Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Open Letter to My Spouse

An Open Letter to my Spouse:

I'm innocent, Daddy!
As you know, my dear, Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.  I love the concept that you can be whomever or whatever you want to be.  You can be an astronaut, you can be a cowboy, you can be a superhero, and you can even be a fanciful, magical unicorn.  You, I see, have chosen to be a pig.  This beloved holiday of mine officially occurs tomorrow evening.  I suppose this is probably all my fault because I should have known better and not bought the bags of candy so damn soon.  However, as I have said, this holiday is tomorrow and six entire bags purchased for little ghouls and goblins have failed to survive to their expected date.  I know precisely who the candy culprit is too.  Try as you may to blame our two-year-old daughter, I have pulled Reese’s wrappers from your pockets when doing the laundry.  I have found the debris from devoured Snickers’ bars atop your nightstand.  And, really, darling, can you not manage to deposit your Milky Way wrappers in the damn garbage can, instead of leaving them lying right next to it? I love you so very much, but I have seen you popping M&Ms like pills and sneaking Kit-Kats into the bathroom all those times you claim constipation, although it’s my adamant belief you are seeking reprieve from a nagging wife and needy toddlers.  Again, I suppose that is my fault as well for I should be less judgmental and show you more respect than I currently do.  Regardless, you better not ruin this holiday for me, so I ever so kindly ask of you: stop eating all the fucking candy! 

With Love,

Your Wife

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I Am Changing Woman

"Remember, as different as we are, you and I, we are of one spirit. As dissimilar as we are, you and I, we are of equal worth.  Unlike each other as you and I are, there can be no harmony in the universe as long as there is no harmony between us."

-- Changing Woman


There is a Navajo Indian legend of Changing Woman, or Asdzaa Nadleehe. Changing Woman represents the cyclical path of the seasons, born in spring, maturing in summer, growing old in the fall, and dying in winter.  Upon encountering this brief description of the revered mythical woman, I felt an undeniable affinity to her.  I identified with Changing Woman, my moods so often cyclically aligned with the seasons. My connection with Changing Woman was not solitary; rather I found myself among a great sisterhood.

In the spring, rebirth arrives, and I await the sunshine and the warmth as desperately as an addict craving the next fix.  I need the snow to melt as severely as I need air to breathe, for with the melting of the snow comes also a sloughing off of my heavy depression.  In the summer, beneath the nurturing rays of the sun, I bloom and grow.  I feel joy and contentment, expressing greater gratitude for the gifts of this earth.  I feel more connected to the universe when I am able to smell the dew on green grass or relax in the sandy pebbles of lake beaches.  As Changing Woman was a child of the Earth, I feel most alive when the land too seems to be at its greatest height -- when the heat most warms the body, the trees bloom the boldest, and the birds chirp the loudest.  

As autumn arrives, and the leaves celebrate change in a brilliant display of colors, another shift falls upon me.  There is a mellowing in mood, yet this is no cause for sorrow.  My heart does not grow somber, but instead overflows with warmth and wisdom.  The breezes blow through my body’s frame, reminding me to keep moving on for my maturation and search for knowledge should be a journey without end.  Despite these blessings of astuteness and cool comfort, I suddenly become stunted with the violent approach of the proceeding season.

Winter comes on like a heart attack, dropping me to my knees.  My heart literally aches and my tears fall like snow, creating icicles inside my soul. It becomes increasingly difficult to arise, smile, laugh, as this illness builds inside me.  I lose myself and become a shell of that exuberant summer girl.  My mind turns to darkness and a piece of me expires with every wicked winter.  As Changing Woman alters herself continuously, but never dies, I do not fully decease either for then spring arrives and rebirth accompanies her arrival.

My own ever-changing moods often cause me to doubt my value.  Who would wish to be companion to a woman who cannot be constant?  We all desire smooth sailing, yet rough waters rush alongside me.  When self-loathing floods upon me, I then wait for the words of an unknown source to gently remind me that the most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind, washed by the waters, and polished to brilliance by life’s strongest storms.

