Well here we are; Day 31 again. Like many of us I’m sure, the month looks daunting to me on Day 1. I still don’t know how I came up with 31 things to write about. I always hesitate to go back and read them because sometimes I think “why did I write that? So lame.” But I realize a Slice is not supposed to be great literature, just a simple narrative of my day. And I do really enjoy writing; I even like the challenge of coming up with something to say every day. It forces me to think about the mundane and ordinary in a different light. And often I find that there is a lesson to be learned or appreciation to be gained from something you didn’t expect.
So here’s to a year full of normalcy and finding the joy in the mundane!
Seeing the cranes at sunset is a popular activity in Nebraska. They spend the days in the fields eating leftover grain but as evening approaches they start to return to the river to roost for the night. We went to a bridge which offers a good vantage point for this. This is where I met Harold. He was sitting in a camp chair (why didn’t we think of that?) with some friends. He was friendly and started chatting with me. He asked me what I did and I explained that I was a special education administrator. Harold told me that he used to be a business manager for a school district. Turns out Harold had a hemorrhagic stroke a year ago. He was most certainly expected to die; not many people survive the severity of this kind of stroke. He did survive but it took him almost a year to recover. He tried to go back to work but could only manage two days a week at first. Unfortunately his boss fired him because she wanted a full time person in his job and he wasn’t getting up to speed fast enough. Ouch. He is only 59 years old so now that he is recovered he needs to find a new job. He also mentioned that when he had the stroke he lay on the floor of his living room for over an hour until someone from work came to check on him. He explained that he lives alone because his wife died 6 years ago.
In spite of all of this, one of the things Harold said to me is that you need to enjoy and appreciate every day because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Well we made it to Nebraska! This is actually the 48th state I have visited; one of the other reasons I wanted to come here. My goal for a long time has been to visit all 50 states. We traveled all over the country when our kids were young and we made a pretty good dent in the country. But we did not make it everywhere; there were a few states that we missed. Nebraska was one of them. The other two are Idaho and North Dakota. Pretty random but there are not a lot of major tourist attractions in either one. We may knock those off this summer if we decide not to travel internationally. The major problem I encountered today was a shoe issue. I love Sketchers; they are so comfortable and they are my go-to shoes when I know we will be doing a lot of walking. Tomorrow we are going to an air force museum outside of Omaha (Jeff’s idea, obviously) and I went into my suitcase to get out my comfy shoes so I would be ready for tomorrow. Oops. I brought two left shoes; one of each of my favorite Sketchers.
We left on our trip to Nebraska this morning. After not traveling for almost a year with the exception of one long weekend I realized that I have lost my touch. As empty nesters we have the luxury of being able to travel pretty much whenever we want to. I took for granted how good I had gotten at planning an itinerary, packing, arranging for cat sitters, and doing the errands that need to be completed before we go. I feel much more anxious about leaving the house, bringing the right clothes (I am an over packer) and planning the trip so that we get to do everything we want to do. The pandemic has been a pain in the neck but there is a huge comfort zone that I have been residing in for a year.
The beginning of Spring Break. One of every educator’s favorite days. I don’t know how the powers that be figured out so long ago how necessary it would be to have a break in teaching right around this time of year. But they did. They have probably saved the sanity of many teachers. And I love spring break, just like summer break and winter break. And long weekends. But I find that I am always happy to go back to work. I love the energy of the office and the school buildings. I enjoy getting to know all the staff I work with and figuring out what their strengths and challenges are. I like problem solving and strategizing with other team members. I love working together to determine how to meet the needs of children and seeing students succeed because of our efforts.
The thing I find challenging about the first day of Spring Break is acting like it is the first day of Spring Break. It’s always hard to slow down. So I am going to try and chill and enjoy this time off before it’s time to go back, which will come soon enough and that will be ok wth me.
I deal with a lot of parents in my job and as a parent myself I always try and give them the benefit of the doubt, because I know they are advocating for their child. But this week has been rough. I had two parents who were really upset about the decisions we had to make about the preschool’s return to school. One of our classes was too large so I emailed a mom to tell her that I would be moving her child to another classroom, something all parents had been told was a possibility. She really ripped into me, telling me that she would not be flexible, she would not move him, and that someone else’s kid should have to go. This was followed about two hours later by a parent who called me and complained about the fact that preschoolers are going for only four days when we return in April. This decision was made for logistical reasons, one being that we don’t have subs for IEP meetings on Wednesdays. She claimed that she did not care about IEP meetings and did not think her child should have to “suffer” for them. Hello, your child is getting free preschool four days a week.
