Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happiness / hit her / like a bullet in the ba-ck

The Yankees are done until Spring. Detroit is hanging on for dear life. And Sean has decided that Tinie Tempah's "Written in the Stars", which TBS uses for its MLB Playoffs promos, is his new favorite song. Pretty funny for a kid who considers the Clash his favorite band.

So today, while pushing papers for Corporate America, I put together a new mix for the kids. They both have a soft spot for punk rock, but they sure do loves them some hip-hop. I shouldn't be surprised. They're Cove kids, after all. They prefer BMX riding to skateboarding, baseball to soccer, and athletic pants to anything remotely khaki, unless camo is invovled. At least they keep their baseball hats on right (read: not sideways) and prefer rounded brims to flat ones. Otherwise, I'd have to start taking away privileges for violating basic sensibilities.

Anyway, the mix was fun to put together. From the McCoys to the Chili Peppers and Gorillaz to Jay-Z & Alicia Keys (who doesn't love "Empire State of Mind"? I mean, come on. Get over yourself and get outta your chair and dance a little!), with some Green Day, Tinie Tempah and Florence and the Machine, the kids have a nice new little mix of Top 40 hits and deeper cuts to rock out to. In athletic pants. With headphones on. While Mommy writes her papers for school.

So far, I've managed to get through three and a half of the five assignments due next week, including three papers. One of them was a monster. No matter how much I've written here, in this space, it had been a long time since I had been assigned a topic and instructed to write a few thousand words on it. And forget my days as a journalist--that was easy. Those stories practically wrote themselves with quotes, stats and other data. Writing a paper comparing six differing philosophies of education? It was a crash-course in what it means to be back in school again. It's work. It's staring a blank screen and rewriting lead sentences for 15 minutes. It's highlighters and scribbled margins and three-ring binders that try to catch my fingers.

It's all so worth it, too, as one of my assignments has reminded me (as if I had forgotten). As part of the pre-program assignments, I have to shadow two classes--one in junior high and one in high school--in my subject area. Fortunately, I'm blessed to have several friends who teach, and many of those friends go way back to my plaid skirt-wearin' days of all-girls Catholic high school. Through the power of social networking, we've all managed to stay in touch after 20 years. (!) I'm happy, because so many of those girls grew up to be some pretty awesome and dynamic women, and I'm proud to know them.

And so it was with great happiness that I recently shadowed one of these friends at a local junior high just north of the New Haven border. The school is enormous, holding just under 1,000 seventh and eighth graders. And if these young kids were daunted by learning about figurative language by way of a Ray Bradbury short story, they sure didn't show it. It was so much fun to be around young teens, watching them interact and figure out their place in the world. It was even more fun to be allowed to assist the students in their lessons on metaphor and simile. And it was most fun to be told by one student, after helping him, "You're going to be a great teacher". Sniff! Sob! I could have hugged him.

This week I'll be shadowing again, this time at a New Haven high school where another good friend teaches English. The experience should be somewhat of a 180 from the middle school. While the population of the school is huge, there are fewer, but longer periods during the day (much like the college-prep model I had in high school, with only four periods a day). And unlike the middle school classes I shadowed, all of the classes I'll be visiting this week are honors classes, so theoretically the students will be more motivated as a whole. Theoretically. They are teenagers, and I'll be shadowing their classes on a Friday. Do the math.

I'm grateful to my friends for helping to make this part of the pre-program requirements an easy one. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll even be working alongside them one day in the near future. Until then, it's crunch time. Just when I had exhaled after plowing through several hundred pages of pre-program reading, the program director emailed all of her students documents to be printed and read by the end of next week. Enough to fill a three-inch binder. Really, the picture doesn't do it any justice. This baby is big.

So if you're looking for me between now and the 21st, you can find me on my couch, porch rocker or bed, orange highligher in hand, busily reading and preparing for The Next Great Phase in my life, while the kids (and me) rock out.

To this.

I love this song. If it had been around during my divorce, I probably would have played it non-stop. It still resonates with me on that level. Especially since just this week I plucked the diamond out of my old engagement ring, so I can get some cash for the platinum bands. I had not counted on how emotional that would make me, despite being "so over" the marriage. Selling the bands is sad, because that marriage, like any other, didn't begin with the intention of blowing up. But it did, for so many reasons. And we both lived to tell about it. And even laugh about it. And even hang out with each other together with our significant others from time to time. It's not always easy, but it's always okay.

Mommy's all right. Daddy's all right.

Anyway, the diamond I'll keep to make a solitare necklace. I mean, I had two beautiful children as a result of that marriage, so the diamond means something. A lot of something. But the platinum? It's just metal. I've got a guy who is going to get me the best price for it, and that may mean waiting a bit for the market to improve before I sell it. The guy is our office electrician, a coin dealer, dirty old man and retired New Haven firefighter. There is great irony in the fact that he's hawking my old wedding ring for me.

Besides, I need the money. I have a plan for it: It will buy me a small, antique china hutch for the dining room, since I gave up all that furniture when I ran screaming, practically on fire, from my first marriage. I need a place to put Great Grandma's china, which Grandma gave me when I married Ian a whopping two and a half years ago. It's a small, blue and white lustreware set from 1927. Back when Great Grandma gave up her teaching career so she could get married, since women couldn't do both back then. Uh-huh. Full circle.

The dog days are over, Great Grandma!


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