Late to the Dance

Life really did get better at 40. Not perfect, but better. Great job, bad, bad hair, good TV, bad books, not enough exercise, bad doctor, a few good flicks, loser in the "relationship" department, good visits with Erin... See, lots of good stuff but too many bad things that I still have to work out. So this is me, working it out.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Life at School - because there is no other life right now - and I'm okay with that

School starts and the world changes. For me, anyway. Back to being obsessed. Between the Newspaper, Yearbook, and my planned Drama Club, I can see me working 13 hours a day, no problem. Plus the "new teacher" stuff I have to do every week. I honestly do not understand how my co-workers leave at 4:00pm and keep up on grades and lesson plans and all that good stuff. I feel overwhelmed. But it is interesting and sometimes fun, so I'll take the "overwhelmed" and just try to find some balance somewhere. I have a lot of students that I really like - some who make me crazy, of course - but there are definitely kids who come to school eager to learn.

Then there are the kids who come to school for unknown reasons. The taggers, the gang members, the uninterested, uninformed, unwilling and uneducated, the angry kids who see no purpose in school. Something happened this year and our school became a dumping ground for kids with attendance problems. They got kicked out of their schools and landed at ours. Which is NOT lovely.

I had the pleasure of discovering our most prolific graffiti artist and turning him in. He was given a choice - withdraw from the school on your own, or face being expelled and criminal prosecution. He withdrew. AFTER he withdrew, I found out that he has been in prison 3 times for car theft and that he carries a gun in his car. And he still has friends left at the school. One of his friends continued the graffiti but I figured out who that second vandal was and let the administration know. Unlike the first guy, we didn't have hard evidence so this second kid got a lot of not-so-subtle class lectures from me and another teacher and seems to have stopped the "artwork" - in the meantime, the poor guys have to check out a key every time they want to use the bathroom.

Graffiti isn't a big problem at the school. We have a zero tolerance policy and we paint over ANYTHING immediately so there isn't a lot of gratification for the tagger. So our rooms are clean, our walls are clear, and the school is well-kept. Not that the kids do a lot to keep it that way. I have never seen so many wrappers and cans on the ground (but our janitorial staff does a great job of cleaning up after these kids each evening). They could be 5 steps from a trashcan but still use the ground instead. Zero pride in their school. I remember reading about a Japanese school where the kids spent about an hour each day cleaning up after themselves - which, of course, guaranteed they wouldn't make many messes! If we did something like that, we just wouldn't have any kids enrolled.

Pride is something we have been talking about at our staff meetings - how to develop school pride. We know that sports are usually the way to develop school pride - but we don't have ANY facilities so the students don't get pep rallies, don't get to go to home games (our home games are never "at home"), and we don't have a football team so the cheerleaders are only involved in basketball games. The principal wants to create a school song and/or a school motto. Another teacher has suggested the staff wear school shirts on Casual Fridays. I think each class should have an advisor that stays with them through their senior year and that the senior class gives the school a gift that improves the school in some way. And, of course, my design class will eventually be working on designing our school name into a logo for the website, maybe for sports, maybe for school gear...

Any ideas?

In Erin's senior year they did a Shakespeare play outside in this grove of trees. The audience sat at tables and enjoyed dinner (well, I would have enjoyed it, but as I recall, my chicken was raw) and watched the play. Since we don't have an auditorium at our school, I thought it might be fun to do something similar at our school. I'm not sure there is a student at our school who could handle a lead role in a Shakespeare play - but maybe an evening of beloved Shakespeare scenes? Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth - they each have at least a few brilliant scenes these kids could handle. Anyway, that's my plan - an early evening of al fresco dining and Shakespeare plays. I wonder when the best time of year to put on such a thing would be? January? Of course the evenings end quickly in January... Maybe a picnic lunch on a Saturday afternoon in January?


Hey, our first issue of the newspaper will come out this week. I'm kind of excited even though a lot of students didn't step up. The ones who did surprised me. It turns out I have a couple of kids who are great at being responsible even if the writing is iffy. Hmmm, the bright, responsible ones are almost all teen moms or dads. Ponder that one. And get back to me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Hello friends and family. I decided to change my blogspot address - with the number of teachers getting in trouble for posting things about their personal lives online, I thought it would be wiser to have a website address that does NOT include my name. So here it is - - sorry you have to update links - but it is all about job security and I did mention shots of tequila in my last post...

Couple of things going wrong in my life right now. Big one - out of medication. So I'm off my synthroid AND my prozac. I've been off the prozac for a couple of months now and I am definitely feeling it. I tried St. John's Wort as a replacement but read so many bad things about it that I decided to stop taking it. So I'm something of a pill right now. Ha ha - a pill. But I don't HAVE any pills.

