Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Back to the Beach"

I just got an email advertisement entitled "Back to the Beach" from the hotel chain we stayed at on our vacation last week.  And man, do I wish I could take them up on it and go!  Not really for the actual beach, although that was fun and lovely... but for what happens at the beach.

At the beach, I left my "school mind" behind.  I became the rest of myself again.  This may seriously have been the only week all year that I did not think about school.  At all.  I did not wake up in the middle of the night with a lesson idea.  I did not have to run for a notepad as soon as I got out of the shower because my mind had wandered to a new activity I just had to try.  I did not lie in bed before falling asleep with my mind running wild with students, lessons, technology, teacher evaluation, Senate Bill 5, projects, colleagues... etc.  I laid down and I fell asleep.  Then I woke up and went to the beach, had dinner, went shopping, walked along the beach at night, listened to the ocean... and fell back asleep again.  And again.  For days.  With no school thoughts.  Then we went to Charleston, SC and it continued!  A carriage ride, an ecotour, restaurants with "Old South charm", the aquarium... all without any school thoughts!  Amazing... but really the wonderful part was what I thought about instead.  With no school thoughts, my mind was free to rediscover who I am when I'm not busy being a teacher.

I am a reader.  I had already begun to rediscover this during the summer when I found all those exciting teaching blogs I wrote about in the last post.  They re-kindled the love of reading that I lost somewhere along the way in college (especially grad school), when I had to read a million books for my classes and the last thing I wanted to do was pick up another one in my free time.  When I was a kid, I was the Tasmanian Devil of reading.  I tore through books, devouring the characters, the plot, the imagery in every delicious sentence.  I'd curl up with a good book after school for hours and be so engrossed in it that my mom would have to call me for dinner 3 times... even though I was right in the next room!  She would bring a clothes basket to the library to carry all the books I'd pick out for a week and then we'd rush back for more.  I'd get all the prizes for the summer reading program before the summer was half over and keep going back with my list of books (it always ended up around 115 or so) to get the stickers anyway.  When I hit middle school, I ran out of books I wanted to read at my city's library and we started going to the neighboring city's library, which was a little larger.  (My reading level as a child was so advanced that it created problems because I read all the young-adult books in elementary school and then had trouble finding enough adult books that interested me in middle school.)

Sadly, I always feel now like I don't have time to read for fun during the school year, or I'm too tired, or the mesmerizing box of the TV pulls me in with its DVR tentacles. (There's always something good to watch because we record all our favorite shows!)  And while the TV shows we watch have a lot of the same elements I like in books -- captivating plots, intriguing characters, new ideas to learn about -- it's not the same as turning pages, picturing what's happening for myself in my head, and becoming totally lost in another world.   Some people might be able to read a book while watch a show, or read a book and still feel that they are spending time with their family, but I get so absorbed in books that I completely ignore everything else -- another excuse not to read, because I don't want to ignore my sweet husband every evening!

However, at the beach all the excuses go away -- the lack of time, the school things tugging at my brain, the DVR, the fact that at home I only get to see Ryan for a couple hours each day.  My mind is free, the day is free, we spend it all together, and there is plenty of time to sit together and read with the ocean's pounding waves soothingly lulling me into a state of complete relaxation.  This year, I got really into one new book in particular: Ines del alma mia, by Isabel Allende.  It's fantastic, captivating, and I got totally lost in it, just like when I was a little kid.  The Spanish (I love to practice my Spanish by reading, although it is hard work, so I always read the Spanish versions of books by Hispanic authors) is a little challenging for me but it's been a good stretch.  It's historical fiction, which is probably my favorite genre, and it tells a rarely-told part of history: women who worked with the conquistadors to found South America.  Ines Suarez was the real-life lover of Pedro de Valdivia who helped him found Chile in the 1500's, and the book is written as her memoir.  The historical accuracy and personal tone completely make you forget that Ines is not really the author!  An absolutely fantastic read (check out the English version if you like historical fiction!) that, thanks to the beach, gave me back the gift of myself as a reader.  

The "school things" are already tugging at my mind again, but I think the beach is trying to tell me not to let my "teaching self" devour the rest of me this year.  My "music self" has managed to survive every year thanks to OSU Alumni Band practice every other Monday, but I'd like to keep around my "reading and writing selves" too.  Hopefully, this blog will let the writer come out every once in a while, and I guess we'll see about the reader!  I think I must need a sense of calm to really feel like reading a substantial book (especially in Spanish), and that doesn't tend to happen much during the school year.  Perhaps I can make an appointment with myself every once in a while, or something.  Can the little blonde girl with glasses who curls up on the couch and journeys off to far-away lands that make it hard to return for dinner come out to play?

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to add Inés del alma mía to my wish list for sure. It sounds great.


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