animal lover through and through

Today, as I was sitting at this kid’s house, a slow moving black cat walked under my legs and away from me. The kid’s response?

“Just kick it out of your way.”

My reply?

“Kick it!? I wanna pet it!”

This is when I realized there are two different kind of people in this world: animal lovers and animal non-lovers. I am, by far, and animal lover. If an animal of any kid is in the room I want to be holding it, petting it, watching it, or even taking pictures of it. I want to be giving it a voice by narrating all the silly little behaviors animals have.

A few minutes after the cat walked under my legs, I could hear it meowing at the bottom of the stairs. After a few solid meows, I look towards the stairs and said, “What are you trying to tell me, little guy?” The kid said that the cat was just angry it couldn’t get downstairs because the door was shut. He then went on to explain how annoying he thinks this cat is because all it does is whine and complain and meow all day as he’s trying to nap on the couch.

This is when I realized that I give animals just as much personality as babies and other humans. I think they try to communicate with us, I think they enjoy communicating with us, and I also love to try and communicate with them. We are speaking completely different languages, yet dogs know how to sit, come, lay down, and dance. Cats are a little less trainable, but they still have a crazy amount of personality.

I don’t understand how people don’t have compassion for animals because I can’t help but want to snuggle up against them and steal some of their furry warmth whenever I’m close enough. It’s not my fault I have a huge heart and an open soul.

Expansions

I have found that, in the past, I will go days or even weeks without blogging or writing poetry. I’m currently in one of these no-writing stages right now as you can see by the date of my last post..December 17th. While I began to think, “Man, I haven’t been writing at all…” I was distracted by the number of “notes” on my handy dandy iphone. Some of these notes are paragraphs long, scrolling down my blue-lit phone screen for more than just a few finger flicks. That’s when I realized something:

It’s not that I haven’t been writing…

I just haven’t been writing publicly.

This is often the case. I’m constantly reaching for my phone throughout the day to quickly tap away at my screen to freeze a comment, conversation, idea, or thought into my notes so I can revisit it later (at a more appropriate time) and work with it. Or expand on it. I tend to escape into my own mind a lot as if I’m checking things off, dragging files in my head and dropping them in another file for later reconnecting. This usually leads to me being off topic, random, or in the worst case scenario, looking completely uninterested in what’s really going on which is not always the case. It’s just that my mind flies so fast it amazes me. I don’t want to slow it down by trying to explain myself. Especially when it’s most likely just a little aside and then my train of thought zooms on.

Here are some of the “notes” I’ve created in the past week or so throughout days of travel, adventure, and sometimes boredom:

-I always look right before left when I’m making a left hand turn onto a busy street. Not sure why.

-If no one had cars then we would be forced to localize. The small business would then bloom because no one would have the means to drive to the nearest Sam’s club and fill a shopping cart with too many things to carry. It would take way longer to walk to work, school, or anywhere else people would need to go so we would be forced to wake up earlier, slow down, and get less done in a day. No sense in stressing.

-Avocados that are too old to eat are fun to squeeze.

-If I hold the door for someone and they don’t say thank you, nod their head, wave, or acknowledge my existence at all, I will not hold the second door for them. They are then on their own.

-There are shows on TV these days that show things I don’t even want to fathom, things I would never want to have a picture for in my mind, like…dogs chasing humans over fences, biting at their arms, tearing at their flesh. Zombies eating/killing people. People killing people. Those are the things that scar the individuals they happen to and I think it’s messed up to watch something that would be potentially so life altering for the person involved, regardless of if it’s just made up, fake stories or not.

-A lot of people have closets bigger than other people’s houses. Just another example of how people cherish things and have little compassion for other human beings. After all, they can’t get their 500 dollar pair of shoes dirty…that would be ludicrous!

-I don’t like TV shows that have fake laughter recorded over it. It’s like the show is trying to tell me what I should be laughing at. It just gets awkward when all these “people” are laughing in the living room and I’m sitting there staring blankly at the TV screen..

