A teammate saw there was a fundraiser for the local Irish Center--in need of some extensive renovations, and we met up Friday night to play.
It was impossible!
Seriously, this was one of the questions: "Name four Philadelphia Irish radio hosts who are deceased."
The only thing that would've made it harder was if they'd asked the questions in Gaelic.
On top of that, our married-couple teammates had put their kitty to sleep the day before and were rather bereft. That said, by the end of the night we were so far behind and punchy that the wife of the pair decided we should just forget the questions and make up naughty pseudonyms a la Bart Simpson's crank phone calls to Moe's. It was fun being 12 years old for a while without all the other drama. Plus we had beer.
Also, I really felt that the Guinness tasted better there as compared with the taste of it at the place we usually play. I don't know why, but it did. Plus I had a nice chat with the older gentleman tending bar who told me I should come to their ball in November. We shall see.
Anyway, the money went to a good cause and I haven't been surrounded by that many people with brogues since college when my cousin married a woman who grew up in Dublin and her many relatives were in attendance.
And maybe next week they'll call me to tell me I won the raffle for the big Celtic cross painting.
You never know.
If I see one more memo shoved under my door when I get home, I'll scream. Yesterday, arriving home close to 5:30 (and having to get back out the door for a 7:00 pilates class), I received notice that maintenance was coming either Thursday or Friday--technically not 24 hours' notice--to install "smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and/or carbon monoxide detectors" in all apartments. It appears the boro inspectors who came about a month or so ago didn't think we were up to code.
All I could do after pilates was eat dinner, pick up a few things, and go to sleep. So I just set my alarm earlier (JOY) and got up to finish straightening up and make a huge sign saying, "PLEASE DON'T LET OUT THE DEAF CAT" or something to that effect.
When I got home today, I found the front closet door still open (didn't find any changes) and a new carbon monoxide detector. Right across from the original smoke detector above my bedroom door. I wonder if they'll both go off if there's sm- Never mind, I don't want to find out.
In about five minutes, I'm headed back to school for--you guessed it--Back to School Night. Fortunately, because I dared to ask, I found out I and the other special area teachers have to be present for only the two middle sessions, which because they are back-to-back will cover all of the grade levels. (The principal decided to divide-and-stagger because So Many Students.) My fellow specials are very glad I asked. Friendship points!
At least The Cat doesn't seem stressed out, so maybe she slept through the whole Maintenance Visit. Me? I'm so tired but so glad tomorrow's Friday.
Ah yes, I have made it to Saturday. I had no idea how much sleep I'd been missing, between the adjustment to a new routine and just plain anxious restlessness at night, that it surprised me how quickly I'd fallen asleep last night and--aside from the 5 a.m. kitty breakfast--stayed in bed until 9 a.m. today.
The other adjustment is the huge imbalance I now have between library management and teaching classes. I went from 12 library/tech classes and 12 book exchanges per week to 28 library classes (in fact another librarian comes from one of the other schools to cover a 29th) and what amount to basically 4 book exchanges for kindergarten. There are just that many students!
And I'm finding that there are some who can barely communicate as they are just learning to speak English. I'm sure they will come along way during the year, and I hope that getting to borrow books to read will help.
So far, 5th grade are my darlings--they seem to be the smallest group in the building--and 1st grade are kinda nuts. But I realize it's an adjustment for them to have a longer library class now than they did last year.
The good news is that we found the yet-to-be-placed book order and will put it through this week. I'm not happy that I have to wait for the books to come in and I'm stuck with what was approved, but I do have more in the budget to spend. I'll have to sit down and puzzle out what we still need, along with what I plan to do for the year. At least I'm inspired by this book (Penguin has lesson plans) so maybe that will help with planning for this month. I know it will take some time to get things together, but I do feel motivated. And the paycheck I got yesterday (Bills are paid! Hooray!!!) feels a little validating, too.
My principal--who seems to be in perpetual motion--stopped for a moment Thursday to talk to me and meet my mentor, who had stopped by at the end of the day to help answer some more questions I had. My mentor acknowledged the reason for her visit but added, "But she knows what she's doing and she's doing great."
"I'm sure of that," replied my boss, "because I knew that when I interviewed her, that she really knew her stuff."
Man, that felt good. Nothing like a little confidence boosting.
And in other news, Mr. Lehigh Valley and I are finally talking about figuring out a time to meet up. I'm afraid he's going to be put off by how much I have going on in a most out-of-the-ordinary parade of events running through September and October--but hey, my sudden popularity is impressing the heck out of myself. I'm even waiting on one more confirmation on a cantoring change. Somehow, the lady who schedules the cantors completely misread my email and put me down for dates I said I could not do. One frustration I could do without in the middle of trying to navigate a new job and foster a possible relationship.
Now, I don't know what the catalyst was that made him bring up meeting at last--because frankly my faith was starting to reach its limit and I'm still reading the "We've got new matches for you" emails from the website--but maybe it was just getting over the new-school-year hump, or there was some sort of unknown-to-me timetable going from when we first started corresponding at the beginning of August. . . or maybe it was that hysterical conversation we had the other night (I was laughing so hard I was crying), and he told me I had a really great sense of humor.
Oh, and he has given me an inside-joke nickname in our e-correspondence.
It's weird to feel both the newness and the familiarity of starting a new job, and starting to be interested in someone. I know I've done these things before, but it's been a few years in both cases. And you may recall that I got off to a lousy start at my previous job. Also pretty much was the last time I dealt with any kind of actual dating situation was this.
Is it the timing that's different, or is it possible that I'm different now?
