Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Man I Love

Rest — 2015

Today after Aaron got home from work we laid on our bed and had one of those conversations that is so meaningless it can only be had with a select few people in the world. We shared those stupid jokes that aren't funny, and small memories that are forgotten amidst more significant life events, talked about nothing as we laughed and laughed—the deep belly laughs that make tears leak out the corners of your eyes and snorts sneak out your nose. All I could think about is how much I love this man, and how good it feels to be loved.

Of my top ten most significant life events, I would say that the majority of them have happened in the three years and ten months since we got married. Many of these things have been very hard. The kind of things that sometimes make my soul feel withered and dry and these things have changed me—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for both in a confusing mix of emotion.

But through this all I have had Aaron. And I love this man more than I could ever say or promise. Because we just get it. We just get each other and I know he's got my back as much as I've got his. Because he loves me as much as I love him and we tell the same stupid jokes that aren't even funny while we lie on our bed and laugh and laugh.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Red, Black, and Gold

We have a chair next to the window in our apartment. It's covered in this hideous pastel flame stitch, but is oh, so comfortable and consequently has become my seat of choice. Next to it is my favorite brass table that's similar to one I saw online that I loved but couldn't afford. When I sit here the drafty window lets in a stream of cold air that blows down my neck and chills me unless I have a blanket handy.

Matisse once said on her blog that she does a lot of what would optimistically be called meditating, and pessimistically called staring blankly into space. I do this a lot in my chair. I turn my attention from my phone, to the window, to the tv, to the walls, and back to my phone again in an endless cycle of mild discomfort not sure what will satisfy me, or where I will find it but continuing to look in the same spots.

It would seem I should look elsewhere, but I don't. Looking elsewhere is frightening. This indecisiveness has been with me for as long as I can remember and I want it to leave. I thought I had found the escape with my major and with having a goal of being a teacher, but now I'm not so sure. Teaching is hard. It's painful. I wake up every day at 5:30 and lay in bed for an hour just staring at the ceiling willing myself to get up. One more day, one more lesson, one more, one more. People say teaching is very rewarding, but I find that the amount of difficult days far outnumber the good ones. I still feel like I'm in the red. And then I remember that's not what teaching is about—filling your book with black. That's where all the problems we face in education come from—adults wanting the black they feel they deserve. Oh, but I just want to be happy. I love being with Aaron. He makes me happy. That, I feel, is about it right now.

I've decided to quit teaching. Maybe someday I will come back but for now I need a change. I've toyed around with the idea of doing this for some time, but over spring break it just came to me. I woke up one day and said, this is my last year. I'm going to quit and just like that it was decided. Everyone I've told at school so far has been pretty sad, but though it does feel bittersweet, it's more sweet than bitter. My decision has been made and for the first time in a long time it's a decision I feel excited about.

I wrote the first half of this post two years ago and it was before a lot of things. It was before that ugly chair was ripped to shreds by my two kittens, before I had 4 years of teaching under my belt, before my dad died, before every person in my family fell apart, before I learned what the refiner's fire really means. It's not the kind of burn you feel when you exercise. It's not a burn that makes you feel like you're getting stronger through the pain. It just burns like hell through every piece of you that you were sure was fire proof and it doesn't relent.

But I finally see the fire starting to die down. As I look at my soul it flakes apart like ash but I can see something precious starting to emerge. I see my siblings and mom start to pull through the other side of things, burned black but shining like gold.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Didn't Choose the Pug Life, The Pug Life Chose Me.

Teaching has been hard for me this year, especially since November. I've had a hard time staying focused and just having the energy to be present. I've frequently wondered about the choice I made in college to become a teacher.

At the time, my decision felt like such a revelation and wonderful thing—I've never been happier than when I was in my program but these past three years have been so hard for me and I've often felt that I don't want to be a teacher anymore. I've often wondered why on earth I chose to be a middle/high school teacher.

Today though, was our awards assembly. Today we got the school together and celebrated all the students' achievements. Today I got to see how proud those students were of themselves and how thrilled they were with what they had accomplished. As they walked to the front to get their printer paper certificates and fun size candy bars I saw them beam with happiness and pride—a genuine joy that you rarely find outside a junior high and it made so proud. It made me want to cheer and smile and yell, "look how amazing you are! Look at how much you have grown! I love you guys!"

