Sunday, April 30, 2017

SPRING, DON'T TAKE OFF NOW

How do I know it's really Spring?

The armored bee is back.  I am typing at my computer, which is on the second floor, and I spot movement at the screen in the window.  It's the bee that bothers me every year, the bee that has a hard shell on its outside, the bee that cannot be killed by sprays or beatings, so a few years ago, we agreed to just get along and share my patio. The bee appears every Spring and disappears as soon as the leaves are completely unfurled. 

Until the leaves are completely unfurled, green stringy things drop from the branches above the patio and plop onto the cement.  My patio goes from clear to coated (with green decorations) in about eight minutes flat.  I attempt to sit outside and enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet this afternoon (late enough in the day that Bee has given up until tomorrow), but I am innundated with green sprigs dive-bombing me.  Totally ruins the moment, so in I go.

Mostly, though, the pollen is killing me.  Even when I'm inside the house, I throw a few monstrous, unpredictable, pollen-fueled sneeze attacks.  My nose runs, my throat is scratchy, and my eyes water so badly that my make-up runs in lines down my cheeks if I don't have a tissue immediately on hand.

Ah, Spring; I love you, but you do not love me back.  So unfair.  However, I'm damn glad you're here, so don't even consider taking off on me now.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

TIRED (OF) TESTING

Why is it that I seem to be more tired than the students after state testing? I swear it's true: Teachers are exhausted after the state testing finishes. 

Sure, the kiddos do all the hard work, some to the point of putting their heads down on their desks and dozing off when it's all done.  True, all I have to do is pick up the materials, keep them locked and/or in my direct sight at all times, pass everything out, read the novel-length directions out loud, distribute all the pencils and accommodating materials, walk around constantly, remind students to bubble in the same number answer as question, monitor them from accidentally marking highlighter in the answer booklets, watch the clock, communicate with administration with updates on our progress, collect all materials, secure all materials, count all materials (including the pencils), return all the materials to the holding closet and count all materials again, and make the long walk to and from the test materials safe location twice a day.

How could I possibly feel like I've been through a marathon after two days of this?  I'll think about it while I'm sleeping at 7:00 p.m.  Do you think the neighbors would mind if I just fall asleep out on the patio still dressed in my teacher clothes?  I'm not even certain I have the strength to unlock my front door.  But, seriously, I don't do any heavy lifting during state testing, right?  Isn't that the word on the street? 

Friday, April 28, 2017

BE GOOD TO ME, FRIDAY

It's Friday.  Damn good thing, too.

Lately I've had a lot less patience and tolerance for ignorance around me.  Okay, true, when have I ever tolerated that shit?  But now, instead of the momentarily delayed reaction of exasperated disbelief followed by indifferent flippancy, I go directly to RAGE: zero to sixty in a millisecond, sometimes so damn furious so damn quickly that it takes my blood pressure and foul mouth a fraction of a second to sync with each other, spewing forth the most gloriously indignant swear words anyone with an ear has ever heard, all fueled by my rapidly escalating BP.

Other drivers on the road receive my rage; unnecessary changes to my schedule feed my rage; technicians and work crews who do not show up or, worse, lie to their supervisors to avoid doing a job feel the burn of my rage.

Thank goodness it's finally Friday.  I'm afraid if I don't cool down this attitude with a frosty mug of something cold and refreshing, I might flap my mouth just a little too tartly at someone who may or may not deserve it, but will certainly be left with marks from the verbal beating I'll hand down, anyway, just because. 

Be good to me, Friday; I truly need it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

GLASSES DRAMA, PART 2

An update to yesterday's glasses drama.

First, a recap:  While visiting North Carolina a few months ago, I catch myself wearing my reading glasses instead of my distance glasses while driving a rental car.  This isn't a big deal because I actually pass my eye test for driving every year, but I am in unfamiliar territory, so I drive the rental car to a Wal-Mart over the state line in South Carolina, spend $7 on+ +1.50 glasses, and call it a victory.

