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I’ve been reading almost all day today.  This is the first time I’ve done that in over a year.  I remember the list time I was reading all day was last summer–reading through some of the more appealing Pulitzer Prize winners.  I haven’t kept up that habit this summer, opting for the easier task of watching movies and going to weddings. And then there was the beach house, at this point a holy ground of my life.  I think if I ever thought I was going crazy that place would cure me.

While I was reading, I took a chance to smell my left hand’s fingertips.  They smelled like the handsoap in my bathroom–lavender, I think.  Something flowery like that, at least.  And for a moment I wish they smelled like cigarette or cigar smoke.  I wouldn’t take hookah.  Too sweet.  I could do without sweet right now.  I could do with bitter and dingy.   There was always something about cigarette smoke on the tips of my fingers.  I’d always smell for it in a shower, scrubbing all over my body but using my fingers as the litmus test.

When I smelled the right hand, it smelled clean like baby powder, I slap it on the back of my neck on warm days, and pretend it does anything for the sweat.  I used an spray can air freshener this year in my classroom, something called Powder Fresh.  It smelled exactly like baby powder.  I used to spray it at the floor around the kid who had just farted, and that always eased my worries–but that smell always smells like tabula rasa, indelibly blank and unbelievably clean, simple, and pure.

I wanted to smell used, and thought for a moment I’d go buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke one or three on the porch to ease my worries.  Then I’d take a shower and make sure my finger only barely smelled like impending cancer.

This is a strange thought because I’ve only ever smoked about a pack of cigarettes in my lifetime, and only a few more cigars.  And lately, I haven’t smoked anything but hookah and even that hasn’t been for months. That was my bargain with myself–just hookah, and I’d feel healthy.  Unfortunately, I did feel healthier.

So I thought about drinking, but I only have a bottle of nice wine, and all my other liquor is either sealed in my old bedroom in Tallahassee, sitting in a closed store in Philadelphia, or corked up and staying that way here in my month-old apartment.

Drinking alone and smoking.  Those are my ritualized habits of self-destruction and vice–the activities that will rot my brain and blacken my soul and one day probably send me straight to Lucifer himself for a one-on-one.  If only life would be so cruel to make those a little more popular, I think I’d be a happy man.  But drinking alone sounds a little alcoholic, so I’ve only had one drink this summer, outside the aforementioned weddings.  And a smoker has become such a pariah that even the places that promote public drinking have banned it.

So I was reading in bed, and have been all day, but that felt far too normal and banal and abominable.  I twitch my hands instead and think about ways to help my brain buzz into unfocused splendor.

I’m waiting for the school year to start, to start teaching again, but all I can really think about is the inevitable vice that stress will bring.  I guess I’m preparing my to-be-tarnished soul.  I would watch Jeopardy, or Wheel of Fortune, but I’ve decided to forgo cable this year, and don’t really miss it.  But the ritualized gambling of game shows would, by proxy, take a load off the feeling I have to do something unhealthy.

In waiting for the school year to begin, I’ve been making worksheets and copying out pages of workbooks for the students, to be on top of my game for the upcoming onslaught of inevitable stresses on my time management, patience, and professionalism.  I don’t know, but something about a 16-year-old high school freshman shouting obscenities at me or another adult seems to stretch my civility before 8 AM.  Instead, I wrote six quizzes, a three day project, and a homework sheet this morning before noon.  I hardly didn’t know what to do with myself.

So it goes–the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from my reading.  Thanks Kurt Vonnegut.

I mean, sure.  There are those wonderful themes about racism in To Kill a Mockingbird–but “to kill a mockingbird” doesn’t really sound right in any situation and doesn’t roll off the tongue so neatly as “so it goes.”  It’s become a motto of me, not in the original literary sense of accepting death, but in the sense that teenagers are always going to be teenagers, and teenagers do stupid things and they won’t be happy about the punishments of it.

But I won’t be happy about having to always be around the suck of it, and I won’t always be happy about doling out consequences, and I won’t be happy hearing the troubles of children who think so infantilely for having had such adult experiences, but most days they aren’t mollifying so I find myself stuck in another year that promises to be just as interesting as all the rest.

