Thursday, September 30, 2021

act like you don't see me

I was talking with one of my coworkers today, sort of connecting the dots to how we'd both ended up working at a college in a testing center.  

I knew she'd been a school teacher for several years, elementary through high school.  But then she told me she originally wanted to be a nurse.

"I liked science, and took the test, and was accepted into a good school, but I just wasn't sure that I could really do it", she explained.

So she tried the waters and earned her CNA certification.

"The first job they assigned me was in a dementia ward of a nursing home, and in a short period of time, it became a job I just DREADED going to".

It was enough to turn her off nursing school, and she ended up enrolling in an education program instead.

I had a similar try-it-and-see experience when I thought I might want to be a high school teacher.  I took a job as a non-licensed para at a high school back in 2017, remember?  Do ya?

I figured it was a good way to literally get my foot in the door toward being a licensed teacher and also a way to see if I'd like working in a public high school.

The short answer is, "NOPE".

I won't go into a detailed bitchfest of what I think is wrong with public high school.  And really, it's not all bad, it just was not my cup of tea.

I'm grateful for that job since it saved me from putting any more time and energy (and money) into pursuing a teaching license.

I remember one kid, Chris.  He was a senior who'd transferred in after moving from another state.  He was a bit of a "thug".  Didn't work very hard at at school, got into trouble for truancies and such, didn't care much for authority. But he had pretty solid attendance, probably to the disappointment of some of his teachers.

I worked in the study hall, and he would goof around in there while other students were trying to work.  He once told me that he didn't have anything to work on, so I told him I'd give him some math problems, which I did.

He worked on them for the remainder of the time and handed the worksheet back to me before leaving.  I looked it over, and he'd done it all correctly.  That was honestly a surprise.

Another time, he was again acting up, out of boredom I suppose - again having nothing to work on because his class schedule was ridiculously light.  I asked if there was something he liked to do that was school related and could be done quietly.  He told me he liked to write.  Specifically, he liked to write Rap lyrics.

"Great, write some Rap", I enthused.

"You wouldn't like what I write", he responded.

"No, go ahead, write whatever you want", I said.  But he still declined, saying it could get him in (more) trouble,

"Okay, write a Rap song about yourself, then", I tried.

To my surprise, he did.  To my bigger surprise, he showed it to me and asked what I thought

It wasn't nasty or filled with cusswords - not too many anyway.  He wrote about liking basketball - he'd tried out for the school team, but didn't have the grades to stay on the roster - and hanging out and coming up with Rap lyrics.  He wrote about missing his friends back in the town he'd moved from.  He wrote about his eye for fashion - he was a bit of a sneakerhead and liked hip hop style clothing.  The school didn't allow any bling, though.

I found it surprisingly good and thoughtful.  And maybe more surprising, he seemed to really want to know what I thought.

There was a pep rally in the gym one day.  I was already terribly bored with the job and just there out of obligation.  I noticed Chris in the stands among the other seniors.  He was trying to get into the cheers - how the different classes try to out scream each other at those things.  But he was off to the side by himself and didn't really know the different cheers.  

Another day in the study hall, another time I'd pulled him aside for being too rowdy, we were back near my desk, thinking of something he could do quietly for the next hour.  He leaned in and whispered,

"I don't really fit in at this school".

I whispered back,

"Me neither".


Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
5. Write about a time someone surprised you

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

it's a start

My thoughts while listening to other runners strategizing before the start:  "Geez people, it's just a fun run.  Chill"

My thoughts while getting bunched up at the turnaround: "Move it or move aside!  Sheesh, this isn't a Sunday stroll!"

My local run club had our first race of the Tortoise and Hare season last Sunday.  Weather was beaut.  It was a short fast race - 4K, so about 2.5 miles.  

Tortoise and Hare races are sort of "backward".  Instead of a mass start with finishers trickling in, T&Hs estimate everyone's finishing times, then we start accordingly.  Slower runners start first, and several waves of runners follow.  We are spaced at 30-second intervals.  If the estimates are accurate, we all finish at nearly the same time.

