Friday, December 31, 2004

Home Again Home Again

Happy New Year's Eve!

Got home last night, opened the christmas present that arrived after we left for Pittsburgh last week, and caught up on all my magazines. And played with the new present, of course. Heh heh.

Seeing the family was nice... in that way of visiting family. In other words, I didn't get to spend enough time with some people and had to spend way too much time with others. My father didn't really do a flip out until the last night we were there, and it wasn't nearly as nasty as some I've witnessed. We did clear out all our stuff from the dining room in case he decided that we were "too fucking retarded and irresponsible" to have things. He has been known to break or throw away things that were left where he thought they didn't belong when he gets in one of his moods. Love the man, try to ignore the mental illness, I guess.

Speaking of mental illness, we visited Grandma and Sam. Grandma is our adopted grandma who lived across the street from us when I was a little girl. Lacking grandparents of our own, we latched on to her. She and Sam dated for years, waiting out the deaths of their parents, before marrying in 1980something. For the last ten years, Grandma has been doing the downhill slide of Alzheimers. She was still fairly functional and conversational until about five years ago. I remember taking her to a Dervish concert in Pittsburgh in the Spring of 1999, right before I moved out West, and she was extremely lucid.

Not so anymore. The woman we knew and loved is gone. She talks like a small child and becomes easily confused, leading to tears. It's hard to know what she recognizes and what she doesn't. Like a child, she'll whine for a cookie, but halfway through eating it, she'll forget she has it in her hand. But god help you if you try to take it away... Sam refuses to put her in a care facility, but the daily struggle is eating him up, too. He told us that if we ever suspected a loved one had Alzheimer's, to shoot them or yourself, because the alternatives just were too ugly to live with. I wish I lived closer so I could visit more often. I know my mother gets over there as often as she can, but with her schedule, that's not as often as they need. So I'll do what I have been doing and send them a card as often as I remember. I just wish I was better at remembering that sort of thing.

I didn't intend to be depressing. Our visit with them was fun. Sam has some fantastic stories to tell and loves an audience. He's a bit eccentric - collects clocks and watches and comic book memorabilia. My mother got him a Batmobile for christmas and he went nuts over it. He got Jay to take a watch, a weather station, six or seven CD's, and an old set of vinyl records of Beethoven's 5th from the 50s. When I was little, Sam used to be into stamp collecting, Matchbox cars, and Wonder Woman. One year I drew him a picture of Wonder Woman and cut it out to look like a stamp. He can be ornery, a cranky old man, but he's just a big sweetheart underneath that. I'm only recently discovering that. He had me fooled for many years.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Happy Holidays... and I'm off

Leaving on a jet plane... but I'll be back on the 30th. Going to spend xmas with the family in Pittsburgh. No doubt I will have lots of interesting stories to post about if Jay and I survive. Mwah ha ha ha ha.

Otherwise been in a bit of a funk lately. Not in the mood to sit down in front of the computer and write at all. Probably just backlash from NaNo. I have been on a reading binge lately though. Mmmmm. Booooooks. Goooood. Reality baaaaad.

10 more working days until I have no job again. Interviewed with Sylvan Learning Center and will also be subbing next term. Job security is something I would like to experience before I die. Just saying.

Alrighty - bed time. Must rise absurdly early for tomorrow's flight. That, and Jay is whining "Come to bed, come to be-e-e-d" at me from the other room. Good thing you're cute, sweetie. Good thing.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Just as I suspected...

I got the offer for the spring term contract... teaching 1 reading class (that I am currently teaching), 1 MORE class (a life studies/guided instruction time for 9th graders with problems), and 1 Utah Studies class. Considering that I have not had the training for the counseling portion of MORE, and that I am not FROM UTAH (thank god), I think I'm going to have to turn it down. (This would drop my take home pay to about $900/month for an assload of work, just for reference.)

Because really... 3 preps (preparations for class), all in classes that I'm not qualified to teach, with some of the most difficult students in the school... I don't think there is enough money in the district to make that worth my time and effort. But here's where the little paycheck idiosyncrisies actually come in handy: I still get paid through the end of February. While it's not enough to make my monthly expenses, it's close enough so that if I don't find a job right away, I won't be TOTALLY screwed. Just partially.

So I'm cruising the district websites, keeping my fingers crossed, and updating my resume for Sylvan Learning Center. If worse comes to worst, I'll be subbing, working up in Park City, and tutoring in the Spring. And that's not THAT horrible, right?

And we might not even be here in the Fall anyway. Right, hon? (no pressure. heh heh.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Still Sick

All that nice head congestion is sliding down into my lungs... where it will no doubt stick around for the next 2 weeks. As long as I'm healthy by the time my flight back to Pittsburgh rolls around, I'll deal with it.

I probably should have taken more than one day off of school, but this was midterm week and I had to get a pile of grading done and entered into the computers anyway. Plus, getting a sub is like dumpster diving. Pure trash with a few pristine, plastic wrapped goodies hidden in the mix. First sub I had was not only late to class, she spent most of the time on her cell phone (according to the students), and didn't do half of what I left for her to do. Plus, she left no notes as to absences or what they had done. Second sub was a gem. Kids liked him, work was done, note left, etc. Unfortunately, he wasn't available for this past week. So I got self-righteous sub.

Self-righteous sub left me a note telling me that I might want to think about mixing up the groups because they were noisy. (Um, hello? Group work with junior high students is always noisy... doesn't mean they're not working.) Also left a mini-lecture about one of my students and how she needs encouragement. "I noticed that J. was engrossed in her book, so I took some time to visit with her. She wants to be a teacher and likes to read and write. I urged her to work on short stories."

Now, on the surface, there's nothing really wrong with what he wrote. I'm aware of J's issues, and the fact that she reportedly has ADHD. However, she also knows better than to read in my class, and she will also tell you anything if she thinks it means you will let her read instead of doing the work she is supposed to be doing. I've seen her writing before and encouraged her the best I could. (It wasn't easy to find something nice to say, but I did.) And that's great that the sub took a few minutes to talk to her, but COME ON. You saw them for 85 minutes. But you, Mr. Self-Righteous, are the one going to save them and open up new possibilities in their lives, etc? The words "Piss Off" come to mind.

The final act of idiocy came when the teacher who uses the room in the afternoon came in and found him at her desk, eating the unsalted, roasted almonds from Trader Joe's that she just brought back from a trip to California (because we do not have Trader Joe's in Utah). As his final act, he said, "Oh, I guess these are your nuts I'm eating," and tosses another handful into his mouth. Note the lack of apology or embarrassment. Anyway.

And, yes, I won NaNo for the second year in a row. The writing is no doubt horrific, but at least it is there.

With that thought, I am going to go lay down and hope I don't cough up a lung. (Sniff. And I wanted to go skiing this weekend. Sniff.)