Saturday, May 29, 2010


after crying ridiculously to a friend, i worked out and my pills kicked in and now i feel good. great even. the pill thing is weird. very weird. that my whole life - the goodness, the sweetness, the sunshine and pleasure in my life - all comes out of these little bottles. maybe i should stockpile them in case of apocalypse. but seriously: isn't it weird? i feel like i am truly myself with all these pills, that the "real me" is upbeat, positive, energetic, and capable. so if this is the "real me," who was that all those years of hopelessness and bungling failures?

it's so strange to think of the brain and how it works...

got re-hired for fall!

It's a really bad job market in Chicago - they're cutting 18% of teachers district-wide - so I feel extremely lucky to finally get re-hired. Third time's the charm, I guess! It's funny too when I think back, I gave a really terrible interview here. I think I was pretty far down on their list of choices, for various reasons. But things have worked out well.

In other news, check out my kick-ass Black Panthers bulletin board!

The life-size Fred Hampton is courtesy of this site called Block Posters, where you upload an image and get it back as a pdf of 8.5x11 sheets (I think you can pick European sizes as well) at the giant size you specify. I found it via StumbleUpon, just at the right time. Talk about serendipity.

Despite this good news, I'm melancholy this morning. Not sure why. Oh well. Surf the feelings, let them pass. That's how it goes...

Monday, May 24, 2010

May in the garden

I spent all afternoon yesterday sketching in the garden of one of the members of our sketching & painting group. here's a lovely photo of where we were, and here are my two sketches:

It's gotten hot in Chicago all of a sudden... today at school I felt like I was wearing a plastic bag, in my customary polyester tunic and slacks. I need some cooler clothes! Some of the women were wearing dresses, which I've always been taught was unprofessional, but it's not like we wear suits every day otherwise, so maybe dresses are ok. Well, they looked much more comfortable than I was, so I guess dresses will have to be ok! haha

In other news, the scale dipped below 200 lbs today for the first time in a long time. I've lost around 20 lbs so far. Yay me! :)

In still other news, that elm tree in the park? Definitely dying. Sigh.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

here's what's on my mind today...

Day 7: Persepolisat this job so much more than the last two, i am getting a sense of how completely the students' lives are overshadowed by gang violence. every one of them has lost someone close to them. every week someone knows someone who is killed. already this year more people have died in Chicago than in our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and every one of them is known to some of our students - it's a small world they live in and all the violence is in that world. then this past week a police officer was killed, which is always a huge, huge deal in chicago - more so than other towns, chicago worships its police officers. the whole newspaper front page is always dedicated to the fallen hero (he's always a hero of course) and pics of the man and the funeral etc. are everywhere. so of course, on thursday, the police came to our school around 10 in the morning and arrested one of the students in connection with the murder. great. his life is over, whether he is set free or not - the police do not forgive in these cases and they'll torture him. :( i think of him just being his carefree self and now he'll be in some way erased. later that same Thursday i gave a major test and two of the students had a complete meltdown during the test - screaming and yelling, had to be removed from the test and have their scores invalidated. all the students get so completely agitated and wacky every time someone dies or - in this case - is arrested right out of school. a few weeks ago one of my students had a party where a guy was killed. the hostess of the party was blamed and she was receiving death threats. somehow she kept coming to school - extremely brave of her under the circumstances - but her work took a nosedive. she's a senior expecting to graduate but she is not going to at this rate. their lives are so disrupted, disturbed, distorted, dismembered by all this violence. when i showed some paintings from the 20's and 30's, one of the paintings depicted a large group of people enjoying a nightclub and another group at a barbecue - and several students independently wrote on their papers that these were great images of "a time when African-Americans could get together without fights breaking out." they are so sure it's because of their race and that it's inevitable - that "there will always be violence" as they say whenever i raise the idea of a solution to violence. it's incomprehensible to them that 90% of the world does not live in a situation like theirs - or that this is not because of some inevitable fact of birth. to them violence is such an all-pervasive and permanent fixture of their lives.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

today's side effect - went back up half a step on the meds, and today at the end of the day i am exceedingly crabby and impatient, to the point where i am childishly pouty during a meeting (embarrassed to be called on it, in a sort of passive-aggressive way, by two different people). going back up to full dose tomorrow - will try ramping down again in the summer. :P

Monday, May 17, 2010


feet; lightsSo for a long time now I've had this major problem with sleepiness - falling asleep as soon as I sit down, to the point where I've had to stop driving. It started last year when I raised the dose of one of my medications. Since then I've been tested for and treated for sleep apnea - I'm not sure why really, considering that it's obviously one of my medications - I guess I just really really did not want to mess with the meds so I imagined away what I knew.