Like Mother Nature, who brings those winds and waters, Changing Woman represents the power of the earth and of women to create and sustain life.  I alone am not Changing Woman; each member of my gender is this legendary goddess.  Among the Navajo, becoming a woman is something to be proud of and announce to the community.  Therefore, my fellow women, let us stand together and announce our brilliance, not despite, but because of our many battles.  We can create, change, and witness our own rebirths.  Although we differ in many ways, we each have worth in this world.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Big Brother and your Bowel Movements

This past Saturday, thousands of individuals gathered in Washington to protest the U.S. government’s online surveillance programs.  Organizers believe an estimated 2,000 people attended this event, with many of them carrying signs sporting such phrases as “Stop Mass Spying” and “Unplug Big Brother.”  Big Brother, I assume you know, is an Orwellian reference.  In the dystopian society described in Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, the inhabitants of Oceania are under complete surveillance, constantly reminded that “Big Brother is watching you.”  
 The society in which we currently live, however, does not as closely resemble Orwell’s imagined totalitarian state as we might be led to believe.  In our society, unlike the world inhabited by protagonist Winston Smith, Big Brother has no need to exist.  This is not to say that there are no valid threats in our world or that I trust my government to do that which is in the best interest of its constituents.  I sadly believe neither of these things to be true.  The world is a fucked up place and our current system of politics is badly divided and extremely self-serving.   Yet, you would never count me among those protesting a violation of privacy. 

I affirm that privacy is a civil liberty, yet I witness such biting irony and hypocrisy among many of those who are most vocal about the actions of the NSA, those who would applaud Snowden as a hero while calling themselves patriots.  I am acquainted with several individuals among the ranks of those protesting the NSA.  I am aware of these objections as they have been posted publically via facebook.  I wonder if this is lost on everyone else.  How can some of those same individuals who would post their every thought and action on social media be those most vehemently and vocally declaring an abuse of their civil liberties?

I want to shake these people and scream in their faces.  Look, asshole! I know you had a real nice blueberry pastry for breakfast because you shared a fucking picture of it on instagram.  I know you were late for work this morning because you complained about it on facebook (but let’s hope to hell your boss doesn’t find out about it – or discover all the time you waste at work updating your status).  I know that you asked your god for patience this afternoon because you also posted what should be a private, prayerful conversation on your page.  I know you needed that patience because Louise in pay roll is a real pain in the ass, as you so noted on your twitter account.  And I know that you took a shit at 3:15 in the afternoon because you share every fucking bit of your life story through social media, but I can see how highly you obviously value your privacy.  The fuck, people? 

Do we need Big Brother? Absolutely not.  The majority of America is already allowing access into their private lives.  Most Americans are also poorly educated, but at least we’re a very confident and proud bunch and we’re going to let everyone know our accomplishments and opinions.  Isn’t that right?  I’m certainly not innocent to this crime as I stand upon my soapbox and post said opinions to a public blog.  But I’m also not out there bitching about my privacy when there are so many higher ranking problems and priorities in the world.

Further, I wonder what those individuals fear will be found.  If you poked around in my world, you wouldn’t find much that I am not already willing to expose.  So, let the NSA spy on me and see how much I give a fuck.  I hope they have fun watching me do laundry and wash dishes in my old lounge pants.  I hope they enjoy watching me read books in bed while snuggling my dog.  I’m sure it will be enthralling to see me telling students to quiet down and return to their seats in study hall.  And what a special delight to watch me change shit diapers and bitch about my husband sneaking all the kids' Halloween candy. The most damning thing they would find out about me is that I spend an incredibly shameful amount of time playing Farmville. 

I must admit that the reason there’s no current dirt to find is not that I’m perfect, or even claiming to be so.  Certainly, I have made mistakes and poor choices; my transgressions are probably too many to count.   As I’ve grown and matured though, and especially as I have become a mother, I have decided to live my life in such a way that if all my actions were exposed, there would be no great mark of shame upon me.  Perhaps, then, we should all assume, rightly or otherwise, that Big Brother is watching our every action because maybe we would be better people for it.  Don’t lead lives that you wish to hide.