With students coming, I seem to be smelling my fingertips and wondering why they don’t smell like smoke, and I check up on my stock of liquor, and I think about Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and the $100,000 Pyramid and even Match Game–for no good reason other than that seems to be the show I watched most when I was home in high school and had the time to flip the channel to the Game Show Network.

All the while I try to imagine nothing.

So it goes.

I bought Phoenix’s It’s Never Been Like That a year late.  When I graduated from college at the beginning of May, I found myself, for the first time, subletting my apartment for the summer, packing up all of my worldly possessions from college, and driving back home for the last time.   The album came out in 2006.   I picked it up in 2007, about one month before I flew to Philadelphia to begin my two year commitment to Teach for America.

It’s Never Been Like That was that perfect fresh blast of soft and pop music I needed for the summer.  I spent many nights driving down the canopy roads and thinking about the choices I had made up to that point, the choices that had gotten me to being back home in Tallahassee before I started a job I had no qualifications for, a job where people just told me, “It’s so tough.  You have no idea”–all the while Phoenix was playing in the background.  (So was MGMT.  But what self-respecting semi-hipster indie-fan didn’t have them spinning all summer long?)  I waited in Tallahassee for almost two months.

Look out--look at, look at me
Calm down calm down I said to myself this time

The nervousness of my impending future/disaster (…it’s so tough…) played in my head.  It reeled over and over again.  Possibility after awful possibility played in my head as I permuted the possibilities of the future my decisions had led me to the former here and now.

Where to go I had no idea about it
Most of the people do, they're only doing just fine
I don't wanna stay in place no more, see
Ain't doing well, well, well, I'm only doing just fine

TFA Induction Location

Then, all of a sudden, I was in Philadelphia.  Phoenix was still playing on my iPod, and I was desperately listening to anything to calm my nerves.  I was aloof in a place where people weren’t allowed to be aloof.  I was in TFA.  As a requirement you are asked to be social all the time, to participate, to be active, to meet people, to schmooze, to engage, to question, to discern, and to do a whole host of other verbs.  I walked in the crowd, headphones in.  No clue where I was going, but confident the group would get me to where I needed to go.

   Second to none, I wouldn't seriously get involved in a thing
   Bored of all the talking, you know it didn't change much
   I doubt your intentions are to make me feel any better today
   I even doubt tomorrow will be as easy as it was

I was ambivalent about TFA.  I didn’t exactly buy their sales pitch once I became a   member of their organization.  I doubted what they were really about, I didn’t want to get involved with them much, and it seemed as though the more I rejected them, the more they rejected me.  (NOTE:  This is only tacitly true.  Once I, later, began accepting them, they became more accepting of me.)

It started all in early September
When my godgiven little became a lot older

The rest, as I shall say, is history.  Last September came and went, and here I am a year older.  Phoenix is still with me.   And now they have a new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, to sustain me and relate to my life.  When the lead singer Mars hits it, he hits it right.

The question is, which lyrics will define this year?

Your life will never be as bad as this movie.  And you can be happy about that.  Unfortunately, your life will never be as awesome as this movie.  Which sucks, but it’s reality.  Neither do you have the tragedy of living near or having to talk with Larry the Cable Guy.  Nor, on the other hand, can you be as good looking as Bruce Willis or Milla Jovovich while living a life of fantasy in the near non-existent future where aliens exist (and apparently look like armadillos) and Chris Tucker is…Chris Tucker. I’m not sure where I was going with that.  I could have gone a lot of places with that.  None of them would have been good places, though.  Regardless…

