Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Subbing Stories & Pictures

I've been subbing all this week: a middle school on Monday (covering for a 9th Grade English teacher); at a dual immersion school in Salt Lake City (covering briefly for a Third Grade teacher); and at my favorite school today and tomorrow (covering for a 7th Grade Social Studies teacher). I'm trying to do the AudioBoo thing a bit more, but this has been the sum of my experiences this week:

After first period today, I realized I had met with the students' approval:

Also, I want to get one of these for my own classroom someday, should I ever have one:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Arguing Styles

I've been thinking about arguing styles lately - how I argue, and how those around me argue.

There are folks in my family who are comparatively short-tempered (as there are everywhere; there are certain topics that certainly make me short-tempered), whose first response seems to be along the lines of loud yelling (yell first, discuss later). This makes me incapable of response: I feel like a deer in a headlight, completely frozen and unable to formulate any kind of sensible reply. The attitude of "Come on, just fight!" doesn't work with me. I dislike hotheadedness.

I need a lot of time to consider things, sometimes hours, often days. (I'm a slow thinker.) I need to think through how I feel about things, contemplate what's going on, and figure out how I want to respond without resorting to dredging up old hurts from childhood. Sometimes someone has said or done something that has really hurt me, and it takes me months to really figure out, in my head, how I need to approach the issue.

During a family trip to Ireland in 2007, my brother said a few things that were really hurtful (four years later, I don't remember what it was), yet I suspect largely unintentionally so. I realized he had a history of talking to me in this manner, and it was frustrating for both of us: He may have been seeing that I was hurt, he was definitely seeing I was unresponsive, but he wasn't understanding why. I found it painful, and I decided that if I ever wanted a close, adult relationship with my brother I needed to tell him so. I sent him a fairly long, detailed e-mail a few months later. This e-mail upset him for a number of reasons that I won't get into in a public forum, and he apologized for his behavior; he mentioned that he wanted to talk about it more over the phone at some point, although at this point we haven't. And that's okay, actually; I just needed for him to know. But it took me weeks and months of thinking about it, and finally e-mailing him about it.

This is how I know I react to stressful situations; I need to write about them in order to clarify my thoughts. For actual day-to-day discussions and arguments, that isn't feasible, so the best I can do is to say to whomever it is I'm arguing with, "I need to go upstairs and think about this for awhile. I'm upset, but that's okay."

The ex-boyfriend-of-nine-years never wanted to have arguments. I didn't, either - no one really does - but the complete avoidance of arguments meant that we couldn't resolve any issues. At the very least it meant we couldn't have an ongoing discussion about it, which most of the time I'd actually be fine with. (Sometimes you need to let things sit for a few days or a few weeks before trying another way of resolving it.) I could never convince him that it was a way for us to become closer, that an argument meant that we were more closely involved in each other's lives. It made him too nervous; he was too afraid I'd get angry enough to leave him if we disagreed.


Things have been stressful lately to the point where I suspect that my being stressed out led to a rather severe case of tonsillitis this past week.

My ears had been tender for a few days prior to all this, and since I had childhood (and occasional adulthood) ear infections, I tend to be hypersensitive about them even as an adult, especially since I had an ear infection only a few weeks ago; I can recognize when I'm about to get one and when it will relate to something more severe. I woke up last Saturday at about 5:30 a.m. with exceptional throat pain, the likes of which I could not ever remember having. Fevers came; fevers broke. I could barely talk; I was coughing up some pretty nasty stuff. But thinking I was struck down with a violent cold, I tried drinking as many liquids as I could, but nothing helped. Drinking anything was extremely painful; I didn't even try eating. 

On Sunday morning Ed drove me to the Taylorsville Urgent Care Clinic, arriving shortly after it opened at 8:00 a.m. The doctor made several "yikes, that looks pretty atrocious" noises, which one doesn't necessarily want to hear, but it was good to know that I wasn't making any of this up. He sent me on my way with prescriptions for heavy-duty ibuprofin, hydrocodone, and amoxicillin. He said not even to worry about eating, just to keep myself full of fluids so I wouldn't become dehydrated. And to come back to the clinic in 3-4 days if I wasn't feeling better.

