Sunday, June 30, 2019

Bucket List Moment

Wednesday was the last day of school. Huzzah, it is truly summertime now! I know this because the weather is hot, the flowers are blooming, I'm off work, but also because every single time I lie down on the couch I fall dead asleep for at least an hour. My body knows it's time to recharge and rejuvenate.

This past week or so has been the Jazz Festival here in Rochester, which is an amazing event that we don't take advantage of nearly enough. We actually had one of our first dates at the festival, 13 years ago -- we went to see Susan Tedeschi and Etta James in the same venue where we saw someone totally different on Wednesday night. It was a night of good music, and new-date-hand-holding that makes you all squishy inside.

I was listening to NPR on my way into school the week before this one, and they said that JEFF GOLDBLUM was here, playing the Jazz Festival, and that he had a new record released: Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, the Capitol Studio Sessions. Because he's a jazz piano player, and unbeknownst to me, he's been playing a regular gig in L.A. for 20 years, but now he's touring. Also, have I mentioned how much I LOVE JEFF GOLDBLUM?

He may be 66 and married (to a 35 year old former Olympic gymnast no less) with two small children, and he's a famous person, a movie star, but he's also someone that I have pined after for DECADES.

His portrayal of Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park clinched it for me, because he was smart, and sexy, and weird, and a little bit of a dick (unfortunately, that was a thing I was into at the time). God that was sexy. And then Independence Day --  he was smart, and sexy, and science-y, and NOT a jerkface... Ahhhhhh.

My first boyfriend in college, who was my first serious long-term boyfriend, had a real problem with the fact that I found Jeff Goldblum sexy. He was horrified. He said, "But have you seen The Fly?" How can you find THE FLY sexy?"

I hadn't seen The Fly.

So we watched it, and when he's at his grossest, face-peeling off, recently-vomited-on-someone's-arm-and-then-ate-it worst, he turned to me and said, "Is he sexy now? How's he NOW???" which was definitely bizarre and also hilarious, because I am not crushing on THE FLY, I am crushing on the hot, sexy, smart actor who PLAYS the Fly. Duh. This had nothing to do with why we broke up eventually, but it should have.

Anyway, my lust for Mr. Goldblum became a bit of a punchline to my college friends, who didn't appreciate his quirky charm (and hot lanky body) quite as much as I did. But this past birthday, one of my friends gifted me with a Jeff Goldblum mermaid pillow -- I was just thrilled to have a mermaid pillow (those sequins that flip and are ridiculously tactile), but then she told me to flip it down AND HOLY CROW THERE WAS THAT SEXY MAN'S FACE!

Then, to find out just a month and change later that he was HERE, in my hometown, and there were still tickets available? I was giddy. At dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant last Friday, I shared this info with Bryce, and he MADE IT HAPPEN. We got tickets. In the orchestra section. Now there is a man who is confident in the fact that I find HIM sexier than Jeff Goldblum, that my celebrity crush does not mean anything for my attraction to him, at all. (Doesn't hurt that Bryce is also tall, lanky, science-y, smart, quirky, and sexy... albeit in a different way than Jeff...)

The concert was the last day of school, and I got all gussied up and we ate a quick dinner and made our way to the venue, 10-15 minutes early. Oh man, I wish I had known that he does an audience-meet-and-greet thing for about 30 minutes before shows, and people were getting selfies with him and he was doing question-answer stuff, and signing things... Once I realized that's what was happening we were trapped in the middle of a row and I didn't feel I could get up to run up to the stage and be embarrassing.

Because in my purse, I packed the tickets, and...

Oh, is that a hint of mermaid you see? YES, YES IT IS! My friend told me the good news that the pillow was a pillow cover, and I could take it off and fold it in my bag! With a sharpie! I was on a mission.

