Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Give me a (spring) break!

This week is Spring Break for many of my readers.  For those of you who don’t get a chance to enjoy this blessing tucked away in the middle of March, I feel for you.  For me, Spring Break is something I look forward to on the first day back after the Winter Break.  It is the nine day long spring board that launches me towards the beginning of June when I can finally reclaim my life as my own.
As a student in college, Spring Break was always an occasion to spend lots of money (which I didn’t have and am still kinda paying for) and visit an exotic location with my closest friends.  Some of my best college memories have come from my Spring Breaks.  
There was the time we went camping near Austin and experienced a torrential downpour during the middle of the night.  We ended up sleeping in my van, all six of us.  It was GLORIOUS!
My Sophomore year we went skiing in Crested Butte.  This was my third time skiing, and my reckless, 20 year old mind was convinced I could do black diamonds.  I was wrong.
He is the guy on the left.  Thank God the
mustache met it's demise!
My Junior year  was supposed to be Crested Butte again.  About 100 miles north of Houston I stopped for gas and my car didn’t turn back on.  This was in Centerville, TX.  There is nothing there.  I had my car towed back to Houston ($), parked outside the dealership ($$), and then headed down to Corpus Christi where some other friends were spending their Spring Break.  On the way I got a speeding ticket; YEAH!!! ($$$).  I did get to see one of my best friends shave off his mustache for the first time; I still thank to universe for that one!

My senior year I spent a few days in New Orleans on Bourbon Street with my future wife.  We enjoyed the peace of Jackson Square and the French Quarter during the day and the debauchery and revelry that is Bourbon Street at night.  A good time was had by all!
Now that I am in the teaching field, Spring Break means so much more.  This week of bliss represents recovery, regeneration, and relaxation.  Since coming back to school in January I have prepared and performed the school musical, prepared my students for a concert and a district Assessment, prepped and organized 94 some-odd events for UIL Solo and Ensemble contest, as well as my normal planning, teaching, and office managing stuff.  Between now and the end of the school year, the agenda is even more packed.  Spring Break is the only way I, as well as any other teacher, can survive to the end of the year.
This year, Spring Break has been filled with gardening and landscaping, mild exercise, writing, and family time.  I have had a lot of time to think, reflect, and ponder, which I love to do.
Imagine six of these.
Today’s gardening effort involved six excessively large green bushes that have dominated the front beds for the last two years.  They are neither pretty looking, nor do they smell pleasant (they really have no smell).  The only real purpose the serve is irritating Samantha by their very presence.  I chose today to give her a gift and chop them up.
At first, I worked on shaping them.  I brought out the hedge trimmers and began snipping here and there, paring them down to allow the roses and crepe myrtle to show a little more.  After forming three of them into neat, trim balls I encountered my first obstacle.  The fourth bush was perched precariously between a rose bush and a gardenia - both preferred plants to these monsters.  I trimmed and cut, creating room on the sides, allowing for space between the bush and the house.  When I finished, the bush looked less like a cute bubble and more like a geometry project by a far-sighted fourth grader.
I asked Samantha to come out and make the decision.  She had a look in her eye I rarely see - the desperate hope that something she has wished for so long was about to come true.  After surveying my work, weighing the possibilities and potential outcomes, the decision was made to let it go, putting the green bush out of it’s misshapen misery.
I cut it down.
Samantha’s eagerness at wish fullfillment didn’t stop there.  The bush on the far side, which I had managed to trim quite nicely, now made the scene asymmetrical; the whole thing looked like it was leaning toward the right, about to topple onto the driveway.  It had to go.
Now, we are two bushes less.  I feel better.  My rose bed looks uncluttered, more streamlined and sophisticated.  If I were to look at a before and after picture, I would be able to tell you that “of course it looked cluttered, bunched, and closed off before.”  But had you asked me yesterday, I would have told you it looked fine and only needed a bit of trimming.  Now that it is done, I can see that there was a problem.
I am sure you know where I am going.  For those of you who frequent my blog, by now you have probably learned how I set up my writing: light anecdotal storytelling, specific inquiry into the topic of the week, and then BANG! I whack you over the head with the point.  Well, today I am not going to do that.  I think you are all smart enough to discern my point without a lengthy denouement.  After all, it is Spring Break, and I am on vacation.
Have a good rest of the week.  I certainly will.

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