Wednesday, September 30, 2009

no no drama. you don't want no drama

Today was one of those days where I wonder if I am a lightening rod for drama. Do I thrive on it? I am certainly moved to action as a result of it. My day started simply enough-- I was even early for LAW (I know!)-- and the session was a good one. But when I arrived in my room, I discovered my partner had resigned, giving no notice. OK! Plan B! It was a scene for awhile, but it settled down before lunch... to have me return to some student drama, which has not yet been resolved. That required me to find a 'don't touch me corner', and a few phone calls which were cut short for various reasons. After that, the remaining sunshines lost their ability to hold it together-- the classroom dissolved into absolute silliness, and I realized it was better to just let the mood take hold and just survive.

After school was all about making non-stress bags for our grades 3-8 students starting state mandated testing tomorrow. (I enjoyed the irony of making stress kits with the other PTO moms while my day had been all about the stress; just sticking with the theme, I guess.) It took longer than I'd hoped, which meant switching vehicles with WB who had to take Girly to gym (again). But now all that's left in my day is getting some dishes done, getting Boy to his haircut, and getting dinner together. Silly me... I checked email. Turns out my Fabulous Uncle is MIA: my mother emailed asking when I'd last heard from him, as he hasn't answered her emails or those of another uncle. I'm not sure I even have a number to reach him in France. Great.

So do I invite the drama or does it just find me? I've gone quite a bit without it, so I'm hoping today was just my turn to be the epicenter. And, if you feel otherwise, please give me a few days to settle down before bursting my bubble.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm may not be here for a long time, but I am here for a good time. --JL

Yesterday we stopped in to visit with Mr. L. We've known him since college (I knew who he was, but didn't know him personally-- he was a bit on the wild side) but really got to know him when he took a teaching job at our school. He was never what one would call conventional, and that held true inside the classroom as well. Three years ago he ended up as our middle school alt ed teacher, and life was really good.

Fast forward to last summer, when he was diagnosed with cancer. He's taken a leave of absence this year, and while we found a great replacement, we still miss our wild and crazy friend. He looked ok yesterday-- tired and a bit skinny, but still himself. It was good to just hang with him for a few hours; we're planning on stopping in after archery more regularly. In fact, I think it's time for a PSD reunion: we talk about it all the time but have never been able to pull it together.

It's been 3 years since we lost another teacher friend to this horrible disease, and 6 years since Devon. Life isn't fair, and sometimes we get thrown these curve balls that really do a lot of damage. I don't pretend to understand why, nor do I really want to. I want my friend to get better, now, and not have to suffer through the healing process. But Mick and Keith are right, and sometimes you don't get asked for your opinion. I don't like thinking about other ways this might end, but Mr. L never did leave the pink elephant sitting in the room alone. His philosophy is hard to think about, but I respect the guy immensely for living it. There are no guarantees in life but you can choose how you react to whatever gets thrown at you. He's choosing the optimist's approach, to ride it out to whatever conclusion follows. I feel pretty honored to be there for part of the ride.

don't want to change a thing

Yesterday we took a field trip to the "hippy fair". I don't like to organize field trips, but I recognize their value. For me, they give me the chance to say 'I trust you. Meet me at XXX time. Be good.' At the fair, they were. Checked everything out and had a great time. Sure, their interests are a bit more varied than mine, but whatever. They were talking to groups in the political and social activism tent, and that's what counts. They saw a part of our state they might not ever have seen otherwise. That's a success.

I ended up getting off the bus 30 minutes early so I could head to Boy's soccer game-- which I did not think would happen. We left earlier than I'd thought, and WB later than I'd guessed... and my Eddie T. (ed. tech) offered to finish out the bus ride so I could see my son. How do I argue with that? I explained it to the sunshines... and not "5 minutes after you got off the bus" one of them decided to use his lighter on a bracelet they were making. There will be official consequences, but there will also be consequences with me. And people wonder why I hate field trips.

Boy's game was incredible. His grade, both boys and girls, are loving soccer and starting to think the game. I'm so glad I got to see it-- it was amazing to watch. They are going to be a fun group to follow through to graduation. Good kids, good skills, and good parents to hang with. Hope Girly's group proves as strong.

When we got home, I had a letter in my mailbox from a graduate. He was just writing to tell me how he was doing and asking me for an update of my family, too. If there was any question that I was succeeding at my connectedness goal, it's gone. His life may not look the way I hoped it would, but he's making the best of it, and telling someone about it. Pretty darned amazing.

So I guess these random field trips are worth it. You never know what it is that will pay dividends, but something is working.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Big Little Sis is teaching in a world very foreign to mine. I don't know how she does it. My sunshines aren't in gangs; their grouping is a positive identity, like I've got your back. It's not about instilling fear or performing random acts of violence. I say again: I don't know how she does it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

learned from the best.

