Category Archives: Off Topic

Dreams, backup plans, and a confession

It’s been two months since my last update. Sorry about that. Between finding an apartment, moving ten hours from home, and starting school, it’s been a very hectic two months. I can’t even believe it’s only been two months. I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. At the same time, I feel like I’ve just started.

But I’m babbling. I should start at the beginning.

Our apartment is nice. We’re paying way too much for it when I think about what we could have gotten in Georgia for this money, but it’s not horrible, especially since my boyfriend and I are both working full time. We haven’t seen our first paycheck yet, so we’ve been living off brand new credit cards with zero interest until November of next year. Yay credit cards.

The teachers I work with are also nice. Exceptionally nice, actually. My mentor is super helpful, and she always listens when I complain about things and offers advice. She shows me how to do everything I need to do, which is awesome because most of the time I feel silly asking for help. And then there’s the teacher whose room I’m in fourth block. See, I don’t have my own classroom, so I float between three classes. Since I end in this one teacher’s room, I generally stay there while I prepare for the next day. She listens to me and the other new teachers rant about our day, and she offers advice and words of comfort. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

So I like my apartment and my colleagues. I just hate my job. I spend way too many hours thinking of ways I can get myself fired, since I can’t quit because I’m signed with them for a year. I would never actually do something to get fired, but it’s still nice to think about. I’m just not cut out for this. I thought I was, but I’m not. The kids are out of control, and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s not fair to the few kids who are actually trying to learn, and I know that. They deserve better. I’m just not sure I’m capable of being better. I’m going to try to write more people up this week, but if that doesn’t work then I don’t know what I’ll do.

I think my biggest problem is that I don’t really want to be a teacher. I never did. Whenever someone asked what I planned on doing with an English degree and suggested teaching, I would laugh at them and say no. Hell no. Because I have no patience. I can’t explain anything to anyone. I hate people, especially children. Especially stupid children. So why did I end up as a teacher, you ask? Funny story.

It started in 2010. I graduated a year early from college and returned home, to my parents’ house. I had no job, but I wasn’t concerned yet. I thought I had time. And then I couldn’t find an editing job, mostly because I didn’t know where to look for them. I also couldn’t find a job doing anything else. I applied to gas stations, coffee shops, restaurants, and smoothie shops. I couldn’t find a job. I eventually ended up working for my mother as a school photographer. I made $9 an hour, which works out to about $10,000 a year since it was seasonal work. Not enough to move out on, especially since my boyfriend was in college still and didn’t have a job either. So I stayed with my parents, hating my job and my life because I felt like a failure.

There are several reasons why I started thinking about teaching then. Part of it was because my boyfriend was going to school to be a teacher, and I liked the sound of the classes he was taking. Part of it, a bigger part, was because I was already in schools every day. I figured if I was going to be around kids all the time anyway, I might as well be a teacher, where I’d make more money, have a respectable sounding job, and still have summers and weekends off. Plus I could get my Master’s and still use my English degree. I liked that my first degree wouldn’t be useless, that I could pretend it was just a stepping stone to my new goal. I still didn’t know anything about teaching, but I figured that was what grad school was for.

Except it turns out I was wrong. Very wrong. You don’t go to grad school to learn how to be a teacher. You go to grad school to talk about teaching-related issues like standardized testing and the Common Core standards. I learned how to write lesson plans but not how to help children learn when they don’t already know the material and can’t learn by simply taking down notes. I didn’t learn how to manage a classroom. I didn’t learn what to do when I have 15-year-old students who think “sleepy” is a verb and don’t know how to count five or seven syllables in a haiku.

I don’t know how to be a teacher, and my kids are out of control, and I’m losing my mind trying to fix it. I want to be better, but I also just want to curl up in a ball and cry and never go to school again. This wasn’t my dream. My dream was to be a writer. Ever since I was six, I wanted to write for a living, but I knew a I needed a practical goal. So I tried editing. Not novel editing. Just copy editing. I wanted to edit grammar. But I couldn’t do that. And I couldn’t find a job at a coffee shop or anything. So I turned to teaching.

Let me tell you something – teaching should never be a backup plan. This isn’t a job you can do when your heart’s not really in it. Well, I guess for some people it is, but not for me. I started realizing this was the wrong choice last semester. My boyfriend would get all excited when Latin teachers followed him on Twitter. Most of his Twitter feed comes from fellow Latin teachers, actually. Mine isn’t filled with teachers. It’s filled with writers. That’s what I want to do. I thought I could teach to make an income and then write in my spare time, but it turns out I don’t really have that much free time, and what time I do have is spent freaking out and trying to postpone what feels like an inevitable heart attack, stroke, or nervous breakdown.