-The only time I feel strange not wearing make up is when I’m having a face to face conversation with someone and I realize I have no idea what they really look like. It’s almost unfair in a way: I see some painted picture of a girl with bleach blonde hair, black eye liner, and bronze skin and they’re staring back at me…seeing all of me. Every freckle, every pimple, every dark spot under my eye. I’m unfiltered and unchanged, looking at a face that can change daily depending on what color eye shadow it brushes on in the morning. It’s almost scary in a way…like clowns.

-h210470**12f2**2. That’s my grandparent’s wireless internet password, with some *modifications* for security sake. I just would like to point out how ridiculous and nearly un-memorizable that series of characters is. I just don’t understand…

-I think people should be able to get their graffiti license. People can get a marijuana license, drivers license, flying license, motorbike license etc. They should be able to get a graffiti license as well because, in my opinion, there is nothing cooler than driving under and underpass, or passed a bridge, or building that is covered in a sweet, colorful, well done scene of graffiti. It’s an incredible art form (when done correctly). Now, it would be hard to enforce this, but somehow this could limit the random tags or vulgar sayings that are sometimes spray painted on walls and fences. Color is beautiful and if we’re going to cut down and remove all the natural color nature gives us and replace it with cement, the cement might as well be colorful. Wind turbines should also be painted.

So you can see that it’s not as though I have not been writing…I have just been saving up material, ideas, and opinions until I had ample time to sit down and share them all properly. This is more than likely not going to be my last post for tonight either…I’m going on a writing rampage people!

daily prompt: forever young

If there were a real fountain of youth, would you drink the water?

Yes.

But only if it kept me young in spirit, while still letting my life “age” accordingly. Sure, I want the ability to run around like a four year old, but I always want the ability to intellectually talk about abstract concepts.

Although some people say they would love to be young forever, I would have to disagree. If my youth had anything to do with how much of this fountain I drank, I would like to only have a teaspoon. Ya know, just enough to give me a little kick, but not enough to freeze me in time forever. Sure, I want to “stay young” but what that really means is be active, celebrate free time, be careless and have absolutely nothing scheduled, however, I do think there are some major perks of “growing up.”

I want to grow up so  I can truly understand the meaning of independent. Although it may be trying at times, I think it’s a feeling that’s worth the hardship. I want to grow up and become my own person, doing things I love to do and travelling the world, working, and still keeping my friends (that’s where the youth part comes in).

To wrap it up, you would not see me filling up pitchers at the fountain of youth because I’m actually looking forward to growing older. However, I would love to take a taste just to see what it’s like.

teacher observation hours

Today, as I walked out of my former elementary school early enough to beat the crowd of parents congregating in their cars to pick their kids up, I spotted two cars on the outskirts of the parking lot. They were parked close to one other, windows down, and I saw those extra big black mirrors that are often on police cars. That’s when I noticed the men dressed in uniforms sitting in the cars and at first, I was a little confused. Then, the memory of walking passed orange construction cones to get from the main hallway to the classrooms flashed through my mind and I was reminded of the extra caution schools are taking due to some recent events. Here I was in an elementary school just a few days after a tragedy that changed how these teachers and parents view elementary school safety and I was someone they trusted to enter.

It makes me think how did that man get into the school? Was he a trusted individual? What kind of security did that school have and why…why children? Why a school?

I had the teacher I was observing in fourth grade, Mrs. Hunter. She’s been teaching for around 16 years and has two daughers of her own. She’s currently co-teaching with another teacher and hearing their concerns for the children in their class was a little mind boggling. She explained some of the backgrounds a few kids in her class come from…some without one parent or the other, some low SES, and some from different countries. All of these kids have personal lives that are going to effect how they learn and then on top of all of this there are some parents who informed their kids about the shooting and some that didn’t. So now there’s kids talking about it with their classmates who may know or not know as much as they do themselves.

It brings up the topic: when should these teachers address the shooting, if at all?

