Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's Me (Shannon)!

Here I am! My poor sister. I have wondered if some readers have been doubting my existence, and started to question whether she has some kind of delusional disorder, due to my complete lack of presence on this blog. I realize I have failed miserably at blogging lately. Sorry Jo!

Truth is, I am going bonkers over here. The good news is, I will be able to write on a regular basis after October 10th.

I wanted to give a quick update, because some pretty big things have happened. I think the last time I wrote, I was anguishing over whether I passed my test or not (actually, I was convinced I had failed it). So, apparently my gut reaction is unbelievably retarded, because I passed it with room to spare. Then, I like...blinked, and I got promoted to Program Coordinator (I got a nice raise, and was switched to salary and everything...Yippee!). One thing with my new position though- the position requires one to be licensed as a psychologist because half of the job is providing clinical supervision to interns. I am not licensed yet. Since I am so close, my work gave me the job, and came up with a Band-Aid solution for the next few months (basically, they brought in a licensed clinical psychologist to work a couple times a week to provide the interns with their supervision until I am able to take over that role).

This was a perfect scenario for me because it gave me the job I wanted, but it also gave me the time to study for my last test (the CPSE) and take the five CEs (online courses ranging from 7 hours to 15 hours in length) I needed for licensure. No stress. YAY. And when I DID feel ready to supervise the interns, I could gently transition into that role with plenty of guidance.

Except our Band-Aid solution suddenly quit.

Now I have 8 interns with no supervisor, and no other back up plan. They simply cannot accrue any hours until I am licensed. My test was already scheduled for the 10th, but I realized I would have to take all my CEs before the test, to speed up the process. For the last week, I put all my studying on the back burner so I could focus on cranking out those stupid classes. I finished the last one three days ago, and sent those all to the Board of Psychology along with a $400 check to pay for my license, and an emotional plea to please expedite the process. The ONLY THING standing in the way of me and my license in ONE STUPID TEST. Now I am back to studying, but I have less than 2 weeks to get this stuff down, and I am bombing the practice tests. Oh, one more thing. If I fail this, I can't take it again for 6 months. But no pressure or anything.

This was really boring, but I felt the need to explain my absence on our blog. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Settling In

It's such a pretty night, and I'm doing nothing but listening to beautiful music.  My manuscript went stagnant this week after my blog went MIA.  It occurred to me that it's harder for me to write without my word meter.  Such a stupid little thing, but without being able to see myself progressing, I get discouraged before I even begin.  I'm like a little kid--I need that affirmation.  Now my little ticker is back and I should be able to get a couple thousand words pounded out soon (I hope).

This week was relaxing, somehow.  It helps that I adore my students this year.  Like, all of them, which is rare.  I wish I could retire with this group and end my career on a high.  One thing I find amusing is they are all so eager to volunteer for stuff, even before they know what they're volunteering for.  Today I needed a volunteer to be my "technical assistant."  Here's how that went down:
"I need a volunteer to--"  (twenty hands shoot up in the air, I raise my eyebrows) "--to clean my toilets this weekend and every alternating Thursday." (They roar with laughter).  "Cool, I'll take you, you, and YOU.  Thanks guys!"  
I'd like to say they learned their lesson, but
Clint was gone for five days and just got back today.  His schedule is still an adjustment, but it's getting easier.  I can finally sleep through the night now without jumping at every noise.  It helps that the dogs sleep in the house now.  And the rooster, but that's a whole 'nother story.  It also helps that I booby-trap all my doors.   

Okay, I might be a touch on the paranoid side.    

We have a birthday party tomorrow.  It's my little niece (Moo's little girl) who's turning three, but it's a costume party.  I guess that sounds odd.  Every year we have a themed-costume night with Clint's family around Halloween; this year everyone voted to move it up a month because we're all crazy-busy for Halloween.  So they decided to have the costume party for my niece's birthday.  The theme is Enchanted Forest.  I'm dressing up as...well, I don't know what it is.  I picked up the costume last year for 50% off, and it's some kind of purple, girly one-eyed woodland creature/monster thing.  Maybe I'll call myself the "One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater."  Anything can be found in an enchanted forest, right?

