Friday, May 24, 2013


Today was my last day teaching. To be fair, I didn't do much teaching today. I played poker, sang, and had discussions with my students. So I guess, technically, yesterday was my last day of teaching. Two years ago, I graduated with my B.A. in English and a minor in Creative Writing. I lined up a teaching job one day before the school year started.

I've wanted to teach since I was a kid. My best friend's mom is an art teacher at our local community college. I used to joke that I wanted her life when I grew up. I found a job at a private school where I would be teaching 7-12 grade English. I thought this would be a good way to get experience in teaching while I figured out what I wanted to get my graduate degree in. Once I had a graduate degree, I could teach at the college level. I had a plan.

Turns out my plan was a great one, but not for me. To teach is to perform. You constantly have to be on. And your job is never done. Once you are finished in the classroom, you have planning, contacting parents, grading, and more planning. I also realized how much it sucks sharing something you love and find important with others when they don't care. It's exhausting. Teachers are incredible, and I'm least not in a teacherly way.

All that being said, it was hard to say goodbye today. I've met some amazing kids--not many, but a few. These kids are smart and passionate. They are kind and funny. And I'm glad they were a part of my life. If there could be a guarantee that I would have at least one kid like this in every class, I would consider remaining a teacher. I'd probably decide against it, but it would make me re-consider at least for a little while.

Life is funny. I'm glad I'm finished teaching, but I will miss my kids. I'm excited for summer break, but I'm worried about the fact that I'm now unemployed. I know I don't want to teach, but I don't have any ideas for what I do want to do. I'm happy, but I'm a little melancholy. As one of my favorite students would say, "I've got all kinds of feels."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On Receiving a Free Book in the Mail

I think I might have mentioned this a time or twenty, but I love books. I love them! Even books I don't love, I wouldn't want to see destroyed. There is power in story-telling. There is power in the written word. This is one of the tenets of my beliefs: Language matters.

After going to lunch with my family a few days ago, I arrived home to a familiar sight--a yellow shipping envelope with Amazon's recognizable typeset on it. I had a book. Like I said, this is a familiar sight. I order a lot of books through Amazon. Hell, I order a lot of books period, but I couldn't think of any that I had order recently. My last few purchases have been for my e-reader. I ripped open the package and found The Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical. I'm used to receiving books that are new to me, but I had never seen or heard of this book or its author--Shane Claiborne. I looked for a shipping receipt, but couldn't find one. On Amazon, for the three people in the world who don't know, you can leave a note and send a gift receipt with anything you are gifting, so this surprised me. It means I don't know who sent me this present.

Putting that aside for the moment, I flipped the book over and read the description where I learned that "Claiborne stirs up questions about the church and the world, challenging you to live out an authentic Christian faith." Here's the rub: I'm not interested in living as an "authentic Christian" because I'm not a Christian. I try hard to live and let live, but I'm an atheist and a humanist. Neither of which I hide. Whoever sent this book to me is connected to me--he/she has my home address--and either he sent this to me because he doesn't know anything about me or because she knows things about me and wants to tell me I'm wrong.

I don't mind having a discussion about religion or politics or any topic. One of my closest family members, D, and I have discussions about faith and religion and our worldviews regularly. And our worldviews are not the same. If she sent me a book about Christianity, fiscal conservatism, or anything else, I would read it because she respects and values my opinion, and I feel the same about her. But, and this is a big but, she would tell me she was sending it. She would ask before she sent it. She would follow up with questions on what I would recommend she read, so that our discussion can be a real discussion.

As it turned out, a different cousin sent it to me. He and I haven't spoken in a long time. Somewhere along the lines of three or four years. We, on occasion, comment on the same Facebook statuses, but we don't have that much to do with one another. We live states a part and always have, plus he's a few years older than me. A few months ago, he asked me for my address, and now I have received this book. I sent my cousin an email expressing my unease and unhappiness with this "gift." It came out of the blue, with no note, no explanation. It is a book that has nothing to do with the way I have chosen to live my life. Apparently, my cousin's feelings were hurt by my email stating these things. He thinks I overreacted and misconstrued his intentions. He said he sent the book because he thought I would enjoy the message and because he knows how much I like to read. He asked if I would recommend a book on secular humanism, and he would read it.

