Friday, March 21, 2014


“The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

This quote ripped through my head today when I woke. I believe, sometimes, people forget how much this is true, and undermine its simple potency. Years ago, my Daddy told me that he sent a letter to Reagan before I was born. Though I cannot recall what the letter was about, I remember him using this very quote when he referred to it. He wrote to the president because he learned that he could, and fearlessly pursued that avenue with the strength of his pen and the might of his intellect. From time to time, he has told me that he wouldn’t have been able to find out many things (particularly about his intelligence) without the guidance and confidence of his GED teacher.

My Daddy shares more with me than half of his chromosomes. He shares with me his love for the written word. He is the smartest man that I know, and I’m not saying that just because I’m biased. I was not brought up that way. Check my record, if there exists one for character. He attended various colleges, where professors told him that he should pursue writing. For several reasons (including six children), he never went through with this, but he never would have been able to attend college without first obtaining his GED.

Another quote that he’s used since forever is, “Knowledge is power.” He told me that you go to college to learn how to think. He learned this, all right, and engraved in me the thirst and appreciation for words. When I became a work-study student at the school library, he told me to have respect for the job, because the road of knowledge goes straight through the library. Where did he learn all of this? At college. How did he get there? By obtaining his GED.

The GED breathed its first breath after World War II, to help introduce young men back into society who left during a time when they should have been in high school. Since its inception, the GED has done remarkable work. If anything, the true purpose of the GED program is to give someone a second chance, to right wrongs, to give a new outlook on the future for those who only see gloom and doom. My Daddy is of this number, as am I. What is the point of this future if we’re barred—and purposely discouraged—from embracing our love for the written word?

I write at work. I write at home. I write by hand. I write into a computer. I look at those who write on social media, and feel my gut wrenching each time I spot a typo. When I took the SAT, I felt like the world stopped spinning when the testers were assigned a small phrase to write in cursive... but didn’t even know the basic letters. The teacher wrote them on the board, and all I could think was, “What is wrong with this country? Doesn’t it realize how crippled it’s becoming by limiting such a chance at expression?”  

The world needs its writers, not only those who do so recreationally. The best thinkers ever to breathe on this planet could write. Notice how I say the word “could.” There are very few who think even half as deep as James Madison once did. Society frowns upon introverts like him, while all that his modern-day take wants to do is rant about something in a dark corner somewhere, saying he’s socially awkward, misunderstood. He lived by the pen, became the “Father of the Constitution” with his pen, and built this country up with his pen. The world frowns upon the GED, too, because “so-and-so said I can’t get into college with a GED.” Millions say otherwise.

I fear that ignorance (in many forms) is pulling us down further with each passing breath. I say we fight back. I say we take whatever form of knowledge we have and charge full speed into an intellectual future, not one where typos are accepted, cursive is rejected, and the love of the written word is neglected. Standing tall in this battle, I will wield the flag most high that says—stamped, bolded, in the center—GED, and I will not retreat. I refuse to adhere to the norm.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Love - Unburdened

Everyone needs to be reminded that love exists. Today, I think God knew that’s exactly what I needed. I am blessed to work in Adult Education, but not in the standard definition of “blessed.” The dictionary cannot define the way that I feel it, especially today.

Let’s face it: Merriam Webster tries but really cannot define some things, especially what courses through the soul—or comes from the heart. I’ve come to accept that absence from the written word in my life. Sometimes, I stop when I see a word (such as love) and really let it seep into my soul, to find the definition only known by the heart. I mean, come on! How in the world can a work in progress, like life, have a definite explanation? How can one philosopher declare this, that, or other, without completely diverting from the stream which flows through my conscience? The individual should have a say in emotions, not leave the understanding up to a handful, especially not those who string together the words in a dictionary.

I have nothing against a dictionary, mind you. I simply cannot find the words today to describe how I feel when I say, “I’m blessed.” My boss claims that she doesn’t have a way with words like I do. Oh, humility, strike me down! The email she sent me—laced in love and brimming with affection, lacking malice in simplest article—tells me otherwise. She knows me, and—what’s more—she embraces me for who I am, which makes her a true friend.

In this life, I have few who embrace my awkwardness, insecurity, and introversion. In finding more than one (in family and in friends), I cannot help but believe that love exists—love, in so many facets, given wholly, and unburdened by a solitary definition.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Raining, Aging, Thinking - Oh, RAT!

Hello, everyone, and welcome to my blog, where today I shall express my thoughts about getting older. It doesn’t help to let you know that it’s raining today, but it is, and has been since I got up, so has seeped into my heart; therefore, my writerly disposition.

I have reached that stage where it’s “one more week until your birthday.” The moment to reflect, if ever there was one, begins when someone reminds you how much longer it is until you’re older. That’s what birthdays have always signified to me, and what the rest of the year doesn’t: having your number change. I’m not saying the other 364 days don’t mean anything, because they do—but I don’t really think much about those other days.

I was born March 23, 1986 at precisely 2:22AM, according to my birth certificate. I guess, in a way, this precision has never left me... unless I was meant to be born at 2:30, but showed up early. Anyway, noticing the significance of a new year must stem from years back, even before I could remember. My Daddy said that the Alabama song, “Never Be One Again” used to make me cry—and that was only when I was nearing two-years-old!

