Monday, June 20, 2016

The Love Story: On Proposing

Before Rick arrived, I woke up giddy. Rick was coming. On a Sunday morning. I had more than a sneaking suspicion that I was going to get proposed to, that I was going to hear those words I had always dreamed someone someday would say to me: will you marry me. But even then it did not seem possible or likely. While I bopped around my bathroom getting ready, I looked at myself in the mirror and audibly spoke to my reflection, "Kelly Marie, you are not getting proposed to today." But then I went ahead and painted my fingernails just in case.

It was after 10:00 on Saturday night, and Rick still had not called. He always called. Why hadn't he called? I texted his cousin Megan, and she said Rick was not home, that she did not know where he was, but that her brother Jon knew. I called Jon who refused to say. Finally Rick called, much later than usual. He had been out at my parents' talking to my dad asking for permission to marry me. After a three-hour conversation that I can only imagine as grueling, my dad gave Rick his blessing. "Really?" I asked and silently cried out of joy. "I'm coming to see you tomorrow," he said. 

There he was standing on my doorstep, a baseball cap over uncombed hair, his suit for church on a hanger in his hand. "I'm too impatient for this," he said putting everything down. He knelt on the carpet and pulled a ring out of his pocket. There was no box, there were no flowers, no big prepared speech, just him asking: "Will you marry me?" 

After calling our parents, siblings, and closest friends (which took hours), we ended our evening by turning off our phones and settling on the couch to eat Captain Crunch while watching Up. Like everything with Rick, it was simple and straightforward; the world's least glamorous proposal. But in retrospect, it was the simple, "unglamorous" proposal I needed, just as how I have needed the simple life with Rick all along. 


Friday, May 27, 2016

On the Threshold of Being

Last night my senior class graduated. My first batch. Kids who are no longer kids, and yet not quite adults. Persons on the threshold of being.

Last August I too was on the threshold of being per say. I was a new teacher in a new place, and I wrote myself this note which I read today for the first time since writing it:

Dear Miss Badger, 

Well ma'am, you're 2 1/2 weeks through your first year as a high school teacher and you are surviving. Your life has completely changed in so many ways, but it's been all good. Stressful but good. 

Remember these students. You love them now, but you're trying to figure them out still. I hope we're beginning to know how to get students engaged in reading literature. Right now they only slightly care about Beowulf. Mostly because it's bloody. Today [name omitted] and [name omitted] nearly made you wet yourself by quoting the chocolate episode of Spongebob. They're ridiculous, but you love them. Keep loving them. They are your priority. 



That person from a mere ten months ago seems so distant, so young, so naive, so different, and yet even after the end of a long--yet not so long--year, I still feel I am on the threshold of being. I have one full year behind me, but many more to go. I am a teacher now, but not quite a "veteran teacher" not quite a "seasoned teacher", still not quite fully anything. But I have come to find that "veteran" does not mean "perfect", and "seasoned" does not always mean "better". Being on the threshold of being has not made me less valuable, less knowledgeable, or less skilled, it's simply transitory. And everyone has to transition. Everyone has to have a first time, a first year, a first class, a first leaving, and a first entering. And now as my students wait at the threshold between being who they have been and who they might be, I too wait at the threshold of one year over and another year beginning, to hover between the student and teacher I have been and the teacher I might be.

I have come to enjoy the thrill of the threshold, the anticipation of new things to come with only the memories of old things now passed to push me to cross that threshold again. My students passed over my classroom threshold never to return as students; but as I pack up my classroom for the summer, I cross the threshold to return. That is what I like about the threshold: while some are permanent leavings, there are other thresholds that we may cross many times and the beauty is not in the leaving, but in the returning.

July 2015
May 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Love Story: Part II

Day one passed into days two and three and ten and thirty so quickly. Rick and I have been together for such a short amount of time, and yet it has seemed like years. Rick is open and honest enough that it is as my father observed: "The Rick you see is the Rick you get." I never had to wonder what he thought or wonder how he felt, and he was patient enough to keep bumping into my protective walls like an overzealous Roomba until he was as certain of my thoughts and my feelings. Every so often I ask Rick how long we've been together and he sighs, "About nine or ten years now."

