fairs are smorgasmords.

What a wild week I had, dear Internet. And two amazing weekends in a row! People are just lovely. Sometimes I meet other humans and go: Man, Sartre was right. Hell IS other people. But more often than not, I meet them and go: I'm so damn lucky I get to be a human being, this is FABULOUS. Last weekend and this weekend were examples of moments I thought the latter.

So the week was wild--lots of lows, lots of highs. Good news/bad news stuff. I finished on a high. I finished on such a high, I think I may have slightly damaged my bad left foot (the one I broke a year and a half ago) from jumping up and down. No, seriously. I was jumping up and down, literally, from joy. THAT kind of high. Ask and ye shall receive, dear friends--the Universe just needs time to dot the i's and cross the t's, is all. Because I think It likes to make sure what It does works out for everyone affected by the decision.

So that was my extreme high of the week.

Then, Friday. After school. I stayed late (of course) to get ready for Monday's tests stuff. I had a 200 foot pile of work I need to grade and enter in my grade book and also parent-teacher conference stuff I need to work on; I intended to do all of it yesterday afternoon and evening. ...and then I left it all sitting on my work table. At work. In my classroom. At work. Doors locked for the weekend.

I cried. I sat in my car, in the parking lot of my daughter's after school care place, when I realized what I'd done. All that work I need to have done by THIS Thursday morning at the latest, and how in the world would I have time Monday through Wednesday to do it all. I cried and cried and then remembered what Rob Bell told me last weekend: BREATHE, Amy. Breathe. There's a reason it's sitting in your classroom; you'll figure it out. The definition of overwhelmed is not believing you can handle whatever it is you're facing. And you can handle this little blip, easy peasy lemon squeezy as Miss M would say. So....breathe.

And after I did that, I decided to have fun. That's what the Universe clearly intended for me to do: go have fun. And so I did--I took Miss M to the County Fair.

Have you ever seen the 1973 animated version of Charlotte's Web? The one in which Debbie Reynolds is the voice of Charlotte? Oh, how I dearly love this classic movie of one of my favorite stories of all time. Walking through this County Fair this weekend, all I could think of was Templeton the Rat in this movie, singing this song about fairs being a paradise:

That's the song that kept running through my head. Because there were strangely dressed people there. And I got hustled out of $20 for a $5 (and if they bought it at Dollar Tree, it was $1) stuffed wolf. And how did they manage to do it to me? Because I am shallow, Internet. I am shallow and have low self-esteem, and my inner princess needs to be told over and over again how she's the fairest in the land. And on top of that, I am naive. I am naive and too trusting, and I believe people when they tell me things. And so when a man with an overly large mole on his forehead who looked like he hasn't had a bath since 1985 pulled me over to his game booth and told me because I was the hottest girl he'd seen all afternoon? And that he wanted to give me a free stuffed animal? I was all: Oh! Okay! And then he told me he's working carnival game booths so he doesn't have to hustle the streets, so if my beautiful self could help him out, he wanted to give me a stuffed animal for my beautiful little girl. And damn! I was FINE. HOT! (Because I actually was: with humidity, it was exactly 18,000 degrees yesterday.)

$20 later, he was STILL hustling me for more--he tried to get $30 out of me for one of the big stuffed animals he probably swiped out of Wal*Mart's dumpsters. So there you go, makers of American Hustle. There's your American Hustler, right there. He's got a big ass mole on his forehead and his fellow hustler runs side interference by complimenting you on your smile and white teeth and they both hustle at the local county fairs down south. Frickin' carnie workers. Honestly.