And then the Pug club took the stand. My self titled, 9th grade advisory class called me up and told me how much they loved me. They handed me a mug with a vinyl cut out of a pug on it and a poster board where they had all written their names and it made me cry. It made me so happy to be a part of this freaking education system. So happy that I get the privilege of interacting with teenagers every day.

And today I begin to see why I am a teacher. Sure, teaching is a profession where you get to help kids—very nobel I'm sure, but I'm here for me too. Because these kids have touched my heart in a way that nothing else could. Even when they are crazy and annoying and irresponsible they are incredible, and I love them.

Long live the Pug Club.

*in case you forgot, my last name is Puglisi. Hence the pug club name

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Mask

After my dad died I took my five bereavement days off work. When I came back, people told me it was good to see me. They asked me how I was and I would smile, I'm okay. It's good to get back into the routine of things. It helps.

It was a fat lie. I didn't want to get back into the routine of things and it didn't help. I just wanted to lay in bed and not brush my teeth. Going back to school—to being a teacher and being emotionally present for a room of teenagers all day was the last thing I wanted to do, so for a while I just didn't do it. The new semester began, I got mostly new students, and by the time winter parent teacher conferences rolled around at the end of February I had to put out a sign up sheet on my desk just so I could cheat and know what student I was talking to.

I wasn't laying in bed crying—I barely cried actually, pretty much I just didn't want to talk about it. Because I had nothing I wanted to say. Because there is nothing to say. He died, I'm sad, you're sorry. I know. Better to just stay away from it.

Yesterday though, I was teaching my Computer tech class about spreadsheets, and how they are actually very useful in real life. They didn't believe me so I showed them a few that I use—one I made to keep track of expenses of house renovation things (um, we bought a house last fall, surprise!) and one I used to inventory all the things in my dad's Zorro collection (which I have been doing as we've been preparing to sell it). I talked them through different reasons the Zorro inventory wouldn't have been as helpful if I had done it in Word. One of my kids asked why my dad would ever want to sell that awesome collection.

So I said, Well, my dad died a few months ago, and we just don't really have anywhere to put it anymore. So we're selling it.

And at that moment there was some point that I passed. I'm not sure exactly what point it was—it wasn't a point where everything was fine again, but it was okay. I said it out loud and I was okay. Not void, or happy, but okay.

Typing up an inventory of my dad's Zorro collection reminded me about a film I made in 2010. In the very first film class I took in school, we were assigned to make a documentary. My group chose to make the subject of our film my dad and his collection. It was a good story.

I found a copy of our doc yesterday and watched it for the first time in years. I thought it would make me sad, but it actually made me incredibly happy. We're not a family that takes a lot of home videos. Seeing my dad on video, speaking and smiling made me feel like it hadn't been several months since I'd seen him. It was like no time had passed at all.

The filming and editing are questionable at best—it was our first project and is full of errors. I think though, the storytelling is interesting enough to carry it, and to me, it's a gem.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Are we out of the woods yet

Around five o'clock on Thanksgiving my siblings and I tore through the south end of Utah county as we left my Aunt's house where we had just eaten a delicious feast. We all rode together in the big black suburban just like when we were younger and as we blazed down the narrow, hilly road the weight of our car seemed to carry us with such momentum I didn't feel like we would ever stop.

Elk Ridge is a beautiful place—gently closed in by the mountains and my Aunt's house is literally on the edge of civilization. Her back yard slowly fades into the forest and as we ate we saw 3-4 deer wander down into the yard to terrorize their cat. It's so peaceful to be in a place like that with people who love you. As we rode down the road back towards Provo we blasted Taylor Swift off Mati's phone and suddenly all of us introverts who can't hold a tune sang at the top of our lungs.

Are we out of the woods yet,
are we out of the woods?
are we in the clear yet?
in the clear yet,

As the light faded and the mountains started to turn blue and grey we all felt that unity that we had come to know as Spencer slowly died two years ago. That love of brothers and sisters that bonds us together more strongly than seems to be possible. The pocket ice that sits within each of our hearts, just waiting to send a jolt of crystals through your veins at any given moment. The fear and the helplessness. The pleading prayers. The grief. The hope.