Anyways, to get to the point.  I constantly compare my life to the movies I watch.  I lament the fact that my life will never (A) be as interesting or (B) successful as The Lives of Others, and sometimes  wish Danny Kaye would Court Jester his way into my world just once.   Ever since moving to Philadelphia, and probably because I ride my bicycle everywhere (primarily because  I’m too cheap to buy a car, and in no way does my concern for the environment dictate my decision but it is nice that it is a benefit) with my iPod headphones in, I have had the insane hope that one, as I am riding home from work, two rival gangs will bust out into choreographed dance/fighting a la West Side Story, or maybe even a little basketball choreography…whatever gets the youth off the streets these days.  By the way, I did not know that movie won 10 Oscars.  Since Return of the King, Ben Hur, and Titanic are the big 11 Oscar winners they seem to get all the attention, but 10 Oscars is a darn impressive feat.  And until rewatching that YouTube clip, had never noticed that Bernardo wore Converse All-Stars.  That’s just classy.  Or maybe everyone wore Converse All-Stars in the ’60s and I’m just a little young to know or understand.  Either way, classy.  I stand by my opinion.

(Ever since writing this, I’m going to start pushing the theater department at our school to do West Side Story as the spring musical.  This year they decided to do The Wiz.  I’m ambivalent.  The Wiz is apparently done every year at one of the middle schools in Philadelphia.  I have a feeling it’s overdone in urban areas.  Personal opinion.  Although I have to give the theater department props for doing The Outsiders and moving the play from the middle of nowhere middle America in the ’60s to New York City in the late ’80s.  They’re good.)

I am constantly wishing the movies I watch pop up in my own life.  In case you hadn’t clued in yet, this is the MOVIES AS ESCAPISM philosophy.  This is what I believe.  This is why I particularly hate watching documentaries.  I don’t like the world enough as it is, do I have to watch it all over again when I get home?  (NOTE:  This movie is a rare exception to the documentary rule.  Moving on…)  Watching Hoop Dreams was painful.  Crumb?  Just unnecessary.

This is why I’m not convinced by District 9.  It’s a little to preoccupied with NOT allowing the audience member to hopefully ignore the fact that it is really about apartheid to allow the audience member to watch the movie without thinking.  I like movies that make you think.  I don’t like movies that do the thinking for you.  This is also why (but for a slightly different reason) I will never like the National Treasure movies.  The National Treasure movies, unlike District 9, just tell you the answer.  District 9, instead, hammers the obvious into you with a mallet.  Neither is very comfortable or easy to watch.

Clarification: Watching movies about the harsh realities of life is OK.  I don’t know why, but it is.  Watching Year of the Quiet Sun was much nicer than any factual movie I have watched about Europe post World War II.  It isn’t a happy movie.  It isn’t an altogether kind movie.  But because I know it is fiction, maybe it is easier for me to stomach and accept, because I know it isn’t reality.   The movie doesn’t have to be harsh to be hated.  It just has to be real.  Movies, to me, weren’t made to show the world.  They were meant to, at the most, mirror the world, echo the world, re-represent the world, meant to capture our shadows on the cave, not to show our true faces.

This brings be to the review of the article (a personal favorite): Sunshine (I’ll get to Solaris another day.)

I know this is really late.  I know this is two years late.  I’m going to start actually writing about modern and relevant movies when work allows me the time to go out to the movie theater and see relevant movies.  Until then, I’ll review old favorites.

This movie I think is quite wonderful.  I think it is quite wonderful because it was probably a movie made precisely for me.  Ebert got it right when he said the movie was made for nerds. But, it’s more than a movie for nerds.  It’s a classic movie in that it devotes nothing new to the entire subgenre of movies where a crew of people go into outer space, get on each other’s nerves, and grapple with the fact that they’re on a suicide mission all while trying to be both psychological and vaguely sexy.  It doesn’t add anything new because the genre exists solely for B-grade movies.  (The exception is Solaris almost exclusively.  I don’t like Alien or Aliens.  I’ll explain that one later too, I promise.)  I’m pretty sure this movie does not try to be anything more than the best it knows it can be–a B-grade movie.  This is why Ebert will give it a 3/4.   Because that’s all it should deserve.

Fortunately, it is more than that.  It is part Science Fiction, part horror, part drama, part diatribe.  It’s like an all style and no substance movie with a little bit a substance.  Not much, but just enough to be entertaining.  I won’t bother with the plot because the plot doesn’t really matter very much.   You’ve seen it before.  Until a certain moment in the film.  Then it switches genre with one fail swoop and moves into another type of movie you’ve also seen before.  It’s interesting to manage and understand the switch.  It’s not that interesting.  But it is interesting.  What’s more interesting are the visuals, which will always win me over storyline, although the storyline isn’t terrible.  It’s a joy to watch, the visuals will win any viewer over.

