Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Profusion of Lust-Worthy Men

Right, the day has come...I'm off in a couple of hours to catch my train to London, where I'll hop on the Stanstead express and meet Jo at Stanstaed to catch our 3:00 flight to Kerry.

For now, though, I'm "working." That means checking email, the NASCAR board (Lust-Worthy Junior had a disappointing weekend) and listening to Maroon Five as loudly as I can stand to.

Right, now on the important stuff--like all these lustworthy men...who are they?

Cute Lead Singer of the Soul Detectives

Right. I don't know his name but I do know he would have been more than happy to meet me after the show if I'd been able to stay that late.

Friday night I went to a pub in nearby Maldon with my friend Louisa and a few others, including Louisa's sister Alice and a gal named Lucy. Lucy and I thought that the lead singer of the band we were there to see was cute. We had Alice's boyfriend Doug go up to the stage at the end of the band's break to ask him if he was attached or single. Cute Lead Singer said single and Doug pointed out Lucy and I to him. Lucy at this point turns to me and says, "You are single, right?"



It turns out Doug is pointing ME out. And apparently Cute Lead Singer told him, "Have her come up after the show."

(Here's a pic I found on the band's website):

Unfortunately, I left at 11:30 and the show was going on 'til 1:00. I had to get up somewhat early on Saturday morning...I had a date, you see, with...

The Ever-Handsome Mr. Spacey

That makes it four times I've seen Kevin on stage since March 18. Twice in National Anthems, twice in the Philadelphia Story. Fantastic every time!
The man never ceases to amaze and delight. But before I went to the matinee performance, I hopped over to the Royal Operal house, also home to the Royal Ballet, to see if there were any performances coming up featuring one of their Principal Guest Artists...

Carlos Acosta

Carlos Acosta is a Cuban-born dancer. Kathy introduced me to the delight of watching him dance just a couple of months ago. There was a biography of him on BBC a few years ago and Kathy taped it. Let me tell ya, this man is gorgeous to watch.

Anyway, he is dancing in Covent Garden soon, and I have a ticket (very good seat) to see him. Woohoo!

With all these men to lust after...how am I supposed to get anything done???

Right. More updates when I'm back from Ireland. I promise to take loads of pictures and give all the details.

And I promise to at least try pure Irish Guiness. It's supposed to be better in Ireland.



Thursday, May 26, 2005

Woohoo!! Ireland!!!

I'm going to Ireland next week!

One of my fellow teachers, Jo, is Irish and is going home for a few days. She invited a few of us to go at very reduced airfare. Like, only £80. And I'll be staying at her family's place, so no paying for hotel! Very, very cool.

We'll leave Tuesday and come back Thursday, flying from Stanstead airport to Kerry. It's only a half hour! Considering the length of my last flight (Seattle to San Fran and San Fran to London), a half hour is a walk in the park. And I get to see the lovely Emerald Isle!

Jo is from Kerry, on the southwestern coast. She said there's a gorgeous beach near her home, which is in a tiny village. Oh, I can't wait to see it!!

I promise to take loads of pictures. : )

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Weekend at Lizzie's and Exams

Oh, Lizzie, thanks for having me!

Imagine having this for a weekend home...

Yeah, I'd hate to be anywhere else, either!

Went to Windsor Castle on Saturday and had a lovely time looking around. It is the largest continuously-occupied castle in the world, and lovingly cared for. It houses Queen Mary's Doll House (with electric lighting and flushing toilets), priceless art and antiques, and St. George's Chapel.

St. George's, of course, is where Charles and Camilla recently had their marriage blessed. It is also where many monarchs have been buried, including Elizabeth II's parents. I think Henry VIII is buried there, too, but I didn't see his tomb.

I had a lovely day in Windsor. I took about 2 hours for the castle itself, then spent a few more hours wandering the town, poking into shops, and having tea at the Crooked House.

I'll just insert here to Daddy:

The tea sandwhiches has salmon pate in them. I actually tried it. I didn't like it.

For everyone else:

The menu said assorted tea sandwiches, and they all came out with cucumber and salmon pate. I don't like fishy stuff. It smells nasty and no, I never tried it (until Saturday) because the smell put me off.

In France a few weeks ago, we had some salmon pate served to us on one of our tours. Dad said it would be rude if I didn't at least try it, so some of my pate ended up on his plate.

On Saturday, I thought the sandwiches might be salmon, but I was not sure, so I tried it. Sure enough, yeeuch!! Salmon. Nasty. Tastes like it smells and that is a bad, bad thing.

Other than this alarming experience with seafood, the day was great. A bit crazy, weatherwise (pouring, sunny, pouring, sunny, pouring...) but lovely nonetheless. The one thing I understand about England is to always have an umbrella and sunglasses whereever I go. And layered clothing.


I am finished with year 11 GCSE Music! Coursework is turned in, the exam is done, and I am pleased. My kids worked their butts off.

Of course, imagine my shock when the exams lady, Linda, told me on Friday that she had had a message from Edexcel (the exam board) on Friday that we had received our extension--a week after I stressed and cried and nearly had a panic attack and had a rude comment from one of my bosses.

Oh well, water under the bridge.

With that, I'll sign off. I have things to accomplish today and for once I'm feeling motivated. Best not waste it.



