Monday, January 31, 2005

How New Underwear Can Improve a Girl's Mood...

Friday Five.

The notorious, infamous, Friday Five.

I have a new attitude regarding this class:

Bring 'em on.

Friday was bad. I was at the end of a long, tiring week. The Bug from Hell was hanging on (and is still here today). Four weeks I've been sick, tired, stressed, homesick, and having random moments of missing random things, like waking up thinking, "I should go to Target today..." and then remembering that I'm 3,000+ miles from the nearest Target. And right now I'd give anything to spend a Sunday curled in bed watching NASCAR. And don't even mention Mexican food in my presence.

To give you an idea about Friday Five, let me just mention one kid (I'll call him G, there's all kinds of laws about names and images of minors and all that...). Let me just tell you about all the things I learned about G that I really did not need to know. I knew he was a bit...different...than the other kids in year 9 (thirteen-year-olds). I always thought it a little odd that he spends a lot of time rocking his chair back and forth. I did not need to know (but now do thanks to the teacher's aide who works very closely with G) that he is, erm, getting his rocks off, if you will. Turns out, when he was a year 7, G was sitting in the Hall at an assembly and he pulled something out of his trousers. Yeah. That something.

This child does not belong at St. Peter's High School. He has proven that he cannot behave appropriately. No normal teenage boy is going to be so obvious about his bodily functions, other than farting or belching. He needs to be in a school where there are people equipped to deal with his needs, which are many. But how are the teachers of St. Peter's supposed to teach a class full of unruly 13-year-olds when one is sitting in the front of the room masturbating??

I shudder just thinking about it.

Anyway, G also happened to get mad at Mandy, the teacher's aide on Friday and reacted by throwing his backpack at one of my electric keyboards. It didn't hit in a very satisfying way so he threw it at a second one.

Good times to be had at this school, let me tell ya.

The bell rang at 3:20 and the kids rushed out. By 3:22 I was in tears with Mandy and her boss, Caroline, comforting me and telling me that I'm actually doing better with some of these kids than others (including one of the deputy heads). I was just so tired and so tired of being sick and tired, I had to get all the tears out. Caroline and Mandy were wonderful and Caroline gave me some great tips for coping with these kids and keeping them in line (stuff she's seen that works for other teachers with the same group).

Needless to say, I was shattered Friday afternoon. Absolutely knackered (Brit-speak for tired).

But Mandy had invited me to dinner with the teachers aides and I glady went along. We had Indian food at a place here in Burnham. Yummy! I'm developing a taste for Tikka Masala and Bombay potatoes and other mild Indian dishes.

So I had fun with them.

Now, on to the underwear mentioned above.

I went to London on Saturday with the intention of splurging on some cute new underwear. Two of my favorite women's magazines have recently done big spreads on lingerie and one did an article on bra-fitting do's and don'ts so I had been feeling like having cute new undies. I went to Marks and Spencer's and bought two adorable bras and matching panties. Then I spent the rest of my day in London feeling smug as I carried my purchases around. No one knew what I'd just bought but yet I felt smug that I'd invested in beautiful lingerie.

It's always nice to do something special for yourself.

My mood is improved (if my sinuses are not) today. I had a lazy Sunday and today I called the Burnham Surgery to set up an appointment with a doc for tomorrow. This cold/flu/virus/whatever has been going on long enough (almost a full month!) and I'm used to better health than this. Plus, I promised Mom and Dad I'd go to the doctor and get it checked out. I think I've actually had maybe even 3 bugs this month. The first was aches and fever and coughing, the second being major couging, the third being the plugged sinuses and post-nasal drip. I'll get it all sorted tomorrow.

Things are looking up!



Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Is it Saturday yet???

'Cause Saturday I'll be in London. I've earned a trip to London.

And shopping. I don't know why but I really feel like buying underwear. Let's hope I'm not having a "feel like a cow" day.

It's been colder than you-know-what in these parts. I don't generally mind it but the heater in my classroom is broken today and you could probably make ice cubes.

Enough complaining, though. I am done for the day and I get to go home soon and have meat loaf for dinner, with mash and green beans. Comfort food, just as Mom would make it.

There's not much to tell right now--I'm just kinda hanging out waiting for January (and it's accompanying "blahs") to wear off and February to begin. February will be a busy month. At the end, the reward is half-term break. I've booked a place in a hostel for three nights in York. Everyone says York is beautiful and I can't wait to see it.

