Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008, The Closing Scene

A cool breeze - more like a gale - did finally come up, and that combined with washing my hair had pretty much taken care of the headache. But it was still bugging me a little, so I thought I'd go and take another dose of painkillers, since the others should have worn off by now. I went to find the glass I'd used . . . and discovered that I never took the first lot. The little glass of aspirin dissolved in water was still sitting there, entirely un-drunk.

No wonder they didn't help, and no wonder I had no specific memory of what time I took it - I didn't take it!

I've taken them now, and hopefully the much-abated headache will shortly be gone for good.

So . . . 45 minutes left of 2008. What a year! I've come so unbelievably far this year, and learned so much. I've done things I never imagined I would do, both good and bad. I've gone from a position of great weakness and doubt to such strength and confidence. And I've shrunk by 9kg :) I've finally finished playing the best friend in the movie of my own life (to quote "The Holiday"). I've been through the emotional wringer and come out calmer than I've ever been. It's been great. It's been terrible. It's been both at once.

To quote Dickens, who had rather a way with words:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way."

I have plenty of hopes and aspirations for 2009. Here are some of them, edited from my post on GPYP:

I’m going to spend the year standing up for myself and doing what is right for me. I’m not going to do things that aren’t right for me, even if people try emotional blackmail. No more crazy dances. No more reactivity.

I’m going to spend the year believing in my ability to explore my interests. That means being whole-hearted in my teaching, playing in a concert band, singing in a choir, joining a writers' group, studying hard and living well.

I’m going to learn how to have ‘down time’ again. I have to give back my education department laptop so this is a good time to learn to just BE rather than spending huge blocks of time dithering on the internet while half-watching the TV. I’ll still have my PC and I’ll still have my TV but they are going to be separate and they are going to be limited.

I’m going to lose the rest of the weight I need to lose. I’ve lost 9kg so far and if I can just stick to the weight watchers plan consistently until July I will have lost the remaining 20kg that will put me at the absolute perfect weight for my height. I’m going to be slender again in 2009 and I’m going to stay that way.

Bananaheads will not happen next year. If men happen, they will not be bananaheads.

Above all, I hope 2009 is just a little bit easier than 2008 has been. I'm intensely grateful for all of the soul-growth I've experienced this year, but . . . I can has brake naow? Pleez?

To all my readers, whether you're regulars or passers-by: Happy New Year! And may 2009 be filled with love, wellness, satisfaction, hope and opportunity beyond your wildest dreams.

With all the very best of love,
Signing off for 2008,

See you in 2009!

RIP Phyllida.


Last night I couldn't get to sleep until very late, and had to be up at 8:30am because my home owner was coming around at 9 to check out where the roof has been leaking. I fell back into bed afterwards and napped for a couple of hours, but I'm still exhausted, and to top it off I've developed a shocker of a headache that painkillers haven't even dented. It's still 35 C (95 F) at 7:45pm and not looking like it's going to cool off any time soon. I feel sick and sore and exhausted and I have no idea what to do with myself!

So much for chilling out on New Year's Eve! I can't even relax with this headache, and I can't have a quiet drink or two either because I'm going to have to take painkillers again when the ones I've already taken wear off (not that I can remember when I took them, botheration!). I'm going to spend the evening on the couch in front of the air conditioner, nursing my head and dozing until it cools down enough for me to get to sleep. If I make it to midnight then it'll be because it's still too hot to sleep - if it cools I'm going to be out like a light!

All in all, I'm reminded of Terry Pratchett's quirky invention, reannual grapes. They grow backwards in time: you plant them this year and they grow last year. And therefore, the wine made from reannual grapes gives you the hangover the day before you drink it. This feels so much like a hangover - perhaps the bottle of wine chilling in my fridge was made from reannual grapes and I'm going to have a big one tonight after all! :D

Tomorrow I am going to sleep and sleep and sleep. Don't even try to stop me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Today has been an absolute stinker of a day - 42 C (107.5 F) at the maximum, sunny and humid. YUCK.

About 5pm I took a look on the weather radar and saw a rain system near the coast to the north-west, heading very slowly in our direction. It looked weak enough that it might peter out before reaching us, but I crossed my fingers and hoped.

Well, it got here. Oh, did it ever!

First there were a few specks of rain that evaporated before they could sink in. Then there were a few rumbles of thunder.

And then the heavens opened for the most comprehensive rainstorm I think I've ever seen.

Up came the wind, dropping the temperature 10 degrees in 15 minutes, back to an acceptable 30 C. The rain has come, and come, and come - I think it's been pouring down in big drops for an hour now! The ground is thoroughly soaked and there's little streams running off in every direction. And it's still thundering from time to time - I saw a ground strike through the window just a minute ago and leapt out of my skin from the immediate thunder (needless to say I'm on the laptop and it's not plugged into anything). I hope that lightening doesn't start any fires, hopefully everything is too wet for that. According to the radar, this storm cell has just settled over the town and isn't going anywhere, so it could be going for some time yet! I'll post some photos later.

At least it's cooled down!

Monday, December 29, 2008

More On That . . .

The author of Getting Past Your Past talks about "D-BOM" moments. The name comes from the saying "dawn breaking over Marblehead", which is from Massachusetts apparently and, in my own words, means 'finally realising something you immediately realise that should have known already'. The GPYP method of recovery leads to many of these. And in relation to the housemate business, I've had one.

If looking after myself and doing the right thing by myself means letting someone down, then that's OKAY.

Especially if it's someone so utterly unrelated as a potential housemate I've only just met!

The unhealthy me of even a few months ago would have agonised over the decision and probably ended up going through with the house-sharing arrangement because I would not have been able to stand the idea that I was letting this person down. I would have said "but I SAID I would . . . I SAID so . . ." and let fear of others' disappointment or disapproval rule my decision-making process. I would have quailed at the idea of backing out, and convinced myself that it was best to leap in head first and take this opportunity, rather than waiting for the right opportunity to come along. Hell, I've done it enough times with relationships!

But the me of today thought, what does it matter? He's just some guy who's looking for a housemate. He'll find another one. I am under no obligation to him, the universe or anyone else to go live in a suburb I hate in the wrong part of town and make myself miserable for a year, just because some guy might think I'm a cow for changing my mind.

In fact, I realised he's welcome to think I'm a cow for changing my mind. He can even call me one, if it helps. It doesn't make my decision any less right! If he did react that way, his negative emotions would be about him and his needs, not about me and mine. Not my problem.

I have the right to put my needs first!



Christine 1, Bananaheads 0.

On Saturday I had a meeting with a guy who is also trying to set up a share house. We got along alright and it seemed to be viable, so I gave a tentative answer of "yes, start looking and we'll go from there". But on the 2 hour drive home I started critically analysing the guy's actions and words and how they compared, and I realised that he was not as great as he was making himself out to be. When I looked back over the conversation, he talked over the top of me repeatedly, and I had to keep repeating myself because he wasn't actually listening when I was speaking. He was only interested in one suburb (the one adjacent to his work) and wanted all his own stuff in the house ("just sell yours!" - no thanks, I like my stuff). He also wanted to just lie about my having a cat on the rental application, which I was in no way okay with.

When I got home I found an email from another house seeker who is actually looking in the area I want to live (she works a couple of suburbs away from me) which reminded me that there are other options out there. So I sent the guy an email explaining that the suburb he wanted was too far away, and also not really my sort of suburb, because I was a hills girl and wanted somewhere in a natural setting, rather than sterile newly-established suburbia which is where he is looking.

Well, I just got a response, suggesting a place much closer to where I want to live. Okay, but it's a 3x2 apartment that would be WAY too expensive for two people, and with three or more it would be way too crowded (I had said I needed two small rooms or one big one); it'd be totally unsuitable for a cat, and even more sterile and prissy than the suburb we were originally looking at. Way to miss the point! For an added bonus, he also called me Christy instead of Christine. *headdesk*

Not going there. NEXT!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Weight

I managed to remember that it was Sunday today, despite the general holiday confusion over days and dates.

Weight Today: 72.4

I lost 200g over Christmas.


I guess this is because of how sick I've been feeling and my general inability to eat much, but still. I lost weight over Christmas. I must be sick.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I feel sick :(

Remember the queasiness I blamed on nerves around the time of the interview? It hasn't gone away, even though the nerves most definitely have. Even when I'm hungry I usually either can't face food at all (throat closes, stomach turns over), or I'll get a few bites into food that my body seems to be accepting, and then suddenly get nauseous and start to gag. I don't know what's wrong with me, but it's become quite clear that there is something wrong. This isn't nerves, and it seems to have gone on too long for a virus. I'm going to have to take this one to the doctor. Gah.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Sorrow

Mum's first cousin, Phyllida, passed away from leukaemia overnight Perth time, so Christmas afternoon / evening in London where Phyllida and her family live. She'd been sick for 18 months and had several setbacks recently (of the organ failure variety), and we'd been told a few days ago that there was no hope and little time. Phyllida was the same age as Mum (52) and completely healthy before the leukaemia struck. She was Mum's closest cousin and beloved by the whole family connection because she was just a nice, nice, nice person. She had a husband and a 17-year-old son who must be going through an unimaginable Christmas period dealing with this. I had only met Phyllida a couple of times, and while I liked her a lot I wasn't close to her, so I'm just quietly grieving, as much for the grief my closer relatives are feeling than for my own grief. Mum and my grandparents are devastated, as is a first cousin who lived in London for some time and knew Phyllida well, and other aunts, uncles and cousins who have visited her in London.