This post is not intended to condone or endorse the actions of the NSA.  However, if you are reading this, you are probably not an international leader.  The NSA doesn’t give two shits about what you ate at Culver’s today or what you bought from Wal-Mart this past weekend, so calm the fuck down.  You’re not that important, so stop protesting and just be good people.  We don’t live in Oceania and Big Brother is not tracking your bowel movements.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Flawed Understanding

I like to maintain that the reason I remain overweight is a service to my children, who like to rest their tiny little heads on Momma’s soft belly.  I was once told by my now nine-year-old niece that I make a better pillow than her own Mommy, so I guess I have that going for me. 

Last night, my two-year-old daughter was resting her sleepy head on my stomach when she asked, “Mommy, did I live in your belly?”

I most certainly did not expect my two-year-old to already have questions about the reproductive process, but I answered her none the less, “Yes you did, honey.  You lived in Mommy’s belly once.”

“Isaac too?” she then asked sweetly.  Yes, I confirmed, her younger brother had also lived inside Mommy’s belly.

“Can I go back in?” she asked.  I’m not precisely sure how such a process would happen, but I am certain it’s not a procedure I wish to explore the possibility of. 

“No, silly girl,” I told my daughter, who was smiling and giggling at me, “You’re too big now.”

“Oh, okay, I too big now,” she said, and gave me a hug before placing her hands on my belly and asking, “Well, what in there now?”

I’ve been mistaken as pregnant before, and it is never a fun occurrence.  This was just an innocent question and I’m sure she didn’t mean to imply anything, but I was still offended.  Apparently my stomach looked some kind of storage locker to my young daughter.

“Nothing,” I explained, “nothing’s in Mommy’s belly right now.” 

“Yeah, there’s something,” she disagreed with me.  “There’s a Jeep in your belly!”

A Jeep in my belly? What the fuck?  I’m overweight, it’s true, but I sure as hell hope it doesn’t look like I can transport fucking automobiles around in my muffin top.  Also, should I be concerned about the mental health of my daughter?  Do I need to contact some services? A Jeep in my belly?!?

I disguised these thoughts from my daughter, and then joked, “Well, won’t your Grandpa be so very happy to know I can now birth Jeeps.”  He often spends hours looking at Jeeps and SUVs on Craigslist, and now he needn’t spend the money as apparently he could expect a new off road vehicle in about three to nine months (my daughter didn’t clarify an expected due date, so I was unsure if I was in my first or third trimester).

“Yay! A Jeep!” she exclaimed, and bounced up and down on the bed.  “Let’s call Grandpa!” 

I did her bidding then and dialed the phone.  When my father picked up, she said, in her little pip-squeak voice, which can often be hard to understand over the phone, “Hi Grandpa! Momma got a Jeep in her belly!” 

“What? Huh?” he replied.

When I translated, and then explained the nature of her bizarre phone call, he said, “Hmmm. Okay. Well, you two are weirdoes.  See you later.” 

In addition to being a little weirdo, as so cited by her grandfather, I do believe my daughter also has a rather flawed understanding of human physiology.

As for me, I must now consider a name for my expectant Jeep.  I’m assuming that Jeeps are male by nature, so I’m considering Michael.  Any other suggestions for a boy’s name?  And, if you birth it yourself, do you think it’s moral to then sell your newborn automobile?  I could really use the money.  Hmmmm ….

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blogger Blamed in Fatal Stabbing

It’s another Blogger Idol link-up!  This week the contestants have been asked to write a newspaper article about a fictional crime they have committed. There are a few guidelines though: You must include at least 2 images, and the post must be between 500-750 words. It must also be written in third person.

And here it is …..