All for now. My hands are so cold I can barely type...

Cheers, Meg

Monday, January 24, 2005


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it snowed this morning!! I looked out my classroom window at about 8:00 and it was snowing lightly.

Of course, I grabbed my coat and my camera and ran outside laughing like a little girl.

Now (at a quarter to 10:00), it is all gone, melted away in the sunshine. It might snow more later, though.

It was so fantastic!! I stood in the parking lot with white flakes in my hair and on my coat and laughed and laughed. My colleagues were driving in and seeing the California Girl delighted. They were more worried about boring stuff like driving in it--poor souls!!

Hey! It's snowing again!! It's not sticking, though. It's melting almost as soon as it hits the ground.

I am feeling better and better. This bug I've had has really been the bug from Hell. Fortunately, it is going away and I have grand plans to go to London this weekend. See the sights, play with my new digital camera, maybe go on the London Eye again.

I've been very bad about updating this blog but I'm going to get better now that I'm feeling more myself. I've been so busy this month and that is very difficult when one is constantly coughing.

'Till next time then...break time is coming and I have duty in the canteen. Lucky me.



Thursday, January 13, 2005

I have nothing to talk about...

...but wanted everyone to know I'm alive.

I have been slowly, slowly, slowly getting over this cold/flu/slice of hell. Needless to say, sitting around typing in my blog (or email, don't hate me!!) hasn't been high on my list of priorities. No, that coveted spot has gone to sleeping, drinking tea, sleeping, surviving through the day at work, sleeping, hot showers (lots of steam), sleeping, popping Day Nurse and Night Nurse and a little bit of sleeping.

I'm gaining my strenghth back but I think I'm going to need one more weekend sitting on my butt to get back to somewhere near my normal self.

It's always fun teaching when you have little or no voice left--on Tuesday I ended up so scratchy that I decided on Wednesday I would battle the dryness with water. Lots of water.

By morning break on Wednesday I was nearly shoving the poor kids out of my classroom to make it to the ladies on time. Have I learned nothing from my Seattle-San Francisco flight??

Anyway, tomorrow is a non-student day. We are meeting with parents of the students in our mentor groups (those that are interested in coming, anyway). I have about 7 parents coming in, so that will be a light load. The rest of the day will be spent planning a scheme of work for General Studies with the rest of the Sixth Form team. Since the Sixth Form team are some of my favorite people in the school, that's a nice prospect. And did I mention no students?

Happy thought, indeed.

I might add (very quickly) that Friday Five, a class that had shown so much improvement, plummeted last week and greatly resembled a we start back at Square One.

This time, I'm ready for 'em (evil laugh).

All for today.



Saturday, January 08, 2005

Emerging from beneath the rock...

I think I'm (crossing fingers) getting better.

For starters, I actually slept last night. All night! Without waking up once! All week I've been getting 3-4 hours a night, then waking up at 1:00 or 2:00 with a fever and an achy body and general misery. Three nights in a row, this happened.

I was half afraid that last night would be the same deal but it was not. I went to bed at 9:00 and when I woke up I took a look at my alarm clock--7:00!!

I'm still a bit tired and I have a bit of a cough and sore throat, but the worst seems to have passed, thankfully.

Perhaps now I can truly go back to work and not just be a zombie in the classroom!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Not reccommended:

Getting a cold and then compounding it with jet-lag.

Not pretty.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Joy of Travel

Sunday, 2 January, 2005

3:30 a.m. PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Wake up to Dad's voice and incessant beeping of my alarm clock. Oh, and a tickly throat.

3:45 a.m.

Dad yells through the bathroom door for me to save some hot water. I yell back, "I'm almost done!!"


Shower finished--head to bedroom for a blow-dry and to dress. Realize that the tickle in my throat is a full-sized cold looming on the horizon.


Scoop up Millie, kiss her fur, and ask Dad to take a picture.


Quietly wipe away a few tears in the kitchen while Millie explores the top of the refridgerator.


Get in car, buckle up, set off for SeaTac.


Arrive at SeaTac International and silently muse that it is a good thing they didn't name it TacSea. Quietly chuckle at own bad joke.


Wait in long line of cars at departure drop-off area.


Climb out of car, shrug into large backpack.


Join line at United Airlines check in counter, behind annoying guy who is kicking most of his belongings along in front of him.


