80s Day

Overheard in the office:

It was 80s day at school, which fits nicely with my goal of bringing back the word "rad." I dressed in the appropriate neon colors, bright blue eyeshadow and pink face shimmer/lipstick ala Debbie Gibson, thank you very much. Two sixth grade girls were in lunch detention for applying fake nails during choir. One of them asks:

Student: Mrs. Hardy? What is the difference between bell bottoms and flare pants?

Me: About 30 years.

Horrifying thought of the day: How in the hell are leggings making a comeback???

Hope you’re having a RAD day!


Unexpected Exchange

It's true, some of my favorite kids at school are the ones I've gotten to know because they are frequent fliers and we've bonded over hours and hours of in-school suspension. Some of these kids share a side of themselves with me that not everyone gets to see. It helps that I'm not in front of a classroom of 30 kids trying to teach algebra. For instance, I know this kid who has a soft side under the swearing and outbursts, loves shrimp (he closes his eyes and talks about it like a little gourmet) and carries a picture of his brother as the wallpaper on his telephone because, "when I miss him I can just flip this open." But I was not in a million years expecting this exchange I had with him in the lunch money line this morning as he's handing me his check for lunch - he's chronically overcharged and having to stress about how to get more money in his account - and he's got three other middle schoolers in line behind him.

"Mrs. Hardy, when is your baby going to be born?"

"Oh, either in September or October so I have a ways to go yet."

"Is it going to be a boy or a girl?"

"It's going to be a long time before I know that either. Maybe in May?"

"It's just that I'm learning how to knit and I want to make it a hat. And if I have enough yarn left over I'll make you one to match."


wear a vest

When I was 17, I rode a motorcycle for the first (and next to last) time. As we started to go, I got scared and touched my foot to the ground. Pain. Excruciating pain. Essentially, that's what I've been doing to my insides since we "sort of" decided to "probably" move to Portland. I realized it was time to make a decision and commit to it, putting my energy into what I want to happen rather than adding to my list of things I'm afraid might happen.

So I've officially given my notice at work this week. It's kind of a weird feeling to be giving a six-month notice, but with all the planning already for next year, I wanted to give everyone as much time as possible to plan and cross-train before I'm gone.

There are some kids and people I'm really, really going to miss! For the most part, though, I'm looking forward to going back to writing.

We've been having this to-move-or-not-to-move debate for so long now that it feels good to have made a decision. Matt says he thought we'd already made it, but I was still going over the pros and cons in my head like a CD stuck on repeat. And then there were the Negative Nellys (some loving, others not so much) with their gloom and doom about all the reasons moving to Portland was a bad idea. And it's true, there are a lot of reasons not to do this. But we've decided. It's our next thing. So it's time to start packing. Again. I did mention to Matt that this will be one of those cards I play for the rest of our lives. As in "You're going to [insert something that does not thrill me here]? But I moved to Portland because of you!"

As with any public announcement now begins the commentary and advice. The first student to hear I'm moving to Portland had this piece of wisdom for me: "Wear a vest."


Picture Day

Preschool_class_pic

(1980 - you can spot me easily, right?)

The amount of tardy notes I got this morning citing "picture day stress" as a reason should've been my first clue that today would be a little chaotic.

My personal favorite picture-day related tardy note was "X. decided to give himself a haircut this morning." The handwriting was angry. The kid who sheepishly handed me the note was sporting sort of a mullet-mohawk.

Then came the call after call to handle picture day details. Here's a sampling:

Dad of student: Yeah, my wife had me fill out the form and I did it wrong. Is there any way you could get that form back from my kid and fill out B1 instead of C2?

Little boy walks into office with wild hair (think bed-head gets electrocuted) and says "I forgot my picture thing" I call dad. Dad says: It's picture day? Um. I'm half-way to work. Does he look okay? Me: um ... yeah. I hang up and usher kid to mirror, wet my hands in the sink and start trying to pat down his hair as the lunch money line grows. I can't wait to see how that one turns out.

Kid gets hit in face with football at recess right before getting in line for pictures. He comes in with dirt smeared all over his face and shirt. No call made home. Retakes are in October. The yearbook will show him as "kid who got hit in face just before pictures."

Overheard: (Recent middle school graduate comes down from the High School to say hello)

me: Hey! How's it goin' up there?

him: it sucks

me: Really? I thought you'd like being in high school, having more flexibility and all

him: Oh, it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than here.


The Longest Sunday

Do you ever get Sunday back-to-work blues? You know, you're going about your weekend and all of a sudden this feeling creeps up on you that tomorrow is a Monday. And then there's a little nagging anxiety, or a full-blown panic attack, depending on who you are. So for me right now, facing going back to work on Monday after having enjoyed this wonderful summer break is like having a perfect long weekend and this last week of summer is like the longest Sunday. So this Thursday morning at 10:30 equates to about 6 p.m. on Sunday, where you know you can't finish everything you thought you'd get done that weekend, but if you let go a little you could still enjoy a nice, peaceful evening. Or, you could destroy it by stressing and worrying.

