Sunday, December 29, 2013

ChildFree: A Teacher's Perspective

I think, this Christmas, I killed my Grandma's spirit.  We were all hanging around the kitchen table, conversing, and I got after her for spoiling my dog (seems silly, but I'd rather he wasn't taught that he could get whatever he wants, whenever he wants, just by begging).  Shortly after, she joined us at the table, still making comments about how I scolded her for spoiling my pooch, when she said it.  She said the one thing that I've never really wanted to talk with her (or any family, really) about.

"I'm sure going to have a hard time not spoiling my great-grandchildren."

I don't remember exactly what I responded with, as my blood was already up and I was getting nervous seeing this comment coming down the pipe about 200 yards away.  I believe my retort was something like "well, they won't be my children, so it shouldn't be a problem".

To which she responded:
"Why don't you want children? You've had such a good life!"

Thank God for my Aunt Julie who stepped to my aid and said, "What does her having a good life have to do with it?!"

That little bit from Julie gave me the time to quickly collect my thoughts and (carefully) respond, "The idea of women needing to have children is a societal expectation that I don't agree with.  Besides, I teach around 150 students a day, 8 hours a day, 4 days a week.......that's enough time for me."

As you are probably well aware, I am an educator.  More specifically, I am a music educator.  More specifically yet, I am a K-8 music educator, and the only one in the school district.  This means that, at some point, I have played a role in the life of every student in my district, all 300+ of them.

And I love my job.  I adore it.  It is the perfect place for me to be at this time in my life. My heart is full with my students, my friends, and my family.

And so is my time.

An average day looks something like this:
Wake up at 5:30am
Walk the dog from 6:30-7:30
Drive in to school and start working at 8am
Leave school at 4pm
Come home, walk Koda (the dog) from 4:15-5:30
Make dinner
Complete Graduate School work
Prepare for school the next day
Talk with friends/read for pleasure/watch a movie (if time allows)
Go to Bed (around 10)

I don't see any space for extra priorities/responsibilities in that time.

But, so far, these are all just external factors that influence part of my rational behind deciding not to have children.

The main reason, honestly, is just that I don't have any desire.  Some might say that I'm just "too selfish" or that "the Mommy feeling" will come soon enough.

I don't think I've ever had that "Mommy feeling".  I don't resent or regret that fact - it simply isn't there.  I love working with kids. I adore teaching them.  I find them inspiring, insightful, and honest.  I believe that they, truly, are going to be the future.  I want to help them become the best individuals they can possibly become.

But, when I go home at night, I want my silence and my peace.

I want to be able to plan things with friends for the weekend and not worry about the timeline.

I want to think about the future and be able to plan trips and excursions - something that is hard (note: not impossible, I'll admit) to do with a child.

I want to be selfish about what happens to my body.  Pregnancy and birth take a lot out of a women's system and do incur permanent changes to her physicality (both positive and negative).

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not at all ungrateful for what my Mom and Dad have given up and gone through to raise me.  They have made incredible sacrifices, and I am beyond thankful.  But, they both also had an innate desire to want to be parents.  My Mom had my name picked out for me before she had even met my Dad.

I have no such desire. I think listening to one's gut and realizing this lack of desire is really important.

And, honestly, I think I am a better teacher for acknowledging these aspects of my personality.  I appreciate my students so much more, knowing that I won't have a child waiting when I go home.  I become more carefree and creative with them, because I can draw from their energy and personalities.  I laugh more heartily, because I love all of them equally and because they are all so special to me.  They are, honestly, all my children, in a way.  And, I think any mother could agree, 300 children is enough, more may just be excessive.


A (somewhat) recent issue of Time Magazine came out exploring the idea of the "childfree" life.

Friday, September 27, 2013

W.E.B DuBois

Thanks to Dr. O'Hara for presenting this quote to me:

"Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men's mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us — the freedom of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty — all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say: I will go unto the King, and if I perish, I perish. Amen."

- W.E.B. Du Bois

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hiking to Conquer?

