Thursday, August 10, 2017

Heading down new roads

Somewhere on OR-38. Gorgeous.
A lot has happened in the last few months (as you've probably read), and now I can add one more thing to the headlines: I'm returning to the classroom.

Well, sort of - I will be teaching full-time online. I'm not going to have a physical classroom, but rather, I'll be working from a home office, and teaching high school students from all over the state of Oregon through my computer screen.

The first order of business (besides doing all my HR paperwork online) was to head out to North Bend for our New Teacher Orientation.

Four hours away, in a part of the state that I've only heard of and never been to (Coos Bay), to spend three days as a new teacher who doesn't know anyone else learning about a new method of teaching that I've never done before.

*gulp*

(Though, I think the driving-far-away-all-by-myself part made me more nervous than anything else.)

I'm a creature of habit. I've spent all ten years of my teaching career at the same school. Sat through staff development in the same theater, looking out at (mostly) the same faces. Basically taught the same things from year to year. (Not always, but overall, I've stuck to the same books and activities.)

And even the school I taught at was in the city I GREW UP IN. So even before I spent ten years teaching at the same school, I spent my LIFE in the same community.

One of the Oregon dunes
In the days leading up to the training, I was texting my work wife/bestie and lamenting how I could not imagine having to sit through staff development without her by my side. I know I'm not the only new kid, but I haven't BEEN the new kid in a long time. (Well, I guess you can count my current retail job, in which I'm still the most recent hire, but retail is not the same.) And I would be a long way from home :/

I ended up having a great time. My introvert self even hung out in the hotel bar with a few of my new department members one evening. (It was Trivia Night and we took second place!) We met a lot of the leadership team and support staff and I got a good sense that the community that I'm walking into is a good one, with values that seem to line up with mine.

Online teaching is different, but not THAT different. I am still, in essence, teaching the same skills and concepts (and even some of the same books-- looks like Macbeth just seems to be my lot in life). The delivery is a little different-- I don't get to see the kids' faces while I teach, but I will still have to manage a bunch of them in a room (a chatroom, really), and I still get to be me and add my own personal stamp on things.

Coos Bay, right next to my hotel
The drive, by the way, wasn't so bad. It was long, but I thankfully missed any terrible traffic both ways, and it was spectacularly scenic. Oregon, you are a GORGEOUS thing. I kept getting distracted by the mountains and trees and various bodies of water (the Umpqua River, lakes, the bay). The temperature was a good thirty degrees cooler than what we've been getting here in Portland, so even though we were busy working each day that we were there, it still felt like a nice little vacation.

Next week is full-staff professional development (at a shorter distance away), and I'm feeling a lot better than I was a week ago at this time. I am excited. I feel refreshed and nervous and positive, in a way I haven't felt in a while, and even though I'm a little swamped with things to do in preparation for the school year, I am all abuzz with anticipation.

I guess taking a new road isn't necessarily anything to be afraid of after all. It might lead you somewhere wonderful.

(image source unknown)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Project round-up

I've gotten a lot of knitting done lately. Here's a look at my latest round of FOs.

Pattern: May mitten from Kelbourne Woolens' "Year of Mittens" series
Yarn: Cumbria Fingering from The Fibre Co.


Pattern: Haruni by Emily Ross
Yarn: Cormo Fingering from Sincere Sheep


Pattern: Fuss-Free Festival Shawl by Louise Tillbrook
Yarn: Lilt from Black Trillium Fibre Studio


Pattern: Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price (I made another one for my dear friend Jen)
Yarn: Independence from Spincycle Yarns

And of course, because I never stop, I've got some other projects in progress that I'm excited to see through to finishing :)

Monday, June 26, 2017

A new normal

I'm doing okay.

That's what I tell people, because it's the truth - I'm doing better than "miserable and sad," but I'm definitely not "cheerful and joyful" either. I'm doing okay.

I'm struggling to find my way back to "normal." There is something about that profound moment of seeing the plus sign on a pregnancy test that rocks the very foundation of your life (well, my life, at least), such that I can no longer remember what exactly I did to pass my days before I was pregnant. And now that I'm no longer pregnant, I'm trying to figure out how to pass my days again.

Oh sure, I probably wasn't doing much differently - knitting, reading, going to work, posting on social media, whatever. That stuff all looks the same. You know, outwardly. But inside, I've been so restless and confused, like my entire existence is fidgeting and doesn't know how to settle down. What was my life like before all this happened? Who was I? I still hold my belly when I sleep.

Is this my new normal? Is this how life is going to be until we (hopefully) get pregnant again? Or until (god forbid) we decide to throw in the towel. (We're going to keep trying. We are.)

