Well, it's been a while. And there is no guarantee that it won't be a while again. I feel like writing tonight so we'll see where this goes.
The last few months, six months actually, have NOT been very happy-go-lucky at all. Yes, there have been wonderful moments but it has also been hard. Very hard. Maybe the hardest ever. Montana, so beautiful and tender in the summer, is a harsh mistress the rest of the year. Or perhaps I don't have the sort of tough, pioneering spirit that is required to survive here. Or maybe I just made a series of bad decisions, culminating in the point I am now at: Less one boyfriend and plus one (not entirely wanted) giant dog. Minus so much time and money and plus one empty room that no one seems to want to rent from me. I will not discuss the (ups and) downs further. Let me instead use this space and time to think of what I have gained. Maybe categories and bullet points are appropriate?
Experiences I couldn't have had or didn't have in New Orleans:
- canning organic beer (payment - beer of course!)
- cross-country skiing
- teaching five-year-olds gymnastics and a form of movement that could be called dance (if you're generous, that is)
- meeting a kindred spirit who arrived in Montana from Florida, not only from my state but my hometown and not only that but - wait for it!- who came straight from my old job at TacoLu to a job that we shared for six weeks this summer. These are the kinds of beautiful and inevitable coincidences that reassure me that the world moves in an orderly and guided manner.
- watching my first snowfall in the forest, walking through my first snowdrifts, running in snow, driving in snow, scraping snow....you get the idea?
- hunting and cutting down my first Christmas tree
Moving on to the more recent past, let me get to the point. Today I was teaching eighth graders and found myself laughing and having fun. That may not sound extraordinary but it was. Many times I enjoy tutoring and moments of subbing. I can't deny the awesome feeling of being greeted by former students with hugs. I liked teaching fifth grade last week and there are many times when I grasp a sense of fulfillment when working with a student. But today, I felt completely uninhibited, natural, "in control" of the classroom and I was having fun! I felt like I was doing a good job and the students were learning and it was fun! That's it.
I wish I could explain this better but I guess that's pretty much it. We read a couple of chapters of Tom Sawyer and there was one male student putting on a spectacular performance reading the part of Becky (imagine the page from 30Rock's southern dialect reading the words of Mark Twain). There was a classroom full of kids on the same page, literally and figuratively. There was collective laughter - with each other rather than AT each other. Of course they weren't perfect and they were testing their limits but only in minor ways like leaning back in a chair (until they fell!) or pulling a hood to cover their face. I didn't say I was the perfect substitute teacher, after all.
To top it off, a teacher at the school who I filled in for last week, stopped by my classroom afterwards to tell me not only that I was doing a great job and the students liked me (who doesn't want to hear that they are liked?) but to drop a very strong hint about a high school English position opening up next year at a nearby school that her husband is the superintendent of. This has been in the back of my mind all day. What does it mean?
Maybe the real question is, when was the last time I enjoyed my job? Shouldn't this be a normal part of my life?
Something to ponder. But not tonight. Tomorrow I am filling in for the reading specialist. Maybe it will be another great day.