Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Becoming Miss Bowers Returns

Becoming Miss Bowers ("BMB") is back. I'm pretty happy about it--you may or may not care, but I just wanted to let everyone know.

Basically, BMB will be a devoted-to-teaching blog (like it's already supposed to be), and The Loquacious Introvert ("TLI") will be a more personal blog. I shall attempt to maintain both. Don't get mad at me if, at some very likely point, I get too busy with teaching and grading and planning to do anything but that for a long time.

Read all about it over at BMB with this blog post, "The Return of Miss Bowers."

Friday, June 21, 2013

An Update, an Update

Don't worry, Loquacious readers, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I've just been...I don't really have a word for it...not really in the mood to write?

Gasp!

I know, I know. I am sorry to admit that. But, sometimes a person has the writing bug, and sometimes she doesn't. Also, sometimes a person wants to actually have something to write about, and I haven't really had that. I guess that is tied to wanting to write--lack of inspiration leads to writer's block; a catch-22, if you will.

I had to go back to remember the last time I wrote--I believe it was the when I attended the presidential event. That was only a little over a month ago, people. Stop trying to make me feel guilty. Gosh.

So, even though it's not Tuesday, here's a rambling update on my life, just because:

On Summer
Summer is here, and as a teacher who will be teaching in the Fall, but hasn't taught all year, I feel like I am in this sort of limbo mode. My brain is hard-wired to summer...I feel almost entitled to it, after so many years tied to the school calendar. But, I really have no excuse for summer doldrums and laziness, because I've basically been on summer vacation for the past 6 months. Yes, there has been bit of a job in there, but not full time or anything. I've been trying to use my time wisely by getting some things ready for school. I haven't really tackled the content of my courses yet--the way my summer is playing out, that probably won't happen till August. I have a hard time planning months and months in advance, anyway, so I'm not too concerned. In the meantime, I've been focusing on organization and management strategies. I'm not a terribly organized person by nature, and I really, really want to combat this as I enter what I am starting to consider my "second round of teaching." (Yes, it'll be my sixth year in the classroom, but a whole new school & culture, whole new students, and whole new courses). I am allowing myself to expect that next year will feel a lot like a first year of teaching, except with five years of experience under my belt. I am actually going to devote a blog post to some of the cool organization ideas I've found around the web--yes, Nerdy-Teacher alert. Most of my time so far has gone into creating a painstakingly perfect Teacher Binder, which will hold all of my important and necessary information as a teacher (this is a new thing for me--I'm so excited about it!), which at this point is basically an excuse to make pretty divider pages out of scrap book paper. But, my hope (and my plan) is that if I can get some organizational stuff figured out, then I will have an easier go of sorting through all the the content and the teaching of the content.

On Blogging
Incidentally, I am having a dilemma (not a moral one, fortunately) about my blogs. Do I revive Becoming Miss Bowers (I do so love Becoming Miss Bowers) and reserve it for teaching related posts? Or, is that blog to be about being a teacher at Dakar Academy? I suppose I could use the argument that I am always in the process of becoming Miss Bowers, so I could keep Becoming Miss Bowers...Or, do I use this one as a personal & teaching blog? Or, do I start a whole new blog devoted to teaching stuff (Miss Bowers Continues?) (actually, I have a great idea for a name, and sometimes, that's all the excuse you need to start a new blog...), and just write about personal stuff on this one, and teaching related stuff on the other one? But, as I have demonstrated, the teaching stuff is personal stuff, so how could I separate the two? And, ultimately, who in the world really cares, except for me, and am I just wasting a whole lot of brain power on a trivial thing? Well, of course I am, but I have spent a lot of my driving time to and from work pondering this very trivial matter, over a medium that supposedly is passe. Perhaps I should just start a twitter feed? @becomingmissbowers #toomanyblogs #i'llbetoobusytoremembertopostonanyofthem #ihatehashtagstheyarestupidandtoohardtoread

(Don't worry...all references to starting a twitter feed are to be read in a totally sarcastic voice. Twitter is for the birds. Hah! See what I did there?)

