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Holy cold snaps, Batman! Is it December already?!

I'm finding it very difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that there are only 2 weeks left in this semester, in which I get to torture *ahem* instruct my darling students. We're currently working on a research project and spent all day in the library today. Some of them are really getting into their topic, and although I'm working my fingers to the bone getting them to understand the concept of using sources for research and all about MLA format, it's going well so far. The plan is to have a class museum set up with all their projects (they're researching decades in the 20th century and creating different things for them), and they'll each dress in the style of their decade. The principals are all invited to attend (eek!). It should be cool, but we'll see how it goes. That's one thing I've learned over the years with teaching: you have a plan but then you go with the flow.

Here's a fun little anecdote about my life for you:

Yesterday, it was raining cats and dogs. I mean serious rain, tornado watches, high wind, can't see the road when you're driving type rain. I made it home from work and hunkered down on the couch with a book to read. I'm sitting there, minding my own business when suddenly there's this horrible sound of water pouring down my chimney! I have a nice gas fireplace and you could hear the water bouncing off the metal of the firebox. All I could think was that it must just be pouring down the flue and collecting there. I ran to get a bucket and knelt down in front the fireplace, stuck the bucket on the fake ceramic logs, and opened the flue, bracing myself for the torrential flood about to take place.

Nothing. Not a drop came down the flue. A few head scratches later, I decide to stick my hand up the flue to see if maybe there's something else lodged there blocking the water, which, by the sound of it, is still pouring on down. Unfortunately, all this action earned me was an arm covered in soot. Still no water. A few minutes later the sound stopped. I still have no clue where the water went, what caused it, anything. Huh.


I've made a friend at work. Yup, it's December, I've been working there for 4 months, and I finally have a friend. She's the wife of a teacher, and she spends her days at the school helping the teachers out with copies, grading any multiple choice work, running errands, etc. She's really sweet, very Southern, and loves to come hang out in my room during my planning. Fortunately, she's not one that needs to talk constantly when she hangs out. Usually, we both sit and grade papers and every once in a while chat. It's nice to finally have someone who says hello and asks about my family and makes more than just the socially required efforts to befriend me in response to my many efforts. I've introduced her to the world of Twilight and she's speeding through the first book. If I'm honest, she's not the type of person I would normally befriend, but I'm enjoying her friendship so far and am very thankful for her. It would seem that I'm also sort of making friends with the ladies in the media center, since I've been spending so much time there lately with the kids' projects and all.

Christmas break is already filling up with plenty to keep me busy, and I'm thankful for that. My brother is (finally) engaged (YAY!) and so I'm going to a party at his fiancée's house one weekend, my dad's birthday is coming up, a friend and I are going to a live Bethlehem village production, I'm going with my family to a living Christmas tree, there will be a new year's slumber party at my house after an afternoon/evening of something fun (possibly Cirque du Soleil if we can still get tickets), and then my birthday! Oh and of course Christmas with my whole family! I know winter is the "down" season for some people, but I love it! I can't wait for the fun to begin!

Oct. 9th, 2010

Fall break has finally arrived!!

I know, I'm lucky. Very few counties in Georgia have a fall break in October. I think my county only does it because the fair is in town here this week, so if the kids are out of school, the fair makes more money. The county fair is not something that really excites me (too many prospects of running into students when I'm celebrating being away from them), so I won't be going. But it's right up the road from me and will cause some interesting detours in order for me to get to places.

There's already a long to-do list sitting on my counter, with a few things already crossed off thanks to my parents. They came down this past week along with my sister and the nephews and we got several things done to my yard and deck. Even managed to find the bag of all my sister's winter clothes in the piles of stuff I'm storing for her in my garage. But there's still plenty to do, like organize my walk-in closet, create some sort of order out of the chaos that is my library/office, and clear out my guest bedroom in hopes that I can rent it out to make some much needed money.

But I've also got to make sure that my to-do list includes some fun things. I have tentative plans to hang out with my brother, go shopping with a couple friends, go on a drive to hike and see pretty fall leaves, and go see a community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof with another friend.

Last night I was able to catch up with several friends I haven't seen in a while at the local Mexican joint, and the talking about things other than work did wonders for my fragile emotions and psyche. One friend in particular, Rachel, has been exactly where I am, where teaching and living that life literally caused her a nervous breakdown. Talking with her in particular was very soothing, and we started coming up with things I could do to help those feelings. She and I will start up our weekly get-togethers that we used to have, and she said if I really want to do the grad school thing and get a Masters, then I should go for it and use student loans if I have to. It's exactly what my mom said, but hearing it from more than your mother makes it more plausible sometimes, right? :)

Well, the dryer is buzzing at me, so I'm off to get more of this to-do list finished. My mother raised me right - on the first day of a vacation, clean the house from top to bottom. That way you can enjoy a clean house the rest of the vacation.
now let's try for something a little less long-winded and a bit more high spirited. :)

Update on life:

1. It's hot. Miserably hot. Still. Yay Georgia.

2. I have to get up too stinkin' early, and it causes me to be so tired when I get home that I can think of nothing but sitting on the couch, reading. Forget exercise, forget cooking, cleaning, or laundry.

