## Thursday, March 15, 2012

### Waiting for Gratitude: a reflection on pink slip day (or, Beware the Ides of March)

I got my pink slip early this year, and I'm finding that waiting for gratitude is a bit like waiting for Godot. But my dharma practice teaches me that waiting is just another word for trying to find a doctor's note that will excuse me from this human experience of groundlessness.

So as long as I keep waking up early anyway, I've been getting my butt out of bed and onto the couch to do writing practice on how this particular episode of groundlessness really feels -- trying to capture on the page what I am experiencing as I keep running out of runway.

Wile E. Coyote is my patron saint of groundlessness. I keep an enameled pendant depicting him hanging over my desk. He is nose-down, hanging by his left foot, having chased the Road Runner over the cliff yet again.

Like me, he really ought to know better, but he is a slow study. Like me, each time it happens, he looks out at the camera and blinks twice, before he crashes to the canyon bottom.

The hardest part of today was the fact that my students remained so bloody happy to see me and to spend time with me. My Algebra students wanted to wrestle with factoring nonmonic quadratic trinomials, while my English students wanted to brainstorm on their "Product of the Future" ideas for our science fiction unit. Being eighth-graders, most of their ideas for outstanding products of the future revolved around bathroom components, clothing/shoe/makeup accessories, or variations on teleporting devices.

My only product idea was for a Recess-Extender -- one that would stop time and allow me to take a nap during recess after I bolt my yogurt.

The best part of today was doing math with students -- finding patterns as we factored nonmonic quadratic trinomials, and saying "nonmonic quadratic trinomials." They love the words of mathematics, as much as the language of algebra. Anything they can use to stun their parents at the dinner table is a good day's work.

At the end of class in English (as we were cleaning up from the product of the future brainstorming), two of my 8th-graders who are in Geometry asked me about a problem they were struggling with. For about three minutes, I lost myself in the Pythagorean Theorem and in wondering how -- or whether -- we could prove that the area of the black region of a hexagon was equal to the white region of the hexagon.

This led to a quick discussion about equality, equivalence, and proof. And that made me feel sad as I remembered that I had just been laid off.