This is flowing from my fingertips without much forethought, so excuse me if it comes off, well....bitchy.

I love living where I do because there are so many people that are into the outdoors around me at all times.  Whether they are mountaineers or hippies, they all have this glow from being outside around them.  Recently, though, I've begun to notice something in a few of these strangers and in a friend.

How valid is the act of going for a hike when the motive behind it is just to see how far you can go in a day, or how high you can climb, or how sore you can make yourself the next day?  Is that really "hiking"?

Okay, Webster...let's have a look-see:
"1. To go on a hike
  2. To Travel by any means"

Alright. Not helpful.  By those standards I could say that I hiked from my living room into the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal.

Basically, I'm trying to differentiate the difference between going on a hike to say that you went on a hike and going on a hike as a means of discovering and fostering an appreciation for the area around you.

This friend, as far as I can tell, has gone from doing the latter (hiking for a love of a nature) to the former (hiking to say "I hiked Baldy, I hiked the Ridge, I hiked 30 miles", etc).  Not that I think the hiking as an accomplishment is entirely wrong, but I do think that you lose something from the hike when you do that.

So, for anyone in this crazy Internet-ed world that might be reading this, what do you think?  Am I valid in thinking that there is a difference between the two and that you lose some of the sacred aspect of hiking when you take it from purely meditative to focused mostly on exercise?


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fine (as in, fee-nay...the musical term)

It's the end of my first year of teaching!


Sorry, but considering that 2 days before the last day, I got my arse chewed out by a parents, I couldn't be more ready for the end of the year.

Wurrr wurr you hear the call of the helicopter mom?

Seriously, though, it has been a wonderful year and the good things far outweighed the mediocre/sub par.  I am thankful for the wonderful staff that I work with and the great administration that I work for.

But now, it's time for summer.

I've gotten my raised garden bed built (nothing big, just a 3x3 with bean poles).  I've got a list of what is left to do in the condo to make it "home"-ish.  Although it really is pretty close to that feel anyway.  I've got friends coming, probably family coming and a reunion and a 5k to attend.

And I'm learning to fly fish!
And perhaps, how to climb a really tall rock.

And I'm playing on a softball team (and loving it). you hear the train of contentment rolling your way?


Friday, May 17, 2013

Tap Roots

A Professor from college wrote a blog post about how important it is for people to put down "tap roots" in a place. And, for the most part, a lot of it stuck with me.

Which is saying something, I read a lot of blogs. I love learning from other people's thoughts.

I digress, what I mean to say is that I feel like I'm starting to put taproots down in Bozo.  It's taken a long while, but I think that can be attributed to working a full time job that seems to have a full time job attached to it just to prepare properly.  In that situation, it's really hard to go out and get to know people.  But I'm finally doing it.

I'm starting a new job tomorrow at a place called The Wild Crumb.  It reminds me of my favorite bakery in Sioux Falls.  I'm delighted to be offerred to work for them as I think the opportunity to work around customers in a bakery setting will let me get to know more people just through regular exposure.

It's also nice to pull a paycheck besides the regular one.  I'm not money grubbing, but I am a food lover who really hates having to budget the quality of food I can buy.  It's also nice to save for things that I've been wanting to get/do for a long time *cough*graduate school*cough*Iceland*cough*tattoo*cough*.

I also feel like I've developed a sense of consistency and permanence at Monforton.  The kiddos know that I will be back next year (yes!) and they seem generally pleased about it.  It's really nice when a parent comes up to you and says, "We were talking about you this morning and "Bob" said that he really hoped you stayed, since it seems like they get new music teachers every year. "Bobbette" agreed and said that music teachers always seem to get pregnant."

Fear not "Bob" and "Bobbette"....that world isn't even on my radar.

Finally, I've joined a softball team! (Thanks to friends Smai and Jake)  We're called "The Swingin' Pulaskis Too" and it's through Montana Conservation Corps.  So, even though I don't work for them, I get to meet a lot of great people that probably feel the same way about things as I do.  I know it's not good to surround yourself with similarity, but it's nice to surround myself with people that I feel are really open-minded and welcoming.

