Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Afternoons

Friday afternoons in Shabbat observant homes are normally characterized by rushing around frantically to prepare for Shabbat. Generally speaking, I like that, as it makes such a great contrast when Shabbat comes in. But right now I just want to relax for a bit. Besides, on Shabbat I'm relaxed but restricted from doing weekday things. On Sundays I'm not restricted but I get tense knowing that I have work the next day and because I don't do well with unstructured days. So right before Shabbat and right after are kind of the most weekday-ish times for me to enjoy the world. Think I'll watch a little of the Daily Show online and maybe pay a bill or two before I go check on my rice.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

After all that...

Well after that last post you'd think I'd be posting regularly... it has just been a CRAZY week! Just flew back in Sunday evening and back to work on Monday. I've been very tired and I don't feel guilty for it.

But with that in mind, I don't have much to say in mind except for some insight into the life of a teacher.

Yesterday I was planning for school... a lesson with a game called "Basketball Addition." They're just second graders but I had to gear myself up to the possibility that they would be PISSED when they found out there was no basketball involved at all. Just three dice.

I made it exciting anyway by acting like a sports announcer everytime one of them was supposed to roll.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pesach Break

A friend commented recently that she stopped reading my blog for awhile because it seemed like I wasn't updating it much. For the record, I'm trying to write something at least once a week, hence me wracking my brain right now to think of what I want to say today before the week is up. I sort of let this blog go for awhile a few months ago because I was venting out a lot of personal baggage on an "anonymous" blog that I've mentioned a number of times here. I finally abandoned it. I wrote about something for which I was really hoping to get feedback (and support) and none came. I decided it was time to leave that non-community, return to this blog, and when I need to deal with more personal stuff to do it with a private journal or with real live people that I actually know.

In any case, I'm in Portland for Pesach. I predict that this will be my last time in Portland for some time as my future vacation slots are filling up with other things right now. Every time I come I have to choose whom to contact and how thoroughly to plan my days. This time I've been really taking it slow and lazy and just arranging to see a few people. Rushing makes me panic about missing crucial moments and I've been working lately on the practice of being present now rather than worrying about the future (even if the future is just a few hours from now). I find that most of my worries have to do with the future or the past and the more present I am, the more together I am.

I'm finding that I'm noticing feelings arise before they overtake me. Like, "That was an annoying thing that person said. I feel annoyed. Oh well. I guess that feeling will leave now. " Or, "I feel sad that I have to leave here in a few days but, oh, how about that, I guess that means I'm really happy right now to BE here." Sometimes with my practice of self-awareness I try really hard to get rid of feelings ro sculpt negative feelings into positive ones. Right now I'm just operating under the assumption that underneath, I always feel some kind of joy. I just have to find it. I hope I can keep this up when I get back to work. SO glad the school year is nearly over. It will make it easier to stay level-headed I hope with the end in sight.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Burn That Chometz!

Well, I've got a potato kugel in the oven and the matzoh balls are almost done. I also have in the fridge a salmon, mushroom salad, zuchinni kugel and a whole mess of honey-gingered squash.

I think we're ready.

We're not even doing the seders this year! We've been invited out by just the family I was hoping to spend Pesach with and then we've got a community seder the second night

This morning it all started to feel real and less stressful when I took our chometz to be burned. Before that I kept thinking I'd forgotten to clean somewhere, but then we gathered up our last bits and pieces and it was done.

There was a big metal garbage can set up outside the shul and I could see plenty of charred bread in there already. I put my little paper bag of Kix cereal in there and set the thing on fire.

As I told U. later, I could never be a firefighter. I just would stand there mesmerized and watch the house burn down.

I had this great memory of when we lived in Portland and drove down one year to Corvallis for my parents' seder. On the way there we stopped in a rest stop to burn our chametz on a pile of rocks. Very scared we'd get "caught" and accused of doing something terrible. But we remembered to kick the stones over the charred remains and all was good.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Healing: Part III

Well, the results are in. There's nothing wrong with me.

I guess that's good news. But the fact remains that I get sick a lot. I know the bulk of that has to do with working with children, but I'm starting to think too that there is an emotional piece. The immune system is hurt when a person doesn't relax. I relax plenty, but not very well.

I think the key, once again, is that I do not have good role models for this right now. Or rather, I'm not working within a healthy community. All of the wonderful people I work with overextend themselves and are frantic because of it. They may be able to live that way, but I become tense around them and I think others do too. In any case, they are anti-role models for me.

