Monthly Archives: January 2014

Barf Between the Toes

I stepped in my cat’s throw up yesterday.  Twice.  Okay okay, it was three times.  The first was in the middle of the night when I was crawling back into bed after a 3 AM pee.  I suspected the wet gooyiness on the soles of my feet was Dotty’s regurgitated dinner, but I was too tired to investigate or care.

When my alarm went off a few hours later, I slid out of bed and landed smack dab in the center of the chunks she had conveniently blown right beside my bed.  There’s nothing like waking to cat barf between the toes.  This time I was alert and should have cleaned it up right then and there.  But I didn’t.  I let it sit and figured I’d deal with it later.

Sadly, this has become a mantra I often live by.

Before I found shoes, my feet found the pile once more and I could only laugh as I wiped the vomit off my feet because really- who steps in the same pile of puke three times in one morning?  Answer- the kind of person who still doesn’t clean it up (kind of hoping the dog will find it and eat it) and steps in it a fourth time when she gets home from work.  That’s right.  Four times.  I lied earlier when I said it was only three.

One of my very first pictures on Instagram

I do this all the time.  Not the lying thing or the stepping in cat puke thing, the procrastinating thing.  The “I’ll deal with it later” later thing.  When there is no hard deadline and no one holding me accountable, I will put things off for a ridiculous amount of time.  We’re talking RIDICULOUS amounts of time.

I’ve sent birthday gifts 6 months after the fact.

I returned an e-mail 8 MONTHS after I received it.

I once called a girl and thanked her for driving me to the airport a year after the drive.  A solid year.

I got a tooth pulled 3 years ago and have been planning on replacing it ever since.

I still have a baby present under my bed that I bought for my friend’s kid who is now in kindergarten.

And perhaps my longest “I’ve been meaning to do that” moment involves cashing in this coupon:

I got this my first year teaching and have been planning on using it ever since.  I’m not one to pass up a “bountiful dessert,” but I just keep forgetting to use it, so it has stayed tucked away in my wallet for the last 10 years. Ten years, you guys.  That’s what no expiration date will do to a procrastinator like myself.

The strange part is the things I’ve been meaning to do aren’t usually unpleasant tasks like “get a fake tooth grafted in” or “clean up the cat vomit.”  In fact, more often than not they are things like send so-n-so the gift you bought her because it reminded you of her, return that e-mail to a friend, write that thank-you note, return that text, make that phone call, buy that birthday card, set up a date with that friend, etc.

The thing is, I’m full of good intentions but my follow-through is terrible.   The reasons are many.

Time is short.

I’m not in the mood.

I completely forget.

And those episodes of Nashville aren’t going to watch themselves.

Regardless of the excuse, I miss out on so many opportunities to encourage and bless others because of my deal-with-it-later philosophy.

Until now.

My cousin Jamie challenged me to come up with a word for 2014.  Lots of people have done this and written about it, but I never had reason to jump on the bandwagon and come up with my own word.  Until now.

My word for 2014 is INTENTIONAL.  As a girl notorious for her good intentions, this word was long overdue.  Nearly every day this month I have done one thing that I’ve been meaning to do or one thing I didn’t necessarily feel like doing in that moment.  My first instinct was to put it off until later, but then I remembered my desire to be intentional, to be purposeful with my day, so I saddled up and did it.

I wrote that e-mail I’ve been meaning to write.

I initiated that conversation I’ve been meaning to have.

I mailed that letter of recommendation I’ve been meaning to mail.

I lent out that book I’ve been meaning to lend.

I got my oil changed. I went out with the friend I haven’t seen in months. I sent the note. I made the call. I returned the text.

Little things that I had been intending to do for a long time.  Little things that should have been done days, weeks, months ago. Little things that don’t often take much time and are helping me live today on purpose.

What I realized in 2013 is that there are consequences when you don’t live each day on purpose.  Sometimes those consequences involve cleaning cat puke off your feet. Four. Separate. Times. But the bigger consequence is that the days can slip by, time can be wasted, and opportunities can be missed.  Opportunities to be kind. To be thoughtful.  To be more like Jesus.

I don’t want to be that girl who is caught up on all her TV shows but can’t find the time to mail a birthday card.  I’m sick and tired of being the girl who is always thinking, “Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.” Because when is it ever really the thought that counts? I suspect a scatter-brained, procrastinator like myself coined that phrase to let himself off the hook for his lack of follow-through. Thoughts rarely count in real life.

It’s the deed that counts.  The word that counts.  It’s the follow-through that really counts.

I thought about getting my Greek professor a Christmas present to show my appreciation.  But I never did.  I have him again this semester so, Dr. Devine, you can expect a thank-you present from me this May.

I thought about sending my World Vision girl a birthday note.  But I never did.  Youdalande, you can expect several notes from me this year.

I’ve thought about doing so many well-intended things, and this is the year I’m finally going to do them.  One at a time.  Beginning with calling up a friend and cashing in on that free dessert from Mimi’s Cafe.