3. I don't like that. There are things that need to be done, that I want to do.

4. Motivation and energy would be lovely right now. Too bad you can't send me some like you can on Frontierville on Facebook.

5. Nectarines are frikkin awesome. But only when they're crunchy like an apple.

6. My mother bought me a really fancy Thomas Kincaid paint-by-number set and it's still in the box due to #2.

7. But soon, it will be started. :)

8. There's a huge, but gorgeous, green and yellow garden spider on my front porch. After it freaked me out when I discovered it, I left it there because it's so pretty, but now it's laid eggs, so I may have to get my daddy down here to kill it.

9. Yes, my daddy is pretty much wrapped around my little finger, but I don't exploit it. .... too much. :) Mostly just when it comes to spiders. And mowing my yard. And fixing things.

10. My mom and were talking about boyfriends, because hello, I'm 27, single, and it can sometimes be depressing (or as Nicole likes to say "boggling"). But mama, I just can't bring myself to sign up for eHarmony. Sorry.

11. I have a dog, and I'm thinking of changing her name to "SHUT UP!" because that's what she usually hears from me. Can we say "barks too much"?



Ok, that's all you get for now. :)

new efforts

I'm nearly halfway through my fourth week back with my students, and fifth week for me (if you include pre-planning). Things have nearly settled into a groove with work. I know (mostly) what to expect each day, how things work, what makes my kids tick, and I almost have an idea of what I'm doing from week to week lesson plan-wise. Those are all good things.

I'm still working on settling into being content, if I can't be happy, about my job. Every morning when my alarm clock wakes me up at "oh dear Lord it's too early" o'clock, there are three things that get me out of bed and moving:
1. Pandora radio (I swear that thing can sense my mood. I've yet to be disappointed in the mix it plays for me in the morning)
2. a hot shower that doubles as prayer time and
3. audibly thanking Jesus that I have a job. Every morning, out loud. I know there are so many people who would love to have a job, any job, and I have one that pays for a house, a nice car, and food, so reminding myself every morning that I do have such a job helps put my mind in the right place to get up and go.

Somehow though, despite making a deliberate effort to be thankful for what I have, I surprised myself twice on Saturday. Once I was simply loading the dishwasher, and the second time I was crawling into bed. Saturday was a great day. It was drizzly and calm, a perfect book-reading, being lazy in the bed day. I didn't have anywhere to be and I got to sleep in past 6. But those two times, I stopped in my tracks and said out loud to the empty house, "I need a different job." It surprised me. I know I haven't been entirely happy with my job for several months, but I thought all the being thankful for what I have and praying that God would change my heart was working, or at the very least was keeping me from being miserable. But when I offhandedly shared with my family how weird I am that I twice made that statement to an empty house, all they could say was that obviously I did need a different job if that's how I really felt.

It's weird. The majority of my life I've wanted to be a teacher. I still do. I think. I get excited about sharing what I think is cool and important and eye-opening with my kids. Today when a student told me she had hated poetry and thought it was pointless and stupid, but now she likes poetry and wants to get better at writing it because I made her study and analyze it, it was a good moment.

There's a new effort in my school to help the 11th graders prepare for their writing test that's in September. They took a practice test and all the students who made 60's or lower (there's ironically 60 of them) are being pulled in to what they're calling a "focus group" for what I suppose you could call more focused instruction for 3 weeks. And guess who volunteered to teach these 60 darlings? Yup. Me. I want to stretch myself as a teacher, help these kids not just pass, but exceed their own expectations, and I wanted to show my bosses and coworkers that the last few years of my life spent teaching have given me skills and experience that's valuable. Maybe I wanted to show myself that too.

So now I have another class every day of 15-17 kids that need help. It's a big challenge, one that could prove my worth to myself and the people at my school, or it could blow up in my face if it's a failure. But I'm going to do it, you just watch. :)

Stories

I'm a story reader. I'm also a story teller, something I pretty sure I inherited from my dad.

My dad, the man who takes 20 minutes to answer the question "so when do you think you'll get here?" because he has to tell you the story of what exactly is the process for getting "here", wherever here may be.