I'm struggling to keep the angstiness at bay and just enjoy the next few days. But as my vacation nears its end, it's tempting for me to feel like I wasted it by not accomplishing everything that was on my "to do list". Honestly, though it really was more like a "to do manifesto." Okay, so I didn't loose 4o pounds, or write an entire novel or organize everything in my house. But I did: submit parts of my manuscript to an agent, write 1/4 of my first novel, read books, swam, learned that my bike actually does go up hill, ran a mile, made a funky-looking lasagna, tried some new recipes, organize a couple closets, served jury duty, spent time with friends, slept well ... and got refreshed to go back to work. I trust this year will be different. I love my job and am going to work hard at focusing on the positive things.


Summer Vacation: What not to say

When the fact that it's summer vacation for me comes up in conversation, I can count on the following comments: 1) Some form of a "well-meaning" insult like, "You suck. I wish I was getting paid for some vacation." And, 2) So, what are you doing with yourself now that you're not working?

On it's face, maybe not offensive. But let me introduce myself for those who don't know: I'm a touch sensitive. Just a titch. And I loathe feeling like I have to justify myself. The first comment pisses me off and makes me want to explain how a) I am not being paid for this vacation, these days "off" come out of my checks - every month. And, b) this time off still won't cover the amount of time I put in unpaid to do the job. As for the second one, well, that's not so bad except that the first comment has usually set me off by then so I feel defensive and want to say that "writing is working goddammit" But, since even I can recognize that, possibly, that would be an over-reaction, I just smile and say "Oh, I think I'll work on some writing projects and organize everything."

That being said, I do recognize that my reaction is more a reflection of my own insecurities, blah blah blah. And, make no mistake, I am stoked to be on break and thankful that I have this time to come up for air. I do not think school would be safe for children if staff didn't get time to recharge.


I'm baaack.

I'm baaaaaack. As I wrapped my sprained ankle last week, it dawned on me just how badly I'd lost my balance since last October. For those who don't know me, that coincides with the time I got my new job, (which I really do love). What I don't love is the fact that it took all of me and I let it. Now, I'm trying to think of it as an investment because next year will be better. Also, I'm trying not to be bitter about the fact that I earned eleven weeks of comp time that I'll never actually get. So, note to self: whistle blows at 4 p.m. GO HOME. And write.

As it sinks in that summer has arrived, I can feel my mind defrosting and my shoulders relaxing. I'm able to finish whole sentences and recognize the fact that I was nearing complete collapse. I don't think that will happen again. Since I so completely checked out of reality though, it's going to take some time to ease back into my life. So that's what I'm trying to do, take it easy ... one thing at a time. Well, that, and oraganize everything.


Be prepared to modify

SFortune_change_of_plans_1 In case you were wondering if God had a sense of humor ... to the left is the insightful/spiteful scrap of paper in my fortune cookie last Thursday. Below is a pictorial representation of Thursday's drama. I was on a footstool making an intercom announcement at work and then I was lying on the ground in excruciating pain. After a trip to the emergency room and visit to the doctor, I was home with my foot propped up with orders to rest. Right. While resting, I made Dscf2295a few to do lists. That's kind of relaxing. So, I may have fainted. Docs think it was "stress related." As one of them attached the heart monitor, he shared a nice little story about fainting goats. In his anecdote, I am the goat. Super. I think I'll take up yoga again.


Public School Ice Pack

Secretarys_day_bookJust a little pictorial of a day in the life of me as Ms. Hardy. This was given to me for Secretary's Day last week. By the way, it's one of my new favorite holidays until the Anniversary of my Oprah Appearance makes it on the calendar.

If you look closely, you'll see that this first-grader is all about accuracy. The thing I'm handing her is a Ziploc baggie with a Dixie cup of frozen water. In the public school system, this known as an ice pack.


Crazy Sick

It's been one of them days. Weeks. Months. Pretty much the only goal I'm meeting has something to do with keeping my job and paying bills. It's a process, right?

So, a quick post before I crash hard - I was so damn sick of arguing with kids all day long that by the end of the day, I swear to God that if a kid had come in to ask,

"Mrs. Hardy, can we go play on Highway 47?"

I would've said, "Yeah, sure. Hell, take a friend."

One of my cute little third graders came in because he was sick, but he was sure he wouldn't have a temp, he said, when he saw me reaching for my thermometer - a cool, new one by the way. It wasn't "that kind of sick" he explained. Then, he told me he felt like he was going crazy. I can so relate! So, as we waited for mom to come, I knew for sure that I was going crazy. Finally after the millionth time of herding him back to where he was supposed to be, I looked at him with an uncharacteristically stern expression on my face and said, "X, do you know what trying my patience means?" His eyes widened as he backed into the health room and sat down. He waited quietly for mom to come, just as she rounded the corner I caught his ear-to-ear grin.