Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Year In Review

Another year passes, and it's on to 2009. Here's a look back at sometimes tumultuous, often crazy, but definitely good year.


The New Year started with me at Yoshi's Jazz Club in San Francisco with Heather and Arturo, enjoying the Count Basie Orchestra. New Year's morning found me resolving to never drink that much again on an empty stomach.

Despite a monumental hangover, I had a gut feeling that 2008 was going to be a GREAT year. I had no idea what was in store.

On January 24, my Grandma Cooper passed away, leaving me with details to see to before flying to Salt Lake City for the funeral. Most of my visits to Utah have been in the summertime, so experiencing Salt Lake in the snow was interesting. I was glad for my hats, gloves and scarves.

I ended January with a big "oy vey!" moment when one of my choir students passed out in my classroom.


February was, by far, the hardest month this year. I blogged a grand total of four times, which is not a lot. The economy was starting to get shaky, and a friend advised me to think about staying in my current teaching job at Muckety-Muck High School. I responded, "Oh, no chance of me leaving! I'm not happy so much with the job, but I can give it another year."

The next day, I was fired. On Valentine's Day. Well, not fired, so much, but told that it had been nice, but they wanted "a different dynamic." I was not alone--at leat four or five other teachers (most of us just on the cusp of becoming tenured in the district) were laid off at this time. I was the lucky one who got told on Valentine's Day...they're just lucky I didn't have romantic plans that evening.

"Bitter" hardly begins to describe how I felt. I had just lost my job because a serial womanizer and a man who needed 5 or 6 tries to pass the California BASIC Educational Skills Test (I passed the first try, at age 20) decided I wasn't "dynamic" enough. I took a day off from work to recoup, and that weekend found me on the first of four Winter Drum Line competitions with my hard-working, ever-faithful drum line.

I had an uphill climb ahead. I had to find a new job, and dust off my bruised pride.


I blogged exactly twice in March. I had so little to talk about...well, so little that could be said in a public forum, anyway. I was starting to figure out that getting "let go" had been a gift. How happy had I been in Diva Central? Not very. I hated the fundraising, I resented the kids thinking that my sole purpose in life was to cater to their every whim. Being made to leave was a gift--even if those first few steps were very, very scary.

At the end of the month, I happily found myself enjoying Spring Break with a new hairdo.


In April, I was happy to survive a 3-day trip to Anaheim (with a stop in Hollywood) on which I was in charge of 30+ teenaged choir students. My kids, normally a mostly diva-ish group that made my days miserable, actually behaved beautifully. I guess Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth. Plus, I didn't have to be around them much, and got a free trip to Disneyland and my own huge hotel room.

For Earth Day, I made a few resolutions, and even stuck to a few of them.


May Day was a blessing this year. I woke up. By this, I mean I finally started conquering the depression and anxiety that had plagued me in two years of teaching high school. I woke up that morning, and it was grand.

Mid-month, I came oh-so-close to getting a K-8 music position in Loomis, which would have been great. I came in the Top 3, but ultimately, someone else was hired. I was a wee bit disappointed, but heartened that they liked me so much and felt so honestly bad to turn me down.

That month, my parents and I met Woody, Deanna and Guy of A Chance For Bliss, when they held an open house to raise money for their animal sanctuary. Mom started volunteering to groom the horses, goats and donkey every other Monday. I go with her when I'm in town. The farm is kept clean as a whistle, and those animals are adored. It's a great place to visit.

Meanwhile, I was counting down the days 'til the end of school, and going through stuff in my apartment to sell on eBay or take to Goodwill. This explains how one Saturday found me washing and ironing my old doll clothes.


Ahh, June. This month found me packing the contents of my apartment and frantically figuring out what I was going to do about a job. I decided to save money by getting out of my lease one month early, and staying with Mom and Dad. I figured I'd stay through July and August, and start a new job later in August. I figured wrong--but more on that in a minute.

On June 12th, I officially ended my time as Choir Teacher at You're Kidding, Right? High School, with an exhausted, "I am done" texted to friends and family.

Packing hilarity continued, and then, finally, it was time for a much-anticipated bright spot: Meeting up with fellow NASCAR Nuts Jamie and Tiff to show them around San Francisco and attend the race at Infineon Raceway. This was the start of what I called "The Summer of Turning Thirty."

By the end of the month, I was up to my eyeballs in boxes, and ready to start a new chapter (even though I hated leaving my adorable apartment--the one bright spot in Anti-yuck).

June 30th was Moving Day. I woke up bright and find that my car had been vandalized. To this day, I still don't know why the people who sprayed mustard on a bunch of other cars chose to do $3,500 worth of damage to MY car only. Thank God I'm insured.

Rosie Pro went to a body shop, and I found myself driving a rented Toyota Camry (also covered by insurance) around for a week. It was during this time that I drove to Stockton for a job interview. I remember thinking, "Eh...Stockton..." because let's face it, the city does have a reputation. But I also remember leaving the interview thinking, "This is exactly the job I want."

I managed to have a GREAT Independence Day, enjoying a truly wonderful parade in downtown Lincoln.

