Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Musings on a Tuesday (9.24.13)

Hey! I'm writing on a Tuesday.

Except...most of this is being written on Monday night. I cannot win. Even with myself.

Hey! I'm posting on a Tuesday.

1) First of all, how is that Mondays, no matter how high your spirits are, all always going to be Monday? It is a truth universally acknowledged that I will be wearing my nice, dry-clean-only trousers on a Monday and I will spill coffee on them. And when I say "spill coffee" I mean: miss my mouth and dribble coffee down  my sweater, blouse, and yes, my trousers. My dry-clean-only trousers.

Seriously, Monday? What's with that?

2) I guess I'm stubborn. Who knew? (Insert Sarcasm Sign here) When I wrote my post last week (or was it the week before that? Time flies when you're teaching 4 new preps, juggling a 25 mile commute, training for a half-marathon, and trying to figure out a whole new school culture and community - all the while still clinging to 8 hours of sleep a night or else you turn into Moaning Myrtle) I wrote that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to be ready in time for my 'half.'

And then, I thought to myself: I am not going to let those nay-sayers say "nay! And yay! She isn't going to run that race, we knew she couldn't."

I am going to run that flippin' race, and I am going to win!

Or, come in 3,738th. But still, that's practically winning!

I've been running  a lot and I think I'm going to be okay. Not sure if I'll run the distance before the race like I would like to, but my goal is to have run at least 10 miles - twice (not in a row, mind you) - before race day.

I would invite you to come watch, but most of you are not here, and those of you who are here, I'll be, like 3,738th and it won't be that interesting. But, watch WJZ or something, and maybe I'll show up. I'll be the one crawling. And possibly vomiting into the Inner Harbor.

3) When I run (jog slowly), I've been using a gps running app thing called Runtastic, especially when I run a course/distance I haven't run before to make sure I'm running as far as I intend to. I used it on my run this afternoon (Monday), and it saves my run for posterity or something. The app uses your email address to send updates and, unfortunately, ads. But, when I got home this evening, and I checked my email, I had an email from Runtastic that said: "Congratulations! You burned over 1000 calories [I ran 7.70 miles]. 1000 calories is equal to 2 chocolate bars or 1 small pizza. You deserve to treat yourself to some chocolate or some pizza (but not all the time) if you keep this up."

Is it bad that I immediately thought to myself: "Well, I guess I could go for an entire pizza right now." I'm not sure if the encouraging email had the right effect, because mostly I see it as permission to eat whatever I want.

1. I am ridiculously slow. Like, ridiculously slow.
2. I really had to resist posting this on Facebook, even thought it offered to. I don't want to be one of those people.
3. One of my friends mentioned that one of her friends mentioned that once you hit your thirties (or, late twenties, I suppose) everyone's status updates are about running. I've noticed that's true - for some reason, people seem to "discover" running in their late twenties/early thirties. 
4) I just need to give a shout-out to my 10th graders. I think they like me. I think I like them. They laugh at my jokes, which as we all know, is basically the key to my heart. Or maybe they are laughing at me. But, I like them. Which is good, because not only do I teach them twice a day, but I teach them twice in a row. At the end of the day. But, I am really enjoying them, and I thought I should share that.

Shhhhhh--don't tell them I said so. I couldn't possibly have my students knowing that I like them. Then they'll have all the power. What power? You ask? If you have to ask...you have obviously never been a teacher.

5) I am finally trying to make some definite decisions about grad school - after, oh, six or seven years of deliberating. I still don't know know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but, it's time that I start realizing that nobody does. So, I'm looking at two programs, one local, an MA (not a MFA) in Writing at Johns Hopkins that is designed for people like me - people who can't afford to take off of work to go to grad school, and for people who aren't quite ready for an MFA (the terminal degree for writing). It offers weekend, nights, and summer classes. I also like it because it offers a non-fiction option, and that is what I probably would focus in, if I pursue a writing degree.

The 2nd is one I have been thinking about for a long time. It's the Breadloaf School of English, associated with  Middlebury College (I know - coolest name. Ever.). It's a really awesome program (an MA in English) - it has 3 main campuses (Vermont, New Mexico, and Oxford, UK). It only meets in the summer months, and is basically designed for teachers. This is the one I'm leaning the most towards, as much as I like the writing program. I think that Breadloaf will give me some creative writing opportunities, both in fiction and non-fiction, and if I want to pursue more focused studies in writing, it will give me a good foundation. Of course, just deciding which schools you are going to apply to is just the tip of the iceberg. But, I'm happy to have a sense of direction and of what I actually want to do. For so long I have waffled and waffled, but I think it's time to just commit.

