Saturday, June 21, 2014

Musings from my Bike Ride 6/20/14

I had these thoughts yesterday at 7:30 a.m. and today I am trying to block out the fact Eli is going to be gone until August 13 or so.  More on that later.  I might do that in my ArmMeat blog.

So, on my bike ride early in the morning the weather was a perfect 72 degrees about.  Humid, in a good way, the way that you can smell everything intensely, like the flowers and trees. I think we still have daffodils, and those are usually reserved for early spring.  Anyway, everything smelled so nice, just what Bath and Body puts in a bottle.

Do you realize those pretty flower and plant berms have to be weeded?  You never see anyone doing it, but it must take some maintenance.  I rode about 40 minutes and it was glorious.

On my way back into town, I saw two teens interacting by a car. How I loved being a teenager in the summer...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summers Off, Schlummers Off

This may sound odd, but trading the school job with summer's off, for part time work year round is feeling like a really good thing for me.  Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe the teachers need the summer break. Some even start the old "count down" in March or so.  A teacher lives and breathes school for 180 days, going hard all the way. It really is an intense avocation.  And a special shout out to the Special Education teachers who are required to do way more paperwork, meetings, parent contacts and student issues than regular ed teachers, all for no more pay and usually much less glory.  I'm not saying traditional teachers don't work as hard, many do. It's just the special education laws and requirements are so absurdly out of control, you couldn't slide if you were so inclined.

Back to the point here.  I have informally surveyed teachers about their enjoyment or ability to get the full benefit of the summer off, and they resoundingly agree, they have no problem basking in it to the maximum. One guidance counselor, however, agreed with me that there is a lingering sense of guilt, depression or inability to feel productive during the long break.  Turns out, she previously worked most of her career outside the education system in year round employment.  I also felt a little restricted by the schedule in only being allowed two personal days to use when and as I choose.  Again, don't get me wrong, having holidays and a long winter break, not to mention snow days, were a gift, and well appreciated...I just like the idea of taking vacation when I want or need to. For example, to attend a wedding mid year or shoot off to Jamaica in February (like I would!).

One thing you have to be careful of when you have summers off is not to complain about it to your working friends. It seems obvious but it actually took me awhile to catch on that when they ask how your summer is going, they don't want to hear, "I'm bored" or "I'm tired of sleeping in."

Except for the financial aspect, working Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday sounds pretty good to me right now. In fact, when I had this schedule in the past (when the boys were young) it was the happiest of times. I could manage the stress of the job better, knowing it was limited to a minority of the days of the week. I had time to make appointments, phone calls and take care of the business of the family during my weekdays off, as well as to do healthy things for myself such as exercise, read, write and drink copious amounts of coffee. That was a funny. And, when and if you do go back to work full time, you feel like you just got a huge raise.

So, this is all to say that I feel I made a good decision for me in changing directions at this time.  I already feel like less of a deadbeat.

Monday, June 09, 2014


It's hard to believe I will be starting a new job tomorrow.  I want this to be the last new job I have to start.  I had quickly forgotten how hard the good-byes can be when one invests heart and soul in a vocation. After giving my resignation, a huge sense of dread and fear enveloped me as I had to plan how/who/when to tell the different constituents (I know that sounds like a weird word to use) I work with: teachers, students, administrators, co-workers, in five buildings and a central office.  I quickly devised a pretty good plan, but can't help feeling I offended someone who didn't get told in person, or at all.  I thought I had my bases covered, and then more and more people kept coming to mind that I needed to say goodbye to.  I had about 3 weeks to unravel myself from the education web, and I pretty much did it without tears (mine or theirs).

One of my teacher friends had a wonderful collage of photos of students past and present made for me with the caption


OMG, I thought today, I'm going to be introduced to many new faces which I will have to learn their names and ranks quickly.  No worries, I consoled myself, it could never be as vast and intimidating as an ENTIRE school full of personnel, whose first (for casual conversation) and last (Mrs, Ms, Mr, Miss ---in front of the students) names must be memorized as rapidly as possible, let alone Four new schools at once.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Mini Book Reviews

I just read two books back to back and they couldn't have been more different.  Beneath a Marble Sky takes place in 17th century India where the Emperor is building the Taj Mahal to honor his recently deceased wife. He has married off his favorite daughter, Jahanara, to a cruel, disgusting businessman who brutally mistreats her. She secretly falls in love with the brilliant architect of the Taj Mahal, Isa, and they find a way to be together with the help of her dying father. This story is told by Jahanara talking to her granddaughters in the 'present' so we know the outcome will be favorable for her.  This is John Shors' first novel and I went from barely knowing what country the Taj Mahal stands in, to being fully immersed in the world of war, culture, relationships and architecture of Agra, India in 1632-48.

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat is set in southern Indiana a few years back and is reminiscent of "Steel Magnolias" which I saw on stage recently.  Three friends nicknamed "The Supremes" since high school meet regularly at a diner and the story weaves past and present seamlessly to reveal their rich, intertwined lives and the power of friendship. Amazingly, written by a man in the voice of a woman, Edward Kelsey Moore nails the female psyche. In a nod to 'seven degrees of separation' Moore is a concert cellist who is friends with my sister's old college pal, Claudia, who plays viola professionally in the Chicago area.

Both these novels were recommended to me by my parents, and both took about 1/3 of the way through to become engrossed, but by the end I was disappointed to reach the last page.

I am now at the beginning of The Whole World Over a 2006 novel by Julia Glass. If you have read Three Junes or anything by Glass, you will find her writing can only by described as dense.  The way she details every passing moment or thought is just incredible. Not in the way I find monotonous as when authors go on and on describing scenery. This density is internal, as if we are inside the mind of the characters and seeing and thinking as they experience life.