Two Passions, Part One

“When I grow up, I want to be a ballerina.  And after a few performances, I will be a ballet teacher.”

–Me, age eight.  August/September, 1993.

At the beginning of my third grade year in Mr. Fahey’s class, one of our assignments was to draw a picture of what we want to be when we grow up and write about it.  I didn’t have to ponder my future career ambition at all.  I’d been taking tap and ballet class since I was six years old and loved it.  Moving to music felt completely natural to me, I loved learning new steps, and I always felt like I was good at it.  I was hungry to learn steps outside of class, so I would watch the older, more advanced dancers on my dance recital tapes and copy their movements in the empty floorspace in the living room.  Even though I was shy and wasn’t very talkative, I loved performing in front of people at recitals and showing my family the dances I made up by myself in my bedroom.  Sometimes I even asked if I could perform in the living room for company that my parents invited over.  Performing and creating movement felt as natural as breathing did.  I just had to do it.

On that warm, sunny day in 1993, I busted out my colored pencils and drew a picture of myself wearing a magenta romantic tutu and a light pink, long-sleeved (I think) leotard.  I wore pink pointe shoes, even though to this day, I’ve never danced en pointe. My long, dark blond hair hung down past my shoulders and was curly.  I have naturally straight hair, but back then I would put my hair in foam rollers to curl it for special occasions, and dancing, of course, was always a special occasion.  (Until the following June, I never had to wear a bun in my hair for ballet and never knew that it was the standard ballerina hairstyle.  My hair was either in a ponytail, half up/half down, or French braided.)  If I remember correctly, I was holding an arabesque position with my arms en haut, with my left leg as the supporting leg and my right leg as the gesture leg.  I was dancing in an open field, with lots of green grass and brightly colored flowers–tulips, I think–blooming all around me.  The vast sky was the most beautiful shade of sky blue, one of my favorite colors in Crayola’s colored pencil box.  I don’t remember if I drew the sun shining in the picture, but the sun was definitely shining as this ballerina danced in her outdoor paradise.

Below this colored pencil masterpiece (in my eight-year-old eyes), I wrote the words you read at the beginning of this blog post.  I wrote something else about dancing between those two sentences, but I don’t remember what.  However, I do remember writing that last sentence about teaching at the end of my enthusiastic declaration.

My creativity knew no bounds for this assignment.  Every five minutes, or so it seemed, I would add another flourish with my colored pencils and excitedly ask Mr. Fahey to come look at what I did.  I was so proud of my work, simply because it was mine and I had no doubts in my mind that someday, this ambition of my youth would become a reality.  I just knew it.

Even though I loved dancing, I fell in love with two other art forms during my third grade year.  Shortly after the “What I want to be when I grow up” assignment, Mr. Fahey showed me the joy that creative writing can bring.  I penned the first of many fiction stories that year about everything from quadruplet sisters to not sleeping at night to talking animals.  I also wrote and illustrated my autobiography (it was very short), dabbled in rhyming poetry, experimented briefly with news reporting when my church’s sanctuary burned up in a fire on Easter weekend, and faithfully kept a journal about whatever random topics I felt like writing about, which I still do to this day.   Even writing reports for regular school assignments was fun and did not feel like work at all.

The other art form I fell for (pun intended) was figure skating.

Figure skating captivated me that February, shortly before the 1994 Winter Olympics aired on television.  On February 5, 1994, “Nancy Kerrigan and Friends”, an exhibition featuring Nancy Kerrigan and some of her skating friends as they celebrated her recovery from a severe knee injury, was on TV.  My mom taped it.  The skating itself absolutely amazed me.  I thought Nancy was the best skater in the world, based on her performances in that show, and I wanted to learn how to do everything that she did.  I admired Elaine Zayak’s graceful performance as well, and after seeing how the silver sequins and beads on her royal blue skating dress sparkled and how her skirt moved so freely with every movement of hers, I decided that I wanted to wear a dress exactly like it.  Paul Wylie’s expressiveness and clean skating style made me want to see more of it.  Scott Hamilton’s solid skating skills and ability to entertain were second to none, and he won me over as one of his biggest fans.  I don’t know why Mom taped that show, because she had never taped skating on TV before, but I was (and still am) glad that she did.