Speaking of birthdays, Shan and I celebrated our 35th last week.  I wasn't depressed to turn 35, which surprised me.  I think it helps that I inadvertently roll my sister's successes into my own, and between the two of us we kicked ass this year (I can say that in my blog because I'm an awkward ball of insecurity in real life).  For our birthday, as I mentioned before, we went to the LA County Fair.  It was both fun and not at the same time.  Fun throughout most of the day while we were enjoying margaritas, funnel cake, and shopping; not fun when I got terrible cramps/fatigue that night (three guesses why) and lost the three dresses my parents had bought me for my birthday.  They were all in one bag, and I had set the bag down when Clint and I were talking to a guy about possibly installing an in-ground pool.  When we left the booth to catch up to my family, I realized I had left it behind.  When I ran back to get it, the bag was gone.  I knew for a fact that if I told my parents I had lost it, my dad would want to re-purchase the dresses--which would make me feel even more crummy.  So I decided to lie.  When I reunited with my parents, I forced a cheery smile on my face and said I had found the dresses, and Clint had made me stuff them into my backpack so I wouldn't lose them again.  They believed me and everyone was happy.  Except for Shannon--she walked up to me about five minutes later and whispered "You're so full of it. You didn't find that bag."  I was shocked.  I whisper-exclaimed, "How did you know? I thought I was so convincing!"  She said, "You were.  I just know you."

Twin sisters.  Or therapists.  Either way, *sigh*.

Signing off now to listen to more music.  I wonder if songs of the future will ever be as good as those of the past.  It seems impossible.  Here's an old-school piece I ran into on YouTube--Total Eclipse of the Heart.  This was my mom's all-time favorite song in the 80s.  She rarely blasted music, but she would blast this one, which was much more preferable at the time than Crimson and Clover, over and OVER (also her favorite).  Total Eclipse has got some of that 80s corniness, but wow does her voice and the instrumental get powerful.  I bet you Bonnie Tyler collapsed when she reached the end of this had to be exhausting.  Seriously, it practically blows up near the end.  It's like a gripping story line, with that steady build-up of rising action, until it peaks at the climax and all that intensity explodes...okay, I swear I'm not talking dirty.  Those are the appropriate terms.  Really.

Whatever.  Never mind.

I love these lyrics because they're no frills.   

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back Online

Back online!  Whew!  Of course I lost our URL again.  But this time, I was cool and calm about it.  I didn't behave like this AT ALL.

Long story short: I had purchased the tumblecones URL using my Visa/debit card last year.  Several months ago my debit card expired, and I was issued a new one.  When google apps auto-renewed our URL, they tried to pull the funds from the expired card.  Obviously that didn't work out, and they cancelled my URL.  I tried repurchasing it several times, but no--it says the URL is unavailable.

To be fair, this one's on me, not the evil URL thieves who whisked fizzyjo away in the middle of the night.    

The new URL is "" (pronounced write-a-py), incorporating my passion for writing and Shannon's for therapy.  Well, I don't actually know if she has a passion for therapy (do you Sho?), but she must like it a little since she has a doctorate and stuff.  The title of the blog was changed to reflect the new URL.  I'm happy with the new title--I was surprised to find such a short and snappy .com still available.  But I'm going to miss tumblecones.  It was cute and silly.

I'll write a real post later this week--maybe tomorrow--but for now, what a relief to be back online!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twice upon a Time

This is me with my manuscript lately.  Jumbled.  Confused.  Trying to get into that "zone" but interrupted again and again before I have a chance to come up with a coherent thought.  I think the words "Twice upon a time" sum it up the best.  Seriously.

BUT--today was an exception.  Elijah went to Soak City with his best friend Lino, and Trin's at ASB camp this weekend.  And of course Clint is gone on his usual three hour tour, except for instead of three hours it's three days.  So, as I saw it, I had two choices on how to spend my kid- and hubby-free day:  Shop for some new fall clothes, or pluck away at the manuscript.  As tempted as I was to go shopping, ultimately the manuscript won.  It's so rare for me to have uninterrupted hours of writing time that I knew I had to jump on it.  It was a good call, because I increased my word count by 6% today in a mini-writing marathon that was spread amongst McDonald's, Starbucks, and my couch.  I could have done even more, too, if I hadn't gotten a late start (Elijah didn't leave for Soak City until this afternoon), and if I hadn't have spent the first two hours editing previous chapters.  But still--6%!  I am now at 61,461 words, and 82% finished.  I can't believe this manuscript will be done in a little over 13,000 words.  Not too shabby for someone whose life is on a perpetual spin-cycle lately.

