There they are, one, two, three. I can see them clearly.
Hurrah, the month of ubiquitous stress is over. Now just patchy stress and moderately normal life. Yessss.
Shingles have been reduced to barely visible scars. I took my tutoring down to one session per week and just got better, somehow. And I've been ticking off the stressors: my brother is married, I'm healthy, my game night at church this Saturday was successful and..... I have a job for next year. At my same school. Hurrah! My worst nightmare hasn't come true. I have Options.
That being said, I've been strongly tempted to just apply somewhere else anyway. My school (and, it seems, my county) is a mess of politics and obfuscation and corruption. Also, when I found out that I'd be keeping my job, I also found out what my assignment is: English 10. My least favorite, the one I'd listed on the request form as the class I'd least like to teach. Three levels, too, so I'd have to basically learn all new literature and curriculum for three distinct classes AND I can't just make it up like I have with English 11 (to great success, by the way) because that's the year of the High School No-Child-Left-Alone Assessment. However... there's some reason to think it might not be a final assignment. And, in spite of the temptation to leave a corrupt system, I think it would still be more stress to change employers and get used to a totally different system and culture than it would be to learn new curriculum.
Also, I had a vivid and sparkling dream on Saturday morning that restored me deeply. In it, I was at Lake Ontario and for some reason, Pearl, Marijke and Alissa came to visit. Alissa said something adorable and typically Alissa, and I told her how much I'd missed her. Then, we all took a morning dip in the lake. I was wearing something silk and turquoise, but I still went in somehow. I saw the reflection of the most beautiful rainbow and turned around and pointed it out to the assembled monkies. I felt so cool and comfortable and certain of fun things to come that I knew it was a dream about heaven. Whenever I dream about heaven, it always involves lots of people assembled that I'd really been wanting to see... Anyway. I woke up feeling certain of a beautiful afterlife. Dragon was licking herself in cool morning sunbeam and everything was mellow and good.
Well. I have an observation on Tuesday. I was given basically no warning, which at first annoyed me, and now fills me with this heady disregard because if the authorities don't plan ahead, they can overlook a few imperfections in my lesson. Just a little over a month of the kiddies left! A month and a week or so...
Life is just chewing me up and spitting me out these days. I have been sick for... how long? Weeks? I can't remember.
I have shingles, by the way. The doctor informed me that (drumroll please) I'm stressed out beyond my limits. HA! This after waiting for one hour and a half past my appointment time and skipping lunch. Admittedly, I was a bit crazed by the time I actually saw her. She spoke to me the way I imagine she would speak to someone with a progressed mental illness and told me that there was this wonderful thing called yoga- had I ever heard of it?- and I should try it. Also, I was to stop doing so much and maybe seek counseling. Like I need another weekly appointment.
The thing is, most of the stress isn't really coming from my tutoring, although I'm starting to think I might be addicted to the idea of being useful... Nor is it coming from being elder in charge of fellowship, although I know I must have been barking mad to have committed to that. It's coming from these layoffs and increasing animosity at work. Fresh from a random, fierce, and almost totally one-sided fight with an older co-worker, I was totally betrayed and humilitated when my department head took the students' side in a plagerism case. My "standard" (read: low-peforming) eleventh graders are nearly out of control and have nearly driven me insane. Last Tuesday's faculty meeting began with a 20 minute presentation from our superintendant and our principal about the budget shortatges and massive excesses in staffing that we're encountering. We were told that we'd know by the end of this week (Ha HA I took the day off today they can't find me) or by the end of next if we 're being "excessed." That presentation, which brought morale to an all-time low, was followed inexplicably and irrationally by an hour-long lecture on the development and science of the adolescent brain and how we can be more compassionate toward them. It was eighty degrees in that library. That's all I have to say about that.
I have been doing everything I can to be mature, healthy, and dignified in my dealing with students and co-workers. They're driving me nuts, though. I'm becoming more and more convinced that we live in an insane world of pettiness and egotism. I'm brooding under a dark, hazy, and utterly homogeneous sky....
Did I scare you? I've been silent for so long; in reality, I've been slowly sneaking up on you, readers. ahaha.
Well, everything is urgently pressing itself in my attention at once. My brother, or rather, his fiancee is having a baby; in April, he plans to marry Jaquelyn. I'm flying to Louisville.
This summer, I was planning a fun trip and, possibly, starting my Master's, when the talk at school put a chill on things. They're excessing 12 teachers this year. Not to other schools in the county, either. This is a county-wide budget thing. About 15 percent of the teachers just won't be necessary anymore. I keep hearing more and more people talking about it; it's casting a gloom over the younger population of teachers. I feel like we're all suddenly on survivor, looking at each other, looking for weaknesses. It's an amusing sociological study, but not one I want to be part of right now. I was just starting to feel like I could move on to a new stage in life, you know? One that didn't involve so much career anxiety, one where I could invest in being a real middle class person, a home-owner, an MA, a citizen of the world. Now I'm pretty convinced, in an only semi-rational way, that I'm going to lose my job and I'm.... annoyed. That's the word. Not annoyed in the trivial sense, but chip-on-the-shoulder borderline bitter annoyed. Also, sad. I'm probably going to apply at Jon's school. But this is SO not where I wanted to be
Additionally to this, a really incompetent professor of Jon's has neglected to turn in her recommendation on time, which will probably disqualify him from receiving the scholarship we had hoped for. (I AM SO ANGRY). It's going to be a struggle to get him graduated by end of Summer 2009.
