Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monday Mermaid

Hope all you people out there in the real world have a great Monday. Here behind the glass it is 65 degrees and time for early sleep. Though I am going to attempt to wake up and go to the gym early in the am, which will reinforce the eerie feeling of being the "last person on earth" because nobody will be there.

Though I'm now starting to see definition in my thigh muscles and calf muscles, days of lying on my bed dealing with persistent shin pain is kinda messing with my head and motivation.

People, on the other hand, are the ones messing with my heart. Pretended care and rapid subsequent abandonment are worse than being held captive alone behind the glass, like a creature in the zoo.

Well, if that's going to be the way of it, I think I'll just be a mermaid. :-/. At least it will give people a valid reason to whisper, stare, and make jokes. And then I'll slap them in the head with my tail for their rudeness.

Teacher Tips - Page Protectors & Toolbox

I learned this last week in staff development, and it seems like it would be a useful way to keep organized.

I'm going to put all of my student information sheets into individual page protectors. When I get all of the other "stuff" (debris) that accumulates over the course of a term with students, I can put it into the page protector "pocket" rather quickly.

Late notes, health information, office referrals, detention forms, partner requests, rules quizzes, parent notes... All of it will go into the pockets. At the end of the term, I should be easily able to empty the pockets into the recycling bin. During the term, all of those oddly sized and shaped papers will be neatly corralled.

With this in mind, I bought four 25-packs of standard-weight page protectors last night. Hopefully, that will be enough for this one task.

That will be 33 kids per class, which is an ineffective overload that has, let's face it, happened in almost every class, every term. "Just help us out on this" means somebody doesn't want to figure out better scheduling and they are shortchanging the kids by crowding them into classes without enough seats.

I've noticed that I usually stash the information forms away in an unsorted stack that I have to sort through when I need information. My filing cabinet is just too inaccessible for the way my unusual class has to be structured. At least I don't have to make many complaint calls home to parents.

I saw something on Pinterest last night I may have to put in my classroom. At times, I have kids who are so preoccupied with chatting to the kids on the other side of the bookshelf separating them that they disrupt everything in their part of the room. Daily. Someone made screens with PVC pipe. :). I could do that, and put them on top of bookshelves to curb distractions. Hey, if they need help concentrating..... All it would take is PVC pipe, connectors, rings, and fabric.

Actually, I could use such a setup in a taller form to create photography backdrops for the kids to use on photoshop assignments, or even to use for green screens in Photo Booth.

I bought a couple of toolboxes at Lowes last night, with the intent of prettying them up to store things in my classroom. Instead of purchased paper, however, I'm going to make my own again. I'll either create my own in Photoshop or snap a pic of the curtain fabric I used to make matching headers for the drawers. (I can still add a cabinet front to the paper organizer I built and paper over it for prettiness.)

Note: It was not my choice to go with aqua as a classroom color, but I seem to be heading in that direction anyway. The selection of fabric at the local Wal-Mart, now that they finally put it back in, has turned out to be random and unexciting. They don't even sell lightweight knits. Bastards.

I may use one of those toolboxes at home for craft and household supplies and tools, though. I need to compact my storage because it seems to be taking up too much room even though it is effective. If I ever had a house with a garage (where all of those items *should* go, I could be the organized person I'm meant to be.

When I went out last night to buy the toolbox shown on Pinterest, there were none on that shelf. Obviously, several local teachers saw that post too! But I saw three 20 feet in the air and the male staff were oddly eager to pull stairs around for me and get then down.

I think it had something to do with the tight black running shorts I was wearing. And here I was thinking they were too indecent to wear in public. (Though I did wear them to a guy's house. Oh, I can't help it. I really like him. Maybe I should have worn a tight shirt too. ). Still, I got the help I needed for the FIRST time ever in that store. Which leaves me wondering about the woman who was eager to help me first...

Note to self: Dress kinda slutty when you're going to need help at Lowes. Legs get attention.

I may put Velcro dots on some page protectors and match them to dots on the station dividers in my room, too. This way I can put information sheets and posters up without all the hassle of stapling to the wood. I saw that as a tip for quick-change posters. The teacher puts the dots in exactly the same place on every poster and then puts the matches on the wall do the posters can be changed out easily. I wonder if the Velcro adhesive would stick to cinderblock walls?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lilac and a Let-Down

I've waited all day for someone. Now it is close to midnight, and technically, though not realistically, I'm still waiting for my sister to show up. She made the "worried about you" noises.

Reason to worry? Yeah, maybe so. I've been rather out of sorts for a while and I am not one of those people to turns to drugs, alcohol, or any other deviant behavior to cope. It all turns inward and I refuse to be medicated or zombiefied.

I may be my own worst enemy, but I am 100% legitimately myself, with no pretensions of grandeur. Still, all the self-denial and punishment take place in my own heart. No need for anyone on the outside to be cruel, but it seems like quite a game to the people who persist in it. Yee ha.

Now, I do pretend at times not to see and understand precisely what is going on, because sometimes knowing the truth hurts my feelings. It's easier to act as if I don't know and keep my cool facade in place. I "get" a lot more than I let on. Not quite so innocent as I seem, at least mentally. ;).

So, I can't be angry about the lack of consideration today, because I didn't trust in the first place. Oh trust, so easily lost with me, and once it is gone, nearly impossible to earn back. Note that I said earn, not regain. It's not a passive thing to get back. It takes work.

A lot of work. And a suspension of my disbelief that I won't be sold down the river yet again.

So thank you so much. Once again my belief that the general population of the human race is sadly lacking in the basic morality that you do not harm others has been reaffirmed.

I spent the last several hours of waiting by polishing my nails. Ooh, she's gone and done another girly thing again, like wearing skirts to work! My fingernails finally grew back out and I thought I should at least attempt to protect them, since they did me the honor of saying hello. A nice shade of lilac.

Lets see if two base coats, 2 layers of polish, and one serious coat of No Chip acrylic top coat actually let my hard work shine for longer than 12 hours. Last week the speed-dry polish I used was a completely fragile failure. It was a pretty dark pink, though.

For the sake of confessing the literal torture I enacted on myself in the name of beauty, I'll tell how I set the multiple layers of polish. I suffered near-frostbite. I put my fingers deep into a bowl of ice water and held them there for five minutes. My bones ached. My fingers hurt the whole time. And when I pulled them out for a moment because I couldn't stand the bite of the ice any longer, the ends of my fingers were blue. No exaggeration. As blue as my skin supposedly was on the day I was born. (My mother told me that. And it was snowing. LOL Maybe that's why I have issues about being cold.)

Finding a shade to go with my clothes and skin tone this time of year is a challenge. I'd love a nice golden tan, but I'm just not willing to risk the skin cancer and wrinkles at the moment. I look pretty decent for my age, though I lack the leathery tan of a sun-worshipper.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Haunted

Wood and Metal
Skeleton
Unstructured
Haunted by a spirit
Still living
But not alive
Secret life
Hidden in plain sight
Unremarkable
Unexplored
Unknown
Waiting for the end
The days never change
Frozen in limbo
A hell carried forth
It lurks within
Not waiting for the end
Everpresent
Persistent
A constant reminder
Of the prison
On the other side
Of the glass...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

To Sum it Up

Found this in the middle of a despair-filled moment.

It does resemble me in certain aspects. I'm just not that witty.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Paranoid Dreams to Heal By

I'm certain that my vivid dreams are meant to keep my head under the waters of painless sleep longer. I almost said the waters of Lethe, but that would be inaccurate... Or would it? I never truly forget pain, but as the dead must drink from Lethe to forget their earthly lives...

There were people trying to kill me in my dreams last night. And I literally forgot who I was. I dreamed I was someone else entirely, but I've figured out that my subconscious had a purpose for it, better than just entertaining my silly brain.

Okay, don't laugh. I dreamed I was Severus Snape. :). I didn't realize it for a while though. Several men were trying to break in and kill me. (All right, Freud would have a field day with that.) I think anyone can figure out what I'm afraid of there, so let's just agree to have a rueful chuckle about it and move on. I really am okay. :)

I killed one and managed to get away, which is when I saw the black robes Snape always wore, hanging off my arms. I didn't remember that I knew how to use magic to kill people so I did it with me own two hands. Lol.

At the time, I remembered thinking that once again, someone had misunderstood what I was trying to accomplish and attacked me for it. Good grief. Will people ever stop trying to hurt me for their own amusement?

That was the first half of the dream. It morphed a bit right after that. Why Snape? All along, he is doing the right thing behind the scenes, for all the right reasons, and because he isn't making an obvious show of it, everyone thinks the worst of him for it. Broken childhood, loses his only friend as well as the only girl he ever loved, not once but twice. Still, he sacrifices himself to make everything safe for all the people who still hate him. Nobody finds out just what a miserable yet good person he was until after he is dead, because he keeps punishing himself for one mistake his entire life.

Wow, talk about somebody who needed a hug, huh? To say I identify is quite an understatement. I could say why I identify with him, but that would take a lot of trust That I can't just toss out to an anonymous reader. Sorry. :)

Men at the door trying to kill me in some way? Maybe not literally kill me, but certainly not good for my psyche with the mind games they have tried to play. Now I do know they are trying to mess with my head and I won't fall for it, but still... The intent behind the action is just wrong. (They did NOT "get in".) They're just looking for an ego boost, nothing of true feeling.

I really just need someone in my life who wants to be nice to me, not use me, and I don't think that takes nearly the effort that mind games do. Being truly nice to me is all it takes for me to give the right person everything.

I told someone the other day (who was worried about running out of things to say to his girlfriend to keep all airspace filled with talking) that if it's the right person, you can hang out with no talking and it feels just fine. :). Not all silences are uncomfortable. Sometimes the only sound you need is the other person's heartbeat.

So yeah, I understand what my subconscious is trying to tell me. I know who is bad for me, I know who is good for me, and I feel downright persecuted by the bad guys. Running for my life because there was nobody to help me in my dream. I hope I don't always have to do it myself. Saving myself is exhausting.

