Thursday, November 12, 2009

Diary of a Day

I've been journaling now for over 13 years. That's more than 4,750 days that I've cataloged in my far from perfect handwriting. Handwriting I generally figure is a better code than Cherokee. When the letters e, c, a, o and possibly several others can all end up looking about the same, and other letters turn into nothing but straight or partially curved lines, it's difficult to look for patterns. I've been forced to confess that, on more than one occasion, I've had difficulty deciphering what I've written myself. Yet I don't find my journaling to be pointless. Perhaps these are not words that I'll share with others, perhaps they do little to uplift or encourage the people around me, but they do provide an outlet, a pure release. I hold nothing back and I discover volumes. Compulsion or no, it's not something I see as something I want to, or should, consider giving up. While it would be wise for me to put my attention where my mouth is, to actually produce something of literary value, I still find it impossible to imagine giving up on the journaling process. (sigh)
Anyhow, I thought it might be rather entertaining, not to copy things out of my journal, but to give a glimpse into the diary of a day. I won't say that this is a typical day, only a day that really did happen. In truth, it's more on the rare side, as will be evidenced by the things contained herein which do not fall under normal Sarah characteristics (there I go talking about myself in the third person again. This is becoming epidemic rather like the swine flu, which has now closed a couple local schools...and I believe taken over the body of my roommate...)
So here it is, the events of yesterday:
I got up a little after 7. This was rather a relief, seeing as how, of late, my body has been waking up at some point in the 6 o'clock hour. Not because I'm suddenly well rested, but just because it has decided to be awake. I've been attempting to take advantage of these extra minutes, and discovering that I still don't get much more done, mostly because I just don't think very quickly so early in the morning. Yesterday, however, after being awakened by Kathryn around 2 AM saying "I'm not, I'm not sure about that one. I'm REALLY tired," in her sleep, I was happy to be able to sleep until a more reasonable point in time.
I got up and proceeded with my usual morning routine: shower, breakfast with devotions, hair drying in order to keep all Czechs happy that I'm not needlessly putting my health at risk, a reply text to Mark's sweet good morning greetings, then off to work.
I'm blessed to live at the base of an ancient square. The buildings in the middle date back to the 14th century, a time before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. I wander up the cobbled square, morning fog thick as the clock tower chimes the news that it is now 8 o'clock, followed by some musical interlude. I'll confess the music is a little on the tacky side, but there's something quaint about it as well.
I arrived at my office around ten past and set to work planning for my class. Unlike Tuesday, when my class never arrived, I was teaching my usual daily class, and there were 6 of them today. We're studying modal verbs. I'll confess, I seldom used the word "must" and am pretty much certain I NEVER used the word "mustn't" until coming to this country and teaching British English. At this point, however, I'm perfectly comfortable explaining that we use "have to" when talking about laws or rules imposed by some authority, and "must" when talking about personal requirements - as in I really MUST get my hair cut and died soon.
Class mostly went well, although I had three boys in class, which tends to mean trouble. There was a lot of Czech in the boy corner, and I actually had to turn a little strict teacher and address it. I did it in a rather round about way, however. When one of the guys was giving me an answer on the board he "missed out" on the very interesting Czech conversation his classmates were having. When he was done answering me I apologized to him for trying to teach him something and keeping him away from their clearly riveting dialog. (sigh) But that is what teaching is about some days.
As soon as class was finished I rushed to my office to put on my coat and head to the next item of business for the day: a teacher observation. Part of my role as a CA involves going to the schools of the teachers in my group and watching them teach. It's not so much to critique them as to give me some insight into the schools they're at and the students they're working with. I walked quickly, wanting to get there during her break, and on the way a most distressing thing happened, one of the buttons on my lovely blue pea coat popped off :( I was not pleased. Fortunately, I saw it happen and it didn't even fall to the ground, just hung there from its hole looking a little lost and forlorn as my coat flapped open a bit wider than usual. I stuffed the button in my pocket, reminding myself that Kathryn is an accomplished seamstress and would no doubt be able to help me in some way.
I sent Karina a message as soon as I got to the Gymnasium where she works, and a few minutes later she came down to meet me. I was in the school a couple of times last year when Laura's family stayed there, but it was always when there was no school so we weren't able to get into the side where her office and classroom were, so it was really interesting to have the chance to see the school in action. Karina showed me to her office, and while we chatted a bit about the class and her students she got a call from the director saying he'd like to come and meet me. Just as class was about to start there was a knock on the door and Karina let Mr. Zidek in. I really don't have a whole lot of experience doing things in an official sort of capacity, but it was fascinating to have this important man at the school greeting me and praising the teaching abilities of Karina. It's always good to hear how people are impressed by our teachers here.