Friday, May 20, 2005

And She's Off!!

For her weekend, that is.

Dinner with friends tonight, Windsor Castle tomorrow and general laziness on Sunday. Good times.

Not much to report from England. It's been a pretty uneventful week, really, aside from dropping almonds down my sweater and giving loads of detentions to year 9s because of the new Behaviour for Learning policy.

Now I'm off to get some cash and then start my fun weekend. : )



Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Just When You Thought I Could Not Get More Random

I Just Dropped an Almond Down My Sweater

8:50 a.m.

I'm not kidding. Thank God there are no kids in my room.

Lately I've been bringing a small container of nuts and chocolate chips to work for my snack. According to Dr. Gillian McKeith, author of "You Are What You Eat," nuts and seeds are very good for us. It's a good fat. The chocolate chips aren't so good for me, but they add a little bit of a kick to the trail mix. And they keep me happy.

Anyway, I'm just munching some of my mix and I lost my grip on an almond. It flew up, hit my chest and slid down into my sweater. I have to laugh at myself.

Again, thank God there are no kids in my room.

Bad-Tempered (but Talented) Music Teacher

10:25 a.m.

I'm teaching my year 7s and 8s about pitch this week. We have to discuss words such as range, octave, high, low, etc. So how does one demonstrate these things?

One sings.

So there I was, fifteen minutes into 2nd lesson, singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" to a rapt group of year 7s, when I realize that I left my classroom door open. There's a year 11 and a year 12 (both girls I don't know very well but who have annoyed me in the past) listening, and poking their head in my room to shout out when I'm finished, therefore interrupting my lesson.

I had a bit of a yell at them and the scampered off.

I do love singing that to my kids, though...they love it. It shows off my voice and is fun and challenging to sing. The kids get a kick out of hearing me sing. I think that a lot of Essex Mums never sang to their children...

Oh, Lord...My Feet HURT!!!

12:48 p.m.

Normally these shoes don't hurt my feet but today...yeeee-ouch!!

They're the cutest shoes, though. Two-inch heels, almost square-toed, with an ankle strap that somehow managaes to streamline my ankles rather than make them look like elephant ankles.

I'm also wearing a black skirt with purple flowers on it and a black sweater. Hair in a ponytail with a butterfly clipped on to it.

I suppose if the year 7s were behaving worse, my feet wouldn't hurt. I'll take tired feet over a full day of big whiny babies any time.

I guess it's the singing. Third lesson was abnormally quiet for a change just because I sang. I could market something here...want good behavior in your classroom? Sing to them. Oh, a nice enough voice and years of voice training do come in handy.

What Part of "Draw a String Instrument" Do They Not Understand?!?

1:14 p.m.

"Right class, when you finish the worksheets on the string family, please write down these music vocabulary words, then you will get a blank piece of paper. On this I want you to draw the string instruments OR write a poem about them."

A lot of little boys drew cars.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that 11-year-old boys cannot hear anything beyond "car," "sweets," and "time for lunch."

Ahh, the Sweet Sound of...Nothing.

3:20 p.m.

My classroom is empty. The school is clearing out. The bell has gone and so have the kids. I have peace and quiet again!

And achy feet. Which means that soon I will be on my merry way home to put them up.

After all, I got here at 7:00 this morning. I ought to leave by 4:00. That sounds fair.

All for today. Slow news day, I'm afraid. Though those are not always a bad thing! Hopefully I'll have more to talk about soon.



3:37 p.m.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Back to Sweating the Small Stuff...

I'll start with Thursday. Good old hectic Thursday.

Thursday found me arriving at St. Peter's at 6:45 in the morning. A new record, I think. I spent an hour setting work for the day before walking to the train station to catch the 8:21 London-bound train.

Unfortunately, I was not going to London. I changed at Wickford and headed back East to Rayleigh. I was to visit the Deanes School and Tony, the AST (Advanced Skills Teacher) for Music in Essex county.

I spent a good few hours with Tony, going over some of the GCSE coursework that had been turned in. Tony, as ever, was helpful and encouraging. Even told me he'd like to recommend me to a school in Colchester that is looking for a music teacher. I was tempted for all of 15 minutes, but it sounded like a fixer-upper to me, and Lord knows, I'm looking for something more established this time around.

I got back to school during lunchtime and found that my fifth lesson was covered, so I could get some serious work done. Yay! I spent fifth period with a classful of noisy year 7s to my back, headphones on, listening to the rest of the exam CD.

Freak-out Friday

Friday was the deadline for my music kids to finish GCSE coursework. Before first lesson, I had already locked myself in the ladies twice to "calm down" and clean myself up. My eye makeup was demolished before I did any teaching at all.

My fellow year 12 mentors, Stuart and Louisa, have their kids come to my room every Monday and Friday for registration, so we can go over General Studies. I saw Stuart in the hallway and received from him the usual smile and, "Hiya Meg, how are you?" He received in turn a not-so-usual, *long pause* *deep breath* "I'm fine, Stuart, how are you?" He just laughed, gave me a knowing look and told me something along the lines of "hang in there."

I was given second and third lessons off timetable to go to the studio with my kids and finish recording coursework. First lesson found me stewing and stressing in a room full of hyperactive, low-ability 13-year-olds.

