Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Festive Festivities

And so it begins. A poinsettia on my desk (purchased from a fundraising student, of course). Christmas music on my car radio (alternating with MPR, which has plenty of holiday-related fodder of its own). Pie recipes dancing in my head for baking this evening. Our first holiday extravaganza behind us, I now have many, many, many more to enjoy in the next month and a half.

We spent last Saturday “back home” to celebrate with Pat’s family. If I’ve never mentioned, they miraculously decided years ago never to try and celebrate a holiday on the holiday, thus not competing with spousal families. I love my in-laws. So, we ate, we drank, we were merry. And we played football with the nieces and nephews and it was wonderfully enjoyable. It started as Pat and the four kids against two older nephews and two other uncles. Then another uncle joined in on Pat’s side, then so did I. We still lost. But it was super fun. Pat is most adorable with his nieces and nephews, and will be the best dad ever. Can’t wait.

Tonight, we’re going to my brother-in-law’s in Northeast for a little wine and cheese pre-Thanksgiving party. Then tomorrow to my aunt’s for all the traditional fare. Friday, to my other aunt’s for her annual Texas Hold ‘em Turkey Flop. Saturday, a gathering with friends across town. Four parties in four days? Only during the holidays. Then it really begins…

In the month of December there are already six holiday engagements on my calendar. January will offer the in-laws’ Christmas, as well as Pat’s work’s holiday party. And we’ll have to do something for New Year’s, right? All this, and we’re going to Jamaica for six days!

This is why people get stressed during the holidays: the sheer volume of things to keep track of. Despite all this (because of all this, rather), I am elated the holidays are here. I love them. I love the baking and the decorating and the music and the togetherness. I don’t like the cold, but it is inevitable. In the next two months, I will see all the people I love. Jen from Texas (for a whole week!), Les and Jonathon from Arkansas (they, too, are coming for a week, but they have more people than just me to visit), Angie from California (seeing as she works retail, her visit isn’t until late January, but still), and Anne and Josh from Ohio (like L & J, the visit will be brief, but nonetheless special). Time together is the best gift indeed.

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays. Love to you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised

Speech team try-outs are this week. We had 40 people sign up. This is unprecedented for us, and I'm totally thrilled. I have two amazing new coaches (I know we haven't even started yet, but I can just tell how awesome they are). And my captains are the best captains I've ever had.

I know I said I wanted desperately to quit this overly demanding position. And I did. But I am realizing how important it is to me. Mostly, it's the kids. Three things happened to show me how much they love me (yes, I'm bragging, but there's more...)
1. A sophomore favorite (yes, of course I have favorites) was telling me about how he was recruiting for the team, "Mrs. [My last name] is the coach. That's all you need to know." Jeff, I said, you need tell them more than that. "Uh-uh. You make it as fun as it is." Being as I'm all he's known, I suppose that makes sense.
2. Suzanne, who's been an assistant here as long as I have been head, had to quit. Students cried. She didn't even work with all of them. And she was only here twice a week. But they loved her, and were sad and mad both when she left. This strong reaction makes me worry how they'll react when I DO quit. Clearly, they aren't ready (and neither am I, but I will be some day, like when I have kids...can't work 12-hour days when you have kids).
3. My awesome and a half captains were talking t-shirt designs, and last year the slogan included my name. So, they say, "This year, we're going to put your picture on the shirt and it will say [My last name]'s Homies" NO! I said. No more ME on t-shirts! The shirts are for SPEECH! "But [My last name], you ARE speech." Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I feel like Sally Fields in 1979: "You like me! You really like me!" But what I've realized is that no matter when I decide to give this up (only partially, as assistant coaching will still be on the agenda), it will not be easy. Right now, my freshman when I started are my seniors. Four years. One complete cycle. But now I've got new crops of kids I want to see all the way through. It won't happen if I have babies when I want to, so it already makes me sad. The fact that my current sophomore favorites will be seniors when I most likely quit is sad. I'm sad. No longer excited. I complain and complain about this work, but I love, love, love, love it. There's just no denying it :-).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Too much all around

This weekend was not glorious, nor was it all it should have been. It was fun, enjoyable, and certainly productive, but it wasn't what it should have been. Highlights:
1. Leaving work at noon on Friday (a student-free workday) to lunch and see a matinee with my husband
2. Momentous WW meeting Saturday morning (half-way to goal, people!)
3. Impromptu lunch and shopping with Heather on Saturday
4. A jaunt to Red Wing for Molly's annual wine-tasting where so much fun was had, I (like Molly and Chris) was sore the next morning (both from the wine and the infinite amounts of laughter)
5. The Vikings beat the Packers
6. Cleaning and grocery shopping and working out on Sunday made the weekend complete

But it was incomplete as well. I feel full right now. Mentally, physically full. There is too much to handle. It's as if no scrap of emotion can squeeze its way in; too much already exists. It is this feeling that made me snappy and crabby through all the fun of the weekend. On edge, my husband says. He feels it, too, but his pressures come from other directions. We pick at each other like children, annoyed with the smallest things. Perspective allows us to laugh at ourselves, but then not two hours later we pick again. We apologize and we're fine, but it's not nice. And it shouldn't continue. But the one person you feel most comfortable with inevitably becomes your sounding board and your whipping post. It is true for both of us. Something to work on, no doubt.

I have two pressures causing my conflicting self. The first is the impending speech season. With auditions next week and practice beginning after Thanksgiving, my vow to quit is long-gone and I'm not regretting it. I am, however, filled with nervous energy. I both dread and enjoy the next five months. But this is nothing compared to my grief. If you live in my region, you may have seen or read that we lost a student last week. Two sisters, a sophomore and a senior, were in a car accident. The senior's injuries were fatal; the sophomore, a beloved student of mine, will recover. Recover. I don't believe this is possible. She will wake up, be physically well, but how do you recover from losing your big sister? Dealing with this in the classroom, continuing day to day instruction as best as possible is SO hard. The funeral is tomorrow after school. Hard to be normal. Hard to feel joy. Conflict.

So, while this weekend was super, it was incomplete. Always in the back of my mind, pushing toward the front, this grief, this pressure. I am shaky all the time. I will cry many more times. It is just so much.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Day

Nothing is more exciting than this day. Sigh of relief. God bless America.