The introvert had to really gear up for a party, but gear up I did. I did not let other, more intimate offerings sway me, nor sleep, nor massage. I freshened up and headed out, though not particularly excited about it.
Music, lights, and laughter welcomed us - along with friendly hellos at the door. Conversations, jiving music, and delectible food were all enjoyed. Knowing the dancing was coming, I felt the tugs in opposite directions; practical vs. the dance floor - and then everything shifted.
The music, that had been enjoyable, though a bit difficult to talk over with anyone who wasn't within a three foot radius. As the dance floor opened the decibels were turned up a few notches. Talking diminished to only what was necessary. The dance floor filled as did my head, with pounding. I must be getting older. I thought to myself as I gathered my things and headed back into the night.
Like Dee Gordon, I have decided that saying "thank you" is important. I won't be taking out a full page ad in the Seattle Times. Those I want to thank won't be know to the world, let alone primarily by only their first name, but that doesn't diminish on the importance - perhaps it even enhances it.
I'm toying with the idea of challenging myself to thanking someone each day or April, or maybe May - or my own observance of the month of Ramadan. I recently wrote a letter to someone that I had been drafting in my mind for years and years. I'm not sure why it took me so long to actually pull it out of my head and share it with them. Seems like a practice that would do everyone involved some good. I can't think of a reason to not do this. What are your thank you note rituals?
I don't consider a day in Bangkok complete without a foot massage. Remember that a Thai "foot massage" not only involves your feet. It is a foot, lower leg, upper leg, shoulder, back, hand, arm, and head massage - and I LOVE them. I have had more than I can reckon, often with slight variations, but last night's held a first for me.
The head is the last area massaged. You sit on what has been your foot rest, with you back to your massager. I get lost in the wonder of it all; scalp massage, pressure point, yanking on the ears, and then - what is happening?!
Taking two deep breaths I acknowledge to must that this is a move I had never encountered, but before I could decide if I was comfortable his fingers were in position and the quiet room went silent. One, two, three, four, five, six... I counted to myself. Before I got to ten he abruptly pulled his fingers from my ears, the quietness of the room returning, and a chuckle escaping my lips. A double dry willy - is that what that was?
That moment when you notice the sky that was pitch black with a hint of deep purple just a moment ago is now blue, tingled with violet 34,000 feet above the earth.
That moment when you realize that this airport is one you know well enough for a very efficient traversing; which bathroom will be empty, when to use the moving sidewalk and when to just keep walking, the duty free shop that will not only have what you need, but also won't put you at the back of the immigration line because you know to not take the first, or even second, turn off, and once you have the stamp in your passport and roller bag in tow you know the winding route and system for getting a metered taxi to your hotel.
That moment you doze off in the air conditioning of a Pepto Bismol pink taxi as it escorts you through the traffic of Bangkok.
"Next year I could teach poetry before memoir and then, those that want to write their memoir as a poem will have some structures in place." "After Spring Break I am going to take all pencils out of my room and see how it goes. I think it may be the plan for all of next year." "With a longer block I will be able to plan for more conceptual exploration of math concepts next year. I want to try Number Talks." I love this time of year, when the excitement for next year starts to build. It carries us through the tough days and reminds us that each year is a journey in getting better as educators. These are some of the comments teachers have shared with me just this morning! We are three days from Spring Break and instead of dragging through, punching the proverbial clock, we are watching students grow as learners before our eyes and allowing the wonder of it to propel our thoughts to what else is possible.
The wind is gusting, sending things tossing about; rubbish, hair, dust. The clouds are gathering, swallowing up the blue, dimming the morning light. The pressure is mounting; on the barometer and in my head. The inevitable is on the horizon. Rain will fall. Pressure will be released. But will it come before the migraine has a chance to do much destruction?
Perched on the edge of a chair in the elementary office (to use the printer that will print two sided) I hear, "Good morning, Mrs. Lonheim!" I look up to see a kindergartener's beaming smile as they pass by. We each wave and continue on with our day, knowing we will see one another in the afternoon. Seven months can make a humongous difference in the life of a child, I think to myself.
