Wow. I’m Tricia, and it’s been FOUR YEARS since my last post. I hate to admit that, but there you go. I am at a point in my life (retired before I planned/wanted to) where I HAVE NOTHING TO DO, so maybe I’ll write. It might be what saves me. What does a person do when she HAS NOTHING TO DO? How do I fill my days? How do I make myself worthwhile? This is on me, and I have to figure it out. Here’s the situation: my husband has dodged a lay-off, but he didn’t dodge a relocation. So here I am, 1000 miles away from what has been my “home” for 26 years. A thousand miles away from the grandbabies who lived half a mile away from me. A thousand miles away from my career. A thousand miles away from my life. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been a thousand miles away from everything, and the adjustment has yet to begin. It feels surreal, like I’m going to wake up and be “home” again, like the end of that season of Dallas or Newhart. But I know this isn’t a dream, and it’s not going to end with me waking up to my “old” life. I need to create a new life for myself; no one is going to do it for me.
There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter September 27, 2012
Don't get me wrong: I love my job. Usually. I work hard, and I work long hours. August through May are busy months for me; I work more during those ten months than many people with "yearlong" jobs work all year. Regardless of the popular notion that teachers have it easy because they "get summers off," let me tell you, whatever time we have off is more than made up for by all the 14-hour workdays we put in during the ten months of our work year.
In case you're wondering what it is I do that keeps me so busy, let me enlighten you. It's my job to teach kids to read, write, and think. It's hard to teach kids to read, write, and think. I spend a lot of time planning how to teach kids to read, write, and think, and I spend a lot of time developing and creating "stuff" to help me do that. Then, I spend double or triple that amount of time evaluating how kids are reading, writing, or thinking. I know, I can hear you saying, "Just quit assigning work that needs to be evaluated." How do I know, then, if their reading, writing, and thinking is improving? There's just no way around assigning and then evaluating work; if I want to be a good teacher, I have to give kids feedback on what they do.
That was a long story to finally get to the point that June is my favorite month. School is out by the time it's June, August seems like it's a long way away, the weather is beautiful, the pool is open, and I can relax.
No one here gets out alive September 24, 2012
Few people make it out of childhood unscathed; the scars we earn on the battlefield of growing up make us or break us.
My alarm is set for 4:00 a.m., but it rarely goes off and wakes me up; instead, I've usually been awake for at least half an hour and am well into a first cup of coffee, answering email, playing Words with Friends, grading papers, planning classes, or folding laundry.
Sleep is an impediment to getting things done, and I have plenty on my plate these days. With 147 students in English classes, my grading load is significant; I know, I know, if I didn't assign papers, I wouldn't have so much grading. But how do they learn to write if they don't write? How do they know if they're being effective writers if I don't give them feedback? It's an English teacher's vicious cycle: if I assign work, I have to grade it and then I have to give them a chance to do better, so I have to assign more work. So it goes.
I'm at my most creative in the morning as well, so I do lots of lesson planning in the a.m. I can see things more clearly and am able to look at the long-term nature of what's going on in the different classes I teach. As the day goes along, I am less and less able to keep straight all the different activities that are going on in the different areas of my life.
By the time I get home 14 or 15 or more hours after I've started my day, all I want to do is sit on the couch and not really have to think about anything. I don't want to make any decisions–not even about where to go for dinner or what to cook; I'm much better off if I make those decisions in the morning.
I seem to be able to survive on four or five hours of sleep every night, but I am tired by the weekend and like to sleep in till 7:00 or 7:30. We kind of joke about it–how we're up early even when we don't have to be, but there's always so much to do and the later it gets in the day, the less likely things are to get done. I accomplish so much more when I have energy and can think clearly.
In the beginning, there was dinner September 17, 2012
I come home from one of my 14-hour days at school, and all I want to do is NOT THINK. I don't want to make a decision; I don't want to figure out how hot the oven has to be; I don't want to forage in the fridge for ingredients that are probably not there; I certainly don't want to have to plan a meal. Based on that, I'd say my favorite meal is one that I don't have to cook. But that's not the prompt. The prompt asks me to describe "the perfect meal."
I love food. I love to smell it, taste it, talk about it. I watch lots of "foodie" shows on TV: Bravo's Top Chef, Fox's Master Chef and Hell's Kitchen, Food TV's Chopped. I've been to some great restaurants in different parts of the country, and I've had the pleasure of eating meals made by top chefs as well as home cooks.
