Thursday, October 31, 2013


Field trips have always been a little bit scary for me, and today was no exception.

See, the kids I work with--all 20 of them--are fantastic, trustworthy kids. I don't doubt for one second that if I tell them, "go sit down over there and don't move," they'll do it. They're not the kind of kids to get left behind somewhere because they weren't paying attention. But still, if a meteor falls out of the sky and beans them on the head, the responsibility falls on me...and that's nerve-wracking.

But today's field trip went without a hitch, even though it was a more complicated field trip that involved having all students meet at one of the junior high schools at 7:00 (early), then get, in several cars, to the other junior high school, then get back to our own school.

Oh, and I was driving some of them in a large school-owned van.

Scary, indeed.

My day started at 5:00, when I woke up before my alarm, curlers in hair, wide-awake and almost-bushy-tailed. After breakfast, I donned my Wonder Woman get-up, and I was on the road by 6:15. I got to school at about 6:30 (not a lot of traffic that early in the day) and met one of my students who was getting a ride to the junior high with me. We climbed into the van--two petite ladies--and figured out how to release the brake.

"There should be a pedal or a lever on that side," my 17-year-old student instructed.

"Heh. Okay, well..." I climbed out of the van and peered at the floor in the semi-dark. "Oh! There it is! How embarrassing." She just laughed, as I muttered, "This is nothing like my Protege."

After another few minutes of fumbling, I figured out how to turn the lights on, the heater and defroster (it was cold this morning!) and even how to use the windshield wipers so I could actually see out the windshield. Wonder Woman was ready to roll.

(The real Wonder Woman, lucky thing, can fly, damn her.)

It was only a couple of miles to our first stop, and relatively easy, though I felt like I was driving a boat, and had my student cracking up as I apologized for driving like an old granny. Thing is, you push your foot down on the gas in that thing, and it wants to go...way more than tiny Rosie Pro does. But if you do that, the weight of that enormous body jolts forward rather uncomfortably. Slow and steady, etc. etc.

The performance at the first junior high was great--a gymnasium filled with kids cheered for us and their music teacher caught me as we hustled out to say, "Great song selection for this crowd!" My kids sang "This Is Halloween," and "Monster Mash" for the occasion, and The Beatles' "Drive My Car" from our recent Drive! concert, which was a perfect combo of fun, energetic songs for a young crowd who were already on major sugar highs that early in the morning. I mean, it's Halloween.

Getting from this school to the next meant driving a van full of teenagers, but we made it in one piece (though I'm sure anyone driving behind me through Granite Bay was unhappy with my stick-to-the-speed-limit progress). The second performance was even better, and a couple of choir parents on hand to help with driving duties were charmed by it. When we were finished, we loaded back into the various vehicles and headed back to our own school, exhausted but satisfied. Before I could even offer a pass, all of my kids hustled off to get to their 2nd period class so they wouldn't miss too much. As the attendance person in the office said, "You've got the responsible kids." Indeed, I do. I adore them.

I was left to climb around the van to make sure we were leaving it in the condition we found it (plus 12 miles on the odometer and minus a teensy bit of gas). I did all the steps to be certified to drive one, but I still kind of can't believe anyone actually trusts me to do it...because, if I'm completely honest, I'll mention here that while my feet do reach the's a little closer to not reaching than I'd like to admit. (I could reach the pedals, though.)

It makes me giggle to imagine that the next person who is likely to drive that van is a football coach for an away some big, burly guy will unlock the door and climb into the van, only to find that one of Snow White's dwarves seems to have been the last person to operate it.

So I made it through another busy day of choir director adventures--my first full field trip at this school and my first time driving an enormous van full of chatty teenagers. No one ran screaming, so I guess I did a decent enough job.

Hey, I'm Wonder Woman. I've totally got this!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I've been wanting to write this blog post for days, but the words haven't been flowing out of my brain, through my fingers, onto the keyboard the way they normally do. They still aren't. I'm not entirely sure this post won't feel stilted and hard-to-follow. And then, there's the concern of worrying others, or looking like I'm begging for attention, etc. The fact is, my little inner demon reared it's ugly head a few days ago, in the form of a near panic-attack.