These glasses quickly become my go-to pair for distance, as they fit perfectly and are large enough to accord me exceptional peripheral night vision.  I wear them to work almost daily, and I rapidly become attached to them, coveting them as if I'd never owned another pair . . . though I have about a dozen +1.50s.

I rarely misplace glasses because they're usually on my head, but, for some strange reason, I lose my distance glasses three times in one day while switching them between my readers and my drivers.  It takes a team of students to locate my glasses, and all is right with the world until I lose them again on the way home, which is stupid because I should be wearing them to drive home, right?

Fast forward to this morning.  Maybe I dropped my glasses in the staff parking lot.  I don't remember driving over them (I'd have heard the crunch).  Perhaps they're next to my usual parking spot.  I arrive early, search around on the ground, see nothing that remotely resembles glasses, then head into the school.  Perhaps I'll have better luck inside.

I hope to find  my glasses on my desk.  Even though I am reasonably certain that I put them into my coat pocket the day before so they wouldn't get covered in rain as I ran to my car, I am hopeful that I am a total nutcase and simply left them at work.  I open the door, turn on the lights, and glance to the left.

Nope.  No glasses.  

I really need to get over this.  These glasses cost me $7 at Wal-Mart, and I bought them as a temporary solution for the glasses I forgot at the North Carolina hotel when driving to a dinner date.   These glasses weren't even supposed to make it to the plane back to Logan.  I can go to a local Wal-Mart and look for an identical pair if I care that much.

Late in the school day, I hear the assistant principal in the hallway.  We are about to go into state testing mode, so I am surprised that he is out of the test-prep cave.  He is probably heading to the superintendent's office, which is three doors down from my room.  Suddenly, he pops into my room.

"Are these yours?" he asks, holding up my lost glasses.  "One of the math teachers found them in the parking lot yesterday."

I am smiling now.  This is such a good thing.  Sure, they're cheapo, replaceable glasses, but I missed them so much in the twenty-two hours in which they were missing.   "Yes!  Oh, my goodness, how did you know they were mine?"

He laughs a little bit, hands the glasses to me, and starts to walk away.  "Word is you keep losing glasses, so we all figured they MUST be yours."

Ah, well.  It's good to be famous for something, I suppose.  Even better, though, it's good to have my glasses back.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

EASY COME, EASY GO

About six months ago, I was driving around in North Carolina while wearing the wrong glasses.  I had on my reading glasses, not my driving glasses.  Yup, I would rather wear two different pairs of $4 glasses than invest $500 in one pair of dual-purpose glasses.  Rather than risk an accident after dark driving in a new place, I jumped the border to South Carolina, hit Wal-Mart, and bought myself some $7 glasses.

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I love these glasses.  They're a good color (teal) and fit my face perfectly.  They're not too tight nor too loose around my head, and they're large enough to keep my peripheral driving vision fully functional.  I wear these glasses to work every day.

Or, rather, I hope to wear them to work every day.

Today, for the first time since buying the glasses, I lose them.  One second they are on my head; the next, they are not.  I look all over my classroom and cannot find them, knowing full-well I had them on my head less than five minutes prior.  I even enlist the math teacher who shares my room and the students she teaches.  Finally, while re-tracing my steps to my mailbox, the students find my glasses back in my room.

Score!

Then things get weird.  I lose the glasses again before I leave school.  I find them again, and I am quite certain that they are on my head as I rush outside to head home.  It's pouring rain, so I am pretty sure I tuck them into my coat pocket, the pocket on my left; the pocket on my right holds my cell phone.  I swear that this happens: I put them on my head in the car and wipe the rain off them so I can read an incoming text.

However, when I arrive home (without ever getting out of my car), the glasses are gone.  I check the car twice, looking under seats, along the sides of things, but still, no glasses.  Did they fall out of my pocket in the parking lot at school?  Did I hallucinate that I brought them home in the first place?  I go through my backpack not once, not twice, but four times.  FOUR.  I am so sure that I had them in the car that now I am questioning my sanity.

