It occurs to me that there’s nothing special about turning 31, or 32 for that matter. In some cultures, 33 is a big deal because that’s how old Christ was when he was crucified. So this year, instead of turning 31, I’m going to turn 29 again. That way, I can heighten the drama next year when I turn “30,” and then the following year I’ll just turn 33. I’ll turn 33 again the year after that, and then turn 35. I’ll hold at 35 for the next four years, then turn 39 so I can have the big buildup to 40. None of this Jack Benny nonsense where I’m 39 for the rest of my life—that’s just silly.
–Me, “On turning 29,” November 23, 2007
In keeping with last year’s plan, I am turning 30 for the second and final time. On to 33 next year.
This birthday marks the closest I’ve yet come to my goal of receiving no birthday gifts aside from cards and food. The lone exception thus far was a movie theater gift card. Still, that’s remarkable progress.
Morning: woke up late after dreaming that I was playing soccer with a goalie clamped on to my ankle, and the ref never noticed. Got a week’s worth of paperwork out of the way.
Lunch: PB&J and two cups of tea. Tracked the Bears’ game over the internet. Bears defeated the Rams, 27-3. Saw that the MLS Cup Final was on TV, didn’t care. Made some photocopies.
Dinner: Chicago deep-dish with pepperoni and black olives. Watched the Cardinals attempt a “fair catch kick” (which I’d read about, but never seen) at the end of the first half. They shanked. Argued with parents over details of various stories from long ago.
Cake: chocolate with rich white frosting–a nearly-last-minute decision, because I couldn’t remember which type of cake was my favorite. I’m still not sure I guessed right.
Last school year, I worked on earning certification form the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Only 35% of teachers earn it on their first attempt. It’s a national certificate honored by every state, it’s good for 10 years at a time, it counts for as many as nine credits towards a master’s degree, and it means a raise (I mean a big raise, a sell-the-’Rolla-and-buy-two-Bentleys-and-a-Lear-jet raise). In March, I sent the Board a portfolio documenting and analyzing my teaching abilities, including two 15-minute DVDs packed with high-octane teaching action, starring me. In June, I took a computerized test with six essay questions on history, economics, political science, demography, etc. And then I waited.
On Thursday night, I got an e-mail warning me that my certification scores would be posted mid-morning on Friday. So naturally, I assumed that “mid-morning on Friday” meant “we’ve already posted it, and lied to you about Friday” and checked ten, twelve times before going to bed that night.
Friday morning, I checked the NBPTS website before I left for work, hoping that “mid-morning” meant 7 AM. I got to work and checked again, hoping that “mid-morning” meant 7:30. I checked right before first period started, hoping that “mid-morning” meant 8:10-ish.
The 9:55 bell rang to end first period. I got on the net, logged on to the site, and saw “Scores available for 2007-08 Candidates!” I entered the login information and hit enter.
The first word I saw was “Congratulations!”
I didn’t bother reading the rest. I did the celebration I used to do when beating my college roommate at NHL ‘95 on the Sega Genesis, ran down the hall and gave the thumbs up to the co-worker who’d been my mentor throughout the process, and then sauntered back to my classroom.
Granted, the funding’s probably going to get cut. But that hasn’t stopped me from dreaming about swimming in a marble silo filled with gold coins.
During my planning period, I read the rest. “You are a National Board Certified Teacher! …blah blah blah… Your total weighted scaled score, exercise scores and weighted exercise scores are shown in your score profile.” I clicked on the score profile and saw that I scored well above the cutoff. But the more I looked at it, the angrier I got. I should have scored higher. I should have done better. I wondered whether I could re-submit the portfolio and re-take the test to get closer to a perfect score.
I have since come to my senses. I have my national certificate. I’ll shut up and be grateful.