Category Archives: Jobs

The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in God (and other stories)

As a teacher, my job is the most fascinating of all. Teaching isn’t the best part of it by far. It’s the conversations I have with my students, what I learn from them, about them and about life that make me go back every day. I’ve taught  students of virtually all ages, and though children and teenagers are my favorites, I’ve warmed up to some young adults, too. It’s all about the stories I get to hear, the fact that I get to be there for them, with them, to see them grow, as students, as people, as human beings.

Of course, I don’t want to break my students’ trust by any means, and I’m keeping this anonymous. But there are stories I want to tell. Stories only someone who’s been in a classroom hears. They’re beautiful, fascinating, heartbreaking. In each of my students’ eyes, I look for their stories. Maybe because I’m a storyteller, and a reader, at heart.

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From a ten year old, maybe I’ve heard the one I’ve felt the closest to my heart. Not the most important, because I don’t rate them. But the one I could truly identify with, even if our circumstances were somewhat different. Teaching English to E, she told me, among “I dos” and “I didn’t knows”, that kids at school shunned her out. They didn’t exactly bully her per se, but mostly excluded her. I asked her why, and she told me she doesn’t believe in God. I asked why doesn’t she, not as a reprimand, but out of pure curiosity, especially because E went to the same catholic school I went to. She told me her father and her sister don’t believe in God, either, and she didn’t see how it made sense. She explained me very eloquently in her ten year old words, why she didn’t believe in the same thing everyone she knew did. “That’s how they talk about me,” she told me. “You know E? Yeah, the girl who doesn’t believe in God.” And that stuck with me. Because for years I felt left out in my catholic school. Not that I don’t believe in God, but because I don’t believe the same.

I explained to E that at ten years old, it’s very hard for kids to understand different beliefs and why they exist. It’s very difficult for them to respect and include those who don’t participate in the same kinds of activities. And, even as I did tell her that as you grow up you realize that what feels now to be such fundamental difference doesn’t really affect all your friendships in the future, you kind of always feel a little bit the odd one out when you see the world differently from most people you know. It’s hard to find people who believe like you do. But we’re lucky, I said. We have our families. And once in a while, we find someone, I said. “Like you?” she asked me. “Like me,” I told her.

Twelve year old M told me her mother had told her God was the most important thing in her life. (I’m not following a pattern, I swear. It’s just an interesting story), but she didn’t know what she believed in. I asked why, and she said she didn’t know. I told her what I believe in, which is in spiritual evolution, communication with spirits, reincarnation — in short. She told me she didn’t believe me in spirits because her best friend had died in a car crash and she had never seen her ghost. I stopped short on my tracks, trying to think of a smart thing to say. I had none. I told her I don’t believe that’s how it happens, that seeing someone who passed away isn’t healthy to neither the person who passed to the ones who stayed. But I don’t think it helped.

Once, I told my eight year old student she was very cute. She said, “I’m not cute, I’m ugly as a cow.” I had absolutely no response to that. I muttered an “of course you’re not.”  but I have to confess that’s when I’ve been the most speechless. I debated telling her mother that she felt that way, or expressed herself that way, but I didn’t feel I was intimate enough to do so.

Once, I was sharing a personal story with a student I had befriended — I will do that sometimes — because I happened to be upset that day. She was older, almost my age. Twenty-four at the time. We were talking, but she was the one who told me that when she was a teenager, she got to weight 80lbs and no one noticed. “The hardest thing in life,” I told her, “is living with someone, waking up, going to school, working, coming home, sharing meals, everything, and them not noticing how much you’re hurting.” She cried. And said I was the one who ended up helping her.

A sixteen year old student told me once she wanted to save herself for marriage. I told her she felt that way now, but just wait until she met a guy she really wanted to be with. Chances were, she wouldn’t. She would change a lot, and she would see that saving herself, despite idealistic, wasn’t really a great practical idea. She’s still saving herself (I think!)

I think about my conversations with my students often. They make me a greater person. They make me a greater teacher. I love that they trust me to be part of their lives. (And I hope they don’t mind me blogging about them — all anonymous, I promise, guys!) ❤ It reminds me of when I was a student and I shared my life with my teachers!

What about you, guys? Any great students stories you wanna share? What about you guys who aren’t teacher? Ever had a great moment with a teacher? Share away!

