I just deleted the whole post I had started (and almost finished) here because of how whiny it sounded when I reread it just now. I’ve been crying a lot. That’s it. Don’t know why (maybe job-change, house in boxes for upcoming reno, band seemingly slowly dismantling, treadmill isn’t working, watching Call the Midwife, allergies, lack of sleep, being 40, maybe.)
In the meantime I blamed everything else imaginable. I know it’s not my husband’s fault, or lacrosse’s, or his band’s, or anything else I accused. But I can’t really fix any of the likely culprits. So I’m going to stop whining. (I might not be able to stop crying, but I can stop whining.)
That’s it. Short post. If I keep going it’s going to turn into whining. (And probably crying.)
So, if you’re one of the few, the proud, who have followed my journey into figuring out what I want to do now that I don’t need benefits – aka, my mid-life crisis – you’ll know that I’ve recently resigned my “coveted” (ha!) position as Curriculum Specialist and taken a job back in the classroom. I guess I’ll call that Step One.
I’m mixing reality shows, but somewhere between Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and The Biggest Loser, I know that at some point, a failed contestant has to look at the camera and say, “I am NOT smarter than a fifth grader,” and Bob Greene says to the kicked=0ff contestant “I’m sorry, but you are NOT the biggest loser.” I feel like when I walk off this job on June 14th, I’ll gladly look into a camera and say “My name is Angie, and I am NOT a curriculum specialist.”
And that makes me proud right now. I want to be a teaching specialist…A kid specialist, a learning and reading and thriving specialist, but not a curriculum specialist. Sure you have to have a curriculum – even though I managed to be a successful teacher for many years either without one or without paying attention to one. But I understand you have to know what you’re supposed to teach, and by nature, you need some measure of your and your students’ success with those goals. And since there are thousands of teachers in Texas – hundreds or more of which are not naturally good – there has to be a common assessment.
I don’t want a common classroom, though.
My treadmill broke last week, and it’s been stressing me into a depression. I’ve learned to do my running and walking in the comfort of my pollen-free bedroom while watching Keith Morrison lay out the details of murder after riveting murder. There is no way on earth I’m going back outside in the dark where the mosquitos are and it might be humid and there aren’t – fortunately and unfortunately – any murders to be solved. So I’ve done no running or walking, just cursing a lot at my treadmill and the scales.
So here’s where I’m going with this: The scales are how I measure and celebrate my hard work on the treadmill. But without the treadmill, I am stubbornly content to just watch that number go in the wrong direction and bitch about the broken treadmill – as if that’s how to fix it. Tests are how we measure our hard work in the classroom – Is that the way I’m going to measure and celebrate my hard work with kids??? Of course not! Never have, why start now?!? I want to find alternative ways – aka “the right ways” – to sneekily achieve what our advantaged students achieve – without the moaning and dread and copy machine. I know this is possible. Dear friend, colleague, mentor, in a conversation with a Resource teacher, flailing a STAAR practice workbook and bitching about the broken copier, reminded her that what kids really need to is to be reading. Resource teacher said to friend, “It’s not what your kids need, but it’s what my kids need,” (paraphrasing) to which friend replied, in her head, “My kids don’t need that because they REEEEAAAADDDD!!!!” I know these truths to be self-evident.
So translate, brainiac! (me to self) – If you can find alternative ways to facilitate a learning environment that achieves the same (or better) measures of success in the classroom, why are you so uncreative and unwilling with the running?? You ran outside for decades when it was all you had, but you’ve been spoiled. Would you be complaining about your kids scores if you had given up on them too?
Not sure what the challenge here is, but I think it’s along these lines: You know what the goal is, and you know what your resources are, and you know what you have to do…Don’t blame a broken treadmill for your lack of activity. And don’t ever blame a set of broken standards for your lack of creativity.
I wish – so badly – that I knew how other people’s brains worked. I don’t feel like mine is normal, if there even is such a thing.
It would give me some peace to know that everybody’s brains were completely unique – like a fingerprint – so there was no “normal” to compare to. But I have a feeling that there is a range of brain and thought patterns, wide as it may be, and mine is way outside the range.
OVER-ANALYZING: I wish I didn’t always care what people’s motives were. When someone does or says something, I like to interpret what they really meant. I like to try to figure out what they’re hoping my response will be. When I was single, this was bad enough, but then I had a child, and now a husband plus two, and I do it for all of us since none of them seem to care to do it for themselves.