And this lack of medication might be to blame for my sudden adverse reaction to my dance classes - but I think it is just "sad realization" time... What's the point in taking the classes when I'll never have a partner? At the last practice party nobody wanted to dance with me and the few teachers who made the effort were rewarded for their efforts by me stumbling about, messing up every step. I left the practice dance (after half an hour of practicing my sitting skills - and it turns out that I don't really need to practice my sitting skills) and realized that I can't do it. It was killing my already fragile self-esteem.

On a more positive note, I have been working out steadily. Got set-up on Fit Linxx at the YMCA so I can track my workouts and progress. Speaking of working out - I better get going (although I am NOT a fan of the 5:00 o'clock crowd - and it's hard to get a treadmill for the cardio portion).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fuzzy Headed

I'm back from a week in San Diego where I learned all about helping kids in the academic middle achieve their potential and make it into college. Or something like that. My head is full and fuzzy. The conference was a day too long but still interesting.

It was great seeing friends - first in LA and then Kecia down in San Diego. I still feel more comfortable on CA freeways than Phoenix freeways. Now if folks in Phoenix would start using turn signals, I would probably start feeling a bit more at ease...

I put on weight in San Diego. It seemed like all I did was eat. I tried to be good - walked two miles every morning, ate eggs for breakfast, a salad for lunch, but it would all fall apart at dinner. Every restaurant puts warm bread on the table! I'm NOT superhuman - don't tempt me like that! I did stick to strawberries when everyone around me ordered dessert. Okay, so one time I ate the strawberries drenched in whipped cream. Ooooooh, and uh, there was Monday night at the Old Town Mexican Cafe. Yeah. Chips and salsa and Margaritas. And freshly made tortillas for the chili verde (best tortillas I've ever had - no contest). Hmm. That night alone might account for the extra poundage I am currently sporting. But man oh man - hot, light, thick - those tortillas were dreamy. I had two. They served them with butter - but I refrained - I just filled them with the chili. No dessert in Old Town. But I did follow up my Margaritas with a couple of shots of tequila. My only night of drinking during the entire trip. Except for a glass or two of wine. My other bad day/night was Wednesday night. Yeah. Patty melt and fries. Very kindly, Tony ate about two thirds of my fries so I didn't eat them all.

Speaking of Tony and Kecia, they are buying a new place down the street from their current home (and directly across the street from Tony's mom and stepfather). The house is larger than their current one, but it's not the big draw. The property is. It's like a wildlife refuge or a park is hidden in back. It's HUGE. It just keeps on going (I was literally shocked that a property of that size exists in the middle of the neighborhood). It makes me want to throw a really really big picnic. But since they are the only people I know down there, I wouldn't really have anyone to invite to the picnic to fill up the space. Oh well. I hope they get the place (sale is somewhat contingent on them finding a buyer for their house and the market is very very bad right now). Hey, they could do Shakespeare plays down there. Or any pastoral type of thing.

I got home after Jen had left for Dubois. The dogs were a little frantic - not for ME but for some assurance that Jen will be back... Cider can't stop talking and Boo needs a lot of attention (or so I assume since she keeps slipping her head under my hand or arm). I took them out for a walk tonight and they seemed to poop out kind of early. But I yelled at them and told 'em to quit their bellyaching and pick up the pace. Man - 102 degrees and they go all poodle on me. I guess that's what the choke chain collar is for, right Jen?

(Just kidding, Jen, I did not abuse them - but they were wimpy).

Hmm. Cate is going to be here in 6.5 hours. Or less. Maybe I should wrap this up.

Ballroom dancing class on Monday. YAY! Although, with my extra weight, I'll probably be gross and sweaty. I'll hit his stomach with mine and he'll say "belly bop" again and I'll want to die of humiliation AND I'll have forgotten the dance steps. So yeah, excited for the class. I pay MONEY for this mortification. Oh, I get it now - dance class is my version of a hairshirt or flagellation. Wow. I must have REALLY done something wrong.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I still say mirrors are evil

What's the name of that disorder where you look in the mirror and you don't recognize yourself? I just had the strangest moment - I stopped to check out my appearance in the mirror and thought THAT'S what I look like? I didn't see ME in there. How odd. I didn't realize how old I look. It's this California air - too much humidity!

So yes, here in LA visiting with friends before I head down to San Diego for the weeklong conference. It was very nice seeing Ya-Lei and Nicole and Ellen. Ya-Lei and Nicole took me to this place in downtown LA and I had a fantastic wrap - Thai Cobb in a rice paper wrap. It was delicious and I think it might have even been healthy. Hard to tell with some of the Asian sauces... I pretty much talked non-stop about the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Except for the two minutes that I allowed Nicole to tell us about this boy... Now I am back at Rachel's packing up to get on the road (thank you Rachel and Mike for letting me crash here!). Okay, not so much "packing" as "typing" at the moment - but you get the idea.