This, I admit is my major downfall as a moviewatcher.  Oftentimes I’m willing to allow my obsession with great visuals overtake my practical sense of plot, pacing, and acting, none of which is lacking in Sunshine.  Did I mention this is one of my favorite films.  I’m not sure why I’m trying to make it sound so bad.  It’s not.  It’s actually really good.  Give it a chance.  Put it on your Netflix queue.  I doubt you’ll be sorry.

If you are, let me know, and let me know why.  Like my students who all seem to think an opinion ends with yes or no, I will always respond in the same way: an opinion is no good without a valid reason.  Give evidence!  That’s usually when I start raving around the classroom like a lunatic screaming incoherently about the value of justification and evidence.  That’s when all my students stop listening.  Which is fine.  Everything is still fine.

I teach. Most of you, if anyone of you (whoever you are…I know you can’t see this but as I’m writing this I’m raising my eyebrows and sorta twisting my mouth and squinting my eyes to give the impression I’m a little skeptical there are people out there, and confused as to why any of you stumbled onto this disaster of a blog) know me, know that.  If you didn’t, now you do.

Not only do I teach, but I Teach For America (all big letter words these days).  And that’s how I ended up in Philadelphia.  Actually, the new leadership of my school asked the teachers there to write a statement of positionality about how they got to Boys’ Latin and why they are there.  The first round I was in a rather perfunctory mood and wrote the following:

  1. I was accepted to TFA to teach secondary English in Philadelpia.
  2. I was interviewed by and subsequently contracted to this school.
  3. I accepted, gladly.
  4. I will be finishing my second mandated TFA year this year, and hope to serve at least one more year.

Needless to say, some people in the leadership found that…shall we say, lacking a certain emotion.  So I wrote another one.  I don’t know why I did.  It was the above in paragraph format.  Four paragraphs.  Four actions.  They were underwhelmed.  I was annoyed.  So one morning I sat down and laid out the whole awful story of my life from playing in the ditches of Tallahassee, to the worst and best debacles of my teaching experience this past year.  They were happier.  And if they were happy, I was satisfied, and I got some weight off my chest.  All was/is well…I think.  Heather, if you’re reading this, let me know…

Work for the past year never really ended.  A week after the school year was done, I was working with TFA to help Induction for the new PhiladelphiaCamdenWilmingtonand90%chancethereisgoingtobeanothercityintheregionbynextyear.  The next week summer school started.  Right when summer school was just ending, freshman orientation started, and then I had two weeks.  Those two weeks were the longest vacation I had since exactly one year ago after Institute–remember that ridiculous teacher training camp.  It was awesome (kinda)!

Anyways, freshman orientation was miserable.  Wait, I take that back.  I was miserable during freshman orientation.  I figure it was a lot of things, but probably biggest was that I hadn’t taken “me” time in a year, and I need me time. (You know, the stay up late, drink all night, wake up late, eat out too often, watch too many movies, watch more TV, waste too much time, work way too little, pretend to do important things for an hour or so, but otherwise goof the day down the way you did–or should have done–in undergrad.)  That’s what I needed.  And I got it the past two weeks. Freshmen orientation was when I was apparently in the mood to write perfunctory lists.  I’m embarrassed.

However…

Refreshed and excited about the year I walked into work today feeling good, feeling like I wasn’t fooling myself, with the past behind me, a bit worried about having to teach through four hours without a pee break, happy that I have good co-workers, sad that I have an entirely new academic leadership team,  but confident in their abilities, more agreeable during PD sessions, less annoying to everyone in general, more focused on the idea of writing, confused about how really great movie get made, hoping I have the genius to pull one off one day, tired because I was still on undergrad time last night and around 1 AM thought I should go to bed, cursed myself the next morning (and by next morning I mean 5 hours later) for being so dimwitted, got out of bed, made myself a smoothie, rocked the earl grey, and got to school refreshed and excited about the year…

I could go on, but I probably shouldn’t.   So I’m not.

