Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Letter from June 1, 1990 at the end of first year teaching

Hello from deep within the pit,

However there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Only fourteen more school days and it will be June 15th  and we will never again have to be first year teachers.  All year long we have had colds, fevers, sore throats and so on.  Everyone says first year teachers always catch everything that any of their students come to school with, but how many other couples do you know who have been on antibiotics for nine months straight?

I know we were extremely lucky to both find jobs, in the same school district, for our first year after graduation. But I don't know if it was good luck or bad luck which made us both first year teachers for the same year.  Only a first year teacher could understand the total one track conversations, the getting up at five, spending ten hours at school and bringing work home, then going back in on weekends and holidays to make, "just one set of copies' and staying for four hours without finishing all the jobs you keep remembering as soon as you walk in the door.  we understand, and agree, when one of us says, at 7:30 PM, I'm exhausted, I'm going to sleep.  Bu if one of us had even one years experience, and materials already made or stolen from other teachers, then maybe the dishes would be washed more often that every Saturday, and maybe we'd have energy to cook meals, or write letters, or do more than survive from one weekend to the next.

     We till have Christmas cards taped to our kitchen wall waiting to be answered. We haven't sent out a letter in months, yet every day before we collapse on the couch we check our mail eagerly, looking for proof that someone outside of the Del Norte County Unified School District even remembers that we are alive.  And seldom are we disappointed.  We have such wonderful friends and family, and we truly want to thank you for the many times that a card or letter has arrived just when we needed a reason to smile again.  We really need to apologize for these form letters, but when you owe over sixty letters you have to take some major shortcuts or completely give up.  How could we give up when something as simple as a few sheets of paper and a 25 cent stamp can deliver so much love and carry so many good memories and fond wishes over so many miles?  (See 25 cent stamps and No Facebook, text messages or Cell phones.  We were waiting for after 7 PM or all day Saturday or Sunday before 5 to call, when the long distance rates went down)

We have managed to pay off several of our major credit card, hospital and student loan debts, as well as buy a used car for Greg, and three birds.  We are now the proud parents of a 10 month old blue & gold macaw, Becky, a rare red-bellied miniature macaw who is ten years old, calypso, and our eight month old cockatiel, Ivory.  They have our landlady extremely worried because they eat wood to keep themselves entertained. They cost us one $2,000 or half our pre-teaching annual income, but they are fun. Lovable, and the answer to a long-time dream of ours. (My Dad's sister, my Aunt Rachel said it was displaced maternal instinct and I was offended but she was right)

We just had our 6th anniversary, since our district allows each teacher one day off with no questions asked, we gave ourselves a three day weekend up the coast in Gold Beach. We watched the Sea Lions, and walked the beach, and pretended we were not teachers after all.  It rained most of the time but it felt so good to be able to go into a restaurant without hearing, "Mom, There's Mr. Goode, come See!"

Actually this letter reflects a lot of exhaustion, as it should, but it shouldn't sound like we don't like our jobs.  It has been both a long and an incredibly short year. The work load has been massive.  We both love our students though and had a lot of fun getting paid for being with such fascinating people as kindergarteners always are.  We have been introduced to such exotic creatures as the Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles. We have seen Santa Claus and the Easter bunny and shared the excitement of that first lost tooth.  We have had to find out the grim truth that "my Dad's really, really old!" means he is four years younger than we are.  I have been told by an amazed fourth grader who saw us together, "you have a twin husband!"  I've been bitten, hugged, and loved deeply this year. Sure we're busy but starting someone off on their exploration of life has to be a busy job and we both hate and love it, are overwhelmed by the responsibility and fascinated by the mystery, and renewed by the energy.  A child's weld is a privilege to share.

This coming summer promises to be busy. We are going back to Wyoming for Greg's parents' 40th anniversary. It doesn't make 6 years seem like much more than a start.  (I wish I had know then what I know now, that my parents 30th anniversary that year, which we didn't make a big deal out of, was only 6 years before Dad would die, but that my in-laws would be coming up on their 64th this year. We should always celebrate the present instead of assuming we have time)

Then we're meeting up with some German friends to go camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After that we will go to Illinois and Pennsylvania with Dixie's family to visit relatives. Then we return home, maybe going back to the Easter Seals camp in August. Then up to Oregon for Brett and Shannon's wedding in Salem. (We didn't meet up with the German's or get to Hawley Lake again but the rest happened, instead we brought Lance back to Crescent City with us between Pennsylvania and Brett's wedding) Then back into our second year of teaching. I think we have forgotten how to enjoy just doing nothing at all.

We do live in a very beautiful place, Not Crescent City so much, but the ocean and the Redwoods around the city. We are always glad to have company, except maybe during the first part of september when the new school year consumes all of our attention.  Just let us know if you plan to come so that we can plan to stay at home. Also we always welcome mail, even tacky form letters like this one. Please stay happy, healthy, and in touch. We love you!

Dixie and Greg

Me and my first two Nephews, and Greg's sister (Mom to the oldest nephew)
Greg on our trip to PA, we went through Niagara Falls
Mom and I in Illinois
Lance at Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh
Dad, Me, Shannon, Brett, Greg, Lance and Mom

Our home in Crescent City

two macaws and Greg

our school pictures

Greg's siblings at the 40th anniversary

If I remember correctly, this was the year that I drew pictures of Carousel horses and printed them out on card stock and Greg and I colored them, addressed them and mailed them as Christmas postcards with a small handwritten note on the back.  We managed to do this because we were spending hours each Saturday at the local laundromat waiting for clothes to wash and dry so we could fold a weeks worth at once.

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