Tuesday, December 22, 2015


A little sigh of relief.

Today was the first day of my winter break.  I was out from 11am to 6pm, so it wasn't a lazing-around-the-house kind of day, but it was still a good one.

Last week did me in.  I had developed a cold the week before, and that just didn't help.  It wasn't bad at first, but by the middle of last week, my voice was shot, and it  still isn't right.

Most of that is on me.  I was supposed to finish up my paper over the weekend  and it just didn't happen.  Too much Christmas, family, school stuff happening.  Too much feeling overwhelmed by all of it this year.  Too much feeling this huge emptiness where Mom should be.

Which is not to say things didn't get done.  For example, I found and printed the photos to put into the photo frame ornaments I bought for my siblings.  I did some Christmas shopping.  And food shopping.  And laundry.  And cooking...  I really should not go to the farmer's market if I am not on vacation.

Things got done but not the paper, which was due on Wednesday.  I stayed up incredibly late several nights running getitng it together.  It was supposed to be only 15 pages with at least 10 references but it just got out of hand. (22 pages [not counting the title page and abstract, mind you], 4 pages of references) I should explain, this is not just "a paper," it's the literature review for my non-thesis project.  Having never done a literature review before, I was cheerfully naive about what they entailed before taking this last course.  The entire purpose of said course was to teach how to read and write a literature review, and then to help us write them for our theses or non-thesis projects.  My non-thesis project is kind of a monster, and so the lit review is, too.

Anyway, on Tuesday I realized it wasn't going to be done on Wednesday and begged for an extension, which of course my professor gave me.  I finished it about 1AM Thursday night (early Friday morning) or maybe even later.   Of course I still had to work every day.  I think Monday-Thursday I got about 12 hours of sleep total.  It was not good, and it made me even sicker.

But, I wrote an awesome paper which my professor called "excellent" and she said that I am very close to being done with it, which is pretty huge.  She's totally amazing because she graded it by Saturday, which was about a 24-hour turn-around.   Plus I have an A for the class which is affirming.  I worked very hard over an incredibly difficult period but managed to stay on top of everything.  (This sounds stupid but I'm writing it anyway --) I think my Mom would be proud of me for going on with it, even though I could've dropped when things went sideways early in the fall.

So, school's out until January, grad class is over, kids are done with recitals and piano for 2 weeks.  Christmas shopping is done (unless I decide to get that one last thing for the boys), and some of it is even wrapped.  The fridge is stuffed with food and I don't have to go out again if I don't want to...

Except tomorrow morning, when we're seeing Star Wars: TFA at the odd hour of 10AM.  I'm spoiler-free and looking forward to it.  I'm working on resting and recovering.

Right, back to today's massive outing; a good part of that was an appointment with Dr. O, whom I have not seen in quite a while.  First off, the cold has morphed into a disgusting infection (confirmed when he scoped me), so I'm on anitbiotics plus Mucinex to keep the mucus thin and draining.  (That should help my voice.)  I went chiefly about my right ear tinnitus and the weird pain I get from under my jaw line where those glands are swollen.  I thought they felt weird and so did he, so he's sending me for an ultrasound and possible FNA if it's something suspicious.  He thinks the tinnitus is a vascular side effect of the nodes, which makes sense to me.  Oh, and he confirmed that the lumpy-throat feeling is because of my reflux, it's got my esophagus irritated again. I suppose I should not be eating sriracha potato chips if I'm having reflux.  I'll do as best I can to get the reflux settled but over the holidays it's really hard to stick to a good diet.  Lately I've been living chiefly on Starbucks soy milk peppermint mochas and various Christmas candy given to me by my students.

Astoundingly generous, they were, this year.  Of course I still have nearly 200, so that partly explains the huge haul of stuff I got.

