Monday, December 30, 2013

End of Year Thoughts

Another year ends.  This year, many things changed for me.  If I had to break my life into sections, it would read like this:

- (age 0-4) The Brooklyn Years
- (age 4-14) The Early Fair Lawn Years
- (age 14-18) The Adolescent Fair Lawn Years
- (age 18-20) Shana Ba'Aretz (Abroad in Israel)
- (age 20-21) The Early YU Years, or End of Innocence
- (age 21-23) A Brief Interlude: From Yeshiva Boy to Unemployed Loadie
- (age 23-25) The Year I was Really Born: Early Starbucks Years
- (age 25-28) Finishing College and Middle Starbucks Years
- (age 28-30) Moratorium:  Out of College and Getting Nowhere
- (age 30-33) Graduate School and Late Starbucks Years

And so, begins my actual transition into adulthood,

- (age 34-present) Teaching and Making a Mark

After years of peaks and valleys, strikes and gutterballs, and plenty of in-between, I finally have entered a world where I am doing something career oriented.  It took me many years of soul searching, bad decisions, and plenty of battles with depression and bad relationships that I can finally say that I have a) experience as a teacher and b) a serious relationship with another human being.

The latter, I haven't fully addressed much.  I have in my draft folder plenty of slightly erotic posts in which I describe how we got together.  I think I shall in the near future devote a post on how we actually met.  We've been close friends for over 8 years now.  But until last summer, it was a Three's Company type thing (except we weren't lying to Mr. Furley or Mr. Roper about my sexual orientation).  The transition was smoother than I thought it would be.  It's kind of like for years we were ready for it, but we were waiting for the opportune moment to come out to each other.  But this shall be addressed in another post.

Teaching.  Nobody goes into this field because it is easy.  I've always loved a challenge.  But only if the challenge is one with attainable goals.  In order to get here, I've had to work plenty of bad jobs.  Thankfully, few of them were minimum-wage McJobs.  People ask how teaching compares to years of working at Starbucks.  I like it better because I am making a bigger impact on the world.  But working in Starbucks for years definitely shaped the way I approach pedagogy in a major way.

For one thing, I have learned how to deal with high-pressure situations.  The store I worked at was extremely high-volume, and there was never a shortage of drama.  Sure, I may not have been model employee all the time, but I was reminded of what a good experience it was when I was invited to the holiday party.  And the way everyone looked happy to see me even though I was no longer with the company.  I made a point of telling many people that Starbucks did save my life.  When I first got that job, I was at the end of my rope.  It was there when I needed it.  I may have held onto it longer than I needed to.  But it saved my life, and I am grateful for that.

Growing up in an upper-middle class suburban Jewish household, I did not get a very good education in the school-of-hard-knocks.  If I became a teacher without having worked at Starbucks, I would not be able to relate to my students as it stands now.  I would probably still have many of the prejudices against minorities that I was raised with.  The combination of City College and Starbucks opened my mind to the way people from other cultures behave.  I know, I still carry myself like a sheltered "white guy" sometimes.  This does cause plenty of people to raise their eyebrows when they see me.  And sometimes when I visit my friends in less-savory neighborhoods, they think that because I'm a White person walking down their streets, I am either a) a cop, b) crazy, or c) both.  But now, I am a citizen of the world who is only lacking experience in traveling.

And so, my friends, I bid you all a Happy New Years.  Be Safe.  Be Happy.  Don't make any stupid resolutions you can't keep.  And don't lick the yellow snow.