Thursday, September 29, 2011


So, I spend a lot of time thinking about deep, meaningful things.
I am so kidding about that.
Mostly, I daydream about food, sleeping, and sleeping some more. When I'm sitting in a dull class and not thinking about one of those three things, I spend my time glancing around the room at my peers. I think about what kind of things lie just beneath their surface. I wonder what they've done in their lives. I think about the people who probably think the world of the person sitting right next to me, who I hardly know. I wonder what kinds of things they love to do, what foods they hate, what they consider the worst moment of their lives, and what moment they consider the best so far.

So, even if I can't run around and ask everyone to share their life stories with me, I wanted to make a list of things I find important about myself that nobody can really see from the surface. Lots of people don't know these things about me, but when I think of myself, these are the things I use to define who I am. Kind of cool, huh?

*I am the oldest child in my family, out of two. I have a younger brother by five years, named Ethan Blane. He's the best. I used to hate his guts most of the time, but now that we're older, I really wish I could be around him more often, and watch him grow up. He's such a talented, smart kid. I think the world of him, and wouldn't give him up for anything (even though I wanted a sister.)

*I was six weeks premature when I was born, and spent ten days in incubation. I wore the sweet stunna shades, and I still have a bear from the hospital that sat with me in the incubator, who now wears the shades, my identification band, and my tiny blood pressure cuff. He doesn't have a name.

*My dad's side of the family is Russian, and my mom's side is German, so I am purely fifty-fifty, from what I can tell. My dad's side is also predominantly Jewish. I grew up Catholic, but we celebrated Jewish holidays growing up, and I really love attending synagogue with my dad. I like to think that that integration of the two faiths in my life has really given me a tolerance and respect for other beliefs, and I like to take the best of every culture and religion I encounter, and use those things to enrich my own life.

*I am minoring in music, and my primary is the trumpet, but I consider my most proficient instrument to be the piano. I've played since I was eight. I used to be way better than I am now. In fourth grade I was a winner in the MMTA Piano Competition, and got to play at Northrup Auditorium at the U of M for the Centennial Celebration Honors Concert. The winners from my age group got on stage all at once and played a duet, two on each piano, with twenty plus pianos on stage. There were about forty of us; it was incredible. Even though I was really young, I still think that will forever be one of the best moments of my life.

*I was engaged to be married for about two years, from the age of sixteen to eighteen. Long story short, I jumped into a lot of life-changing decisions because I felt I had no other choice, and it ended up falling apart when we got to college. Two weeks after we broke up, he committed suicide. Many factors influenced this, including severe manic depression, but I am still convinced that situations leading up to his death, including our break up, were what ultimately influenced his decision. It changed my life completely, but it didn't change ME completely. The worst thing ever is when I explain the situation to friends who didn't know me before college, and they pity me or act differently around me sometimes. I'm actually more myself now than I ever was in high school, and no matter what his decision was, I know that ending our unhealthy relationship was the best option for me.

*I had bacterial meningitis in the right hemisphere of my brain in the spring of my junior year of high school. I was misdiagnosed by the emergency room doctors in my hometown, and by the Grace of God somehow managed to go almost forty-eight hours without treatment, when some people die within twelve hours or less. I was transferred to Abbott-Northwestern in St. Paul, and there I had a brain biopsy, where they drilled a hole into the right frontal lobe of my brain to collect some of the fluid that had been building up between the meninges of my brain.Treatment involved having a PICC line catheter inserted into the inside of my right upper arm, which ran from the arm into my inferior vena cava, to administer antibiotics straight into my system. I had the PICC line in for a few weeks after surgery and diagnosis, and I even had it in during my junior prom! I go into so much detail, because while it was a scary and very painful experience, I also learned so much, and found my procedures and treatments to be so interesting! The brain has always fascinated me, and to be able to see my own brain and heart on the screen during and after procedures was so cool. I sent my surgeon my prom picture, and he asked for a picture from my college graduation, to remind him of a "job well done." I don't plan to disappoint him. (:

*I've wanted to be a teacher since I was six. I think I always knew that's where I belonged, and I can't see myself doing anything else. I'm glad I changed my major to English education. I will never regret it. As difficult as I know it will be, I can't think of a better thing to spend my life doing.

*I wanted to play trumpet so badly in band when I was in elementary school, because of E.B. White's "The Trumpet of the Swan." I ended up playing French horn, because I was the only person to try out for it, and I was actually pretty good. I switched to trumpet in high school, anyway, and though I still play the horn pretty well, I play trumpet in all of SDSU's major ensembles. I still really love that book. I will read it to my kids someday, just like my mom used to read it to me over and over again.

