The Hopeful Reader

Last week I wrote about my Top 5 favorite pieces of escapist literature, and this week I’m here to talk books again. Specifically, I’m thinking about how reading is just as crucial as writing for mental well-being (I’m not saying that it always works, but it does help). Books don’t always need to be escapist in nature to give us something, do they? Different genres elicit different feelings, all of which are necessary for surviving the cruel, cruel world, no?

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The Fear of Fear Itself

This is a more personal post than I usually write. I’m just trying to write some things out tonight, as it were, so if it’s not your thing, feel free to check back next week.

Growing up with a sister who is two years younger than me, it was a given that people would compare and contrast us. My sister was always bubbly, cute, wearing the right clothes, dating someone, involved in plenty of activities, and always surrounded by a large network of friends. To this day, when we go somewhere, she’ll make conversation with people she doesn’t know, and she pulls it off.

On the other hand, I have always been reserved, quiet, shy, frustrated that no one makes clothes for the little teapot, habitually single, involved in plenty of activities, and with a select core group of very close friends. I’m not very outgoing because I get really nervous talking to people I don’t know or don’t know well. I stammer and stutter and say stupid things. I think I’m a generally awkward person.

We are basically nothing alike, which is probably why we find ourselves arguing a lot and unable to really understand each other. But that’s not really where this is going to go. Over years of comparisons, people always assumed that because I was quiet and not very outgoing, I’d always be more interested in staying close to home. I’d probably attend the local campus and stick around close to mommy and daddy when school was over. My sister, on the other hand, would run off and live somewhere interesting. She was much better suited to take care of herself.

My sister ended up going to college about 20 miles away. In the fall, my brother, the most outgoing and adventurous of the three of us, will be heading off to college about 40 miles away. Surprising everyone who thought I’d go to school in my back yard, my college was just over 100 miles from home. And on move-in day of my freshman year when my whole family stood on the sidewalk telling me tearful goodbyes, I didn’t cry with them. I gave them hugs, sent them off, spun on my heel, and got to my life.

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The Fall-Back Career

Over the weekend, I was afforded the opportunity to discuss education initiatives with other educators.

Okay, I was really just talking to my friends who are also teachers, but I liked the way the first sentence made it sound like I did something important.

Anyway, as we always do, we got on the topic of education initiatives, namely that of basing teacher salary on teacher success rates. My friend made a very good point when she stated that most teachers go into teaching because they want to make a difference. Given that, it should be obvious that teachers are trying to improve test scores. What apparently escapes lawmakers’ minds is that teachers aren’t actually taking the tests for the students. We can only do so much before the students must be held accountable for their own success (gasp! What a novel concept!). I immediately agreed with her because I share a very similar sentiment. Continue reading

A Post Without a Title

This past May, I crossed the five year mark from graduating college.

The day after I graduated, the local newspaper in the town where I went to college ran a story about the university’s graduation in which they quoted my roommate and me, then took it upon themselves to say of us and our job outlook that “neither seemed very hopeful.” Find me a college graduate on his or her graduation day who isn’t at least a little bit freaked out about the future. I think you’d be somewhat hard-pressed to do so. I’d like to invite that reporter to meet up with me now and I can show him what a lack of hope regarding job prospects really looks like. But I digress. Continue reading