OMG Y’all! I can’t thank you enough for all of the blog love this week!! I have read all of your comments, emails, Facebook messages and I feel so blessed to be part of such a loving, supportive, amazing community. Thank you for the notes, the shares, the likes and the love!
*Cooper had his follow up appointment at West Lynn Veterinary Clinic and they were impressed with how well he is healing! It’s still going to be a long process and he has to wear his cone 24/7 for at least another week but I am glad he is progressing so well. It’s still too soon to tell if he will get his sight back, but if the worst case scenario is that my dog is half blind, I can live with that. He doesn’t have cancer and not having use of an eye isn’t going to kill him. Still, he is very morose about wearing the cone, so to make the best of it, I got him a new bow tie (because bow ties are cool!) and a pair of doggles to help protect his eye when we’re out. Also because he looks A-Mazing in them!
*My mom was in town this week for her last Austin visit before I set off on adventure. She deserves a major shoutout for coming to school and spending 2 full days grading my GIANT stack of papers! For her birthday (and a paper grading thank you), I took her to see Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally in their Summer of 69 show. It was the most perfect blend of raunchy, adorable, clever and loving banter. Nick Offerman is pretty much my ideal man. He’s manly and rugged, but confident enough to be outwardly loving, sweet, and rocks a choreographed dance number. I hope I can have a marriage as adorable as theirs someday.
*I only have 30 more days of teaching and 47 more days in Austin before my 3 month summer road trip with Cooper. THERE ARE SO MANY MORE TACOS TO EAT!!!!
How many times have I watched the new Star Wars teaser trailer? I have lost count. Guys, I am REALLY excited about this movie and these trailers, along with my undying faith in J.J. Abrams already have me with expectations that are way too high.
Worth Checking Out:
I love it when I get pitches from companies who have actually read my blog and Ghergich & Co has made an awesome infographic for eReplacement Parts on how to make a perfect cup of French Press Coffee. Keeping the world caffeinated one perfect cup of coffee at a time? Yes please! I am going to need access to coffee while camping this summer, and with exception of when I am backpacking and primitive camping, I have decided that I am unwilling to stoop to instant coffee and french press is probably my easiest and tastiest option.
I hope y’all have a wonderful week. Do something adventurous and enjoy the new life unfolding with Spring.
My students needed to fill out an anonymous survey recently about their school environment. One student raised his hand and asked, “Miss G, do you like teaching?”
I was a little startled at the question. “Well, this survey is meant to be from your point of view.” I responded. “Do you think I like teaching?”
“Yeah!” He said,”But I mean, you also quit your job so…”
Good point. I thought for a moment and responded.
“I love teaching all of you every single day. Even on the days when you drive me crazy and the days when I don’t have enough coffee.”
They all seemed satisfied and continued with the survey.
It’s true. I love teaching and I love teaching these kids every single day. Even now, with my days in the profession dwindling, I could totally be taking advantage and slacking off, except I can’t. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give anything except 100% of myself to these kids. That’s not to say that I haven’t slacked off with paperwork, data entry, newsletters and all the other business side of things. I totally have. I love teaching. I hate the profession.
Many have asked if I’ll miss teaching or if I regret my decision to leave. Yes. I will miss teaching terribly. I’m good at it. I love it. I love being in a classroom all day every day. I love the creativity of coming up with a lesson that will engage students, help them learn, and inspire them to love academic discovery. I love seeing the successes from students who have struggled with a new concept or skill or discover something brand new and amazing. I know I am doing it right when every child is doing both of those every day.
What I don’t like is the unrealistic expectations. I am lucky this year to have an amazing group of parents who realize that it takes a village to raise a child and that means trusting the village to do its part. I am so grateful for them and wish they were the rule and not the exception. I am always baffled by the magic I am expected to make and I wonder if parents don’t have a magic wand, why do they always assume I do?
