Tuesday, April 18, 2017

never ignore that "I should be doing something" feeling...

I did, last night, thinking about my teaching and what I had coming up in the next few days.  I prepped like a madwoman over the weekend so I really didn't have to do anything for teaching last night.

Yeah, my thesis was due today.  (ha!)

Fortunately, my adviser finally sent me her comments, and I crunched through it all this evening in a few hours.  The thing that took the longest was re-crunching after Word ate half the document.  It looked just like the Delete key was stuck, and there was no way to un-stick it.  I waited until it consumed the rest of the document, to see if I could "undo" to get it back, but no luck.  I couldn't get a response of any kind, so I had to kill it with the Task Manager and start over with the recovered version.  It was very distressing at the time, but things worked out OK.

It's 77 pages long!  Without a doubt the longest thing I've ever written.  The actual text only runs to page 40, and then it's a lot of appendices, but since I wrote the appendices, too, I figure it's OK to claim all 77 pages for myself.

counting down...

I don't want to wish my life away, but I am seriously counting down the days until 1) my thesis defense 2) my graduation 3) the last day of school 4) DD's graduation 5) my niece's wedding and finally 6) the installation of the new flooring upstairs.  (I haven't mentioned that before, but it's been in the works for quite a few months now.)  DS2 has a piano exam and a recital in there, too, but that list is already way too long.

I had my semi-annual (?) ultrasound and blood work today for  my doctor at Banner M. D. Anderson, and I'll see him next week for results.  The technician measured a lot of things and took a zillion photos.  Nothing I saw looked particularly firm, fixed, and rounded, although some of the nodes did look quite large.  Phlebotomist went for a vein in my right hand (!!!) and got it first try, four tubes filled, didn't blow out or anything. Now I'm working diligently to forget it even happened, lest I drive myself crazy with conjecture.

I worked late Friday and literally all day Saturday to be able to take today off, and it really was lovely not going in today.  I do feel as if I was supposed to do something, but I'm not quite sure what.  I checked my emails and responded to the ones that needed responses... I'm sure I'll find out tomorrow.

The big motivation behind working so hard on Saturday was so Easter Sunday could be  a true day off, too.  Everything turned out lovely, and we've already plowed through a substantial amount of the leftovers.  I made the French orange cake but as cupcakes, and I over-filled them so they really do need to be refrigerated or else they completely fall apart into (delicious) piles of goo.  Fresh orange zest and juice, right off the tree, gives such an incomparable flavor.  (DH harvested the last of the oranges, and I spent about an hour juicing them this afternoon.  Got the first batch of oj-ice cubes freezing now.)

I like this, being able to spend time thinking about the house and getting things (albeit small things) done.  I am constantly giving myself pep talks: it's really only 3 more weeks of instruction, then review for finals, finals week, and promotion week.  It will go by fast!

My adviser sent comments on my thesis today, and it's just a few tweaks here and there.  *whew*  I will package it up this week and put together my presentation -- only 15-20 minutes, that's easy!  I am not feeling stressed about it, other than having to drive up to Flagstaff after work.  I suspect I will have to resort to caffeine... but if I actually leave at 4PM like I'm supposed to, I can actually get up there before it gets too dark...

It's too soon to think about it.  I have to stop casting my thoughts so far ahead and just get through tomorrow! Time keeps on slipping...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

nearly there...

Sometimes, I decide to stay up "stupid late" because no one is bothering me, and I'm actually getting stuff done. 

Last night was one of those nights.  I traded in my hours of sleep for hammering out a nearly-complete draft of the last pieces of my non-thesis project.  It was a good trade.  Now it's just clean up and formatting, which always take longer than they should, but at least the end is in sight.


Monday, March 20, 2017

it's always the same question

Why am I still up?

I was working, then I finished working, and I could have gone to bed 2 hours ago, but I didn't.

Spring break is over, back to school, back to routine, maybe that will help?  I got most everything done that I wanted to, over break, so that the rest of the year should be less hectic.  That's good, so why don't I feel good about it?

I am feeling a bit sorry for myself, because this really was not a vacation, just working in a different place and with no contact time (time with students.)  Planned 6 classes plus special tutoring/review sessions for all 3 of my math classes, which of course involved scheduling and finding the appropriate resources, and then copying everything.

