Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm Hoarse

I am sick. My throat hurts and I feel horrible. My voice is gone and I wish it wasn’t. I hate the sound of my strained voice. I miss being able to speak and sound normal.

I handle being sick in two ways: I let the sickness run its course or I take medicine. When I let the sickness run its course, I focus on either drinking more liquids if I have the flu, or trying to keep food down if I think it’s a cold. When I take medicine, I do the wrong thing. I’m bad at taking medicine. I take too much. Not like a ridiculous amount more, but definitely more than is recommended or I take one medicine and then take another a short period later. Amazingly, I’ve been doing that since I was a teen and I have yet to drug myself. I joke about it sometimes. I’ll tell my sister, well if I can’t wake up in the morning tell the doctors that I took blah, blah and blah. I don’t mess with prescription pills. I’m only talking about over the counter medicines and herbs. I have been known to take three Echinacea at a time when I’m sick. I think the regular dosage is one.

As if that isn’t bad enough, I can’t swallow pills. It’s completely a mental thing. I always buy medicine that I can drink or suffer through chewing. For the record, medicine tastes nasty. Occasionally I have to open up capsules (like Echinacea) and take it that way or break liquid-gels in my mouth and swallow the liquid then throw out the outer part. Unfortunately, a lot of the newer pills are meant to be time released, and when I chew it like that, I’m getting the full dosage at one time.

Anyway, this is one of my weird habits that I have. Now that I’m writing it, I wonder why my parents never stopped me when I was younger. It’s definitely a bad habit. All my mother used to do was warn me against it but she never stopped it. I think she knew I wouldn’t overdo it, but how could she have been so certain? What if I messed up one time? Hmm, I never thought about it that way.

So I’m sick and yet I’m on the computer posting to my blog, why is that? The answer is simple: I got tired of laying on the sofa taking medicine and sipping drinks and napping and since my voice is gone, I can’t really communicate well verbally, so my options were limited. I’m tired of sitting at the computer though so I’m going to see what’s on television.

Status: Sick, but trying not to be miserable.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Break From Being Organized

I feel much better today. I haven’t made a list all week. It’s weird that the one thing I was so proud of doing is the one thing that was driving me up a wall. I think lists are good in moderation, but I shouldn’t do them everyday. It felt nice to be organized but organization isn’t for everyone and I guess I have learned it isn’t for me, at least not in terms of schedules. It’s probably part of the reason why I have trouble adjusting to regular 9-5 jobs. I’ve had them, and liked some of them for the first week or so, but after a while, the routine wears me down and I start looking for reasons why I don’t like the job.

Status: Trying to make my life a little less organized.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just Plain Crazy

I’m ready to begin a new chapter in my life. Unfortunately my readiness is not matched by recent events. It seems things that were once marching ahead at a frantic beat have slowed down to a dull pulse. If I don’t do something that is out of character soon, I’m going to explode. I need to do something that’s “not me” because I feel like not being me for a few hours. I’m thinking I should direct my excess energy in to writing and create another story. I don’t know. That seems too close to the rational thing to do. My life is becoming a bit too organized and too routine. Anyhow, I’m itching for change so to speak. I get this way every now and then. A little stir-crazy mixed with a lot of natural crazy can be a bad combination. I have to do something. Maybe I’ll go for a long walk tomorrow. That sounds good. I actually wish I could just sit in a room and spend the day relaxing and thinking.

Perhaps the out of control class was too much for me today. They certainly sent me home with a headache. Ironically enough, I asked the vice-principal to sit in on the class today because I thought that would help the students behave, yeah so apparently I thought wrong. I need to figure out a new plan of attack. I’m going to come up with something to get them to be better again. I know they can do it, because they suckered me in with their good behavior for the first week. I can bring something better out of them, even if it drives me even more insane in the process.

So here is yet another poem. This one is from one of my bad days:

What I’m Worth

I hear the people saying things,
The stigma has attached itself to me
Like an unwanted coat of arms
Here is what I am, what I’m thinking
Nothing good, nothing nice.
That’s what they’re saying.

I no longer have the right to speak for myself
When I speak, it’s for everyone
But I know everyone doesn’t agree
So I choose not to speak at all.
They mock my silence,
Trying to goad me in to responding.

I hear the voices saying things,
Thoughts hand delivered by a box
And words on a screen
I don’t own anything anymore
Not even my own space
The voices tell me this.

A wallflower has transformed in to a bump on a log
It seems backwards, like regression at its best
They watch and measure the change
Cautiously appraising the new value
The people are saying they’re done with me
An assessment has been made.

