Monday, May 30, 2016

Slab Work

Hi. I realize today is a national holiday & if you're reading at all you may be in a hurry, eager to be off & begin your day, to go to the park, to fish, to grill, to swim, etc. I too have big plans today. I have book club tonight, & thus will be showering & physically & mentally preparing myself for that soon. Since Trey's not going in to work, my plan is to leave a bit earlier than I'm usually able to on book club evenings, arrive ahead of the ladies, secure a table, & sit & drink coffee. A possible glitch in my plan is all the time Trey's been spending with his new girlfriend, deck, but hopefully I can pry them apart so he'll come on inside when I'm ready to leave.

I say all this to say that this won't be too long, nor will it be too heavy. Last week's thoughts were of the hard & heavy variety.

I do still have Will Traynor on my mind to an extent. Maybe my psyche knows there's no point in letting him go until I've seen the movie.

Will's despair made my heart ache as I was reading, & it makes my heart ache still. I've read a few articles that have popped up on Facebook in the last week, articles that let me know I am not alone in my despondency & anger regarding this novel. Foolishly reading the comment section that accompanied a couple of these articles, I saw a handful of folks of expressing what I too wonder, but don't dare hope for, that the film adaptation will stray from the book. It's a possibility, of course, & there are always some necessary changes, but my guess is that Ms. Moyes feels strongly about her book's conclusion & likely insisted on a faithful film adaptation.

I know what you're thinking. Don't go see it, Anna. Don't go. What you don't understand is that my reward for reading the book is to go sit with friends & eat popcorn. It seems wrong to deny myself that reward, especially after the emotional breakdown I suffered upon reaching the book's conclusion. I am fairly certain I can ward off a second emotional breakdown post-film because the conclusion will in no way be a horrific, gasping-for-breath surprise.

I don't know exactly when I'll see the film. It releases this week, but I'm not going to cry if I'm not there opening night. I more than exercised my crazy, midnight release demons during the Twilight years. A handful of friends & my mom have all read the book & we're planning to go sob together, so we'll have to figure out when we can make that happen, but do know I will report back re: the film.

I mention Will again not to relive last week's righteous anger, but to say that he is, in a roundabout way, inspiring me at a time when I need inspiration. Summer is here. She's no longer teasing with the occasional rogue gust of warm wind; she has arrived. The air is consistently thick with heat & humidity, & the combination inspires nothing but perpetual drowsiness on my part.

I can't afford drowsiness this summer. I will pay for it dearly in a few short weeks. 

I'm going to tell you a little secret. Teaching high school English was not in my plans. My plan was to continue teaching a couple of classes a semester at Delta until both Reagan & Henry were in school all day, at which point I'd consider picking up a few more classes at Delta. I was going to teach my classes, maybe shop occasionally, & find various spots about town where free Internet & reasonably priced coffee are available, as both are necessary when I write. To sum up, I was going to teach, shop, drink coffee & write, & then go fetch the children. 

Obviously plans have changed. You may recall me telling you about a book series by Hugh Howey. The first novel in the series, Wool, was a book club read, & then a few book club members (& also my dad, who recommended Wool) read the other two books in the series, Shift & Dust. Wool is set in the future (a pretty crazy future that involves people living in silos), & Shift is a prequel of sorts, explaining to the reader how the world as we know it now became the world the reader is introduced to in Wool. I think Shift is my favorite book in the series, & I've been thinking of it a lot lately. 

If Howey were to write my story using the mold for his series, right now would be the material he'd need for Shift. Right now, slowly, day by day, a shift is occurring. In five years, or ten years, I will, the Lord willing, be firmly entrenched in the daily grind that will become so familiar to me. Right now, though, that daily grind is foreign to me, but I am busily preparing myself for it. 

I have another secret to tell you. I am nervous. As such, I am taking the advice I've given (nervous) speech students for the past decade, & that is to be prepared. I am doing every last thing I can think of ahead of time so that on the first morning my offspring & I are required to rise before the sun & dress & journey to school together, I will feel as prepared as possible.

Some of my nerves are for my kids. Their whole world will change. I think Reagan will be fine. I already know she loves school, & both of us will sleep easier & basically enjoy life more knowing that I will be there with her all day, every day, to do whatever is needed regarding her care. She loves paper & pencils & organizing & I think school will be her thing, as it was (is!) mine.

I hope & pray Henry enjoys school, too. I think he will. I think he'll love that he gets to go to school with me & Reagan. He's a fortunate little man in that he's spent the first three years of his life at home, hanging out with me or one of his grandmothers. I think this arrangement will be good for the three of us. We'll have the drive over & back to talk or sing Broadway soundtracks, & if the kids have programs or award ceremonies, I will be right there. Obviously I am somewhat nervous Henry will not take to the whole arrangement, but there is little point in worrying about that now. There is little point in worrying about that now, Anna.

Some of my nerves are for myself, for my general mental well-being. The first year teaching something new is hard. This has been my experience. I want to make it as easy as possible, & to this end, I am tying up some loose ends around the house so there's nothing mentally bothering me when school starts. I'm dealing with things I've put off for months years. I had a talk with myself about all the decorative items I keep even though they just sit in storage (such as every throw pillow I've ever purchased), & about the picture frames I buy at Hobby Lobby that languish in my closet. I don't put pictures in them; I don't display them.

