Friday, August 26, 2016

A week of weeks

Folks, it sure seems like this has been a week of weeks - long and gut wrenching, full of everything and a mental trudge.  For that matter, it's been a month to expedite the grey hair and wrinkles.  In a few decades, I'm very certain that I'll think back of my thirties as a time of heightened anxiety.  Weeks like this, they are why.

Easy enough tasks take a sweet forever.
Overlooked responsibilities have to be completed 30 minutes ago.
Momentum is elusive; distractions are rife.
What works for everyone else just doesn't work for me.
Unexpected situations have to be attended to.  Right now.  Fast.  Hurry.  Quick.
Repercussions are headaches...working ahead yields wasted time and effort.

For many colleges/universities in the state, this is the week when classes resume for the fall.  I've been working and working and planning and working on prepping for the adjusted schedule and new material for classes I've not taught before and dinners that I won't always have time to dither with.  I'm good at planning, a necessary type-A kind of talent.  And I've been listing and shopping and prepping and saving for 3 solid weeks now as I looked ahead to when I would take on 5 more classes.  So I'm up to 6 right now, and friends, that's a full teaching load for a full-time faculty member. 

And it's entirely feasible, but there are going to be moments when all of the stoplights need to be green, when I can't afford to waste time on peeling a carrot, and when I will be logging 2 hours in the car while staying entirely in town as I drop off-drop off-go to school-pick up-drop off-go to school-come home-pick up-drop off-go to school-come home.

A very definite part of me, the dominant driving influence, thrives on this - loves the busy, loves the planning, loves the shared effort.  However, a loudish, snarly part of me won't let go of the burdensome anxiety that this produces.  This week has been something of a perfect clash of forces, and it is wearisome.

I was supposed to have taught 8 classes this week - my normal load for right now.  I taught 3.

First, Tuesday fell apart.  Medication A has not been working for quite some time now.  After waiting to talk with my doctor, we agree to switch to medication B.  Both are fantastic, reliable, safe choices that work for "everyone."  But medication A ran its course and medication B left me lying prone on the sidewalk in front of the boy's school, unable to move my face and my hands for a few minutes (though it felt like an eerie forever).  Unable to move my face and my hands.  It's still the scariest, most bizarre situation that I can't wrap my mind around.  The subsequent vomiting was expected; the partial and temporary paralysis was not.  And my kids saw it all, and it was scary for them.  That whole episode went down as I was dropping them off with the boy.  Thanks be that he was there.  Thanks be that I drove safely enough.  This happened when I should have been walking into my 4th class of the week to meet a new batch of fresh-faced child-adults.

Then Wednesday happened.  Wednesday was a day of catching up and trying to get back to normal.  It was a day when the boy called during his lunch break because he was still shaken up from seeing me frozen the day before and day when I was trying to manipulate and maneuver through a new learning system while also trying to interact with students whom I don't know and who don't know me, making up for my absence and quelling their confusion.  But Wednesday spawned tornadoes, and I had exactly 2 minutes of notice that there was severe weather in the area before the day fell apart and we were clustered together trying to find service to exchange frantic texts.  The first tornado, the brutal one, came through right around 3 o'clock, right at school dismissal time.  I had a window of opportunity of a few minutes to seek shelter immediately or to try to get to the Elder.  I chose the latter, which was absolutely the better decision.  We drove through what would be the path of an EF-3 tornado.  We sheltered and held hands before driving home through an unfathomably different landscape.  But then another one came, and another, and...another.  I'm particularly aware of 4 significant tornadoes, 3 of which were within 3 miles of my house.  The weather people say 8-9 confirmed tornadoes in the county.  The first one, the dooziest of them, tore through the exact same path as a frighteningly bizarre and horrific tornado that touched down in November 2013.  The same neighborhoods and apartments were decimated again.  I can't fathom this.  I've lived in this area for 11 years now, and there have been a small handful of touchdowns in all that time.  The only two significant ones during that time took the exact same path through the city, about 1 mile north of my house.  No class Wednesday night.  No classes Thursday. 

At supper tonight, the boy remarked that "everyone looks tired."  True enough.  Give us a couple of days off, and then let's get at it, week #2.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Surprise, surprise, surprise

This seems like it might be a short post (which is not evidenced by this lengthy intro quote to say that it's going to be shorter) 'cause it's been another full-to-the-brim day and I have a night with no grading on the docket.  So why spend it on here when I have 2 magazines calling mi nombre?  But it's been a while, and I have a "this can only happen when you have a couple of young kids" kind of a story that I've been saving for just the right moment. 

But first, I had a quick check-in about a spot on my collarbone that magically appeared sometime during the last fall/winter.  And then a few months later when that spot was still there and I read a magazine story about a woman who found out she had cancer after getting a mystery spot checked out, I put "call the dermatologist" at the top of my list.  I'm always good for a solid bout of worrying-spurring-me-to-action.  When your office visit lasts a grand total of 2 minutes because the doctor walks in, calmly shakes your hand, says "Yep, that's a mole" shakes your hand again, and leaves, then it's a good day.  A mole, my people...a mole.  I just paid $30 to have a kind, motherly sort of doctor woman tell me that yes, moles can still magically materialize when you're in your 30s.  As I was walking out and noticed that HGTV was still on in the lobby and noted that I did not have my children with me, I thought "Hmm...this isn't such a bad deal.  Watch 15 minutes of TV, have a pleasant conversation, read a few pages of your magazine.  If I were smart enough, I might figure out how to make this happen more often."  It was a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes this afternoon (at about $1/minute, mind you).

That's not really my "Seriously...?!?" story, though.  (How's that for some terrible hype?)  A couple of weeks ago, I left the girls and boy for the day to go visit with a college friend at her new house.  It meant that the boy and daughters were out the door before I was because they had cross country camp to go be present at and I had about 15 minutes to start a load of laundry and grab a bottle of water and a snack.  I was digging around in the Younger's laundry basket, and there was something weird happening there.  At the bottom of it, completely buried by clothing (i.e. WHO KNOWS HOW LONG THIS HAS BEEN HERE???) was a small blue bag, tied at the top.  It had something in it.  But if you don't know anything else as a parent, you know that you should not just go willy-nilly opening up tied bags in your kid's clothes basket with a good reason to do so. 

So I called the boy.

Me:  "What's in this blue bag?"
Boy:  "I have no idea.  Girls...what's in this blue bag?"
Boy:  "They shrugged.  Oh, wait, [the Elder] says that they found something on the sidewalk in front of our house the other day."
Me:  "Oh, GROSS" (immediately recognizing it for what it is).

See, wise mother that I am, did not unwittingly open up a tied bag of dog poo that someone had (kindly) left for my children to find and graciously deposit as a gift to all in the bottom of the Younger's laundry basket.


Who would possibly think "Oh, hmm...tied up blue baggie with something in it.  I think that I'll take it inside about bury it where no one will find it underneath dirty clothes."

My kids are weird hoarders or something. 

(I think that this story will be one of those family stories that will be re-told for years to come.)