15 5 / 2013
In about three weeks, I’ll make my third major move since college. I’ve been getting by on just leaving boxes in my parents’ garage “for later” which we all know means “never,” but now I feel kind of bad about the giant boxes of art history books and extra dishtowels just hanging out in there taking up room. A good child would go through her stuff in her parents’ garage. A Perfect and Truly Thankful Child would host a yard sale. Not winning that award this year.
Every time I move, I think it all comes down to two major planning strategies:
1. Sell it.
2. Burn it.
And I don’t think I’m in the mood for selling.
14 5 / 2013
"I got two eyes and two arms. I ain’t a octopus, people!"
13 5 / 2013
First of all, take a deep breath. You’ve been hyperventilating a lot lately and chewing pepto bismal tablets like it’s the last food on Earth. You’re worrying a lot about this Art History thing. In fact, some one is going to tell you that this whole Art History thing is like trying to write with your left hand. You can do it, sure, but it’s going to be more uncomfortable and require a lot more exertion on your part to do it because it isn’t what comes most naturally to you. You eventually find something that will feel more right-handed than anything you’ve ever done.
Want to have your mind blown, 22 year old? In a few years you will get a dream job you do not even know exists yet. Some interview processes will feel kind of long, so long, in fact, that you will start to feel like a contestant on The Bachelor trapped in a never ending final rose ceremony. No crying in the limo for you, though! (No, you don’t start watching the Bachelor at any point, this is just an analogy that works here.) Quit checking your inbox every five minutes. You’re doing it now because you are scared there will be an email from a professor saying “Do it over.” Later, you will incessantly check hoping for news on that application you put in. You’ll drive yourself a little crazy with this bad habit.
What I’m trying to say is, hang in there, kid. It’s going to be fine.
Ps. Go to the beach more while you can. It won’t always be 20 minutes and one bridge away. Also, reading about minority abstract expressionist painters is way more fun when you’re digging your toes in the sand while getting it done.
20 4 / 2013
I painted pottery this afternoon by myself. Crafting is not my thing because there are so many options for what I could have done with those few hours of my life and crafting never seems like the best one. But, it is about the only time I get close to what some people refer to as “thinking about nothing.”
I fell into conversation with a girl at my table, quietly doing her own thing by herself. I’m always happy to see a seemingly well-adjusted girl that knows she doesn’t have to travel in a pack to have fun. It’s a skill that will get you pretty far, kids.
We talked about college. She has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks as a senior in high school. She asked for my advice. HA HA HA, oh sweet heart, we haven’t met! Hi, I’m the girl that got a bachelor’s and HALF A MASTERS, YA’LL in Art History and I now teach 2nd grade. So, yeah. Let’s chat away.
“People keep telling me ‘do what you love,’” she said.
“Yeah, except that’s the least helpful advice anyone can give you. It’s not constructive,” I told her.
“Here’s my best advice: go to a school where you can not only have a lot of opportunities, but you also have a pretty decent shot of getting involved in those opportunities.
Also, try your best to get a degree that will help you pay back loans. Shelling out 60K a year at a top tier school only to eek out a living as an under-paid social worker is not going to be very fun. It will make you very poor*.
Of course, you may never use your Bachelor’s at all. That’s totally cool these days.”
And then I apologized for giving advice, but she kindly reminded me that she was the one who asked for it.
Four years post undergrad and I actually have something constructive to share, you guys. I’m about as surprised as you are.
ps. The girl spoke confidently about her feelings on charter schools and school choice and then I wanted to hug her really really hard for being so smart and articulate as a 17 year old but thought it might be inappropriate.
*I use that term loosely, yet respectfully. Not actually referring to the literal poverty line.
18 4 / 2013
7 year old 1: Ms. Begnaud, you know Usher?
7 year old 2: Yeah, I love Usher! You know about him?
Me: Yes, of course I know about Usher. His song “My Way” was totally awesome in the 90s.
Me: Baby, I knew about Usher long before you were BORN.
12 4 / 2013
11 4 / 2013
One of my favorite scenes from Mad Men last season (SPOILER) was the moment when Peggy quits SCDP. She nervously walks in to Don’s office, the guy that gave her a chance and practically everything, and with her hands shaking, thanks him for it all but explains it’s time to go. If Mad Men is not your thing, just go with me here and know that if you have a soul at all the scene will make you get all feeling-ish.
I had that moment a few months ago. Unfortunately my moment involved no fancy drinks, no incredible 50s shift dress, and no Jon Hamm in sight. But, you guys, it was kinda-sorta-maybe-just-a-little the same.
