challenges, part 1.

There are two important Facebook challenges making the rounds right now. Typically, Facebook is about self-indulgent Me-ism, but sometimes it comes up with something helpful to the world, though it stays true to itself and always does it in a very Me-ism kind of way. Because that's what social media is all about, really: Look! Look at MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

I'm not judging. First off, I'm all over social media with my own Look at MEEEEE!!!! stuff, and second, I think, essentially, people never really grow up and this is why social media is so alluring to humanity--inside, we are all clingy, egoic children desperate for mommy to give in to all our tantrums and if we just scream loud enough, she will. Some of us may be 2 year olds who like to bite others on the face when we get mad at them. Some are 3 who pinch, some 4 who use manipulation tactics like a boss. But we're all kids. (I watch myself and the adults I work with in meetings and think: man, if we were in my 2nd grade class on the floor for a story right now, I'd have to stop 20 times to give somebody A LOOK, and 3/4 of the time I'd be giving the LOOK to myself.) Some people (like Jesus and Dr. King and Ghandi) somehow manage to grow their egos all the way into young adulthood, and so for all of history humans admire them and quote them and think: Man! How did they have such patience and goodness to DO all that?? as we suck our thumbs and get mad at that other kid over there for being so poopy head.

(My friend P has a wonderful theory about social media. She thinks the reason there is so much poison there is because humanity is using social media as one big cosmic cleanse; we're getting rid of all our spiritual toxins, and social media is our collective detox method. I love that.)

So on to the Facebook challenges: one is called something like 5 Good Things about Today. My sweet, kind, positive friend J challenged me to it yesterday. 'Cause I ain't gonna lie, Internet: I had a challenging, rough week last week. I vented my spleen about it on Facebook (a good Internet area to vent a spleen). One too many meetings with one too many pieces of stress crap overwhelming information that worried my heart and raised my blood pressure a lot.

So it's good to sit back and come up with a handful of reasons to be happy, in spite of what the world can do to your spirit. Here are my 5 Good Things from Today (okay, Yesterday, since I just woke up) and I challenge YOU to think of 5 good things from your yesterday. Or do it as you go to bed tonight:

1-I had this Challenging Kid last year. Let's call her Challenging Kid, since that's what she was. Challenging Kid has come into my classroom EVERY morning this year to give me a hug. I don't know why, because I used to pull CK out in the hall, like, multiple times a day to light a fire under her little challenging butt. I saw her heart, I saw it. It was kind and sweet and good. But it was hiding under a lot of challenging crap. I worried all the time I was too mean to her. And lands, readers! CK had a nasty little at. i. TUDE. At any rate, she now gives me a daily hug and yesterday she brought me a little notebook...because she remembered I told them last year I keep little notebooks in my purse to jot story ideas down or make notes of things I overhear or see in case I want to use them later.

This about makes my heart burst with blessings. So, so blessed to know people do see that you love them, even if you want to cream their behinds multiple times per day.

2-I came home yesterday to find an envelope of money with this note from my husband: Spend this on yourself. NOT school supplies. You deserve it. There's another CK-type person whose ass I sometimes would like to cream. And then he goes and does this. And now I'm going to spend some of my money on a surprise for him. After I buy myself a new purse and some shoes.

3-Miss M was so sweet and pleasant last night. She did not detail how annoying I am to her. No! not once. We enjoyed pizza for dinner, and there may have been a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream involved. And that's a good way to end a challenging work week.

4-I discovered The Red Band Society, a new tv show. It's being made entirely in Atlanta. Atlanta is a land of stories and good places to tell them. Also, I have a dear friend with family being employed by this show, and so I was excited to see how it turned out. I watched the pilot yesterday and it made me cry and smile at the end. And that's GOOD. It's about heart and sticking together, two things that mean a lot to me. Sending it blessings that it does well.

5-I'm on a 3 day hiatus. I am not being targeted by ISIS. I am healthy and well, all my extremities function. I have access to clean water and good (expensive, but good) healthcare. I have a house in a neighborhood that doesn't have drive by shootings. I live in a country where, in theory, my thoughts are valued. I can go anywhere I want in this country or the world (I have a driver's license and a passport). I don't have to wear a burqa. I have a support system of family and friends surrounding me with love. I am blessed in ways some people are not.

