Monday, May 23, 2016

Surviving Triggers part 2

It is a lovely poem -- but I have to say that I quibble with the notion that we cannot learn to be grateful or live fully unless we have struggled, unless we have known painful loss.

In fact, there are very many people for whom loss only leads to devastation ...

 and there have to be people for whom gratitude comes because they are indeed able to see how blessed they are.

I reject, also, the notion that there is something to be learned from pain and struggle. 

For me, pain does not equal lesson.

There are those who dig deep for the lessons within themselves, and there are those who eschew any opportunity (without need) to learn about themselves.

In my world view, what I most need to know and believe is that life happens ... it just happens.

The things that happen are not because of or in spite of me, rather, they are just a result of the world turning. 

We can be as perfect as possible and bad things will still happen. 

As part of this, I have to believe that life is not about fair or unfair

... and so the idea that we can only know gratitude as a result of struggle is counter intuitive to me...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sights from the week...

 okay these are really from the beginning of the week... more next week
 Rosie says HI
 abstract art or when you are taking photos in bright light and can't see the screen?
 Fort Knox... how awesome is that?
 Oscar the cat ... did not run away as I took his photo looking like Toothless
 these red flowers ... and imagine the petals swaying in the breeze
this photo does not do this little garden piece justice

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bringing this one back...Poetry Thursday

It's so curious: 
one can resist tears 
and 'behave' very well 
in the hardest hours of grief. 
But then someone makes 
you a friendly sign 
behind a window, 
or one notices that a flower 
that was in bud only yesterday 
has suddenly blossomed, 
or a letter slips 
from a drawer... 
and everything collapses. 

This, right now, is my life, minute to minute.  I am bringing this one back because life keeps lobbing grenades in my attempts to heal. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Surviving Triggers... part 1

As you may have noticed, April and May are generally hard months.  Events of the last six weeks have impacted this fact by making them infinitely more difficult.

As a result, I took off mother's day this year.  Mother's day this year happened to fall on my brother's birthday which is also my nephew's birthday.  My brother was born on mother's day making his loss all the more painful on said day for my mother ... either it was luck to have it all on one bad day or the worst luck to have to have it all so powerfully brought home on that day.

The Mijo was not born on mother's day but for him since he lost his mom, mother's day is like a dagger ... so once again, so much worse to have it all on one day.

In my pre-latest tragedy days, I had decided to go home for that weekend so that I could support my mom through the hard day and celebrate my nephew even though his mom is not there.

And then my life imploded and I could not even contemplate driving home or dealing with the day.

Also, I woke the Thursday before and tried to warm something in the microwave.  I touched the buttons and stared at the display and watched the numbers jump up and down. I realized I was the rubber band stretched to the point of breaking.

So, I decided to pretend the days did not exist.  It worked pretty well, but then I had to return to reality.

When I finally reached out to my family, I sent this picture

... and something about remembering those we love without pain.

[It is a picture of the growing garden I left in pots when I moved out of Albuquerque.  The friend I gave it to planted it in the ground.  Now every year it comes up for her.]

To this my younger brother replied with this poem:


If we have not struggled
as hard as we can
at our strongest
how will we sense
the shape of our losses
or know what sustains
us longest or name
what change costs us
saying how strange
it is that one sector
of the self can step in
for another in trouble
how loss activates
a latent double how
we can feed 
as upon nectar
upon need?

~ Kay Ryan, born in 1945, American poet
my response in part 2...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

star spangled purse

Seen this morning outside of Peets:  older gentleman I have seen before walking along the street.  Not sure if he is homeless or just spends lots of time out of doors.  He talks with an imaginary companion, or perhaps many companions.  I can't say they are friends.  He argues with them.  He gesticulates wildly, speaks emphatically.  Perhaps he is just enthusiastic in his discussions.  He is a white man, so I read the energy as negative, but I get that is a stereotype [white or non-POC often read my energy as negative, that is, so I read his in kind].

Today, as he crosses the street, and I look up, I note he is wearing, slung across his shoulder (messenger bag-like except in front rather than on his back) an evening purse... Union Jack design in bright red, white and blue sequins (or something else shiny).

I want to whip out the camera and take a picture, but decide that is rude without asking.

It doesn't really clash with his outfit: sage to army green jacket, dirty khaki pants.  I can't even remember the color of the shirt poking out at the collar.

The purse is so bright, and he is wearing it so nonchalantly yet ostentatiously, that I can't keep a small smile from creeping onto my so sad face.

