Sweet Release

There’s that saying about the freshman fifteen, and perhaps due to the fact that I didn’t live on campus my freshman year, I never experienced it. Even when I did move on campus the start of my junior year, I began working out more at the gym and made healthy food choices at the dining halls, so if anything, I lost weight.

The first-year-teacher fifteen, though? Now that’s a real thing.

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TBT: Sweater Weather

Sometimes I laugh when friends of mine, who live with their partners, remark how annoying it is and then tell me to “Just wait till you live together.”

As if I haven’t been waiting for over two years, right?

The longest continuous period of time Harel and I had together was three weeks in December 2015. It was my third visit to Mexico City, and it was the first visit we didn’t fill with adventures around the city, to museums and churches and any place.

Instead we lived together. We woke up next to each other, we went grocery shopping, we cooked for each other, we visited friends, we drank, ate, were merry. The way he puts his computer on the kitchen table and plays music while he cooks. The way he doesn’t walk around the house without anything on his feet.

Little things. The things that annoy other people. The things I cherish.

One day it was colder than expected, and we needed to dress up a bit, and the only sweater I had was a purple hoodie–I love it, but it didn’t suit the occasion. So Harel pulled all his sweaters out of the closet and had me try on each of them.

I remember saying the cardigan looked particularly feminine on my figure.

Then yesterday a couple new sweaters I ordered online arrived (I’m not naturally a sweater person, mind you, but being that I’ll be teaching in Milwaukee, where it’s much colder than it is in NC, and being that sweaters can be worn casually and professionally, it seems a fashion sense I should acquire), and as I buttoned up the smokey grey cardigan, I couldn’t help but feel the moment was incomplete without Harel with me.

Most days I scramble out of bed and get dressed in such a hurry, I’m lucky if I put my foot through the right pant leg on my first try. Getting dressed is routine, the necessary machinery to prepare myself for a professional day.

But with Harel, even getting dressed was something special.

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(To give some context to our expressions in the picture–in which I’m wearing Harel’s sweater–it was taken right after we found out his parents were visiting. That is, when we found out we were all meeting for the first time.)

tb;dw

We all (probably) know the abbreviation tl;dr, meaning “too long; didn’t read.” This last week inspired another: tb;dw, meaning “too busy, didn’t write.” It’s a habitual occurrence when classes begin, but it’s a habit I want to break.

The truth is, when I decided somewhat arbitrarily to make Mondays and Thursdays my Writingwolf days, I had no idea that I would have homework due every week on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s a match made in priorities hell: either I maintain my blog (part of my overall vision and one way of staying sane), or I commit myself to excelling on homework (a different part of my overall vision and another important part of staying sane).

Clearly, you can see my predicament.

Since I can’t change my homework schedule, it means I can only change my posting habits. At the moment, I’m thinking I’m going to switch it up so I blog on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then share poems/stories/etc. on Silent Sol Wednesdays and Saturdays.

But it’s a process. In fact, as we speak I’m in the process of creating new processes–I’ve done away with making goals for myself (hence why I haven’t written a piece on my goal progress in a while), instead attempting to create daily habits that will help me achieve the long-term outcomes I want to realize. Goals, in a way, are a recipe for failure, whereas processes appear far more forgiving. But before I report on my progress and how it’s working for me, I need to keep up with it long enough to see some burgeoning results.

So my post on goals vs. systems is forthcoming, I promise.

In the meantime (which, pausing to reflect, literally means the midpoint between now and some unspecified future moment), I’m going to try this new schedule and hope it helps.

500

I’d like to say I’ve been thinking all day about what I would share with you. But I didn’t.

Instead I pulled myself out of bed at sunrise, walked a mile to class, and was promptly told it was cancelled. I went to my second class, finished some computer work, went to my next class (in which we discussed the sameness of donuts and coffee cups), had lunch and studied with a friend, went to a work meeting, had dinner, and went to my last class.

Then, when I got home, I balanced my check book.

It was a thoroughly typical day, but this is not a typical post.

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Salad September

Or: What Darren Did When Sweetless September Went South

I’m a goal-oriented person. I love nothing more than the sweet satisfaction of striking an item off my to-do list. I keep spreadsheets of daily goals to fill in and monitor my daily responsibilities–study for all seven classes, make progress in leadership and immigration paperwork, stop that annoying scalp scratching and relax for ten minutes each day–and filling in the boxes makes my day feel complete. All that time? It accomplished something.

So, fond of alliteration as I am, I’ve imagining Sweetless September since March.

Except it didn’t turn out like I intended.

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Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Walk Into a Bar

And then they had drinks and celebrated the fact that finals were over. (Seriously, I tried coming up with a better punchline, but I couldn’t make it funny, so I thought I’d opt for absurd and asinine instead.)

But honestly, finals are over, and believe it or not, I almost didn’t know what to do when I got out of class. I lingered, albeit unintentionally at first, with some classmates and we discussed our exam, but then I was on my own–and I really had no idea what to do with myself.

So I did what anyone else would do: I did nothing.

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Rest for the Wicked

This was a long week. From late-night scares with our animals to working early the next day and heat so hot it’s not sexy, all my energy has left me. It started with high energy: Staying at my boyfriend’s, visiting best friends, and attending my transfer orientation at NC State. Since then, I’ve been exhausted. Too tired to sleep. Too tired to write. Too weary to will myself into anything other than sloth. It’s somewhat sickening how little I’ve done–and yet under this oppressive heat, even the tiniest actions seem to take the greatest effort.

It’s Shabbat again. I haven’t been restful one bit–not other than an afternoon nap, at any rate. I helped at SOAR this morning and met some enthusiastic new students. I did some shopping for essentials I’ll need on campus. And I even drove a bit. It’s no wonder I needed a nap. Yet as they say, no rest for the wicked.

And according to this teaching, I’m especially wicked.

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Recollections and Restitutions

It seems like every post in this second book of the Pirkei Avot has begun with an introduction. Sometimes I don’t see a point in it, but so quickly it has become a trend, simply for my own amusement, I’m going to see how long I can keep it going. It also adds a layer of uniformity to all these posts (which contrasts the pattern of the first book, in which all the posts began with the teaching itself), and that isn’t a bad thing, is it?

Today’s introduction is going to be sweet, simple, and straightforward, because today’s–or yesterday’s–teaching is actually one I’m happily eager to write about–at long last, it would seem. Of course, specifying “yesterday’s” is the perfect segue to this sweet, simple, and straightforward introduction, which is simply this:

I got stuck going to the laundromat last night, so I didn’t have the time at home to write this then.

So with no further ado, why don’t we begin?

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The First Step

1.16     Rabban Gamliel taught:

Select a master-teacher for yourself so that you avoid doubtful decisions; do not make a habit of tithing by estimate.

It’s interesting that this teaching should fall on this Shabbat: As readers who saw my post this past Thursday should already know, Rosh HaShanah—the Jewish new year—was just days ago. The holiest day in all Judaism is only days away now: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the Sabbath of Sabbaths.

The period between these two high holy days is called the Days of Awe, and there’s always ten of them. This is a special Shabbat then, that it should fall in these ten days: It’s Shabbat Shuva, the Sabbath of Return—a fitting name, being as that the ideal of Yom Kippur is teshuvah, returning to God (in that our sins have caused us to stray from God, to whom we must now return, as we must always do, in the end). I could probably elaborate further, but to do so would lead to an entire post on this special Shabbat, and that is not my intention.

My intention is to speak about teachers, specifically what’s implied by this teaching. And, of course, to state why this is a special teaching for this special Shabbat.

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