Over the weekend, two good friends were married: one in Lansing, one in Baltimore. I have know the Lansing friend, who has been known in various stages of this online journal as Eleanor, since 1997, when we both were hired to be Resident Assistants together in Akers Hall at Michigan State. I have known the Baltimore friend for a considerably shorter time (about four years) but she is a terrific colleague – always challenging me to be a better teacher – and the kind of friend you can call up at 7:30am on a Saturday morning because your car has been broke into and you need a ride home from the autoglass shop.
While it was never a question of which wedding I should attend – the Lansing friend’s wedding had been planned almost a year longer, and I was actually a member of the wedding party, plus, let’s face it, I’ve known her for a decade and we’ve been through a lot together – I was still pretty disappointed to be missing the wedding of my Baltimore friends. Still, when I got to Michigan, everything just felt right. I’d never been in a wedding before, nor had ever been involved with the responsibilities that it entailed: getting the tux, going through the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, ushering guests to seats. I was even chosen to take the bride’s mother down the aisle to the unity candle and then her seat. Then, the reception was just a great time – a reunion of my best college friends, with lots of dancing and beer.
Getting away and attending this wedding did what most weddings and trips do: made me think and reflect. About two weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that the 2007-2008 school year will probably be my last in Baltimore, at least if things continue how they have been going. I realize now that my happy feelings about my school and this city mostly reside in my early memories of being here, when I was consistently challenged to be a better teacher, when I was figuring things out around the city and around my career, when we had great leadership in the department so that I had something to work towards, when my social life was active and healthy. I haven’t had that for a few years, and there just doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m tired of thinking about what a wonderful school this could be; frankly, it was a wonderful school and a wonderful place to work just three or four years ago, and it has suffered a steady decline in just about everything – work environment, cleanliness, standards, class size, class load, schedule – since that time.
Things could change. I’ve been enjoying the things I’ve heard percolating in some recent discussions about how next year might look. I’m still an optimist. But too often, I’ve found myself resorting to cynicism this year, which has turned out to be another off-year in my mind.
And the wedding weekend sort of made this more clear. I’m a man right now torn between places. I moved from Michigan for a reason – its conservatism, its weather, its sameness – but visiting my homestate, I’m reminded of its attributes. Things just seem so much simpler there. I love Baltimore, but I often feel let down by it - by the toll roads, by the garbage baking in my street when I returned home, by the parking ticket notice I received in the mail. I like big city life, I do, but it doesn’t seem to like me all that much.
Michigan doesn’t really seem a great place for me, either, but I like Lansing a bit. And Chicago is a cool city, though I don’t know how livable for a public school teacher. But the truth is, that I don’t know where my place is right now, and that’s not a great feeling. Every place that I want to call home doesn’t quite seem like home. Especially school, lately.
Two weeks until summer vacation.
Disorder Disorder, Ctd - A reader writes: Allen Frances bemoaned, “About half of Americans already qualify for a mental disorder at some point in their lives.” Roughly 100% of Amer...
21 minutes ago