He's also the man who can make friends in the grocery store after bumping elbows with someone in the frozen food aisle. It's an interpersonal (intra-personal? i always get those two confused) skill I've always wished I had inherited more of, since I'm a complete shy introvert when it comes to meeting new people. The first day of new students every school year, heck, every semester, makes my stomach twist in knots until I can start sorting out all the new names and faces. And with the 3 Marquez's, 4 Sierra's, and 5 Blake's I have in my classes this year, you can imagine the stomach-knottage I experienced last week.

But I digress.

My dad can tell a mean story. I don't mean a story about mean things, I mean, man, can that guy tell a story. So can my grampa for that matter (which is probably where my dad gets it). I grew up hearing stories ranging from the time my uncle Bill tried to keep his fist closed over a lit firecracker, to my dad getting caught in a snow storm on a cattle ranch (or was that on the mink farm?), to the time my sister picked up a blueberry with her toes and my poor, unsuspecting grandma ate it anyway. My brother has been subjected to embarrassing stories galore (can we say "owie!" anyone?) every time he's brought a girl home for dinner, and my sister will forever be the best "churning butter" story teller. We sit around the table and tell memories, each one crazier, sweeter, and more funny than the last.

And I've always loved every minute of it. Like, I've been the annoying one who won't let it stop. I can hear my brother-in-law's attention span croaking it's final pleas for mercy, and yet I get someone started with another "remember when...".

Why? Why have those stories always drawn me in so much? Why did I spend years begging to hear the same stories growing up, or telling them myself, or being lost in a stack (and I mean a STACK) of library books until the stories came out of my ears?

And yes, the library books are part of it. Because what are books? Stories. About someone, something, somewhere, some-when. It's all stories.

And I realize I'm beginning to sound like some crazy person outside of a subway station somewhere scratching their head and muttering "stories. d'ya hear me?? STORIES!" and scaring away citizens. Don't worry, there is a point to this. Wait for it.....


I'm addicted to stories.

Yeah, go ahead, say "duh, we got that already". It's ok. I'm differentiating for the slow readers out there. You advanced ones just keep your shirt on.

Really... please. No one wants to see that.


Lately, I've been thinking about getting a master's degree. In something. Something cool that makes me sound all intelligent or something. But have you seen some of the master's degrees out there? You have to be some crazy math nerd or a rocket scientist or actually care about education administration. And honey, that just ain't me. So after a little more careful research, I discovered a couple of degrees that caught my eye: Humanities and Liberal Studies. And the geek in me burst out of my head like some horror movie alien when I started reading course descriptions and realized I could take a whole 3 hour course in Medieval Literature! Or Colonial American Literature! Or Topics in Southeast Asian Literature! Or Dr. Bob Whats-his-face Wrote a Book for His Own Classes and We're Going To Study It Literature! I was drooling over some of the courses involved if I were to choose an English focus.

BUT THEN!!!

There were all these history courses. They were taunting me, I tell ya. Titles like "The Renaissance" and "Westward Expansion" and "Selected So and Sos of the 18th Century".

And what do you know, it hit me. I've had an apostrophe. Lightning has struck my brain and all that -

My name is Anna and I love history.

Did you hear that chorus of "Hi Anna"? Whew... I feel so much better.

All those stories I've loved (hey, by the way... did y'know some of my forefathers were in a gang closely tied to Jesse James?? Ya ever heard of the Younger brothers?? /random info) can all be simply boiled down to one category: history. The ones my family tells are the history of my family, my relatives, my ancestors. The stories I've read and loved since I was little (Little House anyone?) are chock-full of history. I mean, my reading list since I was 5 is lousy with tidbits of history. Then I watch movies like "Public Enemies" and "Marie Antoinette" and spend hours online poring over the real history of those people. I'm a History Channel junkie. I want to know what life was really like for those people.


I'm in my fourth year of being an English teacher, a teacher of language arts and literature. And although I personally love how an author can take a string of words and put them together with just the write devices and figurative language and make it beautiful or passionate or disgusting or memorable, and I can teach my students to understand it themselves for the most part, mostly I just them to get the stories. It's the stories that affect you, that can change your view of life itself if you let them. But sometimes (ok, a lot of times because so many authors just don't know when to let the metaphor die! Or they were getting paid by the word, Mr. Dickens.) you can't get the story if you don't know how to interpret the symbolism or you don't understand the metaphor. It's this crazy balancing act you have to do when you read. The mechanics have to be there to help you sift through the allusions and personification so you can get to the story and understand the history of what you're reading.

All that being said, I'm so excited about pursuing a master's degree. Now I've just got to find a program that will help me balance this personal love of history with the necessary knowledge of the English language.