We were supposed to have our first game tonight, but it got rained out.  Next week!

Anyway, I'm making contacts.  The end of school is in sight, which is causing craziness right now, but looking around at all of the other teachers I can tell we're all thinking "the end is near, just push it"!

Anyway, I am content....I am beyond content, I am very happy.

Oh, and I love the new condo. It's such a seemingly perfect fit for me. Now just to finish painting and build myself a raised garden bed for the patio.

Oh, and I'm thinking about getting a hammock too. I mean, what's relaxing without a hammock? :)  I'm super pumped to just lean back into the hammock in the summer with a good book and my dog next to me.  And then, after some reading, look out and see Hyalite Canyon.

Life, I am so lucky. What on Earth did I do to deserve this?



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life Plans

Life plans.....which is really an oxymoron. It seems that every plan I make is usurped at some point, generally right before I'm supposed to reach the penultimate goal.

But that's okay.  I know that Buddhists really support being the the present, and that's something that I'm trying to work on (really, I am!).  For example, this morning when I was brushing my teeth, I took time to really realize how different parts of my body were feeling.  That toe I kicked into the wall a week ago?  Not as painful, but it's hard to put shoes on sometimes (especially my favorite tennis shoes).  My sinuses?  They feel like there's a balloon under them, slowly expanding (thanks to my students, I suspect).

It's a good way to get both outside of yourself and inside of yourself.  Outside of your ego and desire to plan and inside of your body and how you are really feeling.

Currently, my sinuses still feel like they're going to bust.

Even with that mindset, I can't help but get excited for the future....if all goes according to what I'd like to see happen.

I have applied to graduate school for next fall to get my Masters in K-12 Music Curriculum and Instruction.  I've been told that getting in to the graduate school here isn't difficult, and that I would probably get in...which is great!  The program should take about 5 semesters to complete, but if I did summers too, I could get it done quite a bit sooner.  So, let's just say that puts me another 2-3 years in Bozeman.

From there, I'd like to start looking at Doctoral programs around the nation.  I love Bozeman. It's a beautiful place to live. But I don't know that this is my forever place.  It could be, I could not be.  I'm not entirely sure.  But it's a great place for right now.  Hopefully I can get in to a good Doctoral program (meaning I need to work my ass off on my Masters) and start also teaching Undergraduate Education courses.  I think there's a big flaw in the education system today and a lot of it stems from not having a rigorous and involved Undergraduate Education degree requirement.  Not that all Education Programs are bad, that's not what I'm saying!  I'm saying that there is too much busy work and not enough synthesizing and higher level thinking going on in those classes.

From there, I want to do research in education (and thus, publish), teach, and hopefully start getting involved politically.  There are a lot of people that are making laws about education that have never been in a classroom...and there's something wrong with that.  We don't let people not involved in the military make decisions about military actions, why should we do so for education?  I'd love to be an advisor on educational policy and practice.

Oh...and somewhere in there, I'd love to invest some money into buying land (when I find my "forever" home) and start a small CSA/farm.  Hopefully, I could do it similar to what Dean at Three Hearts Farm is doing and invite local schools to come and learn about food and agriculture in an experiential way.  My students were out there yesterday and they absolutely loved it.  I think having that hands on experience is critical to developing a true understanding of the world around us (hence why I teach music).

But, as always, this is completely up to has to be.  There were no plans in there for my personal life, because, just can't plan that.  It seems like every time you do, something happens and it just doesn't work.  I feel that, if I pursue my passions and interests, I'll probably meet someone along the way who feels similarly and perhaps it will work out.

And, if not....there's always Koda.

Life is full of surprises, and as long as one respects them and understands that they don't really have control over anything, I think life has the tendency towards beauty.


Monday, April 1, 2013


Sometimes I wish it were possible for the people I love to be nearer to me in the place that I love.

Which, I know, is totally selfish.  But I think they would love it too.