It usually works out quite well, the club's algorithm for predicting finishing times is based on previous T&H races and has proven to be pretty accurate.  My start time was 20 minutes into the race, and a few speedster waves started after me.  We were pretty bunched up by the halfway point and continued to take on mass toward the finish.  

The club does a T&H each month from September through March, supposedly to keep people running through the winter.  

Here's the start of my wave, all of us looking a little bored?  

It was fun to race again with a good turnout.  Next month is a 10K, just in time for Halloween.  Hopefully it won't snow.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

to hug or not to hug

It's been a minute since I visited my space here.  I decided to open up my tutoring biz for a little side gig income streaming, and it didn't take long for the requests to trickle in.  I took on three students before closing the request door again.  Nice kids, all.  Two local seniors, one online junior.  Keeping me maybe a little too busy.

One of the locals, I'm pretty sure, has ADHD.  "Slow down and focus, Betty.  FoCUs!" (her name's not Betty).  I've had ADHD tutees before, and they are a challenge.  Helps me sympathize and appreciate not having that particular disorder.

But I do enjoy the work and was worried about my brain turning mushy from not doing it.  Now that COVID restrictions aren't so limiting, I like having the option of meeting in-person again.  

I don't go to people's homes and instead meet locals at libraries or such.  WAAAY back when I first started tutoring for a test prep company, we were advised against tutoring in homes.  If we did go to a student's house, a "responsible adult" had to be present because there are scammers/ opportunists who might claim something happened that never did.

Personally, I think students typically do better if they have to get their stuff together, get properly dressed, and leave the house to meet.  Even meeting online isn't so bad since they need to have their materials ready in one spot and login to an account.

So scammers and opportunists aside, the handful of times I did go to someone's home, I quickly grew tired of students who didn't have their stuff ready, who'd maybe just crawled out of bed, sat eating a meal or snack during tutoring, interacted with their pets... yeah, no.  Not doing it.

One of my coworkers has also worked as an adjunct instructor at the college.  He told me about a female student who once came to him in tears, asking if she could do a make up of a test she'd missed. With broken sentences she explained having "a lot going on right now", and feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all.

He told me he interrupted her speech and just gave her a hug "because she really seemed to need one".

And I was thinking, "Ooooh, Steve, nooooo".  

I get that she probably did need a hug, but not from her college instructor?  Her older male college instructor?  

So it got me thinking.  I wouldn't hug a high schooler, but I have had college students who were grown ass adults and nearly my age and almost on "friend" terms.  Hugs though?  Female student maybe, men, hmmm, no.  

Steve thinks it was the right thing, so maybe it was.  Every situation is different.  Steve also says he has ADHD.  

Oh, look, a squirrel!


Monday, September 20, 2021

advantages of social distancing

Summer is winding down.  We're getting hints of fall, then we get hit with another day in the 90s.  But at least we don't get hurricanes in these parts.

One day last summer, I noticed a new sign on one of the bike paths, showing a "COVID Bike Route ", and I wondered, "What the heck's a COVID bike route?"

I learned that it's a bike route that is particularly wide so we don't breathe on each other too much while passing.  I'm wondering if someday things like these signs, chains of separation on buses, etc. will end up in the Smithsonian or in some COVID museum.  

...or will they just become the usual?

A couple of weeks ago at this same intersection, I pulled up behind a couple of middle-agers on bicycles - man and woman.  I thought I recognized the man right away as the guy we bought our house from.  The woman was probably his wife.

They're a nice enough couple.  I've mentioned that the house we bought was a rental when we moved in, and we ended  up buying it from our landlords.  So we'd known them in that capacity and had a pretty casual negotiation in buying the house.  

Most of our tenant dealings had been with the wife even though her husband was the sole owner of the house.  I found her very easy to get along with.  

The husband is also a nice guy, but there's just... something... about him.  Hard to put my finger on it.  He's a bit cartoonish, for lack of a better term.  Physically big and talks a lot without saying much.  But in a very friendly way.

