Sunday, August 28, 2005

Weekend Reflections

Despite having another good week at work, I found myself feeling very hateful and unhappy on Friday. I hated my job and every student who walked in my door. I was very bothered by my feelings on Friday morning during my first period class, because my students have really done nothing to justify my feelings. At the beginning of first period, I was a real bitch, but later in the day, I started to feel better about my students--there always seem to be one or two who make me feel bad about my bad attitude, and they do it by just being nice to me. By the end of the day, I decided that the reason for my hateful feelings was that I really do hate my job and can't let myself settle into a routine and forget about taking care of business so I can become a librarian. More and more, I am convinced that the librarian path is the one I should be on. After work on Friday, I met some co-workers at a local restaurant and had drinks, which, of course, made me feel very good. It was a nice way to end the week.

Yesterday, all I wanted to do was read--I needed to work, but I just haven't been able to make myself do that on the weekends since last school year. I had started Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell last weekend but had been so tired during the week that I hadn't read much at all. Yesterday afternoon, Valerie and I went to a local cafe for a while, me to read and her to work. I didn't get much reading done there, but I did get a lot done at home later in the day and that night. I read until 1:00 a.m. and would have kept reading, but I had plans for today and didn't want to be completely exhausted. The book reminds me a bit of The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which I loved. It is divided into sections telling the stories of different people in different time periods, but the stories are connected in some way. Except for the slight shock of one section ending in mid-sentence, I have enjoyed the novel immensely. I have been completely drawn into the stories. Of course, now that the weekend is over, I will have to return the book to the back burner until next weekend--after I read myself to sleep with it tonight.

This afternoon, Valerie and I went to the Theater District's Open House. We had a nice day in the heat, sampling food and music. We got some really good coupons for all kinds of great deals for theater district events, if we can just remember to use them. The best part of the day was watching this little boy "Be the Conductor." The symphony volunteer put a little tuxedo jacket on him and handed him a baton. He was so serious, but he was really trying to be the conductor. His dad tried to make him move the baton and his free hand in a certain way, but he had other ideas. When the music ended, he took a very professional bow. He was so cute!!!! He made me wish I had a cute little boy to be the conductor too.

I guess I better get ready for bed now. I have to be a teacher again tomorrow, unfortunately. Send me good vibes for another good week at the job I hate. :-)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Good Feelings

I'm not sure how to write this post. I'm not sure I've ever written a positive work-related post. This past week, the first full week of classes, was actually a good week for me. It wasn't perfect (see Valerie's post from 8/17 for proof of imperfections), but at the end of each day, I found myself thinking, with some surprise, that I had had a good day. I have been trying very hard to be positive about my students, the school, and administration. The last one is the hardest. If I'm honest, I do feel that there is a black cloud of repression and distrust floating over the school. I just tried very hard not to let it affect me this week. Maybe I was just too busy being a better teacher than I have been in several years and did not had time to pay close attention to the negative. All week, I kept telling my students that I'm there to help them if/when they need it, and this year, I actually believe myself. I'm not sure what's happened. Maybe believing that this is my last year as a classroom teacher helps me to focus on the positive more. I'm not looking forward and seeing year after year of the same old drudgery. I'm seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I'm seeing opportunities for a more fulfilling work life.

Although I had a good week, I feel kind of guilty that others, like Valerie, didn't have a good week. I've been such a complainer and a whiner for the last year and a half that I feel like I don't deserve to have good days, especially when Valerie and others who have tried to be positive in light of my negativity have bad days. Of course, if my life works the way it has in the past, our fortunes will switch back to normal soon. For now though, I will enjoy the good feelings at work and about work.

Before I go to bed, I have to tell the first Devil's Bitch story of the school year. Wednesday at lunch, a group of us were chatting and enjoying our food. We had had our first advisory period meetings that morning and the conversation centered around our new experiences. The DB decided to tell us what she had told her advisory class. I don't remember how she prefaced the story, but it was intended to make us ask her to tell this story about a teacher she had. After she made her opening remark (damn, I wish I could remember what she said), she just sat there expecting us to ask her to tell us the story. No one said a word, not one word. I'm not sure anyone even looked up from their lunches. Of course, instead of just letting it drop, she had to tell us that we were supposed to ask her to tell the story. A couple of people said something like, "DB please don't tell us the story." She just laughed and told her story--I can't believe how blind some people are. We really didn't want to hear her story. During the story, even two of the nicest, most Christian of our English teachers, were making faces and making little comments. DB was oblivious to it all. She thought we were teasing her because we like her and her stories. She just told her story with gusto and left, I'm sure, feeling like she had really entertained us. How sad! And how funny!!!!! I loved it.