Saturday was just an off day to begin with. Instead of being a day in which I got to choose from a list of relaxing options, I found myself cleaning the bathroom and my bedroom all by 8:30 in the morning, and scooping the litter boxes for good measure. Then it was off to the races--that is, a morning choir rehearsal. I'm not going to lie, this concert is the first I've done with Sac Choral where I've been less than excited. I loved one piece we sang, the "Ave Maris Stella" by a modern English composer named Cecilia MacDowell, but our other selection, Haydn's Missa Cellensis, left me mostly uninspired. Here it is, this Great Choral Work of High Importance, and I just couldn't fall in love with it as I did Walton's Belshazzer's Feast or Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. What can I say? I'm a 20th Century kinda girl when it comes to choral music.

Anyway, as I drove around, thinking of my long To Do list, which included planning a field trip, a choir tour, getting certified to drive a school van, surviving the choir concert I really didn't want to do anyway, lesson planning, dealing with a complete lack of recent running, the list of grading I needed to do last week but didn't, and, to top it all off, the beginnings of a head cold, and you had Anxious Meg.

Anxious Meg is a far cry from Happy Meg, and from Capable Meg, and from the rarely-sighted Zen Meg. Anxious Meg lets her fear of failure gnaw on her, and her past failures weigh on her. Anxious Meg creates tension where none existed, purely because she has allowed her mind's inner demons to build large, ever-growing snowballs of angst and bad feeling.

Anxious Meg nearly bursts into tears on the freeway, and starts the deep breathing and positive self-talk as she cruises through downtown Sacramento. Does it help? Some. For a few minutes anyway--long enough to get my to my destination without mishap. But Anxious Meg is cranky and irritable. I wanted nothing to do with my fellow singers and felt removed from them most of the morning, where most of the time I love being around them.

I spent most of the rest of the weekend feeling jumpy and anxious. I think (hope) I hid it well enough, with my usual silly Instagram pictures of myself in the ugly choir dress, though some friends got the full force of Anxious Meg via anguished emails and Facebook correspondences about how stressed I felt. For their part, they talked me down a lot, and even more awesome, they let me just vent (you all are rock stars).

After a weekend of high anxiety alerts, Monday was both something to fear and to look forward to. I printed out a new To Do List for the week and geared up to get a good workout--cold or no. After the gym, I went to GB and settled in at my desk, where I doggedly made myself accomplish some of the stupid little things I've been letting myself stress over (when I really shouldn't). I finished some grading. I filed a few things. I accomplished three really important items on my list within the first hour, and felt my mind calming down. I've got this.

What it all boils down to is that I'm so afraid to fail, and so wanting this new job to be the one that sticks. I said to my friend Matt a few weeks ago, "It's like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. God, doesn't that sound awful?" He just smiled and said, "No. It's human." He's right. It's human, and it's okay--so long as I don't let that fear influence my brain. Sometimes it's too easy for the demons to take over.

I wrote it down today--sometimes it's best to just face your fears head-on, to acknowledge they exist, because you're human, you don't always feel like you've got a handle on it. The trick is to never just leave it at the fear, though.

In the end, it's about learning from the past mistakes, and realizing that you can do what you want to do, if you're willing to put in a lot of hard work.

I've got this.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Week in Instagram (Week #49)

A slightly quieter week, though I certainly felt busy enough.


Summer and I ended our trip to Wine Country on a relaxing

While we waited for Planet Beach to open, we found a
fountain. Someone had put bubbles in it, so Cali Swimmy
had his own spa treatment.

Hydro-Derm Fusion. It looks like a space ship, feels

Perhaps a little "woo-woo" for me, but still felt nice.

This massage chair (used while getting a light facial) did
untoward things to me.

Bought in Petaluma, taken straight to school. : )

Monday night, our last main rehearsal for our first concert
of the season.

New book by a favorite author.

Reacting to a possible no-show (she ended up arriving
ten minutes late).

California Sunset on the Sacramento Valley.

Arriving at work on a Wednesday morning.

Dinner before a Choir Booster meeting.

I put some signs up in the hallway between my room and
the theater. So far they're half-working.

Up to my eyeballs in papers. I spent a bunch of time shuffling
them into neat piles.

Lunch meeting with my band teacher colleague.

Kettlebell Day!

At first I thought all of this belonged to one person (I was
crammed into a corner), but it turns out, this was two people.
Because God forbid you skip the hot rollers on Gym Day.

On my white board. My very dirty white board.

I pulled out my clarinet for a bit on Friday. Still got skillz!

Came home to a pressie from Dad. I am calling him Beezy
Swimmy (for Beelzebub).

