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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

to restore hope and order again and again

"I don't want to be a teacher," I say, over and over and over again, the night before I take the CBEST, the emergency credential test you take in order to become a substitute teacher.

I come from a long (ish) line of teachers. I think half the people on my dad's side of the family all work in the same school district, my mother, brothers and I included in that. I was almost quite literally raised in the classrooms my mom has taught in. I've heard it all when it comes to teachers complaining about students/parents/principals/other teachers. most of the people I felt closest to growing up were teachers, not for instance, kids or peers my own age. I know some of them even saved my life during the hardest years of being bulled in middle school/junior high.

...and despite all this, I still don't want to be a permanent teacher.

and this bothers me, and it worries me too. I know how important teachers are to society. I know, intimately well, how important and rare good teachers are and how easily bad teachers slip through the cracks. I know that within me is the capacity for being a good teacher, because I have had so many examples in the past and in my present.

After I graduated college in 2015, I didn't work immediately in the year that followed, apart my typical job of babysitting. then in the beginning of 2016, I applied and was accepted by the school district my mom works for, to be para-educator, which is a fancy word for a teacher's aide. I've been in at least five different schools since then, left my first job after a month, was unceremoniously fired from the second one after about two weeks, and since then, have worked in various schools as a substitute para-educator. after I give people this long-winded explanation, the usual response is something along the lines of, "so that's something you want to do?"

"no," I reply.

"but you've been working at this so long!"

"yes, I know, but I don't want to."

"you're good at this, though! you should totally be a teacher!"

"I know I am, but it's not what I want to do."

"maybe you'll change your mind eventually."

..."BUT I DON'T WANT TO BE A TEACHER," I yell into the void.

it's been a worry of mine for the past few years, that my dream job as a writer/librarian is just...not practical, not sensible, not reasonable enough for me. that I should set my sights on something with more security, more stability, although if 2016 taught me anything, it's the fact that job stability is a myth. that I should aspire to do something worthier than sitting around typing made up stories for people to read.

and then I came to a realization.

you want to know how those teachers saved my life in middle school/junior high? they gave me stories, they let me read. they didn't suggest I try to read within my grade level or what everyone else was reading. they let me read what I wanted, what I loved. they let me hang out in the library with Mrs. Alvarez the school librarian and Mrs. Alvarez in turn, let me organize her shelves and never complained when I stopped in the middle of putting books back to read those selfsame books. they encouraged me to write and never asked, "are you sure you can read that?" when I came to school with the Lord of the Rings tucked under my arm. (admittedly, not all of them were like this, eighth grade is when a very misguided teacher forced me to read the unabridged edition of Crime and Punishment because she thought I wasn't "challenging myself," and that's how I developed my never-ending grudge against Russian literature.)

teachers and librarians and stories saved my life. when I think about what I want to do with my life, it's that--give stories. write stories for the kids who need them. give a world within a book for someone to find shelter in. to give kids like me a chance to find solace in a book I loved when I was a kid.

I want that to be my legacy, the planting seeds in a garden that I may never get to see.    

Thursday, January 12, 2017

and we keep living anyways's been awhile hasn't it.

alright yes, it's been three (nearly four?) years. the last post I put up here, I was in my first semester in college. now, three years later, I've graduated, turned twenty-five, am currently holding down a job as a substitute para-educator, looking into a Master's program and today, just saw my baby sister off to her own college experience in Abilene, Texas.

the past year has not, by any stretch of the imagination, been an easy one. in fact, it's almost universally agreed that by almost any category of definition, 2016 sucked. it didn't even suck for me, personally, but admitting that 2016 was in any way a good year for yourself felt like a betrayal or mockery of the rest of the world. we lost a lot and felt like those bad things outweighed the good things. and that's a hard thing to have to hold, especially when you look into 2017 with dread.

I'm trying not look into 2017 with dread. I'm trying to face it as bravely as I can, even as off-kilter as I am with Julianna gone for the next five months.