Copying everything took 4 hours today.  Some of that time was spent getting the physics workbooks to print correctly, but not much.

Perhaps "sorry for myself" isn't quite right.  Definitely more than one thing going on: exhaustion, anger, worry, disappointment.   A bundle of ick. I would probably feel better if I got some sleep, so I'll try that.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

examination of conscience

Last Wednesday (not yesterday, last week) was Ash Wednesday.  We're already one-sixth of the way through Lent.

I don't think I can adequately express how much I've been struggling lately with managing everything, even though I've certainly complained here about it quite a bit.  But complaining always, always feels wrong, because no one imposed this on me, I took it on myself.

In the last week, reflecting in the way that Lent leads me to, I've been trying to figure out how exactly I got into this mess.  This mess being: teaching 6 different classes, all with new-to-me curriculum (one class, indeed, which I am literally making up as we go along), plus being junior high lead in a new school, all while finishing my non-thesis project so I can finally graduate with my masters degree.  [I have declared my intention and set my defense date, and I've booked the hotel rooms for graduation weekend.  I will graduate this spring.]  Plus, of course, being a wife and a mother and, in  much diminished role, a sister, because I'm no living person's daughter anymore.

I have been crazy-overworked before.  This is not like that.  I love my job, but there is literally too much of it for me to handle on a day-to-day basis.  It is amazing I haven't collapsed yet.  I keep wondering, like the Talking Heads, "How did I get here?"   I realized that math lessons in the beginning of the year are simple, but over the course of the year, they are cumulative.  So back in September, each lesson (I teach 3 different lessons each day) was only one or two pages of notes, but now they are more like three to four.  Back in the first semester, when I volunteered for class #6, I thought, "I got this.  I can do it,"  because I was handling five classes at that point and it was ... manageable.

It never occurred to me to think about how that might change over the course of the school year.   I was in a groove.  "I got this."  A little more?  No problem.  Only, not really.  Really a big problem, a sin I carry around with me all the time in my heart and never admit, and now it's my Cross:


Yes, I'm smart, and quick, and more than competent.  But there are only so many hours in a day, and even though I can function on just a few hours' sleep, that's not an optimal situation for anyone in my life, especially me.

There's nothing for it, now.  Spring break is coming up, and I'm hoping to plan and work ahead to make fourth quarter easier.  I just have to work through this, and I can, and I will -- but the lesson here is to stop and think about over-committing myself in the future.  No matter how good I think I am, at whatever it is, I don't have the kind of control over the space-time fabric of the universe that doing my job, managing my own personal life, and getting enough sleep would require.

I'm feeling weird and knocked down a bit, but the only person that feeling is coming from is me.  I get nothing but support and love from everyone around me, which explains the "weird" part.  How can I feel like I'm in so much trouble when I've never been in such a good place, surrounded by such good people?  It's all on me.

Never to old to learn.

Monday, March 06, 2017


Finally had my doctor's appointment -- a week ago -- and everything appears stable, so that's good.  The doctor seemed to think there is not an adenoma, but that if I opted for surgery they'd have to take the whole pituitary, which is not what the surgeon said.  I'm going with the surgeon's take, which is that I don't have to do anything right now, but when I do, he can handle it.

The appointment itself was annoying, because I was late and I got an extremely cold reception from the staff.  There is never any warmth there.  Yes, I was ten minutes late, so I arrived at 4:25 instead of 4:15, but the posted hours are until 5PM, and there were no other cars in the parking lot. Yet when I walked in, the lights were off in reception, and I had to wait a bit for someone to come out.  "I don't know if the doctor will see you, you're late."  Whatever, people.  The doctor saw me for 5 minutes which was all that was needed to give me my results.  No problem.  As much as I like the doctor, the staff really bugs me.

So.... today was the oven repair appointment (DS1 is home on spring break!), and that didn't go very well, either.  Apparently we need a new gas line or something... this house is nineteen years old, and the building codes have changed.  I like to think that it's still safe to use the stove, that if it were going to explode or something, that the repair guy would've told us.   So now we have to have a plumber in and get the gas lines updated, and who knows how long it will take and how much it will cost?  I don't have time for this nonsense.... I just want my functional kitchen back!

