Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fair Enough.

So I have arrived safely back in Congo after an eventful ten day sojourn in the good ol’ US of A.  For all three of you that were worried for me rest assured that I am alive and relatively well, and this time I did not contract Jersey eye.  It is, of course, par for the course that the day I reach Boston is the day of their biggest storm in more than thirty years, but that is how life works here in the Rage Cage (oh god, someone make me a T Shirt!).

What was I doing in Boston, you may ask?  Well, I had gone to find a new job.  As the five regular readers of my blog know I am an international educator and part time raconteur.  While the former occupation has allowed me to travel all over the world, see crazy things, and have some of the most powerful, life changing, “movie will be made about it starring (probably) Naomi Watts and Mark Wahlberg (but only if he brings back the shirts from Boogie Nights)” experiences of my young life, the last few years I have been actively striving to make a change for myself.  I have been feeling for a while that I ready to branch out from teaching and toss my hat into a new arena.

This past summer I finally completed my admin certification coursework and walked away with a shiny new MA in Educational Leadership (listen to my graduation speech here for the fifth time!  It only gets better.  Play the diligence drinking game!) This is my second Masters, but unlike my first (Eastern Philosophy/Classical Chinese) this degree can probably be used for more than trying to make awkward conversation with the Korean lady at the bowling alley.

This Herculean task completed I made the decision that I would actively seek an administration position, come whatever may.  This is what has compelled me to leave my current job in sunny, spider filled Congo, and this is also why I was in Boston last week, as a job candidate at the big Cambridge Search Associates fair.

Now, for those who don’t know, these international job fairs are a way to bring schools and teachers together in such a way that face to face interviews are possible for people living on opposite sides of the globe.  Of course this is set up in one of the most stressful ways possible, and over these weekends there are always plenty of tears, anger, elbow drops, and drunken vomiting inside of potted plants in the lobby at 3 am.  That being said, however, for certain positions (like admin) it is thus far the best way to go, projectile bodily fluids and maddening rage aside. 

I came prepared.  I borrowed ties from people classier than me, did practice interviews, researched schools, shaved my killer mountain man beard and felt generally ready to bring the thunder upon arrival.  I was articulate, well groomed, and able to spout off the kind of teacher lingo that would make a curriculum coordinator at a New England charter school reach for her smelling salts.

When I say pedagogy, it has nine syllables.

Did I get a job?


Got some good stories, though.  I was told by one school that I wasn't tall enough to be a principal (should have worn the goldfish pimp shoes),  had another school ask about my eyes (which is always fun, as explained here), and was offered a “leadership position” as a pool maintenance manager.

It wasn't all bad though.  Even though I spent thousands of dollars and traveled thousands of miles to get told that I was essentially Bill Murray from Caddyshack, there were some positives.  I got a chance to see some of my oldest, bestest friends in Jersey City, along with my big brother.  Also, I got to be there when a few of my TCNJ friends joyfully received their first overseas contracts.  To see their eyes light up and the excitement bloom on the faces reminded me of myself, back when I had less randomly sprouting shoulder and ear hair.  I knew going in that I would have a hard time finding anything, given my lack of “on paper” experience, so things went reasonably like I had expected. 

Oh, and the storm happened.  There was some snow involved, which didn't help.

That'll buff right out.

So now what?  Is this the end of the line for gorgeous, sweaty me?

“But hold on!” you might be saying.  

Hopefully you are also in chaps.  

If not, I can wait.  

“Don’t you have a job now?”  

Why yes, you quick chapper you, I totally do, but I told them in October I wouldn't be returning next year.  

“Huh.  Well, did you get any teaching offers at the fair?”

Oh, I totally did.  I had some before the fair, as well.

“Oh, sweet.  So at least you-”

But I turned them down.

“You jackass.  And I wore these chaps for you.”

I know, I know.  I love the look, by the way. 

Maybe I am making a huge mistake, dear reader.  Perhaps I’m setting myself up for a colossal failure.  I might end up like that dude in Dead Presidents without the killer soundtrack.  It wouldn't be the first time I have gone out on a limb and failed miserably at something (read here for an example!).  On the other hand, I figured I would give it a shot.  I have been teaching now for twelve years and I think it’s time I try to move up the leadership ladder, as they say.  It’s a scary thing, sometimes, to take such a big chance.  There is a big, sexy part of me that is worried, for sure, about my future.  Maybe, at this time next year, this blog will recount my tales of working as the creepy guy who sits too close to everyone on subways.  

Who dares, wins.

