Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dreadlock Assessment

Yesterday was my two year dreadaversary! I didn't even remember to celebrate.  Dreads, the great adventure I once blogged about, and blogged about, and embarked on, and jumped ship on, then waited for years, then started again, has become just another hairstyle.  In fact, it's lasted longer than most other hairstyles I've had in the last nine years.  I began my dreadlock journey with the goal of having my locks for a full year or longer.  Now I've blown by my two year dreadaversary without even blinking.  My dreadlocks, that began this short:

Are now this long:
Dreadlocks in Central Park in the fall

Dreadlocks on a dragon boat in China

I had dreadlocks for my wedding.

I had dreadlocks for the last family picture.

I've had dreadlocks for the last two years of school pictures.

I've gotten used to getting the looks at the water park, the grocery store, the train station, etc.  I've gotten used to being approached with questions about my dreads by people all over. from the DMV to the streets of New York.  Strangers treat me differently, that's for sure.  The guy at the carwash asked if I smoke weed, so did the teenagers on the train.  The cute mother of two at Home Depot made a hallucinogen joke.  But most of the questions are about the dreads themselves.  How did I get them? What do they feel like? Can I wash them?

I love my dreadlocks.  I love the way they look, the way I have an untamable mane of hair that takes zero effort to do, looks fantastic in the woods, out of rivers, after 12-hour plane rides, and after driving down the freeway with the windows open.  It can rain, snow, sleet, or hail, and my hair will look the same.  I like that they are an instant conversation starter.  I love the way my students think I am somehow magically a better teacher because I have cool hair.

But I also hate my dreadlocks.  I hate that they feel like having 100 wool ropes attached to my head, always slightly scratchy.  At night, I have to carefully pull my woolen mop over to one side, and rearrange it every time I roll over.  If my husband wants to cuddle, I have strategically arrange my head and locks to avoid asking to him to cuddle his face into a wool sweater. Dreadlocks are not cuddly. Not even a little bit.  The other day Allie gave me a hug and exclaimed, "Your hair is so..." I nodded excitedly, expecting her to comment on how much my hair had grown, but she surprised me. "Scratchy!" she finished.  I hate that my hair still will not admit defeat, but continues diligently through every day and night to try and escape the knots, emerging as loose hair in bits and swarms between dread clean-up appointments. It drives me nuts that my hair is continually getting caught on any piece of jewelry I wear on my neck or ears.  The only time it's not getting caught is if my hair is in a ponytail, but my dreadlocked ponytail is so prodigious that I am unable to lean my head back in the car, but must sit hunched forward.  I can, after two years, finally put my hair up in a bun, but it's a fifteen minute process to get everything just right, and gives me a headache if I wear it very long.

Over Christmas break, in a desperate fit of needing to change something, I convinced my long-suffereing, dreadlock-tolerating husband to dye my hair.  It took HOURS to coat each individual dreadlock.  In the end, the dreads did not absorb very much dye, and my hair was only slightly redder than when I began.  I think I might try bangs next, but I am beginning to question my commitment to the dreadlock hairstyle.  It has all the advantages and disadvantages of a normal hairstyle, but more dramatically.  It is dramatically easier to take care of, but it's very resilience to change and outside influence means that it resists styling, and, to some extent, cleaning.

There are times when having dreadlocks is freeing.  I can camp and hike for days, and my hair looks like it did on day one.  I can walk in the rain, jump in rivers, and have all sorts of adventures without worrying about my hair.  However, dreadlocks come with their own "can'ts."  I can't walk through a thicket without snagging my hair.  I can't wear some of my coats because of the Velcro on the collars. I can't shower just before I go to bed because my hair takes about five hours to dry in the winter, and my pillow will be damp all night if I do.  I can't take a quick dip in a pool, because I'm worried that my dreads will trap the chlorine in the center and damage my hair.  I worry about dirt and slimy things getting in my hair and working their way to the center of the dreads, where they will stay forever.  Gross.  My hairstyle is impervious, but I only have about two and a half ways to wear it.

So where does this leave me?  My dreadlocks get longer and more awesome with every passing month, which alternately makes me delighted and horrified.  Longer means more of these things! More scratchy stuff to deal with! How on earth will I style it when there is more? Good grief!  But they look. so. cool. And I've put two years into them, and I will probably never do dreads again after this.

Should I keep them until they grow to head-turning, fantastic lengths, or chop them off to a pixie cut?

The Old Pixie
But then I'd have to grow it out all over again. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Everything Happens

           One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog is when Penny tells Buddy, "Everything happens..."
          "Don't say for a reason," Billy interrupts her.
          "No. Everything happens," Penny clarifies.

