Thursday, July 06, 2017

That Wonderful Sound

I got a new computer with some of the money from this year's summer work.  I really needed one.  My old netbook had become so sluggish and grumpy that I just hated to use it for anything.  I think when I upgraded it to Windows 10, it just wasn't quite up to the job somehow.

This new one has no such issues.  It is nice to feel that the machine is a tool and not an obstacle again.  Even though I'm not a programmer or a power user, as a teacher, I need reliable access to be able to get everything ready for my job.  The old netbook just could not provide that anymore.

My favorite part of it is the most absurd, I suppose.  It's not the big screen or the backlit keyboard; it's the fact that it FOUND MY PRINTER without my having to perform an arcane ritual under the light of the full moon and that it PRINTED A DOCUMENT FROM WORD without my having to turn it into a PDF, route it through Thailand, and offer up incense and prayers.  I simply opened Word, clicked the little "quick print" icon, and that wonderful sound, that soft click and whir, issued from across the room.

Technology working like it is supposed to work.  Who ever thought of such a thing?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And Then There's This....

I went to see my neurologist yesterday, and we talked about the fact that my headaches are *not* actually getting better.  I had kept stubbornly insisting that they would.  After all, I am out of my former negative work environment now, and all the bad stuff there is out of my life now.  Why wouldn’t things be getting better?

He started asking me some questions, and I knew where he was headed with it - depression.  I immediately bridled at the idea, but then he told me that whatever has screwed up my brain to make me prone to migraines also means I am prone to depression. His phrase was that the two conditions frequently “walk hand-in-hand.” He is putting me on a very low dose of an antidepressant to help with the migraines since the same chemical mechanisms are involved.

I left his office, and I felt like an utter failure.  Everybody I know is on antidepressants, I think.  Hell, just the teachers are probably keeping the American pharmaceutical industry afloat.  Two other doctors have talked to me about going on them, especially after my surgery and when my stress levels were so high my blood pressure was spiking to dangerous levels.  I have resisted.  I kept feeling like, you know, my life isn’t so bad.  I have a family that loves me.  I have a home and pets and friends.  How can I be depressed?  What right do I have to it?  (Which makes no flipping sense, I know, but that's how I felt.)  I need to just pull myself together is all. If I just refocused myself or change this external factor or add this new routine, I was going to be fine.  

But it really hasn’t been, and I am increasingly thinking that maybe I'm not.

I was sick about it all day, mad and looking for some way out of what I saw as a personal failing.  But I kept thinking about it.  I thought about the questions he had asked me.  Was I withdrawing from people?  Had I lost interest in things I used to enjoy?  Was I tired all the time?  Was my sleep irregular?

Yes.  Yes, yes, and yes.

I looked up a list of symptoms online.  I was really doing it more to prove to myself that this is *not* depression more than any other thing at this point, that while I might have a few of the signs that there were certainly others much more serious that would show I was not dealing with this. This is just life.  This is just teaching life.  This is just life after 40.  Whatever.  Yeah.  That didn’t work at all.  Flipping internet.

Am I frequently irritable?  Yes.  Apathetic?  You bet. Mood swings?  Like a damn carnival ride. Panic attacks or anxiety?  Checkity-check-check-check.  On and on.

And it’s been this way for about three years now that I can objectively measure.  Maybe longer.  

That’s when it hit me like a hammer.  Is this what’s wrong?  Has this been why I never seem to get anything done now, why every weekend I am just on the couch reading or sleeping?  I haven’t applied for an out-of-country summer program in a couple of years.  Thinking about the effort involved makes me too tired to fool with it.  I make plans to clean the house, to make sourdough, to start a stained glass project, to do anything but sit with a book, and by the end of the day, I find that I simply haven’t, but despite all that nothing, I’m just as tired.

I don’t write anymore.  I don’t keep up with my friends.  I don’t craft anymore.  I don’t workout anymore.  I don’t practice the piano anymore.  Everywhere except at school, which oddly seems to be less affected by this, I just sort of….am.

Yesterday, I was angry about it.  Just one more stupid thing wrong with my stupid body, just one more way nature has found to mess me over. When I woke up this morning, though, I felt a little differently.  If this *is* the problem (and remember he is giving me a low, low dose of the medicine to help with the migraines), is there then hope?  Can I get back to a place where I don’t have to feel so bad all the time?  Can I get back to a place where I do things again?

I guess we will just have to see.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring Comes Again

I haven't written in five months, almost to the day.  It feels in a very real way like I've been dead or sleeping since October.

Something huge happened with a member of my family's health, and without even meaning to, I somehow shut down all the non-essential functions.  I was like a tree when the winter came.  I dropped my leaves and pulled inside myself to ride out the season.

The last big part of what was going on ended this week, and even though there are still many things we know are coming and other things that may develop, it's as if I felt the world shift again, all those things that had gone out-of-balance slipping back into place.

This week, I cleaned my house.  I took care of online tasks I had let go for ages.  I replaced several items that had gotten so damaged that they no longer functioned.  In short, spring has come, and the world is full of green again.

Everything got put on hold except the absolutely necessary. Life had been a cycle of work-home-sleep-repeat.  I've neglected everybody terribly.  I have had one conversation I am more or less ashamed of and will have to set right.

