Confrontation is the Worst

Even digital.

I sent out an e-mail to each of the people who agreed to write me a letter of recommendation over a month ago. I let them know that I appreciated that they had said they would write me a letter. I let them know that I was hoping to get my application out into the mail by this Friday, but I could not send the application without the letter.

My entire application is complete except for the letters.

There is nothing for me to do except wait.

But the grad program has already started accepting applicants.

I NEED to get my application in.

I am going to be so upset if the spots all fill up and I wasn’t even able to apply because of something entirely out of my hands.

I tried to be as polite as possible.

But it was still terrifying.

I really hope I get those letters 😦

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Thanksgiving Break is Serving as My Sick Day

Teachers are given very few sick days each year. We work with children (who bring every disease EVER into our classrooms year-round) and these days count for when we are sick/have jury/go on vacation/etc. If you use all of your days and then you need to take another day for any reason, it gets deducted from your pay. There is a nice feature where some of your days are eligible to be “rolled over” into the next school year if you do not use them (even if you change districts, they follow you); these are the days appointed by the state, the other days are appointed by the the local district and do not roll over. This was very convenient when I had my baby, because I had saved up those days since I started teaching (we were trying to have a baby for quite awhile) and was able to get paid for three and a half weeks of my maternity leave.

Teachers will therefore try to save their “state” days to roll-over in case you ever want to go on vacation/have another baby/whatever. Since “local” days do not roll over and expire at year’s end, teachers use all the local days first.

Last year I used all of my sick days because I had a newborn. She had pediatrician appointments. She would get a fever and I would have to go get her from daycare. She was sick with an ear infection. Teething would cause her so much discomfort.

My husband and I are both trying to save up sick days as best as we can for this same reason this year. We rarely take sick days for ourselves unless we have to.  Something like the flu. Bronchitis.

I have already used two this year: one for a mental day after a really bad depressive episode that has led me to change therapists; the other the day I took my GRE.

I am still immensely sick, though. I am trying so hard to not have to take another sick day since break is only 8 school days away. DON’T WASTE A DAY NOW. The baby hasn’t needed me to take any days yet, but goodness knows that the moment I use up all of my days will be the time when she gets really sick and then I will get docked pay to stay home with her. Isn’t that a proven fact? You use all of something thinking that you have enough and then find out you totally did not have enough?

Yes, I know people may think “But it is only one day you would take. How can that be that big of a deal in the end?”

Because the school year calendar is in no way actually two equal semesters. The fall semester is 16 weeks of in-class days. The spring semester is either 20 or 21. We are in week 11. Mathematically, I am not even a third of the way through the actual school days. Winter is not in full force here. My toddler is in daycare. The percentage of her getting sick over the next three months is statistically high (and would match up all of her colds and bugs from last year, which she kindly gave us as well).

Plus, it is only eight more days of teaching. EIGHT.

Surely I can make it, right?

I am a woman. I am used to being sick and not getting to take a break. To still having to do things at work, for the kids, around the house, function. Insert stereotypical “man-cold” comparison joke here and you get the point.

But, man. Please get here, break.

Someone Gave Me Advice I am Trying to Take

“Give yourself some grace.
Give yourself some time.
Give yourself some rest.
Give yourself a break.”

We Are Down with the Sickness

You might even say it has Disturbed our home life. Oh, ah, ah, ah, ah.

All music puns aside, it has not been fun.

The baby is still too young for medicine. Plus, her body woke her up 30 minutes earlier than she normally would get up… but since it was Daylight Savings… It was a very early morning here.

My fever hasn’t broke yet, so I am alternating between chills and sweats. It doesn’t look like either of them have a fever yet, but their sniffles have turned into really gross coughs, which I am starting to get too.

All in all, yucky stuff.

So, not a long post today. Trying to snuggle the baby to help her feel better. I really hate when she is sick because I just want to help her but can’t. If the best I can do for now is cuddles and reading, so be it.

The Weather Wanted to Redecorate

We knew it was going to rain last night. And it did. Hard. We ended up cancelling our trick-or-treating plans. Next year will be her first time going out.

But the rain never let up.

The lightning began around 7:30PM. Our first emergency broadcast went off at 8, and we had another 30 minutes later.