OBSESSING: As I’ve probably explained quite well so far, I obsess about a lot of things. But the thing that probably qualifies me for medication and possibly some federal funding is the obsession I feel when I find out I don’t or didn’t know something I should have known (fill in the blank with just about anything that either didn’t affect me, didn’t matter, or wasn’t at all a big deal). I want to know why, I want to know who’s job it was to tell me – is my email broken? do people not think about me? do I even really exist??? I will obsess until I get to the bottom of it – which usually involves knocking some people down along the way and talking really fast (and not listening to “answers” that don’t do anything to “answer” my questions.) Apparently.
OVER-OBSERVING: If you’ve been an acquaintance at any time in my life, I’ve known what you drive, and if I’ve passed you ever on the road, I’ve seen you. I probably waved and you didn’t. I’ll notice every discarded tag in the bathroom trash, any set of blinds that is turned a slightly different angle than I turn them, and any Q-tip that doesn’t look like it came from any of our ears. I should have been a detective, because this super-power does me no good whatsoever in my everyday life. Also, I seem to be the only person at work to utter the words “Y’all match!” It’s a wasted gift, really.
What I want from all of this is to be Oblivious – some of the time anyway. I don’t want to take prescriptions or do illegal drugs. I think it’s probably why I like a little drinkiepoo every now and then. Any suggestions? Meditation? (Just so you know, I’ve tried to be a pray-er, but I don’t focus very well, and before I know it I’m planning dinner or remembering to return my Stitch Fix, and then a few hours later I remember that I need to say in-Jesus’s-name-I-pray-Amen.) Anybody? Same?
I just Googled this term, and it’s not even a thing. It was at 510 Brodie when I was growing up. This term, apparently made up by my mother, embodies so many wonderful things about my upbringing and heritage, and so many things I can’t seem to give up.
Are all obsessions bad? I feel like this one is just one of my quirks (I think I’m justifying a lot of these post topics that way lately…) But it is an obsession nonetheless – one that causes undue stress almost every day. I’m not expecting – or even wanting – to turn this one completely off…just moderate my expectations.
If I was going to cast someone to play my mother in a movie about her life, I would have a hard time deciding between the proper Hyacinth (from the BBC) and the oh-so-southern Paula Dean (from the South). She’s the juxtaposition of keeping up appearances and lovin’ Jesus while cookin’ with bacon grease. Her mother (more like a mixture of characters from Dallas and The Beverly Hillbillies) wasn’t too much different in her appearances/housekeeping/presentation standards. On more than one occasion, I called to ask if I could drop by and see her while I was in her area, and she declined because her house wasn’t presentable.
Much like my grandmother, I don’t want people to see my home in any state other than “Magazine Perfect” – the term my mother used to distinguish whether she wanted me to merely clean my room – dust, vacuum, empty trash – or arrange it for the magazine photographers who were inevitably going to drop by unannounced to take pictures of our interior for Southern Living magazine – bed made, throw pillows and blankets strategically staged, frames placed on shelves by height and in odd numbered groupings, and stack of classic novels innocently gracing my desk…and of course I want it to appear effortless. (She never told me these were the things I had to do – I just created that as a definition.) As a kid, I preferred “magazine perfect” to cleaning. It involved throwing un-pretty things in my closet and desk drawers (’cause what kind of wackadoo photographer would take pictures of desk drawers???) and making things look pretty. Nowadays, I enjoy cleaning too, but I still – honest to God – have the thought in my head that a magazine photographer might show up on my doorstep, and By God I’d better be ready.
Like I said, this obsession isn’t ALL bad. I love living in a tidy house. I love the compliments from people who drop by. I love things looking nice. But most people really don’t care. I don’t get that, but they don’t. This probably goes back full circle to my Confidence post. I don’t feel like I judge other people if their houses are messy (I kinda do if they’re dirty), but I do find myself grateful that I live like I do, and I do expect to be judged.
Here’s what I need to focus on: Who do I feel like I need to make happy? The answer should be me and my family. It does take a regular cleaning and a regular picking-up to make me happy. It takes very little to make my family happy – I want them to care, but they just don’t. And I should see this as an opportunity for some freedom from stress…I’m going to try.
*voice in my head* I’m going to be SO mad if a magazine photographer really does show up on a day I’m practicing not caring. SO mad.
