Sorry for the delay in blogging! Hmmm, I am not even sure where to begin this one since it’s been so long. I guess morning is a good place to start:
So, at 6:25a.m the alarm on my cell phone played “Minuet” in an obnoxious rasping tone (Minuets are not meant to be played through cell phones). When “Minuet” was finished, “Ukulele” started to play, followed by “Deep Blue Sea”. At that point it was 6:45a.m, I was finally shaken awake from my dream and I bolted out of bed. By 7:15a.m I was out the door with four nuns, Sarah, and peanut butter and honey toast in my hand… and all down my pants, shoe, ankle, elbow, and backpack. It does not take long for honey to drip everywhere and leave a sticky mess! At school I cleaned up and was back on track. Until Health class. We made it through the lesson on the effects of the media on body image, and we headed outside to finish the game of kickball I had promised. However, it had just rained, so the field was a little squishy. The first time a ball was kicked out of bounds, one of my students volunteered to go get it. He was reaching for the ball, when his shoe sunk deep into the mud. He ended up losing his shoe and stepping into the mud with his clean, white socks. Sorry mom! The second time a ball was kicked out of bounds, I decided I would take care of it. It was in the weeds, but this was nothing for an experienced camp counselor. I reached down for the ball and next thing I knew my feet felt like they were burning! I looked down and saw tons of little fire ants crawling all over my exposed feet (I had flats on). I came out from the weeds, yelled to the class that we had to go NOW, and ran down the squishy hill to the parking lot. Since it had just rained, the parking lot was full of puddles. I threw off my flats and starting running through puddles. My students were laughing so hard at me – it was the worst pain I had ever felt from an insect, but I knew it was going to turn into one of those situations I laugh about later. The students went to the bathroom to wash the mud off of their uniforms before English class, and we all trudged back to the classroom, leaving a wet, muddy trail behind us. Sorry janitors! However, my feet were still burning – I needed to get to a faculty bathroom so that I could actually wash my feet and rinse out my shoes, but I realized I had forgotten my key! The next 10 minutes I spent running around trying to find a janitor to open the bathroom for me. Finally, I arrived to Kindergarten, a little late, super sweaty, in very itchy. After two Kindergarten classes, it was back to eighth grade. I had a powerpoint presentation with a video on it prepared for History class, but surprise, the converter I needed in order to present it, was nowhere to be found! When relying on technology, back-up plans are absolutely essential.
The best part of my day happened during prayer. Usually I am scrambling to find the right page and figure out what is going on, but today, I happened to open up to exactly the right page – it was amazing.
At about 10p.m, I realized my water bottle was completely empty, and that our favorite computerized voice would be letting us know that the alarm was about to turn on. This happened right as I was opening the door… Oh no!! I needed water still! I yelled out the door, “Necesito Agua” (I need water), but nobody heard me. It seemed like a pretty fitting way to end this day.
After a day like this, the best thing I can do is run. I am very grateful that we met a group of fantastic people and joined their running team! I think one of the reasons running is so important to me here, is because it is one of the only times in the day that I feel like I have complete control. I am the only one that can control my body. While running, I am not depending on anyone else. I’m not hoping technology will pull through for me, I’m not depending on my students to listen to my lesson, I’m not scheduled by bells and prayer time, I am in control of just myself. It is a hard lifestyle change to go from living a life of plenty of freedom in college to one that is very structured and controlled. Running has been a great outlet.
Last Saturday, Sarah and I found out about a free 5K race ending with the lighting of the Christmas tree in the plaza of Humacao. Since we live about 5 blocks from the plaza, we thought this would be a good race to participate in. While registering, we were asked for our addresses. We told them we weren’t sure of the exact address, but that we live in the Monastey down this street (pointing down the street we live on). The women reregistering us looked extremely confused – she did not know there was a monastery down that street, nor did she know the address. We asked her why we even needed to have an address, and she told us it was so they could mail prize money. We looked at each other and laughed, “we won’t be winning, so it’s okay”. In the end, they ended up writing down the addresses of our parents’ houses.
Running shoes tied, and numbers pinned on, we piled into a trolley with the other runners. We were jammed all the way in the back, sitting on a spare tire. The trolley cruised to another town, about three miles away, bottoming out quite a few times along the way. Ouch! When we arrived, we chatted and warmed up. The runners started gathering near the starting line, and next thing I knew the gunshot was fired. Off we went! The run was pretty, shaded by big trees and nice views of a little river. When we arrived to the finish line in the plaza, there were a lot of people cheering and the giant Christmas tree looked great. Sister Rufina showed up to congratulate us, which was really nice of her! She knows how important running is to us. After the race, we were about to walk home when some of our friends told us to check out the awards sheet posted in about size 12 font on a building near the plaza. Apparently, Sarah had won first place for our age class, and I was behind her in second. We decided to go check out the award ceremony. It was in a giant parking lot with food stands set up on one side and a massive stage on the other. The spectators included mostly runners and random parents and children en route to Humcao’s visiting carnival. When the award announcer got to the 21 – 25 year old age class, he yelled, “EN SEGUNDO LUGAR, TENEMOS, JANA….. RENEE... … … … GRAZY” The crowd burst out laughing, because they thought he said “crazy”. He called for me to come up on stage. I made my way up on stage and he was talking very loud and fast in my face, asking where I was from, and other questions I probably couldn’t register fast enough. He announced I was from Minnesota, and everyone was cheering a lot more than I would have expected! Next I was handed a check and a gigantic trophy. The announcer then called Sarah up to stage and went through the same routine. We took a picture together, they made a big deal about us coming from Minnesota and Wisconsin, and we hurried to the back of the parking lot with our excessively enormous trophies and unexpected checks! We couldn’t stop laughing – just another typical occurrence of Jana and Sarah having absolutely no idea what they were getting themselves into in Puerto Rico…
As far as teaching goes, I think I am just about as anxious as the students are to have a break. I could really use some time to think about what direction I would like to take next semester. Also, since my students do not have textbooks or other resources for Health or History, Sister Myriam told me I could purchase some reasonably priced class materials, and she would reimburse me. However, everyday I face the challenge of figuring out what I am going to teach the next day, and I feel like I haven’t had a good opportunity to look at the bigger picture, which would allow me to actually consider what materials I might need ahead of time.
Happy December to all!!
-Teacher, Miss Jana, Jana Grazy, La pequeña