So Jess and I have found our dream house… the only catch is we have to sell ours first. It is in Cottage Grove. A 3 bedroom, 2 bath beautiful house with 1700+ square feet. Vaulted ceilings, huge kitchen, massive living room, energy efficient and a nature reserve right behind us. Please, feel free to pass it along, I would make it well worth your while:
As of tomorrow, five years ago, I stumbled into, accidentally found and blindly wandered into where I belong. Absurd as it may be to find delight in marking a half a decade at a job, there are some sappy feelings and a whole lot of gratitude to be spread around for where I am now, which is exactly where I started five years ago.
Five years ago, and a couple of weeks, I was a term into my second masters degree. I had completed my teaching program and had decided to continue into Special Education for one and a half reasons. Half reason: I was interested in the topic. Whole reason: I wanted to wait a year for Jess to finish her grad program. Lucky that I did so.
I was called in to the office of the director of my previous teaching program. She had been in contact with someone from a Cottage Grove High School because they were looking for a replacement for a Special Education teacher who was unexpectedly leaving after one term. My name was thrown around by the program director because she knew I was interested in the field. With my permission, my name and number was passed off to the district.
A day later, my phone rings, the director of Special Education is calling to talk with me about the position. I’m brutally honest with her, SPED is not the area I want to teach, I won’t have my SPED teaching license, and I’m a full-time grad student who’s not even really looking for a job. Understandingly, she says she understands each of my comments but still suggests, “Well, just come down and see the school.” Reluctantly, I agree and day or two later, I drive down to Cottage Grove.
Their new high school is big and beautiful, having been built but a couple of years earlier. I’m shown around the school, meet some of the teachers, the principal and the SPED department head, who I think already didn’t like me. Walking back to the front door, the director of Special Education asks me what I think, I reiterate all of my previous concerns covering my lack of interest and credentials. Even more so now, she is very understanding, nodding with each expressed concern; yet, she doesn’t hesitate a half of a breath after my concerns to say, “Well, you should just apply, there’s not commitment.”
Reluctantly, I take the application and head back to Eugene. A day after my application was submitted, I am called by the principal of the high school, asking me to come and interview for the position that I don’t want, I don’t feel qualified for, and don’t feel ready for. I reel out all of my concerns to this new sympathetic ear, he completely understands, saying that it’s only an interview, not a commitment. Reluctantly, I schedule an interview for five in the evening for the next day.
Up until this point, I had interviewed for multiple jobs before, yet none of them had been in the field I was actually aiming for. I figured that since this was my first, big time education interview, I was going to be slammed with questions over pedagogy, behavior management, my understanding of Special Education… and I was questioned over all of this, however, what was unexpected was the stories and laughter that took place during the interview from my interviewers. Even though this was my first ‘dry-cleaned shirt and tie’ interview, it was the most relaxed, most comfortable interview I had ever been through. My interview to be a bag-boy at a supermarket had been more tense; my interview to be a resident assistant was more grueling.
After a round of shaking hands, I was on my way home to think over the interview–with the feeling that I was probably the least qualified applicant and that this had been a good practice interview. I knew that in a couple of days, the phone would ring and the official, understanding voice would say, “Thanks for applying, but…”
The phone definitely rang in two days, as expected, the voice said, “Thanks for applying…” however I was only half right with my guess, “…we’d like to offer you the position.” Awkward long pause.
“Really?” Was my response, second-guessing their decision making skills. I was assured that they had called the right applicant. I nervously asked fora day to think about it, which I was granted. I talked to many people, but the phrase that sat on top of my head that night and the next half day was my dad’s, “step out of your comfort zone, try something that’s not completely safe to you, something that may be hard.”
Around lunch time, I called the director of Special Education. Red-faced, nervous and slightly nauseous, I told her that I would be happy to accept the position.
Three days before the second term was to begin, I met the guy who had just previously held my position. I was regaled with stories of horrendous kids, a miserable job, and a promised urge to be in this position for no more than a year, two at absolutely max. Not the reinforcement I had been seeking for my half-confident decision.