Wilco said it best:

How can I warn you when my tongue turns to dust like we've discussed?
It doesn't mean that I don't care
It means I'm partially there
You're gonna need to be patient with me

How I hope people, especially those I love, will continue to be.

Friday, October 07, 2016

October Light

It's a Friday in October, and I'm sitting in my car.  I just got home, but as is usually the case, I need just a minute to transition from "work responsibilities" to "home responsibilities." 

The light is this special shade of gold that only ever happens in October.  I don't know why it should be so, but October afternoon light has captivated me since childhood.  It makes me feel like I should be getting ready to go to a carnival or something.  Just seeing it shimmering through the leaves lifts my tired heart.

This gold light is the color of the sky in the dreams I remember, the dreams that speak to me.  Maybe it's the color of the sky in some other world altogether that is only revealed on October afternoons and behind closed eyes.

Or maybe I just need to get out of the car and go in now....

Sunday, September 11, 2016

That Moment When....

...this wonderfully odd little song comes up in my Spotify playlist, and my very first thought is, "Gotta share that with ____."  Only we don't do that anymore, so I can't.

Bit of crap, that......

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The End of Week 1

My first week as a teacher at my new/old school is done.  It fairly flew by.  I'm tired, but not the bone-weary exhaustion I have felt, not the "and-I-have-to-do-this-again-how-long?" that I've known before.  My co-workers are so tremendously helpful and welcoming, the students are well-behaved (for the most part), and constant little drops of happiness (treats in the lounge, a free shirt, jeans on Friday, a goodie bag from a student organization) keep coming along.

The little details, in fact, keep blowing me away.  The food in the cafeteria is genuinely good, and there is always enough of it.  There are several choices for entrees, lovely vegetables all the time, ice cream and ice-cold bottled water in a cooler at the register.  Nobody winds up with quickly-reheated chicken patties and corn.  I heard a student in line say, in fact, "Yeah, my mom always packs me a lunch, but sometimes that's not so good, so I always get a tray."  It's quiet enough to have a normal conversation in the cafeteria.  My head doesn't pound because of the noise.

I'm starting to stop looking for the other shoe, but I can't quite let go of the fear that it is going to drop at some point.  I don't know how long I will keep subconsciously waiting for that thud that means some hidden cray-cray is coming out of the closet.  I know I can't keep living like that, though, always looking over my shoulder, so deliberately, I'm trying to focus on all the good.

Part of me misses my old home for so long, too.  I sort of miss the view out of my second-floor windows and those long, comforting, red-brick halls.  I wonder how my newspaper staff is getting on.  I worry about my teacher friends left behind there.  I hope that things are somehow managing to change for the better for them, too.

For the most part, though, the relief of not having to be in that environment of stress is nearly overwhelming.  I get up in the morning, and I don't dread the day. When I reach my planning period, I get things done or visit with one of my fellow teachers.  I don't have to just sit behind my desk for awhile and try to get myself together for the rest of the day.   And while I have mostly kept my rule about school work being done at school and home being about home, I will admit that I sat here the past two nights slicing open tennis balls that someone donated to me so I could put them on the bottoms of my desk legs next week to silence the noise of desk movement.  I felt good about doing it, too.

I also had enough time and energy to find a new lesson plan template and beat it into submission.  It was enjoyable to do stuff like that again in a way that the vast majority of things related to education had not been for me in longer than I care to contemplate.  I actually did it before they were due instead of putting it off needlessly as a form of avoidance of something that was frustrating and that I could not change. This time, I didn't feel angry when I worked on the lesson plans because they didn't have to be filled with random glittery bits of edutrendiness that had been culled from some seminar someone had been to or had seen online.  They're set up my way for my classes, are easily adaptable, are actually legitimately reusable since they're in Excel (not my favorite thing, but very good for this sort of document as it turns out).  I'm going to be able to print them off and use all of them, not just have pages and pages of stuff I have to shuffle through to get to the useful bits.  It's deeply satisfying to have my plans be a tool to run my class again and not something hijacked for another purpose.

Next week will be a much more accurate sample of what everything is actually going to be like.  All the new will be worn off, and everyone will be settling in to their regular behaviors.  That hovering shoe might be about to make its appearance known.  Or not.  I'm going to try to be so busy being happy and making things good for my students that I don't notice one way or the other.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Edge of Something

Tomorrow, I'll go to school for the first of the obligatory teacher days, something that happens at the beginning of every new school year.  It won't, however, be just another year.  It's the start of the first year at a new school.

Usually at this time, I have acid in my stomach and a headache on the horizon, worried about whatever new challenges and assignments were going to be waiting on me, dreading the hours of meetings that served little purpose.  This time, though, I'm actually looking forward to all of it.

That feeling of optimism has been missing for longer than I care to consider.  I have always been ready to see the students again, but to be honest, for about the last three years, the other parts of going back ground me down a little more each time.

This year, something is different.  Someone asked me the other day if I were ready to go back, and, with a big silly grin on my face, I said, "Actually, yes."  I may be the only teacher in the history of time who has said that, and at the end of the day tomorrow, I may feel like I have been run over by a bus, but for now, here on the edge of something, I am hopeful.

And that's everything.