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As most of you are probably aware, last year was my first year of teaching. It was, more or less, all it was cracked up to be. I don’t think there are many people who haven’t, at some point, been lectured on just how difficult being a first year teacher really is. I’m living proof that everything you’ve heard isn’t wrong. It was a long, tough year with a lot of road bumps and difficult moments. Certainly, my situation was far more favorable than most first year teaching positions but it did not lack for its difficult moments.

That’s part of the reason why I was so excited for this year to begin. As a second year teacher, I’m finding myself with buckets of time that I never thought I would have as a teacher. Lessons are planned, tests are written, grading comes easier. All of this leads to me, firstly, being able to spend more time with Kendall and, secondly, being able to become more involved in the school community.

By the end of the spring semester of last year, I had weaseled my way into the basketball coach friend circle. I maintain some space there and that lends itself to some opportunities that plenty of teachers might not ever hear about. For instance, when a new rule was passed that required coaches to not play during open gym, the head basketball coach strongly suggested that I start coming out in order to give another adult presence on the floor. If you know me, you know I jumped at the opportunity.

Likewise, when the regular PA announcer was unavailable for one of the preseason basketball games, I was an obvious choice. Having played open gym with the team for several weeks, I knew everyone’s names and I enjoyed going to the games in any case, if not to support the school and the students, then to support my friends in their coaching endeavors.

Once again, if you know me, you know that I didn’t really feel like shying from the attention that a PA announcer can receive and I thoroughly enjoyed my time behind the mic. So, when I got a text from the teacher who usually does the announcing letting me know that he might have to skip tonight’s game, I was quick to offer my services.

What a solid choice that was as I was treated to quite the entertaining game.

It’s a small thing really, at the end of the day most people probably wouldn’t even notice if the PA had an announcer or not, but I can’t help but feel like it’s just one more thing that is helping me wedge my way into the school community. And, by the way, if there ever was a school with a “community” it’s the one that I’m currently teaching at. I think that the students I have that see me at the games are able to see a side of me that doesn’t come out in the classroom and the ones that don’t already know me are getting an opportunity to realize that there is just one more friendly face in the hall.

I suppose I’m saying all of this to say, I’m very grateful for where I am in my career. The newness of being a part of this school hasn’t even come close to wearing off and I am being presented with more and more opportunities everyday to become a part of an important community in many peoples’ lives.

Also, if anyone ever makes three shots in a row without the opposing team scoring. You can bet the farm that you’ll hear my voice amplified over an entire gymnasium letting people know that “HE’S ON FIRE!!!”

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How We’re Doing

I was spurred on by a close friend asking what happened to the series “The Greatest Month in the History of Awesome” to post an update on the blog.

I realize that it has been quite some time since we updated you on how things were down in BRLA (Baton Rouge, La). As a matter of fact, neither Kendall nor myself have spent any time pontificating on married life in this writing space. This is a huge shame. I hope to return to it soon but for now you will receive only the briefest of brief updates.

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Alright, I’m sad to say, but I let this work schedule get the best of me.  Over the past couple days, I have become more and more frustrated with my situation.  During the day, I complain about having to go to work, when I’m there, I complain about being at work, and when it gets closer to the morning, I complain about wanting to go home.  I walk around like a zombie most of the time and have found that I am disinterested by everything and not motivated by anything.  BUT – that all changes tonight!  I’m going to look on the bright side of things…after all, Michael doesn’t call me sunshine for nothing!

I emailed my complaints to my future mother-in-law last night.  I told her how I have been struggling lately and, as always, she came back with lots of helpful advice.

I hope you can find some line of thought that will motivate you.  Maybe just meditating on gratitude and all the blessings in your life.  That sounds kind of syrupy but I am amazed when I see how incredibly blessed your whole family is…how loving they are and how they miss you. And all your friends–you are a treasure to them…and then there is Michael…. That is a gift.

And she’s completely right.  So, tonight, I’ve decided to focus my attention on the blessings in my life.  For example, a few nights ago, I asked Kirby to post some pictures of our two puppies at home because I knew that would bring me joy, happiness, and laughter, as it always does.  Within 24 hours, she had taken 137 (!) photos of the pups (and some of herself) for me and posted them all on facebook in an album titled “dog pictures (just for you, kendall)”.  It really made me happy that night, but more importantly, Michael pointed out – what a great sister.  He commented this on the album, which I also found funny because he had to clarify to Kirby that this was a serious comment, due to the typically sarcastic nature of their relationship with each other.

