Today, even though it's already January 2nd, seemed like a good time to reflect and review. Also, I'm not hungover today. Normally I'm not really that big into celebrating New Year's, but my uncle's 50th birthday happened to fall the same day and clearly necessitated a bottle and a half of wine on my part. (Clearly a poor choice since I spent some of the next day trying not to puke at an Olive Garden.)
As I began reflecting on choices yesterday, I think I need to get more perspective on the year as a measure of my ability (or lack thereof? we'll see) to make good decisions.
January- living in Oklahoma with my fiance! (he proposed right before Christmas), started my 2nd long-term sub assignment at a local high school and began my Master's. Also, this month marked me entrance to my mid-twenties.
Verdict: Hey, that sounds pretty good!
February: Started to really dislike my co-teacher. Her job perameters were never made clear, and she and I disagree on almost everything at a fundamental level. She tries to take over class and is shot down because I asked an administrator (who I'm kind of friendly with) what exactly she's supposed to be doing. Beginning to learn about the politics teachers have to deal with and it is NOT pretty. Become a little less disillusioned about teaching. Also, now part of the dysfunctional FRG (family readiness group) which has dissolved into several ladies calling/texing/facebooking me in order to bitch about each other.
Verdict: Not so hot. Looking back, I would have handled the co-teacher bit a little differently, but I cut myself some slack because I really didn't know what the hell I was doing. I still dislike her. Also, joining the FRG was a terrible choice, but I will never make that mistake again. Geeze that was awful.
March: The second week in March, we find out that J is deploying. I cry for two days because I'm going to miss him, and our wedding, scheduled for July, has to be canceled.
We make the choice; called our families; frantically made plans.
Seven days after getting the news, J and I become man and wife.
Because there was no way to make a big production or to get married in Massachusetts, we got married at this beautiful chapel on post that has a lot of history. Our military chaplain was SO excited to be marrying us; he actually cried! He was so sweet. My wedding
dress, which my mother and I picked out back
home, could not be brought down in time, so I
decided that we would have a little theme which I didn't tell anyone about (especially J!).
I bought a gorgeous traveling dress and a fantastic little shop in town, after they heard our story, quickly fashioned a birdcage veil for me! I met with a hairdresser and told her what I was looking for on The Day and she studied up and practiced to make the perfect hair style!
Since my husband was deploying suddenly, like what happened to many couples during WWII, we had a 1940's style wedding! Our photographer, a milwife herself, immediately came from a conference in Vegas to shoot our wedding and a local historic home opened the house just for me
to go do some shots before going to the chapel! Overall, best, most perfect wedding.
Verdict: Best decision ever.
April: College is going well and I really loved working with a particular professor who helped me with questions I had about things going on in my job. I started my third teaching assignment with the school which ended on the last day of classes. I loved working with the kids but really
found how different my style is when, since I was told to access the teacher's email everyday and forward those that may be important, I saw an email from before I started. The previous
teacher must have told her that I was "too easy and let the kids get away with everything".
I almost got up and walked out of the school; that was a tough lesson. I knew that I was more
lenient with the kids (hello, I'm a sub-If I was super-strict they would revolt against me-I've
seen it happen to good people) but it hurt to know people were talking behind my back when
they've NEVER ACTUALLY WORKED WITH ME OR SEEN ME IN THE CLASSROOM.
That sucked. On the flipside, I could see my own progress as a teacher and that I was really learning the ropes. I had a great relationship with a lot of students- actually, some of the greatest
moments were when my first cycle of kids from October-Dec. came in to visit and, since I was teaching the same book I taught them, actually helped the new cycle of kids because they remembered everything.
We also got a bunny!
Verdict: I'm glad I made the choice to see that people were talking about me and to use what was constructive about it to shape how I will approach teaching once I have my own class. Fortunately I had some great students who validated that I had, in fact, taught them something. I'm glad it happened, though it was really hard to see at the time.
May: J and I only have one month together before he leaves for The Sandbox. We got some horrible news; his mother, a cancer survivor, was dying of cancer. We got the emergency call that we needed to be there as quickly as possible.