As the dream continued, I wound up in the house where I grew up, with my family members being the absolute worst versions of themselves. Some of it was just a replay of recent events that infuriated me, and some was pure fiction for the sake of the dream.

I did a lot of screaming at people who made me mad. They didn't seem to hear me. (Did they ever? I think that was the point of this part of the dream. Pointing out the futility of defending myself). They made me angry enough that I finally punched someone right in the face, and it was like my hand didn't even connect with his nose. He didn't feel it.

I believe that is what is called "impotent fury". Lol. There's no point in fighting when nobody even notices that you are there.

Or maybe there is, if there is even a glimmer of hope that you might have a chance of a good outcome, eventually.

Why did I mention healing? Well, that takes place during sleep, especially deep sleep. Dreams have their purpose. For me, the purpose may be simple entertainment, a warning, or sorting through what my conscious mind is unwilling to deal with. It's a more honest perspective -- a mental slap in the face -- when my emotions have me tangled up at the starting gate.

Let's face it -- I was really hurting last night when I went to sleep. Heart and legs too. Sleep won't heal my heart, but it will help my legs. :) My life will have to improve before my heart will heal. My body has to change to fix my legs. I ran in 58% humidity, 93 degrees, and the biggest defeated feeling yet.

It feels like I'm getting WORSE at running, but you know what is actually getting worse? It's the humidity. And morning is MUCH worse on humidity readings. Oh, believe me, I have checked!

It feels like I have asthma, wheezing while I run and unable to catch my breath. Still, I forced myself further last night, when I thought I couldn't make it, and had a 14.10 minute mile.

Stop laughing - it's a minute faster for me, and I'm overweight. I'm sure all the soccer game attendees were laughing at me as I slogged by.

I did a lot of toe-pointing stretches last night in hopes of lessening today's shin pain. And the first time I got up and walked to the door.... I thought my left Achilles tendon was going to snap right off my heel. Great. Just what I freakin' need, right ? Lol

It's too bad self-massage doesn't work for my legs. Somebody else is going to have to do me that favor.

Oh, that "checklist" that women supposedly all have? My list only has one thing on it. It's not tall, handsome, rich, tan, hair color, eye color... Be nice. Especially to me. That's all that really matters to me anyway. And if that isn't there, he doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oats in the Afternoon

I spent half an hour cooking steel cut oats because I need some carbs for exercise energy later. Of course, I made enough to have breakfast for a couple more days while I was at it.

At first, I could swear they tasted like metal and were too chewy. Like warm Grape Nuts. Just a little too tough for my teeth, you know?

But I ate a little more and read my new book. They must have been palatable, because I looked down to find most of the bowl gone. :).

Now I just feel really sleepy. I slept late as it was, and now I want to nap for a couple of hours. Or maybe the rest of the day. Yeah, I'm feeling really down right now. It's been coming on for a couple of days so the book is a distraction in lieu of the usual nobody-to-talk-to problem.

Had a wolf problem earlier. How many times do I have to say "please leave me alone for the rest of my life because you don't have a chance"? Never will. My heart is elsewhere and my brain reminds me what a self-serving jerk he was way back when. Wolves don't change. I don't want a pet wolf, and if that is my only option I guess I will remain a hermit.

Why is it the right one never notices and the awful ones won't just leave me alone?

That's a rhetorical question -- no need to describe my faults in detail.

In any case, these are my last few days of freedom. When I officially go back to work, it'll take over my life anyway. I won't have much free time for the next 11 months.

Solitude of Midnight

There's nothing like being awake after midnight to make you feel lonely, especially after you've already spent several days by yourself.

Nothing to watch on TV, nowhere to go, and nobody to talk to.

It certainly intensifies any small pains into huge ones. Right now it's my stomach, but I don't have an upset stomach or anything. No cramps, just that sharp sensation like there is a knife in my belly that keeps being twisted.

I can't even get a cuddle from my dog, who has already eaten all of his treats. Jerk.

I have just a few days of my break left and I'm miserable, thinking about someone I'm very interested in but I can't be sure if he is interested in me. I want to not worry about it. But there is really no way to stop that.

It would help if there was anyone I could talk to about this, but I'd just sound really foolish if I said anything. This is the best I can do. I seriously doubt anybody wants to listen to my drivel.

I'm still very disappointed by my chronic shin splints. I've gotten to the point where I can only run once every four days -- it takes that long for the pain to subside. At this rate, I'll never be able to make good time in any race. Probably not even better than my first race.

I see other people training and flying through the same program with great success and it makes me feel really pathetic. Positive motivation just doesn't exist while I do everything alone.

But hey, I should be used to it, right? After all, I've got something quite unique. 20 years of practice at doing everything alone.

I don't think it's a wonderfully freeing feeling. It's more like a prison cell.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Those Evil Doors

I did finish sanding the bathroom doors - by hand. I decided not to buy a power sander just yet, for a few reasons. The small one suitable to fit my hands had bad durability reviews. The bigger ones looked very heavy and I know that my left thumb is broken, so supporting one would be difficult.

It's not a bad break, but it has that trademark sickening feeling I always get with a broken bone and that sucker hurts. My washer door is to blame for this - hard to shut "just right" and I slammed it with my hand in the wrong position when I was angry and I felt the bone crack down in my thumb. It brought tears to my eyes.

I would still have had to get into all the tight little places a power sander couldn't fit, so I didn't see the point in getting one.

For cheap hollow core luaun doors, getting a perfect finish is impossible anyway. Eh, bite me.

So I cleaned all the junk off and put On all the primer I had, which.... wasn't enough. Naturally Lol. I have an upcoming trip to buy more primer and paint.

I went into the kitchen to let my dog out and got hit with an instant blood sugar crash. The sweating and shaking came on like someone had flipped a switch. Having just eaten a protein bar a few hours before, I didn't understand why.

It took me a while to realize, in my considerably dulled brain, that I didn't exactly eat much yesterday. Some popcorn, some applesauce, and a piece of cheese was all I had. I haven't eaten much all week. I forget to eat but there's no food here anyway.

I think just being in proximity to anything with calories is going to make me gain weight.

The phentermine I've been taking for a week isn't working at all, weight-wise. Not eating, exercising, and taking those pills should have been good for at least a couple of pounds. Things just don't work right in my metabolism and there is nothing I can do to change it. I'll keep going through the motions, anyway, though I feel absolutely defeated.

Teacher Tips 2

Oh, I thought of another good tip, because it has happened before. We always get the day before the first day of school to prepare for the first day. Does that make sense?

1. Don't count on being allowed to use your room prep day.

I no longer save that day for its intended purpose. Not being a "real" teacher, on more than one occasion I have been called out of my room to do some (let's face it, clerical) task for someone else. Usually a monumental job that could have been handled by clerical staff or even student organization members for service hours.

The reason? "You weren't doing anything anyway." Actually, I was, and wondering if one day would be enough to prepare all of my equipment, computers, paperwork, and data entry. :D

Seeing me sitting at my desk on the computer is often misinterpreted as just "playing around on the Internet". Actually, I'm setting up classes, gradebooks, doing software maintenance on my computers and student computers, and creating lessons.

Further into class, I'm evaluating student work to see who needs to go back and improve their grades or who thought they could skip a lesson and not get caught. When they do that, the software assigns them a zero for a grade.

I don't think anyone would like it if I didn't give my kids a second chance. :). Sometimes you have to protect them from their own foolishness, though all the while they are screaming about their right to be foolish to their detriment. Other times you have to let them learn responsibility for their actions.

Sitting at my desk is required, though I know some purists insist I'm not doing my job if I ever sit down. They don't understand that the teacher station is immobile, and I have to use it to help kids with their questions, as well as unlocking their assignments for corrections. (If you don't believe me, come to my room for some job shadowing in four weeks.)

And there is this thing called parallax... which prevents me from standing or leaning over at the teacher station to accomplish anything. One tiny change in viewing angle knocks everything out of line and I end up unlocking either the wrong student or assignment. :) That doesn't do a bit of good. Lol. The tiny fixed font size in the software doesn't help much there. Lol

I still walk around the room and help, whenever kids don't have me tied to my desk asking for unlocks.

All I'm saying is that what you see, you aren't necessarily interpreting correctly, because you really don't *get* what I have to do. Lol Not even if you spend ten minutes looking over a student's shoulder will you understand what I do behind the scenes. It's a different world than a "real" class, but no less effective in making our kids smarter.

2. If your computer says that it needs to run updates, do it. I've known teachers who never ran their updates and sometime in March their computers locked up on them. And then they were surprised they have a problem. :D. Do your updates. Lol

3. In the copious amount of emails you will receive, many will have ambiguous subjects that don't help you organize or remember the IMPORTANT information within the email that you need to KEEP! Forward that email back to yourself with a subject line that tells you what into is within and label it KEEP or something like that.

I hate getting emails labeled with a lame "FYI" and then getting yelled at later because inside there was a deadline announced and I overlooked it.

I also dislike getting in trouble because I didn't read a mid-morning email and I never was allowed to check my email until 1 pm. Well, you can't have it both ways. There is a very good reason I have my work email accessible on my phone and check it in the hallway. I never have time to check it in class and I have to be in the hall between classes and sometimes I have to go to the bathroom and then there is lunchtime and you don't want me eating over my computer now do you, hmmmm?

And do you see why run on sentences can be an exhausting problem? :D



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sanding Those Doors... Argh

I really need to go and buy a sander today so that I can finish painting the bathroom. Maybe sanding will be such a pleasure that I'll zip around and sand a few other things that require it... Yeah, right. Lol

Still, I'd sleep better and be a happier person if I finished sanding and painting in there, right? Then I can get new crown molding put up. Mmmhmm. And then... On to painting my bedroom. Who wants to help me move my heavy fairy tale furniture around? Bueller... Bueller? Lol

Actually, in the bedroom it would psychologically be wise for me to start by repainting all of the bedroom doors first. That would make the room seem a lot bigger, because I'm going to paint all of the trim a nice crisp white. I just like the way that looks and I never really cared for stained wood trim all over this house. In a big house, maybe.

