"I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself." -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Thing #23: feelin' fine

I have an REM lyric stuck in my head that goes, "it's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine." You may have heard it before. In case you did not, a pink-haired, brace-faced Gwen Stefani sang it on New Year's Eve 1999 on MTV. You may be able to youTube it, but you may not.

Anyway, the song itself is unimportant, but the line is not.

I have moments of awareness when I realize that things have changed irrevocably. I always think that I'll catch the moment that things change, like it's a spontaneous sort of switch, but it's not. It's gradual, and we wake up one day and realize, "Oh, things will never actually be the same."

I realized that at Thanksgiving this year. It was my first holiday not living or staying at my parents' house, and it was weird. Drew and I both ate two Thanskgivings, and though we retained the Midland traditions, it's clear that things have shifted. We've grown up, and we're beginning to ease into our new adult patterns that will require balancing multiple families and multiple traditions. We've reached a new stage in our lives where it's no longer just us, the four Midlands; it's the Midlands plus others. It's different. And I recognize that this new different will become our old pattern in a matter of years. The change has occurred, silently but somehow swiftly. We are adults.

Similarly, I realize that my parents and grandparents are simultaneously altering in my perceptions. Grandma Pat's surgery tomorrow and Grandpa Dale's recently placed pace-maker are both doses of reality. As my previous entry states, we are not actually invincible, and the people we love are surprisingly fragile. Everyone seems to be reaching an age where doctor's visits are approached with greater caution and irregular test results can spell disaster. It's humbling to know that my heroes are human.

But, despite the lump in my throat as I write this, "I feel fine." I have been raised for this adulthood business, and I know my parents were raised to be strong and courageous support systems for their parents who have been supportive of them. We are a web, interconnected and stronger because of it. And our web gets bigger, too. While I am sad to have missed saying goodbye to childhood, I know that this will be good. Maybe even better. Definitely better.

Thing #22: People who love me and people to love

The week of thankfulness came and went, and I published nothing "to be happy about" in those days. That's simultaneously silly and stupid because I have many things for which to be thankful (numerous and almost uncountable).

When it comes right down to it, though, very few things (edit: nothing) in my life would be worthwhile without the people I love. Simple pleasures like the lights on my Christmas tree are empty and meaningless without someone with whom to share them. Thanksgiving dinner is just food without the company. Life is just a passage of days without people to share our joys and successes.

My life is certainly richer and fuller because of the people I love and the people who love me. My mom reminded me today (as things tend to do frequently) that life is short and as I told a freshman during 2nd block, we are not as invincible as we imagine ourselves to be at 14. So, to those of you who love me, thank you for making my life better and worth living. It's for you that I work hard to make a good name for myself, because I know that my legacy is also a tribute to the impact you have had in my life. And I am unspeakably thankful for the power of your influence in and on my life. Thank you.


Thing #21: Christmas trees

I love Christmas, and I will probably include several items on this blog that center around my love of all things Christmas. If this bothers you, get over it. I feel no sympathy, and I make no apologies.

Christmas trees are spectacular. Not two are the same, whether they be freshly cut pine or artificial plastic. Each one has unique lights and decorations and branches. They say so much about the people or places they are found. Trees can be sparkly, monochromatic, country classic, 40s retro, or scattered and bright. My two trees say a lot about me, I think. I have two that are very different, which shows, of course, that I am indecisive with different tastes in decoration (which my apartment also displays with the country traditional rooms and the bright pink room).

They're just so fun. I could drink my hot cider and stare at my trees for hours. In fact, I may resort to that tonight when I should be reading or cleaning or grocery shopping. I get kind of caught up in the wonder of it all.

Ah, Christmas tree...


Thing #20: Peppermint Scented and Flavored things

The holiday season is upon us. I am (as mentioned before) excited about this. One aspect of the holiday season particularly makes me happy: peppermint. I really dislike peppermint normally. I prefer wintergreen or any number of other flavors to peppermint. However, when the weather turns colder and leaves fall from trees, I begin to have an interest in peppermint. Peppermint bark, peppermint candy canes, and peppermint flavored lip gloss are all things that I enjoy.

Right now, I am wearing a lovely lip gloss from Bath & Body Works that is both scented and flavored like peppermint (in fact, the label states that it contains peppermint oil, whatever the heck that is). Ah, winter.

I also want to provide an update on a previous entry: Starbucks has Christmas products on their website. They include a delightful mug that looks like the cup sold in the store as well as a cold beverage cup with a candy cane striped straw. Fantastic.


Thing #19: Starbucks Holiday Cups

As previously mentioned, today is a teacher work day, so I stopped by Starbucks on my way to work for a motivational treat. Today's cups? Holiday. The saying on them? "We invite you to listen to your desires and to renew your hope, to see the world not as it is, but as it could be. Go ahead. With. It's what makes the holidays the holidays."

I liked it. I just hope they sell cool holiday stuff as well. In fact, I'm going to the Starbucks website right now. Afterall, I did just grade two class sets of tests. I deserve a little motivational break.

Thing #18: Teacher Work Days

First, let me be clear - my job has countless perks. I have breaks at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, as well as the entire summer. My hours are 7:15 to 2:35 by contract. I reliably work only Monday through Friday. I get to read and write as part of my job. I'm entertained daily by 14-18 year olds.

But the great unspoken perk is the Teacher Work Day, at least in high school. On this day, I am able to arrive at my contract hour and not hysterically run around seeking the things I need to teach. I can leisurely enjoy coffee in the morning. I can wear jeans and my pink Converse without fear of administrative reproach. I am able to enjoy hours of planning, cleaning, organizing, and/or grading without the interruptions of a normal teaching day. Plus, let's not forget that there is often some kind of sustenance involved, whether it be breakfast, a snack, or lunch.

I am happy that today is a work day. I needed to wake up at 6, wear jeans, and grade papers. Today will be a good day.