I had all Labor Day weekend to feel anxious about the first day. My car's "Check Engine" light came on as I was running errands on Sunday afternoon--yikes. New neighbors moved in upstairs and there's a kid who runs around a lot. Ugh. Plus I learned that the previous librarian retired quietly at the end of last year--and by quietly I mean she didn't tell the kids, she threw out practically everything in the workroom, and did not place a book order!
I decided my main goal for the first couple of weeks is to get a feel for things, reintroduce students to library procedures (and introduce them to me!), and possibly buy myself a little time to figure out where the heck I'm going according to the curriculum I was handed last Thursday.
And it helped a little that a phone conversation with Mr. Lehigh Valley gave me some encouragement. He said, matter-of-factly, "You have plenty of experience and you know what you're doing."*
Yeah, I'm just gonna go with that. Put it in the Confidence file.
So today, I just went along with the schedule, apparently running about five minutes behind because even the morning announcements and Pledge of Allegiance were late as we herded kids down the halls to the right classrooms. Not having a homeroom, I was asked by the principal (out there and hustling during both arrival and dismissal, wow) along with the other specials to help direct kids on the way in. I even used a little Spanish helping a mom find where her kid was placed.
Started out with sixth grade (not too bad), followed by a fifth grade section who might be my Darlings of the Year if they stay as sweet as they were today, and then second and fourth grade before lunch--a quick one owing to the wacky schedule and my figuring out where the faculty lunchroom was. (Almost didn't find my way back!) Then third and first graders, and finally a free period that was all too short to do much before having to go out to help with dismissal. I know at some point that will ease up and I might just be on a sometimes duty for that But I did get a message my car was all fixed for a mere $300 and only the slightest chance we'll have to talk about shopping for a new car come inspection time in May (la la la, pretending I didn't heeeear that).
Mercifully, I was spared Kindergarten. . . and I have all four sections tomorrow! When I hear "kindergarten" my mind comes up with an image not unlike the South Park savages in Treasure Cove who attacked the unsuspecting adults mistakenly venturing across the border. . .
Nahhhhhhhhh, that was just at my previous school.
*We also had a moment where we were laughing so hard we were crying, and I got a huge compliment on my sense of humor. Jeez I wish we'd get our schedules in order and friggin' meet up already.
Keys make work quite a bit easier. And I'm meeting with my mentor tomorrow morning. Answers--hooray!
But the best thing was that I met all my co-faculty today and I ate lunch with them! (Chipotle, my first time.) They seem thrilled to have our new principal--I guess last year was rough--and they've been really friendly to me.
Also, I am getting the slightest kick from the realization that I don't have to do laminating for the whole school anymore. (If you work in a school, you know that laminating is one of the high priorities at the start of the school year.)
So this past week, I had two days of what they call "new teacher induction," which is some training and an overview of some of the programs they use, that sort of thing. And the union gave us lunch the one day and asked us to wear a certain color on Monday at the Big School Meeting to show solidarity. Interesting.
Well, this is not my first time going through all this. The strange thing I noticed was that most of the other people I'd talked to already had been working for the district at least part of the previous school year. So while they had to sit through hearing about a lot of stuff they already knew about, at least they were pretty comfortable.
Me, I'm overwhelmed and freaking out a little. I went to my school for the first time on Tuesday just to see what things looked like. I had no idea what to make of half of what I saw in the library alone, but at least I got my log-in to work and could read my e-mail. I wasn't set up for the Circ, however, so that was annoying. The place was a bit of a mess (jammed shelves, books and VHS tapes--what!?--on the floor). I couldn't even tell which desk was supposed to be mine, so I didn't unpack anything.
Basically, I ended up with more questions than information. At least I found out the library assistant has been there for a few years--but she doesn't come in until "a few days before the kids start."
The second day of induction (Thursday) was a bust because we were supposed to meet with our mentors and I didn't have one yet--and I still couldn't do much in my library. It seems I'm not allowed to get keys or other essentials until next week. I did meet a few more people in my building--and put my foot in my mouth a couple times thanks to the double whammy of nervousness and PMS--but then I was roped into some video shoot of a dance they're trying to put together from all the schools for Monday's big meeting. So hopefully I racked up some points as a team player, even if I'm not that good at learning choreography in five minutes.
I'm trying not to complain, but I just want to know as much as possible so I can be as prepared as possible. I just need something to do so I can conquer the new-job anxiety I'm feeling. And for me, knowledge is power.
It did help that my cousins wanted to go to the movies yesterday, so we (and my mom--these are her first cousins, actually) had lunch beforehand and talked. (We saw this which is a total chick flick but pretty good!) My two cousins both worked in education so they were really reassuring about the whole awkward start. My one cousin, a retired school nurse, said, "Remember, you're just one person and they're the hundred new faces. They have it a whole lot easier."
I know it will get easier, and I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I just really want my co-workers to like me, and I want to do this job well. It's just so much pressure to withstand, especially, when I am haunted by the last time I started at a school and established a lousy reputation that some people wouldn't let me forget.
Not going down like that if I can help it.
Some of the regular readers here might also be readers of the Seraphic Singles blog (and the regulars might have noticed the template change at this ol' blog--better, I hope?) and know that Seraphic (a.k.a. "Aunty Seraphic") is closing out her chapter on blogging about the Single Life.
I personally want to thank her for all the sympathetic words, straight talk, spirited discussions, and connections fostered among many Christian women on the interwebs. There may be a lot of blogs out there about being single (mine included), but there was something special about what she offered to singles. And I'm grateful that she prays for us singles, too. I know she does.
So I'd like to thank her by making a (virtual) spiritual bouquet.
I am going to offer five rosaries in the coming week for her and her intentions.
If anyone wants to join me, please feel free to do so in the comment box OR e-mail me and I can update it/her.
Thanks and so long, Seraphic Singles.