Friday, August 27, 2010


I did not think that, at the end of the first week, school would actually not be my biggest concern. The week was okay. I did not flip out. I did not shed one work-related tear.

I am more upset about things going on in my family. My youngest sisters are not liking college so much after being there a week. This brouhaha is bringing up issues and habits that have gone untouched for years.

My sister and I, and my brother (in different ways) were pushed to achieve. We were never allowed to quit - a sport, a job, a class. You started it, you fulfilled the commitment you made. We were challenged - take the AP classes. Stop reading and go practice algebra (this was actually a common theme). I think it was different for my youngest sisters - there wasn't the pushing, but then also the expectations weren't as high. They weren't told they could do the things the older kids did.

I feel like maybe I wasn't a good role model for them. Maybe I didn't try to motivate them enough myself. Maybe I didn't let them know that I think they are amazing people who can do any
thing they want. Maybe I didn't let them know enough that I believe in them, I believe in them so fucking much. I love them and they are marvelous people; if I had told them that more often, maybe they wouldn't be feeling the way they are now.

I'm 600 miles away - I can't shake them and hug them like I want to. I can't go back in time and tell them all the things I should have told them

Chimpanzee family says if we'd spent more time grooming, we wouldn't have this problem.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last day of summer

Tomorrow I go back to school - a classroom full of three-year-olds.

I know I'm much more prepared than I was before. I know I have more skills. I know that when my kids don't do what I tell them, I don't need to freak out because I can get them back on task.

I keep thinking about tomorrow. I know what I'm going to wear, so I know how I'll look. I know what my classroom looks like, so that's set. But as much and as carefully as I plan, there's no guarantee that anything will go the way I want it to. I can envision my kinds coming in, sitting down, following directions. But then all I can do is think about how easily it can go to hell.

I know I can't think about it too much. I've planned, I know the main parts of what the day will be. Obsessing about what can go wrong won't help me. I need to walk in there with confidence - even if I have to fake it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hoo buddy

I'm back in the land of the ankle-biters next week - where the eff did this summer go? This week DCPS teachers are attending professional development at their schools from 8:00-3:30. Today about 1/3 of the material was actually relevant to my instruction - the rest dealt with test-taking grades. This wouldn't be terrible if I didn't have 847,293 things to do to make my classroom ready for students again. I spent an hour rearranging furniture (there goes the lovely waxed floor, sorry custodial staff) and will probably re-rearrange it tomorrow.

I'm starting to get a panicky, hummingbird-on-cocaine feeling whenever I think about the school year starting - so I'm spending most of the day feeling like a coked-out bird.

There's just so much going on, from all over the place.
This is kind of petty, but why was I the only instructor on the entire first floor who didn't receive a pad of chart paper? I wouldn't care, but a) that shit is expensive and b) this is not the first time I've been shorted on supplies. I don't know who I pissed off, but I will do anything to apologize. And some recent legislation sent stock from Jim's company down the tubes and added a bajillion more hoops for them to jump through. I have a new paraprofessional and I'm nervous about working with her. My school didn't make AYP for the third year in a row - if we don't make it this year, the school closes. Period. It's not a tragedy for me, because we'll be moving anyway after our two-year commitments are up, but a couple of the teachers have worked at the school since it opened 30 years ago. And my principal created an elaborate schedule for the preschool/pre-k classes that, while certainly rigorous, seems to have no basis in reality. It takes two grown women longer than 5 minutes to use the bathroom - how does it make sense to allot that same amount of time to 16 three-year-olds?

And deep down I'm absolutely terrified that once the kids are back in my classroom, it'll be just as awful and miserable as it was last year.

I need more primates.

Orangutan says chill the fuck out, Lisa.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today's guffaw

Want to know what I looked like in high school?

Yeah. I was THAT COOL in 2005.

I was also kind of pretty. And had impressively shiny hair.

But I never would have believed that if you told me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Comments redux

Let me say right off that I love the gym I go to. It's relatively small, rarely crowded, and pretty friendly to women. After a long day like today (at work from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM), it's really helpful to get sweaty while reading a fashion/fitness/gossip magazine.

Today, though, I noticed something. In a re
cent issue of Shape, the two "success" stories both included anecdotes about nasty comments. The first woman was told by a snooty salesperson that she was "already wearing the largest size the store made," and was so devastated by the thought of shopping in a plus-size store that she decided to change her ways. The second woman went to a family reunion, only to have her grandfather-in-law say that he "couldn't fit his arms around her" after he hugged her. In front of the rest of the family.

