...for my new students. They miss their regular teacher, who has been battling cancer since October, and they have had a multitude of substitutes. Worse yet, a Latin-speaking sub--an old geezer from Sun City who hasn't ever taught high school--was assigned in November and December, and they HATED him. These poor kids haven't learned anything, they were treated harshly, and they are facing a final exam next week. The ill teacher has to write a final that everyone won't fail, which should be a real trick. The hardest part for me is how they rejoiced to see me, without even knowing me. They welcomed me with relief, and I promised that I would be on their side, but I just want to go beat up that mean old guy. These are nice kids, and they deserve better.
...for my younger daughter and me. C's pit bull dog Luna died tonight, in a horrible fight with our other dogs. She's been attacking them for several months now, and we've been going hither and yon through front and back doors to the yard, keeping her away from them. She did some awful damage to my blue heeler dog Samson, but she made a big mistake tonight when she went for Dusty and Scooter, the labs. They'd had enough, and it was a fight to the death. Luna was a real sweetie with people: she loved me and C and the Daddy. With other dogs she was the Hound of the Baskervilles. She is now buried next to my beloved Casey in the pasture under the mesquite tree, and I am wiped out from weeping for C and myself. I loved Luna, too, and my heart aches for my daughter.
I have accepted a long-term sub job at the high school, teaching Latin from Jan 5 to Feb 3. I don't think I have taken leave of all my senses, and I admit to being prompted more by $$$$ than teaching fervor, but it could be okay. After all, students who volunteer to take Latin are not the grubby, angst-ridden juvenile delinquents who populate the usual classes for which I sub. I have worked for this teacher before, and she has decent lesson plans.
I haven't worked a full-time job since I left the Church-from-Hell last January, so it won't be easy to get back into the grind. Fortunately, life on the farm has settled into a good routine. I can come home every day and veg until I get my chops back. I think the worst trouble will be not to mix up my ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation with classical Latin. The students will have to teach me!
I guess I'll have to buy an Eagles tee-shirt for Fridays. Thank heavens it's blue.
Veni, vidi, vici!
and I am doing great. I have even shoveled a bit of horse poop this week.
Jezebel came home from horse school last Tuesday. As Miranda unloaded her from the trailer, Sara came galloping up to the gate, ears up and tail high. The reunion was tender and funny at the same time: first Sara gave Jez the all-over sniff test, then she touched noses--and then she flattened her ears and turned around to give Jezebel a "welcome kick" in the butt. The girls are back together.
The next day I watched as they took turns sleeping. Sara had not had much lying-down sleep since Jez went to Miranda's; she had no one to keep watch. Now she is no longer sleep-deprived, and seems much happier. She still bullies Jezebel, of course; that's the dynamic of their little "herd." It's obvious they love each other, in a kind of odd horsey way. Sara is the Queen of the pasture, and Jezebel is the picked-on little sister. Hmmm. Does this echo another sister relationship in my life?
I spent Valentine's Day (Thursday) and Friday subbing for a music teacher friend, and now I know why I don't want a full-time teaching job if I can help it. I came home thoroughly knackered (aaaack! music class after a Valentine party! aaaack!), after having sung and danced all day with a bunch of third and fourth graders. They were good classes, but they plumb wore me out. The two kindergarten classes were the best, though. They held my hands as we sang "Walk to School," and they loved doing the Hokey-Pokey. (Those classes were only 30 minutes, too--just right.) Next week I go to the high school; what a change!
Interestingly, I met up with a woman from the Church-from-Hell at the school: she ran up and gave me this huge hug and asked where I had been. (?) It seems that a good number of people from the church were not told I had resigned; they were allowed to think that I was sick! (Sick and tired, maybe!) I quickly disabused Sandra of that notion, and then got an earful about how unhappy people were with Rev. Bitch. Ha-very-Ha! I love being right.
Now the only horses' asses I have to deal with are the real ones, and I'm loving it. I cook and bake and ride and groom and play with the dogs: heaven on earth. Of course, The Husband has to go off and drive the school bus to keep us in groceries and hay, but he is good-hearted about it. I think he's glad to have a sane woman in the house again.
