Venting …from my journal

Posted: September 30, 2011 in My Mother, The Real Me

September 30, 2011

I will never be who or what they evidently want me to be. I am not an imbecile, though they treat me so. I am not naive, though they think my defense of the faith and of the faithful is clear proof of it. I am not on their side, though by my choice to remain moderately silent to keep the peace, they may still hold out hope. I do not look up to them or respect them much, though their haughty condescension reveals an assumption to that effect. I do not desire or ever look forward to any interaction with them, though they keep acting like I owe them my time. I owe them. I didn’t choose them — I came last. I suffered for her choice; I suffer now for their condescension and expectation. Somehow, I have earned what has, thus far, proven to be the life-long punishment of always being treated like a naive, child-like imbecile who needs instruction — constant instruction — in every facet of life. I am 28 — 29 in two weeks — not claiming to be especially wise, but asserting that I’m not exceptionally green, either. I survived her hellish choices that served to really screw everything up, and I went to college on my own dime. Graduated with honors. Been a teacher for over five years and married a doctor, whom I’ve been with for nigh on a decade now. (I’m still happily married, too, despite their inclination to call this amazing man my “first husband.”) I aspire to do everything, and I want to make a difference. I work hard, I teach my students to work hard, and I plan to teach my children to work hard. To realize that the world doesn’t owe them. To be decent, charitable, responsible people, because that’s what I try so hard to be. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m a naive child; I’m an imbecile. They are in charge even in my own home, and they rank even above my husband — the one who outshines the lot of us — and they are brazen and unapologetic, feeling entitled due to their age, or perhaps their hard knock lives. It doesn’t matter. I could get 72 graduate degrees, save Africa, and pay off our national debt — I’d still be a child unworthy of respect. They mock me, and they always will. I’m ashamed to admit that I’d be thrilled to never, ever see them again as long as I live. I’d like them to move away, find a Christian they actually respect (ha!), get saved, and meet me in heaven where Jesus could be a mediator. My heart and my head and my blood pressure just can’t handle them. And we’ve only been back here for 3 months. It’s gonna be a long life. Help. I am a terrible, dark-hearted person sometimes, I know. But really, I’m not an imbecile. 

Writing is an exhausting and terrifying thing, especially when your life is already exhausting besides. (I would suppose that if your life is also terrifying, it muddles things even further.)

Anyone have another metaphor besides calling oneself a broken record? I’m too tired to think of one, which takes me back to my point. I’m always just so tired these days, and I rarely get time to write, which is pretty much what I tell you every time I decide to post. Remember when I said that August is my month for quitting? Well, I didn’t quit in August, but here it is September, and I am only able to sit down once every other week to really work on my project. (Working title: Luke and Catie. Original, huh? I stink at titles.)  Afraid of my story growing cold, and missing the fulfillment I experience through writing, I stress over it and feel anxious. I try to remember that there’s no need to be hasty — which is a lesson Jesus was teaching me a few years ago — and tell myself to just write when I can and read when I can. To stay connected to literature.

So, I’ve been listening to books on CD during my commute to and from work. Recently finished Lord of the Flies, which is brilliant, and now listening to The Poisonwood Bible, which is also brilliant so far. What amazing writers who make me feel like such a loser. This is not inspirational. This is an exercise in literary flogging as I watch them weave a beautiful tapestry of words that reinforces my ineptitude. Luke and Catie are so one-dimensional, though I love them so, and I have scarcely begun to describe anything in their world with any semblance of artistic imagery. I want to start over already, but that’s too much.

Here I sit, with a few minutes to write, and I’m stuck. I love my characters, and I love their story, but I want to begin writing better now. Writing in a way that is true art. I believe I can — certainly not like the greats, but in my own way — but I’m already twenty-two thousand, six hundred forty-eight words into the project. Sudden shift? Weird. Start over? No way. Resign to mediocrity and waste my time? Unthinkable.