Keeping them all in your thoughts would be very much appreciated.

Christmas post in a few days when this has all sunk in.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I stutter when I get nervous. I always have done. I hate hearing myself do it, but of course getting worked up about the stuttering makes me stutter even more! And since I've always been nervous in just about every social setting, even with family I've known all my life, there's been a lot of stuttering over the years.

Last night, Stepdad's family Christmas. I've known this lot since I was in my early teens, consider them family, and yes, have always had stuttering moments around them, particularly when speaking to my step-uncles and the one cousin my age.

This time - not a single stutter. And not because I stayed silent, either :D In fact I was in conversation pretty much constantly, and my voice never so much as wavered. I felt 100% secure in myself the entire time.

I also realised this morning that I haven't had any negative self-talk for at least a week.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Too Easy?

Do you ever get the feeling that things are just going too well and you're beginning to wonder where the catch is?

I'm feeling like that right now.

I got into the uni course I desperately wanted.

I wanted out of the education department, applied for one perfect job, and got it.

I just found out that since I resigned at the end of the year, the education department will move me back to Perth.


When will my luck run out?

I'm worried that the catch might be housing. It's more expensive in Perth but there are some not unreasonable places around, I just have to snag one. And I'm looking into sharing as well - keeping an eye on the share house adverts. I guess I'm feeling a little het up about it because there's currently nothing I can do - I can't start house-hunting until after Christmas because I don't have any money! I just want it settled and sorted and I feel kind of like it's going to get out of hand if I don't do something RIGHT NOW.

Of course . . . I could pack. That would help. But . . . nah :D

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Weigh-In

I haven't done one of these for ages - I haven't been dieting consistently or concentrating at all, so I didn't really feel up to it.

Yesterday evening I thought I was looking a little chubby around the chin, so although my clothes aren't tight or anything, I thought I'd better hop on the scales this morning to see whether I'd gained any back. Better to know!

But . . .


I've LOST weight! It's been fluctuating between 73 and 74 for a couple of months now, with the odd dip down into the 72s. This, however, is the lowest that it's been! I'm still losing!

I guess I'm looking chubby around the throat because I've lost weight from around there and changed the balance. That happens to me a lot as I lose weight randomly off different bits of me lol.

I won't make the 60s by Christmas but I'm still not gaining and that's the main thing. If I can avoid gaining through Christmas I'll be right on track to start back on the Core plan on the 1st of January, and stick to it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This . . .

. . . is my new favourite thing.

It works. And it's GOOD. Gives a whole new meaning to the word 'cupcake', too. Try it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Growing Again

As you all know, I'm a big fan of Getting Past Your Past. Today's entry was this guest blog, which is one reader's suggestion on how to deal with the inner voice that harps on about how much one is unloved, unwanted, unsatisfied etc. The blogger suggests that instead of the validating "there there, I know!" responses most of us give ourselves, we should actually just meet those needs. Nevermind that they were not met by someone else in our past: meet them, now. Give that voice nothing to complain about.


I cried when reading it, and later realised that, in an unconscious way, I've just done exactly that.

When we were kids and teens, my brother and I were both miserable at school, but we expressed it in different ways. I withdrew, he acted out. His way of asking for help was recognised, and he got switched between schools fairly regularly in an attempt to find the best environment for him. My way of asking for help wasn't actually noticed, ever. My parents never once came sailing in and dragged me out of a school I hated then hunted around for a better environment for me. They didn't know I wanted them to.

That rankled for a long time, and there were echoes of that in my distress throughout this year. "I hate the state school system, I'm so miserable, why won't someone come and rescue ME . . .". But someone did rescue me. I rescued me. I realised I couldn't stay in that environment, I found an alternative and I hauled myself out of one and into the other. It doesn't matter that it was me who came along and helped me when I needed it. Someone noticed, and someone did something about it.

I did need someone to rescue me. But it turned out that someone was me. Fancy that!

Day After

I signed my resignation form, cleaned out my classroom and handed over my keys today. It's really happening, I guess! It hasn't quite sunk in yet.

I'm on holidays from now until the 28th of January, and I have absolutely no idea what to do with myself, especially as I have only just enough money to get by on until I get paid on Christmas day. Plus it's 38 C here (100 F), very hot and rather humid, so I'm reduced to sitting in the living room in front of the air conditioner. I'm slightly hung over from the staff Christmas party last night (I was plied with wine and champagne by my congratulatory friends, and consequently got rather mellow) and generally feeling dozy. YAWWWWN!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Oh heavens, I actually got it!

Dear Christine

Following our phone conversation I am formally offering you the position
of upper primary teacher at (the school's name).

You will be team-teaching with (another female teacher) and I will give her your
contact details in order that she can arrange to meet up with you. The new
term starts on Feb 2nd but the teachers will be back on Jan 28th.

I will post out to you more information about the position, a contract,
info about the Montessori workshop in January and some general info about
(school name). Meantime if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me
by email or by mobile on (phone number).

Congratulations on a successful interview and welcome to the (school name)

Warm regards
(principal's name)


They've rearranged things slightly, so I'm now having the upper primary (years 4-6 I think) instead of the middle school (years 7-9) which is PERFECT for me. And the team teaching will be wonderful. And with any luck I'll get to do some music. I have plans to join a few music organisations around Perth once I get back as well.

I'm going to thoroughly enjoy my Christmas week, then launch into finding a house in Perth and getting myself sorted for the move. Ohhh this is going to be so much fun!

I am over the moon . . . can you tell? :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I don't know whether it's the nervousness and anticipation over possibly changing jobs and moving back to Perth, or the sudden increase in hot weather, or both, but I constantly feel nauseous at the moment. I can't face stodgy or rich food at all and have trouble swallowing anything, even when I can feel my stomach grumbling with hunger. Sometimes it eases and I can eat light foods, but the thought of eating anything closes my throat most of the time. So I'm going around starving and feeling sick at the thought of food. YUCK!!

(No, I am not pregnant. No possible way whatsoever. So that is not the problem!)

I'm also currently having a little battle with myself, because I just got given a box of Cadbury Roses chocolates (my absolute favourite!) by a student. Common sense says I should share them with my class so I don't eat them all myself once this yicky feeling subsides. But my OMGLOVECHOCOLATE sense says I should keep them! Decisions, decisions :D

A little request and so on . . .

First up, if you're a praying sort of person, please spare a moment for the people injured in this crash. On my way back from Perth this afternoon I came across this accident only minutes after it happened. There were already about eight cars parked on either side, and a big truck wanting to get past, so I didn't stop but instead turned around and took back streets past the scene. I felt a bit silly for having gone around and thought it would probably have cleared by then anyway, but as I headed towards Northam I was passed by two ambulances, two marked police cars, one unmarked police car and a fire engine, all with their sirens and lights blazing, heading back towards the accident. As it says in the article, it was actually pretty serious (from what I saw it looked like a head-on). It's 10:30pm now and the radio says the road is still closed (it happened at about 5:30pm). It feels vaguely personal because I was there just after it happened, so if you have a moment, send a thought their way.

I had the job interview today, and I got a really positive vibe from it. The three interviewers nodded regularly at what I was saying, responded well to the things I expected them to relate to, and laughed at my jokes, which is always good! They made certain they had my contact details before I left, which is also good. They have promised to let me know by Friday, so three more days and most of the uncertainty will be gone. I'm extremely happy with how the interview went, so if I don't get it, it will be because someone else was better than me, not because I stuffed up or wasn't good enough, if you know what I mean? They're looking for someone who is strong in the humanities-literacy side and can teach the arts. Hello, me! I'm actually a perfect fit for what they're looking for, and they asked whether I would be willing to teach music across the board (yes yes yes!). I don't know how many other applicants there were, so I can't really say whether I'm confident. I'm just happy with how it went and would be very glad to get the job. I will let you all know!

We had a dinner for our graduating year sevens this evening, attended by only one of the three year sevens! I'm so immensely proud of her, she's our school captain and has just blossomed from being nervous about speaking in public to being a funny and confident speaker. I made a small speech too, and we gave her the year book, and generally ate and enjoyed ourselves lol. A nicely printed version of my speech was in the year book (as a letter), along with the letters for the two girls that weren't there. One of those girls is of course the lass who is being charged with assault, and the principal complimented the way I'd written her letter. I'm glad - it took me *ages* to write a one-page letter for her. What do you say to a 12-year-old in that kind of strife?! I tried to be positive and compassionate and encouraging, but without ignoring the trouble she's in or treating it as the "elephant in the room", and I think it came out well-balanced.

I'm quite exhausted after teaching all morning, driving to Perth, having the interview, driving back to Little Country Town, getting changed yet again and then going out to dinner. Time for bed, I think! Two teaching days left . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

But what do I WANT?

The interview with the Montessori school is tomorrow, and I'm totally torn about the outcome. I do want to be back in the city, rather desperately. There are so many things I'd like to do, plans I'd like to make etc. But moving will be difficult. Affording the move will be difficult. There are disadvantages as well as the good stuff.

There are things I will miss about this town, like the space and the peace and the choir and some of the kids. But there are also things I will most definitely NOT miss.

On the balance I think I do want the Montessori job, but there will be some very hard stuff to get through if I get it.

