Chewed Up and Spit Out

March 26, 2006

There is an old nursery rhyme that goes: Higgledy, piggledy, pop.The dog has eaten the mop. Interestingly enough, a mop is one of the few things my dogs HAVEN’T eaten. Destructive chewing has been a problem with every dog I’ve ever owned. I had a Siberian Husky/Malamute that chewed walls, and a chocolate lab that ate an entire sectional sofa piece by piece. Really.

Now we have Eleanor Rigby, the cockapoo. Ellie’s chewing stage has been a terribly trying time for me. She has destroyed three comforters, and one blanket. She chewed a hole in the corner of my feather pillow, and all the beads from a decorative pillow. She chews corners off rugs, one of which is in the living room.

She gnawed off a section of wood on the staircase.

She has ruined several of my bras (fished out of laundry baskets). She chewed a hole in Daniel’s corduroy jacket. She tore a piece of fabric off the bottom of the family room loveseat.

I suppose it’s partly our fault because we pretty much allow Ellie to have the run of the house. We don’t shoo her off the sofas, and she sleeps on our bed. We do, however, crate her when we are out. There’s no telling what we’d come home to if we didn’t do that.

I try to bear in mind that Ellie is only one year old, and still a puppy. I’ve never known a puppy that didn’t chew things they weren’t supposed to. Nonetheless, Ellie’s destructive chewing habits are quite upsetting, not to mention costly. She has plenty of chew toys, but, apparently, they aren’t as tasty as household items.

I’ve read up on the subject, and followed the advice of the experts, but Ellie still manages to do a fair amount of damage now and then. According to my research, puppies chew to ease teething discomfort, to play, to explore the environment, and to relieve boredom. Hmmm. Maybe I should take up chewing, myself!

Seriously, this situation has me concerned. If puppies aren’t broken of their chewing habit, the behavior can continue into adulthood. Instead of eating me out of house and home, Ellie just might eat my home. She sure is lucky we love her!

Song of the Day: A Big Dog Ate My Homework by Chuck Cheesman (no relation to Chuck E. Cheese)

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Origin of the Species

March 25, 2006

I went for my follow up appointment with the gastroenterologist yesterday morning, and was happy to hear that the colon polyps are nothing to worry about. My grandmother has a history of cancerous colon polyps, so this is something I do need to keep an eye on. But, for now, I have a five year reprieve. I’m hoping that there will be a better method of prepping for colonoscopies by then! The gastro doc also mentioned (almost as an aside) that she saw signs of diverticulosis. I was advised to eat more high-fiber foods, which I will try to do because I REALLY don’t want to end up with diverticulitis.

The bone density test took place in the afternoon. Piece of cake. My next medical appointment is not until mid April, when I will see a neurologist about the headaches. I am SO sick of doctors. Last week I had to pay a routine visit to my rheumatologist. She couldn’t believe how tight and hard my neck and shoulder muscles are. In an effort to do something about that, she bumped up the dosage of the muscle relaxer, and added an anti-inflammatory to the mix. Those meds have never helped before, but what the heck. I’m willing to give it another try. As I’ve said before, I have to do SOMETHING.


I saw this exercise
over at Mary’s place, and recognized it as something my friend the English teacher did several years ago as a college assignment. I just love what both My Friend and Mary came up with, and wanted to give it a shot myself. So here goes.Where I’m From

I am from adjustable roller skates, from Vicks VapoRub and huge pots of spaghetti sauce, thick with meatballs, sausage and bracciole.

I am from a neighborhood of two-family houses, populated with the descendants of working class immigrants, and our very own Boo Radley.

I am from the recurring nightmare of a giant praying mantis assaulting our back door with its front legs clasped in a posture of supplication, and from the vacant lot covered with daffodils that yielded its bounty to a young girl greedy for a basketful of sunshine.

I am from sisters singing Broadway show tunes while washing the dishes. I am from the “Perri eyes,” and from Restituta and Cosmo and Pasquale.

I am from clinical depression and myriad insecurities.

