Teach Me Teach

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I was sitting behind the reception desk, filing papers, answering the phone, and rubbing my pregnant belly when I decided to leave the workforce and return to school. Without consulting Rudy, I walked into the head-honcho’s office and verbally resigned, giving him two weeks to find my replacement.

Back then, I had allowed myself to somewhat give up on my education because combining a fulltime job and being a fulltime student had become overwhelming. Rudy and I needed me to work more than I needed school, so I temporarily dropped out.

Which meant, I soon discovered, that I was working for the sake of working. Simply showing up day-after-day, earning a bi-weekly paycheck. What I really was seeking, besides a monetary compensation, was the feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life. I was six months pregnant, with our first child, when I quit the receptionist job, and found myself joyfully walking onto the local university’s campus, ready to fulfill my goals of earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree.

My daughter was born the day after my first semester ended and on occasion, she continued to tag along, sitting in on lectures with me, quietly coloring or pretending to take notes, absorbing the value of an education. As a transfer student, it should have taken me two years to meet my goal but, being a new mother, I needed to balance my homelife with my academic one, so I cut back on my courseload, in order to accommodate both.

Ironically, after graduating, Rudy and I decided I needed to, once again, return to work. More focused, and determined not to give up, or give in, I found employment working with young children, which filled my days with satisfaction. Fulfilling my dreams of working with impressionable youth.

After three years of involving myself with preschool children, I once again gave my resignation notice, knowing that once-and-for-all I was going to complete the necessary steps it took to earn a Clear Professional Teaching Credential. I returned, to a different college campus, with my second-born, a son, holding my hand, as I walked him to the onsite children’s center, while his sister attended second grade at the near our home local public school.

A year of daytime, and nighttime classes, resulted in my receiving a credential. Finally, I would be able to structure a classroom not only filled with academics, but also a safe haven to instill a belief in all children that they are valuable.

Several years later, I became a student once again. Yet, this time, I was a student simply enhancing my skills as an educator. I had another personal goal to meet. I earned a Masters of Science degree, while attending to not only child 1 and child 2, but also while caring for my third, and final, child.

Not only am I happy that I pursued, and met, three major educational goals for myself, my hope is that I have instilled in my children to never let any obstacles block their way and that they live life the way they choose, regardless.

At the End of the Day

family photos

I was lounging. In my room. Reading. Reading a few chapters. Of the young adult novel I had heard about. Wanted to see for myself if the storyline was indeed intriguing.

Noticing the sun falling slowly down. Out of view. I wanted to make sure the house was locked up, lights off, before my evening ended. Before the kids retired to their rooms for the night.

The pile of clothes on the living room floor, at the feet of my kid, bothered me. The empty five gallon water bottles near the front door, waiting to be filled, by someone willing to drive to the local water machine, irked me. And the full of dishes sink threw my mood for a loop.

“Geez!” I started. “Why is it that I just can’t get the help I need?” I eyeballed my two old enough kids. “I guess asking nice, even writing down what I want done, just doesn’t work!” I began to yell. “I’m not the only one who lives here. We all need to contribute!”

Blah, Blah, Blah is probably all the kids heard.
I was sure of it.

I picked up the water bottles and slammed out the front door. Sped off to fill them. Then returned home again. Still angry. One kid stood to help me as I stepped over the threshold of the front door. “Don’t bother,” I snapped. “I can do it all, as usual.” I plopped a water bottle onto the dispenser, splashing a bit of water onto the floor. The other bottle, I dropped onto a table, in the garage, as my other kid just stared at me. Not sure what to say.

I went to the kitchen to do the dishes. Clinking them into the dishwasher. Hard. Hoping I wouldn’t break anything.

Yet, didn’t care.

The clothes in the living room? I left alone. I was at a boiling point as I stormed back to my room. Slammed the door. Sprawled on the bed. I breathed deeply. Sighed. Then lay my head down. Sideways.

Feeling a bit calmer. A few hours later. I returned to the living room. To recheck the door locks. “Sorry, Mom,” the kids tried. I just nodded. Tried to smile. Noticed the clothes had been discarded. Somewhere. Couch blankets folded.

