Missing swimming

Today I went to the pools, like I usually do. The lane availability on the website said the outdoor pool would have six lanes available, and I’m usually okay with sharing with someone else if necessary. I know there is usually squad swimming in the evenings, as well as an aquaerobics class on occasion.

But this evening I got to the outdoor pool and there was a cavalcade of people. Squad had their usual four lanes, but in the remaining ones there was a triathlon club as well as the members of the public and the group of 15 or so people waiting to do the aqua class. The triathlon club had around six or seven swimmers in each lane, the water was in constant motion and there seemed to be a nonstop barrage of noise.

I freaked out a little bit. I sat to the side of the pool waiting for 7pm, thinking that perhaps the other swimmers would be done then and the pool would settle down. It did not. If anything, it got louder and more crowded as the stereo blared for the start of the aqua class. The lifeguards took down the signs for two of the general swimming lanes to add more reserved signs, as well as closing another two for the aqua class.  There were people finishing up their swims, which I was almost hopeful at, but for each triathlete that emerged from the water another two clustered around those reserved signs seemingly waiting their turn.

I panicked.

I did something I have never done before but that felt like the only option left for me. I left the pool, walked back out to my car and drove back home. On my way I did check the smaller, 25m indoor pool to see how crowded that was. But at that moment in time I think the entire pool could have been empty and I still would have walked away. I go swimming for the fitness aspect, yes, but for me it means so much more to my overall mental health and state of mind. When I am swimming the outside world becomes a blur and I am able to slow down my overthinking brain and just breathe. Literally. I hadn’t swam for over a week because of having been a bit sunburned the last time I went, and mentally I knew that I was overdue; brain all jumbled up, becoming very reactionary and impulsive and just on edge.  Seeing the place that is supposed to be my oasis in such turmoil and with so many people put me into almost a blind panic as I walked back to my car.

Yesterday was an overload for me too so I had been looking forward to a swim to put me in a better frame of mind. I went to my first music festival with a friend. I was very apprehensive in the days (hours and minutes really) leading up to it, not at all keen on spending ten hours on a 30 degree day being jostled around by tens of thousands of strangers while straining to see and listen to musicians that I barely knew. But I went, because my friend really wanted to go and I know that sometimes I say no to things before trying them because I am nervous about new experiences, which this definitely was. The day started out fine, the smaller stage was actually really fun and the crowds were far less for the first few hours. Then we went to the main arena.

At first we stayed in the stands (the stone steps at Fremantle Oval) which were weirdly comforting to me because of all the time I have spent there watching the footy. It was an ideal perch to watch both main stages from, and watch the masses of people congregating and bouncing around without having to directly be a part of it. Even watching the bands from the steps was getting a bit much for me though. The bass of the bands and artists was just going right through me and made me feel like my heart was about to burst out of me. I have never (probably never again) been more grateful to Liam Gallagher and the complete lack of bass and treble and all that modern music junk. But then Liam was winding up and the next act was the band my friend had wanted to come to the festival for, and she wanted to go further in to be where all the other people were so she could dance to this band. Perfectly reasonable, right? The further and further in we walked (or really crushed) into the crowd, the more and more I knew that this was the last place in the world I wanted to be in that exact moment. I in fact sent that as an exact message to a couple of friends. It definitely didn’t help that we had been in the sun all day, I had been drinking without eating any food and it was around hour seven of the day. But I was completely miserable while trying not to look so for the sake of my friend. Even when Liam Gallagher finished off his set with Wonderwall and the entirety of the festival sang along in what I’m sure was supposed to be a special moment, all I could manage was token singing along while my eyes darted around and my heart raced.