Because I was in so much pain, I took more dosages of the hydrocone and ibuprofin than I should have. And because I couldn't eat, the pain medication made me feel nauseous. 

I wasn't feeling better, so we traipsed back to the clinic Wednesday afternoon. The same doctor saw me, took another look at my throat, and declared it to still be in pretty bad shape ("although at this point I'm not sure what else to do"). I had finished the hydrocodone but still had plenty of ibuprofin. He gave me a prescription for a four-day course of steroids, something for the nausea, and eardrops for the ear infection that he begun to settle in my left ear, and advised me to come back in another 3-4 days if things weren't feeling better.

Fortunately, things have begun to improve. My ear no longer hurts; the swelling in my throat has gone down significantly. (For a while it felt like I had a marble lodged in the left side of my throat; I couldn't swallow it but I couldn't cough it up.) My throat is still a bit tender; I'm still coughing up some nasty stuff, but much less of it. The nausea disappeared when I cut back on the painkillers. I can talk, but talking too much makes me cough, but I'm beginning to be able to chatter with Ed like we normally do.

We're at the point in the wedding planning where, with two months to go, we've begun having to make decisions again. Nothing particularly bad - and indeed, much of this is rather fun, choosing the music and the food and the minutiae. But it's also a reminder of how much this wedding is costing us financially, which leads us to have some of the difficult and potentially painful financial discussions the soon-to-be-married need to have. Because I've been so sick this past week, my emotional defenses have been down, so everything has been more on the forefront than it normally would be. Things that would bother me less, or that I would have a better idea how to respond to, leave me a bit at a loss. Once or twice I've found myself if not in tears, then needing to remove myself from the situation so I could calm myself down, or at least take a couple deep breaths.

What's on my mind through all of this is that I want to start off our married life with a history of good communication, not yelling at each other. I can handle arguing, but I cannot take yelling in an argument.

Fortunately, I'm a lot better, but I'm still not feeling entirely myself. I still don't have much of an attention span, and am feeling out of sorts, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I've barely left the house this week, which means I've been climbing the walls (not so good for the shorter temper). I missed Mass last weekend as well as on Ash Wednesday; I cancelled all subbing gigs I had this past week. 

Tomorrow we'll head back to church, and we need to do some serious food shopping this weekend as well. Perhaps I'll also take a short walk, too, if I can.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

National Fervor

"Our national fervor over college is based on a couple of false premises. One is that everything worth doing is only possible with education, not the education that experience gives us, but the kind that is acquired sitting in a classroom, paying tuition and spending exorbitent sums on textbooks.

The other is much more profound and troubling: that with the right support (the financial aid, the grants, the scholarships, the tutoring, the early intervention, the developmental courses, the disability services, the right counseling, the list goes on and on) anyone can get a college degree. It's patently false."*

I loved teaching at LCCC. I liked the diversity of the student body - not just racially speaking, but in age, experience, and difference in background (family, language, socioeconomic, religious, cultural). I had a wider variety of student than I would have had teaching at most other colleges, and as such, I was forced to create syllabi and lessons that I might not otherwise have done in another setting.

I saw students like me, who did not want to go to college, who should not have gone to college so soon out of high school, who had other things to worry about like childcare and jobs and spouses and elderly parents. That makes for a much more interesting class than 18-year-olds whose parents and grandparents went to college, who expected those 18-year-olds to go to college because "it's what people do." Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't; sometimes it isn't for another ten years.

* Geiselman, Kate. "My Hard Lessons Teaching Community College." Salon, 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 8 Mar. 2011.

Bridesmaids v. Groomsmen

It somehow doesn't seem quite fair, but it doesn't at all surprise me, the differences between what bridesmaids and the groomsmen in what they have to go through.

