The Ides of March

I firmly believe that there is something to the idea of the Ides of March. This month is long and for teachers and students it is even longer because there is no break or three-day weekend this month. We just go straight through until mid-April when we have spring break. It’s a long stretch that makes everyone restless.

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Like clockwork, every year, it is right around now that 8th graders start losing their minds. It’s rarely a slow approach to full-insanity, but rather, it’s like one day a light switch goes off and the little people that you felt they were becoming turns into full-on crazy, dipped into extra hormones.

It began here Monday. First block. Inclusion class. Observation. Inclusion teacher out sick.

It was all a blur. I think the observation went well. However, two kids went into full-blown middle school brain within the first 10 minutes. They have not recovered. It has begun.

Soon, the rest will follow. Then around the end of April, beginning of May 8th grade seniorities fully clicks in and you’re pretty much in survival mode until they graduate. It’s a fun, strange time of year, and it comes, every year, almost like clockwork.

Love is, actually all around.

I make no grand illusions towards my 20’s and dating. Point blank: they sucked. I was often lost, broke and dating some wannabe. That was the majority of my 20’s until I wised up and held true to my standards.

I read a lot during that period in my life. In college, I was obsessed with Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife because I largely envisioned Colin Firth and all of the hot things that occur throughout that insanely long novel. More importantly though, it was the sort of relationship I envisioned for myself when I found the right man to have it with. It was passionate, loyal and brave with such a dedication to the other person that throughout the pages, many dramatic and daring things occurred to keep Lizzy and Darcy together. Though, Phil and I aren’t having dagger fights with scummy period men and riding horses bareback…or really riding horses at all, the sentiment is still there within our relationship.

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Mr. Darcy a la “Lost in Austen.”

When we became engaged, I had no doubt in my mind that yes was the answer and that this is the man I would stay with until death. Having that realization though, made me think back to my past and I became nostalgic for things, people and places that were no longer a part of my life. I also would get sad over some pretty stupid stuff like when my toaster oven from my apartment finally went. It was cheap and we use it a lot, but I was sad that that was another piece of my life before now that was gone. I know, it’s a toaster, get over it, but I did have a couple minutes of mourning over the toaster.

I picked up Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife and thumbed through it. Out fell papers from my first teaching job where I somehow became a french teacher. I laughed, and turned to the front, eager to re-read and picture my new Mr. Darcy courtesy of Lost in Austen. That’s when I saw it. The dedication page. I had never realized it before, because why would I ever have a need to? The author had dedicated it “to Phil.” Years before, I even knew Phil it seems that I was waiting for him.

I made note of it and put the book down, thinking it was just too weird of a coincidence. Fast forward to the weekend where we’re sitting at our church with our priest, formalizing all of the initial paperwork for our marriage. We’re getting married in the Byzantine church so Phil had to have all of this documentation from his Roman catholic church including his confirmation papers. I was half listening because it wasn’t my turn to speak when Phil got to the point of his confirmation name.

“Matthew,” he says to the priest. All of a sudden, I was listening again and laughing to myself.

Of course it would be. I spent so much of my early to mid-20’s subconsciously dating idiots because I had loved someone named Matthew. I told Phil about it later, over lunch. And just like Phil will always do, he took my hand and told me,

“You were just waiting for me like I was waiting for you. See, you knew it would be a Matthew, you were just wrong about which one. ”

Living the life and the love I have now, just makes me realize how much of us was actually already all around me until the universe knew the timing to finally let us meet.

 

 

What are we? The two fat white girls?

I have had a week. It’s been crazy. The kids are crazy. The entire school is just crazy. It’s that time of year though where instruction is winding down and high stakes testing will be our days here for what will feel like forever. Imagine, your classes go from an 80 minute block to 160 minutes while testing is occurring. It’s hard enough keeping these kids engaged for 80 minutes, but when you double it? It’s abysmal. I absolutely hate this time of year.

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One way I combat this is to make sure I am stocked up on rewards. One of which is the passes we give kids towards a prize raffle when we catch them being good. I made sure to hit up the teacher that has them to make sure I had enough for the long days that are quickly approaching. As I stood talking to her, I could hear the change of classes begin in the hallway and in there, I heard my name several times coming from my last block class. I knew they were talking to their music teacher who they often confuse me with.

I thanked my co-worker for the passes and was just about to leave when the music teacher showed up there laughing at how the kids we share always confused us.

“I don’t get why they can’t get it right,” she laughed.

“Me neither, we don’t look alike,” I say, referring to her dark hair and my blond hair.

“Yeah, like what? Do they see two white fat girls and just think we both look alike.” She laughs.

I don’t because for at least a 5 second gap, I’m thinking did she really just say that? We barely know each other and just like, why would you say that? Had this been reversed, I would have hit on the, short and loud factor or even the white female factor, but fat? It wouldn’t had crossed my mind.

When I first started my job here, I was thin. I was the thinnest I had been in a very long time because I had been sick and depressed. Then, as the stress of urban education took hold of me, and as I met and fell in love with my to-be husband, I packed on the pounds. And, now, just about everyone I know at work knows I’m working hard at being thin again for our wedding in the fall.

So, in that moment, I knew I needed to respond so I laughed and shook my head before making my way towards my own room to set up for my last block, still half in shock over what just happened. I laughed to myself because one of the reasons I know I am successful as a teacher is because my kids have always felt comfortable with me. In fact, most people feel comfortable with me rather quickly and so many times, I am told things that I really don’t want to hear. This was just another one of those things.