I miss walking the dogs! Seriously. I'm actually looking forward to arriving at the hotel tonight so I can hit the fitness center. I also miss dance class. An entire week without it? It's like jonesing for a fix! I think I might try to find the swing club Rachel went to in La Jolla and go there one night. I guess they teach the beginner's how to dance and then they all just have a big dance.

Monday, July 02, 2007


If someone had told me 6 months ago that I would WILLINGLY go for a little two mile speed walk in 103 degree temperature, I don't think I would have trusted their judgment on any matter. I hate heat - always have - hate it in that wussy way that pale overweight people hate it. But there I am - out with the dogs, trotting around the neighborhood. Most of the time it's a bit Zen. I have the iPod playing, I have the sidewalks to myself, and Boo and Cider are getting better about not tripping me... Then we have the local sociopaths who come along and make me want to cry. Tonight was the second time I have been successfully targeted by idiots whizzing by in their cars - they tossed a water balloon at me the first time and tonight it was a full cup of ice and ... something. It just about ruins it for me. I know it is a silly thing to get upset over (but man, does it HURT - to get hit by something thrown from a car moving about 40 mph), but I was half way through my walk and it made me want to just cut through the park path and call it a night.

But I didn't. Because, you know, fat. And I wanna dance. And not be fat.

So, today. Work. Bored to death. Cannot wait for school to start! It's lonely there in the lab all by myself. Designing a website might be fun - but creating it is just tedious. Link this to this and this and this... After work I headed over to the dance studio - let's call FA for short (Fred Astaire). On the drive over I had a full blown panic attack. I pulled over in a shopping center and thought my chest was going to - well, I don't know exactly what I thought it was going to do - it's a strange feeling of too much air and not enough air at the same time. And heady, dizziness. And a deep desire to cry.

Arrive at FA, still worked up. Early, but that's okay, they encourage you to hang out and watch. So I watched Joshua dancing with a girl I've seen him teaching a couple of times. She is clearly a dancer (as in trained in some dance) but new to ballroom - it is lovely to see her doing basically the same moves I am doing but with style. It makes me think that maybe someday I'll move like that.

The class went quickly because I spent a lot of it laughing. Joshua was in a puckish mood today - teasing me, teasing other dancers and instructors, generally entertaining... I think he was bored with the beginners. So far: Foxtrot, Box Step (Waltz, Rumba, others), Cha Cha, Swing, Salsa, doing turns and spins and promenades and crossovers. I like the spins in swing the best - but that's because Erin and I have been doing them for years (and we were even doing them correctly, Erin). You get quite a rush of happiness spinning about.

Then Jen and I hit the gym. Time to get gross - I am sweating more and more but I am not changing up the workout. Which seems wrong to me. Seems like the workouts should be getting easier - not sweatier! Definitely had to work through the cardio today. I've been doing arms pretty much every day which I know is the wrong approach - but ever since Madoona went on her conical bra tour and I saw her arms and shoulders, I thought, I WANT ARMS AND SHOULDERS LIKE THAT. Seriously - she looked so toned (don't want bulge, just nice definition). And I have this little ridiculous fear that nudges me and says that I need to push those arms every day or I will backslide into flab. Well, not exactly backslide, since I am still mired in it, more like I'm afraid I will never escape the land of flab.

And then the doggies. And the cup. That walk at night really is nice - I hope I don't start getting paranoid. That's what happened to me in Brentwood - I started getting paranoid and stopped going on the walks and sugars got out of control and everything went to hell.

I'm ready to pass out.

Good night!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Burn Out?

Not even close. With me, it's momentum. If I stop, then it's over until something big gets me going again. So the more we work out, the better I like it. I'm going to miss summer! Swim in the morning, dance in the afternoon, YMCA in the evening, walk the dogs when the temperature drops all the way down to 100 degrees. Work a few hours a day... Of course the dancing is coming to a screeching halt in about a week - but it will start back up when I start getting paid real money in August.

Anyway - it was a great weekend for exercise. I would like to go out and do some other things - but it's so freaking hot, it's hard to muster the energy to go seeking new things. How do people watch a Diamondbacks game? Is it an enclosed ballpark with AC? How do the players PLAY in this heat?

By the way, Jen says I am having a midlife crisis. I suppose it is possible - I've certainly become more aware of my personal deficits recently - but what I am doing feels good - so why is it called a CRISIS?