But I don't like living in a cave, and with the new tenant next door, whose bedroom window is right across from mine, I no longer feel comfortable opening the blind up to let the light in. He gives me he creeps. Sorry, but it is true.

My apparently obvious over-protection of my personal space was mentioned yesterday. Lol. I do that with some people and not with others. Well, I guess that's an outward sign of my trusting someone to let them get close to me. Some, I just don't feel comfortable enough with them YET, and some will never get there.

It makes me wonder amusedly if I visibly recoiled on the new neighbor when he approached. It would be rude to do it deliberately, but it's just a reflex. However, I do live in a neighborhood which the police have to spend time in regularly, so a neighbor who thinks its okay to come over when he wants really makes me a little nervous.

Well, it was my choice to buy a house here, although I don't intend to live here the rest of my life. I'm working on a down payment for something nicer, and in the meantime I don't have to worry that I can't pay my bills.

Going back to the sanding, I am now certain that I'm at fault for my front door sticking and then cracking. Guess what I did wrong? I didn't even know it shouldn't be done until a couple of days ago.

I painted the top of the door, in my quest to be thorough. It had already been painted before I did it. 60 years of paint plus a south-facing door, with a glass storm door in front to trap in ALL sorts of moisture that made the paint swell and stick.

Stupid.

I sowwy. I didn't know any better. It's not native knowledge for me. And the people who owned the house before me weren't any better.

There is a gable without any interior access, which is a red wasp habitat because nobody can get in to where the nests are and kill them.

They took out a load-bearing front wall to enlarge the living room and did nothing to reinforce it afterward. (When the crack in the ceiling truly became scary, my Dad and brother brought a structural engineer type guy over to assess the problem, and by golly, I was right. They fixed it for me. Metal beams are now supporting the load as they should have been all along.

Some genius used superglue to put up border in the living room... Right on top of wall primer. They didn't paint, and I'm pretty sure they didn't mud over the taped seams between the drywall sections. Idiots. I used wallpaper removers of all types, along with a Paper Tiger, and nothing could unstick that border from the wall.

It took me two weeks to sand all of it off, by hand. Then spackle, prime, and finally paint. I was not amused. The paint finish I applied took care of a bit of the seams showing, though. (Mudding is a skill I'm not ready to get into right now. Just... No. Please not that.) It took me one day to put the base color on the walls, and half a day to put the sponged finish in top. I'm good at that, and I actually enjoyed it immensely. I've been asked if it was wallpaper. Lol

But it needs repainting because the metal beams were put in later and I don't think I can get those paint colors again. Grr.

I like the creative part of painting walls, especially of I can do some awesome finish that looks textured. I do NOT like the prep work or the cleanup. Do the crummy part for me, and I'll help you paint your walls. Well, for some people I will. ;) I'm not offering myself out as a free painting monkey.

Holding me up from painting in the bedroom is... More wallpaper border glued directly onto primer. Oh, but wait, there's more! Primer covering a plaster texture. I don't like the texture but I don't want to go through either removing it or mudding over it. So, I know I can sand off the border and have it not match the rest of the room or sand down the entire room and die of asphyxiation in short order. Yay! Good to have choices!

I think I'm gonna spackle over that freaking border. It seems that with every home improvement project I undertake, it uncovers several other problems. Oh, the joy of learning new things that you never really wanted to know in the first place. LOL. And I'm just one person. I get kinda tired of doing it all myself after having to figure it all out by myself. ;)

New School Year Tips

I've learned a few things in the half-of-my-lifetime I've been a teacher. Most of them are written in a notebook I've been keeping since 1993, on my mentor's insistence. I doubt I'll ever write a book because I'm not exactly a master teacher, but they are things that have kept me from pulling my hair out.

Sometimes. Lol

Anyway, here are a few that I try to follow all of the time:

1. If you are going to use a page every single year without needing to change it, copy what you will need in the springtime. One less thing you'll be frantically trying to copy at the last minute.

2. Don't think you'll get to a copier when you need it at a moment's notice. That's when you find the copier is broken, out of toner, out of paper, or someone else is copying massive stacks of papers. Plan ahead. Only a few of us will stop a massive copy session for your one or two pages of "I just need this one page copied". * I'll stop for you. (Ask nicely, please, and don't act like a diva, ok?) I'll also try to do my copying when nobody else is around. I DO care about being the cause of a copy machine bottleneck.

3. Don't wait till the night before to sit down and create, then copy, that masterpiece of a test. Being in the school at midnight, with the roof making all kinds of creepy sounds as it flexes from heat loss, sucks. Sometimes it is downright eerie. And no matter where your school is, it isn't really safe to do that.

4. If you are at the school late, alone, park your car right next to the building. Right up on the sidewalk if need be. So that you are two feet from your car door when you walk out of the building. And then promise yourself to not be there alone, late at night, again.

5. When you pick up your mail, toss the catalogs you know you won't use into the recycle bin before you leave.

6. If you find a form / survey / whatever in your mailbox that will only take a couple of minutes to complete, go on and do it while you are right there in the office, and turn it in. If you take it down to your classroom to do it later, there is a high probability you will lose it.

7. If there is a form you have to fill out every year in a completely OCD precise manner (we had a bookkeeper who insisted on absolute precision in completing forms for buying supplies), either make a copy of your completed *correctly done* form, or ask for a blank one and create a fake one as a model.

It'll make the crazy bookkeepers of your world happier. They'll be nicer to you. Unless they are the type who likes to change their forms without telling you, so they can jump all over you when you try to do it "the old way". (These people are sadistic control freaks and you can only make them happy when you screw up and they come down on you for it. I haven't dealt with one in several years, but tread carefully. It's their only bit of power in the world and they will wield it like a whip. LOL)

8. Keep an emergency box of copier toner and a few reams of copy paper stashed in your room, in case there is a sudden shortage and you have to run off an exam. But don't do this if it will get you in trouble. It didn't at my school. They keep us well supplied so that we can do our jobs.

A time came when the local supplier stopped bringing our toner. We ran out. We ordered more. It didn't come. Exams were approaching. We still waited. No toner. The explanation from the supplier was a whiny "We can't afford to keep much of that toner just sitting here." With a school system constantly needing and paying for it, why not? Turns out the supplier wasn't handling their own accounts properly. Be prepared.

9. Keep a master folder of the forms you'll have to copy often. Put them in a binder, tucked into page protectors.

10. Anything you can do ahead of time, DO IT! I'm a horrible procrastinator. Something always comes up even when I'm right on schedule, and then I get behind. If you work to be ahead of the game all the time, you might get lucky and end up right on time. Lol. I put student names into my software class system as soon as I get a list of names for that class, assign them login numbers, and write all of that info on the login card they pick up to use each day in my class. If I'm really rockin', I do this as much as 27 weeks ahead of time. A few move or get schedule changes, but the majority of students stay in the same class all year. I just have to make a few deletions and additions, but most of the work is already done and I don't have to be in a panic or work late.

11. Color code anything you can. Each of my classes has login cards of a different color. They put them in a matching basket on the way out of class. Cards in the wrong basket are easy to spot.

When I had to assign cafeteria seating on occasion, instead of putting all seating charts on white cards, I put them on a variety of colored card stock pages. Instead of kids on our team milling around trying to find their names on one of 10 identical white cards, they looked for the color card they knew their name was on. They told me they liked knowing all they had to do was find the red card to know where they had to sit. Nobody likes feeling lost.

12. Assign them a seat as they walk in the first day. It doesn't have to be permanent. Some kids will treat others like Forrest Gump on the school bus. It's kinder to the shy kids to give them a place the jerks can't try to take away from them. "Give them a home" and they'll be less frightened in a new place. Plus, they can blame it on the teacher when another kid tries to make them move. :)

13. Keep your own supplies. Don't be that person always asking other broke teachers to give you their supplies when you had the same amount of supply money they did and you spent yours on something pointless. Remember the fable about the grasshopper and the ant? Not everyone is willing to take care of an irresponsible adult. I help. I just don't like being used.

14. Mark your stuff. Some people conveniently "forget" that you let them borrow a box of nice new tools and "accidentally" try to return a box of broken tools instead. (For marking scissors - Close the blades of scissors before you spray paint them a flaming neon color.) Spray paint stays on a lot longer than marker writing. This is an idea I got from someone whose shop tools were always borrowed and "mixed up" with the crummy ones the borrower owned. Like someone who borrows your Lexus and tries to return a Honda in its place, because they can't tell the difference. Lol

15. If you're going to buy awesome (and expensive) colored / patterned file folders, laminate them! Use a wet- erase marker to do all of your writing on them and they are reusable. Ta da! Clean with a damp paper towel. ... You do know that you can reuse your file folders year after year, right? :) It wasn't automatic knowledge to me when I started teaching. It's okay, you can laugh.

If you can't find fancy file folders (say that three times fast!) you can make your own with pretty scrapbook papers, paint, stickers, and punched shapes. Just laminate when you're finished to make them last. (Don't laminate with a Xyron though... Nothing sticks to that laminate, and the surface makes any marker ink bead up rather greasily. I do love my Xyron though, don't get me wrong!)

16. If students write you sweet notes & cards and things, scan or photograph them carefully, upload them to Shutterfly, and make yourself a book. There will be days when you need to look through it, and though you can't practically keep all things kids will give you, you'll regret it if you don't. :)

Electric Circuit Design Pages

Last year I created worksheets my kids could use to draw out their electric circuit designs. I had to have some tangible (on paper) method of evaluating every student separately.

Normally, they work in pairs in my lab on computerized simulators to create their circuits. Most students take great pleasure in building circuits that cause components to explode. Haha. And when their lamps DO go out in a burst of overpowered electricity, they usually give me that guilty / scared look, like I'm going to punish them for completely destroying a component that only existed in virtual reality anyway.

