Yes, I am alive…

…but way to busy to keep up with this. Sorry! Maybe I’ll be back in the summer, but for now spending about 60 hours per week on work stuff is making balance difficult to achieve… so I’m sticking with work and home/family  responsibilities as priority numero uno, followed by social and recreational stuff, followed by everything else (the category in which this blog fits). Life’s going well, but I’m pedaling pretty fast to keep up with it.

Don’t watch this.

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. This is the most disturbing thing I have ever seen in my life. My heart seriously stopped for a second when I watched it. Oh my god.

Work work work

I’ve been a busy girl these past few months. I’m not sure I remember what my boyfriend or family members look like.Ok so I may be exaggerating just a little, but I have been keeping up a pretty crazy pace.

I’ve been getting lots of good things done, though, and really enjoying my job. Three months into my third year, I  finally feel like I’ve found my footing in several areas where I wasn’t so confident before. I’ve gotten over the woe-is-me, did-I-make-the-right-decision-leaving-my-old-job crap that had haunted me relentlessly during the first two years (and the answer is a resounding YES, I did make the right decision).

So for those of you wondering why I haven’t been blogging here much lately, it’s just because I’ve been wrapped up in doing a good job with my work and then spending my little bits of “free” time hanging out with CJ and the kitty, attempting to keep up with housework and stay in touch with family, and READING. Yes, I’ve actually read THREE novels already this school year… I think that’s how many books I read for pleasure TOTAL last school year. I’ve been setting aside at lest 1/2 hour per day to let myself get lost in a book for no reason other than I enjoy it.

Life’s good.

New York (heart)s Cleveland

This Sunday’s New York Times will feature my beloved city in it’s “36 hours in…” series. It’s already posted on their website —  read it!

Try This: Broccoli Chickpea Casserole

Hooray for girlymama gathering vegetarian recipes this month for her “Try This: Spice Up Your Kitchen recipe carnival” (prior to being invited to participate, I had never heard of such a thing). I’m very glad she’s doing it, because even if people make the effort to he herbivores one day per week it will make a difference. One of my favorite quotes: “Nothing will benefit human health, and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth, as much as the evolution to a Vegetarian Diet” -ALBERT EINSTEIN

Trythisbutton


I apologize I have no pretty picture of this dish. That proves it’s good, though, because it disappears before I get to photograph it.

I have adapted this from a recipe in Vegan With a Vengeance. If you don’t mind it losing its vegan status, you can add about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the mix.

Ingredients:

Three 15-oz cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), mashed with a potato masher or stiff fork (this takes some elbow grease — I recommend delegating this job to someone else while you prepare the veggies)

1 C vegetable broth

3 T Olive Oil

2 T chopped fresh chives

3 medium-to-large carrots, grated

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 or 1-1/2 cups)

1 head of broccoli, chopped into tiny florets (about 4 cups — you can use the stems, too, just be sure to chop them up finely)

1 C  plain whole wheat bread crumbs

1 T Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 tsp. dill

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Mash up the chickpeas; add in the olive oil and broth (hint: I make the broth double-strength with boullion cubes).

3.) Stir in the prepared broccoli, carrots, onions, chives, salt, pepper, and dill

4.) Press into a 9×13-inch casserole dish

5.) In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and garlic powder (you can add more or less to taste); spread this mixture on top of the veggie mixture

6.) Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.


Date Night

Conversation snippet from this evening, as we sat at Mama Santa’s drinking Sangria and eating the best pizza in Cleveland:

Me: “Lots of guys would kill for a girl like me!”

CJ: “Yeah, and lots of guys would kill a girl like you.

Nice to know I’m appreciated. 😉

Teaching on 9/11

Today President Obama eloquently stated that “eight Septembers have come and gone,” and I realized that with those eight Septembers so to have eight graduating classes come and gone. I wasn’t originally going to publish this, but here’s what I wrote when I got home: 

Something occurred to me today as I was sitting at the infinite stoplight,* deciding how to handle the significance of This Day. Some years I make a big deal out of It, centering all class material around it. Some years I do my best to ignore It. Usually I offer the kids the opportunity to read/write/discuss about something related to It for the first or last fifteen minutes of class, and just let It be afterwards. But here’s what struck me as hauntingly profound at 6:00 AM as I sat cradled in my bucket seat, left foot engaging the clutch and right hand fondling the shifter in anticipation of the eventual green light: 

There are only a few years’ worth of students left who will remember It. To all others for the rest of my career, It will be a piece of history that exists in books and news clips and was ALWAYS a part of life — much like Pearl Harbor or JFK’s assassination were to me during my childhood.

And after that thought, I felt a strong duty to preserve the memory in the students who have it. For the past several years I have resented It, angry not so much that it happened but more that so many bad things have come about as a result of it (see the Doonsbury cartoon about “9/11” being the answer for everything). This resentment has been reflected in the light and detached way in which I handle It in my classroom. 

But today I felt a strong connection to my students through our ability to share memories of Where We Were; a connection I will no longer have with my students in a few years. I was nearing college graduation when It happened. My current seniors were in fourth grade and my current sophomores were in second grade. They were not old enough to understand what was happening, but they were old enough that they remember it much like I “remember” the Challenger explosion or Princess Di’s wedding. 

I suspect that this is something that happens to teachers as we age. Maybe my high school teachers felt light years away from me because I was born into a completely different world than they knew. I have done a great deal of thinking over the past two years or so about what teaching will be like when I no longer have the privilege of seeming almost like an older sister to my students — the perception that I am younger than most of their other teachers, and therefore must have more in common with them. I have tried my best to ensure that I do not center my teaching practices around my students’ immediate connection to me due to my age — but until today I had never stopped to think that sometimes I relate to them in a reciprocal way. We remember many of the same things. 

When the light finally did turn green, I did not realize it for a few seconds. I glanced in my rearview mirror, amazed that no one was honking or gesturing at me for my delay in accelerating maniacally to the next light. As a matter of fact, there was no one behind me at all… and then I remembered that it was, after all, 6:00 AM and most people in my new neighborhood awake at this hour are still hitting their snooze bars or sloughing off dead skin cells in the shower. It felt very appropriate that I seemed alone on the road in my new neighborhood. It mirrored how I feel there in the first place, and in my chronological placement in the nether-regions somewhere between my students and my older colleagues. 

My infinite stoplight meditation set the tone for the day. As I taught each of my classes, tutored students in the Writing Lab, and met with newspaper staffers I was comforted and grateful that they, too, remember. As my sophomores discussed language in the novel Alas, Babylon, I could not help but point out the similarity of our “9/11” label to the story’s “The Day” label. I barely had to explain it, and they got the connection.

 I swallowed hard, reminding myself that in the near future students will walk into my room unaware that those numbers didn’t always bear such weight. 

 

 

* The “infinite stoplight” is my term of endearment for the five-minute stoplight I sometimes catch between home and work.