Friday, June 06, 2008

moving on.

This is my last post here. From now on, you can find me at field | work. I hope you join me there.

Saying good-bye to this space seems stranger than I expected it would. I know it is the symbolic move from being a high school English teacher to a graduate student (second time grad student), but I almost feel as if I am saying farewell to more of myself than that.

What has happened since I arrived in the blogosphere:

I student taught, then became a high school English teacher. We expanded our family to include Penelope and Zephyr. We bought a house, got engaged, got married. So did Kelly, who also got pregnant. I went to: Boston, the Carolinas, Alaska, Florida, New Orleans. Camping for the first with my husband. Started a garden. Tortured through two high school musicals. Applied to graduate school for an MFA and got in. Hemed and hawed over completing an M.Ed. Knit, tried new recipes. Learned what budget cuts can mean, gained a job, was appreciated. Brewed beer. Faced a breast lump. Lost a grandfather. Fell in love with photography again. Mandy had a daughter, Jen had a son. Jesse came back from his time in Iraq, Danno lost a foot there. Met Carolyn Forche and Sharon Olds. The Urtels' moved to the Twin Cities, Kristin got married, my husband presented his graduate thesis. I was scolded into charging my cell phone and leaving it on; you never know when the call for the hospital trip will come.

Ten years ago, I was graduating from high school with many people I still call good friends. Ten years ago, I wore green, I tottered up to the podium and gave the graduation speech in the arena on the west side of town. I could barely see over the stand and into the faces of my peers, which is probably good. Because I was petrified.

Ten years later, and here I am, leaving high school for a second time. This is what is truly a sad thing for me--not that I'm moving blogs, because my voice will remain the same, so little might change, just a slight aesthetic shift, but mainly that unseemly "theteacher" will fade, I will make a clean break.

A clean break.

Truth is, I need it, but that's something I can say at the end of every school year. There's a certain exhaustion that settles in during those last few weeks, a certain feeling that you will never see the other end of the grading pile, that every kid is in a panic about the final grade and expects you to turn over his or her leaf for (him or her), and that all you want is to book a massage appointment and slowly recede into the calm.

So I suppose we'll leave it at that. I do hope you will join me, though I can't always promise it will be calm. I can promise this though: I will always be me, will always keep seeking out that self that makes sense, that feels comfortable. I don't know what will happen around June 27th, how our lives will change; I don't know what will come after three years of graduate school or what will happen during; I don't know when our own family will start. But I can tell you this: it will all be revealed in field | work...

I wonder what will happen next.


10 things

Ten things I love about teaching:

1. The summer
2. That lightbulb look when they get it
3. Passionate students
4. Teaching until the bell, not clockwatching
5. Students who want to share their accomplishments, no matter what they are, with you
6. Experiencing and exploring language and literature with a group of people
7. Learning myself
8. Forcing myself to become a more patient person
9. Control and freedom, brain exercise, whatnot.
10. My colleagues

Seven minutes until I can check out. The car is packed, and I am printing the gradebook out. Soon, I will unload the car, load it back up, drive into the summer.


PS: One more post is a'comin', then it's off the the new place! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

and then there were none

I write to you from an empty classroom. It's quiet, finally, little balls of paper strewn about the floor, broken crayons and pencil nubs, abandoned books stacked precariously, post-its come unstuck from my computer monitor, half in and half out, half ready to go. A stack of exams on the desk is all that's left to grade. Tonight, my eyes will cross slightly, irritated at the cramped handwriting, relieved at the end.

It's sort of like Christmas Eve, one of those rare moments when you are giddy again. I was giddy when I got married, giddy for our honeymoon. I am giddy for Iago, though I don't feel it yet, not fully anyway. And I'm giddy when the last students empty from the classroom, not because I am overjoyed at good-bye, but overjoyed at the potential and the peace and the wide expanse of summer, at rest. It's that trembly feeling that huh-huh-huh's in your chest. Something between a shriek and laughter, not sure which, just happy.

I'm glad the momentum of the end of the school year propels into this weekend. I'm grateful for that. The quiet of an ordinary weekend would not seem right; it would feel a let down. And this weekend: great thunderstorms, roiling ones. That's what the weatherman predicts, so we are scurrying for tarps and cribbage boards, thinking of the slush beneath puppy feet. I can photograph rain too.