Yesterday I was the speaker for a professional group called Teachers of Young Children (TOYC). I titled my presentation, "Nurturing Young Thinkers". One video we looked at was two preschoolers who, at the start of the year, were in physical altercations with one another. The video then progresses, with text across the top that reads, "7 Months Later". The students are shown working together to problem solve; communicating with words and finding a way towards inclusion. School started seven months ago. I have seen so much growth in this particular child - socially, behaviorally, and academically. If the first seven months of school produce this much growth, I can't even imagine the journey that a lifetime of learning will take this child on.
I made a decision - Ichiro's final time on a MLB field is worth watching on a screen larger than my phone. I turned on the TV and mirrored my screen through the Apple TV, bringing the stadium in Japan into my living room. The grin on my face stretched as wide as the moments of the standing ovation and hugs among players, coaches, and management. My mind racing back to the first time I ever heard of this guy who will end up in the Hall of Fame. I had partial season tickets to the Mariners for a few years when baseball in Seattle moved from the Kingdome to the new baseball stadium. The single tickets I had to many games the last few years at the Kingdome weren't going to be so easy to come by and friends were eager to be regulars at the stadium as well. We loved our seats, loved cheering on our team, and loved our chances to be together. When I wasn't at the stadium, I listened to Dave Niehaus announce on the radio. One day he spoke, excitedly, about this new player that had come over from Japan. I remember Dave calling him "Death To Flying Things" as he made incredible outfield plays that game. I happened to be going to the game the next night and made a sign touting the new slogan. The title never stuck, but that didn't make it any less true. It was difficult to have Ichiro leave Seattle, especially to play for that damn team. (A-Rod left the year Ichiro arrived and the bitter taste for the Yankees had greatly intensified.) For some reason it wasn't as painful to see him in a Marlin's uniform. This is a story with a happy ending, not only did Ichiro come back to Seattle to coach, but he came back to play - and was able to retire, in a Mariner's uniform, in Japan; one more Hall of Famer, headed to Cooperstown.
"Mom, do you know which hole the baby comes out?" "Go finish getting ready for bed and we can talk about it." I am not delaying the conversation. This is simply my standard answer to the myriad of delay tactics that arise on a daily basis. She doesn't seem to have figured out my canned response since she asks, "Have you figured it out yet?" when I enter her room a few minutes later. Smiling I assure her I already knew. We discuss the three 'holes' and what comes out of each one, in the depth she is ready for. When I start to explain more about the uterus, she has no interest instead creating an alliteration. "Pee. Poo." [Pause] "Pupil!" she adds, quite proud of her wordsmithing. I introduce the term 'progeny', which she agrees is better - and then revisit which orifice is which, thankful for the opening for our conversation and praying they continue.
