Fourteenth Post……….trying to keep my patience

So, I am trying to stay patient and upbeat while stuck in personal limbo. I want to make the jump to high school and I have a line on a good job, but I am waiting to hear back from them about the job.

There are several new games that I really want to buy, but we have no money to buy them with right now. We probably won’t have money to get new games until September. That would make it at least 7 months since our last game purchase, which is the longest we’ve gone without buying a new game is a really long time.

I seem to be waiting for everything else to get solved before I can move forward. This is very frustrating.

There are so many things that I want, and many things standing in my way of getting them, but removal of these obstacles is not up to me. I have to wait to see if other people are going to remove these obstacles for me. I hate this.

If I push and try to influence people’s minds, then it ends up backfiring on me and I don’t get what I need/want. If I leave it up to fate and just pray for what I need, then the other people who are so crucial to my success end up forgetting about me and choose a different path.

so I’m damned either way. This fucking sucks.

Thirteenth Post…..Praying for a job change

So, I teach at a “high risk” middle school, and I’ve been looking to change jobs for a couple of years now. It’s not because of the status of the school or the low income students. I like most of the students in my school, but I always wanted to teach at the High School level. It’s just been a dream of mine from the time I started teaching.

There’s a higher maturity level at High School (compared to middle school there is!), most of the students can provide their own transportation, the curriculum is more challenging and fun for me to teach and the interaction level between teacher and student is better. I just want to teach High School.

A couple of times in the last few years, I thought that the timing was going to work out for me. Last year a position opened up at a school where a good friend teaches. This gave me an in, and I killed the interview. I thought that I had the job in the bag. A few days later, I get an e-mail that the school went with someone else. I contacted my friend and asked if she could find out what happened. She said that she thought someone at my current school or district was black-balling me. That is the nearest I could find out.

So, fast forward to a month ago, and another perfect job opens up at a great high school that my middle school feeds into. I have plenty of former students who tell me that not only should I apply for the job, but that they are so excited at the possibility of me teaching there. I contacted the teacher who was retiring to set up an informal meeting to talk about the school and the job. I get to meet the principals and see some of my former students. I feel like I’ve completely killed it, and am psyched up to do a formal interview and get the job.

Two weeks later, I follow up with the principal to find out if there is any new information about the job or if there is anything else I need to submit for consideration. The next day I get a reply that the position was already filled.

WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

My jaw and my confidence went through the fucking floor. I didn’t even get an interview for my perfect job. I was devastated.

Fast forward to last Thursday. My co-worker e-mails me that another position had just opened up at another High School that my middle school feed into. It’s not as good as the previous school I applied to, but it’s a high school job. As a bonus, the principal at this High School is someone I used to work with and had a great working relationship with. I apply. I get a positive recognition e-mail from the principal and am told to contact his secretary to set up an interview for Monday. It turns out that my coworker who told me about the job is also applying for a different job at the same school and her interview in scheduled for 30 minutes after mine. Cool.

I show up Monday morning and have what I feel is a really good interview. We catch up a bit, and he asks a few of the standard questions. I feel pretty positive. Then he tells me that I’d have to come back for a second interview with a couple of other teachers that this position has to collaborate with on a regular basis. OK. No biggie. He says that he’ll have to get back with me about scheduling a second time to meet.

I see my current co-worker as I’m leaving the office and we joke for a bit, the three of us, before I leave for my current school.

Normally, I would not be freaking out right now, because it’s the day after I interviewed. However, I get an e-mail this afternoon from my co-worker saying that the High School principal already contacted her back and offered her a job.

Huh…….?

I start actively trying to keep my paranoia at bay. Was I not good enough and I’ve already been eliminated from consideration? Did the other two teachers already nix my candidacy? What is going on?

I fight the urge to send an e-mail to the principal directly asking for an update, and instead send a friendly follow up message thanking him for his time, and letting him know that my schedule is flexible to meet the needs of those other teachers to complete the interview process.

It’s been a few hours since I sent the e-mail and I haven’t received a reply yet. Was it a mistake to send the follow up? Have I just shot myself in the foot? Am I doomed to teach middle school for my whole career?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I need to calm down, but I am so worried about not getting this job that I am tied up in knots. I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally want this high school job.

I have ideas for a special honors club that will help with student motivation and participation. I have ideas for an excellent curriculum that will keep the students engaged, participating, and enjoying the class. I want this.

I mean I reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally want this.

Now.

After getting screwed over for the last two high school jobs that I applied for, I think I deserve this job. Hands down. It should be mine. No questions. No delays. I want to start building my high school program tomorrow.

But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I have to hope and pray that this principal will decide to give me a chance. I just wish he would make up his mind soon.

Twelfth Post…..The end of the line.

Grandma Pie is near her end. The house is filled with tears.

I won’t deny that my frustration with her has always made the relationship that I had with my mother-in-law tenuous, but I never expected her to pass away like this. I just hope and pray that she’s not in pain. I’m actually praying and I am not a religious person at all.