I am held accountable for unrealistic expectations. Students walk through my door in the morning from a myriad of lives. Some are homeless or are spoiled in a house of endless toys and indulgences. They are on sports teams and acting in plays. They are single children or live with an abundance of siblings and responsibility. Some are burdened by heavy anxiety and depression. Some are read to and some are not. Some have families going through divorce or sickness or death. Some struggle with learning disabilities. No child in my class has the same brain, or life, or fears, or learning style, or hopes, or dreams.
And yet I am asked to take this collection of puzzle pieces and fit them together into a fabricated image. That image is as imaginary as the wand society thinks I have, and these pieces are not all from the same box. I have no regrets about leaving teaching, but I am offended that the system is so broken, so blind to these beautiful, amazing puzzle pieces that all make their own beautiful design, that they are forcing me out of a profession I hold so dear.
I didn’t go into this profession blindly. I knew it would be difficult, but I believed I was tough enough and that I could make this world just a little bit better one classroom of children at a time. But at what cost? I have felt the pressures of this job from parents, administrators, districts, states, and our nation in my heart, body, and soul. I have landed in urgent care twice in only 2 years for ailments related to stress. Another time was for my inability to go to the bathroom when I needed to. It is a job that continually empties my reservoir of energy and empathy. It is a job that never ever ends. There are always papers to grade, lessons to plan, boards to create, data to input, parents to contact, new material to learn, lessons to re-plan, more papers to grade…and it is still never enough. I wonder if my parents can trust me with their children, why can’t the government? Why must I continually defend myself and my every decision?
I am offended because some children will never be developmentally ready for grade level material or material that only last year was two grade levels higher (because this year 11% of my 4th grade math curriculum was 6th grade last year). Some children will never be able to have a full and complete understand of the intricacies of why all the math we do makes sense or are ready to have a deep understanding of a complex poem. Some children will never fit into a formula and that doesn’t mean they are unsuccessful.
I don’t know how to fix the system. It is so broken, but I know that staying is asking too much of me. It is asking too much for me to accept wages that barely afford me to live off of or put in so many hours that it leaves no time for the rest of my life. It is too much to ask me to sacrifice my integrity and teach to a formula and a test. To watch as students stress and struggle through unreasonable landscapes. The stakes are too high for all of us.
I want to make the world a better place and right now the system isn’t letting me do that. It isn’t letting me help these children piece together their own beautiful puzzles. It is leaving little to no room for real learning or love of discovery.
Do I like teaching? I love it, but right now that’s not enough. I love my students and I will give them my all until the last minute of my last day in a few short weeks. I will think of them often and wish them all the success in the world as I set of to figure out my next step and piece together my own puzzle.
Last weekend’s backpacking excursion was unfortunately overshadowed by it’s abrupt rush to the animal hospital with the Coopster. However, until that unfortunate tussle, it was a fantastic weekend!
I haven’t been primitive camping since I was a Girl Scout many moons ago and I was using this as a much needed weekend away and a chance to try out some of my new equipment before my big trip this summer.
We decided to leave limits of Austin City and travel to Lost Maples, which is southwest in the heart of Hill Country. I don’t think I will ever tire of driving through Central Texas and marveling at its beautiful and rolling, rugged landscape. I was impressed with my ability to pack my backpack and still carry it without falling over. I mean, it was only a weekend, but still. High five me! We hiked in .7 miles and found a beautiful area to camp. It offered ample shade, and pond-side views. There was only one other camper in the area, but we made sure to stake our spot further down and out of his range. We know standard backpacker etiquette.
As it turns out, however, not many others do. As the afternoon wore on, more and more hikers came in. Dozens with packs who we thought surely would keep going to the other designated camping areas. No. We watched as the area began to fill up with tents and hammocks, some of them even setting up only 10 feet from my friend’s tent. We’d have had more space in the car camping area! We were baffled! We thought about packing up and moving the next day, but also felt defiant. We’d gotten there first! It took several glares at one fella to get him to stop walking through the center of our living space and go around. It was madness.
