Saturday, June 30, 2007

Healed!

Michael Moore's movie runs a little over two hours, but I made it through the whole film without once having to leave the theater because of nausea! I was twenty years old the first time I noticed that seeing a movie in the theater caused me to feel queasy. It's gotten worse over the years and more than once I've had to rush to the women's room to throw up, missing a significant part of the film. Now I've learned when to leave and walk the lobby or hang out in the women's room (or any place I can go that doesn't reek of fake butter), which lessens the nausea so I don't have to lose my dinner. I also try to go with someone I can ask, "So what happened when I left?" But mainly I just don't go to movies. In the past three years I've seen about three movies in actual theaters.

So I fully expected to miss part of Moore's film, especially since he uses a lot of hand-held camera work (the worst for my motion sickness). But I didn't. I actually sat through the entire film and heard every minute of it (one of my techniques for watching movies in theaters is to look away from the screen as much as possible). It's miracle!

Was this movie made palatable by all the time Moore spent on people's health care stories without stepping onscreen himself? Was it his comparisons of our criminal health care system with the much more humane ones of Canada, England and France? Was it Moore's coverage of 9/11 rescue volunteers who now receive no medical care for their rescue-related illnesses? Was it the bravery of Moore and three of those workers as they sailed to Guananamo naval base, seeking the unlimited health care that detainees receive? Or maybe it was seeing the Cuban doctors (the Cuban doctors, for chrissake) step up and finally give the 9/11 workers the care they needed?

I don't know. It's really incredible that this movie did not make me throw up when I consider that it also featured stories of people dying because of denied medical coverage and showed that hospitals regularly send people off in taxis to be dropped off on the street when they can't pay their medical bills. There was plenty to make me heave. I guess Moore's film is homeopathic.

I strongly recommend this movie. Maybe it would be good for hangovers, too. And if I had seen it when I was lonely, manless and depressed, I might be married to a Canadian right now (if you'd like to consider marrying a Canadian for their free health care, go to http://www.hook-a-canuck.com.)

Sick over Sicko

Okay, I've decided to deal with the motion sickness and go see Michael Moore's new movie tonight in Evanston. Going to the movies is so unpleasant for me, the last one I saw was "An Inconvenient Truth." Probably the only movies I'll see for the rest of my life will be ones that feel politically important since going to the movies makes me vomit, but seeing a movie is kind of like casting a vote. The number of people who go see a movie is used as an indicator for all sorts of things.

(Now that blogging is easier for me and I've lost a job, I can blog about any useless ideas that pop in to my head again.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

SICKO the movie

Pulling my head up out of the pastry box, I see that Michael Moore's new movie opens tomorrow. Take a look. Let's all go! Except for me since I get motion sickness in movie theaters. But since that's so bizarrely appropriate, maybe I'll go anyway and just throw up. I can sometimes watch most of the movie if I actually vomit at the halfway point. This is why I HATE GOING TO THE MOVIES. But Moore's movie on health care might be worth it...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bubble Popped

Well, just when I had achieved the closest thing to happiness I guess I'm capable of, I had to come back down to earth. I've been having a great time as a baby music teacher, but I've also been a bit stressed out about it. Each week I've been drilling the songs on my own and practicing singing loudly and with great energy. Part of my job is to keep the babies happy but also keep the grownups from feeling bored. I have to make the songs and exercises seem like the funnest thing anyone could imagine. There's a lot of running around to do as I pass out toys, lead the exercise, then collect those toys and pass out different toys for the next activity, then collect those toys again, etc. And all the while I'm trying to keep track of every baby's name and face. Gotta get those names right no matter what, even if fifteen babies show up and I've never met half of them. Still, I've been doing my best and having a great time at least as much as I've felt nervous about getting everything right. Each week I've improved and have been thinking it's just a matter of time until I master this job.

Then last week, after four weeks of teaching two classes a week, I got a call from the head of the music program who wanted to meet with me. She ended up observing one of my classes, plus the founder of the school observed another of my classes. The founder! That's the buck-stops-here person. They each gave me feedback on my teaching and it was a lot to think about.

It turns out that this job is even more complicated than I thought. In addition to all the things I've been focusing on, I also need to pay more attention to what's going on in my classroom at all times. For instance, if all the babies are under the parachute, but one of them isn't, I should take a moment and let that mother adjust so that her baby isn't left out. I realize I have not been doing that. I should also take some time to relax and notice and comment on things like, "Emma was so serious at the beginning, but look at her now!" or "Well, Benjamin likes the Popcorn Song!" I know I can do more of that. I must also not have my back to anyone and must make sure I'm including everyone with my eye contact and body language. I admit I hadn't been focusing on that. In general, I'm a bit stiff and nervous and really need to relax more so that the mothers can relax and enjoy the class. Relaxing is always a big challenge for me.

So after getting all that feedback on what to improve and very little positive feedback on what I'm doing well, I felt pretty bad last week. I wondered if maybe I'm just in over my head. All of the suggestions for improvement make sense to me and I can see that I really need to be more alert to everything and more interactive. I know I can do this job, but it's going to take more supportive supervision and feedback and probably more training. Mainly it's going to take time. Can they be patient while I get there? I wish I were the teacher they want me to be, but I'm just not -- yet.