Saturday morning rehearsal at our performance venue,
Fremont Presbyterian Church.

I'm in that picture. ; )

Concert tonight, lazy day tomorrow (thank goodness!).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Keeping With the Theme...

I'm too tired to blog. I have a dozen things I want to write about but every time I sit down to try, I stare at the screen and think, "I really ought to do something less taxing on my brain." I have had the slightest "might be getting a cold" feeling this week and it might be going away thanks to extra sleep...we'll see. But either way, my brain is mush and I spent a good part of the time before my class started today shuffling piles of paper around on my desk and grunting to myself.

Productivity at its finest, folks.

Anyway, the next couple of days include make-up lessons, a Saturday morning choir rehearsal, and a Saturday evening choir concert, as well as the usual things like cleaning my bathroom, working in my office, and generally trying to be a productive adult (and tomorrow is kettlebell day at the gym, which reminds me, go put the kettlebell in the car). There is also enough laundry to make you think I have 12 children.

Sunday, with all its sleeping in and Niner-watching, will be absolutely glorious.

I remain cheerful. Just busy, slightly sleepy (very sleepy) and glad to have weekends, even if this one is half given to Sac Choral in all the rehearsal and call time and driving back and forth from Sacramento twice in the same day (ugh).

Now, it's 9:00, and way past this busy teacher's bedtime. ; )

Monday, October 21, 2013

Body Love Hate Love

Yesterday, I lay in a "Hydro-Derma Fusion" pod at Planet Beach, completely naked, letting my skin sweat in 118-degree steam. I love saunas; they always leave me feeling refreshed, as though I've sweated out the toxins and am freer, lighter for it.

As I lay there, my hands folded on my stomach, I could feel little of the lose skin and small extra store of fat I have, post weight-loss. I marveled at how much I love how my body has turned out, where I can feel my hip bones under a layer of fat that belongs there--not a huge layer, just that layer that's supposed to be there because I'm a woman who was born to have wide hips. I could feel my abdominal muscles--which do not show, but are nonetheless very fierce. I lay there thinking about how remarkable my journey has been, losing so much weight, but also becoming so strong as I learned to exercise and run. In that moment, I loved my body just as it is. A rare occurrence, for sure.

It's been on my mind a lot lately, and I've been struggling with loving my body. On the one hand, I adore the shape of my biceps and triceps, even as I frown at the jiggly parts of my arms. Some of it is lose skin. I have to remind myself--daily--that my body is strong, fit, healthy. I'm not what I used to be, and I am proud of that. Could I be even fitter? Yes. Do I want to be? ...Yes. Yes, I do, so I keep working, but I never, ever want that work to be driven by a need for perfection.

I walk a balance beam, basically.

So then fitness "gurus" come along and post "inspirational" photos like this, and I get a little steamed:

By now, you've likely seen this, and the brouhaha surrounding it. I was loathe to direct any more attention to it, until a few days ago, when Shut Up & Run posted about it (She Probably Doesn't Even Fart) and I had to comment. I got a little bit rant-y, because, if you recall, I'm already tired of some fitness-related blogging anyway.

I didn't expect much response, but a check back a couple of days later yielded all of this:

The random dude from the interwebs actually kind of made my
day--not because I'm looking for acceptance from men, but because
it reminded me that there are men--and I've known a few--who
appreciate a woman who loves her body.

It felt good to see so many people agreeing, or feeling the same way. While I'm sure the lady in question probably didn't mean to alienate half the planet with her picture, when she posted it, she also didn't take into question the fact that everybody--and every body-- is different. I have friends of every possible shape, size, and most of us cannot, will not, look like she looks, no matter how fitness-savvy we get. The universe gifted me with an hourglass figure and curves galore, and I want to celebrate them (tummy and all) even as I celebrate my tall, slender friends, and my large-boned friends, and every other friend who has the body she's supposed to have. When people ask my advice on weight loss, I absolutely promote working out in whatever form is best for them....but I could never dream of telling any of them they ought to find time to get to the gym if they're not seeking to change their body. And I'd never shame them by telling them it's just an "excuse" if they miss a workout because this thing called Life got in the way.

On the same vein, I've seen this video going around, "Shrinking Women," and I find it both fabulous (very, very talented writing by this woman) and heartbreaking (because too many of us feel that need to shrink, to please society by taking up less space in it). She absolutely speaks of things I struggle with all the time.