“Goodnight,” I mumbled.

I went back to my own room. To read another chapter. To sleep off my bad mood.

At the end of the day, I know tomorrow will be another beginning.

The Mask of Unhappiness

Rudy and I went through some difficult times, emotionally, during the three years he did not work, after being laid off from a going to retire from job. Our days were filled with a constant flow of ups but, mostly downs. We weren’t feeling too happy. With each other. With our situation. We argued. A lot. Daily.

One of those days…

I was trying to read. Take my mind off the bad feeling outside my bedroom door. Yet, my head hurt. From a throbbing headache. I could hear Rudy walking my way, down the hall, along the wooden floor boards. I was in the bed, under five layers of blankets. In pain. Unhappy.

“Do you need the light on?” he asked. As politely as he could manage. “Yes!” I said rudely. Bitchlike. “I just thought you didn’t need it!” he raised his voice. I held up the book I was attempting to focus on. Rudy walked back out the door. Slamming it shut. I followed him back out into the kitchen. Feeling I owed him some kind of apology. Rudy didn’t bother to listen to what I had to say. He walked away. Into the garage. Into his man-cave.

My head hurt. More. I walked. Or stomped back to my bedroom. Mumbling angrily to myself. I crawled back under the blankets in the now no lights on dark room. I sighed. Heavily. Under all that weight. I could hear Rudy. Walking my way. Again. He opened the door. “The beef stew is done,” he told me in a flat tone. I ignored him. He walked away. Five minutes later he returned. He flipped on the light. With anger. Stood there. I assumed. I couldn’t see him but I could hear him as he grumbled. Made angry sounds. I did not move. My head hurt. Badly. And, even though I was under a pile of blankets, I felt so cold. He flipped off the light. Slammed the door, and walked away, for a second time.

Again. I crawled out of my haven. Walked slowly back to the kitchen. To Rudy. “My head hurts. I don’t feel well,” I told him. “Everything is falling apart!” he yelled in my direction.
I cried. Uncontrollably. We yelled. At each other. Until neither of us could take it anymore. Rudy stomped back into the garage. I returned, once again, to my room. My headache only got worse. I took a deep breath. Found my spot under the blankets. Didn’t move. Not until the next morning.

Parenting 101

REPOST from Sept. 15, 2012: (stands the test of time…)

brad, age 13

There’s this fine line between disciplinarian and friend, when it comes to being a parent. Kids need rules, yet, they also need someone they trust. Someone to talk to. Someone like me.

I’ve never grounded my kids. Rather, I find quiet moments to talk about a situation, without making a big deal. Which in turn develops a bond between us. A solidarity.

One day, when Brad was at a friend’s house, I took the opportunity to clean his way too messy room. As the pile of clothing, and other junk, began to diminish from the top of his dresser, having settled back into the drawers, I spotted the Kindle Fire. I had forgotten about the electronic reader, as I had given it to Brad to use for school; so, for me, it was out-of-sight-out-of-mind. During the summer, he said he wanted to spent some time getting acquainted with the gadget, to just play with it, learn how to use it.

Sounded good to me.

I picked the Kindle up, which was tucked into its black leather jacket that I had bought, to protect it. I stretched the elastic band off the cover, flipped it open, turned it on, and browsed through items Brad had downloaded. Just checking in, one might say. Games, Facebook, and a few magazines.

I should have guessed, but I hadn’t. Nor was I surprised. Or even mad, that one of the magazines included lots of photos of girls; young women, actually, in teeny-tiny swimsuits. HOT women, emphasizing breasts and rear-ends.

I laughed. To myself.

Later, when Brad was lounging on his bed, I walked in, asking how his day was. It was fun, he told me. And he thanked me for cleaning his room.