My friend’s band started and there was a surge of people going the ten metres from one stage to the next, it felt like I had somehow landed on the freeway and there were cars speeding past me while I tried to cross the road in slow motion. There was no way I was about to ruin my friend’s evening with my neuroses though, so I did bob along to the music while wincing and flinching at each shove and bump I felt. As the band played their more well known songs, my friend wanted us to go further in to the actual stage part. I went along with it, because again I wasn’t about to spoil her day, but by then I felt like I was just in a blind panic. I wanted to get out, I was counting down the minutes until the band’s set was up so I could start to hope that it was time to go home. The second my friend said we should go back out (because the band were on their last song) I practically ran back to those stone steps. My friend was going to stay until the end with her cousin, because they had to go home together, so she said I could feel free to leave whenever I wanted. I lasted maybe five minutes before practically skipping to the exit.

I know that realistically I could have leave whenever I wanted to, and my friend certainly isn’t the type to have made me stay or made me feel guilty about leaving. But I’m such a massive people pleaser that I wouldn’t dream of getting in the way of something that one of my friends really wanted to do. She was back in town for the holidays from Melbourne and early on when I asked her what she wanted to do while she was here she said she wanted to go to this festival to see this band, so of course I bought a ticket with her. I figured that I hadn’t been to a festival before so why not, and I’m sure it won’t be as bad as most festivals have appeared to be. And pragmatically it wasn’t a terrible day, I did really enjoy the Valley stage and a few of the bands there.

But then this evening at the pool. I had spent all day at home alone with the intentions of recovery only to emerge to another populous display of humanity. It was too much. I left the pool after sending a snapchat to a friend, and got home ten minutes late. I then came out of the car a whole half an hour later.

Sitting in the car I felt so overwhelmed. Not crying (for once in my life, I know nobody will believe this but it’s true) but just with a rush of something just on edge. My cat was meowing as he always does when I get home. I tried to calm myself down.

I closed my eyes for a moment remembered that I was in a closed garage in a car so wondered about carbon monoxide and then thought about that scene in Sabrina where she starts all the cars in the garage and closes the door because she is so miserable but then remembered that the car was not running so figured that would be okay but then checked my phone and wondered why my friend hadn’t replied to me it had been about twenty minutes by now so I checked snapchat to see and then I looked at another unrelated story about people being so extra and wondered am I being extra with my freaking out about people but then figured that no it was really a lot of people yesterday and today and then my ears started ringing really loudly and it sounded just like the bass and noise yesterday so I worried a lot about that and realised that my ears hadn’t been ringing all day only in that moment so I was really panicking and so I closed my eyes again to try to calm myself down and I must have fallen asleep.

I opened my eyes a good forty minutes after I parked in the garage. Very heavy lidded, like I could have slept in the car for another few hours. I wanted to swim today. I needed to swim today. It’s been an hour and 1700 words since I got out of the car and I have been writing nonstop since then. I do feel calmer having gotten this all out of my head. But I still need to swim.

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Peppermint and Lime Tea: Venting

I am not someone who can drink coffee or tea straight after it is poured – I prefer to wait until it is of a drinkable heat, and a very dark colour. This evening I thought I would try a new tea – Peppermint and Lime from Twinings, my go to tea brand. So while my tea is cooling and I eat my dinner (a laughable attempt at being healthy after a day of not – fish and vegetables) I thought I would write a bit, mostly to vent.

Today at work I volunteered to go over a section of curriculum, only to have one of my (much older) colleagues say that someone else should go over it, not me. I’m at the point in my career where I know I am good at what I do and I am confident in it, and I want something to be responsible for – a program, project, assignment. So to hear that from a colleague was very disappointing, not just because I wanted the task, but because it was just another example of how unsupportive that particular department is (I work in two, luckily). Because I teach in two learning areas I often have to divide time up with staff meetings. Some of the staff in one of those areas are not happy with me and another teacher because we teach in two areas and so the assumption is that we can’t fully put our attentions to one or the other. In actual fact me and my friend overcompensate in both subjects – teaching after school classes, writing assessments, collaborating and sharing resources with everyone – while the teachers complaining about us are the “clock in, clock out” types nearing the end of their careers. So it is frustrating to have other people thinking (and telling your boss!!??) that you are not pulling your weight. Especially when it is so abundantly clear that the opposite is true.