*Speaking of reading, I give my parents complete credit for my reading ability. They fostered a love of reading in my brother and I from before we could speak, and every night my mom would stack up a pile of books we picked out on one side of the rocking chair. She would read through all of them (usually four or five on a typical night,) and as she finished each one it would go on the opposite side of the chair. To this day, I love that nightly ritual, and will use it with each of my kids in the future.

*When I was a baby, I looked like my dad when he was a baby. It was probably the crazy curly hair we both have on our heads.

*The first CD I bought with my own money was an album of Scott Joplin rags. I was in fourth grade. (The first CD I ever owned was Backstreet Boys - Millennium.) Ragtime is my absolute favorite thing to play, hands down.

*When I picture how I look in my head, I'm about a foot taller than I actually am. I don't think of myself as small until someone points it out.

I can't figure out how to rotate this, so, enjoy a sideways picture of me swinging from a maple tree.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Lately, my posts have been really derogatory and, frankly, bitchy.
I promise, I'm not always like that. Writing helps me sort through tough situations, so I turn to blogging to express my frustrations and interpretations to work through them.
I thought I would make another "happy" list...since I was feeling quite chipper today while walking around campus. I love fall weather.
a picture of a tree, taken by me.
BAM. rhyme.

A good book.
Apples from the apple orchard.
Curling up in my tie blanket.
Completing a "to-do" list.
Having a "good trumpet" day.
Having a clean room.
Snuggling up with Alex.
Singing to my favorite songs in the car.
Halloween decorations.
Thunderstorms and rain.
Sleeping in.
Going for walks.
Fun socks.
Calling my parents.
Jacks football games.
Hot chocolate, apple cider, and tea.
A good nap.
Playing the piano well again.
Taking pictures of things and people.
Playing trumpet duets with Alex.
Basically, anything with Alex. :)
Giving and receiving compliments.
Jack-o-lanterns. (I'm making one this year....or maybe two!)
Getting exciting inspirations ALREADY about teaching!
Pumpkin pie.
Fall night air.
Acing tests.
Understanding metric modulation.
Jimmy John's sub sandwiches.
Holding babies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

if you want something done...

do it yourself.

In grade school, I hated group projects. Being the "smart kid," I always seemed to be stuck with the most uncooperative, lazy, and thoughtless people in the class. I ended up shouldering a good chunk of the work, and delegating tasks usually ended up in disaster, leaving me to pick up the pieces in a frantic rush before handing in the project. The irony with that situation is that I was considered the "smart kid," and had no other personality to those I worked with. Not only was I earning a grade FOR them, but they were judging and degrading me as well. Needless to say, I didn't like grade and high school very much.
To this day, I have an issue with allowing other people to pick up responsibility for a group effort. If the project we are working on in any way reflects myself as a person, affects my grade, or holds any kind of importance to me, I usually end up taking on the whole thing, giving others minimal tasks.

Often, I wonder if I'm too much of an over-achiever. Maybe I should settle down and trust other people. However, whenever I start to think that way, I am invariably proven correct in my original assumption: that I cannot trust anyone to do anything.

I've tried my hardest to sit back and let others pick up the slack, but it seems that nothing ever gets accomplished if I wait it out. Any activity that may prove to be unpleasant in any way, or that will involve a little more than passive effort is pointedly ignored, until I give up my "vow of silence" and just do it myself. This can be anything from cleaning the bathroom at my apartment to fraternity projects. It happens in class. It happened when I worked at Walmart, or even at the GAC. It happens when I support friends who can't turn around and support me. Invariably, I will do it, because it needs to be done, and I want to do my best.

My dad tells me constantly to not worry about other people, and what may be "fair" or "right." I should just focus on the end goal, and do whatever it takes to reach that goal.
I used to think he was being less than supportive, or understanding.
Now, I know that he's right, no matter how much that philosophy sucks.

The fact that I have to shoulder responsibilities that should be shared isn't right, or fair. I shouldn't have to beg for assistance, and everyone should care enough to do their part.
This, I find, is an unreasonable expectation.
Just because I put care and effort into nearly every aspect of my life does not mean that others will. In fact, it's very rare that people actually care at all.

