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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The unreachables

Every teacher knows they exist, yet denies it. The unreachables. We would all love to believe we have the superpowers to reach every child but we don't. We look in see upon that one teacher who seems to have that magic wand, while brainstorming and bitching about that one unreachable student we all know about. Ugh Jacob, Oh that Christie, I knew those piercings spelled trouble.

With these children, we each count our little blessings. Baby steps.

I remember J who, just like any unreachable, was immediately identifiable in a classroom. She wore a permanent sneer on her face, rarely did her schoolwork and brought down the mood of any teacher.

I grew accustomed to her sneer, but that didn't mean I liked it. I would be lying if I told you there were those occasional days I hoped she would be absent, just so I would not have her eyes drill holes through me like fiery daggers.

I had perhaps my most embarrassing moment one morning in the classroom. The previous evening, my brilliant dogs decide to literally smell the butt of a skunk and you can guess the result. I spent most of the evening dousing them in tomato sauce (not leaving myself out) an frantically laundering anything remotely stinky. I hurriedly left my fowl odored one and got to school only to realize I reeked. I had just enough time to run to the 24 hour Winco and buy...something. Due to limited time, I grabbed a can of cinnamon scented Lysol and beelined back to school in a haze of chemicals.

I greeted my first period class with a cloud of aerosol and in walks J. "Ugh it f*cking stinks like sh*t in here" she retorts, looking straight at me. I feel like I am back in high school, being teased by the cool kids for wearing the wrong brand of jeans. Why did J have to show up today?!?? A few other students scrunch their noses against the smell and I decide to inform them yes, it smells, it's me, sorry.

As the class works independently and I wander around leaving a scent trail as I monitor their progress, I do my best to avoid J and inconspicuously dodge her desk until I have to face her. She scrunched her nose, waves her hand to circulate the air and then bends towards me. This is unusual. She then whispers, "there are some clothes down the street at the college maybe no one will catch me..gimme some cash and I will try and get you something, just tell everyone I am in the bathroom". I am flabbergasted, thinking, is she trying to steal my money? Meet her boyfriend at the college and run away? What is her ulterior motive? Surely I shouldn't be so skeptical but her track record wasn't in her favor. I then realize regardless of her intentions, I can't let her ditch school, so I cautiously try and dissuade her.

During passing period, I let security know to keep an eye out in case I didn't succeed in changing her mind, and the secretary lets me know they have some spare clothes used for when kids don't adhere to dress code. I look into the clothing bin and end up teaching the rest of my classes in a school logo t shirt, boys husky long shorts, white boys knee socks, and combat boots. I was much less skunky but looked...to quote my students, "like a chollo", male version of the noun intended.

The skunk incident behind me, J ends up in trouble and I have to call her foster mom to set up a parent conference. I aka if J is always so unreachable and snarky and her mom says yes, but that J has taken a liking to me. I tell her about J offering to go buy me clothes when I was malodorous and she is taken back and even though we were talking on the phone, I could tell she was smiling. She said "J must really look up to you, thank you".

I couldn't get J to be the poster child perfect student and we weren't buddy buddy, but after that, she seemed to sneer a little less. I might not have magically transformed her, but I think somehow (how, I will never know) I worked a little magic, reaching the surface of an unreachable.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We pulled my mom's '64 Chevy into the dry chaparral and each grabbed a grocery bag as we approached the rocky precipice that towered above us. I clutched at manzanita branches and sandpapery granite boulders as I scrabbled up the steep mountainside, trying not to drop the bag or scrape my knee. I paused at a small ledge which featured a rope tied between two trees, a cowbell dangling in the middle. My diminutive size meant I was the only one who could stand there and get past without "tripping the wire" and clanging the rusty bell. I waited for my mom, who got the bell clanging, and we rounded a pine strewn rocky knoll together, and found ourselves at a sandy alpine plateau.

A wolf hybrid froze in his tracks as a lanky man in torn stained jeans and wild crazy long hair turned our way, his scraggly beard wiggling as he mumbled a greeting. I dropped the bag and cans rolled past me as I ran into his arms. My dad embraced me, the smell of campfire, cigarettes, dust, and sweat tickled my nostrils yet made me smile. My parents seemed tense and awkward with one another as they often did, yet you could still see a spark of love in their eyes as they watched me play with the dog. I wanted to stay there forever, climbing rocks and staring into the campfire with my dad and my dog, but we had to get home before it was too dark to navigate our way to the car, and besides, my dad told me the boogeyman would be out soon, so we sad our goodbyes and left.

I think everyone has a part of their life which they find normal but others find abnormal, things we realize are indeed abnormal once we grow up. It wasn't until my late twenties that I realized this abnormality, the reality that while growing up, there was a period of my life where not only did I live with a single mother, but I had a father who battled homelessness. I think it is all perspective, because for twenty-five years of my life, I thought and believed my dad was merely camping, a "survivor man" of sorts, the mountain man of pioneer days, living a sustainable existence among the coyotes and lodge pole pines.  I still don't quite see it as homelessness, because my father loves nature and seems more at home in a tent in the woods than in a house in the 'burbs any day.

