Thoughts While Waiting For A Plane

I do not like to fly.

That statement might seem odd coming from someone who regularly flies, but it is the truth. I do not enjoy flying. In fact, I find the whole act mildly unnerving.

Even before going through security, before checking in for my flight, even before going to the airport I have to be prepared. This process involves making sure there are no liquids in my carry-on bags, except for the 3.4 ounces or less ones in the quart-sized, zip-top bag that I carefully place in either my purse or an outside pocket of my backpack for easier access. I select which items will go in each carry-on bag – decisions that might not seem difficult to make, but for someone who would prefer to have all of their items next to them or under the seat in front of them, it is strategic planning.

I have to make sure to take off my shoes, remove anything in my pockets, and arrange my items in the sullen, gray plastic bins so that everything is visible. I wait to go through the scanner, not fulling knowing where the lines start and who was first, only going through the motions so as not to displease the disgruntled TSA agents. After patting down my wrists, my legs, my waist, or whatever area may have shown up on the scanner due to my preference for looser clothes, I retrieve my things and return the bins to their proper place to await another person’s items.

As I sit in the terminal reflecting on their and other airport procedures and processes, I listen to the coughs, stifles, sounds of crying babies, text tones, and conversations I am surrounded by. I am a germaphobe, and yet I am about to travel for the next few hours with nothing but recycled air circulating throughout the cabin. I resist the urge to envision the types of miasma that inhabit the air and the people they originated from. I contain my anxiety as I am engulfed by strangers.

I do not like most people, another truth that some might find odd given my seemingly outgoing personality. The key word is seemingly. I enjoy being alone, by myself, and away from the general public. I avoid public transportation as much as possible because of this.

Still, I put myself through the ordeal of flying because I love to travel. I like going to a destination I have never been before, or one that I have and am looking forward to returning to. As a teenager, I did not want to get married when I grew up; I wanted to travel.

So, yeah, I do not like to fly. I continue to fly, however, because it is a ritual that results in something that I love: adventure.

Adventure awaits…after the airtime.




Project Thankful: Reason #221

Because I am a Teaching Assistant (TA), I have to take the required course that all TAs take.  As part of this course, the instructors emailed us an assignment to complete before Orientation.

The assignment is a reflection where we have to think about a teacher or an experience in a classroom that influenced us as students in either college or high school and which might also influence us as teachers.  The instructors asked us to end the reflection by thinking about how these experiences might influence our roles in the classroom, our teaching goals, and our interactions with students.  When I first read the assignment description, I didn’t know what to write.  At first, the assignment sounded like the instructors wanted us to write about someone or something from either high school or college that inspired us to pursue teaching.  Yet upon re-reading the assignment, I better understand what the instructors are looking for.  They want us to reflect when we were student writers and to think about a person or an experience that influenced us and perhaps influenced our interest in teaching.  And so, here is what I have been throwing around so far:

I’m a shy person.  In high school, I was at my peak shyness.  I was afraid to express my thoughts out loud, to participate in class discussions unless called on by the teacher.  More than that, I was afraid that my ideas, my literary interpretations, did not measure up; I would wait with intense anxiety to receive a graded essay, praying that the teacher would give me a passing grade.

In college, that anxiety continued as I tacked assignments with a looming uncertainty regarding how they would be graded.  During my second year of college, I took a course entitled Recent American Fiction with a professor whose reviews on “Rate My Professor” indicated that she was a tough grader.  As the course progressed, however, I found the professor was less a tough grader and more a gentle facilitator of discussion.  She was more concerned with what ideas her students had about the text instead of if they had a fully, grammatically correct paper.

One of the texts I read as part of the course was Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, an electronic retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I had always been interested in monstrous literature, but my classmates in high school did not share my interest in monsters; I quickly learned that openly expressing an interest in monstrous literature would garner alienating stares, the result of which caused me to keep my interest in the genre quiet.  Yet, here I was in a college classroom, being required to read a text that coincided with my interest.  I wrote a paper exploring the idea of self through monstrosity in Patchwork Girl which not only received an “A” but acceptance into a conference.

Taking that class and writing that essay allowed me to more openly explore my areas of interest.  When it came time to write my Honors Thesis, my thesis mentor, having had me in his English Ghost Story course, understood my interest in monstrous literature and encouraged me to pursue a topic on that.  So, what did I write about?  Vampires, of course.

Investigating a popular culture topic through an academic lens abated my previous anxiety regarding being a student writer.  More than encouraging my ideas, my thesis mentor created an environment that was both nurturing to my ideas as well as accepting of my growth as a writer; growth that included several different drafts and at times irrelevant and erroneous ideas.  What my thesis mentor, and my Recent American Fiction professor for that matter, did not do: make me feel like my ideas were inadequate.

When I graduated from college, I entered into the Education field where I was taught by a different type of instructor: students.  Working with students, I was reminded of my college experiences as a student writer.  Students might not want to talk in the classroom, but they do want to be listened to.  As a student writer, I wanted my teachers to hear what I was interested in; I was lucky enough to have professors who did just that and were able to steer me in a direction where I took those interests and elevated them to an academic level.  As a teacher, I want my students to share what they’re interested in; to do so, it is always my goal to get to know my students.  More importantly, I want to foster an environment in my classroom where students are comfortable expressing their ideas and consequently become more critical thinkers.

