Milty Goes to Connecticut

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 01 2009

Take Me Back to Tulsa (or Really, Lauren, haven’t you done enough, yet?)

So in the past three days, I’ve had an incredible time. I’m working the weirdest hours but jittery from near-constant caffeine consumption that I’m practically vibrating; I’m probably picking up the Drexel student station on my teeth.

  • Number one amazing thing: Registration happened. All the CMs arrived. And I was beside myself! All that work; all those damn signs; all those bulletin boards; project plans, actions plans, strategic plans. All those things finally happened, and finally they were worth something because all these young (mostly), optimistic, untainted, wide-eyed folk gazing around showed up in Philadelphia on Sunday. Now they all know where to go, when to go there and what to do when they get there. Maybe  it does make a difference that we used astrobrite pink for special events signs.
  • Number two amazing thing: I shook hands with Wendy Kopp. This may not seem all that exciting to the casual observer. But for me it’s like meeting Bono. (Second only to meeting the secretary of ed. Arne Duncan.) She actually talked about Hartford in her address, about Superintendent Adamowski being so impressed with three teachers he kept hearing about that he investigated where they came from. All three were first year corps members. [Love him or hate him, Adamowski is fighting to change things in Hartford, and the unions are fighting him back with a collective feeling as pleasant as sleeping with a porcupine.] I was sitting right next to Courtney, my former program director, when Wendy started talking about Hartford. We both got really big-eyed, probably would’ve squealed like 15-year-old schoolgirls with a crush if it hadn’t been mildly inappropriate. Because I get to take pictures of the ceremony, I got to sit in the second row, right behind the dignitaries! Even the backs of Wendy Kopp’s and Jason Kamras’ heads are inspiring. *laughs*
  • Number three amazing thing: At the step-back for the marketing team, I discovered that we basically handle the closing ceremonies, and since they discovered I have a tech background in TV, I might get to call the closing ceremonies! (I’ve never called a stage show; I used to do 5-minute live-to-tape segments for Headline News. Those were very like a one-man-band – operating the timer with my foot, clicking the keys over with my left hand, switching with my right, calling cameras and tapes; all I needed was a pair of cymbals between my legs.) I can almost hear myself now, “Kill the house lights; spot 1, pick up speaker C; bring up mic 3.” I never thought that I missed that until I considered the possibility of doing it again.
  • Number four amazing thing: I sent out my first REAL e-Blast. I fought with that thing all last weekend. In the bottom of the 9th inning, the score was e-Blast: 5; Lauren: 4. But I finally got those damn anchor links working, and got all the links changed to the right color. The final score in extra innings was e-Blast: 6; Lauren: 7. Hitting send to ALL the CMs and staff was the fourth most terrifying feeling in the world. (Numbers 1-3: falling off something very tall [e.g. a giraffe], being chased by dinosaurs and first dates.) CMs received it, and they OPENED it!

Here’s the thing, though. All the CMs are making new friends; all the OCs are bonding. I’m lonely. I miss … my people. I am one of those annoying people who is on-mission, on-message almost 100% of the time. A person on a constant crusade doesn’t stay put much. And it doesn’t pay to get too attached if you’ll be moving on soon. So I’m cautious about new people. I’m already looking at where I’m going next, what’s my next adventure, what’s the next step on that (cliched) ladder of advancement that will take me closer to really having the power to change the education system. Everyonceinagreatwhile, when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, I start to think that someday I will wake up the Secretary of Education but totally alone. I actually worry about this a great deal. My friends are travelling and getting together with people and breaking up and generally living the human existence. I’m working crazy hours editing Teach For America signage, trying to gain the experience to get that great job that will give me the experience to get the next great job. When will it stop? When will I think, okay, I’ve gotten where I want to be and I can stop? And now I can find that NPR-listening, black plastic framed glasses-wearing, ironic-t-shirted, chocolate-lab-owning, record-collecting, ed policy wonk that I’m going to marry. (really, this only half joking.) I keep waiting for the fantasy to appear, the one who makes me think this is the one. I can settle down and stop chasing the dream. But maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong; maybe I have to slow down first to make him appear more than just a blur of faces in a cheering crowd.

2 Responses

  1. ruchigoes2philly

    I’m one of the many Philly CMs who is benefiting from your work, and I have to say, if it is worth anything, your efforts have really made my experience lovely thus far. I mean, the signage is gorgeous, and I know what’s going on, so that’s good! And I love it when I meet TFA staffers who actually outwardly care, and care about the CMs and aren’t about the “business” but what we do. Not as many staffers as I would have liked have really seemed to reach out to CMs outside of CMA groups or little assigned cluster…the cliqueyness of Institute can be so lonely and isolated when you don’t necessarily click with your fellow CMs. I mean, I love many people I have met, but not all–and most days, I find myself not fitting in at all, envisioning the finish line: my own classroom, my own students, my own life journey. So you’re not alone in your loneliness and the sense of sadness that even a joyous, amazing drive and determination like yours can give!

    Thank you for all that you’re doing…know that we ’09 CMs, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, love you for it.

  2. Amazing stuff. I am sure your great work has been noticed by all — maybe just not realizing the mastermind behind it. ;)

    Take a lesson from relativity: Your speed is relative to the observer. If you are a go-getter, slowing down won’t necessarily help you find what you are looking for or make you happy. Rather, keep that momentum and look for someone who is operating in your frame of reference. (The metaphor can go on and on about speed and direction, coordinate transformation… but that’s just my dork talk.) Maybe you are meant to chase the dream alongside that special someone rather than stop chasing the dream, eh?

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Charmingly (maybe) Existential (possible) Musings (read: rants) on My TFA Tenure

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