From a shotgun marriage, and a mother’s dissatisfaction with her husband, her children and her lot in life.

I am from parochial school, taught by women with dour faces and foreheads deeply creased from the stiff crown bands of their Dominican Nun habits.

I am from New York, Naples, Calabria, Poland and Czechoslovakia, pierogies and lasagna.

From the Italian tailor who built an empire, only to have it suffer the same fate as that of the Romans, the grandmother who, in her youth, hit a boy over the head with her lunchbox because he called her little brother “ginny wop,” and from the father who robbed his children of their dreams by making them believe they would never come true.

I am from seashells, dismembered Barbie dolls, moldy cardboard boxes overflowing with dog-eared photographs, and a brain crowded with priceless, loathsome, glorious, painful, treasured memories.

Song of the Day: The Origin of the Species by Pulp

Grrrrrrrrr!

March 24, 2006

An unacceptable situation with my daughter’s college roommate has created a distraction from my preoccupation with pain. The dorm living arrangements have been unpleasant for a while, but are now intolerable. The roommate’s boyfriend visits almost every weekend. He often arrives on Thursday, and doesn’t leave until Monday. He is an unregistered and unwelcome guest. None of the suitemates like him, and they have complained to Ms. Roommate, her boyfriend, and the Resident Director. Nothing changed. Until I got involved.During the boyfriend’s visits, Rebecca has on several occasions been LOCKED OUT OF HER OWN DORM ROOM because the couple wanted privacy. At times when she has been in the room with them, they have been all over each other, engaging in overtly demonstrative behavior, despite her presence. Ms. Roommate admitted to my daughter that she and her boyfriend have had sex while Rebecca was sleeping. This makes Rebecca uncomfortable enough to leave, which is probably the couple’s intention.In addition, Ms. Roommate removes Rebecca’s few food items from the refrigerator they share (and for which we paid half the rental cost), so she can stuff it full of her own food. She has moved Rebecca’s personal belongings. She has had friends sleep in Rebecca’s bed when Becca was home for the weekend. She has given away gallons of Rebecca’s bottled water. She leaves a mess in the shower, and garbage all over the place.

Rebecca has sat in an empty conference room and cried because she was locked out of her room and had nowhere else to go. She has felt the need to sleep elsewhere when Ms. Roommate’s boyfriend has been there on school nights. Rebecca comes home just about EVERY WEEKEND because the situation has become so unbearable. For this I’m paying room and board?

Several days ago, I called the college and spoke to someone at Residential Life, but did not feel that the situation was adequately addressed. It was suggested to me that Rebecca and/or her suitemates should call the police, since the boyfriend is an unregistered guest. Perhaps they will do that now that I have informed them that this is an option, but I thought it would be more appropriate for the University to do something first.

I was also asked if Rebecca would be willing to switch rooms. Yes, she would (and most likely will), but she has already moved once – at the request of Ms. Roommate’s FIRST roommate, who found living with this wench unendurable. It doesn’t seem fair that my daughter should be inconvenienced more than she already has been. Why can’t Ms. Roommate be asked to move? This young woman has a blatant disregard for others – a blatant disregard for PROPRIETY. She should be held accountable for repeatedly breaking the rules, and causing so much distress to her suitemates.

Anyway, I later spoke to the Resident Director, who then arranged a meeting with the suitemates. The resolution to the situation is that Ms. Roommate’s boyfriend can only visit once a month (I was initially told that her guest privileges would be revoked for the rest of the year), and if he isn’t registered as a guest, he will be escorted off campus by the police. I’ll believe it when I see it.


