Exit to the Left and My New Title

Paul's alarm goes off like a fire drill: this horribly loud and offensive bell that makes you want to bury it in another state because you never want to hear it again. There is rarely a snooze or even a hesitation.

Everyday he gets up methodically at 5:00 a.m.

I linger, trying to pry my eyes open by making myself feel guilty for being lazy, or telling myself meaningless things like "You won't have time to do your hair," which hasn't mattered in months. I finally throw myself overboard and hunched over and grumpy, I schlump on the couch forcing one eye open to watch the news. Oatmeal's desperate squeaks force me off the couch and I finally get up for good to dash around the bedroom to find something not that wrinkled. We dance around each other with peanut butter butter knives and hot water into the French press and more snacks for the most spoiled pig in the world. Our clunky sleepy climb down from the second story boasts a large window and we steal glances of a sun thinking of rising and illuminating our "back yard." We kiss where my car ends and his Jeep begins. He goes south, I go north. I maneuver the steering wheel with stretched out sweater sleeves providing needed-layers between my hands and the ice cold wheel. Even in August, Tahoe mornings are chilly and remind you of fall. The sun still threatens a return, barely peeping over the mountains and sometimes there's a layer of fog on the lake. It looks like a postcard. This is my commute, Monday through Friday and everyday I feel lucky to be able to drive around such a beautiful landscape, regardless of how early or how many people are driving under the speed limit. I feel grateful and can't help but smile.

Until I reach the parking lot of my school. Then it all changes.

I fall out of my car with too many things in my arms that never seem like "too many things" when I leave my peaceful west shore apartment. When I finally reach my classroom, it always seems too messy, there are too many things to do, everything is too much. It's too quiet. It's too chilly. It's too, too, too and all I want to do is curl up with my coffee and read my "morning news" (social media).

I get there at 7 a.m. so I'm not there after, or on the weekends. I get there 40 minutes early in order to leave it all there. Everything that reminds me of teaching is no longer a part of me. I clock in at 7 and clock out at 11:15. I've compartmentalized Ms. Ronau in order to function. Because I can no longer stand it.

I am in teacher heaven. This is glaringly obvious based on the fact that the town I teach in is one of the most wealthiest places in the U.S. My students show up, stay awake, change their clothes regularly, do their homework and talk about mom AND dad at home. They aren't starving. They have their basic needs met. They listen. They respect me. They don't need me in a way that I've been needed for the past three years. I feel like I just started to teach. And there is still something missing. I still, frankly, don't care.

It's hard to care as part-time teacher when I'm still overloaded with the work of a full-time job. I'm still responsible for a 29 page self-assessment with a deadline of a week. I'm still responsible for scheduling IEP meetings on my planning, writing them on my planning, grading on my planning, lesson planning on my planning, joining a committee that meets after school and at the same time, striving to be a "highly effective teacher" based on if my students correct each other's behavior (yes, that is a real standard). Funny, because where I come from, if you correct the wrong kid's behavior, you better hope you don't ride the same bus home. Snitches get stitches and so does your little brother.

And I'm only paid for 7:30-11:15.

Real talk here: money does matter. The actual ACT of teaching is possibly one of the best things anyone can do and I'm lucky enough that it comes pretty natural to me. But I'm also not an idiot. I have a Masters in Education and work in a field that boasts one of the lowest paying occupations. Pair the lowest paid occupation with freezing teacher pay increases and it becomes glaringly obvious that if you can get out, do it. I didn't take a vow of poverty to become a teacher. I'm still paying back my student loans to an educational system that keeps asking more and more. Teacher license. CEU's. Classroom supplies. TIME. No wonder I don't want to get out of bed.

Fast forward to 11:15. I lock up my classroom and sprint out to my car and drive 8 minutes west. I wind up a drive right off of Mount Rose Highway and park in front of the office where I can see the lake, where it is quiet enough for me to process and decompress, where there is room to expand and think and take my time. After checking emails and answering voicemails, I start editing copy for our new website. My boss urges me to use the "session" room, where the lake view is more dramatic and plants dot the corners. She asks if I want some coffee, we take a break to enjoy it and I plug away. And into my 7th official day, my boss calls my new editions "brilliant." I breathe in really deep and try not to get too "crying girl" but it's all too much to realize your purpose after 29 years of being on that journey.

It's simple. I belong. And someone else agrees.

I've always told myself that jobs are supposed to "feel" like jobs. They're supposed to be slightly annoying; otherwise, TGIF wouldn't mean so much.

But when you ask your boss for a day off and she thanks you for bringing vacation energy to the office, what do you even do to that? (Also, do you say thank you to that?)

When she tells you that the universe brought you here and she's so thankful for your work, how does that make the weekend the best time?

I'm so grateful to be where I am at this exact moment, not wishing I was somewhere else, doing anything else, being in a different place in life.

Right now is the best time. 

"When I was younger, people would tell me, "You have a gift." I would say thank you. Now as I'm older, I see my gift as a responsibility. I was given this gift and if I don't use it, it means nothing." 
(Just one of the nuggets I receive daily. :)