28 November 2011

The Caterpillar: A Metaphoric Parable

You all know how the caterpillar works.  She inches along, plodding, just wanting to get through this day, the next day....and so on.

Then, one day (quite unexpectedly, I imagine) she begins that biological process of metamorphosis.  Wrapping herself up in a cozy, little cocoon, she is cut off from the world for days.  And, then that day comes when she breaks free and reemerges as a butterfly.

That's always where the story ends.  This parable is told often to children who are entering that "awkward" stage of their lives...someday they too will metamorphose from a slow, chubby caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

Except, nobody ever tells these kids that being a butterfly (or adult) can be just as awkward as being a caterpillar.  Nobody ever mentions that being a butterfly is actually a bit more arduous and full of responsibility.  Pollination?  That's a pretty serious task.  Sure hope they can handle it.

So...now that we're thoroughly depressed...let's bring it back around.

November is a month of metamorphosis for me.  I usually withdraw into the tight little circle of my own home, disregarding much of what happens in the outside world.  Part of this process is because of National Novel Writing Month, where many crazies like myself hole up to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.  But, with the onset of colder weather and the holidays, it's just a natural time for me anyway to "cocoon" myself up, so to speak.

Now, here at the end of November, I'm preparing to emerge from back into world.  Like the butterfly, though, there is work to do.  Responsibilities, jobs, duties, chores all await

Nothing like a little Henry David Thoreau Transcendentalism to start your day off right!

11 November 2011

Epiphany #56 - In Which I Figure Something Out, But It Probably Means My Life Will Change

You what's weird?

It's November 11, and I have not pulled out any Christmas decorations.  I have not played any Christmas music.  I have not had a hankering to bake things.

Yeah, that's weird.

Anyway, onto the sublime title of today's blog.

For a few years ago, discontent was starting to seep into my professional life.  Teaching wasn't as inspiring as it used to be; I was losing my passion and merely "going through the motions".  So, I took action.  I taught at the high school level only part-time, and I started adjunct teaching at the college.  I told myself that maybe I needed a change of scenery, not to mention a change of clientele.  But still, some unrest lingered...

Last May, I resigned my high school position for good, and remained an adjunct.  So now I'm only working three, maybe four hours a day.  Life should be good, right?

But, no, I'm still not feeling it.  Many days come with some kind of mental pep talk to get myself into that classroom (once I'm there, I'm fine). 

Concurrent with this timeline of events is that of me and my journeys with food.  Food and nutrition are fascinating to me, and I feel sometimes as if I've entered into a lifelong love affair with the things.  And this feeling has grown since a few years ago.  Consequently, here became the dilemma slash paradox I needed to figure out:

Why am I deliriously happy to spend a Sunday morning and afternoon in my kitchen, cooking, simmering, marination, and baking - and yet I can hardly get my game face on for two, maybe three, hours of classroom teaching a day?

Here's the answer that came to me about a week ago: the difference is product.

When I'm in the kitchen, baking cookies, sauteing vegetables, or baking bread, there is an end product.  My family, who then consumes it, provides immediate feedback.  It's not always good feedback either.  But, in the end, there is a tangible fruit of my labors.  I usually know right away what worked and what didn't, and I can troubleshoot for next time (less water, more time in the oven, etc).

In the classroom, though?  There's not such a product.  Sure, there's student papers and assignments, but those products often have very little to do with me.  Sometimes, they have very little to do with the students as well.  And, when there is a problem, I might be able to troubleshoot it, but many times I cannot.  There are often variables involved I can't contend with (abject lack of ability, lack of motivation).

And, well, knowing what I know now, that I thrive on seeing a finished product, be it poor or not, it's no wonder education has lost it appeal.

So, yep, that's where I am.  I'm nearly 37 years old, and I think I am about to make a career change.  And I don't mean a lateral change...

10 November 2011

Current Events

I can't think of the last time I'd come across a bit of news that worked me up like I was last night.  Originally, I woke up this morning, and planned on dedicating this entire post to the denigration of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration.  See, they've been in the news lately and here's why:

Allegations have come light regarding Jerry Sandusky (Paterno's defensive coordinator from 1969-1999)...namely, that he sexually abused several youths over a 15 year period.  Some of the alleged incidents occurred on the Penn State campus.

Just last night, Paterno (Penn's coach for the last 46 years) was fired by the Board of Trustees, along with the school's president and some other administration who had been informed of the incidents occurring on campus (at least one in 2002).

Here's my take on the whole thing.  While I certainly don't condone Sandusky's alleged actions, I am more furious with Paterno and the Penn State administration.  A grad assistant walked in on Sandusky assaulting a boy in the Penn State shower room.  The assistant told Paterno, who informed the athletic director, who informed the president...who then proceeded to do nothing, but tell Sandusky he could not bring youths onto Penn State's campus.

Sandusky's going to get his due share.  I truly believe that.  I don't worry much about him.  But I want the other guys to pay too.  Because I can barely squelch that helpless feeling that no matter what great things I do for my kids, no matter how much I try to keep them safe - in the end, I can't do anything about the deviants out there.  But even worse, I can't do ANYTHING about the other adults who want to protect the deviants.

There.  End rant.  I shall now let it go.