Where I’m at with coming out at work

For years, I’ve had this idea of the path I would follow for coming out at work.  First, I would tell a few people in person, including the principal and my supervisor.  Then I would talk to the principal about my plan for coming out to everyone else, and make sure that it was fine by her.  This plan entailed writing an email to the school requesting male pronouns and a name change.  And maybe a brief explanation about how I feel about my gender.  Then I would try to be alert and correct people in the moment so that the adjustment period would move along quicker.  Maybe I’d actually feel closer to certain people during this process.  Currently, I am far away from almost everyone.

Paths often diverge into other directions, or gradually end or loop back around.  I made it through quite a few of these steps, and each time, I felt an urgency to move ahead, and relief and pride for disclosing more about myself:

A little over a year ago, I came out to the principal of my school (workplace).

Then, about 5 months ago, I cam out to the head of the kitchen.

Four months ago, I came out to my co-worker.

Most recently, about 3 months ago, I came out to my supervisor.

I thought my supervisor was the major road block.  That once that was taken care of, the rest would happen quickly and effortlessly.  Because it seemed to be what I had been wanting for years.  I wanted to tell all these people, I thought, so that I could move on to the next stage.  But now I’m starting to think differently.  I’m wondering if maybe I wanted to tell these people because I actually wanted them to know this thing about me, and not just as a means to get to the next thing.  Because as soon as the euphoria of telling my supervisor wore off, the urge to move forward surprisingly died down.  Currently I feel no desire to follow the next step(s) in my plan.

I could speculate as to why that is:  The rest of the plan is too scary, so I’m tricking myself into believing I don’t really want it.  This seems unlikely because emailing the rest of the school and then replying in the moment seems totally do-able if that’s what I want.  Doing that stuff is so much more hands-off, and low key, as compared to coming out to someone face-to-face, especially if you don’t know how they’ll react.

Another guess:  I’m worried that people won’t understand.  I haven’t legally changed my name yet, and I do not plan on changing my gender marker on legal documents.  I also don’t plan on using the men’s room.  (Luckily there are 3 “staff” restrooms within the school.)  Will people be confused by my “partial” or “selective” transition?  I’ve talked a lot about this in therapy over time, and I keep getting assured that people will take what I say at face value, and I don’t need to over-explain.  I always thought about using a quip about bathrooms in my mass email:  “Although I use the women’s restroom, don’t worry – I will continue to clean them all.”  Or something like that.  If people don’t understand that I am not transitioning into manhood, then so be it, right?

Another guess:  Maybe I’ve actually reached the balance I’m looking for.  Maybe I don’t actually want to be called by my new name, and male pronouns in all areas of my life because my gender is not that binary – maybe I actually need a little bit of both.  This seems possible… I guess that time will tell.

Or:  I am focused on my upcoming top surgery right now, that other gender-related issues are on the back burner.  This might be the case.  Again, time will tell.

Above all, when following any transition path, whether it’s laid out in stories in mass media, or the WPATH-SOC, or a therapist, or within each of us, it’s essential to listen to that heart/gut combination voice.  Not the voice inside your head.  Not the voice of peers transitioning.  Not the voice of medical professionals.

Sometimes it's like there is one roadblock in otherwise wide-open terrain

Sometimes it’s like there is one roadblock in otherwise wide-open terrain

other times it's like finding yourself suddenly where you've never been

other times it’s like finding yourself suddenly where you’ve never been

sometimes it's coming across something completely unexpected

sometimes it’s coming across something completely unexpected

That voice that says, “this feels right,” or “this does not feel right,” or “I’m not sure about this yet so I’m going to slow down and/or try a different path for a while.”  This voice always has a simple message, and it’s always there, even if it seems buried by other, less important voices.  Sometimes it’s a complex process to try and figure out what you want to do with that voice’s message, but the message itself is always simple and straightforward.

My voice unexpectedly told me that it’s not time to come out to everyone at work right now, if ever.  At a time when I was sure my voice was going to say, “full speed ahead!  You’re almost there!” it actually did a 180.  And, although a part of me wants to just complete a task that has been on my mind for years, it is much more satisfying to listen to this voice than to check off one more thing on my transition to-do list.