For some reason, Mom taped the ladies’ singles and ice dance 1994 Olympic coverage on that same tape, as well as the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships.  Coverage of the 1994 Worlds gave me my first exposure to Michelle Kwan.  She instantly became a favorite of mine and still is.  Alas, after Worlds ended, there was no more room left on the tape to record anything else.  I watched that tape over and over and over again for years, even in junior high.  I still have that tape, but since junior high I’ve been afraid that it will fall apart if I try to watch it again.

After watching “Nancy Kerrigan and Friends”, I decided right away that I wanted to be a figure skater.  However, that dream was a longshot.  The only ice rink nearby was about 30 minutes away by car, and it was outdoor and only open during the winter.  Not to mention the fact that in the three previous winters that Mom took me skating, I was so scared of falling that I held onto the wall the whole time.  However, I was eight years old, head over heels in love with skating, and was not to be deterred or discouraged by such trivial obstacles.  I decided to go ahead and learn as many jumps, spins, and other moves as I could by watching that tape and imitating what I saw.  I practiced jumps by jumping off of chairs in the living room (when everyone else was in different rooms of the house) and off the slide in my backyard so that I had enough hang time to try to rotate in the air.  When Mom wasn’t home, I would put on my cheap, plastic roller skates and try to skate in the house.  (I had told Grandma C. that Mom was okay with me doing that.  I only did this one time.)  I would put on my leotard, tights, and ballet skirt that I wore to dance class, put on my skates, and stand on my welcome mat in my room so that I could feel like a real figure skater (Mom would only let me wear my skates on the mat so that the blades wouldn’t snag the carpet).  At school, I unintentionally got Jackie, one of my best friends, hooked on figure skating (and dance; she let me teach her how to tap dance), and day after day during recess we would watch each other “figure skate” on this flat slab of concrete on the playground.

That year, after seeing the Olympics and falling under figure skating’s magic spell, I was a different person.  I suppose seeing how beautiful figure skating could be literally changed my life, because I finally let go of the wall the next time I went skating.

Little did I know where that small step of courage and my new passion would lead me in the years to come.


Night Owls

As you may already know, I’m a night owl.  I am most productive at night when I’m supposed to be asleep in bed.  Right now, I should be lying down under the covers, but at this moment I’d rather get up from this desk and vacuum the house.  (I’m not going to.  My brother and our dogs have already called it a night.)

While working on my laptop late last night, I heard a barred owl hooting outside.  I live in a very wooded neighborhood, so owls, along many other different wild animals, are common around here.

I remember when I was 11 years old, one of my best friends at that time lived across the street.  Her parents had a cassette tape recording of barred owl calls.  Many a balmy summer night, our families and a very sweet married couple who lived next door to us, Dale and Arlene, would gather on one of our porches, usually Dale and Arlene’s porch or my friend’s porch, with a cassette tape player playing the owl calls.  We would listen to the owls in our woods call back.  It sounded like all of them were having a friendly conversation among themselves.  We never saw any of the owls (to this day, I’ve never seen a barred owl in person), but it was entertaining for all of us.  Of course, we would always talk and laugh during those nightly gatherings, as well.  The sound of a barred owl always takes me back to my childhood and brings back those short-lived (my friend moved out of state the following year) yet happy memories.

I learned that year that owls don’t always just hoot or screech when they communicate with each other.  The barred owl also makes this vocal sound that, when I was 11, I described as something like a human baby’s laugh.  It was sort of a half laugh, half screech sound.

Barred owls can also make sounds like nothing I would ever imagine coming from a bird.

I will never forget one night when I was about 14 years old, give or take a year.  For some reason, I went outside the house after dark.  All I heard were crickets in the eerie stillness of the night.  I walked into the backyard, and out of nowhere I heard an unearthly shriek coming from what sounded like Dale and Arlene’s backyard.  Think of R2-D2’s squeal (for lack of a better word) in Star Wars Episode IV when he gets shot by the jawas on Tatooine, except louder and longer in duration.  That one owl’s voice started a flurry of conversation among other nearby owls, who vocalized their hoots and screeches with abandon.  I didn’t stay outside long enough to know how long the noise lasted because as soon as that one owl’s fabulous R2-D2 imitation pierced through the darkness, I jumped out of my skin and bolted for the house.  From what I could tell, though, the ruckus didn’t last long.