And then...the phone call. I was offered a job in Stockton, teaching K-8 music. I accepted readily, and then listened with some dismay as the personnel lady said, "And...we start school two weeks from today."

"YIKES!" was my first thought, followed by, "Waitaminute...I bet we get a Fall Break...AWESOME!!" I LOVE modified year round!

This was Tuesday, July 15th. On Wednesday, I drove to Stockton to sign a contract and get fingerprinted at the SUSD Police headquarters. Sharon, the personnel lady, asked if I sing. "Yes, and I just saw a web site for Stockton Chorale!"

"I was just going to tell you about it! I sing with Chorale."

It was decided that I must try out in September.

I can't even begin to tell you how nervous and scared I was that day. What was I getting myself into? How would it all end up? Would I find a place to live, or would I have to commute from Lincoln for the first couple of weeks?

Turns out I worried in vain. On that eventful Wednesday, I found an apartment that was available that weekend (they were delighted to fill it so quickly). The apartment is older, but it had been recently renovated--all new carpet, paint and appliances. Sweet!

The next day, I found a mover, who was willing to work on a Sunday to help a gal with her last-minute move. It all fell into place so easily, I know it was meant to be.

School started on July 29th. I met my new charges, and, while it took us a few weeks to get into a routine, I found that managine a classroom full of middle school kids is so much easier than high school. On the first day I worked with a Kindergarten class, I texted my parents with glee. "You are in the right place," was my dad's simple reply.


August found me settling into life in Stockton, setting up my apartment, and finding myself really happy with my new gig...even though I had to learn (all over again) that when you teach Kindergarten, frequent handwashing is a must.

It also found me celebrating my 30th birthday, one I'd been looking forward to, as it signifies the beginning of my real adult life in some ways.

I had a super celebration that weekend. Any birthday celebration that ends up with me singing "Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" in a gay bar can't be bad, right?


In September, I auditioned for Stockton Chorale. With my musical background, the director laughed after hearing me sing for a few minutes and said, "Well, you're in like flint!" He decided that he liked my soprano voice (in the past, I've been put on soprano to "improve the head voice," but I guess two years of teaching high school choir improved that to "wow, lovely sound up there!").

A few days later, I found myself acting as liason between my friend Shae in Houston and a group of gals we're friends with, posting regular updates on our private message board as Shae texted me about Hurricane Ike. Her first text came Saturday morning at about 6:30 Pacific time: "Ike is a bastard."

I started thinking of my life in children's songs (occupational hazard), and felt perhaps a bit too much glee at the start of Season Five of Grey's Anatomy.

I ended the month with a two-week fall break, and a three-week series of Crazy Cat Lady posts, as I babysat Bella and Duchess.


Most of October seemed to be break time. I visited Yosemite for the first time in my life, and enjoyed every minute of it. What a beautiful place!

Stockton Chorale had it's first concert of the season, and I experienced the Costume Nazi first-hand (I now know she does this to lots of people, and I have decided that if she ever pulls that on me again, I will point out how she is always looking down during concerts, and barely glances at the director. What looks worse, her bowed head or a teensy bit of white on my shoes?).

Halloween as an elementary teacher is always a ton of fun. I did the Minnie Mouse thing, even wearing my costume to Target and Safeway after school.


November was an interesting month. No matter what your politics (and I generally keep mine out of the LPB, and focus on more trivial stuff), history was in the making. We might have had a female V.P. Historically, a black man was elected president. I was just proud to exercise my right to vote--and I thanked God that I have that right.

For the first time since my student teaching assignment, I chaperoned a middle school dance, with hilarious stories coming out of that. Those kids make me laugh on a regular basis.

Also in November, I became a fan of Twilight, watched my parents tear up at an Alan Jackson concert, and kicked off my annual soup season.

A Happy Thanksgiving was had by all, too.


What can I say? December has been Wild and Absolutely True.

I won't bother linking everything, because it's all very recent. Anyone who reads this with any regularity knows that Millie got pancreatitis, and is recovering beautifully after a two-day hospital visit, a lot of tears on her Mama's part, and the prayers and best wishes of some much-appreciated friends.

And, of course, I adopted the adorable Harley Dude, who is proving to be a delightful addition to the family. My parents love him.

Chorale sang the first part and Hallelujah Chorus of Handel's Messiah, followed by a well-attended and really fun Holiday Pops concert with Stockton Symphony. I enjoyed eyeing a handsome cellist, and even made a chance to talk to him briefly after the concert.

I had a lovely, quiet Christmas with Mom, Dad and the four kitties. Harley has bonded with my dad and doesn't have much time for me. I'll have to take him home soon and reprogram him (Dad is threatening to keep him). Millie is back to her usual self, showing affection and a lot more spunk than she was. She's eating and keeping herself clean.

What's In Store for 2009?

The fun, my friends, is in unwrapping each day as it comes, like a gift. My wish for all of you is a happy, healthy year of wonderful surprises and lots of laughter.

As for the end, I was right. It was a great year.

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