Archive for April, 2008


28 April 2008

I’ve mentioned a couple times already that I am a worrier.  I worry that I have forgotten something for school.  I worry that if I don’t drink my tea early enough in the morning I will have a migraine headache.  I worry that I will get lost on my way somewhere, or my car will break down, or I will be late.  I worry that I have a brain tumor.  I worry that a lesson I have planned (or worse, not planned) will go terribly wrong and students will be sitting around NOT LEARNING ANYTHING.

I know that most of these worries are illogical, non-rational, and that they can be debilitating.  I know, rationally, that I really DON’T need to worry about these things

I HAVE forgotten my school keys more than once!  I can borrow what I need from other teachers.  On Sunday I slept in until 9 AM and I didn’t get a migraine.  The current car has never shown any signs of breaking down (it is only 2 years old) , and I have a cell phone now.  The last time I had a car breakdown I didn’t own a cell phone.  Being late is NOT the end of the world.  I show absolutely no signs of having a brain tumor, but I heard an NPR story once by a guy who DID have a brain tumor and it started out as a lot of migraine headaches.  I plan well, and when things go wrong I can talk to students for many many minutes about all sorts of topics, plus there is a whole cupboard full of videos at school just in case.

Along with the over-worrying, I experience anxiety every September through June.  Starting with the night before the first day of school, when I have a lot of trouble sleeping, I go through the school year on edge.  I feel jittery, nervous, and tense.  The muscles of my upper back become knotted and sore.  I don’t go out with my friends because I worry that I won’t have enough time to get my schoolwork done, and then I fritter away the time I should be doing schoolwork because my anxiety paralyzes me into inaction.  Sundays are the worst, since it is on Sunday that I take stock of all the things I ought to do for school before Monday, and it is usually a lot of stuff.  This has been going on for years.

A month ago, my doctor diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  I’ve known for a while that I had it, but one reason I had never been diagnosed is because you have to have it for 6 months in order to be diagnosed.  By the time I have been anxious for six months, the school year is more than half over, and I feel like I am too busy with school to go to the doctor.  But this year, I DID go to the doctor, and I am very glad.

I am in therapy with a very nice lady who has been very helpful, and my doctor prescribed an antidepressant that is also for anxiety.  A week and a half ago I was feeling terribly stressed and anxious, and this week I feel so much better!  Despite all the lab reports I collected last week, I had no problem going out on Saturday to help friends clean out a house that is being sold.  I didn’t worry that I would get lost or be late, and I didn’t worry that I ought to be home doing schoolwork.  The difference in how I feel is partially due to having gotten through the end of the school marking period and the end of the college semester for my online course simultaneously–having grades due plus taking an exam and having five homeworks due at once was too much all at once!  But I think there is also a difference from the antidepressant and the therapy.

Unfortunately, not worrying about it is still not the same as getting the schoolwork DONE.  So I still have a lot of labs to grade, which I will be working on for the next couple of days.  I am still very good at procrastinating, and I don’t think there is a pill for that.  I will be experimenting with Joanna’s method of telling myself I have to do X for a certain amount of time Y, then doing it.  Then I can switch and do something else for some amount of time Z.  And the labs will be graded by Wednesday, so I can give a quiz on Thursday!

I’m still here!

26 April 2008

Grades were due, I had 5 homeworks and a test to do in my online physics course, I was under pressure to complete the OTHER online course I was required to take, I was behind in grading after the physics teachers’ conference, and I really felt snowed under for a couple of weeks, there. But I’m still here, I have taken care of a lot of the stuff that needed doing, and I will be writing more soon, I promise!

A quick note, though: I am really happy to have my car back! About 4 weeks ago, a teenager out shopping for a prom dress with her friend smashed into the side of our car while my husband was out getting groceries. Nobody was hurt, and the car the teenager was driving was barely dented, but we had to get both passenger-side doors and the rear passenger-side quarter panel replaced. And I’ve been driving a rental car to work for 4 weeks. It’s the same kind of car as ours: a Toyota Prius, but without some of the features we have like a backup camera and a place to plug our mp3 players into the stereo. Anyway, HOORAY! MY CAR IS MINE AGAIN! (well, ours, but I’m the one who drives it all the time.) I picked it up yesterday from the body shop, in exchange for a large check from the insurance company. *grin*


12 April 2008


Where was it? Well, first let me tell you that the last place I remembered using it was at a meeting at a local university, where I was helping to plan our local physics teachers’ spring conference. I was sure I had not left it at the meeting, since my colleague would have sent me an e-mail telling me he had it. I did not leave it in my bag. It had not fallen out in the car. It was not on the floor of my office. It was not under some pile of “important stuff.”

