Monday, August 17, 2009

And so I drew a new face and I laughed...

That's my favorite line from "I'm Yours".

For some reason, that image of him fogging up the glass and drawing a new face seems so profound. I feel like that's what I've been doing during my whole experience with TFA. Nothing has turned out as expected; with each new twist of fate I've had to change the way I look at myself and then laugh at the uncertainty of it all.

After my TFA interview, I prepared myself for a No-how-dare-you!, and hoped to the bottom of my soul for a Yes. The applicants with whom I interviewed were extraordinary people: bright, outspoken, and accomplished (friend Tom being one of them...). I felt there was no way I could compare. Then, the day I was to find out whether I was in or out, the day I was to receive a clear yes or no, I was waitlisted. Over a month later, I was waitlisted again. And again. For seven months. AFTER deciding that TFA was the only thing I wanted to do after graduation.

Then, out of nowhere, I was placed teaching Elementary School in the Mississippi Delta.

I had pictured myself teaching Secondary English in an inner-city school. But I changed the way I looked at my placement and realized teaching elementary in a rural area was a position in which I could really have an impact. I'm used to the lack of anonymity that comes with living in a small town; I'd lived with a never-ending audience before and I could do it again. I could work the part of my personality that's all sweetness, discretion, and compromise like I did for 13 years and navigate my way through differences of opinion by living and breathing patience and tolerance. It might be hard, but I could do it, and do it well. I could, in one small way, understand where my students were coming from and help them learn from it and appreciate it.

Then I didn't get a job. Or have a place to live. I went home wondering what it was about me that made TFA so frequently hesitant to give me a job. Close friends had been placed all across the Delta, and I couldn't picture myself anywhere.

And then I was placed in Jackson. (What!?)

And then I got my dream job. At a school with great administrators, staff, and faculty. In a classroom with science equipment galore and enough room for a science library and a word wall.

Which brings me to my [clearly] somber mood. Tomorrow, the program the Jackson corps is a part of is going before the board. TFA says it's no problem. Several people from JPS say that the board seems to be vetoing everything these days. The house, the job, but mostly the people I've come to care so much about seem as close to being ripped from my fingers as they are to becoming a real part of my life.

So, again, I'm preparing to draw myself a new face and laugh. My life's not over if we're not placed here. I'd be so happy to have the opportunity to become acquainted with the real Delta. And if the Delta doesn't want to get to know me, I'll stay and substitute teach/dance/waitress in Jackson - like I would've in Minneapolis had I not started on this grand adventure in the first place.

One thing that this constant reinvention has led me to appreciate is that this is my life - right now. Neither my existence nor my happiness is dependent on what I'm getting paid to do. Rather, both depend on all the things I would probably be doing anyway - working with kids, teaching, dancing, and meeting new people. And that's such a redeeming thought when I start to feel that one of the most challenging and wonderful summers of my life could possibly have been in vain.

So, please pardon my morose self indulgence. Tomorrow or Wednesday, I will share pictures and thoughts from my first days at John Hopkins Elementary - as well as the Tale of the Scorpion-Spider Thing of Death. ;)

And by then, *hopefully*, I'll really be Ms. Dorman.

"There's no dollar sign on a peace of mind, the South come to know..."

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