Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Last night I took a sleeping pill at 8:30 and, glory be, slept for a full eight hours.  It was the first weeknight sine school started that I got the amount of sleep I needed.

I hadn't really considered sleeping pills before my summer with Jason.  Like a good drug dealer, he offered me a trial dose for free.  Like a good Victorian villain, he did it in a quiet hotel room in a foreign city late at night.  Like a gentleman, he then drugged himself, donned his eyemask and earplugs, and tucked himself under the covers of his own bed.  Alas.

Despite taking only half a pill, I was woosy well into the next day.  My system was not as adept at handling the hard stuff as Jason's, hardened as he is by the gritty law-school-in-New-York life he escaped.  Still, I am determined to take better care of myself this school year, and a big part of that is getting enough sleep.  The sunshine and sound of children playing pouring through my windows be damned!  I will go to bed on time!  I will not toss and turn and think about what I need to do tomorrow!  I will not cast shows and cut scripts and design sets when I close my eyes!

Except I totally do.  Every night.  So I bought my own set of pills and gave them a test-run over the weekend to see what kind of impact they had.  Bam!  Nine-point-five hours of solid sleep.  Awesome for the weekend.  Not so hot when I'm the one driving the carpool the next morning.

However, I was so exhausted Tuesday night that I figured it was worth the risk of still being drowsy in the morning.  I took half a dose, shoved the cat off my chest a number of times, and fell soundly asleep.

I woke up with my alarm, and by the time I got to the carpool rendezvous point I was wide awake.  I actually participated in the conversation on the drive up!  And I had energy in my first period class!  My goodness it was nice!  Nice enough for me to repeat the dosage again tonight!

There's no hope for the full sleep tomorrow night - I'm going to see Les Mis and shan't be getting to bed until well after midnight.  But I only have to teach one more day after that to reach a three-day weekend, and that's doable.

My inconsistencies with sleep aside, I'm actually doing pretty well with my goals for taking care of myself.  We're two weeks into the school year and I have consistently
1) Worked out every day,
2) Made dinner at home instead of getting take-out, and
3) Kept my apartment clean (not quite Jason-level clean, but definitely more than normal-Amanda-level clean)

Even with a couple of late days for speech and drama stuff after school, I kept my goals.  Yay me!

It's precarious.  I know that such school-year goals tend to disintegrate around the middle of October, so I am taking careful notes of my successes so far in order to convince myself that keeping them is both doable and desirable.  Fingers crossed.

And now I'm off to drug myself, don an eyemask, and get some sleep like a good grown-up.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Because We Can Can Can

In each of my classes today when it was my turn to check-in I told the students, "Today I'm ecstatic."

And it's true. I've been practically beaming all day, despite being a Monday and despite my running on too-little sleep.

Why, you ask?

'Cause I'm going here.

Yup. Yesterday Jason and I bought plane tickets to Paris for Thanksgiving, and I haven't stopped smiling since.

P.S. Feel free to offer suggestions for where to stay/eat!  Some of you have been there a lot more recently than me, and I'd love to hear your advice!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Bumper Crop

A run-down of my classes, now that I have one week of school under my belt:

Period 1: Advanced Drama
22 Students: 9 Males, 13 Females
Grade 10: 10
Grade 11: 6
Grade 12: 6

I fought the battle last year for a class to be created that had Introduction to Drama as a prerequisite.  This class is my reward.  With one exception (a senior who took drama as a freshman under the former teacher), the students all know me, my expectations, and my procedures and they all want to be in this class.  Boy, that makes a difference!

Their first production is going to be Much Ado About Nothing (as I continue to steal glean from my productions at DPJH).  There were some groans when I said we're doing Shakespeare ("He's boring!" they exclaimed.  "Not true!" I said, "Didn't you see Macbeth last year?"  "That's the only good one," they reply stubbornly), but we're watching the Branagh version right now and it's winning them over.

Period 2: Planning Period
1 Student (Female, 12th grade)

I prefer to not have student assistants during my planning period because
1) Often the work I need them to do is computer-based, as is the work that I need to do during that time, and
2) I like having some time to myself during the day.

