Friday, August 29, 2014

In which I briefly poke my head above water

So that blog post I said was going up April? Yeah... It's half written and sitting in my drafts pile because every time I think about posting it, some sort of kerfuffle arises that is closely related enough to the topic that I worry people will think I'm jumping on board a topic unrelated to what caused me to write the post in the first place. So there it still sits, twiddling its thumbs and waiting for me to let it out. Perhaps soon, if the internet can avoid frothing at the mouth for a while. (Or perhaps never.)

In terms of writing, I have been equally unproductive. I don't think I've put two words together outside of my head all summer. My valet menage is calling my name most insistently, so I think that'll be first on my list of projects when I have some time to myself. After that... well, we'll see. Sometimes I contemplate turning these little snippets into something more substantial; sometimes I think I prefer them just as they are. Another possibility is a trans Cinderella I got about a quarter of the way into before it informed me that wants to be rewritten on a different continent, which consequently requires quite a bit of research on my part.

So what on earth have I been doing with myself? Sometimes it feels like nothing, while simultaneously feeling like I haven't had a chance to catch a breath in months. Some factors:

1. The Kid: I was really looking forward to having some time to write over my summer vacation. Then my once-a-week daycare got cancelled. Then my backup daycare got cancelled. I love my son to pieces, but he doesn't exactly want me to sit around and write all day when we're together; he'd much rather I read Is Your Mama a Llama? and teach him how to walk (which he can now do all by himself). After this summer, I have even greater admiration for those who spend all day with small children, and a greater appreciation for the secondary students I spend my days with at work.

2. Work changes: I did not renew my contract for one of the schools where I was teaching. We parted with a few nice words, a pink devotional, and a chocolate Jesus fish. Given that the school closed over the summer, this seems to have been for the best. Losing two-thirds of my personal contribution to the household income, however, meant I was looking for other employment for the first part of the summer. Work for uncertified teachers with bachelors degrees in Latin and Greek is difficult to come by, and I desperately wanted something that would let me get my homework done for the two evening classes I'm taking each semester of this school year. Solution: I am now the study hall proctor for 7 out of 8 study halls at the school where I still teach Latin (in that one remaining hour). Although this has gotten me many sympathetic looks from my colleagues, the first two weeks have gone quite well and I'm really enjoying it, to everyone's surprise. I do a lot of writing hall passes, sending students to the peer tutoring center, proctoring make-up tests and quizzes, and walking around the room to make sure that laptops are open for the sake of homework and not for the sake of playing Minecraft. And now I know almost all of the freshmen by name and feel much more connected to the school community, which is something I've very much missed while working just a couple of hours each at two schools so far apart from each other. I must confess one of my favorite bits of my new schedule is that lunch break is a full hour, if teachers' office hours are included. The break at my last school was 14 minutes.

3. Family: In November, one of my mom's younger brothers went to the doctor because he was having some issues with his depth perception. They discovered stage four melanoma in his brain and lungs, and he passed away in February. My mom was devastated. Then her older sister, her best friend, died quite suddenly at the beginning of August from a blood clot following a routine scope of her knee. She spent about a week and a half in Colorado with her sister's family while various members of my family went out to visit and help with arrangements; then she came home and I helped her set up a memorial open house here for all of the rest of her friends and relatives. It's horrible to see my mother so lost and grief-stricken. I'm doing whatever I can, but losing two siblings in 6 months is not the sort of thing that a few lasagnas can heal.

4. Going to college: Thanks to my English minor being a linguistics minor rather than a literature minor, I have to finish up 5 prerequisite classes before I can enroll in the one year certification program to get my state teaching license with an English endorsement. I'm taking two classes this semester (Critical Theory and Teaching Secondary Writing) and two more next semester (Multicultural Children's Lit and Literary Genres), and hoping to finish the last one over the summer. Then I'll take the required education courses, do my semester of student aiding and semester of student teaching, take the state tests and be certified by June of 2015, an official teacher at last after only a full decade of teaching. (Insert rolling of eyes here.) I've got my fingers crossed that I can get an exemption for the student aiding, at least, if not the student teaching.

5. Health: I've had a ventral hernia at the sight of an old surgery scar since my son was born last July. I didn't know what it was until fairly recently, and then I didn't know what to do about it. (The answer from the surgeon, in case you're wondering, was "Don't worry about it until you're done having kids, or I'll just have to fix it again.") I also had a miscarriage at the end of June, which is my second and therefore involves more consultation with the OB/GYN than the first one. It looks as though the issue is with my progesterone level, though it's hard to tell whether that's a symptom or a cause; in any case, I get to do all sorts of fun testing while attempting to get pregnant again. If I have a third miscarriage, then we really get to do all the fun infertility investigation. I'm hoping we won't come to that.

My husband, bless his soul, is a worrier of the needs-medication-to-function-at-all sort. He has been attempting to wean himself off his antidepressants for a couple of years, but has recently acknowledged that he has succeeded primarily by replacing his meds with beer, and that drinking 8+ a night is not healthy. So he decided to quit drinking a week and a half ago. Within two days, he was convinced he was dying of cirrhosis or advanced liver cancer and would not make it to see the end of the year. His reasoning: flu-like symptoms combined with a history of alcohol abuse must equal a non-functioning liver. My reasoning: all of his symptoms are symptoms of the anxiety disorder for which he started taking the medication he is no longer taking. Fortunately, he got the results of his blood work this morning, and I am right--his liver is perfectly healthy, and his doctor recommends restarting his anxiety medication immediately. However, for the last two weeks, I've been living with a man who truly believed, deep down to the core of his being, that he was about to die and that it was entirely his own fault. It's been... stressful. And time-consuming. But he's feeling much better today, and I think he will be right as rain in another week.

6. Vacation: That's what summer is supposed to be for when you're a teacher, right? I spent ten days in Minnesota with my in-laws at the beginning of July, a couple of weekends up at my parents' cabin two hours north of where I live, and a week on an island in the Great Lakes with my choral ensemble (see picture above for a hint of the sort of view I enjoyed each morning while sipping a hot beverage on the deck). Eight of my best friends living in a house together on vacation for six days = awesome. We performed five concerts in four days, tallied up 26 hours of rehearsal, and stayed up well past my bedtime every night. It was fantastic.

Now I'm going to enjoy a few hours of solitude, thanks to Labor Day weekend starting a day earlier at school than at daycare, and try to get some writing done. I think there's a yearning valet whose heart needs a little wringing...