Friday, February 24, 2012

Absence Ended

Today, the sun gleamed through my window. The arch of the sun's path is finally high enough to rise above the second story brick wall that my classroom windows face, evidence that the days are growing longer, and summer is approaching. Winter is long in this state, a reality of living so far from the equator. Our angle in the universe is favorable for those glorious summer months when the sky merely dims before coming back to life; yet, we pay the price all winter, when I only see the sun on the weekends, scheduling outdoor activity between the hours of 11 and 3 to meet the sun's demands. Only then would it arch above the horizon on the South end of town, following a shallow angle falling far short of reaching above our heads.

The students turned and faced the bright rays of the afternoon in awe, distracted from a friday's work even more than usual. I couldn't bring myself to close the blinds. What heartless teacher would withhold a few moments of warm rays on their backs, even as it caused a glare on the board and distraction from the task at hand? I was mesmerized along with them, content to stare out the window for long moments at a time, almost disbelieving our showy visitor had thought to stop by.

Soon enough the daylight will be an assumption rather than an unexpected guest, brightening the rooms at all hours of the day, threatening sleep habits and messing with any natural sense of when it is time to be awake. Soon enough spring fever will be upon us, causing teenagers near and far to make rash decisions, fail to tie themselves to projects that need to be finished, and at that point the sun's long absence will be forgotten in light of its status as a full time resident. Until then, I will still smile at the novel sight of daylight in my home--on a weekday. I will leave the blinds open even as it lets heat escape and inspires squinting in everyone who walks through my classroom doors. Because today the sun is still a novelty, and I am so happy it is back.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Other Profession

Headlights from the snow machines, shortly before a two hour adventure last weekend including following a moose, Curtis getting stuck, and lots of natural beauty...

When I was a kid my mom called me Private Investigator #57. I have always been one that is interested in knowing everything. In some ways this makes me a great learner, a persistent teacher and someone that is on top of all sorts of information at any given times.

In other ways this has gotten me into trouble.

When I found (and read) my sister's diary in elementary school I lost sleep for weeks until I confessed that I had sneakily read about her conflicts at school.When I discovered a Christmas gift ahead of time, my mom threatened to return all my gifts if I didn't keep my nose out of the planning from then on. I like to know what's going on, and while as an adult I try not to discover information that is none of my business, I do sometimes stumble into it.

A few weeks ago I pulled into our garage and found a rumpled piece of paper sitting in the middle of our downstairs neighbor's parking spot. For those keeping track, this is the neighbor couple that doesn't talk to us, or make eye contact if at all possible. I picked the paper up to throw it away when I saw that it was a receipt from the grocery store. And this is where my investigative instincts kicked in: what do our neighbor's buy at the store? Apparently, they buy pregnancy tests, and random $1 items.

Fast forward a week or two, and I hear a loud discussion eminating from the condo downstairs: "What were you thinking?" loud female shouts, to no response. "You can't be pulling stunts like that if there's a baby around!" Conversation ended. As I walked upstairs, I found myself wondering, wishing I could know more about that "if"--"if there's a baby in the house", as in there is one in the near future? Or as in, hypothetically we are a married couple and eventually we will have one? If only I knew.

Last week as we pulled up to our condo I stopped the car and pointed excitedly past Curtis: "Look at those curtains!" He looked at the side of our building with confusion until I clarified, "the second bedroom of the downstairs condo--those are new curtains!"
"And they have cartoonish print on them! Those are definitely kid curtains--and they are new."

At this point Curtis had been kept up to date with my building theory about the pregnancy test and overheard heated discussion. He suggested, now that I had even more proof for my theory, that I had the perfect reason to knock on the door downstairs and introduce myself. "Congratulations!" he suggested would be a good opener, "and nice to meet you."

If our neighbors don't like us already, surely the fact that we figured out they are pregnant--without ever having a conversation with them--should do the trick.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Today Curtis took his third board exam, the one that has been looming on the horizon for months, and eating up much of his free time for weeks. This unwanted mistress set up camp during his longest work streak yet--33 days--and thankfully will be leaving now that the streak is over.

