Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Origin Story

Thanks to the team at Two Writing Teachers for crafting such a caring writing community!

I agreed to interview with the high school division of Singapore American School during Art Basel Miami. Our family enjoyed Art Basel in Hong Kong for my birthday last March, courtesy of an amazing Art Basel rep, so we bought tickets to the show in Miami in December.

I researched South Beach hotels and Air B&B spots and settled on a "boatel", a Californian Yacht, circa 1989. With two bedrooms, two baths and a full kitchen, it was much more spacious, private and affordable than a hotel room in South Beach. The boat had wifi, so I figured I would be fine for a Skype interview with Singapore American School.

I am a native Floridan. My city is not quite as densely populated as Miami and while I-4 can be dreadful, it has nothing on Miami traffic jams. Of course on the way down to the boat, we got caught in traffic. We'd given ourselves six hours from home to dock, plenty of time I thought to get settle and be interview-ready.

"Are we going to make it? Should I set up your phone as a hot spot?" I worried from the passenger seat.
"We'll get there. We're going to make it."

I clock watched: 6:00, 6:30, 6:45. We had a 7 pm appointment.

At 6:55 I am reading the directions aloud: pull up to the public park, see the tennis courts, pull in to the drive, unload baggage, park in the public lot across the avenue, venture to the end of the dock, use the code on the combination lock.

Was this for real? Would the combination work?

Collin and I were rolling suitcases down the aluminum dock when the phone rang. Our boat was tied up at the penultimate slip.  We were climbing the aluminum stairs. In front of the boat a tennis club--teens taking lessons. Behind us, mansions and stars. Rick was parking the car.  The phone chimes.

Skype. Singapore calls.

I wave at Collin. "Figure out how to get in! You have the directions on your phone..." I flick my hand up and climb into a white bean bag chair on the bow of the boat, right arm stretched, selfie-style in front of my face. I put the traffic behind me and smile.

"Hello?!" I answer.

Stephen, Amy and I talked for more than an hour. I could see shoulders and elbows. I couldn't see their faces during the interview. I figured it was the phone screen or some such tech issue. I was speaking forcefully (think loud and proud) into the phone as I faced the tennis courts. We talked about literacy and about PLCs and about people and about parents and about kids and passions.

We talked about successes. And we talked about failure. We shared stories and my heart opened. And there was silence from Singapore for a few minutes.

I knew that no matter what ... this was a moment, an important moment and I was all in.

Thankfully, Collin and Rick figured out how to unlock the boat and get in. Once the interview ended, I made my way aft and descended into the cabin. Rick's first words, "Mama picked a winner again!" He was stretched out on the couch in the living room watching a game on the huge t.v.  The full kitchen was three steps down.

It was an amazing boat and an amazing art weekend and the best interview I've ever had.

I am delighted to join Singapore American School and I am so blessed by friends and family who have made this move possible.


  1. Congratulations! We will nearly be neighbors (I work at ISKL) and I have friends teaching in Singapore. What a change it will be for you. I could feel the stress and tension in your post. You must be heading there about now- I wish you a smooth transition.

  2. A true launch story. Bon voyage ❤️.

  3. Congratulations -- and thanks for pictures, a vicarious virtual voyaging treat and visit to a fabulous world city

  4. What a fun story, Lee Ann! I was a bit nervous for you that you would make it on time though. I'm glad it all worked out for you! I'm looking forward to following your journey in your new home. <3

  5. Congratulations on you new venture! I can't wait to read about it.

  6. You, my friend, "rock the boat!" Enjoy this new adventure, even on the days the water's rough.

  7. What a time for an interview! Love hearing about your start to this new adventure, Lee Ann. The boat sounds wonderful too! Maybe my family's next trip?

  8. What an adventure! What a journey! I'm excited to hear all about this teaching chapter and wish you all the best. Your students are very lucky. I know I don't need to tell you to write, sketch, and savor each moment. Looking forward to hearing more.

  9. Congratulations, but you had me really nervous there for a bit! I've had too many "cutting it close" situations to relax through that. All's well that ends well, though. Love the Boatel idea. Will have to explore that. Looking forward to more slices about your adventures. Travel safe! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/