Centrifuge

One of my favorite classes in high school was advanced chemistry. I remember watching the centrifuge and always happy with the results of its manic spinning. The purpose of the centrifuge is to separate liquids from solids, or liquids from each other at varying densities.

This year has been my emotional and physical centrifuge. I’ve had to move on from many things, keeping with me what is meaningful, important, and good for me. I miss quite a bit, am sad about  a few things, excited about new opportunities, and reminisce often. I’ve moved from my house of ten years. I’ve left the school I’ve worked at for eight years. I’m going to be teaching co taught 4th grade at a brand new school; I haven’t been in the classroom for five years. I have been pintresting, and actually felt a little teaching MOJO return. The people with whom I’ve worked have become family, and I won’t have them laugh and cry with. They held me up in some very difficult times, and in that, my heart is heavy.

My older daughter, Serena, graduated from college, and Violet starts high school in a few weeks. I’ve spent the summer in Tampa to be with my boyfriend who has taken, what we hope, is a temporary job. So, all I know, all I’m used to, and all that is safe and comfortable has been put in the centrifuge, and here I am…

So, it’s been a while since I’ve done any writing. The internal dialogue sometime around Thanksgiving went something like this:

“Sure, I should sell my house. If I sell my house, I should get a job closer to where I will be living. I might as well do it all at once….”.

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The monumental ripple effect of these choices didn’t hit me until recently. Moving is an emotional upheaval of all we know. Memories and artifacts are unearthed. I found ten years of our lives settled into the foundation of the house. Time and events ran past me and through me in a disorderly montage.

I began decluttering, purging, and donating as soon as I made this decision. Room by room, night after night, weekend after weekend, and making many trips to Goodwill was all I knew. It began to feel like that recurring waitress dream where I’d finish serving the entire restaurant, only for it to be filled again-and of course I would be the only waitress working that night.

I had personal goals set: downstairs closet Monday, four kitchen cabinets Tuesday, buy wine, bookcase Wednesday, buy wine, laundry room Thursday, buy wine…

Of course, while all of this was happening, I decided to get a job closer to where I’ll be moving. Sure, I pack my classroom each year, and I complain, and I post the “packed up classroom-must be summer” pic. But, for the love-this took me weeks of packing every day after school. It culminated with me renting a Uhaul truck, and if you know me at all, I can barely drive my very cute Mini Cooper.

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After renting the truck and the very nice Uhaul lady showed me how to get in and start the darn thing. She sent me off, like a kid on a bike for the first time. I watched her close the door with a look of terror in my eyes. She faded into the distance. My feet barely touched the floor and I had to scoot the seat very close to the steering wheel. I felt like a Polly Pocket in a Barbie Van.

I’m pretty sure every car on all the roads passed me since I was driving so slowly; there was honking and disgruntled looks. So, I get to the school, which is about to close, of course. I began by bringing box by box out, neatly packing them, then going back into the school. I realized I was running out of time, so i just did the lift, scoot, and dump the stuff outside bit. I packed the Uhaul full, only to see that it wasn’t all fitting, and I couldn’t leave the stuff out, but what to do? I reconfigured everything a few times, while sweating more than I thought possible.

I get everything loaded and head to my new neighborhood. Bottled water in hand, and feeling a bit more confident in the truck. I made turns without twitching, and even found the radio for a few tunes.

I get to the new neighborhood, and of course miss the house. I knew there was no way to back up, so I drove to the culdesack where the neighbors were having a block party. OH NO!! I can’t turn around. I can’t back up. I began to drive into someone’s driveway, but couldn’t back out. So, I sat there and began to crumble. One neighbor asked if he could help me. I immediately jumped out of that mean truck and let him get it back to my new home.

I unloaded, got back in the truck, took it back, got in my Mini Cooper and went home. The pic below is just my school things. OMG.

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Moving day is here! I chose the ONE moving company in that green book of handy helpers. I liked that they charge one fee, even if I have no clue how to assemble the TV or picture boxes (that the owner dropped by my house). It didn’t seem like so much until the truck was packed and they needed a van to get the rest. The cats hid in an empty house, and of course I kept thinking they just packed their cat things and went elsewhere.