As we lay in bed last night comparing this exam to the two prior tests we couldn't help but measure how far we've come. The first exam, taken the summer of 2008, had arguably the most at stake and the most study time invested. We spent the night before in a Red Roof Inn in Toledo, tossing and turning in the overheated, humid room, counting the hours until the inevitable flood of relief that would come post test. In hindsight, the $30 it would have cost for a nicer motel room would have been worth it, but at the time that was a week's worth of groceries, a month of internet, a full tank of gas.

The second board exam came a year later, and while the first had left Curtis with five weeks of uninterrupted study time, this one only came with two. Curtis carried a similar schedule with both: 7am-10pm with breaks to run, eat and sleep. Being on summer break for both I often fled the vicinity, going on four and five day trips to various corners of the state where I would visit friends from college, venturing with my sisters to New York City, and sometimes just down the street to visit my teaching buddy and her lounge chairs in the sun. Thankfully this test was local with a little less at stake, and he got to sleep in our bed the night before.

This third test has perhaps the least at stake, which is good since the conditions leading up to it have been far from ideal. There isn't the pressure of a good score to ensure choices in choosing a specialty. There isn't the concern that a bad score might keep you from the residency of your choice. Certainly a bad score would require a repeated residency year, but when the stakes are pass/fail, the pressure of one more point isn't quite as poignant.

I wish that this week found us with more free time to celebrate rather the pressures of a new rotation for Curtis and packed nights of conferences for me. I feel like the milestones don't come as often now that we have "real jobs", and the hurdles we do prepare for an conquer should come with the appropriate fanfare. Alas, life doesn't always work that way. This weekend I will be content to have Curtis only working one overnight shift, with people and projects to fill the time that he is away from home. When he is off, however, I have nothing scheduled, content to let just about anything wait while we catch up on all that has been missed.

That, perhaps, will be fanfare enough.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Someone Like You

An ugly Christmas sweater party during our first year of dating...

Today I'm feeling nostalgic.

Eight years ago when Valentines Day transitioned from a cliche holiday I tolerated to the anniversary of dating my husband, I was not ready to admit that a preordained day to celebrate love and relationships was something worth buying into. In some ways, experiencing Hallmark's holiday around teenaged students is the best way to recognize all the ways that love is misinterpreted. But whether I find myself disgusted with public displays of affection or daydreaming about times past, it is a day that will always be significant.

Today we mark our relationship buried in research paper grading and board studying, marathons of conferences and an ever packed schedule. But last night as we fell asleep we reminisced about our relationship, content with eight years we have to celebrate.

We are blessed indeed.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Counting Details

One foot of snow fell during the day Friday, prompting early business closures and the cancelation of many after school activities. After clearing off my vehicle and fearing the worst, I made it home only a few minutes later than I would have had the roads been clear. I would like to think that a winter that has gathered over one hundred inches of snow has taught all the local drivers caution in the midst of our regularly scheduled blizzards. Unfortunately the number of vehicles in the ditch and lodged in snow would suggest otherwise.

Two loaves of bread were made from the dough I made after arriving home from school. After being called away from baking for a spontaneous date night, Curtis headed home to study for his latest board exam and I went to my brother’s game—the rising dough could wait till morning to bake. As one might predict, the dough smelled yeasty and fermented twelve hours later; never fear, it still tasted good once baked.

Three loads of laundry were completed by 3pm on Saturday afternoon, a task that always leaves me feeling productive and often leads to random of cleaning out closets and reorganizing drawers. This weekend’s victims? Curtis’s leaning tower of t-shirts and a sock drawer that couldn’t be ignored. Don’t let him know that I tossed a very holey pair of old running socks; I’m sure they were well-loved, but they’ve seen much better days.

Four o’clock found me back in the gym with my family, watching two high school teams travel up and down the court to the echoes of cheerleading chants and referee whistles. While sporting events pack our already full schedule at times, I love how they provide a gathering place a couple times a week. I always miss it when a season ends.

Five weeks into the new semester and I am unable to keep up with how quickly the year has gone. Just over a month and track will start; soon after that the school year will be over. Daylight increases a few minutes everyday, and I was surprised to find the sky gathering hints of light and color as early as nine this morning, a huge improvement on where we were. On a day like today when the sun is shining and the temperature is reasonable, it is easy to feel a small step closer to summer. That is, until you step foot outside and see another thick, fresh blanket of snow.