And the job was hard… at least initially. The previous teacher was right, there were bad attitudes, student’s that wouldn’t trust me, challenged me, and were intentionally upsetting the balance of the class. All this and I was still a full-time student, teaching all day and in class at night. However, I found out that these behaviors from the students weren’t their doing, it had been the teacher. He had been so callous, so empty with the kids that they hated him, hated anyone that was in his place.
Through the remainder of that year, intentionally or unintentionally, I had reversed that shock wave of a bitter teacher and the rest leads to where I am right now. Cottage Grove, unbeknown to be, drew me in.
Within the following year, Jess and I bought a house in the tiny little town. She was hired on at one of the elementary schools. We started to make good friends. The Grove had sent out its tentacles and reeled us in. For me, Cottage Grove feels as though the red hot summer days of my early years. The glint and mist that Woodburn used to have for me. The comfort, the roamable comfort of a town that knows you and compliments the notches of your own puzzle piece, nuzzled within it. The streets match your feet, the city limits, gently, are just at the furthest tips of your longest fingers, stretched out at the end of your arms.
Slowly, the high school morphed from this giant building where I was a singularity, to where I go to work with friends. Where I feel a certain love and kinship with my colleagues. The students are the source of my good, bad, and best days. It’s an ebb and flow. Is every day those white-boarded wonderful days of educational and teaching bliss? No. Some days are hard, some days grip hard upon the minute hand around the clock.
But every day is rewarding.
More often are the days that I come home in a better space than I left home in. Most days have their personal bests and moments of all of these connections. But every day has its reward.
Without reluctance, I would like to thank little Cottage Grove. Thanks for letting me fall into your grace, into a job I love, into a place I belong. Thank you for the people, students, adults, the barely known faces and names, those I see every day that make it The Grove, welcoming and anointed me as a Grover.
As accidentally as I arrived, it is with much intention that I stay here.
Cottage Grove to Brooks: 1.5 hours. The last 8 miles from Aurora to Woodburn: 4 hours. Averaged miles per hour: 20, which is misleadinglyspeedy.
Worst drive… EVER.
The 2008 Football season came to a close for the Cottage Grove Lions in Sisters on Halloween night. Our team pulled through and sealed a victory over the Outlaws 30-26. It was a stereotypical ‘nail-biter’ and a defensive struggle. Despite the win over the once great Outlaws, we were relegated to finishing out of the playoff bracket. It has always been hard implementing a new system and this is one of the consequences. Not that we should have finished this early, I think that, as a team, we could have been destined for at least one playoff trip, if not more. But that is one of the downsides to coaching, there is only so much you can do and none of it you have any direct control over. To cap it off, this was my first group of players that I have coached since they were Freshmen. It is been a rewarding experience to see them change both athletically but also in their personalities.
I’m definitely torn. I love football and I love coaching it, hanging out with the players and the coaches is a major benefit. On the other hand, I am very pleased to get back to my workout routine that has been just slightly above nonexistent. I’ll get home a little earlier, see Jess a little more, and be able to take my time and relax, if only for a little bit during the day. I’ll be happy to get home, maybe read a little more… who knows, we’ll see.
Faster than I can comprehend, I’m sure spring practices will be here and I’ll be in the swing of it all again.
About a month before the school year started, I was informed by a text message that I had been drafted into the Staff Mustache Race. As Knutson said, “there are no winners in a mustache contest”; here they were on the last day of ‘stashness:
Yes, that is a month’s worth of lip hair growth on my face. Yes, I know it’s barely visible. Yes, it is bald in the middle. Yes, I am ashamed.
Apparently, if you take the long way to LaPine and take the more direct way back, it’s still unbelievably long. Still, one of the other coaches and I did take the opportunity to name every player. From the top of my head:
‘Cano, Beetlejuice, Donny, Irish, Bulldog, Farcus, Soubcheck, Pillow, Cleetus, Snackshack, Norris, Clay Aiken, Bea Arthur, ‘Mater, Spiccoli, Aquaman, Big Tuna, The Stones, Ralphie…
not bad committing all of those to memory even with the 5 hours I slept before getting back for work. LaPine’s varsity team shows up here tonight.
A big shout-out to Mr. Chris Pratt for showing up at LaPine on his unplanned visit to the Bend/Redmond area. Thanks for the support, buddy.
