598: Failure


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

567: Travel Deals


I have been subscribing to a travel website for years now that I would like to share. It is free to subscribe to travelzoo.com’s weekly e-mail posting of what they consider to be the Top Twenty travel deals that they found by canvassing hundreds and hundreds of travel companies world-wide. The weekly post arrives via e-mail every Wednesday, and highlights twenty or more local and/or international travel deals that are often astonishingly inexpensive.

To be fair, often they are at times during the year when I cannot travel, being a schoolteacher – travel companies tempt travelers to travel at non-peak times with extra good discounts, and usually, those are times when I am tied to my job and can’t go. However, if it is a time when I can go, the deals are spectacular!

I have booked and traveled with Travelzoo’s recommended deals several times over the last few years and I have been thoroughly pleased with each trip.Often the trip packages offered through the site’s recommended agencies include airfare, accommodation, taxes, fees and excursions, and some are all-inclusive resorts that include entertainment, sports and all you can eat and drink into the bargain.

To sign up for the free weekly e-mail and see the great travel deals yourself, go to http://www.travelzoo.com and register for free. They have departments of the company located in various parts of the world, so there are e-mail deal packages especially for people who live in Europe, or in the USA/Canada, or in Asia, for example. They also offer local deals for you based on your identified zip code, which means for me that I see extra travel and entertainment deals in the southeastern USA, and in Atlanta, Georgia, especially.

Have fun planning your next exotic (and cost-conscious) destination!

562: International teaching jobs, and good advice


I taught internationally for five years before I returned to the USA to get married. So far, HE’S been worth it, but teaching abroad was certainly more rewarding than what I am doing now, PLUS the travel opportunities. But, where do you get a teaching job overseas?

I joined two subscription sites, and several free sites, that list available teaching positions for teachers with a passport and a love of teaching. The one that trumped all the others was this one: www.joyjobs.com

This site lists jobs the other sites have never heard of, AND they have a training program online where they teach you what to do in order to get hired. AND they help you set up and host for you a professional website so you can say to schools – here is my professional website for more information – and THAT is a big help. The people who run the site are quite knowledgeable, and will assist you if you ask. Igor helped me tweak my cover letter with excellent results.

A year’s subscription is less than 40 bucks -and was worth every penny.

518: Job Security

Teacher with a laptop

Most people feel pretty secure in their employment – or as much as you can in an uncertain economy that can cause even a well-established and well-managed company to have to downsize their staff. Most know, barring a major screw-up on their part, they will be employed right on, barring any major economic problems beyond everyone’s control. You get hired, you do your job, your job is pretty secure.

And, then there are teachers.

Teachers get a yearly contract. I know why school systems do this – they don’t want to have an employee walk out in the middle of the school year, leaving them with classes to cover, and little clear idea of where and how to proceed. To help prevent that, school systems in the USA offer teachers a yearly contract, that covers employment for the upcoming school year. And ONLY the upcoming school year.That means, every year, every stinking year, every teacher in the USA faces the possibility that their contract won’t be renewed, and they will be looking for a job, at the last minute.

The truth of the matter is that teachers do leave awful schools in the middle of a contract – it is called breaking your contract, and every school I have ever applied to tried very, very hard to discover if I had ever done such a heinous thing, ever before, to any other school. It is severely frowned upon – you broke your word not to leave them in the lurch, regardless of what they did to you as an employee.  They don’t want teachers who are willing to leave the school if the job sucks. And sometimes the job sucks. Sometimes any job sucks.

I got through an awful year at my second school by promising myself three times a day I would quit. I said I would quit when I got there, first thing. Once I was there, I said I’d quit at lunchtime. Once I made it to lunch, I promised I’d quit at the end of the day. At the end of the day, I got out of there and went home. I finished that miserable year. Without breaking my contract. It was miserable.

