The heart

is a crazy thing. The muscle I mean. Did you know that in an average lifetime the heart beats over 2.5 billion times?

But nothing competes with the power of the brain.

I watched this really interesting video and showed it to my kids today. What I learned from this is that there is no way for us to ever truly understand the world. Even our own brain is so complicated that it is beyond human understanding. We are so much more than an accidental creation.

I wrote to Katie today, who is always a part of my heart.

The figurative heart, not the muscle.

I miss Katie and wished she lived here instead of Michigan. I get homesick for her and her friendship.

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Oh my gracious me.

I have discovered Downton Abbey.

It is so beautifully shot and acted and I can’t stop watching it. I have to give it my full attention which rarely happens with tv, so it must be good.

Caleigh is discovering the genius that is John Green.

I am discovering that sometimes teaching can be great when you think on your feet instead of planning weeks in advance. Today became magic day, and we studied how the way your brain functions makes magic tricks work. So fascinating. The kids lined up to show me their tricks. “I just made one up! Miss V! Miss V!”

Today a student asked if he could call me Miss Von Doom. I am strangely honored to be named after a supervillian.

Tomorrow we are making balloon cars. We are learning about the brain. I love this class.

I wrote today to Caleigh. She understood my Spock reference today which I appreciate. I love how Caleigh and I have standing dates to catch up and how she cares about what goes on in my life. I like when she tries to avoid awkwardness by writing notes on napkins with arrows pointing at people sitting at other tables and how she is digesting The Fault in Our Stars a chapter at a time and loving it. We agreed today that John Green seems to see inside our soul and write the truth. I love writers who can do that, who can cut straight to the deepest part of what it means to be human and unique and broken and turn it into something you love to immerse yourself in.

Challenges.

There are challenges in life.

Sometimes small ones.

Like learning to walk in these sky-high shoes before my August bridesmaid deadline.

Like taking an accidental nap and being later that you wanted.

Like finishing a book and not having another ready to go.

There are big challenges too.

Like my brother still being stuck in the hospital, getting frustrated, wanting to come home.

Like my grandparents deciding to look seriously at assisted living.

I think the worst thing is the waiting.

When you are in the moment and need to ACT you do what you need to do. You rush and stay calm and call the authorities and move mountains. And then you are stuck sitting in a waiting room or in your car or on your couch with nothing to distract you and your brain just fixates and it’s awful.

My brother is stuck fixating. My grandparents are upset by the waiting. I think once the move is over they will be relieved with the extra help, but the waiting and the change and the uncertainty are overwhelming.

Waiting is hard. Waiting for news or for that cake to come out of the oven. Waiting for those shoes to be broken in and stop hurting or to leave the hospital and eat food again.

I looked through my address book and found a name that I’ve been waiting on. My mom’s dad chooses not to be a part of our life and it makes me bitter towards him. I don’t think things will change really, not with a letter or a phone call. But I won’t be waiting for him anymore. I feel better when I take action.

Calvin and Hobbes

I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes.

I used to run into my grandparent’s house and take out one of their anthologies and flip through it first thing. Over the years I have failed to return a few that now sit on my bookshelf.

The thing about Calvin and Hobbes is that this kid delights in imagination and in the outside and in life. He is exhausting and confusing and overwhelming but he is himself, always and truly. Calvin exudes Calvin and I love that.

I love the demented snowmen and the food that fights back. I love the philosophical moments and transmogrification.

I’m writing today to Sarah Wright. She is working at camp right now which I know she loves. But I thought of her because she is always Sarah and makes no apologies for who that is. She exudes herself and delights in that. I think that is fantastic and brave and powerful.

Noodles and Company

Today I did something a little bit different.

My brother is still trapped in the hospital with no end in sight and we’ve started talking about all the fantastic things we’ll do when he’s out. Always at the top of his list is “Go to Noodles and Company. On the way home from the hospital.” Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

So I wrote to them today. I wrote to the new location right by our house that opened while Josh has been stuck to IV’s and that he’s dying to check out. I told them a little bit of his story.

I have found that we don’t share our thankfulness enough. We don’t tell people working at stores that we are thankful for what they do. We don’t thank our waitresses and waiters like they deserve to be thanked. So I wrote to the manager and thanked him or her. I told them that they are a part of an organization that makes someone happy, and even though it is a small and simple thing, this future meal is giving Josh something to look forward to. And I think that is something to be proud of.

I want to live in a culture where we are frank and honest about what matters to us and we are willing to put ourselves on the line to share that. I want to tell people and companies when they impact my life, in even small ways. Today was full of moments to be thankful for. More than I can possibly remember and share.

I am thankful for Caleigh and our Sunday morning coffee dates.

For walking with Sandy through soupy, hot air and talking about real things.

For ice cream.

For Betsy and Jane and car rides and interesting music and windows down.

For Gatorade and Pedialyte and cold water.

For my mom, who actually wants to spend time with me and know about my life.

For my brother, who makes me laugh even while he’s hospitalized.

So many wonderful things.

Sometimes a burger

is the only thing in the world that sounds good.

Sometimes talking things over with a friend is the only way to make sense of issues.

