disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Ghost in the Classroom

I struggled this year as a teacher. Hired mid-year and sharing a position, I faced many challenges. In fact, the year itself was a challenge. My son was not adjusting to daycare and was self mutilating. He got diagnosed with a speech disorder. I moved. My work supervisor was involuntarily transferred and I ended up without an official supervisor. I didn't know anything about the school and had to learn and stumble as each day progressed. I ended up loathing my job. With no support, no network, and procedures and culture against my philosophy of education, I was left downtrodden. I felt the school did not support what students needed, leaving them to be lazy and crazy in the classroom. Add in pregnancy hormones and whoa. What a year.

Any time I had a question, concern, or need I had no clue who to contact. I would hear names and see faces and yet never knew who was who and no one wanted to help me. I was never formally observed. Often, office memos would skip me until the last second; once we had a lock-down drill and no one told me it was a drill. No one checked my classroom. It was like I did not exist. And as the classroom swelled with noise and every bit of cohesiveness crumbled, I felt invisible. Like a ghost in my own classroom.

I ended up with mild depression every day, dreading work. I even began the resignation process but realized it meant more harm than just sticking through it. I counted down the days until the end, days that never seemed to come.

And here I am, with three days left. It feels bittersweet. Once again, I will look into a silent, dark, empty room, a place I spent too many hours in, and say goodbye, closing a chapter of my life. See, teaching isn't just a career but a lifestyle. I will remember the classroom but it won't remember me. Someone else will fill it, and likely stay many years. The students will forget the teacher they had part time, part year, even if I won't forget them. The staff has already forgotten me, and no one in charge seemed to know I existed. As I lock the door and turn in the keys, I will in a sense, disappear forever, just a ghost in the classroom, and only I know I exist.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grandma's Story

I wrote in a recent post, http://disorderlywanderlustblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/flowers-for-florence.html about one of my grandmothers. I gave her a list of genealogy questions about her life about a year ago, because I realized I knew nothing about her.

Sure, when I was young she lived an hour away during winter and I'd go spend the night sometimes, and I remember eating pomegranate jam, squishing unripe olives and kumquats to watch them burst, hiding in her avocado grove, scaling her chain link fence like a ninja, and hating her loud clock that tick-tocked all the time and often served as the only sound in the house.

Every summer we'd drive out of state to her summer home, a log cabin my grandpa built, on a few acres along a bend in the river with a gorgeous view.

Grandma and her brother in their teens, circa
about 1940
However, I don't remember much about my grandma, so I decided to ask her some questions while she is still of this earth. I mean, I can't fathom knowing so little of my grandma. I know she loves  and I mean loves yard sales, burritos, and donuts. She hates to cook and outright won't do it. She was adopted and went to college and worked as a real estate broker. She grew up during the depression. She likes country music, dogs, and inexpensive wine. She was married twice and I know her birthdate and names of family members. And that is it.

I can't tell you her personality, likes, dislikes, passions, interests, or drive. I can't tell you her fondest memory or greatest fear or anything regarding her past. It's like she is this acquaintance I barely even know, but she is my own flesh and blood. It is almost as if she is two-dimensional and lacks a personality or history, but I know this to be untrue.

She must have a secret side, as no one seemed to know her. She kept shrugging off answering my questions even when I told her she could ignore any painful or weird question.

Finally, over a year later, my mom and grandma were stuck on a plane to Costa Rica with nothing to do for hours, so on the plane, there, and back they began to unfurl my grandma's life. My mom said she has had a fascinating life, and that they laughed and cried reminiscing. My mom learned so much about her mom and realized her mom was a familiar stranger to her, and this opened a book of life that she is glad to have discovered.

I can't wait to read the answers. My mom insists on typing it, but she is not computer savvy so it will be printed to me, mailed, and probably lost in the shuffle of my paperwork. I wanted to take some photos of my mom's mad scribbles for antiquity, and perhaps transcribe them, but she informed me they are in her "own invented shorthand" so only she can read it. She says she will try and get it typed within the next month......argh! I want it now!

Why am I so impatient and eager? Well, what I think would be cool is to write a book. Okay this is 1 of 3 books rolling around in my mind, never seeming to be written. But I think it would be neat to use what I find out as a jumping off point to write a historical fiction/non fiction book about some of my relatives lives. I'm  a sucker for family sagas and movies like Forrest Gump, and everyone's life has a great story to tell. To use a favorite quote, "the mundane is beautiful" and I want to capture that. I can't get much from my other grandma who guards every bit of her life, or my dad who adds some hyperbole to his tales. My mom doesn't recall her childhood, and my grandpas are well past gone. This is my one person, my one chance.

