30 July 2009

"A Full-fledged Schoolma'am."

This week supplied me with two things I never thought would actually happen. The first is that my keys have, for the first time since I actually got a key, outnumbered the key chains I have. I have five keys now and only four key chains. What is frightening about those keys makes up the second thing I never thought would happen: I have keys to a school, the school alarm system, and my own classroom.

What the heck is this?! When did I grow up enough to have keys to a school?!

I feel very much like Wendy in Peter Pan at the end of Act One when Peter has just been wounded and the two of them are stuck on Marooner's Rock. Peter looks at Wendy and says "Do you think you can fly without me?" Wendy's instant reaction is "No! I'm just a beginner!"

Only the funny thing in this case is that, for the most part, and probably out of naivety, I do feel ready to teach on my own. It's that growing up thing I'm not ready to do yet. I like my Peter Pan fantasies, thank you very much.

I also feel very much like Anne right before she goes to college. She has a conversation with Gilbert about the various "well meaning" individuals she's come across in the days before they leave, each of whom have bits of advice for her, generally leaning toward "Oh, you're so cute and young and innocent. Have fun watching your dreams shatter!"

Well, Anne, welcome to the club. In the last few months I have had a plethora of well meaning people kindly tell me under no uncertain terms that my first year of teaching will involve nothing but shattered ideals, late nights, devil children, and patches of missing hair on my scalp. Each time this happens, there is generally a good deal of "knowing smiles" in which I can practically hear the individual(s) saying things in their heads like 'oh, she's so cute, I wish I were that young and innocent.'

Frankly I'm sick of it.

I GET it. I get that entering the "big girl world", particularly in my line of work, involves a certain amount of disillusionment and reality checking, but how is that any different from any other job? I don't want the pity of everyone in the world when I say with pride that I am a teacher. Nor do I think that "reality" is as bad as people keep claiming it to be. Why must "dreams" always be intangible and "reality" always be based on the lowest most miserable parts of life that we all dread? (And for that matter, since when do the last four years of my life not constitute as "real" because they didn't involve working full time?)

So take that, naysayers. I like my life, thank you very much. And what's more, I don't intend to hate teaching. I also don't intend to give up on dreaming. I'd be as good as dead if I forgot to dream every once in a while.

19 July 2009

The Adventures of Gary, Programme Seller/Photo Police

Once upon a time in a far off place called England, in a small town called London, in a theatre called the Criterion, there was a show being performed. This show required that ushers kindly direct people to take their seats. These ushers were also granted the notable task of selling programmes to their patrons for a mere £8 a book. This lovely, shiny book gave information on the cast and supplied a number of ads and photos that made the £8 suddenly seem like a waste of money, but it was the job of the ushers to ensure that those £8 were made and pocketed and no refunds given.

Most ushers did their job faithfully. But Gary was not satisfied with his job. Not quite. There had to be more he could do for the theatre, he thought. Yes, making the theatre money was important. The show could not go on without it! But Gary knew that the theatre was sacred. That the proper respect must be shown. He took it upon himself, then, to do what he could to preserve the sanctity of the lovely pink cushioned theatre.

So, dressed in his purple shirted uniform with his nicely shaggy hair, Gary would turn on his flash radar every evening and, at the slightest irregularity in light, rush to the offender and demand that the camera be put immediately away.

On one evening, however, Gary met his match. Gary met an individual not only practiced in taking pictures without flash, but also excited about the prospect of taking a picture of Gary to put on her blog to include with her story that she had entitled "The Adventures of Gary, Programme Seller/Photo Police" already in her head. She envisioned dozens of pictures of Gary leaping, flying over seats to put his hand in front of cameras. Abandoning his post by the door to soar over guests to teach them a lesson about nice buildings. Images of Gary's annoyed face as he saw a flash go off on the balcony above or the floor below, to which he had no access. It would be beautiful. Glorious. Hilarious. People would laugh.

But alas, the camera battery ran out, thus leading the offensive would be picture taker to decide that Gary was in fact Super Gary and had the ability to suck the life out of any person in the room who would go behind his back and commit such a misdeed while on his watch.

Gary, I solemnly swear never to cross you again. Or attempt to cross you.

10 July 2009

(Dirty, smoky place that it is, I can't wait to leave it. . . )

My overall assessment is summed up quite nicely by Fanny Thornton of North and South fame. Parts of Dublin were lovely, and other parts reminded me quite nicely that it is a city to be enjoyed by smokers, drinkers, and "loose women" so to speak. Nice little virginal Mormon women enjoy Dublin in a way that is unlike the way that most other people enjoy Dublin. It was a very nice city that I don't miss is all. If/when I go back to Ireland, I think I'll make time for some of the other cities as well.