Check in with friendly United employee, recieve boarding pass and story of an American family who lived in China, came home for a visit, and checked in with a large box full of Jiffy Peanut Butter because they don't have Jiffy in China.


After using the ladies, head to Starbucks with Mom and Dad for hot chocolate and a banana-chocolate chip muffin.


Hug proud but tearful parents and promise to call from San Francisco. Struggle not to cry.


Stand in line for security checkpoint in front of smart-looking young Marine. Continue with struggle not to cry.


Almost lose control of emotions when overhearing proud Marine Mom crying and saying, "We love you!!" to Marine behind me.


Finally get to security check-point. Overhear the lady behind the man who is scrutinizing my X-rayed bag say, "That's a piccolo!" Uh...that's 8 times the size of a piccolo, and I call it a clarinet. Oh questions asked, retrieve bag and purse and coat.


Finally arrive at gate N15. Find nearest ladies' and dive into end stall to have a wee and a good bawl. Bury face in toilet paper and feel glad I decided against wearing eye makeup.


Leave stall. Take deep breath for fortification. Wash hands.


Go to souvenir shop. Buy Seattle sweatshirt, postcard, keyring with Megan on it, and tylenol. Buy cute "Miss You" card for Mom and Dad and stamps.


Fill out card and drop in nearby Post Office collection box.


Boarding starts.


Arrive at seat 23C. Stow bag in overhead, put purse under seat. Sit down, buckle up, and wait.


Scheduled departure time. Pilot informs us that San Fran has "weather" and we cannot leave just yet.


Finally take off.


"Fasten seat belt" sign turns off. Hop out of seat to run to lavatory. No more hot chocolate!!


Have to wee again. Go to lavatory.


Plane starts its descent. Seat belt sign comes on. Have to wee again...


Have to wee really bad.


Make a promise to God to be a better person if only I don't wet myself when the plane sets down.


Plane touches down. God answers my prayer.


Plane reaches terminal. Relief is near!


Head flight attendant announces that the plane is going to be towed to the jetway/terminal. "Please stay seated."


Bite lip to keep from crying when plane stops but seat belt sign stays lit.


Flight attendant announces that towing vehicle does not have enough "oomph" to get the plane in. Need another towing vehicle to "get us in that last 6 or so feet." Try to decide whether to bawl like a baby or laugh hysterically. Decide both would frighten fellow passengers. Instead, concentrate on not creating a puddle.


Seat belt sign comes off. Jump up, dash to lavatory (thankfully only two rows back).


Slam door shut. Thank God and say a few Hail Mary's (though not Catholic).


Emerge from lavatory a new woman.


Retrieve carry-on, walk off plane.


Heft one 30-pound backpack and one 56-pound suitcase off of luggage carousel. Pull it all aside and start loading myself up. Head off towards AirTrain to get to the Internatinoal Terminal.


Arrive at International Terminal


Finally find phone. Call Mom and Dad. Struggle to hold back tears when Daddy says, "We miss you." Chat with Mom. Promise to call when I get home to Burnham-on-Crouch.


Haul suitcase and other luggage to nearby food court. Buy extremely pricey (but yummy) Chinese food and a Coke. Start thinking about how many visits to the loo one Coke will require. Decide next flight is long enough. Start drinking.


Settle in with Kung Pao chicken, fried rice, Coke, and Snoopy notebook.


Here I am.


Check-in starts in 20-odd minutes. Better find Virgin Atlantic counter. Then a ladies room...

Note: times are approximate, but all other details are true. No small children were knocked over in mad dashes to the ladies'. More soon.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year 2005!!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?
And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
And days of auld lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days of auld lang syne?

Lots of stuff to write about today...we'll start with the Big Move.

On Monday, obviously, we packed the contents of a house into a moving van. We stayed at the Residence Inn in Folsom that night and Tuesday night. We decided that Tuesday would be a good day to relax before driving to Washington.

On Tuesday, we said an emotional goodbye to our wonderful neighbors, the Friday family, saw a movie, and did some resting and relaxing.

Wednesday morning found us on the road at 7:45 or so. We took I-5 from Sacramento straight North to Washington. It took us 14 hours and several stops to potty, eat junk food, and stretch our legs. Dad drove the whole 14 hours; Mom and I took turns driving my Protege with the cats in the back.

Millie and Maggie were such troopers! They barely cried...just slept and watched the world go by most of the day. I guess they figure we've gone mad, shuttling them from home to a hotel, to a car, to a condo.