6) On Sunday, the pastor preached a sermon that I didn't think was for me. He talked about not being able to forgive and talked about how we hold grudges. He talked about how we take offense at the littlest of things - and that we shouldn't. I listened, but I really didn't feel like it was a message for me, at this particular moment of my life (not that I haven't ever held grudges). Until the end, when he asked us all to quietly contemplate someone who has offended us recently, someone that we have allowed to bother us for relatively small reasons, and I bowed my head, and felt like I didn't have anyone. And then God whispered: "What about the neighbors?" And then, I bowed my head in shame, and asked Him for forgiveness for all of my...frustrated angst towards them. And I felt a lot better.

I'm not saying they are never going to bug me again, and I'm not saying I won't share humorous anecdotes about them, but I felt convicted, for sure. And then, yesterday afternoon, they shared fresh, garden tomatoes with me. And then, this evening, they gave me some (tasty) leftovers. And we had a nice, friendly, neighborly chat. And I realized that I've been in this fog of feeling like they were sort of like the enemy. But they aren't. They are my neighbors, and I need to love them...as I love myself. And, since I don't always love myself very well, maybe I need to love them more. And pray for them. And ask God to help me be "Jesus" to them.

Until another Tuesday's mustings - au'revoir.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tuesday Musings on a Thursday (Again) 9.12.13

Hello, Blog! I've missed you. I've been pretty busy the last few weeks, so, forgive me for neglecting you. You are not forgotten...just not at the top of my long list of things to do. But, I'm sitting home, alone, listening to the rain pouring down, and I thought: "Hey! I miss my blog." So here I am. Blogging. My brain is foggy, and so, this post will probably be foggy, too.

1) My parents left on Tuesday for Mali, at last. I don't say "at last" because I was glad to see them go, but because they were supposed to leave at the beginning of July...then mid-July...then the beginning of August...then the end of August...and they left Mid-September, which is fine. It hasn't really set in--it will, eventually. For now, I am okay. It's not something that you ever get "used" to, though, and nor should it ever be.

2) The parentals took their dog back to Mali with them, which still shocks and confuses and angers our outspoken and over-opinionated neighbors, but they don't really understand us--and, frankly, we don't really understand them, so there is nothing we can do about that other than pray for each other, I guess.

When I got back from the airport, I said to our neighbors (who always sit on their front porch) as cheerfully as I could muster--because I had just said goodbye to my parents without really knowing when I was going to see them again--"Well, they're off!"

And they said "Well, it's a crying shame about that dog."

Not: "Oh, I hope you will be okay and not miss your parents too much."

Not: "We hope they have a safe trip."


"It's a crying shame about that dog."

But that's okay. Because I can't control their behavior, or what they say to me. I can only control my behavior, and what I say back to them. I am slowly, slowly learning this life lesson (why is it taking me so long??????). So I chuckled and said firmly: "Africa is not the savage and wild place you think it is. It's actually a very modern and wonderful place. So, Lola will be fine; in fact, she'll probably be a lot happier there than here." And I turned the key in the door, and went inside because I didn't want to be told how I was wrong, that Africa is wild and savage, and no place for a dog.

I mean, they do have dogs in Africa...right? I seem to remember a few roaming around...

Oh, I shouldn't--I really shouldn't, but I just have to share what they said to me about a week before school started. I was coming home from one of my meetings, and A saw me, and asked me if I had started school yet. I told her that I hadn't, but that I was looking forward to starting.

"Oh, they'll like having a young teacher like you," she told me.

I laughed, and said: "Well, I hope so."

Without missing a beat, she said: "Because they'll be able to pull the wool over your eyes."

Trust me when I tell you: she wasn't being funny.

What's a girl to do when someone says something that--preposterous--to your face? Well, I laughed and said: "I certainly hope not." And I turned the key in the door and went inside. I have a feeling this is going to become a pattern.

