I have a mind of my own, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Sometimes you read a post that literally leaves you reeling. This one did just that: http://fatbottomgirlsaidwhat.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/reminders-2/

These days I live in a nice little bubble with a caring husband, two precocious kids and a great big mind of my own. I like my bubble. It’s rather middle class: the kids prefer humus to dairylea, we read nightly and our idea of a big night out includes our best friends and a few bottles of really good wine.

So exactly what has that got to do with a woman a world away posting about a black eye? It’s a trigger. My bubble consists of a fair bit of selective memory and denial. I am intent on showing my girls what a healthy marital relationship looks like so they grow up expecting their partners to be their friend and to treat them with respect. I will probably not tell them that before their dad I dated an absolute wanker who thought it was totally acceptable to treat me as an object to be bruised at will. I’ll definitely not tell them that them learning Kung Fu from age 4 was highly influenced by my desire for them to be able to beat ten bells out of anyone who dares raise a hand to them.

I don’t like to dwell on former lives. What’s done is done, and we move on. But, if there’s anything that I can say with hindsight is that by being with someone because we were first and foremost friends, we have supported and encouraged each other to grow instead of always trying to belittle the other to look better. I’ve been with LSH for a decade now and we’re still friends (and I’m better at Total War than he is, never let him tell you otherwise). That’s how marriage works – eventually everything gets a bit saggy and wrinkly, but your minds stay sharp(ish) and you can still make each other laugh even if you’re in iron lungs.

Not all men are crap, some are really quite exceptional. But others, well, others need a really long time out in a room with clanky bars and a big guy called Otto with an unhealthy interest in where your soap is.

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A leaving speech, or a close approximation

I promised a few people I’d put my speech up after I’d done it, and also for my colleagues who didn’t quite get what I said after my brilliant HoD managed to make me cry before I even stood up with his thank you (this naturally meant that I spent my speech attempting to talk through major wobbly lip).

So here are the actual words, minus the tears. (Although I say goodbye to several classes today, so I predict lost more later!)

As Martyn used a metaphor for his speech, in true academic fashion I’m going to plagiarise him hideously.

Standing here is a weird experience. In a wildly inaccurate way, I feel a little like Felix Baumgartner as he stood on the edge of the Red Bull capsule. Using his own words, “Sometimes you have to be really high to see how small you really are.”

Hurst has taken me to heights that I never thought possible, and now I’m about to jump; to either great things, or land having reached a terrifying downwards velocity never reached by man before, straight into the floor – possibly whilst watched by millions on YouTube.

I may well have spent a worrying percentage of my time [here] having full conversations with machines (by which I mean the computers, rather than the IT technicians), but working on [the school software system] has taught me many things from the fear of adjusting live code to just how long it can take for Richard to make a speech (thank you Steve, for saving everyone’s ears before the record 51 minutes was truly broken).

For the past two years, the Headmaster has started Inset days with the phrase “You’ve gotta love ‘em” – admittedly, some you don’t always like that much, but like every family, sometimes you’ve just need to have a large glass of wine and blame the genetics from the other side of the clan.

Over the past few weeks, especially this week, saying goodbye to both pupils and staff is more difficult than I could have imagined. And so, to return to the words of Baumgartner, “I’m going home now.”

The Necessity of Really Big Knickers

Now, you might not think big knickers are sexy, but I’m here to defend the right of every woman to wear mahoosive bloomers.

Today for instance, I happen to be sporting undergarments that could happily house a small family with enough elastic in there to classify them as a medical bandage.

Why? Simple. I lived through my teenage years and twenties in a variety of twitchy teeny knickers that I was trained to believe were attractive. No. They are not. There is NOTHING about a thing that indicates anything other than the poor sod wearing them is in some degree of pain. And as for wearing pants that are just too small – ladies, we are meant to have two buttocks, not four.

This is not attractive:

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However, on the side of the massive knicker brigade, these are hot!

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So ladies, here’s to wearing massive pants which make you feel a bit like Betty Page, but way sexier than if we try to cram our curves into have a teabag.

Soy Borracho! And other inappropriate phrases I announce proudly in the car…

You probably know that I’m making the most of my commute back and forth to work by trying to learn Spanish.

Well, so far I’ve gone through all 12 hours of the Paul Noble course (more than once!) and am really starting to find my feet (¿Dónde están mis pies?) and it’s now time for me to move on so I’m using up all my audible credits on trying the first few hours of the Michael Thomas programme. It’s a very similar approach, but instead of the pauses for me to speak followed by a native speaker, I’m in a car with Michael who babbles on about grammar and emphasis whilst two inept people with weird accents try to learn Spanish badly. I think this is some clever ploy to make me feel ok when I cock the phrases up totally, and feel smug when I know what to say and the bloke on the audio thing is stuttering over simple words like puedo (that’s pwaaaaaaaydo). This audiobook is playing up to my ego, and it’s working. Even more brilliantly, the kids are already picking up phrases and using their dictionary to work out how to communicate.

It’s now t-minus 10 days until we jump in at the Spanish deep end and llegar a Villamartin! The bags are out and the packing has commenced. Mum and Dad are being instructed on how to feed the monster fish and I think they’re quite looking forward to us being out of the house for a while.

Greenpeace may need prior warning that I shall be snorkelling and have staunchly refused to go on a holiday diet. LSH however has just dipped below 100kg for the first time in a decade and is looking mighty hot after spending the last 6 months worshipping the treadmill and weight machines. Well, bollocks to that, I am embracing Health & Safety by becoming my own floatation device. Several family members are raving about the new Fast diet (you restrict your intake to 500 calories for 2 days each week), and their weight loss is quite impressive, but mentally I’m not there yet. I know I could do it, but witnessing the familiar rush that fasting is giving them I’m not willing to step into dangerous eating habit territory again. I’ve been skinny to dangerous levels in the past, and frankly I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and depressed. I know what skinny feels like – it feels hungry. And for the record, chips taste better than skinny, especially with cheese and salad cream.