But it was beautiful madness. It was worth it to be in this magical environment that was budding with spring life. We hiked for several miles the next day and my friend and I kept affirming that This is totally where fairies live! Cooper is a champion hiker. He sniffs out all the important smells and can keep up with the big dogs and humans. I did carry him the final way up one of our steeper elevation climbs. It wasn’t our first and it was long and well into our hike. He probably could have made it if we slowed down, but he seemed relieved to have me carry him. He’d earned it.
It was much colder than we’d anticipated. I was glad for my fleece, but wished I’d had the foresight to bring a hat and gloves. But it also made for pleasant hiking and cozy naps curled up with the pups.
I learned a few things for my trip this summer. Kimber will chew through any line to free Cooper so he can chase after me if I dare to leave and go to the bathroom. My backpack needs a new pad on the back because it’s old and dry rotting little roam crumbs EVERYWHERE! I really want a hammock. Always bring a hat.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but right now my dog has one eye that is red and hollow looking and he is sad and confused and drugged and I cry a lot.
He got in a tussle on Saturday night while camping with friends. It was one of those regular dog scuffles that is all bark but no bite. While both dogs played by those rules, the other dog was bigger and when their heads accidentally butted, it was like hitting a cement block. Cooper was hurt. He yelped and cried and I felt around and there was no blood or marks. It wasn’t that kind of tussle. But then I saw his eye and it was pink and hollow and I knew something was very wrong.
So I packed up my gear in my backpack and I picked up my peanut and carried him the .70 miles back out to my car. It was dark when I got there and I realized I didn’t know where I was. I’d followed friends into the far reaches of hill country where even cell phone service dares not venture. But I knew a familiar town nearby and how to navigate from there. I listened to my dog panting and whining in the darkness beside me and I drove to the nearest 24 vet in San Antonio.
It’s not the worst. It could have been a lot worse. There are no punctures or scratches. It was just a hard hit. He will probably get his sight back but it will depend on how it heals. I drove the whole way home in the dark and the rain as Cooper whimpered beside me, though I think that was more from wearing the cone of shame than anything else.
He is doing ok. I am doing ok. The swelling has gone down and when he is in my lap, I don’t make him wear his cone. He spends a lot of time in my lap. He is sad and very drugged. I cry when I look at him. My spunky dog with a hollow eye. We meet with the vet tomorrow to find out how the healing is progressing. If the life will come back to that eye.
No matter. He is still my spunky dog and eye or no, he is an ocean of soul. Before I know it, he’ll have his swagger back and will no doubt spin great tales about the giant he took on and how he lived to tell the tale.
…Except for the ones who are, and maybe that’s ok.
Getting lost isn’t always a bad thing, despite how terrifying it can feel. As the saying on my Urban Outfitters wall hanging goes, Sometimes you have to get lost in order to find yourself. If that’s the case, and I like to think UO would never lie to me, then I am on the right track. I am definitely lost.
I always knew that I was going to be a teacher and trying to define myself as anything else is fuzzy at best. “I mean, what did you want to be when you were little?” my career counselor asked me this week. Teacher. “Oh, well, that doesn’t help then.” No it doesn’t, lady. No it doesn’t. It’s a little bit suffocating trying to navigate such an uncertain future. I don’t know what road to take because I am not sure what the destination is.
So I am going to get lost. I am going to fall into the wonderland that is this great country and wander until I find my destination.The Cheshire Cat said that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there so I am going to take the long and winding road. I am going to adventure, explore, meet interesting people and collect stories along the way. I’m going to get a little lost and hope it will help me find myself.
Cooper and I will take off on our adventures on June 6. We are making our way up to Colorado to visit cousins and then down through Utah, making stops outside of Fishlake National Forest and Zion. Next we will regroup in LA before slowly camping our way up the California coast. We’ll visit friends in San Fran and then camp another few nights in Oregon before checking out the hipster paradise that is Portland. Cooper is especially excited for that one. Next we will camp in Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota for a few weeks before making our way back to my hometown in Upstate, NY in time for an early August family wedding. After that we will head up the east coast to the other Portland to galavant around Maine for a while. At least that’s the plan. I am open to change.
