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Archive for April, 2008

I got paid today, and things are feeling a bit calmer around my head.

This last week or so I’ve been really stressed out about not having any money.  I hate that feeling, and since I haven’t felt it in quite a while, it was on the forefront of my mind.

Doesn’t it suck that money has such an influence on our lives?  Not having it, I mean.

This month is going to be another tough one, but hopefully not as bad as the last one.  Plus, good old George W. is going to help all of us out of our recession by giving us $600.  Ya, cuz that’s going to go a long way.  Maybe it’ll buy me a few tankfuls of $4/gallon gas?  Not that I’m complaining.  $600 will come in very handy this month.

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On a side note, I’ve got about a week and half before I graduate!  On Monday I turned in a huge professional development plan all about how to increase equity for our Black and Brown students at school, and I’m very proud of it.  The other members of my grad program who are in my school district and I worked on it, and it’s very comprehensive and impressive, if I do say so myself.  I also wrote the final paper for class and turned that in on Monday, as well.

Only three things left:

  1. Get my action research project/thesis bound and ready for submission to the university
  2. Create and present a final exhibition presentation (powerpoint) on my action research project and the essential learnings of the past 2 years
  3. Go through a fieldwork presentation/interview about all of this with my fieldwork supervisor and my principal

Luckily I don’t have to do 1 & 2 by myself, CTLB and I will be completing those tasks together.  The interview is on my own, but I’m such a good talker that I’m sure it’ll be a piece of cake.

I can’t believe that this is all almost over!  It’s been a long haul, but it’s been wonderful, too.  I wouldn’t change a minute of it, and I’ll be forever grateful to have shared this experience with CTLB.

I almost don’t want to think about it ending, because that means that the date of her departure back home is drawing nearer.  I’ve been living in a state of denial for at least 6 months about her moving away.  She has become one of my best friends, and I feel so close to her.  I don’t want to imagine what life is going to be life without being able to see her everyday.  But, I’m so excited for her to be back with her family and for her to start her new life as a married lady closer to all of her friends and family.  I’m sure I’ll have a long and tearful post about all of this later.

For now, I want to focus on the positive and all of the great things that are about to happen.

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No, this isn’t some weird Field of Dreams reference, it’s actually an allusion to The Secret.

I have actually read or watched The Secret, but I’ve heard enough about it to know that one of the main concepts is that you have to put out there in the universe those things that you want and need. If you do this with your whole heart in a positive manner, it will come to you, eventually.

I haven’t really tried this philosophy too much, until recently.

This month has been a bit tough for me financially. I’ve had to put out $900 for the fasting program — start up costs, monthly lab and doctor’s fees, and the food. I also spent quite a bit of money in Napa for CTLB’s bachelorette party weekend. (I won’t mention exactly how much, because CTLB reads this blog frequently, and that would be pretty crass). It was well worth it, but the timing of spending this money was a bit difficult this month.

With all my normal bills and expenses ($2100), this month was going to be bad. Considering that I’m a teacher and don’t make a lot of money, I knew I was going to be in the hole, and had no idea how I was going to make it until the end of the month. I was getting pretty stressed out, but I’m so proud and hate asking people to borrow money.

I finally broke down and asked BFF if I could borrow $100. She said that she would love to let me borrow the money, but she just didn’t have it. I was so worried about what I was going to do, and almost called my parents to ask for the money. I was hesitant to ask them, because I knew I’d hear about it: “you’re 36 years old, why don’t you know how to manage your money better?”

A couple of hours after my first call, BFF called me back and told me she could loan me the money. I asked her if she was sure, because I didn’t want the loan to put her in a hard spot for the month, but she said that she could do it. As a thank you, I gave her a gift card to Macy’s that I had gotten from one of my students for Christmas. I thought of it as “interest.” She tried to refuse it, but I insisted.

Whew! A bit of breathing room. I’ve been really budgeting my money for most of the month, and trying to make the gasoline last as long as possible, but with prices at almost $4/gallon, you can only go so far, you know?

I don’t get paid until Thursday, and I was wondering how I was going to make it until payday. I’d already almost spent all $100, and had to drive quite a bit in the upcoming week.

So, I decided to take a chance and ask the management company that handles my duplex if there was any sort of referral fee for finding someone to move into the duplex next door. (I’ll write more about my new neighbor in another post). They wrote back and said that they didn’t have any sort of official policy, but that they thought it was a reasonable request, and they’d be mailing me $100 by the end of the month!

What great news! They could’ve just said that I could pay $100 less on my rent next month, but that wouldn’t have been very helpful to my current situation this week. I was so relieved that they were going to mail me a check. I’ve been on pins and needles all week wondering when it was going to come, and it finally arrived today!

I’m not sure if all of these are little coincidences or not, but I think the money was able to come to me this month, when I needed it the most, because I really put it out there in the universe that I needed help. Oh, and by the way, I don’t plan on having anything like this happen again. I hate living above my means, and this month was a good reminder of what can happen when you overextend yourself.

