Thursday, December 05, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Adella and I are less than a month away from Topsail. Maeve and Clyde will make the trip with us, and they'll be happy to thaw out, too. The intense cold we've had lately has gotten me to thinking about what below-zero days do to people over time. We rush from igloo to igloo, we huddle to conserve body heat, we curl up inside our over-sized clothing, we drink too many warm drinks, we go to bed early so we can turn the heat down....We wake up early to eat oatmeal and other hot, soggy things that stick to our ribs and warm us up on the way down. People who live year round in warmer climates can't imagine the tension that shapes our bodies and our minds.
Last week was Spirit Week at school, and Thursday was Throwback Thursday. I wore an old friend's chunky wool sweater straight out of the 80s. My students couldn't believe it was almost 30 years old. Not only is it in great condition but also it looks like what I wear every other day. For once, my sense of fashion was on target! One of our guidance counselors told me she had stuff like that back in the day. But she threw it out. "Where you from?" I asked. I knew right there she wasn't local. Nobody from here throws away wool for recycled soda bottle fake fleece. "Brooklyn," she said.
I think I'll thaw out 80s style tomorrow, too.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
On Saturday, Adella had her audition for the north region's music ensemble. It was nerve-wracking. Held at Avon High School, which looks more like a corporate complex than a public school (it's clean, naturally lit, spacious, and decorated with student work in a variety of media and disciplines), the audition requires an hour of travel and passage through a long corridor of anxious parents who look like they're waiting for the electric chair before the students come face to face with their adjudicators. Honestly, I'd prefer the hangman to the sight of some of these anxious parents. I don't do that kind of anxiety anymore. I want my kid to make it, but I'm happy to believe she'll do her best and what will be will be. At the end of the day, she will be Adella and I will be Sandy, and we will breathe, eat, walk the dogs, and go to bed.
Adella said there were parents who came into the warm-up room to stare at their kids, and it was blood-curdling. I'll take her word for it. I was sitting in a comfortable place reading How to Teach Shakespeare to Your Kids by natural light. I was in my zone; Adella was in hers. Ed was talking to some guy about sports. As a public school teacher, I was happy to be blown away by how much time, effort, and other resources (yes, tax-payers, your precious money and mine) go into creating opportunities to give their best, come what may. The free world is a damned exciting place. I was conscious as I read my book of all the parents around me who were speaking the languages of countries that outshine us in myriad ways. I wondered how many American kids were running off to India and China to compete for a place in an ensemble. (There I go being a smug American. But I see it as a tax payer and a teacher as well as the daughter of a family of veterans who have paid the ultimate price and every other price for the privilege to be here. I pay a pretty high price, too, and I will happily and humbly tell you what it is to be American. Compassion is always a part of my story. So I could read a book while the folks from those up and coming nations pressed their little heads against the cold, hard bricks of the wall. We've paid the price, I thought, and you're welcome to be here. You keep the standards high.)
Of course, I bragged on the kid at school today. One of my colleagues heard me going on about Adella with an administrator, so he came up and asked me to tell him, too. He wanted to be happy for her, too. "She's having fun. That's good," he said. This guy's been teaching in public schools for 35 years; he knows what's important.
Also teaching in public schools is the excellent North Carolina music teacher who has been working with my daughter via Facetime every week since June. She is a fabulous woman who can relate to my daughter and can listen and respond and take my daughter to bigger and better musical places. I am grateful to her for all she has done.
Hard work pays. And your puppy is waiting for you at the end of the day. This is America, and it's good.
Our World Tuesday