In other news, I'm icing my head because I managed to swing my flute case into the corner of my eye socket & eyebrow while I was getting out of the car this evening. Nice look if I have a big bruise for the interview tomorrow!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Trying to Write

I'm actually getting to relax and do not much of anything this afternoon - finally! - and I'm trying to pull my creative writing together and actually get something written down.

I managed nearly 9000 words during NaNo, which is not bad given how busy I've been, but I re-read it and I don't think the concept is working out. Oh well . . .

I want to work on one project consistently over the summer. I know I want to write something for upper primary students (ages 10-12 and surrounds) and I know I want it to be fantasy/paranormal oriented, possibly beginning with a real-world setting. I have dozens of plot beginnings in files on my computer, but no clear idea of what to do with any of them. None of them are quite enough on their own, and I know some of them can be combined but I can't quite find the right combination. So many stories I want to tell!

Friday, December 12, 2008

LOL People

I found out a short while ago that some people I know online - people I respected online - have been publicly and complicitly bitching on their blogs about a whole lot of people on the website we frequent. I was amongst those being called names by these people.

I have done a huge amount of emotional growth this year, and changed a great deal, so it was interesting to observe the way I reacted to this. My first reaction resembled the old me, who was so riddled with insecurity that any external challenge to my self-belief had to be exterminated with extreme prejudice (misuse of phrase intentional! ). I wanted to go roaring in there and blast them.

But then the new me took over, and gently pointed out: "Why bother?".

And that's the end of it, really. Why bother? I can't control their reactions, their emotions, their beliefs. If they're so heavily invested that the naming tastes and interactions of internet acquaintances require such vitriol, that's their loss. I've been there and done that, and I know how bad it was for me, and what a negative headspace I was in until I kicked the habit of behaving like that. I occasionally slip up - as do we all! - but I no longer let fury at others define me. And I like it this way.

I am living healthily in mind, body and soul, and I do not let my past define, control or delude me. I know who I am, and I no longer have any need for this . . .

In other news, thank goodness it's the weekend. I'm EXHAUSTED. Four teaching days left . . .

ADDING: Lol again. I just found an entry by one of the above bloggers where this person bitched about a thread I'd started asking people what their favourite cat colouring was. This blogger compared my question to asking whether a boy or girl baby would be better (yeah because people totally choose that) and generally went on about how pathetic it was. I'm giggling madly over here. I haven't ever heard of anyone choosing a cat based on anything other than its appearance, whether they've gone for a particular breed or a particular colour of moggie. Honestly, if you're going to bitch about someone, at least choose something logical!

What would we do without nutty people to laugh at . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I started this blog when I was 25, and now I'm 28. Yeep!

I've been having a great day, too, despite having had to work. Dad came up for our Presentation Night yesterday, and stayed over. We stayed up until 1am talking, and then this morning he gave me a card with money in it before he left. Yay!

The staff got me a really nice present, too, which I got at lunchtime :D

And then when I went to the post office after school I received a card from my grandmother with scratch-and-win tickets in it, on which I won $20, and more importantly, a package from Murdoch University saying that I got into the course I applied to do! I'm so excited :D I can't wait to enrol! And what a fantastic birthday present!

I'm happy in a way I'm not really used to. I'm very excited over the course, but the happiness itself isn't hysterical, desperate happiness, but rather contentment and recognition that the good parts of life are good no matter what else is going on. This is somewhat new for me, and I'm enjoying it. Y hallo thar, inner peace!

I think I've lost more weight somehow, too :D

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Not Good


Over the weekend one of the girls in my class, along with two girls from the private primary down the road, dragged an older girl out of her house and pretty much bashed her unconscious, broke all the windows in her house and stole various stuff from the family.

The bashed girl's family (including 5 and 7 year old girls from our school) have fled town for their own safety. The girl herself survived with a lot of bruises and a broken nose and has been discharged from hospital. The three girls involved in the bashing will be charged with aggravated burglary and assault occasioning grievous bodily harm.

These girls are twelve years old.

I've been trying my heart out all year to get this girl to understand that she is responsible for her actions, understand that other people have significant rights that cannot be messed with, understand that life is beautiful and special and should be treasured not thrown away. But when her mother is an alcoholic who regularly gets up in peoples' faces and has been known to bash people (she even threatened me once), what can you say to make a difference?

I'm just feeling broken. This girl is quite intelligent and creative and in a good environment she would have blossomed and could have done great things. Now? If she ever comes back from this and makes good in her life then she will be one of the extremely rare lucky ones. A GBH charge at 12 does not make for a bright future.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Well That Was Interesting

This morning, when I walked into the school at 8:15am, the instrumental music teacher walked up to me and said "hey, do you want a job?"
Me: "Errr?"
Her: "I need a secundo flauto. Are you on duty at lunchtime?"
Me: "Uh, no?"
Her: "Good, that's when our one and only rehearsal is. We're playing carols for the senior citizens tonight, can you be there?"
Me: "Uh, yeah?"
Her: "Good, have you got your flute here?"
Me: "No but I can go home and get it at lunchtime?"
Her: "Great, see you at lunchtime"
Me: "Ok . . ."

So this evening I played Christmas carols for half an hour for the senior citizens' Christmas dinner. We got to practise half of the pieces at lunchtime, so I was playing those for the second time, and I had to just sight read the rest. And for added entertainment, I was sight reading the descant counterpoint, not just the melody, for half of them; and transposing up an octave as well.

It was HARD.

But it was fun, too. A huge challenge but really invigorating. And much better for me than watching TV lol.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I'm worn out, but the party, although small, was wonderful fun and I'm glad I went to the effort after all! The highlight of the night was walking out of town to beyond the street lights to look at the stars.

I'm vegging out today, relaxing and resting and trying to get my head around the last 9 teaching days of the year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Beyond Tired

I stayed up until 1am last night trying to get my reports done, but didn't manage it because blasted SIS timed out and wiped some of my comments AAARGH. So I got up early, went in early and fixed it all up (and of course the principal decided she wanted them Monday anyway - gah gah gah I knew she would do that but of course I couldn't take the risk that she wouldn't GAAAAAH). So now I'm trying to get the house ready for having people up tomorrow. It was supposed to be a party but since I'm in the country hardly anyone has decided to come so there's only a handful of people coming up. I'm going to love having them here, but it feels so insane to be trying to get my house into order for five to ten guests! I'm trying to stay awake and functioning and keep tidying the house until midnight, then I intend to sleep until 8, get up, do some housework, go to Big Country Town to shop, come back, do more housework and hopefully finish up by the time people arrive (why oh why did I say 1pm . . . yeah it was so people could spend the afternoon then go back to Perth but OMG 1pm hardly any time at all). I'm unbelievably tired and just want to crash out but I have to get some more tidying done first. Once the stayovers leave on Sunday I'm going to sleep for the rest of the day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sometimes There's Nothing You Can Do . . .

I'll freely admit that my tiredness is often my own fault. I don't go to sleep early enough or with enough dedication sometimes. Other times it's insomnia, or just difficult circumstances, but most often it's just my bad sleeping habits.

Last night, however, was SO NOT MY FAULT.

At 9pm I was dozing off on the couch, so I decided I'd go to bed early and get a long night's sleep before getting up early. So I took a sleeping tablet, read for a little while then switched the light out. Despite the fact that the tablet was pulling me under, I had trouble getting off to sleep because the bogong moths were being noisy and the people across the road from me were talking out the front of their house and receiving text messages rather noisily. Just as I was dropping off at about 10:30 I heard a rumble of thunder. Then I awoke again at about 11:30 when a cracker of a thunderstorm went over. I was too much under the influence of the sleeping pill to wake up properly and enjoy it, but it was too noisy, between the constant thunder and the rain and I suspect hail too, for me to get back to sleep. Finally after about an hour I did drop off again. Then at about 4am I was awoken by a cacophony from my study, which is full of boxes and stuff I'm trying to sort into them. I went in and found a dead mouse in the doorway and Jemima chasing a very much live rabbit around the boxes. I chased the cat out, but I couldn't catch the rabbit so I shut the study door with the rabbit still inside, put the mouse in the bin and went back to sleep. About an hour and a half later I awoke to a funny noise and found that it was getting light and Jem had another rabbit, this one dead, on the floor of my bedroom. I hissed at her, put the rabbit in the bin (picking it up in an old cloth!) and went back to bed yet again. Just as I was dropping off, the sun rose, shining through my open window straight into my eyes. I groaned, rolled over, dropped back to sleep for about an hour, and then my alarm went off.

I really feel that the universe must have had it in for me last night - I did the right thing, went to bed early, and . . . argh!

(In case you're wondering, I opened the study door before I left for school this morning, and I assume Jemima has caught and dealt with the live rabbit! I don't mind her eating them as they're an agricultural pest, but I really wish she wouldn't bring them inside).

In other news, I'm very excited because I have a job interview at a Montessori school in the hills, in the suburb next to where Mum lives. I want this job so very much, but I have to get through the interview first and that's not for a couple of weeks! December 16th is the day. They've already spoken to my referees which is a good sign lol. I'd love to get back to Perth. I haven't lived in the city or suburbs with a car of my own before, and the possibilities are taking my breath away. Back with my friends . . . able to go where I want . . . NOT doing a 100km round trip every time I need groceries . . . there's even a choir I can sing in which I never knew about! I'm trying not to get too excited because it's by no means certain, but I'm hopeful.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


When my DVD player is left on pause or a menu screen for more than a couple of minutes, the picture disappears and is replaced with a simple screensaver: the logo of the DVD player brand in an oval that slowly moves across the screen, "bounces" off the "side" of the screen, moves off in a new direction, "bounces" again etc.

