I am horrible about waiting until the gas light flashes on my car’s dashboard before filling the gas tank, particularly since my new car shows me how many more miles I can travel. For example, even though the gas gauge registered less than one-quarter of a tank of gas yesterday, I saw that I could still travel about 80 miles. Based on that information, I didn’t stop at a gas station, even though
there’s one only a mile from my house. This morning, I jumped in the car to run errands, and again, although the gas gauge was flirting with “empty,” I continued to cruise on by at least three different gas stations. Finally, when I started home at the end of the afternoon, a message flashed on my dashboard and on the Chevrolet MyLink screen informing me of the car’s low fuel level. The MyLink screen even asked if I wanted to access a list of nearby gas stations. As a result, I figured that I’d better take the time to stop and get gas. So, I turned into the nearest gas station and proceeded to fill up the tank. As I stood beside my car, watching the numbers on the pump spin, I wondered why I always wait to do this. I mean, it’s not like this is the first time (or even the second time) that I’ve done this and it’s not like a trip to the gas station is some awful, negative experience (depending on the price of gas). What’s the deal? Is it just because it’s easier to put off those things that seem so simple? Or, have I just gotten so spoiled by the information provided by my car? I mean, with the push of a button, I know a lot about how my car is functioning. In addition to the features available in the car, I also have the myChevrolet app on my iPhone. With this app, I can see where my car is currently located, tire pressure, status of the life of the oil, fuel efficiency, and any recalls. The app also tells me how many gallons of gas are in my tank and how far that will take me. Do I simply have too much information at my fingertips? Have I been lulled into complacency so that when I pull up this information, it doesn’t really sink in until a specific message flashes that lets me know that it really is crunch time?
Maybe it’s not about the access to technology at all and I just like to procrastinate. Maybe there are so many other things that I’d rather think about and do (like which book am I going to read next and the lessons I’m planning for the new semester and when my friends and I are going to meet for dinner) that paying attention to that gas gauge just isn’t high on my list of priorities. Maybe I’m just overthinking this situation as I wait for the gas pump to click off. I do suspect, though, that this same experience will probably happen again next week when my car has to remind me that yes, it’s time for a fill-up again.
The morning started off on a sour note. When I stopped to get breakfast this morning, the rather unfriendly person at the pick-up window shoved my bag and cup of iced tea into my window with one hand while also grabbing at my money with the other. She squeezed the cup as she passed it through my window and since the cup was too full, the result was a lapful of iced tea. Of course, there wasn’t a napkin in the bag, nor was there an apology as I sat there trying to mop up the tea.
Then, on the very curvy road to school, my computer bag slid across the seat. Guess who forgot to zip the bag? My MacBook slid into the floorboard and I tried not to panic. Thankfully, when I got to school and was able to retrieve the computer from the floor, it was fine.
Once that was settled, I grabbed my computer bag, my purse, my lunch, and my cup of tea. Now, I’d assumed that since I already was wearing what felt like a half of a cup of tea, there wasn’t a lot left to spill. Boy, was I wrong! As I started to unlock my classroom door, I somehow lost control of the cup. Tea puddled on the floor and in my shoes. I managed to make it to the sink, where I deposited the very sticky cup. I dropped my bags and started to clean up the mess at the door. Thankfully, I had at least a half-hour before my students arrived, so the floor had a chance to dry. The morning had started off poorly, but that was over and I had the opportunity to restart my day on a positive note when my first students of the day entered my classroom. Once my first group arrived, the day immediately became better as I became immersed in working with my kids. There’s nothing better than working with striving readers all day!
This morning, after voting, I decided to stop at McDonald’s for a biscuit and sweet tea. After my stop, I headed on to school, taking the bypass as usual. Vigilance is necessary on this road as it’s a popular deer crossing. However, today, deer weren’t crossing the road, but a woman and a young boy were. I’ve seen them crossing this road before 7:00 in the morning when I’ve done other trips to McDonald’s, and I’ve always wondered about them. Is this a mother walking her child to school? The boy looked to be middle-school aged and they always seem to be going in the direction of the city’s middle school, so they’d have a good mile (at least) of walking left, most of which is going up an incline, if that’s their destination. That’s also not counting the distance that they’ve already walked and it’s only 7:00 on a brisk November morning.
I thought about the woman and boy as I drove to school, snug in my car with the warm air blowing in my face and the comfort of the heated seats. I wondered about the boy and this start to his school day. Was he already tired from his journey? Did his feet hurt? Was he chilled with that kind of cold that once it seeps into your bones so that you never feel warm? I also wondered about the mom. It takes a lot of determination to walk your child to (and probably from) school each day, crossing a major highway, and dealing with increasingly colder temperatures. It would be so easy to stay at home, but she perseveres.
