Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back into it

I've had several people tell me that I need to get back into this. I had neglected things a bit, but the school year tends to be a little difficult for free time. And once we hit spring, I have my bowling team, and then I go back to camp every few days to prepare for the upcoming summer. My available hours are slim.

Don't let my Facebook presence throw you, though. I keep the browser window open and the FB tab on top, so I see notifications. And I get all ADD and start looking at whatever went up there while I'm working on other things.

Anyway, I hate that all of my posts over the past year or so have been "let me catch you up" posts, but, well, sometimes, that's just how it is.

And, unfortunately, I guess that's what this one will be.

Last regular post I'd had was about my little Nala cat. I think I just couldn't write again for a while after that.

The biggest thing to change in my life was a life-saving moment. My quality of life dropped significantly last year. It started getting worse towards the end of the summer and into the beginning of the school year. I would come home, fight to stay awake, fall asleep on the couch, have Mark wake me up, eat, fall back asleep, have Mark wake me up, shower, go to sleep, go to work, drag all day, go home... and repeat.

It was scary, but I'd also lost my will to care about it. I was shedding like crazy, couldn't stay awake, quick to fly off the handle, and constantly dealing with broken nails. As much as I hate the phrase, Mark tried a "come to Jesus" moment. My annual exam was approaching, and he made me promise to talk to my doctor about it. My mom's theory was that I was having thyroid troubles. That WOULD explain the weight gain I've had over the past few years. I just chalked that up to Katrina, but maybe there was more to it.

Sure enough, I was suffering from hypothyroidism. My levels were dangerously low. A few weeks of trying different dosages, and my quality of life started to improve. I was also given something for the PTSD I've been dealing with the past few years, and that did it, too. I lost about 10 pounds almost immediately, all without changing any dietary or exercise regimens.

What do you know. I wasn't crazy. I was just in physical trouble.

The school year was a very good one. I got to repeat my classes from the year before. This is the first time in 6 years that I've been able to reuse my class materials. What a wonderful, wonderful thing. Of course, adjustments needed to be made here and there, but wow. Just reducing that level of stress was amazing.

I remember being in school, probably middle school, and thinking about how my poor teachers had to teach the same things, year after year after year. Little did I know that one day I would long for that luxury. It's pretty neat knowing what I have coming up for first quarter. I like that I can improve upon what I did the year before. It's funny how your perspective changes as you age.

I still do not see much of Mark. He works nights, I work days, and we frequently worked Sundays, and he sometimes worked Saturdays. It's hard. But we try to find things to do, be it drive around or watch a movie we DVRed two weeks prior.

We do have one project we've tried working on together, though. My father told us that he would help us remodel the front of our house. We hit a huge snafu, though. Well, many of them.

We tore down the paneling in the den. Bit by bit, we worked a little on the weekends. We got some of the sheetrock up, but the holidays started getting in the way. The weekend before my dad's birthday, Mark went to work for 5 a.m. Shortly after 5 a.m., the phone rang. It was my mom. My father had a heart attack, and they were in the hospital. I showered, ran out into the cold early Saturday morning with a soaking wet head, and somehow safely made it to the hospital. While they were working on him, my mom broke the news to me that she was having a lumpectomy that week, and she was only telling me because now I would have to take her in for the procedure.

My world crashed down. That night, my family was supposed to go to 5 Happiness for my dad's birthday dinner. We were happy and excited. He was going to come over to work on the house a little with me while Mark was at work. It was going to be a busy but fun day. And then, there we were. In the Cardiac Care Unit, waiting to hear how my father was after a heart attack, my mom telling me she could have cancer, and all of this being the absolute last thing I ever expected to happen.

The heart attack turned out to be a small one, and Dad went home for his birthday. I spent the night there so that I could get up early and bring my mom to the hospital for her surgery. My aunt, a breast cancer survivor, came to keep me company while we waited. Hours later, I was able to bring her home. That weekend, I spent most of my time chauffeuring them around, putting almost 200 miles on my car. Mom's results were good, no worries. Dad has also made a great recovery.

But then we were stuck. We didn't know what we were doing with regards to home repair. My dad wasn't allowed to do anything for a while. We decided to go through a contractor. He was going to replace our doors, but it took him about a month or so to return the new doors to us. All of our old doors, save for the ones on the bathrooms, were gone. The guys skipped out on a lot of stuff, and months went by. We fired him, got all of our doors back, and tried another guy, who gave us the runaround for a few months. We hired a third guy, who came on time on the appointed days, brought a crew, and had the den sheetrocked and floated in two half days. Booyah.

This was in February/March. We started in October.

