Saturday Night Serenade–Down at the Twist and Shout

Hello, August!
It’s the middle of summer, but I always used to dread August, because that means Back-to-School.  But now, while my teacher friends are gearing up for battle, I’m ready to release my 9th book, and I’m 25k words into the next one.  There’s enormous freedom in giving up a steady paycheck for a career that nourishes your soul.

So this Saturday finds me feeling light and happy.  I’ve pulled up an older song that makes me feel the same way.  Mary Chapin Carpenter released Down at the Twist and Shout in 1991, and it won a Grammy the following year.  It just makes me want to go to a country bar and two-step all night.

Look closely–she’s backed up by members of traditional Louisiana cajun/zydeco band BeauSoleil.  I saw them perform once in downtown West Palm Beach as part of a free outdoor concert series, Sundays at the Meyer.  Then-Mayor of WPB (now US Congresswoman) Lois Frankel went through the crowd handing out chocolate chip cookies, which is the part my kids most remember.

I’m tucking in a little BeauSoleil just for fun.

I hope you’re having a relaxing summer weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #9

Happy August, everyone!  This summer is just moving on along, isn’t it?  I’m feeling pretty happy right now, I’ll just be honest with you.

This is the final summer weekend for all my teacher friends.  They have to show up on Monday, ready for another year.  My retirement officially starts Monday.

I know, I’ve been off all summer, but I would have been anyway.  In all fairness, though, since the end of school in June, I’ve been working seven days a week as I endeavor to make a go of full-time writing, so I didn’t actually take a break.  But I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I’m nearly finished with my new novel, and I know what my next project will be.

Tonight’s serenade is a romantic little song,  I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.  It isn’t a summer song per se, but it always feels summery to me.  Guanabanas, one of our favorite date night destinations, is a tropical paradise, an outdoor bar/restaurant on the river in Jupiter.  On their tiki stage, there’s usually a guy with an acoustic guitar singing Jason Mraz covers.  I love to order a Cat 5 hurricane along with a round of their homemade fish dip and just chill.

Feel free to do the same on this first weekend of August.  Be sure to hug those you love, and tell them how much they mean to you.  Happy Saturday night!

I’m Yours

Well, you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill, but you’re so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
Now I’m trying to get back

Before the cool done run out
I’ll be giving it my bestest
And nothing’s gonna stop me but divine intervention.
I reckon, it’s again my turn
To win some or learn some.

But I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m yours.

Well, open up your mind and see like me,
Open up your plans and damn you’re free.
Look into your heart and you’ll find love, love, love, love.
Listen to the music of the moment, people dance and sing, we’re just one big family
And it’s our God-forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved

So I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m sure.
There’s no need to complicate.
Our time is short.
This is our fate,
I’m yours.

Do you want to come on, scooch on over closer, dear
And I will nibble your ear

I’ve been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face and I laughed.

I guess what I’ll be saying is there ain’t no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons.
It’s what we aim to do.
Our name is our virtue.

But I won’t hesitate
No more, no more.
It cannot wait,
I’m yours.

Well, open up your mind and see like me,
Open up your plans and damn you’re free.
Look into your heart and you’ll find that the sky is yours.
So please don’t, please don’t, please don’t…
There’s no need to complicate.
‘Cause our time is short.
This oh, this oh, this is our fate.
I’m yours.

Oh, I’m yours
Oh, I’m yours
Oh, oh,
Baby, do you believe, I’m yours?
You best believe, you best believe, I’m yours.

Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #8

It’s the end of July.  Normally around this time, I’d be panicked thinking about going back to work.  My living room would be filled with piles of composition books, spiral notebooks, folders, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, and all the other back-to-school paraphernalia.

This year is different.  Since school ended in June, I’ve been working seven days a week on my new full-time career.  And loving every minute of it.  I don’t mind hard work when I believe in what I do and have the freedom to do it in the way it should be done.  Teaching hasn’t been that way for a long time.

Last school year was spectacularly bad, and more than half the staff of my school has found other positions.  A few, like me, have found new careers.  Since that’s the case and we’ve all gone our separate ways, I’m making it my mission to see that we all stay in touch, and to that end, my bestie Mo and I started a group on Facebook.  We call it a ‘book club’, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the code word we used last year when we needed to share ‘ears only’ information (told you it was a bad year), and it’s by invitation only.  The main purpose is to have a communication platform–we’re planning to get together for lunch once a month to stay in contact, keep up with everyone, and encourage each other in our new endeavors.

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Yesterday was our second meeting, and we had a blast.  We’ve decided that ‘our place’ is an outdoor bar on the Jupiter Inlet called Square Grouper.  The vibe is island casual, with sand for the floor and palm fronds for the ceiling, with a view of the Jupiter lighthouse across the inlet.  Oh, and did I mention that I’ve made it a setting in my new book, due out in September?  It’s a place to go when you need to decompress.  There’s nothing like the lull of the water and the gentle ocean breeze that lets you sit back and relax.

book club pano

Which is exactly what we did.  Before we left yesterday, we made plans for our August meeting.  I offered to change up the venue, but everyone wanted to come back to this little slice of paradise where it’s always 5:00.

And that brings me to tonight’s serenade, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.  It’s a great summer song.  It also happened to be shot here, at Square Grouper.  The video is old–the place has put in a few upgrades, but they’ve maintained the tranquil, island-time essence that brings everyone back.

Tonight, I’m grateful for good friends, cold drinks, a gentle summer breeze, and life in general.  I hope you’re well and enjoying your summer.  Be sure to hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

 

Saturday Night Serenade–I Feel Fine

Yesterday was a big day.  I hear there were some kind of goings-on in Washington, D.C.  I don’t know.  I took a bunch of six- and seven-year-olds to Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach.