It's kinda fun to mess with them sometimes, and tell the new kids in a stern voice, "You're gonna have to pay for that!" just to see how long it takes them to realize I'm kidding and that's not possible anyway. Lol. Gotcha!

My design pages give them the opportunity to plan circuits in schematic format, and the don't have to worry about drawing accurate representations of the components they'll be using.

Photoshop allowed me to put together a very polished and official-looking design page. A black and white copier removes all of the jazzy colors anyway, so I created it in greyscale.

This page was yet another item the software company didn't think to create and provide for their users. I wonder if they ever even ask their customers for requests or suggestions.

No training manuals, no useful reproduceables, workbook questions that are completely unclear, and the most confusing ordering system I've seen yet. Problem steps are numbered. Mixed within the steps are the questions. Guess what? They're numbered too! And every section of the assignment starts over with number one! It doesn't take a genius to see that they could have used letters for those problem steps. And if they used continuous numbering for the whole assignment, making corrections and finding your place again would be much simpler.

But... Obviously, it was an engineer who did the numbering and phrased the questions, and not with middle school kids in mind. I already know that this program was designed for the high school and vocational school levels. And my middle schoolers have to think on that level. Nearly every one rises to the challenge. When they are really struggling, I tell them the truth and remind them that it is proof of how capable and intelligent they are.

My class is NOT an easy exploratory class. People assume that it must be. After all, it's not a REAL class. Lol. And I'm not a REAL teacher. Just ask the kids! Heck, ask their other teachers. They regard me as a second class citizen. Whatever. Must be kinda hard to see in the darkness, with your head shoved up your.... Oh, sorry. :) I got a little carried away in my own disrespectfulness. I used to be a REAL teacher. I can honestly say that they don't understand how tough these classes can be to teach. It's truly a different world. I like it. :)

I didn't make the class difficult. I don't want it to be a source of stress for the kids. I don't have a choice in the matter. I can't rewrite the software and I can't change the reading level.

What I do is make this high level stuff accessible to them. I teach them why it is important and how to work effectively. I also let them correct their work for a higher grade. :D There are a lot of As in my class and they had to WORK to get them. :). I've had students tell me they made their first A ever at that school in my class. Yay! So then I tell them they can make As in other classes if they will just try.

Because of local school system rivalries, I've heard people running down our school because they believe flat-out lies they've been told. We have a great school with great kids and great teachers. We have a great facility with a LOT of technology that is actually utilized all of the time. We get lots of training in all the new teaching trends. But if two kids get into a tussle in the cafeteria in the morning, by the next day, local people who put their kids in the other school system are bad mouthing our school over the gang fight and riot that sent 30 people to the hospital at our school!

Really? We don't have such things going on. Lol In general, our kids are very well-behaved and hard working. It's okay - we hear the same tales about the other school system too. And I hear that my class's "other" counterpart is used for just playing computer games. So if I'm to believe that, my kids are actively learning and practicing engineering concepts, and theirs are playing Internet games.

Or perhaps I was misinformed. But it was a student who told me that. He had no reason to lie about it, either. We're family.

The circuit design page is another of those pages I need to remember to make many copies of, along with the correction sheets they use on a daily basis. I know I go through a couple thousand of those every year and sometimes it is a battle to keep the supply in line with demand, when kids really get into the groove of steadily working in my class.

Yes, I'm writing about it so I will remember to do it. :D My school year is always a lot easier when I can copy the entire year's papers off before it even starts. With some papers I can just do that with, because I know that not only do I use them every year, I use them four times a year, when I get new students.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feet in the Air

Get your mind out of the gutter. Lol. I'll explain. ;).

I'm lying on my bed with my feet propped as high on the headboard as I can reach. It's a large, ornately carved mahogany monster, and I love it. I fell in love with this bedroom suite because I felt like a little girl in a fairy tale when I clambered up in the bed on the showroom floor.

At the age of 39, it's the first full bedroom suite I chose and bought for myself. I'd been saving for it for a while, but nothing I had seen until this one even remotely appealed to me.

I didn't pay for it in installments or put it on my credit card. I wrote a check, and I think it surprised the people who sold it to me because I dress like someone who doesn't have the proverbial... Uh, chamber pot. Haha.

I'm still shopping for a living room suite. And some office furniture, but darn it, the configurations they have won't fulfill my needs.

Aww darn it. I just realized that ugly mark at the top of my calf is a burst blood vessel. No wonder it was hurting while I walked.

So. I worked in my classroom for a couple of hours, got turned down (again - I *know* he is super-busy right now) by the friend I invited to walk with me, and went for a stretch-it-all-out walk. I felt fine so I did a full 5k at a moderate pace. I would have modified that if my friend had come to walk, but he is dealing with a personal situation that is keeping him pretty busy.

I believe him. It's just that sort of complication is alien territory for me. I've had boyfriends who mostly didn't let me be a real part of their lives. I just don't have any point of reference for family type things. If he needs a hand, I'll help. Friends, right?

Just hearing some of what he's been dealing with hit me pretty hard. I imagine actually having to feel it is infinitely worse. Still, it sounds to me like he pretty much took the high road in the situation.

The walk was okay, with 55% humidity and 90 degrees tonight. I was so sweaty that i could feel it dripping through my hair and off my upper lip. Wow, in my old age I have finally learned how to sweat. I'm sure that the 150 ounces of water I drank today helped.

I came home, sat down for a bit, and got coooold. Then I got up to make popcorn (I overdid it - about 8x more than I intended to make) and realized my shins and calves are very sore. And there's swelling over my shin bones. Ow, shin splints again?

So I have my feet in the air hoping to let gravity take care of some of the edema.

I know. I was supposed to take a day of total rest but I just can't stand the thought of my age being a "special condition" in trying to get in shape by running. Darn it, it makes me feel decrepit, and I'm pretty sure I don't quite look my age.

Monday I was in court as a prospective juror, and during a "come to the bench" conversation that just dragged on, I decided to do some praying for my loved ones.

I know people don't think I ever pray, but I do it pretty often. I do it for other people, but I've always felt that asking for things for myself was just selfish. Maybe someone even told me that once. Do other people pray for themselves, I wonder?

I made some progress in prepping my room for the first days. I copied the papers I always use at the beginning of a grading period, before school ever ended last term, but I very nearly provided myself an entire year's worth.

I made little cardstock folders so that the various papers would stay organized and color coded at the stations. "Get the paper from the green folder, not the orange, please.".

I even paper clipped future sets of puzzles counted out by how many pages each station would require for a full day of kids. So instead of trying to count them out and distribute them in a sheer panic between classes, each station gets a packet. I can also collect the leftovers to be reused easily now by just grabbing the little folders. It'll make resorting them easier for reuse.

I still need to copy more papers to last the year. But I still have time to get that done. :) Maybe even try a few new ideas. I still have a comprehensive teacher's manual to write, and a lot of workbook pages to rewrite so my kids can understand them.

It would be wonderful indeed if I could stay on top of things and organized this year. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Endorphin Delirium

52% humidity.
91 degrees.
8:50 pm

Those were my running conditions tonight. It felt like I was running through a hot, thick fog. Like I had a fever and someone wrapped me in an electric blanket as a remedy.

My shins started bothering me again during my first jogging stretch. I needed some relief. Then it hit me -- I was taking an easy beginner's pace, and my steps were barely making any distance for my trouble.

I stretched my legs out, lengthening my stride as I still jogged at a slow pace, but the impact on my shins was less painful and it felt like I was covering more distance.

At mile two, my scalp suddenly came to life, tingling with cool little shivers. Hmm. Endorphins kicking in. Yay. The sensation spread very slowly downward as I kept going. Scalp, face, neck, shoulders, and arms. As the goosebump-feeling advanced and my remaining distance dwindled away, I became aware that not only did I have the urge to shiver and maybe even shudder, I also was becoming dizzy.

When I finished my cool down walk, I walked inside the building, but I had developed a pronounced drunken stagger! The tingling sensation never made it down to my shins where I needed it, over the next half hour as it dissipated, but it sure was a trippy feeling to experience!

I'm a little unsure about whether I want to experience that again when I'm alone and afraid I might pass out. It had a strange, forbidden sexual quality to it without involving those body parts at all. It was a slightly frightening feeling of losing control.

Now if it brings pain relief to my legs, okay, hit me with your best shot. :). But it did stop at my waist when my time was up. So hmm. I guess I need to investigate the possibilities some more in the future.

But yay, anyway, because I got the endorphins flowing in the first place. They have definitely been under-utilized in my brain. :). ("I'll have what she's having.". Lol

you're BAD luck!

My next door neighbor, a very nice fellow, has a new roommate that scared the CRAP out of me as I was mowing my yard.  I went back to open the gate to the backyard, and there he was, wanting to chat.  Earlier today, I was in my bedroom and I heard the sound of my back gate closing, but I didn't look fast enough to see anything.  I wonder.

Um... I was kinda in the middle of something and he was creepy, so I made the required intros and small talk for a moment and then got back to my chore.

If there is one thing I have learned to listen to, it's when my intuition sets off those warnings about some people.  I've ignored it to my peril before.  I just wish it would buzz me on ALL the bad people I meet.

He had told me he was on a waiting list for a local apartment and my neighbor was helping him out until he could get his apartment.  In exchange for the room, he's going to keep the yard mowed and weeded.  But he won't have any money to buy a lawn mower until sometime later in the fall.  Uh huh.

First thing that happened as I was mowing in the backyard, I got covered in hundreds of very sharp TINY cockleburrs.  I don't know how they got inside my clothes, but there they were, inside and out, and in my hair too.  OUCH.  Scratching me with every move I made, so I pulled off as many as I could and finished mowing. I just found some tangled into the hair at the nape of my neck.  This just keeps getting worse.

As I was driving around to put the mower up, the new guy comes up waving his hands for me to stop.  I had to take my earbuds out to hear him.

