Next Year

For all of last week’s angst, now that it’s Sunday I am seeing a little clearer. And now that I’m removed from the angst, I can write about it somewhat coherently.

My teaching assignment is changing quite a bit next year. After grad school, I was hired to teach English. Even though when I finished student teaching 11 years ago, my goal was to teach media and journalism classes, I was going to teach English. And so I had accepted my fate and grew quite fond of my cage.

Two weeks ago, my friend who teaches newspaper and journalism made the heart-wrenching decision to leave. It wasn’t an easy decision for her, and she is taking an enormous leap of faith. I am sad I won’t see her everyday, but I am excited to see what she does–she’s crazy talented and will rock at whatever she chooses.

A day after the news was public, I started getting the questions.

“Will you take newspaper? Do you even want it?”

I wasn’t going to rush into my principal’s office and beg for the job; I figured I’d leave it up to him to ask me.

Ask me, he did, and in the process reduced my English teaching load to two classes.

The best analogy I can create is extraordinarily hyperbolic, but here it is nonetheless. I feel like Private Ryan at the end of the movie, being dragged away from France so he can return to the U.S. and live a happy life.

Teaching Junior English is a bit of a battlefield these days, with all the state testing that happens to them. I told my principal that I felt my new teaching assignment was abandoning my friends and colleagues, and he empathized, but felt that I am needed in these other classes more.

So, next year’s schedule:

AP Language and Composition
English 11
Popular Culture Studies
Journalistic Writing
Newspaper

I’m excited and terrified, but I won’t be alone (a good friend is taking over yearbook and we’ve promised to pull each other out of the fetal position if it gets to that point).

Back to the poetry: this is one of my favorites. So beautiful.

Seasons and Change

Today was a melancholy day, and before I share the news, I want to be “back in my right mind” so I can adequately express my simultaneous excitement and fear.

(Don’t get too excited–it’s not a guy, it’s my job.)

But this poem sums up how I’m feeling right now–and I find myself looking more and more for those “moments that should each last forever…”

Another Spring
by Kenneth Rexroth

The seasons revolve and the years change
With no assistance or supervision.
The moon, without taking thought,
Moves in its cycle, full, crescent, and full.

The white moon enters the heart of the river;
The air is drugged with azalea blossoms;
Deep in the night a pine cone falls;
Our campfire dies out in the empty mountains.

The sharp stars flicker in the tremulous branches;
The lake is black, bottomless in the crystalline night;
High in the sky the Northern Crown
Is cut in half by the dim summit of a snow peak.

O heart, heart, so singularly
Intransigent and corruptible,
Here we lie entranced by the starlit water,
And moments that should each last forever

Slide unconsciously by us like water.

Appetite.

As I left my first Thursday piano lesson, I asked the mom if she liked Indian food. I’d seen a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala that I wanted to try, but I knew I needed to share because it would make so much.

She said she loved it, so I told her I’d bring some over, and she said, “Just come over for dinner!”

So I made dinner (sooooo yummy) and took it over. Her husband had returned early from a deployment, and he also loves Indian food. It was a fun couple of hours…and this recipe is so easy to make that it will become a staple in my rotation for sure.

It would be nice if dinner with friends becomes a staple in my rotation, too. I forgot how much I enjoyed that–before grad school, nearly every Sunday I had dinner with my friends Matt, Debbie, and Jen. It forced me to not grade or plan lessons, and was a relaxing way to start the week. I didn’t realize how much I missed those dinners until tonight.

Appetite

by Paulann Petersen

Pale gold and crumbling with crust
mottled dark, almost bronze,
pieces of honeycomb lie on a plate.
Flecked with the pale paper
of hive, their hexagonal cells
leak into the deepening pool
of amber. On your lips,
against palate, tooth and tongue,
the viscous sugar squeezes
from its chambers, sears sweetness
into your throat until you chew
pulp and wax from a blue city
of bees. Between your teeth
is the blown flower and the flower’s
seed. Passport pages stamped
and turning. Death’s officious hum.
Both the candle and its anther
of flame. Your own yellow hunger.
Never say you can’t take
this world into your mouth.

Piano Festival

I’ve been a member of the local Music Teacher’s Association for three years now, but I’ve never actually had students participate in their events. School or sickness always got in the way. But this year I was determined to do at least one event, so I worked with my oldest student to compete in the National Federation Music Festival.

Our competition was today, and I was worried. Thursday’s lesson was a bit of a train wreck. And when I asked (out of politeness) if she wanted me to watch her, she said yes. I was hoping she’d say no, because I get so nervous watching my students perform. Couldn’t stand watching my speech kids, either.

I’m half-asleep as I’m writing this, so I’ll just get to it: she played. No memory lapses. A few dynamics I wanted her to use were absent. I need to remind her how to pedal. And she was being adjudicated by a judge with very high standards. Standards that my student must have met, because she earned a Superior rating–the highest possible rating.

I was thrilled. So in honor of this first successful venture into a competitive piano event, here’s a poem about what music can do.

In Commendation Of Musick by William Strode

When whispering straynes doe softly steale
With creeping passion through the hart,
And when at every touch wee feele
Our pulses beate and beare a part;
When thredds can make
A hartstring shake
Philosophie
Can scarce deny
The soule consists of harmony.

When unto heavenly joy wee feyne
Whatere the soule affecteth most,
Which onely thus wee can explayne
By musick of the winged hoast,
Whose layes wee think
Make starres to winke,
Philosophie
Can scarce deny
Our soules consist of harmony.

O lull mee, lull mee, charming ayre,
My senses rock with wonder sweete;
Like snowe on wooll thy fallings are,
Soft, like a spiritts, are thy feete:
Greife who need feare
That hath an eare?
Down lett him lye
And slumbring dye,
And change his soule for harmony.