I wonder if he has chosen this bag just for the attention it will have to garner him, or if it was just a whim or pure utility.

Later as I am returning from the post office, he is again at the corner, seems to be doing laps around this street.  I note that the purse is now open, so the design is not showing as proudly as before.  I pass him and say in a cheery voice, "your bag is open," just in case it has inadvertently been left open.  And, not so secretly, to gauge his awareness of surroundings ... and might he let me take a picture.

He looks at me and barely pauses his walking to gruffly answer, "I know."

No picture then, I think.  And, I note to self, I doubt he actually knew it was open, but what else was he going to say?

Monday, May 16, 2016

NRU sort of education edition, light

You can tell just how chaotic my life is because I can't even get it together to read any articles or to post about anything that I have read.

You can rest assured that I have read a few, that there are million open in my browser and another 17 million that I closed without reading...

Here's one that made it through because teaching and schools are on my mind.  This cold hard reality is slapping me in the face at present. We really do need to do something about housing...

Another slam on Common Core... here is the problem, they never actually state what the actual issue is.  Even worse, they don't even present one or two or three or any solutions.  I will say *again* until we decide collectively just what it is that we think public education is actually supposed to accomplish, we cannot begin to *solve* the problem.  This is a particularly big problem because we spend way too much time in fantasy history when it comes to education.  There is no silver bullet but there are many lead bullets.

Though, I have to say that reading about education just makes me want to run screaming in the opposite direction.  There are more still open in my browser, maybe I will make another NRU before the week ends, or maybe I will just quietly close them (and my eyes).

***not about education***
Ok... just going to put this in here because I have no where else to report this.  Many years ago, something like 23 or so I worked for a non-profit housing corporation in Trenton.  One of our projects was to help a community group get two or three families into homes that were to be rehabbed.  These families lived in conditions I didn't think were possible in the United States.  The first time I visited them, the first thing that struck me was that their homes had no floors, only dirt.  One family who had *won* the lottery so-to-speak, was a mom and her daughter.  Mom was really too old to be getting  mortgage, so the daughter decided to take it on.  Her name was Pearlie.  I am pretty sure she just won the lottery for real with her children.  She is a lucky lady.  And this couldn't have happened to a lovelier family.  Many congratulations and best wishes!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Poetry Thursday, advice for myself

Don't get lost 
in your pain, 
know that one day 
your pain 
will become 
your cure.
~ Rumi

Monday, May 09, 2016

million miles a minute

That's what my life feels like right now, and I would like to get back in bed and sleep for several days.

Maybe next week.

I would like one person on CL to respond to an email about the rooms/apts for rent. I recognize that the rental market is such that you are making a killing.  Could you not answer an email?  It's been rented, etc.? 

Not sure why you get it to be your market and not be civil.  Seems the least you could be is civil.

When I was helping a friend rent out her house, I answered every email ... every last one even when I knew it was just not going to work.  I even had phone conversations with those who persisted after I expressed why it wouldn't work.  I was civil, even kind, despite the fact that it is SO hard for anyone to find an affordable place.  It was, in point of fact, the absolute least I could do.

So, I have done three jobs worth of wrangling this morning, send many emails about places to live and now I am turning my attention to my lesson -- rescheduled from two weeks ago to this Thursday.

Wish me luck, hold a place in your heart for me.  Hopefully it will all go well.

p.s. I chose this picture for a post about two months ago and never got around to writing it.  I had a thought but so much has happened since I have no idea what that thought might have been...


Sleeping is challenging, unless I work 12 hours in a day and fall into bed beyond exhaustion.

Otherwise, this is what it is like.  I am still exhausted, can barely keep my eyes open.  Then I see the bed, and suddenly I am not tired.  Or at least I can't fall asleep.  I turn on a podcast, set it for 15 minutes and hope the exhaustion will take over.  Sometimes it does, and sometimes I wake up every hour with gruesome thoughts or one sort or another. 

In the night, there is no way to make the dark thoughts go away except for sleep.  Somehow when the sun rises, the light scares those thoughts away, at least long enough for me to sleep a little bit.

The dark thoughts are the rim of the well of despair.

Maybe they are just the manifestation of the fear of falling down the well.

I am starting to feel like I need to duck and cover again, like at any moment the next tragedy will befall someone else that I love.  

I am carrying around the trauma book.  I am saying, when the fear and despair grip me, the equanimity phrase.

