Tag Archives: teaching

Things That Don’t Exist Anymore, Things I Miss, and New Things

Last night I decided to watch a movie from the 90’s that I wasn’t sure I’d seen before. Since I worked at a movie theatre for much of that decade it was a safe bet I had, although the memory was as fuzzy as my comfy house slippers that have become normal footwear during this new Stay-at-Home order.

Chasing Amy is about a guy who falls for a lesbian, and I was curious to see if the story arc involved the lesbian actually falling for the guy, Ben Affleck in this case, a decently attractive man with an annoying over-the-top best friend (sorry Jason Lee, love you more as Earl). I didn’t finish the movie, because I ended up spontaneously video chatting with my real lesbian friend and her wife. Weird things have been happening all around.

So probably because of the weirdness of the world right now, the nostalgia of seeing the trends from the 90’s, the absence of being with my students, and connecting with dear friends virtually after days of not seeing anyone besides by beautiful moody teenage son, I got a little emotional and started a list. Some items are in more than one. There’s an abundance to add but here’s the short version.

Things that don’t exist anymore (some are because of Covid-19 and some are from the passing of decades):
pay phones
people smoking in movies
beepers
calling everyone “bitch”
cars shaped like boxes
rednecks infiltrating the north end of the causeway
life without devices
brown lipstick with lip liner
the park with its rickety swing set and painted, cement tunnels
all the stores at Hickory Hollow mall
Happi China
my nail salon
all the animals I loved and cared for and lost
badminton with Gracie
lunch with Rhiley
Clearwater Beach in 2004
the artificial Christmas tree passed down from my parents that was too big for my condo
Disney World, circa 2008
the quaintish/industrial/cool nightlife of downtown Nashville

Things I miss (some are because of Covid-19 and some are because of circumstance and the passing of time):
life without devices (in certain situations like mealtimes, trying to have a physical conversation, and while sitting on the front porch)
the park with its rickety swing set and painted, cement tunnels
every house, basement, condo I’ve lived in
all the animals I loved and cared for and lost
all the loved ones I cared for and lost
all the fall and winter candle scents
all the stores at Hickory Hollow mall (and to a lesser extent but still appreciated Countryside mall)
Happi China
my nail salon
badminton with Gracie
lunch with Rhiley
Clearwater Beach in 2004
plastic key baby toys
the artificial Christmas tree passed down from my parents that was too big for my condo
every moment of my son’s growing up years (except those 3-year-old meltdowns)
Disney World before 2015 (it became too crowded, now there’s no one at all)
the quaintish/industrial/cool nightlife of downtown Nashville

New Things (mostly because of Covid-19):
teddy bears in windows
positive messages in chalk on driveways
Sundays without sirens
unidentified tiny white spiders crawling across my living room tile
empty parking lots and beaches
more families taking walks and playing with their kids

Oh and here’s another list
Things I’m Cherishing Right Now:
my pet lizard’s company
the solace of helpful and kind neighbors
the connection with loved ones via phone, Zoom, social media
my availability to help my son with his schoolwork (although I’m not sure if I’m much help, maybe just emotional support)
food in the fridge, toilet paper in the bathroom
heavenly spring weather
coffee in the morning while listening to birdsong
the goodness and sanity and health of friends and family

Stay safe ya’ll. Stay home. And hug each other (from a distance).

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The Time We Have

Some of us find ourselves with more time on our hands lately. Some of us are deemed an “essential employee”. Whatever your situation, and I hope everyone safe, healthy, and financially stable throughout this strange journey we’re all moving through, there is TIME– to capture, seize, harness. Our state is on a “Safer-at-Home” order. My neighbor says he’s “going out of his mind” yet in that same breath he said he wiped the grey dust off his guitar and clumsily yet earnestly strummed the strings, something he hadn’t done in years. Our community pool is closed due to the current situation. Last Thursday I strolled around the neighborhood for a much-needed leg stretch after work (I’m considered an essential employee and have been sitting in front of a computer every day for hours, not something I’m used to as a Montessori teacher). A mom and her young daughter had filled two blue paddling pools, placed them in their driveway, and were giggling and playfully splashing each other.

Although we have implemented distance learning at our school and conduct regular Zoom meetings, some of my students have taken up knitting. Some have baked sweet, chocolaty treats. Some have FaceTimed for 6 hours while watching the same Netflix series.

I have seen even more families taking walks together than usual. My brother said it is the same where he lives, 700 miles away from me. I’ve smelled the waft of charred food on grills more nights than not. I’ve heard an unusual abundance of birds singing in the tops of the oak and Norfolk pines. Gone are the shrieks of sirens every hour, the blasting hum of airplanes overhead, the smell of air thick with the pollution of car exhaust and industry.