So this is it. Or almost it. Two hours to work this afternoon, four hours tomorrow morning. But the true part, the everyday part. It's over now. I think I'll just sit quietly for a little bit first.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sometimes it feels as if no one realizes it's time to say goodbye. The drifting out of the classroom makes complete sense to them; the passing through the door is part of everyday. They won't turn back; it should be that way. I won't turn back either.

( I always do. )

Exams bring: furrowed brows, broken pencil tips, creased paper, shuffling feet.

Later: Paper strewn in the hallways.

Later still: Caps and gowns.

It's been an interesting year. I think I'm ready for the wind-down. Last night, I stayed up late, staring at the computer screen, wondering at this last exam I'll write (for a while?), hoping they'd do well, crossing my fingers for those borderline cases.

I wish I had something brilliant to say in these last few days here. I'm simply looking forward. I'm not just thinking about the MFA but about the summer: Kelly's baby, our CSA membership, camping, this mysterious cross country trip we have only vaguely discussed.

I am ready for my life to continue, ready for the next step. Teaching high school has been good, actually, and despite a few strange occurances and surprises, teaching this past year hasn't been terribly shabby. I've grown fond of the little buggers and I'll miss them. There's so much I won't miss, but I ought not focus on that, unless it's in celebration of moving on.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

photoshop diptych

A tutorial from Lisa Solomon, one of my favorite artists (she has now created a monster): her tutorial

And me? Still procrastinating. Still thinking of brilliant multiple choice questions for clever students--don't want to insult them with too much ease--and discovering the beauty of a new year in a new garden.


I used to love going to coffee shops and sitting for hours and just conversing and wondering about the world.

I feel as if I've stagnated a bit these past few years, as if my brain simply stopped and I regressed. I've never felt less smart, less clever, less as if I were learning, and I know a great deal of that is my fault, and even more, I blame my ability to not say no. I'm hoping going back to graduate school will kick start my brain and I'll start thinking, start relishing in ideas.

But for now, I'm going to relish in these little moments that sprout up in the classroom, even if I come home thoroughly exhausted, brain dead, tantruming about the exam I don't want to write.

June list

Hello June, month of papers strewn about the school's hallways, gleeful shouts, water sprinklers, stubbly garden growth, early flowering, sweet tea, and sleeping in. This month, I look forward to:

- Oh, I must start with the lilacs. I am smitten.
- The dramatics of thunderstorms. I have a thing for pressing my nose against the window.
- Thinking about making this cap.
- Loving the colors in the kitchen.
- Hiking up bluffs.
- Hoyas.
- June favorites...

1. clafoutis, 2. A Handful of Black Cherries, 3. afternoon snack, 4. hello

- ... which apparently include cherries. Thanks for introducing us, Ang. Glad the maraschino variety didn't ruin me permanently from the fresh variety.
- Getting dirty in our backyard. Reseeding, planning new plants, adding flowers to our repertoire.
- Ending the exhaustion that is afternoons after a long school day.
- Camping at Jay Cooke.
- I know a certain someone who is going to have a baby!
- Emily + Pat = one year of wedded bliss
- James and James sharing a birthday (today!)
- Also born in June: Mandy!
- Planet Earth
- The sixth. So much depends...

Monday, June 02, 2008

packing up

The last week:

- I think, with this blog, I'll go ahead and end the 365 one as well. The purpose was to have daily practice with my camera, and I think my Flickr account as well as my near-daily blog posts are enough for that. I'm ready for a new challenge, and I've given myself two: from the field and in the kitchen. This won't end the mudanities: on Flickr, I've added a set for 2007 and 2008, so I can indeed look back on the year and see how I captured in from behind my lens. I started 365 before I had Flickr, before I posted pictures here, before I was overly addicted to blogging. It doesn't make sense for me to continue with that one as well. Besides, I am getting pickier about continuity, about the details; I'm more interested in theme and challenge.

- I took a nap yesterday, which meant I didn't fall asleep until past midnight, which leaves me a little bobbled headed today. In my first hour, I think my thought process was three seconds behind everything. I feel as if I am a bit underwater. No naps today, no matter how painful this is for me: I need to be bright eyed tomorrow. It's the last official school day before we enter exams.

- I have several students leaving during exam days for golf. This means I'll have my exams written tonight. Kind of nice to have that forced off my plate.

