Monday, February 11, 2008

Off again

assalamu alaikum,

I had the most horrifying, terrifying, distressing conversation with my brother JW yesterday.

Apparently he is off his meds. And suicidal. And extremely depressed.

Please pray. For his sanity and health. For mine. For my entire family.

It's extremely stressful to know that I feel behind and inadequate at work and to be the one my brother wants to help 'prop' him mentally.
Yesterday was a great day of tutoring for me- until I was talking to JW at one point on my cell phone while driving (which I detest doing- driving on the cell, I mean) the most narrow hair-raisingly constructed highway in the region in the huge Pimp Car (tm) hearing him tell me, after I told him quite forcefully that suicide is not an option and we'll help him work this out, "I wasn't actually asking for permission."

Okay, so what were you doing, giving me notice?!

My response:
"Good, because you aren't getting it!"

Just, please, pray. I need a mental health day and I don't have one. I need reinforcement. Dua'a requested.


Saturday, February 09, 2008


Assalamu alaikum,

Man, the past week has been a big one. Tornadoes and sugar plant explosions in the south. I came to work and the first thing one of my co-workers mentioned after good-morning was that 49 people had died in the storms. She was clearly shaken- until that point, I'd had no idea. Plus the primaries are making people nuts. Duas, always dua'a.

I'm feeling better and trying to make the weekend as uneventful as possible. InshaAllah I'm getting away from the negativity, even if it makes for less writing. I'm fighting the isolation I've been able to marinate in since moving to Conservopolis. It's wierd how into things you are just by living in the DC Metro area, and being away from it is kind of numbing. I just have to be more proactive about information than I did there.

While at halaqa (tuesday, not sunday) I completely went off into a tangent with Samina, asked her the story of how she and her husband met. Those are like my fairy tales, you know? I love to hear those stories. They give me hope. InshaAllah, one day. But she's also got me convinced (again) that I actually could do med school and then when I came out get rid of the debt. To tell you the truth, it's always the money in a situation that worries me, especially when I'm thinking about going back to school. But I really want either the nurse-midwifery or a medical degree. And Samina said that the people who seemed to do best were those who were married (humph) with kids (eg had a family- that I do have, even if my father will have thirty kinds of fits when I say, hey I want to go to med school. don't get me started.) Once I start, I won't let myself stop... inshaAllah. All things come from God.

Man, and we're reading the best book I've ever seen re:Qur'an in English for that same halaqa. It's called An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan, by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi. I'm sure part of it is that since I've started going to this halaqa the whole subject has become even more interesting, but this book is also just well-written. I've not felt this excited about tafsir related anything since I almost bought Maarif ulQur'an after East Zone last year. Still debating that one.

Turns out I won't be able to go to MSA East Zone this year, which stinks. Elle is really upset, and I was looking forward to seeing everyone and getting into some fun with them. I also wanted to see Taraal since apparently he and Elle have gotten to the whole parent-meeting stage of not-quite-courtship. Super exciting that I was there when they met! SubhanAllah.

So yeah, everything is everything. I hope the same is for you.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

There's assistance and then there's that.

Assalamu alaikum,

Yes, I'm blogging in front of the Super Bowl. I'm on my sister's computer and she's TiVo'd it, so we re-watch the good commercials and kinda zone out on the rest. I'm taking the opportunity to do some blogging. So what?

Besides, the Patriots always win, it's nearly as sickening as those Yankees a couple years ago.

I had a really interesting conversation with "my assistant", the other teacher in my room half a day. I've had some real issues with her attitude, not least because I was given to understand that she was there in part so that I could rely on her greater experience in the early childhood education arena.

Because, while I do believe (alhamdulIllah) I'm capable of teaching children this young, there are things about teaching them that I just don't know, not having experience nor training in ECE and not having had children this age myself. And then when I came, and asked for her help in certain things, I got a lot of pushback from her, outright... insolence, I guess.

What really chapped my buns was that ultimately, I feel that the kids in the room are the ones who pay with an inferior level of education. Then, she was transferred to KG for half a day in the afternoon. While that brought relief on the one hand (no one judging me in my own classroom, refusing to take initiative yet making suggestions after the fact as to how I'm doing things incorrectly), it also upset me that she felt better in the KG room without at least trying to express any problems she had outright. I do NOT tolerate gossipping in the workplace, so I kept that to my family and confidants, but that whole situation wasn't (and isn't , but we've cleared the air... I'm getting there) helping my mental status.

Then I picked up some guts and finally just asked her to work with the older kids in group time with their literacy. I've been trying to do that, especially as some of the older ones can read and need more instruction. I pulled them out 3 times a week, but I know that she had done that sort of thing before. She let me know something that shocked me and made me understand her attitude: she makes less than $16,000 a year. And she does so simply because she doesn't have a bachelor's degree. SHe works the same hours I do, has 5 years of experience in pre-school, but is making less than half what starting teachers are offered.

No wonder.

So, I let her know that I needed her expertise. And further, the kids needed it. I understood, finally, why she had acted the way she did, but I'd gladly take on some things that she had been doing, if she'd apply her great innovative ideas to the older reading group. I said that I needed to be able to watch her, because while it was inspiring to hear her say that they needed to do more manipulative activities and less paperwork, being that all my experience and training is with adults and children at least 9 years old, the ideas are slow coming and hard to put into place. And I told her that I absolutely agree that her pay level is unjust.