I have been listening to some podcasts this week however, one of them Truth for Teachers, and the biggest thing I have gotten from it so far is not to waste time worrying about things I have no control over. So while it is frustrating not to be getting support from colleagues in that department, I can’t do anything about their thoughts and feelings so why waste time worrying about them? I am a good teacher, and I don’t need their validation to remind myself.

Tea is ready! Tea tastes….Surprisingly good. I’m not usually a big peppermint fan but I’m trying to get to sleep soon so trying it out. Hope you remember not to sweat the small things, or worry about other people’s problems!

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Review: Pendragon’s Heir

Pendragon’s Heir by Suzannah Rowntree (2015, Bocfodder Press) 23734176

I have always had a fascination with all things Camelot – Guinevere, Avalon, The Lady of Shallot, The Grail Quest. So when this book came up in my BookBub email I was intrigued. Combining Camelot with a Narnia type-story pretty much hits all my buttons, so I eagerly started it a few weeks ago.

This gripping adventure captures the magic and scope of The Chronicles of Narnia in a story sophisticated enough for mature readers. Blanche Pendragon is dragged from Edwardian England to the time of King Arthur… and discovers that Camelot’s fate may depend on her.

Continue reading Review: Pendragon’s Heir

Thursday Week 2

It’s getting to be the case that Thursdays are my most draining day of the week. Not at all welcome, considering from next week I will be adding an after school class to my regular work load, but we shall carry on regardless!

So in other words: This Thursday has been equally as gruesome, or at least the afternoon has been. Today I am grateful for my renewed organisation. I had maybe my best lesson this year with my year 10s because it was meticulously planned out. I mean, it did help that it was first period so their attentions and efforts were the most focused they are all week. But we did a great class discussion and brainstorm, then annotated an article about gender stereotypes, and then answered questions. And for the first time all year they were all sitting, working, SILENTLY. It felt really great to start he day off with a win like that.

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Class brainstorm
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Keywords and instructions for the lesson

Of course come period 4, my year sevens were completely distracted by what I had left on the board, because they have no sense of self control at all. As in a literal butterfly could fly past my window and they would almost all turn to watch it. Any suggestions on improving this are well welcomed!

Hope you all have had a good week, and here’s to Friday and wine!

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Thursdays

Thursday?! It can’t be! It’s too gruesome!

I have been having an awfully hectic kind of day, and then remembered this from my dear Holly. I think I like the idea of Thursdays being gruesome, but mostly because it is giving me only one day a week on which to have a whinge. I tend to over-whinge, so it’d be good for me to limit myself. Although I suppose I should really go the other way, give myself something to be grateful for in the face of a gruesome day. Yes, that’s probably wiser.

SO today, even though it has been particularly gruesome, at least I have this face to come home to:

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Meet Atticus. 

 

This one: img_0213

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He does make me smile!

Hope your Thursday is not too gruesome!

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What I’m Currently Reading (according to Goodreads)

End of a long work week with reports to write, but I am a little sick of trying to rephrase “if you don’t hand work in you can only get a zero” a million times…

It’s the middle of semester one reports so naturally that means it is also time for me to procrastinate wildly and start reading two or three hundred books at the same time! My Goodreads “Currently Reading” list is a little ridiculous at the moment – 14 books – but I can’t bear to give up on any of them. My yearly challenge sits at 32/80 (down from the target of 100 set at the start of the year) but that is mostly because I am in the middle of a cozy mysteries series that I am able to breeze through when I want something lighter and pulpier to read (The Tara Holloway series by Diane Kelly, FYI).

Below are the books currently in my “currently reading” list, from oldest on the list to newest. Most of them are books from my local library that I start reading, get caught up with work so hardly have time to continue, end up renewing the maximum about before reluctantly returning to the library barely read. A couple of them I was so into that I ended up buying my own copies to read at my own pace. Any excuse for a Book Depository order!

