just when you think

That the decision has been made, the universe sends you a serious, serious reminder.

Ugh.

I’m kind of a little confused.

I believe in the cosmic intertwining of souls. So, when you have a network of souls that are attached and one is in pain, it creates a domino effect. That’s the best way I can describe why I feel “responsible” for other people. Not because I want to help them specifically, but also because I feel like I need to help me. And this is one of the first times in my life I’m actually able to explain that adequately.

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a really good man.

Makes a really good teacher.

And I learned this morning that the man who taught me 11th and 12th grade English passed away. He was not too old, and no one is really saying what happened. It’s funny, though, because when I interviewed for the job I just took, someone brought him up when they noticed my high school on my resume. This man taught my teacher and went on and on about what a wonderful man he was and how he devoted he was to his students. As he left the panel room, he said, “anyone who was taught by Ron Dominguez is a winner in my book.”

And we all were. He made us feel that way. I can see it by the outpouring of grief on Facebook. And I knew it because he was the one that always came up in conversations when I ran into classmates.

It’s funny how many lessons I carry with me. I’ll never forget:

The day he decided–2 days before our graduation–that one thing we needed to know before entering the world was how hot dogs were really made. It’s valuable information, people.

When he whipped out the lyrics to The Eagles’ “Take it Easy” and went on for an entire class period about how brilliant it was. This is genius, people. You just don’t appreciate it.

How he decided that we should all read “Lonesome Dove.” Because if it’s not classic, it should be.

How on days, he didn’t want to teach, he’d ask us all to open our text books to the same page so that in case someone walked in, it looks like I’m teaching you something.

What he taught me about the integrity of journalism and how he stood by me when we both got in trouble for something I wrote in the school newspaper. I remember apologizing at least five times, but he didn’t care.

But mostly, I remember saying goodbye. He pointed his finger in my face, and he said, “You better do something great.”

After teaching for four years, I realize how extremely difficult it is to make a difference. How hard it is to truly be a good teacher. And what it means to act with integrity.

And I am deeply grateful for the example that I had.

Rest in peace, Mr. Dominguez.

july 13

And I made it.

I set a goal of finishing the first draft of this novel for three months after my 28th birthday. And I made it. I finished the core writing about three weeks ago and worked for the past week on editing for basic sense, comma issues (just because they drive me nuts!) and use of active verbs.

I handed over the first copy for someone to read this evening. My writing “friend” (I guess I should call him) received the copy at 8 p.m. this evening just as I promised three months ago.

It feels good. I’m tired. I can’t deny that. My brain is exhausted. And I’m a little physically worn out, but it feels good to be done. At the very least, it feels good to not be the one reading it anymore. So, I’m happy about that.

And what next?

Start again. No, really. I already have the basic plot structure written out for my next book. I think I’m going to give myself a couple of days to cleanse my brain from this one, and then really get to work on character sketches and a more detailed plot outline. I need to look at a calendar, but I think my goal for the completion of that is going to be right before I go back to teaching so I can write the draft once the school year starts.

And even writing that down gets me excited. So, I’m happy about that. I feared that finishing this one would satiate my desire to write, and then I’d be really bored for about a year, but I’m excited that I’m excited to start again.

Yes, it does it feel good. It feels very good, indeed.

inner demons

It occurred to me today that we are not truly happy when we have somehow become victorious over our inner demons by causing them to vanish from our lives completely. I think we are truly happy when our inner demons are out in the open, and we’re comfortable having them there. Obviously, they are not something to be enjoyed, but I think that unless we can function as a happy human being with our demons surrounding us in a circle, then we have not truly dealt with them.

Tomorrow marks the 3rd month of my 28th year of life. It has been an awful and wonderful three months all at the same time.

I have dealt with the biggest demon I have battled. It has plagued me from the age of 16, I think. The fear of being a writer. I have faced it head on and am truly happier because of it. At the same time, there are moments and days where the doubt creeps in and that ugly demon is not only in front of my face but dancing around in glee over its torment of me.

I have dealt with demons concerning my prayer life, my spirituality, my relationships with other people, my continual battle with my perceived physical weakness, and my desire to make a difference. All of these are out in the open right now. They stare me in the face every time I look in the mirror. And it’s a great feeling. So much good has come into my life because I am able to say that these are my weaknesses.

The problem is getting the demons out there. Getting them to a place where I’m comfortable staring them down.

When I started this journey, it did not occur to me that I would be facing any demon other than my fear of trying to become a writer. I thought that was the big one. That the others were for a different time and place. But they have come up one after another.

This latest has punched me right in the face, and I’m going to admit that I reeling because of it.

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Plinky #5: The Most Confusing Part of Life Is…

What part of life confuses me the most?

This is a funny question right now. Everything? Nothing? Both?

I’m going to do my best to describe my confusion, but it may not make sense. I think the most confusing part is the motion. Everything about movement in life is confusing. It appears that we control our destiny, but really we do not. It’s pre-ordained, I believe. Yet, if you sit doing nothing, you make no movement toward your destiny. So, there is constantly a fine line between accepting and creating your destiny. Of not being afraid to follow your dreams and of being sensible enough to keep yourself alive—literally and figuratively.

Then, there’s an added complication. Other people. Everyone is on a path and has his or her own destiny. Sometimes those paths intertwine and we’re not exactly sure why, or they diverge and we’re not sure why. Sometimes we let the paths diverge and sometimes we force them to. And this is true of every human interaction. Spending so much time teaching, it was hard to say goodbye to students for awhile. Then, I realized our time together was meant to be our time together. Sometimes the paths converge again, and this makes me happy, but most times we disappear from each other’s lives. Friends. Random strangers. Co-workers. Bosses. Family. They come and go. Their energies add to mine and then as quickly as they appear, they disappear.

With all of this movement, it is sometimes hard to know what is the correct path or the “right answer.” That’s confusing from time to time. I think, until you really learn to live in the moment and understand that the energy within you propels your direction. Then, it’s somewhat less confusing. Just a little less confusing.

writing on writing: part five

Two things today:

First, I finished my handwritten notes on my draft yesterday. I’m not going to lie. It was a little painful. I wanted to do it by hand, though, because I figured it would give more honor to the process. Obviously, words written on a computer screen are still words. But words written by a pen seem to tap more into the soul. It involved a lot of post-its and a lot of flipping back and forth. I learned a few things about myself:

  • I prefer the writing process to the rewriting process.
  • My story isn’t half bad.
  • I fidget a lot.
  • I do have a certain amount of discipline.
  • I have somehow found people who actually make me focus.

At the point that I was completely whining, one of my friends asked how much I had left. 37 pages, I said. And my head hurts. His response was pretty simple: stay focused and you’ll be done in no time. So, I shut everything down and powered through the last three hours of the note-writing on those 37 pages. It felt good to be done. My writing partner had asked me the night before what my ETA was on the second draft, which will also be the draft he gets a copy of, and I said…soon. He laughed, but the second the handwritten notes were done I sent him an email promising a completed second draft by next Tuesday. Here’s hoping.

Second, now that the dust has settled on ending my full-time teaching career, both for myself and the people around me, I have been telling people what my plans are. I told my aunt, and she sent me a message that pretty much made my day:

I’m excited about your writing activities. Your grandfather loved to write.  He actually always wanted to be a writer but his life never led him in that direction. He would be proud of your skills and desire. Circle of life or something like that.

That makes me smile. And helps me to understand more about what I’m doing and what my dreams have been about.