Now, the blog is definitely back.  Done and done.

We read a short short story on the origin of the word tantalize from the myth of Tantalus.  After we read it, I had them write a paragraph stating how they would have dealt with Tantalus if they were Zeus.  One students wrote:

“Of course, if Tantalus didn’t have snitches all around him he would not have got killed.” 

 

That’s life in urban Phila.

There are many moments when I love my studnets.  There are also many moments when I don’t love my students.  Today was a day when I did not love my students as much as I could have.  It was mainly their (not there or they’re!) fault.  However I keep thinking to myself that I need to hold on to the nice and hilarious things they do because I really do appreciate them sometimes.  I love it when they ask personal questions like

  • After I said “I have to go home…and make dinner.” –Where’s your wife?  Why doesn’t she make you dinner? (I love working at an all boys school.  Keeping sexism alive one future man at a time.)
  • Did you get the belt from the gap? Because my cousin has a belt just like that and he spent a lot of money at gap… (No Comment.  But it was from gap…)
  • Where’s your girlfriend? (How do I respond…?)
  • Did you just fart sir? (Maybe…)
  • Where you from?  What’s it like?  Did you live on the beach? (Florida.  Like Philly, only more trees.  No.)
  • Can I buy your tie?  I’ll give you five dollars? (No.  I paid 30.) 
  • What do you put in your tea every day?  Why you always so happy in the morning? (I take this as a compliment.)
  • Why you gotta play us Mr. W? (“Huh.”) I mean…like every time we say something you gotta be smart with us and say something back..like, that’s not cool… (No, probably not.  But it makes my life fun.)
  • Why don’t you curse like all the other teachers?
  • Where you get your hair cut?
  • Mr. W got that “got me some” smile today! (“Inapproriate.  Sit down.”)

To which I generally say: “Off topic. Are there any serious questions? Moving on..”

My school is just about to get its first white student.  First ever white student.  I’m thrilled.  For the first time the student body population will begin to reflect most of the deversity of the world.  We still haven’t had an asian enroll yet, but that’ll happen in 4-6 years. I’d put money on it.  That is if there are any asians in Philadelphia who aren’t UPenn grad students.  But that’s a small detail to be worked out.

Anyways, I hear the surprising news at work.  And it’s exciting.  Who isn’t curious how a white student will react in an all Black/Latino environment.  So when I get home I tell the enws to everyone.

“Guess what?  We’re getting a white student!?” 

And, to a house full of teachers who teach primarily Black and Latino it’s an interesting and exciting possibility: the possibility of teaching a white student.  Not because white students are any more well behaved or smarter.  Just because white students are not what we know.

As I relate my excitemen to my housemates, I mention to one roommate who teaches at the school he will be transferring from “We’re getting a white guy from your school!”

He responded, “Not the white kid?  He’s the only one we’ve got.  I don’t even teach him and I know who he is.  He’s practically famous for being ‘the white kid’ in school.  Man, how could you take our white kid?”

I respond with a small victory dance.  And the curiosity of what will come…

Man.  Teaching a white kid.  I never thought the day would come.

Should one be concerned if one’s country idolized chaos and destruction in its national anthem? I mean, the mildly logical fallaciousness of flag still being there as proof of the rockets and the bombs effectiveness and necessity I never really thought about before. It’s good to know I live in a culture that dictates destruction as the only form of proven form of effective defense. And we remind ourselves of that fact before ever sporting event, ever. It’s just people are too excited to get to the “Play Ball” part that they don’t even realize they’re getting indoctrinated into our culture of acceptable violence — not that there’s anything wrong with it. But they don’t even understand. Clever propaganda move, John Adams, clever indeed.

Regardless, the 4th of July in Philadelphia was great. A concert by John Legend with a guest appearance form Estelle was appreciated. But it was a wet and rainy night. Wait, maybe not rainy. Maybe drizzly is a better word for the situation, weatherly speaking. Which was annoying. No one brought an umbrella even though some of us knew there was expected light rain. While the rain was light, even standing under the trees to avoid the wetness wasn’t all that successful, so we left the show a little early and waddled our way back to the nearest SEPTA station, uncomfortably moist, probably molding, and definitely satisfied.