On the Home Front
We are mostly settled into our new house. I am still unsettled in the literal sense (trying to find a place for all my things, of which I have too many, despite the constant  moving of my last twenty-something years). We like the house a lot. The neighborhood got a little bit scarier these past few weeks with a car's tires being slashed just up the street from us, and yesterday, a neighbor's car's wheel being stolen. But, we do live in the city, and even though our little corner is safe and clean and neat, we aren't too far from more crime-ridden areas. I feel a little anxious about this, I'll admit, and I've been having flashes of my 7th and 8th grade year of living in Dakar and being under a constant barrage of robbery for a year and a half, but I am trying to tamp down those old anxieties. I will say that I do miss having bars on my windows, as strange as that may sound, and a 24/7 guard. I may get a home security system or something when my parents leave--I don't feel ethically/humanely right in getting a dog, because I will be out of the house for so many hours when school starts, and I don't think that's fair to a dog. (I do hope to get a cat, but cats don't mind if you're not around, as long as they have food, right?).

The only other struggle, and that's probably not a fair word to use, with our new house are our very...involved neighbors (an older woman, and her elderly mother) who attempt to insert themselves into nearly every visible aspect of our lives--and I'm actually not exaggerating, and I am prone to exaggeration, I know. They are sort of like "sitcom" neighbors. I am having a hard time accepting that this is a part of our life now basically whether I like it or not, and demonstrating Christ's love when they correct me for where I parked on the street, or for not realizing the upstairs windows were open when I turned on the AC. I have never had strangers who do not know me at all give me so much unsolicited advice and/or correction. But, I am working on that--and by working on that, I do mean praying about that, and hopefully I can get over my attitude problem, and take their constant "suggestions" with grace (and gracefully decline most of them). (I actually wrote a long piece on Neighborly Love (or my lack of it) but didn't have the courage to post it, so here is the very, very, very abbreviated version of it...)

On School Daze
I was invited (or strongly encouraged) to go to the professional development days that my new school was holding for their teachers at the end of their school year, and had a chance to meet a lot of my new colleagues. It was nice to be able to meet people before all the scary beginning-of-the-school-year-I-am-so-overwhelmed stuff. It was also interesting to begin noting the similarities and differences between Dakar Academy and R. My personal goal is not to be the person who says: "Well, at my old school we...." because no one likes that person, or wants to be that person. But, I think this school is still figuring out some of it's policies and I know DA has some time-tested best practices that might be helpful. But, I will hold my tongue, which is harder for me than some (ahem, the name of this blog), and try to observe through this year. I hope that eventually, I can offer some good things to R, but not be the annoying person who constantly offer comparisons. I say this very self-consciously, because I know that two of my new colleagues discovered my blogs, and informed me that they read a few of my posts!  (Actually, their words: "We stalked your blogs.")

On the Job
In other news, I've been spending my days for the past few weeks doing office work with my job. I had thought I was done with my job when school let out, but they asked me (as well as a bunch of the others) if I would be able to continue on to help with the paperwork that comes after all the assessments for the study. So, I've been doing fairly light work three hours a day for the past few weeks--it's nice because it doesn't involve much thinking (I can listen to podcasts while I work) and it pays well, even for just a few hours.

On Running--or Not
Friends, I've fallen off the bandwagon, or whatever wagon it is that you are on when you are training for a half-marathon. I am admitting this because I am often motivated best by shame and embarrassment. So, knowing that you know that I have not done a good job of continuing my training (I got so busy--and tired--with work that I sort of set it aside until "I was used to my new schedule." Apparently I never got used to my new schedule, because I completely ignored training until now) I might feel motivated to get out there and run. I am probably quitting my gym membership (even if it is only 10 dollars a month) and am going to find a local, and free, track to run on. Treadmills are wretched, but I like running on tracks, which I know is weird to many of you.

On Travels
July is a fun month for me--I am going to visit DA friends in St. Louis over the 4th of July weekend (which is incidentally, my birthday so I get to be with friends for my birthday--hooray! That rarely happens to this summer birthday baby!). Then, almost as soon as I'll get back from St. Louis, I'll head up to The Canada and Toronto to visit my friend Alicia (of Italy and England travels fame, of course--and my Dakar Academy colleague). Then, towards the end of the month, my friend Annie (a former DA teacher friend) comes to visit me, and that brings us to August and the madness that will ensue as 1) my parents prepare to return to Mali hopefully towards the end of August, depending on the troubles there, and 2) as I get ready for school.

On Chihuahuas Named Lola
And, to conclude this mish-mash of an update, here are a few pictures of my parents' new dog, Lola (a three-year old chihuahua mix, who loves me best, drives us all crazy with her bathroom issues, and is just about the cutest dog in the entire world, even if she doesn't like men, cats, children, or other dogs.
Riding home from the SPCA.
First snuggles with Lola.
Pretty much Lola's constant position: Play with me? Play with me? Play with me?
Play with me?