Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Poking Fear in the Eye

With this post, my little space on the interwebs officially turns 50 -- a goal I wasn't sure I'd ever reach.

Fifty times that I've logged on, started typing, and let my feelings go where they may. Fifty times that I've put aside my insecurities and let my true voice out. Fifty times that I cast out my line and waited for a bite. Fifty times that I breathed deep and searched for the words that exorcise my demons or soothe my soul.

Sometimes... it is funny. Sometimes... touching and sweet. Sometimes... bitter and angry. Sometimes... wistful. But always me because those are all the things I think I truly am.

When I started this whole thing 5 months ago, I wasn't sure I'd keep up with it. I was afraid I'd be too busy. I was afraid I'd have nothing to say. I was afraid that no one would care. I was afraid I'd let too much out, and I was afraid I'd hold too much back.

I've lived much of my life in fear. Disappointments, discouragements, failure, rejection. I was (and still am) fearful of it all. But with each post, with each shout and whisper to the world, I feel a bit stronger and more confident, and I've poked Fear in the eye 50 times now, and rarely It has poked back. Because I have kept up. I wasn't too busy. I did have something to say, and people cared -- no matter how much I put out there.

And I'm pretty proud of myself for it, and that in itself is cause for a little celebration. Thanks to all of you who have shared in it with me whether it's been the first or fiftieth time. I'm glad you're along for the ride.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Research Says: You're a Lunatic.

Today, I watched a totally grown adult pitch a complete fit. It was atrocious and deliciously awful, and it made me shake with rage at the way she acted and spoke to both me and a fellow colleague (who is literally not only one of the nicest people I know but also an amazing teacher), spitting forth her famous retort that should silence us all... "Well, research says...".

Her insanity oozed all over me like a flow of mentally deranged lava. Then I was treated to an email whereupon she not only challenged the talents and teachings of people I completely respect but also climbed on some weird medal stand of one to congratulate herself on being the best thing since sliced bread. She also quoted "Best Practices" -- which some uphold as practically the word of God. Quoted it.

It was gross and tacky, but it got me thinking.

Whatever did my own teachers, coaches, and professors -- the people who not only inspire me daily but practically saved my life -- do before all of this mountain of research and statistics and books advising them on every detail of their teaching careers? I wondered how many trainings they must have gone to? How many afternoons and Saturday mornings did they give up to learn the next greatest way to teach me and my classmates? Were they bombarded with facts and figures predicting their success or failure as well as my own?

I will simply never know. Probably because until now, I never thought to ask. I assumed that they chose their career because they wanted to help kids. They taught what they adored. They taught what they were passionate about, and that this passion was enough to move their students... whether that move was to pass their class, graduate, or someday find their own classroom in which to motivate, inspire, and help change others.

I'd like to think that their Best Practices were simply this: to love me. To celebrate my successes. To comfort me in my losses. And to teach me throughout both. To not only attend my basketball games and drama performances but also to attend to my failures at Home Ec sewing and trigonometry (although I've yet to use either in real life). To know my parents. To know my friends. And to counsel me when either let me down.

So to Little Miss Meltdown, you can keep your data and theories about what makes a great teacher, and I'll keep my memories of the real life ones.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Have Been Virtually Murdered. Quick... Call Someone Who Gives a Damn.

So... yeah. Someone "defriended" me on Facebook, and I just realized it tonight. Someone I've known for a long time and considered to be a really close friend once upon a whenever.

I gotta tell ya, if they were looking to sting me, they did. Because... for real y'all... it's murder.


It's not virtual manslaughter. It was no "accident". Oh no, kids. They got me execution style. I never saw it coming. Oh, wait. Maybe I did. Maybe I should have noticed when this person hadn't spoken to me, in an actual conversation, for like 3 years. I was curious when they sent me the friend request. I should've listened to my better judgment. All they were doing was setting me up for the fall. Now I've wasted like 12 minutes of my life wondering about it, worrying that I'd done something out of line, hoping that all my friends wouldn't follow suit. And I could have really used that 12 minutes for something productive -- like cleaning hair out of the drain or scooping runny cat poo out of the litter box.

I tried to be nice, even with the lack of any real friendship in existence. I "liked" and commented where I could. I tried to stay away from any offensive/obscene postings that might o-ffend. I don't even use the eff word on Facebook for fuck's sake because some of my friends have little kids who will eventually learn to read, and I'd rather teach it to them personally. Not through some faceless typeset.

But it doesn't matter because now that I'm officially, completely, virtually dead. Shot through the heart by Lee Harvey Fuckface, and I'm probably to blame. *sigh*

There will be no services because I don't really give a shit anymore. Your 12 minutes is officially up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Latest Early Retirement Plan

One of my dear friends (and former co-worker) and I used to kick around the idea that we could write a book. A book on parenting. It would be delightfully wicked and brimming with what we deemed the "common sense" approach to child-rearing.