Oh, well.  The glasses are probably in the parking lot somewhere, and I probably ran them over on my way out of the parking spot.  If I'm super-lucky, I forgot them on my desk at school and will find them there in the morning, but I am not holding out much hope.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DESK-TOP HALLELUJAH!

First day back from break, and I am not looking forward to seeing my desk at work.  My desk is usually a mess -- an organized mess, but a mess, just the same.  Piles of papers to correct; piles of papers to return; piles of papers to file; binders to organize; folders of copying to be done; absentee work to hand out ... and on and on.

When I left work ten days ago, I felt like crap warmed over.  I was just starting round two of a cold, a new and improved cold that knocked me for a huge loop for my entire break.  I didn't stay late that Friday, and I brought home a bunch of work to do.  I am still finishing up a unit on the Titanic, and I have a bunch of side lessons to work into my repertoire. 

I amble to my room Monday morning, fully expecting to be greeted by an incredible towering mess of paper chaos.  I almost don't want to open the door, but I know that I must.  I have to face it, get it over with, sit down, and sort through it all. The key goes in the door lock, and I slip into the dark room.  Taking a deep breath, I hit the fluorescent lights and gaze at the desk.

What ... the ... HALLELUJAH!

Slowly, very slowly, I remember what I did the Friday before break, the morning I woke up feeling like dung warmed over.  It was a half day, and the students were creating their mini-me game characters for the simulated sinking of the Titanic, which is happening this week post-break.  I remember sitting at my desk, not feeling like talking much because my throat hurt. 

Oh, yeah!  I passed back a bunch of papers and did a slew of filing and recycled a bunch of stuff from my file boxes, file cabinets and from my ... DESK!

That's right!  I cleaned off my desk so I could come back to an organized room!

It may be my first day back after ten days off, but this is rapidly turning into the Best Day Ever!  Thank you, clean desk, thank you, thank you, thank you!  And thank you, selective memory, for allowing me this wonderful moment, this unexpected gift.  Sometimes having a sieve brain is a wonderful thing.  Either that or it's old age, but I'm going for sieve brain.  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it, right here at my ultra-organized desk.

Monday, April 24, 2017

FINISHING THE 5K

Last day of April break, and I'm packing as much fun as I can into today.  Before going to Maine to do some landscaping and stump removal (I actually consider this fun) around my niece's (and her fiance's) house, I am doing a 5k.

By "doing" a 5k, I mean "mostly walking."  Today I jog about a third of it, maybe a bit more.  I wish I could run it, but I'm a sprinter, not a miler.  I simply cannot train myself to keep the pace, but I'm a reasonably fast walker, so it all evens out.  I am doing this 5k solo today, so I have no one to pace but myself, anyway.

This 5k is called Run for the Troops, and it raises money to benefit different organizations that directly serve veterans.  The organizers purposefully designed the course to have the biggest and most critical hill near the end, after mile marker 2, and it is dubbed the town's own version of the Boston Marathon's Heartbreak Hill.

I am doing pretty well keeping pace.  I have my own water with me, and I'm alternating between walking quickly and jogging (until our local Heartbreak Hill - then I walk).  My only issues are that I haven't been training for this, and I am just coming off a week of being sick with a cold (and possibly a touch of the flu).  My stomach isn't happy with me, but I treat it to a muffin top and a banana when I finish the race.

As soon as I cross the finish line (jogging), an ambulance pulls up.  Not for me.  This in itself is a victory.  Turns out I am in the top 75 of people my age running, and I am just over the 1,000th female finisher.  I have no problem with that.  I mean, I paid the money and got the shirt, so, technically, I already made my contribution.  Any place I finish is fine with me because ... I FINISH THE RUN.

I have another 5k fundraiser coming up in two weeks, so maybe I'd better train a little bit more seriously, especially since I am sponsoring a team.  In the meantime, 5k behind me, time to go pull some stumps out of the ground in Maine (I love the challenge).  Then it's home to shower, iron some clothes, and watch a little television before heading back to the grind at work.