This past weekend, Michael and I had a bunch of really awesome friends from the Carolina Ultimate team come for a visit to play in the Mardi Gras Tournament.  Michael was able to play on one of the teams and I was able to come out and watch most of the games.  I know Michael really enjoyed getting a chance to run around and play some ultimate, and we also enjoyed spending time with these great friends.  It was also great for me to spend some time in the sunshine!  You’ll have to get Michael to fill you in on all the ultimate details, as I sat around and enjoyed my time on the sidelines chatting with the girls about non-ultimate things, and occasionally cheering for the Jambalayout and Jambalegend (as the two teams were called).  And as bad as it threw off my sleep schedule (aka I did not sleep at all during the day), it was a refreshing break for me from the monotony of the past month and a half.  Here are some pictures from the weekend to show just how much fun we had.

In other exciting news, I was given one night off this past Monday night.  It was perfectly situated to give me and Michael time to relax after a busy weekend, as well as a chance to celebrate Valentine’s Day only a day late.  And boy, what a valentine Michael was to me!  I came home from work Monday morning and crawled into bed to get some much needed rest.  I was pleasantly awoken the next day(morning?) to breakfast in bed made by Michael, served on a red heart shaped plate with a rose!  After lounging around and watching movies for a couple hours, we then took a nap until 6 pm that night, waking up just in time for a dinner date.  The date was only slightly interrupted by a crazy roommate (another story for another time), and then we were off to P. F. Changs for dinner.  All in all, it was an enjoyable and much needed night off.

Finally turnaround is approaching the end.  I can see the light, and pretty soon I’ll be seeing the daylight too!  I’ll be done March 3rd, and I’m excited to get back on a normal schedule and spend time with people I love again.  And what a better way to do that than to fly home to spend a weekend with my family?  It will be a very exciting weekend for me because I am finally getting to try on my wedding dress for the first time since I bought it, and this time my mom and maybe my sister(s) will be there to see it!  I will also get to see Kirby in her (and any other Williamson girl’s) first school pageant.  I’m excited for her, and can’t wait to see her all gussied up.  In general, I just can’t wait to see my entire family…it’s been too long.  The one sad thing about this weekend is that I will not be spending time with Michael on my first weekend off from turnaround.  Butttt, I suppose we will have our time very shortly and lots of it come May 29th.  (Please come soon!!!)

I’ll leave you with this scripture that Mrs. Aguilar gave me to meditate on, which will give me strength and comfort for the next two weeks.

Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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It is interesting the lessons that we have to learn.

Few things in my life make me more angry than those who don’t appreciate another’s work. I point you to this post on the blog I keep for Ultimate frisbee. The first comment doesn’t say anything about how the coverage is nice to read in a coverage starved sport. It doesn’t say, “Nice job.” All it says is: “WHERE’S ARE THE WOMEN’S UPDATES.”

It’s times like this that truly try my patience. In defense of the Ultimate frisbee reading community, there were comments that thanked me for my efforts. I always have to ask myself what is going through the mind of the person that asks for the women’s updates. How are they not satisfied? If I somehow managed to put up women’s updates, would this person then not be the first to complain about the quality or lack of depth to the men’s updates?

Tonight, I was that person.

I really do enjoy my job. However, I’ve been having a rough stretch the last couple of weeks. Supposedly everyone in Louisiana is saving their money for Mardi Gras, at least that’s what I’ve been told. My tips have certainly suffered for the last three or four weeks, tonight marking the first time since I worked at the restaurant that I’ve made less than 10 dollars an hour on tips alone.

A situation arose and I made it plenty clear to my manager that I was quite displeased with the way things went. I also made it clear that I believed the problem that arose was a direct result of a lack of structure at the restaurant as a whole. Before you go thinking that I was mouthing off with no basis, this manager and I have developed a working friendship. This is someone who I feel comfortable being honest and open with.

He, to my surprise, responded quite negatively to my opinion. In fact, he responded in a sarcastic and bitter manner. After realizing that neither of us were happy with where the conversation was headed we left for our respective corners only to reconvene and apologize to each other for the manner with which we dealt with the situation.

At this point, after talking the whole thing out with him, I realized that I had done exactly what it was that I hated so much. The restaurant has been making many changes in order to make our lives as servers easier. I neglected to appreciate all those changes and decided to focus on the negative. I turned into the type of person that brought me to my knees as the sports editor of my college newspaper and infuriates me in any other aspect of my life.

It took me a half hour of nighttime exercise to realize just how much my actions tonight disgust me. Suffice it to say that I’m quite disappointed in myself. However, I am grateful for a God-given conscience that will make me feel the pain that I inflict when I inflict it. I hope that I can put forth a better effort in this area in the future.


I aim to post some of my creative writing here every now and then. After working through tonight’s problems while working out at midnight. I couldn’t help but remember this piece that I wrote for a creative writing class my junior year in college. I don’t expect many of you to read this but Mom might like it.

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As I believe I’ve already said, there are many things you learn working at a restaurant. I now regret not working at a restaurant up until this point. I thought I would hate it and the truth is, you will have nights that cause you to lose just a little bit of faith in humanity. That being said, you’ll have just as many nights that affirm your confidence in yourself and teach you everything that you’ll ever need to know about dealing with people.

