Sunday, May 25, 2014

Coming up for air

Hey, is anybody still out there? Or did my total and complete neglect lead you to believe we were over and you've moved on to other, mostly insane, relatively funny, bitter, jaded women who overshare about their lives on the inter webs? 

If you are still there, a) thanks for not giving up on me and b) here's a quick update on life as of late.

The last two months have been exhausting, challenging, rewarding, terrifying, enlightening and wonderful. I work with, hands down, the best bunch of teachers on the planet and a principal who has a heart of gold. The kids are a mixed bag of crazy smart, crazy cute and crazy crazy. In the same day, I could want to pull my hair out because of a lunatic kid and want to scoop another one up and bring him home with me. If you're a teacher, you know that's just a typical day in our occupation. I have tons of stories I wish I could share, but, of course, I can't. Let's just put it this way, I can honestly say there hasn't been a dull moment since the day I took over for the teacher who had leave. 

At one point, I thought the STAAR test was going to kill us all. Having to prep four grades for the test as well as tutor all the kids who were having to take multiple tests due to failing the ELA portion in prior years is a task I never want to undertake again. I had nightmares the night before the first test that I didn't have any pencils and no one would bring me any when I put out my little help sign (again, something that teachers will totally understand). Even though I only had 11 days with the kids before they started testing, I am still beating myself up about those who didn't do so well and celebrating over those who kicked its standardized test ass. I don't necessarily feel like these standardized tests are a fair assessment of what students know or what teachers teach and I think the pressure it puts on both is insane. But, it's also the measure for now and all I can do is try to prep my kiddos the best I can while I wait for the next great assessment tool and hope like hell it actually is great this time. 

When I speak of prepping my kiddos, I am no longer speaking of imaginary kiddos in an imaginary class I don't actually have. As it turns out, my school powers-that-be actually loved me back and I got offered a job for next year. I won't be teaching ELA, though. The ELA teacher is back and will stay in her position. Upon learning I'm testing for my 4-8 ELAR/Social Studies certification to go along with my ELAR 8-12 certification, and finding themselves in need of a middle school Social Studies teacher, I was offered the position. After telling the principal to shut up (I really need that to stop being my go-to response for happy, surprising stuff because it's not the best in every situation), I gladly accepted and am now on a mission to a) pass the test and b) get everything together I possibly can for 6-8th grade Social Studies.* I am also teaching Art. It should probably be called Pinterest Art because we're rolling with all kinds of crafts from over there. 

One of the many pluses of my new role is that I won't have quite as many classes to plan for, so I might actually be able to write more often. I guess that's a plus if you enjoy reading the blog and you probably do if you're here after all this time. Or you may have googled STAAR and accidentally landed here and are now sorely disappointed you didn't learn whatever STAAR related information for which you were searching. Sorry about all that, dude. 

Anyhow, once we return Tuesday, there will only be eight more days of school left. Then I can return to more regaling you, the masses (or five of you reading this since I made my big return on a holiday weekend after deserting you for two months) with my deep and profound thoughts on a more regular basis.

You're welcome.

*Middle School Social Studies teachers: Have you used interactive notebooks? What are your thoughts? Do you have any great ideas for the notebooks or for fun, project-based lessons? Thank you for your assistance and/or saving my butt. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oh, the things you can do when you let go of wanting to get the last word

When I last wrote anything for the masses (all 292 of ya), I was feeling both angry at myself for allowing the words being said about me to garner a pointless reaction and relieved to finally be at a point where I knew it was fruitless to get the last word because it was a battle that wouldn't end as long I engaged the parties involved. I try really hard to live a life that has very little drama. Of course, raising a teenage girl and being birthed by my mother, that is easier said than done, but I definitely try not to invite it into my life. By engaging in childish foolishness, I was basically sending drama an engraved invitation to come on over. Letting it go (and now the damn song from Frozen is stuck in my head and I've never even seen the freaking movie) was a huge weight off my chest (I really did lose seven pounds, although the two may not be related) and allowed me to deal with everything around me in a much more logical manner.