Status: Praying for change on a personal level.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting Organized

I’ve been grading tests this weekend. Some of the students didn’t even try. I can’t believe that they didn’t try. I was feeling down about it until I graded a few tests for students who did try. Those tests made me feel better, like maybe I wasn’t wasting my time. I’d like to add another reason to my long list of reasons why I can’t be a teacher: I get too emotionally involved. I take it personally when the students don’t do well. It makes me feel as if I must not have taught them well. I mean I know some of the students are at fault because they don’t pay attention but I can’t help it. I feel bad that the students performed so poorly. I can’t wait until I’m done teaching. It’s too much of a drag for me sometimes. I’m not cut out for it emotionally.

On a completely different note, I’m still on the schedule I set for myself to get Science of Us posted by the end of the month. Hopefully things stay on schedule.

I’m trying to be more organized. I’ve been making to-do lists everyday. I usually make to-do lists on rare occasions, but I’m finding the daily lists are useful. I made a to-do list every day last week and the week moved along well and I wasn’t upset with myself when I didn’t finish certain tasks. I just moved the task to the list for the next day. I’m not sure how long I can keep this up. I’m going to try to do it until I finish teaching. It’s the teaching that has really thrown a wrench in my regular schedule and pushed me to get more organized.

Status: Trying to put things in order.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preparing for the Final Debate

I am watching the debate tonight. I guess that isn’t news. I’ve watched all of the debates. It’s amusing how many times both candidates repeat phrases they’ve said before. I don’t really want to hear excerpts from their stump speeches but it would appear that I have no choice. I wish they would use fresh material. I know most people view it as them highlighting their points, but I hear it as them repeating the same phrase. It gets tiresome.

Status: Wondering if tonight’s debate will get snippy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good Days Are Nice

I’m thinking about adding some of my poetry to my website because I’d like to start keeping track of some of the poems I’ve written.

Here’s another random poem:

For Daniel

Daniel is an isthmus, connecting that man and that woman
Those two individuals who love him but not each other
Sometimes he feels like an island.

Joan is a rebel, pulling away from the two corners
One stretches her to the right, the other to the left
She breaks free and runs up the middle.

Daniel anchors Joan, like a hundred pound weight
He grabs her leg and holds on
He’s the leash that reins her in.

Joan comforts Daniel, commiserating with him in quiet
She counters her condolences with distractions
She knows he internalizes the pain.

Daniel watches that man, drinking from the bottle
He hopes he doesn’t inherit the curse
Joan says it’s inevitable.

Michael is a conformist, adhering to the path they said he’d take
Toasting the past while Daniel looks on in silence
He’s always had the thirst.

Daniel fears Michael, mistaking their similarities for more
He wonders if that means he’ll be Michael some day
Everyone says they look alike.

Michael regrets Daniel, having him was selfish
Just one more person to lead astray
Another thing to do wrong.

Daniel connects them, Joan and Michael
Two individuals drowning on their own
Daniel keeps them afloat.

Status: Happy that I had a good day.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I'd Like Some Gas

The bad news is that the market is tanking, the good news is that you can fill up your tank for less. So it really is true that there’s always a silver lining. Your bank accounts may be in the red, your house may be in danger of foreclosure and your credit cards may be maxed out, but you can now pay less for gas. I’m not knocking it though because words can’t express the joy I felt when I saw a gas station that was selling gas for $3.09 a gallon. I almost slammed on my breaks and made a beeline for the station, but I didn’t need gas because I had just filled up the day before. That marked the first time, in a long time, where gas went down that far. Usually I fill up and then the next day gas has gone up ten or fifteen cents, or I wait to fill up and the next day gas has gone up twenty cents. It was the best feeling to know that I would be able to buy gas for a little cheaper.

The funny part is I usually don’t do a lot of driving. I’ve been doing a lot lately because I’m teaching that class, but that’s supposed to be temporary. Anyway, gas has continued to go down. I’ve seen it for $2.95 a gallon and I’ve heard of local places selling it for $2.70. I hope my area reaches $2.70. It’s strange that it seems like it was a long time ago when I saw prices in the 2 dollar range, but in reality it hasn’t been that long. When I got my driver’s permit when I was 15, the price of gas was barely over 2 dollars. All the way through high school and even the first couple of years after I returned from college, the price was in the 2 dollar range. The price slowly crept up, but it was a progression over years as opposed to what happened when gas hit $3.00 a gallon. I swear the gas price started increasing much faster once the $3.00 threshold was crossed. It went from $3.00 to $3.30 in about a month and then they just played around with the prices. It made it to $4.09 at one point, but being the car-loving Clevelander that I am, I still got in my car and drove places. Fortunately, it didn’t stay in the $4.00 range for too long. The people on television said it was because people were trying to drive less and carpooling more so the gas price went down. I didn’t care, I was just grateful for relief.