Immediately, my silver and diamond (it's a CZ but the earrings were not cheap.) earring goes flying off.  All I found was the pack.

Great.  As he pretends to look for it with me for a moment, the old fella who considers the street HIS street for mowing-for-hire came up, and I heard him ask the old guy for money for cigarettes.  He said he would pay him for that money when he paid him for the other mowing he got him to do, in the fall when he gets some more money.

I ignored it and kept looking for my earring.  Then he asked me how much I would charge him to mow the yard for him, and he'd pay me later for it.  I told him I've got somewhere to be (it's true - hunting for my earring has put me behind) so the old guy jumps in and tells him he'll do it, and he trusts the new guy to pay him more than my (always very nice) neighbor, who apparently owes him $13 on a past mowing job.

As the old guy goes off to get his mower, looking smug for taking a yard mowing "job" away from me (why he thinks I even want to mow MY yard is beyond me, much less do extra for money), the new roommate asks me if I smoke.  I told him sorry, I don't.  I spared him my lecture about how disgusting it is, and how easily i get bronchitis.

:)  You're welcome.  I can be a real self-righteous wench about smoking in my clean air.

The new guy starts chatting me up again.  He's heard that I'm a nurse.  (No, I'm not.)  I figured he was going to ask me for cash like he did the other guy, so I marked where i was when I lost the earring and said I'd have to come back later for it.  I'm pissed.  Really pissed.  He just cost me $50 with his urgent need to stop me just as I was trying to store the mower.  First pair of earrings I've been able to keep in long enough to heal my re-pierced ears, without an allergic reaction and infection, and now they're history.

Hey, give me a break.  Nice jewelry is something i don't have. That's why I'm rather attached to the two rings I have.  And that one nice pair of earrings.

Oh great. My silver ring is gone too.  I don't even know when it came off. But it was while I was out there today.

Okay, that's three strikes.  Now I really dislike him.  Not only did he give me the creeps, he's serious bad luck.  Maybe it's not his fault, but he was there. I guess that it's time for me to get locks put on the gates to my backyard.  He just gives me a really bad vibe, considering what he told me next.

He was telling me that he knows smoking is bad for him, and all.  Been smoking since he was 11.  And look at him now, at 55.

HA!!!!  My brother is 50.   My dad is 76.  That man is 70 if he's a day.  So why is he lying to me about his age?

Oh, ewww...  :(  Not another one.  If this guy turns out to be the stalker type like the old fella down the street, I'm gonna get a gun.  I really am. And I'm going to be liberal with my complaints to the police.

*sigh*  Well, I really do have somewhere to be.  And then I have to go search my yard after dark with a flashlight, and hope the sparkle from the stone helps me find my earring. :(  And maybe my ring.  :(





Accomplish anything?

Well, I did get the curtains for my classroom made and hung. :D. They're cute. I know some of the kids will realize I finally got around to it and some won't know what changed. The matching valance on the door doesn't make me happy though.

My brother wants a shower curtain out of the same fabric. It'll take 4 1/3 yards and as much lining fabric and then I get to learn how to make buttonholes on my new machine. Could be fun.

Dear Everyone, this does not mean I will hem your jeans for you. Not gonna do it. I'm not going to be your beck-and-call girl. I voluntarily sewed up gaping holes in my students' clothes for them and one told me his mother was glad I was going to fix all their torn clothes for them.

Uh, what? I can't do that.

Do someone a favor and they think they're entitled to take advantage of you, is that it? Uh, no. Every year I come back from summer break and discover someone has helped themselves to my classroom stuff.

I'll say it again: we get the same amount of supply money, and I am not your personal supplier of white out, scissors, glue, tape, rubber cement, markers, chalk, super glue, colored paper, batteries, CDs, DVDs, iPhone and iPad power cables. Of course I don't mind giving someone a hank of yarn if they need it, or a few pencils if a kid doesn't have any.

But some people are like freaking locusts. They never pay back what they take and they think if they "borrow" they now own it. So remember this: "I don't have it!". I've helped a lot of people who turn their noses up at me instead of being friendly, so I'm a little cynical regarding the chronic users.

Sorry. :). I don't have a second salary paying for half of my bills like you do. My dog has yet to earn his keep.

The curtains weren't difficult to make, but on one seam the fabric bunched horribly and then the needle bent. *Sigh* Had to go buy a new one, so I got a few other notions I actually needed. Extra needles and bobbins, a seam ripper, quilter's pins, a sewing gauge, pincushion, needle threaders, extra thread. No sign of pattern weights to buy, so I guess I'll be making my own. It's cool. Mine will be awesomely colorful. :D

Once I had the pins, things naturally went a lot faster. Still have a thread tension issue, however. Bobbin thread is a little wonky.

I still want to make some skirts for work, but they just don't sell the right kind of fabric locally. Actually, I want to make some costumes, too. Lol. Perpetual child, I know.

Because of the delay on the curtains, I got nothing else done today. Because of my cramps, I can't sleep right now. I am woman, hear me whimper curled in my bed.

Yard still has to be mowed. I didn't run. (shin splints again, very bad to run on them) I didn't go to the gym either because my brother and I decided to try the new restaurant in town and it was a seriously lackluster meal. Nothing impressive about it at all.

My dog is attached to me today. Hes snuggled against my hip right now, probably being kept awake by my gurgly tummy Maybe it's because I kept having to leave him today. Maybe it's because he can smell that I have hormonal stuff going on and he knows I feel bad. I appreciate his cuddlesomeness, whatever the reason. It's nice to know someone cares. :)

I dealt with a seriously misguided person today. I'd told him he should read Fifty Shades of Grey for his entertainment. I think he believed it would be a handy way to boss himself into my private life, to emulate Christian Grey in some way.

Wow, did he misunderstand. I have zero interest in him that way. Maybe someone (from a very small group in my mind) could do it, but not him. I won't allow it.

I was asked "What if I....?" and I thought, great, here we go again, and please just leave me alone??? My answer? "I'd probably throw up." Literally.

I had already told him I wasn't feeling well, so how could that suddenly turn into a desire to play games with him anyway? Wake up, ok? No? Ok. Lemme see if I can kill your frisky mood then. Refer back to my previous statements about NOT liking to feel used.  And no, he can't drop by.  Not now, not ever.  Arrogant sucker.  I've got my mind on someone else anyway, if he's interested.  I've never been very good at this sort of thing.

:) Peace, love, and hug a tree, man. :). I was gentle even though he didn't deserve it. He's been a jerk to me for far too long. You know what I value in a man? Being nice to me. That IS my "list" of requirements. Apparently, it's too much to ask of most. Lol

Ah, I had more fun playing Kinect darts and tennis last night than i would have with the self-serving idea he put forth anyway. ;) At least I got to laugh during the video game. Better endorphin rush from laughing than running, so far.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

So many chores...

I'm still in my bed. Thinking about all I have to do today.

Work at the school with no AC. (When will it be turned back on???)

Cleaning. Oh, pick a room.

Mow the yard. I could say weed eating too, but I hate it because starting mine is a nightmare and making the line feed correctly just doesn't happen for me. I've got a GOOD string trimmer. I'm just too weak to start the damn thing.

Roundup the entire freaking flower bed. All hope of control is gone. It's time for Yardmageddon again. If I woke up tomorrow with a beautiful yard and little garden, I'd probably really take a shine to yard work and gardening. But battling the beast to try to get it there absolutely kills my spirit. Maybe I should just hire someone to fix the whole darn mess.

Make curtains.

More grocery shopping, because I managed to come out yesterday with nothing but teriyaki jerky, milk, juice, Gatorade, fabric, and dog treats.

A lot of dog treats. I spend more on his treats than I do on my own food. And then he pees on my stuff in a snit. Bit of a diva, are we, little buddy?

Training run (jog) tonight. And yes, my shins are a little bit sore. Weren't two rest days enough?? True, I did play XBox Kinect Tennis against a real person last night. Had a lot of fun, too.

But it's not like the impact of running. Jogging. Attempting to move faster than a walk in this pea-soup humidity without wheezing for breath again. I suspect exertion-induced asthma. If I collapse during exercise someday because I can't breathe, THEN I'll have it looked into. I'm tired of getting that look that accuses me of hypochondria on the rare occasion that I see a doctor. It's why I don't go. They never can "find out" what's wrong.

Aww, maybe I just need a hug and my "imaginary" bronchitis will go away. /end sarcasm.

Just because my symptoms hide when I go in it doesn't mean I'm not sick. It's an involuntary survival mechanism leftover from childhood.

Anyway, all this to consider with a headache and lovely case of cramps. Yeah, I brought up the forbidden topic. These "female issues" really freak some people out. They try to keep it all a shameful secret and then treatment for women's health issues go down the drain. The best part is that I've likely gone through a lifetime of this for no reason whatsoever. :-|

I'm thinking a shower before I go to my hot classroom would be pointless. On the other hand, it would wake me up and maybe make my tummy feel better.

The remaining question is: Tylenol or Ibuprofen? Hmm.

I started back on Phenterm*ne (just trying to avoid spam) yesterday, and I don't feel any more energy, and I'm starving. I took it hours ago. Still, it doesn't mean you aren't supposed to eat ANYthing, so I guess I'd better get to drinking my water and eat something.

I was wide awake far too long last night (past 3 am, so maybe it is working). I also overstayed my welcome, chatting with a friend who had to work today. Oops, that's embarrassing! I was so into our conversation I totally lost track of time. Oh, I'm embarrassed. That was so rude. :(

It's not a bad day. It's a pretty good day so far. :) I haven't had to actually DO anything yet but hurt a little, and I had some comforting dreams last night. I got to spend this morning gathering ideas, which makes me happy. Productive creative thinking always pleases me. Now I have to put it into action.

Student of the Week Lunch Pass

I am a teacher with 2 hours of lunchtime cafeteria duty every day. Some of my colleagues see me as "not a real teacher" because of the subject I teach, which is a high- level combo of four disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and math.