The song ended and we rode in silence most of the way back home, preoccupied with our own thoughts.

Dad with a brain tumor
Dad in the hospital like Spencer was.
Dad. Dad. Dad. Dad.

How much we need Dad.

Today, four days after surgery my dad still lies in the ICU with my Mom by his side. He can talk again now, and I visit him every day for 5-10 minutes because talking for even a few minutes wears him out. The swelling in his brain hasn't gone away yet, but I guess we just take it one day at a time. We wait for the results to come back about what kind of tumor it is and trust that everything will be alright, because really, what else is there to do?

When we first learned Dad had a tumor in his brain it felt like someone told me my father was dead. No one wanted to say it, but everyone thought the same thing. We had believed so hard with Spencer, but when every test that could have been positive came back negative, you start losing your ability to hope it's going to be okay. You stop thinking that maybe it will work out.

A lot of people would say this destroys faith, but that's not true. I still have faith, but through my experience with Spencer I've learned that sometimes God has a different plan than what you hope for and it has nothing to do with if you have enough faith. God knows what He's doing and he knows what is happening with you because of it. Strangely, this is reassuring in it's own way and brings me closer to Him, but at the same time it can make it hard to hope for what you want. When you know that God has it under control sometimes it makes you want to just step back and say, "I don't want to feel this anymore. I'm done. You handle it."

But I don't think he's going to die anymore. Somehow, after the first three days of mourning the impending loss of my father, my hope has been awoken. It's there every time he says something to me and he sounds like his normal self. Every time I see the swelling look like it's going down or he laughs at a funny video of my cats I have hope. He'll be back teaching next semester, and making Sunday dinner, and being an all around great dad. He'll still be here for our family. I know God is there and I know he's got it under control.

We'll get out of the woods here pretty soon.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Ten Years Old

Today marks the ten year anniversary of this blog's creation. I don't really feel old enough to have a ten year anniversary for anything but here we are. I've recently given a lot of thought to what is going to happen with this blog. I've had it for so long and over time put so much of myself into it that I really can't bring myself to let it go even though in recent years it's been slowly dying.

But I kind of started another blog recently. This makes me feel disloyal. 

I created this new one because I want a place to document stuff I make, and encourage me to be more of a creator, rather than just a constant consumer. I don't feel like that kind of content is meaningful enough to be here though. Moi has always been, though sarcastic and with the intention of being enjoyed by others, very much about my thoughts and feelings and I don't want to strip it of that importance. This blog, has followed some of the most important formative years of my life. Looking back on some of the things I've written about is so incredible—it's weird. It's like this giant letter from my past self. I could never erase it. It's been too important.

I've thought about why I've let it slowly die and I think it's just because I don't need it anymore. Not like I used to. I've got good people in my life, I have good relationships and I feel content. In the past, Moi has been a very important outlet for my anxiety—a way for me to express myself when I felt like I was failing to do so in real life. Writing about my life in a public way made me feel more interesting but I don't really need that anymore. I guess it's just part of growing up. I'm not going away, I'll still write, but it just might not be a whole lot.

So anyway. Thank you, blog, for all that you've been to me. I've needed you so much and you've been an important part of my life.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#40. Get a new retainer and wear it everyday

Writing a blog post has become a clear sign that I'm supposed to be doing something else that is very important that I'll do anything to get out of. Today's case of avoidance strategy is sponsored by disclosure document writing for the FIVE subjects I will be teaching next year. Fortunately for you, the result of this extreme procrastination has resulted in an incredibly interesting narrative about my orthodontics.

When I went into his office, the orthodontist asked how long I'd been missing my retainers. I told him probably more than a year. That was a fat lie. It's been three of four years since I last saw them. Really, the last actual confirmed sighting was back in 2009. It seems I had a problem wearing them as well...

Now, I'm sure you're wondering why I didn't just go in and have this done ages ago. The answer is that much like my fear of getting my oil changed, I hate going to the orthodontist. Unlike the oil problem, however, This isn't an irrational fear. I hate going because they hate me.

Their hate is mostly founded on the fact that I was a huge flake and had a problem with being punctual or remembering when I had appointments so I was constantly rescheduling and being late. Also, the one scheduling lady always called me Alex. My poor high school self was too awkward and anxious to tell her that my name is actually Alexis, so I just lived with being called a name that I hate.