Now I have wasted my brief opportunity to write by writing about writing, which got me nowhere except into deeper exhaustion and terror.

No, terror is not too strong a word. It’s terror that a writer feels when she has invested her heart and soul and many hours into a story she loves that just might turn out to be a heap of feces.

I’m Hired!

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Lessons Learned, Teaching

I was offered a teaching job last week, but I’ve been too pooped to even tell you about it!

On Tuesday morning, I received an unexpected call from a school asking me if I’d like to interview for an ESL position. I hadn’t even seen the posting yet, because it had just become available, and so I was really surprised! I interviewed the following morning, and they called me back within an hour to offer me the job! This was Wednesday, and I went back to the school Thursday to spend some time with the instructional support teacher to learn more about the curriculum and the classes I’d be assigned. Friday was the first staff development day, and I’ve been pooped ever since!

The Lord continues to teach me of His faithfulness and provision. Although I already miss the freedom and opportunity to write that  I enjoyed just one week ago, I’m learning to trust His plan. I’m still writing, although it’s exhausting. My goal is still 1,000 words per day; some days I don’t quite make it. His choice of provision right now is for me to work as a teacher, and I’m thankful for it. I’ve met some great people, and I’m excited about the opportunity to meet some great kids!

As always, thank you for your support and prayers! 🙂



I was just looking back at what a disaster this blog has been since I created it to replace my non-anonymous blog a year or so ago. I’ve never been able to quite nail it down and be consistent. I’ve started and stopped various weekly posts; I’ve tried out fiction, shared non-fiction, and copied from my journal. Even though I still haven’t figured out what to do with this blog, I’m glad it’s here. I’m glad I have a place to write whatever I want, and I’m glad I have a place to look back on what I’ve learned. I found the post below, and I really liked it, so I’m posting it again.

Last October, when I wrote this, I was really struggling with life. I’ve been kind of up and down since then spiritually and emotionally as I try to juggle writing, my day job, and my home life, (not in that order!), but I still relate to what I said about ten months ago. While I presently am experiencing more joy, and succeeding in seeing God at work in my life, I still wrestle with hearing Him and continuing with the work He gave me to do, even when I don’t want to. So, here’s what I wrote about Jeremiah:

My journal entry for the day started out with how frustrating my day at work had been. It’s the same old complaints, I reported; no reason to re-complain about all the things I just haven’t learned how to deal with yet. I further explained that my day was so frustrating, I simply left a million things undone on my desk — really, really unlike me — to go to yoga.

Ah. Yoga. The pain, the relaxation, the weird suggestions to smile with our livers and to send out gratitude to the universe. I just breathe deeply and try not to fall over.

After yoga, I reported, I was rather productive. Nothing that would be of much interest to you, dear reader, but I surely did enumerate my accomplishments. Accomplishments of any sort these days need to be recognized and rejoiced over, because even the slightest failure can send me into total despair. It’s just where I am right now.

Ending portion one by confessing that I simply didn’t much want to read the Word or to try to talk to a God who doesn’t seem to talk much to me, I quoted what I think is a Psalm, but what I know from a song:

Cast me not away from Your presence;
Take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation,
And renew a right spirit within me.

Then I picked up Augustine’s Confessions instead of God’s Word. One more maneuver around God so that I might readabout Him. Augustine is battling with the difference between the art of human conversation and the art of divine conversation… or so the footnote reported. That struck a nerve with me, so I journaled about it. YES it’s completely different! All these songs and books act like you can just waltz right up to God like you do your best buddy and shoot the breeze. Well, that does not describe any encounter, real or imagined, I have ever had with God. It’s just not like that, and it’s incredibly difficult to hear Him. For me. Right now. Here’s what I wrote:

There’s a certain sincerity of heart and settling of the spirit that must precede, or at least coincide with, meeting the Maker of the universe [the seriousness of which is not generally necessary for your random, “Hey, what’s up?” to Joe Blow]. And what of hearing Him? That is wholly lost on me.