I was minding my own business, having passed out the year 9 assessment I gave last week, when in walks Gary, one of the deputy heads, asking about the progress with my GCSE coursework.

Let me insert right here that the other deputy head, David, is the one in charge of curriculum, and I have not once spoken to Gary about my GCSE group.

"Oh, they're okay. I'll be in the studio with them 2nd and 3rd lesson today, and possibly after school."

"Good, good."

The above exchange was all in undertones, as Gary could see that I had students taking a test. He turned to go. As he reached the door, he turned around and said loudly enough for the whole class to hear, "Because you know, if you don't finish this today, they will all fail GCSE music."

"Yes. I know this." Tight smile.

And off went Captain Obvious on his merry way, leaving me to fume quietly over his massive display of unprofessionalism.

Fortunately, it was all uphill from there. We got everything recorded, filled out, signed, sealed and ready for marking. Hallelujah!

The Weekend

I spent Saturday marking coursework. Each student had to turn in two compositions and do three performances. One performance has to be of one of their compositions. I have to mark for accuracy, interpretation, creativity, etc. It's hard! But I feel confident that I got it pretty right.

My kids did very well on the performance part, but they were weaker on the composition part. It is to be expected, seeing as how they have now completed a two-year course in eight months.

All thanks to the hard work, dedication and near panic-attack of their devoted teacher, Miss Cooper.

Sunday was gorgeous so I found myself walking in Burnham, along the river and through the riverside park. Later on I found myself enjoying Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Of course, since then, I have had the news of Bruce and the always-important reminder that life is too precious to sweat the small stuff.

This week will be a bit nutty because the school has finally put the year 9s on the Behaviour For Learning policy. The year 7s and 8s have been on it since January and it seems to work pretty well. We expect huge battles with the year 9s, but they are a particularly horrid group. Probably the worst year group in the school. It happens everywhere. Most year groups are good, with 1 or 2 major instigators who quickly get squashed when they realize they are alone in wanting to create chaos. Then you get a year that has about twenty or thirty of the little buggers, and there's not much you can do except to push them through school and get them out of your hair as quickly as possible. I saw this phenomenon in my student teaching, and in Elverta.

So here I find myself on Tuesday morning, with an extra free period because my year 10s are out for two weeks on something called Extended Work Experience. They basically go to work every day for two weeks. And we teachers get 3 extra free periods for two weeks.


Monday, May 16, 2005

A Shout-out to Bruce

Bruce is a friend of my parents, from back in the early days of the Folsom Band Booster program. Bruce and his wife Debi, and her mother Lola, came out to show their support of their freshman daughter Keli from the start, as did my parents for me.

I suppose it was inevitable that the hard-core Boosters would bond. A monster was created in these intrepid Band Boosters. "Loud and Proud" was their motto at football games and marching band competitions. They loaded the truck, mended uniforms, hauled drums and tubas, and fed hungry high school musicians. They sold souvenirs at football games, wore their "Band Mom" and "Band Dad" buttons with almost manic pride, and screamed like hell when the Folsom band marched onto the field. They drove hundreds of miles each weekend in marching season, following school buses and creating a caravan of minivans and Sports Utility Vehicles crammed to the gills with coolers, bottled water, instruments, and stadium seats. They came to care about each and every kid in the band and color gaurd, not only their own.

Bruce was the artist-in-residence. Need a jazz logo? Need a bulldog in a marching hat? Bruce was the man to call. He lent his creativity and passion to a cause that to him was more important than many things. Every line he drew, every computer graphic he toyed with, was in support of his daughter and the hundred-fifty or so other kids in the music program.

His grapics are still used by the Boosters today, most notably his classic jazz logo:

More importantly, Bruce was a go-to guy. He loaded equipment, helped set it up for each show, and did a lot of the heavy labor others avoided. He was often one of the first to arrive and last to leave.

I got to know Bruce well throughout my high school years. If he and Debi and Lola weren't at my parents' house with the other Boosters, or at the fireworks booth in June, tirelessly selling fireworks to raise money for the band (in triple-digit heat, I might add), he was inevitably calling my mom about something jazz festival-related. Mom and Bruce pioneered the Folsom Jazz Festival, taking it from nothing special to a huge event that schools from as far away as Canada want to attend.

It got to be fairly common to answer the phone and hear, "Hi Megan, it's Bruce." He needed no other introduction. I would say hello and immediately find Mom and hand the phone over. We teased Mom that it was her boyfriend calling. They were a great team, and combined with my dad's leadership skills and Debi's management skills, and the Johnsons and Larsons and other Booster couples, the team thrived.

I spent a lot of time around the Boosters, even sometimes joining them after football games at Denny's or Lyons. I helped as much as possible at all fundraisers, and enjoyed these people for their spirit and willingness to work so hard. They helped shape my future career as a music teacher every bit as much as Mr. Gaesser, my actual teacher, did.

I recall one sticky, hot summer in particular. I must have been sixteen, approaching my 17th birthday. It was late June and the fireworks booths were about to open. I was working at the district office for Folsom Cordova Unified School District (also my Mom's employer) and saw a stack of coupons for the Band Booster fireworks booth at the reception desk. I picked one up and had a good laugh at the picture of Mr. Gaesser with a pencil in his nose that Bruce had super-imposed on a mock dollar bill. The Booster Bucks were an incentive to get people to come to our booth, instead of, say, the PeeWee football or something.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed that Bruce had left out one critical "S"--we were giving away "Booter" Bucks!! How we all laughed at that--and how Bruce was ribbed about it for a long time.