The Hometown Herald

Monday, October 7th, 2013



A woman allegedly stabbed her ex-husband to death during an incident at a local Applebee’s neighborhood grill, police reported.
The woman, Angela Ryan, 35, was taken into custody Friday evening after a chance meeting at Applebee’s, which led to the fatal wounding of her former spouse.  The woman was reported as seemingly lacking a sense of guilt, according to both witnesses and local authorities.  
In a statement released to authorities, Angela’s current husband shared, “Angela always used to say that if we ever ran into him (her ex-husband), she would stab him in the throat with a knife.  I just thought it was one of her jokes.  For anyone that knows her well, they are aware that Angela often has a dark sense of humor. “

An Applebee’s server, who witnessed the entire scene, reported, “She appeared perfectly content when she came in that evening.  She was with another man and they seemed like any other couple I’ve waited on.  She was drinking our signature sangria and sharing some mozzarella sticks with her husband.  They were really happy and laughing.  Then another couple entered the restaurant and the man approached their table.  I saw the woman look at him, and her entire pleasant expression and demeanor changed.”
Local authorities, and other key witnesses, don’t believe any words were exchanged between Angela and the now deceased man.  Many customers reported confusion over the incident as no action appeared to have precipitated the attack. 
The server continued, “Once she saw him approaching their booth, she just very calmly removed her utensils from the napkin and firmly grasped the steak knife.  When he was near enough, she stood up and swiftly plunged the knife into his throat.  He collapsed and began bleeding profusely.  That’s when I called authorities.  All of our customers were alarmed, but she remained totally composed.”
After arriving at the scene, local police handcuffed Angela and she was taken in for questioning.  Her former spouse, whose name is not being released until we have reached his next of kin, was rushed to Lincoln Memorial Hospital, where he departed several hours later, suffering from severe blood loss.  
Although many individuals suspected that Angela would be charged with manslaughter, police informed us that they are not pursuing charges after hearing Angela’s account of their former relationship.  “This is quite atypical,” Police Chief Al Rogan admitted.  “We don’t normally let an attack with fatal outcomes like this go unpunished.  However, we believe that Angela was punished enough while she was married to this son of a bitch.  I hate to say it, but that asshole really got what he had coming to him.” 
“I guess I should have taken her more seriously,” added Angela’s current spouse, who she is now back home with, “I thought she was being sarcastic.”
Concerned that this incident may have tarnished his restaurant’s reputation, Applebee’s manager Dave Jensen is considering a new marketing campaign.  Jensen suggested that the restaurant now be promoted as a place where kids eat free and women get revenge. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Small Town Street Cred

“Do your students really believe the illuminati is as far reaching as ----- ?” my friend asked, after I  finished describing my day to her. 