(in my head, that’s me below)
In 73 days, this family will make its annual pilgrimage back up to the holy land – known to others as Keuka Lake.
I hear all of the Finger Lakes are spectacular, but Keuka is the one where I’ve perched for two solid weeks of relaxation each of the past three years. My hott husband has been there almost every summer of his life. And last summer, it’s where we celebrated the 50th year of Maga’s Lake House and we were married on the dock in a perfect little gathering.
His family home there is warm and welcoming, its hosts are laid back and gracefully hospitable, the lake is cool and clear, and the people are friendly. But even if these things were not true, there’s something else extraordinary about this place…
They have a time-travel portal.
If you count their horses, the Amish might outnumber televisions, and they definitely outnumber air conditioners. You might find some of what you need at the little grocery store, but you still need to stop at the butcher’s, the Amish market, and the fruit stand. The summer days are long, the tables are large, and the windows are open.
But here’s my favorite part of the time travel there: kids get to be kids – without instructions or a plan or an itinerary or supervision, all day, all the while learning more than we could ever teach them. Our kids and the neighbor’s kids run all day – All. Day. – up and down from the lake to the woods and around again. They fish, build forts, make up games, swim, kayak, sail, paddle, run, run, run, did I mention they run? everywhere? When they’re hungry, they figure out how to eat while running. When someone gets hurt, they clean each other’s wounds. They celebrate the big catch together. They come up with creative things to make out of trash from the gully. At dinner, plates get clean, stories get relived, brothers don’t fight, and a good hard sleep comes easy. They strategize plans to most efficiently accomplish the assigned daily chores. You can’t make this stuff up! But they can. And they do. For four weeks straight. They learn more there without adult supervision than in all the time and money we adults (collectively) try to “invest” in their development. NOTHING is as important at their age as learning things for yourself. That is hard to find in the suburbs, my friends.
It seems like these days, if your kid turns out to be a self-sustaining adult, it almost has to be in spite of us, not because of us. My father-in-law dropped this wisdom on us a couple of years ago – “Don’t handicap your kids by making their lives easy.” But we do it every day.
My adult daughter is a walking reminder of this. It is abundantly apparent what aspects of her life I kept out of and gave her independence, and which aspects I stunted her growth by treating her like she couldn’t do it on her own (well, right, enough, etc.)
Challenge/Reminder: I am going to stop doing for the kids what they can do for themselves. Obviously, there are time constraints and bedtimes, but their ability-level is way higher than we give them credit for…and there’s a lot of things they should know how to do by this age, but they don’t – simply because we’ve never taught them.
So I might be the bad guy around here for a while, but in this whole step-parenting adventure, I’ve learned that my role is sometimes different than the parent – but just as important.
(Pretty sure it would be a big help if we do what we keep saying we’re going to do and cut off the cable…So many of these challenges are actually going to save us money – I’ve saved money on eating out, not drinking, not picking grout ((oops))…Feelin’ Pre-tee Good 🙂 )
The challenge said “A to Z”, doesn’t sound so hard to me.
Twenty-six days of blogging – I blog twenty-six times a day in my head. But maybe – maybe – that’s the challenge…ONLY twenty-six things to blog about.
I read the challenge, contemplated, and accepted.
Cocky. Sometimes I pretend I’m confident.
Acceptance means commitment. Acceptance means challenge. Acceptance means a schedule. Acceptance means I could fail.
I accepted a new job last week (haven’t told my boss yet). But I’ve committed. I’ve been challenged. I now have a schedule. And I could fail.
So just as I accepted this A-Z poetry/blog challenge, I accepted a job that will make me have to plan every day again, deal with something new every day again, and put a huge part of myself out there for judgment, scrutiny, and personal and professional evaluation every day again.
But that’s what I’ve missed. So here I am – Challenge Accepted.
“Contemplation, concentration, anticipation, revelation…”
Lines from a Coastal Bend B-side non-hit (not that any of our other songs have made it onto the FM dial, but still). A line our song-writer-leader-producer Tim wrote for me to sing. I’m quite proud of the final cut of the song, but the morose nature of his creation certainly isn’t a sing-along that’ll win over new fans at your local bar…
It came to mind just now as I’m trying to write a mission statement for my life – an assignment given to me by my boss after I shared (under duress) with her the fact that I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this job and that maybe I should go back the classroom.