Shortly after Keli and I graduated from high school, Debi, a manager at the local J.C. Penny's, was reassigned to a store in Arizona, and eventually to Washington state. The Boosters were horrified to see their friends go, but always kept in contact through email, calls, and visits. It seems that the ties forged in blood, sweat and marching revues are hard to sever.

A couple of years ago, the email came to my parents that Bruce had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Everyone was horrified that such a gentle, kind man should be struck by such an ugly illness. We vowed to send our thoughts, prayers and good vibes to Bruce and his family, and the family vowed to fight.

Debi (his wife), Lola (Debi's Mom), Wendy, Keli and Kimberly (his daughters) and various members of their extended families strapped on their armor and got to work, researching, comforting, cheering and keeping the long list of people who love Bruce informed.

The ever-intrepid Band Boosters got to work in Folsom, calling people they'd lost touch with years ago to pass out Bruce's address and to appeal for a card to be sent in support. Mom and Dad and their friends paid a visit to Bruce in Washington. The doctors were amazed at how this visit (and other subsequent visits) caused Bruce to have a huge spike in his health.

Alas, it was not to last. Bruce has steadily deteriorated, and the cancer has never gone away. Despite the hope and the prayers, nothing has caused a remission. Bruce and Debi and the family have soldiered on, but now it is getting near the end of the fight.

Dad called me yesterday to tell me that Bruce has taken a turn for the worse, and no one really knows how much longer he has. He has told the doctors that if they can't make him what he was, he doesn't want to fight anymore. His daughters are with him, and on Saturday, he and Debi renewed their marriage vows. My parents drove to Portland, Oregon (where Bruce is hospitalized) to be there. The Larsons, another Booster couple, flew up from Sacramento.

Bruce is the kind of guy that should never have had to suffer like this. With all the evil people in the world, why does someone so good have to go through something so horrible? It is one of life's unanswerable questions, and one we must learn to live with. We don't have to like it, but we have to live with it.

So Bruce is on my mind today. And the little things have just kind of taken a back seat for now.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Today's Planetary Energies

Hello Megan,
Here's your May 11 horoscope.

A creative project that you have been working on may be coming to a climactic peak at this time, Megan. Discuss your progress with others and feel free to hold an informal critique in order to get honest feedback on your work. A piece of art should stir some sort of reaction inside another person. Consider ways in which you can challenge the people around you with your talent.


The creative project would refer to GCSE Music, that extremely heavy monkey on my back. The climactic peak refers to the fact that I've been given a day off timetable to deal with it all. I have been hunting my kids down, finalizing details for recording their coursework (composition and performance), talking to all the people who are helping me with this, drinking large quantities of tea and listening to my Aerosmith CD. I'm slowly making progress.

I go craaaaay-zeee
Baby, I go craaayzee.
You turn it on
Then you're gone,
Yeah you drive me

Sorry. Just had to sing along.

Anyway, I'm feeling a smidgeon better. Just a teensy bit. I've been in panic mode about this for a month now and I'm so ready for it to be over and done. It will be soon. End of this week, possibly early next week. Thank God.

So it's been a productive morning. Here I am, continuing my productivity by...updating my blog. Hey, I'm entitled to a quick break. And a wee (too much tea). And a good laugh.

The good laugh comes from the staff room, where one of our finance ladies has just set out some books for sale. Companies sell books and other goodies at reduced prices in teacher lounges the world over. I love looking at all of it and I've even ordered things before.

Anyway, Heather (the finance lady) brought in a bunch of stuff and showed my friend Donna and I one of the offerings.

Erotic Dot-to-Dot.

I'm not kidding.

We laughed until we hurt. I might still be blushing, actually. One of the pictures is a lady's head, and the dot-to-dot right in front of her open mouth is unmistakably a...well. You can figure it out.

My friend Louisa and I discussed whether we should photocopy a few and use them as starter activities in our lessons. I'm sure they'd be popular. Though we might have an increase in parent complaints.

I've had more response to the making public of my plans. Everyone is sad to see me go. The assistant head, Alison, told me yesterday she was really sad to get my letter. She understands, but she is sad to see me leave. Today, the deputy head, David, and I spoke during break and he thanked me for all that I have done, including going above and beyond what I needed to do. I told him that I learned from my Air Force daddy that if there's a job to be done, just get it done.

Listening to people, I realize that I have done some really good things here. But I'm still ready to come home for a while. Millie needs me. Well, okay, I admit it, I need her.


"Life's a journey, not a destination."

Don't worry, I'll be switching CDs soon. U2 isn't quite so quoteable as Aerosmith.

Anyway...I guess I should get back to work.



Monday, May 09, 2005

Marriage Proposals and What the Bosses Think

Marriage Proposal

Somehow, I was hoping for more romance.

I mean, what girl doesn't dream of candlelight and bunches of flowers for her first proposal of marriage?

I got flourescent lighting and bunches of year 8s.