Teenager problems.

But now it's 2014, a good seven years since I got my braces off and I'm now a 25 year-old adult. Plus I foolishly put this goal on my 40 for 14 so it was time to make something happen. It was time to start anew.

I bravely called and scheduled my appointment for the day I returned from my exceedingly patriotic Fourth of July vacation to Canada. It was no problem, I hung up and felt confident as I put the appointment into my phone with not one, but two reminder alarms. Unfortunately, it would seem I am still terrible at appointments because while I was at the airport in Seattle waiting for my flight back to SLC they called to tell me that I was 15 minutes late for my appointment.

The streak continues.

Not allowing this minor setback of shame to deter me from straight teeth, I decided to walk into the office the next week with my head held high daring reception lady to call me Alex. She didn't. She was so intrigued by my new Italian last name she didn't spend much too much time thinking about my first name. I went on back to the chair and after all the assistants took a look at my teeth with a grimace and um, maybe we should have the Dr. look at it before we take an impression to see what he wants to do I met the orthodontist. He was new. A young guy who bought the practice from the old guy.

He took a look in my mouth, asked about the last sighting of my retainers and after I lied to his face he said, surprisingly your teeth are still pretty straight. We can fix this minor movement pretty easily with a retainer.

I breathed a sigh of relief! All this anxiety had been for nothing! But then he continued.

Unfortunately, It seems your jaw has grown since your surgery and now your bite is somewhat misaligned on the left side. I could fix this easily in six months with braces. That's what I recommend.

Six. Months.


Me. A 25 year-old professional college graduate.


He said it wouldn't be that bad. I said there was nothing more unappealing than the idea of getting adult braces back on my teeth. He said thanks, that's my livlihood. I tried to backpedal but wasn't really getting anywhere so I told them I would have to think about it and left.

I faced my fear, continued the missing appointment streak of my youth, offended the new orthodontist and my teeth are still crooked.

I'm going to go write a disclosure document now.

Friday, February 28, 2014

#4 Be happy with my body/have a body I am happy with. Phase I

I recently decided to join a spin class at the Rec Center because I do such a better job at working out if I'm in a class than if I just do it myself. Day One, I meet my instructor for the first time. She's ripped, oozing bubbly energy all over the place and as she gets on her bike she talks about how she's been biking all day because it's so beautiful outside, and how she ran a marathon last weekend with her husband, and how yesterday she went to the zumba teacher certification and it was sooo much fun and oh yeah she also had her 12 week check-up yesterday too.

I don't know why I always have pregnant ladies showing me up at the gym.

Anyway, spin class is so hard that within the first ten minutes I am convinced I'm not going to make it an hour because I'm already exhausted. I'm usually about six levels under what the instructor is calling out and sometimes I pretend to turn it up but really don't (heh) but I suppose it's got to be doing something good for me. I feel quite accomplished afterwards which is something I'm trying to encourage, even if it's painful and sweaty.

I don't really know where I am going with this. This goal #4 is such a complex issue in my life. I'm sure it is to most women as well. Most of the time my views in this category flip between the world is ruining women's perceptions of beauty! Looking like a model is not normal! Don't expect that of yourself! and You eat too much crap! There is no muscle on your bones! You've gained ten pounds since getting married! You're getting fat! Even when I can consciously tell myself that I know society's views are distorted I have an immensely difficult time being happy with my body.

This goal #4 is all about my desire to change myself on both fronts. I do want to be stronger, be able to actually see muscles in my arms when I flex, and run more than two miles with ease, but I also want to be content and less critical because does it really matter? Is my happiness destroyed if I have a little extra flub on my belly? Only if I let it be. I think there's a delicate balance between these two ideas that I need to discover. I want to be healthy and look good, but I don't want it to control my life and emotions as it frequently does. I don't want that to continue for the rest of my life. I don't want it to influence my children's lives.

I've decided that Phase I of Goal #4 is going to be titled Actually Going To The Gym Regularly. So far so good. I'm doing my best to focus on health rather than weight or worrying what everyone else is doing, and let me tell you it. is. hard. Overcoming the mental blocks I have with physicalness/my body/feelings of inadequecy are much harder than pushing through that spin class, but I can feel the bindings begin to loosen, albeit ever so slowly.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

On Movies

Once upon a time I was a pre-film major. I left amid the application process of actually becoming a film major, but those introductory film courses were probably my favorite classes I took during my college career.