I'm not bitching about the magazines themselves. If I really didn't like them, I wouldn't read them. Weight-loss stories can be inspiring for people who are trying to improve their health (although I wish the focus was actually on health rather than weight loss). But the point is that these women were shamed into losing weight - one by a person who had no business passing judgment and one by a family
member. Thing is, shame is not an effective weight-loss method.
This is a slow loris. Why? Because this post is long and I like primates.

Something else happened at the gym today. I was well into some cardio on the bike a when I finished my magazine. I took a break and went to find another, trashier if possible. As I looked over the selection, a trainer drew me into a conversation about why people get personal trainers. I replied with a polite smile and nod.

Then he said, "You know, if you're doing cardio correctly you shouldn't be able to read."

I gave him my sweetest, fakest smile and said "I know." But once I got back to my bike I was too angry and upset to go on.

I tried to think about why I was so angry, and I talked to Jim about it to get his perspective. First, I know he is probably a nice person and just wanted to give me some advice. Second, I really think you can use cardio machines correctly and manage to read, say, People. Also I was literally dripping sweat when he said that to me - do I look like I'm doin' it wrong? And finally, as Jim pointed out, a lot of personal trainers think everyone (I would say every woman) has the same goal - to thinner. The guy had no idea why I was there (to get sweaty and read a bad magazine), and because of that, he shouldn't have said anything.

Buddy, if I wanted your advice, I'd pay for it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A day so crappy I had to write about it

MAN today was crummy. Here's why:

1. Yesterday I fell off my bike, which added pain and discomfort to today.

See, Jim has an official mountain-bike bike, and he's really enjoying terrifying-sounding things like "singletracks" and "switchbacks." I have yet to attempt these things. The other day, though, Jim said hey! we should mountain bike together! you can learn how and then we can ride along steep dirt trails, a couple so blazingly athletic that we risk blinding bystanders! And I think well, I'm a little scared because I had a bad fall the last time I went out and we were just on a regular trail (with a convenient patch of gravel for me to fall into), but I want to spend time with Jim and hey, maybe I can be a sleek, blazingly athletic woman on a bike.

So we start off on the trail and I'm terrified. I'm moving at about 5 mph along this trail that is 80% rock, 10% tree roots and 10% certain death, but with the amount of adrenaline I'm pumping I feel like I'm flying. But after I manage to stay upright for a while and we get out of the woods, I start to get some confidence. I come up on a series of small hills and think hey, I can do thi- GAAHRGRRAAAGGGHHHHHAAAHHHHHH

Given the force and volume of my scream Jim thought I had died, but I just banged up my legs and arm. I was bad ass and used my water bottle to wash off my wounds and kept going. Then later on this ride I fell into a marsh, but that's not funny so much as it is just sad. And I was hurty all day.

2. Today I got a call from my summer-work boss (I'm working for the Teach for America office) asking about the breakfast that was supposed to be delivered to a training and then I realize I FORGOT TO ORDER BREAKFAST. I was eating my own breakfast at the time and almost threw up. I really haven't felt that particular kind of oh fuck since the last time I realized a homework assignment was missing just as I walked into class. I spent the morning frantically calling Einstein's and finally got the bagels to the training about an hour after they were supposed to get there. FAIL. Of course my boss was super understanding about it and in the grand scheme, it wasn't that big a deal. But I still felt like I was going to go to detention.

3. I've been working on another project for my summer job and it has been the most tedious, frustrating thing I've dealt with in a while. There are files I can't find, instructions that aren't clear, docs that won't open. It's just my luck that the same woman who's directing this project is the one who was leading the training for which the bagels were late. That may be the worst sentence I've ever written. I'm letting it stand.

4. Of course, when I start to feel incompetent, my brain turns on my poor, battered body. You are so fat, it whispered as I struggled to color-code the tables of contents (like culs de sac?). Your stomach is really, really gross. Like a flesh marshmallow. Of course my rather less-nourishing food choices today haven't been helpful.

5. Now that I've bitched through this post, I am starting to feel guilty for bitching. Lisa, I say to myself, you know there are at least 5 billion people whose days probably were a lot worse than yours. Like they had car accidents or lost their jobs or had malaria. So you have no right to feel bad.

And there you have it, folks.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bad blogger!

Ack - I've been meaning to blog more. I sit down after work (I'm doing office work for Teach for America over the summer) and think, man, I should blog. But then I get on Facebook or start reading my book and then ... sleepy. I have so many things to write about - the Shrimp and Grits Debacle, the Barbie-doll who goes to my gym, the pitfalls of professional clothing, and more - but right now my brain isn't quite up to it.