Haikus For My Computer

My laptop has been running hot, which is causing the fans to spin so fast that I’m surprised they haven’t shot themselves out the CD drive!  After tons of failed troubleshooting, I finally gave in and took it in to get checked out.  I wanted to update, but since it’s too much of a hassle typing out a whole entry on my iPad, I decided to share a few haikus about my computer.


My poor little Mac.

It’s running a high fever.

I wish it’d cool down.


To the Genius Bar!

It had to stay overnight

to figure this out.


I hope it’s not bad.

I miss you my sweet Apple.

Come home to me soon.


Dress to Impress (Myself)

I bought myself a girly shirt the other day.  Really, it’s just a glorified tank top with tiny flowing pleats and a sash to tie a bow with.  I’m still not sure whether the bow is supposed to be tied in the front or the back.  Which brings me to my point: a girly purchase is a break-through for me.
I like my clothes to be casual, comfortable, and sensible.  This new shirt is maybe one of the three, so I felt a little guilty buying it.  Plus, I feel like I need to be invited to a fancy barbeque or a semi-casual girls night out to wear it.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  It’s cute, and many other girls or women my age would wear it on a weekly excursion to Target (weekly? Who am I kidding? I visit Target, at minimum, twice a week).  Anyway, I could wear it today with some jean shorts and sandals, but I’d feel dressy.  Strangers would think I looked normal, but I’d know I wasn’t.  I’d know that I was way too dressed up.  As much as I’ve wanted to buy more girly clothes lately, the greater part of me knows they aren’t practical, and they’re not me.  Yeah, I might look cute in them, but at what expense?  To losing the sense of me-ness? 
I think my mom will literally kill me if I don’t give her a girly granddaughter one day.  I always hated those foo-foo dresses my mom would force upon me.  The lace all over the dresses itched like crazy!  I’m told that I would stick my finger under my collar, tug it away from my neck and say in slow, staccato words, “Take. It. Off.”  The only joy I found in dressing up was wearing my shiny black buckle shoes with the quarter inch chunky heel.  They were not at all comfortable, as they pretty much tore into my anklebone, rubbing my skin raw through my tights.  However, if I walked on the backs of my heels across the kitchen floor, they would leave the most satisfying black “half-moon” marks all over the ground!  Sometimes I would purposely slip, so that I could see the line of black tear across the floor.  I found use for my impractical shoes.
So I guess that’s what I’m going to have to do in my adult life.  Find use for my cute purchases.  Ideas?