Notice that I'm smiling in a hospitable room; I'm not actually a cold, heartless wench. She is an amazing woman, who, even in the face of uncertain future, cracked jokes and is more social on her sick bed than I am over the course of probably 5 years. I finally met J's brothers. The middle brother is super nice, while the oldest is an absolute scene. (He hit on EVERY woman in a Wal-mart parking lot, took out a few false teeth at dinner, and asked a man weed-whacking on a hill if we could got to his house in order to try out a new gun he had bought at a pawn shop.)
In a similar vein, J forced me to take a gun class because at that point I thought I would just stay in Oklahoma. I am a huge fan of gun control in a lot of cases but J's whole family are all proud gun owners. (His mother has a dish on her counter that holds candy and live ammo. She's a trip.)
Also, school ended in May and I realized how much I was really going to miss my kids. As we neared the end of school, kids started coming in to tell me what I had done for them through the year. One of my girls, a talented artist and poet, used to show me her work and we would talk about it. She also revealed that her best friend had been raped and then took off, and how she was struggling to deal with it without anyone to talk to. At the end of the year she gifted me the poem I had told her was my favorite with an attached, gorgeous drawing of an angel. If listening to her was the only thing I got to do all year, I couldn't be more grateful that I got to be there for her. This job pulls at my heartstrings.
Verdict: I'm happy that J got to see his mother before he deployed. I'm glad that this month taught me how important it is to just be there for people when they're reaching out; the lesson was eloquently taught and I'm thankful.
I wear my favorite dress and hold his mother while she cries. Just seeing him in uniform in formation, he's already gone and I miss him.
Two days before he is set to go, I realize I can't handle living in our apartment in our little life without him. I sell everything, pack up what's left and me and puppy Q hit the road to drive from Oklahoma to Massachusetts.
(Q thinks he took turns driving.)
On the way, I stopped over in Alabama to see one of the best, funniest ladies in the world. CC and I have been friends since she transferred into the same middle school as me. She is hilarious and I get a huge kick out of her. I got to meet her boyfriend and her baby, my godson, who is a demonstration in perfection. Love him.
Verdict: No choice about J's deployment, so I can say that sucked without having to take any responsibility on that one. The choice to move home was good I think; I get to spend time with the family and the ensuing issues of living back with my parents as a wedded woman are probably keeping me pretty occupied. Deliriously happy I got to see CC and her family.
July: For the second time in my life, I took a gun class. This time, it was in Massachusetts and was a private course for just the ladies in my family.
My mother definitely was trying to keep me busy; she made a bunch of plans for us, partly because I think she wanted to do all these things anyway and needed a sidekick, partly because J had just deployed. She books classes and field trips, including going to the Butterfly Place!
Also, my friend A, who I have known since the dawn of time, came up to visit her family and I got to see her! She moved to Tennessee years ago, so I get really excited when we get to meet up. I went to one of her family parties and had a great time. She and I chatted, joked around with people I hadn't seen in ages, did some glamour shots with cheese balls. You know, the usual.
Verdict: I was a wreck this month and cannot say that I actually made any decisions this month. Mostly, my mother put me under her wing and mother bird-ed me through.
August: Every year, my family and my aunt's family go on vacation to Virginia Beach. It is always fun, and this year and was me and my parents, my aunt and uncle, my cousin Kate, and a steady parade of her friends flying in and out throughout the week.
Kate is only a few years older than I am, so she and I have always been close and her friends kind of treat me like a little sister/friend, and they're super fun. My aunt and uncle are a good time. My uncle recently retired, so he was partying hard and enjoying many a fine spirit, which explains how he got himself trapped in this suitcase like a turtle on its back.
August was when I hit the "I resent my husband for leaving" period of deployment and was trying to deal with that, as well as just missing the hell out of him. The only bright spot: we found out his leave had been moved up, so I would see him next month!