The front door opens and closes. "Who's here?" I ask. With a voice that is stronger than makes sense, as I hear the sobbing underlying the sounds, my daughter says her name. I am flying down the stairs, scenarios running through my head. Is there blood or damaged bones? Did the usual supportive group of girls turn mean? Did someone do something inappropriate? Seeing no blood nor any body part she is clutching, I wrap my arms around her helmet clad body that is gasping for air through her sobs. "What happened?" I ask. Through the nearly hysterical sobbing all I can gathering is something about the squash court and getting locked in and someone finally coming by to let her out. I sit and gathering her onto my lap, hugging and soothing as her breathing slows down and the sobbing subsides. She is safe. She is home. We can't immediately go investigate the scene as I have a four year old over for a playdate - giving him a chance to be out of his house. He's been cooped up with asthma issues, including several nights at the hospital. There is also a newborn at home, so a change of scenery and some attention paid just to him is helpful to everyone. "Can we send him home?" my daughter asks. Immediately weighing the needs of both children, I ask the four year old to go try three cars on the race track we have been assembling while I have my daughter head to her room - where she can close the door. I am fully aware that I have an only child; her need for the walls of her house to be her refuge is apparent. Once it is just the two of us I ask if she wants to go take a look at the squash courts. A vigorous nod as she quickly heads to put her shoes on answers my question. Her explanation of the scene is that the outside of the door has a handle. Once inside she closed the door to contain her ball, but when she went to leave she realize there is no lever on the inside, thus she was stuck. Crying and screaming for help, she banged on the glass until a worker appeared and let her out. We walk across the compound, hand in hand, her telling me about where she rode and parked her scooter, which door she used to enter the building - in essence, she is revisiting the events that led up to her terror. "He closed the door again, once he let me out," she says as I approach the horizontal bar that is the handle. Pushing down, the door swings in easily. I take a couple of steps - she remains rooted outside. Examining the inside panel I realize what has happened, test my theory, and then show it to her while I explain. "They can't have a handle sticking out on the inside because squash can be very physical, with people bouncing off the walls to make their plays. In order to keep the players safe they have made the surface flat, but if you pull this ring up you can turn it and it turns the knob." Her shoulders relax, as the tension drains from her body - there is a way out. She closes the door, with me on the inside, watching from the outside as I demonstrate the theory I have explained. As I open the door she steps in, trying for herself. We hug and walk home, hand in hand, talking about I'm not sure what.
How did I post late at night for all those years? How did I make it through March after March, living my day, on the lookout for small moments, and then find the energy to fashion words to the page before falling into bed at night? I was a successful "Late Night Slicer", but no longer.
Perhaps it was because I started in my 30s. Perhaps it was having a very young child kept me running at a higher rpm, always. Perhaps it was my husband working insane hours so my evenings were mine - with no chance of time together. Whatever it was, it isn't any longer. I still heighten my senses as a writer during March, knowing that I will be responsible for crafting something each day. The big difference seems to be that now, when the clock is pushing three, all I can think of is being 'done' - 'stick a fork in me; done', and heading home. If my slice hasn't been written, I'm not sure what - if anything - will show up on the page. This month started strong! I wrote before the day was done, but as a post for the following day - just waiting for the New York clock to strike midnight. It felt so good! The past ten days have been a struggle; not everyday, but struggle enough. The calendar says we've made it two thirds of the way through the month. It's time to dig deep and finish strong. Time to post this and drive home, thinking through the moment of my days, mentally crafting what I shall write next.
Rushing in I sat down. And then, in the middle of my business, look to the side - ready to gather the needed papers. Seriously?! Instead of white squares there is nothing, but a drab roll. This, when I know, for a fact, on the other side of the room there is a package of new rolls, ready to be used. Why is it so hard, for some, to replace what they use up?
Though I hadn't wanted to get out of bed, now that my workout was behind me I was glad that I did. Shower head pointing to the corner I count off the ten seconds I know it takes for the water to warm up. Fingers splashing in the spray, I count another five second, wondering if I had counted too quickly. It's still not warm so I count to ten again, the annoyance starting to creep in as I begin to realize the hot water is not functioning - again. The towel still on the floor from drying my feet I dial the gatehouse to report our predicament and then find something to put on, knowing the doorbell will ring shortly.
*** As the non-choreographed ballet plays out in the kitchen, the three of us dancing around the island and table, each working on their own tasks related to breakfast or lunch prep, I glide to the refrigerator. Opening the door I run through the bits I need to carry out my mental plans for each lunch box. I look once. Twice. Once I'm certain it isn't hiding behind something else I ask my daughter, "Did you eat the quesadilla for snack yesterday?" "Yes", she replied. "Bummer as I told you that was planned for your lunch today." "You don't understand ANYTHING! I was starving and had to eat something!" *** Trying to look presentable without a shower and having just had pre-pubescent anguish unleashed upon me I head to my bathroom. When I need to wash my hands the faucets response is naught. With a huge sigh I head to the phone to once again dial the gatehouse. "Now we have zero water" I tell the man who answers, hoping to find words that will translate well as hot water has just become of less concern than completely dry taps. *** Entering my daughter's room to make sure she will make the bus in the midst of her own rough morning I find her accessorizing rather than brushing her teeth and applying sunscreen. *** I'll spare you the rest of the details, but will say - I was sure glad to get to work!
