Hit the Road, September--You're Full of Bad News

There's not much of an update to the "dating advice" segment of the previous post, but I'll do what I can when I can in the near future.

What's going on right now is that on Monday, for the first time ever in my life, I will be attending the funeral of a co-worker.

Over the summer, we'd gotten an e-mail from the principal about one of the primary grade level teachers, but just that she was undergoing treatment.  Then as the new school year was approaching, we were advised that a substitute would be covering her class for the time being.  We sent cards and flowers, and I think some of the staff who were very close to her tried to visit her in the hospital, although a time came when they said she was not up for visitors.  Then yesterday morning a staff meeting/update was called, although I missed it because the notification was sent to our school accounts the prior evening, and I wound up logging in late because I was doing my new morning duty of monitoring the girls' locker room (W/Th/F).  But I got the idea: things were not good with her.

(As a side note, after the meeting someone tossed off the comment that "She's giving up."  Seriously?  I don't care how positive your mental attitude--I mean, it helps, but--how could anyone divine whether a particular person's cancer at that point in time is "beatable"?  It's a horrible reality at this point in our medical/scientific advances that we can't cure all cancer.  It just took a dear friend of the family; it took my late friend J.  I would never cast either of them as people who just give up, so it must have been bad.  Thank God they are no longer suffering.)

When I got in from grocery shopping last night, she was on my mind, so I called Mom and just told her what was going on and how sad I felt.  Even though I had not known this teacher for long, she had such a warm, bright (but even-tempered) personality that she just felt like an old friend.  I enjoyed the times we wound up sitting next to each other at in-services and the like, and when she would come to our group exercise class last Spring.

So when the administrators pulled all the faculty out of our weekly school-wide meeting this morning to meet in the library, we all knew what was coming.  We cried and passed around the boxes of tissues and consoled each other.  Then we talked about telling the students.  Ugh, such an awful feeling.  I think everybody went through the rest of the day just feeling drained--sad in our own right, and then sad upon witnessing the children's grief.  The sixth graders as a whole took it pretty hard, between their status as the first class she taught years ago and their ability to comprehend the situation more solidly than the younger grades.

Obviously, school will be closed so the faculty (and I guess some students) can attend her funeral on Monday.  In the meantime, school is continuing its plans for a big weekend (major sports events, student Mass), kicking off with a pep rally tomorrow (yeah, not my fave anyway, and now so not in the mood).  Maybe that will be good for the kids, to carry on regardless.

We're supposed to dress in school colors tomorrow, but all I feel like is blue.



I'll Boil It Down to What You Need to Know

1. The Cat seemed to eat a little more dinner today, after a slight tweaking that I thought she did not like yesterday: I swapped out the Fancy Feast tuna for Weruva Mack and Jack (I know, it looks totally gross, which obviously ups the feline interest factor, as does the stinky-ness).  Also, I heated everything up (double stink) and omitted the (litterbox helper) medicine.  She ate more, so I am hoping she got all her hyperthyroid meds in tonight.  
I think she has missed enough of her evening dose to the point where now she's bouncing off the walls and crying and keeping me awake, so I hope her renewed interest in dinner continues.  I've been stressing over it--probably more than I should be, although the scratches on my legs suggest I'm right to be stressed--so it would be nice for both of us to see her a little more settled, if possible.

2. Something's up with the library's secretary.  I don't know if it's outside stress (her mom's been sick) or what, but her attitude stinks and there's some weird passive-aggressive game going on with practically every single thing that comes up.  We are adjusting some things that go on in the library, and she seems to try to take every opportunity to put jobs that she used to do back on me.  Some of it goes like this: "Well, your predecessor used to do that.  I just did it last year to help out."  Or: "Since you're doing x, maybe you should do y and z."  And then she's clicking around on the computer at her real estate stuff which she shouldn't even be logging into while she's at school, so I guess she needed to free herself up to do that.  But hey, she's been getting away with it for years.  I don't know if anyone wants to put up with the fuss she's gonna make if we call her on any of this stuff.
Things could get worse before they get better.