In other troublesome news, I recently became aware of the fact that my divorce agreement contains an item that is contrary to legal emancipation standards. The agreement states that living away from home while attending college is a condition of emancipation, and, therefore, a reason to discontinue child support. I have since discovered that other divorced mothers are entitled to child support until their children are out of college. I did some research and found this: If a child leaves home to attend college but remains dependent on the parents for support, there is no emancipation. E.g., Anderson v. Loper, 689 So. 2d 118 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996) How about that.What I’d like to know is how such a significant (and costly!) error escaped my divorce attorney’s notice. I’ll be composing a letter asking that very question.Song of the Day: Screwed by Mommyheads

I was rather surprised that most of you admitted to being fans of corned beef and cabbage. That is incomprehensible to me, but I don’t like ham, either, so to each his own. For the record, I let the corned beef cook all day. I added peppercorns, potatoes, onions and carrots. No butter and mustard, though. I didn’t know about that, but I can’t imagine that those things would have made much of a difference in the palatability of the meat. Corned beef served that way is simply not to my taste. All I can say is, those of you who like it can have it! I’ll stick with reuben sandwiches from now on.

By the way, I didn’t like the Irish soda bread I bought to go with the meal, either. But I did enjoy the glass of Baileys® Irish Cream.

I had to chuckle when I was reading the comments and found this from Daniel:

“As Stephanie’s husband and the lucky recipient of her daily culinary masterpieces, I can tell you that Stephanie’s corned beef and cabbage was out of this world! Every night I say to Stephanie, “This is the greatest meal I’ve ever had!” And paradoxically, each time I say it I truly mean it! I also bring Stephanie’s leftovers to work with me each day, and everyone comments on the intoxicating aroma. Am I biased? So was Julia Child’s husband.”

You should know that Daniel hates cheese, so you can take his opinion about food with a grain of salt. *wink*


I want to thank everyone for the messages of concern and encouragement in reference to the never-ending headaches from hell. The support of the online journaling community has been a tremendous source of inspiration and comfort to me over the years. Bless you all.

 

I’ve been thinking that I should fire my doctor for quite some time now. I’d much prefer to have a female primary care physician. It has been my experience that women doctors pay more attention to what I have to say about my health issues. Unfortunately, I’ve had to change doctors I trusted in the past for one reason or another (they moved out of the area, I had problems with their office staff not relaying my messages, etc.).

Not driving is one of the reasons I’ve stuck with Dr. WDYWMTD (What Do You Want Me To Do). His office is within walking distance, which is a major consideration for me. There is now a woman doctor at that practice, so I’ll see if I can switch over to her.

LA’s remark about “no more justifying” made a particular impression on me. She is absolutely right. That is exactly what I do. I’ve spent so many years being made to feel that I have to defend myself, and even make apologies to others because of the effect my chronic pain has on them. That is rather ironic, considering that they don’t seem to really care about the effect it has on ME, or, in some cases, even believe that my pain is real.

Back in the diary-x day, I wrote:

My family’s insensitivity to my pain is demoralizing and frustrating, to say the least. The fact that people don’t take this condition seriously because they can’t see anything wrong with me, and instead seem to dismiss my level of suffering as imaginary, makes it all the more difficult to bear. I am made to feel guilty about not keeping up with housework the way I used to. The internal conflict over whether to succumb to the guilt and drag myself through the motions of household duties, or to rebel against being labeled a slacker and do what I have to for the sake of my health, causes an increase in stress, which, in turn, causes an increase in pain. It’s a no-win situation.

Ignoring the criticism is hard to do when the words “lazy slob” are reflected in the eyes of those around me. I know I shouldn’t care what they think, and I’ve read enough about “invisible disabilities” to realize others really don’t and probably won’t understand. But, it’s so difficult to bear up under constant disapproval, along with constant pain.

It hurts me to admit that my daughters follow their father’s lead in this. To acknowledge the disabling effect the Fibromalgia has on me would be to admit that they need to pitch in and help more, something they apparently are not prepared to do. Co-workers and friends also seem to have a hard time understanding the extent to which my physical abilities are impaired because of this condition. Consequently, I usually try to keep the pain to myself, which contributes to my feelings of alienation.

Another thing that gives me reason to pause and reflect is the way I measure my value against other people’s attitudes towards me. Because of the disrespect and lack of support, encouragement, concern and compassion I have had to deal with over the years, I often find myself questioning my worthiness. Of course, intellectually, I know that is wrong, but it’s hard to keep a positive outlook when you are being battered emotionally. It would be nice to be built up once in a while instead of being knocked down all the time.

