Monday, August 1, 2016

Dear Diary

Ah, August. She's here. Deep breaths.

In & out. In & out. 

I am waist deep in power points & characters & themes, y'all, & that's deep, as I am pretty high-waisted. I made somewhat of a mistake with the summer reading assignments. I need some overlap in what the seniors & the Honors Eleven students read over the summer, you know? I mean, they have the same textbook & they read many of the same works over the course of the year. I am going to begin the year teaching five different works, which is silly on my part. Live & learn. Maybe I'll do it differently next summer, or maybe things will go swimmingly when school starts & I'll be able to jump from Jake Barnes & his issues to Mr. Darcy & his issues to naked boys descending into savagery & their issues, all the while juggling a couple of plays.

Back in May, I wasn't thinking too deeply about August. I had a graduate class, a week-long AP Literature Institute, & a day of Dual Enrollment meetings ahead of me. That's all behind me now, & because a few of you have asked, I did make an A in my graduate class. I made a B on my research paper, but my other grades were high enough to pull the overall grade up. I am not unhappy about the grade on the paper. It is a B paper. I was hoping for a B when I submitted it. I've written research papers before, but never in a six-week semester, & never with children in my care. So, three graduate hours down, fifteen to go.

I don't have to take another graduate class until next summer, though if something incredibly tempting is offered online in the spring, I may take it. I spent last Tuesday at Louisiana Tech with other Dual Enrollment teachers from all over the state. I met some interesting people who gave me some helpful tips about classes I might take in the future. I have more to share about all that, but first I must  back up & discuss Monday.

Early Monday afternoon, my mom arrived to chauffeur me & the kids to the eye doctor. Reagan & I were both to have our eyes dilated so we needed a driver. A funny thing happened en route to the doctor's office. Reagan's pump began making an unfamiliar noise. It chimes when the battery is low & also when she has only ten units of insulin left in the pump's cartridge, those noises I recognize, but not this new noise that pestered us all the way to the doctor's office. I pulled out the pump & lo & behold, it was completely out of insulin. At that point Reagan told me the pump made a few noises in the middle of the night, which I then realized was the ten-unit warning that I completely missed . . . because I was asleep in the next room. I have never let the pump run completely out of insulin.

I didn't panic. Once insulin is totally cut off, we have a couple of hours, in most cases, before things get really out of hand. She'd just eaten so she had a lot on board (on board means in her body) to cover her food, she wouldn't be eating anything at the doctor's office for which she'd need medicine, & so we were looking at a couple of hours with no basal insulin. She seemed a little panicky, so I tried not to be & told her we'd just take the pump off, see the doctor, & go home & hook her back up. She seemed momentarily puzzled that I was removing the pump, because she is never without it, so I told her there's no point in wearing it if it's not dispensing insulin. Then, then, she said, "So I'll be like a normal girl."

And I didn't start crying or anything. I just said, "You're always a normal girl." 

An interesting thing about the pump is that it continually reminds you it needs things, like a new battery or insulin, until you either remove the battery or give it what it wants. I didn't want to remove the battery because then I'd have to reprogram settings, so I buried it in my purse. Unfortunately the depths of my purse were not a sufficient graveyard because while I was discussing Reagan's diabetes with the eye doctor, telling him all about her excellent A1C results, the pump was carrying on in my purse & Reagan announced to the doctor that her pump was singing in my purse because her mama let it run out of insulin. Needless to say it was a trip to the eye doctor that will not soon be forgotten.

Here's Reagan in the chair:

And here we are, taking a selfie-while-dilated:

Perhaps the most challenging moment of the day came when we returned home & I, my eyes still very dilated, had to get Reagan hooked back up to her pump. I could hardly see my fingers in front of my face & had to rely on my mom's assurance that there were no air bubbles in the insulin cartridge, but we managed it.

Tuesday morning I dropped the kids off at my mom's & headed to Tech for the day. For a series of mandatory meetings held on a steaming July day, Tuesday was pleasant &, like the AP Institute, informative. I am finally reaching a point where I understand what it is I am supposed to do, & the details of how I can make it all happen are starting to solidify in my mind, which is good since school starts very, very soon.

I met many other English teachers who, like me, are working toward the eighteen hours of graduate credit needed to teach Dual Enrollment. The consensus was that the course many of us took online in the month of June was the hardest course we've ever taken. Thankfully with that class behind me, from here on out I can take what I want, so long as it's a graduate level English class.