Verdict: I was really struggling to deal with my feelings about deployment and J and I had a lot of little fights and miscommunication. While I disliked going through it, I am now at the point where I can realize it helped me cope and J and I had to talk some things out in order to have a strong marriage. Overall, a necessary decision.
September: I got to see his face!
After carefully and secretively planning and scrimping, I got to surprise J with a week vacation to Puerto Rico and a chance to meet our favorite singer. It was an absolutely perfect time; we were better than ever after having talked through so many issues and feelings over the phone for a few months, and we really love each other.
Verdict: I'm going to throw bouquets at myself; his leave was perfect and I know he loved it, so I'm happy with this month's decisions.
October: I had been working as a special education aide for a month now and was really starting to understand the way things worked.
Verdict: Although originally I wasn't exited about working in SpEd, I am actually really glad to be in the job. It pays in peanuts, but the work experience is invaluable. I know that now only is my resume more attractive to future employers, but actually knowing more of the ins-and-outs of IEP's and policy is going to be so helpful. Not only that, but it's kind of like student teaching because I get to work with experienced teachers and observe strategies that work and aren't as effective. SO glad to be in this job!
November: In November I really had a routine in life. I was happy in my job and things were starting to get better with the situation with my parents. We had hit rough patches trying to redefine our relationship but it started to really get better.
I went to Manhattan to visit my best friend from college. She is a fabulous twenty-something. She's always calling from Chicago or Philadelphia or wherever for business, and when I visited she suggested we go for a walk to see the Brooklyn Bridge and then to a private rehearsal for a new opera.
We immediately got kicked out, which is pretty hilarious. She's a good time. I also met her boyfriend and his best friend and the four of us had a fantastic time at a Hungarian restaurant. After a few Oktoberfests, somehow we were all inviting each other to the Poconos, though I don't think any one of us had ever been.
In the middle of the month, my grandmother Mae passed away. She had been struggling for years and had several strokes. Because of my school schedule and being close by her nursing home, I was able to be with her during her last couple days and was there when she passed. I believe in a beautiful afterlife, and I know she was in pain.
Verdict: Getting along better with the parents: good. Going to see Nancy: good. Being with my grandmother when she passed: good. In a selfish way I'm not happy that my grandmother isn't here sometimes, but I truly think she's happier where she is now.
December: This was a scary month that turned into a great month. At the end of November, I was told that I needed to have a biopsy. Though I know that being told you have "abnormal cells" is kind of typical and the test itself was standard procedure, cancer terrifies me. I had the test done and waited for weeks for the results: Cancer Free!
And you know what else? My mother-in-law, who had been told the aggressive chemo/radiation hadn't worked, underwent a miracle. Her latest scan found NO CANCER! In the space of a month, she went from the most dire predictions to complete health. She is a survivor, through and through, and bought herself a motorcycle to celebrate. :)
After talking to my school in Oklahoma, they decided to allow me to do my internships up here and I can keep my job! They're going to tell me all the details later this month, but I'm psyched. (I harassed the crap out of everyone there to figure out if this was possible, but so worth it!)
J and I got into the biggest fight EVER (over money) which was really serious. However, we worked it out, he got what he wanted and I decided that if he got to spend so much money, I would pull from our small savings and get a few things for myself (winter coat, boots, etc.) This will not always be a possible solution, but he knows that he totally fucked up and I won't resent him forever because I went out and got mine. On top of that, we paid off all his debt! So, we'll say that we were just celebrating this month.
Verdict: Cancer free: Awesome, though I can't say that any decision that I made during this month had anything to do with it for me or my mother-in-law. The financial fight? Oh, I'm definitely happy that shit went down. He now knows that he can't just make choices without thinking of the fact that he's now married, and this b*tch is NOT going to have bad credit and crazy debts. I'm happy that he's out of debt and that he got a few things to celebrate it; I'm happy that I got to justify spending more money that I ever have on just things I wanted. But now, looking forward, this situation can never happen again.
The Year: Some major good, some major bad, but I feel pretty good about it in general.
2011's gonna kick ass though.