Grandma Pie had yet another stroke over the weekend, but this one appears to be the final straw. It did extensive brain damage and started a bleed in her brain that the doctors are unable to stop. Her condition will continually deteriorate, and she was given 6 months to live.

However, Grandma Pie had an advanced directive that said in these situations, she did NOT want to be kept alive by machines or a feeding tube, which turned out to be the critical part of what happened next.

Grandma Pie’s esophagus and the little muscle that supposed to keep the top of your stomach closed are so damaged that she aspirates every time she eats or drinks something. So to keep her nourished she would need a feeding tube. Her advanced directive prevents feeding tubes. Once we realized what was happening, the crying began.

The grieving had started.

Grandma Pie had a lot less than 6 months left to live.

Since the final stroke, Grandma Pie has not been lucid often. She’s been mainly unresponsive and near comatose. We warned the kids about this when we took them to the Hospice care facility that Grandma Pie had been transferred to so she could live out her final days in comfort. It wasn’t going to be easy, but the kids needed to say goodbye to their Grandma Pie, and if she wasn’t lucid enough to know what was happening, at least the kids get to see her one last time.

That is what we expected.

That is not what happened.

As we entered the hospice room, she was alert, wide-eyed and making the most coherent sentences in weeks. Not eating for four days had already made a visible change. Her cheeks were sunken and her arms were thinner than normal, but the ride from the hospital to the hospice facility must have woken her up and made her realize that the end was indeed near.

“I’ll see you all in heaven,” were the first words out of her mouth.

Tears were running down our cheeks before we could respond.

We all took turns holding Grandma Pie’s hands, telling her how much we loved her, and going over stories about school and work. lt was painful. It was also beautiful. The kids were getting their last day with Grandma so they could clear their consciousness and not feel guilty about missing out on their last moments with her, my wife an I were there to make sure she knew she wasn’t and wouldn’t be alone for her remaining days, and she seemed to accept her fate – which only made us cry even more.

When it was time to go home for the night, again we all lined up to hold Grandma Pie’s hand, give her a kiss and say with shaken confidence “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Once the kids had said their peace, my wife went to talk with the nurse to check on something, and I leaned in to say my goodbye.

She took my hand, then looked me dead in the eye and with a soft resolve told me, “You do what you have to do for your family. You understand?” I nodded and choked back more tears. “I will,” I responded as I gripped her hand as tightly as possible without causing any pain.

When my wife returned, I let go of Grandma Pie’s hand and walked out of the room to check on the kids. We all left the hospice and drove home in solemn silence. This was not the end I had pictured for Grandma Pie. Seeing her half wasted away in that hospital bed brought back memories of when my own grandmother and mother were in similar situations during their final days. More tears.

Knowing that her body is going to slowly shut down in the next few days as she starves. More tears.

Knowing that there is nothing that anyone can do about it, but make her comfortable for her remaining days. More tears.

I hope and pray that she’s not in pain.

Eleventh post……Really hoping for a job change

I teach at a high risk, low-income middle school. And I’m completely tired of it. These kids don’t have much in life, so to make up for their lack of material things, they have over-developed attitudes and act like spoiled rich mother fuckers who are just temporarily slumming at a ghetto school.

These kids treat everything around them like shit, then complain about how fucked up the school is. They are even aware of their own hypocrisy and don’t give a shit. They don’t have a clue that the school is “ghetto” because the students are ghetto. Once these kids stop acting like ghetto kids, the school will stop being a ghetto school.

The parents are just as bad. We get angry parents cussing out teachers for failing and/or suspending their illiterate and disruptive kids who only come to school to ruin things for the students who are actually trying to get and education and better themselves.

I don’t understand them. I don’t want to understand them. I am getting burned out on teaching and I need some hope for the future.

Tenth post……someone’s pleasure is someone else’s pain

I finally confessed all of my issues to Mrs. Pie today. It was absolutely terrifying, but when I was done it was a catharsis. I was really worried about ruining things with her, even after 15 years of marriage. With Grandma Pie going to a nursing home full time, our house is finally ours again. For the first time in 7 years, my wife was acting like herself again..

She was surprised when i told her the root of my depression – it goes back to a phrase I learned as a child – One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. Whenever I see someone whose life is going well, then I can’t help but wonder who is in pain from that person’s pleasure. Then I feel guilty about it and start to feel pain myself.

Then the jealousy sets in. Why am I not as happy as they are? What have I done wrong with my life that has prevented me from sustained happiness in my life? It feels like people are rubbing their happy lives in my face and pointing out how bad my life is. I’ve been told that to be happy you find what you love and do it passionately. I love feeling special to people and when other people show off their own happiness, I feel less special.

I know it’s petty and stupid and immature – when other people are successful and happy and getting attention, I don’t like it. I want people to think of me and be amazed and impressed. I don’t know why I crave this, but nothing makes me feel more validated and there is no feeling I love more than being special. I want it all the time.

I support this delusion with the premise I outlined above – one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. When someone else is being successful and happy and special, I must not be special anymore, and I want to fix it right away.

