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...

Monday, April 04, 2016

ugh part 762 aka HUSTLIN'

All too frequently, I present as "I don't have a real job." 

This is misleading in many ways.  1) When I say real job, I mean job that pays me real money.  2) This has nothing to do with how many hours I actually have to work in order to get real money. 3) What I actually mean is that I have a million jobs -- ok, at least four which all pay me so little that I am constantly looking for more jobs.

I am actually *hustlin'* all day and all week long.

I am exhausted. 

That is all.

Here are some pretty pictures:

Friday, April 01, 2016

NRU not April Fool's

The way chocolate cake should be enjoyed
Sometimes life collides with intentions.  I started a new gig and spent a good part of the last few weeks seriously job hunting.  As a result, my news reading is lagging.  And there is just not very much *good* news, so I am less inclined to spend my precious little free time reading sad/frustrating/outrageous stories.  So instead of a real round up, here are the links to the articles I would be reading if I only had 3 more hours in each day.  Though, truthfully, if I really had an extra three hours, I would be seriously torn between reading these articles and SLEEPING!

This is a hodge podge of the stories I thought might be fun, interesting, potentially uplifting -- and the some political news I can't seem to look away from.

Parrots -- more than a pretty face

Dog not actually lost at sea finds a way home.

How the train wreck was happening right in front of them, and no one did a thing ... and now they are court martialling him.  Ugh

The story of a burger joint in Compton -- women's history month alert ;)

Puerto Ricans and the vote

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Poetry Thursday, SPRING and almost APRIL...


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Grief today

I was looking for a grief quote to post to someone's fb page - someone I don't know well, so I wanted it to be general but meaningful. I thought, let me look at the posts I have marked *grief* here as I had in mind a particular quote.  Usually, I would look through the *Poetry Thursday* but I hadn't been able to find the one I wanted, so I tried *grief* instead.

What a trip down the rabbit hole... I kept fearing the ground shifting, losing my bearing and falling back down into the hole.  But I did not.  Instead, with tears welling in my eyes, I witnessed the journey of my grief.

My grief journey began with shock ... trauma that knocked me down and deprived me of words.  I found solace in pictures, holding what had been and could be no more as closely as possible.

There is no vocabulary for this,
the no-langauge of grief.
I can reveal what my brain thinks
but where are the words for 
this vague pain I feel?
-Irene Earis
The Baffling Dead

Slowly, the pictures gave way to word postcards about the feelings -- words coming back before actual feelings.  I was holding my breath most days, hoping the next bad thing wouldn't annihilate me. 

Eventually, stories began to tumble out -- some here, some in real life, and tears... so many tears.  But painful tears.  And those stories were like daggers at the beginning.  Once again taking me to the depths of loss, plunging me into the darkness of sorrow and what could never be again.

So much pain, so much anguish, so few words could contain them.  I used quotes, poems, pictures to hold the place for the pain.

Life continued. I can hardly believe it has been almost three years since we lost my sister.  It was not that long ago that I was still living the dream/waking/nightmare where I would wake and believe it was a very bad dream, that she was not dead. And I saw her everywhere.  My mind unwilling to confront the truth.

And spending time with my beloved nieces and nephews was the bittersweet dark chocolate covering salty pretzels, joy and pain joined in these times my sister and brother could not know.

I can say it is not as hard, not like those times with no words, like that half awake time. The sucker punches less often catch me off guard.  I am learning to dodge the jagged edges of memories so they do not cut into my flesh, into my soul.

But the tears come more easily now. I miss them no less. I feel their loss no less acutely.  I just continue down the path hoping against hope someday their memories will bring me more bitter than sweet, more solace than pain. 

I am told I will get there someday ... changed irrevocably, but not diminished.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Poetry Thursday

If love were 
in the flesh 
I would burn 
it out 
with hot irons 
be at peace. 
But it is 
in the soul, 
~K Gibran
Jesus the Son of Man

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sweet Thursday and such...

"There's a Hole in Reality through which We Can Look if We Wish" [Title to Chapter 10 in the book Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck.

Sometimes when I am walking along and I see the clouds part in just the right way, these words pop into my head.

And I remember, like a wave of warm, amber-colored nostalgia rushing over me, this book.