We then went into the class and Karina went into teacher mode. I enjoyed watching the interactions with the students. There were only 6 in attendance out of a possible 17 or 18. Seems the swine flu was already having an impact. I also enjoyed the chance to check out the student work that adorned her walls. One of the really nice things about observing other teachers is that it gives me more ideas of how to improve my classes as well.
When the class was finished Karina walked me back out to the front of the school. I ran into a student there who is also a friend of mine from church. He was on his way to a gym somewhere near my house, so we chatted on the walk. Always nice to catch up with people and to feel like I really am connected to the community here.
Once home I went into action mode. There always seem to be so many things I want to get done during my "free time." I started off with making repairs to my coat. Kathryn did, indeed, have needle and thread. I won't be quitting my job and becoming a seamstress anytime soon myself, but the button hasn't fallen off again yet! A quick lunch was next on my agenda. Kathryn made a run to Tesco, and when she came back I sat with her in the kitchen while she had her lunch. It was nice to just sit and visit with her. I feel like I don't do that often enough, and it's something I really want to improve upon. She had classes to teach, despite the fact that her body was burning up with fever and she was achy all over, so away she went. Then I moved on to catching up in my journal. I was on top of things today, and managed to catch up quickly. Much to my amazement, I still had time left in my day to get other things done.
Our floor has this...hmmm...maybe incredible is a good word...ability to grow dust bunnies. And we're talking serious sized rabbits, not just cuddly little guys. So I took a moment to vacuum the flat. It's not a very big space, so I was able to take care of things quickly. This left more time for checking in on the 5 or 6 lexulous games I'm currently competing in on Facebook. It's a bit of an addiction as well, but provides some real team building, as well as connection with siblings far away :)
I continued to be in awe of the fact that I still had some time on my hands. I pondered over several ways to spend these blessedly free minutes, and decided to make some music. Mark, dear man that he is, has left his keyboard here. While I often feel guilty that he isn't able to practice very often, it's so nice to be able to play every now and again. It was nice to be able to burn off a little creative energy.
And suddenly, it was time to go back to work. I teach FCE on Wednesday, and needed to do some planning for my class. I had an observation by Kelly last week, and she'd given me some good ideas about how to make the text book come to life a bit, so I put some of her advice into action, and it worked quite well. My class was good, the students talked, and hopefully learned a thing or two.
Wednesdays are also our team days. All the other girls are ill to some extent, so it seemed only appropriate that I be the one to cook tonight. I'd asked Karina's advice on dinner plans, and she'd requested my broiled open-faced sandwiches, so I picked up the ingredients and hurried for home. The place was empty when I arrived, so I had some time to get things done. Tammy's birthday was the 30th of October, but we didn't really celebrate it all together. Karina was in England at the time, and the rest of us took the little trip to Regensburg, so we never really "did it up proper" to quote a dear former roomie of mine. So, having been given a boxed cake mix by Sam a few weeks back when I did observations in Sokolov for just such an occasion, I whipped up a cake. Yep, that's right. I made a cake. This was actually only the second time in my life that I've made a cake. I know that's pathetic, but the first cake I made was for Griffon and Geoff's wedding, so that was a pretty serious event that I still feel pretty impressed by. While it was cooking I threw together the sandwiches. The girls all showed up whilst I was in the process, and soon we were all enjoying a "home cooked" meal :) Wow, did I ever feel domestic!?!
After breaking bread together we spent some time studying the Bible together, sharing about our lives and praying for one another. It really is great to be a part of a group united in purpose. We're all different people with varied gifts and abilities, and yet God has placed us here to love and to serve and to grow. It's a beautiful thing. Sometimes hard, but beautiful.
After the cake, which came complete with blue and pink sprinkles that were meant to resemble purple, Tammy's favorite color, and candles, the sickies from the other side of town headed home. After evening texts and e-mails with Mark the day was nearly done. I finished it off with writing in my journal. That's right folks, I wrote for the day on the day, something I seem to have trouble doing very often anymore. Then I curled up in bed, read for a while, and went to sleep.
So there you have it, a day in the life, start to finish. Just to make this all a bit more interesting I'm going to add a few photos from last weekend when Mark and I went to Plzen. It was a nice day. We just wandered around a while and learned about the history of beer.

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