Most of our trip will be tent camping or visiting friends (because budget of the funemployed!), but thanks to Airbnb, I’ve also been able to procure some unique and inexpensive accommodations along the way. Cooper and I will both be chronicling our adventures; the new people we meet, sights we see and squirrels we chase. That last one will probably be mostly Cooper actually. I am going to breath in the spirit of this great country and see what it inspires. Here’s to adventure!
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I have been a long time customer of Verizon. They offered me a good deal once, my whole family was ‘in the network’ and they had great coverage. All right. It’s been ten years or so now and my dealings with them have been minimal at best. My plans are still a good deal, the coverage is consistent and my bills are paid online automatically. The few times I have ever had concerns, I was able to speak to an actual human and work everything out.
But yesterday they made me a customer for life.
I spent the majority of my spring break becoming intimate with my toilet seat or curled up in the fetal position in bed with kleenex stuffed up my nostrils. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, but they could only start working when I could take them without immediately barfing them back up. It was unpleasant at best and certainly not the week of galavanting around SXSW in the Austin sunshine that I had planned.
Then Verizon showed up at my door.
I knew they were coming. I’d seen on Twitter that they were behind an initiative called #ATXunite that was doing all kinds of things for locals unable to attend this event that takes over our great city every year. So I tweeted that I was home sick and missing the festivities and they told me they could help. There was some brief exchange and then a few hours later a team of the nicest people showed up with a giant get well bag in tow. It was overwhelmingly generous! The two big items included a set of Ultimate Ears speakers, which are ridiculously fantastic and will be perfect for my big trip this summer. The other was a Yeti mug, which keeps my tea hot FOREVER! But what was really touching were the smaller things, things that were specifically for a girl stuck at home with a bug; this month’s Glamour magazine, a couple of boxes of Kleenex, chapstick, a relaxing face mask, a calming scented candle.
Perusing through #ATXunite reveals that I’m not the only one getting an individualized gift. All over the city, Verizon is hooking people up with thoughtful gifts, sometimes just fun, but often catered specifically for someone. It’s pretty awesome.
I love television. As far back as I can remember, I have loved television. TV was Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and visiting Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. It was Saturday morning cartoons with my brothers in our pjs and my dad telling me that it was my job to read all the “Pows!” “Whacks!” and “Rabbit Hunting Season” signs for my brothers. That’s the burden an oldest child must bear. Television was Nickelodeon and all the things you couldn’t do on television. It was The Secret World of Alex Mac and being glad that Clarissa was there to explain it all and that my brothers were older and didn’t need explaining anymore. Television was all the shows I wasn’t allowed to watch, but covertly did anyway. It was learning about sex and boys from Dawson, Joey, and Rory Gilmore (which might explain why I am so terrible at dating). Television made me want to be badass like Sydney Bristow or Olivia Benson and find a love like Ross and Rachel (but maybe less complicated). Television has at times found me LOST, solving crimes or traveling throughout time and space.
I love television because it is escapism, conversation and community. I watched Dawson’s Creek so I could talk to the cool kids in 10th grade chemistry class. I watched Grey’s Anatomy because that’s what everyone in the teacher’s lounge watched. Hell, it seemed everyone in America watched those first seasons and McLoved every minute of it. Television made me feel like an insider when I usually felt like an outsider. I hate the Kardashians and everything they stand for but I’ll admit that I’m part of the problem because I have probably seen every single episode. There is no better mind numbing escapism than E! and Bravo.
I love television!
So about a month ago, I sold it.
