Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just get up and brush yourself off

Why is it that sometimes everything just seems to get you down? I came back from India all excited, I'd survived another plane trip, proof that I'd conquered my fear of flying, and then sank into a depression. Every little thing that I'd normally ignore, irritated and frustrated the hell out of me. There were many times this past week, when I was ready to load up my car with our stuff and just start driving to the Malawi border, heading back down to Cape Town.

In retrospect, it could be as a result of a very long term. I'm just feeling a little burnt-out, brain-dead. Friday was a holiday at school so we had a nice long weekend. I thought I'd head into school anyway, and do my planning for my new unit of inquiry. The internet was so slow at school, it was taking 40-50 minutes to load a page. The server kept crashing and I could find no sign of the past planners I was supposed to use as a base for my new one. My co-ordinator who had promised faithfully to come in and help me plan the unit, was a no-show. It was time to pack up the car and drive into the sunset. I was so mad with frustration at not being able to get anything done, that I went straight home and made it my mission to finish The Case of Billy B.

So, if I look back and reflect on what could be a nightmarish week workwise, I can feel proud and satisfied that I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50 000 words in 30 days. Yesterday, I finally finished my first draft of The Case of Billy B and now the editing starts. The serious editing and revising. I should have started that already, but as it's such a big job, I've been procrastinating. Siobhan had a sleepover last night and the blasted girls were banging things, breaking glasses and giggling until 5am when in frustration I got up and washed the dishes and had a cup of coffee. No sleep for me last night, so no wonder I'm not in an editing mood. "Sorry," Siobhan sang as I stomped down the stairs at 5am. "Too late for sorry," I snapped back, wondering how I can punish her for keeping me awake all night.

It was a good day to finish my first draft though, as the 28th November is my late grandmother, Winifred Ada Vine's birthday. My grandmother meant the world too me, and although she's been gone sixteen years, I still miss her so much.

Instead of editing this morning, I collected all the ripe tomatoes from my garden and started making a tomato chutney. Which reminds me, I'd better go and give it a stir. I promise when I'm finished that, I'll get stuck into my work even though it is Sunday. I just feel so shattered, so tired. Those damn girls!

So I guess what I'm wanting to say, is when you feel down, just get up and brush yourself off. And remember, as it says in the Bible, "This too shall pass."

Have a great week ahead!



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Never assume anything

This past weekend I traveled to Mumbai for a workshop. As is typical, it wasn't without a few hassles. Tuesday I emailed the tour operator in India to confirm that they would be fetching me from the airport in Mumbai on Thursday at 4.30am. They replied saying that they had not received any reservations from me at all. I patiently explained that the documentation was faxed to them the end of September, and the wire transfer was done on the 7th October. Their response was that they wondered where the money had come from. One would assume they'd try and find out where the money had come from. But no, never assume. There is a good chance that the principal of my school forgot to fax them the reservation as we are in the wopwops and that kind of thing happens regularly here. But, I decided to play it differently, insisting that it was faxed, was the travel agents screw up and I'd be reporting their inefficiency to the IBO who were running the workshop. It worked, they met me at the airport apologising profusely and put me up in a luxury boutique hotel in the de luxe suite for the same price as the standard room in a 3 star hotel I was originally supposed to stay in.
I had assumed that I was going to have a horrible flight as I was flying with Ethiopian Airlines, and all I could think of was that twenty years ago Bob Geldorf had to do that whole Live Aid thing to raise money as the whole of Ethiopia was starving to death. If they were all dying 20 years ago, how did they manage to train pilots. Okay, sometimes my brain is a little random. But, it was a wrong assumption of mine, as not only was it one of the smoothest flights ever there and back, their food was good and service excellent. I'll definitely fly Ethiopian again.
As NaNoWriMo draws to an end, I'm pleased to say that I'll have done the 50 000 words. I'm also nearly finished with The Case of Billy B. Last two chapters and then the editing. Today I designed the front cover and got permission from the drama teacher at school to use her son on the cover. Now I have the cover I feel spurred on to get the book done. I don't think it'll be out by Christmas, but definitely in January sometime. I'm really proud of this book and think that my writing has improved a lot. The characters have more depth.
Tony arrives next weekend on the 5th December, and I'm trying to think how I can educate him that money doesn't grow on trees.
Okay, back to my writing now! Oh, as usual, the food in India was delicious and I spent a sunset on the beach at Juhu and had masala dosa for the first time!
Have a great rest of the week. Just Wednesday teaching for me, Thursday is parent conferences and Friday a public holiday.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Writing until the cows come home

Why NaNoWriMo where the challenge is to write 50 000 words in a month is in the same month as report writing, I'll never know. I think the gods must be angry or something. But, I'm giving it a go and trying to write a minimum of 1000 words a day on The Case of Billy B. The report writing, I've done a little bit here and there, came up with a great bank of comments that I can cut and paste from, but it still takes time, time I'd rather be spending on getting The Case of Billy B completed. Writing this book has been a challenge, and I've had to dig really deep to be able to do it. Luckily, Charlies Campbell in the US has been helping me to Americanize everything. (Note my use of a z instead of a s) The book is set in America, and it is really difficult setting a story in a place you've never visited. So, if you're feeling generous, send me a ticket to the US!