I'm tired. I don't know how to be right now. I don't know what my life is supposed to look like right now. I feel like I'm in this suspended state of existence, just waiting for things to happen.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Loss

On Sunday, May 28th, after days of nausea, exhaustion, and other symptoms (including a late period), I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. We were ecstatic, over the moon, after nearly a year of trying. Jolie was going to be a big sister!

By the end of January 2018, we would have a baby!

* * * * *

Yesterday, Wednesday, June 14th, after days of spotting, intermittent cramping, and lower-than-normal HCG results, I went in for an ultrasound, and was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. They rushed to me the ER immediately for surgery, where they discovered that the mass (that would've been our baby) had grown so large that my Fallopian tube was bleeding quite a bit into my lower abdomen, and I was pretty much on the brink of rupture.

By the time I woke up the next day (this morning), I wasn't pregnant anymore.

* * * * *

The short of it is that... this is hard.

It was hard for me not to share the good news when I found out, but some part of me just felt compelled to wait, like it just KNEW that something was off. I don't know. Maybe I was just being paranoid - if stressing out were a professional sport, I'd be the Golden State Worriers, nailing every worst possible outcome with pinpoint accuracy.

It was hard for me, then, as the "bad" signs start appearing, and my anxiety started to grow, and I felt like I just couldn't talk about it, because it was a thing I was still trying to keep secret. But it was so hard to be so afraid in secret.

And then it was hard for me, yesterday, sitting alone at the ultrasound clinic and hearing over the phone from the OB on call at the hospital across town that this baby I was just starting to get used to was basically on the verge of killing me, to the point that he wouldn't even allow me to drive myself to the emergency room - I was ordered to stay there at the clinic and wait for an ambulance to pick me up.

I've never ridden in an ambulance before. I cried the entire way there.

I cried as they told me that they needed to operate TONIGHT.

I cried as the OB went over the list of risks, such as completely losing my fertility (not likely to happen, but they HAVE to say this stuff to me, right?)

I'm crying right now as I write this, but I have to do it, because I need to put my thoughts and feelings into words. I've spent the last few weeks saying nothing, even though this pregnancy has taken up 100% of my thoughts, and do you know how hard it is not to be able to talk about something that is taking up 100% of your thoughts? It's so hard.

There's no one and nothing I can be angry at. I didn't do this to myself, and no one else did this to me. There wasn't one thing that I did or ate or breathed that made this happen. There wasn't one moment in this embryo's short life where things would've been okay, because it was never okay. It already wasn't okay before it even became an embryo.

On the one hand it's a relief that I didn't do anything wrong and the only thing to blame is really bad luck; on the other hand, knowing that there was nothing right that I could've done, being helpless at the hands of Lady Fortune, isn't very comforting either.

Also, on the one hand, I am grieving the loss of my child-to-be. But on the other hand, we might have lost me too. When they told me how large the mass was and about all the blood they found pooled inside me, I realized that I hadn't been very far away from never coming home to the child I already do have.

I don't have any profound realizations to impart right now, aside from the fact that I am glad I'm alive, and I am so thankful to everyone (like my family, my best friends, and my coworkers, as well as the hospital staff) who has stepped up for me, especially Jimmy who is still managing to be my rock even as he too is grieving. This was hard for both of us.

I just needed to share this, because it helps me to write about it. If I don't seem like myself lately, please forgive. I am home now, out of danger and recovering, trying to find my way back to normal.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kindness

Photo: Cassie Ngo
I got this tattoo almost ten years ago, I think. It's gotten harder to read over the years, and I should probably get it touched-up, but it says It takes strength to be gentle and kind. It's a line from the Smiths' song, "I Know It's Over," and regardless of what the rest of the song means, I liked it enough out of context to get it tattooed on my arm, as a daily reminder to myself.

I try to err on the side of kindness whenever I possibly can. (Maybe there's a little Hufflepuff in me after all, I dunno.) I choose kindness whenever I can, sometimes even to my own emotional detriment. I also internalize criticism and blame myself first, rather than unleash on other people. Maybe if I take the brunt of the hurt, then other people won't have to.

I know there are lots of people out there who would not do the same. They will protect their own self-interests and mental images, tooth and nail, and I understand that instinct. They might say that I'm weak, a soft touch, a "bleeding heart."

My heart may bleed, but I can take it. I'm not afraid of my emotions. And I am fortunate (privileged) enough to have access to the space/resources/time that I need for self-care. (I understand that not everyone does.) I'm not weak for caring. I'm not weak for loving. I'm not "soft" because I try to treat others gently when they need me to.

Never, ever mistake someone's kindness for weakness. It's easy as breathing to be apathetic; it takes energy and effort to be hateful; but it takes strength to be gentle and kind.