After our first date, Rick and I spent the next two days together. It was not roses and love songs, it was simple. It was grocery shopping, school planning, and birthday party throwing (with some healthy kissing in between). It was the most comfortable I had ever been with another human being. It was life. So ordinary. So glorious. I had done roses and love songs before, but I had never done life. 

Rick eventually went home to the White Mountains, and we began a long-distance relationship which was only ever difficult when I experienced doubts. Those doubts came when Rick was absent and I thought about our relationship in the way the world must. But when it was just Rick and I, it all made such perfect sense. He made me calm when I had a tendency to be anxious. I never was anxious about Rick, only about other trifling things such as what people would think about our hasty courtship.

When I took Rick home to meet my parents, I was driving over the hills to my small valley home while Rick followed behind in his Jeep. As I looked in the rear view mirror, I suddenly realized I was taking my husband home. This was not just some guy I thought was okay enough to meet my parents, this was the man I was going to spend my forever with. I laughed because it was mad, and then I cried because it was beautiful and wonderful and right. I could comfortably take Rick home because he was home.

In a few mere days and weeks, Rick went from being that all-American country man I thought I never wanted to the kind, honest, confident, and good man I knew I needed. He was for me, and I was for him, and that was enough and always will be.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Love Story: Part I

My all-knowing mother was emphatic that the reason why I was given the opportunity to do my student teaching in my hometown one year ago was because I was going to find my future husband. I was equally emphatic that any man worth knowing did not exist in the White Mountains, and that the last thing I wanted was to marry a gun-toting backwoodsman. I had other ideas. Something about tweed jackets, glasses, and British accents.

At the end of my time student teaching in May, one of my students approached me about meeting his cousin. The thought of some unknown-to-me cousin who lived who-knew-where out in the boonies and who probably wore Wranglers and shot animals was utterly unappealing. I was grateful at the time to have the excuse of being in a relationship with someone else. That excuse however, did not last long. In July, I had moved to the Valley for my first teaching job and Rick (the cousin) had added me on Facebook, and although I very rarely accept requests from people I don't know, for some reason unbeknownst to be then, I accepted Rick's.

For a couple days, Rick and I began sending messages back and forth through Facebook. He cut to the chase and asked if I was single. I had been out of my rather rotten relationship for about a week, so I had to answer yes. Rick asked for my phone number. We talked on the phone for about an hour, and he asked me out for a date the next day. I was caught off guard by his straightforwardness, and I also was not frightened to say yes.

The next evening, Rick showed up on my front step in a plaid shirt and Wranglers with a massive belt buckle. I was decked out in my classic polka dots and pointed ballet flats. We were an odd-looking pair, and as my father would comment on later, "There have never been two people more different from each other."

My first impression of Rick (besides his inability to make small talk) was that he was genuinely kind. This struck me as oh-so-very-important for many reasons, but most importantly because I had recently been through a stretch of men who were not very kind. These men had been short with waiters or waitresses, had been impatient in traffic, and had made me feel small and insignificant. Rick was the complete opposite. He gave our waitress at the Olive Garden a more than generous tip, although she had been only an okay waitress, he was charitable to those those in his family and community. And with me . . . he made me feel as though I was this beautiful, witty, in-need-of-spoiling creature. It was the first time I felt as though I was a woman on a date with a man, not a girl on a tight pre-prom date with a boy.

At dinner, Rick took the lead and ordered a couple of appetizers. Unfortunately, Rick was not familiar with my picky palette and chose fried calamari and stuffed mushrooms. No, thank you. When he realized that I was not having any of the appetizers, he had the waitress bring the menu back so I could pick an appetizer I wanted. While we were eating our salads, I noticed Rick push aside his black olive with a look of disgust. I reached across with my fork and snatched that olive, which led to my declaration of undying love for black olives. Then Rick asked the waitress for a small bowl of the delicacies just for me. No one had ever done that for me in my whole life. It was not by any means a grand gesture, but it was an obvious sign of who Rick was.

