Shake the Dust

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 21 2013


I told myself I couldn’t go to sleep until I posted something. So now its 2:17 AM, I’ve watched three episodes of ESPN’s 30 for 30, and have nothing written. Hello Christmas break, I love you already.

All I can say is that my life feels simultaneously perfect and in shambles. On the one hand, I just finished my first semester of teaching and I don’t feel like I’m going to die. In fact, I kind of adored each day. On the other hand, I’m hilariously delirious.  I’m currently amazed I am still functioning on a semi-human level.

Example 1: I woke up for school today ten minutes before I needed to leave (shambles) and threw on my ugly Santa Christmas sweater (perfect) for our end of the year class Christmas party. I drove to work and arrived exactly on time (perfect) but couldn’t get my keys out of the ignition or turn the car on after I parked when I tried to fix it (shambles). I figured the car battery died (shambles) and being both too exhausted and familiar with car failure, spent approximately 0 seconds worrying about the situation (perfect). I left my stuck car key in the ignition, grabbed my stuff, and rolled into my classroom. I have officially internalized the “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” mantra. Pretty impressive when you think of how much you can sweat in this damn humid place.

So I taught, served nine million bags of Doritos, wrangled parents, and praised the school gods for our early out day and remembered when all the students had cleared out at 1:25 that my car was still dead. My co-teacher’s husband is an Arkansas state trooper and upon realizing I wasn’t concerned about my car situation took matters into her own hands. Although he was in the middle of a traffic stop, at his wife’s “emergency” call, State Trooper Chris let the lucky driver off with a warning instead of a ticket and hurried over to the lower school to jump my car. You’re welcome random Arkansan. I’m telling you, it’s all a mix of shambles and perfection.

So State Trooper Chris propped my hood, got out his cables and examined my engine. My co-teacher and I wondered aloud about the battery and the alternator while State Trooper Chris went to examine things from the inside of the car. A few seconds later, he called me over to inform me of one very important detail and discovery: my car was in neutral. I hadn’t been able to turn it off because the car wasn’t in park. I hadn’t been able to take the keys out of the ignition because the car was still on. I had left my car on and in neutral for 7 hours. Luckily the Delta is so flat my car didn’t roll away. Essentially, I’m a lucky idiot.

It was incredibly embarrassing to be officially documented as a motor assist when I had only failed to, you know, properly manage a motor vehicle. However, the motor assist was so representative of my time here. Something’s always a little bit devastating, a little bit embarrassing, or a little bit inconvenient but at the same time even the most humiliating moments and darkest days have been deeply purposeful, revealing, or just plain hilarious. Most importantly, I haven’t navigated these somethings alone.

Life here is so twistedly beautiful in that way with its constant failures coupled with life giving community. As I look back to this first stretch of living in the Delta, I have nothing to hold onto but a certain assurance that the ugly beautiful web of messiness and renewals, shambles and perfection, will continue to be spun around me. I am confident, despite often feeling stuck, that seeing myself as a part of this complex community web will continue to keep me here.

At 2:51 AM, content with being a tiny catch in the Delta’s intricate snare, I can go to sleep and accept the many ups and downs this flat land will surely provide tomorrow, the next day, and all the days that I’m here.

Goodnight, Arkansas.


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    Arkansas, y'all.

    Mississippi Delta
    Elementary School
    Elementary Education

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