The book map! Cover images pointing to the location where the story takes place.

High school English, DIY-style

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My sister is now a 10th grade English teacher. Of all the people on the planet to end up as an English teacher, my sister is not high on the list of names I’d predict, for a few reasons:

  1. She hated school.
  2. She really hated English.
  3. She doesn’t read or write all that much.
  4. She really, really hated school.

However, there are a few reasons that I am also not surprised by this new career:

  1. When she sets a goal, she meets it.
  2. She’s one of those super annoying people who is good at everything, even on first attempts.
  3. She’s always been excellent with kids of all ages.

Now there are two of us literary types in the family. We came up with some fun ideas to decorate her classroom, including my contribution – the book map.

I would have totally geeked out over this map in high school. My book club geeked out over the idea and helped me come up with titles. It’s been an English geek fest! (For everyone except the students, anyway… they aren’t terribly impressed so far.) Unfortunately, some of the titles I’d chosen for stories in Central and South America, Canada and the Middle East didn’t print well, so there are holes in the map. Also I realized I’ve read a woeful lack of almost anything that takes place in the Orient. But these things can always be added, and suggestions are welcome!

For the other decor, my sister and mom channeled their inner Native Americans and used every last piece of the carcasses of murdered buffalo books to create window banners out of pages and a mobile out of spines. A few inspirational posters and writing guides, and the room is good to go. It’s not as decked out as some of the other teachers’, but I like its minimalism. It keeps the important things in focus – reading, writing and awesome maps!

A year and two months later…

Hi, y’all!

Just in case anybody still gets notifications about this thing: an introductory (re-introductory?) post.

It’s been a really long time since I blogged here. I’ve missed it. But that pesky business called life got super intense and unpleasant for a while there, sucking all motivational energy right out of me. The good news is, I can say with confidence that I’m on the other side of that nasty bout of depression that I last wrote about. The bad news is, I think it’s something I’m going to have to deal with forever, off and on (hopefully more off).

So, an update:

The job

The same. I still love what I do, but it’s getting more stressful financially, so we’ll see what happens with that.

The living situation

About to change. I sold some of my furniture and am in the process of going through all possessions “Keep, Sell, Donate”-style in preparation for a move in January. Where am I going? No clue. But it will have to be somewhere because I’m likely not going to be able to afford my apartment anymore when the lease renewal comes up.

Family

A little wear and tear – moves, divorces, car accidents, surgeries – but overall doing fine.

Friends

Another one from the college/AMC days passed away last month. And my BFF Dianna (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!) hit a rough patch in NYC and is now overhauling everything with the goal of moving to LA at the beginning of next year. Reconnected with some folks, disconnected with others. Just a lot of that life stuff happening. But for the most part, things are good here.

Health

Improving! 41 pounds lost and counting. Thanks, Weight Watchers!

The book

Revived. I hadn’t touched it in about a year, but recently looked at the first chapter again and spent like 5 hours fixing it up. I’ll be going through the rest of it, doing the same, and then it’s back to researching agents and querying, querying, querying. Just so y’all know, I have no regrets about this delay. I think I needed the time to make myself better, and that will make my work better. All good things.

Creativity

Still here. It waits, FYI, for us to get our shit together and use it. I’ve painted a bit. Helped my sister DIY-decorate her classroom (more in a future post). Redecorated my place a little. Still make up random choreography in my living room. Oh, and I have an idea for a whole other book, this one magical realism, which I don’t even fully understand to begin with, but that’s definitely what it is.

So there you have it. Here I am, ready to get going again. Everything is a big question mark right now, but I’ll keep y’all posted. If you’re reading this, thanks for coming back. It feels good to be here again.

The bus stop is super encouraging.

The bus stop is super encouraging.

It’s time for some real talk

Over the past six weeks, several people have asked me about this blog and whether or not I’ve decided to give it up. The short answer is no. I fully intend to continue the blog.

A longer answer is warranted, though. Not only for you, the readers, who absolutely deserve an explanation, but also for me – a gesture of self-acceptance, cleansing and renewal.

So, here it is: I’m depressed.

I have been depressed for a while now. Probably since the holidays, when I tried so desperately to combat it with constant cheerful posts on Facebook and Twitter. And it’s not that I was lying, really. I did feel joy in those fleeting moments. But they were just shiny dust particles floating in heavy air.

It wasn’t that bad, though. I get depressed off and on, and almost always during the holidays.

Then Sam died. Then a friend pushed me away. Then I realized how much weight I’ve gained. Then my grandma got really sick. Then I started feeling more pressure at work. Then I started to worry about my finances.

There’s only so much a person can take.

I find myself so tense that I have to consciously push my shoulders down, or else they’re up by my ears. My sleep is restless at best. I still pick up the phone almost every night to call Sam, and then cry when I realize what I’m doing. Food doesn’t taste good, but I eat until I feel full (and usually beyond that.) I haven’t been to the gym in six months. In that time, I’ve only read a handful of books and seen a handful of movies. I haven’t written a word. I haven’t queried further on my book. My apartment is a wreck. I went to a concert of one of my favorite bands and didn’t have a great time.

The idea of taking any kind of action to fix any of that makes my bones ache with fatigue. I know I need to, though. I have paperwork to fill out before making an appointment with a therapist whose office is nearby, but I haven’t done that or made the call. I just don’t want to do anything.

I don’t want to be this way – it’s such a colossal waste – but the barriers I’ve put around myself over the past several months don’t let in much positivity. It’s pretty dark and dank in here. One of my cousins has the wonderful ability to express herself and inform others without making people feel like they’re being lectured for failing in some way, even if that’s how they feel about themselves. She called me recently and gave me a ‘real talk’ talk that helped. She said, in so many words, that she was there on the other side of my blockade, ready to kick it the hell down at my request.

Well, here it is: start kicking.

I don’t need anybody to check on me. I don’t need sympathy. I don’t need pep talks. All I need to know is that when I start clawing at the walls from inside my black fortress, someone will be waiting for me on the other side.

I feel ready. I want out. It’s time to get to work.

Time to grab you and your buddies by the horns.

Time to grab you and your buddies by the horns.