I haven’t heard any barred owls tonight.  I probably won’t because, whether I like it or not, I need to go to bed now.  I have a long To Do list to attack as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, and unfortunately, living on a night owl’s schedule is not conducive to being productive.

Before I turn in for the night, I want to share a recording of a barred owl for any of you who may not have heard what one sounds like.  This particular clip has the hoots and the “baby” sound I tried to describe, but you’ll have to use your imagination for the R2-D2 owl.  🙂


So…THIS is What It’s Like

In the “About Me” section of this blog, I told you that one of my interests that you will likely read about on this blog is Doctor Who.  I started this blog in November.  Despite the ideas and thoughts I’ve had about a Doctor Who–related post swirling around in my head since November, I haven’t written anything about it.

Until now.

I’ll spare you the story on how and why I became a Whovian because it’s quite long, but just know that it happened in November of 2012 when my brother showed me “The Time of Angels” (Series 5, Episode 4).  One episode was all it took to addict me.  Since then, I have seen every episode of the new Who, except for three of the four 10th Doctor specials aired between Series 4 and 5.  I have also seen a few episodes of the classic Doctor Who and would like to see more in the future.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you probably already know that quite a few of my favorite quotes listed are from Doctor Who.  I have watched as much behind-the-scenes footage as I could get my hands on, “liked” Doctor Who pages on Facebook to read what other Whovians have to say or share, and I never tire of discussing episodes or theories of what might happen next.  That said, I have found very few people who are willing to discuss the show as fervently as I do, so I don’t discuss the show much.  (I have surpassed my brother’s knowledge on the show; he has created a monster, and it’s driving him crazy.  :-))  Heck, I was alone when I watched most of those episodes and the recently concluded Series 7.

Matt Smith, who currently plays the 11th incarnation of the Doctor, was my first Doctor.  Since I started watching this show, I learned that Whovians have “their Doctor”, meaning that one of the incarnations, likely their favorite one, has impacted them in a unique way and brought something special to their Doctor Who experience that no other Doctor has.  All of the Doctors I have seen are great in their own way.  I’m not a fangirl, but I can say without a doubt that Matt Smith is, and always will be, my Doctor.

I’ve been a bit of geek/nerd for most of my life, and an introverted, socially awkward one at that.  I’ve been a Star Wars fan (of Episodes IV, V, and VI) since I was about nine years old.  I’ve always been a hungry bookworm.  I don’t watch much TV, but I like sci-fi shows.  When it comes to fun ways to spend time outside of work and romantic relationships, Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj of The Big Bang Theory and I have a lot in common.  That being said, I have never attended a Comic-Con (although depending on who’s there, it could be fun), dressed up as my favorite sci-fi characters, or felt devastated if I learned that one my favorite TV characters would no longer be part of a certain show.  I never grasped what it was like to be part of a fandom and ride all of the highs and lows that come with being dedicated to currently running TV show.  Until I started watching Doctor Who, I never knew what it was like.

I experienced the “riding highs and lows” aspect more than ever when I logged onto Facebook yesterday and came across this very low piece of news (NOTE:  do not read past the “Still So Exciting” heading if you haven’t seen the Series 7 finale yet):

I’m not going to lie; the news really gutted me.  Last I’d heard, Matt Smith had signed on for Series 8, which would start after the Christmas episode this year.  I was looking forward to at least one more year with my Doctor.  It’s not going to happen.

I have known from the get-go that the only constant in Doctor Who is change.  No Doctor or companion stays on the show forever.  Change is what has kept the show fresh and interesting since it started running in 1963.  Once Matt Smith leaves, I don’t want him to come back as another regeneration several years down the road.  (That has never happened on the show, and I hope it never will, but some people still want that to happen with David Tennant [the 10th Doctor] someday.)  That being said, I’m disappointed that the change is happening again so soon.  Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor) stayed on the show for seven years.  It would be nice to have someone stick around for more than three or four years, as long as he’s a great Doctor.