That is what my mind is like at the moment, and I'm having trouble shaking it long enough to do anything useful, even things that absolutely critically must be done by tomorrow.

The three "sides" are the three options I listed the other day.

Option 1: The principal isn't offered a position elsewhere and retains her position at our school, and I don't get a job elsewhere. This will be HIDEOUS. The woman has it in for me now because she knows that I know that she isn't doing her job properly. The mere thought of it makes me feel sick, and that's without even considering the fact that I'll also still be putting up with this particular set of idiotic parents and ratbag kids as well.

Option 2: The principal gets a job somewhere else and/or is refused the continuation of her job at our school, and I don't manage to get a job elsewhere and am therefore stuck at the school for the time being. This is an unknown quantity. I have no doubt that one of this principal's outgoing acts as principal would be to badmouth everyone who has ever had a negative word to say about her, staff and parents and kids alike (and I will by no means be the only staff member on her hit-list!). However any decent principal would take that kind of thing with a grain of salt and get to know everyone for themselves. So it could be awful or it could be fine. I'd still be stuck with the other issues with this school and this town.

Option 3: I get a job elsewhere and go. I can't get a job anywhere else in the state system (staffing were like "oh well it's better for the school to have stability so we will probably just ignore any application or take away your ability to get permanency if you did move, which you couldn't because we wouldn't move you . . ." - I fail to see how sending staff members crazy because they're in a placement they hate benefits the system!). I'm applying for everything eligible that comes up in the private sector. There's one job at a Montessori school which I want so much it hurts, and I'm just trying not to think about it because I can't afford to get my hopes up. This is obviously my preferred option.

So basically I'm sitting here switching my mind between the three options, going "that is unbearable and likely - that could happen but I don't know when we'll find out - I want this so badly but can't do anything more to help it along". Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.


Friday, November 28, 2008


In past relationships, one of the major problems I have had is that my lack of assertiveness and self-belief has meant that I failed to put appropriate boundaries in place. And because I didn't have good boundaries I kept winding up with guys who wanted (consciously or unconsciously) a girlfriend whose lack of boundaries meant that they could put all of their problems, and responsibility for their emotions, onto someone else. When I think of the times that S used to get himself so worked up over me "upsetting" him that he'd throw up . . . I should have just told him that it was his problem not mine! I tried to once but I was too scared of a breakup at that point. I know now that if a guy breaks up with you because you're setting appropriate boundaries, you didn't want to be with him anyway.

So, anyway . . . back when S and I broke up, I joined a Facebook group for singles in my area. I think it was more to remind myself that there were lots of singles out there, than because I wanted to meet someone; and I'd almost forgotten about it.

On Thursday, a guy messaged me from the singles group saying he'd seen my profile on there and thought I sounded nice and interesting. I looked at his profile and he clearly had done more than look at my photo because we did have quite a lot in common, and he sounded quite nice too. I sent him a message back talking a bit about our shared interests and saying that yes, I'd like to chat sometime. I also discovered that we have one real-life friend in common, so I've sent her a message to find out about him :-D

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the computer with Facebook open when a message popped up from this guy (we will call him D). We started to chat a bit - just about general "how's life" stuff - and then the phone rang. It was Mum, needing to sort out various logistics. When I got back to the computer, I found he'd sent a couple more question messages ("written anything lately?" was one of them) then gone offline. I immediately sent him a message saying something like "oops sorry I disappeared, the phone rang and I had to take it, I'll be back online later :-)". For a few seconds, I started to feel really awful - what if he was angry / worrying / going to be narky and resentful? And then I said STOP. Firstly, his emotions are not my problem. Secondly, if he was any of those things towards a girl he'd just started chatting to, and couldn't accept that sometimes people just have circumstances that interrupt a conversation, then I wouldn't want to be friends with him anyway, let alone take things further one day. I know how past boyfriends would have reacted to that - sulking sarcastic sneering snapping selfishness! I don't WANT any more of those, so who cares how he reacts? If it's the wrong reaction I'll just say goodbye and forget about it.

And, lo and behold . . . this morning I found a message from him basically saying "no worries, I had to go out anyway" and then moving straight on to chatter about other interests.

Healthy-minded people attract other healthy-minded people. Have I finally attracted one? And does it work even if I'm not being actively healthy where he can see me? It doesn't seem to make sense, but perhaps I'm radiating that health in ways I don't understand . . . even on the internet.

Security vs Happiness

There are a number of things that could happen from here.

1. I stay here, and so does the principal, and I have a horrible couple of years until I can get a transfer somewhere else.

2. I stay here and the principal moves on, and things improve or don't but either way I'm not dealing with her.

3. I get a job in the private sector and leave this stupid town and the cow of a principal behind entirely.

Now, all three of those are conditional on other people - on the education department's handling of the principal and on other schools considering me for a job. But the last has the advantage that - even if it doesn't come through and I'm only actively seeking it - I'm not passive.

I realised today that I HATE the public school system. I hate the rigidity and the meanness and the impersonality and the bureaucracy and the whole package. I hate what it does to the kids, and I hate what it's doing to ME. I do not like the person I am becoming as a teacher, and that worries me. The system is still so punitive and negative and them-against-us that I'm starting to buy into it, starting to accept the lies about children and childhood that feed the machine. NO!!!!! That is not what I want out of life and not what I expect from myself. I really feel that I want to get out of the public system entirely.

I just submitted an application to teach at a Montessori school in the suburb nextdoor to where Mum lives - back in my beloved hills. There's two more positions to apply for, at a protestant Christian school two suburbs from where Mum lives. And a few at Catholic schools in the south-west. I'm going to apply and apply and apply until I get something outside of the state system, no matter what. Whether it's in the city or the country, whether it's Catholic or Protestant or Steiner or Montessori or simply Alternative, I want to be out of the impersonal machine and into the world that believes that children are the REASON for what we do, not an impediment to it!

I'm feeling empowered right now. I'm not sitting back and letting stuff happen to me, but going out and looking for a better future. Yay for me.

This may mean being pinched financially, having a more demanding landlord, more house moves and many other things over the coming years. But miserable security is not living.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I'm at home on stress leave today and tomorrow, and I'm scared and angry and miserable.

Last Friday, one of my students king-hit another student while I had my back turned for a moment. I took both boys straight to the principal, told her what had happened and asked her to deal with it. Her way of "dealing" with it was to get both boys' sides of the story, then keep the offending boy in in-school suspension for a couple of hours before sending him back to me at 2pm. He wreaked complete havoc on my lesson, stirring up two other boys and causing my entire afternoon to go all to hell.

I was angry enough over this when I got in on Monday, and then I found that the principal wasn't going to be there on Monday and hadn't left any instructions or requirements for the offending boy. I resorted to the standard punishment - sitting on the bench rather than playing at recess and lunchtime. He refused to comply. Then at lunchtime three of my good girls were found out of bounds riding another child's scooter through the gardens and destroying a small tree; students who were supposed to be doing rubbish duty as a consequence for rudeness refused to comply; and at the end of lunch four boys refused to come down from the top of the play equipment having spent lunchtime throwing stuff on the top of the equipment's shade-cloth. They just laughed at all four of the staff members who told them to come down! When they did finally come down we got the mother of the worst boy (the one who hit the other child) to come and get him. I tried to get on with my lessons in the afternoon but a couple of the kids had realised that there was no higher authority in the school and no one was actually facing any major consequences (this has been a problem for a while because the principal just refuses to impose any higher-level consequences). and proceeded to riot. I got on with things as best I could before asking for help, and when the other teacher took them to buddy class I could hear her screaming at them from two classrooms away!

By the end of the day I was a crying nervous wreck and told the registrar I wasn't coming in today. I've been to the doctor today and cried at her, and I've got a certificate for today and tomorrow. My stomach is all in knots and I can't breathe properly and I'm feeling sick and strained and awful, not the least because I have to see the principal for a meeting at 8am on Thursday. I know I need to be assertive and firm and somehow MAKE her realise that while my handling of the problems might not have been the best - it is my first year of teaching after all - the heart of the problem is that she won't back us up or impose any serious consequences herself. I need to let her understand my feelings of being unsupported and out of options while not putting her on the defensive, and I'm not very good at that sort of thing.

I hate this!

I'm currently doing the only thing I can think of to make myself feel better: applying for positions in private schools. I've found three to positions to apply for and I'm going to look for more. If this principal isn't around next year it won't be so bad, but on the off-chance she will be here I don't want to be. I've had enough.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Three Reunions, Three Lessons.

I had the last of my three 10-year high school reunions yesterday. It was a fantastic night and I really enjoyed it. I guess I'm now used to the whole reunion thing as I wasn't nervous at all for this one! That also comes from sorting through a lot of my "stuff". My self-esteem did not depend on the night going well, and since it did I just feel better about myself!

On the way home, I reflected on the three different reunions and the emotions and self-beliefs that surrounded each one. Like most teenagers my high school years were fraught with dramas and traumas, and being an Aspie with difficult and divorced parents I had perhaps a harder time than many dealing with the trials of teenagehood. In some ways, the reunions have let me 'go back' and fix some of the things that were going wrong. I've learned an important lesson out of each of the reunions - a different lesson each time.