There is another part of me that will always remember, in moments of uncertainty and doubt, the words of that wisest of sages, Hellhammer:  "Sometimes you have to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down."

And if we can’t trust Hellhammer, who can we trust?

May your light forever burn.  Also, (Censored- gotta keep it PG, haha) is a killer song.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

From The Mouths of Babes Part III: Awakenings

Wow, it’s been almost a month since I last reported in, dear neglected reader.  Sorry for the delay.  So, what’s new with me?  Well, not much.  In a few days I am off to Boston for a big job fair in an attempt to bring my newly acquired MA in Educational Leadership to the fore.   I have a few interesting leads but it has been a stressful, busy, and reasonably soul crushing time thus far so hopefully I will return a new man next week, self esteem back on top, pants firmly off, and the japery returned to its usual ridiculousness.   You may either wish me luck from afar or wish me beer from three feet away, depending on your circumstances and arm length.

Oh, and I also got this kick ass Star Trek book, complete with a light up stand and the soothing voice of George Takei, that magnificent bastard. 

That's right, ladies.  And there's more where that came from.

It has inspired me to go back and watch all of Star Trek, from the beginning.  I am currently on The City On The Edge Of Forever.  

Oh, how I love crazy McCoy.

Quite possibly the worst "O" face in recorded history.

But enough about me- I can feel your mind wandering away from my delicious abs and wondering where the action is.

Hopefully that isn't true.

Lacking any particular muse on this balmy Saturday afternoon I turn to my usual wellspring of inspiration, the delightful children of Mama Congo (check out their blog here!  It's just like mine, except it's topical and much, much less self absorbed).  As you may recall from past entries I have had many illuminating encounters with these kiddos (as recounted herehere, and dear God here!).  Last week was no exception. 

This is a story about a plastic purse and a little girl.  

About the power of the human mind to categorize, plan, and anticipate.

 About the funniness that usually ensues while watching a living thing begin to develop into something more than a ball of giggles, jimmy legs,  and awkward vomit trajectories.

It takes place during Festivus.

What, they don’t celebrate Festivus where you come from?  Well, it was a good time and did indeed devolve quickly, as such affairs tend to do.  It ended with people leaping off the top of the soccer goal posts onto a wretchedly foul “safety mat”.   Everyone kept their pants on this time, however, so good, completely non pseudo erotic times were had by all, complete with no inner thigh on inner thigh man touching.

This time, at least.

So anyway I was lounging poolside during the Airing of Grievances when young Lulu came and sat down next to me rather primly.  She waved and joined me in looking out over the pool where a few kiddos were being towed around by what looked like either random adults or the greatest, most advanced pool toys I have ever seen.  I sipped my beer while Lulu took a pull from whatever was in her glass.  I assume it was some type of Mimosa because she’s classy like that.

One of the kids saw her, got out of the pool, and came up to our chairs, sharing greetings and drops of water.  As she went back into the water without jumping on anyone's head (a Festivus miracle!) Lulu looked none too pleased.

She gazed up at me , her brow furrowing itself into that introspective mask which she wears about 85% of the time.  I assume that somewhere in the depths of her young mind she is composing one hell of a list.

“She got my purse wet.”

She held up this small plastic purse, pink of course- more like a clutch actually (yeah I know what a clutch is- don't judge me) for my perusal.  A few stray drops adorned the surface, glistening under the stars in a way I completely just made up.

“It’s okay, Lulu.  It’s plastic, it won’t get messed up.  Unless you keep your Ipad in there.”

She nodded and wiped it off with her tiny 3 year old (or two, or five- it's not like I can count the rings) hand and held it back up to me for inspection.

“Look, it’s dry now.”

“Awesome.  Well done, you."

We resumed our comfortable silence as the bodies swam back and forth.  The breeze picked up as Bob Marley wafted through speakers, punctuated by people laughing, talking, and trying not to get consumed by the small black flies which had gathered for the occasion.

Lulu had an expression on her face that was either one of extreme thoughtfulness or abdominal distress.  She looked at me, at the pool, then back at me.

“It might get wet again.”

“Aye,” I said in my best Scotty voice, “That it might.”

She scratched her head.

“If I put it behind my back, it won’t get wet.”

She leaned forward, placed the purse between the small of her back and the chair, and then sat back with a satisfied smile on her face.

“Now it 'll be dry.”

I looked at her and realized something which struck me to the core of my being: she had become self aware!  

I don’t know very much about parenting, other than the fact that Steve Martin movies are funny, but I know what the inevitable next step is:

Get to the chopper!  Or something.