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Filed under Education, Jobs, Life in General, School, Stories, Teaching

Do “Cool” Girls Die Alone?

Throughout the day, this HuffPo link has been posted in my timelines more than once:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-turner/cool-girls-die-alone_b_4400215.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

It’s the post from an author called Amy Turner about how she feels “cool” girls die alone. She has an interesting theory, really. Except the problem with her text is that cool there is interchangeable with self-sufficient, well-educated, tough, with  nice jobs. It’s her belief, it seems, that women like that need to be in control. “Control kills intimacy”, she says. And having both things aren’t possible. She talks about buying a home (contrasting with hard-working/well-earned women who have money to buy their own homes) is something that is worth it when you share this home with someone. Can we say “awwww”?

The woman has an idea there, except she’s got it all mixed up. Maybe I’m a hypocrite to be writing about this literally just a couple this after talking to my friend about how I’d end up alone because I just don’t connect to people and how all I’ve ever wanted in my life was a great and satisfying job, but hear me out.

What I’ve always believed — and I blogged about it just the other day! — is that we go through life and we meet people who make us happy in different moments of our lives. There may not be one single person for us, but there’ll be different people who will be there, throughout the years, the decades. And the way we go about life, how we see it, and doesn’t make us unable to meet these people. It just changes the sort of people we are going to be involved with.

Amy Turner talks about buying aprons and making casseroles, as if that aspect of a homey life makes any woman more of a wife/girlfriend material, as if that makes anyone more lovable. Dude, I’ve had two grandmothers who were married their whole lives. One of them never stepped into a kitchen. Both worked out. One was a lawyer/banker/historician (most awesome person ever), the other was an engineer. And this was the 1950s!  They were both loved, cared for, and one of them died surrounded by all the love in the world.

We’re in 2013 now. The idea that being tough and cool and career-focus and in control of yourself and your body and your life keeps you from being sweet and kind and and warm and from giving yourself completely to someone else is sort of unimaginable. I’m sorry, Amy Turner. But you were talking about going back in time and giving up power. You don’t need to give up anything t be loved. You don’t need to give up femininity to have a full time job, or motherhood to work out. You can make casseroles in aprons (personally, I love baking instead), and you can go out and do your job, and come back, and build a home. I don’t see, and I can’t see, why they’re mutually exclusive.

The idea that control kills intimacy is worrisome, and it worries more that is being sold out there. We all need to have control over something. Of course we do. Who’s gonna have control over us, then? Over our bodies, over our lives. That doesn’t mean we can give love, and care, and parts of ourselves to others. It doesn’t mean we can’t make ourselves vulnerable. Of course, some people have issues and can’t get past something that happened and give themselves up. But you can’t generalize it. In this century, most women will work out, have emotional, financial, physical power over themselves and still be able to live full happy lives with someone else.

If not, then what are we living for? Also, ‘control’ means knowing when to keep back and when to give up. Women who have control over themselves are the ones who let themselves go, who are emotionally mature and ready to fall in love, to be intimate. They’re the ones who aren’t being controlled by their past, their failures, their insecurities.

So, I disagree. I think once you have control over yourself, your life, your career, then you’re ready for intimacy, for sharing that with someone else. Someone you can let go of the control and let yourself be. Isn’t that just awesome?

So, what do you guys think? Do you think ‘Cool Girls Die Alone’? Do you think girls who have control have a harder time having intimacy? Talk to me! 🙂

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Filed under Guys, Jobs, Life in General, Love, Polemics

What if You Could Go Back (and change your past)?

With my graduation just around the corner in three weeks, it’s hard for me not to feel like I face impeding doom, a deep dark hollow , extreme uncertainty in front of me, as I leave University, and have to ask myself: what’s next? Of course, I have a few things lined up, but that will depend on whether or not I’m good enough they will work out, if things will arrange themselves, you know life. Fact is, though, as of this minute, if I were graduating today, I’d have no job, no future, no nothing. It kind of makes you freak out.

And question every decision you’ve ever made that led you to this place, which, apparently, it’s a normal place to be when you’re graduating University. (Except most people graduating are much younger than twenty-five-year old me because they didn’t waste two and a half years at Law School). As you can see, I’m in a bit of a life freaking out right now. Which leads to my post.