Unemployment Benefits

When my school district first laid me off, my initial thought was that a Director of Education position at Sylvan would be a suitable alternative, so you can imagine my excitement, last week, upon finding a similar opening at a center nearby.  The day before I left for camp, I sent them my resume, and on Monday, I had a phone interview with the Sylvan franchise owner that went extremely well.  I was told that the next step would be another Sylvan employee contacting me within 24 hours to schedule a one-on-one meeting/interview.  I was never contacted.  After the first day passed without a call, I initially felt myself sinking into my worthless funk, but now that a few days have passed, I’m actually starting to feel relieved. 
I understand that if I really want the job, I should call the franchise owner again to follow up, but honestly, I’m not sure that I want to.  While that job will bring me around $100 less per month than my unemployment gives me, it comes with benefits and the potential to turn into a salaried job as the economy improves.  And yet, I don’t feel the need to fight for this job.  This could be due to my passive nature, but I really feel that it is due to the fact that I want to teach.  Period.
I’m fairly certain I could excel at Sylvan; even with the managerial demands the position entails.  I might even find some happiness working there; especially once the afternoon hits and the kids arrive.  But ultimately, I know my heart will be longing for that teaching void that this job would not fill.
And honestly?  Besides the waves of worthlessness that wash over me every now and again, I’m actually kind of enjoying my unemployment.  Due to all this free time, I was able to start this blog last June.  For as long as I can remember, writing has been gratifying to me.  I have volumes upon volumes of journals that span from 5th grade to my college years.  I used to write 13 page letters to my best friend on a regular basis before snail mail became outdated.  Writing calms me, and fills me with a sense of accomplishment.  If I hadn’t lost my job, I don’t think I would have found the time to start this blog, and I think that’s what worries me.  I don’t mind putting my writing on a backburner for teaching.  Working with children is my number one passion, and I look forward to the time when I can be back in the classroom.  But to give up my love of writing, for a job that is not where I ultimately want to end up in life, does not sound like an enjoyable alternative. 
Many may look at this decision as selfish, or even idiotic.  Believe me, I wrestle with feelings of guilt and laziness over being unemployed on a daily basis, and not aggressively going after this Sylvan job is taking it’s toll on me (the chewed, pink, raw skin around my thumbs are physical proof of that).  And while my intentions do have a dash of selfishness thrown in, I know I have to make happiness my number one priority.  If I start working a job that ultimately, does not leave me happy, and prevents me from continuing to write, I think I will only live to regret it. 
I’ve always strived to look for the positive in things, and I truly feel that my unemployment was a blessing.  Besides the fact that it gave me the opportunity to write and express myself, it allowed me to move in with Greg, and realize that, despite always being around each other, we still have the most amazing, rock-solid relationship.  It is a love and respect that I’ve never experienced before, and I’m so grateful to live with him and experience what a loving relationship is supposed to feel like.  Moving back to my hometown after twelve years away also strengthened and renewed my relationships with my immediate and extended family.  I’ve always been close with my family, but this proximity has been pleasant and uplifting for me.  I’m thankful for the chance to pop in and visit my grandma in the early afternoon hours, or to meet up on Saturdays at the park for a game of Ultimate Frisbee with my siblings, cousins, and friends.  If I were still teaching in Adelanto, none of this would be possible.
Judge my decisions if you want, but until I’m teaching again, I’m going to make the most of my unemployment and push my guilty feelings aside. 

Quirky Blogger

“Most bloggers are emotionally unstable and are often awkward in social situations, which is why so many of us turned to blogging in the first place.” –Jenny Lawson Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