The weather has turned beautiful, and life is good. Go figure!
That's me, of course, and I did yell it. It felt good, too!
The new pastor of my ex-church gig could not wait to get rid of me: she's threatened by my talent, my experience, my education, and my intellect. Imagine how I felt when she called me "Anal Retentive" in front of my colleagues in our very first staff meeting. That's not a joke--it was an attack.
How anyone can put down a good worker for being organized and well-prepared for an inflexible deadline every seven days--for a performance with amateur musicians--is beyond me. Since when is doing a good job grounds for insults and contempt?
After 53 weeks in Hell without a break, I am happily riding my horse and cleaning my house. Being poor again will not be a problem. It's nothing new. I have the Husband's full support, and I am a much stronger person since the last clergy person abused me. Interestingly, that priest was only ugly to me in private--despite the fact that he is a putz, I have to grant him the mercy that he never humiliated me in public. Ever. Go figure: it was a woman pastor that went for the jugular in front of an audience of my peers.
Also interesting, when I called her on it (in private, of course), rather than doing anything to make things right, as a good administrator would, the first thing she did was deny that she had insulted me. A black woman from the South took me to task for not wanting to be pre-judged. Ain't that a kick in the head!
Well, I am free at last, and no one at the church cares except the former pastor, which I expected.
My Solemn Oath: I WILL NEVER WORK FOR A CHURCH EVER AGAIN. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. I doubt I'll ever go in one again, either, unless it's some architectural marvel. Fat chance.
I think I'll go polish some tack so I can go riding during church time tomorrow.
My church is completely white, affluent, and mostly senior citizens (see previous entry).
The new pastor is a single black woman.
The sharks are now swimming with the piranhas and the crocodiles. Beware!!!!
After far too many sleepless nights and angst-ridden days, I have figured out why it is so difficult to work at my current church. Dealing with all these Sun City types is like working for my mother-in-law--times 250!
These "Greatest Generation" folks believe their own press. They are demanding and hyper-critical, and because they all live together in a Golden Ghetto, they have no idea what real life is like anymore.
They see no one but affluent white people like themselves; they rarely leave the confines of their gated community unless they are on one of their semi-annual trips to Europe or cruises to Tahiti. Their yards and houses are cared for by nearly invisible Latinos and individuality is forbidden by the homeowners' association. Unlike any of the other groups I've worked with, the wives have never had jobs outside their homes: they were officers' or executives' wives.
And most unfortunate of all: because I have let my hair grow gray, they think I am one of them! I've been told I'm not friendly enough because I haven't had the choir to my house "for a little get-together." I almost wish I could show them the O-my-God-room.
When I leave here (January, I hope!) I will never, ever work for a church again. I won't even GO to church again.
Last Sunday the 80-yr-old pianist at church played--for 8 interminable minutes--a "centering" piece that was a tango arrangement of "Jesus Loves Me."
Words cannot describe just how ghastly it was.
Even worse, there actually were cries of "Amen!" when she finally finished.
I am in a whole new dimension of Musician/Artist Job Hell.
As Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again."
I got the word today that the church I am now serving will vote next month on cutting staff and reducing remaining staff salaries to save money for a new building.
I'm already working way too hard for way too little salary--the music at this church was crap when I arrived, and after six months of backbreaking labor I can only say, "Now it doesn't suck."
What is it with these so-called Christians who think nothing of taking away someone's livelihood so they can put up a bigger building, a monument to their own egos?
It's possible I'll be out of a job by August or September; it's even more possible that my salary will be cut in half; the sale of the family home is now imperative. Something told me to keep my substitute teacher status active for next school year.
What's worst about this whole situation is my lack of response. The first time it happened I cried; the second time I just got mad; this time I can hardly care less. Even if the vote goes my way, I can't see working with these evil people after the current pastor retires in January. I almost look forward to leaving them in the lurch at Christmas.
A guy named Jesus had some great ideas. Then church people took control and remade everything to keep themselves in control. I founded The Church of the Universal Mother and Back Off Asshole in 1990, and our creed is very simple: assholes need not apply. Membership is open; no buildings; no sermons; no collection plate.