Then I finally read Nehemiah. The whole thing. You see, I’m about ten days behind on my Bible schedule, so I need to speed things up. (Now I’m only SIX days behind!) I like Nehemiah. I learned some stuff from him. Check it:

  1. When things suck, when you’re scared, when you’re surrounded by enemies (real or imagined, physical or spiritual), do three things: pray, keep your weapon at the ready, and keep working on what God gave you to do. Just keep going, but don’t forget about the praying and the fighting. (Nehemiah 4:9, 17)
  2. Stand up and show some respect for the Word of God. Don’t act like it’s a freaking chore; you are dang well blessed to be in its hearing. (Nehemiah 8:3, 5)
  3. Weeping is a natural response to God’s Word. (Thank you… I’ve been doing a lot of that lately!)  But, don’t be grieved; the joy of the LORD is our strength. He doesn’t ask us or want us to stay in that weepy, I-suck-at-everything mode. He wants us to be joyful in His grace. Now to get there…  (Nehemiah 8:9-12)

I closed my journal entry echoing the Psalm/song above. I really need God to restore my joy.  Really, really, really. Really badly. I know He can.


August 8, 2011

So, I didn’t get that job at __________ High School. The assistant principal called this morning and said that although he really wanted to hire me, he couldn’t because of my certification. He used the phrase, “they won’t let me.” It’s weird — I feel exactly the way I told everyone I’d feel. I’m disappointed, but not that upset. I want to write, not spend my life figuring out a new teaching job I plan to quit once I have a baby anyway. At the same time, I know I have to get a job one way or another. Not getting this one means I get to keep looking and admitting I’m a loser to every person I meet who asks, “What do you do?” (I’m meeting people frequently these days, since we’ve moved to a new place, so this is happening at least every Sunday.) It’s exhausting, really, and I’m tired of talking about it to everyone. I know it’s a major thing in my life right now, and therefore a natural topic of conversation, but I’m tired of it already. Let’s talk about anything else in the world except my lack of a job. If I get another interview or an actual job offer, I’ll tell you. Otherwise, just assume the worst and save me the humiliation. Please. I love how I started this by saying I wasn’t that upset, and then griped for a page! The truth is, I didn’t totally want that job, for a number of reasons. Not getting it was a slight relief. However, getting it would have remedied a lot of short-term annoyances and embarrassments. Long-term, I would have hated the drive (~40 minutes without traffic), hated not having my own classroom (it was a floater position), and really gone crazy with learning a new curriculum and trying to stay sane outside of school. I may well have loved it, though, because I do love teaching. Oh well! I asked God for a good interview, and He abundantly blessed me with one. Since I’ve been waiting, I’ve been praying for His will and His help in embracing whatever His will is. God is faithful and full of grace.



This is a terrible time to be looking for a teaching job in Texas. (Anywhere, really, but we just had a major budget crisis over here and it’s a huge disaster.) So what am I doing? I’m looking for a teaching job in Texas! We recently moved for the husband’s job, so that meant that I had to leave my job. From what I hear, my old position was filled internally by an amazing person, so I’m really happy about what God is doing there!

I’m not exactly sure what God is doing here, though. I’ve had four interviews, and all of them really went great:

  • I was offered the first job at a private school, but I declined. (It was a 45-minute drive, about 1/5 of my previous salary, and no benefits. Honestly, not worth the gas.)
  • I sort of expected to be offered the second job, but they went out of their way to avoid me after my awesome interview. They never responded to my follow-ups, not even to say, “We hate you; would you please leave us alone!?”
  • By the third, I was just worn out by the whole disappointing rigamarole. I put on a good face, and I was called back for a second interview, but eventually passed over for someone with more experience teaching that particular class.
  • I’m waiting to hear back about my last interview, which was by far the best interview of my life. The assistant principal called me on Thursday to let me know that I was definitely a top contender, but that he’s running into some snags with my certification, (history vs. social studies), and he’s trying to get it worked out if he can. He’s hoping to give me an answer today (Monday).