I'm going to post the next challenge tomorrow because (1) if I did it right now, you'd be reading for another ten hours and (2) if I did it right now this blog entry would stretch to infinity. Oh, and (3) my kid is demanding breakfast. God help the planet if that doesn't happen for her.

And you have a challenge! Start making your list. Type it, write it, paint it, go!


you will be okay.

Can we talk about mourning for a bit? (I know, totally out of left field.)

I think there are about 3 different levels of mourning. For instance, I found out yesterday they moved the Georgia Red Clay Writer's Conference not only to October 18 due to lack of participation, but also to Kennesaw, Georgia (which is NOTHING like Savannah) (I'm getting a lot of flak for saying that out loud, but there it is. I heart you, Kennesaw! You're great! But you are not Savannah, I am sorry).

So I've had to cancel my writer's conference; I have a conflict on the 18th and can't go. (Could the conflict be that the conference is no longer in Savannah? Possibly.) At any rate, I sat mourning for a good rest of the evening when I found out. And I'd call that a low-level, level 1 kind of mourn. Losing an object, forgetting your coffee on a particularly grumpy morning, realizing you forgot to get more shampoo and you didn't even shampoo the day before, that $50 pencil sharpener you decided not to get the warranty on that now has a red crayon stuck in it and dammit that's like the 3rd one in a row, or you're on your way to bed and remember you have papers to grade in the back of your car and they've been there all weekend and now your Monday's going to be a different kind of hell...all low-level mourning. Take deep breaths; it could be worse. You could be in a bomb shelter in Syria or a human shield child in Gaza.

The second kind of mourning is when you lose a person. Not to death. Just...you know. They're gone. You or they end a friendship for whatever reason. You decide to separate or get a divorce. You lose a job. You leave a job. You get foreclosed on. You stop talking to someone in your family because you can't take the dysfunction anymore. That's a mid-grade mourning. You go on and live your life per normal (or as normal as you can), but it comes in waves every now and then and maybe you have a particularly miserable day or three days in a row once in awhile because you don't know how to fix it. If it's even fixable. You miss them. You have regrets, and you're not sure how to make it right. It's deeply painful when someone you loved or cared about is out there still, you could call them or contact them and try to fix it, but you don't know how to. Or if you even should.

Then there's Level 3 mourning, when you've lost someone you love dearly and will never get them back. That's the thing about Death--it's like a big door slamming shut in your face. You feel like the person is on the other side, but you can't hear or see them. And you think, you hope, they're okay over there but you don't know because you've never gotten to see what's on the other side of that door. It's a special kind of pain that only people who've experienced can ever really understand. Because it's over: you can't hear their voice ever again, you can't just reach out and call them or email them. They're gone. Just...gone.

That kind of mourning is particularly painful to live with, because it doesn't ever go away. It fades, it gets less painful. But it's always with you, forever. It doesn't matter how they leave, either--losing my dad to a sick heart and my friend Vicki to throat cancer taught me that. I didn't get to say good-bye to my dad, and that was terrible. We all had lots of time to say good-bye to Vicki, and that was terrible, too.

The thing about mourns is that people love to say all kinds of bizarre and inappropriate things. I once had a coworker comment on a trench coat of my dad's I was wearing (I wore things of his to feel closer to him; they smelled of him, they'd been his and I no longer had him). She said, "Well, at least you got something decent out of it." when I told her it was my dad's coat. Then she immediately realized how that sounded and apologized profusely, but I knew: she's got death issues (but she also had race issues because one time she announced that racism was over, and I asked her on which planet).

I think people don't know what to say when they find out somebody someone loved has died, possibly because we have such weird attitudes about death. I once went on a ghost hunt with a paranormal expert who let us know you'll rarely have any hauntings by Native American ghosts. When asked why, she said: "Because they understood death as part of a circle, so they weren't weird about it." Which seems about right, because when Vicki was dying my friend C sat at her bedside and asked gently, "Vicki, are you scared?" and Vicki said not at that point. Her son had visited her and when she told him she didn't want to die, he'd said, "Mom, I'm dying, too. We're all dying. You're just doing it a little faster than me." And she knew all she had to do was decide to let go. And eventually, she did.

