Friday, August 27, 2010


I've tried to post a few times over the last couple of days but a couple of sentences in I find myself stopping and saying to myself, "There really isn't anything that interesting to write about." Then I delete, delete, delete, close the page, and think I'll give it a shot in another day or two.

Well, life isn't always interesting (not boring, just not so interesting), so if I let that stop me, I will very rarely post. So, here is a relatively short post on some relatively uninteresting tidbits and some somewhat more interesting things to come.

Today marks the end of my second school week at school and -- other than already having picked up some sort of cold that the 3K class is passing around -- things have been going very well. If I had my way, of course, I would have my own classroom and be neck-deep in lesson-planning, grading, etc., etc. But obviously that's not the case and since I tried to make it the case, apparently it was not meant to be this year, so I am very grateful to have what I do: a small but steady stream of hours in a great school with some great people. My 3, 4, & 5 year olds are pretty darn cute, although as much as they tire me out in the 3 hours that I am with them each day, I can't imagine having them all day like the 3K, 4K, and kindergarten teachers! My favorite (I know, I know, you're not supposed to have favorites, but come on, everyone does) is a 3 year-old who couldn't quite pronounce "Ms. Stacey" the first few times she tried, so it came out, "Ms. Tasty" and she got such a kick out of that that I have now become "Ms. Tasty" in her eyes. Three year-old humor amazes me. Especially with this little one... What a smarty! She's fluent in two languages and can switch back and forth in them with ease.

And, as promised when I took the afterschool program job, the sub jobs are already being lined up for me, which makes me happy. I have a couple of days lined up in early September and then a stint from Sept. 22nd through Oct. 12th teaching P.E. at the lower school while the teacher is out for surgery.

Things are going well for Gearry at work, although he is very ready for this quarter to be over (mid-Sept.) as picking up those extra two classes has been quite a bit to handle. There's a big difference in 9 am -6 pm each day versus 9 am - 10 pm. Even though it's only technically four extra hours a day, it means no evenings at home, additional hours of planning and grading, and having to teach two five-hour labs back-to-back. That would be a lot for anybody and so, as amazing as Gearry is, mid-September will be a big relief. We just keep reminding ourselves that it's giving us a bunch of extra money to stick in the bank toward our future house.

Speaking of house, Gearry and I sat down last weekend, went over our budget, talked for a long time about what we want, what we need, etc., etc., and finally came to the decision to extend our lease here in the guest house for a year total from when Gearry moved in, so until July 1st, 2011. Initially we signed our lease only through the end of October, hoping that our condo in Indiana would sell and we would be able to buy a home here. However, the condo has still not moved and with paying expenses for two residences, it would be a stretch to buy the kind of house that we want right now (not to mention a little scary carrying two mortgages). So, we decided to definitely hold off on buying for a little while until the condo sells and we can get our usual stream of money flowing into savings for a down-payment. We also decided after visiting some nice apartment complexes and going back and forth on signing a year lease for an apartment versus staying here that it made way much more sense to stay here. Although we could afford a pretty nice apartment on the island, why not stay here and be able to put a little bit extra in the bank each month, as well as avoid having to endure the physical and monetary aspects of moving? The downside, of course, is only having one bedroom, so there will likely be a couch or air mattress involved for visitors before July of 2011. But we love this neighborhood (gorgeous, waterfront, safe) and the space works fine for the two of us (with the help of a storage unit across town, of course) so we'll make it work. It will all be worth it when our condo hopefully sells and we find ourselves in our very own home next year.

Gearry is determined to start biking with me, so we ordered a road bike him a couple of weeks ago. It arrived just as promised, but the shifting system was not at all what we had wanted, with shifters on the tube instead of on the handle bars (I knew there had to be a catch for only $300), so we sent it back (losing $80 in shipping costs in the process... ugg) and ponied up a bit (lot) more for a different bike that we made sure had the right shifters beforehand. It was shipped out yesterday and is on its way, set to arrive at the beginning of next week. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it makes it on time because next weekend we are set to do the Savannah Bicycle Campaign's Midnight Garden Ride in the historic district. Despite the name, the ride actually begins at 8:00 p.m., and is a relaxed, family-friendly, nighttime 12-mile jaunt through historic downtown. It should be a really interesting way to see the sights in a different way.

