4 more days

I’m dying here. It’s so close. She’s home in four days and I’m so excited. My brother agreed to come on the drive. Never thought he would. We’re not telling her. She’s going to cry so much.

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Dear Teacher, I love you

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I am hot for teacher. I have never been hot for teacher so this is really weird and I’m pretty freaked out by it but at the same time I’m enjoying the heat of it all. I get electric shocks when I make eye contact with him during lecture. It’s actually quite exciting and yet so frustrating at the same time because I can’t actually have a normal conversation with him and he makes me nervous when I usually wouldn’t be and I work harder in his class than I would if it were anyone else. So I guess that last part works in my favor.

In the meantime though, it sucks. Because I sort of compare a lot of my dating partners to him and they never really measure up to my hotter, steamy, bearded teacher who’s completely established, professional, and admirable.

And I know it’s not totally one sided, like he definitely finds me attractive (in a hot for student kind of way) and we stand further apart and stare longer because of it – which is annoying because all I want to do is talk to him but it’s so taboo I can’t even risk being friendly.

He’s far too old for me and I know it’s completely unrealistic and never going to happen but the fantasizing part is just fine with me. It’s slightly reminiscent of being twelve and having a celebrity crush. Except with this one, I actually get to meet him.

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Often times I know what he’s thinking when another student in class says something slightly inappropriate and I feel like I know the kind of person he is when he’s around his friends.

I think it boils down to intense admiration. I pretty much want to be him when I get older and finish up my professional career and start to worry about living a more stable lifestyle. Working freelance cannot be easy. I intern for a professional photographer and I see how much work goes into his business and I see how often he works in order to make his life work the way he wants to. His hours and workload vary from minute to minute and he’s constantly answering his email to set up more shoots, send out files and estimates. It’s a never ending story.

And yet, I want to be a teacher. I want to foster brain children and let my pupils see the light and understand me the way I understand him and strangely enough I think to myself as I drive home how I know one day I’ll be able to adequately understand him only because I myself will teach and so I will then know. Which makes me oddly melancholy because I worry I may never tell him how dearly I value his critiques or how much I enjoy his work and style.

It’s hard to say how you feel in situations where you need to walk endlessly on eggshells. Being politically correct and situationally appropriate sucks when all you want to do is be friends with the teacher you sort of find intensely attractive in all his self confidence and subtle smiles when he knows he shouldn’t be laughing.

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to tell him that the man I marry will remind me much of him and the standards he has showed me. Because I want to fall in love with someone who’s sarcastic and also hopeful, who is proud but not vain, who is smart but not a dick about it. I want to find a dancer in this world, one who whistles when he’s got a tune replaying in his head.

So here you are teacher, my confession of love and admiration to you.

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Sincerely,

Hopelessly romantic for no reason at all

My own serenity prayer

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I’m not sure if I’m an alcoholic but I’ve always been a part of AA. The thing is, alcoholism runs very strongly in my family. Actually, it’s more that addictive personalities do. My uncle was a gambler and a womanizer and just plain reckless at times, his brother too. My aunt was -for a period- addicted to crack and cocaine and she although doesn’t really do that so much anymore, she definitely maintains a steady beer buzz to this day. My grandma died of liver failure due to her alcohol habits. The doctor told her to stop and she never really did. Coupled with clinical depression, most of my family’s strongest addictive personality types have had some heavy issues, my mother included.

So definitely, yes, I worry about it. I find myself wanting to drink when I want to forget about some things, and so I don’t. I find myself wanting to drink when I have a stressful day, and so I don’t. I worry when I go out with my friends for the third time in four days and we’re drinking and laughing and not really caring if the tab runs itself through the roof or if my hangover really sucks the next day even when I have important things to do.

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But then I also remind myself that I just turned twenty-one not even six months ago and that most of these experiences are new and I can’t hide behind my anxiety for the rest of my life. I have to learn when I can and cannot have a glass of wine, or if that third drink is going to get me hammered, that water between is a marvelous idea. That I can’t mistake caution for cowardice.

When I was little, I spent most nights of my childhood at AA meetings, eating my happy meals and doing my homework, trying my hardest to stay awake as the adults passed around laminated pages and a big binder filled with codes and steps. I knew what it meant when someone got a gold chip and I played with my mom’s whenever she let me hold her keys.

I knew what all the extra birthday cakes meant.

I was never old enough to sit in and listen to their stories. My mom told me to go play with the other kids -if there were any but thank god for my sister because she would play with me anytime I asked, even if she was half asleep. I’ve been back to a few meetings ever since to listen and there’s still the same lemon cakes and coffee dispensers and the people are still telling their truths and even though I feel out of place, I can’t help but feel like it’s still a part of me.

And it only really occurred to me the other day as I was driving and thanking my higher power for making me so wise that I realized how much courage I’ve adopted and how peaceful that makes me feel and how grateful I am for every step I’ve ever had to take to get by, one day at a time.

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Confessions from a Prisoner’s Daughter

When I was at the young age of twelve, my mother was sentenced to a sixteen-year sentence for crimes I won’t mention.