This week was a serious improvement over last week.  I'm still out of my mind busy, but I think I'm starting to acclimate.  I got all my forms turned in for Builders Club, designed our club t-shirts, and managed to stay on top of my grading, so I'm feeling pretty good.  Clint finally got two days off on Wednesday and Thursday, and he was in a much better mood.  I think he's starting to adjust to things too.  He installed hardwood flooring in Trin's room on his days off and brought lunch to my work, so he won some brownie points there.  But what won him the most brownie points was a comment he made.  It's hard to explain.  He was talking about I-can't-remember-what, and at the end of his monologue he said offhandedly "If you're even working as a teacher next year."  He continued to talk, but I stopped him and said, "Wait--what?  Why wouldn't I be a teacher next year?"  He just blinked at me in confusion and said, "Well, you know.  Assuming you get your book published."  I think I just sat there staring at him.  Then I threw myself into his arms, gave him a giant hug, and sauntered off.  I'm pretty sure he still has no idea what he did.  Isn't it awesome when the men in our lives slip and say something so very very right?

I won't be getting my book published next year, but his casual faith in the idea warms me.

On Saturday the 21st, per tradition, I'm going to the L.A. County Fair to celebrate my birthday with my family.  I'm super excited to go.  The only downfall is I have to do the Tumbleweed Parade first, which means I won't be able to leave for the fair until around 11:00 in the morning (and yes, I still work under the pretense that my hometown is a 'secret,' even though I know at this point my whereabouts are blatantly obvious).  

Off-topic, but my smoke detectors are demon-possessed.  They started going off for no reason.  And we're not talking about little chirps--we're talking full fledged fire alarms.  It started last week, and nothing I did would make them stop--including pushing the reset button.  I finally had to call my father in-law and wait outside with Elijah.  Carey ended up removing all but one smoke detector (the one in my master bedroom) to get them to stop.  It seemed to solve the problem, until three days ago, at 2:40 in the morning, the one and only remaining smoke detector went berserk.  Since it was right there in my bedroom and I had been dead-asleep, the noise was ear-splitting.  Luckily Clint had come home from work that night around midnight, so he was able to grab the ladder from the garage and take down the last smoke detector.  All of this happened on a school night, so yeah.  Fun stuff.

Off to do something else now that doesn't involve staring at a screen.  Feels like I've been tapping at this keyboard all day.  Well, I sort of have.

Twice upon a Time would almost work as a title for my book.  Too bad it's already taken by some teen-bop looking series.  

Forgotten Post

I just discovered this post from last week that I never published.  I almost deleted it, since basically I was just complaining about life.  But then I changed my mind.  This was my reality, and even though I'm feeling a hundred times better now, it's all still valid stuff.  But I will immediately follow this post with a new one because I'm super excited about the progress I've made on my manuscript today. 

Okay, here it is: 

This has been one of those crushing, stressful sort of weeks.  I hope that something breaks this cycle soon, because there were several times my mind actually said the words "I can't do this much longer."

It's not anything specific.  It's just life.  Work is taking everything out of me.  And then Clint's schedule is plunging our lives into a mini-chaos.  It's not so much that he's periodically gone.  I can make my peace with that.  It's the unpredictability of the job.  It makes it so difficult to settle into a pattern.  For example, he left early Thursday morning (the last time I saw him was Wednesday night) to jump on a train, telling me he would be home the next night.  Well now it's Saturday, and he still hasn't come home.  In three days, I've received no phone calls from him, and exactly three texts, all of them saying something to the effect of "Sorry I missed you babe, I'll try to call you when I can."  The problem is engineering affords him zero opportunities to call (they can't use their cells while driving a train--a fact I'm sure the general public appreciates), and when he finally arrives to his destination, I'm in the middle of teaching, or it's the middle of the night.  By the time I'm available to talk, he's back on a train again.   

But even more frustrating is when he's home, he's moody.  The new job is depleting his energy, so he comes home and starts being overly-snappy with the kids, etc.  And I get it, but I still feel resentful.  Because here I've held together a happy household for two or three days, and with one fair swoop he comes in and changes the mood from relaxed and carefree to negative and tense.  