In my last vacation, just as these feelings of total despair confusion started to settle, my friends suggested that I watched this tv show, which turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done all year. Possibly in my life, because it completely changed me. The show is called Being Erica, and it’s not only the best show I’ve ever watched (sorry, Charmed, I still love you!), but it’s exactly what I’ve needed this year, as I go through all these stupid confusing messed up growing up changes.

Let me catch you up: the show is about this woman, Erica Strange, who’s thirty-two years old, and about as underachiever as one can be (Hello, instant identification!). She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s beautiful, but she holds a low class job, she doesn’t hold on to a guy, and she’s super insecure. And she blames it in her past choices. Fine. We’ve all done that (right?). In an especially bad day, in which she a) is fired from her job, b) is dumped by a guy she’s dating, c) suffers an allergic reaction and almost dies d) all the previous answers, Erica is approached, a the hospital, by Dr. Tom, a therapist that claims he has the only therapy she’ll ever need: results guaranteed.

(Follow this link NOW and watch this Being Erica trailer and go watch the whole show! It WILL change YOUR LIFE! and if you’re thinking: “But I don’t want my life to change.” That’s where you’re wrong!)

And that’s where she show really starts. Dr. Tom’s brand of therapy is hardly traditional: he does Time Traveling Therapy, which allows Erica to go back in time, revisit her past mistakes/bad choices, undo them, and change herself and her life. But that’s the best thing about the show, though: it falls far away from the cliché, because as Erica goes back in time, changes her past, her actions, her mistakes, her present hardly changes. Very, very little of her  current life is actually changed by changing the past. What truly changes is the inside of her. What her trips to the past truly offer her is perspective on what’s happening, on how she came to be the person she is and how she could change and improve that person. And that’s what makes the show completely amazing. Because if it was touch and go, change and done, there would be little to learn from it.

Also, you have to give huge props to Erin Karpluk, the actress who plays Erica, who’s about the most relatable girl in the world. She’s gorgeous, but not in an Angelina Jolie sort of way, more like, “Wow, if I really took care of myself, I could actually be as pretty as that girl.” She feels so real, and her face has about the most beautiful shape in the world. And, I have to say this, no actress ever cries as well as she does. It’s like she’s feeling everything Erica is. It’s amazing.

So, I watched this show, and as I saw Erica grow  and change, it really inspired me to go after what I want to. But, if you know me, I’m about as insecure and underachiever as they get, too (basically, I AM Erica Strange, without the being gorgeous part and having all the hot guys around me). Of course, when a show had this much impact on me, it’s hard not to wonder, how would I do Time Traveling Therapy? What would I change? What are my regrets?

Maybe that’s the greatest difference between Erica and I. She has tons of regrets, while I have very few. I mean, she has these huge regrets, and and mine are mostly very silly things that would hardly affect the way I view life and the world. Like, the first thing I can think I really regret, from the top of my head, is not going to the Spice Girls reunion concert (in Vegas or Los Angeles) when I was in Reno. I mean, such a missed opportunity, right? But it hardly changes my life. (Although, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for that one. It’s the Spice Freakin’ Girls!)

Still, my regrets are few. Do I regret the two and half years I spent in Law School that stalled my life? I don’t kn0w. If I weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have started Linguistics and Lit when I did, and I wouldn’t have met all my friends and my professors. So, how could I?

Do I regret not being more involved in University from the beginning? Yes. And No. Because I promised myself I wouldn’t go through another University Hell like I did with Law School. And I didn’t find myself in anything at school until my last year when I discovered Sociolinguistics. Being more involved before that would have meant putting myself through something I didn’t want to. So, I don’t think I regret, not really.

I guess what I mean is, Time Traveling Therapy would be an amazing idea to gain perspective from the past, to see how things could have been different, to have gone to that concert!!!!, but, in the end, I don’t know how that would work for me. (Not that regular therapy is all that great either). In the end, what I really did learn with Being Erica was to go after I wanted, to break away from my insecurities, to be strong, be myself, be kind, don’t give into pressure, don’t be so hard on myself, that you can love someone and they may not be the right one for you, that you can be in love with someone, but not sexually attracted to  them, that  family is everything and so are friends, that time and space do matter when it comes to love, and that I want it all for myself some day.

