’ve been reading a lot lately– fun, fluffy chic lit from the library. Lots of against all odds love stories with fun characters. I’ve read some wonderful books and have gotten so much inspiration for my work in progress, hopefully another fun, fluffy against all odds romance.

But then, this too, reminds me of my publishing woes… and the cycle starts all over.

I need a new hobby. Maybe I need to go to the gym. I don’t know what I need to do. All I know is I’m so out of sorts.