This morning, as I prepared to attend day two of the local physics teachers’ spring conference that I had helped plan, I pulled my 3-ring binder out of the bookcase. The binder I took to the planning meeting. The binder in which I keep notes relating to the organization.

My calendar was in the binder.

It was safely tucked (invisibly) into the bookcase all this time. My fellow messy-desk people out there will understand when I say, this is why I shouldn’t clean up! If I had behaved in my usual manner and just pulled all my stuff out of my bag and piled it on the desk (or table, or floor…), presumably I would have found my calendar much sooner. But instead, I was trying to be tidy, and put the binder away as soon as I had gotten home. I am very glad I found my calendar! I feel better about myself because I was sure I had carelessly managed to dump it in a trash or recycling container. I am not so careless after all! Just forgetful!

So, the physics teachers’ conference? We had a good meeting, including a talk by Gino Segrè of the University if Pennsylvania, author of Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics, and a talk by Robert Beck Clark of Brigham Young University. Our own members provided some excellent contributed papers as well, and a selection of afternoon workshops. There was also lots of good conversation and networking, and stories!  I came home afterward after 4 and slept until dinnertime, and I have been pretty useless since dinner. I feel very drained. It must be bedtime (again)!


5 April 2008

Since I left home to go to college, I have had houseplants. My parents have houseplants, and I could not imagine living someplace where I didn’t have a houseplant. So I purchased a small dracaena marginata for college and named it Spike.

I still have that plant. It now lives in several pots, and has been replanted several times besides being chopped off to nearly nothing after getting too tall. These are cool plants: you can chop the stem close to the root, cut the stem into several pieces, plant the pieces individually, and you will wind up with several new plants and your original one will probably grow more than one new stalk to replace the part you cut off!

Over many years of dormitory and apartment living, I acquired more and more houseplants. A pepperomia was left by previous residents in my first apartment, and it looked dead, but with water it revived and I have it 15 years later, still going. My friend Kate was propagating walking irises once, and I now have a large pot of those. I acquired a cutting of my mother’s double red hibiscus, now a large plant and parent to hibisci owned by several friends. I have a fern that used to be in my parents’ house, and a plant with pink flowers that was a hostess gift. My parents also gave me a Christmas cactus. When I worked at a school with a horticulture program, I wound up with a snake plant, and some of its smaller relatives, which keep making more of themselves!

When my husband and I bought a house, it was time for more houseplants! When I helped some friends move I acquired a piece that fell off one of their houseplants, a purple-leaved vine that I can’t remember the name of. I have lots of those all over the place, now, including several pieces rooting in a vase on the dining room table (perpetually–they sometimes get planted in window boxes, but I keep winding up with these really long vines that need to be cut off, and I find it really difficult to throw them out!). My parents gave me an old fern, and a miniature orange tree which I have always loved and wanted:

Many of my plants live on the back deck in the summer, and winter indoors. I carefully maintain them with just enough water…

Except this year, I wasn’t so careful. The first to go was a potted rosemary, not the first one I have killed, but this one was a big disappointment because it had lasted longer than most. I’ll replace it with a baby one this spring, and try again to make it last. Then, the miniature orange dried up entirely, and a bay tree that my husband and I decided together to buy also dried up entirely!  I was very upset by this incident, but I have nursed the orange back from the brink in the past, so I figured I would try again with it. I will have to prune it drastically in a few weeks before putting it outdoors since some branches are clearly dead, but there are a number of little new leaves on it already.

Today was laundry day, and I found myself in the loft putting hang-to-dry clothing on a drying rack, and I noticed that the bay, which I was sure was completely dead, HAS A LOT OF LITTLE TINY BRANCHES WITH FRESH GREEN LEAVES ON THEM GROWING OUT THE BOTTOM!


This has made my weekend a lot better. That and being done with the laundry before 4 PM! Now if only I had already written my code for physics…

Ack-no time! (again)

3 April 2008


I gave a test today. Plus I have lab reports to grade. And I haven’t started the work for my online physics class this week. And it has been pointed out to me that I have not been making progress on the online “21st-century teaching” course I am forced to take by the state and the school district. And the end of the marking period is the end of next week!

I want to make new seating charts for the next marking period, I have to plan the remaining 5.5 weeks before the AP Physics exam such that we’ll actually see all the material before the day of the test, and I still have a list on the whiteboard in my office of things to do that don’t even relate to school…

“Exciting” weekend plans include a trip to the H-Mart because it’s our source for 50-lb bags of medium grain kokuho or calrose rice, and laundry, and I will probably spend most of Saturday catching up on the online physics class. Plus it might be time to prune the rose bushes…they have lots of leaves sprouting on them!

So that is what is going on here. Just busy, busy, busy! So, take a deep breath…and get right back into grading papers! As the little sign on my computer monitor says in large, red, capital letters, GET TO WORK!!