Currently, I spend my afternoons supervising a high school study hall.  Said high school exists in a very small town in Wisconsin, and the students of this high school have a strange fascination with the illuminati.  Some of you might remember when the students first shared this interest with me last fall.
Today, after having spoken to a group of sophomore boys about using their study time more productively, one posed the following question: “Mrs. Ryan, are any white folks in the illuminati?”
“Of course they are,” I replied, as though this were a perfectly normal and expected question for any student to ask of his teacher.  You know, “How do you solve this math equation? What’s a comma splice?  Who was our 18th president?  Who is the most prominent Caucasian figure in the illuminati?” Those are all just run of the mill academic questions.
“Well, it seems to me,” the young man continued, “That the illuminati is made up of mostly black rappers.  I wasn’t sure they let white people in.” 
I believe it was at this point in sharing the story when my friend stated, “Shit, if your students were half as concerned with their coursework as they were with the racial make-up of the illuminati, they would all be geniuses.”  Genius was a bit hyperbolic, but I certainly concurred with her intended point.
In that actual moment, I shook my head at him.  I did add, though, that there was reason to believe Justin Bieber is associated with the illuminati.  They accepted this response for two reasons.  The first is that I’ve become my small town’s resident expert on the illuminati. The second justification was the very logical explanation I provided them – How the hell else could the Biebs be so fucking popular without the help of a secret Satanic society? That little douche-bag no doubt sold his soul to Satan. 
**Author’s Note: Calm the fuck down; I didn’t use that language when explaining this to the students.  The language was clean, but the message was the same. **
“Hmmm …” they nodded with intrigue after I provided my affirmation of Bieber’s occult involvement.  However, they still continued on with concerns that the illuminati were exhibiting reverse racism.  “Still, it’s a lot of black dudes.  I mean, Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, DMX …”
“No, no,” I interrupted the student here, “DMX is not involved in the illuminati,” I declared with conclusive resolve.  
“What? Yeah he is,” another student argued in defense of his friend.
“No, he’s not,” I fixedly reaffirmed.
“How do you know?” yet another student asked.  How dare he question my knowledge base, especially when it came to this crucial topic?
“Because he told me,” I calmly asserted.
At this point, I briefly explained my now infamous encounter with DMX at last year’s Zombie Pub Crawl in Minneapolis.  I may have left a few parts out, like just how ungodly intoxicated I was. Whatev.
When my word was outrageously doubted by a few of the students, I brought up an image of DMX and me using the flickr app on the student’s chromebook.
“Holy shit!” one of the students yelled, and the others all looked at me in great awe and wonder.  They made similar comments, void of the curse words as I had reprimanded their friend for his inappropriate language.
**Another Author’s Note: I’m not a hypocrite.  I keep my language situation appropriate.  I don’t drop f-bombs in schools, churches, or nursing homes.  Everywhere else it’s open season. **
“That is so cool! You really did confront DMX. That’s crazy, Mrs. Ryan. Like, I think that dude killed people and you called him out for his language.”
“That’s right,” I avowed, “so don’t think you’re going to get away with your foul or inappropriate language here.”  If mother fucking DMX didn’t intimidate me, I wasn’t about to be daunted by their scrawny little fifteen-year-old asses.
“Yeah, that’s pretty cool.  Okay.  I totally think you’re the coolest teacher here now,” one young boy announced, “You have, like, major street cred.”
My proclaimed major street cred aside, one of these boys still persisted with his argument.  “Yeah, that’s cool, but I still think the illuminati doesn’t accept whites.”
“Yes they do,” his friend argued, coming quickly to the kick-ass teacher’s defense. “Tom Cruise is illuminati.”
“No,” I informed them, “He’s not illuminati. He’s a scientologist.” Get your shit together, kids. 
Get your shit together.  You can’t go around confusing the illuminati with L. Ron Hubbard lovers, for fuck’s sake.  These kids will never make it on the rough streets of this town.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My New Mantra