Moving places can be tough.  It's actually a lot tougher than I thought it would be.  And, perhaps, it's just because I'm in an apartment that doesn't feel like my own in a town that doesn't yet feel like my own.  I'm gradually making contacts, and I've even scored a part time job for the summer that should help keep me busy and meeting people.  It's just terribly easy to fall into the negative way of thinking - when it doesn't need to be that way....ya know?

But then you get in that mindset and suddenly you feel this giant existential crisis rear it's ugly face out at you and you wonder if you're even in the right place, doing the right job, living your life in the right way.

Or if you should just go back home and live in your parents' basement.

But, like my Dad reminds me, if I left, I may very well live the rest of my life asking "I wonder what would have been?".  It's far better for me to stay here, see what will be, work in a job I am happy with, earn a higher degree, and then decide what the right move might be.

Moving isn't easy.
But sometimes I think moving back would be just as hard as moving out here was/is.  Perhaps it's just a waiting game and eventually something will click.


Saturday, March 30, 2013


Within a month (or just over), I will be closing on the condo.

I keep scheming ways to build a garden on the patio and all the different colors palettes I could use inside the condo.

My hobbies have been clearly defined :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013


I am fully aware the a "proper" blog generally consists of short to mid-length entries covering one topic.

Well, call me improper.

I think this entire mind-melt started while talking with fellow teachers over some drinks tonight.  I firmly believe that teaching is one of the few professions that could potentially lead to alcoholism...if the people that did it weren't made of strong stock.  Most of us enjoy one drink a week....or more....but I think we have good reasoning.

You see, when you love the students you work for, you can't just "leave it at work".  It's not one of those jobs.  It is a job where, no matter how hard you try, you take something from it home.  Every. Single. Day.  Sometimes, it's great things.  For example, I've been talking with my 5th grade band students about how they should always produce a sound so pure and beautiful that they get a ring from the room.  Once a week, we work on making the room "sing" with a simple, balanced, Bb major triad.  Not hard for a trained musician, but it has been a steep learning curve for these kiddos.

Today, they did it on their first shot.  And not only that, but they went on to impress me with their phrasing and their musicality in the piece we're currently working on.

If I took moments like this home every day, I can't even create an analogy to talk about what I would do.

Some days, though, you're battling everything.  You have a Kindergartener that called another kid a "jerk" and then the other student cries....or bites the former student.  You have at least one 1st grader that is so ADHD and ED that they should be seeing a counselor, but Mom/Dad don't believe in it, so he goes untreated and hurts not only himself, but others as well.  You have some upper level elementary students who don't even know if their parents will be coming home tonight.  Heck, they don't even know who will be taking them home or where home is for that matter.  Then you've got an early Middle Schooler who gets picked on and, thus, upset to the point where they are pretending to gun down other students in the class.

And, you know what, those things would still be happening, even in a perfectly managed classroom (which mine is not, yet).

But you know what kills me the most?  That a lot of these behavioral issues can be traced back to one source.  That's right. The parents.

I am so lucky and blessed to have the parents that I do.  I realize that more and more every day when I see what some of my students have for home lives.  I cannot believe that we, as a nation, allow for this to exist.  That, in our fierce defense of "the pursuit of happiness", we focus so much on achieving our own happiness that we don't think about what the consequences of that happiness might be.  A woman who is addicted to various drugs, doesn't have a home, doesn't have a steady job, decides that one night of sex will make her happy.  She gets pregnant and has a baby.  Do you think she is really going to be so concerned about the happiness of that child that she is going to give up what she thought made her happy?

Remember, what you think makes you happy and what actually provides a source of happiness is vastly different.

I love my students. I would do anything for them. I will defend them to the end of the Earth and back if that's what it takes to ensure a positive future for them.  But there are some situations in which I simply cannot do anything. And it frustrates me.  The feeling of helplessness one feels when they go to bed, knowing that they have a safe place to sleep for the night and will have breakfast in the morning while they have multiple students out there who aren't going to bed well fed, with a safe place to sleep, and who have no idea what fate meets them tomorrow, is a complete one.

