So, why start a blog? I suppose the idea began to take root earlier this week when I was enjoying the wonderful institution of Taco Tuesday with my friend Jenny. We were at Holѐ Molѐ in Long Beach, sitting on weatherworn benches, hovering over plates of pico de gallo and carne asada, and lamenting our fate as teachers and artists.

One of Jenny’s multiple part-time jobs is teaching art to fourth graders in the public schools and she was relaying one of her many teaching stories. Last week, amidst all of the crazy rainstorms that hit Southern California, she and the other teachers had to come up with an alternative way to entertain the kids that didn’t involve letting them outdoors. They ended up gathering them all together to play board games in the classroom. Jenny’s group was playing the game of Life.

“So basically, each player has to draw a card,” she explained, “and whatever card they draw determines the career they will have, and once they’ve got that figured out, then they draw a corresponding card that has their salary on it.”

I nodded, trying to recall myself playing it as a kid.

“It was the saddest thing,” she said. “One kid drew a card that said, ‘You’re going to be a computer engineer!’ And then he drew his salary card: ‘$70,000 a year!’”

Jenny continued, smiling a bit ironically. “The next girl goes for her turn and the card says, ‘You’re going to be a teacher!’ Her salary card: $30,000 a year!’”

We both giggled.

That was Jenny, always full of energy with her short brown pixie haircut and her endless ability to laugh at life. Last year when we were suffering through the formidable process of preparing for the Comprehensive Exams, Jenny was my anchor and my comic relief and my sanity. Together, we waded through pile after pile of books on theory and literary criticism. We met at coffee shops and agonized over the quantitative differences between modernism and post-modernism. We called each other up at all hours of the day and night to flush out our latest interpretations of The Wasteland. We hadn’t actually hung out with each other since graduation. It was good to catch up.

“Then, the ones who chose to go to college were swamped with student loan payments,” she said. “The ones who drew ‘artist’ as their profession were indeed starving by the end of the game.”

Our laughing continued to the point that I had to set down my taco. Ah, the bitter irony of it and of our current economic situation. Jenny’s job teaching art had just been cut back from thirty hours a week to twenty, while I had just gone from teaching three English 100 classes in the fall semester, to teaching only one in the spring.

I kept trying to remember playing Life as a child; yet, all I could vividly recall was its catchy slogan: YOU CAN BE A WINNER AT THE GAME OF LIFE! It was reminding me of a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s travel memoir that I’m sort of obsessed with at the moment, Eat, Pray, Love. In it, she summarizes an ancient Indian Yogic text that states, “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”

If only we all believed that. Here we were, whining about our plight of going to grad school only to finish at the onslaught of a failing, jobless economy. What were we to do? Where were we to go? Who were we to be? Drawing random cards that gave us stockpile answers sounded mildly appealing, but what about this notion of living out our own personal destiny, albeit, imperfectly?
It’s a bit of a murky, ephemeral challenge, and I’m not trying to claim that I believe writing this blog is my newfound destiny. Considering the fact that I can barely keep a facebook profile updated on a regular basis, I’m not even sure that blogging sounds like me and something I would do to live out my life. But I do know that I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

I have always wanted to be a writer.

When I was seven years old and I was plowing through Little House on the Prairie books and dressing up like Laura Ingles Wilder, I wanted to be a writer. When I was in sixth grade and was introduced to Mr. William Shakespeare, I wanted to be a writer. When I read “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound in my college English class and realized that he could capture the essence and the beauty of Paris in a poem that was only two short lines, I wanted to be a writer. Because I wanted to do that too.

Anne Lamott put it this way, "For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die" (Bird by Bird).

Not just books, but words. Words do all of that, or at least they have the potential to. So this is my attempt at playing around with words and seeing what comes of it. I hope that you enjoy, and I would love as much feedback and suggestions as you can give me!

Thanks for reading,
~ Christy ~