And, my camera has a really sweet Black and White function that I’ve been using obnoxiously. It also has a Sepia option, but that’s not nearly as universally applicable or artsy as the B&W selection. And I’m still having trouble figuring out what it does when it changes the color setting from “Natural” to “Vivid.” Exaggeration, that’s what. And it’s a gosh darn lie. Even my camera lies to me these days. It’s a gosh darn shame.

And about why I’m here:

Teaching hasn’t started. I’m still learning how to lesson plan. I still don’t know how to lesson plan, so I think to myself “The students won’t mind if I just lecture them the whole time without getting to read the passages I’m talking about right? Do you think they need to have homework? Because I really don’t want to grade it. Is it bad that I’m having trouble defining characterization, when I have to teach an hour + class about it? Hmmm…” Moral: I’m clueless. And not in the Alicia Silverstone way. More like the homeless man on the corner who’s talking to the trashcan he’s eating out of. Left field, (wo)man. Way out in friggin’ left field. That’s where I’m at, and until some sort of coherent system settles onto my brian, I’m imagining that my students are going to think I’m the biggest idiot, and then they’re gonna start not coming to class, and they’re not gonna graduate high school, and it’ll all be my fault. Seriously. The pressure TFA puts on me is so “life or death” (definitely partially true) that it makes me want to just fail from the beginning.

And the fact that there is this clearly defined level of “committed teachers” and “here for the fun, and I’m not sure how to do this whole teaching thing…” Guess which group I’m in. No wait. Don’t. Bad Idea.

So when I’m violently shaking during my first day, do you think my students will notice? Or maybe I’ll just pass out from not breathing, so then I won’t have to worry about it. It’s all in the planning, baby, and planning is what I suck at.

Go with the flow guys do not survive well in a TFA world.

I just received wonderful, but tentative news. I italicized “tentative” because TFA (of which I’m learning too quickly how to make easy fun of their habits) uses this word incessantly to imply the ever-changing nature of their — soon to be my — world, and hedge their bets on everything they say. Everything. They watch their words better than a politician. Which is a good thing, to be so careful in such a high-profile and high-exposure environment. So everything that I’m reporting on, everything that follows, is tentative, unsure, questionable, but fairly reliable…

Never in my life did I ever imagine that my experience with the Latin language in high school would come back around to be one of my most valuable assets in one of my most important interviews to date. No really, I promise it was. All of those darn spirit cheers at State and Nationals, all those tests (most of which I didn’t take at Nationals), all those crafts, colloquia, speech practices, practice tests, the nerdy friends, the great company, and the That’s Entertainments (both watching and producing) finally paid off for one great tentative chance. Because two weekends ago, for Teach for America, I went to an early hiring fair where I interviewed with about five schools all with completely different make-ups (middle schools, high schools, charter schools), and those interviewing were just as varied (lone principals, CEOs, department heads, in one case: several women who acted just like a firing squad and pretty much killed me on the spot).

When TFA gave me my interview schedule I quickly learned I was blessed to begin with because I had more interviews than most (apparently English teachers are in demand in Philadelphia–what does that mean? That there’s a crazy turnover rate for English teachers? That I’m screwed? Probably all of the above…) and I was going to be interviewing with not only three public schools, but also two charter schools (which are also public schools).

And one school that I interviewed with in particular I was given a huge pep talk about from everyone and their mom about how amazing it was and how I had to try really hard to do well in that interview because it’s basically heaven on earth…under the TFA definition at least. It wasn’t like they were putting any pressure on me or anything, they were just saying…

So I got really excited because one of the aspects of the pedagogy of Latin for the students, which aids in the students’ SAT verbal scores amongst other things. And, more than the school being a charter, or the structure, or the leadership within it, that was what I was excited about. Even though I would be teaching English, teaching in a world where all of my students would probably understand the context of saying alea jacta est just blew my mind. And made me want to teach there more than ever.