I was lying in my bed, feeling lazy and lethargic when my husband began prodding me to rise and greet the day, inquiring about my lack of ambition.  
“What’s wrong, Angela?” he asked as he sat himself down on the edge of the bed, shoving disheveled sheets out of the way in the process.
When I simply shrugged my shoulders, he maintained his inquisition by running through a series of possible explanations for my prolonged state of repose.  “Do you have stomach cramps again? Is your colitis acting up?” he probed.   “Does your back hurt? Are you anxious? Are you feeling depressed? What can I do?” 
I wasn’t anxious or depressed until that moment when he started barraging me with a series of questions.  I felt like a criminal under interrogation.
His interrogation tactics succeeded as I succumbed to his inquiry and admitted to recent feelings of worthlessness and doubt. I confessed to lingering disappointment and depression about my job loss the prior year.  I explained that I felt I wasn’t really contributing to society in a positive and productive way void of my full time teaching position.  I also acknowledged that new ambitions were developing in my soul.
“Maybe I am supposed to write now,” I said.  He looked at me a bit hesitantly.  I lost my job last year, and the truth is I’m still grieving this loss.  Another truth, however, is that I believe the cliché that things happen for a reason.  Right now, I wanted to believe that reason was my writing.
After all, hadn’t I been seeing signs everywhere?  I kept on seeing images and postings declaring platitudes akin to “When God closes a door, stop banging on it and trust that whatever is behind it is not for you.”  Regrettably, the prevalence of such declarations was probably not a sign of my destiny, and rather an indication I had been spending too much fucking time on Pinterest again.  Regardless, it was happier and more hopeful to believe, however deceived I might be.
My current worry was that I was also unwillingly deceived about my ability to write.  Maybe I didn’t have a talent.  Maybe I didn’t have a way with words.  Maybe I would never write anything more than an obscure little blog that I had dreadfully neglected over the past few months.  
“I don’t know,” I mumbled, “I mean, I want to write and sometimes I truly believe that’s what I am destined to do, but other times I fully doubt my ability.  I just fuck things up.”
“Angela, you do not.  You are a good writer.  Your blog is good,” he offered as means of encouragement.
This failed to appease my current doubt.  Good? Good?  I was good?  I didn’t want my husband, who ought to be my biggest supporter, to describe my work as merely “good.”  I wanted him to describe my writing as superior or stellar – not good.  His word choice was the equivalent of a coach patting the back of the worst fucking kid on the team with an “atta’ boy – nice effort.”  That wasn’t what I wanted; I wanted him to prompt me to write, prevail, and publish.
I gulped down more self-doubt with his words, and then whined, “Good? I’m just good?  I wish you believed in me more than that!”
 “I do believe in you.  You are better than good.  You’re more than adequate.”
More than adequate? More than adequate?  What the fuck kind of pep talk is that? 
As I fumed over his further word choice, a memory of an old SNL sketch flashed through my mind.  Rather than announcing though, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me,” I then imagined myself seated stoically in front of a mirror proclaiming, “I’m okay. I’m good. I’m more than adequate.” 
This would most assuredly become my new mantra.  I knew that the next time I just didn’t want to get out of bed on a Saturday morning, I need only assure myself that I am “more than adequate.”  I would repeat “I’m okay.  I’m good.  I’m more than adequate. I’m okay.  I’m good.  I’m more than adequate” until I believed those ultra-affirming words and awoke ready to embrace the day, and whatever challenge lay in my way. 
I’m okay. I’m good. I’m more than adequate. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

May You Never Have to Write This ...

As many of you are aware, I recently set my aims at Blogger Idol.  I figured I would give it a shot, hoping more than anything to chase away all my awful, relentless self-doubt and force myself back into writing more frequently.  My aspirations didn’t exactly turn out as planned as I failed to become a finalist.  So, self-doubt remains a nagging little bitch that just won’t fucking get a clue and get out of my life.   Regardless, I also have this kick-ass warrior woman that occasionally emerges in me and yells, “Don’t give up!” and then karate chops that bitch down for a small reprieve in which I regain my ambition and a bit of confidence.   Having recently knocked doubt to her knees, despite my loss, I decided to once again participate in the play-at-home links.  I described these links last year, so I’m not doing it again – do your own damn research.  I will provide you with this week’s prompt though so you are not at a total loss (or concerned about contacting my therapist ASAP) as you read the following words.  Thanks for hanging around and still reading a little loser like me. Wink. Wink. Smiley face.

This week, the finalist’s assignment is to introduce themselves to the Blogger Idol readers. But in true Blogger Idol style, there’s a twist. They were told to do it by writing their own eulogy.
writing prompt write your own eulogy
The assignment follows:
It is odd to find myself in this exact moment, in this exact place, perched to deliver a tribute and memorial to the woman I probably knew better than anyone else in this life, and yet the woman who still perplexed and confounded me like none other.  I have struggled with the right words.  For those of you who know me well, you know that words often came easily to me.  Yet, I felt myself at a complete lack when it came to composing this eulogy – as though my fingers had been forbidden from typing and every pen’s ink had dried and every pencil’s lead had been dulled.  How does one go about eulogizing such a profoundly complex woman, especially given our unique and complicated relationship?