Yet, the people were so lovely (not the hustlers). We ran into so many kind, sweet people yesterday. Some need some serious help in fashion sense; what's appropriate for public outings and what's not, but really who cares? It's what's inside that really counts. And as we sat in the air conditioned exhibit hall for a bit, an ancient man who's probably worked the county fair since the late 1920s brought us a bottle of water, because he didn't want us to overheat, and he complimented my girl on taking good care of her mommy. Then we walked around the exhibit hall, and I marveled at what it is to be from the rural American South: there were the 4H prizes for biggest squash and best artwork, etc...and also booths of people who still cling to the Confederacy, as if it was even a good idea to begin with, and think you should agree with them. There were scary people promoting Open Carry guns and helping kids learn to shoot their fellow human beings. There were Jehovah's Witnesses hawking pamphlets about why birthday parties AREN'T OKAY. And then there are the Republican Tea Partiers, who were a bitter-looking lot with scary stickers foretelling of impending doom which you could plaster all over your car's bumper so you could become as shriveled inside as they were, and perhaps take other drivers and hopefully the rest of your family with you...SCORE!) (I bet these are the SAME scofflaws who don't wait in the traffic line like all the other humans, because they think they're far more important and so they try to skirt around the jam by driving on the side of the road, causing all kinds of traffic and road rage mayhem amongst the other drivers). 

Oh, and the very sweet but slightly insane old man who attempted to wash my 5 year old in the blood of Jesus ("We're good on Jesus blood here, thanks," I told him. But I did accept a New Testament Bible to pacify him. I left it on a food table near the stuffed animal hustler's booth, in the hopes some Jesus blood will cure him of his pimp-like tendencies.)

So, other than the game booth hustler, the bitter Tea Partiers, the slightly frightening old man who wanted to talk about blood baths, and the strange people who exist somewhere pre-Civil War 1800s? Lovely, lovely people. Very kind. And (of course) my daughter made two new best friends in the kiddie ride section. We have no idea how to contact them, but their parents were sweet and lovely, too. One of the new BFFs (who we'll call "Song," because she was named after one) complimented M on her dominant personality. And, while M and Song rode a race car ride, I confided to Song's mom that I do worry sometimes my little one is a bit too pushy and domineering with the other children of the world. And then Song's mom and I talked about how some people could view it as "bossy" and a know-it-all, which are bad...or we could look at it as being assertive and confident, which are good. And we talked about how hard it is to raise girls in a world that discourages them from being assertive and confident, and how she and I ourselves struggle with being assertive and confident, because the world was so successful in stifling that in us. But at the same time we don't want to raise rude children, and we also want to create empathy in our sweet girls' hearts. I should have gotten her phone number so we could continue the conversation, but she was grimy and sweaty and eager to go, and I didn't want to overwhelm her. They're from our area, so we may run into them again (fingers crossed).

Such lovely people. 

While talking to Song's mom, she also revealed that she's always thought about going back to school to become a teacher. She asked me how I liked it. And I got to ask my question that I've decided to ask anyone who expresses an interest in teaching nowadays: Why? Why do you want to be a teacher?

Because if the answer is: I love to teach people; I love to show people how to do things and help them learn. Then I say: have at it. Go to school, get your teaching degree, and go forth and be awesome. High five for YOU, teacher wannabe! 

But if the answer is (like mine was when I declared a teaching major in 1993): Because I love kids, and I want to help them, then I say: run. Run, run, RUN! There are million ways to help children; teaching is quickly becoming a profession that is no longer one of these ways. Not with the way it currently is, and it's certainly not helping American poor kids at all. (This was the answer Song's mother got, and I also apologized profusely to her as I gave it, and encouraged her to please ignore this disgruntled old foot soldier from the trenches...if this was truly her dream. To which she said it was not truly her dream, just something she'd been thinking about so she could be on her daughter's schedule. To which I said: try daycare.) (This bit of the conversation was another reason I was reluctant to ask for a phone number.)

At any rate, I was thinking last night (after I'd showered 100 layers of sweat and grime and dirt off of me): I do write (on my writer's blog) an awful lot about kids and teaching, don't I? So clearly, kids are very important to me. And clearly I'm very passionate about teaching still, in spite of itself. 

I don't know what to do with that information at the moment. I'm just putting it out there because it occurred to me. And so I'm letting it occur to you. And I'm going to announce here to you, that I intend to marinate in it, and consider it, and wonder about it for a bit and maybe ask the Universe if It could direct me to where It would like me to go with this news. 

May your week have zero game booth hustlers, not one single bitter political dogmatic hack, and may people who want you to take baths in blood give you a wide berth...my wish for you is for you to only interact with lovely, thoughtful people who have interesting conversations with you and bring you water on hot, thirsty days. And may there be at least one moment where you over-extend some foot tendons from a tad too much jumping for joy.

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