Speaking of to-do lists, here’s one version of my transition to-do list, from almost 2 years ago: Gender identity related “to-do list”

There have been many, many versions of this, with lots of revisions.  That’s part of what it means to be on a path…

 


I came out to the head of the kitchen at my school (workplace)

About 7 months ago, I came out to the principal at school.  She asked me what she could do, and at the time I said nothing right now, but eventually I’d like to send out an email and go by a new name and male pronouns.  I still cannot foresee when this email might happen, but I did get myself one step closer a couple of weeks ago.

I was filling in for my supervisor (working during the day while school is in session) and so I had some time to drink coffee in the kitchen and stuff.  About a year ago, I told the head of the kitchen that I was getting testosterone from my doctor (because I was leaving to go to an appt. that day), and that I don’t feel like either a man or a woman.  She didn’t say much at the time, but it felt pretty exhilarating to tell her anyway.  She was also the first person at work I told I was getting married.  One week before the date.  I barely see her unless we’re working together over the summer, but over the years and years and years, I feel somewhat close to her, closer than anyone else probably.

So we were sitting drinking coffee, and this was around the time I was going to be taking a day off to travel outside of Philly to go to a consultation for top surgery.  We were talking about the time off my co-worker was taking, so I just said that I’m taking a day off and I told her why.  At first she was surprised and asked me why I would be getting surgery (she might have thought I had breast cancer?).  I explained that I don’t like my chest the way it is, and I talked to her again about how I don’t feel like either a man or a woman.  We talked about what she’d do if she did have breast cancer, and we talked about people who have gotten breast reductions.  I then told her I’d like to go by male pronouns and a new name at work, but I’m just not there yet.  She said, “Well you need to do what will make you comfortable.”  Then a teacher came in needing something, so the conversation was over.  But I was pretty much in disbelief I was able to tell her all this.  It wasn’t premeditated like talking to the principal was.  And she seemed to react positively.

Normally at work, I don’t see her because our shifts overlap by only about a half hour, and I don’t really have a reason to go say hi every day.  But a couple of days after my trip, she came and found me and asked me about how it went.  It made me feel really good – I did not expect a follow-up.  I told her the out of town consultation went really well, and the one with the local surgeon did not go well.  She name dropped a local plastic surgery practice that might do what I’m looking for, and I found out later through a facebook group that some trans-guys have gone to one of the plastic surgeons.  Not sure whether I would pursue that or not, but it was nice she was thinking of me.

I’m not sure what’s holding me back from coming out at work, exactly, but it does feel like these spontaneous conversations are just more natural than a mass coming out email would be.  I still think the email is necessary because I can’t talk to every person (or even more than a couple), but it just feels daunting…


The implications of “back to school”*

*Back to school is in quotations because as a janitor, I didn’t actually leave school.  We’re just gearing up for everyone else coming back.

I spent this summer waking up at 5:20AM every day, working to get the school ready for students and teachers.  We are winding down from that (we’ve been wound down for a while – we started out really fast and got done early).  I’m back to late nights (2-10:30PM) without much to do other than dump the trash of the few teachers who have been coming in to set up every day.  It’s been nice that the cleanliness of the school is at a standstill.  We can just look around and say, “we got all that done.”  And we don’t yet have to work to maintain it.  Kids start back on Wednesday, so that will all change in a couple days.

While we were busy though, we were rushing through things.  We scrubbed every desk and chair.  We cleaned surfaces in the rooms, shined the sinks, dusted.  We scrubbed the old wax up off the floors.  I single-handedly waxed every floor.  3 times over.  I’d like to know how many square feet that was.  Tens of thousands?  Maybe even a hundred thousand?  Or a lot more?

It has been a relief to drop back to the later shift and not feel like I’m stumbling, half-awake, in the mornings, just to come home and start dreading about waking up early again.  I had been going to bed at 8:30PM!  My mental health has been better overall, but not great.  I’ve been mildly depressed all summer.

Going back to late nights has been lonely, and strangely, a lot of my worries have centered around what to eat before work.  I need to fit in breakfast and lunch.  I don’t know what to eat.  I also don’t really know what to do, all by myself, other than oversleeping.  I’m forcing myself to do some things I don’t really feel like doing, as of now.  I guess the hope is I will grow into it; I will like it once I’m doing it.  I’m going to be a radio DJ starting pretty soon.  I’m also going to take a writing class.