The saga that is getting to Edinburgh would take several pages to do justice to, so I'll fill you in on the most important points and let you fill in the blanks:
  1. If you book a ticket for the 19th of July, you won't be able to fly on the 9th (Asenath may or may not have been left behind in Dublin overnight. No worries, she's here now.)
  2. If you put your hair up with bobby pins, you set off metal detectors and have to be searched (me.)
  3. If you put your hair up with bobby pins and you set of metal detectors and have to be searched, then you will probably also lose your ticket in the process.
  4. If you lose your ticket, then walk up and down the terminal, go to the bathroom, and continue walking up and down the terminal, then you will probably return to your chair only to feel said ticket slide down your jacket arm (. . . still not sure how that happened)

Point?: We're all in Edinburgh now and excited to go explore the city. With any luck, nothing else will happen and we'll all make it safely to Keswick tomorrow.

08 July 2009

"Umm. . . hi?"

Here's a quick funny story for the day.

Today was the "We've got to see everything we can!" day and involved a plethora of museums and busses and picture taking sessions. There are many gems of entertainment value to be had in these experiences (re: posing with the Oscar Wilde statue), but my favorite happened at the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art.)

We were just about to leave. I was still wandering down the hallway when Asenath decided she needed the toilet. I decided I'd go too a few seconds after she went in, just because public loos are kind of a rare thing in this part of the world. It's all about foresight. So I go in. I see two stalls and know that she must be in one of them, right? So I say "hiiiii." And go into my stall.

She doesn't say anything.

I think "she must not have known it was me, whatever," and finish my business. By the time I'm done, she's already outside talking with Shannon who is laughing.

"Asenath came out of the bathroom and said 'so this weird person came in and said hiiiiii to me while I was in the bathroom'."

Shannon looks at her and says, "Asenath, that was Joni."

So now whenever something strange happens, someone says 'hiiiii'.

Maybe you had to be there?

07 July 2009

Today's message is brought to you from the Emerald Isle

That's right. I made it. I'm not dead, I'm not drunk, and (although I'm certainly jet lagged), I haven't been dumb enough to get myself arrested or pulled over. Unlike the man in the car near Christ Church Cathedral who was pulled over by a couple of Policemen on horses. Most amazing thing I've seen in my life. Suddenly my career as a teacher seemed even less exciting. What is the noble calling of teaching youth compared with the excitement of a high speed chase on horseback?!

It's good to be back. I'm not competant enough at the moment to write anything incredibly philosophical, so I'm just going to say that every time I remember something I love about this part of the world I get a little more giddy. "Fruit corners! I forgot about those! We have to get one!!" "Oh, I forgot all about black currant juice." Little things. Mostly related to food.

We spent most of the day walking around to keep ourselves from falling prey to sleep too early. Thus far we've done well. I am proud of us. Lots of walking reminds me of the last trip which is good and sore feet remind me even more of the last trip which isn't quite as good but still ok. The hostel is cramped but friendly enough. Other than not having to pay for internet here, nothing much seems to have changed in the method of traveling.

Tomorrow's plan is booked: Try to make it through two or three museums, go to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, find out what the "Newman House" looks like, go look at the famine monument and Dublin Castle and, after that's all done, go pub hopping at Temple Bar and listen to some live music.

My general reaction to Dublin itself is fairly positive. It's kind of ecclectic as a city. I can't figure it out. I don't think it's a city I would want to live in, just visit. Parts of it are clean and "classic" as far as European architecture goes. Other parts are distinctly square and kind of retro. And there are so many people. They're everywhere. Thank heaven the driving part of our trip is going to be in Oxford and not here - Oxford doesn't scare me nearly as much.

Fast fact for the day: One of the walls in Christ Church is off by 18 centimeters (almost half a meter) because of a structural flaw. It's kind of funny to look at it and go "oh, that's a nice cathedral, it looks like most of the other cathedrals I've been in", and then look again and go ". . . wait. . . " Pretty funny. I'm not sure how well the pictures I took capture it, but it's been fun.

So there it is. Update number one on the crazy random college trip of a lifetime. We're all fed. We don't have the swine flu. We have a roommate but she's a she and she's Asian so she's been very quiet and clean thus far which is nice. I'd feel bad if some bloke showed up with a bunch of Mormon women to out number him.

04 July 2009

I interupt my regular display of Anglophilia to bring you a Patriotic display of affection. . .

. . . for the Muppets and all of their amazingness. Watch. Enjoy. I felt more patriotic at the thought that, if nothing else, I live in a country that provides me with entertainment as amazing as this.