The following is from another old entry:

Not only have I failed to live up to the expectations of others (as they frequently and hurtfully remind me), but I have failed to live up to my OWN expectations, as well. I feel like I have failed to become the person I was meant to be. I got sidetracked by my obsession with ministering to the needs of other people.

The expectations of others are often unrealistic and unreasonable, and are based on THEIR ideals and THEIR needs, rather than mine. I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own, and have done myself a great disservice by not realizing that until so late in life. However, it’s not too late, and I’m trying to work on that, I really am. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and this is something I struggle with constantly.

This mission of mine to be all things to all people goes back to my childhood. I am the oldest of six children, and often took it upon myself to try to make things right for everyone else. My parents didn’t have a happy marriage, and voices raised in anger were not an uncommon sound in my childhood home. During particularly unpleasant fights, I would gather my siblings and retreat with them to another area of the house where we would listen to the shouting together. I guess I thought I could monitor the trauma, and somehow keep it in check. I would try to convince my brothers and sisters (and myself) that everything would be okay. Afterwards, I would make an attempt to console my mother, and occasionally, my father. It only occurred to me after I became an adult that no one had ever comforted ME. I was a CHILD, yet I shouldered the responsibility of being a peacemaker. I took on the burden of trying to orchestrate everyone else’s happiness, often at the expense of my own.

I carried that duty with me throughout my teenage years. In friendships, my role was that of “listener.” I don’t mind listening, and even consider that to be one of my better qualities. But, there were times when I needed to be heard, yet I wasn’t given the same consideration. People wanted my shoulder to cry on, but didn’t feel inclined to offer me theirs in return.

My marriage and employment history were more of the same. I was the one who always tried to rectify negative situations, and I continued to attach more importance to the needs of others than I did to my own. Of course, that is very unhealthy, and I found myself withdrawing more and more into what I called the seductive allure of the abyss. But, I had my daughters to consider, and they helped to keep me anchored. Naturally, I put their happiness before my own, but that’s par for the parenthood course, and I don’t harbor any resentment about placing my children’s needs first. Still, the role of nurturer DOES wear thin. Being made to feel responsible for the happiness of so many others can be overwhelming. Taking care of myself and my own needs far too frequently winds up on the back burner. I am low on my own list of priorities. How sad.

Being the person others depend on is not, however, without a positive side. It has strengthened my character, and made me more independent. But, sometimes I wonder if I’m TOO independent. It is difficult for me to accept help. I find myself keeping things to myself, and shutting people out, even when they make a genuine offer to lend me their ear. It’s hard to break the habit. It’s also difficult to break the pattern of being a doormat. Taking that final curtain call after starring in the role for so many years isn’t easy…

All of these things have contributed to me failing to live up to my potential, and not satisfying the expectations I had for myself. This explains to a certain degree why I feel that I turned into the wrong person. Of course, there’s more to it – a LOT more. I made poor choices. I often felt inhibited and trapped by what I considered my inadequacies. I made mistakes, and continue to make them.

It has been my experience that people don’t typically bother to pay close attention to the signals I send out. Instead of accepting me for who I am, they see me as the person they want me to be, and are then disappointed when I fail to meet their requirements. I need to stop worrying about trying to impress people, or live up to their Great Expectations.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but I resolve to try to be more forgiving and accepting of myself, and will make an effort to quit agonizing over fulfilling the needs of those who might find me lacking. I truly believe there’s still time for me to get back on track, and become the right person, the person I was meant to be.

That should give you a better idea of why I often feel the need to “justify.” Oh heck. Now I’m trying to justify my justifying! Argh! This is going to be harder than I thought…

Song of the Day: Old Habits Die Hard by Mick Jagger & Dave Stewart

I saw my primary care physician on Monday and he did the two things I expected him to do. 1. He dismissed the notion of a possible endocrinological connection without the slightest consideration, and 2. He asked me what I wanted him to do. He ALWAYS asks me that, and it’s really starting to wear thin.