Sometimes bad eighties songs in the car with the windows down are the only way to drive.

Sometimes kid movies are better than any Oscar-worthy dramas.

Today I am thankful to have Susie here. She will out-sing me in the car any day. She laughs even louder than I do. She totally called me out on my ridiculous way of eating popcorn, which is probably why I choose not to eat popcorn in front of people usually.

I’m writing her a letter. Right now she’s sleeping on my couch and I’m watching Psych reruns in my room with the fan turned on high and I’m writing to her to receive in Michigan next week. I love having moments with people to share your lives and your weirdness and laughter and tears and I’ve shared all these things with Susie. I am thankful for people in my life who will drive for hours to see me for half a day and sleep on my couch and be woken in the morning by kisses from giant dogs and maybe a whack in the face with a tail or two.

I promise I will make her a pot of coffee in the morning. My house isn’t that bad.

Fridays

Somehow today feels like Monday. I’m all confused but I’ll take Friday any day you give it to me.

We found lots of bacteria today. The kids are freaking out. They can’t believe that this was on them to start out with.

I like weekends. I’m looking forward to seeing an old friend tomorrow and catching up. I’m looking forward to a desperately needed haircut. I’m looking forward to baptism this weekend as long as it isn’t hot enough to destroy me.

Parents emailed me today to tell me that their kids love class. They said kids come home with facts about farts and earwax and bacteria and they are excited to go to school in the morning. That’s good, because I’m pumped to be there.

I wrote to Jen today. With everything our family has had happening these past few weeks (or even longer, time seems to lose all meaning sometimes), Jen has been a constant source of encouragement and prayer and love. I think it takes a special person to be consistently in another person’s life from states away. Thank you.

Another teacher

told me today that she’s heard kids talking about how much they like Grossology. Sweet! That’s the greatest thing you can hear before starting your day with the kids. It’s good to know that they love what I’m teaching.

I bought glitter for the first time since… ever. Tomorrow we are going to glitter up the kid’s hands to show how germs spread. We’ll also check out our bacterial growth on the cultures we made. If it’s super gross I’ll post pictures. I’m good like that.

I got a letter today from Jenny, my boss. It was so sweet.

The envelope was extra amazing.

I sing this song to be extra obnoxious and I usually get the kids to sing it loudly too. We all chorus and do bad dance moves together every time Jenny is remotely near us. Classy.

Speaking of classy, I got a postcard from Nick today as well. He wrote from Cyprus so I now have ownership of some international stamps. This postcard is too ridiculous to post here but I’ve been showing it off to everyone who visits.

I’m writing to Amy today. It’s short and sweet and rambly and probably what I would say to her in person if she was sitting with me right now. My dog has started to take ownership of my bed which makes me nervous and the letter writing process which I find endearing so I have conflicting feelings about her participation.

So to Amy. A little mini Melissa freak out, which should bring you back to our house-mate days. If you were here we’d eat nachos probably or at the very least drink off-brand Diet Coke and you’d make me laugh about my made-up issues and everything would be better.

Sleep

Today was the kind of day that feels like weeks.

I am sitting in my room right now, hanging off the edge of my bed while typing this in the dark. My dog stole my pillow and she’s snoring and I feel bad reclaiming my space.

I had a doctor appointment today and visited Josh in the hospital. Hospitals are a magic place where time does not pass. I could swear hours have gone by and the clocks tell me it’s only been five minutes. I leave there exhausted and cranky and on-edge. I feel like I’m emerging into the outside from another world or another dimension. A dimension that kind of sucks.

Today I wrote to Nick. He’s the friend who came over to distract me during Josh’s surgery. He is serious sometimes, but most of the time just hard to take seriously. I appreciate the way ridiculousness fits into tough moments and makes them bearable.

Yesterday

was a long day, so I failed at posting. Also, this must happen fairly often because this is telling me this is the third time I’ve titled a post “yesterday.” I’m a terrible titler. Clearly.

Anyway, yesterday. I started teaching yesterday and had a late night but the day was so full of good things. The first day is always so hard. The kids are nervous, and I was so nervous, and we all just sort of stared at each other for a few minutes and it was kind of terrifying. But once we got going it was kind of amazing. The only thing now that’s killing me is that I have 24 kids per period for three periods… that’s 72 names that I need to learn QUICK.

I wrote to Tiffany yesterday. She completed the Tough Mudder race this weekend which I think is beyond cool. For being tiny and cute she’s pretty hardcore. I wish I could have seen her run and go through all these obstacles. She called and told me that she was disappointed with the electric shock “because it didn’t even really hurt. Like, I could only feel it a little bit.”

Today’s letter is to Katie. I sat in my car over the weekend with the doors open to call her for just a few minutes while I was holding my grandma’s dog on a leash. The mosquitos swarmed me and Molly sat on the driveway and stared at me like I was nuts but sometimes you just need to talk to your friend on the phone, even though I suck at phone conversations and I’m all awkward.

 

I’ll leave you with this. In Grossology today we made fake blisters. We learned scientific words like pus and bacteria and each of the kids made some grossness to wear proudly on their arm to their next class. It was disgusting. It was so so fun.