And, within just a couple of hours of writing that post, it also led to a miracle. 

My mentor teacher from my student teaching days sent me a text message asking if I had received word yet about a job I applied for with the state. When I told her I hadn't, she hooked me up with the person in charge of hiring at a local school. Eighteen hours later, I had a teaching job for the rest of the semester!! 

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I finally have a full-time teaching job-at least until the end of the school year. I am teaching both middle school and high school English (five grade levels) and, as an added bonus, I also get to teach journalism! Happy, grateful, excited, thankful and humble aren't good enough adjectives to even begin to express how I feel about finally turning this corner.

Getting this job so quickly after finally letting stupid crap go was almost like someone far more wise and powerful than me was letting me know The Universe (this is an umbrella term for whatever God you believe in since I value all belief systems at CTM) was waiting on me to totally stop letting myself get mired down trivial stuff that a) didn't matter in the big scheme of life and b) I couldn't and never will be able to control and really don't ever need to. My focus had to be 1000% on important stuff that does matter, like the education of America's future, before good things were allowed to happen. In other words, I had to be at my best so I could be the best for the kids who are counting on me to teach them how to be their best. 

The Universe is very good at this stuff. 

So, I may not be around much for the next few months. I have kids to get through the STAAR test, lots of lessons to plan, five grade levels to get through five different novels, lots of papers to grade, plus I still have to take care of my own kiddos and hit the gym at least five days a week because I like my muscles and would like my rearview to continue to get smaller.

Who knew crazy busy could equal crazy, crazy happy?!?! 

And that being so focused on having the last word was so detrimental to every single aspect of my life? I could've saved myself a lot of trouble figuring that one out a little earlier.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I'm more of a hypocrite than I thought and that blows.

Note: Did you know the name of the font is Verdana not Veranda? I've been using it for the almost seven years I've had this blog and just noticed that. Apparently, attention to detail is not my strong suit after all.

In my last blog post, I wrote about how, even though I hate it when people are mean to each other on social media, I sometimes think really mean things about people and then I listed a few examples of what I'd been tempted to post that morning. Well, that apparently got someone's panties all in a wad because they thought one of those points was aimed at them even though the person it was aimed at took all their pictures in a cubicle, so it would be impossible for it to be that person. But whatever, shit like that happens and you just have to move on. 

Except for when you let people get under your skin, which in turn does more harm than good. 

See, I don't read some posts on social media, but sometimes Grace does and reports back to me when they are obviously being aimed at me, warranted or not. Every once in a while I bite, even though I know engaging people is pointless because no one ever wins. Really, all it does is stir up a mess that won't go away because all parties are too stubborn and prideful to let anyone else walk away the seeming winner in the situation. I bite even though I decided to end friendships months ago because of behaviors (not beliefs) I simply didn't want in my life, as I am working on my "happiness project," which is another reason it makes me so mad I allowed people to get under my skin. 

Letting people get under my skin and engaging in snarkiness before I think of the consequences isn't something I do often, but when I do, it's something I always regret. After I say what's on my mind in a very public forum and it's posted there forever, I always end up asking myself why I bothered. What was the point? What was accomplished? All I've allowed is for someone I don't associate with or, in some cases even know, to mark one in the victory column because they got a rise out of me. That does make me a hypocrite because it's the very thing I hate to see other people do just for the sake of being mean. 

As part of my happiness project, I am going to try harder not to let ugly opinions and half-truths get the best of me anymore. Everyone has their own version of the truth and a right to their opinions, and jumping down their throats won't change it. I refuse to allow myself to engage in futile acts any longer, even if I have to bite my tongue until it bleeds and break all my fingers to keep from typing a response. I've already told Grace she can continue to be friends with whomever she chooses, but I'd like her to not read those things to me anymore. Especially on nights when there's no yoga class for me to go get all zen in instead of losing my shit like a teenage girl all over social media. 

