Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's New is New Again

I've been working at the same school for five years. It's 17 miles away from my house. I guess some people are OK with a 34 mile round-trip commute. A lot of people would have moved closer, maybe to the suburban wasteland where my school is located. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who would type something like "suburban wasteland", so moving closer was never an option for me. I'm also the type of person who felt guilty every time she filled up her car with gas. "Damn it," this type of person thinks, "I'm killing the world, and I'm using up gas, and we don't have that many days left of there being oil in the world, besides which I might as well just be the person dropping bombs in Iraq if I'm going to be using all of this gas." As you might imagine, this type of person doesn't really spend a lot of time enjoying the scenery through her windshield.

I even started hyper-miling, which mostly means that I accelerate as if I don't want to crush the eggs under my gas pedal, and I coast to red lights, hoping they'll turn green before I stop so I don't have to burn energy starting up from a dead stop. Even with the hyper-miling and the 30-mile-per-gallon car, I still had to fill up every week, and the guilt was making me crazy.

On the other hand, it was good for me to work at the same place for more than a year. This is a first for me, you know. Al (good, solid, reliable Al) never worked the same job for more than a year until she found this suburban school. She flitted back and forth between computer science and community work and preschool teaching. She never experienced turn-over as the one staying behind before this job. Always the one leaving, never the one staying. So, yes, it was good for me to see a place change around me, good for me to take on more responsibility as I learned how the place worked. Really good for me to learn the seasonal rhythm of a place.

I ran into a student in the hallway whom I taught this year and also when she was a freshman. She's a super-senior now, so she's been at the suburban school for nearly as long as I have. She handed me a letter thanking me for putting up with her as a freshman (She was pretty challenging back then, but always bright and filled with personality) and thanking me for believing in her until she finally graduated this year. I was glad to have been there long enough to see her come around. If I had known only the freshman, I would have held onto my nagging worry about her, but since I stuck around, I got to see a glimpse of what the grown-up version of her would be like, and she's going to be OK.

Anyway, I was hired at a new job today. A different school, 10 miles away from my house. You have no idea how good it feels to drive 10 miles when your body is used to 17. It feels good to take an exit that used be about half-way to school and know that I can park my conscience 7 miles earlier than I used to. It also feels good to come into a place knowing that I'm competent and that I will find my niche. I have a new place to learn. I can't wait to start.

Also, I have to learn Calculus. Calculus? Yikes. There goes the summer.

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