This has been a bit of a rough patch, but next week is spring break.  I'm looking forward to sleep, and working ahead so that next quarter isn't quite the disaster that this quarter has been.  I have to remind myself that it has only been a disaster from my perspective.  At school, all anyone sees is smooth sailing.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

oh no!

After a very long and mostly productive day, I turned on the oven to preheat while I mixed up the meatloaf.

Nothing happened.  Temperature did not change.  The broiler works fine.  The burners work fine. The oven has apparently stopped working.

Scheduled a repair during spring break and meanwhile am cooking the meatloaf in the big dutch oven.

Menu planning will be interesting, but how am I supposed to get by without my scones on the weekend?

Monday, February 20, 2017

today's exercise in frustration

I did not have my doctor's appointment today, and did not find out the results of my MRI.  My labs weren't back yet -- those labs that I took Friday morning off work for! -- and so the doctor wouldn't see me.

I'm rescheduled for next Monday, after school.  At least I won't have to take any more time off work for this nonsense.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

it is what it is

Re-reading that last post, I see a number of typo's I'm not going to correct.  They accurately reflect my state at the time -- I think I fell asleep in the middle, woke up, finished it, and posted it before falling back to sleep.  A lot of days that's what things are like for me: falling asleep in the middle of some task just long enough so I can then wake up with enough energy to complete it before I can go to sleep for (whatever remains of) the rest of the night.

This week's overwhelming task was getting grades caught up for progress reports, up till 3:30. Of course the rest of the week was affected by that, but I made it through without anything horrible happening.  The highlight of most days was the bottle rocket launcher, even though we couldn't get the bottle to go very high.  We'll try again later.

I left school mid-morning to get a blood draw yesterday, because my endocrinologist had ordered it to be taken between 8 and 10AM, and when I went last Saturday, it was too close to 10 for them to do the draw in time.  I felt crushed, especially because I could have left earlier. I actually sat around reading emails for a while because I know how crowded the lab is early on Saturdays.  I didn't realize it was a timed order. My appointment with my endo is Monday, and I was thinking I would have to reschedule because I wouldn't be able to get the labs done in time, but I was very lucky in getting the appointment yesterday.  Of course I had to take time off work to do it, but it was actually good for me to be away for a little while.

I'm slightly upset in advance of the appointment, as usual.  I don't know if the change in my peripheral vision means anything or not.  The lab drew about eight tubes of blood from me yesterday -- I don't remember my endo ordering so many, or it being a timed test, before.  I hope I'll find out Monday what's going on, at least with the pituitary adenoma situation.  I hope the blood tests are back in time, too.  The staff at the lab last Saturday said they take 48 hours, but the staff yesterday said 2-5 days.  It's just another situation I have no control over.

Meanwhile, I still have way too much work to do and literally not enough time to do it.  This is a 3-day weekend and that will help tremendously.  I am constantly saying I need another day -- now I have it, I have to use it wisely!  I don't like this feeling of being oppressed by my work.  I chose it, and when I chose it, I thought it would be OK, but it has been more work than I anticipated.  Only 14 more weeks of school -- it's going to fly.

Friday, February 03, 2017

something's gotta give...

I have too much work to do!  And I haven't looked at, or thought about, my thesis in weeks.  I need to get something to my adviser before Monday.  Thursday was supposed to be my writing day, but I didn't get to thesis work.  Instead, I finished up the child study team paperwork for two students, and then wrote up the 3 math lessons I'm giving tomorrow, and then revised a power point presentation for 7th grade science.  t

Yesterday I plowed through about half my stack of grading, but that was because my students had math tests yesterday and needed their previous tests back.  So now I literally have a test (or quiz, or sometimes both) to grade in five of my six classes.  I know what I'm doing this weekend.

I keep thinking I got behind because of the science fair, and then the CST paper work, and then having to do bulletin boards (it's February!)  Thinking about how many hours I spent on those tasks (too many), perhaps I really will be OK.  Now I'm really regretting not doing more work over Christmas break, but I was so exhausted the thought of it left me cold.  I'm paying now!