My chest hurts all the time, like someone of my height/weight (which, trust me, is quite large) is standing on it. Or like there’s a rubber band around it at all times, stopping my lungs and heart from moving properly. My head generally feels like someone’s squeezing it. I’m worried all the time. I haven’t had any fingernails since the move, another sign I’m freaking out. I’ve been eating like crap, worse than usual. I’ve done like 15 minutes of exercise since school started 3 weeks ago. Every single night I have at least one dream that involves school in some way. I wake up at least once a night, sometimes more. I’m tired all the time. I can’t remember the last time I was excited about something. Even this apartment and the cold weather and the Starbucks salted caramel mocha frappuccinos aren’t doing it for me. They make me smile a little, but that’s about it.

Hell, even the thought of NaNo isn’t making me happy. I’m just worried I won’t have time to do it, and I can’t work up any enthusiasm for any of my novel ideas, not even the new one that sounded like so much fun back in early July. It’s like this move and this job has sucked all the joy from my life, and there wasn’t even that much of it to begin with.

So, yeah, that’s been my life for the past two months. I’ve started seriously wondering if I have depression, and at least six Internet tests say that I do, in fact, suffer from severe depression. When my health insurance starts in October, I think I’m going to try talking to someone. I’ve felt like a failure since I graduated college, but it’s just gotten so much worse in the past couple months.

Sorry for the long, depressing blog post. How has everyone else been?

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Editing, learning, and shopping

It’s funny – I keep getting excited when I see back-to-school sales because that means I can stock up on pens and notebooks really cheaply. It wasn’t until I was at the store today that I remembered that I’m actually going back to school this fall. It was so weird. I ended up getting a folder and notebook for each of my classes (color coded, of course). It was fun. Way more fun than getting my back-to-school shot was. It’s ridiculous: if I wasn’t going back to school, no one would care if I had a TB test done – so why does it matter now that I’m going back? But whatever. I have more important things to think about.

Like the fact that I’ve cut 4,460 words from Tilt so far, and I’ve only edited the first twelve chapters. I’m no longer freaking out about the fact that I liked too much of it. I completely rewrote chapter 9 and rewrote large sections of 7 and 8. I also added a bunch to 10 and 11, so that helps show how much I’ve cut out if I can add whole paragraphs and still have cut so many words. It’s currently just over 97k right now, and I’m about a third of the way through the novel.

Once April starts looking for a job, the novel goes downhill. I’m learning that I don’t really like scenes where she’s all alone, at least not for more than a couple of pages. I’ve started including a few more scenes with her and her boyfriend’s families, which helps move the story along in a more interesting way. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to just have her talk to someone about how she can’t find a job, rather than showing her sitting on her bed thinking about how she doesn’t have a job. Scenes like that are important, but they can’t be half the novel.

I’ve also learned that sometimes I think I need to rewrite a paragraph when really I just need to delete it. I can’t get over how many times I’ve started to think about how to best remove a paragraph without messing up the flow of the story, only to discover that they actually flow perfectly without that missing paragraph. I also can’t just add things because I want that information in the story. I’ve found myself doing that sometimes, too: I want to include a fact in the novel, so I try to tack in onto the end of a paragraph, and it doesn’t work. Each time I’ve stopped myself from doing that, I’ve ended up with a better way of fitting it in later, so it’s good to know that patience can actually be a good thing when writing.

On a related but different note, the other day I was going through my old files, trying to find my immunization records. While I was looking, I found my report card from first grade. Each marking period, my teacher would make some comment about how much I loved reading and how I much the class liked the stories I would come up with and how I was starting to write my own stories instead of just reading them. I’ve always thought that I started writing in second grade. That’s when they gave us blank books to fill in with our stories. That’s when my friend Miranda and I started writing about polio and unicorns (not at the same time). It was interesting to see that I had actually started earlier. 🙂

Right now I should be working on the next chapter, but I’m still torn on what to do with 13. April has to take a copy editing test, and there’s one word that trips her up. I’m not sure what that word should be, and I can’t decide if I should show the actual paragraph that she has to edit (and the one that she has to rewrite), or if I should just summarize what she’s doing. I don’t really feel like writing them, but I also don’t want to not include something and feel like I’m not showing enough detail. Once again, this is where I’m not sure how much detail is too much detail.  I also need to think of a compound word that’s really just one word but which April could realistically think was two words. Yes, this scene is based on something I did in real life, but I can’t for the life of me remember the word that I messed up on, so I’m having issues with this scene. Any opinions on this issue (either about what the word could be or if I should show the actual test she takes) would be appreciated.

On an unrelated note, I went dress shopping with my sister today. Her 21st birthday is tomorrow, and Saturday she’s having a party where everyone’s supposed to dress up. I didn’t end up finding a dress, but I did get a new pair of black pants, four dressy shirts, and a skirt, so I still consider it a win. Now I could actually go a solid week dressing up without having to re-wear a shirt. Not that I need to now, as I have a uniform at work, but having more than two nice shirts will come in handy when I’m teacher…assuming this degree actually leads to a job. 😀

New blog alert

I have decided to start another blog. I will still be updating this blog at least twice a week (once with a book update and once with a writing update), but I will also be posting over on my new political-ish blog, The Glass is Broken. There, I will be ranting about current events that make me lose faith in humanity. I’m pretty liberal (at least on the topics that I will be writing about), so I’m warning people now that if that’s not where most of their beliefs lie, they won’t want to read mine. But I figured that I was staring up another blog, so I might as well mention it in case anyone reading this is interested. I’m planning to update that one at least once a week.