The thunderstorm was so hard it actually woke the baby up around 10PM. It took awhile for her to get back to sleep. She sometimes gets scared during storms, so we snuggled until she fell back asleep.

Around midnight there was a loud crash against our house.

Thankfully, the baby cried a bit but went back to sleep. My husband and I went to look at what it was.

IMG_5602

Hmmm. That patio set isn’t ours!

The umbrella is huge and was open. It is what caused all the noise when it hit our house.

I am glad it didn’t break through our glass door right there. Luckily it hit about three feet away from the door, so on the wall instead. But this is a big metal umbrella. And from who knows where!

Honestly, we have no clue whose it is. Nobody lives in the house next to us on that side, so it didn’t come from that yard.

This morning we put it out on the curb. Hopefully the owner will look for it and find it.

And hopefully the weather will calm down a bit. We don’t want to fly to Oz!

For Some People, Seeing is the Only Way of Believing

I was getting gas last night. A lady parked in the handicap spot and went into the store. The people at the pump next to me were making comments about her not looking handicapped.

Invisible ailments are a common thing. But for some people, they don’t believe in it unless they see a person dealing with what they expect when they hear that ailment.

One of my friends has a three year old son who has quite a few severe allergies. She is a great mom, super diligent about making sure that his food doesn’t have cross-contamination. She raises awareness about allergies. She has mentioned having people in restaurants get frustrated with her for asking questions about menu items.

I think back to when I was a server and we would have guests who had a lot of allergy modifications we had to input into the system. It was a lot of extra steps, but we always did it. Better safe than sorry. But now, I get it. Do we have to see the child having an allergic reaction to believe that he is allergic to dairy and eggs? Just because he has allergies doesn’t mean his family shouldn’t be able to go out and enjoy a nice meal. They are proactive about it. Why can’t they go out?

Just because someone is not in a wheelchair does not mean they are not handicapped.

I suffer from severe depression and an anxiety disorder. Do I have to be self-harming myself or having a panic attack in front of you for you to believe me? I try to be proactive about it. I go to a therapist. I work on coping and trying to be positive. Some days I do better than others.

People who have auto-immune diseases may not “look” sick. People who have pain disorders may not “look” like they are hurting.

Yes, some people say they have an allergy when they really are trying a diet. Some people say they are depressed when they are sad or anxious when they are stressed. But they are not the majority.

If someone says they have an allergy, I will believe them.
If someone says they are sick, I will believe them.
If someone says they need help, I will believe them.

I am trying to be better about invisibility. I do not know what someone is going through. Telling someone who is upset to “just be happy” or “not be so negative” may seem like you are trying to help. But if they suffer from depression, it doesn’t exactly work that way. It can actually make them feel worse.

I know that it doesn’t make me feel better when I hear that. Whether the person knows I suffer from depression is irrelevant. If I know it hurts me, I don’t want to do it to others.

Like I said, I am working on it.

I want to start asking “How can I help?” more often instead of offering advice when I may not know the whole situation. But as someone who suffers from mental illnesses, I know that I cannot always answer that question myself.

I am working on being present with people. Finding ways to show that I want to help. Listening.

I am trying to be better to others and be better myself. Like I said, some days I do better than others.

Life is hard. Why should I be an obstacle to myself? Why should I cause obstacles for others? I am working on it.

 

I Closed a Chapter

On Saturday night, I went to see my former students perform their musical. I knew it was going to be bittersweet and be a weirdly emotional evening for me.

I was right.

But not for all of the reasons I thought.

Let me start by admitting something that will probably not be a surprise: While I did not appreciate the way my administration handled things at my previous school, I never blamed the students. Meanwhile, my current school is not the ideal fit, either; due both to administration and students. Therefore, I have missed my old students so much. Every day, in fact. While teaching my difficult classes, I would wish for my former students.

I experienced plenty of regret over leaving. While I wouldn’t have had my same position, I deeply regretted leaving and wished that I had stayed and taken the other position. This is despite the fact that I would not have been great at it. I missed the hours. I missed the students.

I had spent three years with these kids. I wanted them to do well. Of course I was going to come see their musical when they invited me. I wanted it to be great because the kids deserve that.

That being said, there was a part of me that was petty and awful. A part of me that was still actively hurting; who would compare it to what I had done with them.

I hate admitting that, but it is the truth.

