Days Like These

This morning was a bit of a blur. The alarm went off and I felt the events of yesterday sneak back into my consciousness bit by bit.

I had a great first day at PCTELA. I listened to Dr. Bernard Hall talk about using hip hop in the English classroom, I learned about a couple of new tech tools (check out Coggle for one), and I had a great audience for my presentation. And I cried while Cynthia Lord presented (authors never fail to make me cry…one more reason not to bother with eyeliner at a conference). I got to visit with friends from all over the state and happily talk books. (Brian Kelley asked me about the first book that made me cry – that led to a whole discussion about ugly cry books that carried over to at least three other conversations. Thank you, Brian, for the inspiration!)

Probably one of the coolest things that happened was that I got to make a wish on Cynthia Lord’s Newbery Honor plaque.

 

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But I didn’t realize I’d need to wish that Sara would get to Harrisburg for the conference. She’d found herself stuck in an airport and I was getting quick text message updates, but it didn’t sound like there was an easy fix for her. She was stuck.

By the time I had gotten home last night after dinner, I realized that I would likely be presenting in the morning by myself. Sara Kajder and I were planning on presenting a session we titled “Re)Building Adolescent Readers” – a topic I could surely discuss on my own (though it would be far less fun than presenting with my friend). So I crawled into bed early and set my alarm for 3:30 AM so that I felt like I’d have ample time to finish preparing.

I’d clearly pushed the snooze button a few times because it was a bit after 4 and all this is coming back to me.

My brain was buzzing with all of the things I needed to and wanted to do to prepare – and when I realized I wasn’t quite able to focus, I went to go get showered and ready to leave.

And leave I did, with plenty of time to get to the conference early to tinker with a couple of other things I’d hopefully iron out in my head on the drive.

In the car I was running myself through the presentation. I was thinking about how I hoped Sara had gotten some sleep, wherever she was the night before. I was worrying about whether or not she’d at least be able to get home. I was remembering the conversations I’d had the night before and how I was looking forward to hearing Kwame Alexander speak again.
And then something big and brown popped up in the corner of my vision – and before I had a chance for my brain to process what I saw (or even to just react), I could hear the impact it had on my car. Shakily, I pulled over and carefully got out of the car, looking behind me to see if what I’d hit (what had hit me?) was by the side of the road.

There wasn’t anything to see. Just a blank stretch of road.

But on the front right bumper on the passenger side, I could see more than I wanted. The headlight was smashed, though still on. The bumper was missing in some places, jagged edges left behind. There was something I didn’t want to investigate too closely on the side of my passenger door. I called my husband, took some pictures, and tried to drive home (with the hope that I could swap cars and hope I’d get to the conference in time to present).

 

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But I didn’t take the car home – I waited for Jason to come and I followed him home in the poor damaged car. I talked to the insurance agent and filed a claim. I told my husband that I still wanted to go to the conference. I’d paid for the day and didn’t want to miss out.

I think there was this silly notion in my head that I might still make it there in time.

It didn’t happen.

I walked in about ten minutes before our session would have ended.

But I was there.

The day could have been so much worse. Sure, I’ll have the hassle of insurance claims and getting my car fixed. I still feel a bit sore from where I guess my seat belt did its job (even though I don’t remember it tightening against me). But I’m okay.

I heard about Sara getting stuck and my unfortunate encounter with the deer all day. I got a ton of hugs and concerned questions about whether I was okay or not.

That felt good, having all of these people checking in on me. Even total strangers.

It was good to be away from home, focusing on something else, too. I got to talk about YA books (especially the importance of  diverse books) with a bunch of preservice teachers and hear Toby Emert talk about LGBTQ topics in YA literature. I got to tell people how awesome ALAN is. I got to listen to Kwame Alexander talk about how poetry can reinvigorate our students love of language.

I’m home now. I’m dressed down. I’m waiting for my guys to get home from their own adventures for the day. I am sore and tired.

And I am relieved.

Nothing about my day went quite how I anticipated – not how I had predicted it would be last week or yesterday or even this morning.

Some days are just like that. The lesson doesn’t work out right. You get sick and have to call off – and send in your plans. An opportunity comes your way and you decide to see where it takes you. You see a student who needs you more than you need to check off your to-do list after school. You need to be there with your own kid after he’s had a rough day.

But even in those moments, where you’re wiping away the tears (your own or someone else’s) or scribbling out your thoughts on what went wrong in the hopes of making it better next time, I am relieved to be able to recognize my ability to choose what’s important to me and to make the best of what comes my way.

 

This post is part of a group of posts from teachers around the country who are celebrating our weeks by sharing them in these posts. Click on the image above to see what others are celebrating this week.

This post is part of a group of posts from teachers around the country who are celebrating our weeks by sharing them in these posts. Click on the image above to see what others are celebrating this week.

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10 thoughts on “Days Like These

  1. I hit a deer once…or I should say it hit me…and it is quite scary. I remember thinking three distinct thoughts in a short period of just seconds: Oh what happened! Oh that poor deer! and Damn look what it did to my car! Glad to hear you are OK and made it to the conference even if it was a little late.

    • That sounds like what went through my mind. Somewhere in there was, I’d better get off the road and find out what happened.
      I’m pretty sore this morning – probably from the seat belt tightening up (which I don’t remember, but it seems to match up with where my seatbelt would be), but otherwise, I’m okay. I feel quite lucky and I’m so glad I went to the conference still.

  2. First, I am so happy no one was hurt and you are safe. Second, I think celebrating days that don’t go as planned or imagined is the best therapy and very healthy decision. May you Sunday go better.

    • While nothing quite went the way I had wanted this weekend, there were an awful lot of things that did — and some unexpected things that were great. I know it’s easy to focus on the bad stuff, but I prefer to look at the good stuff, too.
      Today should be better. I see a pot of fresh coffee in my future and some time to get caught up on planning/grading – and a couple of great books that I’m hoping to get to read later tonight.

  3. There are those moments when we do realize that we’re okay in spite of what didn’t go the way we wanted. I’m glad you’re celebrating that, & especially glad that you’re okay.

    • It’s often in the midst of days like these that I feel like I need to celebrate. It’s either that or go pout in the corner. I’d rather be positive when I can. Pouting takes up way too much energy without adding anything to the world.

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