Saturday, April 30, 2011

Private Eye

I have decided, at least for awhile, to change my blog's status from public to private (invite only). Some drama happened this week, personal and professional, but I will discuss that only in person or through some other outlet, if you want to know about it.

However, there are some things that I do feel comfortable sharing in this venue. Beware: there will be work-related information. If that bothers you, then just click away from this page. Beware....BEWARE the posts about my job!

1. Two band students who had no re-enrolled for next year, came to me after Thursday's concert and said, "We've made a terrible mistake." They want to stay. They had too much fun playing at the concert to give it up. I think I have some good ideas for next year to make the ensemble more enjoyable for all, and they will probably like it more throughout the year, instead of just at the end.

2. I turned in my graduate project. I drove all the way there...and my project adviser wasn't in his office. I instead had a nice conversation with my graduate adviser about the project, this summer's classes, and general stuff. He informed me that the history class (that I was dreading...Bach cantatas? Really?) might not make. However, I was planning on 12 hours this summer, including a 3-hour conducting course that I don't need. He said he could put the conducting course in for the history course, if the need arises. The graduate college won't like it, but it's not my fault, he said, that the class might not make, and I shouldn't be punished for it.

3. I'm secretly hoping the history class doesn't make. Bach cantatas, people. The conducting institute, however, sounds like a much better use of my time.

4. I walk next Friday evening. I wish I could feel like I'm closing some sort of chapter on my life, but I'm not. Not yet, at least.

5. We have I think four weddings to go to this summer! Holy cow!

6. Sometimes I wish my husband had no background in music, because he thinks he knows more than I do, and that his casual twice-annual visit to listen to my group at concerts is enough to analyze their improvement. He even said that he was just as qualified as the judges we have at contest! Sometimes I wonder where he gets this stuff from. Participating in a group is not the same as going through all the coursework that I did to prepare myself for what I do. He admitted to not knowing what he's doing when helping the orchestra, but then turns around and says he's qualified to judge an ensemble that he honestly knows nothing about. I was so incredibly angry last night about that.

7. Tonight is prom. I even have a date. Three lovely ladies will be joining me for dinner (location still undecided!) in our party best and then we are going to go to the prom. The kids want their teachers there, which is so strange. I think they like to see us dressed up. It's so strange seeing them in formal gowns and tuxes after seeing them in polos and khakis for so long. I have an adorable party dress that I got at Ross for $40, retail $90. It's got a full skirt AND petticoats. I LOVE a full skirt.

8. It's Saturday, and we're going to the arts festival. I'm excited. It's supposed to be a gorgeous day...a little breezy, but it's sunny and clear right now and I'm stoked.

That's the update for now. Yes, I'm an attention whore. All blogs are. If you don't like it, then don't read it. I know there are some that enjoy my lists, and failures, and successes and that's how they keep up with my life. I appreciate those people for caring.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unexpected gifts

Today, I received a grant from a local organization that works with high school journalism students. $500 for my newspaper program, for anything we want, in Fall of 2011. I was stunned. I had no idea there was even such a thing! Evidently, since we have had students in that program every year for at least six years, maybe more, our support of the program was noticed and they wanted to reciprocate! I was completely speechless. It made me feel like I was doing something RIGHT.

Sorry to bore anyone with my job, as I'm sure everyone gets tired of hearing about it. But, what else am I supposed to blog about? My ability to run has only been replaced with my ability to eat, it seems, and I'm definitely sure no one wants to hear about that. I don't want a food blog, anyway. Tried it. It didn't take. I think there are 11 posts on there! But, when my job takes up as many hours as it does, it tends to be a large focus in my life. Besides, hearing about the growth of my columbines I'm sure won't exactly put anyone in a tizzy, either. At least, not in any way I can think of!

Last night, I witnessed the most awful vocal music concert ever. It made me reflect upon my time in middle school choir, and I was appalled. Screaming middle schoolers, people trashing the venue, kids jumping on and off risers, talking while kids were performing, and worst of all...bad music choices for changing voices. (That rhymed. Heh) Who expects teenage boys, in all their Brady Bunch-esque voice-changing glory, to sing Let it Be well? A favorite of mine was unnervingly butchered before my very ears. I had to literally bite my tongue to keep from laughing as there were parents all around me, recording this atrocity. I spoke with my principal, as this school was using our school as their venue, and she was shocked. She was there, but working, and didn't sit in on the concert. However, she did find the bathrooms trashed. She thanked me for letting her know that at least for our students in the vocal music program, they received no discipline in middle school, thus leading to a sub-par vocal music program at my school. I feel for the director, I really do. I had no idea.

