I have found myself back on planes recently. This new (bigger, better, bi-coastal) job has meant returning to my old ways after nearly a year-long hiatus from the familiar slog from security lines to gate check to pure exhaustion. I have to admit, twisted as it may be, it feels good to be back at the old pace again, though maybe that’s just the comfort of returning to what I know. I am busy, after months of hanging on in uncertainty, and it feels good.
I’ve been boarding planes for other reasons lately too – bound for friend’s weddings and home for the holidays. We spent over a week in Chicago this year for Thanksgiving. Two weekends bookending family dinners, sister dates, pizza & Notre Dame nights with the H crew, Bears games, Michigan Avenue city light strolling, brunches with friends and one absolutely epic night at the Aviary with these crazy cats.
It was good for my soul to be home. To be with my family. To wake up in my old house and pour coffee in a Christmas mug and start the day. It didn’t hurt that my mother’s pumpkin pie was on the agenda that week as well. It was enjoyed for breakfast at least once, maybe twice. No shame.
As a gift to my parents, my sisters and I spent an entire day cooped up in the basement sorting through our childhood. The mess got bigger (scarily bigger) before the piles got cleaner and the relics to be kept were contained neatly in bins. But that was not before we’d died laughing (cried laughing even) at old art projects and school book reports, at ancient diary entries and pre-school letters to mom, at Natalie’s boxes of gymnastics medals, Andrea’s boxes of horseback riding ribbons and my utter lack thereof (do participation trophies count? No? oh, ok… ;). We emerged at the end of the day for pizza and a fire, the daylight having passed, feeling accomplished. It was a long time coming and finally put to rest. I think what they call that is relief.
It had been nearly 6 months since I’d been back and Chicago always makes me feel like no other city does. In a word: present. Despite the cold. It was a funny thing to be in such close proximity again to my origins, in people and in print, for more than a weekend at a time. Having recently taken a number of personality and aptitude tests for work (I love that stuff to death) it was amusing to see the evidence of my polar opposite attributes carried out in the flesh: highly structured / highly creative; highly strategic / highly tactical; highly outgoing / highly restrained. Well, those are my parents in a nutshell, each at an end of the spectrum, somehow mixed up in me. My sisters and I are often amused at how we’re at war within ourselves… whether to seize the day (and fly to Puerto Rico on a whim): my mom, or be absolutely practical: my dad. The push-pull is a conundrum we live in but I suppose it makes for a balanced approach.
It snowed when we were in Chicago and everything felt new again; first snows have a way of doing that I suppose. I watched it come down from Andrea’s bedroom window in her high rise through the early morning and into the day and remembered what it was like to watch snow falling on the cathedral across the street when we lived here (what now feels like years and years ago). I do love this time of year.
I love the Christmas tree in our living room, and the ones in the neighborhood peering out from open windows with their own festive lights. I wait all day for the light to go down so the lights can come on. Walking around has become a holiday hunting sport in the evenings: the lights strung up on balconies, the decorations on front doors, the Christmas cards stuffed in the mailbox when I get home. The other night we saw a parade of sailboats with masts lit up like Christmas trees crossing the bay. These are, hands down, my favorite weeks of the year. It hardly feels like anything should come after it at all, what a sorry month January always seems to be.
Just as we’ve gotten settled back into our rhythm on the West coast, we’ve got more planes ahead of us now. The theme lately is pack light and buckle up. On Friday night we leave for Wichita to spend a merry Christmas with David’s family in the heartland. Then a quick pass through in Chicago to see my grandparents in particular who are up from Florida, if only for a day. Then, believe it or not, we’re off to Switzerland to visit Nathan, Tanya & little V (!), try out skiing in the Alps, see a few more friends from London in Verbier for a wild NYE and then return to real life by the first week of January and of course the craziness at work picks up right about then. It’s going to be a race to the finish for 2013. But festive and full of people we love, which is pretty much the best holiday plan I can imagine. I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season too, wherever you are, whomever you’re with. I know these weeks are not always uncomplicated, nor all merry and bright, but from our house to yours here’s wishing you all kinds of love. xoxo2 months ago • 68 notes
Since the beginning of September, I’ve been spending my Tuesdays after work in Oakland. First I take a bus, then a train under the bay, then another bus from the coliseum for good measure. Nearly 2 hours each way by the time it’s all said and done. Man alive, it’s a haul, and lord knows I am beat by the time I get home, but I have to say, it’s worth it. Because what’s at the other end is a classroom full of 6th graders.
This summer I decided to volunteer with an organization called Citizen Schools that connects “citizen teachers” who have time and a skill to share with after school programs in underprivileged areas. I cannot remember the last time I was able to commit to being in the same place for 9 straight weeks on end, but I saw the Fall stretching out before me (before I took this new job that is…) and they needed someone to teach - no joke - blogging. Turns out that’s considered a life skill these days! Yeah, surprised me too. But despite my tacit turn around here lately, I figured that was something I knew at least a little about. So in September I started making the trek to the East Bay.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been back to a middle school or around kids that age. You forget just how young that is, what a burgeoning age. 6th grade. My goodness. They are boisterous and earnest and oh-so-defiant, but mostly just looking for a reaction, testing the boundaries. My first thought was to set them up with a Tumblr account, but it only took one week in the classroom (and seeing way to many google searches for images of Grand Theft Auto and guns) to realize unleashing them on the internet and vice versa might not be the greatest idea just yet. Give it a few years… Thankfully we found kidblog.org… a mercifully contained space.
I have to say, aside from the time I’ve enjoyed spending with the kids, one of the biggest take aways I have had this semester is a whole new level of respect for teachers these days. All of you out there leading classrooms everyday are AMAZING. I get done with an hour and a half trying to get 30 kids to focus, partnered with a real teacher no less, and am drained to the bone! How do you do this all day? You all are so impressive. Seriously.
A few weeks left, a few more class posts ahead. It’s been a good semester back in school.3 months ago • 54 notes