I don’t know the capstone requirements for the sociology major because I spent the whole meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza.
A circular obsession I never wanted, but inheritance is accidental
I love going to the gym. It's not just part of my routine, it's something I enjoy. I like watching my muscles work, and feeling the sweat pour down my face and neck. I like nodding or smiling at people I see regularly, I like waving hello to Matt the Reasonable, talking football with Oscar at the front desk--who has the unfortunate affliction of being a Dallas fan. Poor kid. I go to the gym because it's good for me, because I feel good when I'm there, and even better when I leave, stronger for the time I've spent there.

I don't work out to shrink. I work out to grow.




Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wild Weekend

This has been one of those weekends that leaves me looking to the week for opportunities for some relaxation. The good news is, it was all fun stuff, and this week is a wee bit on the calm side. Well, calmer than most weeks have been since I started this Wild and Absolutely True new path in my life on August 12th.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm enjoying myself immensely.

Anyway, on Friday, I grumped and grumbled my way out of my pajamas at about 7:00 in the evening to return to school (I'd come home right after choir so I could relax a bit--I'd been out late Thursday selling donuts at Bonfire Night) for supervisory duty--I'd been assigned to chaperone the Homecoming Dance. I figured it would be best to arrive early (duty started at 9:00) and watch a bit of the game, and halftime.

The dance ended up being not so bad, from a duty standpoint. The dance teacher was also there, so we chatted between letting kids in (checking student IDs and taking tickets). The admins who were there chatted with us, too, and it was all good natured (though we were all quite cold and tired!).

As the dance wound down, I found myself chatting with a Placer County Sheriff deputy. We joked about this duty being slightly worse than patrolling in the car, because of the music. "At least in my car, I get to choose what I listen to!" Another deputy approached, and I glanced at him, thinking he looked vaguely familiar. He had a name badge that read R. Jensen. Then the guy I'd been talking to said, "Hey, Reg!" I looked again, and thought, "Heh...nah."

Reg mentioned he was going to get going, as he was off for the night. As he walked away, I looked at his colleague, and asked, "Is this, by any chance, a second career for him?"

I received a "look," and, "Yeah..."

"He was a teacher."

A big grin. "Yeah, he was!"

"Oh, my God! He was my teacher! Chemistry, junior year, Folsom High!"

The deputy laughed. "You've got to go tell him!"

So I ran after Mr. Jensen, my junior year chemistry teacher. He heard my footfalls and turned to find me jogging his way, calling out, "You were my teacher!!" A huge grin spread across his face. "I thought you looked familiar!" He vaguely remembered me (after all, I took his class in 1995 and he had a TON of students), and we spoke for a few minutes about my memories from his class ("You used to take us outside and blow things up in the garbage can!") and how the year I had his class, his home was flooded in a huge rain storm and they had to raise the foundation.

I'm still smiling. I know he probably didn't remember me very well; after all, I was dismal at chemistry (though I pulled decent grades because I did the work and tried hard). But I remembered him, and I know, as a teacher, it's nice to know you had a somewhat positive effect on a student's life. I was so proud to tell him, "I'm a teacher now! Choir!"

It was a very late night for me; I didn't get home 'til a little after midnight, but I was up early-ish on Saturday for more fun. Summer and I arranged, a few months ago, to make this weekend our annual trip to wine country...but this time instead of just spending a day, we'd spend the night. So we met up in Sonoma, had lunch and a wander, then drove to Petaluma to wander it's adorable downtown, have a marvelous Indian dinner (and a glass of wine for me!), before spending the night at a "meh" hotel (you get what you pay for).

Some pics (taken with my Canon, not my phone) of the historic district in Petaluma:

Great old sign.

Add caption

I love these old buildings.


Santa threw up in here.

Random artwork in a random alley that was lined with tattoo places and a
sex shop.

Petaluma Pie Company.
 This morning, we went to Planet Beach, where Summer's friend works. We both got a hydro-derma therapy treatment (lie, nude, in a pod-like "steam room" with your head out--it was marvelous), red light treatment (NOT tanning, just a NASA-developed lighting thing that helped keep plants alive in space and helps skin cells rejuvenate), and a light facial (done while sitting in a massage chair that I swear was doing untoward things to me). My skin feels great tonight.

After the spa, we went our separate ways, and I drove two hours home in time to catch the 2nd quarter of the 49ers game. I'm completely knackered tonight, but in good spirits and rocking some soft skin.