Jealous to serve

My brother is on a mission trip to Haiti. They're rebuilding houses for widows and playing tag with little children and falling into bed exhausted every night.

And I'm completely jealous.

Not of the back-breaking work, the culture shock, the 100+ degrees of sweltering heat; been there, done that, thank you very much - no, I'm jealous of being able to serve. To serve in a way that takes everything out of you, physically, emotionally, spiritually, while it miraculously and mysteriously puts it right back in.

I don't feel that way when I'm teaching. And please, this is not where I need you to insert the "but teachers make a difference" pep talks. I know all about that. But I don't feel that I do make a difference, at least not the kind my soul longs to make. I never have felt that I'm making a difference in a child's life by teaching them about parts of speech and D.H. Lawrence and Steinbeck. And let's not forget just how rewarding MLA format can be to a child's life! I mean, really, who can live without that. (Sorry, stopping the sarcasm now.)

It's one of these strange enigmas I've been dealing with for several years now. I feel called to teach, but not like I've been doing or I firmly believe I would have had a greater sense of satisfaction that the last 3 years of my life weren't just placeholding until something more... appropriate? fitting? complete? came along.

Don't misunderstand me - these past 3 years of teaching have taught me much about myself, the professional world, struggle, heartache, friendship, self-sufficiency. And maybe that was their purpose. Maybe they were just part of some process to get me to another place. But I don't know where that is. Maybe this "place" I'm headed includes sweltering heat, back-breaking work, and exuberant little children who want to play tag. Maybe it looks like something completely different than teaching. Maybe it means people think I'm crazy.

I'm ok with that.

What would be great though is to know how exactly I'm supposed to get there, wherever "there" is. Will you pray with me about this?
I suppose it's about time I posted something on here.

Let's see....

I went to Chicago to visit Nicole for 5 days. It was pretty awesome (except the massive blister on my foot from all the walking.. oh, and the subway fire we got trapped in. Fun experience, let me tell you). Had amazing food (Greek, Thai, Chicago pizza, etc), explored, played. I got to meet up with Amy, my friend from my time in Cameroon. She's an amazing person, so sweet and encouraging. Definitely loved catching up with her.

Pictures from the trip are up on Facebook, on my page and Nicole's page. I took my camera but only ended up using my iPhone, and the pictures turned out great! Nicole even got photo evidence of us trapped in the smoky subway train.


What else?


My team's last softball game of the season is tonight. Double header against the number one team and the number 5 team (I think we're still number 3 in the league?). It will be miserably hot at least for the first game.


Uh... my car is back from the shop! AC works now (praise the Lord!). I don't think I could have stood many more 95+ degree days without AC.


I suppose since it's nearly July I should start thinking about school and pre-planning and getting my classroom ready. But my brain just doesn't want to go there yet. In all honesty, I don't want to think about working at the other high school in the county, away from all my friends and coworkers, and the students I've built relationships with for the last 2 years. It would be different if I had chosen to transfer, or if I didn't know anyone in the county, or if I was new to the area. And I know, change can be really good, and this might be the perfect change for me, but some part of my mind and heart is completely rebelling against having to make this change. I've been praying about it nearly non-stop since I was told about the transfer a month ago. Is this the right change, the right path for me? Should I be looking into other options? Should I try to make it through at least one year or is this the opportunity for me to get out of Dodge and hit the road again?

As you can see, there are many thoughts rolling around in my head. Thinking these thoughts is one thing; sorting them out and making a decision is another.

May. 9th, 2010

http://s0.ilike.com/play#Future+Of+Forestry:Sacred+Place:12194936:m9453349


Come into this sacred place
Come into my heart and sing Your song of grace
Pull me safe into the deep
Pull me in to where the depths of love meet
Sing, sing over me until dawn
Pull me safe into the deep

Come and carry me away
Come into my heart and turn this night to day
Come into this sacred place
Come into my heart and sing

'Cause I can hear You now
And You're the only sound
I give You all my love
You've rescued me
You embrace me, and You calm me
You persuade me, You console me

-Future of Forestry - "Sacred Place"

Apr. 26th, 2010

I really need to update this again. I'll get around to it soon I swear. :)

Iron & Wine




I asked you a question
I didn't need you to reply
Is it getting heavy?
And then realize
It's getting heavy
Well I thought it was already as heavy as can be

Is it overwhelming
To use a crane to crush a fly?
It's a good time for Superman
To lift the sun into the sky
Because it's getting heavy
Well I thought it was already as heavy as can be

Tell everybody
Waiting for Superman
That they should try to
Hold on the best they can
He hasn't dropped them, forgot them or anything
It's just too heavy for Superman to lift.