Monthly Archives: August 2011

Weathering the Storm


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            After a couple crazy days of preparation, I’m ready. 
I spent Wednesday and Thursday moving furniture and hiding everything that
could become a projectile.  Friday I went to the grocery store and stocked
up on healthy snacks and foods that require little to no cooking. 
Yesterday I spent making three days worth of iced-coffee (necessities first,
people!), washing and filling water bottles, and making sure I had enough clean
clothes to get through the week.   Oh, yeah, and in addition to
getting me and my classroom ready for the start of school, there is this pesky
hurricane outside. 

           
Though back-to-school time can feel a bit like getting whacked in the face with
a downed tree limb, I know no one who’s had to work all summer wants to hear me
complain about going back to work after a lovely and prolonged vacation. 
So I’ll focus on the upside…There is an upside, right?  Yes, teachers like
to complain as much as our students, but in some ways going back to school
offers even the adults with a unique opportunity.  I used to like going
back to school, not just for the shopping, okay, mostly for the shopping, but
also because September brought with it a chance to start over.  For most
kids, and adults lucky enough to be in education, New Year’s is celebrated in
September.  There aren’t too many businesses that completely shut down for
nearly eight weeks and return with entirely new clientele.  Sure, my
colleagues stay the same, for the most part.  But none of my team members
are the type to hold a grudge from the meeting last May when I acted like a
snotty bitch­ after a bad class–because we all had those days, and we all want
the same opportunity to start again.  Considering how rough a teacher’s
first (or ninth?) year can go, the chance to reinvent yourself after a summer
of first decompressing and then recharging is truly a gift.

           
It occurred to me recently–probably in the wee hours of the morning when I
awoke in a cold sweat planning for classes I don’t even teach–that if I added up
my years teaching, student teaching, and my own seventh grade disaster, I mean,
experience, I’ve spent over a decade in the seventh grade.  Bill Murray’s
character’s trauma in Groundhog Day
can’t hold a flame to the horror this thought evokes in most people.  Ten
years of outwardly hating, while secretly envying, the mean girls.  Ten
years of being snubbed by the cute jocks.  Ten years of bad fashion
trends, poorly applied make-up, braces, pimples, and oh, yeah, seventh grade
grammar.  Go ahead, shudder, gag, or whatever other bodily response you
have to this idea.  Really, though, it’s not so bad.

           
There’s truth to the idea things never happen the same way twice.  If
you’re lucky, you’ll learn from your mistakes, so you’re able to dodge the bullet
the second time around.  If you’re on a slightly slower learning curve,
you should at least be able to brace yourself for impact after you realize you
once again sped-read through your open house notes and are now facing a room of
scrutinizing parents with nothing left to tell them for the remaining seven
minutes–so hopefully you’re more comfortable attempting to avoid a really, long
awkward silence by filling it with a few minutes of stand-up.  I’m not speaking
from experience, or anything, simply postulating.  If nothing else, just
having experienced it before, you’re a day, or a year, or a decade wiser. 
Half the mean girls, you’ve discovered, learned it from mean moms; the other
half are really nice kids just trying to survive the cutthroat world that is middle
school.  And those boys who left you standing without a partner at every
dance through prom, well, you’re wise enough now to realize most put the
“dumb,” in “dumb jock,” and the others are secretly
suppressing their inner-geek until they’re smart enough to realize it’s their
brains, not their brawn, that will earn them both the BMW and the woman.  Even the good things change, whether we want them to or
not.  That perfect lesson from last
year, or last period even?  Like my
mom’s anti-recipe cooking, it’ll never come out exactly the same again, so
enjoy it while it lasts.  Life, no
matter how repetitive it may seem on the surface, is less déjà vu, and more
chance to renew.

            With
ten years worth of knowledge in hand and a willingness to grow with the flow, back to school should be more of
a breeze than a hurricane.  Worse comes to worse, though, there’s always
next September–only 185 days left to go!