It has been a while since I’ve posted about my race for less of me. I definitely ran into some trouble, I had stopped seeing negative numbers, not that I was seeing positive ones, I just wasn’t gaining or losing. People had said that it was just my plateau, however, I think I have to disagree. The wall I hit was me, I relaxed how closely I was watching what I eating, there were defintely some days when I didn’t enter a complete day’s worth of food and other days when I didn’t enter anything at all. After a little self-recorrection, I think I’m back on track.
I was surprised this morning. I came in at 258.5 pounds. When I first saw that, all I saw was the ‘eight,’ and I though, “how the hell could I have gained almost 7 pounds over night? After a closer examination, I saw that it was “58” not “68” I was literally standing on the scale in all my glory, staring at my feet saying, “wow.” However, being the skillful pessimist that I am, I didn’t believe. All the possibilities ran through my head, “Maybe you weren’t on the scale all the way. Maybe you were accidentally leaning against something. Maybe the scale is in one of the grooves of the linoleum.” It’s funny how I instantly go through every possible option besides: “I lost the weight.” So I weighted myself again: 258.5 pounds. After that I’m starting to believe. I went through my routine, took my shower, got my contacts in, and just to triple-check, I weighed myself again: 258.5 again. Now I’m a believer. I’m starting to take on the feeling of doing something good and being proud of myself. I think I’ve been resisting that because I have always had the sneaking suspicion that when I start to be proud of myself, that’s when I let myself slip. But I’ve never done anything like this before, so hopefully I’m beyond that.
Sadly, I had a whole post in already in draft form in my head about when I hit 260 pounds. I was going to post a picture of my license and say: “I am now offically my license weight, I have never actually been my license weight. My license weight was a lie, but I finally made an honest license out of it.” …But, I went right through 260, thankfully. However, once again, my license is a liar, for the first time in my life, my license says I weigh more than I actually do. Personally, I think that’s certain shade of awsome.
In other “repetitious self-congratulations”: Yesterday was the last day for seniors at CGHS. I had a lot of my students that I’ve taught come through, say goodbye and take pictures… which was great. Even my football players came by to make a couple of last jokes and give a hug (with the “man-slap” on the back, of course). But what really touched me was that there were a lot of students I had never coached or taught that came to say goodbye to me, to give a hug and take a group picture with. These were just kids that I had just casually talked to in the halls once in a while, or I knew them through one of their friends. Apparently, I had made a big enough impression that they wanted me to know. As sappy as it sounds, that was really important for me, it makes me feel as though I’m doing a good job and that I make a difference even if I don’t see them in my classroom or on the football field.
I think I’m pretty lucky to have my job.
What am I?Cottage Groveite? Cottage Grovian? Cottage Grover?
Either way… Jess and I are moved into our house in Cottage Grove. Well, I am moved into our house, Jess is helping out on her ranch until the wedding. Last night was my first official night in the new house. Not as creepy or weird as I thought it would be. Sometimes, I’m like a little kid who wakes up in a new surrounding and gets weirded out… but not this time.
While Jess and I did make a big dent in huge stack of boxes that sit where our kitchen table will be, we’ve still got a long way to go. Lately, I’ve been putting up horrendously expensive blinds… translation: I’ve been doing a lot of cursing at inanimate objects.
All that is left from my old apartment is to clean it up so Meg can take it over at the end of the month. Unfortunately, I don’t think a “once-over” with the wet/dry vac will suffice, so I’ll be cleaning in stages–beginning with procrastination, followed by denial. Yes, this is a twelve-step program, and no, none of them will actually help me clean.
I am really looking forward to the bachelor party in one week. I think it will be a tremendous amount of fun (and it better be for that price). I can’t wait for the lap of luxury, even if it is only for five hours (which means this luxury goes for about $500 an hour).
The wedding is, literally, two weeks away. Unbelievable. I’m not nervous or scared… more overwhelmed by the wealth of everything that needs to get done. In the end, I know that everything will turn out great, it will be nice to have one big congregation of everyone… of course, most of them will be Hansons, but it is the thought that counts.
House pictures (a.k.a., pile o’ boxes pictures) will be posted ’round about when the Internet gets in place (Wednesday-ish).
It’s official, our offer on the house was accepted! We’re now thirty days away from owning a house!