And sooner or later everything does happen.  Everything good, and everything bad.  Today, good things happened.  My wedding day started showing up on the long range weather forecast.  I picked up my wedding dress.  Today, bad things happened.  I woke up with a sore throat. I had to make cider using a longer process than usual.

But most importantly, today I lost my first student.

I've been teaching for six years now, and have taught around 1200 students between the ages of 12-15.  My first 350 students have graduated from high school (or not, depending on the student).  Some of them are probably scattered across the globe at college, or on missions, or working, or in jail, or wherever they are headed.  Some are probably already married.  A few are probably parents.  Working with the flood of humanity that I do, sooner or later, everything happens.

But the inevitability of losing a student doesn't matter at all when you find out which one it is you've lost.  When I checked the news this morning and found out that they had identified the body of a 14-year-old drowned in Hyrum reservoir as one of my students from the past two years, I sat crying in the kitchen for a long while.  A month and a half ago, I was saying hi to this kid in the halls and watching him grow up from the 12-year-old he was last year to a fully-fledged teenage boy.  He drove me crazy, he failed my class, and he was one of my favorites.  He had a smile that could light up a whole classroom.  I'd go out of my way to talk to him when I saw him because his green eyes and up-to-no-good smile always gave me a lift.  And yesterday he drowned.

More than once I have sat in on discussions among veteran teachers recounting all of the students they have lost.  And I've known that someday I would begin a list of my own, and that the longer I teach, the longer it will get.  Sooner or later, everything happens.  But today, I'm just so sad that it happened to Tucker.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Stationary Vault From Prone Position


I give myself a 7 for my execution of this tricky move.  However, the score is mostly for my effort, since I still landed painfully on my knees and tripped over the bed, which would have been very unpleasant for L had he still been in it.  Still, I think my score is fair, given the circumstances.  I went from deep asleep to flying through the air in a matter of about two seconds.  I would have landed better, too, had my legs not gotten tangled in the covers during my mid-air rotation.

It was about one thirty when I heard it, a definite and important sounding WHUMP! It was a new whump, not one of the usual ones that happen so frequently in our old house (the whump of the washer as it thumps the pipes the sheer force of it's sucking water through them, the whump of the furnace turning on, but only sometimes).  This whump had a loud, percussive quality that sent my eyelids flying open in the dark.  @#&! I thought.  It must be the heat exchange on that 18-year-old furnace!  It blew!  I heard L say "uh-oh" and I began my execution of the Stationary Vault From Prone Position.

I threw the covers off and launched into the air simultaneously.  The launch was necessary, because I needed to get the door and down the hall and to the living room to turn the heat off immediately, and there was simply no time to bother with walking all the way around the bed to the door.  Despite being not fully conscious yet, I performed several important calculations about the trajectory of my Vault: First, we had rearranged the entire bedroom that day in preparation for a new bed to be delivered so I would need to jump not just to the floor by the bed, but over L to the far side where the door was.  Second, the mattress was on the floor, so I only need to throw one leg out to the side to get enough leverage to launch myself toward the door.  So up into the air I flew, rotating 90 degrees mid-air so I would land facing the door, thereby saving precious seconds that would keep our house from exploding (that's what happens when the heating exchange cracks, right?).  So far so good.  But this is when I tangled my legs in the covers and fell on my knees on our hard wood floor.  I assumed I had just nearly belly-flopped on poor L, so I mumbled a hurried "Oh sorry!" as I got one leg under me and lunged forward at a sprint.  Down the hall I charged, reaching the living room and flipping on the light switch to better see the thermostat.

The light flashed on, revealing L, not in our bed having just been pummeled by my flying heels, but groggily sitting up on the sofa.  I paused in confusion.  He must have had trouble falling asleep and decided to internet on the sofa and fallen asleep there (happens pretty often).  What brought my dash to a halt was that he was reaching to recover his laptop computer that was lying upside down on the hardwood floor.  It must have slid off his lap when he shifted in his sleep.  Slid to the floor with a definite and important sounding WHUMP!

"Oh," I said, "That was you."

Then I went back to bed contemplating my own clumsy athletic prowess and my nearly successful Stationary Vault From a Prone Position.  Maybe it can be in the Olympics someday.  No doubt it has been performed by countless homeowners and parents over the decades who have heard some mysterious WHUMP! in their homes or from their children's bedrooms and found in necessary to launch into the airspace above their beds and hit the ground running.  We should perfect it and get sponsors.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Quiet Kid Raised His Hand

We were reading the first few chapters of Lois Lowry's The Giver together, discussing the way the community's rules were similar or different from our own.  We were deep in discussion when, in the exact center of the classroom, one student who doesn't say much raised his hand.  Delighted, I quickly called on him.