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The Dog Ate My Blog Post

           Okay,
so those of you who know me, know I don’t have a dog (I don’t really even like
dogs, sorry pooches).  And although
you might be more willing to believe psycho-cat nibbled off the tips of my
typing fingers, that would be a lame excuse, too.  The truth to my lack of recent blogging has been a scarcity of topics to entertain you with.  When
I started this endeavor in January, a wise friend asked if I thought I could
keep up a weekly blog.  I
confidently answered, “Oh, yeah. 
I’ve already got a notebook page full of topics.”  And I did–read posts dated January
through March.  While I was
working, which required me to leave the house on a more regular basis, new
topics came, if not weekly, at least often.  Then summer happened. 
The days got hot, my butt became much more accustomed to long hours on
the deck furniture, and I happily spent more time writing about my imagined
worlds than interacting in the real world.  So what was a lazy girl to blog about?

            I
knew what I didn’t want to write about: the economy.  Good writers live by the mantra: write what you know.  I understood watching the numbers from
Wall Street was as depressing as watching the readout at weight watchers after
a weekend of margarita’s and guac. 
But beyond that, I’m clueless. 
It was the first time since I went into teaching that I was pretty happy
I didn’t make enough to invest.  My
first thought when I heard the nation’s credit rating was downgraded? 
Crap, now instead of spending parent
conferences explaining to the parents of B students why their child wasn’t
getting an A, I’ll also have to explain to the parents of A students why their
child isn’t getting an AA+.
  Yup, ignorance is bliss, at least until
my adjustable mortgage rate starts expanding like a Thanksgiving waistband.

            So
I couldn’t do serious topics.  How
about silly?  After an odd exchange
of emails between friends about those freaky-toed, paradoxically named barefoot
shoes, I teased that my next blog ought to be about toes.  They smell as bad as the economy, but
surely they’d be more fun to write about. 
Toes are an odd little body part. 
They’re ugly–everybody’s are, so don’t fool yourself–yet we paint them,
wrap rings around them, and peek them out of painful footwear.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because we appreciate their usefulness.  I never took anatomy (in my high school
the class required you to skin a cat, behavior I associated with serial killers
and sociopaths), but I do know toes are needed for balance, among other
things.  I could have done a little
research and learned all about toes had I chosen to blog about them that week,
but toes, like dogs and dissecting cats, creep me out a little.  Perhaps, it’s because mine are
freakishly long, like midget fingers invaded my bed one night and grafted themselves
to my already deformed feet.  My second
toe is so long, if I had more dexterous digits, I could easily flip people off
with my feet, which would be a cool, if crass, talent to have.  The phenomenon of the long middle toe
is sometimes called the Greek foot. 
Think Socrates taught Plato how to insult people with his toes?  Um…okay, so maybe it was my ADD that
kept me from blogging about toes. 
Moving on.

            Last
week, when yet another friend reminded me I had been remiss in my blogging
duties, I knew if I wanted to get everyone’s (Greek) foot out of my…well, let’s
just say I knew it was time for new post. 
And I had a topic.  It was a
great topic for the blog of a writer and English teacher, too.  I had spent the better part of four days devouring the
Girl
With the Dragoon Tattoo
trilogy, and then
it was over.  I was bummed.  I had become totally engrossed in the
lives of Michael and Lisbeth, and then there was no more to read.  This was not a new feeling.  I feel this way every time I finish a
great book with engaging characters.  It’s that ‘I just lost a friend, and
though I can go visit her, it’ll never really be the same’ feeling.  It’s even more intense at the end of a
series.  I’ve named it
post-book-blah.  There was only one
problem with this topic: it left me feeling…blah.  Feeling blah, leads to blah writing.  This works for some writers and
entertains some readers.  Hell,
Irish writers have built careers on it for centuries.  Then again, their readers were three sheets to the wind
before they read the first line. 
So maybe I’ll revisit post-book-blah next St. Paddy’s day.

            In
the meantime, though, as one can clearly see, I’ve had nothing to write
about.  Rather than bore you all
with my tales of unknowingly swimming in sharked infested waters (Hello, a sign
would have been nice.  I mean, who
really reads newspapers anymore?), or battling dead bats at gramma’s (Just hand
me a rake and call me Batwoman), I’ve been forced to spend my Sundays lounging
on the deck indulging in my three favorite vices: cocktail hour, sunbathing,
and reading/writing marathons.  I
guess it’s a good thing summer is ending and I’ll be back in the real world
soon…Right, well, I need to go slap myself silly, now.  Either someone spiked my iced-coffee, or I’m suffering from some major heatstroke.

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