Like thousands of other Whovians all around the world, I am anxiously awaiting the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special that will air on November 23rd of this year.  And like thousands of other Whovians, I am anxiously awaiting the Doctor Who Christmas special, but I am not looking forward to the end of it.  Like thousands of other Whovians, I have no idea what is in store for the show’s future, but I care a lot about it.  And as a new Whovian, I’m experiencing the “feels” (a term I’ve seen on the Internet) of learning of the current Doctor’s departure and dreading the moment when his regeneration happens.

I’ve only ever heard of highs and lows that dedicated fans of any show experience, whether they’re about the characters, the storyline, or anything else.  Since I have finally found a TV show that I’m willing and excited to watch on a regular basis (when I can; I don’t have BBC America at home so I have to rely on the Internet a lot), I’m no longer just hearing what those highs and lows are like.  I’m living them.

So…this is what it’s like.

Late Night Rambling

I’m a night owl.  Some of you who know me well or have lived with me already know this.  Some of you may have already figured that out based on what time my blog posts are published.  (By the way, the clock on this blog is an hour fast.  It’s been that way since I started it.  If any of you know how to fix this, can you please tell me how?  I’ve been trying since November.)  For whatever reason, my deepest urges to read and write and my most spontaneous jolts of creativity hit me and demand attention and energy when I should be hitting the sack for some desperately needed shut eye.  Tonight is no different, although the way I got there is not typical.

Believe me, right now I’d love to be fast asleep in bed.  My eyelids are drooping as we speak and have been for hours.  However, stormy weather, like the kind we had earlier today and what I thought we would get tonight, keeps me up at night.  (So does editing a blog post after I’ve finished writing it.)  I’ve been hanging out in the basement most of the day today, although part of that is because the people whose house I’m currently staying at has their family room in their basement, and that’s where their dogs like to hang out the most.  🙂

Anyway, I just had to check the weather before I could call it a night with a little peace of mind, so I checked two different weather reports to make sure that all was well and that I could go to sleep without being awoken by a tornado siren within a couple of hours.  One of the sites I checked a few minutes ago was the Weather Channel.  After I checked the weather forecast for my area, I came across an article that TWC posted about bubbles frozen under Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada.  Darwin Wiggett is the photographer who captured these images with is camera.  I’d never heard of Abraham Lake before, but I’m always up for learning about different places in the world (I loved geography class), and I love taking photographs of nature scenes.  My interest was piqued.

I never knew that such a natural phenomenon existed.  Who would’ve thought that such a cold, harsh environment could also be so beautiful? 

The photos took me away for a few minutes and calmed me down.  Seeing those photos made me want to travel to that sub-zero part of the world and snap some pictures of my own.  Although that’s highly unlikely anytime soon, I need to get out and go somewhere to take pictures.  (I like to pretend that I’m a great photographer.)

If you’re in the mood for looking at some beautiful photos, click on the link and enjoy.  All of them are amazing, in my opinion, but if I had to pick a favorite, it’s 15/32.



Green Arrows

I have a question to ask those of you who drive.

Do you like to stop at red lights, especially when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere important?

Me, neither.

People often say that I’m a very patient person.  It’s very nice of them to say that, but I should tell you that these people probably have not seen me behind the wheel.  I spew sarcasm at drivers who turn without using a blinker (“Nice blinker, genius.”), who stay put when the light turns green (“It’s the pedal on the right!”), and who drive in the rain without headlights (“Really, dude?”), among other things.  I never honk at bad drivers, only because it’s too late to do so when I’m finished yelling at them.  (If I’ve yelled at any of you, I’m really sorry.)

Sometimes I’m particularly anxious if I’m trying to turn left onto another street.  Even if I’m at a stoplight and the light is green, I still have to wait until other cars have gone by before I can turn.  I get antsy as the wave of traffic comes, because each car that passes by takes time away for me to turn before the light turns red.  I tend to get more impatient when another car pulls up behind me, also wanting to turn left.  I have to not only wait, but use good judgement as I decide whether or not I should make a speedy turn before the oncoming car reaches the intersection, or if I should be a cautious driver and wait it out a little bit.  (For the record, I prefer to be cautious.)  Sometimes I get lucky and find enough of a gap for me to turn left while the light is still green.  However, sometimes there is so much traffic that I have to wait as the light turns yellow, and finally red.  By then, it’s too late to go anywhere.  I have to wait some more.   Sometimes this situation forces the driver behind me to wait, as well.  It is one of the few times that I might feel a little bad for another driver on the road.