This semester, though, given the choice between having an assistant during my plan and not having one at all, I quickly chose the former.  Fortunately, she's a smart, capable, and very mature senior who doesn't need hand-holding or a constant stream of tasks to keep busy.  Yay for that!

Period 3: Introduction to Drama
14 Students: 7 Males, 7 Females
Grade 9: 7
Grade 10: 2
Grade 11: 2
Grade 12: 3

Check out that grade distribution!  Talk about a diverse class.  I was worried about the spread when I first saw my roster - seniors can get snotty about being in classes with freshmen.  Happily, one of those seniors is the class president and she's probably the nicest, sweetest person I've ever met (I had her for Humanities and she was in last year's musical).  She sets the tone for the class, and it quickly became a goofy, playful group who tease, joke with, and encourage each other.  Yes, sometimes those jokes are of the bathroom variety (6 of those 7 freshmen are boys), but we're working on that.

My assistant is in this class too, and I gave her a stack of script catalogs the other day and asked her to look through them for plays that sounded like fun for a group our size.  Within five minutes I heard her say, "Oh, we HAVE to do this one!"

It's called Harry's Hotter at Twilight.  It's a silly, fluffy, stupid spoof of Harry Potter, Twilight, and a bunch of other things.  It calls for minimal sets, super-easy costumes, 10-50 actors, and the kids both on and off stage are going to eat it up.  It's not my taste in theater, but I'm convincing myself that it's okay to pick an easy show once in a while.

Period 4: Speech
22 Students: 7 Male, 15 Female
Grade 9: 6
Grade 10: 13
Grade 11: 1
Grade 12: 2

This class is so different (i.e. better) than last year's speech class!  Last year's class was mostly made up of kids who
a) were taking it against their will,
b) were absolutely terrified of the idea of competing in public speaking, and
c) loved to create a lot of teenage sturm und drang out of absolutely nothing (Oh, the tears!)

About half of this year's group is in my Adv. Drama class as well, almost all are GT kids, and they are so excited about speech.  I'm starting off with Poetry Interps.  I sent them home Wednesday with the instructions to find a poem that "tastes good in their mouths".  Many of them complained the next day about how long it took to find such a thing, which I take as a sign of what great students they are (staying up late to find good ones rather than grabbing the first one they saw). We then played with the poems  - milling and seething around the room, acting out the punctuation marks, calling out the best words and phrases, standing in a circle and creating a new poem by each person reading the best line from his/her own poem, etc.  They played along, they debriefed with great insight, and they understood what I meant when I talked about delicious poetry.

In short, I have terrific classes this term, and I look forward to playing with them each day.  How wonderful that is!

The after school stuff is starting, too.  I've met with the speech seniors already, and they declared their desire to get team ponchos instead of team hoodies this year.  I told them if they could find customizable ponchos for under $25, it's a go.  To their disappointment, they failed at that task ("They wanted $300 for an authentic Peruvian poncho, Ms. W!), so they'll have to break the news to the whole team at our first official meeting Monday.

Jesse and I also finally picked a musical for the year.  I do think it's the best choice for our group/community, but I'm still reluctant because of the technical demands.  It's one of those big-budget spectacle shows and we are short on funds and on spectacle (aside from the leftover fake blood, swords, and flash paper from Macbeth, that is).  I have no idea how we'll pull it off yet, but it seems like there's two options:
  1. Do our best to replicate the original, knowing that we have very little budget to do a big-budget show, and hope the audience isn't disappointed when it doesn't measure up; or 
  2. Put an entirely original (low-budget) spin on it, knowing that the audience will criticize it for not looking like the original.
I don't know which way we'll go yet, but I know the kids will be ecstatic when we announce what it is, and I'm certainly looking forward to that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh, Dating.

Jason sent me a link to a clip from PBS about singles in the LDS church.  One of the men interviewed talks about "finding a ten."  He's then followed by a bishopric fellow saying that part of his job is to get singles to stop expecting tens.

I've wondered if I'm too picky.  I like to think I keep an open mind, but then again I'm getting a lot quicker at "archiving" matches on my latest dating site.

