Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The end of an era, and an uncertain future

(Design source unknown)
It's the last week of the school year.

It's my last week at MHS, and it's also possibly my last week of teaching, period.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of bittersweet feelings about this. I've been here for ten years (eleven, if you include my student teaching year), so of course this place, this job, has changed me immeasurably. I've grown a lot since the first day I showed up here, and the friendships I've made over the years run deep. There are a lot of memories wrapped up in these walls, good and bad. I have always wanted to move to Portland, but there was always a reason to stay; I'm not saying those reasons don't exist anymore, but if I keep waiting until I'm perfectly ready, it'll probably never happen. (And as much as I love my job, I'm not super keen about being stuck in this particular town for the rest of my life.)

It's hard to walk away, but it's made easier by the fact that I have something amazing that I'm walking toward. I'm not just leaving my hometown, but also my long-time career. I'm walking away from a very comfortable, familiar life towards an uncertain future, and while it's scary (thank god I have safety nets), it's also exciting, because it's full of possibility.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not often struck with moments of profound sadness at the steps I'm about to take. While I have spent this past year cataloguing things that I will NOT miss about my job (item #1- stacks and stacks of essays to grade), there are also many, many things that I will miss. And especially in recent days, now that the school year is drawing to a close for what is potentially the last time for me, I am reminded that not only has my life been not that bad, it has actually been pretty awesome.

I've gotten to share some of my favorite books and films with my students, and watched them open up their minds and blossom. I've forged bonds with some of them that have lasted beyond their high school years, and I've gotten to see them grow into amazing young adults. The teachers I work with are some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever met. I have a fair amount of autonomy and control over what I teach in my own classroom, and even through the roughest of times, I've felt confident that my union and my district are taking care of us - not all teachers can say that. MHS has a community of teachers who really fight for each other, and if I'm being absolutely honest, I couldn't have asked for a better place to start out as a teacher. In fact, one could say that I've been spoiled being here.

I'm not going to lie, I've shed many tears this year (mostly in private) about everything that I'm leaving. I've lost sleep thinking about the impending goodbyes. I've been struck dumb by the outpouring of caring that I've received from people who I didn't realize cared about me that much. I've had almost an entire year to mentally prepare myself, but I don't think that time has made it any easier, actually.

And I haven't even begun to discuss all of the non-job-related things I will miss about living here in the Bay Area, namely, the fact that my whole entire life is here, from my family and friends to my favorite running trail and my gym. (And this also doesn't even touch the surface of what Jimmy and Jolie are leaving behind too.)

But at the same time, I've never felt more ready to go. I could offer many reasons why I would prefer to live in Portland instead of the Bay Area and why I would like to, if not quit teaching altogether, then at least take a year off and explore other interests. But to be honest, those reasons and those desires have always been there; it is only now that I've felt ready to make that leap.

One more week. I think I'm ready.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Romance novels, and why the personal is, in fact, political

I know this isn't my book blog, but bear with me here. I want to talk about romance novels.

I like them. I read them a lot. Not so much with the corsets and men riding horses, but just contemporary, new adult romances, because they're fun, sexy escapism, and they're quick to read. (We all have our things, I guess.)

Maybe it's because I tend to seek out the free/cheap ones instead of casting my net farther and wider, but I had a very obvious realization this morning about romance novels...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Race recap: the runDisney 2016 Pixie Dust Challenge

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon, and in addition, it will be my last Disney race for a long time (since it's not so easy to drive down to Anaheim from Portland), so of course, I had to make it EPIC - I decided to run the Pixie Dust Challenge. (And Jolie did the kids' race, of course.)

Basically, the challenge is to run the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, totalling 19.3 miles in one weekend. I've done this before, but I was in much better shape then, and I didn't have knee pain plaguing me every step of the way, so I knew this was going to be a true challenge just to finish.

I haven't been training at all, except for some 4-6 mile runs/walks on the weekends. It's amazing how, when you get out of the habit of running regularly, it becomes difficult to reintroduce it back into your life. I had intended to train for this while I was training for my powerlifting meet, but of course, my knee proved to be a major obstacle, and then after that was over, I was injured/sick/just plain busy, so I didn't even run enough to properly train for a 5k, let alone a 19.3-mile weekend.

Well. Que sera, sera.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Day

It's Teacher Appreciation Day, and since I am one myself, I want to take the time to express my appreciation for my colleagues.
Teaching is never easy, but my ten years have been made signicantly easier by the fact that I work with an amazing group of individuals amongst the MHS faculty and staff, most especially my English department. I have been blessed with autonomy, strong leaders, and a caring, nurturing environment where I get the support that I need.

As I am leaving soon, not just MHS but possibly also the profession of teaching, I didn't want to go without letting all my colleagues know what a pleasure it has been to work with them for this past decade.

Pause and reflect

I haven't written a blog post in almost a year. I've had a lot of stuff happen, some good and some bad, and I could've written a...