Before the first reunion, for EHSHS, I was incredibly nervous. I was only at EHSHS for Years 8 and 9 (1993-94) and didn't really feel like I had any right to be going. I also had to get there very late, because my uncle's wedding reception was the same night. I was convinced that only a couple of people would remember me, and that they would probably wonder what I was doing there since I hadn't graduated with them. I even asked the people running it whether I was allowed to go!

When I got there, I was immediately greeted with great excitement by dozens of old friends and acquaintances. Most didn't even remember that I hadn't been there the whole time, or alternatively had wondered where the hell I'd gone since my friends hadn't managed to pass on the fact that I'd been custody-shuffled up to the northern suburbs. I was hugged by people I barely remembered, and "glomped" by a few who had really missed me. It was wonderful and I went home feeling like I'd regained a whole portion of my life that went missing after I left EHSHS.

Lesson One: You Are Memorable. I am not background noise. My appearance and manner and personality leaves a pleasant memory that people can retrieve immediately. I am missed when I leave and welcomed when I return. I don't need to fear being forgotten or unnoticed.

The next reunion was for GSHS where I did Years 10-12 (1995-97) after going to live with Mum. Before the GSHS reunion I felt even worse than I did prior to the first one. I was very much unpopular at GSHS (my friends were all in the year below me because my own year didn't 'get' me). I felt again like I had no right to be there and would be teased / laughed at / shunned for turning up to the reunion when I was so unwelcome at the school in the first place. I was terribly nervous.

What I found, when I got there, was that everyone remembered me, and no one remembered that I'd been unpopular. People kept asking things like "oh, were you at that party where . . .", and I kept having to say "no, I wasn't", thinking all the while ". . . because you guys never once invited me to a party!". They didn't have any recollection of my status as class pariah, and welcomed me with open arms and great enthusiasm. I hadn't been one of the crowd, but all they remembered was that I had been there through the most important years of high school. That was all that mattered to them.

Lesson Two: You Are Acceptable. Kids in high school are stupidly obsessed with conformity. My oddness was unbearable to them back then, but they're adults and they're over it. The person I am today is acceptable to the people they are today. I am not a pariah and no one sees me as one. I am accepted as one of "them".

This weekend's reunion was for FSHS, where I repeated Year 12 in 1998, having gone back to live with Dad at his new house in a different suburb after stuffing up my tertiary entrance exams in 1997. I wasn't nervous for this one - I knew that T, a good friend of mine, would be there, and I had better memories of the people at FSHS in general. I was pretty sure I was going to be welcomed, and hoped I would also be remembered.

The evening was delightful. Most people remembered me (some after a bit of prompting lol), and if they remembered me as half of "Christine and Brett", well, that's fair enough! Most were quite fascinated by the path my life had taken, and I found I had a lot in common with many of the girls I spent the evening with. It was a really great night.

Lesson Three: You Are Respected. People think very highly of someone who has three degrees, who followed her dream to do archaeology, who made a sensible decision to get out when it wasn't working out, and who does such an undeniably difficult and underpaid job as primary school teaching. In fact, the stuff I can do seriously amazes people, even if I consider them far brighter than me! So far as mannerisms can tell the story, everyone remembered liking me at school, and many remembered my dream to do archaeology. I am seen as someone who has achieved, who has strived, who has Gone Somewhere and Done Something with her life. No one cares about what I don't have or thinks less of me for it. What I do have is sufficient.

At last night's reunion I also had a long chat to my high school sweetheart (the aforementioned Brett), who was there with his wife and child. I found that, for the first time since we broke up in 2000, chatting to Brett triggered none of my "stuff". I think I'm starting to get my head around my past and put it away.

The three reunions have helped to set right a number of misconceptions I had about myself, and have replaced them with the positives listed above. And that feels good!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Trying to keep trying

I'm not feeling good today. I'm getting over this bug, mostly, but I still feel sort of off-colour and drained.

When I get stressed I recycle a lot of anger at the world - non-specific, undirected anger that stems from the problems and challenges of my childhood. I'm feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety at the moment with reports coming up and the financial pressures of Christmas requiring a juggling act. I'm also experiencing a lot of loneliness and dissatisfaction with being single. I know I need to make peace with that, build my own life etc but right now I'm in an I-just-don't-care-I-want-a-family state. I don't know how to deal with myself when I'm like that! I know part of it is just the virus-imposed weepiness masquerading as cluckiness, and of course parts of me are going to be reacting to the fact that so, so many of my friends are pregnant (including the announcements by two of my close friends from primary school *sigh*).

Some of the feelings are real and some are just reactions, and I do know that I need to work through the issues that make me feel that way. I need to let go of the anger at past events, and let go of the negativity that I attach to being different, stop comparing myself and just let my life be what it is, when it is. I need to put aside the frustration and just enjoy what I've got, but it's hard, and I'll admit that a part of me is resisting. The misery and depression are oh-so-familiar, and soothing in their own way. Living healthily and positively involves giving up the security blanket of depression and self-deprecation, and that's scary.

So I'm trying to just keep on trying, keep on wanting to get healthy, and not fall into my old ways. I'm trying to find some behaviour to replace sitting on the couch crying over the things I want and don't have, which doesn't involve spending a lot of money. Hmm.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh, crud.

Yesterday I woke up feeling a bit funny and off-colour, and spent the day doing not very much of anything, apart from making chicken soup, which was quite an intensive process but I really wanted to do it, because I really wanted chicken soup.

In the middle of last night I woke up to find myself thrashing around in the bed, twisting this way and that because I was feeling nauseous. I got up and threw up twice before going back to bed.

When I woke up this morning I still felt nauseous, and had a sore throat to boot. I've managed to get through today by telling my kids how sick I felt, and sucking on sugary lollies constantly to keep me from getting too sick. I've been vague and fuzzy all day, and left school as early as I decently could. Now I'm sitting on the couch with my throat getting worse and my stomach roiling every time I stand up and my head all fuzzy. I bought soda water, gingernut biscuits and arrowroot biscuits on the way home - stuff I know my body will accept - and I've eaten some chicken. Food doesn't seem to be making me worse thankfully, but I'm so tired. I really need to go to bed and sleep for a while. Like, 12 hours. But I'm having trouble actually getting up and going to bed, because I don't want to miss some shows tonight and I can't face trying to programme the video recorder. Which is silly. But I'm feeling too awful to do anything about it.

I can't possibly take a day off tomorrow - school photos!!! So I just have to keep going. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow . . .

Edit: I also meant to add that I was unaccountably weepy yesterday, and no doubt this is why. I'm still weepy today - I keep wanting to bawl over anything even slightly emotional on the TV. Crying over bandaid ads, anyone?

Sunday, November 16, 2008


When S and I broke up for real and I was on holidays, I fell off the weight-loss wagon a bit. I was doing alright, and I didn't put any back on, but I just couldn't quite get my act together. Ever since, I've been fluctuating maddeningly between 73.4 and 74, up and down like a yo-yo.

It started to drop in the last couple of weeks, dropping down to 73.2 a few times, but it still didn't feel like progress.

Today, FINALLY, I broke through, and weighed in at 72.8 Hurrah! I've also now lost 10% of my total body weight, which is AWESOME. I've lost 8.6kg. I only need to lose another 13kg to have a healthy BMI again, and another 20kg would make me stunning. Somewhere in between is probably where I'll end up!

So it's back on track and I'm feeling motivated again. I still want to reach my goal weight by July next year at the most, and Easter for preference. And I'm still hoping to be in the 60s by Christmas. I think I can I think I can . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Human Dithering

Some self-help websites encourage people to get up and do things. They recommend that you stop sitting around, break out of the apathy and become a "human doing" instead of a human being.

Others recommend that you stop being a "human doing" - especially if all of your frantic activity is to avoid facing up to your issues - and learn to really be a "human being". GPYP calls this "making peace with the peace". It's learning to not need constant activity and fussing and people who make you crazy in order to feel fulfilled.

They're both equally valid points of view, and equally useful.

I think part of the problem I've had with my lifestyle ever since I left home is that I often live in a limbo between "human being" and "human doing". I have in fact been neither . . . I've been a "human dithering". I've spent so much time over the years just doing this and that and passing the time away. I've always called it "relaxing" but it's really not true relaxation, it's busy-but-not-active avoidance.

I want to spend less time as a "human dithering". Lots of the things I'm doing are going towards that (the degree, the choir, etc) but I also want to try to make it an integral part of my everyday life, not an extra-curricular activity. And I'm doing it, slowly but surely. My first conscious effort has been to make sure that I spend 1-2 hours doing stuff around the house every evening, instead of heading straight for the couch and the laptop and "relaxing" on the internet.

(Guess where I am now, and what I'm doing. Oh, the irony.)

This evening I spent two hours in the garden. I potted out ~20 petunia seedlings in pots and hanging baskets on my verandah (I bought 4 punnets of seedlings from a lady at school today, fundraising for the P&C), and likewise 6 tomato plant seedlings. Then I Had An Idea, and fought with a fairly scratchy tree to wind my new set of fairy lights into it. Then I dug a trench for the cord and buried it so I wouldn't trip over it. Then I switched it on, and went another round with the tree while I checked half the globes and replaced the ~5 that weren't working (I KNOW to check the globes before hanging the lights . . . oops). The net result is a whole lot of greenery and a very pretty tree :) And I spent my evening DOING. After I get off the computer and away from the TV, I'm going to commit to spending half an hour BEING.