I’ve been realizing that I’m living with a lot of dread lately.  Whether that’s residual from mental health issues earlier in the year, or whether that’s just me being me, I can’t really figure out.  It’s been helpful to notice it while it’s happening though, and just focus on the here-and-now.  Remind myself that I’m actually fine in whatever I am doing presently, so just be more involved in that, rather than thinking about all the perceived horribleness ahead.

For example, I’m dreading going back to doing the exact same thing, at work, every day.  But, it really is what I make it, from moment to moment.  Unlike most jobs, I don’t have unpredictable things pop up daily, or new challenges to tackle, or people to deal with.  It’s just me, in my head.  I need to remember that it’s important to change what’s on my iPod frequently – new music, new podcasts…  And to talk to people on the phone.  And although I don’t believe her, my therapist keeps telling me that I’m actually in control of my own thoughts.  So I can choose to keep obsessing about something negative, or I can move on to more interesting topics.  In my mind, I am powerless to whatever my brain ends up dwelling on, and I get stuck feeling whatever feelings those thoughts conjure up.  I should work on that…


“Passing” at work

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about work.  During my depression, I was in and out of work a few times, totaling 8 weeks of sick leave.  It’s been difficult to get back into the swing of things.  Some changes were made, and I wasn’t in the best place to acclimate to new routines.  It’s starting to get a little better, just in time to get disrupted again for summer cleaning (switching from an afternoon/night shift to a day shift starting the week after next.)

But this post isn’t really about that work stuff.  It’s about something that brightened my day yesterday.  A parent of a student saw me as male, and it made my day.  I know the term “passing” is problematic because it connotes a deception is taking place and it sets up a discrepancy amongst those who “pass” and those who don’t – it shouldn’t be about that!  We are who we are.  Despite all this, I really like the word and feel like it describes my experience.

Here’s a few past posts where I talk about it:
Recent instances of passing
Passing as a teenager yet again
Thirty-one year old kid working as a school janitor
Rumors flying around the kindergarten classroom

I feel like people generally see me as female.  I gotta say I’m even (very pleasantly) surprised when I’m seen as male; I feel I am not masculine enough.  When I am seen as male, “passing” accurately describes the experience, because I am not male (I am definitely not female either).

Yesterday, a dad and his son approached me while I was cleaning.  The son forgot his spelling homework and had to get access to his classroom.  I said sure and which room and we went there.  I unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and stood waiting, because that’s what we’re supposed to do.  The kid came back from his desk with a book but no spelling homework.  The dad asked,

“Where’s your homework?”

The kid sputtered, “I guess when we were clearing out our desks I must have put it in my bag?  But I do need this book.”

“So we just bothered this gentleman for no reason?”

I said, “That’s totally fine.  At least you got your book!”

The dad continued, “Tell him you’re sorry.”

“Sorry.”

“Not a problem.  You guys have a good night.”

I was conversing with these people and spending more than a second in their presence.  And the dad saw me as male!!!  And whether the kid knows I’m biologically female (I’m not out at work… yet!) he didn’t say anything one way or the other.  It felt really validating.  I held onto that feeling as long as I could.

In other news, the NY Times is giving trans-people an opportunity to tell their story in 400 words or less.  It’s totally awesome!  Here’s the link to what’s out there already, and a chance to share your own story:  Tell your story.  I already told my story!


I came out to the principal of my school (workplace)

This blog is largely about working as a janitor and about living as a non-binary person.  I’ve struggled with the chronicling-of-my-job side of it, and with melding the two aspects of my identity.  Largely this is because I am not out at work.  It’s hard to write about work if I feel a block.  Also I’m not always sure what to share about work…  I feel tentative about it.

I am out in other areas of my life – friends all use male pronouns; relatives at least know I prefer male pronouns.  In new situations, I plan to let people know about male pronouns whenever I feel like I comfortably can.  But work has been a challenge, in my mind.