The show was great -- he is SO personable, and stopped to talk with the audience (some might say more than he played), and did some interactive stuff, and played jazz with those sexy long fingered hands... but I couldn't seem to get my pillow in his face. I am actually very shy in public situations, which is a weird paradox because if I'm comfortable with you, shy is the LAST adjective you'd use to describe me. I couldn't bring myself to yell or shake my pillowcase in the air until the end, and he didn't see it. I felt a bit deflated.

But then, we left, and I asked if we could go around back. Because I had a feeling that he would be leaving out the back and there might be one more opportunity to meet the man. We turned the corner to the back entrance in an alleyway behind Eastman Theater, and there was a semicircle of fans clutching various things for him to sign. JACKPOT!

We waited probably 20 minutes at least, with manager-looking people coming out and scoping the crowd and then going back in (which was torturous), and then his band members started to come out. We clapped and hooted for them, too, because people in Rochester are generally nice and appreciative (or at least this group was!). And then... he came out! The semicircle swooped in, and Bryce helped me be a bit more assertive, keeping his camera out so I could clutch onto my sequined pillowcase and slide my way forward.

So close yet so far away....

Gaah, closer! 

That's the back of my head with the shadow of Bryce's phone on it, I am so close but his manager's getting twitchy and he started saying "Oh, I need to go soon," and I wanted to shout, "MUST GO FASTER!" 

I made it! That lovely police officer behind me helped me get his attention (it pays to be nice and not weird, although I was totally weird)... I did show him that his face was on the front, but still on  Facebook people thought I handed him a couch cushion... :) 

JACKPOT! Mission Accomplished! 

Holy holy guacamole! I may have been creepily touching his arm and then I KISSED him on the cheek! The sexy sexy cheek!

Super blurry, but you can still tell it's me and it's him and he did not mind that I smooched him at all! 

So, I may have, in the middle of invading his personal space, MEANT to say, "Meeting you is on my bucket list!"

Instead, what did I say?  "YOU are on my bucket list!"

Which, honestly, is probably more accurate. Ha.

It was fantastic. I was thrilled, Bryce was thrilled for me (again, secure in the fact that THIS IS A MARRIED CELEBRITY AND THIS IS ALL FUN FANGIRL SHIT, AND NOT A THREAT TO HIM WHATSOEVER...), and so excited that he could make the evening happen.

And now, I have this:

He was clearly rushed, as this looks like some kind of brushstroke character, but I can make out the J and the separated F and "Glm," and I have picture proof, so it's now a(n even more) prized possession!
Ahhhh. Perseverance for the win. What a great start to my summer!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Every Year I Say Goodbye

The end of the school year is a strange and emotional time. There is a relief that comes with it -- summer is almost here (teachers have 5 more days after students are done) and I've survived another year in a profession that I love, but that takes all you have to give and then some. Summer is a necessary benefit, to un-husk yourself and build your stores back up so you can give it all to a new group of kids.

This year was challenging for a variety of reasons, but it was memorable and many of my students ended the year in a better place than where they started.

It was a year where a student said the most hurtful thing to me they could, but then grew into a better human. (Seriously...a student said to me, "You don't have kids, you're NEVER going to have kids," and I did not try to hide the fact that it made me cry so that I could show him the impact words can have on another human, and I told him just how painful it was to have that not work out and to lose that dream, and he was visibly shaken up by it but he NEVER said anything like that to me again, and he chose a hug instead of a high five at the end of the year. WIN.)

It was a year where a Mrs. T fan club sprouted in Math class, and I had a group of young women who decided on things to sell in my name (Mrs. T piranhas, Mrs. T gluten free bagels, Mrs. T jetpacks) in dry erase marker all over the white board. Random children came up to me in the hall to ask, "What's up with the Mrs. T stuff all over the board?" They sent me off to my medical leave with a large display of Mrs. T wares, and on the last day of school they requested a picture and one of the pieces of swag on the board was "Mrs. T Sadness."

I gave an award at the Eighth Grade Award Ceremony, and for the first time I can remember, when I went up to the podium a bunch of kids clapped and hooted "Mrs. T!"

