Thursday, June 08, 2006

Goodbye Mr. Chips

That's what it feels like today as I sit at my desk at Woodlawn School, cleared of everything but the memories of the past year. Funny how you end up doing things you always swore you wouldn't do. I was never going to be a teacher and when I got into teaching I only wanted to teach college. Then I thought, well, maybe high school would be OK. And I wind up teaching English to 14 precocious 8th graders in Davidson, NC. Today I saw them for the last time and I'm feeling all maudlin about it.

A vase of wild flowers sits on my desk. Some of the teachers got them for me with a muffin in a paper bag that says, "Good morning, Karyn." They know I'm not a morning person. :) The flowers are appropriate. Woodlawn is not your average school. Like wildflowers, it sprang up in the farmland of Davidson, next to the beautiful and sophisticated "rose" of Charlotte, NC. The classes are in small, white clapboard buildings -- two or three classrooms in each building. Outside my window is a blacktop area with a basketball hoop and several picnic tables. How many days have I sat here, working or eating my lunch, listening to the ball bouncing outside as childish voices drifted through my mind?

My students were wildflowers, too -- some rough edges, some prickly parts, but no thorns. Stick them in a vase with a little bit of water and they thrive.

I thought this place was the square hole that I would fit into -- innovative, progressive, alternative education theory. Perfect. Finally a place that appreciated someone who thinks outside the box. But it wasn't a good fit. Long story that I won't go into here.

As I carried my bag of stuff accumulated over a year out to my car, I felt the weight of goodbye fall on my shoulders. The familiar sting of tears. It's not just goodbye to Woodlawn or even to my students, it's goodbye to:

  • my dream of finding a place I would fit
  • the family I had found among the like-minded teachers here
  • the ability to be creative and innovative at work
  • a beautiful setting to come to every day
  • loving my job for the first time
  • having something important to contribute Woodlawn's Stinson Hall

    I cry also for the fact that because I lost my job here I am now going to Japan. It's HARD to make that move. I have had a crushing couple of weeks and more ahead of me. I don't feel that the people I'm going to work for appreciate me and what I'm giving up to go there. If only things had worked out here, I would not be facing this. I would finally have "my place" in the world. The long wait for a job would be over.

    But, no, it begins again. Japan is not permanent. Some day I will have to come back to the real world and find a "real job" and worry about paying for college and retirement. I am going forward with the next step, but deep inside I wonder, what is to become of me?

    So, today it is goodbye to Woodlawn and hello to -- possibilities.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

ah choo!

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."
~Jennifer Yane

That's what happened to me yesterday! My allergy-prone body said it had enough of all the dust mites stirred up by this craze of moving and went on overload. When I opened the window in my living room to catch a bit of the night breeze, my palms started itching. As the little bits of the pecan trees joined the dust mites in my lungs (I'm allergic to pecan trees, but not the nuts!), my head started to itch. Then my lips felt fuzzy and my eye started swelling up. Fortunately, a friend came by in the midst of this and we called my allergy doctor to see if I needed to go to the ER or stick myself with the epi pen or what. He had me take a bunch of benedryl, told me I could "never do anything like this[meaning cleaning out my attic] again," and told me to come in and get some steroid treatments (I passed on that one) the next day.

Today I was wiped out from the benedryl kickback and I guess my body is telling me enough is enough! But I'm not done yet. Still have one more day of work, have to finish packing (more dust!) and take care of my house, car, etc. here.

For those who pray, here is what you can pray for:

  1. Praise for all the people who helped with packing this weekend
  2. Praise that I didn't need to go to the hospital last night
  3. Pray for people to help me get my stuff to Goodwill and various consignment shops
  4. Getting my stuff packed by Saturday
  5. Wisdom in knowing what to take to Japan
  6. Healing for my body and strength to do what I need to do
  7. Pray for Bonnie as she is becoming more vocal about her fears and sadness. Everytime someone gives her a farewell gift, she gets angry with me. Pray for our relationship.
  8. Someone to rent my condo and the Lord's intervention with the lease on my car
  9. My trust in God to provide our financial needs (support is not what I thought it would be)

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. "

2Corinthians 4:7-9

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Where did I get all this stuff?

Yesterday was the major packing day at our house. I had 12 people from my church come over (10 at one time and two later) and we emptied out my attic and transported most of it to a friend's attic.

I've been packing non-stop for two weeks and had 12 people pack all day yesterday and I'm not done yet! Why do we have so much stuff? One of my friends who was helping me said it's good to do this once every few years. You got THAT right! You could probably house a small village on the stuff I took to Goodwill alone yesterday!

Teeny Updates
  • Our passports are here and the plane tickets bought. We leave June 19th, get to Japan on the 20th, stay in Osaka until the 21st, go to Kurashiki that day and start shadowing the person I'm replacing on the 24th. I will do that for a week and then I start working on July 1. WE'll be in a hotel for part of that time so Rachel can move out of the apartment.
  • Here in the U.S., I still have to work two days next week: All day Monday(finals) and half a day Thursday. I need to be out of the house by Saturday. WE're going to stay with a friend that last week.
  • A couple from my church who just got back from a year in Switzerland are coming to look at my condo on Tuesday. They are interested in leasing, possibly buying it! Please pray.
  • I found out that childcare will cost me$10 per hour in Japan (that's less than min. wage there!) No progress on that yet. NO time!
  • Also found out that the weight limits on luggage have changed since the last time I flew internationally. We can take 2 bags weighing no more than 50 lbs per bag for each person flying. That's 4 suitcases for a year of living in a foreign country. And I'm homeschooling so I need to bring lots of books andmaterials for Bonnie. Needless to say, I won't be able to get it in Japan!When I lived there before, I would pay $25 to get the latest paperback novel in English (something that would cost $6 here). So I wanted to take a lotof that stuff, but it weighs a lot so . . . The last time I flew, the bags could weigh 80 lbs each. :(
  • Bonnie is doing surprisingly well. She is not thrilled, as you can imagine.We pray every night that she will find a best friend in Japan. I think that would be great for her.

Now I have to get back to packing, packing, packing. I feel like there is a tenacious bacteria called "stuff" living in my house and the more I pack it up, the more it multiplies. Or the seven-headed (or however many heads it had) Hydra waving her tentacles around, waiting for me to cut one head off so three more can grow in its place! The sad thing is that when I get to Japan, I will, once again, accumulate more STUFF that I will have to deal with when we leave. OR maybe I'll break the cycle this time! Anyone want to lay odds on that one?