Category Archives: first year teacher

I haven’t posted here in a while because so many things have changed. I got a new job, I’m working on my PhD, and remarkably the binge eating has stopped.

 I haven’t decided what to do with this blog. I might can it….

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Clear Skies

Part of me dislikes posting about feeling on the up–inevitably, every time I do, the next few days I crash and burn. BUT.

I feel good, health wise. I’m working out and eating right. No low carb or raw diets, just eating like I used to–lots of fresh fruit, whole grains, a little bit of meat, and low fat dairy. Realizing that my life is not spiraling out of control has brought me a sense of serenity, even though things aren’t exactly working out the way I had planned.

We found a new place, and unfortunately it’s an apartment and not a house. There was not a single house for rent in our new town, and we needed to move this month, preferably before school starts mid-month. Luckily, we can have our dog, no questions asked, and it’s a spacious 3 bedroom with a dishwasher and central air. I’m psyched. I hate washing dishes. As an added bonus, it’s a mere 1 mile from my work. If those bastards hadn’t stolen my bike, I could ride it to work.

I stopped by work yesterday and picked up a book for class. The secretary took us around to see my soon to be office, and I was pleased to have a space of my own. I have to keep reminding myself that this is only a year appointment, and they are as much on probation for me as I am for them. I have a right to decide whether I like the place or not.

I’ve been reading for my classes and I plan to spend this weekend getting together my syllabi so that I won’t have it hovering over me anymore. 

In a way I feel like I don’t deserve this–but I’m trying to just go for the ride.  

I’m not dieting. Well, actually I go back and forth between dieting and not dieting, so that I’m probably just getting bigger.

 Last night I drank an entire bottle of wine. Today I have felt like crap because of it.

I got a job. A big one. We’re moving.

Yikes.

happy hump day, y’all

Whew, my tag was successful. Woo-hoo, Jen!

 So there are quite a few updates on my life at the present.

1. I am no longer employed. I called the Headmaster yesterday and told him that no, my opinions haven’t changed and I am not a Neo-Confederate Conservative after thinking about it for 4 days. Now I have to bring their books back. Hopefully, DH will go with me one day after school so that I can have some emotional support–I’m greatly disappointed in the way this job turned out.

2. I have not had any alcohol in over a week, nor have I felt compelled to binge. I’m seriously thinking that I am at my worst in the 1-1/2 weeks before my period–and this is all new to me. When I was younger, not only did I have a very light cycle, but I never experienced PMS or any real mood changes. As I approach 30, my body is experiencing many new challenges, so it seems. Yay, body! (sarcasm, anyone?)

3. On the knee front, things are doing well. The right one still looks disgusting, but it has at least closed up. Monday I was able to workout–I did an hour of elliptical/weights. Then yesterday I ran intervals on the treadmill for 25 minutes followed by 20 minutes of the elliptical, and no knee skin-flap issues.

4. I have been cleaning and organizing like it is my job. Yesterday, I tackled the big tub that held my Master’s thesis resources. With all of our moves and what have you, purging crap has not been a priority. Thus, we have been hording some serious junk. Not anymore! (I have a pic of the crap I’ve been sifting through, but DH took the camera to school today.)

5. I’m not dieting. 🙂

6. I’m not freaking out. Emotionally, I’ve been on a pretty even-keel. Getting back into my workout routine and not worrying about calories, etc, has made me feel okay. Also, I just feel put together, despite the unemployment. I must admit I shed a few tears yesterday after my husband got home, but he held me and reassured me that I did the right thing. I love that man.

melt down

As scheduled, I packed myself up to the school today to discuss the curriculum. I wore my comfy clothes because it was possible that I would be moving filing cabinets and books.

What I didn’t think to bring was some Advil and tissues.