The next morning is the Savannah Century, which, also despite it's name, can be of length anywhere from 25 to 103 miles. I think I am going to do somewhere in the 40-50 mile range, as I haven't been riding a ton and as I'm doing it by myself (I can only entertain myself for so long). That day is also the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so after the ride in the morning, we're planning to spend the afternoon and evening out at Tybee, where the Landsharks (a fun band that does a lot of Jimmy Buffet-style stuff) are playing at the beach pavillion in the evening. A little seaside music and dancing sounds like a great way to send off the summer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sometimes it is amazing what can happen when you step out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone is a very comfy place indeed and I am totally fine there 99.9% of the time. But in such a comfy place it's easy to forget that sometimes stepping out just a little bit can produce great results. Hence this past Thursday when I decided to stop being a big baby and do something I NEVER like to do... ASK people for something. In this case, for a job. Tired of sending 5 million electronic (how everything is done now) applications for teaching jobs to no avail, I put on a nice outfit, did my hair and make-up, grabbed my stack of freshly-printed resumes, and headed out the door, bound for the list of private schools in the area that I had researched. My research had turned up the fact that there were NO JOBS AVAILABLE (ugh, economy, I hate you) but I decided that it would never hurt to ask... For subbing, for an assistant position, for anything. First stop was St. Andrew's School, a very prestigious private Pre-K to 12 school here on Wilmington Island. It was also my last stop, as they were impressed with my resume and definitely wanted me to substitute as much as possible and, amazingly, I ran into the headmaster in the office and she wanted to interview me for an after school teaching position. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it was an excellent opportunity to get a foot in the door, and I was a little surprised that it had taken so little effort to get things rolling. I interviewed on Friday and was still a little unsure about the position, as it involves working with much younger kids than I am used to (3, 4, & 5 year olds) and more care than actual teaching (their poor little brains are pretty much fried by the time 3:00 rolls around) and you don't even teach a teaching license for the position, but I thought long and hard about it over the weekend and realized that you can't have it all, all of the time. That would be nice, but sometimes we need to take the little opportunities that present themselves as doorways to bigger opportunities. Or maybe not so much doorways as cracked windows.

I have been dealing with a feeling of purposelessness throughout this moving-and-job-hunting process, knowing that subbing was not going to help much with that because of its infrequency and unpredictable nature. I really needed, for my own mental well-being, something guaranteed every day; something to look forward to (or even perhaps not look forward to on some days). And I wanted to be a part of a great school. So, therefore, I decided to accept the position when the headmaster called yesterday to offer it to me. It's only three hours a day (3:00 to 6:00), but will be supplemented with subbing whenever possible, and, like I said, will give me that "something" each day that I need.

In other news, life is generally good. Our only disappointment so far in the whole starting-a-new-chapter-of-our-lives thing is that due to an emergency surgery for one of their adjunct instructors in the Culinary Institute, Gearry ended up picking up two extra classes this quarter. So, instead of getting off at 6:00 p.m. every night as originally planned, he now gets home somewhere between 9:00 and 10:30. Unlike when he was at the resort, however, he actually gets paid (and paid well) for this extra time, even though he is salaried. He has *gasp* a good employer -- the State of Georgia. So, it kind of stinks that we are not getting to see each other as much as expected but it's giving us the opportunity to put a bunch of extra money back toward our house down-payment fund and it's only for another month. When the next quarter starts in mid-September, he'll be done at 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:00 a.m. on Friday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Things I Learned on My First Low Country Bike Ride

I've been a Georgia resident for a little over a week now and while that is not much time in the whole scheme of life, I decided it was enough time to consider myself somewhat "settled" and therefore time to start to get back to some of my regular routines, including training.  I had been itching to get out on the Blue Beast (my bike) and explore a little bit, so I actually managed to drag myself out of bed bright and early, slap on some spandex, and take a little 15-mile jaunt around the islands. Like everything when you move to a completely new place, it was a learning experience. Here, in no particular order of importance, is what I learned on my bike ride:

1. LOW COUNTRY MEANS FLAT COUNTRY. I mean, looking around it is very obvious that the terrain is super flat here, but you don't really realize how much so until you go for a ride, especially if you're used to riding in a place like Southern Indiana, where there is pretty much no such thing as flat terrain. I literally encountered three hills today on my ride, and they were all going up man-made bridges over the intracoastal waterway, rivers, and marshland. It's kind of fun because you can ride a lot faster with a lot less effort than it takes in hilly terrain, but if I ever go for a ride back up north it is going to kick my butt!

2. THIS PLACE IS GORGEOUS. I already knew that. Duh. But seeing some of the backroads today on the islands with all the huge, waterfront homes and the intricate maze of docks stretching out through the marsh into the water and the mossy oaks that drape so far over the roads that they create a tunnel-like effect was impressive. For a water person like myself, there is something very peaceful and awe-inspiring about not being able to ride more than a couple minutes in any direction and not run into some sort of body of water.

3. BIKE PATHS MAY END SUDDENLY. While the bike path on the islands is fantastically convenient, especially the one that follows along the Islands Expressway all the way through Wilmington and Whitemarsh Islands, it has a tendency to stop  and merge onto the highway without warning. Therefore, if you don't keep your eyes open, you may suddenly find yourself biking directly ON the Islands Expressway with all the cars headed out to Tybee. Not that I did that or anything... Whoops...