On the other hand, sometimes while waiting to turn left at an intersection with a green light, I notice that all oncoming traffic slows to a stop.  I look up, and a green arrow lights up in front of me.  I don’t have to wait anymore.  I have a clear shot, with a direction specifically for me, telling me that now is the best time to go ahead.

I think life can be like that sometimes.  We’re trying to go somewhere important.  Maybe it’s to a new job, a new home, a new graduate program, a new relationship status with our significant other, or some other new chapter in life, but we have to stop and wait, whether we want to or not.  Many times, we don’t want to.  We know where we want to go.  Why can’t we just get there already?

One way we can react to this situation is to let impatience have the upper hand.  We anxiously wait for the next available opportunity to make that turn, sometimes accelerating like crazy to make it there before the next obstacle comes along.  It’s sometimes effective, but it’s stressful.  Is that extra stress really worth it?  What do we gain by jumping the gun?

Another option is to wait for a little while.  People might think this is unproductive, but it doesn’t have to be.  While you’re stopped where you’re at, take in the view.  Enjoy the beauty that God has created and placed around you, whether it’s flowers growing on the side of the road, the shapes of the clouds in the sky, or the setting sun.  Learn from the people around you in your present situation.  Stay busy while you wait.

Before you know it, you’ll get a green arrow, specifically for you, telling you that it is the best time to go ahead to what’s next.

If you know me well, you know that I can stress over people and situations quite a bit.  I don’t always stop and smell the roses as much as I should, and I’m very hard on myself.  If life was a series of left turns at stoplights on a busy street, I’d knot up my stomach as I waited for a slight break in the traffic and the chance to make a break for where I want to go next, especially if a driver comes up behind me.  It’s unnecessary.  In this crazy life, I should trust God, take a deep breath, quit stressing over strangers’ opinions on how I roll, and enjoy the ride as I wait for that arrow.

Here’s to learning how to do that in the days ahead.

I’m Back!

Hello, friends!

It definitely has been a while since I last blogged.  I didn’t realize how long it had been until I logged on tonight.  Here’s what has happened lately:

I am done with school!!  😀  This past school year has been rough, both academically and personally.  I can’t describe how relieved I am that it’s over.  However, today’s relief is also matched by my current uncertainty of the future.

I did not finish my Master’s degree last semester.  I unintentionally failed a required class.  I am three credits short of an MA in Education.  Believe it or not, I’m okay–even happy now–about not getting my Master’s.  This particular program was not what I really wanted to study.  Honestly, the only reason I picked it was because a few other well-meaning people recommended that I do it.  I can see why they thought an MA in Education was the best option for me (hence why I decided to do it), and it did allow me to continue taking dance classes as a grad student, but the program was not personally gratifying for me at all, especially when compared to my BA in dance.  I literally put blood, sweat, and tears into that one, and it felt so awesome when I graduated and got my diploma for it.  I know that I’ll feel happy about earning a Master’s degree if it’s in a field I’m passionate about.  Assuming that I’m accepted into the program, as soon as I get the chance, I’m going back to get the MA degree that I’ve wanted for years.  Thankfully, because of some of the graduate level classes I’ve already taken, it should only take me two semesters and one summer class to finish.

I finished student teaching earlier this month.  The time I spent at that school seemed to drag on and fly by at the same time.  It was definitely a learning experience about teaching and myself.

With no more student teaching, no more classes, no more seminars to attend, and no graduate assistantship, I now have an abundance of time on my hands until I find a job.  I still teach ballet at a local studio and will start teaching ballet to figure skaters very shortly, and I pet-sit/house-sit, but otherwise, I have not had much of a schedule.  This is the earliest beginning to summer break I’ve ever had.

From the get-go, I have known that my field, dance education, is not an easy field in which to find work.  The education market nowadays is saturated, and dance is not a widely taught subject area in schools.  I’m still looking for work as a teacher, but I’m also looking for anything else to get by:  office work, restaurant work, etc.  Nothing came of my most recent job app (a secretarial position for a truck repair company), so the job hunt continues.  It’s tedious, but Dusty and Kirby are great company as I research jobs and type resumes.

