Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year's Attempt

Well, it's the end of 2011, and while most people traditionally get rip snortin' drunk, fall headfirst into some highly questionable decisions, and then wake up to make several promises they cannot/will not keep, I am not one of them.

I'm too wise for rip snortin' drunk. I'm too old for any more questionable decisions. And I'm far too realistic about promises. Too many have been broken in my life.

But I'm not so cynical that I can't make attempts. So in 2012, my attempt will be to see the positive. Too try to see the good. To avoid running from the bad. To face down the bad with as much courage as I can muster because the bad already knows all my best hiding places.

So tonight, I've tucked myself in on the couch, put on a movie, wrangled a snuggly kitty, and poured myself a margarita. And I've thought about all my favorite memories from 2011. Because when the clock strikes, and the year turns, I only want the good creeping into my brain.

To all of you who love me, support me, make me laugh, buy me double birthday cakes, share your families, homes, and strength, I raise my glass to you. You make my life better and brighter and sometimes rowdier than all of Times Square.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I Just Don't Know...

It's been a hard Christmas, y'all.  A hard one.  And it's not even Christmas yet.

That's how hard it's been.

I'm just in the weirdest place.  There is so much good around me, but I just can't seem to shake all the Bad.  And the Bad always just seems to swallow up the good.  Swallow.  Devour.  Annihilate.  Consume.

Even when I'm happy, the Bad just seems to linger nearby, waiting to pounce.

Yesterday, a terrible thing was happening during the end of the school day.  A terrible thing that I blew off before I realized just how terrible it truly was.  And it brought grief to my school, to my friends, to my former students.  A young life, taken far too soon for all the wrong reasons.  And the person who took it was smiling as he was led to the back of the police car.

I don't know why these things happen.
I don't know why the best we have to offer are so often taken too soon.
I don't know what is wrong with our world.

I just don't know.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alison!

This is my crazy, wonderful friend, Alison.  This happens to be one of my favorite pictures of her because it totally encapsulates our friendship.  Full of laughter.
It was taken while we were laughing maniacally at nothing of any importance whatsoever.

She's a crazy girl.  Obsessed with nail painting and Taylor Swift and obscenely huge purses and building the perfect hair bump, on the surface, you'd think that there's no possible way for us to be friends.  But we are.  And I'm glad for that.

Because, mostly, we love to laugh maniacally at nothing of any importance whatsoever. 

It's fun.  You should try it.

And we sing, loudly, on the Mule -- the camp all-terrain vehicle for most.  Motorized lounge act for us.

You should try that too.  In your car.  At the mall.  Outside your boss's office.  You know... wherever.

Happy (early) Birthday, Alison.  May your tomorrow be full of  laughter and impressively terrible, but spontaneous, song.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Certainly Don't Do It For The Money

I didn't want to be a teacher all my life. I didn't grow up playing school house. I certainly never had the craving to wear school bus earrings or apple sweaters.

I still don't, by the way, so don't get any bright ideas.

Yet somewhere along the way, I made a startling realization. I really love to teach people new things. Sincerely. It's not because I presume to be some kind of genius. I'm not. Or because I'm some jackass know-it-all. Because I'm not. Or at least I hope I'm not. I simply get a huge charge out of learning new things, and as I love to learn, I also love to see others learn.

It's that moment that the light bulb comes on. The smile that bespeaks confidence and accomplishment. And then the subsequent moment that person teaches someone else.

After teaching and coaching for almost twelve years, I can honestly say this: on any given day, I'll get four times as many blank looks as I do light bulbs. And that's even probably a generous estimation. The blank looks are maddening -- soul-crushing -- at times, and the continual repetition is wearing to say the least. But the challenge of seeing a problem and searching for new ways to approach it is what keeps me going.

On Friday and Saturday, I moved four of my A-Team basketball girls down to the B-Team. They were disappointed, for sure, but I asked them for only one thing: to believe that I was doing this to help them. To teach them in a space more suited to their level and at a slower pace.

And in the first game of the morning, in the most crucial time, the girl who wouldn't so much "shoot" the basketball as "attempt to crack the backboard by chunking the basketball" received the entry pass, pivoted to the goal, took a power dribble, and put up the most beautiful lay-up I've seen in a decade of awkward junior high basketball. My heart skipped a beat. And then, as if the basketball gods had not been kind enough to me already, she did it again on the very next possession. I promptly fell off the bench in a fit of giggles.

The whole gym got a little bit brighter from both of our smiles.

And that, my friends, is why I teach.