I'm a real teacher. This class is harder to teach than literature, which is my certification. I'm not complaining, though. :). I like my class. Don't tell on me or they might take it away from me. Lol

Other teachers like to send their students to lunch and their kids tell us, "I'm Student of the Week, so I get to cut and be first in line, with this friend I've chosen." Hey, I don't have a problem with arbitrarily treating certain kids like that. But could you please give them a note or name tag or something as proof, so that the rest of the kids don't try to lynch them when a couple of liars pop up at the front of 100 of their angry classmates?

I could make something like that myself, easily. Why don't they do it? Heck, I'd make them some incredibly sturdy personalized passes if they didn't mind paying for the materials. I made mine five years ago, and they are still holding up fantastically.

I got really tired of mine coming back from the bathroom soggy or broken, so I made them incredibly tough.

And stylish. :) Because I can. Lol

Hey, wait a minute. Who is to say that I can't just give some of the kids from my own classes the privilege of cutting in front of the rest? :) I can! Who would stop me? Mwaahaaahaa!

One of my first creative projects for the school year (after I finish making curtains for my windows that have been barren for five years) will be a line pass. I'll make it similar to my "bling" hall passes from old CDs I've decorated and put on a soft neck cord. When they come through the lunch line that day, they can return it to me, easily.

After all, I'm going to be in the cafeteria the whooooole time. :).

I can do stuff the kids like too, darn it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Strawberry Cider

I've decided to just give up and go to bed. I never really started feeling better and everything I think about just brings me down more. Nobody wants to talk. But I need to talk to someone. Really talk.

So I opened the strawberry cider. I've had it in the fridge nearly two years, unopened, and I figured it was losing quality anyway. Turned out okay, and still completely non-alcoholic, for those quick to accuse me of being a lush if I ever have a single beer.

I have the means to drink whenever I want to; I just don't see the point in all the calories. Don't get me wrong -- sometimes, like tonight, it is a very appealing thought to make the rest of the world vanish into oblivion.

Besides, drinking is bad for you, there's a family history, and despite all the pain I'm feeling on the left side of my body tonight, I do intend to keep trying to run.

Oh, a list of owwies for the night? My left foot and ankle actually feel worse; giving more weight to my belief something in there is broken. My left hip hurts (ok, it never really stops),and my ribs are sore. Well, now. Isn't that a change from the usual sore legs? Lol

My ribs are sore because I was holding my abs in while I jogged yesterday and wheezing while I breathed, which did make me a little panicked. For some reason I still haven't learned to relax while I jog. My neck and shoulders were crackling like crazy when I rolled them around.

I'd like to have some more cider, but it's 170 calories a glass and it lacks the magic power of a mood lifter.

Maybe I need to go where everyone else has gone.... nowhere.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

No shin splints

Well, I picked back up with my running tonight. I think that all of my walking in Italy strengthened my shins because they didn't hurt. I even forgot to wear my compression sleeves.

However, I think that my shoes are close to dead. I'm starting to feel the pavement underfoot and my toes go numb while I'm running OR walking.

Everything from the waist up was so tight it hurt and breathing was hard. (Nothing but anxiety -- when WILL i start enjoying this??) I started wheezing like an asthmatic again. Surely it's just the humidity?

Everything I see says southern summers are miserable for running. But I've always lived here, so why can't I handle it? Maybe it is asthma. I actually wheeze a little bit all the time, thanks to all the smokers who have the right to poison me. I wish I'd had the right to clean air.

I did cool-down- walking until I hit 3.1 miles, but my time was horrible. I hope it's just the humidity. But it's going to be this hot until October. :(

My brother says that tomorrow my shins will probably be troubling me again, but he doesn't understand just how instant and ever-present shin splints are for me. In other words, the pain is immediate. No delays to wallow in denial. I'm going to "rest" from running for two days and allow time for healing to see if that helps my recovery. Because running for beginners is a day of running, plus a day of resting while all of that training damage heals.

Now my left foot has been hurting all evening, but I believe that's an untreated fracture I've had for a long time. I can't go ask for an x-ray just out of curiosity. It feels as if one day it is going to snap anyway. Then I'll have it looked at. I can justify it then.

I don't want to be this slow, but it looks like I don't have a choice. My natural inclination to run like the wind is tempered by the limits of what my body can actually do. It isn't impressive. It's actually rather embarrassing.

At least in this century someone finally makes running bras for women who do have big breasts they don't want at their knees. (I've looked for 25 years... It's only a recent phenomenon.) I'm going to get one of the new color-coded UnderArmour running bras and be thankful that it only costs a small fortune. Yeah, the dark purple one, and that's after I had plastic surgery.

I have one of their front-zip Endure bras, but I'm afraid of that thing unzipping on me at the wrong moment and putting it back together takes privacy. It can't be done in front of others. I keep a pin in the zipper tab but it shows through my clothes.

Guys, you don't know how lucky you are to not have to worry about how to strap your breasts down for exercise. It hurts. And sometimes it creates the most BIZARRE shaping. I'm embarrassed to wear my big white running bra to the gym because it shows under my clothes and I know I look weird.

Though I still want to have an attractive feminine shape, that cute minimalist workout gear belies a secret: if she can wear that, she's (fortunately?) very small on top. I hope you're leg men.

I did have to remind myself to use my abs for support, and I think it helped my posture, but I had a hard time catching my breath. Maybe I should be tracking humidity when I run.

Okay, jog. I kept a slow pace. How many months until I can speed up to the rest of the humans?

Running Experiment

I just remembered something that was different about my routine, when I ran the 5k back in November. I had no problems with energy that day, even though I believe I had skipped breakfast.

Adipex. I had been taking the Adipex my endocrinologist prescribed for me (against my objections), for a month.

After that race I got so sick I was in bed for a few days. It was a challenge, but those 3 miles were easier than most of my training runs this summer that were shorter in length. Maybe I'm not in such awful shape for running after all.

I got sick because distance running (for me, that was the longest distance I'd ever run in my life) challenges the immune system, especially when you aren't ready for it. I'm just lucky he illness waited a few hours until I finished my run. :)

I think tomorrow I may start taking it again, and see what it does to both my ability to push through my exhaustion when I run, and my weight. I've been off it long enough it might work for me again.

Just so you know, I don't even like the idea of using that drug. But my specialist admitted he couldn't figure out why my routine wasn't causing weight loss. It should have. But this is me we are talking about. Fair play doesn't usually enter the equation for my efforts. :)

I'm hoping that I can couple it with running and get lighter, which should make training a little easier. Hey, running hasn't made me lose weight. What choice do I have?

This is going to be a lot of fun with my sinus infection and resulting bronchitis still hanging about. Cough. Snort. Wheeze. Lol

Getting a Pool!!

Ok, not me personally. If you have ever seen my property you know what a stupid idea that would be.

I have a tiny backyard, completely overhung with trees. One is a pecan tree. They turn things underneath black. I'd love to turn my crummy backyard into a low-maintenance garden anyway, since it can't even grow decent grass.

No entertaining the notion of an above-ground pool either, without water or electricity available in the back of my house. :). It is what it is. Just a starter home I never intended to mete out the rest of my days in.

Anyway, I noticed on Facebook yesterday that my gym is hinting about planning a new facility with a pool. They said that if you've been a member for a year by the time the new place is open, they won't raise your membership fees. I can work with that. :) I'll be careful to renew my membership in December and keep it up to date.

Here's hoping that in the year or so it takes to get the new facility finished, I might actually show some physical improvement from exercising. Yeah. I know. I'm where reality and logic part from one another and the typical results don't apply. Wouldn't it be funny if having been a good girl all this time is absolutely the problem? Maybe I just need some other kind of exercise.

Anyway, since I can't get anyone else to so much as walk with me, I'll probably intensify what I do. I'd like to finish my couch-to-5k program faster, but progressing with successful results is more important to me.

I don't like being credited for finishing 4-minute running periods when I can only make it through 3 before I'm gasping. That's probably my weight. Which goes nowhere no matter how many hours a day I'm sweating in the gym or how little I allow myself to eat, nor even how much water I drink.

My lower legs think that they are water storage vessels. If I drink, they swell. It has been happening for years, and I've been drinking tons of water for more than the twelve weeks it supposedly takes to counter the effects of long-term dehydration. Right now my lower legs look very nice, with my slender ankles showing once again.

But really, who looks at pretty calves, ankles, and feet?

Of course there is no easy solution to this dilemma. It seems there isn't even a near-impossible solution either. It's a good thing men all find me so irresistible just as I am, huh? Yeah, right. Ha ha.

At least I know I'll eventually be able to swim and not have to worry about how I look in a bathing suit. :). Nobody sees me at the gym. Some things truly never change.

Hey, I can always blame it on hormones, my age, diabetes, the heat -- and not continue to punish myself exercising. I could. But I won't. While it is true that I lost 25 pounds over the last year, I still get the sneering response from my father that he can't tell. He criticizes my weight every time he talks to me. It doesn't make for a healthy self-image.

On the brighter side, our town is getting closer to having a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Lol. How many years has that rumor been a phantom floating about ? Better than 20. And now it's in the local paper that we have that "opportunity". Cool.

Still on Italian Time

Being the night owl that I am, it is strange that I wake up every day by 6:30 now. And at 11 pm I'm fighting to stay awake. Considering that 2 weeks ago I was getting up just after 6 am, that would be 11 am or noon our time... Which is when I naturally wake up on my own. I suppose it makes sense.

Maybe I shouldn't fight it. It could be handy once school starts back for me to already be on a normal sleeping schedule, rather than spend the first week completely unable to sleep.