I was informed that the teachers had an in service about how much to tell the kids and when to tell them. They were told if the children ask questions to give them answers, but nothing too specific. Their young minds deserve the truth wrapped in euphimisms so they aren’t tainted too much to go to school without fear, like my teacher’s own daugthers were. She said her oldest told her she was scared to go to school. Her response? Yeah, of course, but everything will be okay. And sure, a parent is going to tell their kid that to reassure them of their safety and create peace of mind, however, I can’t help but think of the parents in Connecticut. They leave their child in the hands of a school system weekly, knowing they are getting an education and have proper guidance. How can anyone even describe their hurt?

Mrs. Hunter made a comment along the lines of, ” Soon we’re going to have armed guards outside our schools and that’s not right.” This hit me hard. As I was walking into the school before entering her classroom I saw the flag pole and couldn’t help but smile. So many times before, when I attended school there, it was my “safety” duty to raise that flag and wander back into the building. There’s a calm sense of security I feel when I picture my 9 year old self walking through those halls. Then, with a little imagination, I picture armed guards shadowing over me, watching me walk into the building, questioning every person that passes because that’s their job and they have multiple reasons to be there. It sucks and Mrs. Hunter spoke the truth: it’s not right.

Ever since I was little, I was taught that school is a safe haven for so many kids. The school I was in offers breakfasts to the students because so many come from low SES families. School is a chance for them to have some routine, get away from their house and their family, learn, and have fun, but most of all, feel safe and at ease. Although guards would be nice in extreme circumstances, they also give people a reason to feel like the environment they are walking into might not be totally safe.

In order to be safe in emergencies, classrooms should have a “safe zone”. This spot would be out of sight from any door or windows that enter the classroom. Usually a corner by some bookshelves gets the job done, but because Mrs. Hunter co-teaches, there are two classrooms connected with a (usually open) sliding wall in the middle. The classroom now has two main doors, along with a set of doors that lead outside of the building. This leads to limited space out of sight from all three doors. All day today, they kept saying, “what about here?” or “if this happens then…”

Teachers are now not only planning lessons, but planning safety precautions as well (not that they didn’t before, but the need for them is hightened now). They have to deal with the basic knowledge the kids come into their classroom with, help them acquire new knowledge, meet the curriculum goals, and then on top of all of that, they need to reassure their student’s safety while reflecting on the decisions so many teachers had to make last week in Connecticut. Stories were being thrown back and forth of some incredible teachers who did everything in their power to keep their kids safe. I say “their kids” because that’s what they became. They weren’t just kids in their classroom, they were their own children who they loved dearly. They hid them in closets, moved filing cabinets in front of doors, held the children’s faces and told them they loved them so if anything happened to them that’s the last thing they would have heard.

While I took a step back and tried to look at this whole thing from an outsiders perspective I saw two teachers, going back and forth about a terrible event and the precautions they have to take now, but behind them I saw a group of third grade students writing books to their parents about why they love them. The mindsets are 180 degrees different. As I was walking out of the classroom, through the halls that look eerily similar but drastically different from when I was there, I passed a classroom I’ve been in before. It was my fifth grade classroom. I don’t remember what subject we were working on, but I do remember sitting there at my desk observing like I still do today. I saw Ms. White walk in, looking frantic. My teacher scurrying over to console her and I remember feeling a sense of confusion. Maybe Ms. White is having a bad day. Maybe her and her boyfriend broke up, her grandma died, or maybe she was just sad because one of her students called her a poopoo head. Reality was, those teachers had gotten the news about two planes full of people crashing into the twin towers. My fifth grade mind didn’t understand why the school had been put on lockdown, why the teachers were frantic, or what possibly could have been happening. They weren’t allowed to fill us in, and we didn’t know there was anything going on that was out of the norm anyways.

The Connecticut shooting, although on a smaller scale (it’s weird saying death is on a “small scale” but for lack of better verbage there it is), could be these kid’s 911. And it just makes me think, when is there going to be mass amounts of good news? When is saftey not going to be a “goal”, but a “usual”?

I don’t know, I guess I’m still trying to figure it all out. Just like many others are probably doing as well. It’s hard for me to fathom such chaos.

most outstanding young man

Today I met the most outstanding young man. Although he couldn’t swim, he could “doggy splash” with the best of them. He was seven years old, although he did ask me, “don’t I look eight?!” The truth is, I had no idea how old he was or how old he looked, but I did know he had the soul of a spectacular little boy.