Then, sitting next to Danette in writing group – who showed me a post about Coastal Bend (my band) – I couldn’t help but get stuck on these lyrics (just be glad these aren’t the ones I decided to tattoo on my hip in an earlier state of duress).
After reassuring me that I AM the right person for this job (…and other flattering things I’ll get into later), my boss asked me to do two things before making a decision – one of which was to write my own personal mission statement. She wants to see it when I’m done, and we’ll analyze whether it’s the mission statement of a teacher or that of a curriculum specialist.
I’ve written one draft already and deleted it because it was quite contrived to fit my current mood. I always seem to connect lyrics to songs to how I’m feeling – and then proceed to sing loudly so that all the land is on my page – so I feel like the place to actually, and honestly start, is with these lyrics. “Contemplation, concentration, anticipation, revelation” sums up what I love about people and teaching and my job and what I want to do and get better at and shout from the mountaintop.
Please ignore the fact that the name of the song I’m quoting is “Waste of Time”. The line from a Coastal Bend song that I DO have tattooed on me is “Let Me Show You How to Fly”…which would be much more appropriate for my Mission Statement 1.0.
I believe my earthly “job” is to inspire. Though my content skills may be surpassed by others, there is something about the transference of attitude, desire, and sound philosophy that intrigues me. It is the one element common to all of my jobs and hobbies that I think about night and day…How is what I am doing going to inspire others? It motivates me to push myself in ways that nothing else will. I haven’t mastered this art, but I long to more than any other professional goal.
Stay tuned. This will get better. Otherwise, I think it tells me I have a career in a commune somewhere where Becca teaches Yoga and I close the day with an inspirational quote worthy of Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.
I don’t like it. So far, not so good. On a personal level, my life is still awesome. Hott husband, adult daughter who is proving to be more and more mature every day (or maybe more accurately, more or less mature every day), a job that allows me to do the things I am passionate about (even if there are facets of it that make me want to hide in bed), younger kids who are pleasant, smart, and healthy, finances are in order, book is being published, etc, etc, etc.
Body-wise…ick. Oh, people told me, “just wait until you’re forty”, “you can’t lose weight after forty”, “your eyesight goes after forty”, “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” In my mind, I always thought they were just super grumpy people who finally found something on which to blame their afflictions. Not me – no way. Why on earth would, one day – suddenly – my eyesight, health, AND metabolism all decide to abandon me simultaneously?
Guess what has happened in the two months since I’ve turned forty… I can’t see a thing up close without cheater glasses on. I’ve gained five MORE pounds – totaling 10 since the school-year started. I’ve developed panic attacks, acute occasional anxiety, vertigo, my first back-ache, and a whooshing sound in my right ear that sounds like a baby’s heartbeat in an ultrasound sounds, except it’s mine. My heartbeat. Now projected through my right ear so loud at times that I can’t pay attention to what people are saying. Nice.
Had my hormones tested. Normal. Had my ears checked. Nothing. Got off the holiday junk food kick. Gained five pounds. W.T.F.???
Every day I just want to come home and get in bed. I want to watch tv and scroll through Twitter and drink Prosecco. I have to get over/through/past this, but suddenly it feels like that would require going backward in time, and that hasn’t been invented yet.
I need to feel obsessed with something healthy again. Tonight, we started a writing group at my house. There are five of us at this very moment. Five of us, sitting, writing, conversing with some one or some thing via hands and words. I don’t think we’ll change the world. I don’t think we’ll change our own worlds. But I do think this is the vehicle that has motivated me before, and it’s the method of choice for me deciding to whip my body’s ass back into the land of the living again. And I’m grateful for the time and kindred spirit that we all can share so that I’ll leave the tv off, stay awake, and write.
So as before, here are my professions: 1) I will eat right this week, 2) I will exercise with the enthusiasm of a model, 3) I will drink more water than alcohol, 4) I will pretend I’m 39 until my body stops acting like it’s 40, 5) I will write at least twice a week.
When President Obama speaks, I always seem get caught on something he said that just bugs me more than the vocal majority. During his executive order speech about gun control a couple of days ago, he stated something about the fact that gun violence in America has little or no correlation to licensed gun owners. Then the very next thing out of his mouth was a very stern, presidential, “I reject that thinking!” If he can reject a fact, then so can I! I am 39 and 14 months. Forty is for suckas.