Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration on her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.
1. Conversations at NCTE. This was my third year attending NCTE, and each year the experience has been very different. This year, I was much more relaxed than I usually am, spent less time planning what sessions I would attend, and tried to go with the flow (my November theme). I didn’t take as many notes as I usually do either, which unfortunately means that I’m not entirely sure what I learned because if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t go into my brain. I’ll do a learning reflection post next week (by which time I will surely have forgotten everything!). But today, I’m celebrating the theme of this year’s NCTE for me, which was conversation. I am an introvert, but I challenged myself to have lots of conversations–with online friends and with perfect strangers. Whenever I was waiting in line–which was often–I tried to strike up conversations. More than once, I was talking to someone I thought was a stranger only to discover that they’re actually in my PLN. And meeting the teachers whose blogs I read, whom I follow on Twitter, was a special treat. I even did something I never would have done before–joined the Slicers for dinner on Saturday night. I got to sit between two of my favorite teacher-bloggers, Julianne Harmatz and Tara Smith, and they are every bit as delightful, gracious, and thoughtful in person as they are on their blogs. This is also the first time I’ve ever had the experience of having strangers come up to me and introduce themselves, saying they read my blog. I write for the handful of readers who comment regularly on my blog. I always forget that there are many other people reading my words!
2. Coming home. As much as I love traveling, I really, really love coming home. I was so happy when we walked out of the airport in Denver and I felt that cold, sharp Rocky Mountain air and I knew I was almost home. (Well, almost home after a six-hour drive.) There were warm snuggly kitties waiting (and Frances met me at the door) and an angry boy (who was warm and snuggly for a few minutes at least!) and a relieved husband and an overjoyed pit bull. (Is any dog ever as happy as a pit bull? I don’t think so.)
3. I conquered my fear of pie! It might be homely, but it was delicious. And thank goodness, because it was REALLY a production. I made a double-crust apple pie, a pumpkin pie, and a pecan pie. AND IT TOOK ALL DAY. The rolling-out part was the hardest. I was very frustrated with the first one I did, but I did get better, and by crust #4, I felt like I was beginning to get the hang of it and figuring out what mistakes I’d made rolling out crust #1. I read Joy the Baker’s 5 Tips for the Best All-Butter Pie Crust From Scratch and With Love, Apple Pie about 600 times. Seriously. She’s going to see this crazy spike in her stats and it’s all me and my pie fear. Which I tried to control, because Joy says that butter can feel your fear, and I believe it. I had to step away from pie crust #1 and take some deep breaths.
4. Thanksgiving. Holidays have not always been easy at our house: traumatized kids + holidays = extreme stress and meltdowns. But we had a terrific day. I wasn’t thrilled about coming home from NCTE and having hours upon hours of cooking to do, but it was all worth it in the end. The meal was so good, and I really enjoyed spending time with my mom and in-laws. It’s rare that we have everyone together even though we all live near each other. And then for everything to go so smoothly, for my older son to enjoy himself so much, be so relaxed, and have so many real smiles and laughter. A good, good day.
5. Words. Protest. I have been very angry this week. I am often very angry about race and poverty in America, but I’ve been extra angry this week. I have spent a lot of time on Twitter this week, following events in Ferguson and protests around the country, and retweeting voices that need to be heard and amplified. I am so grateful for all of the teachers in my PLN who have been tweeting, retweeting, writing, listening, and learning–and hopefully also teaching or planning to teach. I am so grateful to my students who have tweeted about Ferguson and injustice. I am so grateful to the protesters who are working tirelessly for change, sharing their stories and documenting what’s happening through social media. Roxanne Gay is right: words are not enough. But this week, the words of others are what I’ve had.