A big part of that is, what would I be asking for, exactly?  Male pronouns, and a name change down the road.  What about bathrooms?  What about my appearance?  I won’t be looking any different, as opposed to other trans-people who transition from one gender to the other.  Is this too much to ask for?  And what about kids and parents?  Where do they fit in?  I see teachers getting on board (Maybe?  One day?), but how much can I hope for it to trickle down to students and their parents?  Does it matter to me that much?

Right now, this is hurting my head.  BUT, a couple of weeks ago, I took a first step!  I had been wanting to fill the principal in about my recent hospitalization and absence.  At the time it happened, I was vague and just left it at I was hospitalized.  I did want to let her know the nature of the occurrence and just touch base about where I’m at.  I figured it would be a good time to also give her a heads up about my trans-identity.  I didn’t plan to ask for any accommodations or change-overs at this time – just wanted to let her know.

So I waited for a good time after school when she was still in the building.  I’d been psyching myself up for a few days, so the day I decided I could do it, it was definitely going to happen.  It wasn’t perfect – I knew she was getting ready for a kindergarten registration event that evening, but it kinda had to be NOW!  I kept it short, knowing she had other things.

I just popped in her office, said I’d like to touch base about where I’m at – she asked me how I was doing and I said, “Much better.”  Which was kinda true in the moment, but not true later on.  I’ve been on a roller coaster with new med adjustments and things, but I didn’t get into all of that.  I just told her that the reason I went out was that due to personal stress and work stress, I could sense my thoughts getting extremely confused and disorganized.  I sought out help from my therapist, and she’s the one who brought me to the hospital.  I’m on new meds, for now at least (the principal asked about side effects) and seeing my therapist more often for the time being.  The principal was open and supportive.

She started to wrap things up by talking about cleaning for tonight (with the event), so I knew I had to jump in with my other purpose before the moment passed.  I said, “I do have another thing to bring up, about where I’m at.  I wanted to let you know that I identify as transgender.”  I went on to specify that most people who ID this way transition from one gender to the other, and I don’t feel that – I feel like I am in the middle.  That I’ve been in this process for years, and work is the last place.  That I’m on testosterone but such a low dose that my appearance won’t be changing.  That I prefer male pronouns and plan to change my name at some point.  She listened intently and asked what I needed.  I said nothing right now, just time to maybe talk to other people within the school and come out on my own terms.  Maybe at some point an email but nothing right now.  Just eventually a name and pronoun change.  I asked her if she had any context for knowing about trans-people, and she said yes.  And that was about it.  I wrapped it up really quickly and told her thank you.  She said thank you to me too.

I don’t know what this means other than one tiny step.  Right now everything has felt so hard, this feels like nothing.  I think in time, it may feel like I opened doors up to take further steps, but as of now, it just feels like something I got out of the way.

Here’s to happier days ahead.  I should be happy about this, and hopefully it will sink in later…


Saying good-bye to my mentor / co-worker

My co-worker just retired on Friday.  This is someone I’ve seen almost every day for the past 8 years – not many people in my life I can say that about!  (My partner, and others at work, basically.)  I will miss him a lot.  Some people have a lot of co-workers.  I really only have just one.  I have one supervisor, one co-worker, and one other person on the cleaning staff who is only there for 4 hrs a day (more of a higher turnover.  A co-worker, but it doesn’t feel the same).

We didn’t actually work “together,” but we worked the same hours and we were still a team.  I clean the first floor, and he cleaned the second floor.  We probably only saw each other for a total of a half-hour every day.  Still, I felt very connected with him.  We commiserated together.  We listened to each other.  If I needed anything, I knew I could go to him.  I knew if I helped him out with something, I was being highly appreciated for it.

I’d have to say he taught me more than any other person, in my journey to becoming a janitor who is very good at his job.  He always had an opinion about how things should be done.  And he had a lot of tricks-of-the-trade up his sleeve.  He always wanted to pass those on to me (and anyone else who had the patience to learn from him – most didn’t).  He was really difficult to understand.  He’s from the Caribbean and has a super thick accent.  He also has a speech impediment (I believe) on top of that.  Over time, I began to be able to understand every word out of his mouth.  Most people – teachers and other people in the building – could really understand roughly half or less of the things he was saying.  Even after interacting with him every day for years and years and years.  Sometimes I felt the urge to be his interpreter, but I think he might have felt insulted, so I really only did this if it really seemed necessary.

