a borderline teacher

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Holiday Greetings

Schools on the last day of term before Christmas holidays are like parallel universes... Teachers are told at the last minute that they must teach their normal 4 morning lessons, but each lesson will last just 35 minutes, instead of the customary 50 minutes. You are also warned that lesson lengths might vary and we should only "move on the bell". My games of "Qui a tué Père Noël?" (like Cluedo) had varying degrees of success, but were invariably interrupted by the aforementioned bell, which resulted in madness and hysteria.

Two older members of my tutor group were in charge of providing the music for our party (11.30 - 12.05). I was relieved I had thought ahead and brought some crappy, cheesy 80s music when my tutees' selection included Eminem and other swearing gangsters. We have a vertical tutor group, which means I have students from Years 7 to 11 and Eminem's "cause I still don't give a fuck" saw me heading for the off button, images of Year 7 parents and their inevitable phone calls in my mind!

The staff then spent hours in the staffroom and the local pub, saying goodbye to the three leavers and generally all looking very tired... could be due to our staff Christmas party the night before, when we went to a casino. I left at 1ish, but apparently 3 members of staff got back from clubbing at 5am... and enjoyed a champagne breakfast! Makes me glad I don't drink anymore. I felt rough enough from lack of sleep without adding a hangover too.

Now I can enjoy the 2 weeks off, with just a little marking and planning to do.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A catch-up post

In response to the question, I am very well thank you! Sorry I don't blog much nowadays. Originally, it was through fear of nasty comments, but recently it has been more because I don't have much to post about... my life is wonderfully dull these days!

I have been teaching at the same school since February and have just been told that my contract has been extended, so I have plenty of professional stability.

I still see the counsellor I started seeing in December 2005. I think we will keep going for a bit longer, as I still find the sessions helpful, but we will probably start to wind it down soon.

Having spent many years being overweight, I have reached a weight where I was described by a colleague yesterday as "tiny"! Not sure that is exactly true, as I am tall and have broad hips, but it was quite a nice thing to hear. I did become rather obsessed with weight loss, but I think I have this under control most of the time now and have not lost any more weight for about a month.

I have not harmed myself for over 14 months and I will celebrate the second anniversary of my sobriety in just over 2 weeks. It is really amazing, as I never dreamed that I could stop either of these things. I do still sometimes think I would like a drink, but I know it wouldn't stop at one and I would quickly find myself back at heavy drinking and unmanageability. The self harm is quite a different thing. I certainly do not ever want to do that again. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but my feelings changed a great deal about this. I still remember why I did it and I also remember the relief it brought me, but I don't need to resort to it any more. I know other, much more productive, ways of changing my feelings and the idea of cutting myself or taking an overdose is horrific to me now. In about a month, I have my second appointment with a plastic surgeon about the extensive scarring on my stomach. I saw him last December, but he said he couldn't do anything at that time, as the wound was still healing. It is now totally healed and I hope so much that he is able to do something to reduce the scar, as it does act as a constant reminder. My other scars have faded a lot, but this one is still very evident.

Well, that is about all from me. Expect some more random posts in the future!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Apt branding?

Today's entry is about something I spotted while talking to my counsellor last Tuesday: aptly branded objects.

I see a counsellor weekly and it is held in a GP's surgery. Last week I spotted a box of tissues on the desk by my side. I don't really find eye contact easy during counselling, so I tend to spot things around me. Previously, the box of tissues were the standard NHS yellow box, but not last week... The box was branded Viagra! Maybe I am rather dirty-minded, but I found this quite amusing!!!

This led me to think: how could other drug brands be used aptly, using some irony and lateral thinking?

Using the medications I have taken recently:

* zopiclone coffee mugs
* microgynon disposable nappies
* loratadine cat collars

Any other suggestions gratefully received.

(I tried to google a picture of the viagra-branded tissue box, but it seemed to think I meant "erectile tissue"...)

I am still very happy professionally and not too bad personally. I don't know how much I want to talk about me here, but I can proudly say that I am over 22 months sober and it has been over 13 months since I last self harmed. I have also lightened the load I was carrying around physically, having now lost 20 kilos (3.5 stone) since I left the TC.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Macintosh v. Microsoft

I finally made my way over to the light side and bought a Mac. More precisely, I bought a MacBook. I adore it and am starting to get used to how much groovier and easier to use it is than silly old Microsoft. I was somewhat aided in my decision by the fact that my old PC has possibly the most aptly named operating system on it: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Millennium Edition - Me.

Me came into existence on the 14th September 2000 and XP (eXPerience, apparently) came along on the 25th October 2001. During that 13 month time frame, I decided to buy a PC. For the main part, I have to say that I wasn't aware that it was running slowly and couldn't do quite a few things. I had never known anything different. It froze and I had problems shutting it down and rebooting, but that was my ineptitude and probably a result of me having too much crap on the PC and never defragmenting it. Wasn't it?

In 2006, PCWorld rated Windows Me the fourth worst technical product of all time (after AOL, RealPlayer and Syncronys SoftRAM) because of all the technical issues and finally, on 11th July 2006, Microsoft discontinued phone support and security updates for the operating system, declaring it obsolete.

