with sleep, hopefully a whole new me

8. That’s the magic number of recommended hours of sleep. But what about the number of hours awake? According to the magic number, we’re supposed to be awake sixteen hours a day. That number is so big I feel tired just thinking about it.
The irony is at the end of those sixteen hours, I feel the daily crunch of not having done enough.
I have a scholar who walks into the class always a minute after attendance submission. He’s lucky he’s never counted tardy; our class is the furthest down the hall. He is considered on time as long as his feet crosses the primary threshold. But he takes his sweet time dragging his feet to class, his eyes half-lidded, back slightly hunched – you would think the zombie apocalypse has begun. Slumped in his seat, he barely lifts his head to greet me or Ella – or any of his friends! Breakfast would be a source of energy, but when given one, he leaves the food untouched. Despite sleeping at eight-thirty pm according to his mom, he doesn’t fully wake up until late morning – ten-thirty/eleven or so.

I wish I could do that! Just sit back and babysit my scholars and teach them when I am good and ready. But adults have responsibilities.

So do children for that matter. At our charter school, we push for core values to be learned and honored. With our scholar in much need for slumber, Ella and I were not sympathetic at first. The rest of the class slept and woke up at relatively the same time as him. We refused to lower our expectations; instead, since he is our resident hip hop dance star, we would start the day with a song to get everybody moving. It worked – except for him.
Finally, this week we stopped pushing him and started meeting him halfway. Lowering our tones like talking to a stunned rabbit who walked into a tree, to find demonstrate he understands us by repeating or arm gestures or to listen. He prefers the latter, but at least he makes choice by himself to bring a chair over to the learning carpet to remain a part of the whole class.

Kids need eight to ten hours of sleep. Why is it that adults need less? Sure our brains are developed, but if we are in charge of influencing others around us with our quips and tones, if we are to be the exemplary leaders ourselves, if we are to carry out tasks with excellent accuracy, we need our sleep today.

This comes from me at my 18.5 hours of being awake. The inner me tells me I’m a wimp; I’ve survived on four to five hours of sleep in high school and in college. But then my loner side wasn’t pleasant in high school and my choices weren’t rational in college – I’m beginning to see a whole new me.

Lights out, goodnight readers.


wallflower or loner?

Rich thinks I need more friends. I’ve had friends and I do have friends. We’re just on different paths right now, the reason I am grateful for the ease of technology to occasionally catch up.
But I generally keep to myself.
I have a job that now takes up a chunk of my life. It’s a myth about teachers only working six hours a day. My school day itself is about ten hours and I bring work home. I manage to make time to have adventures with Rich and watch television with my parents as bonding therapy. In between all of it, I am trying to write daily. My last post was written in a sleep daze, this is NOT advice, more to prove to myself if I am committed I have to see it through. All around these things I like to do, I am wrapped up by simple life responsibilities. So when I do find free time in my schedule, I would rather spend time with myself than make plans with friends.
Rich worries about its impact on my health. Sure I get a lot of social contact working alongside a coteacher and twenty-six scholars who constantly need my attention, but that doesn’t make all of those joyous moments. As a former psychology student, I understand his concern: strong friendships act as buffers for stress. It’s never about the quantity of friends, but the quality. I do have three amazing best friends. One is in her graduate program in architecture, the other is working in her biomedical engineering field in San Diego and the other is pursuing her dreams of psychology and writing. We talk only a handful times a month. But most of the time, I’m on my own.
This I am used to. As an only child, I appreciate both loud surroundings to be a part of and stillness to hear my thoughts. But behaviors are connoted by labels.
When I think of wallflowers, I think of pretty pastel flowers that are fading. When I think of loners, I think of leather jackets and a flippant attitude. I call myself loner girl, but that is not entirely true. It depends on the situation.
I love spending time with my best friends, but when it becomes a group hang, I am a wallflower – smiling but too shy to contribute. When it’s people I don’t know or not interested in getting to know, I make it clear that I want my space.
As I share the ephemeral letters, I write a character who is five years younger than me. The angst is what I try to capture, the struggle to figure oneself out. I’m beginning to realize though we people are like onions. Layers thick, we can refine our outer coat but our sharp taste stems from our bittersweet successes and failures.
If there is a singular word to define you, me, everyone it is complex. We cannot be confined by one label. Our personalities are round with some edges being sanded down.
The comfort I take in my solitude is knowing I can turn my day around by changing my mindset.

this is NOT advice

To write, I’ve been seeking inspiration. My mood must strike a particular chord before the fancy whim to pour my heart into creation hits a high note.
But that’s only hindering me. The occurrence of writer’s block is due to perception: when a mindset settles for the art it forms, there is sustained stagnation. The key to being a good writer is versatility.

I want to write stories, but I don’t invest enough time in building worlds. I don’t consider myself a poet, but ironically word snippets pour out of me. Even then it is only when I am emotionally charged. That’s my state when I journal as I well. When inspiration and my feelings are interwoven, my subject eventually becomes a singular matter prodded with different approaches. The difference lies in the details – and imagination.