One of my favorite word-disconnects he uttered, was anytime he was talking about someone with Alzheimer’s, it would come out sounding like “Old Timers.”  How great is that?  I’ve pretty much started using that in my own lexicon.  There are plenty of other neologisms and intonations I’ve adopted from him.  Just one way I will always remember him.

There was a party for him after school in the library (this is the first “library party” I’ve attended – usually I haven’t felt like I was welcome / I haven’t gone).  We ate cheese squares and broccoli & cauliflower.  We drank Pepsi and had sheet cake.  He made a brief speech and he cried.  I was touched.  He was presented with a few gifts, including a scrap book the Social Committee made for him.  I contributed two pieces for it.  This is what I wrote:
IMG_2044IMG_2042

I think that he saw me as male.  Or at least as not female.  He always referred to me as “Man,” or, more like, “Mon” (the Caribbean thing).  He was old-school in a lot of ways, but he never once tried to do something for me (unless he was showing me a better way to do it) or told me I couldn’t do something / lift something.   I always appreciated that.  There’s no way I’ll ever forget him.  He impacted my life in ways he may never know…


I keep thinking I’m bigger and more masculine than I actually am

I’m not complaining; it’s not a bad thing!  My surroundings sort of facilitate this, which is fine by me.  As a janitor at an elementary school, I spend most of my time, during the work-week, with women and children (if I’m with anyone at all).  Every teacher I interact with regularly is relatively feminine in her attire, mannerisms, and speech.  (There are a handful of men who teach / work at this school; I just don’t happen to see them on a regular basis.)  Every child running around me getting ready to head home for the day, is tiny.  I wear a work uniform which is super masculine by default.  (Like, we don’t have “women’s uniforms” and “men’s uniforms.”  We just have uniforms.)  In addition to the uniform, I wear men’s pants and men’s hiking boots.  I imagine my movements are relatively masculine.  I’m working, I’m using big, sweeping motions.  I saunter around slowly, sometimes with my hiking boots untied.

I am surrounded all day long by tiny furniture.  The classrooms I clean are for kindergarteners through 2nd graders.  (My co-worker cleans the bigger kids’ rooms.)  Some of these table tops are seriously 2 feet off the ground.  I have to essentially bend in half in order to spray and wipe them all down, daily.  (My poor back!)

Not an actual room I clean, but a good representation.

Not an actual room I clean, but a good representation.

I’m only 5’4″ (or maybe a little shorter than that.  I like to think I’m 5’4″ – I’m at least that with my hiking boots on!) but I feel like a giant!  Sometimes I sit down in the teeny tiny chair at the teeny tiny table and just catch my breath / think / relax.  It’s sorta like I’m in a fun house, where my self-perception is distorted because of my surroundings.

It's tough to get your knees to fit under the table.  Again, not actual school/teacher/kids, but good representation.

It’s tough to get your knees to fit under the table. Again, not actual school/teacher/kids, but a good representation.

I like this feeling a lot.  It helps me feel more like the way I see myself.  The only tough thing about it is when I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror (this happens at home too, it’s not just a work thing) and I realize how tiny and feminine I actually am!  I seem to especially hone in on my neck, for whatever reason – it’s so dainty and slender and like it could snap right in half so easily.  My wrists too; it feels like my hands could snap off at any time.  These feelings don’t really translate into me feeling like I should be taking more testosterone and becoming more masculine.  They’re just sorta… fleeting, at least for the time being.

Another thing that’s going on at work that’s somewhat related is:  age.  The kids stay the same; the parents stay the same.  (Not really of course.  Kids grow up.  I just mean I’m perpetually surrounded by kids and parents around the same ages, they cycle through, while I get older and older.)  I used to be the youngest person who worked at the school, for years.  Now, there’s a teacher who is younger than me. When did that happen?!  (It happened last year.)  Also, parents keep looking younger and younger.  Many of them are, in fact, younger than me now, which is a shift.  In fact, just yesterday, a parent recognized me from high school.  She was in a grade below me.  It was super weird!

It’s just not the same as it used to be:  kids and parents these days!