It is a sense memory that makes my heart pump a little faster, of a time when life and happiness were so slippery for me.

When someone who I admired said, you should read this or you should read that. When that kind of recommendation felt like intimacy ... a closeness fifteen year olds crave but have no idea really about what it might mean.

 I confess that I don't really remember all that went on in this book.  Here's what I know for sure: it was in this book that I found out I love quirky characters, and that I feel at home in my mind and others do too!

It might be time to reread this book, and hope it is just as sweet at this point in my life.

P.S. when I was looking for links for this post, I came across this letter from Mr. Steinbeck to his son who was away at boarding school.  Who wouldn't want to get this kind of honesty, introspection and concern in a letter from your mom or pops?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Poetry Thursday

are only meant
for those
who love with their eyes.
Because for those
who love with
heart and soul,
there is no separation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pi[e] Day

If you know me, then you know I am a math-phob. However every March 14th, I try to do my part to support math lovers everywhere. 

Picture me taking a 3 mile walk (to offset in small part the calories I intended to consume) and visualizing the lemon pie I would eat. 

Then the patisserie was closed. 

No problem, try another place, NO - it's Monday, too many restaurants in walking distance closed. 

The coffee shop on the corner! They were open but no pie. The young woman working was sympathetic though. Try the grocery store she suggested, just a few blocks down. 

Now I am buying a whole pie and none of the "fresh" pies looked appetizing. Gonna have to eat the whole thing so it better be good. 

To the frozen section. Ugh. 

So I decided to buy the innards I wanted and use one of the prepared pie crusts my walkmg partner happened to have on hand. 

Despite my recent first, I am not a pie maker. I don't like making crusts. 

Internet a gave me some suggestions and I winged it. 

Peach and raspberry Pi[e].

Really more of a cobbler, but delicious nonetheless.  And it is all gone now. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

NRU Education

So, putting these here, not sure I can stand to read them... some I have read, and cringed.  Uyyy...

New LA superintendent is calling for a truce with charter schools... obviously this plea is aimed at the teachers' union ... I guess it doesn't matter if I show my bias because ya'll know how I feel already, but, really?!  In my opinion, and no it ain't humble, the charter schools in LA are like Netanyahu and can not be trusted not to blow up a school during a so-called truce.  Glad I am not in that negotiation meeting.

Harvard's bold plan to reform K-12 (yawn and eye roll), no, I have not read it.

A principal's meeting with a former student in the elevator, also have not read it yet, but I am considering it.

short but sweet but hoping to have a *real* post tomorrow or Wednesday ;)

Friday, March 11, 2016

NRU super mish mash

Too many of these have been open on my desk top, so some will make it here with minimal to no commentary -- but you will get the sense of what has caught my eye, at least...

This story, hard as it is to get through, is a fascinating look at the inside of an investigation -- both from the perspective of the detectives as well as the victims (though less so here).  It is also the companion piece to This American Life's episode (I haven't listened to it yet).

One of the many and varied jobs I had involved reading death certificates, and it was fascinating. So not hard to see why I would be interested in an article about what you can find in these.

Justice delayed and/or justice denied ... Guatemala's female war victims getting their day in court finally... what will become of Bill?

Uh oh ... P-22 apparently knows how to get into and out of enclosures at the LA Zoo and made a snack out of a koala... and some stupid councilman is suggesting P-22 be relocated.  I am not really the animal rights take priority person, but in this case, P-22 is not in the wrong.  The zoo officials admit as much but let politicians get their hands on this and it will not be good for our roguish, handsome cougar.  I love that guy so much!

In the ridiculousness corner I will put all the naked selfies (please no more, save it for your significant others, the ones you live with not the ones you tweet with - please), I put the ruckus over a Vanity Fair cover.  Really?! You know Donald Trump is about to become the GOP presidential candidate, and it is large measure because you are paying attention to this shit.

To commemorate her life (?), someone drug up an old piece Harper Lee wrote on love and published in Vogue in the 60s.  Here it is for you with love (of course).  If you need more love, here is something from the NYTimes (that is your beware it will be long message) about what women get from friends that they don't get from significant others...lastly, on the issue of love, a new series set in LA titled LOVE.

The rest still open on my desktop will just have to wait til next week... cover letters and resume edits and and and