I've made certain decisions lately in order to be a better me and engaging in foolishness, especially with people who aren't even part of my life, works against my goal. I'm too old to be going backwards in this here project.

So, shame on me for engaging in foolishness. It was a huge step backwards and one I hope to not make in the future. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

This is why I often have to remove people from my newsfeed.

As I've mentioned before, I really don't like it when people are totally mean to people on social media (or in the actual real world) just because they don't agree with their beliefs. I mean, really, being douchy to someone just because they aren't as "christian" as you is totally uncalled for. Plus, that is not what Jesus would do.

That being said, I am finding myself more and more compelled to post snarky comments on the statuses of people I find annoying, fake, big fat liars or who just have horrible personalities, which isn't nice, either. I know that. And sometimes what I want to write is really, really mean. Like, I am even shocked by my own meanness. Here are a few examples of things I wanted to post just this morning:

  • Do you do anything besides take pictures of yourself all day? And you should probably hope your employers doesn't find your FB page because a lot of those pics appear to be happening on his time. 
  • Everyone knows you're lying. 
  • Are you trying to convince yourself how great and perfect your spouse is or are you trying to convince everyone else? Because, I know your spouse and I'm leaning towards the first option.
  • Are you aware the only thing you don't share you're doing on social media is shitting? 
  • Yeah, we all know how to do that without a microwave because we grew up in the 80's. 
  • If you have all the health conditions you claim to have, I don't think you should be eating that. 
  • Lighten the eff up. 
I know, I am satan. And a hypocrite. Well, not really. I don't get mean because of their beliefs-just who they are as a person in general and I never, ever post the stuff. I just think it and roll my eyes a lot. 

But, if I find myself overwhelmed to be ugly to someone more than once a week, I just remove them from my newsfeed. Well, unless they're a special brand of crazy. 

Then they have to stay for entertainment purposes.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This is what DriveTime calls customer service

Yesterday, I posted the e-mail I wrote DriveTime when they responded to my tweets. Just as they promised, on of their representatives contacted me within just a few hours. Here's what they had to offer to "fix" the issue with my car and their business practices:

  • They will pay for one hour of diagnostics on my car at the VW dealership. 
  • If the problems VW finds on my car aren't covered by the warranty on my car (and history tells me they won't be) they will defer two of my car payments so paying for the repairs won't be quite so hard. 
That sounds really good, no? Well, except who pays if the diagnostics take more than hour? Am I supposed to foot the bill for the extra? Oh, and when I pressed the rep further on the "defer" offer, since, thanks to being a person who is really good at English (and may or may not have a lot of student loan payments that have been deferred more than once), he was forced to admit that , yeah, the payments would be added to the end of my loan, so it would be a little longer, which means extra interest on the loan. So, their offer to "help" me, really makes them more money in the end. 

I know, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy, too. 

The rep also informed me they would not put me in another car at this point in the loan. When I called him out on the fact I'd asked to be put in a car two weeks into the loan and they refused then as well, so wanting out of the car is neither a new request or new information, he had to agree. As a matter of fact, he had to admit there was documentation in my account I'd expressed concerns right after we got the car. Concerns that were ignored. 

They asked me to please not go any further public with our fight until I go to the VW dealership, but in good conscious I couldn't. The issue I am facing is not with one DriveTime dealership. If you look at their Facebook page or do a google search, you'll see this is a company wide issue and there are thousands of people facing issues similar to mine all over this country. I owe it to everyone who is dealing with this company and their lemons to make their practices as public as possible. 

I'm all about a company who actually helps people having a hard time getting ahead. I am disgusted by one who pretends to be one and then flips the bird at the already downtrodden people they screw over. DriveTime is one of those companies. They are a predator and their prey is people who are down on their luck, poor and who may not know their rights or how to even begin fighting their unethical business practices.

Unfortunately for them, I don't fit that description.