My most recent aggravation was my attempt to use broadband on my PC. Due to a lack of Me-compatible drivers and various other technical things that I don't really understand, my PC tended to shut down when I used broadband. It might let me online long enough to have a few things going, then it would either freeze, go to the BSoD (blue screen of death) or just shut down, losing anything I had started. Ugh. My annoyance was exacerbated by school computers using XP, which meant that I would have a taste of an OS that worked, then have to go home to crappy PC.

Since my contract extends into next year and I have finally completed my NQT Induction year, I am due to receive a Golden Hello of £4,000. This will be taxed and NI'ed down to less, but I decided to invest in a laptop. My credit card offers interest free on balance transfers until December and I know I am guaranteed the Golden Hello before then, so there was nothing stopping me! All my close-friends-who-understand-computers have Macs and I have long coveted the cute white iBooks some of the girlier friends had, so it wasn't a difficult choice. When I found that iBooks have been replaced by MacBooks and these are fully compatible with Microsoft, I started looking into it. Too good to be true - Apple Education offer big discounts for teachers: I finally bought my MacBook for £650 (a discount of £100) and then also got some extra memory.

So, how is it? It was delivered a week ago but, due to a habitation problem which I may tell you about in another entry, I was only able to get online yesterday. It is magical! Everything is so much easier. Instead of trying to work out how to do something, you just do it. It has lots of aesthetic girlie things too and looks very cute. Only problems so far are:
* I can't seem to create my email account on the Apple Mail program
* The underside of the laptop heats up a fair bit - I must get a cooler

I feel sorry for my old PC, which will go back to my parents' house once I have transferred files etc. It looks sad, like a child who has just got a baby sibling and now mummy doesn't want to play anymore. I am very sentimental and rather anthropomorphic, aren't I?!

Just out of interest, it is one year today since I went to the TC and today would have been my leaving day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Deal Or No Deal

It feels good to do this! I haven't updated for so long because I felt afraid and needed space to get my life together after the Therapeutic Community experience. Well, now I have been back on track for some time, I feel it is time to tentatively update my blog.

Updates won't be frequent, I won't go into much detail about what I am doing and I will try to keep the blog as impersonal as possible. Suffice to say that I am in a better place in life now than I was when I last wrote here and a hugely better place than before the TC. I have been reflecting on the TC's influence on me and my recovery and I am convinced it worked for me.

Today's entry is about Deal Or No Deal (aka DOND).

As an alcoholic borderline (albeit recovering from both), it is not strange that I develop obsessions. In the past, these have ranged from imbibing gallons (I don't do metric!) of shloer to the overfrequenting of a certain postgraduate bar. My current obsession is DOND. I cannot live without it. Really! I hate Sundays because they are the depressing day when it isn't on.

I discovered DOND when I was doing supply. I would get home well before 4.15 (the weekday starting time) and flick on the TV. Slowly but surely I found I was making sure I had Channel 4 on by 4.15. When I returned to "proper" teaching I realised I would have to set the video! So I do. Now I have Telewest again, I see that More4 repeat it at 6.10pm. Still not really good enough, as I often don't leave school before 6 and, anyway... videoing it means you can fastforward through the adverts.

If you haven't seen it and have no idea what I am on about, please follow the links. The quickest description I can give is Noel's introduction: "A quarter of a million pounds. 22 identical sealed boxes. And no questions... except one: Deal or No Deal?".

Wikipedia is a good place to find all the facts and fun things about the show. I was especially amused by the following list of show catchphrases:
"Risk, reward and timing." - the three key steps to success in Deal or No Deal, according to Edmonds.
"Blues Cruise" - opening several "blue" numbers in succession.
"You're still obsessed with the reds!"
"The Power Five" - the top 5 sums of money.
"Open the box!" - usually accompanied by a flamboyant gesture.
"The right deal, at the right time!"
"Keep it low, keep it blue."
"Play the money, don't play the game."
"I think you'll be back."
"No! No! No!"
"Let's have a rapid/quick round." [recently, this has become “can I have a quickie please, Noel?”]
"It's your show." - Edmonds likes to emphasise that the player is in total control
"Channel 4 is all yours." - another phrase that Edmonds likes to emphasise that the player is in total control
"We know what we don't want to see!"
"NOT the quarter of a million, NOT the hundred thousand!"
"Did I say break?"
"We do not want to see a quarter of a million in that box."
"That's the safety net gone!" - when the second highest amount left in play is revealed, leaving the largest value exposed.
"We have a one-box game!" - when the safety net has gone; a 'one-box game' means that there is only one prize left worth winning.
"We are now in damage limitation territory."
"The '1p Club'" - Noel's name for the group of 1p winners; presently there are three members: Nick Bain, Trevor Bruce and Fadil Osman.
"Welcome to our unique entertainment drama." - normally used at the beginning of the show
"Good afternoon/evening East Wing. Good afternoon/evening West Wing." - Noel's greeting at the start of the show.
"Some people call it an entertainment drama, some the red box club." - An introduction to the show used frequently by Noel. In fact, Noel himself appears to be the only person who uses either phrase.
"We don't want to see one of the big numbers!"
"Take the Walk of Wealth!" - to selected contestant
"Don't be seduced by the board!"
"This is the best game we have ever had."
"(Name), Welcome to the game!" - Always said to the newest contestant when it is their turn to open their box.
"This could potentially be the highest offer we have ever had!"
"Let's keep it blue, (name)." just before a box is opened.
"I'm calling a break." - Noel has taken to saying this before breaks recently.
"You've got the red mist!"
"It's now all or peanuts" - often said by Noel when it is a "One-box Game"

Contestants have also taken to saying "Ask me the question please, Noel" when they have decided whether or not they are going to deal.