4. I NEED TO KEEP DOING TRIATHLONS. Or half marathons. Or something that involves trying to meet physical challenges. I have to feed the competitive beast that lives inside of me, or I do crazy things. For instance, as I was prepared to turn onto our road to go home at the end of my ride today, I saw another biker further down the path in front of me. What do I do? Well, obviously, I change my plans and high tail it after the biker, determined to catch up with him just to know/show that I could. I got close, but he was hauling it and, after he turned into a neighborhood, I lost him. Next time, mystery biker, next time.

5. NOT EVERY STICK IN THE WATER IS AN ALLIGATOR. Although thinking every stick in the water is an alligator is great motivation to ride fast.

There will be many more bike rides and, therefore, many more lessons in the near future, I'm sure. It hit me yesterday pretty hard that I have NO FRIENDS here other than Gearry, and without a job it's hard to meet people. Gearry has been encouraging me to join the local bicycle club (Coastal Touring Bicycle Club) as a way to get to bike with others and meet other like-minded folks, which is a great idea. They do group rides every week. A local bicycle shop also hosts 30-mile group rides every Saturday starting at Chippewa Square in the historic district, so I just may hook up with one of the groups this weekend and give it a try.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8 Things I Have Learned

Just got back from driving my parents to the Savannah-Hilton Head Airport for their flight home. It seems a little surreal that they'll be 750 miles away, for more than a week, for the first time in my life. Then again, there isn't a lot about the last couple of months that doesn't seem a little surreal. Gearry landing this amazing and coveted position, in one of the few places that we always said we'd move if we got the chance. The two of us feeling confident enough to say "yes" to it. A month-long separation. Physically moving all of our belongings halfway across the country. Walking around this beautiful historic city and meandering along the beach and reminding yourself/realizing, "Crap... We're not on vacation."

I've been in Savannah for about 3.5 days and much of it has been spent organizing our house (still not done), so I have a ton to learn about this city. However, there are a few things that I have learned so far:

1. The island we are living on -- Talahi Island -- is pronounced TA-LAY-HE, not TAL-A-HI or TAL-AH-HE or any of the other ways we pronounced it in the months before our move. Gearry's students helped him out with some of the local pronounciations ;) In similar news, the island next door -- Whitemarsh Island -- where we do a lot of our shopping is pronounced WHIT-MARSH, like "whit" instead of the color "white."

2. Savannah has only one full-fledged, all-out vegetarian restaurant, but it is so, so good. The Sentient Bean, located on the south boundary of Forsyth Park (think a slightly smaller version of New York's Central Park) downtown reminds me a lot of Soma or Roots or Laughing Planet or some other equally kitschy place in Bloomington. It feeds my preppy-hippie soul (and tummy). Yesterday I had a panini made with BBQ tofu, cheddar, coleslaw, and carmelized onions. SO good. They have tables outside overlooking the park and I am looking forward to spending some long afternoons there with a book and/or my laptop. While The Bean is the only full-vegetarian restaurant that I am aware of, a lot of the restaurants downtown have a variety of vegetarian options since there is a large vegetarian population within the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) population.

3. We are in jellyfish season because of the hot water. Standing on the pier looking down into the ocean, you can see jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish, everywhere you look. Not just one or two, but dozens within immediate eyesight, flitting about creepily. The beach patrol has warning flags out for dangerous marine life. There were plenty of people still in the water, but that's because they probably hadn't walked out to the pier first. They're having a lot of stinging incidents and so, as much as I LOVE the water, we'll see if I talk myself into getting in anytime soon ;) My sweet boogie board is calling my name though...

4. Not everyone sounds like Paula Deen. In fact, very few do in the city, thank goodness. I thought the accents were going to be overbearing, but in most people they are only slightly detectable.

5. Like Bloomington, biking is encouraged here. There is a really nice bike trail that follows the Islands Expressway all the way through Whitemarsh, Talahi, and Wilmington Islands, almost all the way out to Tybee Island. There are lots of bike paths downtown as well. I'm looking forward to hopping back in the saddle once I've got things settled here and doing some two-wheeled exploring.

6. There is only one Jimmy John's in the entirety of Savannah. For those of you who know about my addiction, this makes me a little sad. However, the one location is only about 15 min. from my house, in the heart of the historic district on one of the little square parks, so it will make a nice little excursion from time to time when I need my fix.

7. A shopping cart is called a buggy?? I'm not sure if everyone says this, but I've heard it twice already since I've been here, so I'm curious.

8. Lifeguarding this summer should have been called Introduction to Georgia Heat 101, because -- really -- the heat and humidity here hasn't been much different. It's HOT and HUMID, but not any different than what I dealt with for several weeks this summer at camp.