At least planning is done for my 3 math classes, and I could conceivably finish planning out my science classes this weekend if I ever get through the grading.  I have this sense that every year I say this same thing -- I can't believe how busy I am.  Perhaps I have been just as busy before, and I jthikust don't remember it because it doesn't feel the same?  I never had to prep more than two classes before and now I've got six.  (I laugh.)

I've already signed my contract for next year, and my principal was very complimentary when we met about it.  I like to think I'm doing a good job, but I don't feel I have an accurate sense of that right now.  My students grades are abysmal, and I just found out yesterday that one of my 8th graders has been treating his math homework as a creative writing assignment and I've been giving him credit for it (it's a completion grade, and it looked reasonable...).  That took the wind out of my sails a bit, but I have to remind myself that it's not about me. It never is!  No reson to take it personally.

To end on an up note, I'm having a blast integrating the classroom computers into my lessons, and the students love them.  It's going far better than I anticipated, especially since I'm more or less making it up as I go along.  Come to think of it, that's another unscheduled thing I've been spending time on, putting me even further behind with my own stuff even while moving ahead in the classroom.

If I could just figure out how to balance all this... it's only 4 more months, and spring break and standardized testing are in there, so it's really only about 3.  With the amount of sleep I'm not getting, I wonder how long I can go without coming down with a significant illness... and there's the specter of surgery, too.  It's weird how my left peripheral vision is decreased -- I notice it because on the right, the entire rim of reading glasses is in my peripheral vision, but on the left, it's not.  Not a scientific test, I know, but it's consistent.  And annoying, because I really don't want to have brain surgery.

Anxiety always keeps me up till the wee hours.  At least these days I'm working while I'm at it.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A first.

I had my pituitary MRI this evening... and slept through most of it.  Now I'll do my best to forget about it until I get the results.

DH was called unexpectedly to the ground control center in Virginia and will be there through next week, consequently everything feels weird.  We are, of course, OK, but not exactly happy about this state of affairs.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"not a train wreck"

First-ever science fair at the new school; see post title.

I'm glad the event is over. It will take a while to catch up with all the grading and everything else that has been piling up, but eventually it will all sort itself all out.

So very glad that's over!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

(not) funny

I took one of those online quiz things to see what percent OCD I am.  No surprise (to me)... 100%.

In my every day life, I don't obsess over things to the point where I become non-functional, but I've noticed just lately I do act compulsively about a few things: my lesson materials, and my daily online reading.  While engaged with those activities, I've definitely sensed "I should stop," but then kept going.  Even to the point where I'm up till 3AM, like yesterday, typing up the lab for my new Integrated Science class.

That was a bit crazy.  The only reason I'm still up now is I've had a couple of little naps here and there this evening, but I'm taking myself off to bed soon.  As soon as I finish this?  No, of course not, there are a few more websites I want to check...

I've never really thought of myself as OCD, just a control freak, and those are not the same thing, I think -- but I do think there's a very small something there.  Just something to think about.

Also: Last night when I was driving home from physical therapy, I could really tell that the peripheral vision in my left eye is not as good as in my right.  It may have been a circumstantial event, but I noticed it.  Orders for an MRI should be coming around within the next month, but I'm thinking about asking to move that up.

Friday, January 06, 2017

(self?) sabotage

I had a vision field test this morning.  This is a test that checks your peripheral vision.  I scheduled it 6 months ago.  At the time, I was blissfully unaware of how slammed I would be over this vacation.  I probably thought I would be all done with any work I had to do, therefore it was OK to make this appointment for the first thing in the morning.

The problem, of course, is I'm not at all close to being ready for school on Monday, and they never do just the visual field test.  They do a dilated eye exam and actually look at the optic nerve, too.  So: eyes dilated at about 8:30AM, finally able to read comfortably?  2:30PM, on a day I had specifically designated as my stay-home-and-write day.  Oops.

I did a lot of running-around type errands (4 dropping off, 1 picking up) because I could see well enough to drive -- it's always the close vision that suffers with the dilation.  DH met DS1 and I for a nice lunch, and then I brought DS1 up to campus so he could check in to his building (the key cards have to be reactivated each semester.)  Home for just a bit before having to pick up the two younger kids from school, and then home again.

