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

 

Invasion of the Recycling Bins

My environmental science class is slowly altering me, like the pods-I’m slowly being taken over, and there will be another, just like me-reducing, reusing, and recycling. I’ve been aware, and haphazardly tossing my La Croix, snob water, cans into the recycling bins. But, after a few weeks of environmental science, the guilt began to eat at me. Isn’t it always true that our intentions are to save the planet…..later?  I did some research, because that is how I roll before I take on another obsessive habit. Only about 30% of people in the south-east recycle from their homes. More people recycle in the north than they do in the south.

I sit in class with eleven environmentally savvy people. Yes, they are a bit weird, and the idea of watering your lawn with the water from your shower caused an electric stir throughout the room. (My professor suggested that we put a bucket under us as we shower.) Apparently, going green isn’t always convenient, comfortable, or attractive.

He asked us this-“How many of you get rid of your clothes because they are worn out?”

Silence.

Student: “Do you mean if there is a stain on it?”

Professor: “Can you still wear clothing if there is a stain on it”

Student: “Yes, but why would we?”

Professor: “Because it serves the purpose of clothing you.”

I glanced at my new DSW, sparkly wedges. The thrill of the sparkle was cloaked in blackness.

Professor: “What would happen if (those of you who love shoes) were to give up all of your shoes except for one pair that would get you through the season?”

I broke into a cold sweat. My left leg involuntarily shook. Visions of my color-coded closet being emptied made me dizzy. I believe I had the vapors for a moment.

It would have to be like a 12-step program. You can’t go all cold turkey on a shoe obsession for goodness sake!  This idea is not possible, at the moment.

Professor: “How many of you could change your habit of buying new clothes, and only wear clothes from consignment or hand-me-downs.?”

Student: “Sorry, I have to draw the line there. I don’t know what those people did in those clothes.”

Our professor poses these questions to make us think. I began to wonder why I have so many things that I don’t need.

The turning point was our discussion about the book Ishmael. Well, maybe it was this quote that made me perk up one Saturday morning,

“TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.” Daniel Quinn-Ishmael.

Every summer, I seek out what will put that first-year-teacher mojo back into my spirit. This just may do it.

The teacher in this story is a gorilla. He is telepathic, and he is able to teach the ‘narrator’ how things came to be. The premise of the book is that there is more than one species on the planet. Sustainability is a collective effort. Get off your butt. Do something. Of course, as I was listening to the discussion, I was sipping from my Dunkin Donuts to-go cup.

Environmentalism is like a flu virus. You get exposed, then 3-5 days later, the effects begin to take over. I have this nightmare, that I’ll be that lady who dries her paper towels, breaks appointments with friends to rinse the plastics,  and keeps the same paper bag for her lunch for three years. I will be shunned, and people will tease me by throwing recyclables into the trash.

It is just that I’ve never met an environmentalist who wasn’t, well….a bit fanatical. I have witnessed, the go greeneries, filtering out the non-recyclables from the recyclables. They are in a frenzy, and we all know never to make eye contact. Because, inevitably, we are the ones who tossed the styrofoam cup into the bin, on our way to some very important place. Now, I appreciate their efforts. There are a few people who try to keep us all on track. No wonder they are manic and angry. They are doing their part, which is way more than many of us are doing.

I had to conduct a data-driven experiment for my final project in environmental science. I wanted to see what would motivate my daughters to recycle more. Yes, there were variables like one stealing from the other’s bins. They both took from my bins, and suckered people to save their recycling. My smaller one, collected beer cans from my neighbor. But, by the end of the month, during the last week-my recycling bins were filled to capacity, and my trash output had decreased. During this time, I became that frenzied recyclist who began following my children when they get up to toss something.

Me: “Where are you going to put that?”

Child caught in the scary mom vortex: “Um…in the…well…um the recycle bin-yes…it is going there.”

Me: “Right answer.” (Insert cackle).

Hopefully, my kids will think about their carbon footprints a little more. I know I will.

This week is the 4th of July. I won’t begin to discuss the firework/atmosphere controversy.

Happy Fourth!

K