June 30, 2012

Hope In A Broken World

“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
-Anne Frank

I was very motivated this morning and by 9am was dressed and on my way to the grocery store when I saw this message spray painted on the side on the local VFW: The entire world is broken. There is no hope.

Maybe I'm just becoming more emotional as I age or maybe, having spent the last few weeks with small children, I can picture one of my own students writing this in twelve years or so. Which ever the case may be I found myself stopping to look at the message and wondering how hopeless or helpless one has to feel to write it where they did. It's not a tag, there's no picture or even color; it's just a statement written in a way that friends and neighbors will be sure to share in the author's revelation. Because this was next to the school I can only assume it was penned by a local student and I found myself reaching back towards my own teenage years. I tried to pinpoint the line where fairies and doll houses ended and the enormity of the world began to intrude.

As we grow up we're taught that the wold is an amazing place where anything is possible. We celebrate Columbus Day and Thanksgiving in grade school and are led to believe that villeins wear sinister black mustaches and that good always wins the day. Having home schooled I'm not sure when teachers are bursting the bubble these days, but by high school each of them carries a needle and they go through our fantasies one by one destroying our perception of reality. We learn terms like "cultural capital" (POP!). We learn that Columbus was not the hero we thought he was (POP!). We learn that our own culture/society/family is as often the oppressor as the oppressed (POP! POP!). Heaven help you if these early ideals have not collapsed by collage because the Universities will delight in showing you each and every dark secret the world wants to forget.

I remember being where this student is; I even remember the revelation that sent me there. We were learning about WWII and looking at pictures of Nazis marching into Paris, wondering how such an unpopular movement as the Third Reich ever got as far as it did.Understanding just how popular Nazism was in Europe was the first in a long line of disappointments.

The bubbles need bursting, but wow are those teenage years a dozy. All the crap of adolescence plus relearning history plus becoming aware of the "broken" world we presently live in. Hope is a tough thing to hold onto sometimes.

June 27, 2012

Viral Pharyngitis

It's only my second week teaching preschool and I've got viral pharyngitis (no voice and a low grade fever with some cold symptoms).  I worked yesterday, struggling to be heard in a room of two year olds who thought I was making my voice sound funny on purpose. I wish I could spend the day catching up on errands, but all I want to do is drink honey and lemon while watching Disney Movies.

Work is going pretty well so far. All the kids have very strong personalities and patterns of behavior which I'm almost able to preempt at this point. It's the melt downs that get to me, those end of the day crazies when the kids are done sharing, done cooperating, and have had enough of both the students and the teachers. They don't care that they just smacked their friend over the head with a block because they have run out of empathy. On the other hand I spent over an hour on the floor yesterday setting up a wooden train track, which they were very grateful for, and when one of them turns to me with a huge smile of pride I feel like maybe we're making progress.

My co-teacher is very nice (thank goodness) and we seem to agree on a few points of early childhood ed (mainly that firm lesson plans for a group of two year olds are useless). July is Ocean Month and we have all kinds of grand plans for fish projects and an interactive aquarium/tide pool. Luckily researching ocean themed activities is something I can do from the comfort of my sickbed.

June 24, 2012

Surviving Preschool

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 
'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”  
-Martin Luther King Jr. 

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for bearing with me through a full week of radio (blog) silence. This was my first week of work as a preschool teacher, which was both fun and completely exhausting. I hate starting new jobs; the position's responsibilities are still blurry and a lot of time is spent wondering what to do. When dealing with kids, especially two and three year olds, there's a lot of improvising so by Wednesday I didn't have a choice but to get comfy and start dishing out discipline. I have eight kids and a co-teacher. The kids are well behaved, considering their age, and we hold them to high standards, like using proper table manors at lunch. It's been so hot all week that a lot of time has been spent in the air conditioned classroom with overtired children who are having trouble sleeping in muggy weather at home. Brutal for everyone involved.