And now, a heartwarming moment: Why I love my students. This morning, right before the start of class, I looked at my few kids (state testing has rendered me with a crippled band every morning) and asked them if they would be so kind as to pick up the trash (a kid pointed and said, "Yeah, I can see it everywhere!") and make the auditorium presentable, so the custodian wouldn't have to spend an hour doing it.

In three minutes, the auditorium was spotless, and every single seat was even placed back in the up position (ours are old; once you pull them down, they stay that way unless you put them back up). I was amazed, and grateful. Not a single one of them complained. They simply asked to go wash their hands.

So, for haters who don't want to read about my job, or who seem to think that I am not qualified or good at my job, that's fine. But you know what? I think that sometimes people need to be reminded that teenagers, despite their hormonal surges of rage/fear/anxiety/depression/other crazy emotions, are kind-hearted and simply in need of good guidance and love. Haters can hate. My students, instead, will love.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I've done it again...

I've gone and gotten in "trouble" on a message board. Again. Man, I'm good.

I guess after being with H for as long as I have, I've learned to let a lot of the smaller things go. It's very Zen for me to not care about toilet seats, muddy footprints, or him leaving the sprinklers on for too long (that was actually kind of funny. He fell asleep!). I'm not saying that either of us are perfect, as everyone has annoying traits; but letting the little things go has allowed me to be a happier person.

Evidently, I'm not allowed to say that if someone else is annoyed with their husband and blasting it on a message board. We all have our days, though. I've done it, too; but, I felt no need to say, "there, there, if you just nag your husband enough, he'll stop doing the things that annoy you," because we all know, that will work.

I've also been informed that I just talk too much about teaching, and that I don't take an active interest in anything else but my job. Um, okay. It's where I spend a majority of my time, unless you count sleeping hours at home, and then home might squeeze in a victory. I don't care to discuss politics, abortion, etc. with very many people because I find the conversation often goes in circles, with everyone trying to "win" the argument. So, I stay out of it. I also find some political debates to be dreadfully boring, and nothing I can fix. I like to focus on things that my efforts are actually useful. I guess that is also not good enough for people.

Other things going on in my life:
1. I think my pansies not only re-seeded themselves (great!), but they hybridized on their own, which freaks me out just a little bit.

2. I've gone a week without soda. And I'm feeling fine.

3. I donated blood and had an absolutely awful reaction to it. Bruised, sore arm, horrible mood swings, and a fatigue like I've not felt in a long time all followed the butchering. It might be my last time to donate. And I feel very, very sad about that.

4. I am so, so ready for our Eureka Springs vacation.

5. I was called "creepy" by one of my students. I don't think I'm creepy at all...maybe just delightfully socially awkward? Yeah, that's the ticket...

Thank goodness I'm finally at a point in my life where I have a good group of friends that listens to me talk about my job (and I, in turn, listen to them talk about theirs), who make freaked out faces when looking at my mangled arm, and who evidently coddle me. Without them, I would probably be a bigger train wreck than I already am.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

5 years

Our 5th anniversary is coming up, and I managed to snag us a lovely room at a little B&B in Eureka Springs for the event. It's not a huge vacation, but it's a weekend away, and will give me the chance to re-charge and re-connect before classes begin this summer for me.

By the way, I have 4 classes this summer. Only one of them is in June. Gulp. The June class is about Bach cantatas. I can't exactly say I'm chomping at the bit for that one...but, evidently having a Master's is supposed to do something for my career, so I have to go.

I think I'm going to wear sneakers at the hooding. Seriously. Maybe sparkly ones, then they could maybe be called "formal attire." I know that me walking in the ceremony means something to someone, I'm just not sure that person is me. I get that it's a big deal, I'm the only person in my immediate family with a Master's (I don't know if anyone in my family has one) but I don't feel like I've accomplished anything that impressive. Plus, when I walk, I'll still have 12 hours plus comprehensive exams, so I'm far from finished; it's simply a formality. I feel like maybe part of the reason why I'm not excited about commencement is that I'm not "done," and that feeling is kind of being robbed from me by having to walk prematurely. I don't know, I think I'm just nuts.

