Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blast from the past

Every now and then, as you readers know, I like to pull out old journals and record my thoughts and reactions to them. Tonight is no different, and I've chosen to pull out journals from student teaching, in light of my recent (and let's face it) ongoing career sqabbles that have reared their ugly heads as of late. This entry is dated October 4th, 2004. My god has it been over five years since I completed student teaching already? Dear GOD!

I write:

It's amazing too how many different positions six year olds can find to sit. Just amazing. Is it wrong of me to be annoyed when I see five pairs of feet in the air?

To which my supervisor reading writes in response:

(Smiley face) No, Perfectly Natural! (Janneke, if you are reading this, I hope you are well and I miss your humor, insight, and encouragement...)

I continue to write:

I mean, what comes next? I never considered myself picky, but but a little consistency goes a long way. I am learning that it is important to be firm about my expectations and don't withdraw them under any circumstances.

Then, in a different color, on the same day, I write more:

Behavior management is still a weakness...I know my kids are testing me like the water in a pool now that their teacher is out of the room full time and I know that means I must stay consistent...trouble is, I don't. I have no reason why, but when it comes down to releasing a consequence, I ALWAYS hesitate. And never actually give one. I always justify it with some excuse, which usually gets put back on me. I think, "I didn't give a warning," or "My directions weren't clear enough." Ultimately, I don't want to face the consequences of giving consequences, if that makes any sense at all.

To which my supervising professor replies:

It does. (She gets me.)

I continue:

Which brings me to my next point: Self-criticism and doubt. This will ultimately be my downfall in this profession. It'll be the reason I decide to back out eventually. I find myself questioning, doubting, every decision I make in the classroom and planning lessons. Not good. Part of my stress this semester has been put on by me and me alone from hours of agonizing over plans and writing and rewriting them, only to completely re-do them when I put them into practice. I often have fears of "everything I do/know is wrong" and/or "people are thinking I'm a horrible person and why should I teach their children?

They're not pleasant thoughts, but they run through my mind every now and then and its all I can do to keep them from invading and taking over. Because they do, and I can't think of anyway to stop them. Better go prepare for tomorrow, and I don't have time to be creative.

Oh my goodness was I right on in the prediction. I found myself wrestling with a lot of these management issues and consequence issues this semester while teaching first graders after school. And my self-doubt has, if I may say so, grown worse. What does one do in a situation where no personal or professional growth has taken place in five years?

I suppose if I had supportive mentors during my first year teaching I could ask them about consequences without feeling judged like my job was on the line, which ultimately, it was. Why does all of this seem so painful, even now? Why can't I confide in anyone even now about such issues?

The only thing keeping me sane now is the fact that I have less responsibility teaching than I ever did, and I must say, I will remain an assistant for quite a while. I think I'm OK with that. Even if I were to switch fields, the self-doubt will still continue to plague me in ways that I can't imagine.

How does one deal with such a situation?

How have you readers faced your own doubts about life and the future?

Do you have similar situations in your own career paths that will eventually cause you to stall in professional growth?

Please discuss as much as you feel comfortable with.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just thoughts, and an invitation to share your own...

My quote of the week is something like “Please at least PRETEND to listen to me, folks. It will do you some good.” Help me to prove that I am worth something in this school. I am a student. I am not a teacher. I am introvert in an extrovert's world. I was trained as a teacher, but there is no way I would ever do that job again. I enjoy being an assistant most days; this bothers me greatly. I am ready to move on. I am ready to move up, but where do I go from here? I will ignore the fact that I am just like the student that told me today that he sucks at writing and gave up. I had nothing to tell him. I tell myself that I suck at everything ALL THE TIME. It's time to make a change. It’s a common story, more common that imagined for most late twenty-some things. I find myself quite frequently accepting less than I know students can do out of pure frustration, and I’m unhappy with myself for it. This is one of the many reasons I will never be a teacher. It is also one of the many reasons I am looking toward nursing school or physician’s assistant school more and more.

It’s that time of year folks. It’s the time of year for reflection. It’s the time of year that all perfectionists and idealists reflect and come to the conclusion that we can all do that much better. We set lofty goals for ourselves and others. We harp on ourselves and others. We bitch and moan. We take it out on others at holiday gatherings. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m dreading my family gatherings because of this very reason. I already tell myself that I haven’t accomplished shit this year, so I don’t want to hear it from anyone else. In anticipation of this, I turn inward and start criticizing myself. I realize of course that this defeats the whole spirit of the holiday. I hate giving gifts because I can never find the “perfect” gift. Does this sound familiar? I hate starting conversations because I don’t want to tell others what I’ve been up to this year for fear of the compare game. You know the drill. “You’ve been doing X with him?” “I’ve changed the world. What have you done this year?” You know the compare game well, if you haven’t participated already in some form or another.