 Let me just start by saying that in my life, I loved her deeply.  I was immensely proud of her – for all the obstacles she had overcome, all the lives she had impacted, all the empowering words she shared.  I loved her laughter – the way it could fill up an entire room, the way it could break tensions, the way it comforted and supplied a genuine feeling of home.  Her humor was whip-smart and I laughed more often with her than with anyone else. That sharp humor was often dark and dripping with sarcasm, but I also loved that about her.  I loved her smile, and that gleam in her eyes that accompanied it.  Her mouth could be hidden from view, but her eyes always revealed when she was smiling.  The charm of that smile, and those adorable dimples – was simply undeniable.   And she smiled a lot – more than most others would have given the enormity and range of her struggles and setbacks. 

Those are some of the parts I most hated about her – the battles that I was all too aware were wickedly waging just under the surface of that bright smile.  She struggled with chronic illness, including colitis and fibromyalgia. However, her biggest battle was probably with mental illness.  She suffered from bipolar disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  While her suffering was not always visible to many of you in this room today, she did not hide her suffering in shame either.  She often publicly shared her struggles, in both personal and professional settings, as a means of ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, and promoting mental health awareness.  Most recently, she became a member of a local task force on suicide prevention.  Of course, we all recognize the bitter, biting irony in this role – and this is why I hate her too.  I hate her because I didn’t want to see her go so damn soon.

I didn’t want to see her go because I know there was still so much fucking good that she was meant to yet do in this world – so many more people that needed to hear her voice and know her struggles, and know that they could be strong too.  Fuck. I thought she was strong.  Excuse me. You must excuse my language and my tears, but you must also understand how hard it is for me to stand here today and tell you that what most amazed me about Angela during her life was her ability to survive and overcome, and yet here we are.  Here we fucking are. 

But I didn’t come here today to be angry or pissed or incite my rage against God or Angela for this final decision.  No, I came here to celebrate a remarkable life and thus I continue with my deepest regrets for my digression. 

There were two things Angela always wanted to do in this life.  She wanted to be a mother and a teacher.  I am pleased to say that she fulfilled both of these roles, and inherently excelled at each.  As I look about, I see many of her former students are here today, and I have no doubt that they would speak the same words of kindness and gratitude regarding her today as they once did in her classroom.  In considering what I would say today, I looked back at some of Angela’s teacher evaluations.  She is often described with words such as “excellent, best, fantastic, amazing,” and the like.  She is described as a “leader” and an “inspiration,” and in what is probably my favorite comment, she is called “a female Jesus.”  That might seem like high praise if we consider our own past teachers, ones we probably cursed while attempting algebraic equations at midnight.  But, the truth is that was just her.  She was a naturally gifted teacher and her personal struggles provided her with unrivaled empathy and understanding for those she taught.

Amid all the faces of friends, family, and former students, who she is undoubtedly looking down upon with warmth, there are two faces that are of the utmost importance to her.  To her children, her son and daughter, I offer my deepest condolences.  There is nothing – absolutely nothing – in her life that she loved more deeply and truly than the two of you.  You were her sunshines, and I assure you that while she is no longer with us in physical form, her love for you remains unconditional.  She will continue to watch over you and guide you, hoping for you the same happiness and immense joy that you brought into her life. Know that her deeply regrettable choice is in no way a reflection of her love for you.  That love will run true forever.

In her life, Angela was always honest.  Many of her close friends would actually bemoan her “brutal honesty,” but I admired it.  It was refreshing in a world full of euphemisms and platitudes.  And so I’m not going to tell you that I know she’s gone to a better place or that time heals all wounds.  I am going to tell you that her absence, and her means of departure, smarts like a motherfucker and I know this pain will linger.  I am also going to tell you what I honestly would like to tell her right now – that I love her like crazy, but I also think she’s a selfish bitch.  But, you know, she always forgave me – no matter how many times I fucked up in our relationship.  She was a well of forgiveness and compassion, and so I forgive her and I’ll eventually forget my anger.  I promise to never forget, though, that humor, that capacity for love, that leadership. I will never forget the remarkable woman whose skin I was ultimately so damn lucky to live in.