Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Two out of three ain’t bad

I had three major goals for the day:

1. Work on grades (it would be too much to expect they’d get finished today, but I wanted to make a good dent in them).

2. Post to this blog (I need to do the Community School blog eventually, but that wasn’t on today’s list).

3. Get some real exercise.

I’ll get the exercise tomorrow. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to go for a run. If I’m even luckier, the run won’t suck like the last one did. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 30, 2009

I walked

Last week, I walked away from something I love very much, both personally and professionally. It hurt a lot, and I am carrying a fair amount of anger and resentment around right now (although I’ve managed to let a lot go the last couple of days, which is why I’m able to write about it).

I resigned from athletics at my school. As you may know, for the last 7 years, I’ve been my school’s athletic director as well as its varsity soccer coach. Both of these positions have been self-created (I was asked initially by our executive director if I’d be interested in building a soccer program, and I created the AD position to support that work). I was given the freedom initially to make the work my own, and I did just that. It started with soccer, which in my tenure went from being an afterthought with just 8 students involved in its first incarnation to a championship co-ed team with more than 30 students at tryouts this past year. I grew our ultimate Frisbee program next, which was originally started by a student (she graduated, and I rolled it forward). Then I added cross-country, and helped started a league for all these sports to play in so the students had the opportunity to interact with other schools like us. Things were developing quite well, and the students were responding to it with high interest and involvement, despite their long school days and high academic expectations.

It all started to change when the administration unilaterally decided (over my objection) that XC wouldn’t be allowed to continue after the first coach left, but it really started going downhill when we had a change of leadership two years ago. It reached a point this year where I got tired of being told, in essence, that the work of expanding our offerings would no longer be supported.

It’s more complicated than that, but to make a long story short, I said that, if it’s going to mean that be subject to the whims of 3 separate administrators, none of whom has an abiding interest in what I'm doing, and any one of whom can unilaterally quash years worth of work simply by saying "Well, *I'm* not approving it," (which is what happened last week) then they could have it back.

I'll fight tooth and nail for a lot of things, but a situation like that is just not worth it.

The thing that makes this painful, though, is not the job. The job was never what it was about. It’s the fact that I won’t get to continue working with students I have built quality relationships with. It hurts that my school’s new administration team, out of its newfound need to piss on everything, has poisoned the one thing that allowed me to nurture those relationships outside of the classroom—and that I really can’t say anything about it without endangering my full-time job (which now feels a lot more like a job).

I met with the kids from my soccer team to tell them the news face-to-face. That was tough. They asked a lot of questions: Was soccer going to continue? Would the administration advertise the coaching and AD jobs, or would they let it all die. What about the league? What could *they* do? I had to tell them I don’t have any answers, except to say that they should talk to the administration. The thing is (and I had a hard time not telling the kids this) that the administration has worked very hard to assert itself as a hierarchical power in the last couple of years and, by their actions, are intimating they’ve got a plan, a plan that does not seem to include athletics.

It certainly will not include athletics with me as part of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It’s been a rough couple of weeks

I’ve needed to take some time. I feel better tonight than I’ve felt in a while, though, so that’s good. I’ll catch you up over the next few days. For now, I’m just glad to have the emotional energy to write this.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Randomness (including last week’s randomness)

The snow has melted of my athletic fields, so we can begin to clean them up for the spring sports classes. On the main field, we have some work to do to repair damage from someone’s stupidity. They did donuts on the frozen turf back in the early part of the winter, and the ruts are deep in spots. I’m organizing a community work day involving the ultimate teams, my spring sports classes and the youth soccer group that uses our fields in the spring. Hopefully we’ll get everything filled in and smoothed out by the time the grass starts to grow. This has happened 4 times since we moved to this property. The simple solution is to put a fence up, but fences are costly. So, until the $10,000 comes around, I’ll keep organizing work days.

Finally, after 3 years of trying, I was able to get my administration to approve a budget that allows us to offer softball as a competitive sport. It doesn’t cost the school anything to offer it, under the plan I developed. Student fees pay the costs, and I was able to get costs reduced to a point where the financial risk was agreeable to the suits. I’m really happy! The kids deserve to have it. The next sports project: Basketball (which will be a real challenge, given that we don’t have a gymnasium at my school).

This week is hell week for the school’s musical, HAiR. The list of students who will be at the University (where the show is going on) is nearly 1/3 of the school. What do you expect from a performing arts based school, right? As you might expect, though, the effect on the academic program is sizable. To lessen this, I frontload my classes. I give a lot of stuff weeks ahead so that the students can coast past the week without worrying about missing new material. Those students who are actually in my classes will work on the assignments, play learning games and do research. I’m just there to help them keep moving forward.

Next week, the MCAS test starts. My 8th and 10th graders (80% of my students this year) will be taking the English part of the test over three days in the middle of the week. Another reason to frontload. I won’t even be in the classroom for the mornings that week. I’ll be proctoring the test, so what few students I have who actually go to class will report to a study hall. Oh, boy!