I challenge myself and all of you to get out of your own head this holiday season. To do this, I have to sometimes disconnect from the world. I have to forget that I have a close friend teaching English at a Chinese University, and another friend writing India’s first draft of a child abuse law, overseas, before heading to South Africa. I have countless friends finishing their fifth year of teaching, and I quit mid-year of my first. I have to let go of this. But how? I have to lobotomize myself to the fact that I have been out of college for over five years already, and I’m not married at *gasp* almost twenty-eight years of age. IT DOESN'T MATTER. At the heart of my being I know this. At the heart of my being I know that I’m worthy of praise and love even if I haven’t completed a full year of teaching anywhere or have no savings account to speak of.

Those things, material things, will come much later. I have my health and good friends, and that is all that is important. Instead of giving my parents my Samantha American Girl doll so they will shut up about grandchildren, I will calmly point out that I do things on my own schedule, when I please and be OK with that. I am done pleasing other people. It is time to please myself. Then maybe I can go and make a real difference.

To those in helping professions and tend toward a perfectionist and idealist side to their work: What helps you cope? What gets you through the day? How do you prevent compassion fatigue? How do you keep from dwelling on the negative? Thoughts welcome.

I will do it by telling myself and others that I've made a small difference this year, and I won't elaborate, no matter how much I want to. I relocated to a new city ALL BY MYSELF three years ago and have survived almost THREE Minnesota winters BY MYSELF. I will be kind to myself. I have finished additional coursework and am on the way to a Master's Degree. I will make it overseas one day. I will stay positive. That IS good enough. No questions asked.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When the going gets tough creatively

And I can't seem to think about a single thing worthwhile to blog about, I turn to a little site I like to call I scroll over a number, and see what pops up. If I don't like the prompt, I move to the next one. Today, I will elaborate on Prompt #339, which asks the writer to "Write about 5 things you would do if you did not see a soul for seven days."

I say this is difficult because it also doesn't give a stipulation about what you can have with you. I'm going to assume I lock myself in my apartment for those seven days, because it is winter and I am an introvert, and I live in Minnesota, not seeing a soul for seven days is an easy thing to do. Assuming I lock myself in my apartment, I have all things in my apartment. I can't go anywhere, but I have a lap top and a cell phone, which doesn't require that I actually SEE anyone. (Is that cheating?) Here's my list:

1. Update Netflix Instant queue and watch all the movies on it. I love this site, and because I don't have cable, it is my TV, along with and Youtube. What do you readers do for TV? What is your favorite watch TV online website? What do you turn to when there is crap on TV?

2. Perfect my recorder technique. I own three recorders (soprano, alto, and a tenor one that I bought off ebay last year.) I have some music, but I enjoy going online and looking up new music. Because I don't have a piano, these are my connection to creating music. What do you readers do for a creative outlet? What is your musical instrument of choice?

3. Read every book on my bookshelf currently.

4. Try cooking new recipes with the contents of my fridge and pantry. I'm awful about going shopping, and then using what I've bought to create fresh dishes, due to time mostly. I have several recipes on my shelf that I've been dying to try. Do you readers have a favorite you'd like to share?

5. Crochet, and finish all the projects I've started.

6. Teach myself how to draw and paint.

7. Watch my entire DVD collection.

8. Sleep.

9. Actually DO my YOGA and PILATES DVDs.

10. Plant an indoor vegetable garden, assuming I have the supplies. Oh wait, that's what the internet is for. What would I do without the Internet?

11. Update my resume and start looking for an actual teaching position. I never get to do this now that I'm employed again, but it's something that I do need to start focusing on now that the new year is coming around.

This should provide enough entertainment for seven days. What would you readers do if you didn't see a soul for seven days? Would it be easy? Would it be difficult? Would you go crazy? I see so many people at work and being an introvert, I recharge by being by myself. I need to spend more time by myself in creative pursuits, that I know. But how? How do you readers recharge? Find sanity in a crazy world? Have I asked enough questions yet? Enjoy your weekend, and peace to you all!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm posting more lyrics

Because it's Friday night and I'm watching yet another musical, KISS ME KATE. It's kind of slow, and not my favorite one by far, but it has some merits. Bob Fosse and great tap dancing, for one. It is Cole Porter does THE TAMING OF THE SHREW for another. I also like this one number, possibly the best number in the musical. I'm going to do it solo one day.

