Well, here’s my new classroom door. It’s a lovely classroom and has tons of potential. The building is spotless and welcoming and has character and love in every hallway.
But I’m feeling super overwhelmed. Everything in my life is 100% new and different. While that is good in many ways, I’m suddenly realizing after spending two solid days in training in the district headquarters that Dorothy is not in Kansas anymore. Everything about Billings schools is BIG. And I appreciate all of it. But gone are the days where I either walked down the hall or pulled up next to the sheep in the field to go to the district office. We don’t have meetings in the high school cafeteria because it is our biggest gathering space with tables, we have an entire building for training, meetings, gatherings, human resources, curriculum development and coordination. Don’t get me wrong-it’s amazing, but I don’t know how to acclimate to all of the advancement at such a quick pace. I am certainly not bragging, but I really do appreciate all of the amazing things I’ll enjoy here, and have access to. A print shop! A technology person dedicated to our building. There are 1:1 devices in my building and for me that means a whole COW of MacBooks.
It feels so show-offy to even mention this to my friends in Oregon, especially to the rural schools I called home for 12 years. I began my career with one desktop teacher computer and an overhead projector. IN 2007. We just don’t have this kind of technology where I’ve taught. I felt a little silly in my training because I haven’t used so many of the programs others have used because, well, I didn’t have access. There is simply no comparison to what we had to teach with in Oregon vs. resources I will have in Billings.
So it makes me feel shaky and uneasy and unsure of myself to be in the category of “the haves” in teaching, and to be so used to being in the “have nots” column. I’m used to leaky roofs and broken tech, and bathrooms that don’t work. Not because people don’t care, but because there just wasn’t any money to do anything about it.
Teaching in a bigger district is going to be a major life lesson. And I’m supremely grateful for having had 12 years in small towns learning how to do without and to use all of my creativity to figure out what to do with nothing. We taught without power this year for heaven’s sake! It’s like how I grew up. We had nothing, but we made it work. But now even when I visited the Yaak School for the first time in decades back in 2007, they had a SmartBoard and projector and doc cam and outdoor equipment for every student, including snow shoes and cross country skis.
I guess I’m just terrified that I’ll fail. I got this great job in this amazing district full of resources and brilliant minds, and I’m this newbie that is sort of from Montana, but really from Oregon. If my life is added up, I lived in Oregon longer than anywhere. I guess my teaching take away from Oregon is HUSTLE and USE YOUR MOXY.
And the people that have helped me set up my room in the past are all in Oregon. I don’t have a teenager or partner or old friend I can persuade to help me carry my 20 boxes of books and furniture and filing materials and rug and trudge over to the school in multiple trips in my truck. I also don’t have anyone to help me hitch up my trailer and take it to the RV Dump and then have the A/C serviced. I don’t have anyone around for the regular day to day things, paying power bills or getting milk, and it just hit me hard today. I love having my new friend tribes. But it is darn hard not to have someone that is around to share life responsibilities with. It’s hard not to have people around that have known me forever.
So, yeah. That’s kinda sad.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I’m pensive and tired, and I want to spend a week in the tropics where I’m waited on by handsome waiters and have white sand and ocean and blue skies to stare at. I will get there. By the time I turn 50 next year, I will have had my tropical time. My friend Annette, a friend whose connections to what I’m up to right now defy logic, worked at my parent’s restaurant in Berkeley, La Val’s, then lived at Overdale in Cabin 6 with her husband Philip. She taught my sisters in the onsite school my parents had for my youngest 3 sisters while me and my next sister went to the Yaak School. She is a Billings native. She was my first visitor to see Lucy in her disgusting glory, here in town to see her siblings. Now Annette is a retired teacher in Panama. I basically invited myself to see her next summer, and she said, “of course!” She has a whole guest house. I’m not one to turn down that kind of invitation! She is starting a new little school there, too. I’m sure it will be a lovely time. I just kinda wish she lived in Billings still because she’s like an Auntie and has known me since I was a brat.
I’m not regretting a single thing that I have chosen to do, but I do miss my people. I really miss the kids and even though I saw them both recently, it is going to be really hard not to see them but twice a year. That makes my heart lurch.
The other thing that I think is important to say, is that I never intended to write a blog, my story, that was a type of highlight reel about my life. I am living a real life with ups and downs, just like all of you. It would be silly to make it seem any different. I do get lonely, yes. I cry sitting on my couch, or driving my truck, or washing a counter top off. I cried once last week because I was just so damn hot and my knees and feet were swollen from the heat.
Folks, it is so much better to live honestly and with authentic intention than to live in a way that is not in alignment with your true self! This is one reason I couldn’t write a word on Sunday and Monday. I was so upset and frustrated and angry and heavy hearted about all the violence of the last week. It hurts us all on a soul level…and this sounds macabre, but it is kind of good that it disgusts us and makes us sad. Hopefully, that collective frustration will lead us to manifesting, legislating, demanding real change. Hopefully that leads us to heal our young population of disaffected young men that are so easily swayed to extremism and disconnection. Hopefully we take these feelings and make use of them.
I love you. Thank you for reading this. For seeing me, for finding a little connection here.