Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Santa is Watching

My little neighbor came over to get some help with her homework last night. Our other neighbors were out on their front porch. As she was leaving our house, she called out to them from the last step. She said, "I dreamed of [Mrs. Pete] last night."

"You did," I asked curiously.

"Yeah," she said. "You climbed a tree with me and then you flew up high in the sky."

"Really," I said in amazement.

"Yeah, yeah and Santa, Santa's watching. Santa was watching you and he gave you 50 million presents."

"Wow, Santa was watching me fly?"

"Yeah and he saw you bein' good and he gave your lots of presents. "

And with that she disapeared.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I am some super awesome runner

I'm always correcting students when they make disparaging comments about each other or about themselves. They're not allowed to give disclaimers when they offer comments or questions to the class; they can't say, "I know this is a stupid question but...." I've noticed lately that my own self-talk is really unhealthy. On my way home from work today, I was beating myself up for all the mistakes I made today and then I started beating myself up for beating myself up. Once I got to the gym, I did a little weight training and then headed up to the treadmill. It's been a while since I have put miles on the treadmill and my legs were cold and tired at the start. After just about 27:32 on the treadmill, a woman approached me.

Annoyed woman at the gym: Sorry to bother you. How much longer are you going to be on that treadmill?

note: this is the treadmill closest to the fan

Me: um, let's see like 23 minutes and some change

Annoyed woman at the gym: Oh (looking at the mileage and time I'd completed on the screen), you're some super awesome runner, huh?

Me: (thinking)

Me: I'm trying to run 5 miles today

Me to myself: yeah, I am some super awesome runner

I know I mentioned that my students could teach me some things about peace and all, but I never thought that I'd learn some things in the process of teaching them things....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bad Day

I had one of those days today when you cry on your way to work and you cry on your way home. This morning, I was listening to the words from "Idea #21" by Over the Rhine and I got all teary-eyed because I'm impatient for justice and peace. And then I thought about my job and how I have this amazing opportunity and responsibility to foster peace and justice with young minds and young hearts and that just gets me all jazzed up to walk in from the parking lot and into my classroom. I can't wait to hurl Salinger, Vonnegut, Bradbury, Angelou, and Bronte at unsuspecting students revealing truth, beauty, and the journey of humanity.

And then I told my students to shut up.

Student: Mrs. Pete, I have a question

Me: teacher glare

Same student: Mrs. Pete, do I have to write this down or can I just think about it?

Me: I don't want to talk to you right now.

It was hot in the computer lab today and they were being so obnoxious. And they didn't care one little bit about truth, or beauty, or about humanity. At least not at 12 PM today. I couldn't teach them anything. They couldn't hear me. So, I told them to shut up. And I tear myself up because telling someone to shut up is not fostering peace and it's certainly not showing them how to "use their words."

My coworker came down later in the afternoon and I confessed my sins. She reminded me that I'm human and I vowed to be nicer to myself. I got home to find a Real Simple magazine and a letter from a good friend with a copy of the poem "Messenger" by Mary Oliver from her book Thirst. Bibliotherapy I tell you. The first line of Oliver's poem took me back to the excitement I felt getting out of the car this morning, "My work is loving the world." It reminds me that my work is to love the world and love isn't always perfect, it's not always kind, it's not always patient, but it tries to be. So I'll try again tomorrow. And hopefully I'll be "astonished" by how much my students teach me about truth, beauty, and humanity. I'll try to stand still. I teach high school.


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird
--equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half
perfect? Let me keep my mind on what
matters, which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a
heart and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy
dug-up clam,telling them all, over and
over, how it is
that we live forever.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Home ownership is fun

So we got possession of our house and it's fun. When you tell people you are house hunting, they glow with excitement and share fun stories about their first home. Then there's this strange transition from the time you are house hunting to the time you put a bid on a house. Stories change, smiles fade, and people recount their stories of bidding wars like tales of lost loves and tragedy. Then stories begin to surface about the reality of home ownership and amortization charts and property taxes. Then. People start talking about actually living in the house. Like how hard it is.

Mr. Pete and his mom agreed to paint two of the bedrooms upstairs this week. My job was really tough. I showed up just in time to finish the second coat on the last room and I got to wash the brushes. I toted the June Day yellow coated paint brushes down to our utility sink. Each new thing I use in the house brings on new excitement. I couldn't wait to use the new utility sink. So I start rinsing the brushes and in my klutziness I'm splashing water all over. It's even getting on my toes. It's splashing so much that I'm standing in a puddle of water. And that's when I realize that the puddle is coming from the duct tapped pipe in the oh-so-awesome utility sink. But don't worry. When the previous owner patched up the leaking pipe with duct tape, it did occur to him/her that it might leak. So there was a lovely square plastic garbage pail propped up under the sink. Imagine this. It overflowed thus causing a puddle to form at my feet. I did what any new homeowner would do, I yelled up to my husband and made my way out to the backyard with the dirty brushes to pout.
Don't get me wrong. I'm so thankful that we found a house. There is something really great about twirling around in a place singing at the top of your lungs because you won't bother anyone but yourself. It is also really nice to have a dishwasher. I just hope it's not duct taped together.