Even though I’m still working, I’ve had a few more moments to enjoy the sound of birdsong, make brownies from scratch, read my current fiction of choice, water my neighbor’s garden, connect with friends I’ve haven’t talked to in months. At first I was consumed by the news and social media but I’m making a concerted effort to put the phone down for chunks at a time (there are some funny memes out there, though).

This week is my son’s 16th birthday. There will not be a car in the driveway with a bow on it (that wasn’t happening anyway). We will not have our usual hibachi feast with friends and family. But we will celebrate in the quiet and simple fashion we’re all becoming familiar with.

I’m just embracing the good that can come from a dire situation. And there is good here. And there is time.

(But I haven’t been to Walmart to buy toilet paper).

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Walkabout in the Land of Fallen Trees

And we passed the place
where we weren’t supposed to go

A hidden corner
on a rare chilly morn

Crunching of foot upon acorn husks
and withered needles of pine

She kicked sawdust
on me unknowingly

And he could neither
be still nor quiet

A spiderweb clinging
to the last branch outstretched

The hawk gliding high above
keeping a close eye

This is where we found
the dying babes of the forest

The wind tumbling them
to their last breaths

But this is where we sang an old song
I did not know you knew

And held hands distended
in our wooden circle

in the land of the fallen trees.

fallen trees

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

Dull Faces

In a moment of subtle voyeurism as the band riffed another joyously happy song I scanned the room. People eating, sipping beer from sturdy glasses, engaging in conversation, a couple of older ladies dancing, some tapping their feet to the live music, some staring at sports on one of the obnoxiously looming screens above. Then my eyes rested on a table of three young men in their early twenties.

They looked no more alive than if they were a body in a coffin or a robot waiting to serve its master. One was staring at his phone as we tend to do these days even while a real live body or bodies are sitting in front of us. God they looked bored as hell.

Perhaps their night didn’t go as expected. Perhaps the band was playing the kind of music they loathed. They were obviously dressed to go out. Built better than any guy I ever knew in my twenties. Hair perfectly styled so as not to look too pretty nor too unkempt. Were they there to meet girls or grab a bite with buds? Whatever the case it seemed they were the most miserable table in the room. Even more so than the woman in the corner who hadn’t looked at her date all night, sipping dully at her white wine.

These young men, these guys of a generation that came after mine, and even my own teenage son, live in a world I really do not envy. The more I watched them the more I felt a bit of sorrow for them and their peers. I don’t mean to sound old when I say this (as I have before described myself as a 12-year-old girl trapped in a 44-year-old woman’s body). I just mean they have access to and so much at their fingertips that instead of looking at the world in amazement a look of dullness has washed over their faces. Not much seems to WOW them. Not everyone is like this, I realize, but it’s kind of just a general ma-laze I see wafting through.

I try to imagine what it must be like to grow up in this culture, where you are constantly in contact with everyone and your personal life can be broadcast like a giant movie marquee on the front page of everyone’s daily newspaper. I mean the same thing is going on with us in our 40s. But we had our time of having to wait in excited agony for our favorite song to play on the radio. To stand by the phone booth until our friend called us back after we paged them. To marvel at things in nature which can’t be accessed immediately by Google images. The list goes on. By waiting and not knowing there was a sense of mystery, of wonder. As much as it might have been frustrating at times I can’t imagine my youth without all this archaic simplicity.

Do others feel it too? Or have I become like every other older generation who thinks things were better in “the good old days.” I worry about the amount of time my son spends looking at various screens. On Sunday nights I pry him away from his nest on the couch and take him across the street to our community pool. We always end up diving and flipping and laughing and snorting like kids ought to do.

The young men soon got up and left just as I thought they would. On to better things I imagined. And after their table cleared and cleaned another group of people settled in. Me and my coworker table-danced to the music as one-by-one our large party left for the night. “Die-hards” I said to her, describing our having closed it down. We are teachers. And we don’t get out that much.

I checked my phone for messages once I got to my car. I’m glad I didn’t take it out at the table, looking on dully.

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Gimmee A Break

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Two weeks into summer break and I already can’t spell certain words. For a moment I almost forgot the word ‘selection’ starts with an ‘s’ not a ‘c’. I guess this is why they have my son doing summer homework.

“How often do you need me to do homework?” he asks.

Given that he has 30 days of math problems, two books to read and answer a series of questions about, and some writing exercises (fun!), I suggest EVERY DAY.

And I have given myself homework as well. Such as reading (I finished a young adult novel in 3 days) and writing (here I am). Of course I will also help him with his homework as long as it’s not algebra.

Brain gets stagnant and dumb if you don’t use it. Or if you watch too much TV.

Everyone deserves a break though. I think everyone should have two weeks off each season to fully enjoy all that nature and other passions have to offer. Alas other types of learning during those times.

But this is America and unfortunately I don’t see this happening. Only in my little dream world where ice cream has no calories and unicorns prance around the streets.

