19 September 2009

Gin & tonics...

...sometimes are the only solution to a problem! Stress, lesson planning, homework, being away from Michael...each has taken it's turn in the spotlight of impossibility over the past few weeks. However, it is true that sometimes a little lime and a little gin help to at least put things back into a realistic perspective! Thus the reason I sip one as I type this and take a break from a rather unproductive but otherwise relaxing Saturday at my studio here in Chicago.

Michael found out that their departure date for Iraq is October 10th-16th, so our last weekend together in GA will be Oct. 1st-5th. I have been fortunate enough to take two days off in order to spend a couple extra days down there, but the coming-and-going has certainly taken its toll, not to mention the emotional stress of the leading-up-to him leaving. Many days it feels completely "doable" and reasonable...like for some reason I've done this kind of thing before? Ha. But the days when it feels impossible, though not as common, are exhausting and often debilitating. God has blessed us so much and led us to this amazing place, but those days I find myself having a hard time being grateful. I know that, once Michael has finally left for the deployment and after the first week or two have passed, it will be fine. It will actually be the first time I am able to work an actual routine into my life since our wedding day! Strange. There has been SO much constant movement that I don't know that I know how to sit still anymore.

The Teacher's Assistantship has been a huge challenge, but I have also begun to have many moments of satisfaction after days when my students are responding positively (and giving the correct answers!), which is a nice feeling. Lesson planning doesn't take me 3 hours per lesson anymore, so now I am finally working in some actual grad class studying! Sometimes the irony of that thought is nothing short of laughable. The other TA's at UIC are absolutely fabulous, each and every one - there are 12 of us total. There are 4 French TA's who are all amazing resources and the rest of us are a great mix, coming from many backgrounds, universities, and ages. It's an awesome collaborative atmosphere, and slowly but surely, I think that most of the 1st-yr TA's are realizing that we aren't the only ones stumbling through on certain days! The more we teach and the more we compare notes with one another and other teachers, TA's and professors, the more it becomes evident that there is NO perfect teacher. Never will one know each student of each class so well that they can give a lesson that will "work" for all of them and their learning styles. At the end of the day, the best you can hope for is to have reached a few students, and that the rest will care enough to read the rules and come ask questions. One thing that our advisor told us in orientation will forever remain with me: "You really can't teach your students anything. They are the ones who have to choose to learn, and most of that is going to happen outside of the classroom." This epiphany was at the same time liberating and terrifying, given the fact that then we must obviously give them the right tools to be able to do the learning...but yeah, mostly liberating!

I love being able to speak French again everyday, and I love Chicago. Public transportation can still be nerve-wracking for all sorts of reasons, but it's nice to not worry about a car.

Please keep me and Michael in your prayers, and Michael especially after the 10th. It's going to be a great, challenging, exhilerating, impossible year full of lessons from God. We are both anxious and excited, and pretty much just ready to "start checking off the days"...while we realize that we need to enjoy the time apart for what it will be worth to us as individuals. Please pray that we will be able to do what we need to, and that we will meet people who will be support to us during times of need. You are all in my prayers and I hope very much that you are all doing well. May God bless you and keep you in your days, in your lying down and standing up, in your coming and going, and in your interaction with all of those around you. May His peace be in your heart always!

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