Usually, I reply to that idiotic question by telling him what to do, but, this time, I responded by bursting into tears. I sobbed, “YOU’RE the doctor. I didn’t go to medical school; YOU did. What I want you to do is HELP me. If you don’t, I’m going to kill myself, because I can’t live this way much longer.”

That got his attention. He wrote me a referral to a neurologist. As I mentioned before, I’ve been to neurologists in the past without getting relief from these headaches, but I’m willing to give it another try. I have to do SOMETHING.The problem with neurologists is that they always want to treat me for migraines, and I know that’s not what these headaches are. I’ve gone the migraine meds route. I’ve done the caffeine withdrawal therapy. I’ve taken muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. I’ve had EEGs and MRIs. I’ve been to a pain management specialist, and went for injections in the cervical spine.

Nothing I’ve tried has worked. Instead of seeing the least bit of improvement, my condition is getting worse. I STILL have the headache that began on February 22nd. I am also experiencing severe pain in my neck and shoulder muscles. There is nerve entrapment in the cervical spine, and I have gone for physical therapy, also without relief. How long can a person be expected to tolerate unremitting pain?

I don’t consider myself to have a low threshold for pain. Both of my children were delivered completely naturally. I once walked on a broken leg. I have lived with Fibromyalgia/Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome for many years. I didn’t take the Vicodin that was prescribed after I had spine surgery for a herniated disc, but I do take it when I have these headaches, although it barely touches the pain. This is becoming unendurable, and I am reaching the end of my coping ability.

Does anybody know when Dr. Kevorkian gets out of prison?

Song of the Day: King of Pain by The Police

Pot Luck o’ the Irish

March 17, 2006

I am not Irish, but, for some reason, I decided to cook corned beef and cabbage for dinner. Never again. Just the smell turns my stomach, but I went ahead and tasted it, anyway.

I repeat. Never again. That stuff is VILE.

This has got me wondering if anybody actually likes the dish, and, if so, why. Please let me know via the comments section. I’m really curious.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Oh My Aching Head

March 13, 2006

Today is my TWENTIETH day with a “scary headache.” Over the years, I have come to refer to these headaches that way because: 1. they differ from other types of headaches (neuromuscular, sinus, tension, migraine, cluster, menstrual – you name it, I’ve had it), and 2. well, damn it, they ARE scary.

These headaches are debilitating. They affect my job and my home life.  I am not able to function normally when under the influence of these hateful, heartless, hellish headaches. To add insult to injury, my neck and shoulder muscles seize up and add another fun component to the pain fest. 

I was in such agony over the weekend, I spent much of Saturday and Sunday on the couch. Vicodin isn’t touching the pain at all. This is truly a terrible way to live. I look forward to the weekends, and then I can’t do things I want or need to do because I’m in too much pain.

I haven’t done anything about income taxes.  I haven’t done anything about FAFSA applications.  The house is a mess. Something has to give.  Enough is enough.

A couple of people (one of whom is my massage therapist) recently suggested that I see an endocrinologist.  So, after rising from bed this morning and coming to terms with the fact that I still had a headache, I decided to take the day off and try to see my primary care physician about a referral to an endocrinologist.  While I was waiting for his office to open, I took down my calendar and tallied up the days I had marked with an H (for headache, of course). Here’s a recap:

November – 15 days with headache, 15 without.

December – 16 days with, 15 days without

January – 13 days with, 18 without (Woo hoo!)

February – 18 with, 10 without

March – the headache that began on February 22nd continues to date.

After I put the calendar back, I flipped through the phone book, in search of local endocrinologists.  In a cruel twist of fate, I discovered that my primary care physician IS an endocrinologist.  I’ve been seeing this guy for years, and all he’s good for is writing referrals and the occasional prescription if I should be in need of an antibiotic, or something simple like that.  Since I can’t picture him giving me a referral to another endocrinologist, I might have to be content with a referral to a neurologist, although I’ve already been to at least three, none of whom were able to do anything.  All I know for sure is that I need help, and I need it now.

