Friday, September 9, 2011

The day that changed our lives...

September 10, 2001. I was in my 5th year at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. I was spending the evening with some of my closest friends - my roommate Deb, my cousin Julia, and my marching band buddy, Betsy. We were prematurely celebrating my 23rd birthday by sipping margaritas made with my birthday present, a blender. We were having spitting contests off the apartment balcony, and we watched a black market copy of "Pearl Harbor." While watching the movie, the scene where Pearl Harbor was being attacked I made a comment to my friends that still haunts me today - "You know, Pearl Harbor was the last time America was attacked on our own soil."

I woke up the morning of September 11 around 5:30 a.m. to our mentally handicapped next-door neighbor Gus yelling and swearing at his alarm clock. I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't ignore Gus' cussing and thumping so I woke up and grumbled to myself about how it totally sucked that I was woken up early by my stupid neighbor and how I was hoping waking up early was the worst thing that would happen. After all, it was my 23rd birthday and how dare my neighbor ruin my day.

I went through my usual routine - I watched a little bit of "Saved by the Bell" after my shower while eating my cereal. When it was over, I turned on my new. I got into the habit of watching The Today Show while I was getting ready for school. I had watched for a while and then decided to go do my hair. While I was curling my hair, I remember hearing Katie Couric's voice get a little louder and more frantic sounding. I went into the living room and listened to them speaking about a fire at the World Trade Center and could it have been an explosion or a plane having difficulties? I can recall thinking to myself, "There's no way a plane having trouble would just hit a major building." I was watching (half of my hair curled) and I remember my stomach just dropping when I watched the second plane hit. I knew in my core that this was some sort of terrorist act.

From that point in the day, I had to attend my classes for my professional semester. I remember very little of what happened during the rest of the day. I remember going to chapel and having a prayer for people affected. I recall coming home and there was a phone message from someone telling us to go out and get gas for our cars because rumor had it gas prices were up to $5.00 a gallon. Deb and I went to the gas station down the street and we were able to pull right in and get gas. By the time we were finished filling up, there was a line of cars down the street 15-20 cars deep. Deb and I still went bar hopping for my birthday, and it was depressing. At most of the bars we were the only ones in there. I think at one bar there were a whopping 7 people.

There was one act done during that day that was a small, fairly minute thing that I did that I feel changed my life in a way that I didn't realize at the time. Once the second plane crashed, I found one of my video tapes, inserted it into the VCR and pressed the "record" button. I did that because I knew history was being made and I would have to teach it someday. I think even though I had completed my first round of student teaching, that moment was the first time I felt I knew I would be a teacher.

I remember very little from that day. I remember being ticked off that my birthday was forever ruined. I was relieved that I lived in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota because despite what was going on elsewhere, I felt safe in the 56073. I remember also feeling a little bit scared because I was 6 1/2 hours away from my parents and my family. The one feeling that I do remember very well was waiting anxiously for my boyfriend to call me. I hadn't heard or seen him at all that day, and I just wanted to hear from him.

Ten years later, I'm watching all the shows about 9/11 recalling the events of that day. I'm marveling at how our world has become so much more paranoid and rightfully so. I'm amazed at how I've been fortunate to not know anyone who lost their life that day. I actually enjoy watching the shows because it gives me faith in society. I don't like seeing the carnage of that day, but I love the little stories of people helping people with no concern or regard for race, ethnicity, religion, social status.

Ten years later, I have a degree in Education and I'm working on my Master's. I have four years of teaching experience, and I'm starting my fifth. I have since married the boyfriend who didn't call me on my birthday in 2001, and I've also since forgiven him. I have two amazing children and a dog (and most likely another dog joining the family in late October). I have lived in four different states in those ten years.

Ten years later, I'm older, slightly more responsible, hopefully wiser, but I still refuse to grow up. The world has changed in the last ten years, but I am doing my best not to change. Ten years ago I was upset that a bunch of terrorists ruined my birthday. Now I'm proud to say that my birthday is September 11th because those terrorists brought a country together for a period of time, and we celebrate unsung heroes on that day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Opening Pandora('s Box)

I owe my co-worker the world. I asked her if she put on music for her kids during rest time and she said that she used Pandora radio. I, being the technologically retarded individual that I am, asked how she got that on her computer. She, being the patient kindergarten teacher that she is, explained that all I had to do was set up an account.

From that moment I opened Pandora's Box of musical goodies. (I know most of these things are probably "well, duh..." moments for most people.) I can type in an artist, or dare I say, composer, and a radio station is created based on that suggestion?? WHAT?!?!?!?!? My mind was blown. Seriously.

I have a few stations created for my classroom - They Might Be Giants for some educationally and musically stimulating tuneage. Irving Berlin because they enjoy "playing" along with "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Beethoven because of the well-known statement that playing classical can enhance intelligence (and truth by told, my students need all the help they can get right now). Grieg because he's my favorite composer and some of his stuff is delightfully weird, as are my kindergarteners - it fits. And some Rockabye Baby because I enjoy listening to Journey, Aerosmith, Green Day, and U2 masked as lullabies during naptime.

Most of all, I'm enjoying listening to some pieces I've probably never heard before. I love classical music for all the intricacies and simplicity. So, Pandora Radio, and most importantly Miss Clarkson, thank you for reigniting my need for music in my life. (P.S. - Beethoven's Sonata for Cello and Piano in A Major, Opus 69, II and Chopin's Fantasy - Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Opus 66 - my new faves.)