May 3, 2016

Full Speed In The Scorching Sun

I was pretty angry twenty minutes ago. I don’t get angry very often, and twenty minutes ago, I wasn’t angry per se, just annoyed and frustrated to the point of acute irritability. I was pissed.

Paypal was the source of my prickliness. I was trying to pay for something that would only take Paypal and for a variety of reasons it wouldn’t work. Wrong email for the wrong card. Forgotten password. Wouldn’t send a password retrieval form. I really wanted to pay for this thing and the website would not work and I became angry. Seems silly when you spell it out like that.

I kept yelling, “What the hell!” to no one in particular, but since Mairin was the only one within ear-shot, I guess I was hoping she might be able to fix it. I tried a million different things: different emails, a new card, trying to pay outside of Paypal, but nothing worked. I was about to give up when twenty minutes later- Twenty minutes (it might have been less and I exaggerated the time in my state of rage) I finally got a password reset email and voila it was all fixed and paid for.

And after my grumpiness dissipated, I was left with the shameful sense one feels when they have been quick to anger. “Really?” We ask ourselves, “You were that worked up because a website didn’t work exactly right immediately? That is how petty you have become?”

So what was I paying for you might ask? I just registered for the OSIM Sundowner Half Marathon.

Go big or go home. Although I have never actually run more than 12km, I am going to give this 21km a try. There is another half-marathon next December in Cambodia that I want to run, but that seemed so far away and another 10km at this time didn’t feel satisfying enough. So the logic is- I will test this one out and get a baseline time. See if I can even do it. I figure I will run 10km hard, try to push myself to about 15km and walk the rest if I have to, just to see what it feels like. Then I will train from now until December to run the Cambodia race full on.

Having said that I still have a month to get ready for this run as well. I am pretty excited and the very idea of it is motivating me to get out there and run hard. Thanks for pushing me Jeff.

I’m a big fan of the hand written thank you note and compliment. I never give them, mind you, but I love getting them. Yes, I see the idiocy in that statement, and I hope to build a habit where I thank and compliment people using hand written notes, but in the meantime I will bask in their greatness when directed at me.

I entered my classroom today to find a small card on my desk from a peer at school who mentioned that they appreciate my passion and hard work. It was short and sweet and perfect. In our everyday busy lives a simple compliment can go such a long way.

I really want to work on writing notes like this more often. I hope to write them to my own kids, Mairin, my students, and of course my peers. I need to get my hands on some nice cards in preparation.

I was walking across Tent Plaza after I had eaten lunch today, on my way to the stairs for some down time in my room before class started, when I noticed three grade eight girls running full speed in the scorching sun. They were playing tag. I am not sure what it was about seeing grade 8 girls playing tag- it might have been their obliviousness to the heat or their sweat or what others might think, or I might have been moved by the fact that they were free and childlike and beautiful as they did what they wanted, unconcerned with the normal BS that a grade 8 girl must surely go through on a daily basis. They were smiling, laughing, and shrieking with joy. For those of you who work with or have worked with grade 8 girls, I can assure this is not “normal” behaviour, but I so wish it was.

In the last few days, I have had two groups of fifth graders come see me because they are working on Gender Equality and Education projects for their grade five exhibitions. They ask me questions about Daraja Academy and the work we do as a GC and the work they do as an NGO and school. I have been blown away by their focus, integrity and curiosity. My interaction has had a series of effects:

I am looking forward to working with this age group. They are so earnest and eager and ready to please. Comes as a nice relief after years of dealing with grade 8 cynicism and fatigue.

Reminds me that our grade 6’s are full of ideas, knowledge and excitement. Sometimes I tend to think that they are just babies coming in blank, and this is clearly not the case. I need to speak with the primary school teachers more often and thank them for their work. Also, I hope that the grade 9 teachers realise that are upcoming grade 8’s are also doing amazing things and that they are not starting from scratch.  A K-12 school is an ongoing body of work. We are all involved and do our part.

Reminded me of the power of inquiry and unshackling kids from content and curriculum. Why do we not have an end of grade 8 exhibition? Another one at grade 10 and a final one at grade 12?

Anyway, my interaction with these young learners was eye-opening and inspiring. It is always a good idea for teachers to interact with other parts of the school. We get so involved with our own work that we forget or take for granted what other people are doing.


  1. I could stop blogging and just leave comments here- your writing generates a lot of thoughts!

    I've had flares of stupid anger since I was a kid, where frustration not getting something to do what I want it to do ends up in some kind of destruction, I remember a thrown object bouncing and breaking a window in my house. It's totally stupid to be doing this as an adult, but hey, I have a ding in my shed door from the same thing, some tool not doing what I wanted it to. Each time the fill of shame.

    But I am learning what we radiate in bad energy. From my new dog. Last week I was having trouble getting my scanner to work, wasting time trying to do a stupid amount of paperwork to collect on one hour of billable time. I was dropping F-bombs about, and Felix was following me, cautiously, with a fearful look in his face.

    I stopped well before breaking anything. I do not see a complete end to this, its a wired, animal reflex. But if I can see in the moment the impact of my anger, if I can glance at my stupid face in a mirror, I can reign it in.

    On a different level, seeing how silly it looks to see people vent vile on social media because their flight was cancelled or the cable is not working-- well it does not stop me, but I've slowed down some.

    Go run a frigging half marathon, man, especially if you are enjoying it. I hate running....

  2. Oops, totally unrelated, but since you are a Krakauer fan, this even more so elevates his super hero status to me