On the other hand, and in defiance of all this, Jon and I are going to the zoo this weekend. To see the lemurs. So, you know, I have major life crises, but to balance it all out... I have lemurs. And lemurs make me really happy.
I. have been. so. stressed. out.
I'm juggling again, and I swore a few years ago when I last attempted this that I wouln't make myself do it again. Back then, I was working at Ruby's Diner and teaching at the same time. Now I'm teaching, tutoring, and serving on the elder's board. What on EARTH was I thinking?
The thing was, it really seemed like something I ought to do, in each instance, at the time. Now, in combination, I'm (surprise) not able to do any of them adequetely (to my standard, anyway) and wish to be doing none of them. The other day, I was driving, and I suddenly was gripped with paranoia that my car would stall and that I would be hit by the car behind me (acutally, this is not terribly irrational if you know anything about my car-saga). Anyway, my next thought was, "Okay. Well, I couldn't be expected to be in a car crash AND go to work. Surely I'd be off the hook, then." So yeah, I'm overwhelmed.
I had to leave the elder's meeting early (due to it's being 9pm and counting on a school night!!!) and have committed to task at church that now seems a lot more complicated than it seemed at first. On the tutoring front, one of my little charges, the younger one, improved in nearly every subject. The other got four E's. I'm consumed with a feeling of responsibility, although with only two hours there a week I don't know that I can guarantee her father good grades... It's just so galling that she's been telling me nearly every Saturday that she didn't have homework, and I didn't know any better than to believe her (but why would a sixth-grader not have homework when a fourth grader does??). It makes me understand a bit what parents of my students go through... hmm. Anyway, I can't be in charge of her decisions.
I need a new mantra.
Almost lost it today (and did say "shit" under breath) when a the bell rang and a kid bolted from his/her chair (I didn't see who it was through the frenzied crowd) tripped over a chord, knocked my overhead projector to the floor, shattering and smashing it nicely, and then continued out of the room without even identifying him/herself. I was surrounded by students (and would be for another two hours after school. It's the end of the marking period/semester) and by the time the crowd parted, everyone was gone.
I have three exams to prepare this year, two of which I have to write from scratch. I've just been gritting teeth and attempting to take deep breaths. Inner Poise, and all that. Yoga has been genuinely helping but I'm just so mad at myself for overcommitting. Need to re-read Bounderies. Don't have time though.
And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from the federal government that every recent immigrant should be counted and filed (and this census was the first attempt to document all immigrants in this way). And everyone went to be documented and taxed, each one to his city of arrival. And Jose also went down from Pensacola, from the panhandle of Florida, into Miami, which is called the "Magic City" (because that was the city into which his father immigrated) to be taxed, together with his fiance, Maria, who was great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in a hotel pillowcase, and laid him in a laundry basket in the the Marriot Laundry room; because there was no room for them in the hotel and they had no health insurance.
And there were in that same neighborhood janitors abiding in the basement of the Hyatt, staying alert for maintenance calls by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be for the whole world. For unto you is born this day in the Magic City a Savior, which is Jesus, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the baby wrapped in a pillowcase and lying in a Marriot laundry basket." And suddenly, there was with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying "Glory to God in the Highest, and and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the janitors said one to another, "Let us now go even unto the Marriot, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us."
And they came with haste, and found Maria, and Jose, and the baby lying in a laundry basket. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by mere janitors. But Maria kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the janitors returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
So I don't really post here anymore. This is for several reasons. I've not been convinced that everyone is still using livejournal, first of all. Also, I've kind of been sold on Facebook, even though it's becoming Farcebook with all the stupid advertising they've been doing in my face. Finally, I'm trying to become less of a loud, yappy blabface about everything I might be thinking or feeling, with limited success. I think I'm just giving myself fewer opportunities; I haven't really changed.
I still do think about Rochesterians, though. I really do give a crap about your lives, really. WILL there be a New Year's Party? I'll be home the 28 through 1st (morning).
I gave a Christmas party last night, which was successful and fun! Missed the caroling we used to do, though. I'm pretty homesick in general, actually. This is the time of year when Marylanders annoy me a great deal. People complain about the slightest sleet or snow, the weather guy describes 25 degree overnight lows as "frigid temperatures" and the locals attack the supermarket at each impending snow. I was so grateful for Wednesday's coating. Snow reminds me there's a God in the heavens.
