I'm back from my vacation. Here's a quick rundown:
Monday: Flew out. Graded all of my juniors' Song of Solomon essays throughout the day, which included a three-hour layover in Miami (a horrible airport). The essays were so bad that I texted my colleage, "The sos essays were so bad i was hoping for the plane to go down and help me escape my misery." And they were bad. It's so frustrating; I feel like they all could have written that same crappy essay they turned in when they first came to me in August. They had gotten better, I swear, and I don't know where the regression came. Thank goodness for the couple that wrote decent essays. I hope to have a few more in my email account to grade.
Anyhow, I made it into Sarasota at around 10:30, and drove my rental into grandma and grandpa's driveway at around 11:30.
Tuesday: Drove to Lakeland, the site of the Detroit Tigers' spring training, where I hung out at Joker Marchant Stadium much of the day. The access to spring training has apparently gone down in the last couple of years, as it's pretty crowded now that the Tigers are good. The fans who were waiting around had baseballs and bats to sign, and most of them were collectors. That's not my scene at all - I could care less about getting an autograph, to be honest - and I eventually just left to a bar after realizing I wouldn't actually be able to watch the team practice until two hours before the game. This was the only reason I went so early.
Tuesday was my big day to see my college roommate, but, unfortunately, Florida's schools don't have spring break the same week we did, so I had to wait for him to get off work, and then drive from Kissimmee to Lakeland. I waited at the bar, then we eventually met up and had a good time watching the game. The best I could do was general admission seats, though, and it was pretty chilly, and we didn't end up staying the whole game. We headed off to Chili's for dinner and beer and that was it.
Wednesday: I wanted to catch the Tigers game in Bradenton that day at 1pm, and needed a way to fill my morning. I ended up going to Eatonville, FL, the setting of Their Eyes Were Watching God (and the first post-Emancipation Proclamation black town), where I visited the Zora Neale Hurston Museum, and walked the street of her tiny hometown. It was a really cool experience, even though the town isn't much for tourists (if I were them, I'd really hit up the tourism angle of the town more than they apparently do).
I texted all my colleagues that I was heading into Eatonville, and, being the smartass English teachers they are, I got three variations on the same joke back to me:
"Don't spend too much time under the pear tree." One of the favorite jokes of our English department is recounting stories of teaching the pear tree scene in the novel, which is a scene in which the teenage Janie is (apparently) masturbating. Hurston hides it behind the metaphor of a bee going in and out of the frothy blossom of the pear tree, with the ecstatic shiver of the flower and later feeling languid (one teacher has taught her students that the word "languish" almost always equals masturbation) and we all giggle immaturely at references to it that appear through the passage. We all also happened to catch our department head - a stately older woman, very southern and proper - reading the passage to her students as we walked down the hall. We thought she was more into it than she needed to be, so we have needled her about it for years, including getting her an assortment of pear-associated gifts. My colleagues, the jokesters. They all decided to make a pear tree reference back to me.
Anyhow, I didn't see any pear trees in Eatonville. But I did buy a Zora Neale Hurston t-shirt.
I motored across Florida at 80mph in order to make the Tigers/Pirates spring training game in Bradenton that afternoon. I made it at around the 2nd inning, and, unfortunately, the game was sold out. I was dejected, but asked some random person leaving the game for his stub, and he ended up giving me two behind-home-plate seats. The seats were so good that I sat with scouts and could read the readings on their radar guns. At the 7th inning stretch, I noticed a familiar face in front of me - it was Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski, the man who turned around the franchise. I tried to overhear his conversation, but couldn't; still, I was able to watch him keep score, take notes, and hold conversations with Al Avila the whole rest of the game. At the end, I shook his hand and thanked him.
I headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's that evening.
Thursday, I hung out with them, vising a great aunt and uncle down the way, seeing the beach, and eating lots of food. It was nice to see the grandparents, I got a lot of work done (finished re-reading Frankenstein! wrote my Romeo and Juliet unit!), and I'm feeling fairly refreshed.
Baseball practice tomorrow at noon. I hope to hit the gym and start working off all the pizza and cadbury eggs in the morning.
“One Of These Days…” -
46 minutes ago