The perfect meal is not about the specific food, though. I'm as happy with a pizza or hamburgers as I am with filet Oscar or lobster spaghetti. It's the people around the table that make a meal. It's the family and friends and the conversation and the convivial atmosphere that I crave. Whether I'm sharing a meal with my husband, my best friends, my family, it's the sharing that's important. The sharing of food, the sharing of our lives, the sharing of an experience.
The perfect meal is one that includes people I love to talk to. It includes a bottle of wine, a bread choice, a meat, a salad, and some veggies. It includes conversation about things great and small, and it leaves me pleasantly satisfied–physically, spiritually, and mentally.
Party Time August 29, 2012
I don't follow them closely AT ALL; in fact, I probably sighed audibly when I looked at the TV Guide and saw that the Republican Convention was on tonight. Yuck. I am so disillusioned and disgusted with politics and believe that parties spend too much time worrying about the parties and not enough time worrying about the COUNTRY.
Our country is in crisis. Education and healthcare are a disaster; unemployment is a huge issue; Detroit is a freaking no-man's land where you can't even get a pizza delivered after dark. Frankly, our politicians need to get past the party lines and DO SOMETHING. They need to stop yakking. They need to get down to it, figure out the problems, and find some solutions.
I don't know where the money comes from to run the conventions, but I do know that they cost a heckuva lot of dough. I've been hit with a 1.5% reduction in salary while I'm also dealing with an increase in class size, so any money that is being spent on anything that is non-essential for the good of the country is a waste. It's just ridiculous. There are kids who don't have enough food, and there are people who can't afford medical care, so it's irresponsible for the parties, the people in power, to spend money on these conventions. I can't find a point to them, so I just won't bother following them.
What is wrong with me? October 10, 2011
You know how one thing leads to another and pretty soon you’re doing something you never intended to do, but there you are? I went in my closet this afternoon to put away a shirt. I’ve got this “thing,” and I rarely wear the same top twice to work over the course of a school year. Don’t ask. I’d probably have to post that in my “Why I’m Like This” category and frankly, I don’t know why I’m like this. Anyway, I usually just keep track of what I’ve worn in my head but with my head becoming fuller and fuller of both useful and useless information, I decided that perhaps I’d put shirts I’ve worn in a special section of my closet instead of mucking up my memory with that particular information. But. I have this other “thing” that compels me to keep my closet organized by color and sleeve length, and putting clothes I’ve worn in another part of the closet messes up my plans. What to do, what to do. Wait a minute! Since my closet is actually a bedroom that I’ve installed (well, in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, HAD installed by my husband, son, and father), there’s another closet in there that has doors on it, so maybe I can put clothes I’ve worn in there without having to see the shirts that are now out of place on the color spectrum. Of course as I begin to put shirts in there, I’ll keep them color-coded but for the time being, I just need to store them out of sight. So, I open the closet door to discover that the closet is already filled with clothes that I apparently put out of sight–and out of mind–at some point.
I could have just shut the door and come up with Plan B, but I didn’t; I’m nothing if not persistent. And now you see how one thing led to another because in order to enact my plan, I first had to empty the closet. I don’t know why the clothes in the closet were there; they were all winter clothes, so perhaps I put them in there last winter. In fact, I’m quite sure that’s what happened since I know that a clothes fairy did not come in and move my clothes around. Now that it’s getting close to winter, I may need those clothes again anyway, so I’m glad I found them. Let the shuffling begin. Winter clothes have to be moved to the appropriate spot in the main closet (by color and sleeve-length, remember) while clothes I’ve worn to work (plus anything out of season) gets moved into the out-of-sight closet. Remember that I never intended to do this today. In the first place, I had forgotten about the winter clothes that were in the closet and in the second place, I was just putting up one shirt from the laundry. But there I was, shuffling my spring and winter wardrobe about when it became apparent that I have a problem.
If it’s not bad enough that I’ve forgotten about an entire winter’s wardrobe, I also discovered at least a dozen (I suspect there are more, but I finally just decided I had had enough of myself) brand new items. Tags still on. Never been worn. I should make a rule for myself that I will not buy any new clothes until I have worn everything that is currently in my closet(s). I should also quit with the one-time-to-school rule. I thought perhaps I should go with a uniform of some sort–a Monday outfit, a Tuesday outfit, and so on. Then I remembered that thou shalt not should on thyself and wondered what type of activity I could pursue in which one thing would not lead to another. I hate to go to bed at 5:30 in the afternoon, but I guess that’s what I’m left with. What is wrong with me?