Sunday, September 29, 2013


I should be getting ready to go to church. Instead, I am snuggled up on the couch with an electric blanket, hot cup of coffee and a kitty on each side of me. I have a cold-turned-respiratory-infection and I'm not happy about it. Thankfully, I was able to convince the McDoctor at urgent care that I needed an antibiotic because of the Humira I'm on, which affects my immune system. Unfortunately, he assumed I was a crack addict when I asked for Tussionex (sp?) cough syrup. Because my coughing was making it impossible to sleep, I needed something. Cough syrup w/ codeine has no effect on me (yep, tried it multiple) but I get great cough relief w/ Tussionex. Great, right? Not really, b/c Tussionex is a pretty strong narcotic and McDoctors who have just started practicing medicine have been brought up to assume everyone is an addict. If I were an addict, I certainly wouldn't beg for THREE MEASLY DOSES of cough syrup. I was able to get a bit of sleep last night by sleeping in the lazy-boy chair, so I wasn't laying flat.

Good heavens. I've now prattled on forever about a stupid cold. Let's change topics.

For several weeks I had planned to go see one of my former students (Mike) at a reading he was doing of some of the columns he writes for our local arts magazine. I was going to meet a friend for supper, then we would head to the reading. Then I got this stupid cold. Not wanting to interrupt Mike's reading with my sneezing, snotting and coughing, I decided to stay home and watch the live stream on the internet. This was a good choice, and not because of my snotting & coughing - it was a good choice because of the crying.

I met Mike when he was a freshman at UWEC and he decided he wanted to join the forensics team. He was so soft-spoken at first, I couldn't imagine why he wanted to do forensics. He really was one of the first "students can totally surprise you" lessons I learned early in my forensics coaching career. Mike surprised me. Underneath that shy exterior was a man with incredible wit, a masterful command of the English language, and the ability to tell a story that made you feel all the feelings.

I got a little teary watching Mike read from his columns because he still has that ability to transform an observation of daily life into a story that makes you laugh and think and, sometimes, to cry. That's a pretty incredible talent. Mike happened to read one of my favorite columns, and I've linked it here if you are interested in reading it. It includes the story behind the phrase "500 pounds of brave in my mouth" - which has become a mantra I repeat often.

Thank you, Mike. You are part of the reason I try not to make assumptions about students. You helped me realize that being soft-spoken can be it's own kind of brave. You remind me that we all need "500 pounds of brave" in our mouths.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This weird body

I got completely crazy last night and drank TWO gin and tonics. I was celebrating a successful forensics work day, drinking a toast (2 toasts!) to the alumni who came back to critique the hard, amazing work the team is doing.

I love gin. I keep the good stuff in my fridge so it's always ready to go. The weird thing is, I often talk about having a cocktail, but don't actually drink that often. I think my last cocktail was maybe April? And since I have a re-arranged digestive tract, alcohol affects me in an odd way. Two sips of a G&T and I'm pretty buzzed. But 20-30 minutes after finishing my cocktail and I'm completely sober again. Weird body.

What's also weird? I never know which joints in my body are going to rebel. I'm on Humira for psoriatic arthritis, but also have regular run-of-the-mill Osteo-arthritis. The Humira prevents the joints affected by PA from getting worse, and controls a lot of the pain. Unfortunately, some joints are so far gone, they still hurt a lot. And changes in the weather make my OA go crazy. This morning I can barely move my right shoulder and my toes don't want to bend.

I have to make wardrobe decisions based on what joints are working and which ones are being assholes. Last Thursday, I had a great outfit picked out for teaching. I had to change outfits because my toes wouldn't bend to fit into the heels that completed the look. Ridiculous? Perhaps. But sometimes outfits don't work without a sassy pair of heels.

Another weird wardrobe conundrum? If I'm having neck issues (I have severe degeneration in my neck, and sometimes it doesn't want to turn, which is a pain in the ass. Er, neck.) I have to avoid anything that puts weight on my neck. That means avoiding anything that pulls my neck forward, like a collared shirt or a necklace of any kind. Sometimes I'll wear a necklace to work, only to take it off after a couple of hour because it's pull on my neck adds to the irritation and pain.

And don't even get me started on rings. I love rings. Love Love Love rings. My favorite ring is one my mum gave me several years ago for Christmas. It's her class ring. It is beautiful, intricate, classic and I seriously treasure it. But I'm lucky if I can wear it once or twice a week. PA makes joints swell - and my PA is the worst in my fingers, toes and spine. So one day, I'll wear a ring and the next day I can't get it past the first knuckle because of joint swelling.

The best exercise I've found for this weird wonky-jointed body is water aerobics. And I think I'm finally getting into a pattern of going. I even got some fancy new hydro-sport trainers.