The best fiction is tangible. Writing about unicorns and ghosts has been done, overused, and now is fluff. Take something believable, add a mystery element, do some historical research for a semi-plausible explanation and the seed for a greater outcome will be planted.

However it’s necessary to keep in mind there are different types of stories. Every storyteller has his or her own power be it construction or narration. Don’t let one become your permanent niche; let your mind explore. In fleeting thoughts lie sparks.

My father wanted the heat on. To appease him I said I would turn it off before bed, but instead I fell asleep by turning my fan on, my choice of ignorance reflecting the waste of electricity off of me.

The curtains are folded on my bed so the sky’s eyes can be my nightlight glinting at the path for me to take to brush my teeth.

I treat my bunkbed like my sanctuary. Upon it I have stowed amidst pillows and comforters and animals, books and snacks and water bottles and clothes. So when the room floods and the water level rises, I’m the safest with my provisions. Under my comforter tent, I welcome my love, the positioned flashlights glancing off of each other creating a glacial atmosphere.

You are who you choose to be. Let your passion mirror that not as a whole, but all the tinkering counterparts; it is only the sentience of socioemotional nuts and bolts that reveal the masterpiece you are.

ephemeral letter # 7

November 6, 2012

Dear Charlie,

I never admitted it. Once a coworker asked me what I wanted in life, and I snapped at her, “That’s for me to know.” To say aloud was to jinx it. But Scott and I – we couldn’t keep secrets from each other. When he told me wished he could spend more time being a better tennis player, I shyly told him my dream. In that very moment I must have jinxed it.

I might be a writer for our school newspaper Hawkeye, but that doesn’t mean I have to be published. No, I’m just a headcount in the club.
I blame the topic I was given to write. Forced might be an appropriate term, but the staff makes sure we ‘re comfortable writing the assignment. But what could I say after their faces remained impassive when I proposed to write about the positive effect of procrastination through its influence on creativity? I was ready for my article to land in the opinion section; finally teachers would understand  students need more artistic expression in assignments thus promoting originality while reducing procrastination. Unfortunately, the editors sought a different topic to go along with the theme at hand: elections.

In a satirical piece, I was to recreate the debate between Mr. Don Key and Mr. El E. Fant to describe the ongoing presidential race. The goal was to call out both parties on their pomp and show. It was so awkward and poorly constructed the editors rewrote it on my behalf.

I don’t know what I will tell my mother. When I told her the first issue of this year was coming out, she said, “Oh, please get me a copy! I’d love to read it!”
Jokingly, I’d said, “Because not a lot of people read in my school, for you Mom, I’ll get two.” Now embarrassment floods my nervous system.

My mother likes to tell the story of how I used to sit next to her, pencil and paper in hand, while she studied for her master’s degree. “You’d watch me write,” she tells me. “And you’d try to copy me.”

I was three years old when I began to draw five incongruous circles to represent my name. And I didn’t stop there. I saw my parents’ flowing signature and I would try to mimic cursive. It would end up as endless strings of loops, gibberish, but I loved the feel of a writing utensil in my hand. As I grew up, when I had nothing to do, I’d make lists of random words, just to have something to write. In class, I could never pay attention, unless we were taking notes. Since the beginning, the feel of a pen was the stem of knowledge for me. Then in seventh grade we were tasked to keep a free-write journal. I was able to create! It was a whole new world.
I haven’t stopped writing since. Not when my writing didn’t meet the expectations of my teachers. Not when my father disapproved of my ‘wasting time’. Not when I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Writing is always there for me.
It’s all I have.

When I get home today my mom’s going to ask me if I brought my article. If I tell her the truth, she’ll have me considering my other options so fast my head will spin. “You can do so much more with the time you spent writing.”
I’m going to have to lie to her.


messy girl and drooly boy

one a.m. watching naruto
we brushed our teeth
but i tempted him with my
fruit loops craving
he groaned at prospect of crumbs
but i’ve corrupted him
messy girl, he calls me
and irate when my feet
pulled off his perfectly tucked in
sheets, he threw the twisted wad
at my head. naturally i responded
melodramatically, leaping to storm out
tiptoeing to the door but he didn’t
take my bait. instead he hugged
a pillow in place of me. furious i
clacked away loudly on my laptop
only to notice the little puddle by
his mouth on the cushion. my laughter
woke him up and grumbling he pulled me
back into bed. ew don’t drool on me
i squealed and ignited a wrestling match

ephemeral letter #6

November 5, 2012

Dear Charlie,

When people leave do they come back? I sat in my Ink magazine meeting silently. Last year, Scott was the President. Even though I had no board position, he would always ask for my opinions. Somehow this year I’ve melted into the shadows.

I listened, but nothing to contribute I picked at the scabs on my knuckles from when I scraped them at the bottom of the pool. Fresh blood welled up and when I was walking home, I worriedly checked if I’d stained my white sleeves.
At the last minute, I noticed the thunderous pounding of feet. The cross-country boys were on their daily run and I jumped into a cluster of trees to escape their path. I didn’t see him, but I heard Forensics boy call out sorry as he dashed by. I watched him go with a smile.

