This summer! This school year!

School starts for me this week! (Here is your reminder that most public schools require 180 school days, so if you started earlier than me you most likely also get out earlier. Also if you start school later in September you will also get out later. Chances are we teach the same amount of days. Don’t yell at me. Or if you do yell at me just hug me afterwards, like a soccer coach.)

Guess what? I did hardly ANYTHING from my summer to-do list I posted in June.

I threw no axes.

I took no cheese classes.

My dog is still jumping on people.

And yet, I still feel like I accomplished every-dang-thing I set out to do.

Here’s what I did do:

1. I read the following books:

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: LOVED. Five stars.
  • Calypso by David Sedaris: A BILLION STARS. His best, in my opinion. (If you’re not a fan of weird/dark humor, i.e. if the idea of someone feeding their own tumor to a snapping turtle is not funny to you, skip this one.)

        Still working on Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. Whoops.

2. Made the following recipes from actual cookbooks:


The Black Sabbath from Cookie Love: Four stars but only because it was a ton of steps and I hate dishes. Five stars for taste, though. It’s basically chocolate shortbread with peppermint frosting in between, and it was better than any Oreo you could ever imagine.

Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup from Cravings: Four stars. Five after I added jalapeno juice and lime juice.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps from Cravings: Seven stars. Delicious.

Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice from Cravings: One hundred stars. I want to put this stuff over (or under) everything.

These oatmeal cream pies: One thousand stars. (They were from the Internet, but that’s only because none of my cookbooks had oatmeal cream pies and I needed them.)

Birthday Cake from Momofuku Milk Bar: Four stars. Also because dishes. Also I changed some things including the frosting. Also the torso in the picture is my big brother!

Compost Cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar: N/A stars because I ruined these. The dough was delicious, though.

3. Started a gratitude journal AND a favorite poems journal

Look at them! Aren’t they cute?! I got them both on sale for twelve cents UNDER a twenty dollar gift card I got to a fancy store. AND WHEN I BOUGHT THEM THE CASHIER INEXPLICABLY GAVE ME A HUGE BAG OF GOURMET GUMMIES FOR FREE. It was a very good day.

4. Made big, vaulting leaps on my Secret Project


6. Swam in a pool about a hundred times


8. Started Grey’s Anatomy and then abandoned it because I realized it was making me think that the slightest pain in my ankle was an embolism or that a tiny razor cut would give me sepsis.


9. Had a completely delightful SURPRISE BACK-TO-SCHOOL PARTY thrown for me

There was margaritas and guacamole and gifts of wine and ibuprofen, reminding me again that there needs to be a Appreciation Day for Non-Teachers Who Appreciate Teachers.

And when I wasn’t doing that, I worked on curriculum for school, went to two different doctors, got my car registered/inspected/fixed, met with a financial advisor, opened the mail that’s been collecting for six months, and all the other things a lot of people don’t realize happen in a teacher’s summer.

I just need to say it again: I am so, so excited about this school year. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my journey as a teacher: times as a new teacher I felt like I genuinely could not get out of bed I was so sad, the times I would be convinced I was on an upward slope only to be knocked down again, and those golden moments I’ve experienced throughout my teaching that have pierced my heart with beauty. It hasn’t been a solid line graph getting easier—way more like a scatter plot (math teachers, did I do that right?). I seriously doubt that this gig will ever be “easy,” but I’m so grateful to be in a place and a mindset where I feel effective, valued, and able to take care of myself. If you’re not there now, know that it’s possible. It gets worse sometimes, but the getting worse is always followed by getting better. Always.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, for being my constant reminder that whether teaching feels like it will break my heart or whether it feels like my heart will break open with loveliness, I am not alone.

What did you do this summer?