We left the Olive Garden and went to the movie theatre to watch the new Jurassic Park film. It was not long before Rick held out his hand to me, and I took it willingly. There was no game involving hands in popcorn bags or pinkies accidentally brushing making one second-guess whether a guy wants to hold your hand or not. He held out his hand in honest, unembarrassed affection. His confidence made me calm.

After the end of the film, Rick took me home and in my mind I was reminding myself that I had recently gotten out of a relationship and did not want to just kiss the next guy who came along, no matter how sweet he was. Don't let him kiss you, Kelly. Just don't do it. On my doorstep, Rick hugged me tightly and then he got that look in his eyes. He leaned in but did not kiss my lips, but rather my nose. I thought he had missed due to the somewhat extensive nature of my nose. Then I realized he meant to kiss me on the nose because it was quite tender. All of this was beginning to register in my brain, but before it could sink in fully, I blurted out, "Really? That's all I get? A kiss on the nose?" I was horrified with myself, but Rick laughed and then kissed me for real.

It was all straightforward, honest, confident, calming.

Somehow just right. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In Medias Res: The Love Story

He is more than I asked for, and more than I thought to pray for. He is my Colonel Brandon, my Gabriel Oak, my Dawsey Adams. He is my calming and steadying influence and also the cause of my constant anxious anticipation. He knows to kiss me when I'm mad, to let me have a good cry when I think about, talk about, read, or watch Little Women, and to let me have the big chunks of toffee from the Ben & Jerry's. 

This summer I read Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and the heroine's father gave her some timely advice that has cemented itself in my brain as the finest of all love advice:

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion . . . That is just being ‘in love’, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two. But sometimes the petals falls away and the roots have not entwined. Imagine giving up your home and your people, only to discover after six months, a year, three years, that the trees have had no roots and have fallen over. Imagine the desolation. Image the imprisonment.

He and I are still in those early stages of "temporary madness" where most of the time it is as he would say "cupcakes and butterflies." And yet, he has already seen me during so many unflattering moments. He has seen the no makeup days, the frizzy hair days, the days where I have lost faith in myself, the days when I cannot stop crying because stress has taken over, the days when my quiet rage settles in with an awful pallor, the days when it feels as though I am not simply riding the Crazy Train, but that am the conductor of said train. And he has yet to throw in the towel, he has yet to be anything less than loving and kind. This is not to say that it will always be perfect; because I know it will not be perfect, that eventually "all the pretty blossoms [will fall] from our branches". But I do have faith in the intertwining of our roots, of the eternity of growth that has yet to occur. I have faith in the beauty and love of our everyday. Love and life with him could never be and will never be desolation or imprisonment.

This is our love story.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kelly Marie Teaches

There is a bit of madness in trying to flesh out who we really are. I have always tended to feel a sense of urgency to have words on hand to let people know who I am. As if the ability to string together the perfect strand of words would somehow be enough for others to know who I was and what I was about. And yet, those labels I have tried on have not all fit flawlessly, like sweaters made for perfectly trim mannequins those labels have either felt uncomfortably snug here or oddly baggy there, never a perfect fit. 

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the label "DANCER" because that is what I truly wished to be. But the problem was, I was not quite a dancer in the way the world thought of dancers. I was not thin. I did not spend hours upon hours in the studio. I often quit my day's dancing before my toes were a mess of blisters and blood, and I could never give up sugar when my directors and coaches challenged me to. The label--like most others--was not quite fitting. The label was a product of something I did, something I aspired to, something I enjoyed, but it was not by any means who I was. 

Then I thought maybe who I was could be based on how I often felt, but that did not sit right either. If anything it was much more uncomfortable; it was too revealing. I couldn't introduce myself to people by telling them my name and directly informing them that I was often stupidly optimistic, too trusting, sometimes lonely, and a lot anxious about the insignificant things of this world. I would have then been given the label "WEIRDO", and the label-givers would probably have been right. 

