IMO: Life Cycles

I was surrounded. It was creepy.
Graduating students “bombed” my room.

Very few jobs offer a conclusive beginning, middle, and end to the year. The rhythm of the academic calendar is psychologically beneficial, and if I hadn’t made a career within it, I would have jumped off the plank a long time ago. Let me explain by showing you an excerpt by me right before a holiday break (Here’s the whole post if you missed it) :

“. . . I never wanted to be a high school teacher. I wanted to be a college teacher. I’m tired that I have to work in the trenches, dealing with obnoxious teenagers, to be politically correct, inspirational, and compassionate to all students every day no matter what inappropriate thing they say or do. I am that sergeant in war movies who answers to officers, some idiotic, some great, always a revolving door, the principals, and superintendents who come and go and meanwhile, my responsibilities compound, the acronyms multiply like rabbits. I can’t believe after 19 years, I have to do this for eight more years before I retire. What’s worse, the classes I created, devoted my heart and soul to were taken away and given to younger teachers. I’m supposed to be a good sport, but I am resentful. I already paid my dues. I feel unappreciated. I am steaming, and the bitterness takes root. Why didn’t my dream come true? My trajectory was the moon. What strange star is this?  And the dark irony in it all? I’m really good at what I do.” 

Today, I reread the words revealing my dour attitude and I’m embarrassed. When you are a teacher, it is like jumping off a high cliff into the riptide. To endure, the veteran teacher learns how to breathe underwater and ride the current. Obviously, in the quote above, the stress was getting to me. Just in the nick of time, a holiday break occurred. Whew!  I could regroup and adjust my attitude.

Most schools in America, especially on the East coast, resume in September after a healthy summer break. Out here in Arizona, we just went back to school. This past week was full of professional meetings, inspirational pre-service gatherings, getting organized, meeting the students, and beginning instruction. For me, a new year has begun. I’m happy to report I’m very excited to begin again. I have hope and ready to inspire and rock and roll. By winter, I’ll start to drag. After the winter break, I’m recharged. Pretty soon it’s spring break, and then after a month, I’m looking ahead at the calendar wishing for summer break at the end of May. In this profession, the pendulum swings back and forth and the force conditions my mood and my worth ethic. Students and teachers wonder if they can make it to the end of the school year. Of course, we can. Faster than we thought. Now the best part comes. Time. To reflect and consider and indulge in the hobbies of my life. The year is over. What’s done is done. Students graduate and move on. When the new year begins, you start with a clean slate. This is the cycle that runs my life.

One of the complaints I had last year was the indignancy I felt for key classes I had worked so hard creating the curriculum and then they were “taken away” and given to others to teach. That’s a problem when you give a lot of emotional sweat and brain cells to a project; you feel a sense of ownership. During times of reflection, I’ve learned I had to get over myself, let go of the ego, or the roots of resentment grow and I risk becoming a bitchy co-worker. My patience and tolerance falter.


Wir werden backen.

Anyway, I changed my situation and it changed my attitude. After securing my endorsement, I’m now the new German teacher. I’m having the best time setting up the best class ever. We have started to speak it and see it and say it and write it. We’re going to make homemade pretzels and have a proper Oktoberfest with kraut and wurst and (root)beer. We’re going to Bavaria in 2020. It’s going to be the best class my students ever had.  Ha!

The cycles of a year. Is yours measured by the seasons? By your job? By your family? By imposing your own cycle?

I opened my classroom and found this note. Lucky, aren’t I?

IMO: Restless

Time’s a-Wastin’

Jim told me that I must be feeling better since I’m in my head today–restless, impatient, and generally querulous. That he puts up with that is amazing. He said there were worse things I could be, and I didn’t ask what, so I sighed with relief the dark side doesn’t bother him. He gave me space, and I brooded all day. Eventually, I pulled myself out of my funk, but I admit I am weary of the questions. The rational me wonders why I am at this old age of fifty-five still acting like a school girl.

Remembering Dorothy looking at the hourglass in the witch’s den resonates deeply. Being content is the hardest state-of-being for me. I have accomplished a lot. I want for nothing, and I am surrounded by people who love and like me. Yet, all my life I have been antsy and chasing some goal as though my time on Earth was foretold and I had only a week left. Pursuing dreams has conditioned me to be never satisfied for long. It is a downright foible, in my book. A sin. I spend a lot of energy hiding my dissatisfaction. I find it difficult to stop wishing I was elsewhere or that if only I could snap my fingers and reinvent myself.

Most of you know I was seriously ill from January through March. Last week I was in the hospital again with a fever, and I developed blood clots. I was out on Saturday and back to work on Monday. Stomach injections, a crazy pace, students to keep on task–by Friday I was exhausted. The rest of this weekend was grading papers and trying my best to work on my novel. I watched a movie. I read a little. I slept a lot.

Sometimes I feel cracked. My head and my heart are separate entities vacillating for my emotions. While I love my job, my home, my family, and my life, I wish I could find a cave in Greece and hide out anonymously for some time in peace. If that happened, I know I would be bored after three days and long for the companionship. Ambivalence is my middle name!

I have heard it said that humans are intrinsically restless by nature, striving and craving for more. Do you believe that? Or do some who seem content have conditioned themselves not to ask for more, therefore what they have is good enough? Finally, I think people are hard-wired at birth. Maybe because my mind rotates like that out-of-control carousel in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, it is impossible for me to ever be content?

If you are content by nature, please, tell me how you do it!  What’s your secret?

Among the Living

Dear Friends,

I am finally home from the hospital and happy to announce the worst is over, and I’m much better now. Livers are fascinating organs. What happened? The random cysts on mine started to bleed. One cyst was the size of a volleyball. 2 liters of fluid tapped and drained, bile leaks, bile from my belly button, a stent in the bile duct, drains out of me, vomiting, vomiting, vomiting. No foods or liquids other than an IV for five weeks. That’s it.

The whole nightmare lasted for two months. The silver lining was the loss of 40 pounds. I hardly recognize myself. I am looking forward to losing that sunken look in my eyes. I feel bones instead of fat. None of my clothes fit me. I feel younger. Time for walks and build up of strength.

Thank you for your concerned comments. I’m hoping to get on the computer now and writing posts and reading yours!

Friendship & Love,

Cindy

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