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This week I started a poetry unit in my classes. Some students can’t get into poetry, so I always assign a poetry slam day, where they can bring in poems that they write or that others have written and perform them. I also showed them a DVD of one of my favorite poets of modern times, Saul Williams, in order to inspire them.

Did it ever! One of my students (who sleeps through every class) woke up, watched the DVD, and even came up to me after class and asked me to give him Saul Williams’ name so that he could look him up. That’s powerful!!

Saul Williams is a man on another level. He is before his time and before our time. He is a poet for the masses and a prophet for all. I’m sure “they” won’t know the gravity of his genius until he is gone.

The first clip, Ohm, is one of my favorite pieces that Saul has done, and the one that I played today in class. The second and third are newer pieces that I found today, but just as brilliant as his older work.

Enjoy:

Saul Willliams – Ohm

Saul Williams – Coded Language

Saul Williams – Not In Our Name (The Pledge of Resistance)

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When people have had a near-death experience, many of them talk about seeing a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. No, I’m not near death, but after this weekend’s frenzy of getting my grad school portfolio together, I may be close.

I have gone through my entire program keeping careful track of all of my assignments, reflections, and the major aspects of my action research project. Everything is subdivided into organized folders on my computer. Organizing and collating this portfolio should’ve been a breeze, right? Not so much, unfortunately.

You see, for as neat and organized as I am with the electronic files on my computer, I am a mess at keeping all of the hard copies of my evidence, essays, reflections, and student samples in some sort of order. To be honest, I knew I had everything, the problem was: where? Looking back, I wish I had just dumped everything into a box in my room that I could sort through quickly. If only I had thought ahead.

As it was, I had papers in all sorts of places — in my binders, in my school bags, in my desk at school, and even in a box in the basement of my house. Ugh. Every time I looked for something that I needed I almost gave up hope, but then, miraculously, it would turn up.

Yesterday I spent a majority of the day organizing, compiling, collating, and writing. I worked from 11am-2pm. Then I went to CBCB’s house for a couple of hours to see her vacation photos from Greece (lucky bum). I came home and worked some more, but finally hit a wall at 6pm and decided to veg out in front of the t.v. for a little while. I think I fell asleep somewhere around 8:30pm and didn’t wake up until 10:30pm, when the phone rang. One of my grad school buddies was calling to check on how something was supposed to be organized. Good thing! The call was exactly what I needed to get my second wind. I worked from 11pm-5am. Yes, 5 am in the morning! Into the wee hours of the night. I finally went to sleep this morning at 5am and woke up at 10am. Then it was back to work, from 11-noon. A quick stop to my parents’ house to pick up a hole punch turned into two hours of me driving all the way to school to get my more industrial strength hole punch from my classroom. I got back home at 2:30 and was raring to go. I was printing fiend…until I ran out of paper.

HOW COULD I RUN OUT OF PAPER AT A TIME LIKE THIS? Didn’t I get that ream of paper I had at school? Where is it, it’s got to be here somewhere. Nope, I left it at school. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Stressed out and panicked, I called BFF to see if she had any paper I could borrow. She had just returned from a women’s wellness weekend, and was as relaxed and calm as I was stressed and out of my mind. I was talking a mile a minute, and she was answering back in a slow, lilting voice. Talking to her actually showed me how tightly wound I was all weekend.

Paper in hand, I started back to work. Printing, stapling, and hole-punching. Getting everything in just the right spot in the binder.

And finally, I had done everything except finish my leadership growth essay. Nothing more to focus on as a way of procrastination. The majority of the paper had been written in February, so all I really had to do was edit a few things, add in some evidence, and write the conclusion. Which I did. I wrote a metaphor about a path, a journey, and how no one wants to follow a leader who doesn’t know where she’s going. It is actually very good, although after reading it, I wasn’t completely satisfied. I think that at this point I am way too close to it, not to mention a bit sleep deprived. I’ll look at it again later tonight and see I can perfect it any further.

But that’s not the point. The point is that I can see a small light at the end of the tunnel. May 12 is nearing closer, and soon I will be DONE. For now I’m done (lower case, since there’s still another paper to turn in next week), and I couldn’t be happier. It wasn’t easy, but this huge portion of my grad school coursework is now totally and completely and wonderfully done!!!!

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In all my excitement in writing about my Napa weekend, I forgot to mention that I got the fellowship for the summer that I was hoping for.

I start the first Monday after school gets out, and I’m looking forward to it. I can’t think of a better way (or a better place) to work during summer. Not that I really want to work over summer vacation, but since I haven’t hit the lotto yet…

I think I’m going to learn quite a few new things by working there, and hopefully, I’ll lend them a bit of my expertise and knowledge. The job is going to be interesting and the people are going to be really fun, so I can’t really ask for more than that.

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Note: Before you read this post, make sure you’ve read the background

When I had the idea for spending a weekend in Napa to celebrate CTLB’s bachelorette party, I couldn’t have imagined having a better time than we did this weekend.

The entire weekend was perfect, from the weather, to the wine, to the food, to the male attention, to the spa. Each of us got along so well, and there was none of that competitiveness or drama that sometimes accompanies girls’ weekends. No one felt out of place or awkward, even when we had to get naked in a tubs of mud together.