Juli and I...well, we're no Jane and Lizzie Bennett. heck, we're barely Lydia and Lizzie Bennett. we've agreed that we're more like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton (there's a million things we haven't done, but just you wait, just you wait...) and if we ever end up on the dueling grounds at Weehawken at dawn, we'll look at each other and agree, well, we saw this coming. but Juli is in many ways, a lot braver and kinder and smarter and stronger than I am, and as much as I worry about her being gone, I want her to have the best possible time at college, which she has waited so long and so patiently for.

 and me? I took one of the lines from Hamilton as kind of a personal motto for the next year. to be honest, a lot of the lines from Hamilton have an incredible resonance for me, but here's one of the more important ones.

in his solo song "Wait For It," Aaron Burr reflects on his life and the choices he's made, how his rival/peer Alexander Hamilton seems to blaze ahead, fearless and reckless. as opposed to Hamilton's lightning fast raps, Burr shakes the rafters with one fierce, blazing stanza: "I am the one thing in life I can control/ I am inimitable, I am an original."  First time I heard the line I sat up straight and played it over and over and over again; it grabbed me by the throat and made me listen. the next lines go, "I am not falling behind or running late / I am not standing still, I am lying in wait." it's hard to go slow sometimes. you look at others and think, why don't I have that, why aren't I doing that, what am I doing wrong because clearly I'm not where I'm supposed to be. so I take a deep breath. I look at what I have done, what I have accomplished. and I remind myself: I am the one thing in life I can control and I will not be afraid. I am willing to wait for it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Appreciation for Jane Eyre

Strangely, my college does not have a copy of the book in it's library. A grave oversight, but I plan to find it and buy it as soon as I get a chance, so it matters little.

While I could go on about my frustrations with certain elements of the plot, that isn't what I want to say today.

There's a quote in it I've been telling myself a lot lately. I'm not sure if it's actually in Jane Eyre, but I'm pretty sure it is. If it isn't, someone kindly direct me to the originator.

This is as well as I remember it:

Love this, tears are not weakness!

I suppose I should add that all of the things I hate, crying is probably among the top ten. But as is the case with most transitions, they come with tears.

I have told myself for years that crying is a sign of weakness. A message drilled into my head from a bullied childhood. I tell myself ferociously that you do not cry in public. Be strong, I tell myself. Never let anyone see you cry. Hardly helped that matters of true frustration and emotion are usually attached to my tear ducts.

Lately though, I've been feeling a certain amount of kinship for Jane. I'm not sure why. Maybe because right now, I'm in a position similar to hers--alone in a strange place, not sure where to go. Not really closely attached to anyone yet and wary of strangers.

No one's almost run me over with a horse and I haven't run into any broodingly handsome, enigmatic landowners, and I'm okay with that. Honestly.

Right now, I feel like Jane and I could sit over a nice cup of tea and commiserate over this weird period of transition. How you're trying to connect, to get attached and sometimes you feel a thousand times removed from the whole situation. How crying helps sometimes. And you hate that it helps.

Jane cries quite a bit in the novel (or from what I remember) and she never lets this stop her. She picks herself up and carries on. And for that, I respect her enormously. When I read the book the whole way through this time, I think I'll like her even more for that.

Anyways. Over & Out,

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Down the Rabbit-Hole

Though I am still writing Halcyon House and am quite determined to finish it, I am also busy with a new idea, a side project if you will, that is rapidly getting out of hand. All of my side projects get rapidly out of hand, I find.

Anyways, it's brought on a culmination of things, most specifically, re-tellings.

And The Wizard of Oz. 

I love the Wizard of Oz, book and movie. It's a classic and it's woven it's way into my every day language. As a little girl, I found myself reading it and putting myself right alongside Dorothy and her stalwart companions. I wanted to throw the bucket of water, outsmart the Witch and wear the Silver Slippers (not Ruby. That was on the part of the movie, because red showed up better on film). I haven't read the other books in L. Frank Baum's Oz series, but I may have to, if this project of mine keeps going.

I'm re-telling the Wizard of Oz. 

As aforesaid, this was brought on a few things. Watching Disney's Oz, the Great and Powerful earlier this year was one of those. While visually speaking it was stunning, plot wise...could've been better. I shall be forever bitter about Mila Kunis not being sassy. She deserved to be sassy. And even before that, the SyFy channel did the mini-series Tin Man, another lackluster re-telling that had some really great ideas...but less than stellar execution. Even with Zooey Deschanel as the heroine.

But beyond all those things, it was mostly brought on by the simple question: Why aren't there any good Oz re-tellings?

I mean, you get Alice in Wonderland reimaginings by the boatload. Books, TV series, movies. Oz got The Wiz, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. And that slightly creepy made-for-TV movie back in the nineties, Return to Oz. I mean, electric shock therapy? The Wheelers? The switching of heads, for crying out loud. I wouldn't let the kids I looked after watch that movie.

And then I started thinking. Why do people love Alice so much? We understand her. We sympathize with her. She's thrown into the slightly scary, more than crazy, completely backwards (literally) world of Wonderland. She is, quite literally, the only sane person in the room and sometimes they question even that. She's all of us asking that universal question: What the heck is going on? 
we're all mad here.

