Tuesday, August 29, 2017

First Day of School

I like the first day of school okay, but mostly I like to have it finished. The best parts of school are when we're well-oiled and hanging tough. That's not how we were this morning at our house. Mac, for one, was having trouble adjusting to the reality of the weekday morning.  Shef then discovered while we were en route to the school site that he'd forgotten his math packet. Alas, we had to turn around.

Never mind all that. In the end, we made it to school and cruised on through to recess. While I was supervising the field and sport court, some sixth-grade boys approached me, clearly distressed. The problem stemmed from football usage. It seemed a pair of kids were hogging the only football, just playing catch, while 20 or so other guys wanted to play a real game.

"Where are the kids playing catch?" I asked.

"They went down to the other field," the boys told me.

"Hmm," I said. "Well, I see a soccer ball over there," I pointed. "You could get a game of World Cup going; or I see some extra basketballs, so you could play that." The boys seemed unimpressed. "A tag game is another possibility," I suggested.

"Ma'am," said a ring leader, butting in, "thanks for laying out the options, but we have our hearts set on football."

As I didn't have a football, I couldn't make this dream a reality. The recess teacher helped eventually. I hope this conflict doesn't recur. This Ma'am wasn't super effective in resolution.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Were You Wondering about Back to School Workshops?

We've been working pretty hard, preparing for the students to arrive next week. Before that happens, my fellow teachers and I have a million meetings. There have been six meetings so far.

During the meetings, I add to my to-do list. The list is filled with items that I cannot complete during meetings. The list has gotten to be about a full page at this point.

At the end of the day full of meetings, I changed into my running clothes, the clothes I remembered to bring with me to work for the purpose of exercising at the end of the day.

After I ran and while I waited to drive cross country carpool, I crossed three things off the long list. The tasks were all related to classroom decor. It'll feel good to have the classroom looking great. It'll get finished over the weekend, I'm pretty sure. That's when the magic will happen.

That's all I've got.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

That's a Wrap

Summer's coming to an end. There are messages in my inbox about meetings next week. Agendas, to-dos, class lists, and all the rest.

This weekend, I'm going to just prepare myself with some hard core relaxation and writing and of course, driving the children hither and yon. I've got two books I want to finish. I'm behind on my book review tweets. I need to buy some name small name tags from the teacher store. Oh, and my driver's side headlight is out.

These are the kinds of tasks that are foremost in my mind on this fine Saturday. Also, there's the annual motto hunt. I love mottos. I've been listening to a new podcast called Happier in Hollywood, and the writing-partner hosts have one that I'm certainly adopting: "It's a good job, and I enjoy it."

A helpful reminder that is also true.

I'm also having a motto about being a great team player and not making too many waves. It's, "Get on the bus." When I say this to myself, I'm going to also sing the iconic ditty from a very odd children's television show that Shef liked. "Do do-do-do, Get on the Bus!" Very cheerful.

And finally in the motto department, of course, I'll continue to Be a Bright Light. It's just hard not to since that's just coded into my very nature.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I Don't Feel Good About Bachelor in Paradise

Part One:
You know, there are really important things going on in the world. I'm thinking and reading about the things nonstop, and yet, I watched Bachelor in Paradise for 2 hours last night.

And, to make things even worse, it's only because my DVR was not properly programmed that I won't be watching two more hours tonight. And darn it, I'm kind of disappointed to miss Carly and Evan's wedding! They met on Paradise another time, made out a lot on national television, and have now wed in front of this year's Paradise contestants, who've undoubtedly wished them well.

I might actually watch the episode when it pops up on-demand at some point. It's a terrible decision and a horrible waste of time.

And yet.

Part Two:
I'm thinking about lowering my book reading quota for next year. My problem is that if I say I'm going to do something, I have to do it. For each of the last four years, I've said I would read 52 books, and now there's no way around it. It's fine because I'm currently six books ahead of schedule, a situation I engineered to account for the coming storm of back-to-school.

So, things are good in the book department, but what about the New Yorkers that I keep recycling before reading them? What about the many, many news articles I have to read to keep up with the doings of our completely insane and Nazi-apologist president? What about the New York Times Book Review?

What about Bachelor in Paradise?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fall is Coming

In a week, I'll be back to work. That's fine because I do love my work. Sometimes, however, I wish I could be less consumed by work; or, alternatively, slightly more satisfied by a consistent, solid effort instead of regularly requiring of myself a Herculean one.

It's the preemptive school-year exhaustion that has me fantasizing about other career paths. For instance, I recently learned that I could probably make a decent living at Trader Joe's. I ran into Dan's cousin at our local store. He's a Mate, which is like Assistant Manager. He has a retirement account, a salary comparable to mine, and he spends his downtime in his rented art studio making stuff.

I also have downtime where I write stuff, but it's between 5 and 6am, and I don't have a studio so much as a stool at the kitchen counter.

Barnes and Noble also seems like a nice job, as does shelving books at the local branch of our Hennepin County Library.

Of course, none of these new career paths would have the significant benefit of working with America's youth in such close capacity, which I do quite enjoy. Also, I've trained hard to be good at my job, and it would be sad to put all of that education and experience out to pasture.

In the end, I'm probably not going to have to break the news to Dan that I'm starting all over as a Crew member at the Woodbury Trader Joe's. But, I did notice that they have a part-time opening.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Victorious Moment

Well, the tire pressure light went on in my car. Annoying! But did I cower and give up? No, I did not.

Rather, right after a delightful coffee with Mary, during which we talked excitedly about our upcoming school years, I proceeded to the gas station and parked by the "Free Air" sign.