So I approached them from behind as they were stopped at the intersection, waiting for the signal to go.  I kept my distance as I slowed in order to politely social distance on the COVID route avoid having to chat with them.  

Yes, admittedly, I hoped they wouldn't recognize me lest I get hooked in to a long drawn out chit chat of small talk.  Honestly, I would think they preferred to avoid that too.  It was a Friday afternoon.  I'm guessing they took the day or afternoon off of work to enjoy a bike ride together.  They didn't need a rental-tenant-turned-property-buyer to interrupt their "date".  

Plus, the dude was without a shirt, which I found a bit off putting.  I mean, the guy's a big man in his late 50s/ early 60s.  There's certainly no law against it, but shirts are our friends.  Add that to his inclination toward effusive talking, and I decided I'd prefer to avoid being recognized.  

Once we got the signal to proceed, I dingled my bell and made a wide pass of the couple like any old stranger on the bike path - hoping the helmet and dark glasses make us all look alike anyways.

Glad it was the COVID route.

Friday, September 17, 2021

no dark sarcasm

Last night, I was walking the dogs and could hear much football activity from the high school.  The school is less than half a mile from our house, and its stadium is THE stadium for the school district.  Each of the four district high schools' home football games and other events are held there.  

The announcer announced, the band played, the cheerleaders cheered, the crowd roared.  It all sounded very similar to when I was in high school several years ago - brought on feelings of reminiscence.  

I remember reading, somewhere, that our high school memories are usually so vivid because they're made during a time of big changes.  Although typically lasting only 4 years, high school takes us from awkward adolescence to early adulthood.  

What would a yearbook photo be without someone (not even covertly) flipping the bird?
Find  the Abby? (not flipping the bird)

I have no desire to return to high school or adolescence, but I miss certain things from that time of life.  

  • I miss having a bunch of friends at the ready to hang out with, anytime.
  • I miss the extra bonding that comes from competing on a sports team and performing in a band/ choir.
  • I miss making frequent measurable progress in school subjects.

Then there was college.  College could be a grind, and I wasn't as involved in "student life" at a big university as I was at my small high school.  I was an undergrad back when most students didn't own  their own computers.  We walked around carrying our projects on disks and hoping for a decent vacant computer in one of the computer labs.

I remember one night near finals when final projects were coming due. I was in a full computer lab around midnight.  The air was thick with anxiety. There were no other sounds but that of clicking on keyboards.  Out of the clicking burst a classmate, Mary, 


STEM students are typically rather quiet and reserved.  Yeah... Mary wasn't one of those.

But still, from those days...
  • I miss having a bunch of friends at the ready to hang out with, anytime.
  • I miss the extra bonding that (hopefully) comes from meeting new roommates and completing group projects.
  • I miss being focused on something that would (most likely) propel me to a professional career.

I recently started my coursework for a gardening program offered as an extension through the university.  I know so little about growing healthy plants.  A nice thing about this program is that it also provides information specific to Colorado growers.

I plan to use my acquired knowledge as a hobby and, among other things, do something with our yard.

All the courses are online.  I'm not "graded", but will receive a certificate of completion.  There's really no schedule, and I can work through the courses in any order.  I like the relatively low level of complexity and pressure and instantly related to this meme when I saw it:

Yeah, just gimme the basics

There are certainly things I don't miss about school.  Pressure and confusion being a couple of them.

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:

2. Write about what you miss most about going to school.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

getting clean

We've been watching Nine Perfect Strangers on Hulu.  You watchin'?  Good escapist TV, comes in handy these days.

I happened to catch the first episode, and it really drew me in.  I think the casting is super well done.  It deals with people at a wellness retreat - to become "better".  There are drugs involved, both as addictions to escape from and as to use for wellness treatment.  

So... what's the difference?

A friend recently told me that she's addicted to smoking weed.  She's determined to stop, not to get over her dependence, but because she knows the smoking is bad for her lungs.  She's developed a noticeable phlegmy cough.  

