Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I thought about change today, while I was making black raspberry jelly from berries picked from my woods, while the chickens clucked and purred under the window and my husband’s chainsaw ran its protesting teeth through the Birch tree we plan to use to warm our house this winter. I thought about how I never would have imagined this life when I was busy making plans.
Facebook has forced me to look back on my life. I really hate that, because, for lack of a better, more cultivated word, I was an asshole. One big bundle of ME hormones all shoved into Chic jeans and Limited shirts. When I look at the faces of the people I went to school with, read their daily stories, I wonder if they look back like I do. I wish I could fly them out to my house, one by one, and show them how different I am now. I would like to have them meet my students, drive over the cavernous ruts in my driveway, talk with me while I rustle up my Cowboy Spaghetti or lasagna or BBQ ribs and the kids do a good job of not breaking their necks on the trampoline, telling me about how they hate or love their bosses or their iPhone, and how school is getting close to starting, the summer goes by so fast! I want to know them like I never did. I guess I wish I had a do-over, like I could stand in the yard and yell “allleeee-allleeee-all-come-free!” and I could really be a friend this time.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I just put down a book. This is a normal thing, I do it probably a hundred times a day without thinking about it, but this time was significant for two reasons. First, I was crying. Well, sobbing a little. The second is that this book was brought to me by a student. I sat on the couch, tears pouring down my face, chest hitching, face contorted as I read the last ten pages, fervently hoping my husband would not walk by, knowing that I was powerless to stop whether he did or not.
My student, a girl in my first period class, announced to me that she had “the best book ever” for me to read. It was her favorite book, she explained, so favored that the binding had broken, separating it into halves. I was amazed when she brought Searching for David’s Heart, by Cherie Bennett, in the next day, not only because she remembered, but because she was willing to trust me with a treasure.
This got me to thinking about when I was in college, getting ready to begin Junior Field Experience, and we had a speaker come in. An elementary school teacher, she came in to explain to us the dangers and pitfalls of showing too much of ourselves to our students. I don’t mean cleavage and leg, but she told us things like not to wear a crucifix necklace if we were Catholic so that we would not be criticized for attempting to sway students to a certain faith or not to show allegiance to one political party. She also told us that under no circumstance should we hug or touch a student at all – even if they were crying – because this could give the appearance of impropriety.
If one of my students is crying, I am not supposed to hug or reach out in any way?
If one of my students just got accepted to a college they never dreamed of being able to get into, no hugs of joy and pride?
“NO,” she said, emphatically and unequivocally. No.
I started to think maybe teaching wasn’t for me.
Now I am so happy that I finished, that I get to teach. Each one of my classes is a microcosm, a community that laughs, learns, sometimes cries, but, most importantly, shares at least part of themselves with the rest of us. I have my critics who say that my non-traditional methods are bunk, that when you walk past my room, kids are either reading, working on laptops, doing group activities, or some combination of the three – you never see me actually teaching anything.
And they’re right. I don’t stand up there and blather on, showing the kids how very much I know about literature and history. Because that’s not the point – the point is for them to discover, unearth for themselves and possibly find a passion or a truth. The point is for them to be given opportunities to figure out how to work with other people, how to find ways and paths and openings, to be creative and to have pride in what they have done. The point is for me to support them, to start them off and help them along the way, not be the center of attention.
I will never forget one student crying as she read the end of a novel, or when a student struggled with making a college choice, fearing alienating her mother, or putting on prom and the senior trip, going to Washington DC … the memories are crowding into this paragraph like kids tumbling through the turnstiles into Disneyland, too many to list here.
But I will go in tomorrow and tell my student how her treasured book made me cry, citing exactly what parts did me, and I will probably tear up, and she will probably hug me. Appearances be damned, I will hug her right back.
For more Spins on appearances, head over to Sprite’s Keeper!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
When my father died in October, my life went into a tailspin that I truly never saw coming. I new he was ill, I knew he would die soon, but I was totally unprepared for the impact this would have on my life. It sounds so stupid to say that, because it's my DAD for goodness sake, of course it's going to have a huge impact, but I really was blindsided. This is why I have not blogged - I simply could not.
I grew up riding, showing, and eventually training horses. My dad was such a part of that, always not only supporting me, but working side by side with me, so much so that horses and my dad were interwoven and inseparable. I think it was harder to deal with his death because I didn't have any horses - there wasn't any creature who was part of that connection that I could lean my face against and cry until I couldn't cry anymore.
A few weeks ago, my best friend asked me to stop by her classroom on my prep period, she had something she wanted to show me. I had no idea she was going to show me this:
Look at that face. Is your heart melting? Mine did.
She explained that he needed a "retirement home." Plenty healthy enough to ride, he just couldn't be shown anymore, and his fabulous owner, Teri, needed a haven for him. MC thought of me. She was there when I couldn't have my last horse anymore (I hurt my back, herniated my L5 disc). She knew how after the physical therapy I was so terrified I wouldn't be able to ride again, and the absolute joy when I could. Most of all, she knew how much I missed it, how I had an empty space.
So I am back, a little wobbly, but the emotional bruises are healing. I am slowly but surely pulling my life back together, and this guy is helping me along wonderfully.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tonight, while I boiled about half a pound of angel hair pasta (I was going to use gnocchi, but my husband's face fell when I said "gnocchi," so I used macaroni instead), I took a sirloin steak and cut it into thin strips. Then I smashed the heck out of the strips with this:
Then, I cut the strips into bite-sized pieces, and tossed them with a mixture of searing flour, garlic powder, and cayenne.
I coated my cast iron frying pan with a few turns of vegetable oil, and fried my little strips of deliciousness quickly, scooping them out medium to medium-rare and tossing them onto my mound of cooked and drained macaroni waiting in the pot.
When all the strips were done and accounted for, I dashed a little Worchestershire Sauce and some beef broth into the pan, scraping up all the wonderful browned bits stuck to the bottom. Then, I dumped in about two cups of bruschetta. Ohhh my.
I tossed it all together, topped it with some Parmigiano Reggiano, and ended up with this: