Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle

A conversation left unsaid... for better or worse:  

You got my name wrong.  In the hallway.  Above the door to my classroom.  The plaques every teacher has.  It's a little thing.  One letter off.  This is not a serious deal.  
I've spent the past five years trying to get kids to learn the difference between Miss, Ms., and Mrs.  Trying to explain,  to get them to pay attention to those little details.  And my students now know the difference.  They read the signs.  And as a result, they've been calling me by the wrong name.    

And it really bothers me.  It doesn't bother me so much that the mistake was made.  No, that one additional letter is often assumed when a woman of 'a certain age' - ie. my - age enters a room.  People assume I'm married.  And that's ok.  I'd probably assume I was married, too.    
But we had that conversation.  Face to face.  Are you a Miss, a Ms. or a Mrs?  It happened together.  You wrote it down.  I had to sign off on it.  But ok.  The mistake was made.  It's not the end of the world.  

However.  On the worst day yet, when the sign appeared and it was wrong, it did bother me.  It bothered me a lot.  In a place where nothing is familiar, no one knows who I am, my history, my strengths or weaknesses and I find myself clinging to the things I know, the things that make me feel like me, that make me feel like I'm not a stranger in this strange new land.  That was the day you made it worse.  
The situation is not a deal.  It's excusable.  It's correctable.  But your response?  

"Well, maybe if you got a life and could land a man, I wouldn't have to order a new sign."    


I don't care if you meant it as a joke, if you did it with a smile on your face and a glimmer in your eye.  I don't particularly find it funny.  I know you were irritated, that you don't really want to order a new sign. That you lost or forgot or misread your own handwriting and felt the urge to ask someone else who knows nothing about me for clarification.  That clarification was wrong.  

Let's start with a new sign.  I'll continue to correct my students.  To reintroduce myself as the woman I actually am - the woman I'm proud to be.  And perhaps one day you'll look at me and be able to see beyond an empty ring finger.  And maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to share a space where we can both turn around, look each other in the eye, and see each other for who and what we really are.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

What It Represents...

I have a love-hate relationship with my new classroom.  My classroom is my abode.  It is my castle.   But this time around - in this new school, in this new classroom...  I'm not quite sure about it...   I am uncomfortable.  It has so many challenges - forcing me to break grooves that have really worked for me.  It is a constant reminder of what I have left behind and all the challenges that go along with that.  The spaces.  The people.  The spirit.  The work.  It's all different.  It's constantly thrust in my face as I wander the halls alone, bang and bruise my hips into hard corners of platforms and tables that serve an earlier purpose, when I can't see the door or get to the phone on time or have to disappear behind the support beam that holds the 50 year old ceiling above my head during class.  It is, at times, an overwhelming,  powerfully marginalizing, and isolating experience.  

And yet I'm also very proud of what I've created in this silly room.  So full of  contradictions.  It's bright and dank.  It has a wall of windows and is absolutely huge.  It's an old science room with built in platform sinks, gas hook ups and random rough-ins  in the walls.  The floor is cracking and crumbling up toward the ceiling,  the chairs stick to the wax on the floor from the humidity, and every now and again the smell of dissected frog wafts about the room like a thick fog.   It isn't the warm, inviting literary space I wanted to create.   Despite my best efforts, it still feels a bit cave-like to me.  But cave or not... it's mine.  And that's a start.  

So many little moments.   Little spaces that oooze me.  Oooze who I am and where I've come from.   Special items of big and little consequence; from the lava lamp my grandmother gave to me when I was 15 years old, to the lone surviving post-it from an adoring student/teacher prank.   So many memories of so many places and people that, when put together, feel rather special, indeed.   

Monday, August 20, 2012

Clarity, Shape and Reason

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. 
Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”       
 -Michael Ondaatje

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Empty Space

{image and inspiration found here}

I've been away.  Which is not especially excusable or explainable.  It hasn't especially made me feel good - what may have initially been a calming force, has actually made me feel a bit untethered.  Suffice it to say, beginning again in a new city with a new job in a place where reputations and realities don't necessarily meet expectations has been incredibly difficult.  

It's been a very isolating experience.  Shedding layers of comfort can be a freeing thing, I suppose.  At the moment, it's just uncomfortable.  But there is always much to be learned from discomfort and struggle.  Hopefully these empty moments will lead to greater fulfillment.  

In any event, if isolation and emptiness seem to be on the menu, perhaps it is not my time to question it.  Perhaps solitude is exactly what I need.  
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