What feels like a million months ago, I applied for a dream job, one I was sure was a shot in the dark for me. Some pretty awesome things happened shortly after I applied. I ended up accepting a position that four years ago, I didn’t even know would exist or even interest me. And now? Now I love this position so much I go about my business the majority of the time and then I suddenly remember that I got the job and it makes me completely freak out in the coffee aisle at Kroger so much that I have fight the urge to turn to someone and say, “Hi, sweet old lady! Guess what? I HAVE MY DREAM JOB, YO. WHAT YOU GOT???”
Needless to say, I’m excited.
But then. Oh then. I had to tell my boss that I’m quitting. The most fun thing about this blog is that about this time of year, I get some good search hits from “What to do after undergrad?” Which is not helpful to them that they end up here, but welcome!
Here’s something you might have to do after your undergrad experience: claw your way through a public school hiring system, email 32 principals, be contacted by only one, take a position, fall in love with your position, thank God and all the forces of nature that your boss is so supportive, and then OH THEN! You will have to walk into that nice boss’s office not even one year after you walked into it the very first time to say, “I am moving to get married. I can’t come back next year.” And your heart might break just a little.
This year, I learned how to professionally, graciously, and respectfully leave a job I love, which I realize now is almost as valuable as knowing how to get one.
22 3 / 2013
When I took a teaching job in Little Rock last fall, a friend gave me the most helpful advice. I received lots of helpful advice, yes, but this piece seems to come up nearly every day. Let me say first, that my school serves a low-income, predominately minority neighborhood. My friend said that there’s this thing that happens with these kids that not many people tell you about: they get deeply attached to the strangest little objects. Examples from my classroom alone- a glove (not a pair, but just one), a pencil that smells like blueberries, vampire teeth, a broken off acrylic nail from an older female family member, a rubber band, one specific highlighter. Now I can speculate and theorize all the reasons why children like mine have these kinds of attachments, but that’s not really my point. What is important is knowing and being prepared for the moment when a kid loses this object (it’s not an if, it’s a when…because…they’re kids you know) even the biggest, toughest, most shut-down kid is going to fall apart like a two year old and there is nothing that’s going to make it better.
My birthday was last Friday and my kids went all-out. They sang to me, brought me a Butterfinger, and candy, and more chocolate, and handmade cards that said “It’s YOU TIME” and “Happy birthday and have a good life!” but I also had a kid to dig around in his pocket really early in the morning, way before school even started and hand me something really really tiny.
“I got you something. I found it on the beach….I found it for you. For your birthday.”
You guys. That’s a dead snail shell colored with a green marker. And I’d bet my health insurance that kid has never seen the beach.
But he gave it to me. I’m not one to keep a lot of things (moving helps you whittle stuff down a good bit), but I wish I wish I wish there was a way that I could not lose this dead snail shell.
28 2 / 2013
Student 1: Ms. Begnaud, I fell in some mud. There’s mud in my pants.
Student 2: Ms. Begnaud, I dropped my jacket in the mud! It’s dripping everywhere!
Student 3: I stepped in mud today, and it got all up in my shoe.
Me: What the heck where you guys doing out there?!
Student 1: Ms. Begnaud… we just had bad luck today. REAL bad luck.
21 2 / 2013
Me: I’m handing this back to you because you answered the question “Why do you think that?” with “Yes.” You’re missing part of that answer. I need something more specific from you.
Kid: Ohhhhh! Ok.
Kid comes back a few minutes later and instead of “Yes” he had written “Yes ma’am”.
11 2 / 2013
Comparing you to Tampa is just not fair. Your flights in and out are more expensive, you don’t have a Taco Bus or IKEA, and…well… the beach. But, dear sweet Little Rock, your yoga studios don’t scare me and fellow classmates wear far more clothing than the ever-confident and gorgeously-toned-and-tan Floridians.
And for that, I thank you.
Also, your people are just plain nice. 10 points for you!
31 1 / 2013
For those of you that had to be around me last summer during the Olympics, bless you. I know I am annoying. I freely admit that I shed approximately 10,000 tears watching women’s gymnastics. I was not an awesome gymnast as a kid, but I was so inspired by the Magnificent 7. I remember being glued to the tv to see if Kerri Strugg could stick that second vault. I can vividly remember watching her being carried by Bela Karoli. It was a big deal for me, and watching the Olympics remains as one of my favorite family memories (mushy mushy).
I carry a lot of these “big deal” moments with me when I teach, and I try to provide these moments for my kids. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not so much. So we spent a few minutes watching videos about Gabby Douglas this morning. My kids thought she was awesome and most of them had no idea gymnastics was a real thing. I was having my own awesome-in-my-head experience in which I felt like I was giving them my same “Kerri Strugg” moment.
“So, Ms. Begnaud, when you did gymnastics as a little girl Gabby Douglas wasn’t even born yet?”
“WE’RE DONE HERE, KIDS. GO BACK TO YOUR SEATS.”
What is it about 7 year olds and their abilities to make 25 feel absolutely ancient?