Everyone is so used to instant gratification. What they do not realize, however, is that things like a diploma, degree, membership, grade,  job or friendship is not their RIGHT. People just aren't earning their rights anymore, I guess. People feel so entitled.

I recognize this, and understand why things are the way they are. It sucks. I still stress out and feel crappy when I undertake things on my own without any reciprocation. I resign myself to admit that if I expected friends to care as much as I do, I would have no friends. If I trust others with my grade, I may not end up with the one I deserve. If I refuse to do something because I've "done my share, and don't need to do any more," I probably wouldn't get far, at all.

Others may coast along and use me, but the more I think about it, the more I am okay with that. In no way am I hurt by that behavior, honestly. I am learning, doing my best, and getting the things I deserve. I will end up with a good job reference, friends, good grades, and I can say I am proud of the things I accomplish. I know the truth. I know who did the work, and who deserved the outcome.

One teaching strategy I will employ sparingly, and with close observation, is the group project. Even if it goes unnoticed in every other classroom, my students will be rewarded for the effort they put forth.

I know I can't be the only one who cares.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows that I don't try very hard in the "outward appearances" category. My family may attest to the fact that I do have a "beauty ritual" after I shower, involving copious quantities of mousse and a bit of eyeliner and mascara, and I definitely go through way more bobby pins than the average human, but usually my routine in the morning involves more hitting the snooze button than primping.

As far as clothing is concerned, I like to look like I try, but if a look is going to make me try harder than reaching into my closet and pairing a neutral-colored tee shirt with a camisole and jeans, I usually won't go for it, unless I'm being forced to dress up. Occasionally, I will go out of my norm and put something on that actually accentuates the fact that I'm a girl, but usually I feel crazy awkward leaving the house with something that achieves this look that I change my clothes five seconds before I leave the house.

In high school, I used to care way more about my hair, and would straighten my bangs every morning, until they were almost permanently straight, but my clothing style was just about the same as it is now, and as soon as I got to college, the heat tools generally stay in the linen closet most of the time.

Tonight, out of boredom, I decided to re-curl my hair, and put eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick on my face. It took about an hour, and when I was done, I looked in the mirror, and didn't even recognize myself. Sure, I looked pretty good, but my natural Jewish curls had already started to rebel against the ironing, and I hated that I could feel the makeup sitting on my eyelids. I sit here scratching at my eyes, twitching my nose in discomfort from all the makeup I have on my face, and I've already impatiently tied my hair back up. It took me about twenty minutes.
Not worth a full hour.
If anything else, I feel like a hypocrite when I actually take the time to attempt to make myself look like the traditional "beauty" of our generation. Most of the time, I walk around with a tee shirt and jeans, hair back, and minimal makeup on my face.

If being "real" has helped me in any way, I never have a doubt in my mind that my friends are my friends because of who I am, not because of what I'm wearing, or how I look. I know that Alex thinks that I'M beautiful, not my makeup or curling iron. Of course, he likes when I put forth a little more effort than slathering on some mousse and slapping eyeliner on my face in three minutes, but I generally don't try very hard on any normal day, and he is still attracted to me. He compliments my features even on my "ugly" days, and I know he cares more about my heart than my hair. He also loves my natural curls, as much as I despise them. Plus, when I actually do dress up, put on something that accentuates the fact that I'm a female, and step into some heels, he acts like it's Christmas.

Maybe my lack of sophisticated fashion sense, and my "unlucky" gifts from the gene pool made me less popular than most in high school, but I know my brain and intelligence is healthy and thriving. My character and actions are so much more important than looking the part that everyone wants me to play, and being a unique, intelligent individual is miles more rewarding than being "typically attractive."

If all of the girls in the world stopped trying so hard, perhaps everyone could get along by content, rather than the cover. Popularity would be judged by character, rather than by clothing and hair. It's still self-respectful to care for oneself, and take care in one's appearance, but instead of slaving in front of the mirror every morning in an effort to look good for people I don't even know or care about, I would rather be comfortable and happy in my own, real, genuine skin.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


This week has been one of THOSE weeks.
The kind of week where everything is just a little bit off....nothing is quite right.
No, I haven't suffered any major catastrophes, but the little day-to-day annoyances pile up until I sit here, barely ten in the morning on Thursday, trying to convince myself not to crawl back under the covers and stay.
Petty frustrations and little disappointments fall into my hands as little rocks would, until suddenly I'm staggering under a boulder, asking for just a little bit of help while everyone passes by.