I have an appointment with Dr. PCP at 2:45.  In the meantime, I thought I’d tackle this meme I saw over at  bozoette mary’s place.

1. Name 5 of your favorite books.

The Brother’s Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

I also adore Stephen King, John Irving, Pat Conroy J.K. Rowling, Alice Hoffman, Ann Tyler, Amy Tan, and many others.

2. What was the last book you bought?

A Thread of Grace,by Mary Doria Russell, a recommendation from Mary. I look forward to getting around to reading it, one of these days.

I have quite a stack of books waiting for me, but first I want to finish Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  I am currently reading book 4, out of 7, and am really enjoying the ride.

3. What was the last book you read?

The Wastelands, book III of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

Loved it!  Blaine the train is a pain! Hey!  I think I’ll name my headache Blaine!

4. Name five books that are particularly meaningful for you.

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

A Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

As a teenager, these books made such an impression on me, I read them over and over and over again.

5. Three books you are dying to read but just haven’t yet.

A Thread of Grace,by Mary Doria Russell

Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

These are just a few of the many books on the aforementioned “to read” stack.

Song of the Day:  Paperback Writer by The Beatles

Buried Treasure

March 4, 2006

Look what Rebecca and her boyfriend found in our cellar:

The first one is a badge that was worn on the cap of Landwacht officers. The Landwacht served as an auxiliary police force in the Netherlands, under the authority of the NSB (the principal Nazi party in Holland). There’s a better shot of the badge on this website, seventh photograph down.  http://axishistory.com/index.php?id=4552

The second is a Luftwaffe national insignia. Here’s what it looks like on an officer’s cap.

http://www.walkintime.com/ccaps/c24.htm 

When I first saw the WWII relics, I was creeped out.  But, then I realized that, instead of being a Nazi enthusiast, which was my initial suspicion, it is more likely that a former owner of this house brought these back as souvenirs from his service in the war. Now they are mine. It’s like holding a piece of history in my hands.

These mementos are particularly fascinating to me because of my interest in Judaism. It began with Fiddler on the Roof, a movie that is one of my all-time favorites. I first saw the film as a teenager, and it had a profound effect on me.  Over the years, everything I’ve seen or read about Judaism or the Holocaust has made a lasting impression. The first Bar/Bat Mitzvah I ever attended moved me deeply. I cried through the entire ceremony.

In my thirties, while working in the high school library, I picked up a book called My Name is Asher Lev,by Chaim Potok.  I was enthralled, and have since read (and loved) all of his works. Once, I had a dream in which people were talking to each other in Hebrew.  In my dream, I couldn’t speak the language, but I was able to understand it.

When I was around fifteen years old, I woke up one night to the sound of my much younger brother screaming, “Ma! Ma!”  Still half asleep, I ran into his room saying, “What? What?”  I saw that our mother was standing there staring at me, but I didn’t pay much attention to the look on her face, and went back to bed.  She later told me about a vision she had at that time, but I don’t want you to think I’m even crazier than I’ve already led you to believe, so I’ll skip the details.  Suffice it to say that it was chilling, and related to the Holocaust. 

My mother’s father, by the way, was Polish. His children were raised Catholic, but I’ve always wondered if there’s more to this than meets the eye… Oh well, I guess I’ll never know.

Song of the Day: Zog Nit Keyn Mol (Never Say) Anthem of the Jewish partisans, written by Hirsh Glik in the Vilna ghetto. Glik was shot by the Nazis at the age of 24 after escaping from a forced labor camp.

