Wednesday, July 28, 2010


There's a glorious anonymity about a blog no one reads anymore. It gives a space to hash out feelings in a semi-public catharsis that heals the disease of not listening or taking the chance to speak one's mind.

As I travel through the summer, I've come across some harsh realities in reading the writing of some people I really admire: my younger sisters. In the true experience of sibling rivalry, it pains me to know that they are more talented at writing than I am, as this was always the area where I prided myself on being different from my eight siblings. Keeping that entirely to one side, it also made me realize that living away from home has forged a gap that I'm not sure I know how to fix all the time. I learned that some of the things I valued so much about my last year at home ultimately led to my little sister being hurt by the people I trusted. I hate that. I loved running into her on campus my senior year, hearing the joy-filled "It's my sister!", meeting for lunch,introducing her to my favorite people: bosses, professors, friends. I feel like knowing that these people turned on her ruins that.

I feel like people flower in my absence, and I miss the bloom. My best friend is getting married, and I was never there to hear the little ins and outs of the relationship. They started dating after I left, so I never got to hear about the funny day-to-day happenings or watch as they fell in love. I know this sounds creepy, but I feel sometimes like she is marrying a stranger, and the longer I am gone the more true it feels. She's never even met the guy I'm dating. They will meet at her wedding.

I filled out forms for a race recently, and I had no emergency contact. No one geographically close enough to come if I needed help. I drove to and from a half-marathon alone, ran the race without anyone I knew.

This is more depressing than I meant it to be, but the reality of next year is hitting hard and fast. Another year without my family. Another year that they grow closer and I grow farther away. Another year to "make a difference" when I'm not sure I know how anymore.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

School's out for the summer...almost!

I have one more contract day until I am done with being a PACE teacher. It's a little bit crazy to look back over the last two years and see how much I've grown and changed because of and sometimes in spite of the program. I am not the same girl that packed two suitcases two years ago and set off across the country to give back to her community. These last two years have been the hardest and lonliest of my life, but also the most rewarding and strengthening.

Stepping away from my family and friends has given me the opportunity to define myself, instead of letting their lives and experiences of me be who I am. For this reason it gets harder and harder to define "home", as I am caught between the community I have built for myself out here and the communities that were built for me back on the East Coast. The people here know the professional Emily, the one who struggles with caring too much about people who don't care for her. The people at home know the Emily who was quiet and reserved, and very conservative in her faith and viewpoints. I don't think I'm entirely either of these people any more.

I am packing up my bedroom and with it my memories of PACE. Steve's superman picture reminds me of the many times he bailed me out of interesting situations and our heart to heart conversations in the car. The photos of me and Kristin smiling at a party are a tribute to the girl who taught me it was okay to have fun and let loose every now and then. The stickers and school supplies from the other Kristin remind me of the teaching friends I learned so much from. That was one amazing year.

There is little in my room that speaks to this year. No photos, cards or knick-knacks to remind me of the people who have shared this second PACE experience with me. Maybe this is a good thing. It will make it easier to let go of the past and move forward into a brighter year next year. It will be hard to continue to work with the people who have made this year so difficult, so it is perhaps better to have few reminders of them.

My books are the friends that span both homes. both communities, both experiences. I will take these with me into my new life next year, a life outside of PACE.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summertime, and the living is easy

So, most of you who are still reading this know that I have planned to stay out here for another year. With the job market the way it is, it seems like a more financially responsible decision than moving back east and seeing what scraps of a teaching job I can get. And I've survived the last two years pretty well, so I think that I should be good for at least one more. It is a little overwhelming to think of living out here on my own, though.
That being said, there are a lot of exciting possibilities that can happen if I stay out here. A third year of experience and a chance to brush up on my Spanish will make me more marketable if I decide to leave.
So here are some personal goals I have for this new year out west, feel free to hold me accountable:

1. Pass my Spanish Praxis.
2. Go to British Columbia.
3. Get certified in OR, WA and NJ.
4. Learn to drive manual.
5. Make two new Yakima friends.
6. Visit Crystal in Boston and Allison in Michigan.
7. See Ruthann more than twice a year.
8. Get a piece of writing published.
9. Run in more races (preferably short ones).
10. Be a better prepared teacher.