Exhausted!  Did some reading.  Answered an email using this process:  honestly answer every question and provide all relevant information; walk away for 10 minutes; come back and ruthlessly edit so the reply is only a third of its original size and contains no potentially surprising or upsetting statements.

I'm trying to focus my attention on the must-do's since I can't possibly accomplish everything I put on my school to-do list.  I should just make a new list. Yesterday I productively avoided both the lesson plans and the lesson materials by creating my bulletin boards. Today I've run out of other, more fun, productive tasks. *sigh*

Oh, right, the test: A "slight change" in the left eye, but the doctor is not worried about it.  He literally said those words, but then asked about whether I was being followed with imaging scans, specifically an MRI.  I told him I was due for an MRI, and he was happy about that.  (I'm not.)  So another thing I accomplished was calling my endo to find out what's going on with that, and it turns out it won't get scheduled until sometime in February, so I have that delightful experience coming up.  I'm glad I'm doing it, because it will either confirm or refute the eye doctor's opinion pretty definitively.   I emphatically don't want to have sort-of-brain surgery, but I would also like to not have to go through this routine every six months.  Actually, in spite of the "slight change", the eye doctor is graduating me to only once a year with the vision field test, we'll do that in June, and then in the winter do the rest of the exam -- assuming everything stays the same.

Fortunately my vision is holding steady at only slightly impaired, and my lowest-power cheaters are totally up to the task of making small text readable for me.  I so appreciate not having to wear glasses, most of the time!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Spent all day today mostly spinning my wheels with not much to show for it. Suddenly, around 11PM, I finally feel as if I can focus and I get some things done.  This will never do, though -- I can't stay on this flipped schedule!  High hopes for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

little things

Someone asked me what I got for Christmas, and I basically shrugged the question off -- Oh, you know, I have so much stuff!  DH has planned a get-away night for us...

Of course that's true.  What's also true is that when I shopped for everyone else, I picked up things here and there for myself, taking advantage of the end-of-year sales.  All in all, though, my stack of Christmas stuff is small but delightful, and the things I'm enjoying the most were a couple of "house" buys! Not presents, just a couple of things we picked up in the past month or so:

Instant Pot!
DH got us a pressure cooker.  I really want to end that sentence with several exclamation points: !!!!
I have the impression not too many people use these things, and I had literally zero experience with a pressure cooker before last month, but this thing is awesome if you like slow-cooked foods and don't want to wait hours for the slow-cooking to happen.  I can make Greek chicken (stewed with cinnamon, onion, and tomato paste) in about an hour, and it tastes as if it had been simmering for three. So far I have used it to make chicken and beef dishes, and also, just yesterday, chili.  It is totally awesome to be able to cook food that we really love and have it ready at a semi-reasonable time for dinner.  By the time we get home most week days, it's nearly 5PM, but I can still make basically anything I want, now.  It also helps tremendously that it's electric, so it doesn't heat up the whole house the way using the oven does.  (This particular model also slow cooks, makes yogurt, can be a rice cooker, and also, wonderfully, has a saute setting, so I can brown the meat, deglaze the pot, then put everything back in to cook.  Less cleanup = extra awesomeness.)

The other innovation? 
KitchenAid Dish Rack
This seems kind of dumb, perhaps, but we've always had one of the small Rubbermaid dish racks because there isn't that much space next to the sink. I never considered a larger one, even though the small one was constantly a problem.  I saw this dish rack at Sam's Club last month for $20 and stopped to look at it.  DD was with me and encouraged me to buy it.  I didn't think it would fit, but it does, and having more space there is such a small thing, but with all the cooking (and eating) we do, it really is lovely.  I mean, I was always having to precariously balance the baking sheets and the platters and the various glasses that were hand-washed... and now I don't.  Everything fits, nothing falls out or falls over or gets broken!  

So, my two favorite new things were not Christmas presents, and that's fine with me. It's funny to me how these two little things make me so happy.

One more thing was a Christmas present, from my "secret Santa" at work: a miniature herb garden! We have all the rosemary we need outside, but the addition of fresh thyme and sage are wonderful!  Now I just have to make sure the cats don't eat it.