Recently one of them wanted to talk to me about something at work. It was a useful conversation to have and she sent someone to ask if I could come talk to her while she was on lunch duty. We are only allotted a half hour lunch break which inevitably gets cut to 20 minutes before we even can get to a sink to wash our hands to eat. By the time I got downstairs to where she was I had only 15 minutes left. It was a gorgeous day out and I desparately needed to get out into it in order to recharge for the afternoon. But I went downstairs and she started talking work with me. I finally said, "Look, this is an important conversation. But I need to go."

"But I thought this would be good to talk because it's your free time," she said.

That's just the point! It's my free time! I need my free time! I need that space! I was really offended to have that asked of me. In fact, at work I'm an incredibly patient person during class. People comment on it all the time. But my lunch time is sacred and my pet peeve is when no one comes to relieve me. I have really lost it when that happens and I'm not embarassed about it. That's the one thing that is guaranteed to make me ANGRY. Because that time makes it possible for me to not become impatient, angry or disrespectful towards my students.

In any case, I feel I do not have a community of people who feels likewise. The yoga and meditation I do on the side are crucial, but I do them alone. As a result, I cannot surrender completely to them. I do not have the safety net of others' companionship during the practice. In fact there is always a little voice reminding me that I don't know others who take care of themselves in this way. I imagine my colleagues saying obnoxiously, "Gosh, if only I had time for that..." or "If you had kids you wouldn't be able to do that. Welcome to the real world."

And yet if I don't, I cannot function at all.

That's my latest theory about my health.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006


It's been creeping up all year. Preparing for it is so difficult. And there's so much invested in this special time of year. Such depth. Such significance. I've been counting the days all year and preparing emotionally since Purim.

That's right. It's National Ant Day!!!!!!

In honor of the holiday I'll spend tomorrow... cleaning for Pesach. But I'll be on the lookout for ant-y blessings in disguise like this one twelve years ago.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Healing: Part II

So I saw the doctor Monday. She gave me a blood test to check my immunogloblins or whatever. I like to call them Immuno-goblins. We'll get the results next week. Worst case scenario is that they will be terribly low and I'll have to go in and get an infusion once a month. Not unlike good old chemo days... I actually got excited at the prospect that a drug could help me, but of course she would really prefer we not go this route. And my dad tells me that he knows he has a low immuno-whatever count. So I'm guessing that I will be diagnosed with having a low count, but not too low and that I should try to keep my hands clean and not stress out. That's usually what I'm told. In other words, more of the same.

In the meantime, she also prescribed some antiobiotics in case I might need them. Neither of us wanted me to take them but I took the paper just in case. Sure enough, Tuesday night I came home from work exhausted and headachy. I got under the covers for a nap and discovered I was shivering like crazy. Had a fever of 100.4.

I've been home since then. Feeling awful about leaving all the word to my assistant and feeling unplanned for school after Pesach. I had meant to complete all that this week but it's hard when you are at home and your head is cloudy.

My doctor noticed (I love this doctor) that I am very hard on myself about being sick. She's right. I get very very angry at myself and wonder what's wrong with me. I imagine the entire world saying I should really be at work and that I must be faking it.

On the other hand, when I was still there on Tuesday and started coughing in the office, someone yelled at me for spreading germs and said I should go home. (I had covered my mouth!!!) I wouldn't have minded if it was a friend. But it wasn't, and the way the person said it was quite stern and a little rude.

Either way, it just seems so unfair to my assistant who has had to take over without me.

Is it possible that schools aren't safe environments for me? Is it possible my immune system will build up more before next year?

One last thought: Isn't it interesting that this time of year is the 3-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis? And even though I'm struggling with health problems, I'm so proud of myself that I'm not assuming this is cancer again.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Healing in Sight?

When last I wrote on here it was because I was home sick with a cold on a Tuesday. I thought I was getting better but by Friday I relapsed and spent all of Shabbat at home feeling sick and depressed and worried about being sick.

Called my doctor today in a bit of a panic. She finally agrees that maybe there is something more to this than my being around kids all the time. I get sick almost every month and sometimes have a very hard time healing normally. (It used to take me a week. Now I usually relapse and sometimes get sinus infections that take longer to heal.)

So let's see. In the meantime, as soon as this one is over, I'm going to set the goal of going two full months without getting sick. That way I won't be so dismayed the next time I catch something.

How will I do it?

Not sure. More self-awareness and worry, I guess. Garlic too maybe. We'll see. I have lots of tricks. They just don't always work.

I know a lot of teachers that get sick a lot, but I feel like I've had this problem much of my life. Does anyone else out there have this problem?

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