I just hope I can somehow capture her voice. I mean, I know what she sounds like, what her voice itself is, but I want to capture her voice in the literary way, her diction and colloquialisms and somehow encapsulate all of her into each and every word so that it is more her writing about her life than myself.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flowers for Florence

My youngest grandmother is 89 I believe, and age has finally caught up with her. I am not particularly close to her, but I do love her and have fond memories.

Something that really set me into tears this week was the unexpected call from my mom. "Honey, grandma isn't going to be around much longer. Maybe not even the year. Please come visit her so she can see you all one last time. I'm losing my mom" my mom mumbled as she choked town tears and ended in a fit of sobs.

Sure. I have dealt with death before, when my mom lost her dad. But I was four, so the guy that put beets in his salad and had a green lawn was suddenly gone. I remember my mom getting the phone call and putting the receiver down and crying but it was all foreign.

Suddenly hearing my strong mother turned weak, and being a mother myself...I felt like I was the mom trying to soothe her fears and dry her tears and yet there is no bandaid for this. I can't fix my mom's tears and when grandma goes, I can't bring her back. I am suddenly the daughter soothing the mother, and I am not sure how to do it. I want to just hug my mom and make it all better but it isn't that easy. I can't work a miracle and it is playing with my psyche.

Also, it makes me peek into a deep dark part of my mind I keep under lock and key- my own parents' mortality. What do I want to do, give, share with my parents before they go? What will I regret? How will I cope with their passing? Who will try and dry my tears?

Last night, it all came to me in a dream. Okay, my dream didn't give me any answers or fix a darned thing but it gave me some solace. It was a simple but symbolic dream.

A path led through a mountain peak, the path and everything covered in sparkly white snow. It was silent out, that almost deafening silence of a deep snow at dawn, before anyone is awake. I was walking with a few silhouetted figures in the daylight, and saw to my left, strewn along the path, white fake roses with icy dew, laying atop the snow. I asked no one in particular why they were there, and was told that they were there to honor the passing of my grandmother. I was filled with a contemplative silence and a gentle warmth just knowing this.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

$1,000 a lesson

Should one single lesson cost $1,000? No. But I am one who only learns from mistakes. Expensive ones.

Like the $1,000 phone bill in college.... I had a boyfriend who lived out of the country and I felt all grown-up, calling the phone company and setting up a 10-cent a minute plan. Go me! I assumed it, you know, was the plan I had since I called and set it up. I certainly didn't talk to my boyfriend for a million minutes (or whatever ten cents a minute at $1,000 becomes....I don't like math). Yep.. So much for assuming things.

I learned my lesson for a little over a decade and now, I'm back at square one, assumptions biting me in the ass. Hard.

So I have student loans since almost 8 years of college isn't free, even with scholarships. They switch from company to company quicker than you can say (whatever you feel like saying) but they have stuck under the umbrella of ACS and AES for a while.

I'm kinda dyslexic and so ACS and AES discombobulate me...E,C, C, E, blah blah. So sometimes I pay ACS twice. You get the idea.

So I got an email from....one of them, let's say AES, and they said I was waaaay behind in my payments. So I groaned and paid a bunch of overdue money. See, we moved and the post office did a huge SNAFU and all our mail was lost for THREE MONTHS. I talked to various supervisors in person and via the phone who all assured me that all was well. Each time. Like, ten times. So my bill supposedly was lost in the mail SNAFU, even though during this melee I made sure AES had my correct information. I've still yet to receive a bill or other correspondence via the mail, but, whatever. They are paid off(well, no, but paid up, no past due debt)/. In one big ugly hairy lump sum.

So ACS calls me but as you know, I'm dumb, so I think it is AES and they say I owe X amount of money. The same amount to the dollar that I paid in that ugly lump sum last week. I get ornery and ask hubby to check our bank account, since this loan lady is claiming I didn't pay it and I did, dammit. We see a withdrawl so hubby is pissed cause umm...we now have $500 missing! I call my university and bitch to them.

Then I use my not so smart phone to access my account which takes a half hour and probably took a year off our lives as our blood pressure skyrocketed in the mean time.


SHIT. I think in my mind and wrack my brain and write down a ton of psychotically scribbled Cs and Es and numbers and confirm my oh shit moment. I owed $500 to AES. I paid them. Yes. I also owed, at that moment, an additional $500 but to ACS. Cs, Es, the death of me. I shakily mumbled to hubby "ummm....we just spend another $500. We're caught up now." We yelled and went silent and had a crappy rest of the day cause of my $1,000 mistake.

All because I assumed something. I assumed ACS was on auto withdrawal. I assumed since I corrected my contact info with ACS and AES, they'd both have my correct info (one did one didn't). I assumed that you know, if I was months past due and owed hundreds of dollars, someone would try and contact me (they both had my correct email and phone number). I mean if I am a day late on my car payment, less than $500, I get a few calls that very day. So I assumed since I'd heard nothing, I had nothing to worry about.

Assumptions are asses. See, they even have ass right in them.