But Dorothy? In the book, she's a little girl. In the movie, she's Judy Garland. She's sweet. She's kind. She's innocent and totally credulous. In Dorothy, we're not asking what's going on, we're asking, How do we get home? 

As a little girl, I read The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. I liked Oz better because there was a very definite story. Dorothy wants to get home. Simple as that. She meets a broad cast of characters who aid her or try to thwart her. All in all, it's more like a traditional fairy-tale than Alice. Alice is thinly veiled social commentary hiding behind a children's nonsense story. But I liked the character of Alice better than the character of Dorothy. Alice is sharp-tongued. She is impertinent, while trying to cling to the quintessential British decorum and courtesy, amid the lunatics of Wonderland. She is smart-aleck and sassy, much more like me rather than the sweet, good, kind Dorothy.

off to see the Wizard

But now I realize, Dorothy is grace under pressure. She is Vasilisa the Brave of Russian folklore, outwitting the iron-toothed Baba Yaga with kindness and integrity and good deeds. The kindness she shows to the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion inspire them to be heroes for her. Alice, in contrast, is an Appalachian Jack or Puss-in-Boots, who wins through cleverness and wit. What are Alice and Dorothy's flaws, my mother asked me, as I tried to explain all these feelings to her. Dorothy is too credulous, I said. And Alice is impertinent.

And then I asked myself, What would you do if you could re-tell Oz?

I'd make Dorothy older. Bitter. Jaded and cynical and would never wear a pair of sparkly shoes, regardless of the color. I'd make Oz into a place of decaying beauty and terror and treachery. I'd make the Wizard more than a humbug hiding behind a curtain. I'd make him subtle and scheming and smiling to your face while he reached for a knife to stab you in the back with. I'd make the Wicked Witch of the West more of an Elphaba of Wicked than an angry hag ready to kill for a pair of shoes. I'd make her a revolutionary, a firebrand, an oracle. I'd make Glinda the Good more than a smiling woman sitting on a throne, traveling by bubble, ready to wave a magic wand that makes everything better. She'd be a social reformer, a lady to her core, whose armor is courtesy and still carrying a knife.

I'd make Oz home to nomads and heretics and the desperate populace. Women with guns and itchy trigger fingers, men with swords and desperate hopes. Nomads who pray for a savior. I'd make it full of smoke and steam from broken down train stations and the shining City of Emeralds above it all, sitting on an ugly underbelly of grease and gears and wheels.

That's when I created my board, Outer Zone. 

Unlike Ayden, my other heroine, Dor Gale (as I've taken to calling her) is younger. Angrier. A survivor of the streets and group homes. She's no one's hero or savior and she hates taking orders. She doesn't want to be in what I've taken calling the O.Z. but returning to our world isn't an option either. I wanted her to be hidden under sarcasm and leather and a chip on her shoulder, only to have something great and good and blazing hiding underneath. To watch the Queen conquer. I wanted to disrupt the smiling world of Munchkins and Winkies and set it on fire, making it blaze with revolution. I wanted the yellow brick road to be overgrown and hidden, for sorry is the fool who underestimates the power of things long buried.

I look forward to exploring the O.Z.

Over & Out,

Monday, July 29, 2013

Coming Up

So. Here I am. Almost the end of the summer. And what do I have to to show for it? Becoming alarmingly adept at Pinterest.

That's basically how I've spent most of this year. And the occasional sporadic bursts of writing.

But that's all in the past now. I must put aside such childish pastimes and become a Proper, Full-Fledged Adult.

In other words, I'm going to college.

As in, away.

From my home. For the first time. For six months.

At this moment, I am teetering between excited apprehension and sheer unadulterated panic, because heh, WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT BEING ALONE.

Well, that's not entirely true. I know quite a bit about being alone. I'm alone in my room at home. I'm alone at parties, reading a book. I'm alone outside, where I shouldn't be. But alone at a school with a thousand other kids who don't know me and aren't morally obligated to put up with me like everyone else I know, well, that's a whole 'nother ball game.

If I knew how to use gifs, I'd insert one here to show you my current feelings of panic. Maybe some day. When I have a Tumblr. Lord knows when that'll be.


I take this very seriously, because my parents are taking it seriously. This is time and money for them and I can not take their trust and finances for granted. So come August, I'm going.

I really don't want to have a panic attack on my blog, so here's something else that has Nothing Whatever to do with my upcoming departure.

