Milty Goes to Connecticut

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 10 2010

End of an Era

Mid-June, I finished my TFA commitment. Two years, three schools, two major illnesses, six roommates, 45 minutes in the car every morning, countless cups of coffee and hours of NPR all in pursuit of one commitment. Two staggering years of heartbreaking work.  And I got a certificate.

Immediately, I moved to St. John’s for the New York institute. In fact, I started institute before I was done with school. A lot more could be said about this. Maybe later.

The all-so-sudden transition from school to institute prevented any sense of completion, sense of accomplishment. Yes, it’s wonderful that I met my obligations, thanks so much; excuse me, I need to go call a bus driver about a lost lunch bag. Divorced from the real world, in my safe place at institute, I didn’t see the end. Even moving out of Oxford house didn’t seem real because I wasn’t living there anyway. Tucked away in townhouse K, with the constantly malfunctioning toilet, life outside just stopped happening.

It finally came to me that the era of the ’08 CT corps – the Oxford House, Downtown Dan, the Dover Girls, Spigot, Butterfly karaoke, happy hours at Half Door, sponge wars, the red couch, the revolving door at HPS and “porch time” – is over. It’s given way to the ’09s and 2010s, their new traditions, and a bundt pan left behind in the Oxford house that oddly doesn’t seem to belong to anybody. (I could say that I feel that sense of alienation just like the bundt pan but that’s a little morose and silly as bundt pans don’t have feelings.) I was at a house-warming bbq at “Oxford upon Whiting” where all my roommates have moved since my departure, and it’s curious being a guest among those who were family. That’s when I really realized that it was truly over and done. My time as a 2008 CT corps member is really over.

Now that I have the leisure to think, I’ve really put my mind towards making sense of the last two years, particularly how I’ve changed. I’m surely a lot more grounded and stable; I’m far more able to accept the daily, ongoing set-backs without the air of tragedy that used to follow me. I’ve become marginally more open to other people. Loss is not the life-destructing force it once was. I’m slightly less crazy in a bad way and slightly more crazy in a good way. I’ve learned some humility and to take whatever I can from whomever I’m around. I’ve learned that I cannot control other people and sometimes even myself but living with ambiguity is normal. Accomplishment is good but not at the cost of my health. I’m still not a charismatic leader of men but I’m much more interesting to watch than I used to be. I’ve also learned that perhaps the classroom isn’t my place for the long-term.

I’ve learned the meaning of Churchill’s “never, never, never give up” at 4am on a Monday morning before school. As frustrated as I became with my students, I found it impossible to give up on them or stop loving them. When they were tormenting me, they are really just saying “will you love me even when I am horrible?”

Then there are things that haven’t changed at all. I have a sense of absolute indignation that income determines education – still. I still believe that if you just show up and work, the dawn will come (to paraphrase Anne Lamott). No magic; hard work really solves most problems.

Because I can’t actually just hang something this raw and emotional out there, I’ll end with a couple of thoughts: first, I received my certificate of achievement for scoring in the top 15% of the PRAXIS testers today. It was for the June 14, 2008 administration and mailed July 15, 2008. Where has it been hanging out for the last TWO YEARS?! But it seems a fitting cap to the CT CM experience to receive it now. Second, WordPress, the blogging service I’m using through scans for possible tags to categorize posts. WordPress suggests that I tag this post “cookware and bakeware,” ostensibly because of my passing mention of bundt pans. Damn. I mentioned them again.

So please enjoy this post on cookware.

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

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