Yes, folks, it's true. I've been proposed to. Unfortunately, it does not follow that I'm engaged. Even if Liam were old enough, I wouldn't have him.

It all started yesterday during first period. I had settled my year 8s in to take their music assessment. I was explaining the test itself and the rules of conduct I expected. In walks Liam, a year 9 with...problems...slurring, "I loooove yooouu, Misssss!!"

I ignored it and kept talking. Liam left.

A few minutes later, he's back. This time he comes into my room while four of his little friends stand in the hallway, snickering, and says, "Miss...will you marry me?"

"Liam, go to class."

(Ooh! Harsh!)

"Will you marry me?"

I walked out into the hallway and threatened all five boys with detention if they didn't get to class immediately. Off they went.

A little while later, my friend Louisa comes back with Liam. She teaches his IT class first thing on Monday morning and he had to be kicked out. He refused to go to the art teacher next door to me, so she asked if I would take him. I agreed...but Liam just stood in the hallway being weird. Louisa mentioned that she thought he might be on something.

So I poked my head into the nearby staff room, where I could see one of the senior members of staff, and whispered, "Ralph...Liam so-and-so is out here causing problems. We think he's been taking something..." Ralph said, "Right. On my way."

Liam was sent home for the day.

Hopefully, next time someone gets it into their head to propose to me, they'll at least give me flowers!

The Bosses

I gave my letter of resignation to four people: the Head, the two deputy heads, and the assistant head who deals with personnel. The head and one deputy have acknowledged it. The deputy simply thanked me for my letter and told me he understands my decision, thank you for all you've done, etc.

The head said much the same thing, then added, "I don't know that we'll be able to find another music teacher...even if we advertise now, no one will respond... shortage area...well, we might just have to cut music from our school curriculum."

And this is my problem, how?

Anyway, I am not feeling guilty. I have done everything I can for this school and if they didn't cover their hineys by looking for a new music teacher while I was still making up my mind, just in case, it's their problem, not mine.

Meanwhile, I've been quietly telling people that I'm leaving. No billboards, no big announcements. But people have been asking and I'm being honest. I'm sincerely flattered by the reaction I'm getting--people are sorry to see me go. Though they all acknowledge that it is best for me.

I will miss my colleagues. I've met some lovely people here.

Right. Lessons to plan, copies to make, people to talk to, kids to discipline. Another Tuesday. Must gear up for 5th period, who have taken Friday Five's place as my least favorite class to teach. Friday Five is actually somewhat teachable now. A lot of them have improved. I guess perseverance (and concessions for big-time immaturity) pays off.



Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Megan Story

I feel like that's been the whole focus lately. Of course it has been for me, but I fear that I've made it so for everyone else, too.

The Back Story

Our leading lady, Megan, has made a very difficult decision regarding her future at an English school. Having now decided to leave (and having fabulous refreshed blonde highlights), Megan must do the difficult bit--actually quit her job.

Act 1, Scene 1: Megan Turns in the Letter

Right, so Friday, I printed out my resignation letter and copied it, signed it, and put it on my desk. I had all of 5th period to think about that letter, sitting there, and to get my courage up enough to turn it in. I figured if it waited 'till Monday, fine, but it might be better just to get it over with.

After school, I took it round to my friend Louisa's classroom, then to my buddy Stuart. They both thought it was a well-written letter and encouraged me to get it over with. They're both sorry to see me go, but understand that I am not happy working here.

I chatted with Stuart in his classroom until it was time for me to leave to catch my train. He and one of the technicians in his department, a Santa-lookalike named Graham, have been very good to me since I've been here. Then I gathered my things, slipped the letters in the appropriate trays, and set off for the train station to catch my 4:21 train. To London, to London, to see The Philadelphia Story.

Act 1 Scene 2: Oh, Shit!!

I had been walking for all of 2 minutes when I realized that I had forgotten to print out my hotel reservation information.

"No matter," I thought to myself. "I have my Visa that I used to reserve the room. They won't mind."

So I walked about ten more steps and then thought to myself, "Oh, shit! What's the name of the hotel???"

I had to double back to the school, dash to one of the staff room computers, and jot down the hotel name and address on a piece of paper. By now it was about 4:18. I would never make it.

One of the deputy head teachers, a man named David, saw my distress and asked what time my train was leaving.

"Oh, about 2 minutes."

Bless his heart--he drove me to the station. Even though he'd just checked his tray and read my letter. He didn't comment on that, though.

We dashed out to his car and he cruised to the station. It's only a moment or two from the school, but walking I never would have made it. He pulled into the station car park, I jumped out, falling all over myself in gratitude, and dashed to the platform. Within one minute of leaving David's car, the train pulled up.

Act 1 Scene 3: Travel Hell

Right, so I made the train. It would not have been tragic if I'd missed the 4:21, just a pain in the ass. I would have made the 5:21 and just not gone to the hotel first. But then, I might not have had a place to stay, either!

The train normally goes to Shenfield and I switch there for the London train. Which is why I didn't immediately get off at Wickford, which is two stops before Shenfield. It took me a good ten minutes of sitting there like a total dork to realize that the train was terminating there. Another couple of minutes and I would have been unhappily back on my way to Burnham-on-Crouch.

I finally figured which way the water flows (or the train, in this case) and got off, switched platforms and got on my merry way to London.

