Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True Story: How I Was Almost Cool

I am twenty-three (and one-half) years old, and I can only remember one time that I had the chance to really be really cool.

As a freshman (in high school), I had one major, major crush on a junior. He was tall. He was blond. He was popular, and he was beautiful. He was so beautiful, in fact, that I was positive he didn’t know I even existed.

And honestly? I was okay with that. I mean, I was so busy surviving navigating high school and having fun with my new high school friends that I really wasn’t that interested in proving my existence to him. To tell the truth, most of the time, I hoped he wouldn’t notice me. (I was in the marching band, and we practiced during school hours in 110* heat. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to even imagined romantic moments with your crush.) I was perfectly content to go about my life, fainting drooling seeing him only in the halls at school…but I did sometimes dream of seeing him outside of school when he wasn’t The Hot Baseball Player and I wasn’t The Sweaty Shy Band Geek.

Flash forward a few years, and I was finally going to be a senior. It was June before my last year of high school, and I was working at The Bank. Everyday, I dressed up and put in eight hours just like a real adult. I was finally out of those awkward puberty years, I’d figured the whole make-up thing out, and I had the confidence of a seventeen year old girl at her thinnest, so I was feeling pretty good about life and even better about myself.

One day after work, I ran into the local big box store to drop off some film (remember those days?), and there, behind the photo counter was The Perfect Boy. I was so, so thankful for my grown-up, dress-up job and the fact that I was seeing this boy at the end of a day spent in air conditioning and high heels rather than 100* heat and flip flops.  THIS was my chance to live out those daydreams from freshman year. THIS was my time to make the younger me proud. THIS was my chance to finally get it right.

I was determined to play it cool, so I was careful that my face didn’t register a bit of surprise or excitement. I calmly, cooly, and collectedly asked for an envelope to put my film in, and he said, “Oh, I can fill that out for you. It’s Meredith Lastname, right?”

And with that, all my coolness went out the window.

Me: "YOU KNOW MY NAME?!?!?"

Him: “Oh! You probably don’t remember me. We went to high school together. You were just a couple of years behind me.

Me: “Oh, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE! but OMG! I had no idea that you KNEW MY NAME!!!!”
As soon as That Freshman Groupie had come, she was gone again, and The Senior Me shamefully met his gaze, expecting to find laughter, but he was actually more bewildered than amused. I took advantage of his confusion and quickly shoved my film across the counter before he noticed just how much I hadn’t changed.

And then, as if my outburst weren’t enough to seal my fate as perpetually uncool, I tripped–I actually tripped!–in my high heels as I fled.

And I was never cool again.

Monday, June 2, 2008

He's a...LaToya Jackson

If you google “reverse dictionary” and click the One Look Dictionary Search, and then type “person with many siblings” into the Describe the concept field, the first entry it returns is…

LaToya Jackson.

Okay, yes, technically, this does aptly name the concept I described, but it’s not exactly what I was looking for. Thanks anyway.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You Keep the Last Word

I don’t know what’s so great about getting the last word. I don’t want the last word; it doesn’t interest me at all.

I’d much rather you get the last word, then check your email three times--make that four; five? ok, six…seven? wait, SEVEN? SERIOUSLY?--in the next hour, wondering if I’ve gotten It yet, wondering if I’ve read It, wondering if the proper inflections and emotions have been conveyed, wondering when I’ll reply, then wondering if I’ll reply, then wondering if you should send It again–after all, I haven’t replied, maybe I didn’t get it; damn email can’t be trusted!–wondering if you should send another one, wondering if that would seem to desperate, too clingy, too dramatic, wondering if you worded yourself a little too strongly, wondering if you should apologize or at least explain, and then, finally, wondering if It somehow slipped my mind or if I just couldn’t be bothered to reply.

Who needs the last word?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

So, really, where do I begin?

I am trying to get myself psyched up to take my final tomorrow, but I am at a point, now, where there is just so much to take into consideration–so much information to review–that I don’t really know where to begin. This happens to me sometimes when I’m cleaning my apartment. I get so overwhelmed by the task that I just can’t seem to get started. Does this ever happen to you?
I know that I am supposed to break everything into small chunks, and then tackle one chunk at a time, but even that can get difficult when you realize that for the chunks to be really, truly manageable, there needs to be about two hundred of them.