I refuse to look at my dad as a victim or a "hobo" or man hard up on his luck because he was and is my hero, my dad. He taught me all I know about the flora and fauna of my local mountains, and instilled in me a respect and love of nature that I feel is a core part of me. Maybe I romanticize his stint with homelessness, but his "camping experience" to me just seemed part of what makes him, well, him. If the topic is brought up, am quick on the defense to say, "he was camping" because in my mind, that's what he was doing. I missed my dad terribly during that time, not having him home, but visiting him in the middle of the forest was the highlight of my week, and I can still remember the joy I felt and awe I had for a man who could survive in the wilderness alone.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wardrobe malfunction

I went to a strip club once. There. I said it.

Some might say, "whaaat? A girl like you did that?" So I feel I must elaborate.

Envision a balmy summer evening set in the back streets of Ensenada, Mexico, the part tourists don't go, a small hotel that gringos didn't frequent. Inside one room was myself and a handful of college friends, all who spoke way better Spanish than me (I knew hola and that is really it), which explains why we were outside the gringo zone. However, being the gringos that we were, we decided the quiet hotel was not our forte and we might as well centre into the part of town that was lined with bars and thus lots of drunk college kids.

Being poor as many college kids are, I couldn't afford the fancy entertainment and libations at places like SeƱor Frogs, so I wandered around sadly as I saw the wealthy college kids pour out of the infamous bars, reeking of the alcohol I could not have. That is when I wandered around a corner and saw a Mexican man outside a small establishment, waving a beer in his hand, calling out "cerveza gratis", free beer. Could it be? Free beer?

Let me tell you, nothing in this world is free. I walk in, sit down, and smile as a cold (and free!) beer is placed in my hand. I take the first sip as my eyes adjust to the smokey light and realize there is a stage at the front of the bar, and lights and poles and oh my God this is a strip club. And on cue, out walks a "professional entertainer". I try an stare into the caramel brown glass of my beer, but I am close enough to the stage that my peripheral vision is rubbernecking towards the train wreck gyrating on stage; tonight's obviously amateur night. I consider leaving the obese middle aged woman and her pole behind, but my frugal side (free beer!) and college side (yay! Beer!) won't let me. I sit there nearly unable to move due to shock, as I tell myself to chug that damned beer and get out quick. My body and brain obey and I leave before the first song is even over.

So that folks is how I have been to a strip club and how nothing in this world is truly free.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Brother from Another Mother

I have a brother from another mother, which you may know from some of my older posts.

The knowledge of having a brother I've never met is one of those cyclical issues that comes and goes and carries importance when it is on my mind. I mean...hello..I have a brother!! As an only child this is big news.

Ok let me back up a bit. I have known since I was age two that I had a half brother so that news is hardly news. I even did meet him once (I know, I just told you I hadn't!) but since I was only two or three years old, I don't count it.

All my life, I imagined meeting him, since this before-I-was-with-it encounter was our only bit of communication ever. My family never ever contacted his family and vice versa. Heck, I'd have doubted his existence, since there were no photos, no one talked about it, no one knew his age or really...anything; but see I believed my dad when he told me I had a half brother, even if that is all I knew.

I spent a childhood of loneliness (I was an only child) imagining meeting my brother, what he looked like, what games we played...always this dream I knew would never happen, but hope and dreams are comforting no matter how ridiculous.

Through the magic of the almighty google search engine (and proding of my mother who could provide his and his mom's first name), we found one another. Well, more like he found out I was looking for him and contacted me. He contacted me!

This happened maybe five years ago and I took a few days to get the guts to call him. Isn't that weird? Finally I get to talk to my brother after almost three decades of dreaming and I don't jump on it? When I finally call, shaking like a leaf, we both don't believe we are who we are and the conversation is short and awkward. I mean, sure you have nearly thirty years worth of stuff to say but really what do you say?

Now we are Facebook friends and I send him brief and cordial birthday and Christmas greetings and he always sends his thanks and regards. But that right there is our entire relationship, a few sentences worth. I'm both disappointed and elated.

Just last week, he "liked" a photo of myself and my youngest son. He liked my photo! Gosh, I'm like a pathetic infatuated teenager here. Big deal, he liked my photo...but it was the first thing he has "liked" on my Facebook. And just today, he liked my status from yesterday. Part of me says big deal, means nothing. Part of me is all, yippee he knows something about me now! He cares! And a part of me knows not to build up unrealistic fantasy scenarios and expectations and enjoy what I've got.

Friday, August 16, 2013

the Young'un

I had read an article in the news that was of interest and related indirectly to a local women's group. The article was about something I am passionate about and consider myself knowledgeable, so I decided on a fluke to contact the group. They invited me to a monthly meeting so I agreed, a bit hesitantly since I have dropped out of every social group thingy in my life, and have learned to just avoid them.