I bawled in front of my headmaster and the other teacher. I had to tell them how I felt about the book and the philosophical beliefs of the school. We all talked openly, and I was frank with them about my faith and views, which seem to be at direct odds with the position of the school, which I can now see is ultra-conservative. I don’t think I’ve ever come this close to contact with the Religious Right in my entire life.

We parted after a few hours on the terms that he and I would take a few days to consider if I should teach there and if I could “grow” in my spirituality. If they are wondering if I can become like them, I cannot and will not. I know what my answer is.

As far as my next step, I don’t know. DH and I talked about it and we both think it is best to maintain your own integrity in these situations. If not, you lose your soul among other things. Right now, I’m not in a position to give that up.

So we’re weighing our options. I have such a headache I cannot even think straight at this point. I can’t believe how emotionally and physically drained I am right now–sure, I got a good workout in this morning, but it’s almost like I had a second more grueling workout at the school. I think I might be ready for bed.

This evening I’ve peeked at job listings, but I’m not going to seriously look until after a few weeks. DH and I are planning a small get-away, and I want to just focus on that for now.

*

Retrospective

I’m sitting here in the library of my Alma Mater. It feels good.

When I walked up to the library, before I entered, I thought I could walk in without it being a big deal. It’s just a library, for crying out loud. But, it’s not–at least not to me.

I’m doing much better today. I have the comfort of knowing that my husband will be home with me until Friday night, when he works. That makes me feel better because I’m not alone with my insecurities and thoughts, at least for a few days.

DH and I had a long talk about the school, and I think I may have been overreacting. Yes, the textbook sucks, but I have a choice whether or not to use it. Technically, it’s not a textbook, it’s just the “teacher’s guide”. They’re not going to order one for each student, I don’t think. I’m going to tell them tomorrow that I don’t like it, and I’m not using it. My headmaster assured me that I have the freedom to do what I want, and that I was hired based on my expertise and passion for history–not because I subscribe to any particular philosophy.  As for the other teacher, I can’t let her bully me, and I’ve already made it clear to the Headmaster that I’m strong enough to establish my authority and intent with the school and in the face of this woman. I will always have to entertain others whose opinions are different than mine.

I hate the way my mind gets so out of sorts and I panic–for one, it makes me exhausted, and also it takes me DAYS to recover and think like a normal human being. Once I’m calmed down, I look back at how irrational I was and I’m always shocked and disappointed. It reminds me of when I was in college for my undergrad and I wanted to quit and move. I became obsessed with transferring to Auburn because I missed my family and I was having trouble with my marriage. I loved living in Kentucky, and my classes were going well, but I was worried about getting a job (should I major in history? If I went to a state school I could do nursing or pharmacy–something practical. . . for some reason I can justify medical fields as being useful and worthy, but what I enjoy, historical anaylsis, is poppycock. WTF?) He would NOT entertain the thought of moving or my transferring schools. So I stayed at my small liberal arts college and fell more and more in love with the study of history. 

Still in KY, I survived the passing of my father, who took several unresolved issues to his grave, then the dissolution of our marriage in January of 2001. I was only a few months shy of turning 21. Remarkably, I still managed to graduate college in four years. I think I began to doubt by abilities and personal interests mostly because the person I trusted and depended on could not accept me as an individual. Sometimes I would ask him if it would be okay for me to go out with my friends, just us girls. His response was always of course, “Hell no! You’re not leaving me at home.” He had no concept of the fact that I was changing, and he resented me for starting to workout, becoming concerned with the environment and my health, and wanting to become active in the outdoors. He hated that I loved animals, and frequently abused my cat.  This was clearly something he had not signed up for, and he let me know that the person I was becoming was NOT what he wanted. He belittled my interests and beliefs. I was his favorite joke. 

 The funny thing is that now I find myself reverting to the person I was back then. I was shy, non-active, passive, people-pleasing. I am now again very skeptical that I can make a decision on my own. I look to others for my own validation. I mock my own ideas and beliefs.  Have I forgotten how far I’ve come?

