[We moved. It's official. And we officially don't have Internet...thus lack of blogging. Not to mention, of course, the painting, the tearing down of carpets, the new flooring, the painting, the cleaning, the unpacking, the tearing up of bushes, the painting, the mowing...etc. However, I promise I have not left forever. I'm sure you understand. I did take time to hand write something yesterday (what a wonderful, and sadly enough, lost art). I'm sharing it with you now. It is honest. And real. And I will return soon, as there is SO much more to write about-- end of school, our new house, our second year anniversary, SUMMER, and so much more... just be patient with me, please. Also, I'm assuming you're still there: are you!?]

I have never liked change.

My barbies always wore the same clothes, I always wanted to drink juice out of the purple cup, and for this very reason puberty was a nightmare for me.

Leaving for college was a very painful experience. I felt like I was being torn away-- like a kid that doesn't want to come in for supper because the weather is perfect and being outside seems like the best way to spend the rest of your life. Inevitably though I packed up, I drove away, I made my bunk bed in the dorm and cried for a few months. But eventually... yes, eventually... the unfamiliar became familiar and the thought of leaving what I had built at college seemed impossible--insurmountable. So I began to dream up a way to return home after college. I would then be able to skip the brutality of change and, in a sense, return to my own backyard where everything made sense.

However, it seemed Louisville was dragging me away from this dream.

Change was unrelenting with me yet again. New marriage. New city. New job. New. New. New. I made my now double bed and cried for a few months.

Eventually though, just as new things lose their shine, the glare slowly faded and I was able to see. Friendships were built-- real and true and beautiful. Marriage became what we knew and it flourished, and maps were no longer needed to drive downtown. Yet when we would travel home the familiarity tugged at me still. The smells, the colors, the sounds. There was a magic there and the dream I had dreamt in college occasionally fluttered back to me.

And then, without much warning, it became a reality.

We were going to be returning home. I didn't understand why, and I'm still not fully sure I do now, but I began to cry when I thought of leaving Louisville. A friend tole me that these were tears of "unexpected blessings." I was thankful for them because moving there was one of the hardest things I had ever done, and they meant I had let that change happen to me. But I was also deeply confused by them. My dream I'd had since packing up my room after high school graduation was coming true-- so why were my cheeks salty and wet and my heart so heavy?

All of those years I had been fighting change, change had happened to me. In my leaving-Louisville-tears I realized this, and I feared not only the change of another move, but knew that how I had changed would be magnified upon returning home. Would I fit in the places that used to hold me?

Nevertheless, I did the impossible and the insurmountable yet again-- I said goodbye, I packed up my life, and I moved forward towards change.

I never thought I would view returning home as change, after all this is the place that made me. But I'm realizing now I wasn't a finished product at age 18. College continued to make me; Louisville continued to make me.

Bill Bryson once wrote about returning home by saying, "It is so disconcerting to find yourself so simultaneously in your element and out of it."

And so here is where I find myself: in and out of my element. The dream I always had to escape change proved faulty. Change is all around me and it's as much a part of my life as my curly hair. I still dislike it as much as I did when I was little, but I've also learned that there is a certain charm in the unknown, in the uncertainties before me.

After all we all know it's not only necessary, but good to eventually come inside and eat your supper.


open letter to my students

Dear 8th Grade Students of 2009-2010: May 2010
Before I started teaching I wrote myself a letter. In this letter I reminded myself why I wanted to teach, just in case all of you persuaded me otherwise :-). In this letter I told myself the following:
    I am writing this so you remember what it is like to be passionate about your job…You’ll get tired. You’ll get sick of the routine. But so will your students and they’re looking to you to see if you will break this time. Don’t break. Let them know you need their support as much as they need yours. Let them know that you expect the world from them…and don’t ever stop believing that they’ll give you anything less. Don’t ever become too proud to learn from your students.
    When papers stack up to grade, write each comment with compassion, like you always said you would. Your students read your scribbled writing in purple, “Be sure to show not tell and it will make this beautiful story even stronger,” and they also hear in those words, “Someone is still taking the time to believe in you.”
    Above all remember that you love what you do. And remember that nothing done in love is ever wasted.
I hope you have seen a reflection of this in some small way this year. I hope you could tell that I enjoyed teaching you.

I can honestly say that I have enjoyed everyday of this school year. I could not have asked for a better second year of teaching than the year I spend with all of you.

We have shared some great moments this year in 3rd block [this was written per block, obviously, with different highlights]. Whether we were trying to wake up Chase, or you were asking to borrow another pencil, we somehow covered the material and learned something along the way. Even during trips down the hall to Jamestown, or while you begged for more candy or a chance to go back outside, we somehow became, although slightly strange, one big family.

Thank you for writing beautiful words and discussing books deeply. Thanks for all the notes and cards. Thanks for your attempts at improv, your enthusiasm during review games, your beautiful, humorous, and honest poetry, and for understanding the lesson about the writing process [even if it meant feeding you ice cream sundaes J]! Thank you for devoting ten minutes of every day to becoming a better writer, and thank you for teaching me lessons along the way.

Thank you for reminding me of why I love writing, and inspiring me to become a writer again. I will never forget the day you wrote in your writer’s notebooks “Why I Write” [I attached the list so that somewhere down the road if you forget, you can look and remember why you ever filled an entire notebook with your writing in the first place].
 want to leave you with a list that I wrote recently about reasons I love teaching:
- because students trust me with their stories
- because when I am excited, they get excited
- because it puts me in my place
- because I learn something everyday
- because I can fill a room with laughter, fear, or inspiration
- because there are 30 of them in one room, and one me, and I like that challenge
- because I can be goofy and can enjoy their goofiness too
- because I have very few other things in life that I am THIS passionate about
- because I can teach a child the skills necessary to THINK for the rest of their lives
- because I don't ever give up on my students, and they can tell
- because middle schoolers don't quite know who they are, or what they are capable of becoming, but they still believe they can change the world
- because I get to go to work every day and work on a "who" not a "something" or a "what"
- because I will always have them, and they will always have me
- because on days when I think, "Are they really getting anything?!" a student of mine writes that the "lightening ATE THE SKY" or that the "LUMINOUS WIND TICKLED her face"
- because I am reminded how hard it is to be a teenager on a daily basis; and I am reminded of how little I truly know by their know-it-all attitudes
- because seeing it "stick" is worth the extra hour after school
- because my patience is tested daily
- because a new air freshener is a very big deal
- because we can all pretend to love our "grammar-o-fun!"
- because I see a group of misfits become a family over a 9 month period, and realize that they have let me be a part of that family too
- because everyday I can work to become the kind of person my students think I already am

Why do I share that with you now? Because I hope you have been able to tell that I am passionate about what I do; that I have truly enjoyed the time I have spent with you this year. Thank you for reminding me of these reasons. I also share this with you because I hope you have felt listened to and I hope you have felt that your writing is meaningful. I hope that as you continue your education at the high school that you will continue to feel this. And always remember the “nice things” [sidenote: I gave each block a class roster and they had to write "nice things" about everyone in the class and then I typed them up and laminated them as bookmarks for each students and that, along with this letter, were my goodbye presents to them] people said about you. Even after you leave room 130 and SOMS, remember that you have a great story to write…you are a great story…and I have been listening.
I will always remember you and this school year. Best of luck at all you do!