I said I wasn't going to do Builders Club again, but of course I lied, so there's that.  We had our first meeting after school on Thursday, and around 65 kids showed up, all of us packed into my small classroom equipped to hold 35 at the max.  My air conditioner has been working sporadically at best this week, so you can imagine how oppressive the temperature was with 65 bodies serving as miniature heaters.  Then, because someone upstairs likes to watch me squirm, the president of Kiwanis decided to show up during our first meeting.  If she had shown up for meeting #3 or #4, after the club was calmed down and the kids were already trained in proper meeting etiquette (like making motions and such), that would have been spectacular.  But she decided to come to the very first one.  With 65 kids, a shortage of handouts, and stinky heat.  Awesome.  

She did give me a huge hug when she left, and told me that Kiwanis really wants to support me and be involved with Builders this year, so I'm thinking the meeting wasn't as disastrous in real life as it was in my head.  She said that if I needed anything, to give her a holler.  As of yesterday, I found out that Kiwanis is going to pay for a service project that my club is doing in November, including the school bus.  I'm thrilled, because my club is broke this year.  But now I'm already up to my ears in paperwork and approvals for our upcoming events, and when you're trying to do all of this while simultaneously grading papers, planning lessons, and raising kids essentially by yourself, it's enough to make you want to curl up in the fetal position. 

I've been dreaming every night.  In one of the dreams, I was dangling from some sort of ledge.  There was someone dangling with me, and I don't know who it was but I was so happy that they were there that I knew I could hold on to that ledge forever.  In another dream, I was trying to get to my manuscript, but a black furry monster kept blocking my path.  In last night's dream, there were rabbits all over my classroom.  At least my dreams are silly, because life right now--not so much.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Three quick things:
  1. Shannon's MIA because she no longer has a laptop.  Unless a new one spontaneously sprouts from one of those tall Pinecone trees in her yard, this problem might go on for a little while.  Until then, let's just pretend this blog is mine.  ALL MINE.  *insert maniacal laugh here*.
  2. DoT is still moving forward.  This is noteworthy only because I thought once I started back to work, it would be shoved on the back-burner until summer break next year.  It actually depressed me--the thought of all that hard work sitting around, collecting dust.  As it turns out, I was able to apply my grandpa's advice.  I find an hour here, twenty minutes there, to keep the story alive.  It's awesome to see my word count bar moving forward every day.  It's not moving forward in big leaps like it was over summer break, but it is slowly inching it's way toward 100%, and the thought of reaching that finish line makes me absolutely giddy.
  3. We bought Elijah a typewriter for Christmas.  I know--weird, right?  Like what nine year old boy wants a typewriter?  But it was inspired by a lyrics video for "The Lonely" by Christina Perri.  Elijah saw the video and fell in love with the typewriter and asked if he could have a working typewriter for Christmas.  I laughed, telling him, "Dude, they don't make them anymore."  But of course the writer in me fell in love with the idea of purchasing such a nostalgic piece, so we shopped around and purchased this one from eBay:

I'll have to let you know how long the honeymoon phase lasts with this thing before he casts it aside and returns to his iPad.  But I figure once he's bored with it, I can put it on display somewhere--maybe next to a quill-pen and a jar of ink--and daydream about the writers of yore.  And then maybe I'll feel inspired.  You know, to get off my ass, quit daydreaming, and actually write something.    

Oh yeah, the video.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Memorable Night--with Cookies, Even

Okay, let me just get this entry over with so I can get back to talking about superficial things like the rooster living in my daughter's bathroom or the bunny who thinks our fireplace is his rabbit hole.

Here is the link to the newspaper article I appeared in:  The Hesperia Star.  The photo they captioned me in is terrible.  But to be fair, I'm not graceful with surprises at all.  I pretty much fell apart.