My husband and I went on a date on Friday, and he asked me this question, “So what’s the plan if you don’t get hired?”


Let’s take this one step at a time and see what the man says. Let’s let Future Lainie deal with that problem. Let’s just relax and enjoy the nachos. Let’s not talk about things that make Lainie cry.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t know. I don’t even know if I WANT to be hired. I know I need to be, because I know we need the money. Here is why I want to get hired, and why I don’t:

If I Get Hired

  • Benefits! I would love to continue my insurance, and to actually have maternity coverage when that time comes. (Did you know that if you seek individual insurance in the state of Texas, they don’t offer maternity? AT ALL? You have to be part of a major company.)
  • Money! This is great, because we have lots and lots of debt. A lot of people think that we’re living on easy street now that my husband is in practice. Not so. You try having so much student debt that it’s like having another mortgage to pay — on top of regular expenses. We’re just as broke as you. You should see my sad, paint damaged car that was born when I was in 7th grade.
  • Fulfillment! It’s true that teaching is very fulfilling. I love students, and I love teaching. I know I’d love it, once I got into it. I know I’d miss it if I didn’t have it.
  • Not having to find another job! This is nice. If I get a teaching job, I don’t have to answer David’s question. I don’t have to agonize over whether to substitute teach or work retail. I don’t have to feel like a rejected loser who can’t get someone to hire her.

If I Don’t Get Hired

  • Writing! This is a big deal, even though I’m not getting paid for this, and I’ve experienced no success at it. I feel dumb making it sound like a big deal, but it’s a big deal to me. I love writing, and I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to do when I’m doing it. I wrote recently that August is typically my month for giving up. That’s true. I don’t know how people can have a full-time job, hold down normal household and life responsibilities, AND write. I have no idea, because I end up having to give up writing when school starts every year. Presently, I’m super-involved in this novel I’m writing, and I’m really upset that I might have to give it up in a week.
  • Less stress! Teaching is super-stressful, no matter what. Your first year at a new school is that times ten million, and I’m not stoked about that. I’ve already done it twice, and I know that getting this job I’m waiting to hear about would have its own unique stressors. One of which is NOT having my own classroom! They have so many students and so little space that you have to pay your dues as a newbie and carry your classroom on a cart from room to room throughout the day. I’ve done that, and it sucks. You don’t ever feel like you have a home, and your kids can’t make their classroom their own, because it’s not. Boo. Plus it’s high school and all the kids are bigger than me! (I want high school over middle school, but I wish they were shorter.)
  • Better marriage! Honestly, I’m a better wife these days. I can take care of things and offer to help him with whatever he needs done during the day, and I’m always super-excited to see him when he gets home. No griping and stressing and grumping because I have to make dinner, clean the litter box, sweep the floor, grade papers, and lesson plan in two hours. When you’re teaching — especially your first year at a new school and/or subject — you never stop working. It’s hell. I’ll be a terrible wife.

So what now? We wait and see what the man says, then let Future Lainie deal with it. Enjoy the nachos.