My point is, I wouldn’t change much about my past, because it made me who I am. That’s how the show works anyway. She changes the past, and she still needs to change the present anyway. So, what I need to change, is me. From now on. Here and now. Today, tomorrow and the day after. Next year. Even though I feel I’m going to be swallowed whole by life. And I have no idea what’s coming. And I’m scared as hell.

So, my question for you is: if you could go back in time, do Time Travel Therapy, or maybe just once, would you change anything? What would you change? Do you think changing your past would change your present?

ALSO, GO WATCH BEING ERICA! 🙂

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Filed under Jobs, Life in General, School, Television

What’s Your Fairy Tale?

As most little girls, I grew up hearing fairy tales, in which the prince and the princess get married in the end and live happily every after. And, from the time I was a little girl, I would see my little friends dreaming about their prince charming and the day he would scoop them up in a white horse, have a beautiful wedding and ride together into the sunshine.

I’m not sure when I realized there was something wrong with me, that I was different from my little friends, but it’s been a long time. While, for most of my childhood years my friends were dreaming about Leonardo DiCaprio and how he was the King of the World, I was thinking about how I wanted to be an actress when I grew up.

Or a detective. An archaeologist.

And then, an author.

But from when I was very little, my dreams never, ever consisted in getting married and having a family. It was always, always about having a job that I loved. And that was something very hard to grow up with. Honestly, sometimes, it still is. I remember having my friends being guy crazed and talking about guys all the time. It’s not like I have anything against guys — guys are awesome, I love guys! I liked talking about guys, too. But not all the time. I definitely didn’t like talking about future plans, because mine were so differently from theirs. Theirs were about meeting the love of their life an having a great family. Mine? I just want a job that makes me feel whole.

It’s not that I want to be alone, of course not. But… I never saw being with someone as something essential in my life. I have this friend — and she knows who she is — who tells me she needs to learn how to be alone. That she’s never been alone since she started having boyfriend at the age of thirteen. She says she feels she needs to be with someone, always. For me, that’s never been the case. In fact, I kind of feel better alone.

Maybe it’s because I’m a product of a “broken home” (I’m using the term sarcastically, in case you couldn’t tell), but I’m one of those kids who never dreamed of getting married, but has always wanted ex-husbands, just like my mom (hers are the best!). I say this jokingly, but this is kind of the spirit.

The way I see it, though, is that A LOT of people I know see life a this thing where you have one soulmate, someone who completes you and makes you whole. I just think that life is a very long time to be with someone. I think there are many people out there who can make you happy. I think many guys can make me happy, for different reasons, at different times of my life. I want to meet these guys. I want to be with these guys. I don’t need to be with one of them forever or have a piece of paper to prove we’re together. I just want to enjoy the time we have.

On the other hand, there’s the job  thing. Of course, when you think about it, there could be a lot of things that make you happy. But could there? The way I see it, when you find something that makes it worth it, you hold on to it. When you find something that makes you wake up every day in the morning, you hold on to it.  When you find something that gives you a burning passion, you better damn well hold on to it.

But, Barbie, you ask me, don’t all these things apply to a person, too? My boyfriend makes me feel that way! I say great for you. But this stimuli  for you to feel this way cannot come from someone else. Not from a husband, a boyfriend or children. It needs to come from you, for you. Or you’ll have a wonderful family and still feel emotionally and personally frustrated. You’ll feel like you have everything, but you’re missing yourself and your passion.

When you have passion, though, you can find everything else. That’s what I believe anyway. You have an awesome job that you love? Your life is made, sister. You don’t need anyone else  to be successful and whole. Once you are, then everything else is just complementing this.

I’m twenty-five and my friends are not boyfriend crazed anymore. They’re wedding crazed now. All they ever talk about is weddings, engagements and everything in between. Sometimes, I feel like the only reason they want a stable job is so they can have  good income so they’re ready to get married.

Me? I’m still trying to get to my passion. To that burning force inside of me that makes me whole. No one else can do that for me. That’s my fairy tale. I wish the movies, the books, the stories would show that more often. One of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen was a romantic comedy in which the girl doesn’t get the guy, she gets the job of her dream, which, to me, is the perfect ending. I can’t imagine a better thing to get.

Now, I ask you: What’s your fairy tale?

Answered the poll above? Awesome! Tell me why! What did you dream of when you were a kid? Did you dream of getting married? Having an awesome job? Both? Did something/someone make you change your mind? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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Filed under Guys, Jobs, Life in General, Love, Movies