Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Actual musings...

Life's been crazy lately. Fatherhood looms. And, honestly, I'm excited and scared and confused and questioning my abilities -- like leaving on a life-changing journey where the anticipation of leaving is just as life-changing.

Cool events lately:

-- watching the sun rise -- low scuttling clouds, colored from blood red closest to the low-rising sun to purple to faded pink on the western horizon -- Monday morning en route to Kirkland for substitute teaching.

-- I worked as an aide two days last week in Kirkland and helped Dustin ace his geography exam. He even identified correctly where Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia are. We used mnemonics to memorize the location of Lichtenstein and Luxembourg ("Remember: L is for the little countries, also Latvia and Lithuania"). Monday I subbed for the agriculture teacher and had Dustin again. He came up to me at one point and whispered, "I wish you were my aide all the time."

-- Going to Pecatonica forest preserve and checking out a dried ox-bow lake. The lake bed is dried, cracked mud, spongy underfoot, like astroturf, cracked into blocks, dank and fetid like the original gene pool from which we formed spines and rose out of the muck. Saw fish bones and huge clam shells, and on the way out sank up to my knees in mud and spent ten minutes extricating myself (take one step, sink, remove foot, reach in quickly-closing-over hole and retrieve shoe, put shoe back on, mid-air, place foot down again, repeat as necessary to dry land.

-- Running in the early morning and watching the squirrels jump about and play. The native Fox Squirrels, some of the biggest squirrels in the world, are even bigger as they store up winter fat. A lot of swaying bellies sighted on my runs.

-- Practicing idioms with Wendy Tsai, a woman from southern China who has volunteered to let me tutor her for my Teaching English as a Second Language class. Wendy's got enough facility with English that I can teach her without translation and she's ready to take on idioms. The first one I taught her was "schmooze." We're now in the food idioms, like "piece of cake," "mushroom," "pie in the sky," "tough nut to crack" and "in a jam/pickle." Wendy is so enthusiastic about learning. She makes this practicum project easy and fun.

-- Reading Shakespeare. Although I am not Shakespearian (not cut out for high drama), I really love reading the Bard's works. And I admit I haven't read much since high school, so exposing myself to his works now, in my more finely-honed adulthood, has re-introduced me to his genius. I could go on and on, fie, fie, fie. This semester I've read "The Twelfth Night," "Henry V," "Hamlet," and "Measure for Measure." Still have to read "The Tempest," though it's no longer required. I just want to do it for extra credit.

-- Spent all day last Saturday -- it was rainy, wet and cold -- reading the last 300 pages of George Eliot's "Middlemarch." I haven't given myself over to a book that completely since August, when I tore through "The Ice Master : The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk" by Jennifer Niven. "Middlemarch" was quoted in both papers due for my 19th C. British prose class.

I am going to apply for an aide position in the DeKalb School District. I'll start the paper trail as soon as finals are done. My class schedule next semester is three classes, all after 3 p.m. With baby on the way, full-time work looms. I'll probably work full-time all of 2006, which is part of my grand master plan, which is why I'm earning 27 credit hours (18 graduate) this year. Next year I'm slated to take nine hours in the spring, then clinicals and a methods course in the fall, more clinicals and methods course spring '07, student teaching in the fall. Spring '08, seemingly far off in the distance, I will have a master's degree and be certified to teach English, with a history endorsement (yes, I earned enough history credits as an undergrad to qualify for an endorsement, which means I can teach history classes too) in the State of Illinois.

Short-term my goal is to work a first or third-shift job this spring and summer and a second or third shift position in the fall. But, overall, work full-time all of '06 with a few side projects thrown in, like finishing up my Rock River adventure and going on a few long weekend hikes.

Substitute teaching is nice. The experiences help prepare me to be a regular teacher. But the work is too sporadic. I'm only working a couple days a week right now, which is fine, considering my schedule, but I definitely need more and regular work. Imagine that! A regular paycheck. Financial planning. Whodathunk?

Many other events happening right now that I don't feel like sharing, yet.... maybe later. Maybe not. Who knows? The Shadow knows.

Song: Bowling for Soup -- "1985"
Book: Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure"
Food: baclava
Emotion: Perpetual confusion and amazement over life's little miracles

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