Procrastination. My first draft of my reports are due tomorrow. I'd promised myself that I'd spend all day Saturday doing them. Saturday has come and gone. However, I did manage 1700 more words on The Case of Billy B, and I did go into school and prepare some worksheets, homework sheets etc, for the relief teacher when I'm in India. I fly to India on Wednesday for a workshop on The Exhibition. So, this morning when I woke, I told myself, at 9am sharp I start on my reports. And here I am, blogging. Mind you, it is only 8.05am! I still have 55 minutes left to do my blogs and hubs and whatever else I can think of, to delay the start of my report writing. The sad thing, is that once I start I'll fly through it. I know that, so why don't I just do it, why do I keep putting it off? Sometimes, there is no logic in our actions.
The heat is increasing and I love it. I feel sorry for all my friends in China who are getting ready for an icy winter. I'm definitely a sunshine person. The hotter, the better. I've booked for us to stay in the school house at Pangani for Christmas, only costs $15 a night and is right on the beach. 4 Weeks holiday, what bliss! Tony is coming for Christmas and I'm looking forward to seeing him. I'm hoping that by that time, I'll be on revising and editing The Case of Billy B, and getting it ready to go off to the publishers. As I finish each couple of chapters, I send them off to Charlie Campbell in the States, and to Rob Stark in London. Both give me suggestions which I haven't looked at yet. When I come to the editing, I'll look through their corrections and suggestions and revise, revise, revise. Goodness, I must be besotted with writing. How did I move from having a blissful holiday on the beach to talk about editing? It's the reports. They've screwed with my brain.
Last weekend, the MYP Coordinator here got married to her long-time Canadian friend. They secretly did the church thing, but the Geography teacher decided to let out the secret and organised a surprise traditional Tanzanian wedding for them. We all met at her house which is next door to Jaimala's, the MYP Coordinator, and waited for the special wedding band to arrive. They were late, which is typical in Tanzania, everything works at African time. Their vehicle broke down at the entrance to the school campus. Eventually, they sorted it out and they arrived, their wind instruments blaring, playing the same jazzy number over and over again. They don't appear to have a large repertoire of tunes to play. Traditionally here, the musicians sit on the back of a modified pick up truck, and lead the wedding procession through the town. After dancing around to the same tune over and over again, we all climbed into our vehicles and made a convoy behind the musicians. The tradition is, that you drive round each roundabout in the town three times, which we did. The music teacher had gotten a lift in my car, and decided to jump out every time we slowed down, sprint to the car in front and jump in there, and repeat that until he got to the front car where the wine was kept. He'd fill his paper cup, and sprint back from car to car until he eventually worked his way back to mine. By that stage, most of his wine was already finished. I'm not sure if he drank it or spilt it in his mad dashes!
8.25am, getting closer to my 9am report start. Internet has just been lost, hopefully I'll be able to reconnect otherwise I won't be able to focus on the reports. I know myself, I'll be wondering about the internet and cursing it all the time, instead of coming up with good comments about the kids in my class.
Talking about cute comments, on Friday, one kid told me his brother had got his 'independix' out. But still, after 23 years of teaching, I'm tired of it. I feel a bit washed out, brain dead. I think I'd like to become a child psychologist and work with abused children. But then, I'm too old to change careers. Maybe, after a 4 week holiday I'll feel a bit more refreshed.
Well, let's drink a toast to next weekend in India! I have one day of shopping and have to try and find stage make-up and costumes for the school's production of Cats. Siobhan's in it! It's on the 3rd and 4th of December. Tony will just miss it, as he arrives on the 5th!
Have a wonderful week ahead! Hmmm, awesome view of Kilimanjaro as I look out my window. Looks like it snowed up there last night. The glaciers seem wider. By the way, I have updated my website There's now a page where you can buy my books directly from Amazon. Fear, Phobias and Frozen Feet has been revised and reprinted and is now available on Amazon, together with Stop the world, I need to pee! So, if you're looking to buy gifts for the holidays or stock up on reading matter for yourself, buy my books!
Cindy xxx