Oddly enough I feel the same way now. I really don’t care why the gas prices are down, I’m just grateful that they are. I would probably care a heck of a lot more if a lot of my money was wrapped up in Wall Street, which it may be in a few years, but right now it isn’t. I actually wish I had money so I could invest right now while so many things are cheap because I figure the market has to rebound eventually.

Status: Wondering when the oil speculators are going to decide to mess with my gas prices again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You're Stupid! No You're Stupid! No, You're Both Stupid.

Alright, I’m fine again. After a warning from the assistant principal, my problem class has turned it around. They still talk during class, but they whisper, which is okay with me.

Other than teaching, there has been a lot of nothing going on in my life. I keep getting distracted by things that shouldn’t concern me and I’ve been wasting time like nobody’s business. I did manage to see this interesting documentary about the 2004 election titled, How Ohio Pulled It Off. The documentary was about accusations of election fraud in Ohio. I found it really interesting, not because I’m a conspiracy theorist, because I’m not, but because I’m from Ohio and I remember all the stories I heard from people about things that seemed a little shady.

People never fail to amuse me. Die hard Obama fans can’t understand how any sane person would vote for McCain and die hard McCain fans can’t understand how any sane person would vote for Obama. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious. Both sides keep belittling the other like children. I have seen so many things that just make me shake my head. I can’t only blame the fans though because both campaigns are being downright nasty towards each other too. I’d like to thank both sides for reminding me why I hate most politics.

I swear I said I wasn’t going to comment on politics for a while, but I couldn’t stop myself after I read an article and then skimmed over the comments on it and saw what people were saying. Name calling doesn’t do anything but beget more name calling.

Society wonders how our children are so quick to name call, I say look at the parents. Even as adults, many of us, myself included most times, act like juveniles. Adults are supposed to have a larger vocabulary than children, so why do we often use the same insults and quick retorts as children? Are we that limited in our thinking? Can we not form an intelligent argument? Calling someone stupid because of their opinion is not going to make them suddenly see the light and adopt your beliefs. I will admit that I have thought someone was dumb because of their positions, but I have never said that to anyone, because I accept the possibility that I may be wrong and I respect other people’s rights to their opinions no matter how dumb they may seem to me. I’ll debate any issue with anyone at any time, but I won’t call them stupid when I can’t think of a valid counterpoint.

I’d also like to tell all the children to take notes from both campaigns. Stretching the truth is no longer lying; it’s simply manipulating the facts to suit your needs, and that is fine, so don’t let your parents tell you differently.

Status: Wishing I had the power to make tomorrow Election Day because this mess needs to end.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why I Could Never Be A Teacher

I had a rough morning. Today, the students in my first class reminded me why I quit being a substitute teacher over a year ago. I’m too nice of a person to shout at the students or demean them but I understand why some teachers use those tactics. Sometimes that is all the students understand. I had to tell the class to be quiet several times and they were for a moment and then continued about their business. I have a feeling that had I shouted at them to shut up, they would have been quiet. I say that, because I’ve seen it in action. Students respond to anger much faster than they respond to kindness. This same class quickly shut their over active mouths when my assistant took a harsh tone with them and told them to quiet down or else. I could have threatened them, I thought about it, but I don’t want to be that kind of teacher, hence why I do not teach. Being a kind teacher doesn’t work in today’s public schools. The students associate authority with harsh tones, loud voices and threats. I’m a soft spoken person. I’m not going to strain my voice trying to out shout or over talk half a class of students. As a result of this, I ended up only actually teaching the left side of the room because they were the only students paying attention.

I left the classroom and I was pissed with myself and the students. I felt bad because I didn’t teach everybody but at the same time, I understood that I couldn’t force the other students to learn. The same students who were misbehaving were some of the main ones begging for someone to come in and teach them the material and now they have me and they don’t even care. I take the time to answer their questions and go over information, which are two things that their regular teacher did not do, yet I feel like I am being ignored more and more each day. The answer isn’t giving all the talkers detention or in school suspension because that solves nothing in this case. I’ve tried different teaching techniques to see if maybe one method works better with them but it’s hard to judge because most of the time I’ve lost their attention before they even sit down in their seats.

By contrast, the second class I teach is a pleasure. They have their moments where they talk too much but that’s to be expected in high school. They are a pleasure because the talking is not loud and it is not consistent. Their talking does not inhibit the learning experience of their classmates. The second class is a model for how I expect a class to work. I respect them and in return they respect me. I’m not naïve enough to believe that approach will work with most classes, but I was naïve enough to believe that it would work with two classes that were begging to be taught.