We have exchanged a few emails now about this, and I hope we are on a better footing, but it has made me aware of a few things: 1) I don't like being given unsolicited religious books. 2) I don't really like the proselytizing or teaching aspect of explaining my beliefs to someone that I'm pretty sure won't like them and only view them as a reason for further witnessing to me. 3) I will read anything if someone asks me to. 4) I really should get over that. 5) I hate confrontation, even if it is amiable. 6) I love keeping in contact with my family, but if the only reason you want to talk to me is to discuss religious beliefs and points of view, I'm not sure this counts as keeping in touch. 7) How do you tell someone you have no problem becoming re-acquainted, but the current conversation isn't how you want to accomplish this feat?

After emailing back and forth more, I don't think my cousin was trying to hurt my feelings or be disrespectful. However, I don't think his motivation was as "pure" as he thinks it was. I'm curious about the motivation to witness, and I'm curious as to why I'm the object of this witnessing. The only thing I can think of is that I'm the youngest of the cousins. Most of our family likes to read, but I'm the only one to receive this book. Why? Why not send it to my cousin D? She is a Christian and very interested in discussing different aspects and manifestations of Christianity. Why not send it to my sister or D's sister? They are both avid readers; they are also humanists, liberal, and share many of my beliefs. The biggest thing I have learned about myself in this exchange is that these issues fascinate me, but I don't really enjoy the process of discussion and confrontation.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Suck at Picking Doctors

I had to call and pay a doctor's bill today. I had waited a while because I was/am really irritated. See, I get these headaches. I've gotten them for a while. Sometimes they are low-level aches, and sometimes they turn into full blown migraines. Before I had my daughter, I was on migraine medication, but it made me feel awful, so when I had to quit taking it during pregnancy, I never started back up.

Also, the doctor who prescribed it was kind of a quack. So I found a new doctor. I did research. I looked at reviews. I went to a new patient appointment. And new doctor seemed pretty cool. He took my headaches seriously. He ordered cat scans, put me on new medicine, had my heart checked out when the new medicine fucked with my blood pressure and heart rate. After a year of this, I'm still getting headaches. They aren't as frequent, but we're still talking two or three a week, and I'm still getting dizzy from the medication. This doesn't seem like a perfect solution. What happened next made me realize, I'm not good at choosing a physician. In fact, I'm terrible at it.

In January, I had a check-up. I waited for an hour and a half after my appointment time to see the doctor. He came in the room at 2:30. I told him I wasn't happy with the headache/medication situation. He told me this was the best we could hope for--based on what I don't know. By 2:35, I was in my car. In five minutes I saw the doctor and paid my co-pay. Since January I've been debating finding a new doctor. My headaches are getting worse again even on the medication, and the doctor's disregard for my concerns really bothered me.

To make matters worse, a month ago I received another bill. Apparently my insurance hadn't covered all of the visit. The notice from the office told me I had 30 days to pay or I would no longer be a patient. For a less-than-five-minute visit, I was charged $70.39, and that number doesn't include what my insurance paid. I'm lucky enough that I can afford this, but it's bullshit that I have to "afford" it. For telling me basically, "I don't care that in a year you haven't adjusted to this medication, this is how I am treating the problem," the doctor charged me $100. The system is broken.

Oh, and does anyone know a good doctor in the Orlando area?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Scrub Jay Habitat

Eastern scrub jays are these really cool birds that live in Central Florida. They are beautiful--seriously, they have the most amazing colors. They are really smart and inquisitive. And they live in my home.

We went to an area in Deltona where they scrub jays live on a piece of scrub land by the library. Many people want to develop this land, but as of right now, it's a habitat, and it's magical. My kid, of course, went to the habitat dressed in a fancy dress because that's what you hike in. She wanted to be fancy for the birds. This trip was exciting because the birds were building nests, which I had never seen before. The kid thought it was pretty awesome that they build their own houses.

The scrub is where I came from. It's my home. I love sharing it with my daughter. Plus, the weather was gorgeous. And there were these lizards. Lizards are cool.

I love Florida, and the only thing better than exploring it alone is exploring it with my family.