- I think I'm a bit in denial about this ending. Not in an upset, grumpy way; not in a I'm-about-to-throw-a-tantrum way. I just seem to be in a fog. Really, I'm not teaching next week? Really, my things need to be out by Friday before noon? Part of me feels like it all just started. The ending feels abrupt. I'm tired--there's no doubt about that--so ending is good. Sleeping in will be good. Finishing my M.Ed will be excellent. But really. It's all over in a few days. I feel as if I need to do some sort of ritualistic cleansing or something. No tears on this good-bye.

- Not related, but I must point it out: flossy-p, the artist who made Kelly's baby shower gift, wrote a post and included a scan of the image, if you are interested in a closer look. Stop by and leave a comment! I noticed that Bonnie, Kelly's mom, did--I think she'd love to hear from others. It's really amazing work that she does, and I think it's one of the best presents I've ever given--probably the best--though Ryan's Martin was an awfully fun present to give too.

- Happy Monday, all! The last Monday as a high school teacher. (Maybe forever? Or just for now? Who knows!)

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Apparently, I'd rather take photographs of my cats (who are so good at disrupting me--Libby is saying, "Stop grading!"--I think he might have used an explicative, but I can't be sure) than grade the essays piled up on our dining room table. Almost done. Almost. Then: quiz, quiz, quiz, test. Sixty copies of each set. And next week: last week. Almost. Almost.


This weekend I had a surprise for my husband: a boys' weekend. A month ago, he headed to Green Bay with hopes of spending some time with his family but also seeing some of his guy friends--I was not allowed to come along, as he intended to wander out to the bars with Jeff and Danno, play pool, drink beer, tell stories. It didn't work out--something about going to Milwaukee for a baseball game that he didn't go along on--so I immediately emailed his nearby guy friends and proposed a surprise boys' weekend. They tell me what they want to do, and I would arrange it. So last night, they went on a tour of Schell's brewery and camped at a nearby state park.

I let him know by writing a cryptic card (of port2port's card society) and giving him a bag of camping groceries. I had the night to myself, thunderstorm and all.

(Note: those strawberries were rotten, though they look a bit fresh in the photograph!)

Last weekend I started my first small compost heap. I've grown frustrated from all the food waste; this is essentially why I stopped being a vegetarian. Love him as I might, my husband does not eat leftovers, which means there is a great deal of wasted food in our house. I have since stopped eating red meat again, a part of this strange health plan I'm implementing (each week I take on a new healthy habit: week one is no alcohol until I lose 10% of my body weight, week two is subtracting red meat, and week three, which started today, is to rid myself of fried food for a while--I'll also gradually add things with movement and adding healthier foods, etc.--I'm figuring by doing it one bit at a time, I have a better chance of sticking with it). I won't compost meat just yet, since it's a bit trickier, but I've learned about mixing greens and browns and water balance. What throws me, though, is just how much we waste food--not taking leftovers home, the weight loss trick of not finishing everything on our plate--when there is simultaneously this push for more environmental awareness and an economic clinch. I plan to begin bringing tupperware with me when I go out to eat; thus far, I've been pretty good about only eating at local restaurants too (it's so easy in a small town--I'm so glad we're not in the suburbs).

Today has been fairly quiet: the return of a sleepy Ryan from his weekend, grading weeks old essays (next week is the last week--I cannot procrastinate any longer), taking an afternoon nap, reading books I plan to purge from the bookshelves, writing letters to girl friends. I love quiet weekends, especially in stressful times (end of school year).

- Recent finds on Etsy: Yesterday. Forest Necklace.
- I'm Not There is a fun, quirky film. Seen it yet? Cate Blanchett is my hero.

And I must point out: less than a week before I move to the new blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

rain + happy dogs

It's that time of year: rain and happy dogs. These photographs are actually from the week before Ryan and I got married, but the tone is just right; there's a kind of contented anticipation in them too.

This afternoon I had my first massage in a while; there were moments when I held my breath, clenched my teeth. I'm thinking that wasn't supposed to happen, but I also don't think I'm supposed to have dreams of knives boring into my lower back. I'm giving it another go in a little over a month, so we shall see if I've submitted myself to torture or relaxation.

I do adore facials. I feel compelled to point that out.

We have a houseguest coming tonight, so I'm furiously scrubbing, always at the last minute. It's good because I'm in a purging mood as of recent. I keep procrastinating.