Elastic Basket for my Peaches

I also have a website: www.lizhightower.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ten Year Reunion

It's 2am, my room is a mess, I haven't packed and I am leaving the country tomorrow. Perfect time to write on my blog, right? I thought so too. I have had too much caffeine and don't think I will be able to sleep soon. Also I have literally just gotten home from my high school reunion so this should be pretty fresh.

I am going to try my best to not talk bad about anyone in this post even though some of my funniest comments would be at someone else's expense. For the sake of human decency and the fact that anyone could read this, I will try to be nice.

Movies often feature high school reunions as do TV shows. In fact, one of my favorite episodes of Golden Girls is when the girls go to a local high school reunion to make up for Rose missing hers in St. Olaf. They pick up other people's nametags and Rose becomes Asian foreign exchange student, Kim Fong Choi. Obviously hilarious times ensue.

I know a lot of people dread their high school reunions and avoid them like the plague. I actually really liked high school. I had some good friends and some really fun times. I don't think I was very popular but I also wasn't unpopular. My favorite book, Stuff White People Like, says as a white person that I was supposed to hate high school, but I don't.

A lot of people don't want to go to their reunion because they haven't kept in touch with people from high school. Luckily my best friend, Sarah, went to my high school. When I realized that the ten year mark was coming up, I anticipated the whole experience being a lot better since I would have a friend to attend with and talk to in case things got awkward. Unfortunately those dreams were dashed when Sarah had to work. Stupid space shuttle! (She works for NASA.) Despite the horror stories and having to go Sarah-less, I was determined to go because I just knew I would have a good time. Well, I was right.

I didn't know what to expect. I thought they might have inflatable moon walks and one of those booths where you grab the cash swirling around inside. These things were at our school sponsored post-grad party. This was more like a wedding reception with no bride and groom. It was the ultimate in people watching. It was liking being at the airport but you are supposed to know a majority of the people. Thankfully we all had to wear nametags so no one had to actually remember someone's name.

Most people looked the same, though some people definitely put on the pounds. Some of the girls had had children but what was the men's excuse? I think the most kids I heard someone having so far was 3 but they are Mormon so that makes sense. I was afraid coming solo that I would have a lot of awkward times trying to figure out who to talk to but that was not the case. I actually had a lot of fun conversations though it was a bit confusing to try to explain my current stage of life and iminent plans. People seemed to get it for the most part, though they might have been faking it.

I met a lot of people who were now doctors. My school had a large Asian population. It is a stereotype but one that I find to be pretty true. Other people work at NASA where a good percentage of our graduating class's parents worked when they were in high school. A lot of people were married, then plenty were not. Some had already been married and divorced. Most guys still had their hair. I think that will change the more reunions we have.

We spent most of the time mingling and catching up. Then they made us take a group picture of just the girls and then just the guys. Apparently the whole group was too big to fit in one picture. There had been sample pictures on the table where we signed in. In one, a woman had taken off her shirt and was wearing only her bra. Why was that the sample picture? Were they encouraging one of us to do the same? And why did that woman think it was appropriate? Taking the group picture reminded me of how I got in-school suspension for putting a plastic hamburger bun in my mouth in the senior class panoramic picture. Continuing my food in mouth streak, I stuck a chicken finger in my mouth for this one. The photographer seemed to be hating his life and kept barking orders that noone could hear because they were too busy catching up with one another.

After the single gender group pictures, they started taking pictures for various categories like what junior high you went to or club you were in. This reminded me when me and some friends got in a bunch of different club pictures for the yearbook. We weren't in the clubs but snuck into the pictures because they all took them on the same day. That's how I ended up in the Math club and FFA. These pictures were for the cheerleaders, drill team, band/choir (I am not sure why those two were combined). The funniest/most disconcerting was "Party-goers/Stoners." Why was that a category? And for some reason, as one of my friends pointed out, it was pretty much all the kids who went to the same junior high.

It was nice to connect with people in person as opposed to electronically through Facebook. My best friend through junior high and high school was there, Amy. She and I grew apart in college despite going to the same school. Our lives just went in different directions. I was surprised about how much love I felt towards her at the reunion. I just wanted to give her a big hug and I am not much of a hugger. I think by being so close in high school, we formed a bond that cannot be broken through time or differing life choices. It's special. It was so fun to visit and talk with her. I am so thankful we still have that connection.

I also learned a lot about people's lives. Of course, we talked about the girl who ended up on the cover of Playboy and the one who went on the dating show, The Fifth Wheel. We talked about jobs, relationships, siblings and parents. I also found out that two guys from my high school committed suicide. I wasn't close to either of them, though they were definitely in some of my classes. It just made me so sad. All death is sad, but suicide makes you hurt. I didn't know either well and it just hurt my heart. It made me wish that there was something I could have done to change that outcome. What pain they must have felt! Other classmates were killed in car crashes, drug overdoses and one died serving with the military in Iraq. Learning of people's deaths is going to be something that unfortunately increases with each reunion. I am not looking forward to that. I am looking forward to our 20 year. This one was a lot of fun and I can only imagine how many stories people will have then.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

On teaching

I've always been very wary of becoming some sort of stereotypical teacher who lets teaching define who I am. In my college education classes, they made us do all kinds of cheesy teacher activities. In one class, our teacher made us conduct some sort of bogus ceremony where we repeated a cheesy mantra and then held cupcakes with candles in them above our heads. Weird. In another class, I had to walk around the room with my classmates in order to represent our journey to become a teacher. Weird stuff if you ask me. Do engineers have to walk in a circle to represent their engineering journey? I don't think so. To make matters worse, at that point I was no longer planning on becoming a teacher, which made these made-up rituals all the more painful. During my senior year, I also had to write at least three papers on why I wanted to be a teacher even though I no longer wanted to be one.

