The Belated Birthday Biannual Extravaganza!

I’m not sure biannual was used properly here. Would it indicate I do this twice a year, or this is the second year it’s been done? I was going for something like “bicentennial” but just couldn’t work out the English for it. Do feel free to comment.

Alright, I’m late to update. I was going to do my birthday update two weeks ago – you know, when it was my birthday. Apparently I recognized that to be far too crazy an idea, and instead planned to update last week for the Country’s two-year anniversary. But then I got too sick/too wrapped up playing video games to be bothered, so at last I’m ripping my hands from my shiny new 3DS to finally type this up – and rest assured my hands will be flying back to it once it’s finished (basically, Fire Emblem is really good).

Ah, my 24th birthday. That was an odd sounding number, because I knew from anecdotal evidence that people begin to feel “old” at twenty-four in ways that make actual old people laugh at them derisively. Do I feel old? I don’t know about that. But twenty-three sounds weirdly young in ways that it did not before. I definitely feel a slight sense of urgency at achieving my lifetime goals, but enough perspective to try to calm down and take things as they come. And did I enjoy my birthday? To establish a pattern that will repeat itself throughout this blog post, yes and no. I was showered with gifts from my faraway and loving family, and had a nice, relaxing day, as well as a delightful dinner out.

And then there was the “no” part previously mentioned.

Without much warning, my parents put my soul surviving cat to sleep. Apparently she had lymphoma for months and it was absolutely necessary, and so all that part is alright and understandable. I also understand why they didn’t tell me on my birthday, and I’m glad I at least got to see her on the camera one last time. But it’s hard to go from four pets two years ago to only one…and it’s hard to not be there for her, hard to know I won’t come home and be drooled on by her. She was a good cat, albeit a little satanic (like most cats are), and she really loved me. Sabrina was twelve, so she’d certainly lived a good long life and already cheated death twice. But still, it was….sad.

My last picture with Sabrina, Christmas 2012.

My last picture with Sabrina, Christmas 2012.

But there is more than just birthday news; mere days BEFORE my birthday, I finally got a full-time job! If you’re looking for the “bad news” part, you could say that it’s me still working with kids, but I consider this portion to be “Good vs. bittersweet” as opposed to objectively “bad.” I’m back to teaching preschool, but I am actually glad about it. Working with older children has definitely been fun, but it’s preschoolers I have the most experience and skill with, and the ones I’ll be working with are already all over me like white on rice. The good news here is that the owners are TERRIFIC. At last, something I couldn’t get from either Portland OR CS, support and understanding! I’m part of a team, and we are all on the same wavelength with the same goals! This is going to be AWESOME!

In the “less good” category is the fact that my co-teacher is….I’m not going to get into it all right now, but let’s just say the situation is not GOOD, the owners know that, and kind of want her out, thus a major motivation for hiring me. It’s not quite the money I’d hoped for either, but to put it back in the solidly good category, it’s less than half my current commute and I get a substantial break (albeit unpaid). The owners are really understanding, human people, and have already agreed to give me time off within two weeks of officially starting. I could get used to this.

Again on the “less good” category is leaving the studio. Obviously I’ll be glad to be rid of K, who managed to be a passive-aggressive bitch right up to my final day, but it’s hard to leave the kids behind. I got a LOT of hugs and being told I was a great teacher and “don’t tell Miss Hanna, but you’re my favorite” and cards. God blessed I am going to miss those kids a lot. It is hard to form emotional bonds with children and support them when they depend upon you only to chop that all off when you have to move on. It was hard in Portland, it was hard at CS and it’s hard here. But as I lay awake last night (due, to a really nasty spring cold which goes solidly in the “bad” column), I came to an understanding of how teaching works: your affection for children must always be on loan. Don’t love them too much, don’t hold them too close. Be their teacher, not their surrogate parent, however much you may want to or they may need the latter. Do what you can and let go. Send them on their way, it’s the only way life can work. Save that love for children of your own and the rest of your life, otherwise you’ll always end up brokenhearted. And in teaching, there are always more children. I may look back on certain children I have been with fondly, but I’d be hard pressed to remember their names once they are gone. There are always others that need your care and attention in the present, and that is where you must focus.

Well, with that new job nonsense, suffice to say my grad school applications have been put on hold. I worry this means I’m getting side-tracked from my dreams, but again, I am determined to stop worrying about life and just live it, even if I live it somewhat tamely. I also came close to getting a pet, only to have that hope dashed (bad), and may have a future roommate (good). My mother and aunt are coming to visit in less than two weeks, but even better than that is this:

After working my flabby, exercise-phobic form for five months, I tested for my yellow belt last weekend. I knew all my terminology and moves, and still managed to mess up with nerves, but I messed up confidently. I was too sick to possibly get my belt Wednesday, but as yesterday was my last day of work, I absolutely HAD to go to class and hopefully get my belt, no matter how I felt. Wearing my standard white belt, I went through kicks and moves blandly and without energy; too sick and too tired to try too hard. Then Tashi entered the floor with my yellow belt tucked into one sleeve, and I got to stand before my friends and peers of five month’s creation with the knowledge that I had moved up. I had surmounted something, something that I would never have thought I could ever do just one anniversary ago!

So even though it will be costing me precious dollars, I have decided to keep up the Tae Kwon Do; it’s good exercise that my 3DS addicted self could obviously use, and I find it’s motivating me in ways that did not happen before; a class of people I know and respect pushes me to try harder and learn more, and it makes me want to stick to things outside of the class environment as well. I’ll be taking a week off to adjust to the new job – and then it’s back on the course.

So obviously it’s a weird anniversary. I’ve updated the background image to one of the property here in Virginia from two weeks ago, when greenery was just barely starting to struggle to life. Virginia is strange my life here is certainly different from the life I’ve lived before, and not necessarily in ways that are always better. Yet…I can feel within myself the ways that I have grown: I feel less like I need to rely upon others, I feel more determined to not become anxious or upset, especially about the future, as hard as that is. So whatever I am supposed to learn here…I’m trying.

And that’s working.

People are as confused at 24 as at 22, but in new ways. And that alone is exciting.

A disheveled me getting my yellow belt. Disheveled, but still victorious.

A disheveled me getting my yellow belt. Disheveled, but still victorious.


About emilydnelson

A recent graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in anthropology, Emily is like every other twenty-two year old on the planet - trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Follow as she struggles with writing, her social work job, and bopping from coast to coast.
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