Here, you tell me.  What do you think of these recommended matches?

I don't think my aversion to writing like this is just because I'm an English major. To me it indicates someone who doesn't care about first impressions or taking care with his/her work.  That's an important indicator to me of education levels, literacy, work ethic, and social skills.

Or there are matches that are harder to read, like this:

Of course there are the not-so-enigmatic ones:

Sadly, such a profile is not so unique.  I'm not sure whether to admire their honesty or lament the results of such honesty.

Then again, not all men are driven by such carnal desires:

Or maybe so.

What do you think? Have I missed a potential 8 or 9?

Friday, August 19, 2011


I'm two days into the school year proper and so far I'm keeping with most of my health goals. I've worked out each day after work, I cooked my meals at home instead of getting take out, and I found my new snack of choice for the pick-me-up I need between getting home from school and working out:

Don't mock me.  I've been tracking my nutrition lately and was dismayed to see that in a typical week I'm about 50% below the recommended intake of calcium. A full glass of chocolate milk boosts that, fills me up, and has less calories than most snacks.  Plus? It's yummy.

My district set up basic medical exams this week to get a lower group insurance premium. We all had to complete health surveys online, then be screened by people in white coats who weighed and measured us, checked blood pressure, and drew a blood sample. My white-coated fellow had to wiggle the needle around a bit to get blood, which resulted in this vivid burst of color in the crook of my elbow:


I actually lost several points on my health survey because I've been to the ER in the last six months and to my doctor twice, which I do think is unfair since I've never been to the ER in my life before that car accident and the doctor visits were follow-ups to the ER trip.

I'll also have to spend a good chunk of time this weekend dealing with paperwork for insurance issues.  I'm halfway through the massages my doctor prescribed, and I need to copy and send off all of the notes and receipts from them to hopefully get reimbursed.  Before you get too jealous of my massages, you should know that up until the last one I've been in a lot more pain after the massage.  It gets better the next morning, but it's not all peachy aromatherapy all the time.

I set up an appointment last week with an Elements Therapeutic Massage place near me.  The receptionist said she could schedule me a session with Danielle, who is trained in physical therapy.  Sounds great!  At the appointed time, I check in at the front desk.  "Oh, Danielle will be right with you!" the receptionist chirps.

I settle in next to the trickling table-top fountain with a 5280 magazine.  A few minutes later, this pony-tailed and goateed guy dressed all in black comes out and holds out his hand to me.  "Hi," he says, "I'm Daniel."


I didn't want to be rude, so I didn't say anything.  It was weird getting undressed and settled under the sheets knowing that a strange guy was going to do the massage.  I kept up my silent mantra like the Cowardly Lion at the feet of the Wicked Witch ("I'm good at being naked, I'm good at being naked, I'm good, I'm good, I'm GOOD at being naked.") all the way until he started the massage.  Then, revelation:  Guys are strong!  He worked out a lot of the tension and kinks that the other masseuses have been missing.  It was the best massage I've had in this fix-my-neck series, and I booked another appointment with Daniel before I left.

Even with so many under my belt, getting massages is still weird.  The first time I had a massage (a few years ago), I got it from an instructor at the Utah College of Massage Therapy.  She was great about walking me through the whole process.  According to her, I had two jobs: 1) Keep Breathing, and 2) Don't Help.

That's what I focus on during my sessions.  First of all, I actually do keep forgetting to do those things mid-massage.  Secondly, I don't like being waited on.  My instinct is to help, especially when someone's providing some sort of service around me.  To just lie there while someone else is working?  It's strange and awkward, so it helps that my initiating masseuse gave me not just one but two jobs to do.

Come to think of it, those two tasks may also be helpful in finding a balanced lifestyle this school year.  Keep breathing and don't help.  Or at least don't help as much.  I need to get better at letting students and parents and volunteers do more of the tasks.  Things might not get done to my level of correctness, but several lesser-quality achievements would be worthwhile if I walk away healthier 10 months from now, right?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stop It!

I now have students who were born the year I graduated from high school.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Am I, Four?

Do you know what's stressing me out?  Bedtime.