I don’t travel the bypass on my way home from school, but I wonder if the woman and boy will be crossing that road again this afternoon. If they are, I hope that they have a safe, easy journey and can spend the evening together in a warm, cozy house before they have to venture out again in the morning.
I had a post nearly finished for today’s slice of life, but that post will have to wait until another day. I had to say goodbye to a student this afternoon, and while I’m glad that I was able to say goodbye, I realized how much I am going to miss working with this child. This student came to us a little over a year ago and watching him grow as a learner has been one of the most amazing experiences of my career. C made a significant amount of progress over the past year. However, I also enjoyed working with him because he is just one of those kids that you enjoy being around. He is the student who asks you about your day and on Fridays, would say, “Have a good weekend!”
So, tomorrow, at 12:00, C won’t enter my classroom with a smile and cheery “Hello.” While my classroom will be different now, I am thankful for the opportunity to have had C as a student and I wish him all the best at his new school!
It’s Tuesday and I am trying to get myself back into the habit of slicing. So, while eating lunch, I opened a new blog post and got ready to type. However, for the past ten minutes, I’ve done nothing but stare at the blinking cursor on my computer. The blinking really is quite mesmerizing. It’s a steady blink, blink, blink….I try to wrestle myself back to the task at hand, but my train of thought has already left the station and departed to parts unknown.
As I attempted to collect my thoughts, I considered writing about a couple of new notebooks that I picked up recently. I couldn’t resist the notebook on the left because I think pugs are adorable and I love bacon:) I came across the notebook on the right when shopping at our local Ollie’s and I loved the colors. I’ve already started jotting down a few notes for a book review that I’m writing.
I also thought about the weekend and how I spent hours and hours just reading. It was so relaxing to do nothing but read! I had two Amazon gift cards to spend and after I scrolled through my wist list, I settled into my big blue recliner and lost myself in another world. I hadn’t had this luxury for quite a while, so it was so nice to catch up on some reading. I love Susan May Warren’s books and came across her Montana Fire series. Before I knew it, I had downloaded and read all three books in the series along with a couple of “cozy mysteries.”
As I wrote the previous sentence, I realized that I had broken the spell of the blinking cursor because I forced myself to put words on the page. Sometimes, I get so caught up in overthinking what I’ve written (or even what I’m about to write) that distractions (like that blinking cursor) take over. I just had to power through it and get the words down. While it’s not the best writing, I know that I can always revisit the piece, expand on the ideas, and revise. It can always get better, but that can’t happen until the words actually make it onto the page.
Between December and August, my life centered on completing and defending my dissertation. Every waking moment that I wasn’t at work seemed to revolve around my dissertation. Every molecule of my being was devoted to this project, so after my successful defense on August 3rd, I figured that I could finally take a deep breath, catch up on my sleep, and catch up on all of the things that I put on hold. However, during the past two months, I’ve felt a little lost. While I’m working on a few projects that I’m excited about, I’m not on a tight deadline, so the adrenaline is not pumping quite so hard. I don’t have to stay up until 3 a.m. writing or revising. I’m not spending hours reviewing results from the study. I’m not laboring over PowerPoint slides while trying to balance the amount of text and visuals. I actually have some time on my hands and that’s something that I’m definitely not used to having.
During a routine wellness check-up last week, my family doctor congratulated me on the accomplishment and I confessed that it didn’t seem real that the journey was over. He assured me that after all I put myself through, it would take time to return to normal, or at least a new normal. I realized that I’m not limited in the definition of my new normal, but can explore all of the possibilities and opportunities that are now available. Establishing a new normal can be exciting!
The final draft of my dissertation is due to all of my committee members tomorrow, so I’m making final edits, double-checking tables and figures, and several other last-minute details. This entire process has been grueling, to say the least. However, I discovered that one of the most challenging parts of the process involves writing the dedication and acknowledgment pages. I assumed that this would be the easiest part of the process, but as I sit here at my computer, the blinking cursor flashing on a blank page proves otherwise. I know that I want to dedicate the project to my parents and grandparents, who have supported me in everything that I’ve ever done and who encouraged me never to give up on my dreams and ambitions. But when I try to write the actual dedication, my fingers seem to freeze on the keyboard. So, I started thinking about the acknowledgments page instead. There are so many people who I want to include, but again, the words elude me. How do I adequately thank the people who stood by me and encouraged me? I don’t know that there are enough words to thank my Mom for everything that she’s done for me, from her words of encouragement, to reading every draft of each chapter (multiple times), to the cards (and cookies and chocolate), to knowing when I just needed a hug. How do I thank my friends, colleagues, and professors who have supported me through each step in the process? I just don’t know if I have the best words, but I am so thankful for everyone who was a part of this process. Maybe I just need to sit down and write and let the words flow without critiquing them or second-guessing them. I think it’s time to turn off the screen and write without looking at that blinking cursor!