I bet you're wondering right about now: Amy, what the hell's up with you tonight? Why all the death talk? Because I found out an old college friend of mine died, is the answer. And we weren't in contact anymore, because years (and years and years and years) ago, we ended the friendship and never spoke again. We were both young and dysfunctional, and I can be a bit of a drama queen, over-emotional reactionist. I feel confident when I say I genetically inherited this amazing talent.

No matter. I found this out and it made me mourn that friendship and get very extremely thoughtful about my life, and life in general. And made me remember that one thing I wrote this summer about telling people right away that you love them or care about them and trying to fix breakdowns before it's too late. And I am thinking about how I didn't do that for that relationship. And how bad I can really suck at communicating honestly sometimes. But maybe the Universe just sometimes says: this is how it's meant to be because you need to learn this lesson...again. (How many pop quizzes do We have to give you, Amy, before you pass one??)

Can I be really real and my totally weird self with you real quick before I sign off? I lived in Arizona for 3 years (and never saw the Grand Canyon). I had weird experiences out there, in Arizona. I've often wondered if it's one of those ley line crossing places--you know, a spot on the planet some aliens buried their hidden treasure of whatever or the Universe is storing Its secret stash of outer space hallucinatory star dust. So anyway, this is where I was when I found out my dad was dying of congestive heart failure. My mom called me, and made it sound like he'd die in about a week (seriously, Mom?? Seriously.).

I went to bed crying that night, and I had a dream. Here is what was in my dream:

I was crying. And an older lady I couldn't see asked me what was wrong. I told her, "My dad is dying." She laughed--not cruelly, just one of those oh-is-THAT-all-it-is kinds of laughs--and said, "Yes, it's true, your dad is dying. But so are you. God created all creatures great and small and some day soon your time will come too. But until that time, you are never to worry about death and dying."

And then she suddenly went from being gentle and sweet to very very firm and serious and said again, "Until that time, you are NEVER to worry about death and dying." And then? I woke up.

Except I wasn't truly awake. My body was asleep but my mind was awake. You know how when people are in a deep sleep, they breathe really deeply? Yes, that was my body. It was frozen in sleep, taking very deep breaths. But my brain was awake--I knew I was in my bedroom, I realized I was in my bed, and in the instant I realized something was weird here, how is my body asleep but I'm...a man's voice spoke in my ear and said what the old lady had said in my dream: "You are NEVER to worry about death and dying."

And then I completely woke up, practically screaming, turning on every single light that existed in my tiny apartment. All of that happened in the span of a split second--the waking/not waking, the voice, the true waking. And I have never experienced it ever again. It was very similar to when a pet dog I'd grown up with and loved dearly made her transition, and I was inconsolable with grief about it. While weeping over her loss, a sudden KNOWLEDGE that she was okay...not a feeling, not a thought, more like a KNOWING washed over me along with a very brief yet unforgettably intense warmth and peace. It was so powerful, and I've never felt anything like it again.

Is it possible my brain's synapses misfired or crossed their wires both times? Maybe. I'm a big fan of science, so I'm not going to rule out that the human brain is a complex organ capable of doing incredible, inexplicable things once in awhile. But I also think there are just some things that scientists need to stop peeing all over. And life after death is one of them. Please stop peeing all over life after death, Scientists. Humans in level 3 mourning need you to stop doing that. Especially when they can't go back and fix the past.

Crap. Life is hard, Internet. Be grateful for all your level one mourns, and try to rectify or resolve the level twos so the level threes are less gut punch-y. And if you're stuck in a level 2 or reeling from a level 3 mourn right now, please know you will be okay. You will be okay. You will be okay. The people who go leave tiny little holes in our hearts that never fill back in, but you will be okay, I promise. Okay?