  1. Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team and a Dream – H. G. Bissinger.
  2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon.
  3. Who Killed William Shakespeare?: The Murderer, the Motive, the Means – Simon Andrew Stirling.
  4. Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore – Skye Alexander
  5. Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors – Len Wein
  6. A French Wedding – Hannah Tunnicliffe
  7. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
  8. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  9. 1984 – George Orwell
  10. The Debutante – Kathleen Tessaro
  11. The Fall of Arthur – J R R Tolkien
  12. Favourite Maori legends – Alexander Wyclif Reed
  13. Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins – Susan Casey
  14. Death, Taxes and Cheap Sunglasses (Tara Holloway #8) – Diane Kelly

 

Hopefully once reports are finished I will be able to whittle down this list somewhat. Besides the Tara Holloway books, I would like to re-borrow out The Fall of Arthur, the Wonder Woman comic and I want to finish GWTW by the end of the year! It’s a little alarming to think not just of this list, but of the books that I own that I have not read yet either! Perhaps I can add that in to a future blog post..

Any recommendations about these or any other books I should get stuck into while I have the time?

Here’s hoping your TBR list is much shorter than mine!

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Gone With The Wind Part 1

Today I was looking through my Goodreads “currently reading” list and realised that I have around 10 books on that list! I am chronic in starting a book only to take a break from it for a while, a LONg while it seems, and then have to pretty much start from the beginning because I’ve forgotten what it was about! I am also chronic in reading/re-reading books in a series in an effort to pad my Reading Challenge (Deltora and Series of Unfortunate Events, I’m talking to you!) for the year, which now sits at 78/85 books,  but having all those unfinished books on my list does get to me at times.

I don’t know quite what it is that makes me put books down after starting them. Obviously being busy at work has had an impact – I rarely want to read at home after my brain is wired all day – but other than that I am curious as to why. The books that are on my “currently reading” list are a range of classic and non-fiction books, some of them library books that I started but never got around to finishing. I know that with books like Kavalier and Clay and All Quiet on the Western Front the reputation of them being “classics” can feel daunting at times. I know that I have Anna Karenina, The Iliad and Heart Of Darkness among many others sitting on my bookshelf for years, waiting for the right time for me to read them. Whether that time is when I’ve had my fill of puff, chick-lit/mystery books or when I’m in the school holidays ready to be challenged OR simply when I have the motivation to want to tackle one of these mighty works.  Continue reading Gone With The Wind Part 1

Taking Stock: Spring edition #1

After a tumultuous few weeks (really months) I am starting to feel like I can rejoin the land of the living. Work has settled down (though my pile of marking is ever-growing),I’m feeling sliiiightly better about personal life stuff and I’m deciding to focus on the stuff I have in my life that is pretty great. I’m lucky to have a job that I love, a nephew who adores me, friends who will help me if I ask and about 300 books, not counting ebooks, in which to escape when times get tough.

Cooking: Banana bread this weekend. I bought a huge bunch of bananas last week that I felt a bit bad about so I found an easy recipe for banana bread on Tastemade (my new obsession) and it’s delish!

Drinking: I’ve been enjoying a Brown Brothers moscato thing that I love, but that apparently tastes like Passion Pop? Never tasted it myself (surprisingly).

Reading: Torn between what to start next – Gone With The Wind, Anna Karenina or The Odyssey. Yikes but I want to push myself. Continue reading Taking Stock: Spring edition #1

Broken, empty and lonely.

I came to a realisation yesterday morning. The events of the past week, and the past month and a half, have pretty much left me empty. Not empty in the sense that I am an emotionless husk of a woman, but empty in that I have nothing left to give at the moment. In general I am someone who is always giving to the people around her, generous with my time and efforts, and rarely expecting things in return. But I’m not an emotionless husk of a woman, I like to have my efforts acknowledged at the bare minimum if not appreciated. Lately it feels like all I do is give and be patient and understanding without receiving any of the same support. Continue reading Broken, empty and lonely.

Friday Five: Favourite texts to teach

Long time no post (as always)…

My year 8 class is currently studying a book that I studied when I was their age, and we are all loving it so much that I started thinking about the other texts that I enjoy teaching, and that I have (in my short career) used with a range of year groups and schools.