Now I am trying to make peace with labels I have taken on through occupation. I am trying to make sense of the "TEACHER" label which often makes me cringe because it feels so off-putting. I also have to deal with the "FIRST YEAR TEACHER" label and the "ENGLISH TEACHER" and "DANCE TEACHER" labels and all the I'm-so-sorrys people dish out to me in response to my having to spend my days with teenagers. These labels carry with them an awkward weight where people assume I have strong feelings about Common Core (or whatever it is) or about standardized testing or about this or that form of pedagogy (which is just a stupid word teachers love to throw around to sound intellectual). I am not yet comfortable with the "TEACHER" label just yet, because I am not so sure what it means for me. I have very few strong feelings regarding educational legislature, which I know is the wrong thing for a teacher to say because we are mandated by law to have strong feelings. The word "pedagogy" makes me want to poke myself in the eyeball, and I hate discussing tests in any and all forms. 

As a teacher, I am also supposed to have a real reason for teaching. A philosophy if you will. I still do not have that figured out. I just like it, I guess. 

The truth of the matter is, I think I just want to curl up in a good chair with a good light and read Charles Dickens, and maybe talk about it with someone afterward. Does wanting to read Dickens make me an "INTELLECTUAL"? No. I just like the stories and the characters and the tongue-in-cheek writing only Dickens can pull off. 

I suppose the thing with all of this is is that I have not quite figured this all out. To say I am a teacher tastes weird in my mouth and sticks in my throat, and it makes people weirdly self-conscious about their grammar around me. Is that who I am supposed to be? Someone who makes others feel self-conscious about their own abilities to speak and write their own language? 

Like dancing, I feel like teaching is just something that I do. It is not the end-all-and-be-all of who I am. It is just another thing that I do, like reading Dickens. But this time I get paid for it, which isn't so bad. 

As for who I am, I think that is yet to be determined. I do not know how to string it all together from the jumble of nouns of adjectives available to me. 

Maybe I will figure that out next year. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Somewhat Obligatory Post Concerning Daisy

As far as I can recollect, I have only mentioned Daisy once in passing, which in retrospect is quite shameful. I shall do my best to remedy.

It can be difficult to tell the type of impact a person is going to have in your life when you first meet them. However, I knew when I first met Daisy that I wanted to force her to be my friend for two seemingly shallow reasons:

  1. She is British
  2. One of her favorite movies is Little Women
Poor Daisy. She never could have suspected there to be someone like me ready to pounce. And pounce I did. In Sunday School before the commencement of the fall semester, we went about the room introducing ourselves (names, hometowns, majors, favorite movies, etc.). I rarely pay attention to these paltry introductions because it is impossible to tell if you'll get along with someone based on information as simple as all that. But of course Daisy stood out for the two previously mentioned reasons, and then I accosted her in the hallway. Our first conversation went a little like this:

"Hi, I'm Kelly! What's your name again?


"Nice to meet you! You're from England?! What city?!"


"Oxford! I went there a couple years ago! I love Oxford!!!!!"

"Oh, cool."

As you can plainly see, I won her over and we were great friends at the very start.

From then on I made sure that Daisy was a staple in our small group of friends (probably against her will), and I made her talk to me about England for hours and hours whenever I could (again probably against her will). And of course I impressed her with my very-authentic-sounding British accent. Daisy said I could be a native. Did we ever doubt that fact?

But before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to Flagstaff in order to do my semester of student teaching at home. Saying goodbye to Daisy was hard, but saying goodbye to everyone was hard. However once I left Flagstaff, Daisy and I texted each other all the time (maybe I am one of those people who are easier to love from afar...), and she became more dear to me. I began whooping her at Trivia Crack, and she in turn continuously slaughtered me in games of online Scarbble.

Daisy is wonderfully observant, kind, and logical because of those astute observations, and thus a perfect confidante and counselor. The sort of friend I am always in need of. On one of my random visits back to Flagstaff, Daisy and I stayed up until 4:00 am discussing everything we could. It was becoming more apparent that Daisy was becoming a true. We then felt the need to make a list of things we would do and see in England when I go for a visit in 2017.

As wonderful as it all was, we did hit a rocky patch in our friendship when Daisy said she didn't like Tim Curry. I very nearly never spoke to her again, but she agreed to watch Oscar and all was made right. In March I forced Daisy to ditch her classes and come with me to Utah for my spring break. The true test of friendship is through a road trip, and Daisy passed with flying colors. Then on a whim, I decided Daisy and I should be vegetarians. We lasted a month. After I graduated (which Daisy attended without question), I coerced Daisy to come home with me to spend her last month in the United States. I was worried being in rural Arizona would bore Daisy to tears, so we made an extensive list of things we needed to do.