Back to school / Janitors in pop culture #1

The day before yesterday was my first day back to cleaning up after students.  It was terribly hot and humid (more so in the school than outside) and I promptly got a gross warm-weather cold; all stuffy in the head!  I’m back to working late nights.  Overall, it will be good to get back to it; right now it feels awfully lonely.

As an ode (of sorts) to my co-workers, and working all together this summer, here’s a partial list of the most frequently talked about topics:
– basements / sheds / generators / dehumidifyers
– cell phones / provider plans
– donuts and other snack foods
– retirement
– grilling food / alcoholic beverages / being a host
– “got any weekend plans?” / “how was your weekend?”
– teacher quirks
And not a whole lot else…

The cool thing about having been writing here for over a year is I can go back and find out what I wrote, at this time last year.  Here’s what it was.

I’ve been thinking lately that I’m writing lots about trans and queer identities and experiences (awesome!), but that I’ve been ignoring the other half of my moniker.  So, I’m going to start a new series, from time to time, that highlights portrayals of janitors in movies, TV shows, books, whatever.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while!

First up:  Good Will Hunting.  1997.  Directed by Gus Van Sant.  Screenplay by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

In this movie, Matt Damon plays a bad-ass boy genius working as a janitor at MIT.  He solves an impossible math equation (in secret).  He then is “discovered” by a professor, is forced to see a therapist in order to avoid jail time (for assault – he likes to get into fights), and is trying to find a balance in his life between love, his natural talents, and what he actually wants to do.  (Writing out this summary from memory, the movie sounds so outlandish and absurd.  It’s actually pretty gripping; look out for Robin Williams in one of his more serious roles, as Will’s therapist.  Also look out for an awesome soundtrack by Elliott Smith.)

The first time we see Will, he is mopping a hallway floor.  The movie people might have wanted to get a janitor-consultant for this movie (haha), because he is doing it all wrong.  Will is pulling the mop straight out of the bucket and slopping it all over the floor (without wringing out the excess water ahead of time.)  Completely unrealistic.  Also, the hallway is full of students, which is not an ideal time to pull out the mop.  Talk about slipping all over huge puddles of water en masse!

Hardly working.  Doing math.

Hardly working. Doing math.

Later on in the movie, Will is talking with his therapist, Sean, about careers.  (I’m condensing the dialogue a little, for efficiency.)

Sean: I mean there are guys who work their entire lives laying brick so that their kids 
have a chance at the opportunities you have here.
Will: What's wrong with layin' brick? That's an honorable profession. What's wrong with... 
with fixing somebody's car? Someone can get to work the next day because of me. There's 
honor in that.
Sean: Yeah, there is, Will. There is honor in that.  And there's honor in, you know, 
taking that forty minute train ride so those college kids come in the morning and the 
floors are clean and the wastebaskets are empty. That's real work.

I could be reading too much into it, but  the tone of the therapist’s voice, while delivering that last part, is complete, total snark (his character plays up the snark quite a bit though – to match Will’s tone.)  Basically saying, “just keep sticking to what’s ‘honorable,’ and see how far you get.”

Sometimes, I too talk with my therapist about being a janitor.  She has said, “you are probably the smartest janitor.”  She must not have caught Good Will Hunting, haha.  I’ve conveyed that sometimes I find it totally absurd that this is my job.  (I may not be a bad-ass boy genius, but still, in a lot of ways, “janitor” is a strange fit for me.)

In spite of this, I can easily see myself retiring from this job.  (Retirement at age 55, here I come!)  There is absolutely no “career” I can envision pursuing (I’ve always felt this way.  Maybe that will change with time; I won’t hold my breath.)  I mean, I envision pursuing lots of other endeavors – writing, radio DJ-ing, volunteering in myriad ways, but “janitor” seems as good a way as any to actually make money…

 

School is out for the summer

Monday was the last day of school over here.  Such an exciting time for students and teachers!!!  A time of adjustment for parents, I imagine.  For janitors, it doesn’t mean much.  We’re still working, we’ll just be doing different (but just as physical, if not more so) tasks.  And, it means we’ll be switching from working nights, to working early.