Finally, the two sides the contestants stand on have been nicknamed the "West Wing" and the "East Wing".

It really is the most amazing game and has made me laugh and cry on many occasions. Any good fan will feel tearful when you mention Lucy who, finally making it to the chair on her 50th show, went away with just £5. The infamous 1p club recently got a new member, when poor old Fad took the gamble... and lost. JT’s show and the hokey cokey… as the DONDUK blogspot reminds us:
"Fadil had box 12. JT smiles at him, 'the best man to do the hokey koke in the hotel bar, if its 1p I'll do the hokey cokey myself'. Guess what - 1p - this was just brilliant. JT did a very lonely version of the hokey cokey, with the audience singing the tune."

Kirsty was so close to being the first quarter of a millionaire. I made so much noise when she no dealed with £75k and £250k left that my parents asked me later “how much did they win, then?”

You get to know them. Unlike Weakest Link, in which the players play, leave and are forgotten, in DOND you find out things about them over a period of time and even (dare I say it?) start to think of some of them as friends. It is pure escapism and I was amused recently to read that DOND “is like putting heroin in your remote”.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Trying to explain

On Saturday night, I decided to take my old entries offline and then, on Sunday, I wrote the previous entry. Shortly afterwards, I checked my email and found that comment under the post with the Ichneumon fly picture.

I was fairly surprised that anyone would be so vindictive and unpleasant but, as the other comments, emails, phone calls and texts arrived over the next couple of days, I knew that one person’s cruelty and anything that I may have to deal with as a result didn’t matter in the greater scheme of things.

I have received emails from some people, asking why I have taken my old entries offline and saying they are disappointed because they found my blog helpful and they think it is unfair of me to hide my past by removing the entries. They asked if I am ashamed of my illness. I am writing this entry to reply to them and the others who have been so supportive.

I am moving my diary back to Live Journal, where I feel safer in the knowledge that it is “friends only”. I have mainly enjoyed being able to be open and honest to the world about my good and bad sides and try to show people my path to recovery via this blog. Now, however, my feelings have changed. I removed the old entries on Saturday night because, as I wrote on Sunday, I can’t afford to look back anymore. I need to look forward and my blog contained too much of the past I am moving on from.

Since receiving the comment on Sunday, I am sure that I have done the right thing. There are too many people out there who, for whatever reasons, want to prevent me from moving on and I certainly don’t feel happy thinking that they can look into my inner thoughts. I struggle to tell how I feel in therapy, but I have always found I am able to do this in writing and my blog has been an amazing therapeutic tool. It is for those reasons that I am returning to LJ, where I am now going to write all about this fantastic, incredible and soul-restoring week.

I will not close this blog because I hope to continue to use it for certain things, but maybe not for a while and never again to tell my innermost feelings.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

borderline teacher

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Cat. Cat found it hard to live life on life's terms and she struggled to achieve inner peace. Cat was a fortunate girl, because she had a wonderful family and a circle of good friends.

Cat discovered that success helped her to hold some of the peace she had been searching for. She tried out lots of different courses and finally realised that she was happiest when she was teaching and embarked on fulfilling this career. Despite her inner dischords, Cat worked hard to make her life worthwhile, trying to pinpoint the parts of her that got in the way. Cat gave up alcohol and tried to overcome the other factors, eventually engaging in some tough therapy and some time out from her beloved career, while she endeavoured to overcome her demons.

The ride was not a smooth one. Cat didn't always make the right decisions and she often hurt other people along the way. Again and again she tried to put things right, often needing to take several steps back down a path in order to get back onto the right one.

One day, Cat realised that she had fought the demons and, although they were still there, they were weakened and Cat was the strongest personality inside her now. She realised that the path ahead was a crucial one and she needed to focus hard on not tripping up while she walked it. If Cat let herself look back at the journey she had travelled she would see that it was so meandering and maze-like that there was no way she could turn back. Cat had to keep on going and the only way to do that was to look ahead.

Once I was just borderline. Then I was a borderline teacher for a while. Over the past 6 months I have worked through the borderline and am now on the brink of being teacher. Just teacher. Borderline in the context of the disorder is between psychosis and neurosis, but in the context of my career it it is between teacher and not.

I am very scared and feel quite alone, but that is the path I have chosen. Try to hold in your minds that, although I did do some awful things and I have been an awful person, I am not in that space anymore. I will always hold what I was inside me, because I do not deny it, but I can't wear it on my sleeve anymore.