Let me explain real fast.  I knew I had won Teacher of the Year at my own school site.  That news came out right before we went on summer break.  So last week, me and 47 other teachers and staff members who had won Employee of the Year at their own school sites attended a ceremony to receive our silver apple awards.  They also baked us fresh chocolate chip cookies in some portable oven-thingy.  Kay, I guess that detail is irrelevant, but I still remember smelling the cookies when I walked up to get my award.  ANYWAY--I had received my award and was standing up there with the other 47 employees, when they announced that they were now going to name the district-wide Teacher of the Year.  This means that, of all the winners, they had chosen one teacher for elementary school and one for secondary (middle- and high-) school to receive the district-winner plaque.  At this point I had practically tuned the ceremony out.  We had been standing on display beneath a bright light for awhile, and I was eager for them to announce the final "winners" so I could get off the stage and reunite with my family.  They called up the elementary teacher first, and she had to walk past me to get up to the front.  She was so surprised, and I remember putting my arm on her and telling her how amazing it was.  Then suddenly, I hear them say my school's name.  My skin went really hot, and I thought I must have heard that wrong.  Then I hear my name.  Apparently my picture went up on an overhead screen; I never saw that.  But the people directly around me started going crazy; someone said "That's you Jodi!" and propelled me forward.  After that, it was all a blurry whirlwind of congratulations and tears (those were mine) and camera flashes and an interview with our local newspaper in which I said words that I can't remember saying.

Me before I fell apart--I had to get ready for the ceremony in my classroom since it began at 4:30.

My family (minus Clint, who was in Kansas). Shan was hilarious--remind me to tell you about her "contributions" to my interview later.

The Fam. =)

Me with my vice-principal (left) and two friends/silver apple recipients.

Me and the Superintendent (yikes--super blurry)

There're are a ton more pics out there somewhere.  I have pics with my principal, colleagues, and so on.  But they're all divided amongst a bunch of different cell phones--none of which are mine--so this is all I've got for now.

Why don't I deserve this award?  Well, consider the following excerpts I pulled from past blog entries:
  1. My pet rats escaped again last night....
  2. I had to perform a staple-ectomy on one of my students yesterday.  He stapled his finger.  I mean, really stapled his finger, to the point where the staple was completely embedded into his flesh.  I just applied lots of pressure, counted to three, and pulled that sucker out.  If you yourself have any surgery requirements, I'd be glad to assist.
  3. Spelling Bee starts tomorrow, and I'm the Master of Ceremonies person again.  I'm excited because I love the break from the classroom, hanging out with the judges, and eating chocolate (there's always chocolate).
  4. I just about threw in the towel today as far as teaching was concerned.  The only standards my kids mastered were how to effectively cover their ears and squish stuff.
  5. Today I slammed a student's head with the door....
  6. I decided my homeroom will officially be a heart-making sweat shop tomorrow.  I am also sending paperclips to four other homerooms (although two of the teachers don't know this yet).  With five different factories working for twenty minutes, I'm hoping that this will be enough to get us through lunch tomorrow.  Is it wrong to make the kids bend paperclips through the Pledge of Allegiance?
  7. Several times, in an attempt to lunge for balloons, students actually dove head-first into the trash can.
  8. The rest of the week went by pretty smoothly, except for the fact that one student stole Axe Bodyspray from another student's backpack and then proceeded to spray it, which for reasons still unclear to me led to a bag of Cheetos exploding all over my room. 
  9. So not only is mild cursing good for student-learning, but it actually provides the teacher some much needed therapy throughout the day.
  10. This morning I decided to take Ms. Frisbee on a field trip to Mr. A's office so that he could see exactly the sweet little innocent creature who was thrown across my room and perhaps take the matter more seriously.  He isn't entirely comfortable with rodents, but I finally managed to talk him into holding her.  She then peed all over him. 
  11. One of my students today threatened to burn my car down.  I know, *gasp*, but it was actually part of a bad joke.  I asked said-student if I could choose which vehicle he decided to douse with kerosene, because my 2007 HHR was getting really dirty.  
  12. Next, we played "Telephone."  I started the game by whispering "Raining cats and dogs is my favorite idiom."  After the message passed through 36 sets of ears, it came out as "Pink gay bunnies."
  13. During the power outage, one student walked into class late.  I stated "You're tardy Elise, but I have no proof, so have a seat." 
  14. It makes me feel sad that I will never be these kids' teacher again.  We bond with each other throughout the year and they start to feel like family to me.  Even the little crap heads that drive me nuts start to feel like family.
Thought I'd end on a heart-warming note there for #14.

You can find the context for all of these items here:  Middle School Dribbles.

You think if the Teacher of the Year panel had followed my blog, they still would have voted for me?  (Maybe it's best not to explore that question).