And for the record, I totally didn't take the old lady or the man's advice: I worry about death and dying daily. Because I'm a total control freak who likes to think I have magical powers to stop it. Which none of us do. And we will all be okay anyway.


creative chaos.

Thank heavens, Internet, I figured out how to turn off the blinking cats. Honestly, you have no idea how much it was bumming me out every time I logged into my dashboard here. The blinking cats gave me a terrifying, brief glimpse into who I'll be when I'm 85 years old: suspicious and annoyed with the young. Ask any of my 2nd graders--they'll confirm I'm well on my way.

Here is what I've decided I love about my new class of children: they love stories. And that means, in spite of some of their poor decision making Monday through Friday, I love them. Because I love stories! And I love people who love stories! And if only we could just all sit around and share stories all day long like Plato and Socrates and Aristotle used to do with their students, I really think we could get rid of stupid people who start or join organizations like ISIS and the KKK and the 700 Club. Get rid of crazed obsession with data and tests, and bam! World peace and agape love. Don't worry--I'm already working on my UN pitch.

So today, we talked about Characters, Setting, and Problem/Solution, 3 key components of understanding fiction for developing readers and writers. I read them a book by Loren Long called OTIS, which is a sweet story about an old tractor and his friend, a calf. They adored it. You know how I know? They clapped and cheered when it was finished. At some point this year, I expect a standing ovation and will become completely disillusioned with life if it doesn't happen. Reading to them is the one time I've noticed they're very quiet and attentive, so now I'm trying to figure out how much I can get away with reading to them. If I could read to them all day long, believe me: I would.

The other thing I love about them are their soft hearts. They love babies and soft kittens and roly-poly puppies and squidgy teddy bears and basically just all things ridiculously cute. And love. I got a bunch of kids who are in love with love. Yesterday at lunch, I had a conversation with a little girl that went like this:

Ms. S, do you have to be grown up to have a husband?
TOTALLY grown up?
Totally. Well over 29.
29?! I'm going to be a grown up when I'm 15. When I'm 15 I'm going to get a husband. So I can be happy.
What?!  Who says you have to have a husband to be happy? Some grown up ladies don't get married and live by themselves and they're very happy.
GIRL (looking at me all crazy): 
Nu uh. Everybody has to have a husband. My auntie has to have a husband right now. And I want to get a husband so I can be rich and get HAPPY! If my auntie gets a husband, I get to be the flower girl. 
We can get some husbands together and marry them on June!
You guys are going to get married on the same day?
Yeah! To the same husband!
And we can have babies and take them for walks!
My baby's name is going to be Tinkerbell. Did you know she's my favorite fairy?

I'm still marinating in this lunch conversation, trying to sort my feelings out about it. First off, I think Girl 1's auntie needs to stop selling matrimony to young, impressionable girls. Girls ought to learn to go to sleep alone, wake up alone, and know when their eyes greet the sun (alone): I am at peace as is, no one else can complete me like I complete myself. On the other hand, I think it would make Girl 1's whole life to be a flower girl in her auntie's wedding and she'd be excellent at the role, so what the hell do I know?

Second, I'm pretty sure Georgia is the backward state when it comes to legalizing shared husband marriages. But I hate when people pee all over my parades, so I didn't want to break their hearts.

And last, stop naming kids after tv characters and rock bands, society! Children have terrible taste, and we're just creating adults with zero ability to discern crass vs class. I can only imagine how many Anas, Elsas, Olafs, Svens, and Kristoffs we're going to have running around this place 20 years from today. Also, this is going to be so absurd in 60 years. Aging, wrinkled people named things like One Direction and Frozen and Tinkerbell and Xbox 360 getting knee replacements and pacemakers are going to serve as sad commentary on the havoc humans can wreak upon their helpless young.

(Once, someone asked me: Why didn't your parents name you Delilah? [As an ode to my last name.] I said, "Because they weren't cruel people.")

(And another side note, I cannot tell you how many bizarre names I've been witness to over the years: YourMajesty, Sweet Precious, Heavenly Angel (who was anything but), Blessica, Almonds (pronounced: all-MONZ), Oleg Cassini, Rolex, and Mercedes Benz to name a few. Those are all real names. Of real people walking the planet, right now. Man, we're a strange species. And very materialistic.)

