Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Leave

Tomorrow we start winter break. Last year it was like entering some kind of cloud- an alternate universe that was my life prior to starting work on the front lines. Here are a couple quotes from what I wrote in my journal about the break:

The first four months of school were certainly startling... My students knocked me on my knees, I hit survival mode on the first day of school and was reeling backward, literally trying to stay alive during the first couple weeks of school. Everything I believed about education and about what I wanted to do with my life came crashing to the ground around me and as I sat sorting through the pieces the school year marched on dragging me along by my heels. It took two months for me to stand up and move forward to catch up with my students and the massive beast that was my classroom and my piece of the education system in New York City. During that time I appeared to everyone in the setting as a meek, skinny white guy from the Midwest trying very hard to survive in a setting that was entirely foreign to most human beings.

By the time the break rolled around last year, I felt as if my feet had hit the ground, but barely. It was my major accomplishment. While things certainly weren't fantastic in my classroom, I felt as though I was vertical and moving, and I'd begun to roll with some of the punches. That said, it was still ridiculously unclear what in the world I would need to do to be successful by my own standard.

It's felt that I never left, really. I'd been in the city for five straight months (save a weekend in Houston) and it feels like I was just here (Kansas) yesterday. It'll be interesting to see how long that feeling lasts. July will probably be the next time that I visit the Midwest.

When I was sitting on my parents' couch last December it felt as though everything I'd done in the four months prior was a thousand miles away (according to Google Maps, it's 1,223) or that someone else had done it and I had simply watched them closely. Perhaps that meant I was really back in my element. New York had been so jarring that it certainly could not be considered my element. If your time in the classroom has been less than stellar, getting out of the city is important if for no other reason than it helps remind you that things can be sane and normal (according to your own definition).

This year I really need to get out of the city as well. The amount of agitation, disrespect, city attitude and nutso people in these parts have really gotten to me lately. They are a minority and I have certainly defended New Yorkers as people who are just as nice as any other group of people once you get to know them, but the callousness that permeates crowds here has started to get under my skin. While last year I needed to get away to show myself again that the world hadn't gone completely insane, this year I simply want a short break from the city so I can appreciate it a bit more, relax and get ready for the spring.

Today's Wine: Charles Shaw Shiraz. Again, not as dry as their Cabernet, but a bit peppery like Shiraz oftentimes is. It also supported the fact that for the price, Charles Shaw is incredibly acceptable.

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