I’m nearly finished with a project I’d been playing with for over a year. I had a burst of creativity, and just rode the wave for as long as I could. It’s an RPG mechanic. A what? A roleplaying game mechanic. Go ahead. Roll your eyes. It’s ok. If you’re a gamer, you’d understand. I still have some fine points to work out, and then Caleb and I will playtest it over the next little while. If it works, I’ll use it for the stories we do here at the house. If it works well, maybe I’ll make it public.

I’ve written to my graduate professors to get feedback on the work I did for my seminar last fall. I’m curious to know if it’s worth spending more time with.

I went swimming this morning for the first time in two weeks. 8/10 mile in 31 minutes. I’ll take it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

By dose is stupped

I thing I hab ad idfectiod id by sinuses. There’s greed stuff comink out and I can’d breathe ad all through by dose. I thing I’b goink to call the clinic lader. I should see a dogtor. Baybe they can gib me ad adtibiotic or somethink.

GACK! I deed a tissue.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hermione Screamed

We have a longstanding “drinking game” with regard to Harry Potter stories. It started back with the second movie, when we noticed that Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) had a marked tendency to flair her nose when she was overacting. We thought when we saw it in the first movie as often as we did that it was a fluke. We discovered in the sequel that this was not the case. It evolved into a game. Whenever someone noticed she was flaring her nostrils, they would say, “Drink,” and the rest of the room would toss back whatever beverage they had in hand. It’s worth noting that it is rarely alcohol in our house, but that doesn’t stop us. You just drink what you have. If you don’t have anything, you can pretend.

When we started reading the early books in the series to the girls, the game was expanded to include scenes in the books where Hermione was being overly dramatic (of which, if you’ve read the books, you know there are a fair number). We spend time each night reading to the girls and, while we were working our way through the first two books, the reader would occasionally be interrupted by the phrase, “Drink” from one of the adults in the room. It was sort of an inside joke. We didn’t think the kids understood it.

The women of the house went to see a local high school’s version of Beauty and the Beast, and they brought with them Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They wanted to finish the book that day so they could watch the movie in the evening (tradition dictates that we read a book first, then watch the movie). They arrive at the theater with a fair amount of time to kill, so Wifeness is reading the last few chapters. One of the chapters at the end of the book bears the name of this post.

When Wifeness read it, without looking up or skipping a beat, NiNi said, “Drink.”

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Our last president’s legacy lives on

Wayfarer House woke up this morning at its usual Sunday pace. SiSi, ever the early riser, was first to poke her head out of the bedroom and see what was going on. I was already in the kitchen, coffee in hand, laptop whizzing happily away on some task. Mama comes out a little while later. Nieve, the resident slugabed, is next to surface, her hair looking like she should have dreads, and then Karla appears. Karla often gets up last in the house, but avoids the term slugabed fully because she still needs to sleep a lot to keep her energy up. We will, for the purposes of this story, ignore the presence of Wheeler, who came up last night to go to the movies with the guys, but who slept through everything I’m about to describe.

It is often the way of things that Sunday is called a Day of Domestica, and we plan over breakfast what needs to get done, when, and by whom. Today was particularly full. We had dishes and housecleaning from last night that didn’t get done, we have grocery shopping, we have laundry and, at shortly after 12 noon, we need to head upcountry for Katie’s birthday party. It’s 9:30 by the time the scones are baked and we have a plan: I will deal with the outside stuff (i.e. the two grocery stops) and Wifeness, Karla and the girls will do the inside stuff. OK. Ready? Break!

Fast forward to 11:30. The plan is progressing well. The shopping is done. The dishwasher and clotheswasher are loaded. The kids’ bedroom is clean. The living room and kitchen are clean. Eric is still sleeping (I said I was ignoring him, didn’t I), so we can’t run the vacuum, but that’s ok. There’ll be time tomorrow to do that before Kimmie arrives for dinner. Not bad, if we do say so ourselves.

Suzanne has gone downstairs to the basement to move the laundry along, and Karla and I are in the kitchen, chatting. Karla asks, apropos of something we were discussing, “When is Daylight Savings Time?”

Then all the bells and lights went off in my head.


She looked confused for a second, then realized what the problem was as I flipped the switch on the kitchen clock to move it forward an hour. CLICK. Now, instead of 11:30 (meaning we’re doing well), it’s 12:30 (and we’ve just made ourselves late and panicky).

Frick on a brick with a stick! We threw shoes on the children, pushed them out the door and squealed off, spraying road sand as we went.

We never used to forget DST. We had a perfectly functional system in place before it was changed. It was great. Life was easy.

See, we have a lot of timepieces in the house, and most of them are set to change to DST automatically. They were purchased back when the dates for DST were expected to be consistent, and no one ever considered that a president would go along and spuriously change them. We bought clocks that would change on their own so they would remind us to change the other clocks in the house and check the computers and thermostat timers and all the rest of the myriad things that need to be adjusted. Now, none of the automatic timepieces in the house change at the right time. They all have to be changed manually. Worse than that, they all have to be changed back again when their internal chips tell them it’s the right time for DST.