I want (NEEEEEEED) a refillable prescription for this:

Well, why shouldn’t we have our own wonder drug?  Our mothers had Valium, didn’t they? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Dolls)

Thanks for turning me on to that, Stefani! (http://www.stefanitadio.com)

Song of the Day:  Mother’s Little Helper by The Rolling Stones

What a drag it is getting old

“Kids are different today,”

I hear every mother say

Mother needs something today to calm her down

And though she’s not really ill

There’s a little yellow pill

She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

“Things are different today,”

I hear every mother say

Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag

So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak

And goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day

Doctor please, some more of these

Outside the door, she took four more

What a drag it is getting old

“Men just aren’t the same today”

I hear every mother say

They just don’t appreciate that you get tired

They’re so hard to satisfy, You can tranquilize your mind

So go running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight

Doctor please, some more of these

Outside the door, she took four more

What a drag it is getting old

“Life’s just much too hard today,”

I hear every mother say

The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore

And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose

No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day

Observation Complication

March 1, 2006

Before I get to the main topic of this entry, I want to thank those who left messages of commiseration over the loss of five years of my journal entries. I followed the advice of those who suggested that I check http://www.archive.org, and was able to locate 31 entries (out of hundreds). Only one or two of them were worth retrieving, though.  On the bright side, I did have quite a few entries saved in a file on my computer at work, and will be moving them to Diaryland as time permits. 

I’m still feeling a bit shell-shocked over this whole Diary-x debacle. (I lost a lot of photographs, too.) But, as Texas Peach (http://texaspeach.livejournal.com/) said (in reference to Stephen Deken’s growing family), “real life is more important than online life.” For that reason (and others), I think Stephen made the right decision to quit Diary-x. He no longer has the time to give such an enterprise the attention it requires (and deserves). He can’t be faulted for that. Still, the bottom line is, people shouldn’t take on responsibilities they can’t fulfill, especially when others are depending on them.

While I am not happy about Mr. Deken’s negligence, I don’t approve of the Stephen bashing that is going on. Some of it is rather extreme. I do believe that former members have every right to express their disappointment and dissatisfaction over the mismanagement of the site. It is not unreasonable for us to have expected that backups would have been performed routinely. However, there’s no need for tar and feathers.  Stephen has assumed full responsibility for what happened, and admitted that he failed to do things that should have been done. Now we need to cut our losses and move on. I am not, however, interested in any reincarnation of Diary-x. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Okay, the subject I really meant to talk about in this entry is my yearly observation.  It was supposed to take place this afternoon, but, due to a scheduling glitch, an assistant principal showed up at the computer lab first thing yesterday morning. Fortunately, I was teaching the same lesson (on building a Works Cited page) that I had planned for today. Unfortunately, the students completed the tutorial faster than expected, so I had to wing it and pull additional components out of thin air.

It helped that I was instructing an English 11 class. I am very involved with helping these students find sources for their Personal Anthology – a collection of American Literature based on a particular theme chosen by individual students.  The Personal Anthology is a portfolio project that takes the place of a final exam.

Since I am so familiar with the requirements, it was relatively easy for me to carry on with the lesson.  Still, this deviation from my plan threw me off a bit. I wasn’t expecting to have to ad-lib. Thankfully, no one even knew I was improvising, but I still felt agitated.

A teacher friend later told me I shouldn’t sweat it, and reminded me that other Teaching Assistants have hall duty assignments during which they sit around and read the newspaper. That comment really made me stop and think.  It made me wonder why I am so hard on myself.

Unlike the other TAs in the building, I have my own classroom.  Unlike the other TAs in the building, I develop and execute lesson plans, complete with handouts that I create. Unlike the other TAs in the building, I edit and publish a student poetry booklet. The fact of the matter is, the other TAs don’t do a fraction of what I do.  Even the administrator who sat in for my observation acknowledged that I am a real asset to the school.

So, why isn’t that good enough for me?  Why do I get so uptight when things don’t go quite as anticipated?  Why do I agonize over every little thing?  Most importantly, why do I feel the need to do things flawlessly, and then berate myself  when I don’t live up to such impossibly high standards?  I have to learn to roll with the punches.  My mental health depends on it.

One more thing – watch this video (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/02/23/earlyshow/main1339324.shtml?CMP=ILC-SearchStories) [on the right]. It is incredibly moving and uplifting.  

Song of the Day:  My Own Worst Enemy by Michelle Branch