So then comes interview day. And I go through my several more than what most people got interviews which were killer. Going through an all day interview I find was much easier than this. With this process I had to constantly redefine myself for the goals of the school, and spit back out the same (relatively good) answers I had just given twenty minutes ago for the third time.

The closest thing I can compare it to was working the hurricane Preview day. For those of you who don’t know, when I was working as an Orientation Leader one of the sessions was canceled because the entire university shut down under threat of a hurricane. I volunteered to work in the morning (donning my bright orange polo and everything) to tell all the annoyed Hispanic families that had left Miami at 3 AM to make it there on time that they would have to drive right back because the session had been canceled due to weather threats. The major irony was that it was a beautiful sunshiny day. The worst were the families from New York and Texas. And, going through the motions, I was just putting on my fake smile and letting them deal with the distressing news, and passing off all the worst cases onto my boss without a second thought.

It was kind of like that. A ridiculously big smile for people who didn’t necessarily care to see it. Me being the completely inexperienced, looks like a 12 year old, kid from Florida with no “real” grasp of what the situation would be like. That’s what every interview was like, except with the really awesome charter school.

And, of course, the good news is I was just informed that I will tentatively be working at that school teaching 9th/10th grade English.

It was the most exciting news I’ve ever received. I literally gasped out loud as I stared at the email.

Then I wrote a really inappropriate “me” email right back thanking them in more words than necessary for the great news. This has really been the first time I’ve thought that this adventure could be a manageable prospect. And I couldn’t be happier.

I realize that I completely forgot to update about my weekend in Philly. I’m going to consider this my first weekend in Philly considering the first time I was there was with the fencing team which involved running up the Rocky steps, and then huddling in Temple for the rest of the weekend while our players slowly got cut round after round. So, I’m just going to start over…now…pretend I’ve never been.

Unlike that disastrous first time I flew to Paris all by myself and couldn’t figure how to do anything right and six hours later ended up at my apartment, this trip was comparatively uneventful. I landed, I picked up my luggage, and I got on the shuttle (only $10) and got to the hotel to nap before the really subpar pizza that TFA served arrived. I was out of it in a major way, considering my sleep schedule of 4AM-12PM was interrupted by this “professional” weekend. But, oh well, I got over it.

At the first night’s meet and greet the people were nice, and I like everyone I talked to the whole weekend. It was almost impossible to not make comparisons to everyone I knew from UF. There was a girl just like Blakely onl not as loud (I’m calling here Blakely Light), and there was someone, I kid you not, just like Jordan Loh with a vocabulary just as expansive and a posture just as politic. There was a dude who was a curious cross between Dan Hobbs (formerly obsessed with stocks) and Joe Schuessler (ran the Boston Marathon, placed in the top 70) which was weird considering last year’s living arrangements, but it got weirder because he ended up being the guy I was rooming with at the hotel, almost by accident.

And there were others but those people really stood out. While most people were from around the area, I was glad I wasn’t the only non-NorthEasterner. There was a dude from Cali, a girl from Texas, and there were even a few Wisconsonians around. (Joe: They have never heard of Mayville, or whore-icon, or Beaver Dam.) And there was a girl who went to Vandy, but she did not count because she doesn’t even drink sweet tea–I crime where I come from.

I got to interview with several different hiring committees, I got actually a lot more interviews than I was expecting, and I felt very blessed by the whole situation. Especially because everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and especially because I was the weirdo from Florida. After all the formality was done, I had dinner with MacKenzie which was great, because I was eating with exclusively TFA people, and it was just a little weird to be introduced not by my own name, but by “Hey, this is an ’08 here in Philly.” It felt so personal. But what was weird was people responded with “Oh, nice to meet you! I’m an ’07 so I’ll be around next year.”

This is going to be a weird culture to assimilate into next year. It’s also going to be weird because so many of these people have personality coming out their ears. But I figure I’ll manage somehow. Especially after this weekend I realize that not everyone is crazy. Just some of them. Or maybe this process makes one crazy.

Who knows. All I know is I’ve been praying to the Lord God Almighty a lot more than usual.