My hip has been feeling a little better lately. I know the warmer weather has helped. Driving long distances for various school events has not! I think I can walk pretty reasonable distances now, so I'm looking at 5K walks and things to participate in as a goal, since I probably won't get to run any races this year, at least, not this summer, as I'll be pretty busy. I might be updating that goal to reflect my choice.

I also have a few other observations: I can no longer enjoy soda. Coke especially. It makes me feel really icky (technical term) and like I need to throw up. Other sodas just taste too sweet. And they all upset my stomach! I guess it's my body's way of saying, hey, there's too much sugar in there for you! Today I was enjoying an Arnold Palmer--1/2 unsweet iced tea, 1/2 lemonade. I think mine had a little more on the tea side of things, but it was refreshing and much lower in sugar than soda or Kool-Aid (H's current new favorite drink. I think he's 7 today). However, I have to be careful of these, too, as the caffeine in the tea bothers me, too! I guess this is what it means to get older: giving up the things you like because your body can't handle them anymore.

Like late nights of heavy drinking.

That's the update. I can't say my dietary habits have been stellar. However, I'm making a conscious effort to eat more veggies and to leave the sweets at work alone. It's not that hard, as long as I'm prepared. I think the nicer weather (when the state, you know, isn't on fire) will allow me to take some evening walks with the dog, or on my own. School is winding down, and I just have a few more events to prepare for (ending my graduate project, state solo/ensemble, 2 concerts, a band banquet, a yearbook distribution/signing party, final newspaper/blog....aye yai yai) and I can close the book on this semester. This very insanely busy semester.

I was going to put in a photo of a lovely flower from my garden, but I can't find my camera cord. Dang. Well, it was pink, and it was pretty. And it would have summed up this post nicely. Because it was pink, and it was pretty.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Temporary Name Change

If you see my name change to "Ripley," it's for a zombie apocalypse blog my newspaper students are writing as a creative writing project. Evidently, I am the "woman," a common zombie movie character.

And yes, I will die in the story. But not until near the end. I have a feeling I will end up sacrificing myself for "the kid."

Honestly, I think the whole thing is hilarious. It's really cute. Maybe I'll post the link once they get going. And 10 points to Gryffindor if you can name the movie where my character name came from!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Winner winner, chicken dinner

Last night, I decided to make fried chicken with some of the chicken I got from the Co-Op last month. I noticed some very obvious differences between free-range chicken, and regular store-bought chicken, that I thought I should share.

1. The co-op chicken felt dry. There was NO fat on it, anywhere, whatsoever. Store chicken feels slimy to me. This chicken was firm, fatless, and the skin was very firm and you could feel every bump.

2. The flesh of the co-op chicken was very firm when cooked. H called it "gamey." The wings did not pull apart easily. This doesn't bother me.

3. The flavor of the chicken itself is stronger.

I think the most obvious difference was the uncooked chicken, and how firm it was to the touch and how dry feeling. It was completely different than what I have grown used to.

I didn't talk about it before, but I have also cooked with ground beef and pork sausage from the co-op, and there were differences there, as well. Again, no fat. The sausage left the pan dry. It was the strangest thing. Great on biscuits. The ground beef left no moisture or fat in the pan, either. This has definitely been a learning experience with cooking for me!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Things for which I am grateful

1. Friday happy hours. Being able to re-hash the week and events with co-workers is really nice for me. Even though it's always the same group (and I love them) I appreciate this break at the end of the week.

2. My husband, who appreciates my need for space, and isn't clingy.

3. Students who let me know that they like having me as a teacher, vocally or through other means. There are very specific examples that I will keep to myself, as I do not feel like tearing up too much this evening.

4. The Wii and all the Mario games. I just ordered the Mario All-Stars game for my Wii and I am uber-excited about playing Mario 2. I'm seriously going to look up walkthroughs to help me through the things I couldn't pass as a kid.

5. Having a newspaper staff that wants to take risks and that is okay with fact, they welcome it. They want to stir the pot, and I am proud of them.