I did manage to get a lot more than usual done yesterday after getting up at 8 am. I posted pictures from my trip until my eyes felt like they were bleeding. :)

Of course, my nights would be more restful if I managed to go to bed properly, instead of simply passing out on my bed, fully dressed, with all the lights on -- including the bedroom light and the tv on at normal volume. I assure you, no alcohol or drugs involved -- just simple exhaustion. :)

I have to call in next week yet again for jury duty, though it is likely I won't be chosen for this jury anyway. I know one of the defendants personally, and I've been on his side about the matter since it happened years ago. I'm also unhappy about what the lawsuit ultimately has cost the community. I think that would make me a very prejudiced juror.

So waking up far earlier than my normal time is actually a little bit useful, if annoying. I feel like I've lost my ability to sleep in. :(. What I'd do with it IF I could still do it... Okay, never mind. That ain't happening either, apparently. :-/



Friday, July 13, 2012

Not-So-Wild Friday the 13th...

It's 11 pm and I'm home in bed. I've restocked a ton of acetaminophen and ibuprofen as well. Funny how much Tylenol I've taken lately. Ok, maybe not so funny.

It's a typical wild Friday night in my quiet little house, though there is a party going on next door with all the druggies surely in attendance.

Spent time with a nephew today, took him to see The Amazing Spider-man in 3D, took him to McDonald's for a couple of cheeseburgers after the movie, and bought him a set of grey sheets for his new queen-sized bed.

I'm proud of him because he forgot to tell them to leave the pickles, onions, etc. off and he said he would give the burgers a try as they were.

He said they were "not bad!" and finished them off. :)

I've come back home to a dog insisting I entertain and treat him, but I really just want a little while to myself.

He's gonna be bothering me all night anyway and it won't be cuddling for my benefit. :). Looks like he is over me leaving him while I went away.

Right now I'm just his glorified leg prop, so that he can more easily lick his nads. Well. At least he is taking care of that. Sometimes I do wonder.

I'm crazy-thirsty and still wanting a nice glass of wine. I dunno, it seems like a waste for me to not share the strawberry wine with anyone. Today I've felt so sad, but you can't sit home by yourself drinking at such a time. Well, I can't. It would mean I'm a statistic.

I can be boring yet unpredictable, right? Well, not about where I like to be kissed. Apparently I'm commonplace in that respect. :-/.

Nothing better to do with my night, except wait for the pecan tree to fall on my house in the last hour of Friday the 13th.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brownie in a Mug

Because I'm feeling pretty down today, I thought maybe a little chocolate would help my mood. What can I say? Its a universal treatment for feeling lonely. And dementor attacks. But I digress.

I found instructions for making a brownie in a mug. :). Simple enough, and it worked great.

HOWEVER, I've had olive oil-based brownies before (she was a cooking newbie and thought it wouldn't matter), and I would recommend using a lighter, more flavorless oil in the recipe. :D. I know the picture shows olive oil, but it's a site for selling mugs with promotional advertising.

Who you gonna trust? A cook or an ad man?

My brownie turned out pretty tasty, and I've an overstock of cocoa powder that's been begging to be used for a while.

Hey, it could have been the Nocino, and I can't share that on a blog post. :)

http://blog.gopromos.com/how-to-make-brownie-in-a-mug/

****

I subbed Splenda for more than half of the sugar and it was still lovely, though there was the disconcerting feeling that it was really soap flakes I added.

I added a pinch of instant coffee, too, to feed my dark side.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

British Airways, I got no love for ya

On our way home via Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, we were delayed on takeoff.  For at least half an hour, we were told that they had lost power / had "computer issues" at the air traffic control tower, and all flights were grounded.

Nice.  Well done indeed.  (Yes, "Praetorians?" did go through my mind, with a snicker.  I think I tempted fate by laughing.)

When we finally took off, we were sure we would make it to our connecting flight by the skin of our teeth.  Nearly every person on board the plane was feeling this anxiety.

When we landed at London's Heathrow airport, they told us that disembarking was going to take a while, because they had had "computer issues" too.  In this case, someone stole the stairs our plane was assigned to let the passengers off.

We finally got to the terminal to be told at the gate that we weren't going to make it to our connecting flight (even though time wasn't up and they knew we were coming) because the distance was too great to make it to the other terminal quickly.  I think we were originally told that they were going to take us via bus directly to our departure terminal.

What really happened was that they took our checked luggage off the plane before we ever found out about the stairs issue, just assuming we were going to miss the flight.  Therefore they forced us to miss the flight, when there was still a chance we could have made it if they had stuck to the busing plan.

When we got upstairs to the Customer Service desk, we were in line for close to 4 hours, trying to get the 8 people in our group home.

My legs and back were on fire and hurting to boot, so I tried to stay out of it.  I wasn't the group leader, and we already had two of those deftly handling the situation.  I spent a lot of time collapsed gracelessly and immaturely on the cold tile floor right where we were. (This was the second most physically painful day of my adult life, as it turns out.)  I didn't trust myself to keep a mature attitude or even just avoid whining, and I think I had done a great job of it up to that point, so I didn't want to spoil my streak just because I justifiably felt victimized.  My input wouldn't have helped, so I backed off.

They told us we couldn't have our checked luggage back, because they wanted to be sure it made it onto the right flight the next day, as if WE were the incompetent fools who couldn't handle checking baggage ourselves!

I couldn't go touring through the airport to find any medication for my now full-blown sinus infection, so I checked the bathroom...  Nope, just breath mints, aspirin, pads, and condoms in the machine.  Gee, I guess they had ONE activity covered.

I paid for a day of Boingo internet access and discovered that once you've paid for the day, it really doesn't work.  You can go to the Heathrow Airport site and that's about it.

We eventually got put on flights separating the 8 of us into 3 different destinations on a completely different airline...

The next day.  Imagine the frustration of being told at a major international airport that there were no more flights leaving that day... and it was only 5 pm local time.  Would you believe them?  I didn't.  I hate being lied to when the truth is so obvious.  They could have just said, gee, with all the screw-ups in Rome AND here today, there aren't any seats available on any of the hundreds of flights yet to leave for the US tonight.

This was prime time for several someones (me included) to have a hot-tempered total flipout meltdown at the  airport.

And nobody did.  It would have been perfectly justified but every single one of us kept tempers in check.  We go through customs and fill out residence cards for one night.  Dang, the British gov is tight about immigrants trying to sneak in and freeload!  Or even legitimately work... Why is the US so easy about that??

We were finally sent to the Renaissance Heathrow for the night.  On the way out of the airport, I scoped out a duty free shop close to the shuttle exit, and saw that while they had tons of liquor, there was nothing for sale for pain relief of any kind.  I thought seriously about buying a bottle of whiskey to knock myself out for the night, but!!!    I'd have had to check the rest of the bottle the next day... in the checked luggage British Airways wouldn't let me have!!!

So I only semi-joked about buying a shot of whiskey at the hotel if the gift shop had nothing to help me.  Well, the gift shop was closed at 10:00 at night, naturally.  I did order the whiskey, but because of confusion about where we were supposed to have our included dinner, I didn't get it.  (I intended to pay for it...) I'm not a drinker, so one shot at that stage of exhaustion and illness would have knocked me out.

Waiting over half an hour outside for a shuttle bus to take us to the hotel, I was shivering.  Hey, I thought I was experiencing that frustrating English summer that makes people freeze to death.  I'm sure it wasn't more than 50 degrees out there that night.  My head was pounding, I was hurting all over, I couldn't hear, and I had chattering teeth as I stood there in shorts and a t-shirt.

As soon as we got to our hotel room (check-in took what, half an hour??), we traversed the corridors of what looked like the Overlook Hotel from the original movie of The Shining.  It was like a maze and I was expecting to see those little girls covered in blood at the end of one hallway.  (I was becoming a bit delirious, I'll admit.)  I finally got into a lovely feather comforter-covered king-sized bed, pulled the robe over that as a blanket, and packed some extra pillows around me to keep me warm, and I passed out, still shivering.  Perhaps I should have taken advantage of the tea service before I went to sleep, but I was barely hanging on as it was.

At 3 am sharp, I woke up sweating with a fever, desperate to get all those freaking pillows away from me!  LOL   So that explains why the pain I felt was so intense -- I was all-over sick by this time.  Hey, allergies do that to me if they get a tiny little toe-hold on me.  I can't be the only one who suffers fever with mine.

Lovely breakfast I was actually familiar with, the next morning - eggs, hash browns, sausages, (skipped the freaky beans) coffee, juice (why don't the Italians eat a normal breakfast like this??), a trip to the gift shop to buy some Sudafed, and finally on to the airport again, where I was told that British Airways never got our luggage loaded on the Delta flight, and that it was already "lost".  All of this told in such a kind, humble, and sorrowful tone by the Delta gate agent, who actually did do some extra checking to verify this fact.   Nice fellow.  :)  His attitude was like a hug.  His accent was pure New Zealand.

(I should mention that when we got to the airport, we bumped into a British EF Tours guide named Adam, who kindly offered whatever services he could help us with, while he waited on his own group members to arrive.  He had seen our EF Tours backpacks and introduced himself, just in case.  Nice chap.)

Oh, that's not all I bought at the gift shop.  Sudafed, two packs of Halls cough drops we don't seem to have here in the states, a Pepsi, and an Oxford University hoodie in proper Oxford blue. I'm sure I overpaid for the hoodie, but I deserved something for my troubles and I figured it would be cold on the plane after all that.    I bought an Olympics t-shirt at the airport too.  And some chocolate.  And a book, because I knew my phone would die without a converter to charge my iPhone or the backup batteries I carried with me.  I had a converter -- in my checked luggage.  But I hadn't ever planned on being trapped in London, so I didn't bring the tip for England's plugs.

Anyway....  for my group's flights, they put us in seats that Seat Guru shows as the worst seats on the plane -- the seats in red, in the middle section.  Limited overhead space, right next to the galley and lavatory, and no ability to recline the seats whatsoever.  I was sincerely dreading the flight.