The truth is, most of my life, I have cried about getting older, watching the sunset sink and the stars come out, and thinking, “Another day gone.” My favorite poem is Keats’s “When I have Fears that I may cease to be,” and it has been my favorite for years, which explains why I know the entirety of the sonnet. Sometimes, I have no way of turning off my brain, which explains why I panic easily. It doesn't help that I know how some of my favorite figures in history found their own deaths, or the fact I often thinking about my dad's dad, who died of cancer in his mid-thirties. I cannot name the times when I've thought about traveling back in time, and finding some way to trade places with my grandfather. Hell, it's depressing to think that my mom's dad held me (he was in a hospital room near mine when I was born), but I can't even remember it!

Christmas’s go, birthdays, normal days—all of them slip away, and I try to latch onto a small detail from each, with a fear that I’ll forget something important, which often, to me, means a lesson, simple words, movements, smiles, laughter, tears, even anger. I want to remember everything, which is why I’m often the one with a camera, even if some people refuse to have their picture taken. I don’t mean to interfere; you are beautiful to me, I want to remember you as you are now... even when I’m old and gray and don’t remember who you are, or, instead, you are the one in my shoes and I am no more.

I’m facing 28, though I feel much older, more often than I care to admit. There is a part of me who knows (without doubt) that I’m where I want to be. Another part wrestles with the past. I constantly wonder if I should have chosen a different path than the one I’m on, if I will stay on this path without being directed down another, etc. etc. I realize these are the questions of time, with all answers left up to God. After all, He has given me so much already, including a family who understands me (sometimes more than I do myself); and a diverse group of friends, ranging from a good, devoted Christian mother with a laugh that could strike down the darkest mood; to a poetic genius whose heart is as golden as his words.

I am blessed & will never blog again if it’s raining.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Gnawing Fear

Hello, everyone, and welcome to my blog.

Yesterday, I found out that my boss will be getting an interview for a higher position. Whoop! Whoop! I was completely thrilled when she told me—so much so that I squealed, and did this…weird clappy thing that I wasn’t aware of doing until after I’d done it. My brain must have locked into an overtly enthusiastic mode, where I couldn’t really make a rational movement. (If that doesn’t sound Vulcan, I don’t know what does.)

Anyway, I got to thinking about the possibility of her getting the higher position… and thinking… and thinking, until a mighty wave of fear sunk my boat of good vibes. Don’t get me wrong: I love my boss, and I guess that explains why I started having abandonment issues...thrown in with attachment, and “change,” which has almost always resulted in bad things in my life. I’m not going to beg her to stay, because I know that she deserves this position, and it’s not the fear of her getting the position that I’m afraid of… but the person who comes to fill her shoes.

Other than a work study position, I have never worked in another place besides Adult Education, and—for six years—she has been my boss. I love her to pieces. We have so much in common, while also maintaining a distance, since she’s extroverted while I’m introverted. I love social studies and abhor math; she’s the opposite. I am a bachelorette for life; she’s married to a man she loves with every fiber of her being. When I don’t understand a math problem, I go to her. When she wants me to analyze a poem, she comes to me. For the most part, we love the same kind of shows, though we’re different when it comes to music. She gives me time to write poems for students and holidays… and birthday blasts for the teachers and staff of Adult Ed, because she knows I need that outlet to express myself. I could go on and on about how this relationship works, and how it has built me into a better person.

But… back to the dreaded phrase “the person who comes to fill her shoes.” In my head, I see a silhouette—a tall man, in a suit. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate men (most of the time), but I was the work study for one who was (I should say “is”) really bad OCD. He’s a sweet man, but in a complex way, so much so that most of the students I was attending classes with stated they didn’t like him. I like him—then again, in the words of my sister, “You like everybody.” He’s a bright man, with a dream he once told me, “to get this library filled with books before I retire.”

Still, he set some really strict guidelines for the students and myself (also a student at the time), and aimed for perfection in everything—including putting the barcodes in the books straight. I’ve never been one to keep anything exactly straight (I think I must have crooked eyes), but wanted perfection in how I placed the barcodes, because Daddy told me to remember how much honor one must have for libraries. When I first came to Adult Ed, I remember one of my first emails to my boss, “Can I drink in my office?” I remember her response, which makes me smile even now, “As long as it’s nonalcoholic.” She also told me that there’s only One who’s perfect—simple words, but it’s something I’ll carry with me forever.

The waves that thrashed against my boat of good vibes.
What if my new boss…

doesn’t like me trying to come in early?
finds it a nuisance that I read ten minutes in the lounge area before coming to work?
won’t let me write poetry?
stops me from making presentations?
hates birthdays—and especially the blasts I send out?
hates that I dance with students?
takes over orientation and all testing?
removes my Friday reading sessions, since I’m not a qualified teacher?
doesn’t laugh—and can’t stand jokes?
hates me for being a smartass?
aims for perfection in every little thing?
is annoyed by my constant thirst to give a history lesson?


In a break during the writing of this blog, I found my way across the ocean and crawled onto a shore, where I reclaimed my good vibes... and common sense. My boss will move into a higher position. I have confidence in her. She’ll nail the interview. I will take whoever comes in her place, because… in the end… it’s not about me. It’s about the students. If this person can work well with students, then, by golly, they deserve the job. I might get fired for being/doing all of those things, but the students deserve a teacher who might never equal the one currently holding the position, but someone worthy of their dedication to coming to class, so they can fulfill the second chance at education… at life.