Sunday, December 4, 2011

A List of Positives

During one of my recent trips down the StumbleUpon rabbit hole, I came upon one of those hokey "better yourself" articles that advised readers to make a "list of positives" about their life or career. Normally, my reaction to an article of this nature would be to hit the stumble button immediately, but because I'm nearing the end of my first semester of teaching 8th grade and experiencing the mental and physical fatigue that accompanies it, I decided to give it a go.

Here is my list of positives.

1. I am out of grad school and receive an actual, real-person paycheck every two weeks.

I'm not sure when the excitement that I experience on the 15th and 30th of the month goes away, but I don't think it will be anytime soon. I now have the liberty of treating myself to things such as Tervis tumblers whenever my heart desires, unlimited supplies of Raid cans, more black shirts to accompany the 57 black shirts I already own because I'm obsessed with black shirts, Cab Sauv that's nicer than 4 dollar Fisheye, and new bath mats when mine seem gross because I'm too lazy to actually try to clean them. And the best part? Not having to justify seemingly ridiculous or unnecessary purchases to anyone! What? You think buying 6 Raid cans at a time is excessive? Doesn't matter anymore! Positive.

2. I have the most entertaining job on the planet.

As you probably know, I teach 8th grade. I know people use this phrase to describe things at an alarmingly cliche frequency, but there is literally never. a. dull. moment. when you teach 8th grade. The other day, I had a student raise his hand in the middle of a lesson on extended metaphor and ask, out of the blue, "Ms. Townes, can a person be a girl and a boy at the same time?" I could not make this shit up.

My students "open my eyes" every single day, and not in the cheesy way you're thinking. Through teaching them, I've learned that.....Yes, you do actually have to say, out loud, that it is NOT okay to make a public display of farting in class. It is NOT okay to write "Shamika has mad swagg, yo" on the Smartboard while I'm working one on one with another student. It is NOT okay to tell your teacher that if she would just get a boyfriend or a husband, she probably wouldn't be such a big fat jerk. (True stories.)

So yes, my job provides me never-ending entertainment in the form of 8th grade drama, baggage, academic confusion, and general unexpected events. All 6 of the teachers on my team were grateful we made it through 4th block on Friday after our hallway looked like a scene straight out of Mean Girls at class-change between 3rd and 4th block, complete with verbal threats, weave-pulling, attempts at physical attacks, and shying just short of a circle of students screaming "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!"

As a coworker often says..."8th graders....A work in progress." Positive.

3. I have an enormous, quirky, awesome family.

I know everyone says that their family is the best. We are all incredibly biased towards our own kin. I have the good fortune of having an immediate family of 7, plus 2 wonderful sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews they've spawned, and a wide array of unique extended family members. As a collective group, we are inappropriate, politically incorrect, brazen, blunt, and crude. I realize those don't exactly sound like positive attributes, but I maintain that they absolutely are. We're like the Greek side of the family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You know, the awesome, drunken side? Our family increases in number even more when you factor in that we creepily treat our three goldendoodles like humans. Oh, and the dogs enjoy getting drunk as well. Positive.

4. I can drink wine and watch How I Met Your Mother and Criminal Minds way more often than is socially acceptable.

Hypothetical situation: My kids acted insane that school day. Because of that, I left school at 3:45pm, went home, poured a glass of Merlot (at 3:45pm), and engaged in a 6 hour marathon of DVR-ed How I Met Your Mother episodes.
Is this something that I should proudly admit in this internet forum? Probably not.

Are these activities that I can feel free to participate in and not feel guilty about because I pay my own rent and have my own job and don't have a paper due for grad school and I will lose my sanity if I don't partake in? Yes. Positive.

5. I have the opportunity to be a staunch advocate for nerds.

This one probably sounds weird. It stems from the fact that, again, I teach 8th graders. Therefore, I unfortunately witness firsthand the evil that is bred in a middle school environment; namely, bullying. I preach to my students the benefits and general awesomeness that comes with knowing and loving stories such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. My students make fun of me for this daily, and that is just fine. I own it and I love it.

What I don't own and love? Students making fun of each other. For any reason at all. I was never an active member of the super popular crowd in middle and high school, and I liked it that way. I did not like those groups of people when I WENT to school with them, and it is truly a beautiful thing to not have to tolerate that kind of behavior in teaching them. I tell my students outright that that kind of disgusting behavior is intolerable in my classroom, and work very hard to be constantly vigilant of it, and when I can, put a stop to it. Positive.

6. I can cheer myself up by hanging out with people of the canine variety whenever I want.

Please note that I said "people" of the canine variety. That's right....dogs. Can we all agree to the general consensus that dogs are freaking awesome? They are natural anti-depressants in furry, tail-wagging, unnaturally-always-happy form.

I get my regular dose of canine-endorphines in 1 of 2 ways. The first way....I drive the 1.5 hours up to Steve and Suz's house in Greenville, where I am ecstatically greeted by Dixie, Ginger, and of course, my freak of nature Stella. The second way.....I make a 10 minute drive from my apartment to a little place called Pets, Inc, off highway 20 in Lexington. There, I can take potential adoptees on walks and almost go home with 6 different new pets on any given day. Positive.

How can anyone be upset with the world when they look at a face like this?

Not this girl!

I realize this blog is a bit of a departure from my usual style, but with Christmas coming and all that sappy BS, It's somewhat refreshing to sit here and think about the awesome in my life.

I'm going to try and keep this positive attitude up as my students file in for 1st block in about 10 hours, but we'll see what they have in store for me instead. My guess is that it will involve random hatred for me and my subject matter, massive life-ending drama with a best friend, and hair weave-scattering across my classroom floor.

The positive? Two more weeks until Christmas break. :)


  1. I am going to steal this. But I will, of course, give you a shout-out in my blog.

  2. New reader here! Oh 8th graders. I am convinced that if I had the opportunity to go back to 8th grade or high school I would be AWESOME. Ohh perspective... Nothing like being a part of a person's 'most awkward and regrettable period of life'!!



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