And you know what?  I liked my seat.  :)  We were on an Airbus 320 that was actually new enough to have individual screens for every seat.  I watched 4 in-flight movies and they were all complimentary and NEW.  The Hunger Games, The Immortals, Wrath of the Titans, and Thor.  They kept coming through and feeding us.  Peanuts, a nice chicken dinner, pretzels, and then calzones and ice cream.  LOL  I had an aisle seat closest to the bathroom and I was able to go whenever I felt like it without worrying about disturbing anyone or waiting in line.  :D  I never smelled anything, perhaps because I was all stuffed up anyway.

The flight was quite a bit bumpier than I was used to, being in the tail section, but on an afternoon flight it was a bad idea for me to sleep anyway.  They even gave us all blankets and pillows, and it was a bit chilly on that flight, unlike the Iberia flight on the way over when I thought I was going to sweat to death.  I can't sleep when I'm hot.   :(  (PS - Iberia lost our group's luggage for 5 days.  I hate Iberia.)

By the time we landed in Atlanta, we learned that we would have to collect our checked baggage and take it through customs ourselves.  Well, our luggage wasn't on the carousel.  So when I walked up to the Dept. of Agriculture customs agent, he gave me a confused yet suspicious look and asked, "Where is your luggage??"  Brief explanation about the snafu, and he sent us on our trek to the departure terminal, where it was so cold I had to don my hoodie, but I was able to charge my phone fully.  :)

I slept on the flight to Memphis, and I slept in the car almost all the way home. My house was cool and comfortable when I got inside and I found several doses of Aleve D Cold and Sinus right next to my bed.  It seems to be the only over-the-counter medicine that works for my allergies these days.

Of course our luggage didn't make it to Memphis.  But the Delta baggage claim guy got all the details of our travails and managed to trace our bags, despite the involvement of British Airways.  We got our stuff back, intact, by special delivery 2 days later.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Celery and Stilton Soup

During our forced and unplanned overnight stay in London, we had the hotel's buffet for dinner. There were several things I intended to try, but I was sick and couldn't really taste anything. I don't even remember what I put on my plate other than some breadcrumb covered mushrooms, but I couldn't taste much anyway, and that killed my appetite.

I got a bowl of the celery and Stilton soup because I thought soup would do me some good, as chilled as I was. (Shivering by this point). Not that I knew what Stilton tasted like but somewhere in my hazy brain I recalled Stilton was a type of cheese.

Mmm. Cheese soup for a sore throat? Worth a try.

Well, I barely tasted the soup's true flavor, but one of the girls in our group said it was absolutely delicious. I had a little bit of stinging in the back of my throat, so I'm glad someone got the full effect. Lol.

Well done, Renaissance Heathrow. I'm sure I can't afford to return to you on my own. :) Still, thumbs DOWN to British Airways for putting us in that situation in the first place.

I'm going to have to make it here at home if I can find the cheese. :) Hopefully it will freeze well, or I'll have to eat it for days and days on end. Perhaps I could even find someone to share it with.  (I really am a good cook.  Have been since I was a kid.)

http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/10/celery-and-stilton-soup.html

Sleeping Beauty (yeah, right!)

More like... Barely awake Gorgon. So much for emulating a fairy tale princess!

I am tentatively awake for the first time in a little over 24 hours. I fell asleep after my massage and hair appointment yesterday and was totally groggy when my brother stopped by last night to ask about my trip to Italy. I looked a fright, which garnered some amusement from him with one of his funnier opening statements.

Me: Hi.
Brother: No, but YOU sure look like you are!

Ha ha ;)

After he left, I fell asleep again for several hours. I woke up at 3, then 5:30, then slept until after noon. Interspersed in all this were several episodes of groggy sleep chats. I might not have been awake, so if my conversation was less than sparkling or just all-out bizarre, I apologize. :D

You should have heard the bizarreness I came up with on my roomie in Italy. I don't know at what point (with my swollen feet up on the wall and all the lights on) I actually lost consciousness, but I said something strange about hash tags. Yeah, I thought I was awake at the time too. Hahaha

When I'm overtired, it's like a switch has been flipped to OFF. At least I didn't start sleepwalking.

So here I am, finishing off actual coffee dosed liberally with chocolate syrup, hoping it will bring me back to the land of the living.

I guess this is jet lag with being sick, and I am thankful it wasn't a worse sickness. I seem to be shaking it without a visit to the clinic for a bunch of shots and antibiotics. Next time I will make sure to take my allergy meds traveling and just hope that they aren't confiscated.

Disclaimer: night before last I took a dose of hydrocodone cough syrup because my hacking cough was keeping me awake. When it became apparent that it wasn't enough, I took a second dose. Perhaps that is what induced my coma-sleep. It takes me a couple of days to get that much codeine out of my system.

Get a thicker skin!

My brother told me yesterday that I shouldn't have posted about the gross post-sunburn molting I had to deal with last week. I disagree. I think it made for a great warning about the dangers of too much sun.

And I also think that the title gives away how gross the post is. Nobody has to read it! There is one important rule he isn't aware of in descriptive writing: show, don't tell. Lol

It's my blog. :). I'll write what I want to. I'm not writing it for anyone else -- just for me. I say that with the sweetest of thoughts. If you don't like it, don't read it. Mmmkay?

I hardly think my post about the details of a second degree sunburn will lessen the opinion others have of me. I'm pretty sure those critical folks already thought little of me to begin with. Nope, I am not well regarded, as far as I can tell. Perhaps it is because I am not some phony society matron. We seem to have a glut of those locally already.

So if you are reading my blog and are *gasp!* offended by the subjects, move on. And don't read my fiction when the opportunity arises, for you may well be shocked. Lol

My skin grew back. Perhaps yours will as well. ;)

Here endeth the lesson.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Left my skin in Venice

Come on. You know the tune. Give it the old Tony Bennett treatment. :)

The week before I went to Italy for 9 days (10, when you find out what Heathrow did to us!) I went with my brother and nephew to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Ah, it was lovely. I used sunscreen.

I didn't use enough sunscreen. Mistake number 1.

I fell asleep on the beach, and nobody sitting right next to me thought to wake me up so I could flip over to my front. Mistake number 2.

I didn't wash off the salt when we left the beach. Mistake number 3.

I felt a little bit sunburned, yes. But no more than any other day of summer sun exposure. Just tired. So tired I didn't take a shower when we got back to our aunt and uncle's house. Mistake number 4.

Boy, those booboos just keep a'pilin up, don't they? I don't live near a beach, so cut me some slack for my ignorance.

The next day I needed some Solarcaine spray because my sunburn was in the most inaccessible part of my back between my shoulder blades. Well, we got busy and I couldn't get any until later in the day. The skin on my back was a little stingy, tight, and warm, but my face just looked a little sun-kissed in normal light. Under halogen lights, I looked like I had escaped from demons.

So I sprayed myself, and that moisturized and cooled the burn, which was beginning to heat up. Later that night, the sun poisoning hit. I wasn't nauseated, but I had a flash-fever and a nasty headache for days afterward.

When I got back home, the blisters came up in a palm-sized area right where I couldn't reach it. When one broke and oozed, it caused maddening itching. I didn't realize how bad the blisters were until I scratched and tore the skin myself.

Oops. I thought it was just sunburn itch. The more it itched, the more I was compelled to scratch, even though I knew NOT to scratch or break the blisters. I felt possessed and absolutely insane.

Later that night someone verified for me that my back was now an open wound, and still producing new blisters, each filled with my own itching blood serum. Apparently this is what caused an allergic rash on my chest, to add insult to injury. I've had that rash once before with an immune system flipout.

Not much I could do. Solarcaine says NOT to use it on open wounds... Or blistered areas. So much for a little first aid. Second degree sunburn and my only options were Tylenol and aloe Vera gel that I couldn't exactly spray on myself....

Wait a minute... Who says I can't make it into a spray???

I researched that tea tree and lavender essential oils (diluted!!!) are good for sunburn. Tea tree is an antibacterial, and it always speeds up my healing. Lavender is soothing and the smell chills out the medicinal odor of the tea tree. So off to the local health food store I went. Lavender and tea tree, plus some old fashioned ginger beer and sparkling apple cider ale, just to cheer me up.

1 1/2 ounces of water
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lavender oil
As much aloe as I could keep dissolved thinly in water
Pour into small spray bottle and shake until aloe is dissolved.

Spray and feel immediate relief from the godforsaken ITCHING!!!!

Still, the next day it was raw and oozing because new blisters were still coming up, and I got my dad to put Neosporin on it for me. He sent me off on my travels with a long-blade plastic spatula so that I could reach the right spot. Ahhh.

On my first flight, I napped. And woke up to the sensation of thick liquid dripping down my back. Yep. Increased pressure in-flight ruptured the blisters. Fortunately, I was ashamed of the possibility giving away my embarrassing situation, so I had opened a large gauze pad to wear like a cape under my shirt, attached at the shoulders with fabric bandaids. Lol.

I'm not sure if it was funny, creepy, or just downright pathetic. But I didn't want other people to see my blood components soaking my shirt.

A whole day later I got to take a shower. Eww. Neo and bandage, repeat.

The next day we were in Venice and the tightness of my back was causing worse itching. I reached back to gingerly scratch near the area, hoping for some relief by association, and came back with a piece of.... Um, shed skin the size of my thumb.

At this point the only thing I could do about the itching was to try and rub my shoulder blades together. That hastened my molting and I dropped rather large sections of my greenish (the aloe did that), yellowish (plasma is yellowish), scabby (not really, but it was several layers of skin I lost cemented together) old skin all over Venice. Fascinating, but disgusting, painful, humiliating and frightening.

Parts of me in St. Mark's Square, on the Bridge of Sighs, and the Rialto Bridge. It ain't the Trevi Fountain, but I wonder if that might not be the Venetian equivalent. LOL

Yeah, I know it's gross. So take it from me.... Wear sunblock!! Get a long plastic spatula to put it on, or by golly, you'll need one for the Neosporin!

It took a full seven days to regenerate my skin, and several more before the remaining skin smoothed back out to normal unpebbled epidermis. I was indeed afraid it might have scarred that way.