The best part of working is that I'm going to get a paycheck on Friday! I hate being broke. It's like being stuck in quicksand and you just try to hold perfectly still and not thrash because thrashing makes you sink faster. Unfortunately there have been many times in my life where I've had this feeling, but on the bright side I have realized that it passes. Eventually I get a paycheck or cut an expense and it all turns out alright.

So today I'm going to print out some ocean themed coloring book pages for the kids and try making home made play-dough. Enjoy your Sunday!

June 18, 2012

Father's Day

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Newly potted herbs
Yesterday was Father's Day so I hope all you dad's out there had a good time. I spent the day with the folks gardening and making naan (which I'll demonstrate later this week). We got a lot done and our squash and chard are trying to poke through the ground!

In other news I am about to head off to my first day at my new job. The waking up thing isn't all that fun, but I'll enjoy the paycheck later. More soon!

June 15, 2012

Preschool Graduation

Yesterday C graduated from Preschool. Having just graduated from College I know what a momentous and somber occasion it can be, but I'm not sure that these five year olds got the memo. First the teacher gave every child the opportunity to do something on stage, like sign there name in sign language or sing the ABC's. The first child, much to the audiences chagrin, decided to count to 100. Very. Slowly.

That was the beginning of the end for their collective attention spans. Pretty soon graduates were stripping off their gowns and playing space fighter on the stage.

All's well that ends well though. Diplomas were handed out and we ate celebratory pizza and cake.

Congratulations all you graduates out there!

June 12, 2012

Gardens & Garages

Look at those beautiful rows!
As you know, my car has had some issues over the past few months. The serpentine belt was squeaking like mad and a hose was cracked and spitting oil on the engine. Because I really didn't have the money to deal with it I did the next best thing: I ignored it. Finally I decided it just had to be done and made an appointment with a local mechanic in my home town.

So yesterday at 6am I met my father at the garage so he could drive me back to the house and I could spent the day with my mother. By 10am we had planted the garden (better late then never) and then went onto some housework.

I was really hoping that the Jetta would be done by 5pm but that cracked hose seems to have been worse than anticipated. It's also cracked near the engine so the whole thing needs to be replaced which means getting the part from Volkswagen... it's time consuming more than anything else. In the end my father ended up driving me back to the house and hopefully the car will be ready (at minimal expense) later today.

I hate being without my car and I hate surprises. The anxiety of waiting for my bank account to be depleted is a bit much. The fact is that I don't have much in the way of possessions so what I do have is pretty important to me (like the lady on the bus). I feel stranded. Today, with nowhere to be (and nowhere to get there even if I had) I am going to sit on the porch reading trashy romance novels in the sunshine.

A view from the herb garden

Freya the puppy, tied to the tractor

The former sheep shed, now a potting shed

June 9, 2012


“A teacher affects eternity; 
he can never tell where his influence stops.”
-Henry Adams

I'm a pre-school teacher.

Sounds a little strange and very... tame compared to the titles I've has so far. New Hampshire requires 18 early childhood credits (ECE) to work in a preschool and every one of my credits counts. They emailed me yesterday to say all's well and they expect me for orientation on the 18th, which feels like quite a ways out but I'm sure it will approach fast. While $11 an hour is less than I was hoping to make, they provide health and dental and I will qualify for teaching certs after a year. Look at me being all grown up and responsible!

So ends the great job hunt of 2012. I applied to a bunch (lost count) of schools and educational facilities, was accepted by about ten of them, and finally accepted just one. The next step is housing.

I love living with my friends but the commute is about 30 miles and takes me through two tolls so it costs $3 to go to and from work each day. Also, if this is really something I'm doing long term (a year is long for me), I can't live with them forever (I'm sure they'd appreciate not always having a house guest).