I went to an art fair in my hometown last weekend.  This art fair has taken place every year for the last 12 years, and I finally went to it for the first time last weekend.  I’d wanted to go years beforehand, but something else, usually final exams, kept me from attending.  I had a great time there.  I ran into and caught up with some of my high school teachers and the janitor who always cleaned the auditorium and the building where the music classrooms were.  I saw my amazing choir teacher perform in a singing trio that she is a part of.  I saw dozens of artists’ best work, including some dance-themed pieces, that made me miss art class.  I haven’t taken a studio art class since my senior year of high school.  Unless you count photos I’ve taken, it’s been years since I’ve tried to create any sort of artwork.  I miss being alone and letting my artistic ideas run wild as I try to make something beautiful on paper.  As a dance teacher who is choreographing a piece for the studio’s recital, I do have a chance to let my ideas run wild in an open space (somewhat literally), but there is just something about sitting in absolute silence while I draw, sketch, erase, paint, shade, etc.  I always tell myself that I’m saving my visual art days for when my body permanently falls apart and can’t dance anymore.  Even though I take precautions, knowing my luck with injuries and such, I would not be surprised if that happened.

I am thankful that I occasionally get to visit my most recent alma mater and that it isn’t too far away from where I live now.  I spent six and a half years living there (I went straight into grad school after earning my BA), so the campus became home, and some of the people there became my family.  I got sick of dorm life a while back and have no desire to live on campus again, but I still love visiting and catching up with my Missouri family whenever I get the chance.

Other than that, there isn’t much to report.  I’ll post some entries on specific thoughts and events a little later on.  In this post, I just wanted to give you a summary of my life nowadays.

Thanks for stopping by!  Come back soon!

Venting and Reasoning

Remember in the “About” page of this blog when I said that a lot of my stories about school are more like venting sessions?  You’re about to read the first one for this blog.  For those of you who haven’t seen me in a while and want to know how school is going, here’s your update.

For the last month or so, I’ve been lucky to get six hours of sleep each night.  For the past week or two, it’s been more like five hours.  It’s killing me.  I can’t think straight about anything.  I’m not alert in my classes.  I can’t pick up on steps or combinations in ballet class to save my life, much less remember them for the next class.  I usually have some time to catch up on lost sleep over the weekend, but it never seems like enough.  Last night as I laid down in bed, I felt slightly nauseous just because of how sleep-deprived and physically exhausted I’ve been.  I got a full night’s sleep, but apparently, it wasn’t enough.  I fell asleep for over an hour while doing (read: trying to do) my homework this afternoon.  The nap felt amazing was very much needed, but it also means that I don’t get to check off all the items on my to-do list, particularly my “homework to do” list.  As such, it only means that another draining week is around the corner.  It’s a vicious cycle to which I see no end in sight.  I hate it.

It wouldn’t be quite as bad if I was getting something out of my classes, but I’m not.  Let me clear when I say that none of this is the fault of my professors.  It’s just the way the classes are designed, in combination with my somewhat unusual academic circumstances.

Ballet is a good class, and I have a good teacher, but I don’t have any energy to give to it while I’m there, and I’m really burned out.  I know that there’s a lot to learn in this class, but I’m not picking up on much of it at all because of my constant sleep-deprived state.  Dance is not fun at all in this situation.

Methods of Teaching a Specialty Subject is a repeat of Analysis of Teaching and Learning Behavior, the class I took last summer.  I already understand most, if not all, of what is being taught, so I’m not learning anything new.  Yet, it has written homework every week, so I must put forth the effort, even though I’m not learning anything.  Waste. Of. Valuable. Time.  The only bright spot in this class is the independent study portion of this class with my ballet teacher.  At least I’m getting something out of that.

Educational Research is one of the most demanding classes I’ve ever taken.  Like Methods, it’s also a class in which I’m not learning anything, which is frustrating because of its work load.  Honestly, it will be a miracle if I get a “C” in the class.  At this point, it’s all I want.  Well, that and my sanity.  I want that back.

So, I did some thinking.  I followed some advice a very dear friend gave me about a month ago as I vented my school and non-school stressors (I’m saving those for another blog post) to her via Facebook messaging.