A student who I ate lunch with occasionally gave me one of her art projects, a ceramic avocado mug (regular mug shape, but with avocado skin-color-and-texture outside and creamy green inside), and surprised me with a handwritten letter on my desk about how much she appreciated our talks and my awkwardness and how she was worried about me falling since I'm so klutzy and that she was going to miss me. Then she and her friend got me amazing Harry Potter sticky note bookmarks, and a 9 3/4 pin plus an "I'd rather be a mermaid" pin to commemorate my favorite embarrassing story from 6th grade (that I will tell another time, but it involves wearing a swimsuit in front of the class).

I signed a gazillion yearbooks, some with my own Mrs. T products depicted in them.

In an effort to get to the end of World War II in my self-contained Social Studies Class, we worked ALL THE WAY to the last day of school on research poster projects and a gallery walk, and when one student complained that "You are the ONLY ONE doing work anymore, you know that? EVERYONE ELSE is watching movies and you are making us work!" and when I said, "Yeah, I know... but it's because it's good for your brain and I LOOOOOOOOVE YOOOOOU," while reaching my arms out, he smiled and said, "I know," and gave me a hug. A HUG! From an 8th grade boy pissed that we were still working!

Another student in my social studies class was thrilled when I showed her a picture of horses in my neighborhood and told her I wasn't scared of them anymore (at the beginning of the year I shared that I was terrified of horses close up because they are hairy and ginormous, not realizing that horses are her #1 special interest and it was so upsetting to her that I had to change one of my truths in 3 truths and a lie). She asked, "Do you think I helped you get over your fear of horses?" and I said "Absolutely!" (even though if I'm hiking and a horse comes on the trail it will probably still terrify me). Then she suggested I get riding lessons over the summer, because when you're riding a horse YOU are the tallest one, and I laughed and applauded her logic, but said "Let's not get crazy now!"

I made cards for all my Resource students, with a personal letter on the back about what I loved about them and what I was proud of and how I can't wait to hear about their amazing futures, and a hand-picked quote on the front.  Every single student looked touched and said THANK YOU, even ones who were super surly earlier in the year and wouldn't get caught doing something emotional/touchy-feely. I got a hug that I feared was going to make me wheelchair bound from one young man who I swear, had we been able to have biological children, would have been like what I imagined my son to be. Every so often I have these children who make me feel that way, and it is bittersweet.

Through all this, I feel so very fortunate to have this career that I love and that loves me back. I may not have children, but all of these children are a little bit (and some a lot a bit) mine, for a year. I take classroom climate super seriously and want students to know that I love them, no matter what, even when they are acting in very unlovable ways (that's usually when they need the love the most). The end of the year marks a weird Groundhog Day empty-nest moment -- they leave, a piece of my heart leaves with them, and then I get an all new group to love and nurture and help to become better humans, next September. It's an emptying and a filling on a yearly cycle.

It's always hard to say goodbye, but now I go to graduation so I know I'll see most of them again, and they really do come back and visit. Teaching is a hard job, but a beautifully rewarding one.

Monday, June 17, 2019

#Microblog Monday: Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day, and since we had our local Father's Day event with my stepfather on Saturday, we had the day to ourselves -- out-of-town Dad phone calls but no physical obligations.

The day was supposed to be a sort of work day, with Bryce catching up on PhD work and me taking some time to get ready for the last three days (!) of school with students, and maybe a walk and some reading along the way.

Maebe, though, had other plans. She is still adorable, still a sweet old dame, but she is struggling to adjust and Lucky is making it very, very difficult. He stalks her and terrorizes her constantly, and she seems to always be running and hiding (although it has gotten marginally better this past week). But, we noticed that her litter was tracking and there were little litter footprints, so we switched to a corn-based no-dust litter and it stopped for a while, but then Sunday...SUNDAY.

She'd peed outside the litterbox, on the little mat and on the floor and we realized that the footprints were because she was peeing a bit on the litter-tracking mat, which was really gross. And the floor sustained some damage, which was really sad.

