26 December 2011

Finding Nostalgia

In the process of packing for our big move, there were a couple of times I noticed CSB going through photos and other nostalgic items, and realized that when I changed my life five(-ish) years ago I purged myself of a lot of memorabilia.  Not only were there a lot of memories I didn't mind not holding onto, but I didn't have a lot of space to store the things associated with memories I did want to hold on to. Moving from a four bedroom house into a converted garage shared with a two-year old forces one to make decisions about what is necessary to hold on to, and what is taking up vital space.

I spent two years living in my best friend's garage, deciding which things were important and which things were just random scraps of detritus that I would wonder about the origins of in the years to come. I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between things and memories. But, in the packing and moving of "stuff" this time I started to feel a little nostalgic for nostalgia. I wondered what things I had gotten rid of in the past that might conjure a memory or a story now.

While unpacking in our new home, I came across a stack of notebooks which had been sitting in my nightstand for a good two years until I unceremoniously grabbed them, stuffed them into a box with a bunch of other random junk, and tossed that box into a pile. 

(For me, "notebook" means a cute journal I bought, wrote on the first couple of pages, then set it off to the side until I found another cute little journal to start writing in. All too often I find that I can tear out the first few pages of any given journal in the house and have a "brand new journal".  Sometimes I take those torn out pages and tuck them into another notebook I have been writing in, and sometimes I take those pages and toss them into the nearest recycling bin or shredder.)

Today, I found the journals that were in my nightstand. They contain tidbits, comments, funny quotes, descriptions of dreams, and crazy ideas that date back to fall 2005.  One notebook contains a bunch of torn out pages from other notebooks... all of those beginnings, all of those ideas I loved enough to tear out and keep so I could do something else with the journal.  So this morning, as I'm unpacking I was just randomly unfolding pages and reading some things I had written while living in that little converted garage.  Notes I had made for myself about nice little things CSB did for me one morning before he left for work, or sweet things he has said over the years, things I had felt about him or feelings I was having about where our relationship might be going, but was too scared to voice.

One little entry particularly caught my eye.... a comment about how much I enjoy writing, yet not everything is fit for the internet, and although I enjoy writing a blog it is so important for me to keep writing in these little journals and putting my thoughts on paper.  At that point I realized that my form of nostalgia is in words.  I have notes I've written myself and random journal entries that I've written since childhood (I started keeping a diary at about 6 years old, and still have multiple books that I regularly wrote in during my childhood).  I know I don't have everything I've ever written, but I have enough bits and pieces to put together a lifetime of memories.  It may not be a story worth publishing, but someday I will take all those bits and pieces and put them in order and leave them for future generations who might be interested.

I found my nostalgia in the form of words.  Reading the things I had written, even looking at how my handwriting changed based on emotion, situation, or how tired I was (some things were actually noted as *written in the middle of the night- half asleep* or *on the beach-it is windy-next time bring a paperclip*) took me straight back to a memory... or not.  There were many odd little notations or quotes where I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote them or even what they mean.... yet, there they were, dated and a part of my history, sitting in a notebook waiting for me to revisit.

A piece of music, a swatch of fabric, a playbill, a scent, or a photograph can conjure up memories of a certain time or feelings associated with a memory... but can any of those things give one as much as words?  The words which describe concerns, thoughts, feelings you alone were experiencing at a certain point in time... beautiful words which can bring you back to a specific feeling in a moment in time.....

Words have been merely functional for me over the last couple of years, as a teacher and as a student.  Today I was reminded that words need to be more than just educational tools... words are the way to chronicle our lives, to leave tidbits of our personalities for our future generations,our future selves. Words remind us where we have come from, and how hard we have worked to be where we are.  I have found my nostalgia in words and although they don't take up much physical space, they seem to encompass my entire world.