My hopes for this year are quickly crumbling into mediocre apathy. The hard work I've already put forth seems to be yielding miniscule, if not nonexistent, results, and the clear goals I set for myself this semester are getting fuzzier by the hour.

I find it very challenging not to feel bad and hurt when someone talks down to me.  Keeping a smile on my face when friendliness is met with apathy or even sarcasm is near to impossible. Practicing my trumpet every day when it hardly gets me anywhere worthwhile is incredibly difficult. I find it so difficult to be proud of my accomplishments when my mistakes and shortcomings are so much bigger. Progress is progress, you may say, but after a while I get tired of baby steps when I want leaps.

I know I sound whiny. I know my life is awesome and I shouldn't be complaining.
The unjust price I have to pay for CARING while others stand by and coast is the worst. Being known as the loud, mean squad leader in the Pride for actually wanting our forms and marching to look their best is definitely a blow to my confidence. Being held accountable for the responsibilities that should belong to the high school students I work with irritates and upsets me.
Where is the passion, excitement, or pride?

The weight of responsibility shouldn't fall upon my shoulders alone.

So if I seem angry, upset, or cranky, I am. Being nice has gotten me nowhere this week. I know it may not be right, or the "big girl thing to do," but I'm only human, too. I can only carry this boulder so far before I'll just drop it before it squishes me.

Hopefully next week will be better.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

for the jonathan livingston seagull, living inside us all

Press play, then close your eyes. Play it again and watch the video. Read the following after you've listened to the entire song.

Beautiful, isn't it? Even if you don't particularly like Neil Diamond, it's difficult for me to fathom that someone out there can NOT find this absolutely gorgeous.
Alex introduced me to the Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack during one of those quiet, peaceful times, just simply sitting in the dark, enjoying the company of a loved one. It all really hit me at once, and I fell in love instantly.

As I begin another year at State, I find myself struggling again. Not as much as I used to struggle, but in the quiet moments, I find the darkness around the edges, that sadness that lurks just beyond the horizon, creeping in just a tiny bit towards me. Flashes of images, sudden rushes of sound, and twinges of emotions linked to long-repressed memories come to mind, and doubt follows immediately upon the heels of the memories.

I wonder a lot of things. I wonder if I'm a good person, and if I made the right decisions along my way.
In a little over two months, I will have lived for two entire years without Joey.

I feel like I've lived a thousand lives since that day. I've felt thousands of different things, and explained the situation thousands of different ways. It all amounts to the same thing, in the end.

I know not to compare myself to others....that grief, circumstances, relationships.....they're all different from person to person. I know that no fault was mine, though I remain living my life with twinges out doubt and guilt regardless.
Lately, I've been delving into these feelings, truly examining my thoughts and emotions, and I've realized that that guilt doesn't come from Joe's suicide directly.
My guilt comes from others who have suffered a it the loss of Joey or another loved one.

Knowing that these people still openly grieve months, even years, after a death makes me feel heartless, to be honest. I enjoy my life more now than I ever have before, in spite of the tragedy I experienced. Breaking up with Joe, regardless of his choice to take his own life, gave me freedom. That freedom granted me the ability to be who I was meant to be, and not just who he felt HE needed me to be. I can follow my heart, follow my dreams, and live a life that is more blessed than I ever could have imagined it could be.

I walked away and was blessed. I left him behind.
Is it my fault?

He took away my chance at normality when he took his life, and I can do nothing to change that. The scar he left by making that choice will stay with me until the day I die. However, I wear it as an internal scar...a quiet, subtle crack in an otherwise increasingly steady foundation.

Yet, as much as I am ever thankful that I am the healthy, happy, thriving twenty-year-old I am today, I feel as if I owe something to someone. While I am loved by more people than I can count, am cared for by the most amazing man I've ever met, and supported by a family I wouldn't change for anything, I feel a sense of discontent.

I've identified this discontent as guilt. I feel guilty because I am happy, in spite of the circumstances, while others continue to mourn his loss.

Then, I heard of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and it reminded me of my own outlook on the entire situation. It reminded me exactly why I picked myself up and carried on, healthy, happy, and full of a life that I am completely blessed to have been given.

"Does my life end here?
I wasn't born to drown in the ocean.
I can die here, or I can force myself to fly.

It's in me.
It's in me!
I've got to get back home.

At last, I can stop thinking, for once in my life.
Just stop thinking
and fly towards the lights in the dark!"

He may not be alive anymore, but I am.

I AM, and I plan to live while I'm alive.