Florida Power & Light (FP&L) has a power plant located right beside the Intracoastal Waterway not far from the Riviera Beach Marina.  It’s been there for years.   I don’t even pretend to understand exactly what it is that they do there, and I don’t really care to research it that deeply, but suffice it to say, something about what they do produces what they call “warm water outflows” into the Intracoastal.

On cold days, the manatees that inhabit that section of brackish water between mainland West Palm Beach and the island of Palm Beach are drawn to the warm water the plant puts out.  They’ve done it probably since the plant began operations.  And the manatees have always drawn crowds of people who want to catch a glimpse of the gentle giants in their natural habitat.

About a year ago, FP&L decided to accommodate the lookie-loos.  They built a beautiful new visitors’s facility called Manatee Lagoon.  They have a small museum complete with gift shop and cafe (natch), and while they’re open to visitors six days a week, they also offer educational programs for school kids.  And it’s all FREE.  Which is perfect.

I picked the date back in May, hoping that January 20 would be cold.  Seems a safe enough bet, right?  Average highs that time of year should be low 70s, but the mornings should be much cooler.  Of course, yesterday’s high was 81.  Yeah.

But it was an amazingly beautiful day, and the staff could not have been nicer or more accommodating.  They took the kids to a large meeting room and gave them pertinent information on their level, even allowing them to handle some manatee bones.  Then we were taken to the observation deck where, yes, thank goodness, we saw a couple of manatees.

So, like I said, big day yesterday, right?

This song has echoed through my brain all week.  It seemed the right one for tonight.  Mr. R. and I are still living in reno limbo.  We couldn’t really call our home relaxing right now, but it’s starting to come together.  Can’t wait to show you a week’s worth of improvement, but that’s another post for another day.  Hope you and yours feel fine.

Happy Saturday night!

This Should Be Interesting

We have an issue at work these days.  For anyone who doesn’t know, for the time being, I’m a teacher at a high-poverty, low-performing public school.  According to last year’s high-stakes testing, we are actually the lowest-performing elementary school in the entire district.  That’s not good.

Because of the poor test results, the Principal of the past six years was removed in the middle of the summer.  He was replaced by a woman who has quite the reputation in the district.  When people out in the community find out who our Principal is, they generally make the sign of the cross.  And, no, that’s not an exaggeration.

This woman is vile.  She makes Kevin Spacey look like Mr. Rogers.  Staff members have been dropping like flies.  The Assistant Principal, the confidential secretary, the data processor, the attendance clerk, two different IT guys, and about twenty custodians have been replaced.  People have been escorted out by police, only to have this woman tell us in a staff meeting how she clung to their ankles and begged them not to leave.

Teachers have been singled out and bullied, called on their mobile phones after hours and told that they’re not being “team players.”  While I’ve had one documented observation, some of my colleagues have them nearly every week, and they’re told that they’re not working hard enough, that their skills are inferior.

Paranoia reigns, and it’s not uncommon for folks to look over their shoulder before they talk to their friends and co-workers.  Stories abound of Admin listening in to conversations, of loyalists who report back on things that people say.

That’s not all, either.  There is evidence that the Administration has tampered with the recent standardized diagnostic testing, the tests that predict how students will do on the formal tests in the spring.  There is also evidence that Administration is playing fast and loose with finances, failing to comply with district-mandated procedures regarding money students pay for special events.

All of which is why, very quietly, a small group of us is working with the union to see that these things are investigated.  It’s not unheard of for a Principal to be removed from a school if it is deemed that that Administrator is creating a hostile work environment.

Morale is in the sewer, to say the least.  Unlike every year since I started working at this school, there is no formal holiday party planned.  Which is why a few trusted friends and I thought it would be nice to get a group together for an informal holiday happy hour at a local watering hole.   Just a little spirit-booster to say, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.’

But then…

A little spazz we like to refer to as Hurricane (who wasn’t included on the invite list, by the way) got wind of our plan and decided EVERYONE needed to be invited.  I’ve seen her running around the school, babbling like a slot machine that hasn’t stopped spinning, telling everyone about where and when.  She even marched herself into the office and invited Administration.

So.  A handful of people, including some of those who have been removed, are meeting in a very different location from the original plan.  It’s not what I’d intended it to be.  I wanted to give some folks a bit of hope right here before Christmas.

What about me?  Like I said, knock wood, by and large they seem to be leaving me alone.  But when you hear about groups of teachers being called in and berated about ridiculous things, you know it’s only a matter of time.

I’m quietly planning on this being my last year in education.  The industry sucks anyway, and this situation only exacerbates that fact.  Luckily, because of ignorant choices I made early on, I can actually retire any time I like, taking with me a nice nest egg of a retirement, plus they’ll buy out my banked sick hours at 100%.

Next fall, when every is dragging themselves back to the grind, I’ll be writing full-time.  But I might as well raise a little hell before I go.   😉

Oh, The Cosmos Knows

imageIt’s the tail end of what has been such a nice, relaxing summer. School starts for kids on August 17.  Teachers are required to report on August 11 at 8:00am.  Which means I’m not on the clock until then.

So why did I go in twice this week?  Because as any teacher will tell you, there is no way to get everything done that you need to get done during your contract hours.  That means teachers donate hundreds of hours of manpower for free.

But I digress.  The main point of this post is to share the freaky but true fact that as I was driving on my way to the school this morning, AC/DC came on the radio singing Highway to Hell.

And I wondered…how did they know???