Saturday, September 21, 2013

The state of September

The beginning of the school year is always such a mix of excitement and anticipation, a bit of dread, and a return to old patterns along with plenty of new stuff.  The very first week of classes was quite a shock to the system.  I realize that I garner no sympathy as I complain about the challenges of returning to work (having a schedule! having to look professional! having to interact with other people!), but it always does feel like a major upheaval.  Week 1 felt particularly difficult this year, either a testament to the fact that I had totally disconnected from school over the summer and really relaxed OR a sign that I was getting sick.

While I felt a bit overwhelmed that first week and developed a nice cold by the weekend, I managed to recuperate enough for the class trip to Catalina Island.  The trip over via boat was a bit rough, especially when two kids threw up on the boat rather than off the side of the boat.  However, the idea of spending 4 days in a beautiful setting, doing things like kayaking, hiking and snorkeling appealed enough to minimize any regrets I might have had on the boat ride over, and the experience ended up being even better than I had expected, which almost never happens when it comes to class trips!  Even though I was still dealing with sinus issues, I really enjoyed the trip - it was a great way to get to know the kids, many of whom I teach, and Catalina was/is just beautiful.  We stayed right in this cove (see the photo) and had amazing views every single day, especially at sunrise.  The water was amazingly clear and I even jumped off the pier several times, once as part of the "polar bear" early morning swim.  It was also pretty great for animal viewing, such as bison and deer (not native to the island, but current inhabitants), and I also saw a bald eagle, plenty of fish, and sea lions, which liked to come out to play and watch us while we were kayaking!

After a few days away from the comforts of home, however, I was okay that we returned when we did - there is nothing like a nice hot shower!  Plus, my stomach needed a break after eating like an adolescent for 4 days straight.  Not that I minded the hotdogs, hamburgers, homemade cinnamon rolls but by the time we had burritos for dinner the last night, I was more than happy to return to a slightly healthier diet.

So, returning to classes this past Monday felt more like the OFFICIAL start, the week that I get to know my students and really start teaching.  I'm beginning to get into a rhythm and to figure out my schedule this year, both in and out of the classroom.  There is enough stability from last year to this year (same class preps as last year) that I don't feel too crazed and I can take on a few new responsibilities, like middle school cross country, which starts next week!  In terms of extracurricular fun, I actually got in a solid training week this past week, even making it to the pool at 5:30 am twice.  At this point, I'm not in major training mode because a) it is September and I fall apart training-wise during the fall and b)  I don't have a MAJOR event in the near future.  Yes, there is an early October race, but I just want to finish it without too much suffering and while I would have been gunning for a PR, it would not have been a very realistic goal.  So, maintaining a decent fitness base in the swim-bike-run realm is my main (only?) objective at the moment.  Good thing, because I would feel pretty sucky if I expected much more of myself!

Finally, home ownership, still quite new to us, seems to be going well.  We just had the exterior painted and that change makes it feel much more ours, for whatever reason.  After stressing about the colors, we're happy with the final result - good thing too!  I still find myself a bit grumpy when we spend time and money on the weekend at the Home Depot (or Despot), but I also begrudgingly recognize that it is worth both.  

(Hello, California bungalow!)

So, that's where things are.  Not too much that I'd call "exciting", but that's okay too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

All good things must come to an end

Hello to September! And the heat - oh jeez, this is the time of year that I kind of hate living in Southern CA.  As the rest of the US begins to cool down a bit, I always brace myself for hot weather and the Santa Ana winds.  It was a relatively mild summer until the past few weeks - right as I had to start wearing 'professional' clothes.  Nothing like sweat dripping down your back while you mingle with new parents.  Ah, well, these are relatively small problems in the grand scheme of things.

Now that the school year is fairly well underway, August seems a bit of a blur to me.  We returned from Colorado travels and a very lazy schedule and eased back into the swing of things, to a certain degree.  I tried to prepare somewhat for school while still taking advantage of opportunities to take an afternoon nap here and there.  When I wasn't napping, I attended a conference that was south and west of Pasadena, and while it was a bit of work for me, we enjoyed being so close to the water for a few days and taking long walks along Manhattan, Redondo and Hermosa Beach.

(I suspect that, if we could live next to the water, we'd never ever contemplate living anywhere else.) 

I also tried to capitalize on the summer schedule by visiting LA places like Watts Towers, my first time to one of those "LA Institutions".  It was unbelievable to find something so fanciful in the midst of the city - it seemed totally out of place, and maybe that made it seem even more wonderful.

I also discovered that LACMA is a fantastic museum to visit with small children - who knew?  That made me appreciate it even more than I usually do.  And on a hot holiday weekend, it is hard to beat a museum!

I also returned to some regular form of exercise in the swim/bike/run mode for much of August.  I hadn't planned on a fall race since I always fall off the training wagon in September/October.  Last year, I managed the Malibu Tri in September after taking more or less the entire month of August off, and then I struggled through the La Jolla Canyon Trail race.  After Vineman, I swore that racing was over for the year, but then a discounted entry got the better of me, so I signed up for a final triathlon in October.  No trail races this year, sadly enough, since the two that I would have enjoyed racing are both canceled.  Still, signing up for the October tri pushed me to get back into the training groove, and August wasn't too bad with multiple trips to the pool and a good handful of rides and runs.  

September, however, has been a real kick in the pants.  The heat, can I complain about it any more?  It has sucked away all of my desire to do anything outside.  Even swimming feels too hot (whine, whine, whine).  Plus, a late summer/early fall cold knocked me on my ass.  I'm recovering, which is good, because I leave for a class trip tomorrow, and the idea of being sick while spending 5 days camping did not appeal.  Hopefully, when I return from the trip, I'll bounce back to a regular training schedule.  

That said, I'm also okay taking a bit of a break from structured training as I focus on the new academic year and get to know the kiddos in my classes.  That, right now, will be more than enough for me to manage.