3. Finally, I might need your advice about something sort of dating-related.  (Now don't get too excited, because it could go nowhere.)
I did go to the previously mentioned trivia night fundraiser, which was really fun (except for the one team member who showed up freshly soused and obnoxious from Philly's Oktoberfest).  There were a couple of people on this team that I had not met before--one was a friend of my trivia host friend who invited me.
So the newly met person. . . seems a little older than me but not drastically so, kinda reminded me of a younger (more sober) Sam Axe from Burn Notice. . . but get this: he also is considered a "music guru" and has been on a game show.  Just like me!

I think I screwed up, though: I couldn't go to the bar afterwards, because (a) I was tired because The Cat wouldn't let me sleep in Saturday morning, and (b) I had to be able to get out of bed the following morning to sing for church.  Oh yeah, and (c) I was out of money.  So while I did not mention The Cat (lest I appear the crazy cat lady) or being short on funds, I did mention singing.  And while I'm saying this to the guy and telling him it was fun playing trivia with him as I say goodbye, this woman who had come to our table earlier to share beer marched up and introduced herself to him (not me) with her Twitter handle and that she was so-and-so's friend.  She sounded a little drunk and more than a little interested in him.  And of course she was going to the bar to hang out with everyone else.

So I might have missed out.

Is there any way to salvage this?

What could I say to my trivia host friend when I see him Tuesday night, to find out some info (like I don't even know if his friend is available)?  Without embarrassing myself?  And possibly drop a hint I'm interested?  Again, without embarrassing myself?  (Even though I am pretty much the only single person left on my team?)




Alive and Breathing

Almost two full weeks of school down.  There's kind of a special event day going on tomorrow.  I kind of remember it from last year, but this year I am required to sing in front of everybody for the liturgical part--and I have mixed feelings about apparently being on the hook all the time now--but all the teachers get lunch so I guess I can't complain.  I'm in the mood for tuna fish so I hope that's one of the sandwiches.

Speaking of tuna, The Cat has decided to be picky about supper, which IS tuna because it's supposed to disguise the fish-flavored medicine.  Still doing the whole litterbox-watching thing, too, but I've almost made peace with the idea that her plumbing just isn't going to go like clockwork every day.  I also got her a heated bed. . . just in time for the weather to get warm and rainy around here.  Oh well, maybe next week it will be more appealing.

In spite of being crazy-busy with school (did I mention that I have a meeting--grrrr--at 3 on Friday? Who DOES that!?) this week, I did carve out time for trivia, and our team did win.  We could have done a little better, but we were missing some people and Mr. Insistent overruled my (correct) answer on a classical music question.  But a win's a win, and by some strange coincidence, I was introduced to someone from another team who happened to be friends with our family friend who passed away last week.  She had met my dad a while ago when our friend was in the hospital and everyone was coming in for visits.  There was a moment of attempted recruiting but I said maybe sometime when no one else from my team can make it.  I just like playing.

Speaking of which, I was invited by our trivia host to be on his team for a fundraising trivia night on Saturday along with other peeps from my team, so that should be fun.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my former corporate employer has been sold, and I'm checking around for details.  It is a little weird to think that if I worked there still I'd be finding myself sacked in September for the second time in my life.  Guess I can't question my career decisions completely, at least not at the moment.

Well, I am beat, so I'd better get myself in order for tomorrow and get myself and The Cat tucked in for the night.



Survived the First Full Week of School

I'm sorry I've been so scarce.  Late days, meetings, taking care of everything when I get home--including a cat that seems to be having food/potty issues again--and just when I thought I was going down the shore for a family reunion tomorrow, I will be attending the funeral of a family friend instead.  Not entirely unexpected, as she had been sick a long time, but it still sucks.  She was a straight-talking Irish gal (is there any other kind?) who often welcomed us over after church and made a fuss over me as if she were my grandmother.  I'll never forget the time not long after The Ex broke up with me that he came to church with his new girlfriend in tow and the first words out of this friend's mouth were, "She's so homely!"  (Well, she was, but it would have sounded vindictive had I said it.  Coming from her, it was the real deal.)

As for school, well, my students seem a bit less crazy than last year's crop, but the fourth graders were slightly needy.  Like third graders still, I guess.  And the sixth graders while a bit unsure of what they're doing seem fairly engaged--not to mention there seems to be less conflict among them--so that's a good thing.  The only thing that's really getting to me is the pile-up of things not related directly to my classes.  Paperwork, for example.  Some I have to fill out and some I have to create entirely from scratch.  On short notice, no less.  I don't know when they expect us to get it all done, honestly, and this is where my mind starts to drift into, "This is why you didn't want to teach in the first place. . ."  But it's my job, and it buys the cat food, so there you go.