Once in London, I took the tube to Edgeware Road, figuring I'd get off there and hail a taxi to find the hotel. No problem, except that it seems between the hours of 5 and 6 in London on a Friday afternoon, finding a taxi that's not already hired is nearly impossible. I finally did, though, and arrived, unscathed, at the hotel Hyde Park Radnor at 6:30, an hour before the curtain was to go up. Right on schedule.

Only to be told that in fact, my room is at the sister hotel up the road and around the corner.

Don't worry, though. I made it just fine.

Act 2 Scene 1 The Good Stuff

I made it to the Old Vic with 15 or 20 minutes to spare, bought a program and found my seat. I was very excited about this play because well, Kevin-oh-my-goodness-Spacey is in it, but also because it stars Jennifer Ehle, who played Lizzie Bennet (and fabulously, I might add) in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

They were wonderful! I was very pleased with the story, the set, the costumes, the acting--all of it. I do so love the theatre.

Kevin's character does not come on stage until the end of Act 1. When he did, the audience clapped. I nearly fell out of my chair. The man exudes confidence and sexiness the way I exude a bad mood in a year 9 class. He is magnificent. His character, C.K. Dexter Haven, is funny and lovely and I really enjoyed watching him laugh at all the goings-on.

The play had two intervals (so I felt obliged to have two ice creams in honor of this). When it was finished I did not attempt to get autographs at the stage door. Maybe I'll go see it again and try then, but I figured I was ready to go to bed after a short-long week (short because we had Monday off, long because of, well, everything else).

Act 2 Scene 2 Too Much Time to Think

My hotel room was clean, quiet and comfortable. I watched TV until the wee hours and avoided thinking about what I had done until I finally turned the lights out at 1:30. Then I got to feeling that "Oh my God, what have I done?" feeling of panic. I shed a few tears but quickly reminded myself that I have a lot to look forward to, such as Sunday mornings watching NASCAR, cuddling with my Cuddle Bug (Millie), exploring Seattle, scrapbooking, visiting Sacramento more often than I can from England.

I started to feel a bit better at that point. The next two-and-a-half months will be like this. Up and down, up and down, round and round, topsy-turvey, up and down.

Act 2 Scene 3 Lazy Weekend

Fortunately, the rest of my weekend was as enjoyable as going into London. I did my co-op shopping for the week, relaxed with a great book called "May Contain Nuts" by John O'Farrell (about modern parenting--the mother who is telling the story is a combination of Bridget Jones and Super-Freak-Mom). It was hysterically funny and I read it all on Saturday.

Saturday night I relaxed with Top Gun on the DVD.

Sunday I had a fabulously late lie-in with a book, then got up to eat, drink and be lazy. Well, I did clean my room. And cook potato-leek soup. And clean a bunch of veggies for my lunch salads this week.

All in all, my perfect kind of weekend.

Act 3, Scene 1 The Moment of Truth

We had a staff briefing this morning, as we always do on a Monday, and I stood there the whole time thinking, "Oh my God, everyone in this room knows I'm leaving and they're all looking at me." Which, of course, is not true. And I'm sure I'm imagining the evil eye I feel my faculty leader giving me ever since last Tuesday. She doesn't know I'm leaving yet, but she's been a bit...cool...towards me since I let her know how I feel about the fact that she and the deputy head "encouraged" me to keep up with my lost cause of GCSE Music.

Anyway, I was afraid that the head would come up to me and start with his, "Oh, we're sorry to lose you, what can we do to keep you?" and expect me to have ready answers at 8:45 on a Monday morning when I got only a few hours of sleep (my own fault--I refused to put the book down). I knew that the only answers that would come out of me would be, "Er, well, um. Yeah. Tough decision. Hard. But nothing short of a kid transplant and oh, a new senior management team that's actually organized will keep me here... ."

I just didn't want to go there this morning.

One of the deputy head teachers, Gary, approached me after the briefing. I thought to myself, "Oh, here we go. Bite your tongue, Motor Mouth." All he said, however, was, "Thank you for the letter. We're sorry to see you go, but I understand it's the best thing for you." He was very nice about it, and discreet, not booming it out across the staff room for everyone to hear. No why's, how's and how come's. Just a simple acknowledgement of my letter. I, in turn, told him, "It was very difficult to make the decision, but in the end I felt it best that I go back to the U.S., and also I felt it best to let you know as soon as possible." He appreciated that.

Act 3 Scene 2 Making Plans

It helps to know that I am going to make the best of my time left in England. I have grand plans to see Windsor Castle this weekend, and to spend a day of my half-term break in Brighton. I actually talked to my friend Louisa this morning and she is up for going with me. I think my friend Donna and her fiancee will come, and maybe we can get a nice group of people. There's a wonderful sea center there that only keeps animals that can flourish in captivity (no dolphins or whales doing tricks), and it looks fascinating. Also, Brighton has its famous pier, a lovely beach, and lots to do. I think it will be a fun trip.

I'm also looking into doing some other day trips, alone and with friends.

Act 3, Scene 3 Making Plans Beyond July

I have some research to do about jobs, places to live, etc. It will come together. And I've been thinking about my return to England. I told Kathy last night, "I will come back. I said I would 6 years ago and I did it. By God, I'll do it again." She simply replied, "I have no doubt you will."