We are still not finished. We have trouble aligning my work schedule with Mark's work schedule with my dad's work schedule. We've had another guy do our crown molding, and we'll have other people come in to finish the rest. We'd planned to be done by Christmas. We had no idea it would be June and we still would not be finished.

What we've accomplished:
Painting the range hood and the oven/broiler
Repairing the roof
New A/C and heater
Fixing the ceiling in the den, where the leaking roof ruined things
Removed paneling in the den
Put up sheetrock in the den
Painted the den and the kitchen (we left the paneling there, and deglossed and primed it before painting)
Crown molding in the den and kitchen
Removed the doors to the upper cabinets
Put cabinet contents in boxes in the den (sighhhh)
Deglossed the upper cabinets
Painted, mostly, the upper cabinets
Purchased new hinges for the cabinets
Purchased new drawer pulls/handles for the cabinets
Ordered new flooring which will go in the den, kitchen, and hallway
Had the flooring delivered
Put new doors up

What still needs to be done:
Bottom cabinets
Reattaching cabinet doors
Installing flooring
Finishing the doors
Repairing a kitchen fan
Painting pantry doors
Installing a new countertop
Installing a new kitchen sink
Repainting woodwork and reinstalling it around the windows

Sigh. Mayyybe we'll finish before the first anniversary of this project.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm not crazy, I swear.

As of last Friday, I have officially spent half of my life working at my summer camp. Sixteen years. In some ways, it doesn't feel like it. In other ways, I feel ancient. I think about how young I actually was, about how green I was, and about all of the big events I've gone through since I started working there.

There was the burial ceremony for my grandfather's ashes, the deaths of my maternal grandparents, high school graduation, going to college, meeting the man I would marry, editing the college newspaper, flying to Idaho with my friends for the first wedding of a friend I ever attended, going to New York and DC for conventions, interning for a local weekly paper, spending a summer as a secretary, beach trips, the family trip where we drove to Philly, 9-11, graduating from college, getting my first real job, getting married, having a honeymoon, moving into our house, getting downsized, getting a year-round gig there for three years, taking tests towards certification, going back to school, getting hired at school, travel camp with children, Hurricane Katrina, going back to my alma mater, living with my in-laws, living with my parents, Mark living in Baton Rouge in a trailer, Mark moving in with my parents, living there for 2 years, rebuilding our lives, buying our home, working on our home, swimming with manatees, becoming a certified teacher, getting the plays, taking over the yearbook, coaching bowling, getting my coaching certification, traveling with students, Obama's election, attending his inauguration, getting my car totaled by a drunk woman, traveling to Greece, becoming a certified journalism educator, and so many more little things.

Sixteen years ago, I couldn't drive. Stacy and I rode our bikes to work that first year. Later, she got a car, and she would bring me. We were junior counselors. I rose to senior counselor, then unit head, and now I'm the assistant director. I've been through more directors and assistant directors than I can count.

Sixteen years ago, I wasn't anywhere near what I am today. I teach a kid who was my worst camper ever (the kind that makes you never want to work with kids again). Ten years after he was the bane of my existence, he was one of my bowlers, and he's working for me now. He didn't remember having me as his counselor, but he did remember how he acted back then. He was concerned that I would hold his past against him. I told him that I wouldn't hold his past against him, because I didn't want him to hold my past against me. Ha.

Sixteen years ago, if you'd told me that I would still work here, I'd have thought you were an idiot. I was going to be a JOURNALIST. I didn't know that my years at camp would lead to a year-round gig for three years, or that it would influence me to go back to school for my teaching certification and to make a big career change. I also had no way of knowing that print journalism is a dying art, and that getting out when I did was the smartest thing I ever did.

People always ask me why I keep doing this. It has especially been common this year. I don't really have a solid answer. My standard response is that I need to have something to do during the summer, or else I would weigh 800 pounds and be in debt. Which is true. I've never worked retail and I've never worked in food services. I need a teaching break, and we also don't do our own summer school, so I can't teach that. I'm the assistant director; if I was a counselor, I probably would have given it up years ago. I like being administration. Without a master's, I cannot be scholastic administration. And I'm not sure that I would necessarily want to be out of the classroom. So this settles that desire while keeping me in the classroom. And, it's just something I enjoy. I shouldn't have to justify that.

I guess people are just not used to people who have one, let alone two, jobs which they love wholeheartedly. But I somehow do. Neither pays well. Both demand ridiculous hours and mental strain, as well as work "after hours." And yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know how lucky I am. I don't take these things lightly. And so, I continue to work at both places. And will do so for as long as I can.

Tick tick tick

They did okay in certain areas. Areas which contain family and friends. But that clock is ticking. One could happen to you, too.