Burning …from my journal

Posted: August 3, 2011 in Handwritten Chronicles

August 1, 2011

It was a peaceful place, but it was a false peace. Like a commune, perhaps everyone was naked, or close to it. There were things you knew, but tried not to know. You had two choices: spending time here, which was a spa sort of like a slaughterhouse, or being hunted down in the jungle. There was no peace in the jungle; the knowledge was too sharp. They were always watching, knowing who was next. You didn’t know until you were being chased. They didn’t kill you then, just brought you to the spa to relax. That was one way to get there. The other was simply being drawn there by the temptation of peace. In the jungle, there were snakes, and hunters, and knowledge, and fear. At the spa was quiet, and civilization, and TVs with remotes. In the jungle was survival — raw and savage. You didn’t have to survive at the spa. They brought food to you on little trays while you watched TV and lounged, munching and waiting for nothing — peaceful. But we were waiting for something, it was just so hard to remember with all this peace. The servants spoke in soothing tones and wore gentle smiles. There was something to remember, though. It was hard to find the memory — the real reason we had come. It wasn’t just the lure of safety that brought us out of the jungle, though that’s all that was easy to feel. It was a lie, we remembered, but what was the truth? We watched the screen — I held the remote — and we searched for the memory. We shared a sort of telepathy once we began concentrating very hard on figuring out the truth, which was very helpful. You really couldn’t do this on your own. We weren’t sure we could do it together — it was just so peaceful, and we had everything we could want! The food was to die for, and the people were so kind. But it was a lie. We found the truth, secretly. We kept watching TV and smiling, but when we remembered, we were burning inside. It had to burn to stay alive, for the peace was so strong. David asked our TV companion — there was only one, because there were only three chairs per TV — how her husband was. She smiled and said she was not married, then she turned back to watching TV and delivering cheese, meat, and crackers — stacked just so — to her mouth. No crumbs or mess, just peace. But it was a lie. She was married. We came for them. We came from the jungle to get them, because we knew the truth of this place. In the jungle, with the snakes, we knew. They were scared of the snakes and the hunters, and the lure of peace was great, so they came here. We came to tell them the truth and take them back to the jungle. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we didn’t know it would be too late. They had him already, and she was in grave danger. How to tell her without being overheard? Would she even hear? She’s so far gone — she doesn’t recognize us and doesn’t remember him. We have to try. We decided so while laughing at the TV, to look normal. We turn to seize the moment, which won’t look normal, so we have to be fast, and we are facing an empty chair. A servant appears to re-fill our drinks and soothes us with the reassurance that our friend would be back in just a moment. She won’t be. We know. We have to keep the fire alive and keep thinking about the truth — they already got him before we came, now they have her and she won’t be back, one of us is next, and don’t eat the meat. It’s hard to remember and keep smiling at the TV. Oh, here she comes, the servant smiles. Our friend is back. We were wrong. She just had to go to the toilet. She’s back to watching and munching. We settle in. We were wrong. She’s back — at least there’s time for her. We have time. This show is funny. We laugh — we are not faking. It’s really funny. I look over at her so we can laugh together, so that it’s even funnier. She laughs with me. It burns. It burns. I keep laughing, but it burns. He looks over, because he feels it, too, but doesn’t know why. It’s hard to keep laughing when it burns so much. We see the truth — we don’t eat the meat, we know we have to get out, we have to tell her. It is not her. It’s hard to see, because it seems like her. She would say she just got up to go to the toilet, she hoped she didn’t miss much, but it is not her. It is too late. Now we know we must go. The servants fluff our pillows, but it’s a lie. We must go. We shovel cheese and crackers into our robe pockets — no meat — and wait until the servants are preoccupied. We run. I can run as fast as him — that is new. We find a wall and climb it. That is new, too — how are we scaling a 20-foot concrete wall? We do, but I am seen. She’s a wispy girl with a broom the same color as her hair. We are nearly to the top, though. We have time. She’s going to tell him, but we have time. I’m scared of the top, because I don’t want to jump down the other side. I keep going. We get to the top, we pull up and swing our legs over and feel grass. The good, thick kind with no weeds. We look around — the wall is gone. There are people everywhere, having such a good time singing and dancing. They’re all making their way into this ancient building — looks like a ziggurat or something — and the music is coming from inside. A strong beat. We feel it. It doesn’t burn. It is sweet.

[This was my dream last night.]