Back to the language course! I’m definitely enjoying the Michael Thomas course, and whilst it is more expensive (a lot!) than Paul Noble, the vocabulary is wider and I feel like I understand why I’m saying things now. With that said, I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it had I not done the Paul Noble course first with its clearer structure and native speakers. There’s so much out there to help you learn, and I guess it’s whatever works for you. But having reached 33 convinced I couldn’t learn a new language as I am crap at languages I’ve found that actually puedo hablar español, I just hadn’t worked put the best way to learn it!

#fiveminutefriday – Would you just LISTEN!

The premise is simple: We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that is post on the Lisa Jo Barker’s site at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

This week: Listen.

Go.
It’s been a good few months since LSH and I fell out or had a real argument. If I’m honest, we’ve been together now over a decade and I can count the number of real arguments we’ve had on my fingers (possibly on one hand). We are generally quite composed people and if one of us is being irrational and mental, we can tell the other flatly and openly. This generally ends up in giggling.

But just occasionally, one of us flips. And with good reason. When that does happen it’s usually because one of us has stopped listening. The frustration that builds when someone hears your words, but isn’t understanding what you mean is immense and it occurred to me that the last time I screamed at LSH, I used the words “Would you just f******** LISTEN to me?!!?”. He had listened, but what he heard was the irrational rantings of a mad woman, but hadn’t understood that my rantings were born of deep seated insecurities. Once we actually stopped being busy and listened to each other, it was ok. Or at least it was better.

These frustrations are generally kept in check – as a parent and a teacher, the number of times I have to do various dances, songs and evil threats to maintain kids attention on a daily basis leaves me exhausted, but rarely frustrated on the same level (here, I could talk about ‘lunch leaves’, lolly sticks, fancy dress hats and brain gym …. Did I mention I teach ages 13-18?!). Perhaps I just extend less patience to LSH, or perhaps because we are usually so in tune with each other, it’s frightening when we don’t understand each other. Either way, the response is toddler-esq and dissipates just as fast. Neither of us sulk; mainly because the other will not put up with it. The kids have picked up on this and during our last bickering session (totally understandable as we were trying to put up a tent. It’s practically the law to argue while doing this), they wandered off on their bikes and came back asking loudly “Have you two finished yet?”.

I hope my girls find partners who are both able to listen and put up with their own irrational madness with as much grace as LSH shows on a daily basis. If not, they at least have the self-confidence not to put up with any sulky crap their partner throws at them.

Marriage: 1 part listening, 1 part talking, 1 part responsibility, diluted with humour, silliness and innuendo 😉

Stop.

You can’t Touché this…

In the words of the kids in the classroom “Awkward!!!”.

I visited my new school today and was asked to observe a lesson with the woman who I am replacing. I felt awful for her and was more than a bit uncomfortable with the idea that she should be introducing me to the school. Turn the tables and I would’ve been quite put out. Especially as we’d got on so well during the interview day where she was one of the candidates and when I wished her luck after, it was really heartfelt.

In fact, it was one of the reasons I hadn’t celebrated online quite as much as I could have when I was initially offered the job. It’s for that reason why I totally understood her reaction today….

I was introduced to the class with the line:

“This is Mrs B. You all know by now that I didn’t get the job. She did.”

…. Awkward silence…. Then the wonderful brilliant kids made a joke of it and shouted out “awkward!!!”.

It got better after that.

Touché lady. I’ll take that one on the chin.

Just hand over the coffee and everyone will get put of here alive

Batten down the hatches, she’s about to blow!

It doesn’t matter how many lame jokes people make about it, or how many people try to disprove its existence, PMT (or PMS for my American people) is real and is getting louder.

I was told today by one of the kids I teach that I don’t ever get grumpy and they couldn’t imagine me being mean. Hahahaha! He was talking about the same person who could be classified as an offensive weapon.

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It’s not like I’m massively tolerant of people who are intentionally stupid at the best of times (those who try are fine, those who just can’t are fine also, but those who don’t or won’t make my hackles stand on end). I embrace my PMT, I know that my fuse is short and I run with it. I embrace the all out rage and use it as fuel to get shit done (for instance, today I wrote a whole extra module for the school system and didn’t attempt homicide when I was bluntly told it wasn’t wanted after all. I see this as progress). Other times I ride it like a wave and I can see myself reacting to people (read LSH) like medusa, or Nero on a particularly bad day and consider this perfectly acceptable, nay justified on account of all the people surrounding me being total morons who deserve to be rubbed with cuttlefish.

I am aware that this is due to a sensitivity to the testosterone that my body produces (I’m allergic to myself?!) which not only gives me hairy arms, but makes me want to punch stuff and makes me swear like a fishwife. So how do men deal with this? Are they THIS angry all the time? Do they watch themselves from inside and think “You’re being an irrational arse for no real reason, but I’m ok with that. Off you go. Try not to have an embolism, there’s a good chap.”

My goal for this week is to not use the c word more than once per day, and preferably not at other drivers on the way to or from work. This also goes for gesticulation which suggests that the other driver is more interested in sexual activity with theirselves than improving their driving abilities. I will also maintain a swan-like appearance with my students (weirdly, all hormones disappear in the classroom. It’s like my hormones are no match for the teenagers battle royale of puberty hormones).
Finally, I will also refrain from voicing the actual opinions in my head – these shall be filtered for both vulgarity and content. All suggestions of where people should go to, or place items of interest will be vetoed.

Today I am more toad than frog. Don’t lick the toads, they make you go mad….

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