The Perks of Being a Grown-Up

Today is pay-day. And as per usual on pay-day, I am reminded of the drudgery that is adulthood:

  • In two days, my car and school loan as well as my credit card payments go out.
  • Rent is due.
  • My cupboards are bare.
  • I need to buy dog-food.
  • Christmas is coming up.
  • I should fill up my gas tank. Feenie is hungry.
  • My savings needs a steroid-shot.

Before I know it, 3/4’s of my paycheck is gone out into the wild somewhere, paying my debts and keeping life going in my small corner of the world.

That all to say, I do have a paycheck. I work hard for the money. I pour out my heart and my knowledge for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I prep and grade for countless more hours and days. I enjoy what I do and I’m compensated for it. The budget is tight, and let’s be honest: it’ll never be loose. But, it’s a good life. I have money to enjoy the weekend with friends, to get good gifts for my loved ones, and to enjoy life that is around me.

Being an adult is much harder than I was told it would be (and yes, I was warned). But it’s probably the most rewarding part of my whole life. So, dear soon-to-be-college-grads/my-old-residents-who-are-now-Seniors-at-OBU-and-are-terrified-of-the-thought-of-grown-up-life: relax. Pray for wisdom. Take time to smell the roses. Work hard. Keep up your friendships. Don’t worry that you’re not married and starting alone. Don’t worry too much about how much you don’t have. If you ask my roommate and me about groceries and meals on a budget, well those were the best meals of our lives (even the 4 weeks all we could afford for lunch was slim fast…). It’s actually a pretty amazing time. Life is pretty amazing.

Or should I say, God’s blessings in life are pretty amazing. So glad he takes care of me.

MK

The Vacations: a List

As I am a teacher and have nothing better to do, and would rather not stay cooped up in my house all summer long, I have resolved myself to traveling. This summer has been the summer to top all summers. Last year, right after graduation, I had the blessed privilege of going to Hawaii with one of my BFF’s ohanas (ohana means family!). It was so great! But as soon as I came back in early June, real life started to hit me hard in the face. There was the packing up of my entire 21 years of life, the post-graduation stress (or PGS as I like to call it), the finding a job and a place to live, having a possessed dog… So the beauty of Hawaii was quickly juxtaposed with the harsh reality of ADULTHOOD.

And then came my school year. It was rough. One day, I was just a college graduate who had miraculously been hired at the school she did her student teaching at, and the next day I was a professional commissioned with the literary education of young minds. It was terrifying and difficult and obnoxious and so full of hellfire and brimstone that I had no choice but to fall on my knees and trust that God knew what he was doing. And he did. I survived, nay, I flourished in this first year. And then it ended, providing me with the platform for what I’ve come to know as the best summer of my life, to date.

I kicked off the summer with some tornados and a few dates with a soon to be revealed hunk (watch my Facebook). It’s so weird how blessings and great moments can come out of crap. So many people lost everything, and yet people rose up and brought life back into Central OK. Forget federal aide, hands from all across the country came to help pick up, wallets poured out, prayers were offered. It was a gut-wrenching, ugly, terrible situation but the compassion was beautiful. And while the biggest tornado on record crashed through Reno, I was hunkered down in WMU with one of the coolest guys I know. It’s just so crazy how things work out.

After a few weeks in OK, I came back to Kansas and started off with a jaunt to Kansas City where I spent the week with one of my college roommates. We had reverse Happy Hour at Melting Pot and ate a lot of burritos, we even got trapped in rain a few times. It’s so fun to hangout with college friends and not have anything college related to do anymore. I spent a lot of time on her couch while she was at work and got a lot of shows watched. It’s my life.

A week later, I headed to New Hampshire where in 6 days I was shown the greatest parts of the Northeast. I was with my old roomie (and how I’m gonna miss her this year!) and I used to make so much fun of her for constantly talking about the beauty of the Northeast. And then I went there. It’s the greenest, sweetest, most beautiful portion of the United States that I’ve ever seen. It’s small-town with big cities just hours away. It’s got all the adventure and commercialism you could ask for. I’ve decided that I want to live in a row-house in Boston or across the street from the beach in Maine. I plan on going back next year.

I spent some time in Kansas after that, enjoying the 4th of July and my birthday. Then the loudest part of my summer commenced: visiting Doretti. I spent the weekend in Fayetteville riding bikes and live-tweeting Disney movies I’d never seen before. I would love to give a shoutout to her neighbors for not beating down our door for being so loud. Again, so nice to hangout with college friends outside of college. Not only do we have money to do things, but we also have TIME to do things.

