Coffee with Christine: The Elusive Nature of Profundity

For a while today, I thought I was going to come home from teaching and wax profound, what with all the profundity swirling through my head as I taught. Then, I came home and listened to “Trucker’s Hitch,” the new song by Ylvis, and all I could think about is how my life would have been different if only I’d sat and contemplated what the fox says and paid a little more attention in music class back in high school so that I, too, could write songs about knots known only to the Boy Scouts. Once I got on that tangent, profundity left, so it appears you’ll be stuck with a coffee segment.

Try to be glass-half-full about the whole thing, can you?

IMG_8848After years of vacillating over whether to ballet or not to ballet, Baby-Girl took her first ballet class last week. When she’s on the fence about something, one small, pivotal moment will often decide her life-long perspective on the matter. So, I did my best to act nonchalant as we entered the studio, and prayed for a nice teacher, no natural disasters, and no wayward gnats (often it’s the small things).

On our way home, I asked her how she liked it. When she smiled, I knew the odds were forever in ballet’s favor.

100_8540 (2)It’s almost fall on the beach, so the tourists are receding, leaving us with more space to play. (Back in 2011, I wrote about tourism on the islands, if you care to hear some of my extended, both pretty and not-so-pretty thoughts on the matter.) We really do love y’all, but we’re also thankful for things like the reduction in commutes and wait time.

100_8553The kids took advantage of the open space to play paddle ball and thus entertain those around them, although our two silent observers from last fall were nowhere to be seen this time.

100_8552It’s a pity; my eldest was rather theatrical about the whole thing.

(In an effort to present a picture of our lives and to make this post as close to real life and real time as I can, LCB just passed through our room, where I’m writing at the moment, speaking an ancient language. I don’t know many people in life that do that, yet I somehow managed to marry one.)

In other non-lingual trials, last Friday night I sat down with a plate of cupcakes and my computer, intent on making some purchases after days of vacillating over whether to buy or not to buy. This, I decided, would be my treat after a hard week of work (the buying, that is; the cupcakes were sustenance). Imagine how disheartened I was, then, when I learned that the two items I had sitting in my cart for days were both out of stock. I now hate internet shopping. Plus, it’s hard to start over after the time I’ve already invested in seeking out these products. And now, the items that were in my cart keep showing up on my Facebook page and on other sites I’m using, reminding me of the price of indecision. I am much like Job, except without death and tragedy and bad friends with bad advice and itchy boils (not on my friends but on me) (although as a side note I don’t think any of my friends are suffering from itchy boils but you can never be sure because would you tell people you were suffering from itchy boils or would you just suffer silently if you were?). And, unlike Job’s, my story has no real comfort and wisdom to offer the masses as consolation, but instead I have the frustrations that come with wanting out-of-stock products that have no restock dates. “Look what you could have purchased but didn’t and now it may be gone forever but you can’t be sure!” screams Facebook and thus my mind.

It’s like the people that rule the internet are trying to foster a culture of covetousness and headbanging.

As an added trial, I’m sure my neighbors now love me, too; before I sat down with my plate of cupcakes and was crushed by the emptiness of my internet cart, I power washed part of the house and the patio. I presume, based on the night (Friday) and their beverages (wine), that they were just stepping out on their deck to enjoy the evening when I fired up the pressure washer. Yes, yes I am that socially oblivious neighbor

Hey, at least I power wash. They could be stuck with a neighbor who doesn’t, like they were for the last three years I lived here.

IMG_8851Finally and less tragically, last Sunday we came home to this creature standing on our deck. Usually his kind doesn’t get this close, so it was rather fascinating, but my first and only picture scared him away.

It’s just as well.

Y’all know how I feel about birds.

***

Do y’all have any preferred topics you’d like me to cover, in coffee talks or elsewhere? I know I owe you the conclusion of my prequel, so I’ll do my best to oblige, but if there are other things you want me to cover, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.:)

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Thoughts on the Sea #10

100_8502There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

100_8503There is society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar.

Lord Byron

For other thoughts, see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, and #9.

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And We’re Back

IMG_8792We’re back to school, that is, after a long, hard summer of RVs, fake Disney trips, and backyard snakes.

Yeah, you heard me. After only one snake in three years of living here, we’ve now had two in a matter of three weeks. I think the second one was also non-poisonous, but as I’ve mentioned, I don’t do snakes.

This is also why I lumped it in with the two other biggest memories of the summer of 2014.

At any rate, the dramas of summer are long gone, and we’re back to most of our school year routines. In the small people’s world, my oldest child is now in middle school, which has prompted me to contemplate whether my sobriquet for my children has run its course. I suppose I could say something like “the small people and the middle schooler,” but it lacks brevity and in a mere two years, it would have to be altered yet again, this time to “the middle schoolers and the small person.” With this nomenclature, the following year would get downright convoluted (i.e., the high schooler, the middle schooler, and the small person). It reminds me of a young couples group we were in at our church in Chicago where almost everyone was in their thirties. This left the twenty-somethings of the church without a name, so we “young couples” began brainstorming for a new name so that we could pass on the torch. We were ultimately unsuccessful, and the only name idea I remember was The Thirty-Somethings Plus Bob*. Our dear, sweet “Bob” was forty. And as many others were slated to reach that decade soon as well, the name would have become a quagmire of verbiage.

When you throw in the fact that even Baby-Girl, my youngest, is in second grade, I can’t harbor any delusions that I’m still the mother of “small people.” Baby-Girl is physically small for her age, so I can still carry her the way some mothers carry their preschoolers. But when she comes home saying things like, “Mom, just so you know, I’m not in love with anybody. I just want to focus on my friends,” it’s hard not to see the writing on the wall of my geriatric future. Also, the fact that both my sons can now carry me (albeit briefly) is just one more sign of the times.

In my professional world, as with every year I’ve taught, my classes and duties have altered a bit. I’m continuing with ninth grade English but trading seventh grade English for seventh grade honors English, and I’ll be directing the new writing lab at our school. In terms of curriculum, for those of you who want to know, my ninth graders just started To Kill a Mockingbird and my seventh graders just finished The Hobbit, a book they read most of over the summer.

In fact, I just gave my seventh graders a test on The Hobbit yesterday, and in a quotation section of the test, they had to identify the speaker, the context, and the significance of several quotations, including the following one: “It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”

Here, Bilbo is standing in a tunnel inside the Lonely Mountain, where the great dragon Smaug is presumably hoarding the treasure Bilbo has been hired to return to its previous owners, the dwarves. Half-a-year’s worth of danger and discomfort and doubt on the road leading away from the Shire and toward the Lonely Mountain has, in one sense, all led up to this moment where he must decide if he will really attempt what he’s been commissioned to do. The moment is charged not just with raw fear and bravery, but also with uncertainty, and ultimately, with choice.

I’ve never taught a middle school honors class, and I’ve never started a writing lab. I’ve never had a child of my own in middle school, and I’ve never had a serious conversation about “relationships” with my daughter.

Until now.

True, I’d rather face all of these than the potential of a real fire-breathing dragon. And certainly I have before and will again face things that require far more bravery than these do. But in a small way, it is a tunnel moment for us, with challenges a step beyond our view.

* Note: Name has been changed to protect Ken’s identity

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