I’m willing to accept that we forgot to change the clocks before we went to bed, but I’m not taking 100% of the liability for having DST slip our minds.

That’s on you, George Bush II.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

3 hours of my life I can’t get back...

...and all to be made to feel inferior in my manhood.

A bunch of us went to go see Watchmen this evening. Was it supposed to be a black comedy? It gets points for being faithful to the idea, but it drug on faaaaaar too long in waaaaaay too many parts.

I’m glad I have X-Men Origins to look forward to.

I'm working on posts of substance, but they're not ready. You'll have to deal with superficial drivel in the meantime. Sorry!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

10 Things Tuesday: Thoughts in my head right this minute

1. I am so very done with winter! I need warm weather, like, RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

2. I am so very tired, and achey, too. I don’t know why. It’s not like I’m doing a whole hell of a lot.

3. I’m looking forward to going out to see Watchmen this weekend with Caleb, Matt, Karla (if she’s up to it) and possibly Wheeler. Mmmm! Theater popcorn!

4. Coconut rum does not go as well with orange juice as it does pineapple juice. That fact is in no way preventing me from drinking it, however.

5. Why is it that, no matter how many times I proofread and review a crossword puzzle for use in my class, I cannot seem to make one without an error?

6. Lori and Jorge sent an email today. It seems they’re hanging in there, but things are tenuous. I am nervous for them, and I wish there were room here. I would love to be able to offer these very good people shelter from this bitch of a recession.

7. Two of my students were in a car crash Monday, of the rollover variety. Amazingly, they were both in school today and walking around. That’s what airbags and seatbelts will do for you. Now they just need to figure out ways to keep the car itself from being totaled.

8. My mom (and maybe my dad) will be coming to visit soon! They said they wanted to wait until the end of June, when, in the words of my mother, “It’s not ass-freezing cold.” They live on the Gulf coast.

9. I really want to work on the next piece of the marriage postings, but I just don’t have the constitution for it right now. I also need to post to the Community School blog. Maybe this weekend…?

10. The trash and recycling are both ready to go out tomorrow, but I don’t think I’m going to get up tomorrow at 5:30 to do it (on my way to the pool). I think I just want to sleep in.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Webcomics as expressions of self

Karla called to me from the other room last night, “Check your email!”

I looked. The message from her read, “I think that this comic was written just for Wifeness.”

I chuckled. My wife has been accused tongue-in-cheek on occasion of illegal use language outside her demographic.

Then came the other shoe.

“This one is SO you!”

I laughed so hard I almost dropped my laptop.

I guess I shouldn’t ask anyone if they want to play Scrabble now, should I?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Today was about correspondence

Over the past week, I’ve received a great deal of mail, both e- and snail-, that needed some attention. I got most of it replied to today. What’s left I can do tomorrow, since there’s no way in hell we’re having school (there’s a foot of snow coming our way).

The letters I got had a lot of news—most of it good. Here’s a sampling of what other people in the worldwide Wayfarer Community are up to:

Jennie is back from Chile, and will finish school at the University of California this June. She also agreed to correspond with one of my current students who is doing her Exhibition on what life is like in a foreign country from an American point of view.

Kimmie is in nursing school locally now (she was in the Czech Republic not too long ago), and she was finally able to find a free day to come to Wayfarer House for dinner.

Dani and baby Jackson will be in the area in a week or two from upstate NY, and will hopefully be able to stop by. We haven’t seen them since she and Joe got married (I can’t even believe it’s been 3 years!), and we’re excited to meet the little one.

I found out that there are two new babies in our universe as of just a couple of months ago. Jen had a boy in early December--after a marathon labor that ended in a C-section. All is well in Texas now, though. “A” (she’s been “A” since the first day we met in college) gave birth to a baby girl in January, as well. I’m still getting the scoop on this because it came totally out of the blue. Last I knew, “A” was in Africa. Now she’s back in Florida, she’s got a guy and she’s got a baby! See? This is what happens when you don’t keep up on your correspondence.

Kestrel wrote from San Francisco recently to say she absolutely loves the city, and that her internship is going well. Ruth says the same of Miami, where she’s been at school. Sadly, Ruth and Andres had to dial down their romance to “friendship” for the time being (Ruth’s mom, who is a bit of a control freak hit the roof when she found out she had a boyfriend).

I still need to reach out to Webster, who was supposed to come for New Year’s, but whom we haven’t seen in forever, Sandi and Jeff, and Mutti and Vatti up in Vermont. We saw Wheeler this past week (he comes up every couple of weeks or so to visit Karla and be accosted by NiNi), so I don’t need to write to him--although I do need to see if he wants to go with some of us to see Watchmen next weekend. I’ll fit this in between throwing the kids outside to play in the snow and the lesson planning that will still be waiting for me tomorrow.