The dream faded slowly, replaced by pain in my head. The room was pitch dark - the house quiet; some time in the middle of the night. Rolling over I grappled for my phone, with the press of a button a soft light showed 3:12 a.m. The pain still in my head, legs about to swing out from under the covers, I heard a rumbling. Oh! If there is a storm about to start that explains the pain in my head and perhaps I won't need to take anything - the pain will burst with the rain. I pad across the tiles to the bathroom watching the room briefly illuminate as lightning flashes across the sky. Back to the cozy sheets, listening to the rain drive down; rumbling turning to crashes, I sit in bed scrolling through Facebook. The storm and the pain roll away and I'm snuggled back into bed for another hour of sleep.
Sunny and blue sky Blue sky and sun Sunny, blue sky, few wisps of clouds Blue sky and sunny This sky is the same day after day after day But not today This morning there's fog Clearing later to blue sky and sun
"It stinks in here!" my nine year old declares as she climbs into the back of a blue sedan. Adjusting the driver's seat I respond, "It's the new car smell." and then, without a conscious thought continue, "It's the smell of freedom Mrs. Landingham". She looks at me, puzzled. "Go say it to Daddy. He can explain." She scrambles into the car next to us, delivering the line as instructed. As I am waiting for the message telling me my car is ready to be picked up - all the detailing completed - I recall the above scene, which took place on the showroom floor on my birthday. It has all happened fast, at least fast for Saudi. We decided we really like one model (and the price), but wanted it in white. White was located and driven over from Jeddah. It arrived, 11 km on the odometer. I presented my credit card; purchase complete. The paperwork was next day aired from Jeddah to Dammam. Within a few hours everything was processed. Insurance and plates procured, the car safe to travel by road to get all the protective detailing done. And now I wait. I let full scene with Mrs. Landingham play out in my mind, and then the rest of the episode, and realize - I don't want this to end the same way. (The least of those reasons being there is no place to reenact "Two Cathedrals" here!)
March is so packed with things that only happen in March - one of them is the Iditarod. This year is the 47th running of the race and another year in the dry spell of women winning - though not in women competing. Jessie Royer and Aliy Zirkle finished 3rd and 4th, respectively. I am a fan of both of these women and have followed each since their rookie races in 2001. I fully believe that one of these women will be the next woman to win - it just wasn't this year. Though the above may be interesting, it isn't a slice of life. It is a slice of my thoughts and some days, getting that on paper and being able to check off 'slicing' from the mounting list is the best that can be accomplished.
Surrounded by sand dunes is fun for playing. When those sand dunes were under the ocean 50 million years ago you can also find shark teeth. While searching for shark teeth, after a lifetime of training for hunting agates on the beach, you discover a desert diamond. But there's still loads of sand for playing.
Mini-Lesson ready. Teaching Point noted. Materials in hand. Anchor Chart planned. "Ring", the ten minute calendar reminder dings as I dash back to my office to grab the things I need. Heading up the stairs to the Middle School, reviewing the teaching point in my mind, I think about how much I love my coaching job. Walking through the propped open doorway I greet the hosting teacher, kids settling into their meeting spots. We stand beside the easel, each realizing the teacher we were bringing to this model lesson is absent. "Shall we save it for tomorrow?" She nods as I turn to the students. "You've just witnessed what teachers do all the time - they plan for a lesson to go a particular way and then something happens and they completely change their plan. You'll have to wonder what I am going to teach you and I'll be back a different day to share it with you." I say, smiling at the teacher, and heading back down the hallway.