So, I guess I will go to bed now. I bought a new book today that I want to read more of before I sleep. Of course, I didn't need a new book since I have many books already waiting in line to be read. I have to find some time this week to work on my writing. I have this great idea for an essay about why I read so much. Maybe I will get home early enough this week to walk and write and read. If so, I'm sure I will have another good week.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Work Woes and Salvation

Today, I really do feel like I'm barely keeping myself together. I already feel like I'm way behind at work and am stressed to get caught up. What a crappy feeling! I kept thinking today that I should call in sick tomorrow. Of course, I can't. It's only the 3rd day of school, and I'm not sick, at least not physically. I just feel frazzled. I really don't want to keep writing about my work woes, but I just can't seem to shake my feelings of doom. I have felt all day like I should be working. I worked all day in my room yesterday, but I still feel like I need to do some things before I go to work tomorrow. By working yesterday, I really didn't have time to do some of the things I wanted to do this weekend, like read, write, and paint (I still haven't opened that new watercolors set). :-( I had an idea about an essay/blog post that I want to write about why I read so much, but I know it will take some time and planning before I can post it. Sadly, the tiny bit of time I spent reading this weekend was spent re-reading my AP students' summer reading novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I am testing them on tomorrow and am far from finishing. Although I enjoy the book, I would rather be reading something new for my own edification or pleasure. Maybe I can work on my essay/blog post while my students are writing an essay tomorrow.

One, and not the only one, good thing about today was this morning's church service. Today's sermon was called "Salvation in the 21st Century," but really it was about the Unitarian Universalist idea of salvation--"wholeness, not despair, is our birthright." I really enjoyed the sermon. It made me realize that there is much that I do not know about this church/belief system that I have been "visiting" for well over a year. Not long ago, I said that I thought I wanted to join the church. Today made me know that I should learn more about the beliefs, but it also reinforced my feeling that I should join. There is a Pathway to Membership meeting next month, and I think I'm going to try to attend. From what I understood, Unitarian Universalists believe that humans are all saved. Salvation is being in the right relationship with one's self, other people, nature, and Mystery (God?). At some point during the sermon (or during the meditation time after the sermon), the minister asked three questions, 1) From what do you need to be saved? 2) What saves you? 3) For what will you be saved? What is your contribution to the right relationships with others? I think I will be pondering these questions for a while, especially the third one. Maybe I will answer them in a later blog post.

Well, I guess I better go to bed now. I do have to get up early in the morning.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Unexpected Bad Feelings

As soon as I stepped inside my apartment tonight, I felt like I could just sit down and bawl for hours. I wasn't expecting to feel that way at all. I had not felt that way before I walked through my door. I had not even felt that way this morning when I learned that I had to spend some of my prep time today in a committee meeting, which ended up lasting over two hours. Although my eyes were brimming with tears, I didn't cry. I'm not sure why. After all, no one would have seen or heard me crying, since I live alone. I think I didn't cry because I had no shoulder to cry on, no one to tell my sob story to. I really needed someone to come home to tonight. I haven't felt this lonely in a very long time. Most of the time I really enjoy my solitude. However, for some reason tonight, once I left work, I just felt really sad. I'm sure work stress is the root cause, and I believe things will get better. I have been really trying not to whine and complain about all the chaos at work. I have helped people even when I needed to be helping myself. I am truly trying to make the best of things. I think my optimistic facade is fading though.

Maybe tomorrow night, I will get home early enough to relax, drink a glass of wine, and use my new watercolors and/or go for a swim. (If I had someone to swim with, I would go get in the pool right now.) Maybe painting something will make me feel better and help me finish this damn poem that I can't seem to finish. I think I've been working on it off and on almost all summer.

Okay, now I have to go to bed so I can be a teacher tomorrow.