Tonight I finished working out, fixed dinner, then looked at the clock and realized that I had just two hours left before I needed to be asleep.  Not going to bed.  Asleep.  Which means I needed to start the going to bed process in about an hour.

And immediately I started panicking.

To use a rather geeky metaphor, you know the countdown clock on Battlestar Galactica?  The big one in the control room that they set every time someone goes off on some stupidly heroic mission and Adama says "You have X minutes until we jump.  If you're not back by then..." and the heroic idiot finishes the sentence with a quasi-commanding, "You're leaving without us."  And then at the climax there's all kinds of quick cuts between the clock and the action and the clock hits zero and Adama looks all agonized and noble and then the clock starts ticking in the opposite direction and you wonder like a good viewer if Adama's going to risk the entire fleet for the sake of his child-of-the-week?

You know, that clock?

During the school year a similar clock runs in my head, ticking away in bright red numerals the minutes left until the time that marks 8 hours until I need to be up again.  The worst is when it goes past the zero mark and continues it's steady counting pace, marking the lack of sleep I'm getting because I'm so stressed out about going to sleep.

It's 7:31 right now, and I still have an awful lot on my to do list.  To get eight hours of sleep I need to be asleep no later than 8:45.





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If I Ruled the World

1) We would get one teacher work day every other week, and

2) Musicals would be available in trimmed-down 90-minutes versions for a flat rate for high schools.

My time's been split between meetings and time in my classroom.  Happily there's a lot more time in my classroom than I'm used to, and I'm getting a heck of a lot done.  For example, I completely redesigned and organized my filing system today, a project I've been wanting to finish for years now.  Yay!

Last night was Back to School night.  I had a decent turn-out - around 20 adults and students in each class.  The class sizes are all smaller this year across the board, thanks to the drop in student population.  The high school currently has an enrollment of 323.  My graduating class was around 800.  Weird.

I'm also finding it strange that I know about 65% of the students I have on my roster.  I take it as a good sign that they're signing up for my classes over and over.  It made Back to School night more comfortable too to look out a room filled with people I already know.  It also made it hard to fill the 10-minute presentation time, since they already knew all about me and my classroom expectations, etc.  I talked up the field trips and performances instead.

My principal shot down our first choice for this year's musical.  He said we had both built up a lot of respect and good reputation in the community, and this show wasn't worth the fight.  I see his points (it's why we ran the idea past him in the first place, we figured he would know best what people would freak out about), but even after a further hour's discussion Jesse and I haven't come up with any ideas that were as good a fit as that one.  I've got four possibilities in mind right now that I want to talk over with Rachel while I wait for the perusal materials to arrive.

We have safety training for most of the day tomorrow, but there should be enough time for me to run off the copies I need for the first few days.  It will be nice to get fully back in the swing of things.

One more day before school starts.  I'll be ready.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This Is Why I Can't Have Nice Things

In the course of my "spring" cleaning, my need for new carpet became clear again.  The carpet in my condo is about as cheap as you can get, and I discovered after moving in that there is absolutely no pad underneath it.  The thinly-cushioned concrete floors are not so great for my back.  So while vacuuming I resolved to get new carpet with a pad within the year.

Then this email conversation happened:

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Fares to Europe starting at only $250* each-way

September & October departures

Each-way based on round-trip. Taxes & fees of up to $250 per round-trip not included
New York - London $315*
Miami - Manchester $250*
Boston - Paris $313*
Wash. D.C. - Barcelona $365*
Seattle - Paris $354*
New York - Florence $399*
Is this our chance to redeem ourselves in your parents' eyes (and the eyes of their extended circle of friends)?  
If we could find departure dates for the week of Thanksgiving, I would do it (looks like everything's October,though)

I'm tempted, too.  Enough to do a little research and discover that the best price right now for WAS to PAR is $860 round trip.  I'd have to take the Monday and Tuesday of that week off work, so it depends on the permission of my principal, but it's definitely worth watching.

Think any christkindlemarkts would be up by then?

