Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Art of a "Working Vacation"

Um, so basically work conferences are the best things ever.

Case in point: by the time my substitute was most likely getting verbally or physically assaulted this morning, I had a steamy cup of Starbucks in hand and was just leaving for work. And by "work" I mean I sat in the gorgeous Raleigh Convention Center and learned how to help my kids be better readers. I? Could soooo get used to this.

Did I mention I hunted down a sushi restaurant lunch? Considering I'm usually wolfing down cold leftovers from my lunch box, I was pretty sure I'd died and gone to heaven.

Is this what real people jobs are like?

Since I seem to have more and more similarities with Howard Hughes the older I become, I'm also relishing days with little pockets of solitude. At home, I'm rarely alone. I carpool to work, share my classroom with boys large enough to play in the NFL, and live with two girls. As much as I love all of it, nothing recharges me like being totally, completely alone. After the conference ended today, I spent two blissful hours in Barnes and Noble without a person to answer to. I hunted down a Moe's for dinner without having to bounce ideas off of anyone else. I stayed as long as i wanted and drove wherever i wanted. I just did it. And it was glorious.

So yes, I realize I'm 5 days away from being 26 and I'm spending my evenings buying bargain books on how to grow your own herb garden.

Weird, maybe. Antisocial, yes. Luckily, once you're at the point of buying DIY gardening books, your concern about what other people think of you is next to zero.

And if you need me? I'll be out back growing mint for my mojitos.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's Happening In This Photo?

Ahem. While making my j. crew wish list for my upcoming 26th birthday, I stumbled upon their swimsuit catalog. Usually I love j.crew's catalog photos, but the ones recently have been a little, well, strange. Since I live in a small town and have no life, I did the hard work for you and told you what the models are thinking. 

"Mmm...yes. What's better than lying on the sharp edges of splintery wooden steps as I stare directly into the sun? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing."

ROCKS! Nothing says "glam vacay" like finding an uninhabited rock to ruin your $100 bathing suit on. Am I right?

Water? No, there's no water within 50 miles. But I like to scare myself by getting 98% naked and standing as close to cacti as possible. What's life without a little adventure? I'm sooooo crazy!

What do YOU think the models are thinking?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Maybe my recent grumpiness has to do with the fact that winter feels like it will NEVER end. It seems like a year ago that it was warm enough to sit out on my back porch or not shiver in the car on the entire ride to work in the morning.

Not yesterday.

I spent Saturday in Virginia Beach with my aunt and uncle (experiencing c-i-v-i-l-i-z-a-t-i-o-n), and drove home to weather that was sunny and in the upper 60s. I opened my windows, turned the ceiling fan on, and took a nap before I had to head to youth group at 5.

Heaven? Has to be something like that.

Maybe it's the time change, but there's something about spring sunshine that makes it (nearly) impossible for me to be in a bad mood. I feel energized and capable of anything. Fresh air flowing through my room  is practically floating Prozac that goes directly to my brain.

Could this mean that I'm...happy again? Huh. Interesting feeling.

Haughty Book Club: Jane Green's The Beach House

Um...can we say "page turner"? I've had a tough time recently finding a book that I just can't put down, until I picked up The Beach House. It's a book that I've been mentally telling myself to read for years, and finally picked it up at the library this week.

Set in a summer in Nantucket, Green's writing is so vivid you can practically smell the salt air and feel the sand beneath your feet. Anyone want to loan me their summer house? (Anyone? Anyone?) There were a few cheesy twists and turns, but Green's character development and intertwining of story lines made it impossible to put down.

I literally finished this in a weekend, squeezing chapters in between loads of laundry, walks with my aunt, and trips to the hardware store.


What have you read lately that you just can't put down?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sorry That I'm...Not Sorry

People have been noticing from the tone of my blogs lately that this hasn't been easiest few time of my life. Months of 60-70 hour weeks will do that to you, along with living in the middle of nowhere and therefore having exactly zero work/life balance. Last night, my Dad told me I'm being too whiny here and on Facebook and that I needed to tone it down.


I won't argue that I'm whiny and negative. (I mean, is the sun yellow? Is the sky blue?) But this isn't just a job. And it's not just a difficult job. It's crawling out of bed at 5:32 to get ready and walk in the door at work by 6:30. It's eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at my desk. It's understanding how to not have your feelings hurt when students call you mean/stupid/old (I could keep going). It's the disgust at hearing my students call each other "nigger" and "faggot" when they walk down the hallway, and the frustration they feel when every test result or reading score is yet another let down. It's being unable to reach a parent because their phone is disconnected, or writing yet another referral for a student that is already too far behind. It's working like a dog and still being unable to afford to go out to dinner on the weekends to relax.

It's also an important job, and one that I'm proud to do. I worked REALLY hard to get here. Some days, just some days, I notice that my kids use "please" and "thank you" almost as many times as they say "shut up" or "Imma rock you in yo face". Some days, I notice a student who came to me on a first grade level explaining that our vocabulary word "disobedient" means not following the rules. Some days, I have to beg them to put their pencils down and stop writing in their journals so that we can move on with the lesson. Some days my most troubled boys will start telling everyone "Quiet down, man! Ms. G tryin' to talk!" There are some days when their observations and thoughts are so deep and profound that I literally get chills while I'm standing up in front of the board.