From Arkansas I drove to Branson where we had our family vacation. My uncle has a spectac lake house, just a few blocks from the lake. We spent our mornings drinking coffee on the wrap-around porch and our afternoons lazily tubing in the cove. Honestly, the best way to spend time in Branson. So beautiful.

And now, with my last week in Kansas for a very long time, I’m watching it rain and thunder, trying to get some sunbathing in, and mentally preparing for all that waits for me back in Oklahoma.

Such a great way to spend the time between school years. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to take advantage of my break and to spend it with such amazing people. I think I’m ready to go back and face another year as a SECOND year teacher. Grown up life is turning out to be great.

MK

The End?

In light of the recent tornadoes in Central OK, I’ve been a little adverse to writing about any experience I may be having. My petty end-of-the-first year is so small and SHOULD be eclipsed by the horror of what happened on Sunday and Monday night. How dare I assert my petty-day-to-day when families are mourning the loss of their babies? While families are still displaced? While everything people own is scattered and shredded and mildewing? While people are separated from their pets, their comfort in times of distress (Sorry, I’m a dog person now… think what you will!). However, it is important to know that life keeps going. Pain happens, sucky things happen: but life goes on. But I’ll get to that here in a bit…

First of all, I’d like to thank all of my friends and family who have called me and texted me and donated in some way to this horrible, horrible chain of events. You never know how loved you are until you get a million texts making sure you’re okay! I never knew how hard it was to be in a tornadic situation by yourself. I once took care of a whole dorm (granted, it was over Easter break so there weren’t many there…) and I felt less pressure and concern then than I did taking care of myself. I think it has something to do with being responsible and having something to take your mind of things… but no matter: this weekend was rough. But, I had plenty of support and I am going to call on that support a little further…

I have consistently been offering prayers every waking moment of the last few days, and I urge you to do the same. In brokenness, there is rebirth. But it is a long, long hard road. If you’re reading this from out of state, please check out my Facebook or my twitter for ways you can help. A quick and easy one is to text STORM to 80888 for $10 for the Salvation Army. When the dust settles, I’ll be heading out with Samaritan’s Purse to help rebuild (you can donate to them as well!). I’ve been so impressed with how quickly everyone has come together. I’m honored to be a part of a state that feels like a family. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE has come together to help. I’m sure even the rubberneckers on I-35 who are holding up traffic have donated or shared themselves in this effort. A few of my students lost their homes on Sunday night so besides this horrible chain of events happening in my state (because I now, more than ever, consider myself an OKIE), this hit home. Literally. This came to a place where my heart is. And it destroyed stuff! I was just in Moore and Edmond the other day! I was looking forward to seeing some of my students for the last time this semester on Monday! This hurt me. If it can hurt me emotionally, just imagine what it has done to the thousands who are displaced! Please, please take a moment to pray for comfort and healing and strength, and please PLEASE donate to one of the amazing charities that are working ceaselessly for the people of Moore.

In tragic times like this, much like Camus would advocate, and YOU KNOW Christ would, we must move forward. We must keep going. If we breathe: WE LIVE. We go on. We rebuild. We recover. We stand together. Yes, we weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn. But we rejoice with those who rejoice! Everyone who survived has a reason to rejoice! It doesn’t seem like it, and I sure as heck know that the parents of the Plaza Towers kids feel like there is not hope. But did you see that sunset just hours after the tornado? Did you see all of the first-responders and how quickly, methodically, and passionately they did their jobs? Did you see how many people rose up INSTANTLY to help? There were so many heroes. So many stories of reunion. It is needless to say that this situation is horrible, it is devastating, it seems unnecessary… But there is hope. And because of that hope… I am going to finish this blog out with a few reflections on my first year as a teacher.

It would be arbitrary to compare my first year to a tornado… It would also be ill-timed… But I’ll be honest: I had a bad year. I went through my post-grade identity-crisis VERY soon after graduating and thus spent most of the summer and ALL of my first semester sulking. I will also be honest in that: I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into when I walked into the classroom on August 10. I was a naive, inept little baby. And it showed. I spent a lot of times crying and hating my job. I didn’t even like my students, really. But God really got ahold of me over break and I stepped into this semester with a confidence in my God-given abilities that I’ve never had before.