Okay, then let's keep an eye out, and I'll hold off buying tickets to Las Vegas.  I can't remember exactly when the marches de noel go up.  I'll see if I can find anything online. 
One annoying thing about having committed to do the choir concert is that it means I have to be in town the Sat and Sun before Thanksgiving, which means the earliest I could leave would be Sunday evening (the concert's at 3:30pm).

Although that could mean that I can see your concert....

(The next day...)

I'm falling more and more in love with the idea of Paris for
Thanksgiving - enough to stay up later than I should tonight
researching airfare.  For example:

Non-stop Washington - Paris
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Dep. IAD 9:45 PM, Arr 11:15 AM CDG (+1 Day)

Nonstop Paris - Washington
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Dep. CDG 10:50 AM, Arr IAD 1:10 PM

$835.26 each

Of course, I would then have to hop in a cab and go directly to DCA to
catch a 6:00 flight home in time to get ~4 hours of sleep before
teaching the next morning.

Totally worth it.

I also started thinking about something like this:
While not certain about the location, paying approx. $250 each for the
entire week's lodging is not bad at all.

The short of it is this:

1) The sooner I put in the request for the days off, the more likely my principal will accept them,
2) I'm game if you are!

Call me if you get a chance this weekend and you want to discuss. 

Awesome - I like this itinerary.  Let's definitely talk this weekend. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

This is why I haven't gotten new carpet yet.  I'm afraid there is always a more pressing expense.

My Home


I got home from school Thursday and found Natasha sleeping on my pillow. She usually sleeps on the foot of the bed, so I assume she's put off by the white duvet cover.

When I took the picture, it occurred to me that I never actually posted a tour of my condo back when I moved in... three years ago. Score one for procrastination!

Without further ado (and with lesser-quality pictures and decorating skills than my friend's recent apartment tour), enjoy!

Bedroom 2
Foot of the bed/door to balcony

Bedroom 3
Vanity and Hall to the Master Bathroom

Close-up of Vanity Accessories from Ikea

Dining Room
Dining Room

Living Room
Living Room

Living Room
Entertainment Center/Fireplace in Living Room (with glimpses of the music room and front hall)

Music Room
Music Room


Kitchen 2
Kitchen (I'm spoiled by counter-top space!)

View of Dining Room, Bedroom Doorway, and Living Room from Kitchen

Hall to Music Room (and Office) Viewed from Kitchen

and, while I'm at it, here's one of the reasons I haven't been sleeping well this week:

Security Light

That's the window next to my vanity at night. Even with the blackout curtains I've installed, my room never gets totally dark. I'm usually a heavy enough sleeper that it doesn't affect me, but when I'm already restless the security lights around my building drive me up the wall.

Friday, August 12, 2011

If Only They'd Move the Start Time to 8:30...

Despite my anxiety over starting school again, I pointed three things out to myself at our first faculty meeting yesterday:

1) It's my third year here. I know what I'm doing, and that will make this year a lot easier.

2) I know all of these people, and I like being around them. I am friends with a lot of the teachers here, and even though we don't socialize outside of work and we hardly see each other during work, knowing I have friends among colleagues makes this a better work environment.

3) My principal is about as perfect for me as can be in terms of meshing with my teaching philosophy. To illustrate, here are two quotes from him in our faculty meeting yesterday:

"The test scores are rolling in and I'll be bringing the data around to the different departments over the next few days.... Data is good for observing patterns and instigating discussions. That's all. It is not a measure of teacher efficiency - there are many other factors at work behind the numbers."

(on the teacher development book he chose for the year) "It promotes self-sufficiency as teachers which, as you know, I am very much in favor of."

I loved DC, so much so that I've been tempted to investigate job openings there. I don't think, though, that I'll find another position that lets me teach theater under an administration that fits so well with my philosophies. This is a really good place for me to be teaching, and that is something to remember.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

San Diego

My family and I had a perfectly delightful quick trip to San Diego last weekend.  My mom found an awesome hotel that was 1) right on the beach, 2) staffed by extremely friendly and helpful people, and 3) surprisingly soundproof, despite the raging club right next door.