After living in the Jetta for more than a year I just can't justify paying rent, so I've been looking into alternatives. Car dwelling is always an option, of course, but I would like to upgrade to something a bit larger, like the Shasta I showed you all a few days ago. For now, however, I'm just trying to keep the Jetta going for a bit longer. I have an appointment to bring her to a mechanic on Monday for a new drive belt and that hose that cracked a while back. With a little luck that won't kill my nonexistent budget.

June 8, 2012

Cross Country 2003

One of the cool things about being back in New Hampshire is that I can visit my mother at least once a week instead of the once a month I've been use to for the past three years. We sit and chat, have lunch, and do a lot of cleaning. While on one of these cleaning kicks I came across an old photo album/journal. I was very lucky that my mother encouraged my sister and I to keep journals as soon as we could draw a picture because now I have evidence of all the shenanigans we got into.

Resting by a field in Kansas
This particular journal was of my first cross country trip. I had just dropped out of my second college and my sister was going through some teenage rebellion. I was nineteen, she was seventeen and we jumped into my 1984 SAAB at 6am one random morning and took off in search of adventure. I had this plan that I was moving to New Orleans (see, this wasn't the first time) so we headed in a southerly direction.

We got into loads of misadventures including heat stroke on New Jersey, being chased by a big rig towards Orlando, outrunning a storm in Louisiana, running out of gas on LA49, locusts in Texas, running out of money in Dallas, a sketchy rest stop in Oklahoma, Sara lost the gas cap in New Mexico (She also fell asleep driving and ended up in the desert), our one and only hotel room in Colorado (Mum wired mulla), Car trouble and the 4th of July in Kansas, flooding in Illinois, and hitchhikers in Pennsylvania. The car finally died in Schenectady New York and the folks drove out to tow us home. I left New Hampshire with $300 in my pocket which got us all the way to Texas and included two days at India House in New Orleans. Unthinkable now, that money wouldn't even get me gas, much less food for two.

Sara on the broken SAAB
I have no idea where the actual photos of the trip ended up, but stuffed in the journal was an envelope of negatives which I took to Wal-Mart and had made into a CD. Now I can break them out periodically and reminisce about where it all started.

June 6, 2012

A New Job?

I think (fingers crossed) that I got a job. It's at a ritzy preschool, so I'll get the classroom experience I need for my certification, plus they pay $11 per hour. I know that doesn't sound like much, but a lot of the education related jobs I've looked at recently pay less than $10 and I was getting cranky, what with my shiny new degree and all. In New Hampshire you need 18 early childhood credits to work in a preschool and I have 18 education credits in all. Here's hoping they can all count.

My next move is to find a place/way to live that's nearer to my new job. The Jetta is doing alright, but I still haven't had the belt fixed (mainly because I didn't know how long I would be out of work). I was checking out small campers, like this awesome canned ham camper. And maybe (it's a big maybe) I'll look into getting a newer car in a  few months.

My task for today is to renew my license. I called NHDOT back in January and told them I was out of state and couldn't get back to renew, so they gave me an extension. Now my time is up and I've got money to fork over. Right now I'm going to take advantage of the one half day of sunshine (after five days of rain) and go for a walk.

June 2, 2012

A Rainy Saturday

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” 
- Bob Marley

It’s raining in New Hampshire today, which isn’t really abnormal for the state. Unfortunately the boys have kickball this morning, which I can’t imagine is going to be very enjoyable in the mud.

I don’t have access to internet at Julie’s, so I headed out early this morning and came to the library where I’ve been sitting working through my to do list. After living in the car for fourteen months everything I do is online. My banking, my books, communicating with friends and job applications. Without internet I’m somewhat cut off from the world.

One of the first things I did was check my dwindling bank account. I still haven’t had the belt fixed on my car, mainly because the guys that were going to do it make me nervous. I might end up going to my dad’s friend who would take longer and be less convenient, but I trust he’ll do it right and well.

I met with a woman yesterday about a nanny gig so I’ll begin there next Thursday. $10 an hour and only a few days a week so I can go on interviews for fall employment during my off time.

Alright, time to wrap this up and head back to the house.