10 things that change

1. Hair-styles. Over many years, I can say that my hair has seen not only a few shades of brown, auburn and red but also has been straight and curly; short and long (and one time, in the 1980’s, both short and long; otherwise known as a mullet. It kills me to say it, but that school photo simply does not lie.)  I had a Dorothy Hamill wedge cut in the 1970s; in the 1980s I had cuts that resembled Lady Di’s, Madonna’s (a la her Like a Virgin album cover); and the aforementioned mullet thing. In the 1990s I had cuts like Demi Moore (in the film Ghost) and Jennifer Aniston (who didn’t?)  As the millenium changed, it seems I have settled a little more, my changes are less drastic and far less frequent, but I am not shy to a color change and have cut off lots of hair just to work at growing it all back again.

2. Education. When I entered kindergarten I told my parents I was going to quit school as soon as I had learned to read. I now have three degrees. My father mused at one of my convocations that he felt it was taking me an unreasonable amount of time to master phonics. Through my own schooling I have seen the power that education has had to change ideas I had about myself, refine those I held about others and more significantly, transform how I wanted to live in the world. Education makes me crave new knowledge and pushes me to innovate about how to share that passion with my own students. School is much different now from how I remember being taught. Teachers today are constantly in a state of flux and balancing on a tightrope of technology and pedagogy. Education, as student and teacher, is all about change.

3. Boyfriends. I have seen some fine young men come in to, and have ushered many of them out of, my life (some continue as fine men). In the spirit of flux, I have seen my current boyfriend become my fiance. I often wonder if he will change further, in to my husband? We’ll get around to it eventually, I presume. I hope he never changes after that, I really don’t want an ex-husband!

4. Technology. My first introduction to technology was when I received my record player and my first album (Creedence Clearwater Revival) at age six; following that we had an 8-track player; then I began taping songs from the radio on to my cassette tapes. By high school I was re-purchasing music on CD. I felt cutting edge when I bought an MP3 player. Then I got an iPod and a satellite radio. I played Pong, then Atari, learned basic computer skills from our Vic 20 and then our Commodore 64. In university I sent my first email. I now own two laptops and must check several email accounts; update my Facebook status, see what my friends are doing and upload an occasional photo; I keep a wiki to record homework for my students and now, here I am writing a blog. (Still haven’t Twittered.) Sometimes it scares me, it seems that as soon as I master one thing, the world is so much further ahead with a new innovation and it seems I will never catch up (other times I just refuse, like Twitter). Other times, I am just proud to be moderately keeping pace.

5. Jobs. My first job was as a baby sitter, I was well respected and kept busy in my neighbourhood. Then, I took the obligatory job at a fast food chain (at which I can no longer eat at). I worked in a bridal salon, a women’s clothing store, an athletic shoe store, and a jean’s store; it took all of these false attempts to realize that I was not the least bit cut out for retail sales and I moved in to the service industry where I waitressed and bar-tended for years. I also wrote classified ads and obituaries; I have been a tutor, an ESL teacher, a supply teacher, and an in-school suspension teacher. Now I am an English teacher, a Media Studies teacher and a Department Head. The jobs have changed; as has the pay, my colleagues, my tasks and my responsibilities. The thing that remains: because I have always chosen jobs that have allowed me to work directly with people, I am at the whim of the interactions that people have with one another. Most often these interactions are positive, challenging and pleasant and I love my job. There are however, also days when most jobs just simply feel like work.

6. Bedtimes. As I grew up, each year of my development allowed another half hour to be tacked on to my bedtime. I longed to stay up late and wondered endlessly about all of the fun that my parents must be having after putting us to bed. Now, it seems I have been subtracting hours off the other end and going to bed earlier. Now I know I’m not missing much, except a good night’s rest, which we all know makes all the difference.

7. Seasons. For this, I am glad I live where I do. I like to watch the seasons change. Seasons are the hallmarks of beginnings and endings and punctuate how we feel, behave and interact. I love summer, it is such an easy way of life. I love being barefoot.  Time is bountiful. So many fresh vegetables and fruit. Cold beer, swimming pools, the beach, lounge chairs, piles of books to read. It is time to relax, to break the rules a little (stay up past my bedtime even), I am at my most most laid-back, I am flexible, I run on the seat of my pants and the whim of the next great idea. Summer gives way to fall, and another sense of new beginning- my school year starts again; new students, seeing colleagues again, feeling refreshed and anxious to start something new. I like crisp fall air, wool sweaters and long walks in the woods with the crunch of leaves beneath my feet and a kaleidoscope of fall colours on the branches. Winter allows for hibernation. It welcomes heartier food, layers of clothing, and snuggling under blankets. Red wine compliments late dinners and I attempt to slow the frenetic pace that fall brings. Christmas, snow, vacations, family time. Trees shed their leaves and shake naked in the yard, revealing neighbours we couldn’t see for so long. And then we wait for spring and long to hear birds sing, to see buds on the trees, to smell clean, fresh air. We spring clean, pare down, and see the school year beginning to come to a close as well.  We watch our graduating students begin their lives as adults and wax about yet another ending and beginning.

8. Tolerance for crap. I used to take a lot of crap (from a variety of sources) and used to tolerate this crap. As I age, I have far less tolerance for crap. I no longer answer surveys from telemarketers during dinner; I don’t say ‘yes’ when I mean ‘no’; I don’t do things I don’t want to do; I speak up when I feel I am being treated unfairly– just examples.

9. Friendship. I have come to realize that some friendships are contingent on the situations in which those friendships are made. As those circumstances change, as we change ourselves– we should expect that these friendships might as well. Sometimes the friendship ends, sometimes it is only altered for a period and then revived again, some friendships grow stronger and better with time. But, friendships themselves are in flux. We are not the same people, expecting our relationships with others to remain constant is unreasonable. True friendships navigate through flux; like tides that wash up and change the landscapes by wearing rocks smooth, so too a real friendship will alter and find a new way to deal with the change in the friends themselves.

10. Price of gas. Not just since I first got my license… in the last 48 hours, and in the next 48 hours it will again.

“…Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’…

(Bob Dylan, 1963, Warner Brothers Music.)