Not dithering.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Working it Out

Part of GPYP's programme of getting mentally healthy is to grieve for and let go of all of your unfinished business by following letting go rituals (the old 'write a letter and burn it' thing). My unfinished business is about three key issues, but dozens of people. So writing letters to all of them isn't really a functional way of dealing with this. Instead I've started a file on my computer titled "I Should Have Told You.doc". One of the three issues is the fact that I was the 'coper' in my family, the one who kept quiet about her needs as much as possible because others were clearly more important and their needs more significant. So, as they come to mind, I am writing down every significant thing that I should have told the people who helped build and reinforce my feelings of insignificance and inadequacy, either inadvertently or deliberately.

The first is, of course, about S, because I can get that over with quickly. I should have told him that his controlling behaviour was totally unacceptable - even if it meant that he broke up with me. I'm sure there'll be others about him and my other exes that will come out. But I'm just writing down whatever comes into my head. Family, friends, ex-friends, exes, anyone.

I'm going to do this for a couple of months until I feel that I've got in there all of those needs or defiances I never uttered. Then I'll print it out (probably in a significantly fancy font on heavy paper) and burn it. Not quite sure how I'm going to burn it in summer when there's a total fire ban, but still. I'll find a way, or wait until next winter! But those things are going to be gone. I'm going to say them, then burn them, and move on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


As a society, we don't do pride in ourselves well. We like others to be proud of us - our society is in part based around gaining the acclaim of others - but we bridle and snark and scoff when we see people being proud of themselves.

Bragging and self-importance, of course, are obnoxious and annoying. But simple pride in one's own achievements - what is wrong with that?

I chatted to Mum on the phone this evening, and she told me how proud she was of me for how I've dealt with the breakup, how I'm rebuilding my life and adding to it all the time, how I've gone out and found things like the choir and the uni degree to keep me moving forward, and how I'm able to give her advice and insights that blows her - an extremely capable, savvy and introspective woman - away.

And you know what?


I'm PROUD that I'm doing my grief work and my repair work and I'm dealing with my "stuff".
I'm PROUD that I'm out there in the community giving and receiving the gift of music.
I'm PROUD that I'm getting my house and work under control and making good decisions like using enviro-friendly products and unplugging the clothes dryer in favour of the washing line.
I'm PROUD that I'm going to continue my education and get a degree that is perfect for me.
I'm PROUD that I'm dieting and doing well and losing weight gradually.
I'm PROUD that I'm a strong, educated, intelligent woman with so much to offer, and the willingness and ability to offer it.

. . . SO THERE. :-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jemima . . .

. . . was asleep next to me on the couch, lying on her side with her paws out in front of her. She was twitching and purring a bit in her sleep (she does this a lot when she's dreaming), then suddenly, she jumped - with her whole body - and moved a foot to the left, landed and then woke up. She was understandably very alarmed to wake up suddenly landing a foot from where she started, and she promptly attacked a cushion viciously as the culprit then ran off and is now sitting rather resentfully in the hall.

I can't stop laughing.

Poor kitty!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What an evening!

I think I mentioned a while back that the choir I joined was performing today. The event was the finale of a nature festival - a combined churches thanksgiving service up on top of a hill in a nature reserve outside of town. As soon as they found out that I play the flute they asked me to do some flute solos - quite undeterred by the fact that I hadn't played in public for four years!

I was really nervous beforehand, but it went fine. I played "Younger than Springtime" from 'South Pacific', "Hello Young Lovers" from 'The King and I' and "Morning Has Broken" while people were settling into their seats, and then "Colours of the Wind" from 'Pocahontas' as the beginning and end of the service. It was a really beautiful service and I'm really proud to have contributed to it. I made a couple of mistakes because there were flies attacking me the whole time - I had one lady from the choir on each side of me, holding the music stand so it wouldn't blow away with one hand and flapping flies off my face their other hand, but the flies still distracted me enough to cause a problem a couple of times, and I flubbed a couple of notes when there was a fly on my lips! But overall it went really well and everyone was really appreciative of me having turned up and played as well as singing. I was shaking afterwards, but so glad that I did it.

On the way home, driving between towns in the dark, I said a little prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to play my flute again, and then something rather strange happened. First I saw some sort of small marsupial run across the road - I think it was a chuditch. I've never seen a chuditch in the wild before, only in the zoo! Then, while I was still thrilling over that sighting, I went past an owl sitting in the middle of the road, watching some sort of scurrying thing that was just out of my sight. Probably a mouse.

I feel almost like those sightings were a reward, for having the courage to stand up and play at the service and for believing in myself. I simply love seeing animals in the wild and it's a huge thrill whenever I do, even when it's something a bit creepy (like the BIG snake I saw crossing the road on the way to the performance lol). So many in one evening makes me feel like it was laid on just for me :-)

I'm performing twice around Christmas - once at Carols by Candlelight and once at a Christmas Eve church service. I can't wait!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Yesterday was S's birthday. I didn't even realise until towards the end of the day, when I'd written the date several times in succession and noticed that the date (7/11) was the opposite of my brother's (11/7), and then remembered that S's had been the opposite of my brother's (which is just weird as they have the same first name lol). I briefly wondered whether S had expected me to contact him on his birthday, and whether he was surprised that I hadn't contacted him then or at any other time since I got my stuff back. I didn't really need to know, I just vaguely wondered.

Then I got on to thinking about something that happened before S's birthday last year. We'd been out on two successful dates, one to the movies and one to the zoo, on two successive weekends. Then S phoned me up on the Monday or Tuesday and asked if I could go out with him during the day on the Thursday. I was studying and I had to work in the evening, so I said I wasn't sure. He took on a funny hurt tone and said that it was "really important to him". I was a bit taken aback, thought for a moment and remembered that he'd mentioned his birthday at some point. I remembered that it was November but hadn't remembered the exact date he'd given. I guessed that it must be his birthday, and said "oh, it's your birthday, isn't it?". His response was an ever-so-slightly sarcastic "Yay! You remembered!".

A nice, decent, good guy would have phoned up and said "Hey Christine, it's my birthday on Thursday and I'd really love to spend some time with you - are you free?". Conversely, a nice, decent, good guy would not have used his upcoming birthday as a passive-aggressive TRAP to check how much his new girlfriend had remembered about him after two dates.

That, right there, should have been a GREAT BIG RED FLAG. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable and taken aback that he would be sarcastic because I'd forgotten a date he'd probably only mentioned once. And I can see now that his backwards way of finding out whether I remembered, and the fact that he was already trying to set me up to fail at being perfect, should have been a warning to get out immediately.

Something else to look out for in the future!

Friday, November 7, 2008

NaNo Update

I'm REALLY behind on my NaNo novel - trust me to get a life-sucking bout of insomnia right at the start of November! But the good news is that in the last two days, with the help of the medication, I have started writing it. I've done 2510 words in two days, which is a good start. I hope I'll be able to catch up over the weekends and still be in the running to finish on time. I'm really liking the way it's taking shape, and the characters are starting to come to life.

It's been funny, though - my main character, Lissa, is a thirteen-year-old girl loosely based on my fantasy 'alter ego' that I used to tell myself stories about at that same age. In order to get inside her head I've been reading my old diary from that age. Yikes. I cannot believe I was EVER that silly, that desperate to be 'random', that impressed with my own cleverness, and that obsessed with boys. 90% of the diary is about boys. That quote from "Pride and Prejudice" about the 'silliest girls in England' keeps jumping into my head. Apart from being an Aspie, I was a pretty normal teenager, and it's quite the shock to see myself (in the privacy of a diary, at least) carrying on in the hyperactive, look-at-me-crazy, crush-obsessed way that annoying teenagers do on the internet these days. If BtN had been around when I was in my early teens, I probably *would* have been one of the little twits we have to throw snide remarks at until they stop parading their belief in their own cleverness and driving everyone nuts. I was so silly.

Watching History

I know it's old news, but I haven't really had a chance this week to stop and revel in the fact that the United States has elected an African-American president.

The fact that they have done this with a history like theirs gives me hope that we can do the same despite a history like ours.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So . . .

. . . there's over-the-counter sleeping tablets. Thank God.

I couldn't get a doctor's appointment until Monday so I went to the chemist, and he gave me these tablets that used to be used as antihistamines until they figured out how to make antihistamines that don't completely knock you unconscious lol. The tablets are just used to help people to sleep these days. And they WORK. I took one twenty minutes before I wanted to fall asleep last night, and right on the dot I was out like a light and only stirred when the cat licked my nose about ten minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off. I had about 8 hours sleep and I've felt SO much better today - not dozy at all, and with quite a bit of energy. Hey, this "good night's sleep" thing really works. Who knew?

We were supposed to have school photos today but they were cancelled because the photographer was rushed to hospital in a critically ill condition. Oops. They've been rescheduled for two weeks' time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Want Sleep

I've been sleeping badly for the last couple of weeks - having trouble falling asleep, and waking up at every little sound all night, along with overheating and having ridiculous dreams. I'm so exhausted . . . I'm going around constantly with that gritty fatigued feeling, yawning constantly and tripping over things all the time. I don't know what to do. I can't get a doctor's appointment until Monday and I feel like I'll be completely insane by then. Herbal sleepy thingies don't work for me and I haven't even got any drowsy cough medicine I could take once or twice to get myself back on track. I keep trying to go to bed but I just lie there for hours and hours without falling asleep. It's been happening since daylight savings time started but I don't know if that caused it or if it's part of a larger problem . . . *sigh*

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Quick Quote

"if he really wanted me and our relationship, I wouldn’t need to be a detective to figure it out."