What my wife told me was that I didn’t need the validation of others to be happy. I needed a way to make myself feel special to me, and that would make me happy. Or at least happier. No guarantees.

The problem is that I have no idea how to do this. I was drawn to acting and theater because it fed these addictions and feelings. When I performed and got applause it was the attention and the special feeling that I desperately wanted. This is why I miss performing so much and why I’ve been fighting depression so much since I had to give it up. I don’t have that continual stream of validation to boost my confidence and ego. l want that back.

It may be easier to try and learn to live with myself and somehow find a way to validate myself in my own mind, but I have no clue how to go about doing that. It may be easier to try and become an actor again. But I don’t know what that would do to my family.

Ninth Post……..The end may be near?

Nearest the pie family can figure, Grandma Pie had a stroke. It had some effect on her physically, but it effected her memory more. I brought her dinner last night and saw her staring blankly at the tv remote in one hand and the cordless telephone in the other. When I asked her if I could help her with anything, she looked up at me blankly and said “I don’t know.”

“Do you want to turn on the TV?” I asked.

“I think so. I just don’t know what I’m trying to do.” she replied.

Every step she takes now is slow, shaky, and lacks confidence. It’s as if she has to re-evaluate her directions and reaffirm where she is going as soon as she sets her foot down. She’s starting to forget when and where she needs to go to the bathroom. This morning she tried to make it to the toilet and ended up “dropping her filling” in three small piles before she could sit down. She didn’t realize it either until Mrs. Pie walked in and asked her mother if the dogs had gone to the bathroom on her floor. Grandma Pie tried to play it ignorant and said she had no idea where it came from.

Here’s where her past is now catching up to her. Half of the family doesn’t believe that she really had a stroke. They think that she’s making it up to get sympathy. There are times when I look at her struggle to come up with even the simplest of words to say and there’s a fear in her eyes. It’s a fear I recognize from when my grandfather had his stroke and struggled with speaking for the last couple years of his life. It’s a fear of feeling everything slowly slip away from you. It’s a fear that is difficult to fake.

But then there are times where it seems obvious that she’s playing for sympathy. In the evening, she’ll just stand in the kitchen or the hall and stare at someone – like she’s waiting to be noticed and waited on. Then once they look at her, she starts in on the slow creaky walk and a soft ghost-like moan that gives her an air of sickness. Grandma Pie has lied to so many people for so long that she’s lost a lot of her credibility.

It may seem cruel, but I am praying that she passes away soon. If the stroke is real, then I can’t imagine her living in constant pain and I just hope that her soul will find peace. If the “stroke” is fake, then my disgust and contempt of her will grow to the point where I won’t think she deserves to live. The end result is the same either way.

Eighth Post……..identifying with a character

I finished a movie trilogy today and I feel bittersweet about it. I love the Cornetto Trilogy by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and I finally watched the third movie, The World’s End. I really liked it, just like the other two. While the third movie was not as funny as the first two, the message of The World’s End hit home a lot more for me. The main character, Gary King, is living in the past. Convinced that his life only got worse after he graduated high school and almost finished their epic pub crawl, he gathered his old friends back together again to try and make it through the entire pub crawl. Thinking that it would make his life complete and that he would finally accomplish a past goal by finishing the pub crawl, maybe he could stop living in the past if he could just finish what they’d started over 20 years ago.

I identify with this character because I feel like my life peaked in high school too. My junior year was the best year of my life. I performed in 4 shows my junior year of high school (3 of them lead roles), headed up many crews, and won one of the top awards for the drama department that year. I felt like I was really accomplishing something with my life and was really looking to the future. I got accepted into a special Senior only drama class that was a big bump to my early resume, and I was getting my applications together for several performing arts colleges on the east coast. My grades were good, and my future was wide open. I was at an end-of-school year party and we were all sitting around talking and I remember saying “What if life can’t get any better than this?”

My senior year was much worse. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and started an aggressive schedule of chemo. Because of this, my family needed me to stay close to home, so I had to go to a local college instead of the one on the east coast that I had already been accepted to. The good auditions that I had in my junior year mysteriously went away. I was cast in one moderate role and one minor role for the whole year. My confidence in my own abilities became shaken because I wasn’t seeing the difference in my acting that the director’s were now seeing. My girlfriend became pregnant and we fought over what to do. My father and I fought over what I wanted to do with my life. Watching my mother slowly deteriorate changed my father’s point of view and he became hyper-critical of my plans to get a theatre degree instead of supportive. My life was falling part. I ended my grade school years on a much different question than the year before. I left high school begging “I hope life can’t get any worse than this.”

I often question my choice to become a drama teacher as a pathetic plea to relive my own glory days from high school. Like the main character in The World’s End, I often feel like I left things unfinished and no matter what I do in my career I can never live down the disappointments that happened at the end of high school. I like that the character finds redemption and meaning by the end of the story. It makes me feel like even I could find redemption and meaning in my life. However, I don’t like that the world really did have to end for that redemption and meaning to be found. Does this mean that I have to “blow up” my world to find meaning? Am I brave enough to actually try and find out? Hmmm.