Off Topic: An essay on women’s rights

This won’t turn into a usual thing or anything, but this is one of the topics that really upsets me, and I felt the need to say something.
 
A new law in Texas requires doctors to show women seeking abortions sonograms of the fetus before they are allowed to receive an abortion. The women can apparently decide not to see/hear it, but the fact remains that doctors will be forced to offer it in the first place.  According to one article I read, they make an exception in cases of rape and incest.
 
It is that line, “even in cases of rape,” that makes me see red. I lose all respect for everyone I ever hear or see use that line. The following essay explains why. I wrote this essay a few years ago in response to some of what was happening in the 2008 election, but it is just as relevant today as it was when I wrote it. I do not mean to offend people, merely to educate them for why I hate that phrase so much.
 
“Even in Cases of Rape”:
Anti-choice Arguments Parading as Competent Ones

Introduction

One of the most divisive issues of the twentieth century, abortion has been regulated in the United States since the 1860s. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case everyone credits with overturning these regulations, guarantees women unrestricted access to an abortion within the first trimester of her pregnancy and in all cases where her life or health is at risk. That has not stopped many states from passing laws restricting access to abortion. After “to protect the life of the mother,” the most common exception to such law reads “except in cases of rape or incest.” Many people condemned Sarah Palin for her belief that abortion should be illegal “even in cases of rape.” Indeed, many states’ abortion restrictions can only pass when rape exceptions are added. Such arguments are dangerous to women, however, because they focus not on protecting the supposed life of the fetus—the only “pro-life” argument that has any viability—but on punishing women for having sex. By claiming that rape victims have a greater right to abortion than other women do, people reinforce the notion that women who have sex know the risks involved and should therefore accept the consequences.

Becoming an exception

Before examining the ramifications of such exceptions, one must think about what the exception is saying in the first place: women can only get abortions if they have been raped. What exactly does that mean from a legal standpoint? Does a woman simply have to claim that she was raped? If that is the case, anyone seeking an abortion would just have to claim that they were raped. However, doing so would not only make the exception pointless to begin with but would also make it even more difficult for women who have been raped to be taken seriously than it already is.

The only other option, however, would be to make a woman prove that she was raped. Does someone have to go jail to allow the woman to have an abortion? What happens if she is unable to prove that she was raped as opposed to merely having sex? Does that mean that she cannot get an abortion? And even if she can prove that she was raped, even if she does win the case, so many months will have passed by that point that she will either already have given birth or be too far along to get an abortion anyway.

Why such exceptions are dangerous

Even if the rape exception made sense, though, it would still contradict the entire pro-choice movement. The argument for the rape exception is that the victims did not choose to have sex; therefore, they should not be forced to deal with the consequences. That argument implies, however, that the women who do choose to have sex should be forced to deal with the consequences. The regulation, then, becomes more of a way of punishing women for having sex than it does a way of ensuring fetuses the right to live.

The abortion debate should really come down to one question: when does personhood begin? If it begins, as many supposedly pro-lifers say, at conception, then abortion should always be illegal. If it begins, as Roe v. Wade says, at viability, then abortion should only be illegal in the late-second and third trimesters. If it begins at birth, then abortion should always be legal.

Which moment one deems most important—conception, viability, or birth—is a question for a different essay. The point here is that no matter where you draw the line, it does not (or at least should not) move depending on the circumstances surrounding the conception. If personhood begins at conception, then abortion is murder whether the woman wanted to have sex or not. If personhood does not begin at conception, then the woman should be able to have an abortion whether she wanted to have sex or not.

Conclusion

People are often condemned as being extremists if they feel that a woman who was raped should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term. Such people are viewed as cold-hearted and merciless. In reality, though, these are the only people whose arguments make any sense. These are the people who truly feel that abortion is murder and that murder is wrong. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with them, one must at the very least respect that they are honestly doing what they believe is right: protecting the life of an innocent baby.

The people who believe that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape are the ones with the extremist views. These are the people who believe that any woman stupid enough to have sex should be forced to deal with the consequences. These people are clearly not concerned with the life of the embryo; their sole concern is making sure that the woman accepts responsibility for the decision she made to have sex. Presumably, such people believe that sex should only be used for reproductive purposes—a rather extreme belief in this day and age.

Being raped is undoubtedly a terrible experience that no woman—or man, for that matter—should ever have to live through. That does not mean, though, that a child conceived by such means is any more or less real than one conceived by two consenting individuals. Therefore, whether a woman was raped should have no bearing in deciding whether or not she is allowed to have an abortion. Either every woman should be able to have an abortion, or no woman should. Until we stop thinking of “except in cases of rape” as an acceptable compromise, we are just making this world a more and more dangerous place for women to live.