A lot of times, people (outside of work) ask me if I work during the summer.  They assume that I don’t.  For the record:  school janitors work all summer long.  How else would the school look all shiny and new on the first day of school????  Little tiny elves?!!

schools_out1-300x214This has historically been the hardest time of year for me.  Everyone is so excited about the nice weather and their upcoming freedom.  Teachers are clearing out their rooms in anticipation of new stuff they ordered for next year.  I start getting really emotional about everyone leaving.  I start trying to save as much of the stuff they are throwing out.  I start fretting about being ripped away from my routine, and having to work closely with my co-workers all day, every day.  I start isolating as much as I can get away with.  I know this is some strong language for what seems like no big deal, but it really has felt this extreme for me.

It’s been getting better the past two years.  Like everything else in my life, I’m starting to be able to handle it easier.  I feel more at ease with my co-workers, and the idea that I will actually be working with them.  I chat with teachers about their summer plans.  I don’t try to save everything they throw away; I’m becoming more selective.  As a side note, anything I do get out of the trash, I immediately create a strong bond with it, for some reason.  Stuff from trash is much more valuable, often, than stuff I choose to buy.  Not sure why.

Last-Day-of-School-Bus-278x300But I still can’t let myself get swept up in the energy of the last day of school.  I don’t make an effort to say good-bye to all the kids or anything.  What they do at our school is, Kindergarten through 4th grade students all go out early and position themselves out on the bus loop, so that when 5th graders head out to get on their buses, they get a big send-off.  Then everyone boards their bus, and all the buses take two laps around the bus loop as all the staff cheer and wish them farewell.  And kids are allowed to hang out the windows, just this one time, and everyone is yelling and cheering and crying.  I cannot be there for that.  Maybe one day.  I just stay in the building and dump garbages, because it is too intense to be a part of that.

So far this year, I have found in the garbage:

  • dozens of envelopes, in different bright colors
  • two coffee mugs, one which says, “I ❤ Tea, I ❤ Teaching”
  • a plastic travel cup with straw
  • a bunch of tracing paper
  • some books, one which is called, “Subway Art”
  • a bunch of Teddy Grahams and string cheeses
  • A North Face jacket, which will actually fit me
  • silly bandz!!!!!

And really that’s it so far, which is a very good thing!  The past few years, there have been times of huge upheaval.  Asbestos removal about 6 years ago, massive room changes about 3 years ago, new carpet installation 2 years ago.  Anything like this, and teachers toss out soooooo much.  And I respond in a frenzied fashion.  I cannot see useful things go into the dumpster.  This year feels so smooth and relaxed, in comparison.  I am glad.

A partial list of some stuff I’ve found in the past:

  • an iPod shuffle
  • another iPod shuffle
  • Nintendo DS games
  • lunch boxes, so many lunch boxes.  I’m always in the market to upgrade, haha.
  • a long-arm stapler
  • a long long list of art supplies and books, calculators, cameras, just… stuff.
  • silly bandz!!!!!

This time around, I am ready to try and enjoy the summer.


Getting to see what the kids at school are up to

Yesterday, I worked a 13.5 hour day.  Hello overtime!  My supervisor called to see if I could come in early; she had to get to an appointment.  So I was actually at school while the kids were still there, seeing lots of daily goings-on.  I’ve done this before, but it’s been a while.  A couple of highlights:

– Lunch choices were turkey and gravy or barbecue chicken.  I don’t eat meat.  I got salad.

– We’re waiting on a delivery of paper towels, so when a classroom ran out (happened 3 times, because we’ve been running low for a while), I had to resort to our back-stock of Bounty.  Where all this Bounty came from, I have no idea.  It’s way more plush than the stuff the school gets on order though.

– I cleaned a stain off the upholstered dividers we use in the cafeteria.

– I helped two kids walk across the cross-walk out on the bus loop at the end of the day.

– Kids love to stare at me!  (Kids love to stare in general.)

– I found a big bag of candy busted open in the trash, toward the end of the night.  Whoppers, Almond Joys, Reese’s, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream, etc.  My coworker totally caught me fishing them all out, but, that’s alright, I don’t care.  He’s seen me digging through garbage so many times.

So, kids!  I have no idea how their day was or what they learned or if they made a new friend yesterday.  But I do know that the turkey and gravy did not go over so well, that someone in Ms. B’s class really needs to learn how to pee into a toilet, and that they love to bring pebbles from the playground into the building.