I think teaching is sometimes elevated to a martyrdom beyond what is deserved. It is certainly a tough job and not always the most well-paid but I don't know if it's nearly as noble as my university professors always tried to get me to believe.

I think part of my reluctance to identify myself as a teacher was due to my professors' forced cheesiness as well as the teacher-themed jumpers, plaques and slogans that just elevate lameness to new levels. "Teaching is a work of Heart." "2 teach is to touch lives 4 ever" I am just not that kind of sentimental.

As a teacher I hated to go to those supply shops specifically geared towards teachers. My favorite being "Teacher Heaven" with their slogan, "Not Just For Teachers." In addition to being very cheesy and teacher-like, these stores are strangely expensive. Given the salary of the average teacher, you could really go broke supplying your classroom with wares from the teacher store.

All of this to say, that I have never tried to identify myself as a teacher but it is something I cannot avoid. After only two years of elementary school teaching, I am leaving the profession and it may or may not be permanant. Despite all this, I have realized that teaching is a part of who I am. Whenever I have had the chance to teach English overseas, I have loved it. I have also realized that what comes easy to me may not come easy to other people. Just as not everyone has the skills to fix a car, not everyone has the skills to be a teacher.

And now, as I contemplate not going back to be an elementary school teacher again, there are things that make me sad. Of course there is the obvious, missing my co-workers and my students. But there are also little things I will miss. This became evident to me as I strolled through Target the other day. They had already begun to put out their school supplies. I felt sad that I had no excuse to buy them in large quantities. Last year, I prided myself on finding the best deals like 1 cent rulers and 16 cent boxes of crayons. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved school supplies. I think this is truly very dorky but I know other teachers who feel the same way. Since I will be a student myself soon, I want to buy a few supplies but I know in my heart that I won't be able to justify buying rulers and crayons for my time in Maui.

I will also missing being in a school. That's another dorky thing I like. I love being in school. I assume it's because I loved school as a kid especially elementary school. I will miss other things about teaching but these are the little things that come to mind right now.

I would love to teach English to adults overseas. I have really enjoyed every chance I havbe gotten to do that so far. I also had a prophecy once where the woman speaking called me out and said that I am a teacher. Considering I had never met this woman in my life and I was not wearing anything to indicate that I was a certified teacher (ie: a jumper with school buses and apples on it), this was either God speaking through this woman or an amazing coincidence. I like to think it was God reminding me of the gifts he had given me. In the end, as much as I try to separate myself from being a teacher, it's something I know I am good at and shouldn't we all pursue the things we are best at?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Using the word, phlebotomist!

I love random weird situations. I feel my blog is as good a place as any to share my latest odd times.

I got my blood drawn a few days ago by one of the most unprofessional phlebotomists I've ever encountered. I am sure you've encountered some unprofessional phlebotomists but most that I come across seem very competent. I am also very excited for this, my first chance to use the word "phlebotomist" in a blog post.

I have been told on more than one occasion that I do not have very good veins. Phlebotomists always have a difficult time finding my veins. I have also been told that my veins roll like an old woman's. What the heck does that mean? I tried to give plasma in college to get some extra cash and was turned away because of my puny veins.

Usually when I am getting my blood drawn, I explain to the phlebotomist that my veins are hard to find. The last few times, the phlebotomist I told kind of waved me away as if to say that it would be no problem. They were able to draw my blood quickly and painlessly. I decided not to tell this lady since the other phlebotomists had been successful and acted like they didn't need my forewarning. Big mistake! This particular phlebotomist looks at my arms and tells me that my veins are awful. Then she puts the needle in and the blood collects very slowly in the vile. To which she says, "uh uh, this won't do." When the blood stops flowing far short of the desired amount, she sighs/groans and moves to the other arm.

During this whole procedure, she is talking to me about the U.S. military. She had noticed that I was wearing my brother's dog tag on my wrist and asked me about it. She then proceeded to tell me about her cousin who was retiring after 35 years and was crazy for being in it to begin with. She said there was no way she'd ever let her son go over there. No way. Uh uh. Uh uh. Luckily I am not easily offended.

Mid- antimilitary tirade, she starts trying to find a vein in my right arm. This is way worse than the first. She seems to basically be digging the needle into my arm in search of a vein. It was painful and felt a bit invasive. Luckily I am not afraid of needles, because the digging was enough to freak even me out. She finally found a vein and filled up the final vile. Then just as I was getting up to go, she dropped the veil on the floor (thankfully it was plastic) and it rolled under the cabinet. I sure hope she found it because there's no way I am going back to her, the unprofessional phlebotomist.
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