07 December 2011

The Key

As I sat down to write about the process of moving tonight, I looked at my blog and realized how much has changed since June.  Without getting into the long gory details, I found a new job, and am now teaching elementary school (4th - 6th grade) special education in a new school district.  It is quite different... not just in the age of the students and the amount of time and energy that needs to go into younger kids, but in that this district actually supplies me with the tools I need to teach. I nearly cried when I walked into my classroom for the first time and found things like paper, pencils, and glitter paint.  Yes, glitter paint.  You have no idea how necessary that is when one is teaching elementary school.

I think my personality is a little more suited to younger kids (glitter paint excitement aside), it has been difficult to get used to how dependent they are.  The last thing a high school kid wants is for an adult to pay attention to them, I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to accept that I was going to pay attention to them and there was nothing they could do about it.  The only thing a nine or ten year old wants is for you to pay attention to them... whether it be in a good way or a bad way. It has definitely been a learning experience for all of us.

In other news, CSB, ShortBus, and I are officially home owners!

Another ridiculously long story made short, we got the keys to our first home yesterday.  It is small, but it is ours, and it is perfect for the three of us. I am so very excited about this new move, and can't wait to get into our new place.

16 June 2011

Summertime Blues

Life is nothing if not a series of endings and beginnings. Many transitions are seamless, and we hardly even notice them, others create a vivid moment in one's memory that even time can not completely erase.

My first day as a teacher I remember waiting eagerly for the bell to ring and the room to fill. I had vague expectations based on some of my past classroom experiences, but when the bell rang and one student was sitting there staring at me I was at a loss.  Since that awkward morning that student and I have had some good laughs about it, reminiscing about how we stared at one another, one thought hanging in the air between us, "oh shit, what now?"

In February, I got a phone call.  A woman calling to set up an appointment for me to "speak with the director of Human Resources regarding my continued employment with the school district."  I knew immediately what was happening, although that knowledge didn't help.  I was angry, shaking, on the verge of tears, and expecting a room full of students in less than 40 minutes... what does one do in this situation?  If you are me, you run directly to the school psychologist to have a good cry (of course, it doesn't hurt that she has become someone I consider to be one of my best friends).

A week later, sitting in the office of the human resources guy (union president sitting next to me - I'm not entirely stupid, it was the next call I made), I was informed that my contract with the district was not going to be renewed. Because I was still considered a "temporary employee" they don't have to give me a reason or any other information.  They even refused to answer the question, "did I do something wrong?"  My choice: get sacked or resign. Obviously, I opted for resignation.

To hazard a guess as to why... I am finishing my credential program this month, will have finished my master's degree by September, and would have been up for tenure very soon after that.  Who wants to pay a well educated teacher more money when they can hire an intern for practically nothing? I've seen it happen to other teachers in the past and I believe the only way they are getting away with it is because they aren't "firing" all these teachers, they just happen to "resign" ... all of them... right about the time they get their Master's and come up for tenure... um... yeah.

So, I get forced to resign, then get up and go to work the next morning. For four months. My heart aching every single day. As a special education teacher you become involved in your student's lives in much more than an academic way. You speak with their parents on the phone, you have meetings, you know about their disabilities and their backgrounds, you know about each one on a deeply personal level. Some of my students have been in my classes for three years, I have been cultivating relationships with not only the kids, but their parents, siblings, and in some cases extended family, how is it right that I am asked to walk away from these relationships and not look back... or forward.  Every day of my life is spent looking at their future, helping them to become the person they and their families hope and dream that they will be. We smile and laugh together, we cry together, we get frustrated together, and now we simply part ways with little more than a goodbye.

Today was the last time I will see most of them. I wished them well, thanked them for being a part of my life, and was lovingly treated to the typical teenage monosyllabic "meh" as they ran out the door to enjoy summer vacation.  I have learned to translate that "meh" into "thank you."  I can only hope that I made a difference to a couple as I look forward to the next classroom, the next school, and the next wild adventure.

I never wanted to be a teacher. I fought it tooth and nail. Yet, these kids have taught me that really, all I want to do ever, for the rest of my life, is teach.  I am a teacher.  And proud of it.