Finally in desperation this past weekend, since I was going to a meditation retreat with Miri, I tried cutting back my meds just for those two days to try to cut down on the sleepiness issue. Well, it didn't help as much as I'd have hoped during the retreat itself - I still slept through large parts of the meditation - but at school today I noticed a huge difference. I literally had been going into the teachers' lounge at lunch and going to sleep on the lunch table (which isn't great because there's not much space in there to begin with). I had been falling asleep while teaching in my afternoon classes, if I was dumb enough to sit down.

But today I felt awake and alert even though I was (am) tired. It was great.

But in the evening yesterday and today I've struggled with waves of fear and anxiety - jumping out of my skin, thinking I see people in the shadows when I'm the last one to leave school at night. These dark forebodings feel familiar and I worry that I'm again confronting the enemy who has defeated me so many years of my life... I know that's an exaggeration but is, itself, a byproduct of the fear.

Of course, these feelings could also be due to the large amounts of caffeine I've been consuming to try to stay awake, especially as I've been getting up extra-early to try to work out or meditate every morning.

So ... the tradeoff question is obvious. The second question of course (or maybe the first) is, why am I doing this by myself instead of going through my doctor? But the doctor would just cut the meds and tell me to call her in two weeks... but no... how do I know what she would do?


I think I should just go to bed and sleep. Maybe even sleep in a little. WOrkout and meditation can wait one day. Or is that bad too - giving up my self-care first when I get tired instead of prioritizing self-care and giving up responsibilities at work that have grown too heavy?

(otoh I did accomplish something on the extra-responsibilities front - thank you to those who encouraged me behind the scenes :) )

Sunday, May 16, 2010

turning of the seasons

Day 8 - Shirāz: schoolgirls and stock at the tomb of Sa'ādi thinking about graduation as colleges around us have theirs... the elm tree in the park is producing millions of those fluttery papery seeds that always remind me of the end of the year at harvard... every year moving out of a room that had seen so many ups and downs but overall another good year of friendship and scholarship... i think i DID appreciate those things at the time tho i allowed myself to get very strung out on highs and lows... was always hard for me to pack up because i hated the endings associated with the packing-up. hollis, then E-11, E-31, G-31... remember? at graduation my head nearly imploded from being unable to handle all the good-byes. "i'm sure i'll see you again before we leave," i told each person, to avoid having to say it. i don't know what i said to Amy... it's a complete blank... but i don't suppose i can possibly have avoided that goodbye. i don't remember saying goodbye to nadine but i remember after she left ("a cloud shifts, the plane lifts, she moves on..." - not that that whole song applies, but phrases of it ran through my head for a year thereafter) going down to sit by the river and feel... whatever one feels in that situation at 21.

i wonder if the elm tree is dying, i suppose they all are. it looks like it has nothing but an enormous sheaf of seeds for about the top 2/3 of the tree. is that how they normally look? or is it some kind of last-ditch survival effort by a dying tree? i wonder how all our old courtyards are looking these days; how many of the old trees have died, and with what have they been replaced? that evergreen by the administration building where john harvard's statue was always looked out of place and weird. i hope they didn't continue in that vein.

that all sounds very mournful and morbid but that's not how i'm feeling at all. just - things bring back memories, is all.

so, well, anyway. graduation. just have to hang in there til the end of the school year now. gotta get through that Black Panthers project... a little stressed because i've fallen behind in the extra responsibilities i took on. i'm afraid i'm going to be "found out" as someone who doesn't follow through. i spent the whole weekend on a meditation retreat so i didn't get anything done this weekend - despite having played hooky on friday. *sigh* looks like i'll be staying late all week again.

but, that's life. life is good, overall. life is good.