While I don’t believe I’m emotionally unstable, I do attest to being quirky (the nice word for weird) and slightly uncomfortable in social situations; especially with people I don’t know well.  So yes, I couldn’t help but laugh and kind of relate as I read that line last night. 
I totally turned to blogging because I have stories I want to share, but I hate telling long stories in front of people.  Besides the fact that I turn beet red and start stumbling over words whenever I notice undivided attention turned on me, I also tend to get cut off every time I begin talking, and I immediately assume it’s because people aren’t interested in what I have to say (part of my very mild self-diagnosed OCD that I’ll get to soon).  When I’m in a big group of people, once I get cut off, I can usually just trail off and am luckily forgotten about.  But if I’m one-on-one and get cut off, I feel like I need to follow through with what I began, so I’ll usually just cut to the chase, leaving out all the entertaining parts and ending with a lame ass story that not even I was interested in hearing, which then leaves me blushing and ashamed that I opened my mouth again. 
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty sure I have a very mild case of OCD.  If anyone else got cut off while talking, they’d brush it aside and continue on with their story or leave their tale for another day.  But not me.  I sit there thinking how dumb I was to have even started talking, and put myself down for even thinking people would want to listen to what I have to say.  I begin to wonder if others are secretly laughing at me and privately glad that I was shut up.  I seriously obsess about this for the next minute or so, completely ignoring the other conversation around me, but putting on a fake smile and nod so that I can hopefully fit in while I calm my ass down.  That’s the tip of the iceberg to my social awkwardness, and the showcase to my quirkiness.
When I was a kid, my hands always had to be equal; and a lot of the times, this equality revolved around the staircase in my house.  If my right hand lightly slapped the banister, my left hand had to slap it as well.  Sometimes, I’d even go back up the few stairs so that I could hit the banister in the approximate same place.  We also had a light switch at the top and foot of our stairs that controlled the same overhead light.  If I flipped the switch upstairs, then I had to flip it downstairs with my opposite hand.  This worked well if the light was off, because ultimately, the light would end up off again.  It led to issues when the light was on, however.  I would flip the switch off upstairs, then switch it back on downstairs, which would leave me with a sense of guilt for leaving a light on in an area I wasn’t going to be in, so I’d flip that same switch back off (with the opposite hand of course), then be left with two uncomfortable options: leave the light alone and walk away with my other hand feeling left out, or let equality prevail at the expense of running electricity.  I usually chose the latter; assuming one of my brothers would save the world’s energy problem for me.
For some reason, I grew out of that; maybe it was moving out of the house for college.  Nowadays, my OCD is mostly manifested in my placement of objects.  If an array of items is in front of me, I’ll usually line them up neat and tidy.  Everything on the desk of my classroom had a specific place that I would fix constantly throughout the day.  Just last week, as I was eating a clam dinner, Greg noticed me carefully stacking my empty shells off to the side of my plate.  After he knocked them over, I wanted to stack them back up, but instead, I stubbornly settled on making the fallen towers more spread out equally across my plate.  One of the shells that used to be on top was sadly layered by another shell, and as much as I told myself to let it go, I had to pinch it from the bottom of the plate and set it delicately on the top: it’s rightful place among it’s fellow shells.
I’ve been delighted reading the above-mentioned book, and pouring over her blog.  Jenny Lawson has not only given me the renewed energy I needed to get my own blog up and running again, but she’s validated the reasons I write, and makes me feel not so alone in my weirdness.  I actually feel pretty normal compared to her, though after this entry, many of you might disagree. 

Anyone can whistle, that's what they say–easy

I had fun at my voice lesson today.  Those are words I never thought I would say. 
For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking a beginner’s voice class at my local community college in order to satisfy my last requirement to earn my Music Supplement to my teaching credential.  Learning, and trying to master my singing voice never held a shred of interest to me.  The thought of taking a voice class seemed absolutely terrifying, so when I discovered that there was no way to get my supplement without it, I made Kevin take it with me.
I left each of the first three class sessions knowing in my heart that I would never come back.  I even thanked Kevin for trying with me, but told him I would understand if he wanted out.  I just could not see myself actually singing to my classmates at the front of the classroom, not to mention singing solo in the concert hall for three recitals.  Nope, there was no way I would do it.  That is, until I heard others sing.
Most of the students in my class could hold a decent tone; but no one was amazing.  Some people sang soft or pitchy, and others were just flat out bad.  If anything, I knew I wouldn’t be the worst singer in the class. 
A friend I met during my Peace Team adventure back in ‘03 nicknamed me “Horse Whisperer” because while goofing off and singing out of a hymnal book we’d found, she noticed that although I was whispering out my songs, I was actually singing pretty well.  I never took her compliment to heart until I entered this class.  I started thinking that maybe her words were more than just a friendly opinion, since I knew I could sing better than a handful of the kids in my class.
The first day that I bit the bullet and sang in front of my peers, I was shaking so much I thought for sure everyone could hear it in my voice.  However, I was told that I sounded good, I got some decent feedback from my teacher, and most importantly, once I was done, I felt relieved because I knew without a doubt that I would be able to handle the rest of the semester.
The class sessions have since become enjoyable for me, and I’m learning more about my voice and pushing it to places that I never thought it could go.  I’m also finding it easier and easier to sing in front of my class.  While the nerves will never dissipate completely, I don’t let them fill me with terror like they used to.  I’ve already sung successfully in one recital, and my second recital will be on Monday.  After today’s individual voice lesson, I’m feeling confident, prepared, and actually eager to sing.  Who would’ve thought? 