I tried to be on time -no, I tried to be early to avoid the socially awkward anxiety of being the newbie- I'd rather get there early and ease into things. Being a mother of two little ones, you can plan to leave five, ten, thirty, one hundred minutes early and you will be fifteen minutes late no matter what. Oh God, I have become my mother! Anyways, I was fifteen minutes late.

I walked into the meeting place, playing the role of that rude person who walks in late while the meeting is in full swing and the crowd is hushed at attention. Great, I think, as I see a few heads turn my way, like, who the hell is she? Then, to add to my dread, everyone is my mother's age or older. I have nothing against the older generations but when you are the only one even near your sge, you feel like the black sheep and the center of attention.
I endure some glances and whispers amid the reading of board minutes, and I shifted nervously in my seat. I so don't belong here! I nervously sipped my water and compulsively glanced at my newborn, part to send psychic vibes of "shh be a good baby" and "if only you were older so I could converse with you to get this awkward feeling off my chest". The board minutes ramble on and suddenly I am handed a bouquet of flowers and am briefly introduced. I stand and smile and breathe a sigh of almost relief. A woman hands me a little card with a Bible verse that I find familiar; reminding me of a song "come unto me all you who are weary and I will give you rest". I hummed the tune and finally felt at ease.

The meeting adjourned and a handful of ladies went out of the way to come chat with me. They were all so excited to see someone so young, and they all fell in love with my newborn. I got compliments and friendly inquiries on the fact I babywear, unusual in this town. I got invited to three different churches and a charity group. I shared my passion for education with two women, one who even helped me lug my baby and belongings back to my car.

I really felt genuinely welcomed in this group, even if I still feel like the oddball young'un in a group full of senior and nearly senior citizen women. You know, sonetimes just one commonality or cause can overcome silly or even just percieved social barriers. I do intend to attend the next meeting! Ok so given my track record I probably will "drop out" in a few months but nevertheless, a possibly awkward situation turned out way more positive than I had built it up to be.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Honey, Don't play with the road kill! or, Pre-teen Cooties

When you live in a podunk town with a hospital still stuck in WWII (and it is 1990), doctors apparently are stuck in WWII also.

See, I was ten years old at the time, and stuck for a week at camp ten minutes but universes away from home, in a full-on depression because no one wanted to get near me, and my best friend gave me the bottom bunk and refused to share her gummy bears stash with me. Sure, I was the gawky, scrawny, bespectacled shy kid so I already suffered from a sort of self imposed socio-phobia, but this was worse. Way worse.

I had the plague, it seemed. Really, I kind of did. I went to camp and the first night, I felt a little itchy and figured it was mosquito bites. Years later, in 9th grade, I counted 26 'squito bites on just my legs alone, because apparently I'm some "best food I ever ate" candidate. Malaria ridden mosquitoes in Nicaragua dream of one day sucking on my sweet sweet blood. Anyways, the next day it got worse and I was covered in red itchy bumps. When I'd walk into the communal bathroom, it was like the parting of the Red Sea, tweens would smoosh themselves against the wall to allow my wide berth of cooties through, and no one would let me take a shower. For a week.

For some odd reason, I didn't go to the doctor's right away. By day five, my very dirty head hung low from shame headed home and to our podunk doctor's office.

I was diagnosed with scabies. I freaked at first, thinking it was rabies and that I'd be foaming at the mouth soon (like I needed more socially ostracizing events). The doc cleared it up for me and told me it was scabies, which he said were tiny bugs that plant eggs in your skin (true fact) and ewwww! Bugs! In your skin! OMG! He then told me that you can only get scabies from touching road kill (false) so I should stop. Road kill? Road kill! I had never touched road kill, so I was rather miffed that my doctor thought I was the type to play with pancake-shaped possums and tire-marked tarantulas or what have you.

"Doc, that is sooo my dad, not me", I thought. See, my dad did and still does touch road kill, and keeps it in the freezer  until he can identify it... which can take years. Nothing like reaching in for ice cream and getting a handful of dead crow. But back to my story.

Years later, I move on up in this world to a real hospital in a city, and my curiosity gets to me so I ask my new doctor about my past run-in with "scabies" and explain my symptoms and the like. He browses through my encyclopedia-thick medical file (seriously it rivals that of a 90 year old and often begets remarks, wow what a file! No wonder I seem to be the only patient still yet to get an electronic file, can you imagine having to type that all up?) and he decides it was probably not scabies, but chicken pox. I burst out, "Exactly, that's what I told my doctor but he said no one ever gets pox twice! Liar!" Because yes, you can get chicken pox twice but my doctor was stuck in WWII when it was thought you couldn't get it twice.

So remember, kids, you can get chicken pox twice, and don't touch road kill because then bugs will lay eggs in your skin. Eggs! In your skin!