She says the pot helps to calm her thoughts.  She smokes before going on walks with her dog, and the smoking-walking routine is rather therapeutic.  She's tried edibles and infusions, but apparently she's developed such a high tolerance from the smoking that no other form works for her.  If something other than smoking did the trick, she'd switch in a heartbeat.  

I'll note that she is about my age, has a stable marriage, lives comfortably in a suburban home, has a good relationship with step-kids in their 20's, is productive at her profession, is very sociable and well-liked... 

She told me she's considering hypnosis to kick her habit.  She doesn't want to go to rehab because of the stigma of, "I went to rehab".

When she said that, admittedly, I did think, "Wow, rehab?  It's that bad?"

So I'm watching Nine Perfect Strangers and wondering what that would be like.  Would I cope okay for ten days?  With no connection to the outside world - no news, no internet, no contact with friends or family... no alcohol, no caffeine?

Sure, I could do ten days.   

I think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

oh, she's precious!

College football season is upon us.  I really don't follow college football, but I live in a college town, so it's difficult to not pick up on what's happening locally.  The university's season home opener was Friday, and it did not go well, so I've heard.

The CU Buffaloes - my alma mater - won their game ( GO BUFFS!) against... whoever they played.  I wasn't paying attention to that.

But what WAS on a lot of people's minds was the new CU mascot:  Ralphie VI.  Ralphie is a live buffalo that runs at the start of every CU home game and also the start of the second half,  It's rather exciting to watch - often more exciting than the actual football game for some *ahem*.

It's exciting because Ralphie is this huge mammal being controlled (loose term) by five handlers, or "Ralphie Runners", and directed by several others.  Being a Ralphie Runner is not for the weak, and one must try out and make the team.  

Here's a typical "Ralphie Run" for example.  Watch the runners.  Could you do it?:

The tradition's been going on for years, and there have been several Ralphies - Five to be exact.  Well, there is now a Ralphie VI, and she made her debut run on Saturday.

I didn't have a stake in the game at all, but I was curious to see how the newest Ralphie did.  Omigosh, she's so little!

I know there are some who don't like live animal mascots for college sports, but I understand that Ralphie is treated very well, like royalty almost.  

I can understand why.  

Hoping for many more years... and several more pounds... for Ralphie VI!  And football records?  

Yeah, whatever.

Monday, September 6, 2021

the mattress that you stole

Happy Labor Day!  Celebrating the "workin' man" today.  To me, it's the unofficial end of summer.  I was out laboring in what currently passes as our "landscape".  Suffice to say that we're tearing it down in order to build it up.  

My in-laws, namely Magnum's dad and stepmother, had been visiting since midweek.  They saw some sights around Fort Collins, mainly with Magnum, for a few days, then we got together in Boulder last night with more family to celebrate the FIL's 87th birthday.  A nice, rather posh, bash it was.  

On Saturday, we met up at the university's flower trial garden. Meego and Wolfgang, as well as Magnum's brother joined us. Lotsa flowers (pronounced 'flares' in redneck-speak).  It was a beautiful morning for it.  Some pics:

There were plenty of bees around, and I am allergic, but they couldn't care less about me or other humans with all that lovely flower nectar to be had.  

Then yesterday, off to Boulder.  Magnum and I attended and met in school at CU Boulder.  I've got many fond memories of the place but haven't been back much.  It was nice to visit, although the locale we were at was quite changed.  I wouldn't mind living there again, but these days, housing prices are quite ridiculous.  We could afford the back of a van maybe.

Dinner was at a swanky hotel.  (Lucky) Thirteen of us altogether.  I think FIL had a nice birthday, and I enjoyed visiting with the extended family.  Hadn't seen the stepmother-in-law's daughter and her family since the FIL's 70th birthday bash.  Magnum's bro and sis and our kids helped round out the baker's dozen.  

We've gotten together many times over the years.  FIL used to tear up the ski slopes.  Now he walks with a cane.  Was it really that long ago that Magnum and I, along with Magnum's siblings and stepsister, would travel to these meetups as college kids?  Now, we're the ones with the kids in college and beyond.  

My time in denial is running out.