Peace Is Within You

“Peace comes from within. Seek it from yourself.”

(My most recent fortune cookie. Such wisdom).

Those words have been reverberating through my head, as I’ve spent the last three weeks working with rowdy middle schoolers.

A few thoughts:

I am going to remember just the look every thirteen year old girl/boy has given me in the last few weeks when I hit the “maybe-it’s-time-for-kids-do-I-really-want-them?” age (which may never hit, after these weeks).

Also, if I do have kids, I will seriously consider living close to their grandparents to have constant, easy access to babysitters who will adore them.

It really is a great job–even though hammering through the wall that surrounds our urban youth is no easy feat–and most of the kids are awesome.

Right, I forgot that I’m going with the theory that everyone has a decent inner core. Sometimes it’s buried deeply…like the kid who made the sweetest 11-year-old girl ever cry…but it’s still there.

Yes, I’m being an optimist. But our goal is to assume that all of these kids are going to graduate high school and go on to college, and often our after-school program is keeping them off the streets, keeping them away from their fascination with fire (which, according to my boyfriend, is a natural interest for a 12-year-old boy, but it still totally freaks me out) and in some cases, keeping them out of gangs.

So an optimistic frame of mind is sort of a prerequisite for the job.

I’m getting decent at applying this mind set to the kids–and some of them make it really easy, like the Somalian refugee who, despite his learning disability and permanent growth stunt leftover from extreme dehydration, wants to get through school, go back to Africa, and help all the people he had to leave behind.

Kids like that make this world go round, I swear.

Although unfortunately I do not have a naturally optimistic nature.

Isn’t it funny that some of these kids have more faith in  life than I do?

I’m going to start going to a Zen Club–searching for that inner sanctuary, baby.

So, peace for now!

When Your Foundation Crumbles…

*cue dramatic music…*

Today I received some devastating news.

My parent’s engagement story is FALSE.

Yes, I’m being ridiculous. But I always thought their engagement story was so nice, and in fact used it as a model for several of my early short stories, in my young, romance-obsessed adolescent years (I was a late bloomer–didn’t date much until college, so I had to write about it, obviously).

It went like this: my father was the roommate of my mother’s brother (my someday Uncle Lance). On a visit, all the way from Minnesota to Arizona (although I never heard the story of how my dad, a marine biologist, and my uncle, a entymologist, ended up rooming together, but whatever)  my parents met, sparks flew, and yada yada yada.

Two years of correspondence later, and in those days it was pure snail mail and the very occasional phone call (which I remind one of my friends who is facing two months of that when her boyfriend joins the army in June…don’t get me started on that situation), they reunited, reignited the sparks, and my dad proposed in the back of a moving van, spontaneously.

Today, I learned the real story. It’s a little more exciting, I admit, as it involves scandal in the form of co-habitating before marriage–a huge scandal in those days, especially for my mom’s Lutheran family (my father’s family, the Catholics, are weirdly more flexible on this matter…maybe because they’re a little more lapsed) and treachery. Treachery, in the form that they had already decided to get married, and in the back of the moving van my dad had the brilliant idea that  he should have proposed in that moment, and so that’s what they would tell their future children. Although I bet they never thought they would have a future child like me, the queen of dissecting and recording every little thing, especially remotely interesting true-life tales.

I’m not sure why my mother randomly spilled the beans after so many years but perhaps it’s because an alarming amount of my friends are biting the dust (a.k.a getting engaged) or at least are in the talks leading toward marriage or obsessed with weddings.  Or, even more frightening, having babies.

Either way, one of my most romantic stories I now have found to be fake. I’m not entirely sure what to do with this information (except my mother informed me I shouldn’t tell my dad that I know the truth, so apparently I’ll be working some of my own treachery as well), although I have come to the conclusion that this must be an integral part of reaching adulthood.

Finding out truths (often unfortunate) about your family.