It's getting better. I hope. I mean, I still sense that attitude and am much quicker to come out of my mouth and ask her if she's angry about something, but she's working with the kids, and has sent a letter to the parents saying as much, and I'm looking at what she does and learning from her activity. *sigh*.

It makes me realize a couple of things, one being that although I am competent to look after and teach pre-schoolers, it's not where I'm most involved and passionate. That's in part why I've taken so many tutoring spots; it cuts my time, but I LOVE teaching students that age, really showing my passion for learning. Plus, it's easier to help them fully understand what their teachers set them, stretch their minds, and think beyond where they are.
Pre-school- that's possible, especially when we can go outdoors and explore, or plant seeds, or just wonder at the creation of Allah, but it's a whole lot harder for me to wrap my head around indoors. And I have no- ZERO- prep time scheduled into my day, which I finally understand is just flat unfair. Bad enough I'm just now getting to pray dhuhr thanks to an awesome sister who's student-teaching and watches my people for 10 minutes. She's been a godsend, really. Worse that I see that creative materials are needed and that I have to create them- or have time to tell someone else how to create them- and I have to do that on my own scant time. The only non-scheduled time I have during the school day is lunch, for 45 minutes. I'm still training for the marathon and I don't want to give it up for less than life-changing reasons. I tutor and I go to halaqas, I go to the gym and then I go home- when I deviate from that I do things like nearly break my wrist and then have sucky weeks.

Something has to give, and until now the kids haven't been getting the education that I know they could get. I don't think that their education is inadequate, nor is their care. But I've always been one to want to be the absolute best at what I do. To not do so for whatever reason just bothers the mess out of me. It's probably half of my issues now.

Man, where did my positive blog posts go?




assalamu alaikum,

I've come to just accept the fact that I need to be seeing a therapist- or at least someone I can talk to about various issues etc who has to keep them confidential and can help me identify hitches in my thinking and self-control. Yes, that would be a therapist. I asked my halaqa leader today if he knew of some and he said he'd forward the numbers to me.

When I left DC, I knew that being in Conservopolis would help me solve a lot of my financial issues, those related to the cost of living. I thought that I'd be able to put more of my cash toward bringing down my credit debt, and I was right about that. But certain things are causing me distress, and I don't know how to fix them. I see a repeating pattern that isn't cool. Typical example? Aversion to outward organization. I hate. i. mean. utterly. detest. creating lesson plans- which is a problem seeing as how I earn my living as a teacher. I don't like any sort of paperwork at all. What I live for and thrive on is the actual teaching, the more individualized work.

That plus the feeling of being ill at ease and slightly ill for months now, means that something is up.

Worst is that I don't feel comfortable telling that to my family. We've got enough issues as it is. I just don't have the fortitude to tell my mother, for example, that I think I'm totally depresed, that I don't feel I have the time or inclination to do the things required to do my job well. Keep in mind that naturally my family draws a lot of parallels between me and JW. He just came out of the hospital and is fighting taking his meds still. I know something is not right, and I do talk the day-to-day things out with my mother, which is an absolute lifesaver, but I'm just reluctant to tell her that I think I'm slipping and may need more. She told me today that she's recovering, that she feels better, after years of dealing with various illnesses, her own and my grandmother's. I don't want to pull her down now- she's my rock and my lifeboat and it's good to finally see her feeling well.

When it got really bad in portareeco, I went to see the severely overloaded shrink at the teacher's hospital. I just knew that the thoughts I was thinking were a little out of the bounds, that everything was getting messier and a little less sane daily, that I was way stressed. The shrink told me I'd be okay. She gave me pills. I didn't want to take them but when I did, I declare they saved my life. They were samples, and I don't know that she entered all of that into my medical file, but by the time they ran out I was on summer break, a little more able to deal, only working one job, and (though I didn't know it yet) very close to returning to the mainland, which I thought would help. It did, and it didn't, because though being near the ones who understand me best is crucial, it isn't the ultimate fix. I don't know what is. I do know I have to get out of my head.

This blog started as an experiment, on a dare from Sherry, who I don't think even blogs anymore. Come to think of it, she pulled me through when I was going through major blues even in college. She and Anita. Anyway, the point I was going to make is that it quickly became therapeutic. When I was physically isolated from the familiar, I had my friends inside the computer to pull me through. I still had horizons to explore. It helped to just talk stuff out, even if it was inside the computer. No matter how cautious you are and how stiff the boundary with those you don't know, caring comes through. It was very necessary to speak up, let my 'self' be free, examine myself and what's going on and yeah, get to know other people and care for them too. I sometimes felt- and feel- that what keeps me hanging on is knowing that someone out there really truly needs me, cares for me, wants to see me every day. Hmm.

No matter where, when I start shutting down, going inside my head, and talking noticeably less, something is up. I'm working on getting it together. And getting it out a bit more. Of course I'm making dua'a. And asking for more, because of course this is when my level of iman is ebbing. It suffers.