Chapter 4: Island Goggles

Just because I'm white doesn't mean I look like every other white person alive. Just because I'm white doesn't mean I'm related to every other white person who lives in Guam. And just because I'm white doesn't mean I can't dance...on second thought...
Anyway, that's not my point.

My physical appearance is somewhat of an oddity here in Guam. I'm taller than about 80% of the student population at my school, some students can't fathom why I'm so white if I'm from a hot place, and many have told me I look like Taylor Swift.

Which leads me to wonder if they even know who Taylor Swift is.

This is Taylor Swift.

This is me.

I get that we're both tall and have long hair, but the similarities end there. While I'm flattered they chose Taylor Swift to be my celebrity look alike, I think they have lived on an island too long and suffer from *Island Goggle Syndrome.

I have more proof.

One day Baldo covered a news story at my school and was seen by a few of my students. Later in class said students asked if the guy with the microphone was my husband. Upon confirming their suspicions they then told me that he looked like Tony Hawk. Other students in the class agreed with this statement which also leads me to wonder if they know who Tony Hawk is.

This is Tony Hawk.

This is Baldo.

Besides the fact that they are both male I don't see many resemblances between the two. These mismatched comparisons are sure indicators of IGS. Researchers are still scrambling to find a cure to stop this insanity.

*Island Goggle Syndrome: a condition impairing the brain's ability to successfully distinguish physical features of persons not native to one's island.


Don't Hate Me...

But we live in heaven.

We finally made it to Ritidian Point this weekend for some bright rays and relaxation. The second my feet touched the sand I looked around and asked myself, "Ritidian, where have you been all my life?"

That day the fates blessed us with a slight breeze in the air, occasional cloud coverage and water that was cool to the touch. Uh-maz-ing.

Our beach set up rocks.

And so did our lunch.
Holla' at your Spicy Italian! (and your Spicy Mexican!)

This picture is for the view of the beach.

And this one is for the glasses. Again...don't hate me because I have sweet shades.

We snorkeled for the first time, too. Is it weird that I sang Little Mermaid songs to the cute fishies I saw? Too bad I didn't have a waterproof camera to document the underwater coral city we explored. I guess you'll just have to come visit so I can take you myself.

If I've said it once, I'll say it again: don't hate me because it's almost November and I'm lazily lounging on the beach. At least you get to wear cute sweaters and scarves.

The best moment of the day came as we were packing to leave and I realized we weren't on vacation; we live here, and I can come back and visit my little fishy friends and dawdle with my feet in the surf as often as I wish.

You should come sometime, too.


Gonna Catch Me Ridin' Dirty

This is what happens when you live on an island. Don't judge me; it's my life.

I do what I want.


Teach: Lauren Besich

If you haven't seen, A&E has a new series documenting Tony Danza's first year as an English teacher in a Philadelphia high school.

If you didn't know, I am an English teacher, so naturally I have my DVR set to record every episode.

I'm still deciding if I love or hate this show. Let me give you some background on what's been going on.

Three weeks ago I started teaching 10th grade English at a local high school (shout out to my s-n-l, Bekka). This was my second time taking over someone else's teaching job, and if you never heard my stories, the first time was no walk in the park. Three weeks ago I was scared, nervous, and expecting the worse, but I was met with kind, respectful, and awesome students.

That honeymoon period, however, has ended.

Defiance, apathy, and dishonesty become my daily battles and at the end of the day I wonder if it's worth fighting. I wonder if this is what I want to wake up to for the next 30 years. I wonder if I'm cut out for this. I wonder if I made the wrong career choice.

This is why I haven't decided if I love Teach, or if I hate it. I often find myself wincing when I watch the show...not because of Tony, but because watching brings back bad memories I desperately want to forget.

things that make me wince

1. Monte (student)- always complaining he's not challenged enough and every episode asserts that he doesn't want "Mr. Danza to get in the way of his education." Do us a favor, Monte, don't talk so close to the camera and sign up for an honors class. It's not Mr. Danza's fault that he has students with a reading level 5 grades lower than yours in the same class.

2. Ms. DeNaples (asst. principal)- could she have made Tony feel like a bigger idiot on the first day when he didn't sign in when he got to work? Ease up, lady...

3. The first-year-teacher ignorance no first year teacher is immune from. It sucks.

4. The Resource room (SPED testing/work room) incident. I'm going to leave it at that because I don't want to say the wrong thing and offend someone.

5. When Paige (student) walked out on Tony when he was talking to her. That's happened to me twice in the last two weeks...with the same kid.

6. Charmaine (student) asking Tony if he was nervous, then telling him he should probably wear and undershirt so he doesn't get sweat stains. Some people's kids...

7. When Tony comes to the realization that his students aren't doing their work at home. Talk about a kick in the you-know-where.

8. When Monte (student) corrects Tony in front of the whole class. Been there, done that. Sigh...

9. Every time Tony is summoned to the principal's office. Dun dun duuuuunnnnnnn.

10. Every time Tony cries.

things I love

1. Every time Tony cries.

2. When Ms. McCloskey (asst. principal) tells him it's ok to cry because everyone does it at one point.

3. Tony has a student named Algernon. Have you ever read Flowers for Algernon? If you haven't, please do.

4. Tony's enthusiasm and dedication...even when things are tough.

5. Ben a.k.a. Kyle and Howard a.k.a. Frankie.

6. "This is an emotional profession." Agreed.

7. Tony teaches 10th grade English and so do I.

8. Tony is always wearing a blue shirt.

9. "Those who care, teach."

10. Tony Danza, a famous actor, knows what I go through.

I love Teach because it assures me I am not alone in my struggles, but I hate it because it reminds me of those struggles. I wish I could call him up on the phone and discuss our triumphs, failures, hopes and disappointments. We could lesson plan and bounce ideas off one another. We could motivate the other to "keep on swimming."

I'm not one to quit at first sign of trouble. I've endured before, and I can endure again. I'm thankful for the attributes I develop and improve every year I teach. My all-time favorite quote by Benjamin Cardozo never fails to recharge my batteries:

"In the end, the great truth will have been learned, that the quest is greater than what is sought, the effort finer than the prize, or rather, the effort is the prize, the victory cheap and hollow were it not for the rigor of the game."