living out loud

big risks.

i’ve said for a long time i want a tattoo. but i think i need several: the sanskrit symbol for ohm, something about my sweet melissa, and now i’m thinking caged birds being set free. …if i were REALLY an anarchist rebel, i’d have these all tattooed on my neck. (i’ll just find some tasteful shoulder and ankle areas, though.)

Just some things I’m grappling with (and before I begin, can I say two things? 1, these are all things I should have been grappling with last year but didn’t because I was being terrified and verbally assaulted and emotionally manipulated and 2, thank god I’m no longer being terrified or verbally assaulted or emotionally manipulated…silver linings on dark rain clouds, as they say):

a life’s summary.

* My kid. Oh  y’all. Listen. I have a really, really, really smart little girl. If you’ve been reading my blog/s awhile, I don’t know if you can tell or not, but I think I’ve alluded to it more than once. Miss M’s got a Big Personality – she is sassy and flippy, highly opinionated, obstinate, emotional, and does what she wants. She’s also an only child, and 100% without a doubt has Only Child Syndrome. She loves attention, she loves being in the spotlight. When she’s been on stage for dance recitals, she is not nervous. Stage fright, schmage fright, what’s THAT?? She’s actually desperate for a sibling, but I can tell: she can’t handle a sibling. Having to share the limelight after 8 years of BEING the limelight would be a challenge for little Miss M. It would give new meaning to sibling rivalry.

I had her first 2nd grade parent-teacher conference today. C got there first, and I have no idea how long they were talking or what they talked about, but by the time I got there the teacher: knew we’d been separated for over a year, knew we’re signing divorce papers in 2017, and knew…well, I don’t know how much else she learned but whatever it was, she kept giving me kind of a hard, I’m-concerned-about-you look, and it just…I didn’t have a whole lot to say at that conference. I let C handle it and set the tone and be in charge. As I usually do. When C is present.

At any rate, the basic gist of it is that our sweet girl is as smart as a 5th grader. But she’s got the worldliness of a teenager. Which was sort of depressing to hear, because this is probably my fault. I will confess to you that, for over a year, I’ve been slightly checked out as a mom. YouTube is a good babysitter when one is slightly checked out as a mom. I can barely manage to do laundry some weeks. Focus is not my forte, and hasn’t been for going on half a decade now.

*My job. I think I’m working at a school that’s about to be targeted. I’ve worked at this school since it opened in 1998; except for 3 years in Arizona, my entire career has been at this school. I love this school. I’ve seen it really good and very bad. I’ve worked for really really incompetent principals and very very amazing ones. I’ve worked with people who have absolutely no business being in a classroom, and some who ought to be running the entire national public educational system. I’ve seen it go from no standardized testing (aka: The Good Ole Days) to crazy data obsessive standardized testing. I’ve seen it all, and some years I’ve clung to teaching by my fingernails, not sure what will happen. But we’ve always somehow managed to make it. This year, however, this year feels different. I’ve said that before, but this year feels very very serious. Like, I am overwhelmed in a job I’ve done before, for 10 years, that isn’t supposed to be overwhelming, except for keeping up with paperwork.

If it’s taken over, I’ll be fired and have to re-interview for my job or or I’ll have to find somewhere else to teach or another kind of job in a different profession. Can I confess something to you? If that does happen, I’ll find another job in a different profession…even if I have to do it until the day I die to stay financially afloat, even if that means I’ll work at Starbucks in the mornings, Kroger in the afternoons, and Target at night until I find it. I don’t know what that thing will be – it’s not like I don’t hop on monster dot com every other month or so and go looking. But I know I can’t do teaching anymore, if I am fired because of test scores.  I cannot. I will not. This is not what I signed up for when I chose to major in elementary education. It is not.

