Friday, December 30, 2011


So, I've been reading. Reading like an addict, which is something I've been accused of on more than one occasion, and by more than one individual: You're addicted to reading. You just check out. It's like you'd rather read than hang out. You totally zone out. You don't even hear us when we talk.

Which, most of the time? Yeah. Reading addict. Confessed.

I've been soaking up SAHM stories wherever I can find them, and I've come to realize: I'm not a SAHM. I'm a teacher. A part-time teacher, working MWF from home, but I'm still a teacher. The teacher in me bubbles up to the surface; there's not a whole lot I could do about it, even if I wanted to.

So: Reading Addict. Teacher.

I always wanted a mentor. I spent years fantasizing that I would meet someone who knew everything I want to know. She would be a yogi, and a poet, and a storyteller. She would have practiced ballet and studied neuroscience, with a minor in anthropology, and she would always effortlessly look good (without ever having studied fashion) because her skin glowed with fresh air, pine trees and the wide open mystery of living. I never found her.

But the reading addict in me (she devours the written word like a crack addict; makes no distinction between the back of the cereal box, the New York Times, a hand-drawn graphic novel found in the woods, someone else's junk mail, an old love letter from my husband, Anna Karenina, Brown Bear, Brown Bear), she read somewhere (self help literature maybe, or a quote from Ghandi) that if you can't find what you want, try to become what you want.

And so I became a teacher, and I headed down the road I imagined my imaginary mentor would have headed down. Except it's slow going, because there are no gurus here.

There is just me.

And so I'm a beginner at yoga: teaching senior citizens and learning from books, websites, and practice. And I wrote poetry for a few years, when I was younger, but never really progressed beyond loving and imitating the Beats. Now I'm a storyteller for children and -occasionally- in this space. The last time I took a ballet class was in high school. Actually, no, that's not true. I took a class with two of my sisters when we lived in Arizona. Spring of 2000, I'd guess. I loved the barre work, still. I liked barre work as a child, too. I've studied neuroscience in the context of early childhood education, but anthropology remains a pipe dream, right alongside looking great without effort.

There's this image I've long held in my head, about turning 35 (which I did last March), and it's been flashing through my mind again recently. I'm in a large crowded hallway. If I examine it further, the hallway is a replica of the first floor of the Catholic elementary school I attended, which housed kindergarten through second grades. We're all trying to get in line, and I'm late. The line starts to move forward, and I slip in at the last minute, and I don't get caught. I made it! I am full of relief.

Just before my 35th birthday I returned to work, following maternity leave after the birth of my second child. Married? Check! Kids? Check! Job? Check! House? Check! I made it. Full of relief.

And then it all went to hell. Well, that's not precisely true. Only my job went to hell. Or wherever jobs go when they're killed by Congress. The back of a very long line of lobbyists, perhaps. A purgatory worse than hell.

I thought I was going to stay home with my kids. And then, you know, babysit. No biggie. But the imaginary mentor I've been imitating all these years? It turns out she's really, truly come into her own as a teacher. And every time enthusiasm bubbles up inside me and then overflows into joy? It's because I'm giving her free reign.

I'm a teacher. Losing my job doesn't put a damper on that, because it's not just a job. It's a calling. But it's also my career, and I'd like what I'm doing now to further it, even if I'm not technically in the workforce.

So in 2012, I guess I'll have to figure out what it means to be a teacher, working from home, with no employer. I've put the imaginary mentor on the job. And if she can't do it? Well, I guess I'll just have to do some more reading.

1 comment:

  1. I keep wishing for a mentor, too. But I don't know if there is one for what I want. So I also just always read more...
    Happy new year!!