Okay. Now I'm going to segue from creative names to talking about creative industries:

I'm attending The Red Clay Writer's Conference in Savannah, Georgia this October. I'm stupendously excited about it. Not just because my sweet writer friend Becky and some of my all-time favorite, non-writerly people are coming with me, and not just because I get to spend several hours one afternoon totally geeking out about wordsmithing. But also because: we're going to Savannah, y'all! Savannah. Have you been there? If not, you should go. I love that place a lot. It's simply one of my favorite places in America, and not just because it's the most haunted (ghosts are REAL, y'all! Real. Don't let the skeptics fool you). The people are quirky, there's a lot of melancholy Spanish moss hanging around, and the ghosts are like Whack-a-Mole; seriously, they're everywhere. If you go to Savannah, I promise: you'll see dead people--I did. (Okay, no I didn't. But I HEARD one--she talked to me.)

I can't wait for the conference day, to see what kind of interesting writer-y types we run into and what type of Who Knew?! information about the writing business we glean. I was thinking about writer-y types yesterday (since I am one), and how pushed some people are to express themselves via words or story. Or how pushed some people are to paint or photograph or write songs or play a musical instrument or sculpt or act or make movies. I don't know about them, but I do it because often feel like I have chaos in my brain, and really I'm just sitting in front of a computer trying to sort it out so it makes sense to ME...and maybe, in the process, someone else will connect to it and their chaos will be sorted. Just a bit? Maybe?

At any rate, this is my theory on why some people create art in any form: a vast need to corral a writhing stampede of pandemonium gone wild and turn it into something beautiful. That, and they can't afford a good psychiatrist.

The problem with any creative industry isn't that you have to have a ton of talent, necessarily, but that you have to really be willing to work at whatever amount of talent you do have. I recently read an article about people who become successful in Hollywood, which is a land chockablock full of talented people. There's so much talent in Los Angeles, the cockroaches have agents (you can't use that--I'm copyrighting it: Cockroach Talent Agents). The difference comes in who actually gets to actually work vs who just thinks their talent will magically get them where they want to be. And also: there's no such thing as an overnight success. Hollywood likes to sell that story to the public, and that's because Hollywood is a pro at creating blockbuster films that could never happen in real life. Every successful person is someone who's been working at it (hard) for years, and finally, one day, somebody noticed them.

This is daunting for me. Because listen: I'm a person who'll sit and watch 6 hours straight of DVR'd television shows (while consuming one whole pint of Talenti Salted Caramel gelato, all by myself). And now I'm back to real world work, which I actually do work very hard at (so I know I can do it. I can work hard. When I decide to...and the mortgage is due), and real world work/mortgage payments is eating into my working at writing time and I've been forgetting to write every day.

The other day, someone who follows me on Twitter and I follow back Direct Messaged me and asked if I had anything I'd like for him to read--he writes short stories and just really enjoys beta reading (I think? from looking at his Twitter page). So first, I was all: HOORAY!!!!!!! HUMAN INTERACTION ON TWITTER!!!!!! and then I was all: oh. uuuuh...do I have anything for this person I don't know in real life to read? ....i don't know? (I actually do have something, but I'm still cleaning it up. Meaning, it's sitting in my Google Docs waiting to be worked on. For going on 6 weeks now.) So I thanked him for his sweet offer, said yes and asked if I could send him the link when it's ready. Then I smacked my forehead and told myself to pull it together! pull it together and just do the damn work, Amy.

Why do I not have this issue in my non-writer job? Because they give me a paycheck, that's why. And there's a schedule, and I'm a person who really really needs a schedule (even though I hate them). And most important, I have to leave my house to do that job. When I'm at my house, there's Internet, satellite TV, books, and easy access to gelato to distract me.

That's it. You're at the end. I'm pretty much done here. I thought I had a point when I went down this write-talk about creative work and chaos and working at your talent and whatnot. Did I make any points that were helpful to you? If not, I'm sorry that you got this far, all for a sudden wrap up of:  I feel like I'm forgetting something. I do think I had something very important to say, and the salted caramel gelato just totally off-tracked me, as salted caramel gelato is wont to do. Think I'm just going to label that my creative process and call it a day.


this is called lazy blogging.

