On Friday night, I saw American Idiot. Towards the end, there is a musical number called "East 12th Street" during which the punk rock protagonist gets a desk job. He is clearly happy to be free of some of his former demons, but laments the oppression of the American desk job, chanting "Somebody get me out of here, Anybody get me out of here." The final verse says..
Isn't that what everyone wants? To be free?
I had my days of desk job lamenting during and shortly after college, feeling like I would never feel "free" in my ability to live my dreams, like that life was just so far away... but it really wasn't.
I basically have three jobs now. Let me tell you about my 3 jobs today.
Job 1: English/Drama Teacher
Today, I helped run our school's read-in event (students read all day) which this year included a book fair. I spent part of my morning selling books to students out of our school's teacher's lounge. I smiled inside as I listened to kids talk about wanting more than one book and cringed when their funds allowed them to only pick one. I smiled at the beautiful knowledge that the $10 book purchase was much more of a sacrifice for those parents than it would have been for mine, yet they still made it. We must be making a difference.
In the afternoon, I helped end the day with a reading rally where I stood on stage with the microphone and played a "Let's Make a Deal" style race-to-the-front game where I watched students climb over each other to be the first to show me "a book with at least 500 pages" or "a graphic novel" or a "war book." It was wonderful fun.
I rounded out my day with leading a somewhat discouraging discussion amongst my grade level colleagues on students within special populations in our school. I tried to keep my chin up and our conversation moving.
I closed up the book fair and headed off to job 2.
Job 2: Mom/Minister's Wife
I rushed home in time for Nanny/Grandma to make it to a dinner meeting. I arrived to see my kids happily playing on the swings in the backyard, but watched a complete meltdown ensue upon telling Vinny to get dressed for track practice. I checked on my recently planted vegetable garden and reminded myself to water it later. My husband rushed through the door with just enough time to change clothes and take Vinny to practice. I checked emails and browsed Facebook for a few minutes while Tiana watched Elmo. I see something that academic me will want to respond to later, so I make a mental note.
I went to start dinner and discovered that my plan of baked (okay, microwaved) potatoes and canned chili had been foiled by a lack of potatoes (how did I miss that?). After a brief moment of contemplation between take out or the grocery store, I dug for coupons and headed to El Pollo Loco. Ran into someone from church who called me by my last name, which means she probably only remembers that I am "Marc's Wife" and was trying to find a way to say hi anyway. I am not bothered by this because I am only 90% sure that her name is Lisa. I made small talk and introduced myself to her godson.
The food took too long, so by the time I got it home, I was rushing and Tiana was crying "Dinner dinner" which of course makes me feel like a terribly mom, but I took a deep breath and moved on. Tiana ate dinner while I made Marc a package to take with him to the youth board meeting. When Vinny got home, I sat down and ate with him and listened to him tell me all sorts of wonderful things, like that Cole brought a lightup yo yo to share today. I made jokes about going to sleep immediately, which Vinny did not get, but lead to some funny conversations:
"Hello! Mommy! You cannot go to bed. We have a baby here, and she is not going to take care of herself."
"No, Mommy, I cannot put myself to bed because I need your help to tuck me in."
"No, I cannot stay up all night. God doesn't want us to see how he makes morning, and that's why we have to sleep at nights."
As tired as I am at the end of the day, I would not trade these moments for the world.
Job 3: Academic Me
This is somehow my favorite and least favorite part of the day all at once. It is me, alone (proverbially speaking, most of the time) with my papers and computer, entering the ongoing conversation of academia and students' lives, as I do my Masters coursework (or subconsciously avoid doing, as the case would be this week), prepare lesson plans, and read and respond to student work.
Tonight, I planned to quickly prepare a powerpoint for my honors lesson plan, but to devote the majority of my time to working on my Masters coursework. My finals are due in 3 weeks, and I still have a midterm to revise. I am behind and feeling a little overwhelmed, so I reached out to my FB world for some support.
On an easygoing night (which so few are these days), I settle down on the couch with my computer to pursue this part of me and my life, but tonight was not moving very smoothly, so settle is hardly the word I would use. I sat in the bathroom, leaning against the wall with my laptop on my lap, while Tiana took a bath and Vinny played out back. I am constantly teaching Tiana "No splashing the computer," which is really rather humorous when I think about it. I return to the FB post from before, which is a former student commenting on a debate that happened in his college class that day. It relates very much to my current unit of study with my honors class, so I sent him a message to see if he would come talk to my class tomorrow.
Suddenly, I heard screams from the backyard, so I had to make a momentary decision and decided to run to the back door to check on my son. He was fine, although soaking wet. The sprinklers are on a timer. It was apparently time for Vinny to come in.
Thank God for smart students who stay nearby, Bryan is willing to come, so, excited about this addition to tomorrow's honors lesson, and I decided to start the Powerpoint.
Meanwhile, the FB world responded to my appeal with many reasons to think positive, which did actually put me in great spirits (not to mention provide much desired digressions from my work). I chatted with a friend from high school who currently teaches at a university up north. We got to talking about her courses this semester, which ironically sound a lot like entire classes on my current unit. This beautiful discussion ended in the sharing of some favorite articles that I decided to print out and share with my class. The topic relates to both information covered on their recent trip to a museum and to their next writing assignment, so I am grateful to have this expository text to help beef up their current study.
By 11:00, I still have not touched my Masters coursework. Of course, I did have great academic discussions, with former students, old friends, etc., which ultimately resulted in a beautiful lesson plan for tomorrow than involves college-level expository texts and a guest speaker.
Tomorrow will have to be homework day. (Although I am pretty sure I said that yesterday too).
Although fighting droopy eyelids, I quit the academia for the night to write in my blog, because writing is at the soul of who I am, and I have thoughts to process.
I think about tomorrow, which will involve a reader's theatre of Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a writers workshop, set painting, costume shopping, finding an audio means of teaching a student a British accent, and rehearsing the finer details of traveling in a pink candy boat and falling down a nut chute.
Yes, I think my take on East 12th Street would look something like this...