Here's where things get weird. There's an English professor at Tech who oversees all the (English) Dual Enrollment teachers. Several of my fellow English teachers recommended a couple of classes he teaches online as great options to consider for the future. He teaches Shakespeare online occasionally, & I could use the brush up. My confidence level in my ability to teach Shakespeare is low. So, I chatted with the ladies a few minutes about graduate classes & such, & then Dr. Shakespeare joined the meeting. He talked, & we all listened, & then, then, his boss (she's the Dean of something something) joined us for a few minutes. Dr. Shakespeare is young & has dark hair & discussed grading rubrics with considerable glee; his boss is older with wisps of silver hair & I am sitting there watching them interact thinking . . . I wrote a book about y'all

All in all it was a good day. My feelings regarding June's online class were validated, I now have a short list of potential classes to take in the future, I had a wonderful lunch courtesy of LA Tech, & for a few minutes I watched the pages of my book come to life, which means I either wrote realistic characters, or wrote two highly stereotypical PhDs, right down to their physical appearance & mother/son interactions with each other. It was weird

One would think my low mothering moment of the week would've been Reagan announcing to her doctor that I'd let her pump run completely out of insulin, but no. On Thursday afternoon I was eating tortilla chips at my parents' house, as one does, & I grabbed one & put it in Henry's perpetually outstretched hand. What followed I don't want to describe in detail. In summary, Henry started coughing, & soon it became apparent he was choking. The look in his eyes & on his precious face will perhaps always haunt me. I don't even remember what I did; I don't know if I did anything that was helpful or useful. Thankfully, my brother-in-law went to work & finally, Henry threw-up some & could breathe again. 

Friday & Saturday I read & made power points. Then, I read & made power points. Luckily the channel formerly known as ABC Family ran a Harry Potter marathon all weekend. Saturday was a more productive day than Friday because, at Reagan's urging, Trey & Reagan went on a date Saturday so Henry & I were alone at the house for several hours, me with Harry, Henry with Daniel Tiger. 

I didn't take any pics of me & Henry in our pajamas, but Trey sent me these of the date:

They ate breakfast at Chick-fil-A, went to the mall to ride the Merry-go-round (five times), went to Target to get popcorn (& toys), & then went to Toys-R-Us (more toys). Reagan's announced they have a second date next weekend. 

In a year or two or five, I'll reread this & look at the pictures of me & Reagan at the eye doctor & the pictures of Reagan on her date with Trey. Sometimes I don't feel like writing or loading pictures, but, after five years, I still think it's worth the time it takes me to do so. Sometimes when I can't remember when something happened, or the details of it, I dig through the blogs, & there it is, complete with pictures & my snark. Sometimes when I am faced with teaching a novel I read a few years ago & I can't recall certain details or isolate themes I want to discuss in the classroom I thank my former self for writing a detailed & impassioned blog about the book.

The blog helps me sort my memories when time begins to blur their edges, however I don't think time will erase one tittle of the memory of Reagan's "normal girl" comment regarding removing her pump, or Henry's panic-stricken face on Thursday afternoon. It was an emotional juggernaut of a week &, long after I've quit whining about power points & graduate courses, those memories will remain.

I never ponder the subject of memories without thinking of Peeta (Peeta Mellark, of Hunger Games fame). I've read a lot of books (& series) with twists & turns & angst, but what happens to Peeta in the concluding book in that series is brutal. It gutted me when I read it. Katniss finally, finally, begins to realize what he means to her, & he is, at long last, returned to her, but yet, he's not. He's been robbed of his memories, which is harsh, but to add insult to injury, they've been replaced by fictitious memories that, in low moments, cause him to lash out at people he once loved, & in better moments bewilder him to the point of madness & depression. A life's worth of diaries are stripped from him, the pages rewritten, & the result is agony (for him, for Katniss, for me).

So, with Peeta in mind, today I say,

Dear Diary,
 I logged some unpleasant memories last week, memories that will come back to haunt me from time to time, unbidden. The word that immediately comes to mind is searing. Searing memories. I am, however, thankful to have my wits about me, & thankful for the luxury of so many pleasant memories in which I can wrap myself when needed.

Goodness, I love the word Unbidden. I was about to define it for you but the teacher in me says, Look it up. This word drove my thought processes quite often when I wrote Dr. Foster, because, bless his heart, he tries to walk the straight & narrow. Admittedly, not as straightly & narrowly as Edie, but he does put forth considerable effort, initially, & the struggle is fun. I haven't written much of their sequel lately, but it is never far from my mind & it is a whole lot of fun because the straight & narrow path has become obscured by deeply felt emotions &, what's that saying? Stuff is hitting the fan. Splat.

Anyway, apologies for that brief aside on the word Unbidden. I suppose you could say the thoughts came to me unbidden.

I hope to return to you in a week with news of significant progress on the all the reading & the power points & maybe a few pictures of some of the stuff I've ordered for my room at school, which has begun to trickle in with the mail (& now you can't wait until next Monday!). I may also discuss this month's book club book, which I've begun amidst all the other reading I've been doing, as well as my determination to remain dedicated to book club come hell or high water, or something a little less dramatic.


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