Snow in Houston, Texas (and t-rex Christmas cards)

Last night, it snowed here.  In Houston, Texas.  It happened yet again.  What miracles lie before us?  It began after I went to sleep, and didn’t begin to stick until after I woke up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night.  So, I woke up to snow covering everything that wasn’t concrete this morning.  Which, when you think about it, is kind of the best kind of snow – you don’t have to shovel or worry about tire chains or anything, but you get to have beautiful snow everywhere around you.

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The hit of the morning was arriving to school.  My mom drove me in, because we were going to a Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas market) together after school, and the market was too far away for me to drive home first and then go, and it didn’t make sense for us to drive two cars out there.  She was staying for a bit, because we had Mass at school for the Immaculate Conception, and this was a chance for her to see the school a little bit.  Pulling into the parking lot (vacant of teachers, because we were so early), we discovered a sort of snowball fight happening in the picnic table area next to the lot.  We didn’t have much snow on the ground, but the kids were making some snowballs out of it, and throwing them around at one another.  It was adorable.

Naturally, my mom declared that I had to make a snowball, as we were leaving the car.  I grabbed an already-made snowball from the ground, which had lost only a bit after originally falling there, and showed it to her.  As she eyed me up while she finished off her own snowball, I realized that she intended to throw hers at me.

And so the fight began.

My mom and I, shuffling around a parking lot and a small grassy area with snow about it, picking up and throwing odd snowballs at one another, practically screeching with delight.  When I was turned away, a snowball hit her square in the back of the head.  No one was too near us, though, so it had come a long way.  And these were a little tough for regular snowballs, so it definitely hurt her a bit in the moment (stung, perhaps, is the appropriate word here).  It didn’t ruin out fun, of course, but merely added to the silliness of the whole affair – one of my students had attacked my mother with a snowball*.  No part of that declaration makes sense for living here, in Houston, Texas.  😛

In class, before Mass, kids lined up at the windows to stare at the snow in the courtyard below and on the roofs within view.  This was only the second time in their lives that it has snowed here, so their fascination with it was completely understandable, and utterly adorable.

Today had some magic, that’s for sure.

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*I found out later that the student who hit my mom actually was a student of mine.  He asked me ‘who that teacher was, walking with me earlier,’ and, when I asked for clarification, he described the morning snowball affair.  “That was my mom.”  In shock, he declared that he thought it was a teacher and asked me to tell my mom that he was sorry for what he did to her.  (My mom and I laughed at the thought that he apologized for having hit my mom, but that is seems to be the case that he willingly would hit a teacher in the head with a hard snowball, without question.)

P.S.  My task today was to “[d]raw a Christmas card”.  So, I drew one on the roof of my mom’s car tonight as we were leaving the Christkindlmarkt.  Frost had begun to reappear all over the place.

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Post-a-day 2017

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ukulele, poke, and cray-zay

(Those all rhyme, in case you were wondering.)

Tonight, again, I spent some time with friends after school.  I napped briefly in the car, while I waited for them to arrive at our early dinner location.  We had a silly time figuring out how to order our Poke (think of a short “okay” with a p in the front), and chatted and ate and chatted some more, before heading outside to chat and dance and do acrobatic bits (because, why would we not do such things?).  We were all a bit tired, but only ended our time together, because the two of them had to go pack (one is moving apartments tomorrow, and the other is leaving to visit Australia for vacation).

At lunchtime, I had a Spanish-speaking lunch with some students, while I played ukulele alongside one of them.  I dragged kids through knowledge, forcing them to think and do well on their tests – I actually handed some tests back immediately, telling them, “No,”  go fix this stuff.  After school, I played a birthday song for a different student, and gave her a guitar string ring I made in Japan (not because she’s my favorite or anything, but because she always steals my jewelry during class, and hopes I won’t make her give it back.  So, I figured I’d give her something of her own that was sort of mine.  It was fun playing the song and singing for her.  I had forgotten how fulfilling it was, when I’d sung for my dad’s 64th birthday (“When I’m 64” by the Beatles, of course).

Yes, I feel satisfied in my day today.  It was good and fulfilling, an oddly uncommon combination for me in recent years.  I am delighted with this having happened twice this week.  I look forward to the next one and many to come.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Satisfaction… at last

Tonight, going to bed, I feel fulfilled.  Typically, I have this feeling of needing to go do something before I can end my day.  I am angsty and somewhat agitated by the late afternoon, and I feel this pull from somewhere inside of me, but I can’t ever quite figure out how to follow it, how to satisfy the desire within.  I notice right now that I almost didn’t even feel a pull to write anything tonight – that’s how satisfied I am with my day.  It was fabulous, and so I can sleep easily, without anything else happening first.  And I love writing, so that’s saying something.