But thank god for summer break. And I am truly sorry for those of you who don’t get one. If it makes you feel any better this school year I had to wipe poo off toilet seats, smell about 35 stinky sneakers every day, observe at least 10 bloody teeth being extracted, act as counselor/therapist/nurse in countless situations, and cried to myself on a few occasions while feeling all the feelings that erupt embarrassing stifled bouts of snot-bubble sobbery at work. And that was just the first three months.

So we’ll both enjoy this break and learn a little something along the way. And for the record I do know how to spell celection selection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Yep I'm Becoming My Mother

Get the Balance Right

Is it possible to ever get the balance right? Things are off-kilter, ignored, put off, unattainable at the moment, time the ever opponent. My perfectionist personality does not help. Failure is no longer an option and neither is guilt or self-deprecation. It is what it is. And I’m sorry to those of you I have not connected with lately.

Eighteen hours a day working, sleeping, prepping for the two. Which leaves six for chores, errands, food prep, quality time with little Boo, exercise, meditation/prayer/gratitude, and personal hygiene/beauty. So what has fallen by the wayside? Writing. Creating. Connecting with friends and family. Shaving.

And I’m a horrible phone person. I rarely pick up the phone. I have been reprimanded about this at various times. I don’t love the phone. I can’t read the lips of the person speaking on the other line. Can’t see their body language. Hell sometimes can’t hear what they are saying. And because of the demands of life I am a multi-tasker (like so many of us these days). It is easier to have conversations via text with several people at the same time while doing the laundry, dishes, hitting the can. But yes I am fully aware that an uninterrupted phone conversation is important. And I am calling my mom as soon as I finish this.

I made time to catch the sunset on the beach twice this week. It had been too long. Today I am writing. Tomorrow I will catch up with an old friend.

When little Boo was a baby I knew that phase of our lives would be fleeting. There were days that were long and filled with crying and poop, but in between those moments were the giggles and cuddles and chubby legs learning to walk. Now that baby is almost as tall as me and it happened in the swish of a horse’s tail.

I am forever grateful that I am able to see him daily as I assistant teach in his classroom. This will be a year looked upon with great pride and nostalgia when he is out of my daily sights and starting his own career and path in life.

So when I think about all the things I can’t seem to find the time or energy to accomplish I need to cut myself a freaking break. We do what we can.

I was alone when I viewed this spectacular sunset. Now let’s watch it together : )

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Taken with iPhone 5, west coast FL, no editing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under A Writer's Mind

First Crush. Love Bites.

The moment I saw her I knew he would fall for her. She was just his type- quirky with a tad of edge, a splash of artist, and eyes so deep and beautiful you were unaware of time for a moment. They overrode the scars on her face.

Within two days of meeting her he professed his admiration for her. Not to her, but to me. It would be over two months before he would tell her.

My son is eleven years old. And this is the girl he adores. I work in their classroom so I am present in their lives daily.

Oh god I feel for him. I remember the boy I adored in 6th grade. He was in my class and a local model. Well I think he did a jeans print ad and a cheesy commercial for Hills Department Store.

He was going to be the first boy I kissed. I had it all planned out in my head. We would attend the Homecoming game together. At some point in the cool of the fall evening we would duck underneath the bleachers, look into each other’s eyes, and press our lips together in a non-klutzy fashion.

Well that never happened. He didn’t show the slightest interest in rendezvousing under the bleachers even though we were “going together”. Shortly after that he broke up with me. For a cheerleader. Ouch.

I remember longingly watching him at gym class while he jogged the perimeter of the gymnasium. His thin, white legs keeping the pace with the others. Why didn’t he like me anymore? What did I do to make him go away? I felt a pang in my heart and a jab to my pride.

But the crush and the pain eventually slithered away, making room for more crushes and more pain.

My son finally confessed his admiration for his crush during the class camping trip. Somewhere deep in the woods he bared his heart to her. She revealed although she really liked him, it was not in the way he liked her. Ouch.

I tried to console him. But in that moment he wanted to be left alone.

They are pretty good buddies. And there is a certain effortless cadence to their friendship. Later when he was ready to hear my advice I told him it might be better they are just friends, as then they won’t ever have to break up!

But I see the way he looks at her during recess while she sits on top of the picnic table reading her geek girl novel du jour. I can feel the longing. The quiet desperation of seeing something you want so badly and having no words to describe why and knowing you can’t have that very thing you so desire.

One day one of his other friends asked if he loved his crush. There was a pause. And when I saw the look on my son’s face I knew. This was not just a crush. This was his first love. Or the first girl he felt love for. I both celebrated and lamented this in my mind as I so carefully remained unreactive.

Here we go, son. This is the beginning of that arduous, til death, glorious, horrible, wonderfully amazing, despicable, tragic, magnificent journey. Hold on, but not too tight.

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