I think if I can grab a moment to recharge my batteries a bit this weekend, it will help put this week to bed and prepare me for the coming week.

And I can't believe how much I want The Cat to take care of business in the litterbox.



Three Little Things That Made Me Happy Today

My car has made it to 96,000 miles.  (Two years ago, I wasn't too sure it was gonna make it.)

Got my first paycheck of the school year.

A couple of my former fourth graders (now fifth graders) saw me in the hallway and were a little bummed when they suddenly realized they don't have a regularly scheduled weekly class with me this year.  (They'll still see me each week to get their books, but still, that's sweet.)

Hectic weekend ahead of me, but at least it will keep me out of trouble.  I think.


Not That I Believe in Omens. . .

. . . but the road flooding forced our first day of school to be canceled.

Sadly, the decision was not made until 7 a.m., and many staff had decided to hit the road early in order to make it there on time.  I had the hair dryer on and therefore missed the automated phone call announcement.  It wasn't until about 15-20 minutes later when I was trying to figure out how to get out of my apartment community's main driveway through two lanes of backed-up traffic (going in the opposite direction) that I got a heads-up cell phone call from my co-librarian.  She was already there.

They made the right decision, though, because the buses weren't getting anywhere, many roads were closed, and honestly I am not sure how far I could have gotten in, say, an hour, if at all.  Even yesterday morning when it was raining, a few places on my route had water pooling on them.  It's a waste of gas sitting in stopped traffic forever, and the increased chance of a car accident never thrills me, and especially after two trips to the vet in the last two weeks.  

There were kids from my apartments who were just waiting around forever for their bus.  Many schools decided to delay opening two hours, but we had a half-day schedule for the students, so two hours would have cut the day down to practically nothing.  Even our after-school workshop was postponed, because an outside speaker was supposed to come from who-knows-where.

So after my co-librarian called, I turned around, parked my car, and went back inside.  I checked the phone message when I got inside, and then I put the TV on to see where all the disasters were.  It was a mess out there.  Then, under the influence of the grey weather and the rare daytime dose of my diverticulitis meds (as in "may cause drowsiness"), I fell asleep for about an hour.

I think I needed that.

Being home also afforded me the opportunity to call tech support for my stereo, and I am happy to announce that I can get sound from all components now!  It turned out I had to disconnect each cable and then give them all a good hard shove into each jack.  Silly me, I thought I had to be gentle with electronics.  Now all I need is to put on the antenna to get the tuner going, and then I'll be set.

In other good news, The Cat finally "took care of business" after over 36 hours of waiting since her unpleasant trip to the vet.  Without going into detail, I saw the same, um, content the doctor said she produced.  So I guess the medicine is working.  I'm just finding that I can't put the entire dose into her food--too noticeable.  But it did get results.  She seems perkier and more herself tonight.  In fact, she's giving herself a full bath on the floor in front of the TV right now, so I'm starting to wonder if she's got a hot date later or something.  (BTW, about the metal stitches--Mom did a little researching on her own. . . so proud. . . stainless steel stitches can be used for better results.  Also, they are a permanent indicator of a spayed status, which I guess is useful if a cat shows up at the vet with no medical history.)

Tomorrow probably will be chaotic, but at least it will be Friday.



Here's What I Learned Today

1. The Cat still has metal stitches left in her from when she got spayed about 13-1/2 years ago.  (X-ray taught me that.  It's a good thing this vet wasn't the one that performed the procedure all those years ago, because I would've been furious.)

2. Cats can get enemas.  (It was a choice between that or trying to sneak a whole bunch of medicine into her that might or might not work to get her to "go". . . she hasn't gone in almost a week.)

3. While you shouldn't drink your urine, if you're healthy it is sterile and that might be useful for something.  (Via Wired magazine, which I read at a coffee shop while I waited for #2.  Um, literally and figuratively, I guess.)