  1. Tomorrow, When The War Began
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    My year 8 class is in the middle of a comparative essay assessment for this text. We read the book, watched the TV show and the film over the last five weeks (plus school holidays). TWTWB is a novel that I really got into when I was in high school, and it is a book (and series) that is so unique in its plot, writing, characters, themes and issues. That idea of “what would you do if your country was invaded” is something that should seem inaccessible to teenagers today. But the way that John Marsden tells the story of Ellie and her friends is so compelling and vivid, so emotional and raw and above all else real, that I think it uniquely appeals to teenagers. The group of characters all have their flaws and are so different that I think everyone can identify with at least some part of a character. I used to live near a local airport, and whenever I read book one and then heard the planes flying at night, i would freak myself out so badly!
    This is also a series that I can never put down; once I read the first book I often read the other six within the week, and the same happened when I was teaching the book this term – I spent the first week of my holidays engrossed in guerrilla warfare and teenage terrorists.
  2. The Princess Bride
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    My year 8s looked at this movie at the start of the year, looking at characterisation, genre and film conventions. I adore this movie, and (selfishly) as a teacher I don’t like to teach texts that I don’t know or like. So when the opportunity came up for my year 7s last year to start looking at narrative conventions and characters, I had the idea to show them this movie. They loved it, after complaining at first that it was sure to be an old black and white movie, if it was made in the 80s.. I got them to do a character analysis on how one character in the story changed as a result of the events in the movie, some of them crafted some exquisite responses!
    I have also read the book, which quickly became one of my all time favourites as soon as I started reading it.
  3. The Outsiders
    2626920066_091dc0a914_zI first read The Outsiders when I was in year 10. I was amazed that such a seminal, rite-of-passage text that resonated with my male classmates was written by a girl no older than I was (at the time). Since then, I have used that text with my mostly male, disengaged classes. I have found that they identify with at least something in the novel, whether it is the loyalty and devotion of the three Curtis boys, the hero worship of Dallas Winston or the lonely bravado of Johnny. I think The Outsiders is a book that you could study on many levels; whether it is to introduce themes and issues as I did this year with a hard year 10 group, plot and conflict with my year 9s last year or parallel characters and debating with my year 9s in my first semester of teaching.
    The Outsiders was one of the first books that I remember reading in high school that I know have had lessons stay with me into adulthood. It was Ponyboy and Johnny that I turned to when facing my first novel study with my first “smart” class, and it is the lessons that they taught me that I try pass on to my students.
  4. Invictus

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    yes, i know this is the actual event, not a picture from the movie.

    This one is a bit more personal for me. I saw this movie with my brother and my dad at the movies, and I left crying and proud to be South African. As an English text though, I think that Invictus has a lot to offer. It explores issues of racism, class systems, sports, politics, history and civics. I first used it with a hard year 10 class last year, and they looked at it more as a film study, with issues and themes the main focus. My year 10 class this year was very similar. We had previously watched a documentary called Pacific Warriors (my class has a lot of rugby specialist program kids) looking at the issues of inequality and funding in sports. I think the kids get a lot from Invictus, from looking at a moment in history and events that seemed too unreal to be true, to being able to watch a good sports movie.
    I also like to teach it because it allows my students to get to know me a bit better. My family lived through a lot of the circumstances in the movie. My granny was a great hockey player who was not allowed to represent South Africa because of the colour of her skin, my mother was a great ice skater who was on her skating team as one of the “token” two coloured girls, and my grandpa would constantly talk about how great Madiba was. The movie is very real for me even though I have never really lived in South Africa, and I think lets my students see me as an actual “person” with a history and heritage that I am proud of. We also have a giggle at me being near tears at the end of the movie EVERY. SINGLE. TIME i watch it!

  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
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    This one less as a “study” text, more as an “end of term” text. I have shown this movie at the end of terms since it came out, and every single class i have shown it to (8,9,10,12s) have enjoyed it. I adore it, and i think it’s perfect in its quirkiness!

Hope your Friday is less chaotic than mine! Would love some suggestions for go-to English texts, my tendency to stick to the familiar can at times be limiting…

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It's useful being top banana in the shock department.