Sunday, September 18, 2011


The spring was a very difficult time for me. My amazing and beloved grandma's steep illness and death in May brought one of the most difficult school year's I've ever experienced to a halting and bitter close. I needed the summer to regroup and recoup. I wasn't at all sure that I would be teaching this fall, or at least, I wasn't at all sure it would be at this school, or in this district. It was an impossible situation, and I certainly didn't see this fall coming together any better than the way the spring ended.

It would be nearly impossible to explain the violence exhibited by a great portion of my students last school year. Their stories are not my stories to tell; let me just state emphatically that the kind of chaotic lives that result in 8 year olds who attack adults on campus, stand on kids' necks and try to stab them with a ruler, try to hang themselves in a garage, respond to every interaction with anger and physical's not something I wish on anyone, let alone little kids who are still forming. You expect a handful of "behavior problems" in any class of 33. But this? This was not that. Promise. I'm not prone to hyperbole when it comes to children, either. I don't exaggerate or feel sorry for myself; I'm not out to win the Pity Olympics for What I Had To Deal With This Year. I say it with total humility and great sadness, that I don't know how much of a positive impact I was able to have, overall, when I was so worn down and so overwhelmed by the day-to-dayness of those four walls.

All that to say! I tiptoed into this summer and had several great adventures and many quiet days. I can't share them all here, of course, but I few stand out in my mind. Today's is an awesome adventure in Chicago during the last week of June. I went for work as a consultant for the non-profit organization that I work with that works with teachers on improving math instruction. I worked with an amazing group of about 80 K-8 teachers, administrators, and coaches. And I worked with one of my favorite colleagues.

It was my first visit to Chicago, and I totally and completely fell in love. I've not spent much time at all in the midwest, to be honest. Drove through it twice in my life for cross-country trips. Flew over to get to New York and the East Coast. But really? The Rockies to the Appalachians....kind of a mystery to me. Overall impression: incredibly friendly people, insane amounts of steakhouses, and Chicago is a beautiful, fun city.

I'm so spoiled to be from San Francisco, which I happen to think (with some bias) is the most beautiful, vibrant, exciting, and fun city in the country. But I have to say, Chicago was amazing. I spent two days there by myself after the rest of my colleagues went home (long story) and I fell in love.

You better believe I was going to Wrigley, no matter what! But, unbelievably, the Giants
were on a roadtrip to play the Cubbies that week! So Wednesday found us down in
Wrigley Town. It was everything you've heard, and more. It was so rowdy, and cozy, and amazing.
A "W" would have been better, I won't lie, but we got to hear the Cubbie's Song and yes,
I admit, we were humming right along on the way out. : )

 The architectural river tour is amazing. HIGHLY recommend if you get down out that way.
The Willis Tower used to the Sear Tower. There are new observation decks made completely of glass, floor, walls, ceiling. It was an amazing experience to walk out "into thin air" and hover over
downtown Chicago. Even more amazing to watch people freak out about it. Holy cow. Watching grown men and women crawl on the glass floors of the balconies? Surreal.
 I'm not a shopper (understatement) but I walked all the way down Michigan Avenue, just for people
watching purposes, and ended up down at Grant Park, the Art Institute museum, and the outdoor festival of Taste, where I sweated it out with thousands of my closest strangers, and ate ice cream
and spinach stuffed pizza. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!
 The river that runs through the city. It's so charming there!
 I stopped to knit under The Bean in Memorial Park.

It's possible that my fabulous two days in Chicago was more attributable to the quiet of my hotel room, (where I read, soaked in a hot tub, and generally thought deep thoughts), or to the quiet dinners at Xoco and Luxe and the Greek food and the deep dish pizzas....

Maybe, afterall, I just needed a few days where I was "Mia" instead of "mama" or "maestra". A nice little palette cleanser to the end of the school year!

1 comment:

  1. The cleanse and recharge. Good for you. I miss you, and I get it. xOx