After Star Wars, perhaps I will grade some of those (many, many) papers?  I tell myself I'll have hours in the car to & from California (Disneyland!) that can be used for that, but I don't want to have it hanging over my head.  All the cards and presents have been sent, all the shopping is done, now I can just sit home, relax, and get some grading done... after DD and I finish watching Avatar: The Last Airbender.  We only have a half-dozen or so episodes to go, and we are thoroughly enjoying the fantastic characters, beautiful art direction, and occasional silliness, but best of all, the most coherent magical world-building of any story we (collectively) know.  Tolkien's magic is impenetrable, Harry Potter's is secret (which, as much as I love it all,  is stupid), and everyone else's is just ... weak, or perhaps opaque or just too incompletely revealed to be as engaging.  At least, that's what we decided in our conversation this evening!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

odd day

It seems I only pop in to write when I'm at my wit's end, these days, these months.  Too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

All that is still true.  On the plus side of things: DD's Shakespeare performance was terrific, and both kids played well in their holiday recital last weekend.  My professor liked the first half of my paper very much, so that means I only have about 8 pages or so to write, and I have another whole week to do that, along with putting together my presentation.  The new Christmas tree is so different from the old one that it still surprises me, but it is really beautiful, and DD Christmas'd up the whole house again, which is just lovely.

On the working-on-it side of things, DS2's inadequate school skills and general dodginess landed him in trouble for the last time, so now his computer's downstairs in the family room and I grill him about everything coming due and stay on him about doing it.  I managed to avoid having the same failed expectations conversation for twenty-first time by simply deciding not to have it.  I gave him a 2-week shot at managing his own affairs, and he didn't.  Whether he can't or just won't is immaterial. If he wants to stay at his current school, he has to do the work.  There is no point in keeping him there if he's not even going to try. He doesn't want to switch schools, though.  He admitted his own school "could be good if only...' if only what? "...if I tried."  We'll see.

Today's personal drama started yesterday after school, when I got drafted to attend a meeting.  Then this morning I had to report the directives from that meeting to my peers.  All of that's OK except our admin hasn't been her usual positive self lately, and after being harangued not to be "lazy," (we all were group-chastised)  I knew I had to tread carefully.  And I thought I did!  But I didn't, and there's no point recounting the dialog, because that's not the point.

Here's what happened: with about 30 minutes left in my prep hour, I realized I needed literally 2 pages of one version of my midterm exam because there was a problem with the copies.  So I went up to the office and made my two copies, and then got called into the admin's office.  I really did not want to talk to her because I was confused by the discussion at the morning meeting and still thinking about everything and trying to figure out what exactly we are supposed to be doing now and how that works with our mission, which we generally adhere to pretty well.  So I tried to say, could we do this later?  But I was told no, and then things got very weird.

There was the back-and-forth about the meeting stuff, and I just flat out disagree with her judgment -  I did not see the point of raising a junior high specific question in a meeting that had already run over an hour, when I was literally the only person at the table who was interested in the answer.  We kept talking past each other, but it got to the point where I expressed how overwhelmed I am following the death of my mother.  Of course, tears at this point, not sobbing, just leaking eyes and not wanting to talk anymore, but having, of course, to talk more.  I say, quite clearly that nearly 200 students is overwhelming, and that's when it got bizarre.  My admin said, If you want 30 students in a class, find another school.

It's still echoing around in my head now, more than 13 hours later.

Well.  At the time, I was shocked but I stood up and said, "I will," and turned to go.  She called me back and wouldn't let me go, and told me what a great teacher I am, blah blah blah.

All of this was just so upsetting.  She kept me 10 minutes past the bell -- my students were waiting out in the hall because I had locked my door before I left my room -- my midterm exams were all laid out, getting ready for tomorrow, and I didn't want anyone walking in and finding them.

I'm finally released from this trying encounter and of course still very upset, when I'm told to have a great day, and I respond with, "Oh...."  I had just been crying and talking about how overwhelmed I feel, and now I have to go back to my students and I'm told I will have a great day and I have to choose my attitude blah blah blah.

I am a professional.  I got my shit together on the walk back to my classroom and not one student had any idea I had just been crying in the principal's office and basically told to find another job. And I got through the rest of the day, too, somehow.   My co-workers are as flummoxed about this morning's meeting as I was, and of course wanted to know where I was when I was so late for third period class.

What a mess! I don't think it's a good idea to make a decision when you're under a lot of stress, and I am under a tremendous amount of stress right now.  But I think applying at another school or two isn't the worst idea in the world.  I don't know if my feelings will change but for some time I have been thinking that teaching 190-something students is too many, even if I'm not in grad school.  I don't want to teach that many students, and if I have to go to another school to achieve that, that's what I'm going to have to do.