We went to the zoo, out to dinner with the San Diego Waterhouses, and relaxed at the beach.  I got in a little boogie boarding time with Andy, Jenn, and my aunt Nathalie, but far less time than usual since the life guard station listed the water temperature at "60-62 degrees".  Really, it wasn't bad once you went numb, but it did make me less inclined for a second round in the ocean.

Here's a selection of the few pictures I took:

Walking at the Airport
Jack and Rachel getting the wiggles out at the airport

Jack and Rachel and Elephants
Jack and Rachel at the San Diego Zoo's elephant section

San Diego Zoo
Andy in the sun

Aviary Jenn
Jenn on a bird



Moustached Dad
Dad with a mint-leaf moustache and a blasée Sadie

Mermaid Cousins
My cousins, the mermaids

Vacation Stitch Removal
Dad removing a few of Mom's stitches on our hotel balcony

Jack and Grandpa
Jack and his great-grandfather

It was a marvelous final trip for the summer.  Thanks again, Mom and Dad!

Putting Things in Order

School starts tomorrow, kinda.  We get a week of Teacher Work Days prior to the kids coming back, so although I will be back at work tomorrow it's more like work-with-training-wheels.

For the last two days I've been putting my apartment in major order.  I have cleaned out and reorganized everything except two closets and my garage.  I now have lidded plastic bins storing my spinning supplies, my travel toiletries, my electronic cords, etc. (I did stop short of labeling the bins).  My car is filled to capacity with a) things for school and b) things for Goodwill.  I made 7 trips to the dumpster today.  I even polished my furniture.

I finished about 10 minutes before my new home teachers came over, and I'm glad I get to start off the school year in a much better state of organization.  I'll carry on with the organization, too, since my main project for our "afternoons in classrooms" for the next few days is to redo my filing system.  I need to figure out a way to make all my scripts, speech pieces, and such both student-accessible and student-proof.  'Tis a puzzlement.

I'm ready to go back to work, but I'm dreading it, too.  I don't want to get sucked back in to spending all of my energy and most of my time at school, but I don't know how to avoid it.

My home teachers in a friendly let's-get-to-know-you kind of way asked, "So, do you have a lot of friends in the area?"

I answered honestly - "No."

I should fix that.  I need to fix that.  I just don't know how to fix that.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

English Major Alert!

I just discovered the Fake AP Stylebook on Twitter.  It is highly entertaining, as you can see in the examples below.  Please to enjoy:
  • Boring literary works can be improved by adding -izzle to their titles: Ulyssizzle, Moby Dizzle, Hizzle of Darknizzle.
  • Dates should be formated as MM/DD/YY except for the years 1990 through 1992, which should be denoted in 'Hammer Time.'
  • "Among" if you're in normal society; "Amongst" if you're in a period drama made by the BBC.
  • When writing about a stabbing victim's "fountain of blood," be specific. What kind- Drinking? Soda? Decorative?
  • Refer to him as "President Obama" when he first appears in an article, "Soul Brother Number 1" in subsequent mentions.
  • The distinction between "thee" and "thou" depends on which Ren Faire troupe you belong to, you big nerd.
  • The numbers one through ten should be spelled out while numbers greater than ten are products of the Illuminati and should be avoided.
  • "Lego" is the plural. There is no singular because what the hell can you do with only one of them?
  • The plural of TARDIS is still TARDIS, but it stands for "Time and Relative Dimensions in Spaces."
  • The plural of July is "Steves." I know that doesn't make sense, but that's our crazy English language for you.
  • Before using public domain works in your story, wash your hands. Other people have to use them too, you know.
  • "Frak" should only be used if you're fighting Cylons. Are you fighting Cylons? Yeah, didn't think so.
  • The proper use of (R) is when stating something a pirate might say. "That squid had a face a mile long, he did (R)."
  • Dr Pepper doesn't have a period in it. An easy way to remember this is 'Doctors are dudes and dudes don't get periods.'
  • The Channing is a unit of punctuation used whenever an exclamation point is insufficient: The mayor was arrested today, RASPBERRIES!
  • Always remember to close all parentheses. We're not paying to air condition the entire paragraph.
I expect everyone to make proper use of the Channing from here on out.