Wednesday, April 29, 2009

oh, the joys of kindergarten...

this week i have come up against the epidemic bane of any elementary teacher's existence. head lice. those creepy crawly bugs that, once introduced, can spread like wildfire. we have done battle this week, and though the crawlies have won the preliminary battles, i will prevail!!

it started tuesday. i come back to school in the evening for a pta meeting and one of my coworkers informs us all that she found them while she was tutoring one of her students after school. bugs, everywhere, poor girl. anyway, the school gives us all lice shampoo, we tell the parents, and in the morning we check all the kids (as well as checking ourselves for the third time). everyone is clean. great. we take everything soft out of our rooms and go on with our day. then the nurse comes in the afternoon to check everyone again. all those kids we thought were clean, yeah a couple of them have eggs or bugs. unfortunate, but still containable. the teachers, according to the nurse, are fine.

apparently the nurse was not as well-versed in the ways of lice as we would have liked to think. i'm sitting on the bus on the way home, with ms. jenna behind me when i hear "oh my gosh, kim!" and feel her grab my ponytail. "are there bugs?" i ask, guessing just by the gasp and the tone in her voice. there are. and they're moving. jenna grabs the ones she can and throws them out the window while i call my vice principal to let her know i won't be coming in to school tomorrow.

and, mostly, i'm pretty calm. it's not until i start to be able to legitimately feel them that i start to get a little uncomfortable and wish the bus ride was a little shorter. it's disconcerting to have someone confirm that that itch you feel is in fact a small parasite crawling around in your hair. i do, however, wish i could have seen them crawling around in there. just out of curiosity.

so of course i go home and shower. and then make my roommate check my hair again. and i check hers. and we both check my other roommate's. multiple times. and we all can't help but laugh because we feel like little monkeys grooming each other. i had no idea when i got here just how close i would get to my roommates and coworkers. it's kind of incredible, really, how much we have learned about each other in such a short time.

at any rate, while the shampoo that i have seemed mildly effective yesterday, it is proving to be beneficial over time. i think i'm pretty much clean. i would check, but i'm still developing the eyes in the back of my head, so i must wait for someone to get home. for the moment i am just enjoying my day off and trying to figure out how to deal with the mountain of bedding and laundry in my room. it is times like these that make me really wish we had a dryer. turns out lice will survive a good washing, but can't take the heat. oh, china.

and perhaps this is one component of the reason the states are so anal about student-teacher relationships. i always assumed the caution about touching your students was a PC thing, but that is the main way that diseases spread. in such a big system, i can see how they would want to be cautious about it. that said, i think PC reasons carry more weight than germ-spreading ones. but this at least makes me feel a little better about life.

update: i am clean once again. the chinese lice shampoo proved to be very effective and i managed to boil my clothes and sheets in the sink, in lieu of a dryer. it was an interesting weekend. i'm glad to be past this hurdle. as one of my friends put it, i have now been hazed into teacher-dom. i think i'm legit now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


i experience deja vu at least once every few days lately...

what is up with the matrix and could someone please get on that?

update: according to one of my bosses, this means my life is going exactly to plan. which is interesting, because i was unaware of any such plan for my life at this point.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

to go home...

sometimes i think about what it will be like to go back to the states. right now i think that the people will seem very big. tall and wide.

i think it will seem very clean and open - particularly clean in houston and open in nebraska. and green. i'm excited for the greenness of lincoln. ooh, and blue skies.

i expect to experience sensory overload. which is kind of strange because there is so much going on everywhere you look here, it's constant sensory overload. but in a different way. here it is traffic and tons of people and lots of flashy lights that say things i can't read. at home i think it will be overwhelming to suddenly be able to read everything and understand everything everyone is saying. especially since i tend to read anything i can see and i've gotten very used to blocking out conversations here, since there is zero chance they will make any sense to me. maybe it will be more auditory overload. and to have tv and movies that default to english. summation: it will be weird to have english everywhere.

i wonder if blond and black people will shock me a little. especially black people. i've seen all of about 5 since i got here.

i think it might be confusing not to see asian people everywhere. i actually feel like that might be a little stressful at first.

i may experience attention withdrawal when i suddenly blend in eveywhere. and don't have 9 5-year-olds watching my every move.

in some ways i will be glad for traffic laws but i think i will also resent them in certain situations.

really, i'm just trying to prepare myself for a transition that will be more jarring than one would expect.

Friday, April 17, 2009

thirst quenchers

it's funny the things that feed your soul. such random, inconsequential things that end up meaning more than some of the most important. and you don't always know what they are. you find them out when suddenly confronted with one after a long absence.

for me, it's large expanses of wide open space. particularly a nice landscape. to me, this is one of the most gorgeous things in the world, even when i know it really isn't that impressive.

it's rock music. especially when played live by people who clearly love what they are doing. then it doesn't even matter if it's good.

it's watching one of my students read a new word on their own. or remember to use please and thank you. with each other.

it's a good hug from a good friend.

it's watching fight club.

it's a friendly interaction with a complete stranger, despite a mile-high language barrier.

it's sunshine on my face and warm grass beneath bare skin.

these are all fairly inconsequential things i could easily live without. in fact, i do much of the time. and yet they are, in some ways, the things i live my life for. these are the experiences that i greedily drink in whenever i get the chance, in hopes of staving off the next draught.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

passion is scary

i watched this talk today about artists and how there is a certain amount of anxiety that necessarily accompanies their work. there is a constant worry that it won't be good enough, that no one will like it, that it'll never live up to expectations, etc. and all i could think was that that's not something unique to creative professions. i think it is true of anyone that is following their calling in life. being a teacher scares the shit out of me. what if i can't be a really great teacher? what if i can't make a difference for my kids? what if i can't teach them things? what if i never live up to my expectations for myself? that worry, that anxiety, comes from doing something you are truly passionate about. if your work doesn't scare you a little bit, it isn't what you are meant to do.