On Blogging Again and Opening New (Classroom) Doors

I could sit around all afternoon and explain in great detail all the posts I wrote in my head between last January and right now. Life hasn’t exactly been boring, and I’ve had plenty to say. I just haven’t said it.

I could have written about the heavy days following the almost-breakup I was writing about in January… but that seemed hypocritical in view of the relatively positive note I’d last ended on. Also, I doubt it would have made very good reading.

I could have written about the really cool Tom Bombadil painting I did (after all, isn’t that one of the reasons I have this blog? To write about my art?) But the time came and passed.

I could have written about my close friend’s struggle with mental and physical illness this summer, but that was not my story to tell. Besides, I didn’t want to embarrass her.

I could have written about my reactions to the whole gay-marriage debate, but I’d grown far too tired of everyone yelling at each other and no one thinking straight (I know, I know, horrible pun) to subject myself to that same scrutiny (cowardly, I know). Also, by the time my thoughts on the matter had begun to gel into something resembling coherence, everyone seemed to have moved on to Cecil the Lion.

I could have written about writing, but, after all, isn’t it more time-effective to just go ahead and write the novel instead of writing about writing? (Besides, my summer job consumed so much of my time, I barely wrote. Why write about writing when you’re frustrated about not being able to write much in the first place? Talk about counterproductive!)

The time for excuses is past, though. A new school year is upon me, a new convention season is coming up, more people are going to be taking my business cards and looking up this hapless blog… so I’d better post something worth reading, sooner rather than later.

And what I’m going to post is, surprisingly, that I’m thankful to be still here, still posting. I’m thankful for the bad times and the good times I’ve had since January. Because even though there’s been an awful lot of awfulness this year, all of that awfulness has, I think, had its good sides. It’s refining me into a person who is better able to face life fearlessly and love others even when things seem bleak. It’s teaching me to take action, to cut out things that aren’t really worth my time and energy so I can focus on the things and people who really do matter so much to me.

And also, all of this has somehow inexplicably made me very thankful to be starting a new school year. I feel at home in my classroom, almost safe, settled. I love having students come to me, watching their faces light up as we talk about things that I love. I love seeing them learn. It is a beautiful thing.

It’s also, I might add, a particularly exciting school year. After years of such low numbers that most other schools would have given up, my little Christian high school has expanded… we’ve grown from the six students we started last year with to twenty students (!) from 6th through 12th grade. For the first time, I’m teaching middle school. For the first time, I’m teaching enough classes to merit having my own classroom (!!) which I spent way too much decorating. There was a lot of energy and excitement leading up to this past week, the first week of school.

And then the students came in the door.

And, after a week of organized chaos, the rhythm of a new school year has begun to settle–and it is good.

With this rhythm, I’ve even had time to work on my story. And, later today, I fully intend to get a new art project started. I’ve got big plans to do an Eowyn piece before GeekGirlCon next month. Maybe, if the first one goes well, I’ll even do a set.

I guess there’s a reason we have seasons. There’s a sense of refreshment as an old season closes and a new season starts, as a summer ends and a new school year begins.

It’s just enough refreshment to kick me into blogging again. Maybe I can keep it up for a while this time.


Of Introverts and Cons

Cons (that’s “conventions” to the uninitiated) are not for introverts. This I discovered in January at RustyCon (Seattle). As I discovered this weekend at Norwescon (also Seattle), the key—for me, at least—to having fun at a con is coming out of my shell and making myself interact with people.

I’d done conventions before RustyCon, but I’d spent them sitting behind my table selling my prints and notecards. Not that I have a problem with that. It’s actually where I’d rather be—it gives me something to do all day and puts me in a position where I still get human interaction, but the humans come to me. I don’t have to make any moves besides saying, “Hello,” and talking about my art—which I do anyway.

You see, I’m an introvert who loves people. Call it a contradiction in terms; it’s not. People are easily the most important thing in the world to me—be they my best friends or a stranger walking down the street. Part of it is simply my value system. If you believe that God Himself came down from Heaven and offered His life out of love for people, it’s hard not to place people at the top of the priority list.

But another part of it is that I really do enjoy interacting meaningfully with them. By meaningfully, I don’t mean that every conversation has to delve deeply into truths that knit the universe together. I mean that people are talking about what matters to them and listening to each other; that the conversation is more than just the throwaway questions we feel the need to ask each other at the beginning of a dialogue, and that everyone is enjoying themselves.

A tall order. But a geeky convention is so very much the perfect place to have such conversation. Let’s face it, we’re all there because we have passionate interests. And most of us are wearing those passionate interests on our sleeves—or printed on our fronts—or around our necks—or from head to toe.

But there the Introvert chimes in. The part of me that won’t speak up, that somehow deems myself both above and beneath everyone in the room. That sits, when possible, NOT next to anyone, and that hates initiating conversation with people she doesn’t know. For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong, per se, with her. But she does not have fun at cons.

So there I stood, in line to get my badge at Norwescon last Thursday. The familiar grip-around-the-lungs of the Introvert began clawing at me. There were people behind me I didn’t know and people in front of me I didn’t know. I was about to spend a weekend with people I didn’t know. Why, again, was I doing this? Oh, yeah. Because to hang my art in the art show, I had to buy a membership to the con. And like a good daughter of my mother, I wasn’t going to throw money away. Besides, that hands-on Roman combat workshop on Friday morning sounded awesome.

But I didn’t want another RustyCon. I didn’t want another weekend of self-induced loneliness.

So I made a resolution with myself, then and there. And to solidify that resolution, I turned around, introduced myself to the guy behind me—who turned out to also be a teacher—and we had a lovely, genuine conversation until it was time to sign in.

Turns out, I had a fantastic weekend. I terrified people in the combat workshop. I got some good tips in the art panels. The writing panels encouraged and challenged me. I bought a hat pattern from a steampunk clothing stall. I even sold a little bit of art.

I also sat with strangers at meals, sat with an acquaintance from a previous show during a panel, hung out with yet another teacher on Saturday afternoon, talked with bystanders, and generally forced myself to be sociable. And much to my delight, I enjoyed myself.

I’m also happy to be home by myself right now with my books and my cat and my lesson planning. The Introvert is no enemy of mine. But sometimes, when she threatens to get in the way of a good time, she does need to be shown who’s boss.