The great thing about water aerobics is that I get a great workout, which I feel in my muscles the next day. But it doesn't add to my joint pain, which is AWESOME! Sometimes, if I'm have a bad hand day, I can't hold onto the kickboards, but the instructor is great and works with my limitations. It's a relief to know I can strengthen my body without irritating the joints.

So, there you have it. That's my rant/whine on this weird body.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Crapshoot Friday

So. Pay-it-forward guy didn't call. We had an awkward text conversation:

Then . . . nothing. I have to admit, I was kind of bummed. I wanted to get to know him, but I guess I wasn't his type. It's a hit to the ego, but I'm trying to trust that there's a good reason why we didn't move to a second date. In fact, I've come up with some pretty good scenarios. Like, maybe he's a serial killer and he could tell I'd take him down in a fight. Or he's a sexist pig who realized I was not ever going to be his "little lady." Or maybe he's a former mob boss in the witness protection program. Yea, I bet that's it.

Instead of continuing to obsess about why I wasn't "good enough" (because that is what my mind always wants to believe - stupid mind) I'm working on finding a healthy work/life balance. I decided before the semester even began that I wanted to work very hard at staying healthy - physically, mentally, spiritually. It's hard. Something that has a HUGE effect on my physical health is stress. And one of the best antidotes to stress is getting enough sleep. Most people I know do well on 7-8 hours of sleep a night. While I can survive on that amount, I have more issues with arthritis pain. The perfect amount of sleep for me is 9-10 hours a night. In our culture, this is an obnoxious amount. That extra couple of hours sleep means I have fewer hours to get things done. Most nights, I'm in bed between 9-10pm - which officially means I am an old person and should get early entry into AARP. When I get enough sleep, I am so much more productive. I have less pain and I can really enjoy my job. So, this semester, I am making sleep a priority.

I'm also making working out a regular thing. Monday and Wednesday evenings (and Saturday mornings when I'm in town) I head to an hour of water fit classes. I really love the instructor, and every workout is a challenge - but my stress level is near zero after a class. Love that!

So, I may not have the time or energy to look for Mr. Wright, but I'm spending that energy on being healthy - and that feels pretty good.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Well, well, well

Huh. I dislike first dates so much, I find myself really surprised when I have fun.

This was a fun date. Comfortable. Easy. Laid back. Pay-it-forward guy is funny. And easy to talk to. And interesting. He had his own repo-business for about 10 years and has some great stories. He seemed interested in getting to know me. And he's really cute. And has a great smile. There was no awkwardness. (Except our server was one of my new students. Ufdah.) I like this guy. I want a second date.

What is going to drive me crazy is figuring out if the feeling is mutual. We talked about getting together again, but in a casual-no-plans-were-actually-made way.

How long do I wait before I send a casual text thanking him for dinner and letting him know I enjoyed getting to know him?

What if he thought I was completely weird and couldn't wait for the date to end?

But I swear, there was a spark. What if I was the only one who sparked? If he didn't spark could he tell I sparked?

This is ridiculous. It was just a first date.

But I really want a second date.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Guess what?

Talked with Pay-it-forward guy tonight. He doesn't live with his parents, has 2 cats, and we have a date tomorrow night.

Miracles never cease . . .

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New semester!

There is something magical about the first day of class. I love it. I hate it. Mostly, I hate the severe nerves that hit before I meet a class for the first time. I had 3 classes today, and laughed for real in every one - that's a great start! The only downside was the 12 hour day - ufdah. I taught from 8-9:15am, 12:30 - 1:45 and 5-7:45. It was a long freakin day. But a really good one.

It's funny. I've wanted to be a teacher since I was very young. My grandmother was a much loved 4th grade teacher, and my Aunt Evadne was a much loved Kindergarten teacher. I guess you could say teaching is in my blood. When I started college, I started as an elementary ed major. My first visit to an elementary classroom made me quickly realize I would lose my mind if I had to deal with little tiny people on a regular basis. I changed my major to secondary ed, speech & theater. I loved student teaching at the high school level, but it wasn't as fulfilling as I'd imagined.

When a series of freak events led me to teaching college, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. I love challenging students, and having them challenge me back! There is something that stirs my soul when a student uses critical thinking to solve a problem or present a solution I'd never even considered. I get to meet students when they are just getting settled into the idea of being an adult. There is a mix of bravado and insecurity that I find charming and inspiring. And invigorating. These students make me want to be better a better teacher. A better mentor. A better adult. It really is true that I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. I am so very, very lucky that I get to do this job. It's going to be a challenging, exciting, exhausting, joyful semester. And I'm so glad it's begun!

In dating news, I went out on a limb and left messages for a couple of guys on PoF. And guess what? A couple messaged me back, so we are playing that back and forth game. One (I'll call him Pay-it-Forward Guy) gave me his phone number, so I'm going to bite the bullet and call him tomorrow night. From his profile, he seems like a kind, down-to-earth guy. I have no idea if he lives with his parents - whoops. Maybe our conversation will turn into a date this weekend?