Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Day in the Life

I have recently fallen in love with the town where I live.  It was not love at first sight - it was a love born of familiarity and comfort with a little bit of traveling which lead to that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing thrown in for good measure.

It's just a darn fine town.  It took me nearly fifteen years, but I'm finally ready to commit.

I also recently made a career change which put money on the back burner and moved bliss to the front burner with the flame turned up high.  I know.  I can hear you now, "But Tammy, weren't you in education?  There is no money in education."  And you're right.  But it turns out there is actually a career path I can follow which is even less financially lucrative than education.  And I am so excessively happy to be on said path.

I told my old employers, though, that I would work out the last three weeks of my contract with them - under some limited terms - if they wanted me to.  It seemed fair.  And they wanted me to.  I clearly expressed my terms - because I was willing to compromise with them but did not want to compromise in any way with the new job.  I would do this, this and this but I would not do this, this or that. Definitely not that.  I am not generally the type of person who lays down the law in no uncertain terms, so it was very out of character.  I think the last time I said anything even remotely similar to that there was a safe word involved.

Last week I worked both jobs, back to back, every day.  It sounds hellish.  It wasn't.  It was exhausting - but it was the good kind of exhausting.  The kind of exhausted one feels after a day well spent.  Not quite like the exhaustion at the end of a short vacation where one tries to jam a weeks worth of fun into a weekend, but in the same general family with it.  A cousin of it, from the decidedly blue collar side of the tracks.  I am exhausted, but remarkably content.

I thought I'd tell you about a typical day in the life of a tired but happy me.  Maybe you'll get a glimpse into why I've finally fallen in love with my town.

I wake up, roll out of bed, drag a comb across my head... that's where the lads from Liverpool and I part company, though.  While they're drinking coffee and running late and catching busses, I'm syncing my computer for job number one, throwing in a load of laundry, packing my lunch, sneaking in some calisthenics (Is that word not excellent?  It makes me think of Jack and Elaine LaLanne in their leotards with their dog Happy doing sharply executed toe touches.) until it's time to take Lea to school.

photo:  The Los Angeles Times
For most of the school year, driving Lea to school takes place while it is still dark.  Then it's kind of a drag.  But last week the drive took place at dawn.  We didn't exactly get to watch the sun rise together, but we did get to enjoy the soft pink skies prepare for the big show.  I've talked about my passion for sunrises here before, so I'll try not to get into the majesty of that, but it's sort of hard to talk about our morning commutes without giving it a little mention.  We drive past small farms which look particularly charming at this time of the morning.

"Hey!" you must be saying, "Back the truck up!  What's all this business about farms?  You live in the suburbs.  You bitch about it all the time.  It's in your daggonned subtitle, for Pete's sake."

It's true.  I do not live in a rural area.  I live in the suburbs, complete with heirarchal cookie cutter neighborhoods and every chain restaurant known to man as well as the requisite Kohl's, Target, and Wally's.

It is not ideal.

But there are scattered reminders of why Columbus is sometimes called cow-town around, too.  This week - this happy week - I took a little more time to appreciate that during my morning commute.

So - sunrise - or at least the promise thereof - over bucolic farms.  Check.

Have a good day, Lea.  I love you.  Love you too.

Home once again, I pack up for the day, grab a quick shower, and try to dress in a way that will be appropriate for either job and end up just being slightly underdressed for one and overdressed for the other.  Three weeks, I tell myself, then I can settle into a happy, comfy uniform of sorts.  But for now, close will have to be good enough.  I pick Liv up and we take the same route to her school.  The sun is higher now - the world is more gold than pink.  The drive is still gentle and lovely - but completely different.  It's only an hour later.

Have a good day, Liv.  I love you.  You as well.

Job number one has me heading to the other side of the city this week.  I leave the suburbs in the rear view mirror and in a matter of minutes, the city skyline is looming ahead of me.  There is something about that moment when you first see a city's distinctive skyline, isn't there?  I always get just a little jolt of excitement in that moment.  The City - sparkling with promise in the early morning sun.  I want to run through that field of poppies like Dorothy and company to get there more quickly.  There is excitement in the city - an energy.

photo:  The Vigilant Citizen
I pass the center of the city and take my exit.  I know I am close to the school where I'll be working this week when I see kids with backpacks and book bags and instrument cases walking alone or in groups in the same direction.  Not high schools kids.  Elementary school kids.  Kindergarten kids.  Walking a couple blocks to school without their parents along tree lined streets - holding hands when it's time to cross the street.  One of my biggest complaints about the 'burbs is that we can't walk anywhere - not safely, at least (that is in the slow process of changing - and I am very glad - but until the sidewalks are actually in place, I would like to reserve my right to bitch).  Here in the city, though, just outside the hustling bustling city center, young kids are walking safely and independently to school.  It warms my heart.