In twenty-five years of teaching, I have never had a secure job. When school systems dithered too long to offer contracts for the next year, I usually applied to another school who was looking. I have to be employed. I cannot wait and hope. At least as an international teacher, most contracts are for two years, so I get to do the whole searching thing only every OTHER year, instead of EVERY year, like in the USA.



465: Welcome to Kazakhstan

Well. It’s been one whole day in my new country: Kazakhstan! I finally got the work visa approved, and since you must have your visa in hand before you can fly, that took some time and doing. The Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, D.C. does not accept mail, or other deliveries like Fed Ex or UPS. Because of this, you either have to GO there and take your documents in person and then go back a week later and pick them up (from ATLANTA), or, you have to pay for a courier service to do that for you. Easy decision, that one.

Kazakhstan apartment 002

It was two full days (48 hours plus about 10 more) to get here, what with three flights and two lengthy layovers, one in Amsterdam and one in Almaty. Almaty is in Kazakhstan, and is one of its two largest cities. The other one is Astana. One is the capitol, and the other one is the largest city. I forget which is which, but I am sure I will learn.

Kazakhstan apartment 009

The one funny thing in Almaty’s airport terminal, while I waited over eight hours on my next flight, was that workers came around prising up from the benches (where weary travelers were sitting, waiting on their flights), the CUSHIONS from the bench seats. ???? They did not ask any of us who were seated to move, but they scarfed the cushion right next to me…..? Interesting, I could not help but giggle over it.

Kazakhstan apartment 001

The other thing I will get to learn is some Russian. Seriously. The other language they speak here (could not be just one, huh?) is Kazakh. *sigh* And, like Arabic, this one has another new alphabet, too.

Well. At least the apartment the school furnished is nice. It is pretty bare in the kitchen, which I will have to remedy, but it will certainly do, and it is free – a perk of the job. No complaints, believe me. I can buy a few dishes.

Kazakhstan apartment 008

This morning, a colleague at the school who is named Georgia (! my home state, what a great good omen) came to take me shopping for a few necessities to get through the first week. The stores are only a couple of blocks away – no bus or taxi fares! The school is only about a mile and a half away, too – shared taxi should be reasonable, too.

Kazakhstan apartment 003

My first dinner consisted of one of the new grains in the supermarket – I think wheat berries, plus carrots and potatoes. Root crops are very reasonably priced. Packaging is interesting. More glass jars than cans. Good for reusing. I like it, except for when (not if) I break one getting them home.


Yes, it  is cold (15 degrees Fahrenheit), but the apartment is warm. Tomorrow is the first day at work, so I am excited enough to be uninterested in sleeping, darn it. Clothes laid out, Panama cell phone set to Kazakh time as my alarm clock/watch, since I forgot to pack any watches and the darn cheap thing does not work here in this country, anyway.  Makes a good alarm clock, though, so I’m keeping it. I bought an electrical adapter today, so my laptop, tablet, Kindle reader, cell phone and tablet are all charged. Woo Hoo! New job, new life, here I come!

410: Moving On

Well – Panama is not going to be the retirement country. I will start filling out applications soon, in the fall, for a new school in another country. Perhaps Nicaragua, perhaps Ecuador, perhaps Bolivia or Brazil – who knows?

And why, some of you may be thinking, are you dissatisfied with Panama, the world’s top-touted haven for retiring Americans? I have discovered that wherever the world is beating a path, is very probably NOT the place that I am wanting to go. That has proven to be the case with Panama. I think the nicest thing I can say about Panamanians is that they have a very relaxed attitude towards customer service – which I would not have believed of a people who had such a close association with Americans for the last 150 years. The Panama idea of customer service is akin to that old joke about the bull servicing the cows – THAT kind of customer service. After a while, you just sort of expect to get screwed – NOT my idea of a good time. An author I am currently reading said that Panamanians have an “immature” work ethic. Fairly accurate, and kindly put.