Well, it turns out the music director, founder and program director also realize I'm not the teacher they want me to be and know that I need more training and supervision before I'll be ready to do the job they hired me for. But they explained to me that they don't have the resources to train me like that -- so they let me go. I've lost the baby music teacher job.

I've had so many jobs, maybe 18 since I left grad school. I've also been let go, whether it was being laid off because the business was going under or being fired for inadequate performance. But those inadequate performance jobs were always jobs I didn't really want anyway. I wasn't doing a good job because I knew the job was a poor fit and I wasn't very interested in keeping it. Being let go was a relief.

This isn't a relief. Well, there's some relief because I really was in over my head and was stressing out each week about it. But really I'm sad because I enjoyed this job so much. I love babies and I love singing and this job combined those two and it was like a dream come true. I thought it was the perfect job for me. I knew if I just got enough experience I'd stop feeling scared and then it would flow more.

But the staff are probably right. It would have taken me quite a while to master this job with all of its complexity, high energy and dynamics. It's a huge job. And look how long it took me to stop feeling afraid of waitressing: two years. It just so happens that I'm able to freak out and still do a satisfactory job of waiting tables. My natural nervousness and fear don't totally compromise my serving skills. But they do compromise my ability to be a good baby music teacher.

So that's the end of that. I've been feeling so bad, I've eaten a lot of cake in the past week. I lost this job I loved. What do I do now? Besides add ice cream?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yay, June is halfway over!

In the summer I often hear people say things like, "I can't believe it's the end of June already" or "Where did July go?" or "How did it get to be August?" They complain that summers go by too quickly.

For me summers don't go by quickly enough. I'm ready for October right now. I have dreams that it's November from which I wake up disappointed. Yes, I live in Chicago and this means I like cold weather better than hot weather. I just hate this time of year. For me, June means the beginning of wicked allergy symptoms and sun rashes. It's an itchy, uncomfortable time for me that I have to just ride out until my hayfever symptoms subside later in the summer.

Of course, later in the summer is when the mosquitoes come out in force. I used to be allergic to those too, so the second half of summer was even worse than the first. I'm very grateful to have outgrown the mosquito allergy, but I haven't outgrown my hatred of late, bug-infested, pollen-exhausted, sticky, sunburned, over-air-conditioned, eye-straining, deadly hot summer. I moved to Chicago for the winters, but got a bonus with how short the summers tend to be.

I. Don't. Like. Summer.

So I'm VERY glad to look at the calendar and see that June is already halfway over! What a nice, short month June is. How encouragingy it zips along, halfway out the door before you even have time to plan a barbecue. Good-bye, June! Keep moving right along. And take July and August with you.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Key to Losing Weight (for me)

This would be my advice to anyone who is overweight and wants to lose pounds: fix everything in your life that makes you unhappy. I've dragged extra pounds around, worked hard to lose them, failed, tried a new approach, failed, tried a new approach, failed, etc. I have struggled to increase exercise, change exercise routines, curb calories, adjust how I eat, re-adjust how I eat, etc. I have worked hard to stop using food to deal with stress, fight boredom, lift depression or self-medicate. I have worked and worked and worked to get my weight down and keep it there.

In the past couple of years I've noticed that it's much easier for me to lose weight in the spring/summer than in the winter. Maybe it's in our biology to hold onto extra fat when the weather is cold, but either way I've stopped trying to start a weightloss attempt during the chilly months (in Chicago that's October through April). May has become my annual month to start losing the winter fat and this year I stuck to the schedule, carefully logging everything I eat, maintaining calorie limits and getting to the gym at least four or five times a week.

But I'm noticing a difference: this time losing the extra pounds isn't as much of a struggle. Putting my cake-bingeing habit on hold hasn't taken the usual (big) effort. Desserts don't have the same power over me. It's easier to pass up food when I'm not hungry. It's even easier to pass up food when I am hungry, if it's junk food. And the pounds have come off faster and more easily and I'm keeping them off with much less effort than before.

I think this is the reason: I'm happier now than I've been in decades. I love this man who's in my life and he loves me and living together is going stunningly well (I can tell because I'm stunned). My job as a baby music teacher feels like an important turning point for me and I'm happy about working as a musican again. The music job makes my waitressing shifts easier because they no longer feel entrapping and demeaning (okay, they still feel a bit demeaning, but it's not nearly as bad as it was). I can feel momentum of increasing contentment. Maybe it gets better from here?

I believe it's because I'm not miserable about my life that putting down the sugar and losing weight has become easier (my struggles with weight are almost exclusively about the sweet stuff). I no longer need the sugar rush, the chocolate high or the (year-round) "birthday cake" binge to balance feelings of failure, inadequacy and self-loathing. Yes, for the past decade (or two) that's what I was dealing with: self-hatred and layer cake.

I imagine all the crappy feelings and experiences will be back eventually, but for right now I think everything's all right. So as you adjust your diet, make an exercise plan and commit to getting in shape, spend at least as much energy on changing all the things in your life that are making you unhappy. You don't have to tell me how hard that is or how long it takes, but in my opinion it makes the weightloss go much more smoothly.

This is a test

I finally upgraded my Apple Powerbook G4 operating system and now use OS X TIGER. Does this make a difference in publishing on blogger?

Oh, my god, it does. I can finally publish and edit posts like I used to! It's easy again! Oh, my god...