"Miss E., I found a bomb under my chair," he said, holding it out to me.  I took it from him with perfect calmness before beginning to laugh.

Perhaps some context?  I have a cupboard full of games that students can play before or after school or during free time during the day.  By far the most popular of these games is Stratego.  I even had to buy a new game set this year because of its popularity.  The class period before, with most of my students gone to the Christmas basketball games, the few of us remaining were watching Christmas cartoons while a few of them played Stratego.  Apparently they didn't clean up after themselves very well, which led to my quiet student the next class period finding a "bomb" under his chair.

While we all had a good laugh, some of the more skittish individuals confessed they'd suffered from some momentary alarm when he had made his announcement.  I have to admit, after I chuckled and took the game piece from his outstretched hand, I felt some retroactive unease myself.  There are certain things no teacher ever expects to hear in a discussion.  There are others that she fears, especially with the seemingly ever more frequent school shootings.  "Miss E., I found a bomb under my chair" is not a sentence I thought would ever be spoken in my classroom.  It makes me think about what I would do if my student had been serious.

But it's just a game piece!  haha.  twitch.  chuckle... shudder.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Catch Up

I am dead, nor have I abandoned this blog.  I just got really, really, really, really busy doing lots of cool stuff.  This is the post just to say that I'm coming back.  My school has unblocked blogspot, so I can blog here and there while my students work on stuff, like their journals, which they're doing now.  So blogging should happen again.  Huzzah!

Here are some highlights from the last six months:

April:  I had dreads
          I decided to move in with my boyfriend, the Pirate.

May:  I moved in with the Pirate
         I finished the school year and moved my classroom, again

June:    I ran away to the desert with my friend Brian for three and a half weeks of climbing, hiking, camping, and reading.
          I still had dreads.
          I got engaged!!
          I flew out to Indiana to be with my sister as she had her first baby.

July:   A new nephew arrived on the 4th of July, and I got to drive across country with my mom, which was awesome.
         I camped and hiked and camped and hiked, with family and friends.

August:  I hiked and camped some more, then went back to meetings.
           I still had dreads.
           School started.

September:    School kept going.
                     I still had dreads.
                     The Pirate and I decided to buy a house.

October:   We put our first offer down and are waiting for the counter offer.

Did you hear that?  That was the rumble of the earth shaking as tectonically big things happen in my life in a short amount of time.


(I still have dreads!)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Well, it was a nice idea, anyway

When the counselor at your school walks in with a box of donuts for you, it's not a good sign.  It means that something awful got screwed up on your schedule for next year.

In my case, the counselors forgot to add debate to the registration forms for the incoming 7th graders.  That means that the incoming 600 students, who were supposed to swell my program and provide the base for future advanced debate programs, had no opportunity to sign up.  There's no real way to fix it, either.

Nothing much to do except accept my box of donuts with as much grace as I can manage and put my grand plans for a debate program off another year.  Never mind the conferencing I've done this year with administrators about the direction they want this program to take, a simple slip of mind on the part of the counseling dept. has set the whole thing back until the 2014-15 school year.

I'm angry, but you can't yell at the dear sweet counselor ladies.  I'm terribly disappointed, but the first bell just rang and I've got 32 students walking in my door expecting to see me smile.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oh, and by the way? This happened.

At 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, February second, I was waiting in a parking lot, trying to peer through the shop window.  Although I was dressed in sweats and an oversized long sleeve t-shirt, my car held a dress, a dress shirt, make-up, and my nice coat.  My purse was packed with trail mix and books.  I was ready.  Ready for this to happen:

I have dreads again!  From 9:00 a.m. to after midnight, I sat in a chair in the office of Salon 21 in Orem while The Amazing James turned my normal hair

Into something much more fun.

The original time estimate was only 6-8 hours, but it turned out that I have deceptively thick hair.  James thought I'd have about 50-60 dreads at the size I wanted.  Instead, I have around 110.  So eight hours turned into fifteen, and James and I swapped life stories, talked philosophy, and watched the entire first season of the new Doctor Who.  I missed the dance concert I had intended to go to with Rachel and Allie, but I walked out of the salon at about 12:30 a.m. with a head full of dreads.  And I am very, very happy.

I didn't tell my family I was getting dreads that day.  I didn't tell my friends.  I did tell my 250 students, but mostly to prepare them for the change.  After all the fuss, fuss, and even more fuss that I made about my first dreads, only to have them need to be combed out after only a few months, I was ready to do this the quiet way.  I am the proud and happy owner of a head full of song quotes and fragments of misremembered poems, packaged on the outside with a thick layer of dreads.