What do you think?  Would you say I completed the assignment? (I said the anxiety about being graded had abated, not disappeared)



Project Thankful: Reason #194: My Post-College Purgatory Transformed

One week from today is the last day of the 2013-2014 school year.  Out of the three years I’ve worked in Education, this school year has been the one in which I realized who I am and where I want to go with my life; ironic, considering when I first began working in Education, I thought I knew exactly who I am and where I wanted to go.  

I refer to my post-college years, working in Education, by many names.  My post-college purgatory.  My gap years.  My growth years.  My dues to the Universe.  I think the most appropriate nickname for my post-college years, however, is my reflection years.  These three years were a period of reflection in regards to my career, my health, and my life overall.

Who knew that in order to figure it out, I would have to go back to school.

Project Thankful: Reason #187

A week from today I go up to New Hampshire to look at potential apartments.  It didn’t really hit me before now that I really am moving.  Soon.

When I used to think about what it would be like when I finally moved, I didn’t think it would be like this.  I thought I would be at a different point in my life.  To be honest, I thought I would move when I found that special someone and we became engaged.  I didn’t think I would ever move when I’m single or move to attend grad school.  I always thought I was bound to Boston in a way, having grown up in the Boston area all my life.  As an undergrad, I commuted from home.  Although I applied to non-Boston area schools for grad school, in the back of my mind I always thought I would attend a Boston area school for grad school and live at home, again commuting to school.

I’m the type of person who has a tendency to plan their life, and usually what happens is that my life basically goes in a direction I did not plan.  I like to think of it as the Universe’s way of reminding me that I can not control everything and that what I view as the best plan is not what’s actually best.

When I graduated from college, my plan was to get a job that was just a paycheck while I focused on my writing career, which back then I thought was going to take off almost immediately.  I also thought I was ready to be in a relationship with a person I could see myself settling down with.

What ended up happening was I quickly realized the realities of how hard the economy is, especially to college graduates, and that the publishing industry was as harsh after college as it was when I was in college.  As far as my love life went, I did meet a guy who I thought I could see myself settling down with one day; unfortunately, he turned out to be the type who says all the right things, but doesn’t follow through on them.

I’m thankful my life didn’t turn out the way I planned it because if it had I would have missed out on so many wonderful opportunities and would have ultimately ended up being unhappy.  As I move forward, I am eager to see which direction my life takes me.  For the present, that direction is New Hampshire.

Project Thankful: Reason #185

Wednesday night we had to pick my sister up from the airport.  She’s visiting from Florida for a few days.  Her plane was delayed 45 minutes, and her late-at-night arrival was made even later.

As we drove to the airport, I was mesmerized by the dusk sky.  Wisps of clouds dancing, with air currents taking the lead.  Color blurred together, darkening silhouettes of trees.  It was so beautiful and such a common sight we often don’t even notice it.

Wherever my ambitions take me in this life, I will always remember to look up at the sky as a reminder of the limitless wonder and inspiration of the Universe.

Project Thankful: Reason #181: On Career Mistakes

I’m thankful to have made mistakes in my career.

I’m preparing to publish again at the end of this summer.  Two years ago, I published my novels The Hunted and Darkness Calls.  It was the first time I ever published, and since then I have looked back and noticed several points at which I could have stopped and rethought decisions.  I could have re-written some parts of the books, done more research on e-book covers, and better formatted the books and book covers.  I could have waited to publish them.  I could have not published them at all or waited until they were more refined narratives.  

I look back on all of these, and I’m grateful to have made mistakes in my career.  Mistakes aren’t just how you learn; they’re how you grow.  If you never made a mistake, imagine how boring your life would be; it would be static.  Some of my decisions might not yield optimum results, but the results are always interesting and surprise me.

Take this blog, for example.  I started this blog to draw attention to my writing.  When I first began blogging, I didn’t blog very often.  When I did blog, I would just kind of write about whatever, not really clear about the direction this nascent blog would have.  Underneath the title of this blog is “Spotlight: Writing.”  Back then, I didn’t know myself, as a writer, well enough to build a strong base for that spotlight.  I was too caught up with proving myself, desperate to have a large number of followers as well as to have people buy my books, to understand that what attracts someone to writing is writing, not selling.

So here’s to mistakes, to failures, to missteps, and to moving forward.

Project Thankful: Reason #180

I’m thankful that it’s June.

I’ve written similar posts before where I’m thankful for it being a new month.  The thing is, I’m always thankful when a new month starts because it’s a new set of beginnings.  In June’s case, 30 days of new beginnings, opportunities to fill each day with memorable moments.

Time passes so quickly that most of us don’t even notice until it’s gone.  I guess that’s one of the motivations behind “Project Thankful” posts: to document the days, to write 365 posts of thankfulness, reflection, and life.

And so…

Happy June!