3) So now I live alone. In America. In a house. By myself. In Baltimore city (albeit a not very "city" feeling neighborhood). It's weird. These past 8 months have definitely been limbo months of not having a job, not really having to pay too many bills yet. But, reality is here now--rent, car insurance, managing the cell phone account for me and my siblings, figuring out what internet company I'll use (we had a cable and internet bundle, but I don't want cable, nor can I afford it). Oh, also, I have a commute. Not a five minute walk to school, but a real, grown-up commute of 25 miles (in my very own little car), over the highway, through the tunnel, up, up, up above Baltimore to my school. And I listen to NPR on my way to and from school and I am extremely up on everything that is happening in Syria right now and can discuss it intelligently, if called upon. I am still remembering to pack a lunch each morning. I am getting up exactly when I mean to, not 40 minutes later, hitting the snooze alarm incessantly, and I am putting dishes in the dishwasher as I use them, instead of letting them pile up until I absolutely have to run the dishwasher.

Is this what it feels like to be grown-up?

And yet, despite all of this: I will be eating Cheerios for supper. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

(I have this desperate urge that whenever I am being facetious I have to tell my readers, just in case they are actually taking me seriously. So, readers, I am being a little bit facetious. Except, not about the Cheerios. I'm totally eating cereal for supper.)

4) School started about a week and half ago. Things are going as well as to be expected for being new, for trying to remember everything there is to remember, for teaching new content and new subjects. My students in general are very polite and pay attention and are well-behaved. I am starting to see glimpses of personality, but for the moment they are still a bit reserved and distant, which is to be expected. Everyone at the school has been very welcoming and encouraging. I'm enjoying the challenges, actually, and really enjoying being back to teaching--though it has only been a week and half, and I've not really done much grading yet. Have I ever mentioned I hate grading? Like, really hate grading?

Thus far in my history class, I feel like I've lectured  a lot, which does frustrate me a bit, because I don't mind lecturing, but I also don't want to only lecture. I am trying to brainstorm ways to have good and pertinent and fun activities to either replace or supplement lectures. Tomorrow we are doing a completely silly activity to help them remember Emperor Diocletian and Rome's 3rd century crises (yes, that is what we learned this week), and I am hopeful that inspiration will continue to come. History/Social Studies teacher friends: send me your best activities and ideas! I am not a History teacher by training...but I am a History teacher now, and I want to do a darn fine job of it, if I can!

I'm hoping to put up some pictures on Becoming Miss Bowers soon of my classroom, because I like it, and I like the decorations. It's still a work in progress, and it's still becoming "home." Case in point: there are currently no shoes to be found under or around my desk, yet. Once the teacher shoes start staying at school, then we'll know that I'm at "home."

I'm not sure how much I'll actually be able to write about funny student moments...We have a pretty strict policy on sharing about school stuff on the interwebs, which is to protect the kids (also, we aren't supposed to say anything that could potentially paint the school in a negative light, either, not that I believe for a moment that sharing humorous anecdotes is negative, but it could be misconstrued...). So, we'll see. If I do share, it will only be with first initials, or "student 1" or, a made up name, like Little Billy, so hopefully, it will be okay (also, I've been really careful not to share the name of the school, I think). But I'll figure it out--don't worry. Because I think I definitely have some potential Hand-Sanitizer Loving, Machete-Wielding types (by the way: you would be amazed at the number of hits I get on my blog because of writing about Germ-X), and I want to be able to share the fun and crazy things that happen in the world of Miss Bowers.

5) And lastly...I need to be honest about this...I am not sure if I'm going to be able to run my 1/2 marathon. Mostly, it's my own fault, mostly it's because I've been busy and found it really hard to train, partly it's been because I've been having a weird low blood sugar thing that I've been trying to manage but still figuring out, so that a lot of times when I go for a long run I run out of steam really fast. But I feel like I need to bow my head in shame and say: I'm not sure I'm going to be able to do it. I'm going to try! I'm going to push as hard as I can between now and the 1/2 (which is 1 month from today), but I feel like I need to confess this before I'm supposed to run it. I'm not giving up...I'm just saying I might not be physically ready in time, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it (especially because the Baltimore course is supposed to a lot of hills). I'm about 1/2 way there with my mileage, and I am just going to have to push really hard the next 4 weeks if I want to make it. I really, really, really want to do it. But it may not be in my reach in the next month. We'll see--pray for me!

Well, my Cheerios are calling. Farewell! Until another Tuesday, or Thursday, or whatever day's musings.