I missed trivia (bummer) because I'm keeping an eye on The Cat post-sedation.  Which basically amounts to making note of when she moves to the next part of the apartment to go into loaf formation and stare into space.  (BTW that is so not what the doctor said she'd being doing; he said she'd be restless and keep me up all night.  Well, the night is still young.)  I hope that once the sedation wears off, she'll feel a bit better.  Not to mention that she'll forgive me for dragging her out in the rain.

I just have a feeling this is going to be a long week, but I'm hoping that The Cat drama ends here before the school drama picks up.



Stereo Update: Still a Work in Progress

After spending the last couple nights out because Youngest Sister and Youngest First Cousin have been in town (they both left this morning), I declared today a "do whatever" day.  I didn't get out of bed (officially) until almost 9:30 and spent the rest of the morning drinking coffee and reading a book for the fun of it--meaning it wasn't for school or book club.  O.K., it's probably chick lit, but there's nothing wrong with that.

It has been on my list to get the speakers hooked up to the receiver, a step which hopefully would be the last thing to get the music back on in my home.  Music I actually can hear even if I'm not in the same room and actually sounds good.

The thing was, I was a little afraid of messing up the wiring or damaging. . . I don't know, something.  And the whole thing with the laptop has been another thing to shake my confidence a bit.  But after dinner I just decided to give it a try and just follow the instructions that the tech support guy gave me.  

However, the cutting part was difficult, and the stripping part didn't really work, so after a good half hour of frustration, I called Mom and I asked if I was doing something wrong.  I mean, I have stripped wires before, but it was a long time ago for a school project.  So she encouraged me not to quit and just go down to the home improvement store (actually she said pick one, because there are two within practically the same driving distance of here) to see if someone had any suggestions.

So off I went with my paper bag that held one of the speaker wires and the wire cutters that allegedly also could strip wire.  Once I got to the store, I headed to the electrical department, and when I walked by the one aisle where the tools are, there was an employee advising two men about installing an outdoor-type outlet.  He sounded as if he really knew his stuff, so I waited quietly.  After a few minutes, he noticed me and excused himself from the men to give them a chance to discuss their options.  I explained the situation and showed him what I was dealing with.  Basically he said the cutters I had were not going to get the job done.  He had a wire stripper in his set of tools, and demonstrated exactly what I had been trying to accomplish.  So I bought the same model, and $8 (plus tax) and by about 9:00 p.m., I had speakers connected.

I plugged everything into the surge protector and flipped it on.  Powered everything up and tried out the CD player.

No sound.

I tried the cassette deck.

No sound from that, either.

O.K., let's try the tuner.  Oh, and what's this "Speaker A" button?  Maybe I'll push that, too.

Well, I've got static, so that's something.  I think I was supposed to connect an antenna.  Oops.

I did manage to coax sound out of the cassette deck, but it was in one speaker only.

Finally, I dug out my iPod and plugged that into the dock.  I chose the playlist I made for the last time I took the train down to see Younger Sister.  The first song is "Wanna Feel New" by Wanderlust, a band no longer in existence today but one I have seen play live, back in the '90s when I started going to concerts with my late friend J.  There's also some weird family connection to one of the band members that I didn't know about until after I'd seen them and mentioned the concert to my parents.

The opening chords poured out of both speakers.


And the perfect song, too, because I had planned that the first song played in its entirety be one that had some connection to J.

So, while I still will have to place a call to tech support to figure out what happened with the other components, at the very least I've got some awesome sounds going from the limited library of the iPod.  

And it sounds wonderful.  


Crawling to the Weekend

Sorry I've been scarce--faculty meetings, in-service, and a whole mess of, well, mess at school.  In fact, I'm going in tomorrow for a few hours.  Gonna try to get in and out before holiday weekend traffic gets crazy.  On top of that, something annoying is going on with my left eye.  It's just irritated.  I've tried replacing contacts (twice--this morning's new one was cracked) and allergy drops.  No idea but am really hoping it's not pinkeye.  It's not super-red or anything so I guess that's all right.  Maybe sleep will help.

But right now, as soon as I publish this post, I'm gonna go change into jeans and meet up with Younger Sister and Youngest First Cousin, both of whom are in town for just a few days.  Youngest First Cousin called to razz me about not having seen him yet because he came all the way from Mexico City (via Ohio where he saw his new niece).

It'll be good to blow off some steam.