Yeah, so much for the dramatic return to blogging I was attempting. I'm all out of material. Expect the next installment when the bell tolls one
I don't watch horror movies. I also have a very conservative (ok, squeamish) definition of what constitutes horror. Basically, I don't see movies whose premise involves the perfect crime, or conspiracy, or revenge, or a race against time to keep a bomb from blowing up, or pretty much any violence. There are certain exceptions. I can tolerate violence in medieval battles, or in human vs. evil being scenerios (I deeply enjoy a good orc slaying), or "necessary" violence surrounding an intense story which comes to some uplifiting conclusion. But I can't enjoy movies that feature people doing violence, or psychological abuse, or otherwise victimizing others for fun and getting away with it.
This weekend Jon and I went to go see "Dan in Real Life," which looked like (and was) a quirky romantic comedy. It occured to me that, even though I didn't think it was a singularly good movie, I opted to see it because it made me feel safe. It makes me feel that the things I want to believe about the world are true. I'd like to continue to see movies that reinforce my beliefs, except that reality keeps intruding in some way or other. We're reading Night in my 9th grade class, which describes utter remorseless cruelty and inhumanity of the sort I'd rather deny and ignore. I remember a couple of summers ago I was re-reading it and Jon wanted to see Schindler's List, and I said, "One Holocaust at a time!" Then I picked up a movie only to realize it, too, was about the Holocaust. I jokingly said "The holocaust is following me!" It is kind of inescapable, though, even in the suburbs in the US, whether or not violence is happening to me I can't escape the reality of it. I have to work it into my worldview somehow.
But on the subject of world views, I have a question for you philosophic types. So, the art we produce reflects the people that produce it. Also, people's willingness to watch, yea purchase the right to watch certain art reflects something about those people (and I fundamentally don't understand people's appetite for say, the Saw movies). That's obvious. But what about the effects of such art? Can an abundence of dark, slighly demonically violent movies, statements, music etc. actually change reality in some way? I don't mean can it change people; of course it can. But Reality in the abstract; the atmosphere. Is the world measurably more horrifying if we create artificial, fictional horrors in addition to the ones that we commit physically?
Granted, it's kind of a new agey idea and not one that I usually go in for. But through the last few years, I've come to suspect that we bless or pollute the very air with the words we choose to say. Hard to measure, but how else could a blessing have any power?
Random things right now:
1. The Johnson baby is born. Hooray Annabelle and hooray Cheryl! The child is an angel.
2. Someone from Eastern has died. If you went to Eastern and you haven't heard about this.... Blogs aren't a good way to hear these things, so call me.
3. The Browns were unintentionally our best friends this weekend! Their car broke, so they had to spend the night last night. (so far, they haven't even SUSPECTED us! HA!) (kidding).
4. Apple pancakes are delicious.
5. Heifer.org looks like a real world-changing organization. They're up there next to Compassion International for me. Also, it's livestock, which feels very wholesome and real. Check it out and give a needy family a goat, flock of geese or hive of bees (among many other things).
Autumn air should be bottled and sold. Even in this polluted Triangle of Despair, I'm incredibly invigorated by the FALL weather that's descending on us, unexpectedly early. We bought Cider and Cinnamon and Candy Corn at really high cost to ourselves (not yet really in season) because, as I said to Pearl, it's a reflex. When it gets to be crisp and 72 degrees at the hottest part of the day, I buy cider.
This is when lots of people at school (some who are originally from South Carolina and other such places) will start to complain (unaccountably) that it is TOO COLD. They will say that they can't excercise as much and that they always gain weight in the winter. I say, if the deer and the squirrels and the groundhogs gorge themselves in order to stay warm every year, who are we to dissent? It's good enough for the birds, it's good enough for me. I will happily put on five and enjoy eating hot food again.
DELIGHT. If only I didn't have to work during the morning, which is the best part. Ah well. I shall keep my window open and wear a sweater and have a deaf ear to all complaints from my students. Who are doing quite well, by the way. My honors class has several individuals who are frighteningly close to being smarter than I am. I am trying for all I am worth to challenge them adequately without doubling my grading. We're reading Gatsby in there, which I've decided is brilliant, and the 11 Standard class is reading To Kill a Mockingbird, which I'm getting a kick out of reading aloud. I can now teach Ninth grade without being awake. It's becoming an art.
Still... breaks are good. I took a brilliant run on Rosh Hashannah and felt like I was rediscovering some part of me that's been dormant. Cliche, but really true nonetheless.
Ooh. The Office, Season 4, begins on the 28. Progressively MORE awesome.
Back from a most triumphant and invigorating camping trip with the Browns and the Floros. Good to know we still know how to party. And hike, and play silly games and go to diners. Long live Barney; be stalwart, everyone. Until we learn the meaning of foramen.
In other news, one of us shut the door to our bedroom before we left for the weekend. Which is odd, since we don't usually shut doors, and Terrible because the cats were in there, probably pre-sulking before we left.
So that was messy. And scary, because my baby wouldn't come out from under the bed for a bit. They are now, however, well fed and content, and with time and some therapy, I think they'll be able to put it behind them.
We successfully returned to find most of our problems exactly where we left them, having advanced not at all. However... we ourselves improved enormously. I feel more able to cope knowing that the air is still clean somewhere.