598: Failure

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Nobody likes to fail.

Nobody likes ADMITTING that they failed, much less the painful process of actually FAILING.

The constant mental re-plays…if only I had done THAT instead, it would have changed the outcome……why didn’t THAT occur to me at the time, so I could have done something differently……why did I not recognize that as a RED FLAG? Heck no, at the TIME, that red flag was a glowing, rosy PINK flag……..sheesh. Gotta get rid of these glasses.

And then comes the sneaking, stealthy, sly subconscious. The DREAMS about failing. Not necessarily the specific thing I failed at, oh, no! These are horrible, inventive fantasies; dark, macabre imaginings of all the OTHER ways I could possibly fail at something.

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Such as – dreaming of being a waitress (yes, I, too, did this in college) at a pizza-cum-sandwich shop – and getting ALL the orders wrong, having to apologize profusely to all the incensed customers, take all the blame, and give them their food for free – which I know is going to come out of my miniscule paycheck, of course. FABULOUS dream. Can’t WAIT to have it again. The groveling, you know, that’s what excites me the most.

EWR TERMINAL B CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION, CSR & AGENTS 7/6/07

Then there’s the nightmare about the trip – I get to the airport, after having meticulously packed (and pre-weighed) my bag for this international flight, and discover my purse (with the passport, of course), is missing. Instant panic. WHERE did I leave it on my journey to the airport? On the train? In the taxi? OMG! The flight departs in an hour! Or, (alternate variation on this theme), the bag I carefully packed and weighed to comply with all the myriad regulations for flying (which I looked up online prior to getting started packing, just to be sure), ISN’T in compliance, after all. And now I must choose, standing at the inspection table surrounded by harried passengers, which items to discard so they will actually let me get on the flight using the ticket I have paid for. Should I ditch the shampoo? The tampons? The evening gown? The sandals? The sunscreen? AAUUGGHHHhhhhhh…………! Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down to the time they will close the boarding gate, and I will be…..LEFT BEHIND. With no refund of monies paid.

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Or the teacher dream: supervising a field trip and having something go wrong when I am responsible for twenty something (or more) students and chaperones. I am scrambling to fix whatever thing has gone awry, and doing a perfectly miserable job of it, because, of course, this is a FAILURE dream, and nothing I do in one of those dreams works out to my advantage. Ever. And usually, it involves a copious amount of my favorite thing – groveling to all and sundry as I meekly confess my culpability.

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Or my personal favorite – I am fleeing a menacing, pursuing presence through all the halls and rooms of an infinite decaying, crumbling mansion….for hours and hours, all the while knowing that the terrible pursuing menace is going to corner and catch and murder horrifically. Yup. Personal favorite. I usually wake up trying to scream from that one, panting like I’ve just run the Boston Marathon.

Bad enough to fail in real life, when I am conscious. Failing in my dreams is infinitely worse – the dream failures seem every bit as real as the real-life failures, and I can have more than one of them per night. Subconscious self-torture. Whoopity doo.

218: Burnout

There is one problem with trying to do your best all the time, and being willing to help others when they ask: burnout.

This week at school, a student I was tutoring every afternoon for months (for pay, at her mother’s request) was referred to me for after school tutoring (at the school’s request – no pay) three days a week. Plus, I got an additional 30 minute duty added today, too. That extra two hours right there increases my face-to-face contact time to twenty-four hours a week, and I am contracted for only twenty-five, even though I am required to be present at school each week for forty full-time hours, plus a forty-five minute after-school activity. AND, I will be at school today for extra hours after the school day for parent-teacher conferences. Tomorrow, many of my students will not be at school because of a field trip, and next week, another field trip will take most of my students for Thursday and Friday, again. We have a bake sale this afternoon for the parent conferences, and a clothes drive going on, too, PLUS a play that I (as the art teacher) have been asked to help paint sets for. Jeepers creepers, folks, I am NOT a spring chicken anymore.

That does not mean that having all this varied activity is bad, because it does make each work day different (which is actually a rather good thing). Plus, variety IS the spice of life, right??

21: Field Trips

I adore field trips.

Or, at least I USED to adore field trips back in the day when I was a student myself – you know – the dark ages. Then, all I had to do was go, listen and learn. NOW that I am the teacher, all the field trip arrangements are mine to make.

First, I have to write a proposal for approval of the trip here at school. I have to explain why this trip is educational, and worthwhile. Then, I have to arrange getting the van – all the paperwork and e-mails to be sure one is available to take us. Next comes the parent permission form where I explaion to parents why this trip is good and worthwhile. Then I have to make lesson plans for the classes that are not going on the trip, and any students who do not bring in the signed permission forms to go with us. Then the emergency bag – water, toilet paper, facial tissues, hat, first aid kit, plastic bags for any carsickness and cleaning up the trash in the van afterwards, sunscreen with bug repellant, a snack, tweezers for splinters. Then we have to have a speech at the beginning of the trip so everyone behaves, a potty break or two, making sure everyone stays with the group, counting noses, and being sure we do not leave anyone behind. And keeping an eye on the time to be sure we get back to school when we said we would, so no one worries about us.

WHEW! One field trip a year. Maybe.