Mr. Schatz's Daughter

A week or so before school started, I was asking my youngest cousin how she felt about beginning 6th grade at a middle school.  She was so nonchalant about it despite the fact that she had missed orientation, had no idea what classes she would be taking, and knew she’d be changing middle schools this year or next.  I marveled at her relaxed demeanor because the summer before I entered junior high as a 7th grader, I was a wreck!
The newness and uncertainty of what I would encounter at Fleming Jr. High stressed the shit out of me!  Nowadays, they acclimate kids to switching teachers and classrooms.  Back then, my classmates and I went from a self-contained K-6 education to being thrown into a three building, multi-storied school with six different periods for each of our classes, all fit between passing periods with tardy bells. Not to mention I would have to learn how to open a locker; which was the scariest part for me.
I would work myself into a fit of tears over the stress of owning a locker.  I was extremely short for my age, so I was concerned I’d be assigned a top locker and not be able to see the combination lock.  And oh man was the combination lock a whole other mess in itself!  Being the nerd that I am, I was super stressed that I wouldn’t be able to master the complex task of working a combo lock.  Thus came Daddy to the rescue!
My dad was, and still is, the highly respected Athletic Director for San Pedro High School.  Besides bestowing upon my brothers and me the love of sports and athleticism, he also would come home with all sorts of fun sports and school related paraphernalia, and for this tragic time in my life, he brought me home a few combination locks to practice on.  After mastering those locks, I felt way more secure about using a locker at school, and a huge chunk of my worries dissipated.
I don’t remember where my first locker was situated, but I do recall that I was tall enough to see the dial clearly, and with my summer of practice, was able to open it easily.  Since I came from Lomita Magnet and qualified for Honors courses, I had elementary school friends in every single one of my classes.  And to make everything even better, due to the fortunate proximity of my classrooms, there was plenty of time during the passing periods to get from one class to the next.  That is, unless you’re a shy, awkward, scatterbrained nerd; like me.
After giving us newbies a week or so of free passes to being tardy, the school started implementing the Tardy Sweep.  If you didn’t make it to class by the time the tardy bell rang, you were required to sit in a detention room all period.  Of course, even though I knew I had more than enough time to get to each of my classes, I still felt nervous about this new rule and would pack up quickly, never lingering to chat with friends at the end of class to make sure I was not caught in that sweep. 
One day after 3rd period English, it took me longer than usual to put the papers away in my notebook and I noticed that my friend Carrie left for 4th period History without me.  I was a bit bummed, but understood, since I, myself, got nervous waiting for slow friends to pack up their belongings between periods.  I quickly gathered my things and rushed out the door to catch up.  I saw her and a few other friends ahead of me, but they were walking in an unfamiliar direction.  I figured our teacher must’ve moved class for the day and I missed the announcement the day before.  Being shy, awkward, and embarrassed to approach them, I just kept a few paces behind them instead of jumping in and inquiring where they were going.  I followed them all the way across the campus right into a class with a teacher I had never seen before, and classmates I didn’t know.  That’s when it dawned on me that it wasn’t time for History!  My 4th period was Leadership, which was located directly downstairs from my 3rd period room and ALL the way back across campus.
I quickly bolted from that room and walked as fast as I could to my class (running was against the rules).  The tardy bell rang when I was only few doors away from my class.  Despite the bell, I walked in the doorway, pausing to face my teacher who was sitting across the room at her desk, and I explained, “I thought it was a different period and I walked to the wrong class.”  To which she replied, “Sorry Erica, but you’re tardy.  You need to go to Detention.”  Knot in my throat and tears welling in my eyes, I swallowed, blinked away those tears, and began my walk of doom to the detention room.  Halfway there, I ran into our Vice Principal who questioned my being out of class.  I explained my situation and then he asked me my name. 
“Schatz?” he asked with a sense of familiarity.  “Any relation to Bob Schatz at San Pedro?”
“Yes, he’s my dad,” I meekly answered.
“I know your father,” he retorted.  “Good guy.  Come on, I’ll take care of this.”
That man accompanied me back to my classroom where, without an explanation, insisted my teacher let me stay in class despite my tardiness.  As I took my seat, she shot me a dirty look, as if I went running to tattle on her and got her in trouble.  I couldn
t help but smile sheepishly all the while turning a deep crimson. 
After those first few weeks of Junior High School, I was comfortable and accustomed to the new routine, and I loved every bit of my time there.  I was glad to know being Bob Schatz’s daughter gave me some leverage, but I never had to use it again.  Besides having the perks of my dad’s status throughout my school years, he was, and still is, a great father.  From something as small and touching as bringing home combination locks, to being a non-judging, unconditionally loving rock of support when I finally found the courage to end a six year abusive relationship, he has given me so much of the confidence that I have today.  Having Mr. Schatz as my dad may have saved me in Junior High, but him just being my daddy really has saved me in life.   