Another lovely aside to working in a restaurant is the people that you meet who work in the business. From the managers to the line cooks, it takes a certain kind of person to survive in the fast paced world of Soups, Salads and Breadsticks. I’ve met many folks who have all kinds of personalities but there is one that stands out in my mind as my current favorite.

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You may or may not know that Conan O’Brien did his last Late Night with Conan O’Brien show on Friday. O’Brien was forced out after only seven months (far and away the shortest time any host has ever spent on the show). He spent his last two weeks as host making life difficult for his soon to be former employer, NBC.

However, given the opportunity to say “whatever he wanted” about the situation, his former employer and life in general, O’Brien finally moved away from the jokes and the silliness for a serious moment.

Perhaps it’s the biggest sign of what O’Brien is talking about that the second thing that I thought about after hearing this speech, the first being, “What an incredibly classy, tactful, poignant and moving speech,” was “I seriously doubt any of these kids that are listening to this are going to take this speech to heart.”

I don’t necessarily agree that cynicism is more prominent now than it has been at other times. I try and stray away from being one of those folks who gets far too nostalgic about past times and how they were better than current times. I do, however, agree that cynicism, though I have my fair share of it, is disgusting and leads nowhere.

O’Brien is someone I respect, perhaps it’s only his on air persona but he makes people laugh and he seems full of joy. I suppose it’s because that’s how I fancy myself, full of joy and laughter. Often times, I’m not. I would hope that most that know me agree that I am. I believe that is a much more pleasant way to go through life than cynical and full of hate. Working at a restaurant has taught me that the people who attempt to enjoy life are generally the ones that are going to enjoy life.

I don’t think that O’Brien’s message is a complicated one. He’s simply asking that you bring more joy and smiles into the world than you bring cynicism and frowns.

“Please do not be cynical, I hate cynicism. For the record it’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

Spectacular. And now for something completely different that actually pertains to our lives.

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So, I finally made it onto the blog.   It took me awhile, but I’m here.  Although I enjoy (and I’m sure you will too) reading Michael’s posts a lot more, I figured I’d give you my take on some stuff.

Turnaround

You should be able to tell from this picture that I have had some fun at night during Turnaround.  This picture was taken after about two hours of crawling through a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) reactor and regenerator.  Now, I know that all these words might not mean that much to a lot of you, but it’s pretty cool stuff.  While I have plenty of responsibilities during Turnaround, I also have some downtime.  It is during this downtime that my coordinators have urged me (and all the other engineers) to go out in the refinery every chance we get and learn as much as we can.  And that is just what I have done.  The FCC unit is not my responsibility.  However, if they open a vessel in that unit, I’m out there.  There are times when I think of the refinery during Turnaround as my own little playground.  There is a lot of climbing to do, a lot of holes to squeeze down in, a lot of crawling in small spaces, and a lot of stuff to learn through all of this.

Night Shift

Working the night shift has definitely been an experience.  It’s weird to drive to work  and see everybody else driving home.  It’s weird to get in my bed every morning as the sun is coming up and go to sleep.  It’s weird to eat breakfast at 3 PM when I wake up and dinner/lunch (?) at work at 11 PM.  Everything is completely out of order and backwards, and for the most part I have adjusted pretty well.  The one thing I have not quite adjusted to is missing the people I don’t get to see or talk to because of my weird hours.  Sometimes I can catch dad while driving to work while he is heading home.  Tyler has tried to call me the past 3 nights, and I’ve missed him every time.  I don’t even have much time to talk to my sister via Facebook.  I try to squeeze in a few text messages to my mom each day.  And there’s so many people at work that I haven’t seen since the beginning of January, people I had gotten used to seeing every day.  I have gotten in a phone call or two with some friends from home, but others are not so willing:

And then there’s Michael.  It is so hard not to have our time together that we had gotten so used to.  He has been great though.  He comes to my house some nights and sleeps over, so that he is there “waiting” for me when I get home from work.  We are able to hang out for a little while in the morning, but then it’s off to bed for me and work for him.  He has been so supportive through it all, and we’re getting through this just fine (already 11 days in!)  But, I will admit that I’ll be excited to have a weekend to spend time with Michael when this is all over.

Uhhh…

So this is really sad…but I sat here for 5 minutes trying to think of something else I could write about.  The sad part is…there is nothing else.  I could sit here and bore you with talking about how I spend my other 3 hours awake, but I’m sure you don’t want to hear about how many miles I ran three days ago or how many bicep curls I did while watching The Bachelor on DVR yesterday afternoon.  Or I could tell you about how much I have been sleeping during the day.  All these things though, I’m sure you couldn’t care less about.  But, there ya go…my life for the next few weeks summed up in a few paragraphs.

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