Or, actually, I prefer: lazy Sunday writing. Like a drive through the country, but you don't leave your house.

So I saw this picture on the Internet. It posed a fascinating (I felt) question. I like the "what would you do?" kinds of questions. I pose them to 2nd graders every now and then, and the responses are always interesting. They kind of clue you in on the inner workings of someone's soul. Or what someone would like you to think of their soul. Also, I'm an armchair psychiatrist and like to pick people apart. These questions always help feed that.

At any rate, I put a short version of this up at my personal (private) Facebook page, my writer (public) Facebook page, and on Twitter (where nobody listens to anybody). So I'm going to post the picture here, and this link will take you to my writer (public) facebook page where I give my answer to the query: Which one would you pick? And also, I will link to my twitter page below that, just for fun, in case anybody is listening (they aren't).

And then YOU can ponder your own answer, and if you'd like you can share it with me. Or go write a song about it. Or a screenplay. Or a short story or the beginnings of a novel. Or a poem. Or just share it with your friends, for insight into their souls. And, later, we'll build a fire and roast marshmallows and sing Kumbayah and wrap the world in light and pray for peace and harmony and the age of Aquarius to come. Okay? Okay! GO!


8 is the magical number (for this list)

1. I never created my teacher de-stress tips that I was going to rip off from that Corporate World person who gets to take hour + long lunches and 15 minute breaks every 45 seconds. Sorry. I'll keep trying. It's on my Do When Less Stressed List.

2. Tonight we were eating at an Italian restaurant and saw the ex-girlfriend of a friend of ours eating at the table across ours. Her new girlfriend was with her. They are pregnant (not both of them, just the new girlfriend--Lesbians! Don't DO it! Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Talk about stress). C walked M over so the ex-girlfriend/ex-friend could meet her. It was sort of surreal--eight years ago, we spent so many good times with her: holidays, vacations, birthdays, weekend cook outs, she was a big part of our wedding...and now. Nada. Like we never even knew each other. But she's happy, and her girlfriend is lovely and sweet.

Friendships ending are sad. Sometimes unavoidable, usually necessary, and always hard. And very, very wistful. I'm glad when everybody turns out okay, even though the relationship couldn't go on for whatever reason.

3a. What IS this, Blogger? What is this crap I'm looking at on my "write a new blog entry" page and dashboard?? I see ten cats of varying colors winking and meowing at me. Seriously? Really, Blogger?? Can we get a "write a new blog entry" option for bloggers over 40?

3b. I don't understand people who do things online like this:

U R so cute!!!!! C U L8TR!!!!!!!!!!!! 

And such. I mean, if you're under 21, yes. I get it--you're still learning to spell, watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, and you like cutesy. But if you're a grown up who pays taxes and a mortgage, and you have a 401K and all that? Holy Jesus on a popsicle stick. This is why we can't have nice things, Planet Earth. First they took letters out of words, then they added numbers. Now we have rows of inexplicable flashing gifs underlining our communication. I think it's safe to declare it official: we're devolving as a species.

(This also may be why truly serious writers all have wordpress accounts.)

4. I have a lot of talkers in my class. Which is one thing. But I also discovered I have some individuals with some serious problems regarding the following of classroom rules. We've been in school for NINE days, friends, and I've already had 50 Come To Jesus meetings (that's Southern for Y'all Got Some Serious Re-thinking To Do). This afternoon, after two 7 year olds informed me, "I'm done. I'm bored. I'm not going to learn this anymore." I let THEM know: "Uuuuh, yes you are going to learn some more about this." I also learned them that, starting next week, 2nd grade was about to get REAL. No more little happy faces on those weekly behavior cards, unless there was a real reason for them to be there. Yes, sir. Yes, m'am. Second grade's going to get really real on Monday, the eighteenth of August, twenty fourteen, at oh-eight-twenty in the morning.