I know I’m not alone in my procrastination and good intentions since I had the following texting conversation with a friend:

How about you?  Is there something you’ve been meaning to do but just keep forgetting about? What thing have you been putting off that you can do this week?  If you write it down for all to see, maybe you’ll actually do it:) 

Reason I Love to Teach # 12

I Don’t Dread Coming Back to Work

Don’t get me wrong, the first week back from Christmas break is always rough.  The days stretch long and my brain physically aches.  But no matter how wonderful the break was, no matter how many friends I laughed with:

or adventures I embarked on…

No matter how many guns were fired…

or fires were built: 

I still love coming back to my little classroom to be with my little teenagers.

I mean sure, I groaned every morning when my alarm went off.  And yeah, every day I was tired and hungry and retraining my bladder is never fun.  But my students made me laugh every day, and they made it less painful to wake up before the sun.  (Which really should be illegal) That being said, this conversation took place the first day we got back:

S: Miss Hardeman, did you dye your hair darker?

Me: Nope.

S: Are you sure?  It looks A LOT darker.

Me: Yes, I am sure.  This is what it looks like when my hair hasn’t been washed.

S: Oh.

T: Ew.

I wasn’t too offended because “ew” is one of T’s favorite words.  Later in the week he said, “Ew.  Silent letters are the worst.”

Apart from not being able to wake up in time to shower, one other problem with returning to school is that I must readjust my filter and quit saying and doing everything that comes to mind.  Two of my sweet international students were the unfortunate recipients of said forgotten filter.  One girl was doing her math homework when she finished her work, so without thinking I grabbed her papers, threw them in the air, and yelled, “Math?!? You can’t do MATH in here!”

Then one of my favorite boys, a quiet Korean genius, was looking back at his notes when he wasn’t supposed to so I snuck up behind him, grabbed his shoulders, and yelled, “What are you doing?!?” He may have peed himself.

Note to self: overly-dramatic displays of pretend anger do not always translate across cultures.

But by mid-week my filter was back on and I was totally normal and responsible.  My students on the other hand…well let’s just say that one day I had to ask them to stop licking their iPads.  Yes, LICKING their iPads.  I allowed them to write with their elbows and even their noses (though I warned them they would probably break out), but I drew the line at using their tongues.  Kids these days…

Here were some of the conversations from the week that made coming back to work enjoyable.

Me: That’s enough, guys.  You should only be talking to your parter about the causes of the revolution right now.

K: Okay, but Miss Hardeman?

Me: Yes?

K: What’s your favorite cereal?

Me: Stop it.

5 minutes later

K: Miss Hardeman, seriously though, what is your favorite cereal?

Me: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Class: erupts into cheers

I may have earned the respect of that class period with my love of sugar cereals, but I lost it in the next class period.  I had drawn a stick figure of Czar Nicholas II and he was holding two swords to represent the two wars he got Russia involved in.  I had written the names of the wars on the swords and the class had to copy the picture so the following conversation took place:

A: Miss Hardeman, what does the sword say?

Me: Ring-ding-ding-a-ding-da-ding-ding.

Long silent pause as the class stared at me with jaws dropped.

T: I just lost so much respect for you.

I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t continue with “wha-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa” like I was considering. Speaking of Russia, after reading a passage about Bloody Sunday in my Russian accent, this conversation happened:

E: You sound like an Olga when you talk like that.

Me: What do you mean?

E: You know how in movies there’s always a pretty Russian masseuse?

Me: Okay…

E: Well and then there’s also a scary looking girl with a unibrow named Olga?

Me: Sure…

E: Well, you sound like the Olga.

When teaching teenagers, one quickly develops thick skin.

Another great thing about teaching is you have a live audience all day and can teach these little sponges whatever you’d like.  Naturally I taught them to speak with Russian accents- an immensely valuable lifeskill.  A youtube tutorial was involved and I may have required them to practice with a partner.  I also taught them how you can’t lift your ring finger off the desk once you’ve made a fist. (Try it. One girl hurt herself trying.) And of course I taught them the art of plucking a chicken:

because come July, they’ll most likely forget all about the Progressive Era and the Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal, but they will probably never forget that you must dip the chicken in nearly boiling water for about 30 seconds and then the feathers will pull right off.

The final class moment from the week that made me glad to be back happened during my study hall, a class that consists of 9 boys from all different social circles.  This conversation took place on Friday:

C: Hey, is everyone in here single?

Class: nods.

C: Yeah! Forever alone!

Me: We should all get that tattooed across our chests.

Class: looks of horror and confusion.

Apparently I’m still working on getting that filter completely back on.

What I realized this week is that if I can’t spend all my days snow-shoeing with friends, shooting guns, exploring the wild, building fires and plucking chickens, then I will gladly spend my time in the classroom with ridiculous teenagers laughing at ridiculous things.