“Oh, and by the way, I was looking at the Kindle,” I began.
Brad gave me a sideways glance, narrowed his eyes, and smirked a bit.
“I saw the magazine you downloaded. The girls,” I continued.
He just looked at me. Waited for me to do some more talking.
“I see you have good taste,” I joked.
He smiled, and looked down.
“And, well, anyway, I have no problem with you looking at those pictures, but a word of advice.”
He waited, patiently.
“You need to delete them. The Kindle is for class books, for reading, and I don’t think your teachers would like those photos on campus.” I finished.
“OK,” Brad answered.

The night before his first day of school, I asked him if he had everything he needed. If he was all packed up.
“Yep,” he responded. “And, yes, the magazine has been deleted.”

I am sure he will not be surprised when another respect for women conversation drops into ours lives somewhere down the road.

I am building a lifetime with him. A trusting relationship, so that he knows that no matter what, he can always count on me.

i am a writer

me blogging

As far back as I can remember writing had never been my thing, the thing one thinks of as a passion, a lifeline, something one needs to do to feel whole. I have always loved the written word, yet I never considered myself as a writer.

I even proved as much when, during a teacher prep course in college, I wrote a very mundane story about me, a bathroom, nine brothers, a sister and a waiting line. I had no clue how to make what could have been a hilarious tale into an interesting read.

Years had passed since that book was turned in, and the only writing I had done since was scribbling my thoughts into a personal journal.

Until one day, several years later, when Rudy moved to Arkansas, to take a job out of necessity. My writing journey unexpectedly began with stories about us, living separate lives. My thoughts, tingling to my fingertips, spilt onto the page, revealing true, heartfelt bona fide affairs.

It was then that I knew I could write, pulling from emotions that are always on the edge of my mind, waiting for their turn.

Watch This. Listen, too.

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I seriously love to people-watch. I am enthralled with the social aspect of human nature.

Every avenue of relationships pique my interest. I am oh-so curious how people, all kinds of people, everywhere, all over the place, in various situations react to this, that, and the other.

I like to dig deep into what is happening, simply by watching. Watching. Watching. Watching. And listening. Trying to decipher what is really going on. Deep. Down. Below. The. Surface.

I wonder, quite often, what would I do without people. People all around. People adding a dimension to my life that deepens my feelings toward the world at large.

There’s an Angel on my shoulder, sitting right next to the Devil

IMG_5519While life is full of obstacles, things that happen that challenge me, I do what I can to jump, to improve, to move forward. Optimism is my middle name. Or, it was. I used to consider everything with the idea that my life is mine alone. That the path I have chosen is the right one. The solid one. The road that will take me to everlasting happiness. I would see things in a positive light, even within a negative situation. But somewhere along the line, I lost a piece of my goodwill feelings, honing in on what’s not right. What’s bad. What’s wrong with our world. And I’m concerned, about me.

The Devil sits heavy on one shoulder, tells me not to care, while my Angel reminds me that life is what I make it. The Devil says life sucks, why bother. The Angel counter-argues that it’s worth the effort. All the while, I simply listen to their opposing arguments, taking in what each has to say, roll their thoughts around my heart. Where normally the Angel would shine as the true winner, as of late, on occasion, more times than I’m used to, it’s the Devil who makes more sense.

My writing has suffered because of my lack of optimism. Not because I don’t want to write, I do, I know it’s the way for me to project my voice, to be heard but, my thoughts and my hands aren’t communicating because, well, I feel depleted of energy. Focus. And desire.

I have so many things to say, but haven’t. I have a story I’m working on, a chapter book for children, a kind of a mystery, but one full of love, forgiveness, morals and values, a story that turns bad to good. The narrative swirls around my mind, fills my head with its characters, the setting, the motive, and the triumph. It’s there, all of it, waiting. Waiting to come to life.

My blog, my stories, also wait. Until, like today, I find my voice spilling onto the page.

Yesterday, Rudy and I took a walk along the Southern California coast, in Laguna Beach. A soothing, no-nonsense, salty-air, full of happy people kind of place. And I felt invigorated, renewed, and happy. I felt my optimism hug me, reminding me, whispering to me, that it’s the Angel who speaks the truth. That the path I have chosen is the right one. The solid one. The road to everlasting happiness.