Right now, things aren’t perfect. I’m anxious about teaching and I want to continue my education. I love my husband, and I respect how much he has done for me, no matter how unappreciative and negative I am. It’s times like this that I can sit back and realize that my fears and worries are irrational and that my coping skills aren’t the best. I’m certainly not the same person I was so many years ago, and I know I’m stronger than the scars of an abusive relationship. My husband also deserves a fighting chance–he’s nothing like my ex. I don’t know what transforms me back to this place on the nights that my husband works. I know it sounds silly, but I think it might be the fact that I get very passive and lazy, going to food and alcohol in an attempt to escape, instead of doing the many other things I enjoy that are more representative of the person I am now.

I have become so sacrificing. I won’t join the gym/yoga studio because it costs money. I won’t get in the habit of walking my dog in the evening because I’m afraid of being mugged. I won’t go to the university library because I want to be comfortable and lazy. I won’t go to see friends or even call them because I’m not skinny, successful, clear-skinned and happy. I won’t go walk around the mall just to get out because I’m afraid I’ll want to buy something and then I’ll feel bad. Eating and drinking in my pajamas is just easier.

This is ridiculous. Funny how I can be so clear focused some days. It feels so good to just get this out there.

Is this 2007, or am I in a time warp?

I swear to Bob that every time I start feeling good about teaching at my LPS this fall, something goes awry.

Case in point: The textbook sucks. And I’m not just talking about boring content or too deep for middle school, but it’s so closed- minded. Granted, I understand that this is a Christian school, but when the text is so bigoted and just wrong that it makes me even question whether or not I’m Christian enough, then we have a problem. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that the guy who wrote this book is swamped with controversy about his neo-Confederate beliefs, and he believes that Vergil’s Aeneid must be taught to students because it’s satanic, not because it’s one of it’s complexity and cultural significance. According to the author, the literary motifs of death and rebirth in the Aeneid are satanic. Case closed. That’s just ridiculous.

Instead of putting all sides of the argument out there for the teacher and students to discuss, he makes blanket statements such as “The Romans did not value human life.” “The Romans, much like modern day Americans, promoted “tolerance,” instead of the one true faith.” Since when is tolerance a bad thing? What does he suppose we do, start stock-piling automatic weapons in order to start the great 21st century Inquisition? You’ve got to be kidding me.

“Roman slaves had it much worse off than American antebellum slaves; they didn’t have civil rights.” Um. Last time I checked the fight for civil rights didn’t come to play until the late 1950s-1960s, and it can be argued that it is still going on today. And does he really want to play the game of whose slavery was worse?  

I’m not defending the Romans, but it makes me livid to imagine that such a vibrant cultural influence is being belittled and simplified to what this author believes is the truth. Of course, these are just a few of the many problems I have with this text.

One of the other teachers, when she saw that I had the new “textbook,” was so happy. “You’ll love it. You should use it for your curriculum–it has tests, study questions, it has everything you need, right there.” She didn’t mention anything about bigotry, intolerance, condemnation, racism and judgement. I guess that’s all too intimate of a conversation for the old hat teacher and the newbie to have long before the first day of school. I said, “yeah, I might use it as a loose guide.” She retorts, “No, it’s excellent. Really good stuff. Use it.” Did I mention she has 2 children in the school, and I’m sure she has many of the “last words” on curriculum.

My headmaster only presented it to me as a guide. “You don’t have to use it, but here it is.” He already knows how I feel about the author–we’ve had a run in about some of the other books the author has written that I’m just not comfortable with. For fuck’s sake (I know, that’s probably not really Christian of me, but I’m mad), why is it that every thing I get excited about is never what it seems. I don’t want to compromise my beliefs, but I refuse to use a textbook that makes me feel like my Christianity is wrong, and that openly condemns Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism, and teaches such close-mindedness to kids.  It’s the same God!!

What have I gotten myself into? I’ve gotta get out of here!