I'm Back! On Marriage and Teaching and Returning to the Keyboard


My favorite image circulating around the web right now is a close-up of the dashboard in someone's car, and on it is a tray of chocolate chip cookies in the process of being "baked." It's the perfect representation of the overwhelming heatwave we're experiencing here in Southern California. There isn't much I can say that's positive about it, but what I can say is that right smack dab in the midst of it—and not only in the midst of this heat, but also in the midst of a pile of papers that need grading, and classes that need prepping for and a sink of dishes that need cleaning—I was hit by an unquenchable desire to write.

I haven't felt this way in a very long time.

It's been almost a year and a half since I published my last piece of writing or posted anything on my blog. Last May, I finished interning at Foam Magazine and was in a place where all of my energy was focused on achieving the one thing I had never managed to do in all of my 30 plus years on this planet: Get a job that would enable me to leave the restaurant world and start my actual career. I didn't want to dabble anymore. I didn't want to freelance or be glamorously adventurous or play guessing games about where my next paycheck would come from. This was not the Christy who had left everything and moved to New York City on a whim three years earlier. This was the Christy who wanted a retirement plan and health benefits. The one who thought it might be nice to NOT wait tables on weekends and all major holidays.

Some may call it growing up at the tender age of thirty-two. I like to think of it as shifting focus. Needing something different than before.

After applying to multiple editorial assistant positions and considering everything from writing ad copy to starting my own grant writing business (thank you, "jobs for writers" Google search results!) I finally landed in the same place I had started three years earlier before leaving for New York: I got a job teaching.

Only this time, I didn't work my butt off just to get a foot in the door. Both jobs—teaching Freshman Composition at a community college, and teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at a UC—came via friends who told me to call the right people at exactly the right time. And that was it. The interviews were a breeze and before I fully registered what was going on, there I was being handed keys to my new classrooms, as well as textbooks and lesson plans.

There wasn't any time to process the shock and excitement and gratitude and fear and sense of "howthef***amIgoingtopullthisoff??? At one school, I got hired on a Friday afternoon, sat in traffic after the job interview, rushed straight to the restaurant to work the shift I was scheduled that night, gave an immediate two-weeks notice, spent the weekend frantically planning, and started teaching that following Monday.

Welcome to my year.

This has been above and beyond the craziest but most wonderful time of my life. Not only am I working a job that I love, but I am now married to man that I love, too. Oh that's right. Did I not mention that I got engaged, planned a wedding, and walked down the aisle in less than six months? It's been a nonstop whirlwind, and I suppose it's no wonder that I've had little desire or time to write much of anything.

I've also been listening a little too often and too closely to that nagging voice inside my head telling me I was being a sellout—that I was giving up on my dream of being a writer and a storyteller. Taking the easy way out. The guilt was sometimes paralyzing and when I sat at the keyboard, every word felt forced. I feared too much time had gone by. That I'd lost my words and lost my inquisitive way of looking at the world and wanting to grab it and examine it and rearrange it in my own way.

So I stopped trying and started making Pinterest boards instead. I collected photos of wedding decor and started DIY-ing up a storm. I found an antique pair of wooden shutters at a vintage shop and convinced my husband, Paul, to help turn them into a headboard for our bed. I painted furniture and sewed pillowcase covers and became addicted to various cooking and baking channels on YouTube that taught me to perfect the art of cheesecake and freshly-made bread.

In case you are wondering, the answer is yes. Yes, I was a 1950s housewife in a previous life. But I digress.

In many ways, I have lived the past year and half in survival mode, like a character in a video game, frantically hopping from one level to the next and completing tasks along the way. Essays graded? Check. Finished reading memoir that we will be covering in class? Check. Apartment hunting? Belongings packed haphazardly into boxes? Invitations sent? Countless conversations with mother about table cloth colors and centerpieces? Check, check, and check.

In the midst of it all, I needed some creative outlet, and writing wasn't going to be it. But earlier this week, I came home to a stuffy and humid apartment, turned on my laptop, and settled into the makeshift office Paul and I created out of this huge, open closet we have in our living room. My intention was to get straight to work answering student emails, but in the spirit of rebellion and laziness, I decided to cheat a bit first.

I started typing the web addresses to all of my favorite blogs. Many months had gone by since I'd taken the time to read any of them, and although I don't know any of these women personally, I sort of feel like they are my friends and I became excited by all the fun things they have going on in their lives. Shauna just announced that she's publishing a new devotional that will be out in spring. Molly will be leading a writing workshop in Oklahoma and has posted a recipe for fudgesicles that looks incredible. One of my favorite fashion bloggers just had a baby.

As I was reading their stories and gleaning small snippets of their lives, I felt a sudden urge beckoning me to the keyboard. Tell your story, it said. You have one, too.

So here I am. I'm going to try my best to post regularly again—maybe once a week, or once every other week. I hope you'll join me.