Overly-Long, Disorganized Post about Teaching, STAAR, Walking (slowly), Whiskey, Chocolate, Mind Games, and Being a Shark with a Plan.

I wish I could say that I’ve been away from blogging for the past few months because life has been a whirlwind of exciting activities.  It hasn’t.  The combination of preparing my students for STAAR and my daughter’s competitive softball team’s schedule has eaten up every last shred of free-time.

The proposed title for this post was going to be I’m a teacher, not a nun because both of my prep-periods, five days per week, have been used preparing students with reading difficulties to take the rigorous Texas STAAR exams.  Beyond basic test-prep, we are told to use time after school or during lunch to mentor at-risk students.  These kids desperately need a mentor, but using our last scraps of prep time is not the answer. The fact that all students must pass STAAR is another post for another blog.  Okay, a little rant here:  many kids with autism exist in an alternate reality, yet they are supposed to be able to discern a character’s motives in a text.  After spending 20 minutes assuring my student (to no avail) that the FBI isn’t watching him through our smoke alarm, I then had to discuss why people do what they do in a text (also to no avail).  It isn’t the “had to” and “had to” that I’m whining about; it is that the class periods of pre-STAAR tutoring usually felt like I was bludgeoning him with my dull, FBI-less version of reality.  He’s probably going to launch people through a nearby black hole as easily as we now fly Southwest because of his altered reality.  His altered reality is a benefit to society.  Unfortunately, I said something like that to him and it really messed him up for the afternoon.  He asked me to stop talking about it.  Can’t win.

Oh yes, I have lunch-duty; so, no lunch breaks.  Before school is walk-in tutoring.  So, all planning and grading takes place at home.  But, when is that going to happen when softball is from 5-8pm and tournaments are from 7am-9pm on Saturday and Sunday?  Oh yes, and I took an additional part-time job.

All of this is why I drink (within reason….usually)

Diet-Talk Begins Here:

Magically, I’ve lost weight despite not purposefully working out.  Huh? I know!  Here’s how:  Eating a lot less and walking.  Granted, maybe I’ve lost muscle.  Also, people with cancer and depression often lose weight, both bad.  In any case, in the early morning (while I’m working my 2nd job) I drink two coffees with half-n-half.  Sometimes the second is black and sometimes it is half-caff.  If I eat lunch, it is only two boiled eggs with mustard.  When I come home, I re-heat sausages that my husband smoked over the weekend.  I have one sausage and lots of romaine lettuce while on-the-go to softball.  While my daughter practices for THREE HOURS (she’s 8! for God’s sake, sheesh!), I walk very, very slowly around the neighborhood behind her softball field.  That being said, sometimes I sit in my car and grade a pile of papers.

Here’s the magic sauce:  My husband gives me little bits of forbidden junk chocolate and a glass of whiskey every night.  I don’t mean the healthy, soy-free chocolate, like Tazo (which I love).  I mean the junk-chocolate variety from Circle K, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Hazelnut Snickers.  No more do I have to watch people buy a six-pack of beer and a share-size Three Musketeer bar while I stand behind them in line with my raw almonds and Perrier.  No more!  I know that I too will have junk chocolate in my life and have it every day.  It….is….awesome!  Still, it needs to be rationed.

My binge eating abilities are well-known in my family.  In the past I ate an entire carton of calcium chews.  My husband started to keep yummy products of all kinds in the rifle safe (my idea), which I have not bothered to figure out how to unlock. Now, I’m just embarrassed that I took calcium (soooo 2005!).  Looking for a more normal storage situation for yummy foods, I rationalized that I wouldn’t eat things that my husband bought as a surprise for me, even if I knew where they were.  So, he purchases the junk chocolate in small quantities when I’m not with him.  I know that they are on the third shelf, but I dare not go there.  That would ruin his surprise.  After our little girl goes to bed, we each get 1/4 of the chocolate.  Usually, a little chocolate would make me really sharky for more chocolate.  The whiskey quells that urge immediately and perfectly pairs with the cheap chocolate.

Other than my surprise chocolate, the food for the rest of the day is pretty dull.  That is entirely by design.  I find that I don’t think about food all day.  Out of sight out of mind.  As I said before, I don’t have a lunch break while teaching and when I get home, it is immediately time to leave again for softball.  I don’t have time to sit and pile-on seconds.  While at practice, walking slowly around the neighborhood has had a meditative effect.  This may be another reason why I’m not sharky after 1/4 of a chocolate bar.

These are all mind games.  I know.  Yet, without these mind games I would find myself in a tizzy of crazy eating.  Truthfully, I feel lucky that I have uncovered these hacks.  They’re all a part of N=1 experimentation.  To some they may seem disordered. For me, they are a way of caging the shark.  I think the shark will always be there waiting for her opportunity to get out and eat everything.  And rampages she often does.  Last weekend the shark rampaged and ate the top layer of a box of Sees that an unsuspecting do-gooder slipped in her cage.  I can’t civilize the shark.  Her brain is completely ruled by the chemicals of evolution.  That shark has honed her eating skills for millennia alongside the extinction of more scrupulous eaters.

I would urge people to find their hacks.  Just because it is normal to have Doritos and Wonderbread in every house, it doesn’t mean that you have to “practice self-control” (as my skinny little brother would often tell me).  Do what you need to do to remove the threat.  Like I said, these things are in my house, but they are not in a place where I feel that I have access to them.  I’m over feeling bad about being a shark.  I’m a shark with a plan.  On that note, it is about time for me to log-in to my second job before an evening of rationed chocolate and whiskey.


After reading this, I’m amazed that the State of Texas gave me an English teaching license.  

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