So I finished today and I had a long sigh of frustration. As their fill in teacher, I am supposed to manage the class which means keeping them in order, but to do that I have to sacrifice the teaching principles I believe in and become someone mean and I’m not sure if I can do that. I mean I am physically capable of doing it and a lot of the better, even nicer, teachers do that because they realize that the students don’t understand be quiet, but they hear shut up loud and clear.

Status: Conflicted about how to approach the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Way Death Works

This weekend has been filled with activities. I had a funeral to attend yesterday and that took up a good chunk of the day. I know this isn’t the politically correct thing to say, but I always find myself sadder when a young person dies, whether I knew them well or not. When people are older, you expect death more. The funeral I went to was for a relative of mine that I didn’t really know. She was only 26 and that didn’t sit well with me because I’m 25. It was so sad to see her daughter there and know that her daughter would grow up without her mother. It was even worse to see her father and her grandmother there crying over her casket. You’re not supposed to bury the young. A parent should never have to bury their child, it’s just not the way things are supposed to work, but life doesn’t go according to the way people think it should. Everyone, even young people, can die at any moment and there is nothing they can do about it. I don’t mean that in the dismal, depressing ‘we’re all going to die’ way, I mean that in the ‘let’s face reality, all of our days are numbered and none of us know how long we have’ way. I think that makes me want to push harder and do something with my life. I don’t want to die without doing something. The whole world doesn’t need to know my name, but I do want to be able to feel like I made a difference in the world. Like maybe someone’s life was better because I lived.

Anyway, here’s another random poem. Oddly enough it was kind of inspired by one of my stories.

He Would Have Stayed

Unabashed by the admittance of fear in to an unbreakable circle
Jealousy was just a word until that person came along
The looks they exchanged belied their true feelings
Try as he might, reassurances fell on deaf ears
And doubt took residence on a warm shoulder

The love that glued them together began to weaken
As accusations flourished and were callously thrown
Falling to the ground like leaves bearing various shades of the truth
He was surprised by the sudden change in temperature
But determined to weather the storm
With a sweater and fond memories of the past
He hunkered down and waited for the clouds to part

While the dreary sky hung over them threatening to unleash the rain
He watched in disbelief as the ring fell from her finger
Suddenly the fit wasn’t right and she had lost interest in having it resized
She thought it was never meant for her,
She told him as much when she handed it to him

He belonged with someone else
And she was not going to stand in his way
She had seen how they were drawn to each other
Like moths unable to stay away from the light
He was too good of a man to leave on his own
So she set him free

He hurt for a while knowing that he would have stayed
And he could have loved her just like before
But then he found himself in the arms of the one she feared
There he discovered that she was right
Things fell in to place in a way they never had with her

Though he hated himself for being happy
He found himself grateful for her sacrifice
She freed him when he was content with confinement
And she received nothing in return
But an invitation to his new lease on life
With an r.s.v.p. date that marked a year after she said goodbye.

Status: Trying to think of a way to make a difference in the world.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Things to Give

My schedule is even worse than usual. At least I’m not supposed to be teaching for too long but it’s going to be long enough. I still have at least a month left. I’m not sure why I keep committing myself to do things. Today a student commended me for the second day in a row for being in the classroom before the class started. Silly me, I thought that was what teachers are supposed to do. Shouldn’t a teacher be there when class starts? It doesn’t make sense to me that some teachers come in late just because they can. I understand that there may me extenuating circumstances some days, but to be late on a daily basis is a problem. I think when a student is consistently late to class, that is disrespectful to the teacher and vice versa, when a teacher is consistently late to class, that is disrespectful to the class. The learning process is a mutual experience and both the teacher and the class need to contribute.

Anyway, it got me to thinking because the student was so appreciative of something that was so small to me.

What Can You Give?

Somebody needs money
Somebody always needs money
Hands stand still in the air
Waiting to be weighed down

Don’t give, do give, maybe tomorrow give
There’s guilt from not giving
And loss from giving what you can’t afford to lose
To give or not to give is the question

Somebody needs a helping hand
A push up the mountain just to have a glimpse of the view
With no utterance or requests to be placed in front
Just a plea to be closer behind

Will give, won’t give, can’t give, would give
Your heart wants to give
It’s more compassionate than funds allow you to be
Your answer is not to give

Somebody needs your time
Not what’s in your pockets but what’s in your smile,
A thought or expression of respect and acknowledgment
A silent admission that you see them

Can give, want to give, might give, just give
What you lack in money you donate in kindness
It doesn’t hurt you to make eye contact
And give a little bit of yourself

To give or not to give is the question
The answer is simple:
There’s always something you can give.

Status: Realizing that even the smallest acts can be gifts.