I'll revisit this list and let you know how it goes...also, stay posted for adventures in Yakima over the next two weeks.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Warm Weather

So last week I was sitting on the couch talking to David my roommate as I read through old blog entries from my first days out west, and I realized that I have lost a lot of my sense of humor and story telling ability in the course of the last two years. I am going to attempt to remedy that in this post as I share some of the funnier experiences I've had out here in Yakima in the last two weeks.

I went to my students' track meet last week, at a surprise request from one of my students. It didn't catch me off guard because I was asked, but because of who it was that asked me. A is one of my more reluctant Literature students. He comes from a strong math/science background and doesn't really see the need for humanities. But anyway, he asked me to go, so go I did, and spent the majority of the time leaning against a chain link fence freezing my brains out and learning cheers from the seventh graders. (These consisted of a repetition of "go for the gold", "push it", and "you gotta want it.") While I was standing there, minding my own business, I was shocked to feel a tiny hand hold mine and begin tugging. "Mom!" came a voice to my left, and I think that poor little girl got the shock of her life when it was my face she saw. She ran away screaming. Needless to say, the seventh graders thought this was hysterical.

In other very impressive news, last week I went out to the farm where Willie works and learned how to weld. I actually welded a piece of farm equipment. I know the story would have a little more oomph if I could remember the official name of whatever it was I welded, but suffice to say it was a lot of fun. Naturally I was terrified of the actually heats things up to 5000 degrees. I had to wear one of those cool masks and coveralls. And I apparently did a good enough job that Willie didn't have to go back and fix it.

This Friday Crystal comes out to visit! I am sososososo excited!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The week from Gehenna

So I had a rough week last week, with multiple parents in my room telling me how they could do my job better, more efficiently, more fairly, and with less effort. I have a great idea for a reality TV series where they each get a week in my classroom, filmed, with opportunities for the kids to give "confessional" moments as well as the parents. Then at the end they could show me how it should be done.

All venting aside, I had a wonderful weekend. Some old friends were in town for the Spring Barrel tasting at all the local wineries, and on Friday night I had dinner with my uncle and aunt, who were in town for a singing competition. (My aunt is a music teacher and her students were performing at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.) They took me to a fancy restaurant and we caught up on the many years since they've seen my family.

On Saturday I went to a wedding with Willie. He was a part of the wedding party, so there were a few awkward moments here and there as I didn't really know anyone. But he had made all the beer for the event and that was a huge achievement/success for him. It seemed more realistic that he might start his own microbrewery some day. And the reception was great fun. I sat with his sisters, who I know fairly well, and there was a great live band that played really fun stuff. There's something slightly magical about wearing a beautiful dress and dancing the night away with a boy that you really like.

I'm in full half-marathon training mode at this point and need sponsors desperately...if you or anyone you know can sponsor me, please try. I am running for my nieces as part of the NF team.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back at long last

Many of you have asked why I stopped writing this blog, and my answer is simply that I don't really know. Maybe it was because I didn't think anyone was reading it, or maybe because I didn't think I had anything to say. Maybe I just ran out of the motivation to write. Whatever the reason, I am back, and I am excited to be back to describing the many adventures of life in the wild west.

This week was my first week back after spring break, which is an interesting and stressful time to be in a seventh grade classroom. Next week we will be running some standardized tests in the mornings and teaching "Family Life/ Sex Ed" in the afternoons, so it should be an interesting and adventurous week. I am also trying to put together a professional portfolio, which is due this Friday, so that should be interesting. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be.

I had an opportunity to go to the Washington coast two weekends ago, and while it became an epic journey due to some car trouble, it was a wonderful time to be away from a stressful living situation and just relaxing. I was there with a bunch of friends, and it was a very entertaining weekend from start to finish. We drove over White Pass, and about halfway through the drive there is a stunningly beautiful vista of Mt. Rainier. If I can figure out how to be tech savvy, I'll post some pictures. The coast was wet and grey and windy, but a gorgeous place to be. There were no schedules or plans, and it was refreshing to say the least.

I have been doing a bit more writing recently, and also just found out that one of my reflections will be published in a magazine this November. I haven't had anything published in a while, and I was thrilled to be back on the market again. It has given me some much needed motivation.

This isn't the most interesting post, but I'm rusty...will attempt something more creative later.