Daisy and Kelly Bashing Around (A Somewhat Unreasonably Long To-Do List)

  • snow cone shop
  • tour of town
  • make cupcakes
  • Eva's in Snowflake
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • fly kites
  • picnic at city park
  • HS choir concert
  • read Harry Potter
  • watch Sense & Sensibility
  • play Scrabble
  • "to watch" list
  • read Tess of the D'Ubervilles
  • read The BFG
  • book club: The Thirteenth Tale
  • trampoline: sleep on it
  • sort out Daisy's luggage
  • build a fort
  • make friends (does Tyson count?)
  • outdoor garden tea party
  • giant outdoor Scrabble
  • make bow pillows
  • make vlogs
  • our novels/book
    • parenting, animal groupings, etc. 
  • Spamalot
  • mocktail party
  • teach Daisy to note-take
  • cow tipping
  • play with Daisy's hair
  • Battleship
  • nighttime walk
  • daytime walk
  • graveyard
  • Catholic cemetery
  • stuff for KB's classroom
  • playlists
  • El Cupido's 
  • The Badger of Honor
  • The Howes Cup
  • El Camino
  • Kneaders
  • J-Dawgs
  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • tour BYU campus
  • book Daisy's flight to CA
  • hang out with Holly
  • Ikea
  • Hires in SLC
  • SLC mall
  • road trip CD
  • teach Kelly Pithead
  • Cheesecake Factory
 But mostly we just stayed up really late talking or watching episodes of Modern Family and Parenthood. Through it all we talked freely of our families, our childhoods, movies, books, music, our friends, our aspirations. And my parents and I dragged Daisy along with us wherever we went, to weddings, bridal showers, missionary homecomings, graduations, you name it. Daisy was somehow unfailingly patient. She put up with my rants, my sour moods, my emphatic opinions, my indecisiveness, my spontaneous tears, my need to sing all the time, and my bursts of obsessing over England. She even let me pull out my journal from my trip to England where we found this little gem:

Monday, 27 May 2013

We went to church with a ward in Oxford yesterday morning, and of course it was pleasant; however, there were a few too many Americans in the ward for my taste. Also some of the young single adults were supposed to come to our hostel to play games, but did anyone show up? No, of course not. For some reason, all young single adults in the UK hate us. 

Guess who one of those Oxford YSAs was? Our one and only Daisy. I had completely forgotten about that day, so couldn't really be upset about it. Daisy and I decided that we are both so anti-social and grumpy in group situations that we probably wouldn't have talked to each other that day anyway.

For our last week together, we once again jaunted up to Utah in order to spend my birthday with Lynnette and Holly. We spent a couple days with Holly in Cedar City, stopped in to see my Aunt Marilyn in Holden, and crashed at Lynnette's the rest of the week. It was a week of utter mayhem visiting as many people and places as possible, but Daisy was a champion. We then did a marathon trip from Provo to Mesa where we roller-coasted through bouts of silence-inducing exhaustion, giddiness, and delirium during which we sing-screamed along to "One Day More" from Les Miserables. I feel it is a sure sign of true friendship if you can weather all those different moods together in one single car ride. Also we have decided that Nevada is officially the worst state in the Union, and Las Vegas is abysmal. If anyone was wondering our opinion on that regard.

What I am really trying to say is that Daisy has become one of my greatest friends over the past few months, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. Even if now our friendship mostly consists of random text chats in the brief window our different time zones allow. She has been both a fair and foul weather friend, and even though I based wanting to get to know her on her Britishness and our mutual love for Little Women, the friendship that grew from that is so important to me. Saying goodbye at the airport was the worst, but rest assured that Daisy and I will be bashing together again as soon as we can. Because I forced her to be my friend, and I'm going to keep forcing it as long as she lets me. And she will because she is just that sort of friend. One of the true and faithful sort.