5. Fortunately for them, they are cute. And they have big imaginations. (I do like to give some of them the benefit of the doubt--like, maybe, in their big, creative brains, they've imagined they have teaching degrees and are in charge?) Plus (and more important), I suspect at least 4 of them may have potential as budding storytellers/writers, and this excites me beyond explanation. So we'll work with it. But lands, it's putting me in bed by 9:30 every night, Internet. I have no idea how I'm functioning right now, as a matter of fact.

6. I got to go to Curriculum Night on the OTHER side of the fence this past Thursday. Another surreal experience. First of all, I'm in the system so I know too much. Like, I didn't even go to the Title 1 part of the meeting because I've only ever worked in Title 1 schools with Title 1 kids; I can recite Title 1 acronyms blindfolded and gagged, which I think is pretty much how the US government prefers you do that anyway. (Title 1 = government code for "poor kids") (Miss M and I are not poor; we are blessed, but if you have a certain percentage of disadvantaged children in your school, you get extra money from the USA as Title 1 funding.) Second of all, Thursday night I realized: I'm going to have to find a way to be just another mom at Melissa's school and not a teacher. Because I'm in the system so I know too much. My inclination is to be all laid back and "hey, fellow teacher! High five!" However, I think the teacher is (a) overwhelmed by beginning of the year information (because I know I am) and (b) reluctant to get too chummy too quick (because I know I am). (I mean, could be one of the crazy parents.) (At least 6 days out of every month, I actually am. Thanks, hormones!)

7. Hey. Have I promoted DIG on USA lately? Said Hello to Jason Isaacs? I don't think so. I did promise him I would promote the crap out of this TV show. Which airs this fall (we don't know when). They've had to move production to Croatia and New Mexico. Jerusalem was in an unexpected war (O Jerusalem! I am sad for you. I wish everyone would stop having wars there. You'd think after two millenia people would have worked out their control issues. Thank God they didn't have cat winkies 2,000 years ago. I can only imagine what would be going on in the Middle East right now.)

8. At any rate: Hello to Jason Isaacs. And thank you, DIG on USA (and Jason Isaacs) for introducing me to A Fine Frenzy and lovely human being Alison Sudol. I listen to Alison Sudol's beautiful music and voice on my meditative drives into work now. And I plan on showing her lovely short film to my wayward 2nd grade chargers when we get to plant life cycles (after we've mastered school expectations).

Do you have about 15 minutes? If so, you should watch this. Especially if you've had a long, exhausting week like I have. This will make your heart happy and relax you:


wall, hit.

Friends, I'm exhausted. Knackered, as our UK compatriots would say. Done for. And I have 178 more days of this.

I am at 23 students now, expecting more tomorrow. We are boy heavy this year (one of my great-grandmothers used to say that whenever a lot of boys were born, it meant there'd be war) (greeeeat, JUST what we need more of).

Please know: I am okay with a lot of boys. I like boys. (most) Boys don't have a lot of the emotional drama that (most) girls seem to possess. I sense testosterone vs. estrogen is at play there. Can we fix that, Science? See if you can fix that, Science. Teachers everywhere will high five you so hard.

But boys also mature more slowly, are typically reluctant readers (I took a quick straw poll today: Math or Reading? Math. Hands down, Math was the favorite.) (So was P.E., which is good--kids these days! They just don't run enough, you know?). But oh em gee, girls and the drama! And I'm a mother to a girl, and a girl myself, so believe me: I KNOW.

C'est la vie. It just is what it is, I guess. What it is right now is exhausting--dealing with school supplies, children who don't have school supplies, bus/address location issues, children who need backpacks so they can have a bus tag to get on the bus to go home issues, talking issues, noise level issues, getting new students in the middle of everything and having to review everything 18 billion times issues, talking and noise, dealing with people from all different backgrounds and their various levels of dysfunction, noise and talking and talking and noise and talking and noise. Oh my god, there's so! much! NOISE! Why are children so fricking LOUD?