We pulled into the condo at about 10:00 at night, exhausted and road-weary. It's a nice enough place--Mom and Dad will be comfortable here for a month or so, until the new house is finished.

Speaking of the new house...Mom and Dad took me to see it on Thursday morning. It is beautiful! It's in a natural landscape--Douglas firs, a creek, a nearby pond...The neighborhood is lovely and the house itself is gorgeous. I took loads of pictures and hope to post them soon. There are three bedrooms, a loft room (Mom's sewing room) and three-and-a-half bathrooms. Next Christmas Mom and Dad will easily be able to accomodate Aaron and Susanne and me.

Now that I've seen the house, I'm certain Mom and Dad will be happy in Washington.

Crash Course in all these places and spaces...

Sacramento, California -- The place we left.

Bremerton, Washington -- Navy town, where Mom and Dad are temporarily staying. About a 1-hour ferry ride from Seattle.

Port Ludlow, Washington -- About a half hour drive from Bremerton, and where Mom and Dad's house is located. It's a tiny village and the population will top off at about 3,000 people.


Yesterday, Mom and Dad took me to Seattle. All I can say is, "Wow!!"

I had never been to Seattle, and it is a lovely city.

(I hope to have my photos up soon).

We took the 9:00 Bremerton-Seattle ferry and left in a shroud of fog. The further we got into the sound, the more the fog lifted, and pretty soon I got some gorgeous sunrise pictures. The waterways are pretty intricate, so we could not see Seattle right away. About 30 minutes into the ride, however, we came around a bend and there was the Seattle skyline (Space Needle and all!). It was clear, sunny, and gorgeous out.

The ferry ride took an hour, and I must have taken 50 pictures on my new digital camera. As soon as I can get them up at my Picturetrail account (I'm working on it!), I will post them.

Mom and Dad took me to see Pike's Place Market--a colorful and exciting market with fresh flowers, fresh produce, and fresh fish. It's much like Fisherman's Wharf in some ways. There are also several people selling art, jewelry, you name it.

We spent a couple of hours poking around the market and surrounding shops, and then drove over towards the Space Needle so I could get a few pictures.

I can't get over how clean Seattle is. There's very little litter or grafitti. It is a lovely city, and I would love to spend more time there (but it still doesn't surpass London in my heart...).

On the ferry ride back, the boat slowed down at one point and someone came over the speakers telling us that a pod of orcas had been spotted up ahead. Of course, all passengers rushed to the front of the ferry and cheered as the orcas spouted and dove and coasted along. It was wonderful! A perfect end to a lovely day.

New Year's Eve

Of course, yesterday was New Year's Eve, and we had plans for the evening. We had a couple of hours at the condo to relax, then we drove up to Sequim, about an hour from Bremerton, to visit some old military friends of my parents who were having a dinner party. We stayed until 9:00, opting to beat the drunk drivers and get home at a reasonably safe time. I was home by 10:30, showered and fast asleep by 11:00!

Coming Home...

Tomorrow is the day I leave for England...I'm looking forward to being back in my routine. I have so many stories to tell, and American goodies to share!! I admit, more and more each day I start to feel like Burnham-on-Crouch is home. Every time I leave it, I'm happy to come back to it. And I feel that I'm making a difference at St. Peter's High School--enough that it makes me want to stick around and see what else I can do.

And isn't it funny how you have to step away from a place to realize that it is really where you want to be?

So this is entirely unofficial, but I think I might stay there a while...

I have had a wonderful time on my trip home. It has been crazy and hectic but I have enjoyed it so much. I got to spend quality (if not quantity) time with my girlfriends, a lot of quality time with my parents, and I had lots of Millie cuddles (which always makes me happy).

I also got to visit a state (Washington) I'd never seen, and a fabulous city (Seattle).

I've made a Target run (how I've missed Target...), a Mervyn's run, and I've had some good Mexican food. I've driven a car (and realized I truly did not miss driving one bit in England!!).

I have had good gossips with my friends, hugged the people I care about, said my goodbyes to Folsom, and eaten Hershey's Kisses.

I have gone through my CDs (old friends!!), reunited with my clarinet, laughed with my parents, and marvelled at how huge the grocery stores are.

I have looked the wrong way when crossing the street, and laughed at myself and muttered, "You're sooo English."

It has been a great trip.

And now I'm going home...