I had a meeting the other day with my team, and while I felt a lot of love and support in that meeting, my passion for teaching officially died yesterday, you all. I’m still passionate about kids – I don’t know how not to be passionate about children, especially children from hard backgrounds. Children and cool colleagues who rock are the only two reasons I’ve stayed in education while it’s gone the direction it’s gone. But after yesterday, I will just take a big risk and say I no longer care about public education’s needs and wants. It’s not my school’s fault, it’s not my school district’s fault. I blame greed and political corruption. But it doesn’t even matter at this point. I am simply not magic, and quite frankly and to be further confessional: I am not really all that talented at teaching. But I do care about children, and I wish we’d stop evaluating them and their teachers and judging schools with standardized tests and talk of rigor, which (if you look up its definition and synonyms) is almost abusive-sounding. Because further (FURTHER) confession: you know what? I don’t do a whole lot at home with my kid. She reads…occasionally. Yet she’s reading a year ahead of most of her peers. She writes at home…occasionally. Yet she’s writing more proficiently than most of her peers. Homework is hit or miss, based on how tired and stressed out I am that day. She’s not on much of a schedule. She probably goes to bed too late for her age group. She eats too many carbs. Yet, academically, she’s ahead of where she needs to be.

So this is leading me to believe that it’s not about teaching strategies or methodologies or rigor or standards. It’s simply genetics. And probably socioeconomic advantages. And that I can’t fight. I will love on children and move them as far as I can move them with what talents and abilities I do have, but I can’t fight genetics, I can’t fight socioeconomic backgrounds, I can’t fight greed, and I can’t fight politicians or education reformers who’ve never taught disadvantaged children, ever. I have no more fight left. I got out of the classroom, and that’s a good thing. Because if I were in a classroom right now, I don’t know, you guys…I don’t know.


*My life. I think I’m going to take a dating break. (I’m not dating, actually…I have a man-friend who I hang out with sometimes, but I’m not really dating. Dating feels…it feels…dating feels depressing and stupid. After being here on Earth 44 years, 15 adult years being spent not dating.) I think what I’m going to do, though, is just take a break. From wanting and longing, from wishing and hoping. I need to just be alone for awhile and focus on my friends and my family, and being around people who know and love me best. I need some time to figure out how to put myself on a schedule that will limit Miss M’s YouTube exposure, keep my place clean, cull my ever-growing, in-the-red credit card debt, and just basically be okay being alone with no one’s attention. Except maybe here on this blog and social media. Will you please promise to keep paying attention to me here and on social media? That would be nice.

…I have a friend who I can tell is starting to click my puzzle pieces together, who’s starting to hone in on What The Hell is Wrong With Amy, and one thing he’s pinpointed is that I crave attention. My first reaction to this diagnosis was: nuh-uh! Because I seriously dislike it when I have to speak in front of a group and all eyes are on me – I get shaky and nervous. I mean, lands y’all. I met Jason Isaacs earlier this month and felt stupider than stupid with his attention on me and I was so relieved when that was over. But then again, I don’t think he means attention as in being in the spotlight. I think he just means: attention as in, “please love me, please acknowledge me, please like me and understand me and take me out dinner and hold me and keep me safe” in really big ways. I can be like an overeager puppy dog; I do crave being petted like a cat. As you can clearly see, if you take a look through this blog’s archives. If THAT’S the attention he’s talking about, he’s in the wrong job – he needs to go be a psychiatric researcher.

*My dreams. I need to limit my own Internet time and force myself to work on these. Last year, I didn’t write a thing because I was too busy calling the police and going WTF?! all the time. Since May, when that came to a head and started to finally resolve, I still didn’t write a thing because I was too busy navel-gazing and mourning what I should have been mourning while I was calling the police and going WTF?! all the time. Now, I think I’m at a point where I’m no longer angry (I’m not angry anymore), I’m no longer wistful, I’m no longer undecided. I kind of know where I’ll be (at least in terms of relationship status) by this time next year. I don’t know WHO I’ll be, or HOW I’ll be feeling, or WHAT I’ll be doing. But I know what’s going to happen.

I’m really sad about it. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to try again for a 4th time or not to, because C and that marriage are my safety nets. And I love C. I will always love him and be concerned about him, but I think a lot of things kind of ended for me over the last week or so. Just a lot of hopes. A lot of fight. A lot of passion. I’m not in a depression about any of what I just wrote about actually, though it may read like I am. I’m just feeling really quiet now. And thoughtful. A little weepy, so yes sad. But just really really grey and tired and quiet and done and letting go.

well, good, mandy hale. because i seriously don’t have even a remote plan right now. this right here? what you wrote? THAT’S MY PLAN.