Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran’s Day

We couldn’t put our flag out this morning, because it was raining. I’m watching, in case it stops and we can change that. It’s the anniversary of Ernie’s death (Michael’s dad) as well, so there are many reasons to stop and think about others today. Right now, that seems better than the alternative, anyway.

Why are some lessons so hard to learn? Yesterday was a down day in energy/health, and didn’t go very well overall. By the time class began at 4:30, I felt iffy. When it was time for discussion, the students weren’t very engaged or responsive. My thinking on unengaged students, usually, is that what needs to change is what I’m doing. When not feeling well, though, it’s harder to act on that—which I also know. Rather than redirecting what was going on to get it back on track, I ended up thinking crabby thoughts about laptops in classrooms and unprepared students. The problem with that line of thought is that there are always laptops in classrooms and unprepared students, and there are lots of constructive ways to deal with that that still advance the cause. Feeling sorry for myself is never one of the top 500 answers. While it’s a lot harder to think creative thoughts when the words aren’t available and my brain is sluggish, the overall tone and trajectory are still always my job. I failed last night. That’s always a horrible feeling. L, bless her heart, was there with me, even though I’d said that things would be fine without her. She’s not been coming regularly, but something in our interaction yesterday brought her along, which made all the difference in the end, as when the energy just gave out—before class was complete—the luxury of just turning it over to her and going home was available. I have great friends. She managed to get things back on track and to get the students engaged and thinking about what they’d done, which was the goal. I’m really grateful, as well as chagrinned that something I know through and through—and teach—is something I once again failed at so badly. These are really hard lessons to learn and to learn. Why is that? It’s hard, but even so, it ought to be achievable.

Today should be better. Lots of sleep has helped a lot of the symptoms. One of the recurring lessons to be learned right now is about the number of events that are possible in any given day, and even more, balancing heavy days with lighter ones. It seems not to be a matter of time spent, so much as shifting gears, which is frustrating since multi-tasking has always been my thing. Yet one more thing to adapt to and try to be graceful about. The good news is that I’m not short on challenges.

While I manage to count my blessings (many) every day, I’m still cranky about the overall pace of recovery and how long this takes. More good news is that my actions are improving. One of my rules of the last decade is that I give myself permission to think anything I want to, and only judge myself on my actions. So long as my actions are honorable and appropriate, I let myself think any childish or retributive thoughts that arrive. I’m adapting this rule to the circumstances: so long as I pace myself (whether that be tortoise-paced or slow-hare-paced, the jury is still out on that one), I get to think the cranky thoughts about how this stinks. The trick, of course, is not to sabotage the good conduct, so as always, balance is essential. This is another part of reality, and of being a grown-up, that seems overrated to me.

The verdict is that more OT and PT would help, so we’re seeking insurance approval for another round of each. OT is still the shoulder and PT is working on balance and getting all the muscle groups working in concert again. The progress has been great, which might undermine re-approval; we’ll see what happens.

On other fronts, it looks like sufficient time has passed that the big outlets probably aren’t going to run the obituary for my father, which is disappointing to many in the family. I feel bad about this and wonder, if my energy had been better, if the outcome would have been different. There’s no way to know.

Trying to salvage some lemonade from yesterday’s load of lemons, at least I can work on making today’s class better and making sure that next week’s classes are great. The end of the semester is coming—and not a minute too soon. I think this approach, even with suboptimum teaching at times, was still better than it would have been to cancel the classes three weeks into the semester and in my calmer moments, I can find value across the semester. I’m working on holding those thoughts. If the sun were shining, this would be easier! Meanwhile, today I’m going to find the address and donate to the foodbank. Time to stop being so inward focused and do something for other people.



  1. As you sometimes are prone, you've been much too hard on yourself describing how the class went on Monday. You were in fact great, and frankly the students weren't prepared on an issue (and this is on them, not you) and there are two or three students who habitually fiddle with their laptops during class and we both KNOW they are not taking notes, but rather updating their Facebook pages, etc. (and again, this about them, not you).

    You, being the natural teacher that you are, always believe that ALL people can be reached if you can just figure out how--and bless you for this sweet, uncompromising belief in the essential goodness of all humans.

    I, on the other hand, am not so sure, and think that there are people who skim life on its surface, and choose not to dig deep and challenge themselves, and that we aren't likely to be able to change those people at the age of 20-something. We all only have to look at our out-going Commander in Chief and see what one of these constitutionally incurious humans looks like at 50-something, and what the long-term life effect is.

    And here's another truth--teaching a 3-hours-at-a-time course is taxing on the energy--physical, intellectual and emotional--of a person who ISN'T recovering from a brain tumor. It's OK to be frustrated (big league pissed off is maybe closer to the emotional truth on this issue) that this invader has so disrupted your life, but it's not OK for you to view the uneven energy levels it brought with it as evidence of a character flaw in YOU.

  2. "big sis" just said everything I wanted to say, and better. This is a true friend and you should listen to her (even if you too are so right that being a grown-up is overrated.....)