Only problem? Neither of us have actual children.

But you know what? I think that not having children will make this process even easier. No little rugrats to eff up the process with their whining cries for food money love. No extra sentimentality or fears that one day I'll wind up on some low-rent version of Oprah as my thirty year-old, grown-up child outs me to the public at large as a horrible parent. It's basically the most perfect plan I've ever conceived.

Am I qualified to write a book about raising children? Most would say probably not. But as a teacher and coach who spends 10+ hours a day guiding hundreds of children through the moral and physical perils of junior high life, I'd say I'm actually a little over-qualified.

I'm in the process of working on some chapter organization and titles. In order to appease both my people pleaser side as well as my snarky, bitter side, I think most chapters will probably bear a subtitle. I really, really adore subtitles and sarcasm.

Chapter 1:
"Teaching Your Child About the World of Competition"
"Shove Your Participation Ribbon Straight Up Your Ass"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Enjoying the Show

Remember what I once said about change?

No, well... I talk about it often, most notably here.

I've been doing some healing thinking, and I'm trying to change my ways.

Those sweater-less dinosaurs? This is why they're extinct. The inability to plan and accessorize. Stupid, pea-brain beasts.

And those firecrackers? Sometimes, if you let them go, they fill the night sky with blooms of light and color, quick and brilliant like a shooting star. It might be a little sad when the flash and bang is over, but if you're lucky enough to be watching them with friends, and you turn your head at just the right moment, the beauty falling upon their lit-up faces is well worth the wait. And then it's fulfilling enough simply to sit back and watch the show.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fake It 'Til You Make It

I walked into my faculty meeting this morning and was greeted by total darkness. Funny, since the night before, I came home to the total darkness of a power outage. And when I had arrived home, I was already mad. Consequently, all the anger and frustration I'd been feeling for days and weeks and months suddenly came out sideways.

And it came out on my car tire.

I got out of the car. I threw down my purse. I stomped my feet. I shouted at no one in particular. And then I kicked the ever-living shit out of my front tire. I kicked so hard and long that I was either going to flatten my tire or break my foot. So, after a good 45 seconds of continual muttering, cussing, and kicking, I sat down on my front porch and came to a conclusion.

This is not the end of the world.

I went inside. I came up with a plan to charge my phone off of my laptop. I posted a couple of wry and sarcastic statuses. I enjoyed a game or two of WWF. I obsessed about when the t.v./air/lights would come back on (because these are my needs in order, by the way), and then I obsessed about going to sleep with the blinds open because 1) Someone might peep in and see me sprawled upon my couch and decide to kill me for the $12 in my purse or B) someone might peep in and see how disgusting my house is, decide my $12 is not worth the trouble, and bother my nice neighbors instead. Then I was slightly depressed that my house might be too filthy for even your average low-life meth head. Once I decided I would probably live, in spite of the open blinds, I closed my eyes, drifted off and waited to be jolted awake by either the television's reappearance or my alarm clock. And I got over myself.

So, as I rolled into work and noticed the impending darkness and the electric company truck, I immediately started checking out the nearest thing I could kick. I encountered an available person who was determined to make my morning turn ugly when I made a choice.

This was not going to ruin my day. It wasn't because I wasn't going to let it.

My kids (and others) totally freaked about the small things...
"I can't see my locker combination!"
"Do I need my binder?!"
"How will they cook lunch?!"
"Will we get to go home early?!" (which, face it, we ALL were wondering)
"What will we do about flushing the toilets?" Uh... toilets are not electric. Helloooo? (This was asked several times, even by some adults).

I answered each question as patiently as I could sans sarcasm, grabbed my 30 kids, a sack of markers and paper, and their writer's notebooks, and then we went outside to the no-longer-raining great outdoors and wrote some cool poetry. The whole time, the what-ifs and the whys continued to flow, and I took each one in stride with a smile. When someone, adult or child, began to piss and moan, I attempted to strike them down with a positive.

Eventually, someone noticed and said, "Wow... Naz. You are really taking all of this calmly. You're so happy." And I was. There are worse things that could happen, and although this was annoying and off-putting, to complain was not going to make things go any better or faster. In fact, it was only going to make me and all my students more miserable. In the end, all my kids had fun. Two even gave me a big hug and informed me that they were glad to have had this minor adventure with me and another presented me with some homemade chocolate chip scones. Scones are delish, by the way.

All day, I thought about that choice I'd made. It wasn't easy to force myself into happiness, and there's always a chance that it won't take. But most days, I'm going to try to remind myself that when:

I feel alone
Things don't go my way
I am running behind
I've forgotten my lunch
Someone has hurt my feelings
I make a mistake or fail at a task
The cat has thrown up on my pillow/couch/favorite book
I don't have any milk for my cereal
I'm not sure if I made a difference...

It's not the end of the world.

And if that doesn't work, I at least know that my front tire can sustain up to 45 seconds of uninterrupted kicking.