My dad asked if it was some kind of political statement. I told him no, but maybe it is a little bit. I did it because I have done this crazy, maybe stupid, outlandish quitting my job thing in order to pursue something that I don’t actually know how to pursue. It is way easier to suppress the terror and ignore the immensity of this decision and watch 4 hours of Law & Order SVU instead. Except I can’t ignore it. I have to embrace my terror. I need to take it and mold it into my future and no housewives of any county are going to be able to do that for me.
So I got rid of the temptation.
I like my post-tv life. I play a lot more music. I was an avid reader before, even with my TV, and I still am and now moreso. My apartment is SUPER clean! I spend more time writing or just being with my thoughts, which is often uncomfortable, but that’s good. I need to be with them. When friends come over we sit and chat and my backgammon set no longer has a thick layer of dust over it.
This isn’t to say that I have taken some kind of social stand and completely given up television. I still have aNetflix account and an ipad, on which I maybe binged the entire first season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Sunday. I watched clips of the Oscars on youtube the day after it aired and the finale of Parks and Rec when it became available online. I still want to be part of the conversation. I still like to escape. I just need some decisions to be out of my control. When I am on my couch with a remote in my hand and there’s an SVU marathon, I have no control.
I recently started following @hotdudesreading on Instagram. I’m not sure if there is anything hotter than a hot boy reading (unless he is reading to me…in bed) and whoever is behind this account is genius. Coop, an avid instagrammer himself, decided to get in on the action and so I present Hot Dogs Reading. Incidentally, someone has also posted a lot of pictures of actual hot dogs (the food) reading books to that same hashtag. It’s kind of hilarious.
No, James Franco isn’t the only hot dude who reads all the time. Also, my photos are way more naked than his. I hardly EVER wear clothes! I mean, except right now. ~@coopterrier
This coon hunting thing sounds interesting. I need to look into it as I’ve tapped out my squirrel game here pretty hard. #WhereTheRedFernGrows ~@Coopterrier
101 of them? That’s just ridiculous. I mean, consider the poop cleanup alone. ~@coopterrier
This To Kill A Mockingbird is is not as informative as I thought it would be. ~@coopterrier
This reads, “Squirrels are known for running in erratic paths to evade predators.” No shit, Sherlock. Actually, that reminds me, I’ve been meaning to read that Hound of Baskervilles book. Maybe it will tell me something I don’t already know. ~@coopterrier
Oh god. The end of Old Yeller. Don’t look at me. #weepsuncontrollably ~@Coopterrier
Almost exactly 5 years ago today I sat in the living room of my apartment in Rochester, NY. A fire burned in the fireplace, snow fell outside and I sat under a pile of blankets crying because I was so unhappy. My life was on a trajectory of settling and that terrified me, so I made up my mind right then and there that I would move. Anywhere. 5 months later I packed up a u-haul and set off for adventure in Austin, TX.
It has been the best adventure.
Now I am headed off on a new adventure. In exactly 100 days, Cooper and I will load up in my car and make our way back up north. I miss my family. I miss my brothers. It is exciting, but mostly it is terrifying. I have not had a moment of regret about quitting my job and leaving education, but leaving this city terrifies me. I am terrified of leaving a city where the sun shines all the time. I am terrified of leaving a place with year round patios and picnics. I am terrified of moving back to a city covered in cold and ice and dotted in pot holes. I am terrified of a city that isn’t going to think my tattoos are super cool or my quirky, outspoken, adventurous personality normal. I am terrified of leaving my friends and my local watering hole where everyone knows my name. This city has made me so happy. It has helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be in this world. And now I am leaving it.
Adventures are supposed to be a little bit terrifying. That’s what makes them adventures! And even though leaving this weird, wonderful city scares me, I know it’s the right move for me. At least for right now. So I am going to make the most of these next 100 days. I am going to spend them on exploring, adventuring, laughing, dancing. I am going to spend them on patios, trails and in parks. I will spend them with friends and together we will laugh and eat all the tacos. EVERY LAST ONE! I will fill them all with as much happiness from this city as I can bottle up in my soul to take with me.
To 100 happy days!