From a poster named Stronger on the GPYP comments.

This is so applicable to S and I that I yelped when I read it. Those five weeks of crazy-making were stupid and unfair. He should have had the balls to come out and tell me one way or another right from the start, instead of leading me in that crazy dance of withdrawal and denial and hysterics because he didn't have the guts to say what needed to be said. And I should have realised that if he wanted me in his life I would be in no doubt about it.

Another lesson learned . . .

Friday, October 31, 2008

Changing Hurts.

Growing pains of the soul and mind are no less painful than those of the body.

At the moment I'm digging deep into my childhood, doing the work I need to do to understand why I get pulled into negative relationships time and time again. Part of the answer is the straightforward issue of being an Aspie growing up in a neurotypical word which has given me a desperate need to belong, to be normal, to be seen as fitting in. Sticking with bananaheads because being in a grown-up relationship made me one of the "real people" is part of my problem.

But the more painful issue is one of sibling dynamics. Throughout my childhood, my brother was the one who acted up and acted out. Not that he had no reason - diagnosed with ADHD and undiagnosed with Aspergers, he didn't exactly have it easy. But his problems were so visible. He got into trouble, he had manic episodes, he broke windows, he had to change schools so many times because the staff were running out of patience with his issues. Not all the time - not every day - but he was certainly a high-maintenance child.

I was the opposite. I never acted out, and when my problems did bubble to the surface, they came in the form of hysterics and inconsolable tears. I was a withdrawn, introverted child, the polar opposite of my brother. My problems were no less severe - diagnosed ADD and undiagnosed Aspergers - but I was no trouble. My brother received the lion's share of everyone's attention, because he had to. He needed it, for sure. But I needed it too . . . and never got it. That is the great unmet need of my childhood - for someone to look past the fact that my brother was loud and I was quiet, and realise that I needed help too.

Time and time again, when my brother worked himself up into a state and started acting out, my parents would rescue him - new school, new counsellor, new hobby etc. For years and years and years I waited for my parents to rescue me too. I just knew that sooner or later they would realise just how much pain I was in, how much I was struggling at school, and pull me out, find me a school that would work for me. It never happened . . . because they never knew. And I never asked for help. How could I ask, when my brother so clearly needed their attention more than I?

One effect of this dynamic is relatively easy to deal with: I need to learn to acknowledge my own needs, recognise them as valid, and be prepared to stand up for them. Another effect . . . not so easy. I have to ask myself: do I get into these relationships where I am still suffering and still living out that silently-going-crazy coping role because I am still waiting to be rescued? Is the part of me that puts up with these relationships that same little girl who waited all those years for someone to notice the pain? Am I unable to say no to crazy-making situations because it's my way of giving the universe / my peers / my parents / others one last chance to do what I needed them to do all those years ago?

I have to put that pain to bed forever before I can let someone into my life. I need to make peace with the fact that child-Christine and teen-Christine are never going to be rescued. I have to learn to live with how it was, not how it should have been.

I haven't the faintest idea where to start, but I'll get there somehow.

I'm watching "The Holiday" this evening and want to share this quote:

Iris: "I wanted to get away from one guy, an ex-boyfriend who just got engaged and forgot to tell me."
Arthur: "So, he’s a schmuck."
Iris: "As a matter of fact he is a huge schmuck . . . how did you know?"
Arthur: "He let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out."


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This year's NaNoWriMo starts on Saturday, and this year I'm going to make a proper go of it. I've intended to for the past two years and barely wrote a word, but this year I believe I can do it - really believe. I'm working on a fairly lightweight YA fantasy piece which I'm plotting based on the various stories and 'pretends' I enjoyed around the ages 12-14. Because it's a part of me it's fairly easy to work on. You have to write around 1700 words per day to complete NaNo, but I'm up for it. 50,000 words is a fine size for a YA novel, so if I manage it I'll have the complete first draft of a YA book.

So, the plotting begins . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Setting it Straight

I have mentioned before the wonderful blog Getting Past Your Past, an incredibly empowering resource for people who are grieving over their break-up and are ready to question why it went wrong and what they can do to end up in a good relationship next time. The site advocates using a tool called the "Relationship Inventory" to take stock of what went wrong and right in your last relationship, and what that meant in terms of your own satisfaction. Some of the questions are hard to answer, because they ask you to question your own beliefs and understandings. But when you finish, it feels good. Oh, so good.

These are some of the things I’ve discovered so far.

1. S was controlling, manipulative, jealous, passive-aggressive, inflexible and enormously self-centred.

2. I ignored S’s behaviour because I was busy being the ‘good’ girlfriend and enabling S’s behaviour because giving in to him meant that I was not being a brat.

3. This was an issue for me because I have struggled against a tendency to a volatile temper. I had formerly adopted crazy-making habits and was determined to defeat them, to the point where I failed to maintain basic standards about how I could be treated.

4. I also ignored S’s increasingly crazy-making behaviour because I did not have the self-confidence to admit that I could see that it was going wrong.

5. This was a self-confidence issue for me because I felt that being in a proper adult relationship was a validation of my own status as a genuine adult, meant that I was ‘keeping up’ with my partnered friends and cousins. These are two issues I have struggled with. By backing out of the relationship I would be going back to the ‘single and failing at life’ tag I’d ascribed to myself.

6. I have self-esteem issues for a number of reasons going right back to the first few years of school. One is the simple fact that having an Aspergers brain means that I have felt different, substandard and confused for much of my life. Another is my role of silent child / ‘the one who copes’ in my family structure. The latter has resulted in my aversion towards asking for help and a habit of belittling my own needs because, as a child, my needs were never as great as those of my brother. I have also developed the habit of belittling my achievements, because what I achieved in spite of my minor needs were never as impressive as what others (ie my brother) achieved in the face of his greater needs. This is a false perception, and a belief not shared by other people, who see my achievements independently to others’ and are really very proud of me.

7. In most of my relationships, I have repeated the pattern of accepting what I should not accept, because I lacked the self-confidence to draw the line at the risk of losing the relationship. In these situations I was clinging to the validation that being in any relationship provided, and doubted my own ability to distinguish between acceptable friction and unacceptable behaviour. I broke up with B because of his denigrating behaviour, then reneged and had to find it out again in the repeat relationship. I took it from E until my walk-over-ness drove him away. I caught it in time with N. With C, I allowed actual abuse to drag on for a year before finally refusing to accept it any longer, precipitating the breakup. D drove himself away by buying into his own crazy-making manipulation, but I had realised that the relationship was going to end because of it. With S, I pretended that I could accept and deal with the treatment I was receiving, and although I still have no idea exactly what precipitated the breakup on S’s part, the way he was treating me was appalling and I should not have been allowing it.

8. The key for me to have successful relationships in the future is to develop an unassailable feeling of self-worth, and to be absolutely clear with myself about what I will and will not accept from others. To do this I will need to unpack every layer of my self-doubt, address every false perception, reject every unwarranted label, and replace the falsehoods with positive truths that will support my belief that I deserve only the best treatment from only the best people. Then, and only then, will I be ready for another relationship.

So there it is. I have a LOT of work ahead of me. I don’t know how long it will take, and for some parts I don’t even know how I will achieve it. But I’m going to get there. No more crazy-making, no more doubt. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And more spiders . . .

I whipper-snippered my front lawn today, because it badly needed trimming. I'm quite proud of myself because it's a hot and tiring job to do but I went ahead and did it. As for the spiders - I had to clean a red-back and its egg sacs off the whipper-snipper, and disturbed a huntsman / wolf spider and some sort of garden spider, with a big triangular silvery body.

I also got the couches for my outdoor area (bought some old couches from a friend who wanted to get rid of them - easy!).

I've put in my uni application and now I just have to wait - I won't know until mid-January.

I'm feeling pretty happy and confident and self-worthy today. I'm getting there!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


As a result of all the therapy, reading and intensive self-help work I've been doing, I've been making a few decisions lately centring around building my own life and getting on with living it, regardless of what anyone else is doing. One decision I've made as a result is that I'm getting a kitten in December. I want more pets :-) I'm tossing up between a grey tabby or a black and white one. Wait and see what's available at the time, I guess!

The other decision is that I'm going back to uni. Don't panic, though, I'm not giving up teaching lol. For a while now I've been saying that when I'm staying at home with small kids I'll go back to uni externally and do another Bachelors degree part-time. I'd decided to major in creative writing and minor in web computing or theology, depending on my mood! Well, I've come to the realisation that I REALLY want to do that degree for its own sake, not just as an intellectual challenge. I WANT my BA Hons in creative writing, and I WANT to be able to program enough to create webpages and write basic Java applications. Those are things I have identified as personal goals, and to hell with waiting. I have enough free time in my evenings to be doing two external units a semester now.

So, I'm enrolling in an external BA in Creative Arts at Murdoch Uni, to start in February / March next year. I'll probably get advanced standing for the whole of first year, because I've already got three degrees, but I will still need to do several first year units as prerequisites for later units. In the first semester I'll probably take ICT 102 (Intro to Computer Science) and EGL 114 (Intro to Creative Arts). Second semester will be ICT 108 (Intro to Multimedia and the Internet) and EGL 122 (Creative Writing: Text and Practice I).