I love films. I love the storytelling of the human experience, I love the beauty of sets and cinematography, and I love the feeling of triumph or emotional pain that comes when you connect with the characters on the screen. It's just something magical. For a long time, however, when people would ask what my favorite movie was I felt pressure to respond with something that is universally appreciated as a great film. If I wanted to be a film major surely I would need to be a snob who only loves masterpieces and would never go to see cheap crap. Surely.

Since that time I believe I've come to a better understanding of why I love film so much and this has relieved a lot of the ridiculous expectations I had for film in my life. My solution: I just like what I like. Even if it's terrible and a far cry from a masterpiece, there are some films that resonate with me. I believe film is an art, but it's also made for the viewer, and the viewer's interpretation of it is a very important piece of the whole. Some films try hard to be art, some just try to be popular, but as long as I connect and enjoy the experience, it's valuable to me.

Someone told me once that a favorite movie isn't something you want to watch again and again, but it's something that you can't stand the thought of never seeing again. Here are a few movies that I've seen lately (well, the last year or so) that I've added to my favorites list for this reason.

1. World War Z

The last movie I saw that made me this tense was King Kong (which incidentally I didn't like at all) I thought I was going to have a heart attack the entire time but I loved every minute of it. I don't like zombies, I don't' like gore, and I don't like scary movies, but somehow this movie which is all of the above has made it to my favorites list. So much fun.

2. Jack Reacher

I had no real expectations for this movie, but I loved it. This was a thriller, but it was just so smart. The subtle moments of humor mixed in with such an interesting character as Jack Reacher made this a film I definitely want to see again. It was just a hair too violent for my tastes (that finger scene...bleh) but otherwise the writing, the twists and the characters were just so intriguing I couldn't stop. Jack Reacher comes into the movie a mystery to everyone, and even though he stays relevant, interesting and well developed throughout the entire movie he leaves being as much of a mystery . Tom Cruise is really an interesting actor and perfect for this part.

3. Captain Phillips

This one exactly fits the definition of a favorite movie above. It will probably be years before I feel up to watching this one again, but I do want to experience the stress and drama again. My favorite part of this film was the final scene. *spoilers* All the pressure is mounting and you are so afraid for what's going to happen, but then the shots are fired and everything is silent. As they escort him back on the boat and he is examined by medical, I cried from relief and felt that I was experiencing the same level of shock that Captain Phillips was. I've never seen a movie where that emotion is translated so clearly.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#8. Finish or throw away that stupid mirror

It took me about three years, but the golden mirror DIY of doom has been completed. When I initially made my goals list, I knew I had to do this one first because there was no other way it would get done without that wave of January Goal Optimism. It's been tormenting me for too long.

It took me a couple of days to gold leaf, but it's finished and doesn't it look fabulous! Also, I love that I can now put it on my mirrored vanity (which my husband made)

This mirror was originally purchased to alleviate the problems that come with ten girls living in one small rental house sharing two bathrooms. I had a loft bed with a desk underneath it which I thought would double very nicely as a vanity. I saw a picture of a beautiful art deco vanity with a large round mirror on one of those blogs I follow and decided I must have it! But on a budget because I was poor!

Well, mirrors are expensive. If they aren't it's because they're ugly or very small. So I searched high and low for something I wanted and finally, finally came across this one on KSL. I know it's hard to tell from the pictures but this baby is a beast. It barely fit into my car when I went to pick it up and it weighs A TON.

Fortunately, a beast is just what I wanted. 

This mirror originally cost $300 but there is a 6" curved crack at the top (which I tastefully cropped out of those after photos.) it was sold to one of those liquidator stores that buys returned or damaged items. They listed it, I came and picked it up for $25.

I was so excited, I decided I wanted it to be gold. Then I gold leafed about a foot of it and decided I had enough of that for the time being and it has been that way ever since. Later I decided I maybe just wanted it to be wood but by then it was too late, so it's remained in this half finished state until now. 

Because now it was a resolution, and I'm getting them done. Suck it, mirror.