Kids were unintentional rude in classes today, ignoring my pleas for quite voices, so that I could be heard with my pained, achy throat barely able to choke out words.  I let them spend the time with an activity for their own benefit, and most of them ignored it or didn’t care enough about their own education to attempt the activity, which was disappointing.  A few really took it on, and some decided it was time to talk with me about anything and everything in my life, while I showed them how to do some of the work.  It was an odd balance of awesome and disappointing, combined with my throat being slightly consumed by a low-grade fire.

After school, I chatted with a few teachers from my own high school, plus a friend who now teaches there.  That was amazing in and of itself.  Add to it that I met up with a friend for tapioca tea afterward, and my day continues to improve.  We ended up having dinner with the teas, and then she invited me to join a hip-hop class with her.  Neither of us has ever been very good or experienced with hip-hop, but we love dancing, and we both have strong partner dance backgrounds.  I have wanted to do hip-hop classes ever since my best friend and her husband started doing some over in England a few years back, because she is just plain awesome, and it is always a good idea to strive for her level of awesome.  So I got to be cool like my bestie tonight, and turned out to be actually kind of good at the routine, too.  The teacher even came specifically to my friend (not my best friend, but the friend with whom I had gone to the class) and me, and told us that she wanted us to join her team.  (Note: Seeing as we were just discussing before the class how we hadn’t been involved in anything dance since moving back to the US (we both just returned from living in Asia), we are genuinely considering this hip-hop team idea.)

Now, I am home.  I snacked on some leftovers from dinner, chatted briefly with my mom, and have just showered.  I am tired, but in a really good way right now – I am satisfied.  I don’t know how else to word it.  I am just satisfied, which is something, I now see, that I usually am not at the end of the day.  As I said to my teacher friend earlier this afternoon, I need interaction with non-teenagers.  I get so much teenager interaction, and very little of anything else… and I need more than just interaction with teenagers, no matter how wonderful they are or how much we may love one another.  And, tonight, I got that other interaction, plus involvement in something (the hip-hop class) and exercise.  That is a really, really good combination.  Now to see how to keep this up, happening much more often than once every three months.

Post-a-day 2017

Hers, mine, & ours

I have been teaching during someone’s maternity leave recently, and I discovered something today – when the teacher returns, I will have been with the students more than she has.  Just now, I checked the calendar, and it seems that I have already been with them for longer than she was, due to Hurricane Harvey.  It is odd to me to consider that these kids would be more my students than her students.  It is her class, and I have always seen it that way.  So have the kids.  And so we likely will continue to live in this odd little my world within her world setup, where the kids are, indeed, mine, but we are all hers.  Something like that, anyway.

I will miss these kids.  If I really think about it, …well, no I don’t do that.  Whenever I begin actually to consider it, my eyes grow hot and threaten an outpouring of tears.  I suppose I really do love the kids so much, even though they drive me frustrated so often as they do.  They know I love them, and so do I.  And it is difficult to consider that I no longer will see these people who have been part of my daily life for so long, and as we all have worked through so much together.

A teacher friend of mine sent me a message tonight, saying how we needed to do something, because she missed me.  It turns out that neither one of us has done much other than school lately.  This time in particular, even more so than other times I have taught, the students are my social interactions in life.  I call my mom in the evenings, because I am craving adult interaction.  I don’t have interaction with friends.  I just have these kids.  In a sense, they are my friends, and I have no others (whom I see, anyway).  And so I will miss them all greatly, and even some of the stupid stresses they force upon me, like throwing ice at one another in class or unknowingly rejecting a beautiful opportunity to learn and to help themselves become beautiful successes in life.  Yes, I will miss these kids who are not mine, but mine.  I love them dearly.

Post-a-day 2017

Singing to the unprepared listeners

My mom and I pondered the questions, “When did you last sing for someone else?  For yourself?” the other night at dinner together.  She chuckled when I first read it aloud, and answered how I had sung to a kid at school.  I sing a lot, and hum and whistle often, too.  But that one was a special one.

It was an odd day, with only about half of my students in class, and I had already done the lesson with the missing half the day beforehand, so I knew it was and easy and short lesson.  I let the kids take their time for the warm-up, leaving them to chat around the room, as well as around my desk.  When I sent the kids at my desk away to go do their warm-ups, one of them said, “I’m so tired,” with a it of emphasis on the last word.  Without any hesitation beyond the appropriate amount of timing between the phrases in the actual song, I responded in song.