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spider season?

It's been hot and stormy in Western Australia this week, and apparently that's brought out the spiders. Yesterday I killed an enormous red-back in my bathroom, and today I found a medium-sized huntsman or wolf spider in a box in my classroom (accompanied by a shriek on my behalf and an immediate demand to see the spider on the behalf of the kids!).

I've got a splitting headache from the heat and the humidity, but I'm enjoying the intermittent storms. I usually love this sort of weather, but the over-30 C days have been a real shock for October - this is January weather!

Seven weeks and four days of term left . . .

ADDING: It's the following day, and I just evicted another nearly identical wolf spider / huntsman, this time from my house - it was on the floor right in front of the couch I sit in to watch TV and go on the laptop. Eek!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm in kind of a ratty mood this evening, and have been for most of the day.

I think the day was pretty much doomed from the time I woke up, because just prior to that I was dreaming about S, like he used to be back before he lost interest. *snarls*

The day was mixed up because we had a special sports incursion happening (inflatable squash courts, WTF) and the kids were rowdy because of that and because of the broody weather we're having (35 C and thunderstorms, yay). Most of them weren't straight-out naughty, just noisy and easily distracted and not wanting to get a lot of work done. One girl WAS very naughty and disobedient and I'm going to have to call her mother in for a conference because she's suddenly redeveloped a habit of being rude and defiant that we thought we'd sorted out last term. Not happy.

Then I found out that the principal is strongly considering giving me the next class down (the 2/3/4 class) because a particular parent has caused so much trouble for me this year. Now, I can see where she's coming from - I have NOT enjoyed the stress of dealing with that parent's obnoxiousness, and all three of her kids are in the 5/6/7 class next year. It'll be intense and quite possibly very unpleasant for whomever takes the class next year and I've done my turn dealing with it! But at the same time I love most of the kids in this class and I've invested so much in them, and it'll be VERY hard to turn them over to someone else, even if it's for the best. And there's so many things I'd hoped to do with them next year! And it seems so unfair that one obnoxious parent can make so much trouble that the school has to change an effective staffing arrangement to head off potential issues.

Whatever happens I'll compromise and cope and get on with my job, but they're my first class and I guess no class anywhere will ever be quite the same. So I'm feeling kind of sad and down and uncertain. The 2/3/4s are a nice age group too and I'm sure I'll have fun, but I'll miss my bright, on-the-ball, savvy older kids.

On the upside, the principal is talking about making my role as a music teacher more official, and having me teach in the classroom for 4 days and take all 3 classes in succession for music on the 5th day. Which would be AWESOME. I suggested that I could teach drama as well, and she said that was a really good idea too, so I might be doing both. The current 2/3/4 teacher would do the same for everyone for Phys Ed if that went ahead, which would be a really great way of doing things and I really like the thought. That would go a long way towards making up for the change of classes! So it's not all bad. I guess the inevitable end-of-first-year-of-teaching separation tears are just coming early lol.

So . . . yeah. I'm just kind of cranky and out-of-sorts. Probably what I need is a good solid walk in the fresh air. But, thunderstorms. Lots of them. I love thunderstorms but going walking during one is just plain stupid.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Healthy Eating

I've so far lost 7.8kg overall, but I plateaued over the holidays and have neither lost any more nor gained anything back. Following the advice of my mother and the Weight Watchers site, I've switched plans from the Points plan to the Core plan.

The points plan operates on the traditional calorie reduction method - every food is allocated a points value based on the number of kilojoules and the amount of saturated fat. You get a certain number of points per day which will provide slightly less than the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight, and voila! Weight loss happens.

The Core plan works by forcing you to skew your food choices all the way up to the healthy end of the scale, and control quantities by tracking your hunger and keeping it within the "comfort zone" of 'slightly hungry' to 'satisfied' (you are supposed to learn to avoid dipping into 'starving' or going over the line into 'stuffed'). After only half a day on it, I feel really positive about it. I think, even more than the Points plan, the Core plan teaches the habits that will lead to sustained long-term healthy eating, even after the weight is lost.

And you don't have to be constantly weighing and measuring and counting, which is awesome! As long as you chose foods from the 'allowed' list, you can eat as much as you need to maintain that hunger comfort level, and you don't starve yourself or overeat. The list is really diverse - good carbohydrates (ie all-bran cereal, pasta and wholegrain bread and potato and so on), lean meats, skim milk, low fat ricotta & cottage cheese, pretty much all vegetables, most fruits except for really wicked ones like avocado, diet soft drinks, cordials, jellies, jams etc, eggs, some cooking sauces, some cooking oils (in small quantities), tea, coffee - it's an amazing list. It's perfectly possible to eat a very satisfying diet without stepping outside the list. For when you do need to step outside it, you get 21 points to spend per week - 3 per day. That could, for example, allow you to have a tablespoon of mayonnaise on your salad, two weight watchers cookies at morning tea and a small glass of wine with dinner. Those little treats can make all the difference as you don't have to feel deprived.

More than any other diet I've seen, the Core plan sets you up to think about good food vs treat food in the way you must think about it if you're going to keep the weight off. Those top-of-the pyramid foods are put right into perspective with this plan, and it reminds you that if you want to eat high-calorie foods, you have to make the amount very small to avoid impacting on your health. A very good precedent to set for life after weight loss!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Living History

The stock market crash is in every news bulletin here, as I'm sure it is all over the world. This evening, the TV news is reporting an unprecedented demand for charity services, and has shown scenes of massive crowds queuing for food hand-outs. There have always been such food hand-outs and the newsfolk may only be making a big deal out of them because everyone is running scared at the moment, but on the balance of evidence it looks like there really has been a massive surge in people desperately needing support just to survive.

I can't help wondering what it felt like back in 1929, when the world was still reeling and confused and not quite sure where it was going to go. The histories we are taught are coloured with the benefit of hindsight - we read them already knowing how the story ended. It's very hard to get inside the minds of the people who lived through it, to watch through their eyes as they saw the bouncing pebbles become an avalanche.

What was that like?

Was it like this?

One week down . . .

. . . eight weeks and four days to go.

Me, wishing the term away? Naaah.

Actually it's been a very good first week. Admittedly that's been because my two weakest and most difficult students have been absent, but still, it's been good. The two new kids have upped the positive atmosphere of the classroom and made things a bit fresh and new, so it's been good. I've enjoyed teaching this week and I've felt comfortable and capable. Yay!

And this has me tickled this afternoon:

Gotta love xkcd

Barring the fact that I do struggle as far as the couch in my jammies before getting online, that is me. And I love it. Connectedness is good!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wow hot

The news said today was the hottest October day in 8 years, and the hottest day we've had since April. 35 degrees C (95 F) in October? YOWCH.

My Wednesdays have suddenly got busy - I have choir every second Wednesday, and a lady has just started running 'body balance' (yoga + pilates + tai chi) classes every Wednesday so I'm going to go on my alternate Wednesdays. The class was really good - a great workout - but I'm going to be sore tomorrow!

Monday, October 13, 2008

School Rant

We had a school direction workshop this afternoon with the staff and several community members. The instrumental music teacher (who teaches one day per week, one child at a time, and has only ever taught one-on-one music, she's not a trained teacher) kept going on about how the children aren't having enough fun in class, how every single lesson should be fun, and how there should be an educational games corner in the classroom so that the kids are motivated to get their work done. This is a load of complete crap. I teach about 25 lessons a week, to 19 kids of three age groups and about 10 ability levels. A classroom teacher CAN NOT make every single one of those lessons an all-singing all-dancing fun-filled extravaganza. It is physically impossible. There are not enough hours in the day to do that kind of preparation. And fun does. not. equal. learning. You can engage the kids, get them interested, make the set-up of the lesson enticing and intriguing, but sooner or later the kids have to sit down and do some work. And that will not be fun. It might be enjoyable, it might be pleasant, it might be satisfying, but fun? No, and it's not meant to be. Learning is hard work. It can be nice, but it's rarely fun. And furthermore, this is a senior primary school classroom. When my year sevens get to high school next year, no one is going to give a fig about whether they are having "fun". They will expect them to sit down, shut up and do their work. That doesn't mean I have to be be strict and cranky with them, but it's my duty as their teacher to make sure that they have the skills to actually sit there and get stuff done without expecting constant entertainment.

As for the reward corner - this might help one third of my students, the middling group who are at the 'what do I get out of this from others?' stage. They might hurry up a bit. It will do nothing for my strong third, who have developed an understanding of intrinsic rewards and will gladly finish fast for a bit of praise and their own inner satisfaction. And the remaining third, my weakies, will immediately decide that they will never be quick or accurate enough to get to the reward corner and will simply give up and do even less work than they do already. Not to mention that the whole thrust of what we were taught at uni is to move kids away from external rewards and towards that inner satisfaction. A play corner would be a massive backwards step, and teach them an unrealistic expectation about the world. Your job will not have a play corner.

And also, this music teacher kept saying that she wasn't sure the kids were happy at school. Maybe that's what they tell her. I was too polite to mention that half of her kids dread their music lessons and get more and more tense as their appointed time approaches. She's a nice enough lady and probably teaches quite well, but the kids find her lessons stressful. I guess they're not having enough fun...