Early Morning Blues

This has to be a quick post because I have to pick Valerie up and go to work in just a few minutes. But I have to get this off my chest. Yesterday, I was feeling good about getting my brand new room in order--only missing a teacher desk, or so I thought, I was so much better off than many other teachers on my campus. Suddenly, I looked around my room for the boxes of paperbacks--almost all of my AP English literature novels--and discovered that too big boxes of books were missing. These are books that I issue to students from the beginning of school. I don't know what I will do if these boxes are not found soon. It will cause me to change my whole AP curriculum, and I'm just not sure I can handle that this year. I have been awake since 4:30a.m. worrying about this.

I have to stop now. It's time to go pick up Valeria and go to work and try to cope. Send me some good coping vibes, and wish me luck.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Back to Work :-(

I started back to work Friday. Yuck! The whole day, I was smiling and pretending that I was glad to be there and going to be okay. For the most part, I was really okay. Even when I heard that our multimedia lab was going to be used for something else this year, I quickly decided why that was the correct thing to do and didn't allow myself to be angry about it. However, I can tell that our two new assistant principals are going to be difficult for me to like. They both acted as if our teachers are a bunch of idiots with little or no classroom management and little or no technology competency. Still, I'm going to try to stay out of the way and just get through this year. Regardless of those negative feelings, I couldn't allow myself to feel too bad because I have a room with most of my belongings in it already, and I could get in it on Friday. Others were not so lucky. I am taking this as a good sign for my year.

Friday Funnies
1. The question of the day for Friday - Why would someone keep a penny in his ear?
This young man, one of many manual laborers hired to move boxes and furniture into our new building, stopped in my room and was just looking around. I asked if he needed something, and he said he was going to bring me some new bookcases and was looking to see where to put them. I said okay, then I had to ask why he had a penny stuck in his ear. He kind of laughed and shrugged, then he said, "I ain't never broke" and turned around and walked off. It was all I could do to keep from laughing before he got out of earshot.

2. Another group of movers told me earlier in the day that if I went to the store and bought some beer they would help me drink it and move some stuff that didn't belong to me out of my room and set up my new students desks. When I said that I didn't drink beer and asked if wine would do, one of the workers asked if I had tried the new orange flavored Boone's Farm wine. I said no, and he said it tastes just like Orange Crush--a high recommendation apparently. I said something about that being marketed for underage drinkers, and he said he was only 21. I just started laughing.

Now, I must go to bed so I will be well-rested for tomorrow's staff development events. In the morning, I get to see a video of a speech that I saw given in Nashville. I know people are not going to appreciate the speech as much as those of us who went to Nashville, but I do think William Daggett has some important things to say about improving schools. Anyway, in the afternoon, I have to give a presentation on our new advisory period. I hope I don't bore everyone to tears; I'm sure I will piss someone off, but that doesn't bother me--I kind of enjoy pissing people off sometimes, especially some of the people with whom I work. Hey, that's something to look forward to--trying to be positive, always. ;-)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Last Day of Summer

Tomorrow, I must return to the world of work. :-( While I'm not looking forward to it, I am not dreading it as much as I might. I think my efforts at de-stressing this summer have worked very well. I have thought as little as possible about work. I have read as much as possible. I've done some writing, both online and off. I have watched movies, Astros games, and drank lots of wine. Much thanks must be given to Valerie for putting up with all my stressed out anguish during last school year and the early part of the summer. She really has been a great friend. Thanks to her, I have had a great, relaxing summer.

I spent this last day doing very little. I went to the MFA to see the Cy Twombly exhibit, which was a bit disappointing--only one series of 12 paintings, Lepanto. However, I did enjoy the exhibit of acquisitions from the last five years. Two Kenneth Noland paintings were included. I don't know why I am so drawn to his work, but I feel good knowing that I can go to the MFA on a regular basis and contemplate those two paintings. Something about his work draws me in and comforts me. Tonight, I have read some--trying to finish one more book, had a glass of wine and some chocolate, and watched some television--Astros are losing now. :-(

Now, I must return to my work night routine. The news is over, and I have to get up early, so I will finish off my glass of wine and head to bed. I will read for a while, of course--I really need to finish The Shadow of the Wind in the next couple of days. I still need to re-read A Prayer for Owen Meany before I try to talk about it with my AP students next week. So, good night!