I can say now that I am a teacher. I can say now that I don’t really know anything in the grand scheme of things, but I am learning new things every day. I love each and every one of my students, especially the bad ones. My job isn’t a job, it’s my ministry. It’s my calling. I may not be the world’s best teacher, or the smartest, or the most liked, and certainly not the most hated… but by-golly… I love my job. It’s been a really, really, REALLY tough year but I made it out the other side. In approximately 30 hours, I’ll be on summer-time. I’m so unbelievably ready to leave and enjoy the summer and have adventure. But, I can say without a doubt in my mind: I’m excited to come back next year. AFTER AN APPROPRIATE AND LENGTH BREAK, of course…

Please keep Oklahoma in your prayers! It’s a long hard road ahead… but there’s hope. We have to know there’s hope.

MK

 

So I Bought a New Car

I believe it was the early 90s, 1994ish to be exact(ish). The only two cars I’d known my family to have were a white Honda Accord and a White Dodge Minivan. They were just cars to me — modes of transportation from the park to the grocery store. But it was when my dad bought his Chevy Silverado that I first remember wanting buy my own car some day.

I remember a period that seemed like weeks in which we sat in the insurance office and the car dealership. It seemed to take forever. All I wanted was to sit in the new truck — it smelled like nothing I’d ever known. I distinctly remember my parents’ reactions to the whole ordeal. I remember my dad sitting very stiff and intently discussing new-car matters. I remember the look on his face. Like elation turned to nausea turned to happiness turned to dread. And my 4 year old mind could not wrap itself around this image. I told myself, “When I grow up, I’m going to buy new cars all the time and when I do, I’ll be so happy!”

And then I bought my own car.

I am a new owner of a ’13 Ford Focus (thanks, Uncle Gary!). I spent over 3 hours at the dealership haggling — and I got my way, of course. But as I was sitting by myself (which was roughly 60% of the time) I noticed my face grimacing. I was excited for a new car (though sad to see Rudy go). I was excited for our adventures and for Microsoft Sync. But it was in that moment, as I pondered the great debt I had willingly placed myself in, with the pressure of taking care of a brand-new car, that I too had the look my father had shared some 20 years ago. I didn’t understand it then, when I wanted a pink Barbie jeep that was life-sized. But now I get it, dad.

Grown up life is rough. They don’t tell you about these parts in the college brochures. But the red on my new Focus is pretty sexy so I suppose that evens it all out.

Now taking suggestions for car names. I’ve got Donna, Pond, and Scout.

MK

Homecoming (warning: sappy college reminiscence)

I drive a Bison Mobile. Let’s be honest: it’s golden yellow with two giant OBU stickers and will soon have a comemorative OBU license plate on the back. It’s a sort of VERY happy coincidence. One I wouldn’t change for the world.

For the last four years I’ve been all about OBU. My nickname Sophomore year was Miss OBU. Who’s got spirit? Me. All up in hur.

When graduation came I was nearly in a panic. Yes, I didn’t have a job and that contributed to it… But after 3 years of being Miss OBU, doing EVERYTHING there was to do on campus, I was a little at loose ends. I loved residential life and living life with people (as we termed it…). I loved the gold flowers in the brick flower patches. I loved the creepy statue of Dr. Scales that greeted me on my way to class. The musty smell of Shawnee’s Basement (AKA an English major’s home). The smell of WMU when you walk into the front door, like girl’s perfume, laundry, and home. The crooked, decaying sidewalks from WUA to the GC. The holy beep of your ID card before and after Chapel. The odor of crappy, burnt coffee in Java City. The Submarine in the library and its academic prose.

But I can never know it the same again. The Submarine in the lib isn’t the same without a Civ Cram with my study group (we nearly got kicked out every time we were in there). I’m certainly not going to go to Java City on purpose, but it sufficed during long nights and early mornings.

It took a trip to Hawaii, a long summer at home, and an all-consuming ministry/job at school to bring me out of my SAD (school acquired depression). My very good friend, and Farkle-Family sister, is coming into town today. We may not go to all of the homecoming festivities at OBU, but I think I can finally face the campus without the tinge of jealousy I feel when I see freshmen walking out of WMU. Without that passion I feel when I see Raley Chapel watching over all its little Bison. Without the memories of late nights past haunting me when I see Taylor Residence Center.

It’s taken me a long time — at least it feels like a long time — to remember the feeling I’ve always had before. That feeling I’d get when I parked near the North 40 or next to Montgomery Hall. It’s that calming, sweet feeling of going home. OBU will always feel like home.

God Bless OBU. MK