A year ago, I was gearing up to start work at a new school. I was nervous, as one always is when starting at a new place. (These things are always a little harder for introverts, I think, because making social connections takes more time.) My schedule was challenging. And various things about work created a lot of stress for me. At the time, though, I had a boyfriend I could vent to and who made my weekends a bright respite.
Over time I made great friendships at work. I felt like I was part of a salmagundi family among the colleagues in my department, as we exchanged stories, struggles, and laughs. Lunch in the workroom was entertaining and something to look forward to, a marked difference from my previous place of employment. (One of my colleagues refers to our department as the Island of Misfit Toys and I think that’s an apt description. We’re all a little weird in different ways, yet as a department work so well together. You should have seen us all dressed up as Hunger Games characters for staff spirit week.)
Then in February, the boyfriend left the picture. On Valentine’s Day. My personality is such that I don’t let many people into my inner circle. When I do and someone betrays that trust, it doesn’t just hurt; it grieves. My friends at work are why I survived the last few months of school as I performed my job under the guise of a smile while feeling the intense heartbreak that I kept hidden from most people. I don’t think I can adequately express my gratitude to the friends there I confided in. It wasn’t just that they provided me an escape as we socialized outside of work. It was also that they took the time to actually sit with me and talk through things, offering support beyond glib platitudes. They assured me it wasn’t me who messed up, and they allowed me to feel what I felt without judgment.
By the end of the year, I had a busy social life. Amazingly busy for introvert me. I’ve never felt so popular. At the last faculty meeting of the school year, the principal shared an email she had received from a parent about how her son’s teacher was really caring and helped him through a rough school year. My principal blotted out the names to make it anonymous, but that teacher was me. I’m not bragging; I just want to voice how grateful I was to end the school year on a high note.
The summer was a blur of travel. I finally got to see the UK and Ireland after all these years. (See previous posts.) I made it to Michigan a couple times too, preaching at my home church and enjoying Sleeping Bear Dunes and attending a class reunion. Now I’m gearing up for another year at the same school. This time I get to teach seniors, which means British lit, which I love. I’m not going to lie and pretend that everything is just peachy now or that I’m not still heartbroken. It [expletive] hurts. But I have this amazing support network of people here. Get this, I’m the department’s social coordinator this year! (Hey, I like to party. I just need to be alone for a couple days afterward to recuperate.)
That’s my year in a nutshell. In terms of my blog, I confess it wasn’t that good. Full time work has made my blogging suffer. The last two years I’ve barely averaged one post a month. Compare that to the two per week I was churning out the previous two years. Still, I wrote a couple pieces that were particularly strong. And each year, new readers stop by. With that in mind, I’m going to share links to a sampling of pieces from throughout the history of the site. My hope is that year 7 will see an increase in activity here, both on my part and on yours!
There are two distinct portions of the blog. The first is Peace Corps Turkmenistan writings (8/10-9/12). These are mostly slice-of-life narrative nonfiction entries detailing my experiences and thoughts of life in Tstan.
"Little Sis"- I had a host sister when I lived in Tstan and rereading this entry made me miss her even more.
"World Wise Schools"- Here I answer questions students in Nevada asked me about Tstan through the World Wise Schools program.
The other portion of the blog is everything I wrote when I came back (9/12-today). It does include some narrative nonfiction but is also heavy on expository and persuasive essays. This portion is a bit more serious, so I made sure to include a couple entries here that are more light-hearted than the politically/religiously-tinged ones.
"Heritage"- This is maybe my favorite piece of all time. It offers some insight into why I am the way I am.
"Pinkos"- I wrote this a few months after my return to the States in reaction to idolatry. The concluding paragraph especially is timely in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick controversy.
"Who Would Jesus Deport?"- written two years ago and still relevant as the issue of immigration is flaring up again with Trump’s incendiary language.
"Understanding Your Friendly Introvert"- A handy guide! (Also, the song in question at the beginning of the post is "So Rude," and I still believe it is terrible.)
"My Funny Valentine"- This was bittersweet (and probably good) to read in light of the Valentine’s Day I experienced a year later. If you're curious about how the mentioned date went, it's the next post for Feb. that year.
"Taking God Out of School"- Since we’re heading back to school, it's a good time to put this one out there again.
I'd like to finish by thanking each of you who reads my blog for your continued readership, whether you just discovered it this year or you've been following it from the start!