KATHARINE (with beer stein in hand--fabulousity!):

I hate men.
I can't abide 'em even now and then.
Than ever marry one of them, I'd rest a maiden rather,
For husbands are a boring lot and only give you bother.
Of course, I'm awfully glad that Mother had to marry Father,
But I hate men.

Of all the types I've ever met within our democracy,
I hate most the athlete with his manner bold and brassy,
He may have hair upon his chest but, sister, so has Lassie.
Oh, I hate men!
I hate men.

They should be kept like piggies in a pen.
Avoid the trav'ling salesman though a tempting
Tom he may be,
For on your wedding night he may be off to far Araby,
While he's away in Mandalay is thee who have the baby,
Oh I hate men.

If thou shouldst wed a businessman, be wary, oh, be wary.
He'll tell you he's detained in town on business necessary,
His bus'ness is the bus'ness with his pretty secretary,
Oh I hate men!
I hate men

Though roosters they, I will not play the hen.
If you espouse and older man through girlish optimism,
He'll always stay at home at night and make no criticism,
Though you may call it love, the doctors call it rheumatism.
Oh, I hate men.

From all I've read, alone in bed, from A to Zed, about 'em.
Since love is blind, then from the mind, all womankind should rout 'em,
But, ladies, you must answer too, what would we do without 'em?
Still, I hate men!

Here's the video for a good visual (minus beer stein, I like this one better than the older version though):


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yes, posting lyrics is kind of a copout...

...but I will do it anyway, because that's the kind of mood I'm in...

Nick of Time
Bonnie Raitt

A friend of mine she cries at night and she calls me on the phone
Sees babies everywhere she goes and she wants one of her own
She's waited long enough she says and, she still he can't decide
Pretty soon she'll have to choose and it tears her up inside
She is scared
Scared she'll run out of time

I see my folks are getting on and I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me and it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself, it's what we all go through
Those lines are pretty hard to take when they're starin' back at you
Scared to run out of time

When did the choices get so hard, there's so much more at stake
Life gets mighty precious
When there's less of it to waste
Ooh ooh ooh ooh
Scared to run out of time

Just when I thought I'd had enough and all my tears were shed
No promise left unbroken, there were no painful words unsaid
You came along and showed me how to leave it all behind
You opened up my heart again and then much to my surprise
I found love, baby, love in in the nick of time
(Love in the nick of time)
I found love, darlin', love in the nick of time
I found love baby, love in the nick of time

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Identity and Music (one where I don't really say anything important)

I haven't posted at all in sometime, and the last post I said I would post about the phenomenon of the quarter-life crisis that plagues me and many twenty-somethings today. I don't know that I have much of an update on that right now, but in flipping through my iTunes library tonight after a perfectly perfect Saturday of getting my hair colored and cleaning my closet I came across that perfect song that captured so many of these feelings of angst that have run through me for so long. Plus, I just love Nellie McKay. I know on my other blog, we are celebrating the identity crisis. Well, this is just that, only not my own. I will come up with my own. Until then, here's a taste of hers.

"Change The World"

I wake up
I am bored
To my pictures I implore
Should I go or stay
What should I be today
Make a leap
Go to sleep
Should I cry or should I weep
Where should I go from here
Am I hetero or queer
Oh, self discovery
What joy it is
I need recovery
Caffeinated fizz
Should I run
Should I hide
Happy pill or suicide
Contribute or refute
Have a kid
Then call it cute
Oh, self -esteeming, in suburbia
My shelf is teeming
A pet named Chia

Oh what should I say
What should I pray
Who would care if I went ahead
And punched the wall
Oh what do I care
What should I wear
What do I care
What does it matter
If I change the world at all

I listen to some rap
I give myself a slap
Come on use the pain
Drink up from the rain
Just arise unsupervised
Healthy wealthy you know wise
Dance around
Make a sound
Let yourself become unwound
God, I'm so German
Have to have a plan
Please Ethel Merman help me out this jam
Ding a ling
Ring a ding
Anything just do something
Feelin' dense
On the fence
Civil disobedience
Come on now's the hour
Go and deviate
Can't you feel the power
Hope you appreciate


OK Dr. Phil
Ready for my pill
Flex my psychic muscle
Guess we'd better hustle
People are dying now
Do something you ugly cow
Sorry for myself again
Me, my wallet and my men
Jesus I love you
Frank I love you, too
Hit the road together
Get out of the zoo
No exit
Just a pit
Apocalyptic and a zit
Hurry now
Pack your bags
Adieu you mall scallawags
Got my sneakers velcroed
Snap my bookbag on
Goodbye little zipcode
How can I go wrong


What does it matter
If I change the world at all