I have a problem. I can't say "no." I recognize that it's getting worse and I am starting to suffer. I'm no shrinking violet (as anyone who knows me will attest) so I question why I've begun to lose myself in an endless cycle of agreeability and compliance. When did this music teacher lose her voice?
Why can't I just say "no" like a normal person? I think sometimes it's because I take the request as a weird sort of compliment, like the whole thing is the Oscars and I'm Sally Field going, "You like me, you really like me!" Other times it's because blindly agreeing lessens the immediate anxiety I feel over saying "no." Because saying "no" for me is never just about saying "no." It's also about the inevitable guilt of having said "no," followed by a predictable stammered over-explanation and apology for why I've said "no," topped off with a bout of insomnia and an ode to every possible repercussion (real or imagined) of having uttered a "no." Honestly, saying "no" is so exhausting. But the thing is, agreeing is just momentary relief because then you have to actually go and do the thing that's been asked of you, and you end up unfulfilled, overwhelmed, resentful, and even more anxious. And yet I keep doing this to myself; *kicking the can down the road to it's inevitable, more fraught end.
I've started collecting these affirmations to say to myself in the decisive moments. I did not write these, I've found them all over the interwebs:) I hope that in time, I might start to live them even if I have a hard time believing them in the moment.
*This is a phrase I can't even begin to understand. Do you bring your own can to kick or is it like a random can that you found? Is someone loitering? Why would someone kick the can instead just picking it up and recycling it? Is it an empty can or like an unopened can of diet Coke? Is it safe to drink random road Coke in this scenario? Asking for a friend. Why is someone in the middle of the road kicking cans anyway? That does not seem safe. Those are the real questions here, people!
The first day of spring was ushered in by an awful thunderstorm here in Chicago. I was awakened groggily from a Nyquil and Z-Pack induced sleep around two in the morning. Parallel ribbons of light flickered across the walls of my bedroom in the shape of the blinds. I glared at the traitorous drapery like the disappointment it was. You had one job! I lumbered to the windows and ineptly fumbled for the string of the blinds, my unadjusted eyes squinting from the megawatt shutters of lightning. When I was in undergrad, I took a weather course as a gen ed credit that turned out to be gobs and gobs of math. I remembered that there are two kinds of cloud-to-ground lightning; positive (+CG) and negative (-CG). -CG lightning is the kind with lots of branches and often has multiple pulses of light, like aftershocks. They are called return strokes and I think of them as nature's strobe light. I flipped the slats of the blinds into place and numbly plodded back to bed, where my cat Boots seemed to be watching my soporific antics intently. I pulled the covers up and sleepily mumbled to him; "It's just negative cloud-to-ground lightning. Go back to sleep." And we did.
Okay, confession time. I really like this one TV show and on Sunday nights I participate in a Twitter rewatch with other fans (no, I won't fess up what show it is). Every Sunday at 9 EST/8CST I log into Hulu to watch a specific episode on my laptop and tweet away with the given hashtag, liking and retweeting others along the way. In some ways it's weird watching a TV show collectively with strangers on the internet, but in other ways it's nice to know that there's people out there who like the same things as you. The writers, producers, and actors jump in and participate as well. We dissect the music, the writing, the acting, or random things going on in the background that only someone who has watched the episode more than once would notice. There's a lot of reaction gifs involved on my part (which should surprise exactly no one who knows me). I use a random twitter account I made forever ago and my profile pic may or may not be the same girl from the top of my blog (you'll never find me!). I don't tell anyone I do this (except, well, I guess I just did) because it seems like an admittedly strange thing to do, even for me. But for one hour every Sunday night, no matter how crazy or busy my weekend was (and it was- I took thirty students to an eight hour festival on Saturday all by myself because I am clearly insane) I get to nerd out over something I like. So there you go, that's my shameful secret.
I am having a Screencastify meltdown right now. I have to digitally present a Google Slides presentation via Screencastify and as simple as that should be, I am losing my mind. I consider myself a competent presenter. As a music teacher, I never have any qualms about getting up in front of hundreds of people and speaking at our school events. Doesn't even faze me. I mean, I have a performing arts degree for crying out loud! I have spent my whole life performing in front of an audience. Why is it that pressing a simple button on my computer causes such distress? I think the problem is that it is just wayyyyy too easy to press stop and to start all over, whereas when you have to perform live it's "one and done." If you upgrade to the pay version of Screencastify you can stop and start your recording as needed, which would help me form my thoughts better between slides. But I'm cheap so I'm doomed to an endless loop of "Hi everyone, I will be presenting Makerspaces: Computer Science Coding Curricu.....fuuuuuuuudge!" Did I mention that every time you press stop it automatically archives to your Google Drive? Excuse me while I furiously delete some things....
Can we talk about the pepper and egg sandwich in the [class]room? They are AH[clap emoji]MAY[clap emoji]ZING! I don't know the origins of the pepper and egg sandwich; if Chicago can claim it as their own. But I do know for fact that Cracker Jack, Vienna Beef, and Sara Lee are very much ours (Shredded Wheat too but we don't want credit for that). But even if Chicago didn't technically *invent* the "peppernegg," we have mastered it. I like to trade out the green peppers for giardiniere (as any good Chicagoan is wont to do). And of course I get them from our mecca, Portillo's! A perfect Friday Lenten lunch.
UPDATE: I texted the picture to my parents (trying to make them jealous of my awesome lunch, of course) only to find out my Dad was there at the same time for the same thing. Great minds!
I feel really sick
so this will be quick.
I stayed home from work today.
It started with a sneeze
but now it's a wheeze.
Sub plans were typed straightaway.
So I'll lay in my bed
of this comfy homestead
with a cough and a sneeze and a hack.
If my fever won't quit,
to the doctor I'll submit.
I think I might need a Z-pack!
I've read some really great slices on self-care this year and I've been thinking about what that means for me. I berate myself constantly about why I can't seem to get my act together (i.e., Christmas Tree in March). I wonder if it will always be this way; catching up instead of keeping up. I often feel like I can't tell anyone because I don't have kids and the rules of basic adulting say we should be able to take care of our own damn selves while keeping the complaints to a minimum. It seems to be an unspoken rule that single, childless people haven't earned the right to be busy, overwhelmed, or just plain over it. If I hear the phrase "just wait until you have kids" one more time I am going to scream, so it all just goes unsaid. And yet, that doesn't seem to change the fundamental truth of it all. Maybe self-care for me just means being honest with myself and others about what is going on with me. Maybe it means not feeling compelled to compare my situation to anyone else's. Maybe it means giving others the freedom to extend themselves the same courtesy. Maybe it means expecting a little empathy in return.
Have you guys seen those Cadbury Oreo creme eggs on Twitter or Facebook? Well I guess the internet lost it's collective mind over them a few months ago only to find out they aren't sold in the good ol' USofA, which is a shame because almost everyone was like Oreo creme eggs? Just shut up and take my money! Turns out you can only get them in Canada. Man, Canada has all the best stuff. Oreo creme eggs AND known cutie slash all around decent human being Justin Trudeau? Sign me up! Hey, if anyone's willing to be the back half of a moose, I think I have a plan. Or you could just do what my sister did, which was to order them on eBay. They took forever to arrive, but here they are in their splendid glory! Sorry, I didn't presonally get any pics of them once they were open, I was a little preoccupied. nom nom nom!
Reese: Elementary Music Teacher in Chicagoland. Clarinetist and Trumpeter.
I'm writing a Slice of Life every day for the month of March as part of the Slice of Life Challenge. See more at TWO WRITING TEACHERS.
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