I quit trying to find time to practice dance outside of class.  I don’t have the energy for it, and there’s no sense in burning myself out even further until I start to love it again.

As far as schoolwork goes, for the time being, I’ve quit striving for perfection and decided to only do the bare minimum necessary for graduation.  I have absolutely no regrets about this decision.  I’d much rather spend the time pursuing neglected interests, educating myself about the world around me outside of school, and bonding with people that matter to me.  In the end, all of that is way more important than a letter grade.

This situation has shown me that I’m still living by my personal philosophy about education that I developed in high school.  As a teacher in the making, I don’t know if this is the best philosophy to have or if many people will accept it, much less agree with it, but I’m not apologizing for it.

Grades are important, but in the end, grades are just letters on a transcript.  To paraphrase my favorite Spanish teacher (and one of the best teachers of all time, in my opinion), getting a “B” in Spanish class while still knowing how to speak it fluently will go much farther than someone turned in all of the bookwork, got an “A”, but still can’t speak it fluently.  His point was that we should still do our very best, but if for some reason our very best doesn’t produce an “A”, there’s more to the class than that.  It’s not the ultimate goal.  Learning and applying the knowledge to our lives is the goal.

Despite my desire to earn the title of “honor student” in high school and college, I never was one and was never meant to be one.  Granted, I made the honor roll in high school a few times, and the Dean’s List at LU a few times, and I usually came close the times that I didn’t make it, but I didn’t graduate from either place with honors.

In high school, while many of my peers were choosing their classes based on what would get them accepted into a good college, I chose as many classes in my favorite subjects as I could and took very few honors classes.  (With the exception of honors English, which I only did for one semester, taking honors classes was not something I ever wanted to do in the first place.)  My short experience in honors classes my freshman year showed me that as far as what students learn at either level, there isn’t much difference; only the workload was different.  (In hindsight, I think I can see the point to a select few of those extra assignments, but the overall stress from an honors class wasn’t worth it.)  I took the bare minimum of core academic subjects to graduate because I knew that I was going to a community college after high school.  Standards of entrance there weren’t nearly as high there as they are a four-year school, so during my senior year I took art, show choir, instrumental music, and symphonic band all year, plus one semester of theatre appreciation and one semester of creative writing.  Before senior year, I was blessed to take either Treble Choir or show choir, and concert band (or instrumental music) every semester, as well as art for a full year.  I made the arts high priorities in high school because I loved them (and still do), and because I knew that once I got to college, there wouldn’t be as much time in my schedule for them.  I also saw no reason in taking more classes than necessary in science, history, math, etc. because I’d have to study those same subjects over again in a few short years to fulfill gen ed requirements in college.

According to my transcripts, I’m an average student, but sometimes I feel like I learned more and have been exposed to more than some of my honor student peers.

I don’t mean to knock anybody’s academic achievements.  It takes a lot of work and effort to earn that recognition, and I sincerely applaud and sometimes envy those who graduate with honors and really high GPAs.  (I suppose the envy hits once in a while because even though I didn’t graduate from LU with honors, I came very close.)  I’m just saying that I don’t beat myself up over it too much because I’m happy with most of the educational choices I’ve made.

That being said, I’m trying not to make any bad decisions in my last semester as I try to sort out which assignments take priority and which ones don’t.  Two of these assignments are worth a lot of points, and even though I’m not learning anything in Methods (except for the independent study) or Ed Research, I don’t want to blow them off to the point that my grades are so low that I don’t graduate.  My grades aren’t that bad (I can probably still pull off an “A” in Methods), but last week I reached the point that I was ready to completely quit school and didn’t care whether or not I graduated or did student teaching.  I am still that frustrated and overwhelmed.

If you think about it, please say a little prayer that I finish strong this semester.  Not just with decent grades, but with my sanity intact.  I want to get organized.  I want to be happy again.  I want to give the people I love–in Missouri and Illinois–the best I have, and I feel bad that I haven’t been able to do that.  Feel free to leave any comments of advice, suggestions, or threats of what you might do to me if I slack off too much or throw in the towel. 🙂

I feel a little bit better now that I’ve vented.  Thanks for reading.