"And the greatest of these is love."

Above all things, love one another.

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I’m still auditioning for my family’s love. You know, I still hold out this kind of thing where they’ll be nicer if I play along. …Guys, it’s tough. Most of us…you wrestle with your family your whole life. People who don’t, I think that’s like the most blessed resource in the world. Because the rest of us are caught in a dynamic that doesn’t always leave much room for you to be compassionate to yourself.
Junot Diaz in conversation with the New Yorker’s Hilton Als at The Strand, New York, (4/12/13) [x] (via thespiritofstairs)

(Source: pasunepomme, via silviali)

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You who are young,
be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy
in the days of your youth.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 (via silviali)

perfect. i love everything about my life and everything that God has given me—the ridiculously exhausting job, the small angry children, the challenge of teaching them, the emotional strain, the friends, the family, the cities that have my heart. i love being young i love being free. i love being alive.

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it’s the week before spring break, and my kids have been hellish this week. it’s the first week of real, consistent, springtime sunshine, the first week of light in the mornings on the drive to work, the first week of fresh air and that damp smell of new earth and of buds peeping bright green life through the dirt. everyone’s antsy to be out. no one wants to be in that classroom, me included. 

anyway, because of the craziness in the atmosphere, i was super excited that the 4th-6th grade classes got called down this afternoon for some impromptu performance. we weren’t told anything about it as teachers—just an announcement over the intercom at around 10 am, halfway through our english lesson, that fourth through sixth grades would be meeting in our cafeteria for a guest performance. they were being rowdy anyway, so it was with relief that i rounded up my students and walked them on down. 

turns out, it was a super cool rap/play/skit thing put on by high schoolers in the neighborhood about how to regulate emotions. it offered a lot of alternatives than violence and tempermental outbursts. the rap/play/skit thing was especially relevant to my students because it addressed a lot of issues that they’re dealing with: things like divorce, abandonment, abuse, neglect, and all the anger that arises because of those experiences. the high schoolers danced around on stage and rapped about “stop feel think, choose and act!” to some catchy singy-songy tune while my fourth graders watched, enraptured. 

at one point, though, one of the characters on stage started sharing about her older brother who had been shot in a gang fight. she did a short soliloquoy about how angry she felt, all the time, because she had lost him. the girl was a pretty good actor, and i could see a lot of my students sucked in by her character’s story.

then i looked a little closer and i saw one of my favorite students, student T, with his jacket pulled up over his face. when he pulled his jacket collar away, i could tell he was crying. 

T is the bully of the classroom, the tough guy. he doesn’t cry. 

i tiptoed over to him and kneeled down besides him and asked if he was okay. 

he nodded, quietly. “yeah, ms. wang. i just miss my dad.”

student T’s father was stabbed to death in a drunk fight about two years ago.  student T has intense, uncontrollable anger issues. he’s going to therapy, getting help, seeing counselors for anger management. he’s also my hardest kid to deal with almost every day. he yells out, he swears, he hits other students. he’s mean and rude and hurtful. whenever he’s upset, he lashes out at me, too. 

but i completely adore him, and he knows it. 

and kneeling there this afternoon beside him, i almost started crying, too. 

i can’t even imagine—can’t begin to fathom the amount of suffering student T must be going through inside. he’s nine years old and his father was killed. he’s nine years old and he shouldn’t have to hurt the way he does. 

it just struck me all at once, hunched over there in our dirty poorly lit cafeteria with the awful acoustics. my world is so different than my students’ world. my world is brimming with love, care, gentleness and affection. i have literally the most perfect life imaginable. i have the support of amazing family, friends, and co-workers. i have constant affirmation of my worth, my intelligence, my value, my abilities. i have unconditional, all reliable love in my God and my faith. i have an established and respected community. i live in warmth and plenty. i lack nothing. absolutely nothing.

and this little boy who is nine years old whom i love with my whole heart breaks daily in ways i will never experience. 

it just struck me, that’s all. i wanted to write about things that strike me. i want to remember them even in years far past when student T is 29, when maybe i don’t teach anymore, when i’m not surrounded by heartbreak and suffering. i wanted to write because i think it’s so, so important to remember our blessings. 

i wanted to write because i don’t ever want to forget student T. 

if you have a moment, could you please pray for him? i know i will be.

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today i ate three frosties, a jr bacon cheeseburger, and 4 piece spicy chicken nuggets for dinner. followed by two pieces of pizza for dessert. 

what’s that quote about how “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?”

that’s a lie. 

midway through my second frosty i started considering all the things that taste better than skinny. a third frosty was on that list. 

(aka this post is an explanation of how i stress eat. for the second day in a row, other teachers didn’t come into work or were sick and didn’t get a sub. that means their kids get shoved into my classroom, where i get to deal with them for the day. it was a struggle. to put it lightly. i was back up to 32 students, and it brought back like, PTSD memories of my 31 class days and how horrendous they were. ugh. ugh ugh ugh. i can’t wait until spring break.)

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one week left until spring break.

guys. i have five days left between me and a week of blessed, blessed freedom. glorious blessed sunshine, relaxation and home cooked meals, ve living in a place where i don’t have to cook or clean, no lesson plans, no poorly behaved children, no struggles and emotional turmoil. just my beautiful and supportive family whom i love. just my close friends and old teammates in a city that i love. 

think one week of doing nothing but drinking, eating, talking, watching movies. exploring philadelphia. staying out late in bright lights big city. or curled up in a corner of my couch at home, legs folded under me as i listen to my mother’s voice, or my little brother’s laughter. think of ten days without responsibility, without small children’s futures and educations in my hands. think about no swearing, no yelling, no hurt or exhaustion. think about no pressure. 

fivedays. i can do this. five. days. 

sometimes, one of my best friends in TFA (eliza) and i sit around and we talk about our jobs. we talk about how flipping real they are, and how we wish sometimes they weren’t. like…some of our friends from college have graduated and are working in retail. or as a barista in a coffee shop, or as an office assistant or receptionist in some tall quiet building. a few are even in accounting, marketing, finance. they work in a cubicle with a computer from 9am until 5pm. 

or some of them don’t have jobs yet. 

there are days where we crave those jobs. 

sometimes i look at the option i chose—which is to leave my privileged ivy league university and immediately enter an underperforming, impoverished community and try to educate the struggling problem children thereof—and want one of those jobs. 

maybe this is my continued over-dramatization of my life, maybe i need to get off my high horse. maybe those jobs have challenges and exhaustions that i just don’t see or know of yet. maybe i’m undercutting those jobs and their difficulties. 

but like…….damn, dude. our jobs are so freaking real. i feel so much pressure at my job every day. there are literally small childrens’ futures in my hands. 

and every day, i get to see what would happen to them if i fail: more poverty. more hardship. more imprisonments, more crime, more anger and frustration and ignorance and suffering.

sometimes i don’t want that responsibility or pressure. 

in five days, i don’t have to worry about that anymore. 

for at least one week. 

five days. just five more days. 

just five more days.