December is usually a difficult month for me in terms of teaching. As the hours of daylight decrease, so does my energy and passion for my chosen career.
During my subway sunrise, I long for the energy I once had on September mornings. When I greet my students, I notice it’s harder to put the stress behind each syllable, to explain theme and internal conflict and perspective with fervor. I’ve been trying to counteract this by going to 6 a.m. yoga classes, where the instructors use rhetoric that encourages me to be present in the moment and search my body for the energy and strength I already possess.
My mother is passionate about the Rockettes. Each year, it delights me to see her literally squeal with joy when they come on TV, performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “They’re just so PERFECT!” she will exclaim, and abandon the turkey and dressing to stand directly in front of the television screen, sometimes miming their actions herself, grinning from ear to ear. May we all be as joyful as my mother watching the Rockettes.
My husband is passionate about football. A few days ago, we drove to MetLife Stadium on a Sunday morning to watch the Chicago Bears play the New York Giants. The Bears lost, Steve was grumpy for hours, and I was frustrated that he was so disheartened by a sporting event, mostly because I couldn’t understand it. We had been so looking forward to this, and I wanted him to have had as much fun as I did. (He would later say he did have a great day, he just needed a while to get over the pain of the loss.)
The irony of all this is that I had spent the car ride home listening to the best Taylor Swift break up songs and explaining how depressingly perfect they are.
I recently tried to explain heartbreak to someone who has never had their heart broken. It didn’t go well. There is no way of putting the feeling of loving and loss like that into words, though T-Swift does a pretty good job. I really believe that even when I’ve been happily married for ten years I will appreciate these bittersweet melodies about break-ups. I am especially passionate about the bridges in Taylor Swift break-up songs.
When “All Too Well” came on I belted out, “You call me up again just to break me like a promise! So casually cruel in the name of being honest!”
(I would like to take this moment to point out that there are Taylor Swift albums in the car because they were purchased by my husband.)
There’s another great bridge in “Dear John”: “You are an expert at sorry, and keeping the lines blurry. Never impressed by me acing your tests.” I love this lyric because so many of us can relate to the experience of dating the person you feel you have to be good enough for. Whether this is a result of you own insecurity or his arrogance is irrelevant—that feeling of not quite measuring up and never really knowing where you stand is universal.
My personal favorite break-up bridge is in “Last Kiss.” It’s all I can do not to openly weep upon hearing the lyrics, “So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep. And I’ll feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe.”
UGH. KNIFE THROUGH THE HEART. You can totally feel someone forget you.
“I could write a book about these bridges,” I say, and my friends laugh at my passion, which is slightly exaggerated by the multiple Coors Lights I drank during the football game.
The next morning, I ride the train and remind myself that I do love my career, and that my passion and energy is there, I just have to channel it. I listen to Taylor Swift songs for motivation.
Caroline (Higgins) Nyczak (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.