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There are worse things in life than death. Things happen to people that can’t always be salvaged by a category. Whenever I think about her, I always find myself gauging whether or not the person in front of me can handle what I have to say or if they might raise their eyebrows and pinch their lips like I just farted in public or took my top off.

There are worse things than death when it comes to people. I’m not talking about that gut-wrenching feeling of heartbreak, or the sting of betrayal. I’m talking about patience. The biggest fate I’ve ever been dealt is years of patience.

Her face was all over the news. I had to switch schools, sell our childhood home, and move in with my father and Alzheimer’s ridden, eighty year old grandmother. The day I came home to the dozens of red and blue lights glaring in front of my house, I saw my mother in real life for the last time.

Today, it’s been nearly ten years.

There are worse things than death because I know it to be true. I can’t say that death isn’t the worst kind of experience; that bleak realization that you’ll never see someone ever again. I can say that for years I wished I could say she was dead. I prayed that I’d be able to live my life and move on from the childhood I’d been forced to grow through. I can’t say that my life is horrible. I can’t even say that it’s miserable. To be frank, my life is fantastic. I have friends and my father, sister, step mother, brothers. I have loved and been loved. But I’ve had to wait.

For years I took it really hard. I used it as an excuse to act out, do drugs, disobey the rules. I used it for a pity card. As if life was an eternally moving monopoly board, the pieces could be manipulated with one simple statement.

I had the power to surprise people, control them with my misfortune. I took solace in that. I selfishly used her position to eliminate people, shatter smiles, influence their opinions.

In some ways I wonder if that was the wrong or right thing to do. Nearly everyone does it. They all want to have been through some horrible misfortune that is worse than yours. I don’t think I’ve ever had someone react appropriately to my story and I’m not sure what exactly it is I’m expecting whenever I pop off with, “yeah? Well my mom’s in prison. Has been since I was twelve and I’ve been in mourning ever since”. They either tell me they’re sorry and subsequently change the subject once the silence has become too uncomfortable, or they start their own expedition down their so called path of misery and despair.

I can’t say I wish she were dead. I love my mom. I really do. I love that she’s inadvertently made me face all these seriously ridiculous situations, pushed me through to the end of unacceptable to finally learn to accept myself. She’s taught me a lot more than many mothers I know have tried to teach their children. She’s pretty damn tough if you ask me. Some things I’ve heard in the last few years have confirmed it. She literally had to fight her way to the place where she is now and she’s got the ink to prove it.

But I think my anger comes from the fact that she’s not a bad person. That she was –for a short while- a selfish, thoughtless person who inevitably changed my life forever. She took away tradition, swept up my young, sweet life and shuffled it all up to land haphazardly on the drawing board. It took me so long to finally manage all the pieces into a working order. It took me forever to accept that I’m not broken, defective, or unworthy of love. I am horrified to think of the life I might have lead had she stuck around through it. I’d be a shallow, self-centered, Barbie doll with no grander thoughts of life, or questions of the deeper parts of the soul. I’d be lifeless.

When people ask me where she is or who she is, I have the same generic “safety” response. She lives in Fresno, she got divorced and hasn’t really been in my life since she moved away. She’s a dental assistant and she’s got a boob job that doesn’t really fit her anymore since she gained so much weight. We look like twins and I even have her voice. She’s from Indiana and she moved here when she was fifteen because she got pregnant with my brother. She’s a drug addict and she wasted the good part of her life because she decided to binge on a two week cocaine party that cost her $90,000 and our house. She was evil for a little bit. Forced me into eating disorders because of her own twisted body image. She made fun of me for having a bigger dress size than her when I was ten years old. She was a mean old hag and she never appreciated anything.

When I was in third grade, she tried to kill herself because her current husband wanted a divorce. She took a bottle of sleeping pills and tried to run herself off the bridge in our minivan with remote controlled sliding doors.

My dad got me a dog because he knew I needed some semblance of stability when I was being carted off from house to house.

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We had more drug dealers and thieves in our house than I’ve ever been able to understand.

When she was hopped up on painkillers and dope, she had a stroke and the right side of her body clenched up and all she could do with her hand was make a crab claw type shape and whine about being tired.

She slept all the time and she never took me to school. I had to walk home, rain or shine.

And yet, I’m a white female, upper middle class, I went to private school and I’ve pretty much never been forced to do anything except the dishes and clean up dog shit. I’ve always been encouraged to succeed and my dad has been my eternal ally. My brother has always been there to give me advice, considering he’s nine years older than me and half black, which makes for a pretty interesting situation when you travel in public with a tall black guy with an afro, carting along with him two very white, very young sisters. People give you some pretty strange looks.

Right now, I know where I belong. I have no doubts about my sense of self, I don’t have a drug problem, I’ve survived to the late old age of twenty one and I even have people around me who’ve somewhat caught up to the nastier sides of fate. I can relate to quite a few of them.

But as soon as I pull out the prison card, people either shut down or compete. I don’t know how long it will be before I ever have someone look me in the eye and say, they’ve been waiting to hear a more fucked up story than mine, and that takes the cake. But that would be too sadistic and self-centered so I’d probably never want to talk to them again for fear of growing some sick ego cause I’m the kid with a mom in jail.

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