Back in the Classroom Again

Do you remember the scene in Titanic where old Rose prefaces her recollections about the fated voyage by saying, "It's been 84 years"? In a roundabout way, that's how I feel about returning to teach on campus tomorrow. For me, it's only been 18 months since I've stepped foot into a real classroom with real humans, yet tomorrow somehow feels monumental.

Over the past few weeks, I've set up course websites and syllabi. I've attended orientation meetings. I've updated my parking pass. I've troubleshot technology. I've tried to recall the many passwords that enable me to access my office, the mail room, and the copy machine. (This task was a tall order. I stood outside my office door facing this keypad, unable to conjure the 5-digit code from my long-term memory, hoping my fingers retained it in muscle memory. They didn't.)


But, more than any other concrete task, what solidifies the start of the semester is when I tour my classrooms, walking up and down each row, praying over each desk and chair, asking God for protection, favor, wisdom, peace, and well-being for every student who will share these next 15 weeks with me. This is when the semester starts to become real. This is when I feel ready to go. This time of consecration settles parts of me that feel unsettled during the transition into a new school year, especially this year, which feels unfamiliar and tenuous. 

I don't know what these next months will hold. Will we remain in person the whole semester? Will we pivot back to online classes if the Delta variant causes Covid rates to surge? How might the influx of nearly 50 thousand university students affect our local town or our local K-12 school schedules?

I don't know. Nobody does. We're still living with more questions than answers.

In spite of the questions, after 84 years -- okay, just 18 months -- I'm eager to meet new students masked face-to-masked face tomorrow. And no matter what happens in the weeks that follow, God goes with me. All will be well.


How To NOT Get Rid of an Air Hockey Table

Friends, this is a recent post, copied and pasted here verbatim, that I shared on my local Buy Nothing Facebook group. It might be the favorite advertisement I've ever written.

We are gifting a large working air hockey table. But before anyone gets excited and thinks, "Oooh, this will add hours of enjoyment for our family, children, guests, and/or dexterous and competitive pets," you need to know a few things.

Namely, when my husband disassembled the table to extract it from our basement, he realized that it weighs three tons, give or take. Neither he nor I have any recollection how we originally got it into our basement. Did we rent a crane? Did we somehow build the house around the air hockey table? Were we actually body builders ten years ago and just forgot this aspect of our identities? We do not know.

Also, given its ample tonnage, we invited (okay, extorted) another person to help us lift the disassembled pieces out of our basement. We now owe this individual a major favor in return. To everyone's credit, there was not one curse word uttered as we finagled it across the basement, around a corner, up a staircase, down a hallway, out a screen door being held open lackadaisically by our eleven-year-old who kept saying, "This looks hard," and into our garage. To our discredit, we needed to set the table down at various points while climbing the steps, which prompted impressive snapping sounds as various pieces came off.

This being said, to our knowledge, all pieces are still accounted for and can be reattached. Our eleven-year-old even sagely noted, "There's nothing that duct tape can't fix" as she looked over all the components strewn across the floor. Clearly, she's wise for her young years.

You will simply need patience, mechanical aptitude akin to assembling IKEA furniture, a large vehicle to transport the pieces, and a strong person who you can invite (coerce?) into helping you carry it into your house. Also, a sense of adventure. And, of course, duct tape. Obviously.

These pictures of the table are all BEFORE disassembly and transport. I am consciously choosing not to post the after pictures of the pieces in my garage to ward off collective discouragement.

Is this gift offering a blessing? Is it a burden? I'm not sure. The jury is still out. Regardless, I thought I'd post it here before we earn the everlasting disdain of the garbage crew during Bulk Trash week this fall.
Addendum: the post has garnered a fair amount of comments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, we haven't yet found a person to take it from us. If you're looking for an air hockey table (and a healthy challenge), just reach out.

I'm a Sucker for You

Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. Our celebration was simple: dinner out, ice cream afterwards, and a relaxed walk through the local arboretum after an otherwise typical weekday filled by regular errands and obligations: picking up our kids' Chromebooks for the new school year, driving our oldest back and forth from her job, fitting in an eye exam, and doing prep-work for the upcoming semester.

In the midst of this, we both forgot about anniversary cards. I had bought a card on time, but I hadn't filled it out. He had picked one up from the store the morning after our anniversary. That next evening -- two decades plus one day -- we both opened our cards to find this:

It's been twenty years, but, clearly, we're still suckers for each other.

Maybe Planting Six Zucchini Plants Wasn't Such a Good Idea

You know when you plant six zucchini plants, thinking that not all of them will survive, but all do survive? And then you leave town for five days and those six zucchini plants explode and produce zucchini that are the size of baseball bats, or moderately-sized clubs, or perhaps large toy submarines? And then you make a dozen zucchini breads and eat zucchini during every meal? And then you sneak spare zucchini onto your neighbors' porches, which you convince yourself is a kind gesture even though it feels like something suspicious you'd do under the dark cloak of night while egging their house or toilet-papering their trees? And you also realize that seven, maybe eight, more zucchini will be ready to pick tomorrow, and there is NO WAY your family will consume that much zucchini without a mutiny.


Yeah, me too.



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