On Saturdays I take Anshu swimming. He loves to splash in the water and put he’s ears under to hear the muffled sounds of children’s shrieks as they go down the water slide, or play in the shallow end. Usually I have my bathing suit on and can physically guide Anshu away from things or people if need be, but yesterday I forgot to grab my bag so I was stuck on the side of the pool. Watching. I was skeptical about this because I never know if he is going to listen to my verbal commands and without a swim suit on, I would have been stranded just watching him if for some reason he started having a behavioral issue. Helpless.

I always get timid when people break the little bubble of space I try to create around Anshu for my peace of mind, but as a little boy and his mom approached us I felt a sense of calmness. The mom looked a little weary, standing back enough to let her kid interact, but close enough to intervene if necessary. There were a series of questions exchanged between this little boy and I and he put his head in the water, mimicking Anshu, and hitting the palm of his hand quickly against the water. He got down on Anshu’s level. He tried to put himself in a nonverbal kid’s situation. I admire everything about this seven year old boy.

This is my thank you letter to seven year old, Riley and his mom. I’m thanking them for not only putting up with Anshu and his excessive splashing, but actually trying to understand him as well.

First, to Riley, you will never know how much your curiosity and willingness to ask questions and listen to the answers will better not only your life, but all the people around you. Your gentle voice, barely audible above the loud fountains and jets in the hot tub was enough to echo in my face. You made me smile and I could feel my eyes glow as you asked me why Anshu doesn’t understand, if he knows how to say banana and in sign language, and if he liked being splashed back and then listen attentively to all my explanations and answers. Your quiet invites from the shallow end to the deep, the pool to the hot tub, and the hot tub to snack with you and your mom were some of the kindest gestures I’ve ever seen from someone. Anshu’s lack of eye contact, words, and all around interest didn’t effect you trying to make a new friend.

And about your mom, Riley, you have been blessed with someone who encourages you to learn, ask questions, and to be so kind hearted. Her smile matched mine as she watched you get involved with a child everyone else usually shies away from. Even if your invites were stemmed from her suggestions she’s given you roots to grow confidant in yourself…enough so that you’re will to love everyone else.

Riley, you are just another example of how truly incredible kids can be. Please, no matter what, hold your curiosity in both hands and politely push it down everyone else’s sense of how people should be. You created a glimpse of how society can be so uplifting. Thank you for providing me with enough faith in humanity to last a few more days.

And to Riley’s mom, I’ll never know if it was his idea or yours to approach us and ask, “Have we met before?” but either way, you let it happen. You stood close enough to hear, but far enough away so Riley felt like he was doing it on his own. Now, I don’t know if you know Anshu, like that random lady at the mall we ran into last week, but even so…thank you for easing some of my worries by engaging with the two of us and making me feel at rest with his splashing and loud humming. You and your son made me feel like I actually blended in, which, sadly, doesn’t happen a whole lot when I’m out with Anshu. I don’t know what kind of grades Riley gets in school but I can bet that he’s miles ahead of his classmates when it comes to relationships, friendships, and conversations. He’s leaps and bounds before them in how to treat other human beings. You made it possible for him to make my day lighter than I ever expected it to be. Keep encouraging Riley. Keep loving him. And keep smiling together.

 

weekly photo challenge: changing seasons

Image

This picture was taken a few months ago, probably sometime in August. I’m walking in a t-shirt through the streets of down town Mount Pleasant and not an inch of me is even thinking about “cold.” I was totally in the still-kind-of-summer mindset and as the sun faded every night, I got more and more aware of the weather that was about to come. I look back on this picture and long for the feeling of going outside without five layers on, thick socks, and a hat. There’s just something about warm air that fills me up with a certain lightness.