July 30, 2011

Today, I met [a friend] for lunch. I hadn’t seen her in about 2 years. A lot had changed in two years for her, so we had a lot to catch up on. I didn’t have nearly as much to share, but when I did, I told her something I didn’t even realize about myself before I said it. I said I’m currently happier than I’ve been for as long as I can remember. What a change, right? Even from just a week or two ago, when I was writing about depression. Well, here’s what changed: I started writing — really writing. Scheduled, 1,000 words a day writing. I love it. I’ve come alive. I’m me. I’m dancing around my house and singing praise songs to God. Well, I should be thorough and say that I started praying for deliverance from depression, and praying through the Psalms, before the Spirit prompted me to stop moping about and to get serious about writing. I feel connected to Him, like my story is His story, like I’m doing what I was made to do, and it’s a great experience. Problem is, July is traditionally my month for writing. Summer school is over, I get a lot of free time, and my typing fingers start flying. And then school starts. The thing is, I can be a writer, a wife, and a housekeeper. Or, I can be a teacher, a wife, and a housekeeper. I have not been able to successfully be all four. If I try, I fail and get depressed. If I drop the writing, I’m good at the other three, but I’m aching inside. Stephen King says, 

If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it? (On Writing, p. 147)

Because, Mr. King, I don’t know how to do it all. I can’t yet quit my day job — well, technically I don’t currently have one, but the plan is to find one — and I am not superwoman. I really don’t know how to do it, but I sure am afraid that I’ll desert Luke and Catie’s story the way I walked away from Josh and Leora’s last August. It terrifies me, actually, because I know I’m supposed to be writing, and I don’t want to give it up. But, August is traditionally my month for giving up. 



As with all other aspects of fiction, they key to writing good dialogue is honesty.

Okay, Mr. King. I have been honest; I have let my characters be who they are. I have not censored them. But here’s the thing: I’m a Christian writer. I’m so new at it, I don’t really know yet if that means that I’m a Christian who writes, or if I’m actually writing Christian fiction. But I do know that my story is gonna be about Jesus, which makes things precarious when my characters start cussing. I can’t get them to stop; it’s who they are (right now, at least).

You must tell the truth if your dialogue is to have…resonance and realism…and that holds true all the way down to what folks say when they hit their thumb with the hammer. If you substitute “Oh sugar!” for “Oh shit!” because you’re thinking about the Legion of Decency, you are breaking the unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader — your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story.

Yes, but I don’t think you totally get my dilemma here. I don’t think my story could be secular, since I’m refusing to simply talk about some benevolent spiritual force that gives us hints about nice ways to live life, but about Jesus Christ as the only Hope of the world. (I’m trying desperately not to be hokey about it, even though I concede that the previous sentence was a bit hokey, but I mean… why am I writing, if it’s not to tell people about Him?) So then, if it’s Christian fiction because I talk specifically about Jesus and not generally about some santa-god, my audience will be uncomfortable with the cussing. But censoring and sanitizing makes my characters hokey and not believable. I want to be honest, but people are going to be mad.

…if you are honest about the words coming out of your characters’ mouths, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism… Some people don’t want to hear the truth, of course, but that’s not your problem. What would be is wanting to be a writer without wanting to shoot straight.


The point is to let each character speak freely, without regard to what the Legion of Decency or the Christian Ladies’ Reading Circle may approve of. To do otherwise would be cowardly as well as dishonest, and believe me, writing fiction in America…is no job for intellectual cowards.

Oh. Well. Um… thank you?

So I know what Stephen King thinks about this, but what about you? Are you a Christian writer or reader? If so, you have an opinion about cussing in books. Spill!

(Incidentally, this begs another, less important question. Do you say “cursing” or “cussing”? I think the former sounds ridiculous and strange, like someone’s trying too hard to be proper, but I guess that’s an indicator of how I grew up…)


All quotes borrowed from Stephen King’s amazing book, On Writing, pages 184-188. 


The Muse

Posted: July 29, 2011 in Writing

Traditionally, the muses were women, but mine’s a guy; I’m afraid we’ll just have to live with that.
~Stephen King, On Writing

I understand the verb form of “muse.” I can muse.

I cannot understand the concept of “having a muse.”

Can you explain? Do you have a muse? Is it a real person, or imaginary? Are you actually hearing voices, or…