I decided to go with the designer Alfred Angelo for my bridesmaids. He has a several dozen different styles, colors, and fabrics from which to choose, and many bridal shops sell his gowns and dresses, which made it helpful: There was at least one store within a reasonable proximity to all my bridesmaids (who live in California; Utah; upstate New York; Long Island, New York; and Massachusetts). My bridesmaids could choose whichever style of gown they'd like, but I asked them to order their gown in tea rose, which is a pale pink. My girls could view all the styles online, choose a few that they liked, and go to their nearest store.

Meanwhile, the groomsmen are being sent to Men's Wearhouse. The closest store to us is about half a mile away; there are Men's Wearhouses close to all our groomsmen, and several in the Lehigh Valley, so the men can all return their tuxes to one of the local stores the day after the wedding. They need to be fitted three weeks before the wedding, but it doesn't matter at which store they get fitted or from which store they pick up their tux because all that information is accessible from any store nationwide. Furthermore, after he chose all the accessories, he gave Men's Wearhouse the names of our groomsmen and our fathers, Ed was given an access code to he could check up online to see when the groomsmen have been fitted. E-Z Groomsmen Cyberstalking.

The bridesmaids' dresses take an indeterminate amount of time to arrive, which is to say I have no idea how long it takes. It probably varies by store, the particular dress ordered, when it was ordered, etc. Furthermore, I have no way of tracking who has done what, so I've had to e-mail my bridesmaids several times to ask when they've gone shopping and asking if they've run into any problems. I feel like I'm micromanaging them, which I am absolutely not trying to do, but no one has volunteered any info and because I've never been married before and haven't gone through this process before, I have no way of knowing what the process is from the bride's point of view. So I send emails and try to explain that they may need several weeks for the dresses to come in, they may need alterations, etc., so sooner rather than later is preferable. And to please just keep my apprised of the situation.

It's a fine line between being an irritant and just asking for information. I don't expect anyone in our bridal party to view my wedding as being as important to them as it is to me, but it does give me a new appreciation for letting folks know what's going on in a timely manner.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Expenses

We've been trying so hard not to spend money right now, we've cut back every thing we possibly can, but we're pretty frugal as it is. I could be better about setting a food budget, but we don't go out to eat at restaurants (not even fast food), Netflix has been put on hold, and we've stopped the automatic monthly payments to St. Joe's. There's nothing else we can not pay unless we don't pay things like the mortgage.

I guess most of this is my fault. I've gotten slammed with necessary trips to the doctor lately: two trips to the Urgent Care Clinic (both of which required three to four prescriptions per visit, including one penicillin prescription per visit), and one to my regular doctor. Fortunately the prescriptions themselves are fairly inexpensive, but it's $75-100 per doctor visit.

I woke up Saturday morning with what turned out to be a rather severe case of tonsillitis. Yesterday the doctor gave me penicillin and some heavy duty pain meds (800 mg ibuprofin and 500 mg codeine), but I'm still in a lot of pain. Talking is pretty difficult, and swallowing makes me cringe. I'm eating soft things only because the strength of the medication makes me a bit queasy otherwise. I can't work, obviously, although I did accept a two-day subbing assignment for later this week.

I don't have health insurance, and I suppose I could just not go to the doctor, but such expenses are hardly frivolous. The Urgent Care Clinic is part of a healthcare conglomerate that offers lower cost healthcare. One needs to have been a resident for three months, which ruled out the first couple of times I was told of this program. However, I haven't gotten a Utah driver's license or ID yet because I don't want to go through the hassle of getting all my paperwork together, getting the ID, and then having to change my name and going through the work again. And after we're married, I'll be on Ed's insurance and I won't need the lower cost healthcare anyway.

My father forwarded me a bill from a lab that had done blood work back in February 2010. It's amazing it took them that long to bill me - and I was sent two bills of a different amount each in the same envelope. We're trying so hard not to spend money right now but something like that I don't want hanging over my head for six months until I can pay it.

When I did my taxes a couple weeks ago, I was very happy to learn I'd be getting a refund of $1,226 - except I owe the IRS more than that in back taxes (since 2003, the year I went back to college, I don't think I've earned more than $16,000 a year, so paying back $1,300 was impossible). Fortunately the refund I was to get this year has managed to pay back all but about $147, a much more manageable amount, of what I owe the IRS.