It took me seven years to be able to slice before I went to bed, ready to post for the day when the calendar page turned in the EST/EDT time zone. Something magical happened on year eight. For ten glorious days my posts were written and scheduled the night before. None of the scrambling as the clock ticked down the final moments of the day - those slices were numerous and behind me. Now it is Year 8, Day 11 and my writing has stalled. Perhaps it is the enormity of today's anniversary that makes today feel like swimming in sand. I'm not sure what it is. I have gone looking for inspiration; in the moments of yesterday, conversations this morning, slices of life I've noticed, and other's posts. Though inspiration can be found, the words can't.
"Would you like a snuggle?" I have no idea where the tears well up from, I ask before they can overflow. She follows me to the living room where I sit on the couch. Every snuggle we have had since she was big enough to crawl onto my lap herself have been the same; I sit. She crawls/climbs on facing me with one leg on either side of me and leans in. Not tonight. As she curls up next to me, waiting for my arms to envelope her and my soothing to take effect, I pause. This is the moment it all changes. Those moments were before and this is what will be - truly no longer a little girl. It was a hard moment to swallow, but swallow I did as this wasn't about me. Everything else about the snuggle was the same, including the results and soon we were laughing and back into the kitchen to clean up from dinner. *** Her door handle began to turn and I looked up from my morning reading to see her, eyes still sleepy, emerge from her room. "Would you like a snuggle?" I asked, before I realized what I was saying and how this would probably play out. Wordlessly she climbed up on my lap, legs on either side, and leaned into me.
"ASA Sign Ups This Week" shows up in my inbox. I read through the offerings for the final round of After School Activities at my daughter's school and try to predict what she is going to want to sign up for. (This is a game I play to amuse myself.) "Once your jobs are finished I would like to talk with you about the last round of ASAs," I announce as she enters the kitchen with her lunch box. She perches on a stool across from me, eating mangoes and homemade yogurt while I go through the options for her grade level. This round she can pick two. I had guessed four possibilities and there were four she was excited about, but only three of the selections overlapped. "Will you read me the description for French?" she asked. U-11 Basketball and Drama are her first two choices. (#momnailedit) If one of those is full she decides on French. "French instead of Crochet Club? You keep trying to figure out how to crochet." "French would be hard to learn. If I know English, Arabic, and French it will be better for getting into college." says my FOURTH GRADER! What?! Keep the grin off your face. Realize she is expecting a response. What to say? What to say? "Oh, so you think you're going to college?!" (#momsarcasm) Eye-roll with a slight shake of the head from the nine year old. At least our expectations are clear, I think to myself.
Fastening our abayas we slowly made our way out of the room and down the stairs, feeling various levels of stuffed after our delectable buffet lunch. Arriving at the gate at which we had entered the school we found it locked with no way to open it from the inside. Two moments flashed through my mind as we wound our way around the edge of the campus compound, in search of a way out. Moment one: Several years ago there was a fire in a girls' school in Saudi. I had heard about it on the news and had several conversations about it as we lived in Jeddah at the time. Many females died because they were locked in the school and the males on the outside wouldn't let them out as the females were not completely covered. Moment two: En route to this location we had stopped at another girls' school. As I was talking to the guard, trying to determine if the school we were standing in front of was the correct location, or just a school with an identical name in the same city, someone knocked on the gate from within. I looked up to see the guard unlock a padlock - on the outside of the entrance. We did find the main gate and were able to walk out and around the block in the beautiful Saudi winter sun. The conversation was about how good it felt to stretch our legs, bask in the weather, and enjoy one another's company. These moments stayed with me, but I kept them to myself.
"Kristi knows where you are going," the head of facilities tells the driver, as I join the other teachers. I don't, actually, but Google Maps does. I open the app, type in the name of the school hosting the PD event, press 'start', and hand the phone to one of the gentlemen at the front of the bus. We don't have just one bus driver, rather three. One is driving us there now. The other two are along for the ride to see where they need to pick teachers up at the end of the day. Before relinquishing my phone, which is what the feeling turns into as I realize that the small bit of work I had planned to do on the 17 minutes Google Maps had predicted for our route, won't be happening. We teachers chat about this and that as we wind our way through Dammam. Turning back towards the front of the bus I notice that instead of following the directions Google is giving, the three of them are in a heated discussion - passing my phone around; zooming in and out on the screen. This is when I wondered, "How many male drivers does it take to follow the directions they have in front of them?!"