6. Having a mentor that actually lets me know that he is proud of me, and who is proud to hood me at the commencement ceremonies in May where I feel like I am walking for no reason, since I still have to finish a full third of my program this summer.

7. A supportive sister who always calls me even though I almost never call her. I am a terrible communicator with family members and she just barrels through that and forces me to talk, which is something I need.

8. A mother who doesn't interfere with my life. Ever.

9. Pasta and wine.

10. The ability to grow things. Even though some creature keeps digging in my flower pots. Seeing things that I planted last year bloom today makes my heart burst with pride because I didn't kill the dianthus, even though I thought I did.

I don't know why I feel it is necessary to have this outpouring of affection for various things, I just do. A lot in my life has been negative lately, and I'm trying to move beyond that, and focus on some good things in my life.

Yes, I'm fat. But people in my life love me regardless.

I am self-critical to the point of being an emotional masochist. I am still loved even though I may not always love myself. (Seriously, I replay things over and over and over in my's painful and yet I still do it, anytime I do something that is possibly offensive, hurtful, controversial, or just plain stupid...over and over and over.)

My house is a mess. The cats and dog do not complain.

I take too long to grade assignments and am often a scattered mess this time of year with all the things I have to do. But, my students do not shun or disown me. In fact, they ask me more often if they can help, how my day is going, or just make it a point to talk to me, an act for which I am forever grateful.

I am always in a constant state of trying to love myself. Are others as self-critical as I am? I am very happy with the person I am, but I can't let the little slip-ups go. I must agonize over them, and scrutinize them until I exhaust myself with the possibilities of what I could have done. My husband just lets things go. I wish I could do that; I know he doesn't understand why I can't. I don't even know.

So, tell me: Am I an emotional masochist, or do others suffer over their mistakes to the point of detriment?

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's April? Wait, what?

Time flies, evidently.

Since you last heard from me, I have judged at the regional speech and debate tournament, had both outside faucets replaced (and subsequently, a hole cut in my office wall), enjoyed a lazy spring break, saw numerous movies, gone to a band contest, had some sort of awful virus, two-stepped in a gay country bar in sequined shoes, saw a local production of Ain't Misbehavin', had an allergic reaction to some Febreeze-scented Swiffer dusters, and cried over weight gain. Oh, and I cut up a pineapple for the first time in...forever.

So, it's been busy. Today I just got back from a newspaper conference and contest. My kids were great! One had a flat tire on the way to the university, though, and so we had to take the long way back on his donut. It more than doubled our time back. Ouch. However, it was bound to happen at some point. What can you do when you can't afford to pay for transportation and the school has no buses?

While at the conference today, I found out I actually have a reader. One besides my sister, that is! I promised her an update, so here it is.

Last weekend, I got this hair-brained idea that I should try bike-riding as a means of weight loss (this was after crying over my temporary salt-alcohol-induced weight gain from a busy and fun weekend). The only bike I have here is H's. I thought I would try that.

Now, H is only a few inches taller than me, and honestly, our legs are the same length. It would seem that his bike would be fine for me.

It would seem that way. Too bad things aren't always what they seem.

The damned thing was way too tall. I felt like I was trying to mount a horse. I hurt my lady parts trying to shift in the seat so my feet could touch the ground when I leaned. I held myself up against the big brick planter to balance and when I tried to pedal, just my toes were on the pedals when they were all the way down.

How the hell does my husband ride this bike??!?!?

He wants to take me to Tar-Jay to buy a cheap-o bike so I can see if I like it or not. We'll see how it goes.

Before I go, though, I would like to share a site with you. It's called Curve Appeal. I was looking at it this morning and decided to share it with some friends who are also a bit "curvy" and I'm sure some of the people who read this site are, too. It's not totally safe for work, so you might either view with the screen away from your office door or at home! It was a nice exercise in body acceptance, though, which is something I am still working on.

I posed that question to my friends: how can someone who is so comfortable with WHO they are be so uncomfortable with HOW they look? I have finally made it to a point in my life where I actually like myself. I really do. And most of the time I'm okay with my shape. But some Some days are rough. I hate that I am in a body that just won't let go of weight, and a body that gets injured easily when I do make a strong effort to exercise. This is my lot in life, I suppose.

H has offered to take me out to dinner to celebrate my students' and my success, and because he "felt like doing something" tonight. Whatever that means.