And so I will.

After the Curtain Call

Yesterday was May 8 2005. Six years ago to the day, I boarded a plane at Heathrow and left London. I remember being sad to go, and unsure of myself once I got back to California. I remember thinking to myself, "I'll be back!" I knew, if nothing else, I would come back to England. Since then, every time May 8 has rolled around, I've thought, "Wow, it's been a year since I left England..." "Wow, it's been two years since I've left England..." This year, "Wow, it's been six years since I've left England, and, oh, wait, I'm here!" Happy feeling.

Right. Self-centered and panic-stricken probably best describe the Megan of the last few months. So, let me just acknowledge that I'm going to make an effort to be better about writing, calling, emailing, sending smoke signals, etc.

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUMMER!!!! You are officially in your late 20s. And I'm not far behind you.



Friday, May 06, 2005

Blondie Gets Her Nerve Up (and Goes to London)

I am blonde again!

After nearly 6 months of going without so much as a trim, I finally had my hair done last night. There's a gal who works in the canteen, Donna, who does hair. She went to beauty college and everything. She gave my highlights a major boost and trimmed the straw off the bottom of my hair. I feel 10 pounds lighter, and my mood is brightened considerably. Just sitting there having a chat and getting my hair fussed over made a long day fade away in my mind.

Which I needed, after 5th period, in which six year 7 terrors covered a good deal of my classroom floor with spit wads. Nice.

Anyway, here's the requisite picture:

Why does Blondie need to get her nerve up?

Well, she needs to turn in her notice.

I've written the letter. I need to print it out, which I will probably do at lunchtime. Then I'll either put it in the Head's tray, or wait 'till Monday. I know I'm going to do it, and I'm coming to terms with it pretty well, so far, but getting that little push to actually physically put the letter in the tray is difficult. It seems so final.

How is Blondie feeling?

She's okay, actually.

I get a little emotional if I think too much, so the challenge has been emptying my head and/or thinking about good things, like cuddling Millie, scrapbooking with Mom, working at a school where I feel happy about things. When I imagine the future beyond July, I feel pretty good (if a bit uncertain). When I think about the time leading up to that, I feel mixed. When I think about the "see ya's" (I hate "goodbye") and actually boarding the Seattle-bound 747, I want to cry. So I don't think about them. Well, I try not to.

Why's Blondie going to London?

She has a date with Kevin Spacey. Again.

Yep, his second play, The Philadelphia Story, opened this week. I will be there tonight, with bells on. I'm spending the night in a hotel (no hostels for me!!) and doing a teensy bit of shopping tomorrow before heading back to Burnham.

I'm all packed and ready--I'm going to the station straight from school.

Besides Kevin Spacey, what's keeping Blondie going?

Friends. Family. Friends.

I get by with a little help from my friends. Friends in California, family in Washington, friends in England. Friends like Melissa:

Alright, well, what can I say? I cried a few tears for you this morning. I know how tough this decision was for you to make. But, I also know you've made the decision that is right for you.

And Heather:

Hang in there kiddo. You've made the right decision. And your dad's
right, you can always change your mind. Your friends will be there for
you, no matter what you do or where you go.


We'll support whatever your choice is. This will always be your home.



And my English friends like Kathy and Derek, and Louisa, who are sad to see me go but happy that I've made my decision and have a huge weight off.

Is Blondie finished with this blog update?

You bet. She's off to London Town in less than an hour.


Meg (Blondie)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sold Out of Miracles

I am so very, very tired.

First off, I will announce, informally, that I am leaving St. Peter's High School at the end of July. This is informal because I have not turned in my notice to the school yet. I'll probably do that next week.

I came to the decision yesterday after lunch. At lunchtime, I sat in the office of the Head Teacher's secretary, trying to convince my bosses that to continue with GCSE Music for the year 11s is pointless and hopeless. The deadline is tomorrow and they are not done. I have done everything I can to help these kids succeed, but it wasn't enough. I don't blame myself, but I feel horrible for the kids.

Meanwhile, my bosses think I can pull miracles out of my rear end. I hate to break it to them, but I'm sold out of miracles this week.

So it's a stressful situation. And the straw that broke the camel's back.

I am tired of so many things. And I have so many things I want:

Nicer kids

The kids at this school have been allowed to behave like monsters. It's a vicious cycle that the school is unable to get out of. I want to teach children who listen for more than 30 seconds. I can't get a whole class of year 7s to listen for more than one or two sentences out of my mouth. I'm not exaggerating. I want kids who do not have constant access to vending machines that sell sweets and crisps and sugary drinks. They'll never take the vending machines away. Why not? Money.

To care

I want to care again. I want to care about what I do and why I do it. I want to feel fondness for my students, not apathy and even sometimes intense dislike.

To teach

I don't want to babysit. If I wanted to babysit I'd work in a day care. I am a qualified music teacher and I want to share what I know and love with these kids. But they want nothing of it. I am so tired of fighting behavior and those pockets of kids who would rather throw spit wads. I'm tired of my classes being interupted by kids in the hallway who should be in lesson.

So I will most likely be heading back to Washington, collecting my cat, and starting a new adventure there.

I thought about Millie last night. I've missed her.