Mainly, my fairy-tale board on Pinterest. 

Those who know me know I love fairy-tales. I wrote a thesis on it in high school, about how Cinderella is one of the universal stories of folklore everywhere. Nearly every culture has a some variation of a Cinderella plot, and I had fun doing research for it like you wouldn't believe. So this particular board is one of my favorites, because I use all the fairy-tale motifs I know of to write the captions for. Unlike the boards I use for my own personal writing projects, it doesn't bother me as much to know people repin them and keep the captions, because fairy-tales belong to everyone and if they inspire someone, then I have no complaints. Here is a pin or two that I'm pretty proud of:
lips, hair, skin. was this worth killing for, she wondered
lips, hair, skin. was this worth killing for, she wondered. 
half women, half bird, they sound like crows when they laugh and owls when they scream
half women, half bird, they sound like crows when they laugh and owls when they scream.
the mirror does not lie, she tells herself, the mirror does not lie. and the reflection laughs when she turns her back
the mirror does not lie, she tells herself, the mirror does not lie. and the reflection laughs when she turns her back.

I kinda feel these are worth making stories of. I hope it inspires you. 

Over & Out,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Found Words

This sums up everything I wanted when comes to writing a confession.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Confessions of a Shipper Fangirl

My name is Rachel Flores and I ship things.

No, I don't have a ship with sails or anything (though I wish I did. That would be pretty cool). In certain shows, movies, comic books, fictional anything, "ships" are the relationships (ha-ha, see what I did there?) of two characters (usually male/female) and you basically want them to get together and live happily ever after with lots of babies. And you react hysterically whenever anything remotely looks like progress happens in the story and read way too much into every little interaction that goes on between them.

Tumblr does this, a lot. I don't, because...well, people look at me weird when I do. But just for once, I'm going to indulge myself. On my own personal blog. So there. *sticks out tongue like a five-year old*

So. Shipping. I ship a lot of things. Mostly canon couples. Some couples that haven't actually happened yet, but the writers/producers/actors keep hinting that will (officially called a "ship tease").

Right now, on the one TV show I watch with any kind of regularity (since it's bonding time with my little sister), it's Once Upon A Time and I am a full-on Captain Swan shipper. For those of you who aren't aware of the fan-name of this couple, it's Emma Swan (our hero) and Captain Hook (the sort-of villain), aka Killian Jones.

the hook and the swan; a story best left untold.

Yes, I know he's a bad guy. Yes, it's a cliche. But the last guy they paired Emma up with died right in the middle of their first kiss, for crying out loud. Regina crushed his heart. Killian hasn't actually died yet! Sure, he's got the snot beaten out of him several times (including and not limited to getting hit by a car of all things) and he needs to get rid of the black leather already (Cora got a "real-world" outfit, c'mon costumers, get with the program!), but it's just...I don't know. I think it could work. And I like him a lot better than Graham, the guy who died while kissing Emma (back in the first season) and as far as I'm concerned, Neal is out of the question.

(Baelfire is Neal is Rumpelstiltskin's son is Henry's dad. Everyone saw this coming.)

Ah-hem. Where was I?

Oh yes, Captain Swan shipping.

So currently, Killian's grand plan of revenge on Rumpelstiltskin is not working out. Not in the slightest. Presumably in the next episode next Sunday this is going to fixed. But eventually (I merely assume this is going to happen), everyone and their grandmother (literally, Granny wields a mean crossbow), is going to team up against the current Big Bad of the season, Cora. As soon as Regina realizes she's become a little girl again, trying to win her mother's approval.

But I just want Emma to be happy, okay? And the resident eyeliner-wearing pirate with one hand might actually do the job for her, dang it. And Henry would just, be totally in awe of him because he's Captain Hook.  From Neverland. With Peter Pan and the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell. And Hook's so...banter-y. This show sometimes severely lacks in banter, people. Real, honest-to-goodness, flirty/UST-laden banter. There's not enough of it.

And I honestly think that Hook might just get sick of being Cora's sort-of, kind-of, constantly-left-out-of-the-loop, left-behind henchman/lackey (because seriously, that's all he is at this point). And while he and Rumple are probably never ever, ever, ever (like, ever!) going to get along (ha-ha, see what I did there?), Cora's kind of the bigger concern here.

Alright, FINE! I just want them to kiss, okay? Kiss and be happy. Colin O'Donoghue is one darn good-lookin' Irishman.

And thus ends my shipper-fangirl rant of the day. I leave you all on this note:

Captain Swan: The Ship that Sails Itself.

Over & Out,