I'm dealing with things. I am getting rid of things; I am framing & hanging pictures. When school starts, I don't want one thing on my mental "to-do" list. It's enough to keep up with the laundry & occasionally clean the toilets without having unused picture frames leaning against the bedroom wall, mocking me, reminding me of all the ways I fail.

I am also getting the kids' affairs in order. I've already purchased Henry a monogrammed backpack & coordinating lunch box. Here he is with an early birthday present of sorts. I don't know if you can see his name well or not; he was very joyful:

All three of us are going to pay our dentist a visit soon. It will be Henry's first visit, so maybe with this as perspective, school will seem pretty awesome. Reagan will see her endocrinologist in June. Reagan & I will visit the eye doctor at some point this summer. I want to find out if my vision has changed &, whether it has or not, I want to get another pair of glasses. I have good vision without my glasses, but I am not getting any younger & I read a lot & when I'm tired, or I'm driving at night, I need my glasses. I've had my current pair since I was in graduate school, & they're hanging in there, but I'd like another pair that really strike the "old English teacher" vibe.

I've even got plans for the dog. She'll be groomed soon, &, at some point this summer, I'm going to have her teeth cleaned. The vet has been on me about this, & there's no time like the present. Last week I bought a six-month supply of her heartworm medicine. Check.

Finally, I am nervous about teaching high school English. I am nervous about the "high school" part, as well as the "English" part. I've been teaching college classes for ten years now & I just didn't see my students that often. You see high school students five days a week. That's quite a few days, you know? Admittedly it's for less than an hour a day, & I know from experience that the time will fly, what with taking attendance & attending to general maintenance issues before getting down to whatever it is we're doing that particular day. And the thing is, I don't know exactly what we're going to do. I just want to talk about books, but I recognize that the classroom requires more structure than book club. I mean, we can't just sit around drinking coffee & talking about books . . . right? I mean, of course we can't. Of course we can't.

I told you this would be short, & I meant it, so we'll return to my nerves at some later date. I've highlighted my long term summer goals, but there are a few short term goals looming. First, summer school, which begins, I think, later this week & runs the month of June. I've never taken an online class before so I've no idea what to expect. I bought my book. I obsessively check my brand new student email account & the online portal we'll be using, but there's nothing there. No email, no reading assignment, nothing. Stay tuned for summer school updates. 

The second short term summer goal is preparing for VBS. I was asked to be a room leader this summer, & I said, "Yes!"

In my room the kids will hear the story of Philip & the Ethiopian eunuch. When I was asked about my interest in room leader status, this was the only story left of the four that will be covered on the day of VBS. I almost laughed (loudly) when I was told I'd be covering Philip & the eunuch, should I accept the role of room leader. You know how much I love a good theme. I am already spending the summer with Jake Barnes & Stanley Kowalski & their multitude of masculinity issues, & I thought, what could be more perfect than discussing a eunuch with small children?

Nothing, I tell you. Nothing.

The job boils down to three phases: script a skit / decorate a room / assemble materials for a craft

You can imagine which of those three comes most naturally to me. I'll write skits all day, but oh, the decorating & the crafting. Oh.

VBS is not until July, but in my newfound spirit of not procrastinating, the kids & I went to Hobby Lobby Friday to browse.

Hobby Lobby selfie:

I think I have the craft figured out. The room decor part is going to be interesting. I am thinking about it. I don't know a lot about Ethiopia. They grow coffee, so that's always a great place to start. 

I saw this in the grocery store the other day. I took a picture because, well, I don't know why. 

I'm not sure there's a way I can work K-cups into the decor or the craft, but maybe inspiration will hit. Stay tuned. 

In addition to spending a decade preaching the gospel of preparedness to my speech students, I regularly hammered home the importance of being organized, & being proactive, which is a fancy way of saying not being lazy. I've left the community college behind, &, aside from the two year olds I'll soon begin teaching on Sunday morning at church, I have only an audience of one this summer, but she needs these messages. My desire to be prepared & organized & filled with zeal come August is constantly warring with my desire to moan about the heat & watch baseball & nap.

This first year teaching is going to be challenging. If it's not, well that'll be a nice surprise, but I think it will be. When you picture me this summer, picture me over in the corner of the ring, gumming my mouthpiece & nodding my head vigorously while my trainer screams at me. It's not yet showtime, but soon, if I'm able to stand & throw punches & artfully handle what's thrown at me, it will be because of what you don't see, the work being done now, in a dingy studio across town, outside the spotlight.

You know whose voice is in my head often? Will Traynor's. His is currently the voice in the corner. Will whispers to me, usually at least once a day here lately, & says, Get up. Be thankful that you can. Get busy. Read the book. Reread the book. Outline the book. Figure out how you're going to teach the book. Then do it all again with the next book.

Sometimes Will says, Write a few more words. Bridge the scenes. Rework the dialogue because it is stilted. Watch your hands fly over the keys, & be thankful for the flurry of motion. 

Sometimes Will says, Fold the laundry today. You will love yourself for it tomorrow.

Okay, okay. *end boxing metaphor*

I hope you have a safe & happy Memorial Day. We'll talk next week on what will be Henry's third birthday, so bring some kleenex.


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