I'll say it again, this parenting thing ain't easy!
"So what do you think we should do differently next time?" I ask having closed the kitchen door. This was also after I returned from a short trip to the neighbor's house, which I took in order to depart from the escapade that had unfolded after dinner.
"I think you started it off really well."
I agreed with my husband on this point. I knew she was going to melt down thinking that Daddy's observation was anger and had worked to quickly translate so they could hear one another.
"But where did it go wrong?"
Neither of us could pinpoint the moment it had imploded, but we did come up with a game plan for the inevitable 'next time' before emerging from the kitchen. Let's hope we remember the play before the next debrief.
Cincinnati, Ohio on a chilly fall evening in 1998 I perused a book store in a mall, not because I loved books - which I did, but because the setting sun was too bright for the pain that was in my head. That's the first time I can tell you I had something that was more than a headache. I was diagnosed in 2000 and began my journey to living the best life I can with migraine disease. The doctor whom I worked with back then insisted that I take some medication at the first indication of an attack. I have had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of opportunities to practice my learning and yet I still have moments, like this one... As I walk from the bedroom to the laundry room I become aware of something. After a moment of pausing I realize the feeling all too well, but think 'oh, I can drink a bunch of water, not lift anything, and I'll be OK'. Why have I not learned that if I take one over-the-counter pill at that point I could probably nip it in the bud without the need to go to abortive medication?! Why do I still fight the idea of taking a pill as being something 'bad'?! Why do I think the outcome this time will be any different than all of the hundreds of times before? I must be a slow learner.
Pull out recipes from books, files, my mind, and online Get lost in the possibilities until time ticks by Flip over the shopping list write days and ideas Cross reference cupboards, fridge, freezer, and panty with recipes; ideas All ingredients accounted for pass off the list as he heads to the store
A few sips into my cup of tea, laptop open on the kitchen table, and I'm ready to setup the URLs for the new Slicers Kathleen sent to me for my Welcome Wagon folks. I can feel the smile on my face as I think about these folks who are entering this community, this experience for the very first time. I love getting to be a part of ensuring they have comment love each and every day. (In some ways year two can be harder because your comment love isn't guaranteed, but that's another train of thoughts.) Fingers poised above the keys, I pause. I stare at the wall, trying to think. I am obviously out of my routine as I can't remember the tool I use to keep track of the blogs I want to read. I can't even think of the last time I was in the habit of reading those blogs! I am not sure what I feel. Do I feel sad? Or do I feel I am not on top of my game by letting something slide by? If I haven't missed them, is that part of my life that used to be routine part of another season of life? As the emotions swirl I struggle to bring my focus back to the challenge at hand - figuring out where I keep blog URLs. I know the system works for me. I know I have a section for each year of folks in my Welcome Wagon group. I know I could navigate to each URL in another manner, but I am really not a fan of reinventing the wheel and this has worked for me year after year. "blog lists" <enter> goes into my Google search bar. Weebly is the first hit. It sounds familiar, but I don't that is it. <click> <click> "RSS" shows up somewhere on my screen and tickles some neurons. "rss feed app" <enter> A 'Top 10 Best RSS Reader' link is first. <click> Feedly! That's it! <click> Ugh! What's my password.
I am not sure how we have arrived at March already. I think Christmas break finished about a week and a half ago. I'm also not sure how this is my eighth March slicing. On the one hand it seems like I have only climbed this mountain once or twice, but on the other hand I can't remember a time before slicing each day in March. (I do know that it has become my Mom's favorite month as she gets the most posts out of me - "Hi Mom!") For those of you for whom this is how we know one another - welcome back to sharing each day of our lives for a month. For those of you for whom this is a new adventure - you can do it! Take one day at a time. Remember these are drafts - if you feel the need to polish each one to perfection you may not make it. For everyone - here we go!