I often wonder what it is about my nature that opens up this part of people, making them feel safe enough to word vomit all over a conversation. Or at times tell me something so profoundly personal that I leave feeling bad for them and wondering if they have any true friends to begin with? Often, it is something that I, personally, would only share with my two closest girlfriends and not the rest of the world. And even then, sometimes those conversations with them are still hard. It blows my mind when I seem to illicit them so freely from other people.

7:37 AM

I drift through cycles of where I am either a night owl or an early bird. Even when I am in night owl mode, my favorite time of the day are those early morning hours where the world is still asleep, but there’s a vibrant electricity in the air that’s fueled by the hope of whatever the new day is going to bring.

This week, I’m on early bird status. Probably because I have so much to do. I teach my full course load of 8th grade language arts during the day and then at night, I’m lecturing college freshman. Interspersed within this is me trying to keep my sanity while getting into my own professors the last few weeks of coursework for heavily law-laden classes for my PhD.

My breath of sanity on these kinds of days are the early mornings. I get to school about an hour before the kids come in and I set up my room for the day. Today went pretty quickly, they’re using this block to write their essays on their Holocaust topic. It’s the longest unit I do with them in 8th grade and the hardest. I stood at the gates of the Dachau camp in Munich only 3 years ago, but I will never forgot the silence that encompassed the grounds and the eerily feeling that creeped up your spine when you entered the gates and the temperature dropped by several degrees. That same year, I visited Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. I was balling my eyes out by the end. What I find so hard about teaching this is how for so many students they are just largely so not emphatic towards what occurred.

It’s a tough unit, one that is nearly 2 months long and is so emotionally draining. I’m glad to see it ending for this year. By being an easier day, it also gave me time to sit in the quiet of my room before the kids came, before my co-teacher got here, before noise invaded and for a good hour, I just got to get myself together for the day. Sometimes, you just have to do that for yourself.

I do the same thing at the end of the day, when I’m driving home. There are days like today where I will drive the hour home in silence, not ever touching the radio. It’s like my little break from the chaos of the day.

The Reality that is Under Eye Bags

I was fairly young when OJ Simpson killed his wife. Though, he was found not guilt of that crime, there really is no doubt in my mind that in a jealous rage, he sliced her and her friend up. There was never any other evidence that it wasn’t him and then, when he wrote that book? Yeah, that guy is guilty as they come! I’m glad that karma finally caught up with him and that though, not in jail for murder, he is in jail for 33 years and hopefully when he is up for parole this October, that he is not awarded it.

I have vivid memories of the famous low-speed Bronco chase on TV. Followed by little snippets and bits of his trial, but that was really it. My family wasn’t big sports people either, so I didn’t even know who OJ was until that trial.

When The People v. OJ Simpson came out last year, I really had no interest in watching it. I felt that a show that potentially glorified a murdering, wife-abusing asshole wasn’t worth the time I would lose to watch it. That was, up until a few days ago when at lunch, a teacher friend was telling us all how good this show was and how it really did the case justice.

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I stayed up until 5:30 this morning watching most of the series. It just sucked me in, part because of nostalgia for that time– it was cool to see the cars and the outfits that I remember from when I was young. However, it was also really interesting to re-visit this case as an adult and getting to see all the little pieces that led up to the very infamous, “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” I fell asleep, so don’t ruin anything for me beyond episode 6! I plan to go right home after work and finish watching.

That is, after I scrap off the layers of makeup I put on today to you know, NOT look like I had stayed up all night. As you can see, no matter how many layers of foundation and under eye brightener I use, covers up these earned bags. It feel like ever since I turned 30, and even about halfway through my 29th year, there has just been absolutely no way to hide these babies. Is it an age thing? Should I just accept them as a fact and wear them as a badge of honor to the fact that I can still stay up all night and go to work the next day? Not going to lie, I am a little proud that I inadvertently pulled an all-nighter and was able to still get up to teach. I haven;t done that probably since student teaching when I had a 100-page teacher work sample to finish and was still expected to student intern full-time. I got through it, and I got advanced proficient on that stupid work sample that I think is somewhere in the closet of my childhood bedroom still.

Exquisite Corpse

It had been some years since I had read Poppy Z. Brite’s Exquisite Corpse. I spent any down time I had yesterday finishing it. It took me maybe 12 hours of on again off again reading to finish it. I forgot how engrossing the novel is.

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You know that it’s a really good read when it’s so shocking and well-written that it stays with you even after you’re done. It’s been a very long time since a book has left me feeling raw and anxious. I’ve read a lot over the years, and I think the last book that really did this to me was Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. Though I do have IT on my to-read list so I have a feeling that this list of books that chew you up and spit you out may grow in time. I just can’t get out of my head the ending of Exquisite Corpse, and the very true reality that that is probably occurring somewhere in the world right now, a seemingly perfect ideal for a mad man who feasts on human flesh. Ugh, the chills!

Can anyone recommend more horror novels that I have to check out? I’m taking a break today and started Sirens by Janet Fox even though that too takes you into the dark side of the gilded 1920’s and the world of jazz and gangsters.

If I could have picked when I could I have been born, it definitely would have been more towards the earlier 1900’s. Jazz-age Paris must have been a sight to behold.