And yet, the most I can seemingly do for them every day during the week is give them structure, and attention, and rules, and expectations and let them know that I KNOW their life is a real shit pile right now, but that doesn't mean that they need to stay IN the shit.  I'm realizing more and more that, besides all of the things that I just listed, I have the grand duty of providing my students with a sense of hope for not only their immediate lives, but for their future.  I, and all of the other fantastic teachers at my school, have to prove to them that they need to have hope in themselves because WE have hope in them.

This world is a messed up place and, at the center of it, is today's youth.
How on Earth are we going to give them hope?

Monday, March 11, 2013

An Unnecessary Update

I'm at home.

I love being at home.

I love feeling comfortable saying that I have two homes.

At my Bozo home, I'm mostly anonymous.  I can hide away in a coffee shop and not worry about running into people and talking.  I can make meals when I want and how I want.  I have a few close friends and a job that I can pursue passionately.

At my SuFu home, I can choose locations based on the desired level of anonymity.  My Mom makes dinner as a special treat for me whilst I'm home, and they're always delicious.  I get to see friends that I've been missing, most often the scenario plays out like I've never left....which I love.

As I sit in a big, comfortable recliner and look out the sliding glass door to my parents' beautiful yard.  As I watch my dog nap in the sunlight after a full day of playing and getting muddy at the dog park.  As I giggle when my Dad's snore wakes both him and my dog up.
As all of these things happen - I feel so blessed and lucky.

So many changes have happened within the past 2 weeks, and I wasn't sure if they were the right choices and changes at the time,
but upon reflection and pulling myself away from the situations,
upon examining them externally,
I am happy with them.

Within a month I will live in a condo that I will be paying off.
My own place.
Within a few months, the herbs and vegetables I have planted will begin to sprout and produce vegetables.
Within those same few months, I can start getting on the bike again and hopefully begin biking to work.

The future is bright. I am so lucky.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


I was stressed.
But my Dad is incredible and helpful and I am so thankful.

Thanks Daddyo.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Mental Vaporization

As of last Tuesday, life has taken a topsy-turvy route.  Our landlord lost his job and, to compensate, is selling our apartment/condo.  Meaning, basically, we have to get out.  Combine that with some personal opinions and thoughts that needn't be discussed, I'm trying to figure out where to live.

Basically, I'm trying to find the money balance and decide whether or not it is wiser to continue to rent or if I should outright buy a condo.
- Finally own some land (in this area, the price of a home and land is only going to increase) = good investment
- Have my own place that is closer to school (at least, the condos I'm looking at are closer) which would cut off some more travel time
- Be able to have a small porch garden
- Have some say on interior aesthetics (shallow, I know, but really important to me)
- Could collect rent for mortgage if I move for a new job

- Mortgage, bank, accounting, bleh...stuff that I have very little knowledge of
- $$$
- SOL if some appliance in the condo breaks

- Little concern if something breaks - call the landlord and they fix it
- Increased mobility (if I want to move, I just move....sort of with a 6 mo. contract)

- Rent disappears...aka: not investing
- Further away from school route (longer commute)
- Possibly noisy neighbors
- Have to work with a landlord

Add to that the following things:
- Graduate School (do or do not) for K-12 Music Education Curriculum and Instruction (a step that I need to do if I am to become a professor of education someday...the long term goal) at MSU.
1) It puts my current loans on hold, so I won't have to pay them until I finish
2) I would move over a "lane" in the salary schedule (a pay raise)
3) I can finally feel like I'm starting to learn again (my brain feels stale)
4) I can get local tuition rates ($9,000) which is reasonable
5) It's online, which means I can work at my own rate
6) It would be a way to network with local teachers and suck their brains for information
7) It would add to my value at Monforton (making it worth their while to try and keep me)
8) It *should* make me more marketable (see Con #4)

1) I would be accruing more debt...which should probably always be avoided (but, it pays off?)
2) I would have to work hard and be sure to maintain a solid GPA (no more sluffing off)
3) It would increase my work load to having things to do on the weekend and during the evenings in the weeks (decreased free time)
4) Some schools avoid people with M.Ed's because of the move over one salary lane....M.Ed's can be expensive people to hire depending upon the district

Lander, Wyoming has a job opening. For all those education major out there, if you can find a location in WY that you love....try to get a job there!  The pay is outstanding (for educators), there is no income tax, and the property tax is low.