Speaking of, while Mom and Dad and I were in Paris, I got a little present. Dad was giong through his suitcase one morning and said to me, "I think this is for you." Then he tossed it to me. It was one of Millie's little furry mouse toys (a Mousketeer). Logically, I know that Millie just lost her mouse in Dad's bag while Dad was packing. But in my heart I know she was sending me a present.

So I have a Mousketeer on my night table.

This has been a difficult decision. I love England but I cannot continue to be this stressed and apathetic. I want better for myself. I have worked hard to become a teacher and I want a job that I can be proud of.

I will never have regrets. I have done everything I set out to do. I got a teaching position in England. I got to spend a year here. I made my biggest goal happen. I have nothing to regret and everything to be proud of.

It still hurts to know I'm leaving. But...onward and upward. Don't look back!



Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Don't Look Back

I first read the following poem six years ago, shortly after being Royally Dumped by a stupid boy for my then "best friend."

In the midst of my depression, anger and woe, my dad gave me a little pocket-sized book with the poem "Don't Look Back" and illustrations by Mary Engelbreit. It has stuck with me--especially the last stanza, which has become a mantra to me. I know I've quoted it to people before.

Here it is:

As you travel through life there are always those times
When decisions just have to be made;
When the choices are hard, and solutions seem scarce
And the rain seems to soak your parade!

There are some situations where all you can do
Ss to simply let go and move on,
Gather courage together and choose a direction
That carries you toward a new dawn.

So pack up your troubles and take a step forward
The process of change can be tough
But think about all the excitement ahead
If you can be stalwart enough!

There could be adventures you never imagined
Just waiting around the next bend
And wishes and dreams just about to come true
In ways you can't yet comprehend!

Perhaps you'll find friendships that spring from new interests
As you challenge your status quo
And learn there are so many options in life,
And so many ways you can grow!

Perhaps you'll go places you never expected
And see things that you've never seen
Or travel to fabulous, faraway worlds
And wonderful spots in between!

Perhaps you'll find warmth and affection and caring --
A "somebody special" who's there
To help you stay centered and listen with interest
To stories and feelings you share.

Perhaps you'll find comfort in knowing your friends
Are supportive of all that you do
And believe that whatever decisions you make,
They'll be the right choices for you!

So keep putting one foot in front of the other
And taking your life day by day.
There's a brighter tomorrow that's just down the road.
Don't look back! You're not going that way!

~ Mary Engelbreit

I have this poster in my room at Kathy and Derek's house. It shows a little gal walking on her life path. The sign post has two signs--one says, "Your Life," and the other, "No Longer an Option." Guess which path she's taking?

So now, I must figure out what is No Longer An Option for myself.

In the meantime:


P.S. Mary's my gal--I love this one!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


To stay or not to stay...that is the question. The big question. The one that keeps me up at nights (if I let it. I read a lot these days).

Reasons to Stay

1. I love Burnham-on-Crouch This is very true. I like walking along the quay on a sunny morning, I like shopping at the co-op. I like the fact that people smile and say hello to me, and that people recognize me and know that I am a part of this place. I like that I can walk home late at night and feel safe. I like that several of my colleagues live here and I run into them from time to time.

2. I love being near London That's a no-brainer. I adore London, always will. Being an hour away by train is ideal. I have museums, great theatre and Kevin Spacey right at my fingertips. Shopping, galleries, beautiful parks, you name it. And I missed London for 5 long, long years after London Semester. I don't want to leave that luxury behind.

3. The people Kathy and Derek. A select few of my colleagues. These people have come to mean something to me.

Reasons to Go

1. This school drives me mad!! It's no secret. The kids are undisciplined and the supervision here is poor on a good day, non-existent the rest. I wander through my lessons with one eye on the kids to make sure there is no murder and mayhem, the other on my watch, mentally counting the minutes 'till the end of the day. I've given up trying to talk to my classes--I just throw the worksheet down and then help the kids who ask. Can't use the keyboards--only half are working and when you do let the kids use them, it's chaos. I can't even use glockenspiels--they demolish the mallets and rip the keys off.

2. My stress level I get headaches more easily, I'm more likely to eat junk food, I don't even want to know what my blood pressure looks like. The job would be hard enough if it were just the kids, but this school is so poorly managed I can barely do my job. It doesn't help that I replaced to utterly good-for-nothing music teachers and now I have to do both of their jobs.

3. I miss the little things (and the not-so-little things) Mom. Dad. Millie. Friends. Family. Car. Target. NASCAR. Affordable clothes. Snoopy collection. DVD collection. CD collection. Large produce sections. Hot dogs that don't come in a jar. Sour Patch Kids. Scrapbook stores. Some of these things may seem inconsequential to you, the reader. But let me tell you, they add up.

4. Finding a place to live (and earning what I'm worth) Pretty self-explanatory. I got some figures from the head teacher on Friday--what I could expect to make, etc. I'm not sure it's high enough for me. Especially not considering what I am expected to do in this job.


...I have some thinking to do. I guess I'm leaning more and more towards leaving. I don't really want to (aside from basically hating my job) but practicality is dictating that I go back to the States and regroup. Earn some money, save some money (for a change) join a gym again, be with my not-getting-any-younger cat (six in September) without putting her through the hell of international shipping.

Besides, England will still be here.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a final decision!!!