Last week, we had the first PTO meeting at Boy's middle school. I don't mean 'first' like the first of this year, but 'first' like first time this decade, maybe first ever. I was hoping for 3 parents to be there with me and the principal. Dreaming of 5. What we got were 7 parents and 4 more who wanted to be there but couldn't. Um, yea, I left there feeling pretty psyched (I'll spare you the REM theme song running through my head).

I have no idea where this group is going, and right now I don't really care. What matters is that we're trying and we're moving forward. Doing something to make things better. There's been an athletic boosters around for awhile, and we're trying to add to the collective community volunteering. That's always a cool thing.

Since then, I've been thinking of my friend Devon. A lot. She was the Volunteer Coordinator in my little school where I first earned a paycheck. She was Super Volunteer. As late as 1992, we had 3 volunteers come in daily to help serve lunch. (Yes, one paid employee and 3 volunteers-- welcome to rural living. My first paychecks were hand written and not computer generated. I kid you not.) She called the willing participants and figured out who worked when. She filled in when someone was sick. She organized the training at the beginning of the year and the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet at the end of the year. And she did everything in between. What happened last week is nothing compared to what Devon pulled off in her sleep, but I have to say, it feels pretty amazing to be channeling her energy. I've been involved in our elementary PTO since Boy started kindergarten, and now working with 2 schools... I guess it's nice to know that she's still here beside me, helping me help our students.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

doin' my part

The vast numbers of RVBs have gone silent. It's ok: I'll keep posting and hopefully you'll all be back.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


We talk about different aspects of nurturing people, but Danielle's post about caring sums it all up. Damn, she's good. If I, or anyone I love dearly, is ever that sick, I want her to be the one on call.

(For you FB followers of my blog, here's the link. Read her. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

not myself?

I stepped a bit out of my dressing comfort zone today... mainly with a sweater that fits instead of one that might fit WB. All day I felt different, and it wasn't until I headed to Boy's school to get him after practice that it hit me: I felt a bit like I was channeling Ms. SJ.

What do you all think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

photo booth

So some of the sunshines have their laptops. It took them 2.5 hours to find Photo Booth. I might never get them back.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Ever have one of those days that is crazy busy and leaves you exhausted at the end, but refreshed too? Convinced that you're doing what you're meant to be doing, where you're doing it?

Yea, me too.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


In the early 90s, my family vacationed on Martha's Vineyard with another family. We did this for 3 or 4 years, until more children needed summer jobs to pay for college and there wasn't a need to rent a big beach house. It was during one of those summers, when I discovered I didn't hate history.

We had taken a day trip to Chappaquiddick Island, and went to the bridge where Teddy Kennedy didn't make the corner and left Mary Jo Kopechene to die inside his car. It was at that point it hit me: history is just the story of what has happened, and why. And sometimes, if you understand the why, you can find patterns and and get a deeper undertanding of what happened.

It turns out he was not the first Kennedy to be part of my history readiness. When I first met Mike, who was a history major, we got talking about the Bay of Pigs incident and I just casually said something about the Cuban Missle Crisis saving Kennedy's presidency: had that turned out differently, JFK would be remembered for a failure and not for staring down the Ruskies and winning.

In the years since visiting Chappaquiddick, I've wondered if that incident changed Teddy into the Lion of the Senate; without it would he have remained the spoiled youngest child of American 'royalty'? The best assessment is Teddy was driving drunk, and why a married man would be on a deserted road with a young political groupie... well, ask Bill Clinton why that might happen. He made a bad choice that night and a young girl died. Chances are good that his family name kept him out of prision. From there, his life could have gone two ways: continuing to be a partying playboy or accepting responsibility and making changes.

I have no way of knowing how haunted he was by this incident, but I imagine it never quite went away. While I will never be able to assess Teddy's life without thinking about Mary Jo, I have to admire him for facing his history, and working tirelessly to not have that be the only way he was remembered. I don't think he pushed for universal healthcare for his own glory, but I do think he was prodded along by a ghost who would never quite leave his side. I don't believe she died for the betterment of our society or anything quite that trite, but I do believe it would have been worse had her death meant nothing to him.

The Senate is a lonlier place with Teddy's passing. I hope he was able to apologize to Mary Jo's ghost, and that his soul is now at peace.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

happy new (school) year

So far the year has been fun. I mean yea, I know it's only been a couple of days, but those two days went well. It was good to see my old sunshines again, and I think the new sunshines will fit right in. I've made some changes to our room which seem to be improvements that everyone can live with. I do love my job, which makes summers ending so much easier to take.