…of fallin’ in love
I’m finding it easier,
to fall out
I can’t deny it,
I feel it inside
I’ll keep its fire,
Oh, you can’t hide

I’m fallin’ in love again
Ain’t nothing I can do
Fallin’ in love again
And this time its with you
When I fall,
it’s always the same
And I’m so tired
of playing this game

Been so long now
since I gave up my heart
I’ve kept it locked down
I don’t want to get it harmed
So let me tell you now
I just want to be sure
that you won’t hurt me
Can you promise me that?

I’m fallin’ in love again
Ain’t nothing I can do
Fallin’ in love again
And this time its with you
When I fall,
it’s always the same
And I’m so tired
of playing this game

The kids asked me questions as I sang, but I just kept on singing to them, and even danced around a tiny bit, too.  Who knows what they thought about it, but they weren’t upset by the incident, nor were they mean about it.  They seemed really joyful and somewhat giddy from it all.

I played the actual song via the computer after I finished my own singing, and my brief explanation as to why I even knew the song (my college neighbor in the dorm my freshman year always played it on her guitar).  Then we continued on with the lesson, having music playing in the background every time they got up to do practice problems and the likes.  We had some Moana to go with our Eagle Eye Cherry, and it was good.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

Becoming Jack Black, teacherly

Yesterday, in class, as I walked around the room with a bass guitar strapped across me, and casually strummed while discussing students’s work on the boards with them, I realized that I was, indeed, being my own version of Jack Black from “School of Rock”.   Sure, I was actually teaching the subject that the school hired me to teach, but we regularly have our moments of magical inspiration to discuss something that educates the students in an entirely different, but effective, way.

I commented about my discovery to a few students, and they grew excited about it.  I jokingly began to sing about how “math is cool”, and the students declares that I should be Jack Black from “School of Rock”.  I laughed, and we all shared a minute of delight at the idea, until I turned them back to their work on the boards.

The incident, though brief and seemingly inconsequential, marked something big for me.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was big. 

When I first started teaching, I remember thinking, and then publicly commenting on Facebook, that one of my greatest fears in being a teacher, was being Jack Black in “School of Rock”.  When I am lonely, I have tended to watch a film at night, and most nights.  I was apparently in a school-related films phase, and had watched “School of Rock” shortly after watching “Mr. Holland’s Opus”.  Where I had marveled at Richard Dreyfus’s character, I found utter panic and increasing dislike for Jack Black’s – one was an ideal teacher, and the other was the epitome of what not to do.  I had enjoyed both films as a student, but my perspective of “teacher” had me see too many ways for Jack Black’s character to end up fired and/or imprisoned and/or forbidden from working in education ever again.

A dear friend had commented on that status in an unexpected way.  Something to the effect of, ‘Are you sure you don’t mean ‘One of my greatest goals…’?’  She was not an uninformed individual, regarding education, and her comment had me truly take pause.  Perhaps there was something to it, but I could hardly even consider the idea, due to how terrible so many of his actions were as a teacher.

This time…yesterday, things were different for me.  When I labeled myself as Jack Black’s character, – I am currently a long-term substitute teacher, teaching math at a private school – I was actually delighted at the idea, and then surprised at my own response.  What was once a dreadful idea that I could not even consider, had suddenly become an almost-ideal.  I respected myself for such an idea, for my being my own version of him, that terrible teacher.

Clearly, something big has altered within me, for such an alteration to have occurred.  But what?

I shall dream of it tonight…

P.S. It was a student’s bass, and I don’t even know why he had it at school…, I think.

Post-a-day 2017

Kokopelli and breakthroughs

Today, I talked to a girl briefly about Kokopelli.  She had one on her sweatshirt sleeve, and I asked her if she liked him.  I absolutely love him, and my love showed as I spoke about him to her.  A girl who normally says nothing at all to me, and who oddly declined any sort of interaction with me when I previously asked her any kind of question, this girl seemed intrigued by my delight in Kokopelli.  I asked her if she knew him, anything about him, and she looked right at me and shook her head.  At my somewhat comedic disbelief, she even smiled a little bit, and her eyes had a slight glisten, sparkle, to them.  “Oh, my gosh!  Look him up.  I love him!” I told her, and then proceeded to tell her a few basics about him, as well as saying at least a couple more times how he is awesome and I love him.

It was a great interaction, and I was (and still am) incredibly grateful for it.  In addition to that one, I had several other interactions that felt like my relationships with the people had reached a turning point – at last, there is comfort, ease, and openness.  Today was just filled with fabulous interactions.  I am grateful and delighted.

Post-a-day 2017