So Bryce had to go to Home Depot, and then pick us up lunch at Chipotle, while I watched Maebe as we figured out a solution to this litterbox problem -- a washing-machine tray meant to catch water leaks, that the litterbox could sit in and provide protection for our lovely, yet vulnerable, hardwood floors.

Oh, no: I sent Bryce to Home Depot. ON FATHER'S DAY. (Worse even than my having to go to Wegman's on Mother's Day morning to get brunch supplies!)

That part didn't bother him as much, though. It was when the guy at Chipotle asked him if he was bringing lunch back for his kids, and Bryce said he didn't have kids, and then the guy said, "But it's Father's Day! No kids? Not even any little nieces or nephews?"


"Oh man, that sounds SO LONELY! I'm sorry, man."

Bryce was so bothered by that -- he came back and was like, "OUR LIFE IS NOT LONELY! We don't have a sad, empty, lonely life at all, but that guy totally felt SORRY for me because we don't have kids! Why don't people get that we don't have kids, but our life is not empty and lonely?"

Great question.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: That's What Fear Is

 Last Sunday, Bryce asked me to come out to see something in my garden, and so I put on my flip flops and went out, fully expecting the deer to have devoured something they shouldn't have. He kept looking at the sky, and when we rounded the corner to my garden, there was a redwing blackbird noisily squawking at us.

"There it is, watch it! It was flying back and forth in the trees when I was working at the mailbox!" (Our mailbox got taken out by the lawn guys, so they came back to fix it but the cement needed to cure overnight so the last bit was Bryce's to take care of.)

"," I said, mostly thankful that the deer hadn't touched anything pretty.

I went to go back inside, and the bird squawked louder, and flew from tree to tree as I went down the driveway.

AND THEN THE DAMN THING STARTED DIVEBOMBING MY HEAD, and I completely freaked out and started to run. But it was that panicked, off-balance run where you can feel yourself tipping forward awkwardly and you just know... you're going DOWN.

I was out of sight from Bryce, and he thought I was laughing (I was crying and clutching my arm, which thankfully wasn't broken but was very, very bruised up), but then came to help me up as I sobbed in embarrassment, pain, and fear.

"It would have hurt less if you'd let the bird peck you!" he said.

True, true, but as it was coming a foot from my head, all I could see was it getting tangled in my hair, or landing on my glasses and pecking at my eyes, and everything was all Alfred Hitchcock inspired and I was certain they were all going to turn on me and I'd be a pile of shreds and feathers before anyone could stop the horror.

So I ran.

And Bryce tended to my wounds but then said, "that was a crazy reaction -- it was a little bird! That's so irrational." (Okay, Spock.)

That's where I said, "But THAT'S WHAT FEAR IS!" It's irrational, but no less scary! It's like freaking out at a tiny spider that can literally do you no harm, it's being afraid of swimming in the ocean even though you're more likely to get hit by lightning then munched on by a shark, it's being worried about killers getting in your house and so you double check all the windows and doors to make sure they're locked even when you have an alarm system... all of it has at least a little bit of irrational!"

And then I thought about all the times that I was afraid and I wasn't really in any danger, but it still felt terrifying. Exploring the resolution of living childfree not by choice was definitely one of them -- I was so afraid at the possibility of living a life without children that I was willing to throw myself facefirst on the driveway to avoid that flappy, screechy specter. I drove myself into the ground. It's easy to say now that it shouldn't have been so scary, because I know I'm okay now and I'm past the horribly-raw-howling-with-loss part, but to even ENTERTAIN the idea that I could stop the quest and start living life was every bit as scary as an attacking territorial bird swooping at my head. More so, probably. Like a shark with wings coming at me while I'm standing in a pit of spiders.

Fear is a good thing, to a point -- it's a survival skill and you can do some really dumb shit if you aren't afraid of anything. But that paralyzing, fall-on-your-face fear? While it is by definition irrational, it helps to reflect back on it and realize that some things aren't as scary in the rearview as you thought when they were flying at your head.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!