Friday, June 29, 2007

41, looking at 42 in a few months

I thought I would look at what I felt when I turned 40 - see if anything had changed... Now, when I turned 40, I was working at the National Notary Association, traveling, making a little money after a year of being destitute. The heading to my brand new blog site said (and still says): Life really did get better at 40. Not perfect, but better. Great job, bad, bad hair, good TV, bad books, not enough exercise, bad doctor, a few good flicks, loser in the "relationship" department, good visits with Erin... See, lots of good stuff but too many bad things that I still have to work out. So this is me, working it out.

Did I work it out?

Then/Great job: maybe... I am very happy that I have a teaching position, just not sure yet about the subject matter - I am NOT a computer expert and the position really does call for expertise. But I love the administration, I enjoy most of the staff, and the kids are, by and large, great.

Then/Bad hair: What was up with my hair when I turned 40? I don't remember. Wait. I think I got a really bad perm. Which I cut off as soon as I could. Right now my hair is very short. I went and got it cut the other day and decided I would try a little highlighting. The stylist and I agreed that it would be a subtle warmth, nothing too blond. So of course it was the equivalent of zebra stripes. Bold brassy blond highlights. I looked like a freak. I swallowed back the tears, drove home, and colored my entire head back to my normal brown. So, haircut is okay, color is okay, texture is something akin to straw. But I wear myhair so short that I'll be cutting all this bad hair out in no time.

Then/Good TV: I still watch too much TV - nothing on right now that I am particularly obsessed with - but summer shows will be on soon - like Monk and Psych. And hey, new vampire series coming in the fall - and in one of them Jason Dohring (who I loved, loved, loved as Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars) will be playing a vampire in a supporting role. YAYAYAYAYAY! And since I am excited about it, and since it is a Sci Fi or Fantasy series, it will probably last two episodes.

Then/Bad books: I still read trashy novels, I always will. I wish Val McDermid would put out a new Tony Hill novel - I am in neeeeeeed. Just finished Robert Crais' most recent Elvis Cole book - which was really a Joe Pike book this time out - which is okay with me because I have a crush on the enigmatic, brutally efficient Joe Pike.

Then/Not enough exercise: I get lots of exercise these days. One of my goals when I moved to AZ was to exercise more, to lead an active life. I finally believe it might really happen. It turns out I needed a reason to exercise beyond the "I need to exercise" line. Ballroom dancing is the reason. I want to be fit so I can dance better. I want to be fit so I look better on the dance floor. I want to be fit so I am not paranoid about being held in someone's arms. When I am working out, I picture my goal - me dancing with a partner and enjoying it. It helps that Jen is a fit-aholic. I attach myself to her when I can and go along to the YMCA when she is having her training sessions or when she is meeting her 4000 workouts-a-week plan. Before it started being 243 degrees every day, I walked the dogs at night. Last night, after it had dropped 138 degrees and was only about 105, I took the dogs out for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. We even jogged a little. When I am done here, I will take them out again. Strange how my body is adjusting to the heat. I never thought it would. Hey, I'm not planning on any noon dogwalks. At noon I am safely indoors with plenty of AC blowing. But if the sun is down, I may be able to get dogwalking back into the exercise repetoire.

Then/A few good flicks: Since we've been here, I've been to see one movie. I am pathetic. I shouldn't even be allowed to keep my email name - movichik. I should be TVchik. Or internetchik.

Then/Loser in relationship department: Yeah. Still am. I tried, I really did. I went on something like four blind dates and hated every one of them. Internet dating is not for me. And it's not just that I don't like myself - it's something else. I think my taste in men is stuck back to when I was about 30. I like them a little too young. Oh. That's probably too much information. You know, it's weird - when I was around 30, I was pretty gone over a guy closer to 40. Now I would like to date someone closer to 30. Well, I would like to date someone closer to 30 once I have changed my appearance drastically.

Then/Good visits with Erin: So this is the worst of the list. Back then the NNA flew me up to the Bay Area about once a month - so I had nice free trips to see Erin. Now I live in AZ. I miss her a lot but she seems to have a very full life up at Berkeley right now so that makes it easier to swallow. Besides - she is coming in August so I have something nice to look forward to.

So, = if it stayed the same, + if it got better, and - if it got worse:

Job =
Hair +
TV =
Books +
Exercise +
Doctor (I don't have one, but I have great insurance starting soon, so I won't include this one right now)
Movies -
Relationships =
Erin -

Overall, I improved my life by one point. That's progress. Now, if I had to include my bank account or standing with the IRS, I don't think we would have seen improvement - but since I didn't mention them the first time around, I won't include them here. I'll take my improvement and just go walk the dogs and listen to Santana/Rob Thomas as I dance through the neighborhood (thank you Gary for a CD I thought was weird at the time - Santana's Supernatural - years later and it is still my number one CD choice - heavily featured on the old iPod).