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I’m still waiting to close on my house. It is set for the 21st; it has been pushed back once already. Then there was the thick and heavy red tape of documents we were made to find for the closing.

I never thought I was capable of changing the DNA of our lives. There are times that we are gently forced to be alone to get stuff done. No pity party here-I can drive a truck and pack a box in less than a few seconds. I do give the Chisel and Hammer work outs credit for the ability to lift the heavy boxes.

We are in the last moments of summer. The centrifuge has stopped for a moment.

Here’s to change!

K

 

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Where Do the Words Come From?

Writing comes from a blank space. There are no multiple choice options,  fill in the blanks, or answer keys. It is invisible until it manifests on paper or the computer. We arrange the words in various orders to convey thoughts. We move them around and shuffle them until they fall into  just the right spots.

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I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. When I was younger, I didn’t talk much (which will be a surprise to those who know I won’t stop talking now). I remember just wanting to fade into my surroundings when any attention was focused on me. Just let me write!

In second grade, during show and tell (a school tradition that should be banned for good) my teacher asked me to get up in front of the class and tell something that happened over the weekend. I was already in trouble for having a daily “stomach ache” during math. I am convinced that my teacher believed that I got sick at the same time every day. Even if math was at a different time, I would suddenly fall ill. Who knew that skipping second grade math would haunt me for years to come?

I created a story where my brother was lost on a raft on the Chattahoochee River. I said he was wearing my mother’s dress, and we haven’t seen him for three days. I gave sensory details about the sounds of the water. I described the setting of the warm day and the sun beaming down on my brother, as he floated away into oblivion. I was on a roll. I wasn’t even self-conscious about the ‘pixie’ hair cut my mom insisted I get. Another blog. Another time.

I didn’t get to finish my story, because my teacher stopped me and told me to sit down. Later that day, my mom was called in to talk about my ‘storytelling’. I told them that my story was more interesting than what we really did that weekend. From that point on, my words came out of my pencil, not my mouth.

Many teachers have a story like this. A story where their spirits were lifted or bruised. A story where they had trouble with a subject and a teacher either helped them or didn’t notice. We all come to this job with a vision and a hope that we will do something to make a difference in someone’s life. I wanted to make sure that no child was made to feel that her words were unimportant.

The year I was asked to be the literacy coach at my school, I felt that I had an opportunity to give back to all of those teachers and administrators who held me up while making sure I had a safety net on which to fall. And when I did fall (which happened often) they were there without judgement and made me get up. They even overlooked my leprechaun trap gone bad project my first year of teaching. For the rest of the year, I was scraping green paint off the walls near the window where the leprechauns ‘escaped’.

This is my third year as a literacy coach. My first year, I just wanted the teachers to let me into their rooms. Other lit coaches told me suburban legends about how they didn’t visit certain halls, or how teachers had requested that they not come in. YIKES! I went into the job having been inspired by those teachers who kept me afloat my first couple of years of teaching.

My second year, I tried out lessons, implemented county initiatives, and got a global understanding of literacy from the view of the teachers and the students. Of course, there were many days I felt useless, and hoped to just inspire a student to write, or a teacher to teach writing with more confidence than the day before.

This year, I had a rather bumpy start because of some personal setbacks. I had a complete paradigm shift in my understanding of human nature. My suburban village was by my side at a very difficult time, and I am more grateful to them then ever. But, I tried to write, but I couldn’t find the words anymore. They danced around me, and I was unable to pick the right ones. If I couldn’t find my own words, how could I teach others to find theirs? Writing has always been so cathartic to me. This was more than writer’s block, it was a semantic void.

I taught writing in various classrooms last week.  The small people found all the words I was missing. They grabbed them from the air. They found them under their desks. They pulled them from their book bags. The scraped them from the floor. There were plenty to go around.

Not only did my words come back, but so did my spirit. After thirteen years in education, I still love my job. When we let our guard down, and the kids in-we can find all of our words.

K