I am trying very hard to view obstacles as opportunities to learn and/or grow, so I’ve been thinking of what I can learn/how I can grow from this. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
  1. Weekly quizzes are awesome because they allow you to break the material into manageable chunks for the students. This makes it easier for students to study because it’s easier to study a small chunk of the material each week than it is to study a huge chunk of the material for a test twice a semester.
  2. Weekly quizzes also provide (nearly) immediate feedback and allow students to self-evaluate. “How well did I do on this quiz? What study habits do I need to change?”
  3. Frequent, regular tests are important, too, because they provide a reason to re-review the material that was studied when preparing for the quizzes. Students–yes, even undergrad and grad students!–never seem to really believe that there will be a final, even when it’s in the syllabus. They rely on rote memorization and then “dump” the information after submitting their quizzes.
  4. Having only one exam–a final!–is a bad idea. It’s an even worse idea to refrain from mentioning the final until the very last class day. Doing this forces students to cram for the exam, encouraging rote memorization, and rote memorization is not learning.
  5. It is a better idea to separate assignments so that students have something due every day rather than having two things due every other day. (The only exception is portfolios. I think portfolios are a great idea for older, more mature students). Requiring an assignment every single day ensures that students are spending a certain amount of time out of class every day on the subject. (This isn’t as helpful in a college setting or in high schools who follow alternating block schedules because students are still able to procrastinate.)
I cannot wait until this final is over–not just because I need a break (I do!), but also because it means I will be one step closer to the summer classes I’ll be taking, and I am super excited about my summer classes (even though I’m a little anxious/scared/apprehensive of plane geometry) because I can’t wait to get back into education classes.

I really like math; it appeals to my analytic mind and keeps my brain from rusting, but it can be pretty easy to get bogged down in the math courses and lose sight of the goal of my education: complete preparation for teaching. When I’m taking education classes, even when I’m stressing over lesson plans or presentations or saying something dumb in front of “my peers” (who all seem to have been in 400 education classes that I’ve never even heard of), I get excited because these classes (and the instructors who teach them) are helping me make obvious progress towards my goals. It helps, too, that every education instructor I’ve had has taken a genuine interest in my life and the lives of my classmates, encouraging us to draw on our own experiences when deciding how to approach teaching.

I think that is biggest thing that draws me to teaching (other than, you know, shaping young minds). I love that one hundred different people could approach teaching in one hundred different ways, and every single one of them can be successful, every one can reach students, touch lives. That’s pretty amazing.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Be Prepared to Lose Everyone You Love

Our pastor was on vacation so we had a lay speaker deliver the sermon on Sunday. (Sidenote: is it a sermon if not delivered by a minister?) He was absolutely awesome, and I would've been perfectly fine with staying in church 'til 12:30 or even 1 just so that he would have more time to elaborate.

So Sunday's sermon was on being prepared for bad things to happen, not blaming God when bad things happen, and trusting God when bad things happen. (This is something I could have really, really stood hearing four years ago.) He compared life to football--there are two kinds of turnovers (things that get you off track/make your head spin/turn your world upside down): fumbles (when something you're planning and working on falls through) and interceptions (when something completely unforeseen pops up).

So, basically, you should expect bad things to happen. You know, don't be a complete pessimist, but be realistic. If you hang around Earth long enough, something bad will happen to you or someone you know. But more important than expecting bad things to happen, you should expect bad things to happen AND be ready to roll with the punches.

The new concept: Start prepping yourself today to lose everyone you love. It's going to happen. Look at every meaningful relationship you have--either you'll go first or they will. Make every second count--every single one. Really live your life to the fullest--stop saying it, and just do it. Figure out which people are most important, and then spend every free second you can with them. Stop comforting yourself with platitudes like, "We'll be reunited in heaven," because while you both might be going there, it won't be what it was on Earth. The Bible says that husband and wife will not be rejoined as husband and wife in heaven (and maybe thank God for that--I don't even want to think of my mom, my dad, and my step-parents having to figure out living arrangements).

He said that he spends every Sunday afternoon with his dad because even though he plays golf four times a week, has the energy to date his much younger neighbor, and actually just shot his seventh hole-in-one last year, he's still 88 years old, and he's still going to die.