I needed validation or proof or something. Was I really a bad director? Did the school have good reason to force me to leave? Were my students honestly much better off without me?

Please note: I did not want it to be a dumpster fire! I wanted it to be on level with what I had done. For my own sake, I needed it to not be Broadway. For their sake, I needed it to be good.

So I was very nervous as I was driving to the school that night. I hated myself for conflicting emotions and it consumed me while I drove there.

I get to the school. I am hit with pangs of “Why on earth did I agree to come?” I walk in the building and am hoping against all odds that I do not see any of the other teachers I used to work with. I notice that the audience size is on par with what we used to have, but smaller than our usual Saturday crowds. Of course it is football season and in the south, so that might be the reason. I purchase a “Star Gram” to send to the cast. It was weird to send it, seeing as I am the one who started them. Some of my former students are ushers and say hi as they let me into the auditorium.

Here is where karma gets weird.

My former technical director also came to see the show that night. We had not planned this at all. In fact, I have not spoken to her since the last day of school!

(I mean, I had e-mailed her in September asking for a letter of recommendation to grad school, but have not heard back from her, so… let’s not count that?)

Laughing, I walked up to her and we began talking. We sat together and caught up. We both admitted that we wanted the kids to be great but were hoping that we weren’t rotten directors. It was nice to know that it wasn’t just me who was uneasy. We looked at the set and were surprised by the fact that there didn’t really seem to be much that was BUILT. There was a set, but it was pieces that we already had. Granted, they had smartly picked a show that did not need an overly complicated set. This was a good choice. The costumes were pieces the kids already owned or from stuff we had gotten previously. Technically, our sets and costumes had definitely been more elaborate. Reading the program, we knew about 90% of the cast and crew, so it wasn’t a lot of new blood.

The show began.

There were parts of the show that were really cute and parts that were a bit rough. But this is how all educational theatre is. There were sound issues, so we knew that all the problems we had experienced with mics were not due to us! It wasn’t user error! There were pitch issues. There were minor snags. But again, these are things that always come with seeing a show. If I hadn’t been so familiar with the show, I wouldn’t have known.

It was a good show.

There is a local competition for high school musical theatre. We had competed in it while we were teaching there and the school was competing again this year. The judges were there that night. A few of my former students were really excited because their new director came from a school that received nominations, so they thought that meant they would definitely be getting plenty of noms this year. Honestly, I don’t know if that is happening. It tends to be the same schools who get nominated over and over, they dominate musical theatre. Looking over the last 5 (even 10) years, it is essentially the exact same group of schools over and over. Their reputation as musical powerhouses is well known and documented. Unless many of these schools have really bad nights when the judges watch their shows, I do not think my former students will suddenly find themselves swimming in nominations. Do my former students deserve nominations? Of course. But established school systems will probably get them instead.

All in all, I thought our musical last year was better. Did I enjoy the show? Yes. Were the students amazing? Yes. Was I there because I love these kids? Also yes. In the end, my previous concerns were met – my students were putting on a good show.

After the show, we went out into the lobby to talk to the students.

And here is where things changed in a way that I was not expecting.

The technical theatre students (and some of the acting students) were so excited to see her and she had a huge crowd around her. This was great to see.

Several of my students came over and gave me hugs and talked to me. There were a handful who really wanted to catch up, which was sweet.

But many of them would wave hi and that was it. Get a quick hug, and off they went. Some of them I saw and said hi to and they were like “Oh hey, sorry. I am busy.”

It hurt.

A lot.

Here I had been missing these kids every single day and they could care less. I am not saying that I wanted them to miss me so much that they were miserable. But they didn’t even care at all. Last year, I had seen them more excited to see their intermediate school theatre teachers.

Of course this started an avalanche of worry in my head. Why did they all hate me? Had someone said something that made them think I didn’t care about them? Had I done something? Was I actually an awful teacher and they were thrilled to have me gone?

I left.

Those who had been excited to see me were saying I needed to come see the next show, etc. They were so glad I came, it meant so much to them, come see them again!

But as I got into my car, having just experienced a straight up brush off from one of my students who I had been incredibly close to the past few years, I knew it was over.

The chapter of my life that includes those students is officially closed. If I see any of them in the future, it will not be as a student/teacher. It will not be anything dealing with that school. They will flourish there without me.

It is a definitive goodbye.