And every day, I believe these children have been done an injustice since the day they were born. I believe they are products of a system that has failed them on every level: socially, emotionally, and academically. I know that many teachers, myself included, find it easy to see them as a burden and tell ourselves it would be easier if "they" weren't there. I'd probably want to punch someone in their face, too.

The past six months have been an emotional roller coaster, and there are times I feel as though I'm hanging on for dear life. But like it or not, there's no getting off now.

So I apologize for the whining. You try living 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks and tell me what your mood is like at 6:15 in the morning. (And Dad? I love you, but you've been retired since I was 12. Feel free to be the substitute in my classroom any day of the week.)

The fact that I haven't brought work home in over a week and went the ENTIRE WEEKEND without doing a lick of school work are also doing amazing things for my outlook. It's like I...lead a normal life or something.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

My Work Here is Done

It's not surprise that I've been, uh, having an interesting time at school lately. Being the non-intimidating white girl that I am, I generally feel like the students don't respect me since it's taken me awhile to figure out a discipline system that they respond to.

But today? It all became worth it.

After hollering for 5 minutes that they would all be repeating the 7th grade if they didn't get themselves together, one of my students stopped drumming his pencils on the tables long enough to lean forward and announce:

"You know, Ms. G., you a little scary sometimes."

This? Is the nicest thing anyone's said to me. Ever.

After months and months of
1) threatening to have them retained
2) picking kids up by the back of their hoodies before tossing them in the office, and
3) yelling until my face is the color of a tomato,

 it's worked. I'm....scary. (Sometimes.)

At this point, I'll take whatever I can get. And if it means they'll close their mouths for more than 5 seconds at a time, even better. Now hush yo' fuss, pick up your pencil, and get to work so you can get to the 8th grade sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Civilization Checklist

There are many things I miss out on while living in a small town. (Namely, dating and the enjoyment of everyday life.) So when I get the chance to escape the feathered bangs and camo jackets of home to head for the greener pastures of Charlotte, I have a few things I have to do in order to make sure I've made it worth my hefty 4.5 hour drive. Here goes:

1. Starbucks. Hand over the skinny mocha with soy milk and no one gets hurt. (Unless you write "Ainsley" on my cup. Then it's on.)

2. (Vegan) Sushi. Cowfish in Charlotte is like heaven, lightly fried in tempura batter and wrapped in brown rice. (Note: if this doesn't sound like heaven to you, then you be craaaazy. Did you hear me say the word "fried"?)

3. Lilly Pulitzer. No matter that the only things I can afford are coozies and iPhone cases. The newly opened store in Southpark mall is my Mecca. Pilgrimage complete until I marry an investment banker.

Yes, I entered Lilly looking like a scrub. Feel free to judge. 

4. Walking through Freedom Park. Despite the rain, there's no better place to gush at homes that belong in Southern Living while discussing boys and dieting putting an end to world hunger.

5. Making my friends do awkward things. 

Perhaps like posing on this Crate and Barrel couch while the staff breathes down my neck? No biggie. Now look natural there while I take 5000 more. From. Every. Angle.

6. Finding yet another reason to drink margaritas. I may have to pull a Carrie Bradshaw and get married...to myself. Registered in the booze section of Crate and Barrel. 
Hello, party time.
Even though it was an amazing weekend, it's seriously depressing to have to leave the most perfect city ever to head back to trailer parks and tractors. Sigh. 

On the bright side, it's much easier to deal with a 13 year old threatening to pee herself when you won't let her go to the bathroom after you've had a wonderful weekend free from work and worry. So whiz away, sister. (And next time, don't be so cavalier about using up all of your bathroom passes.)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How Much is Too Much?

I've just about had it with these sassy students, y'all. Mmmhmm. 

In what universe is it ok to whisper to your classmates "If you keep talkin' Imma bust you in yo face", be reminded by your teacher to focus, and then turn and say to her "Why you teachers always TURNIN' ON US like that? You nice to us one day and mean to us the next."

Um....excuse me? Rude to the 756th degree. Ruh-ude.

Or "Maaaan why you teachers always gotta be making us do so much WORK and stuff?"

My apologies! I forgot that this was not, in fact, an institute of learning, but merely a place for you to hang out with your friends from the hours of 7:30-3:30. My bad. Please forgive me for interrupting your social hour. Continue to talk amongst yourselves. (Did I mention this all happened within the first 10 minutes of my 1st period? Mmhmm.)

I got my mouth washed out with soap for waaaaaaay less than that when I was growing up. And you know what I did after I got in trouble for something? I stopped doing it. Novel concept, really. 

The part that sucks the most? On a teacher's salary, I can't even drown my sorrow in extra large margaritas when I have days like this. 

Is it summer yet?

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