Golly! More than three months since my last post--and what a time it's been!
I have been employed full-time at a local Methodist church since January 4, and I'm just now feeling as if I have things somewhat under control. The music is never a problem; it's the stuff that goes with it that causes stress. My music director predecessors at this only 10-years-old church never filed a thing, and the office space was a mess. Add to that the constant demands of Powerpoint slide shows for Sunday worship services, the need to get out of a Catholic mind-set, and a pastor who thinks four days is advance planning for an event, and the days can get pretty hectic. For the first three months, I never got home before waaaaay late. I am so grateful that Himself was a rock of support. He fed and watered me and cared for the livestock and listened and drove and videotaped my favorite TV shows and patted my fanny whenever I needed it.
Along came Lent and Holy Week and Easter, boom-boom-boom, with said pastor adding services right and left. He's an okay guy, and I like working with him--he's no frustrated celibate priest--but I have had to pull rather many rabbits out of my hat. I have succeeded in making myself indispensable, and I have a new fan club, but it's wonderful to have things settle down for a while. Now I only have to worry about practicing the harp preludes, filling in for the regular pianist this weekend, keeping the choir on pitch, and trying to get the contemporary group to stop yelling into the microphones (Christian rock music stinks). And the Powerpoints. No biggie.
And did I mention that my daughter got married on Palm Sunday??? Granted, they set the date long before Mummy went back to work for a church, but, jeez Louise, it was hard to focus on being the dreaded MOTB (mother of the bride) when I had to pull off two concerts before heading to South Austin for the wedding. I managed to find the perfect dress, and to weep copiously at just the right moments.
Seriously, it was a beautiful wedding, and the reception was just right. My oldest child is now a married woman, a wife! I think only another parent can truly appreciate what it feels like to see a beloved child-now-grownup speak her heartfelt marriage vows; to watch as the beautiful bride who is my own flesh and blood walk with her father to the altar where she will become part of her own new family; to embrace her as she heads out into a new life with her husband. Makes me puddle up even now.
As John Wesley--you know, the "Method" guy--said, "My heart grew strangely warm."
Now if I can just get a handle on the guitar player who turns his amp up too high...
With apologies to Schlotsky's...
Apparently I am one of only a few substitute teachers who will accept jobs at the local high school--go figure. And I am in equally rarefied company accepting sub jobs at middle schools. Funny, since middle and high schoolers are not very different from second graders! They are all self-centered, demanding, and lacking in manners; needing civilizing; and sometimes very amusing. Adolescents are, of course, hormones in tennis shoes, but most of them have the grace to laugh at my jokes, even if they don't quite get them. I think the reason I do well with them is that I simply refuse to engage in power struggles. If a six-foot fifteen-year-old doesn't want to work today, fine. As I ask each class, "Who's grade is it?"
What gets my dander up are the teachers who seem to be determined to bore their students into submission. After having applied for several hundred teaching positions, I get mad when I sub for someone who is a petty dictator using deadly-dull worksheets, for god's sake.
In the everyday world of work, if one is sick or just sick-and-tired, one simply calls in and goes back to bed (or to the beach, or wherever a Mental Health Day is best celebrated). In schools, however, the students are there, and they need a keeper. Enter the stranger who is supposed to ride herd on a bunch of kids all day. The good teachers have good lesson plans and good students who have been prepared for a sub (usually the teacher simply threatens them with murder and mayhem should there be a bad report from the sub). The mediocre or even bad teachers (the middle and high school ones) tend to have equally mediocre or bad lessons, which leaves the poor sub trying to keep a room full of adolescents from killing each other for an hour and a half.
Interestingly, elementary school teachers generally have excellent, detailed lesson plans. If one can endure the little piping voices and near-constant tattling ("Teacher, Binky is using a pen, not a pencil!" "Teacher, Bubba didn't do his homework!" "Teacher, Kamesha is looking at me!"), a day with second or third graders is not bad. It's even kind of fun to use big words and see if they can figure out what to do.
But the little ones never get my jokes.