Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Putting Myself Out There

Reading Troy's recent post about his resume woes made me think about my own situation. After all, it really is all about me, right? You know I jest.

Actually, this week and next I am sending out resumes of my own. I'm applying online wherever possible, sending transcripts and letters of recommendation all in the hopes of getting a job. There is nothing wrong with my current job, though I do feel restless, overworked and increasingly burdened with administrivia.

All my efforts have one goal: to move out of the L.A. area and relocate to the Pacific Northwest. I have no idea if it will ever happen. But as I have posted before, I'm finally at a point where I can say goodbye to this place if that is God's desire. The application process is very unnerving. Re-evaluating my resume, writing cover letters, pouring over professional development stuff. All trying to sell myself as a good potential employee. Would I hire me? Yeah, I think so. It just seems weird to voluntarily make myself vulnerable to blatant rejection. And yet there is something regenerative about looking back at yourself professionally and seeing growth.

I don't know if school districts in the PNW would actually hire a teacher coming from the nation's most culturally diverse school district. I don't know if I'm young enough anymore to seem appealing to employment selection committees. I'm tenured, I'm secure, I'm chair of my department and really quite comfortable. Do I really need the all this stress that I'm putting myself through? Yes.

If I don't do this, I will always wonder what if. If it does not happen this year by late June, then my wife and I will take out a big freaking loan, add a second floor to our house here and start looking at buying a house to retire in in the PNW. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Be well all.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Burying The Dead

A student of mine died last week.

The funeral was yesterday. I could not make it. Scheduling issues.

We'll call him Antonio and he was only 16.

Antonio got sick in November and was admitted to the hospital for possible tumors in his lung. Initial diagnosis was there were benign growths in his lungs that were treated with chemo. As the months progressed he got weaker because of the chemo. About a month ago, doctors apparently found another tumor. This time it was in his neck and had to be removed. While the operation was technically a success, he was on life support afterward. He never came off.

Antonio was not a great student. He was funny, animated and well liked by many of his peers. A smart kid, but he usually had other, more interesting things going on than homework. He was a good kid. I liked him.

Smart and unmotivated. Like many sixteen year olds I know. The kind of kid you just want to shake sometimes and say "Wake up man, you've got what it takes, don't squander your opportunities."

And now he is dead. How is it possible that I can write with the words "sixteen year old kid" and "dead" in the same sentence? What are his parents going through? His ex-girlfriend is in one of my classes and she has been a mess. Some of Antonio's other friends are sprinkled through some of my classes and I'm not sure what to say to them. How do you explain this loss to a young person? I know that when I was this age I was convinced I was immortal, invincible.
Does something like this rattle you enough not to take life for granted or does it convince you if you don't know God that He does not exist because how could He let this happen?

I know that I have my own, Christian paradigm to comfort me in reconciling loss in a fallen, broken, painful and ugly world. But how would I help one of my students if they asked for help in processing this? To my own selfish relief none have asked yet.

Mortality is a strange thing once you are forced to deal with it bluntly. He was only sixteen.

I talk to many parents who are frustrated with their kids. They don't know what to do. Their kids won't respond to their help. I can hear the distress in their voices over the phone. Some are hoping just to get their kids out of school, hoping that the real world will help make them into repsonsible people. Antonio will never have that opportunity. His parents will never see his wedding day or graduation day for that matter. They won't be able to say to him on his 30th birthday "You know son, there were times in high school that we worried about you. But we are so proud of you for making good decisions as you got older and it blesses our heart to see you happy and successful in life." It will never happen for them. They are only left with this gaping hole in their heart and their spirit. A hole only God can fill. Please pray for the family.

My boys are sleeping. I'm going to go into their room and praise God for every breath they take.

Peace to all.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Just Not Part Of The Club

Super Bowl Sunday.

On this day every year I kind of feel like my Jewish friends at Christmas. Nice occassion, but I'm really not a fan.

You see, I abhor professional sports. I believe they are a symptom of what is wrong with our larger society. I have a friend who is a social worker. She saves women from battered homes and children from abusive parents. She makes 43,000 a year. Most athletes who make it big get millions a year for catching or throwing a ball or putting it in a net. But I digress.

Because of my disgust of professional sports and my childhood I never jumped on the sports bandwagon. Until age 12 I was a short, fat barrel with feet. You knew the type, smart and fat and always picked last for any team event at P.E.

Anyway, during those fat, formative years I never was active in sports and therefore never developed a taste for them that translated into adulthood. The problem is that men don't communicate well at all. I'm okay with that. Based on all that weird crap in my head on a daily basis, I'm not sure I want other men 'sharing' what is going on in their head on a regular basis. Women are better at this. They are better at most things. I'm okay with that too.

That leaves sports. In case you missed my association with sports, go back to the top of this post. Most adult men, eat, drink, smoke, play and live sports.

I don't. And on days like this I feel especially isolated. Tomorrow too I'm sure will be a great day as every male in my building Monday morning quarterbacks the game while I nod waiting to get to the bathroom.

I'm just not part of the club. It is a bummer not being able to communicate with your half of the species on the only topic we actually talk about. I guess I'll survive.

Peace to all.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Wonder That is Woman

I have always held a deep and abiding respect for the female of the species. But today I just kind of took a step back and really looked at my wife and really women as a whole and was in awe.

I don't know what triggered it, but it was cool.

My wife started student teaching this week. Working for free basically. She lesson plans and teaches like a ten year veteran. She is a natural by the way.

She gets the kids off to school in the morning because I'm out the door by 5:30 a.m. She works hard all day and then comes home to be the greatest mom and wife on the planet.

She puts me in my place whenever necessary. Sadly, this is often.

And she manges to do all this while being in pain everyday of her life.

Just to see the absolute wonder of how she moves through a day is astounding to me. She is but one of billions of women on the planet who do this and sometimes more everyday, in worse conditions. The instincts of a mother, the ability of a woman to multitask and solve problems before they ever even happen leaves me speechless.

Since becomming a father, I am more convinced than ever that if women rose up one day and took over the world it would not surprise me. It would probably be a better place.

I married up. Blessing and peace to all.