But the dark clouds keep circling.  And I wonder what happened to all that healing I have been doing.  Has it all come undone?  Is there a way back to it that doesn't start back at zero? 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Life right now

Last week my dear friend's son was killed in a car accident.  All week, I tried to write.

But the only thing I could do was get a sentence at a time.

This is a record of those pieces that resonated.

It is not a full picture of all that my heart contained.  Truthfully, I have not really begun to process the enormity of the tragedy.  I fill my days with helping my friend plan the memorial [ok, actually I took it all upon myself so that she would never have to say, my son died.  The words tear into you when you have to say them, creating new wounds that might never heal.]  I have only skipped two four-hour work shifts so that I could fit it all into my schedule.

Today, I found myself doing six things at once, not only because there was much to do, but also because I cannot be idle.  Not for a second.  When the openness of not working on something hits, the despair is unbearable. 

My pain is not anywhere on par with that of his parents.  But the despair I feel is like the cold, hard floor of the well long abandoned.  No one will find me here because no one would ever think to look for me here.

I hope for a ray of sunlight before the idleness sets in...

It is appropriately overcast today ... as gloom reigns my head and my heart is broken, again, into a million tiny pieces. [4/27]

Find what you love and then be its magnet. Life is too short to not do/be with what/who you love. [4/27]

God take my soul to that place,Where I can speak without words.

My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there.
~ Rumi  [4/28]

Small blessings present themselves even in our darkest hours. [4/29]

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. 

From an Irish headstone [4/29]

The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart.   ~ Rumi
Received a message from the friend of a dearly departed this morning. It brought this quote home ... our actions, especially those that came from our heart, are what we leave behind. These footprints in the souls of our friends, and even those we just met briefly, are our legacy. Tread mindfully with love, compassion and acceptance.

If you have become ash ,
Then wait you become a rose again.
And do not remember how often you have become ash
But how often you were reborn in ashes to a new rose.
~ Rumi

If you are insulted, 
if you are accused, 
if they gossip about you, 
 don’t say anything bad. 
Don’t be the one 
who sees the shame, 
be the one 
 who corrects it.
~ Shams Tabrizi

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Slippery Slope or Just the Thing?

For the past few weeks months, I have been hording this idea (because it never actually even made it into draft form).  It started out titled, hanging up the red cape.  This was meant to be where I told you that I had decided that my do-gooding days were over.  I have spent all my professional career doing good of one sort or another.  And, one of the lessons I learned in all of those years is that it is nearly impossible to "fix" anything.  This doesn't mean that you can't do good or even that I didn't do good for someone or something. Just that I learned my ability to "fix" was not all I thought it was ... or that maybe I needed to approach work as something other than fixing serious social issues that most people walk by ...

Fast forward a few months -- I quit my graduate program for a lot of reasons, but at its base the decision was largely founded on the idea that I was not longer obligated (I would try really hard not to feel obligated) to *fix* teacher education.  This was not an admission that it didn't need to be fixed or even that I felt that I didn't have something to offer the possible solutions.  Rather, it was an admission that I didn't need to be the one who did this work.  That is to say, that I realized that I didn't need to be someone's (or several someones') whipping gal in order to gain the coveted letters that would allow me to do the work ... and here is where it gets hard because I really do feel *sometimes* that I was born to do this work.

So, yeah, I put the cape in the closet.  It had a good run. 

I am wondering now if maybe I should have actually placed that red cape in the donation bin.

Or maybe I am just overreacting...

You see, I went to this job fair at the local school district -- to become a substitute because it seemed like a money maker for me to show on paper that I was making a living ... so I could get an apartment -- that is a whole other story I am not ready to write about yet.

And I sidled up to the check in table at the "event" and the woman asked, "What kind of teaching job are you interested in?" and the answer should have been SUBSTITUTE. 

Alas, that is not what came out of my mouth ... no, I said, "I am interested in dual language immersion schools at the elementary level."

Yup, I did that ... maybe in the back of my mind I was thinking this is just an exercise in research, except I was no longer doing research or even contemplating research, right?

There were four schools at the fair, and I talked to three principals.  And I sort of developed a crush for two of those principals... and one of them invited me to come to tour the school.  I was so interested, and sort of unprepared for that invitation, that I whipped out my phone and we settled on a time and day the following week.

Fast forward a bit and I fell in love with the school, and I agreed to be interviewed...and today I will be delivering a sample lesson.

So, is it just a good paying job that I don't have to commit the rest of my life to? Or is it a super slippery slope back into those red cape days?