I'm not expecting an offer on the was only open for a week and a half, which makes me think that they have someone in mind and that they were just making the position available to follow protocol.  However, if they did offer, I would be conflicted.  I love the students, staff, administration and community I work with/for...but it's barely a livable wage and more or less will require a part time job somewhere in the future.  Lander, WY is similar to Bozeman, but much smaller (apx 7,000 pop) and more conservative.  They do have NOLS, which is something I've been interested in for a while.  The position is MS/HS Band...right up my alley.

Like I said, I'm conflicted.

But, the Pros/Cons list definitely helped (except for the Lander, WY situation...I don't know that it's possible to make a list like that when I don't know as much about the position as I would like to).  It's looking like maybe I should opt for Graduate school (if I can swing it) and the Condo.

Hey, thanks internet, for all your help.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Endemic Engagements

Before you chew me out about the title of the post, please understand, I don't have anything against the people getting engaged right now. It's just something that I've noticed.

What? You haven't noticed? Everyone seems to get engaged between the ages of 20-25. Okay, not everyone.  In fact, the majority of women (at least) do get married around that age. But that's changing. I think, perhaps, most of my friends and I are just part of the changing demographic.

You see, all of this was brought about by the ever popular, Facebook.  I'm guilty of having purely friendly acquaintances as "friends". Partially, because I forget that we made each other "friends" and partially because I suffer from this condition called curiosity.  Either way, recently I've seen multiple friendly acquaintances get engaged. I am excited for them. I am happy for them.  But I just don't understand.

You see, the average life expectancy continues to get longer. The data continues to show that people who marry later in their lives (late 20's and early 30's) tend to have happier, more stable marriages.  They also tend to think about divorce less.  In my mind, if I knew I was with "the one", I would have no problem putting off marriage indefinitely.  Increasingly so if it meant that the marriage was to be even more stable and happier if we waited longer.  I mean, if they are "the one" then where are they going?

(That being said, you have to believe in the concept of "the one" before any of what I just said is even viable.)

Perhaps it also helps that I'm not baby crazy. But that's for another entry.

In this past year, I have come to appreciate how rapidly and extensively a single person can grow and change.  If I look at the "me" from senior year of high school to the "me" from senior year of college, they were completely different beasts in many ways.  I like to think that most of the changes were for the better.  Here's the catch though: the people that I dated in high school have also changed extensively and I would find it hard to believe that we would be "romantically compatible" as we are now.  If you marry someone so young, especially while you continue to learn about yourself, I think you are risking:

1) Merging identities and forgetting who you (as an individual) are - a terrible situation to me
2) Risking the chance that you will want to change in some ways, but find those ways are unsupported by your partner
3) Never realize the future that was possible for you if you maintained an autonomous persona.

This doesn't mean stay out of relationships, obviously. I'd be a terrible hypocrite if I were to say that.  But, I do believe there is something in marriage that changes the very nature of the relationship in ways.  I also disagree with the mindset of "well, if we change and don't get along, we'll just get a divorce."

My biggest fear is that some sort of engagement endemic starts.  One friend gets engaged and then the others feel as though the need to do so as well, and quickly.  Oftentimes, I think that the vast amount of social media we have at hand causes us to feel pressured when we needn't be.  So, perhaps, before you start thinking about "when will I find my true love and get married and make babies and have a house with a white picket fence", you should think "am I aware enough of myself and what I want out of life to feel comfortable committing myself to another person through all the future changes that will happen, both good and bad".