Other than that, I got some incredible cuties--I am already head over heels in love with about 5 of them. So. Stinkin'. Cute. Just thinking of their little faces and chipmunk cheeks is making me happy about going back there tomorrow. Also, these 5 aren't the loud ones, and that helps them so much. These are the kind of children I hope and pray my child is like at school (yet know she's not--she's far too observant and argumentative).

Another plus to this year, Miss M is at a different daycare--for before and after school care, because she's not attending the school I teach at. For the last 5 years, she's been at a daycare/preschool by the school I work at, and we'd drive in together every day. Let me tell you: my drives are heavenly now. So quiet. So reflective. I think this may be why I'm less stressed out by the ensuing noise that starts at 8:30 and lasts til 3:30. Driving meditations. They're wonderful things.

Oh, and last night she was out by 8:03 pm. I've known this child her whole entire life, and I've never seen that happen. Not one single time! She's inherited my night owl nature, and fights sleep like a ninja. For five years I've counted it as a win whenever she's out by 9:15. Now we're looking at 8:30 bedtimes. God bless you, Kindergarten teachers! Thank god for  you.

Other than that, I have nothing else to add. I'm going to post a list of stress-fighting strategies I've re-worked for people in education. In the original, it was suggested one take a break every 45 minutes...I can barely find time to go to the bathroom every 8 hours. In addition, a nice leisurely lunch was suggested...I'm not sure how to stretch out that 20 minute time slot during which teachers wolf down a sandwich and then go pick up their wayward pupils (it's actually 30, but by the time you get them seated, get your food heated up or ready to consume, and then have to go get them out of the lunchroom? Twenty. You get twenty minutes to inhale some food midday) (and I work at a school that lets its teachers eat in a separate room from the children at lunchtime--some teachers have to eat WITH their students which, I believe, should be on the UN's list of human rights violations).

Run schools like businesses, my foot. If only we COULD run schools like businesses--I'd love to have an expense account, a company-issued iPhone, a corporate credit card, business trips out of town once in awhile. I wish I were able to take hour long power lunches, be able to call in sick and not have to have 8 hours' worth of lesson plans AND materials for some stranger to try to figure out, and sit in a quiet cubicle all day solving world problems. I'd like to just say to my boss: Hey, boss. I need to run to the doctor...taking a long lunch break, that cool? And have my boss go, "Yeah, that's cool." instead of, "Do you have coverage" or "Oh, I'm sorry, no. We can't afford coverage for you right now."

Must be nice. Must. Be. Nice.

So I'm not going to write this list of de-stress tips tonight (did I just set you up for a big let down? I just set you up for a big let down, didn't I.) I'm sorry. Because I actually did start to type the list earlier and realized: great god, this is going to take 5 hours. And I have some LOUD boys to contend with early tomorrow morning. So I just made an executive decision to hack out my list this weekend, when I have more time. And less stress. And life is quieter. Is that okay?

And just in case any corporate/non-educator/judge-y types are reading this going Oooh! SO hard! You just got an 8 week break, boohoo! Listen. I'm sure all you not-in-education peeps have your insane stresses. Working for a living SHOULD be stressful sometimes, if you give two shits about your work. And so I'm sure you look at my 8 week summer breaks and my 2 week winter breaks and my 1 week spring break and go: Ooooh! SO hard! Must be nice to have all that relaxation time! Must be nice. Must. Be. Nice.

That's fine. That's cool. So why don't we do this: I'll happily switch jobs with you for half a school year. Try my stress on for 90 days, and then let's talk about why planned, regular hiatuses (hiati?) from school are essential for society's well-being. That means, for you, for 90 days, there will be: No power lunches at hibachi grills, no regular bathroom breaks (seriously, I've gone 10 hours without one--no biggie), wild children totally out of control and NOT being good listeners, and 20 minutes to gulp down a sandwich and a bottle of water? Oh, AND you have to go out and drop $100+ out of your own checking account because 10 of your students' parents refused to provide the school supplies necessary for the year, and when you go to the office and ask about reimbursement they just look at you all crazy-like and go, "Uh, this is SCHOOL. You understand that this is SCHOOL, don't you?" Then let's talk about why I'm so tired after just Day 2 out of 180 days of work. Wait til I share my world with you on Day frickin' 90.