Advocate for your kid? Absolutely. Be rude and demanding? Please don’t.
My husband is one of the most patient people I know. Not much bothers him. He eats whatever I put in front of him for dinner, tolerates any kind of weather, is unruffled by traffic and most things in general.
Except for technology. He hates technology. He likes it in a “can’t live without it” kind of way but if the least little thing goes wrong he goes a kind of crazy. He has spent the last few days trying to install a new printer. For some reason this printer would print from my laptop but it not from the desk top. And if you look at the menu, everything said “ready to print” and “printer installed”. It really was a puzzle. But not one that Jeff wanted to solve. He sits in front of the computer mumbling things like “I hate these f—-ing things.” “I just want to throw all of this stuff away.” I never see him as agitated as I do when he is in front of technology and it’s not working correctly. It is very satisfying for me in a way, because I am normally the impatient one but for some reason I am more tolerant of technology. So tonight I sat down at the desk top, went into a bunch of different menus, clicked on a bunch of different buttons and voila! Printer working. Damn that felt good.
We are actually thinking of taking a trip for Spring Break. It almost feels like a naughty thing to do. We haven’t left the state in over a year except for a long weekend in Michigan. So I keep thinking that going somewhere for a real vacation is bad thing. But, we are both vaccinated and with everything trending in the right direction (exception: Miami) it seems like an OK thing to do. We wanted someplace that we could drive to in a day and a half maximum and that we have never visited. Answer? Nebraska! That may sound crazy but there is a crane migration that happens every year around this time along the Platte River and it’s quite well known and supposedly fantastic to watch. Over 400,000 cranes stop at this same place every year to rest and fatten up for their journey to the Arctic. The pictures look amazing and I’m excited to see it. Of course I’m equally excited at the idea of getting out of the house!
I went for a walk after dinner tonight and on my way back there was a woman I did not recognize walking down my street. I live on a small cul de sac so I at least know everyone by sight. She was not a shy woman. She stopped me and said “I should introduce myself. I’m Lisa and Bob is my dad.” Oh. Everyone knows Bob. He is the curmudgeon who lives at the bottom of the circle. He called the cops on us once because my daughter’s car was blocking the sidewalk. Lisa told me that Bob has Covid and is in the hospital. He will then go to rehab and most likely assisted living after that. He wants to come home but that probably won’t work because he needs too much care now. His wife had a stroke and died in his arms back in November so that’s been difficult too. After I heard all of these things from Bob’s daughter I thought “Maybe I’ve been too hard on him.” Then she mentioned that he also can’t live at home because he drives all the caretakers away.
I have been going to physical therapy for a pain in my calf that I have had for almost a year. I didn’t do anything about it for a while because of Covid (seemed too minor and insubstantial at the time) but I finally couldn’t take it anymore and I went to the doctor. After an examination, X-rays, an ultrasound and an MRI they found…..nothing. I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who theorized that it might be sciatica. He recommended PT, which I have been going to for 5 weeks now. It has helped some and I hope that by the time I’ve got 8 weeks under my belt it will have helped a lot.
I find the PT setting to be a little society unto itself. I tend to see some of the same people week after week because I go at approximately the same day and time. But once in a while a new person enters the mix. You are usually lying down on a table doing some kind of exercise so you hear snatches of many different conversations. One woman described her vacation to Charleston two years ago and I thought I was listening to myself talk because we went to Charleston two years ago and did the exact same things as she did. A young girl comes in wearing Ugg boots, a sweater and a coat, which she never takes off, no matter what they make her do. There is a really young kid, maybe 12 years old and I want to ask him, “what are you in for”? And of course there’s Mr. Testosterone. He does everything as fast and as hard as he can. He talks loud and makes tremendous noises as he exercises. I only saw him once but that was enough. My PT is a very nice woman named Carla and we talk about the usual casual conversation type things; kids, the weather, our jobs, etc. The other day as I was leaving I heard her start a conversation with her next patient and they were talking about kids, the weather, their jobs.