The most amazing thing was that I know have 3 new women that I can truly call my friends. I was able to get to know each of them so much better, and we were able to forge connections that I know will last. You don’t often find amazing friendships out of a bachelorette party, yet I did.

CTLB was so happy, and that was really the whole point. I’m so glad we were able to make these memories together, and we can all look back on this weekend as one of the best times of our lives.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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Note: Before you read this post, make sure you’ve read the background

One of the great things about the package that we got at the Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort was the spa package. Included with our 2-room suite was a spa day:

  • Mud bath
  • Mineral Jacuzzi
  • Warm towel body wrap
  • 1/2 hour massage, 1/2 hour facial OR a 1 hour spa OR a 1 hour facial

The Mud Bath

Never having a mud bath before, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I knew I’d have to get naked in front of my friends, and not being too happy with the way my body looks, I wasn’t thrilled about this. At the same time, I am comfortable with who I am an how I look, realize that my body is a work in progress, and know that none of these girls were going to judge me. They all knew the struggle I was going through with weight loss, and were all really supportive of my journey.

CTLB, Gatsby, and I were led into our mud bath room by our “mud technician,” Tony. This kid couldn’t have been out of high school, yet here he was, about to see us in the mud baths. Kind of a great job for a teenage boy, I would think.

When we first walked into the room, the most noticeable thing was the smell of the mud baths. The hot springs at the spa contain sulfur, and if you’ve smelled sulfur before, you know it smells like rotten eggs. Not quite a scent that screams “aromatherapy” to me. Then Tony mentioned that as we were getting into the tubs of mud, we should be careful to avoid the sides and the bottom of the tub, because they had heating coils that could burn our skin. He said to be sure never to stand up in the tub, otherwise we’d burn our skin. Great.

Easing into this tub of bubbling mud, naked and afraid of getting burned, I thought we’d made a huge mistake signing up for these mud baths. The mud was scalding hot and the stench was overpowering. The cool thing about the mud was that you really did float at the top of the tub, never getting close enough to the bottom to come close to touching the burning coils. We quickly put mud on ourselves to cover up enough for Tony to come back in.

He applied a clay mask to each of our faces and put a cool washcloth soaked in eucalyptus on each of our foreheads. The washcloth really made the experience, because not only did it help keep your body cool, but the scent of the eucalyptus was strong enough to mask the awful sulfur smell.

After about 10 minutes, Tony came in and told us it was time to get out and shower off. Ok, so now I have to somehow hoist myself out of this tub of bubbling mud, making sure not to touch the sides or the bottom and not worrying about how my fat, naked body looks. Sure, no problem! Right! I got myself onto the top of the tub, but couldn’t quite hoist myself to the floor. I had to ask CTLB to pull me out, which she did. As I came out of the tub with mud dripping all over my body, I can only imagine that I resembled a statue of some ancient civilization’s fertility goddess.

Next came the group shower, with all three of us helping each other remove the mud from every crack and crevice on our bodies. Even with the hose attachment on the shower, I still think the mud is going to be around for days to come. CTLB even said that she thought she’d hold off on having sex for a few days, just to make sure nothing got lodged up there. 🙂

Mineral Jacuzzi

This was nice and relaxing, as any session in a jacuzzi normally is. We were able to chat and re-hydrate by drinking plenty of lemon water.

Hot Blanket Body Wrap

Next Tony led us to a room with three massage tables. We got on the tables between the sheets, and then he came back in and wrapped us in these huge, heated blankets. It was a lot like being tucked into bed as a kid. Something very soothing and satisfying about it. Tony turned down the lights, and we were able to relax for about 20 minutes. It was so wonderful to be able to lay there and let the thoughts spill out.

The Treatment – Facial

I opted for an hour-long facial, because I love the way they leave my face feeling. Rebecca, my aesthetician, was about as granola as they come, but she was also incredibly kind and sweet. She explained that she’d be using all-natural products on me. The exfoliator would be made from cornmeal, the main mask was clay, and then she would apply a whipped cream & honey mixture to cool my skin down afterwards. She asked me if I’d like to have a foot and neck massage, and I told her I’d love to. I knew I was in for the ultimate hour of pampering.

The only snag in this whole scenario was when she applied the warm towels to my face to open my pores. For some reason, as she put the towels over my face, mouth, and eyes, I panicked. I felt like I couldn’t breath, and had to ask her to make sure that the towels weren’t over my eyes, nose, or mouth. I apologized for my reaction, but she said not to worry, that lots of people feel as if they’re suffocating when towels are placed on their faces like that. She said she thought it had something to do with things that happen to us as we’re born, during childbirth. Like I said, she was a granola momma of the 60s.

I emerged from the facial feeling refreshed and renewed. The skin on my face and entire body felt so soft and light. After going through the mud bath, shower, and mineral jacuzzi with CTLB and Gatsby, I can definitely say that we’re all much closer friends! I guess being naked in mud and then showering off together has that effect, huh?

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