I arrive at the school and remove the 'office on wheels' from my trunk, slip on my name tag, and gear up for the leadership position portion of my day.  I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that, while walking into the school, the sounds of the birds chirping their early morning greetings to one another mixed with the sounds of the children greeting one another and laughing on their way in to school.  How frickin' delightful is that?  I am a lucky, lucky girl and life is good.  I half expect a bird to land on my finger or tie a ribbon in my hair or something, but that doesn't happen.  Oh well.

Or an apron 'round my delicate waist.  Either way.
Photo:  Julien's Live

Sunrise over bucolic farms?  Check.

City skyline?  Check.

Happy kids walking safely to school to the soundtrack of birds singing?  Check.

Working like a boss?  Check.

A couple hours later my office is back in the trunk and my name tag is hanging from my rear view mirror and I am heading back to the suburbs.  Did I mention that my new job is only a mile from my house?  Because it totally is.  I eat the sandwich that I've packed for myself as I drive.  It would be easy to drive through somewhere and pick something up, but for less money and only slightly more effort, I am enjoying chicken salad with grapes, almonds and tarragon on a fresh croissant.  It's still a sandwich in the car - but come on - doesn't that sound a lot better than a McAnything?

I arrive at job number two right on time.  I doff my leadership hat and don my trainee hat.  These hats, by the way, are metaphorical.  I spend a wistful moment wishing that they were not.  I love hats.

I spend the next chunk of hours learning my new job. I made an amazing discovery there this week, too.  I sought this job for purely selfish reasons.  As an educator, I always sort of patted myself on the back - comfortable in the knowledge that I was doing a good thing - that I was helping others.  I knew - or at least I thought - that that would not be a part of this new job.  I sought it because I thought it would make ME happy.  I was tired of trying to save a world that didn't want to be saved.  It was time to do something for myself with no altruistic motives.  And yet.... and yet.... a week into the new job and I've realized - ok, I'm not in any danger of saving the world.  BUT - I can - and do - make people happy.  Well what do you know?  It's like the stewardess always tells you before the flight - take care of your own oxygen first, so that you'll actually be able to help other people with theirs.

At the end of my shift, I drive two doors down and wait for my sister.  She has a new job, too - and both of our shifts end at the same time.  It's like the planets aligned and made everything work out just the way it needed to - because she and her partner share a car and a ride home every day is something that she needed.  Enter me and my new job two doors down.  I take her home, insuring a short but daily face to face conversation with her.  I spend time alone in the car with three of the women I love most in the world every single day!  I feel like Magenta sliding down the banister of Frankenfurter's mansion, "You're lucky, he's lucky, I'm lucky, we're all lucky..."

Photo:  Ginger Kate
When I got home, Tom has dinner prepared.  It made my tarragon chicken salad with grapes on a croissant look like - well - a sandwich in the car.  Tom is a good cook and we have recently made some very positive changes to our eating habits which, I have a feeling, I will tell you about on another day.

We watch something on Netflix.  Our newest thing is a series on classic albums.  RUSH, a bottle of wine, some brie and hot pepper strawberry jam on crisp bread - oh my God, you guys.  (Last night we went to our high school's production of Legally Blonde.  Can you tell?)

To review:

Sunrise over bucolic farms?  Check.

City skyline?  Check.

Happy kids walking safely to school to the soundtrack of birds singing?  Check.

Working like a boss?  Check.

Good - delicious - food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack?  Check.

Learning a new job that makes me - and others! - happy?  Check.

Spending time every day with people I love?  Check.

It was a good week to be me.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. ~ The Beatles

Photo:  Wikipedia


Anonymous said...

I'm really happy for you, Tammy. I'm so glad you're happy.

Pam said...

Congrats on your new job! Care to share what it is? I'm dying to know! Btw, it's been a while since I've visited and wondering what happened to your old blog design.