Forensics Boy and I share a class for the next two months. Then it’s second semester and I’ll be in psychology. I’ll see him only in the halls then, never talking, but it’s not like we talk now.

From the first day of high school, when Scott swooped in to to be my biology partner, we’d been good friends. I ended up hanging out with his sophomore crowd as a freshman. Now I recognize people who I will graduate with, but I never took the the time to get to know them.

I noticed Forensics Boy first because he’s always laughing and talking with Annie and her _______ friends. The blank is there because I can’t fill it in. I am Annie’s friend too, but I don’t fit in with her other girlfriends. We’re all just people yet somehow I can’t find my words.

It was by chance, during a fundraiser in which we got to eat buy and eat pretzels in class, I helped Forensics Boy out. He was short one quarter and I overheard him ask Sangeet if she had extra change. As she rummaged in her bag, I held up one to him. He looked at me in surprise like he’d never seen me before. “Oh thanks! I’ll pay you back tomorrow!” he said.

I dismissed this. I used to take care of Scott when he forgot his lunch money. His mother would pay me back at the end of week with gratitude for taking care of her “little boy”.
No one could take the place of Scott, but having someone look past my resting bitch face felt like a great change.

Somehow my choice to help opened up a classroom dialogue between Forensics Boy. I’m always the first to class and he’s a close third or fourth. Casually, he’d ask about homework, if I did it, if we deduced the same analysis of the crime in our lab report. Eventually this led to conversations why we took a forensics class, why we think it’s cool, what tv shows we watch. When his friends arrive, I let our talk end. It’s nice to use my voice, but I’m not interested in being a part of a crowd.

Yesterday during a lab, he needed the tape I’d finished using at my table. I let him take it and he took my scissors, too. I immediately told him to return my scissors to me when done; I didn’t want him to accidentally put it with the school scissors. I’ve had my green Crayola scissors with my initials in glitter nail polish since I was five.
Forensics Boy fretted, “Oh, you can take it back. I don’t want to lose it or something.” I waved away his concern and in return, he helped me collect fingerprints from the set up criminal scene. “Do you need help?” he kept asking me and it made me mad because I am not an invalid who needs help. But I realized he meant it genuinely. Annie and Sangeet go up to him and ask him for help. He was used to it. So for me to struggle and refuse help because of my pride – well it was stupid. So I let him help me.

I wished it was Scott. But he was living life, not stuck in the past. He wasn’t thinking about me. Maybe people have to leave to make room for new people in life. But it’s scary to start all over for the end game to be parting ways.


there is luck right in front of you

There was a full moon last night. The weather was more springlike than autumn. I hadn’t enough sleep. My plans to see Rich were altered and I had to sit around waiting.

I was sorely blue last night. The way I dealt with it was picking at any reason for why. Nothing good enough, I picked at the last one, not being able to see my love. He had a group project to finish and I waited for him in the computer lab. I directed all my negativity toward thoughts of him: he doesn’t prioritize me, he doesn’t really love me, our lives are headed in different directions what are we doing together –

When we finally saw each other, my sour mood was hard for me to overcome and for him to overlook. He didn’t give up though; his patience and persistence chipped away at me until I broke down crying. When he asked me why I was crying, I wailed I didn’t know. “You don’t know?” he asked incredulously and I insisted I really didn’t. The past week has been a lot of consecutive late nights of work. I was exhausted and it grew when there was linchpin in my To Do completions waiting for Rich to finish up his project. Sheer mental fatigue left me blue and I picked at thorns to explain my emotional state.

As I sobbed and clung to my love – which subsided when he held a straw up to my lips to help me guzzle down juice – liquid sugar to calm my nerves – I realized I was depressed. Sometimes it’s not for a specific reason; sometimes it’s just the body’s way to compensate for all the tension instead: a reminder sometimes we need to just lay in bed and not do anything. It’s a way to heal.

I wish I hadn’t overworked myself. I threw in blogging every night into the mix of nightly classroom preparations and it left me sleeping at midnight and joy deprived the next day. But I wish this because I was so embarrassed for Rich to see me so worn out. In his last year at the university, he is much more sprightly managing classes, homework, his job and still being able to go to special events like drag shows and dances and local band performances. When we finally see each other, there’s a clock ticking on how long before my eyes droop and I constantly feel guilty about it. I like that he sees me as a ferocious and ambitious force of nature – but when I use up 99% of that energy in the classroom, all I have left for him are snuggles and kisses and couch sharing.

But I learned last night that when you’re with the right person, what may embarrass you is exactly the reason he loves you more. Rich will now forever tease me about not knowing why I was crying but he will hold me tight just the same. It’s important to let other people in. In desperate effort to help myself feel better, I simply scrambled for a reason why I was feeling down and only found myself deeper in the rabbit hole. Voicing aloud to Rich my week, I realized I was simply grateful to finally be spending some time with him. I missed him.

Share the little and the big moments in your life with the people you love. It’s an easy cure; they’ll be your self-care reminders when you run the extra mile without water.
Luck’s definition varies for all, the basic meter ticks from most to not at all depending on whether or not you have what makes you the happiest. Let it be giving love and being loved – it’s the quickest guarantee to retain hope.