Now, last night I took a walk with my roommate, Hannah, and friend, B. We walked around the same street downtown for a little while and messed around with these face-in-hole boards they have up for the holidays. Needless to say, we were having a great time, and although I often complain about snow and being cold, there’s a different silence at night when there’s a blanket of snow on the ground. It’s rather fresh feeling to be crunching on tiny little snowflakes, packing them down enough to slip around at times. Last night was, for the first time this year besides the leaves falling slowly off trees, a visual reminder of the changing seasons.

Image

Something I do really enjoy about winter is how light the sky is at night. It’s always got a weird purple-grayish tint to it. I guess it’s a compromise seeing as the sun now sets pretty early, leaving us with only the dark sky to rely on for energy. This picture is an example of not just physical changing of seasons (the sky, the snow on the ground, the wet road) but it’s also an example of how humans influence the feeling of “changing seasons”. For example, the white lights strung through tree branches are only a glimpse of the holiday season. Personally, I think they should be left up all year long and we should ditch those nasty, way-too-bright over head street lights they just installed. You can see some of them in the pictures above, but on the street I live on, people came in and cut down a bunch of trees and replaced them with metal poles shining lights down for all to feel bright. I’d much rather walk down a street with trees than metal poles, but maybe that’s just me.

As I think more about changing seasons I realize that for one of the first times in my life, my friends are not changing with the seasons. In high school most of my friends were people I played sports with. As the sports changed, the friends changed. It’s just how it ended up working out. When you think about it, high school sports demand a decent amount of your time and you’re thrown onto a team, forced to interact with people you might never choose to on your own. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s a disaster. But now, without sports, or really time consuming activities, I can choose who I spend my free time with and I’m finding more and more lately that I’m surrounded by only a few people and I keep them close. I feel weird if I don’t talk to them everyday, but then again, I have had friends for years who I have random conversations with and then don’t talk for a few weeks, talk again and it’s like we never stopped. It’s funny how friendships can define themselves in that way.

Changing seasons always brings me back to the year before, when the weather reflected the scenery I’m gazing at right now. To think how much has changed in one year boggles my silly little mind. It makes me incredible impatient for the next year…and the next…and the next. I can’t wait to see where I end up.

daily prompt: oasis

When I’m feeling like things are just a little too much, I like to sink away into my bedroom and wrap myself in any blankets I can grab, curl up in my bed, and cuddle my pillows. I escape the madness only to lay on a cloud-like rectangle with a marshmallow comforter and (recently) a heated blanket. It’s quiet in my room, with only vague noises of people talking on the street outside my window. It’s filled with paintings I’ve created and paintings other people have given me. A tapestry hangs over my bed and I’ll fall into a trance, staring at the geometric shapes that eventually all blend into one, depending on how long I gaze. There’s something overwhelmingly soothing about laying flat on your back. It’s like the force of the stressors has driven me too far and I can’t help but lay down–but it’s not letting them win, it’s not giving up. Giving up would be breaking down, freaking out, yelling, stressing, and having an anxious, gut eating feeling. Instead of making myself sick with worrying, I choose to lay there and breathe: taking everything in and blowing everything out. After a while of laying in a bed as comfortable as mine, no one can be angry or worried about anything.

Sometimes though, my bed is not an option. Maybe there’s a risk of someone coming into my room and disturbing my daydreaming state of being. Or maybe there’s people talking too loudly in my living room. Regardless of the reason, if I am ever not able to get away from it all by escaping to my bed, I choose the shower.

In the shower, no one bothers me because of the simple fact that I am in the shower. No one comes to have a conversation with me, ask me their opinion, try and make me think, and it’s not like I can take my phone in there so contacting me is limited. The shower, when the water is warm enough, is one of the best escapes a girl can find: standing there with hot water dripping down my back, steam clouding around my face, and the sound of water hitting the tub floor. Whenever I feel a good tear shedding session coming on, the shower is my go to. This eliminates the wet, red, crying face because my whole body is wet and a little red from water that some people would consider to be too hot.

Sometimes, I simply don’t feel like explaining myself. Sometimes, I don’t even know why I’m upset, but I am. That’s when I go to the shower. I guess I literally wash everything off of me. I let go of anything that’s giving me a hard time, letting it fall through the drain with the tornado of water that can’t get down into the pipes fast enough.