I have been struggling with this for quite some time ... I keep hoping and praying for some other job opportunity to come up that I would actually apply for.  Alas... here I go.

Pray for me ... not sure it will work or anything will work.

Actually, I know that this is a great opportunity for me to try out my boundary building skills... and third graders are real cute...

Monday, April 25, 2016

signs of change

They are all around me ... flowers blooming, birds and bees busily buzzing, building nests...
I shall try to get at least one of the drafts in my folder actually written ... as I climb out of the mess that was the last three weeks of my life.  The funeral is over, the mourning begun, the putting back together of intricate webs -- work, life, apartment hunting, visiting with friends and processing emotions...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Poetry Thursday

Come inside 
the heart’s house. 
There is peace 
and solace there. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

alpha and omega

In Spanish we have a word for slowly succumbing to mortality: agonizar.  Although it accurately and vividly portrays a painful physical progression of fatal maladies, it also depicts the emotional and mental struggle of letting go of life.  Sometimes the lyricism of Spanish astonishes me, overwhelming me with emotion -- even when it is a word that I know in my head, sometimes, I do not know it in my heart until something in particular happens.  Then the poetry of the meaning washes over me in a stunning recognition of how big language can be.

We have another word in Spanish associated with sickness, grief and time: velar.  It intimates that we are never alone in this process because it means to sit and watch, to literally guard through the night.  It suggests a candle (vela) to light our way, and a shield (veil) and it is the word we use for wake - oddly connoting wakefulness though it also seems to insinuate the long night where you either fight off sleep or cannot seem to get sleep.  It strikes me now as I write this it is also code for witnessing.

In our culture, this kind of guarding is almost never done alone -- the one in agony and the one guarding and those who support those who wait.  Sometimes it is the mother waiting at the bedside of a sick child and sometimes it is the family waiting at a loved one's bedside either before or after he had passed.  For the past few nights, my mom and aunt had been sitting at my uncle's bedside at the hospital as he slipped into his long good night. 

Interestingly, it was a time for them to also reconcile with the inevitability of my uncle's mortality as well as to be there for comfort and support.  They were there to witness the leaving of a body, the freeing of the soul, the ending of the suffering...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Not really poetry Thursday

Love isn’t a state of perfect caring.  
It is an active noun like struggle.  
To love someone is to strive 
to accept that person 
exactly the way he or she is, 
right here and now.  
~Fred Rogers

 struggling mightily with this right now ... and hoping Mr. Rogers will persuade me.  The way he modeled compassion and humanity is so impressive.  Hoping it rubs off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

these days

my days are filled with scoring exams, making dinner, herding dogs and hospital visits...

with one quick side trip to the movies

and only one walk on the beach...

Oh, and the mijo met this cutie at a funeral... who said funerals are only sad?

Friday, April 08, 2016

NRU education edition

NRU light

I take seriously the authors' discussion of the need for better "education" on the subject of free speech, but even their analysis of the problem ignores what underlies the problem.  Free speech, and regulations of it, is an extremely nuanced idea that requires the ability to be able to communicate  what is offensive about speech as well as to listen to the intent of the speech.  Understanding nuance and effective communication are skills we should work on with students as well as the ability to critically think about issues.  Blanket statements like free speech do not really capture the nuances necessary to further discussion or debate...ugh, all this said, I don't know how to feel about this article.  I am tired of "older" people assuming "students" are just under-educated whenever their responses or beliefs do not match those of the older society.  Maybe there are things we can learn from each other.

these are not editorialized because I am covering my eyes and/or too busy ruining children's lives to read (ugh):
New Dept of Ed Secretary
Where will Spanish, the language, go with all the English being infused?
New LA County Sup

Thursday, April 07, 2016

poetry thursday

My heart is so small, 
it's almost invisible. 
How can You place 
such big sorrows in it? 
"Look," He answered, 
"your eyes are even smaller, 
yet they behold the world."

~ Rumi

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


I am exhausted...long days and long weeks, and a long drive.
I am still *thinking* about the drafts I need to finish ... but thinking about updating the blog.

I have another shift at 5:30am tomorrow, so now it is time to go to bed.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


In between jobs, I stopped long enough to get a piece of pizza (Arizmendi) and enjoy the last glass of Rose of Syrah (Pech Merle).

To make it feel a little more special, I chose the polka dot wine glass... it's the little things, folks, the little things.

I still have drafts and updates just no time to write them...