Plus, all that crap you read about Panama being so cheap – WHERE do these people making these claims come from – freaking California, or New York City? Only those idiots could believe Panama is cheap, and you already know they are stupid for continuing to live in such expensive places to begin with (not to mention the hurricanes and the earthquakes, for crying out loud). Taking their word for inexpensive living is ridiculous to begin with, seeing that they have no basis in reality from the word go.

The only catch, and the ONE thing that might keep me here in Panama for another year, is the actual process of moving again. Moving is not a whole lot of fun and games in any location, and moving country is that whole ugly process, times ten to the nth power. Meh.

Still, that is what being an international worker is all about – seeing and “trying on for size” new places and new cultures. Besides, my Spanish is actually getting a little better. I am sure I sound funny, but I am generally understood – the whole point of communication in the first place. I am far better at Spanish than I EVER was at French (ugh) or Arabic (ditto).

I just need to find homes for two sweet cats – another whole issue.




408: Testosterone…for women????

I have known for quite some time that I am one of those females that needs testosterone. When I discovered this, it explained a lot of my life decisions to me. I understood why I majored in college in a career field that was overwhelmingly populated with men, and it was not because I wanted one, or wanted to be one. That’s just the way I think.
My mom gave me a little book by a medical doctor (Kathy C. Maupin) called The Secret Female Hormone, written in collaboration with a doctor pf psychology. This book (small – a quick read) explains why women over the age of 40 need testosterone replacement therapy, now that women live for forty and fifty years beyond our reproductive lifespans. Know all those tired old jokes about how your sex life just disappears after marriage? Some of that is because of increased and competing demands: job, social, family, children, etc., and some of that is a reduction in your own female body’s production of testosterone. Yep. This doctor explains that all women produce testosterone, too. Particularly after the age of 40, testosterone really drops off – and so does libido (desire), for women. MEN don’t feel this drop-off in hormone production until their mid-fifties. PLUS, the reduction of testosterone in women brings up a whole host of other symptoms which, for most women, are only treated individually. That means no doctor ever connects all the dots to understand that most of these problems will GO AWAY with ONE treatment – the replacement of testosterone – to older women. !!!!
The problems listed include: frequent urinary tract infections, thinning skin, dry eyes, accumulation of body (especially belly) fat, fatigue, clinical depression, increased cholesterol, obesity, reduction of red and white blood cells (anemia and increased infections), loss of muscle tone and tissue, migraine headaches, loss of balance, immune disorders, decreases in bone density, increased incidence of cancers, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and auto-inflammatory disorders. Wow. I am nodding my head, reading this awful list, going: yep, yep, yep, yep……..
I knew I needed testosterone when I underwent a hysterectomy. My OB-GYN started me immediately after the surgery on hormone replacement therapy – with estrogen and progesterone only – and I went into major, suicidal depression within weeks, despite being on the replacement therapy. ONE injection of testosterone fixed it, within HOURS. However, it wore off, and I needed another injection ahead of schedule, until I got regulated and had enough in my system to make it a week or two between injections.
And then, I decided to become an international teacher. I don’t regret this decision, BUT – you can’t get testosterone easily for women even in America. MEN can, but not women, unless you can find a physician who has brains and actually continues to go to conferences or seminars to learn about breaking research – and not all of them do that. Few of them do that, in fact. However, you can get it in America if you search hard enough for the right physician – I did. Overseas is a whole ‘nother story. My husband could get it in Morocco, but I could not. So, he got it, and I took it. Hey – you do what you gotta do.
Then, we moved to Panama. Well. I hit the desert, or the brick wall, or whatever you call it, and things have not been going too well. I have finally found an endocrinologist that I think will treat me (meaning, give-me-testosterone-treat-me), but he wants a full lab workup beforehand, and the lab work alone is six hundred bucks. I have not had the money to pay for this work last year, and I have suffered for it. Next month, I will finally have enough to take care of myself, hopefully to get the testosterone I need to recover some motivation to keep living. Wish me luck!