I went inside and asked the clerk for a tire pressure gauge, which she cheerfully handed over. On the way in, I saw another self-sufficient woman checking her own tire pressure with her own gauge. "I should get one of those and keep it in the glove box," I thought. But for today, I just used the one from Holiday.

I pretended I had successfully done this a million times before because, fake it till you make it. I scanned the tire for the appropriate max PSI. I revealed the little valve and measured. All the tires were low. I experimented with how long to hold on the air hose to make the pressure rise sufficiently.

A couple of people who also seemed to want Free Air gave me side-eye. Maybe I was taking a long time? I ignored them because, back off.

When I got back in the car, I was initially disappointed because the pressure light remained illuminated, but then, guess what? After I drove for a few blocks, it went off. I'd done it. Success!

It was a small step for womankind, especially because I personally witnessed other women practicing preventative car maintenance this very day. But, it was a large step for me. In the words of someone who must have said it for the first time some time, "If you believe it, you can achieve it."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Right Clothes for the Job

I have a thing this summer where if I'm not feeling like doing something like painting or running, I just put on the appropriate attire. I have to get dressed anyway, so I might as well put on the clothes for the item on the to-do list.

Then, maybe an hour later after I've had my matcha latte, I'll be like, "Well, I guess I'll just do the thing since I'm already dressed for it."

It's working. Right now for instance, I don't feel like working on my Refresh the Family Room painting project. I did, however, feel like getting out of my pajamas, so I put on my painting leggings and t-shirt. When I'm done writing this, I'll probably just put a little paint in the tray. My other trick with painting is I put a moderate amount of paint in the tray. When it's gone, I'm done painting for the day. It's less of a grind that way.

Since I'm sharing, one of my best tricks for running is to choose a podcast episode that's the length of time you want to make myself run. Then, just run till it's done. Stop wherever you are the moment the hosts say, "That's it for this week," or whatever. Then, you get a nice walking cool down.

I'm into these little hacks. Making things just a little easier. Feeling proud about checking things off.

Monday, August 7, 2017

4 Things That Are Making Me Happy This Week

New Supplies: I go back to work two weeks from today. It's totally fine, and I'm pretty ready. Plus - yay! - it's time for school supplies. New pens, new notebooks, new Dixon Ticonderoga Black pencils. I bought some awesome Stabilo pens this morning at Dick Blick. Also, a Rhodia notebook specifically designed for tracking meetings. I go to a lot of those, and this tool will increase my happiness in several ways. First, my meeting notes will be uniform in style and easy to find. Second, there's a column just for action items, and I can check these off to be sure I've followed through. And finally, I can number the meetings like page numbers at the bottom. I feel like I go to meetings all the flipping time, and this will allow me to quantify and report back on the truth of that. I might also categorize the type and usefulness of each meeting with an exclusive rating scale. Buckle up!

Peanut Butter on Rice Cakes: Plus a drizzle of honey. I love this snack. I also love beef sticks. And no one's here at lunch time to judge my choices, so I'll eat those things as much as I want to.

Podcasts: In the last couple of days, I've listened to some great episodes of Happier with Gretchen Rubin, This American Life, The Daily with Michael Barbaro, and The Turnaround with Jesse Thorn. I think I myself would be an excellent podcast host. In my other new notebook (the one not for meetings), I plan to brainstorm some possible podcasting angles. I mean, it's really time for my media empire to really take off.

The Goodwill Closet: I have a closet where I keep items for the Goodwill. When it's more or less full, I go to the donation drive-through and gleefully chuck of all the things into the appropriate bins. Guess what? The closet's pretty full! I might stop by this very afternoon and unload. Such a wonderful feeling. Am I right?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Alone Report

It's so weird when the children are gone. It feels like a ton of headspace just opens up magically in the places where I'm not worrying about what they're doing now or next. I seem to have a longer attention span, and at the same time, I'm prone to feeling sort of heavy and tired, always on the verge of a nap.

I also feel, as I usually do during any stretch of down time, an intense obligation to "use it wisely." In this case, though, taking long baths in Dead Sea salts and catching up on Game of Thrones (I'm five seasons behind) are wise uses of my time. I'm pretty sure.

Today so far, I wrote my daily word count quota, rather more easily than normal. I'm planning to do a little structural work on the novel now, finding places for missing scenes and maybe doing a little freewriting on the connection between the two leads. I also went to my exercise class and to Costco. I forgot to get toilet paper and the pharmacy was closed, but that's okay because I can just go back there in the vast expanses of free time I'll have this week, maybe tomorrow or the next day.

I took a Dead Sea Salt bath, during which I meditated and read a chapter of the Crazy Horse biography I'm struggling through.

I made myself deal with a dead bird in the back yard. I have a strong aversion to dead animals like bats, mice, and birds. It's almost even more paralyzing than the aversion I have to the live varieties of these species.

Anyway, it's just after noon and I have all day still. Amazing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Here's What's Going On: Camp Prep

It's time to get ready to ship the children off to camp where they'll stay for two weeks.

I hate to say this, but let's all give a cheer. It's time for the kids to go off for two weeks and commune with other young people in a youth-centric environment run by awesome and dirty college kids who are not their parents.

And, it's time for the parents to do whatever it is we want to do without feeding, coordinating, driving, cajoling, and refereeing their every activity.

Now - and I hate to be greedy - but wouldn't it be nice if their duffels could be packed by someone other than me? I've already washed all the clothes and determined that neither child has sufficient underwear for the duration (it's on the Target list along with travel-sized shampoo and more socks). The least some other mysterious person could do is actually go to the Target, purchase the items on the list, and then put all the stuff in the bags, making sure that they zip.

Mac also wants his hair dyed blue for departure. It's not that hard. Just go to the Walgreens, buy the kit, and follow the directions. I'll be watching tv downstairs in case you have any questions.