Marathon Woes

I ran my first, and possibly last, marathon on March 21, 2010.  Running the LA Marathon had been a dream of mine since high school, but being a competitive athlete, there was no way I could take off the weeks needed for recovery afterwards; the race is always held in the heart of Track season.  After a college injury and advice from my trainers, I reluctantly stopped competitive running altogether.  Without the motivation to race, I gradually discontinued any sort of training.  I still ran here and there, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get back into races. 
I use the word “races” as a term, not literally.  I was not willing to re-injure myself and do any all-out competitions; I just wanted to get out there with other people who shared my passion and run the best that I could.  So that October, I got my cousin Marissa, her husband Alex, and my friend Danny to join me in our first half-marathon.  With limited time for training, and all of us just getting back into running, it was surprising how easy the 13.1 miles were!  When I finished, I felt like I could have easily kept going.  This spurred our interest in a full-length marathon, and we quickly began a training program. 
Despite numerous long training runs (the last four Saturday runs being 16-22 miles each), I still managed to hit that wall during the actual marathon, and I hit it at mile 16.  Basically, the thought of going another 10 miles was messing with my head, and I started to feel discouraged.  Luckily, I had my cousin by my side, and with Marissa’s support, I was able to get over that mental block.  We were doing this together, dammit, and nothing was going to stop us! 

Then something happened that I was completely unprepared for.  Somewhere during mile 19, I peed my pants.  Yes, you read that right.  I straight peed on myself, and I couldn’t stop it!  I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even tell Marissa what was happening to me.  It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to endure while running.  Small squirts of urine would seep out regardless of how hard I tried to keep it in.  Those who know me well, know I don’t drink a lot of water, even on runs, and I think that was my saving grace.  While my dark blue shorts slowly became saturated, nothing ran down my legs, and for that, I was grateful.  But the thought of having a dark spot in the crotch of my shorts gave me further motivation to finish the race.

My new goal was to quickly get to each water station so that I could create a façade of cooling myself by dumping water all over my front in an attempt to hide the ever-growing patch on my shorts.  And it worked!  When I was emailed my marathon photos, the first thing I looked for was my pee stain.  Fortunately, not even a hint of it could be seen!  Although I was mortified when it started, and worried that there would be photographic evidence, by the time I hit mile 22, I didn’t care if onlookers could tell.  I was the one butchering my body to complete 26.2 miles and they were just standing on the sidelines; judge away!

After 5 hours 4 minutes and 50 seconds, I crossed that finish line (relatively dry) with Marissa and Danny by my side, and it was one of the most intense feelings I have ever experienced.  Tears of pride, pain, and relief streamed down my face as I hugged Marissa and Danny.  We did it!  Will I do it again?  “Hell no!” was my immediate response for a long time.  However, lately, I’ve been contemplating running another.  Each time I think about it though, there’s a big question looming in my mind: Is it worth the possibility of urinating on myself to get a time under 5 hours? 

It just might be.