As a teacher, summer always comes just at the right time so that I can take a break from the chatter of work. Don’t get me wrong, chatter is good, chatter is great, especially when speaking about kids in the classroom. The energy is rewarding in that students are engaged and excited to learn. To grow. To gain confidence. And to feel safe. To not worry. To embrace themselves. To know they are worthy. And to have a voice. A unique voice that needs to be heard.

That said, I definitely enjoy my summers. I create a schedule that’s not a planned time-frame but rather a loose, relaxing, take it day-by-day lifestyle.

This morning, I woke up three hours later than I would have if I had to go into work. I sipped a hot cup of (black only) coffee while watching Good Morning America. I began writing (again, finally) after six months of nothing noted. I enjoyed a grapefruit before heading out for a walk through the neighboring neighborhood, which is full of foliage and steep hills.

Summer is important because, for me, it is the key to maintaining a calm demeanor. A calm demeanor means protecting my well-being. And protecting my well-being is required for when I return to the classroom for another year of learning and building confidence within my students. Because, what’s better than a very patient teacher?

#tb, 4th of July, 2012

american flag

Independence Day.
A day to celebrate our freedom.
And to lavish the day with reds, whites, and blues.
To come together, with family and friends, spending the day relaxing, chatting, and eating.

A tradition.

A tradition our family has always embraced, year after year. Rudy at the helm, taking charge, making sure the constant rhythm of music was vibrating throughout, adding to the festive environment, enhancing energy, and conversations. He especially made sure bellies were full with good home-cooked food, and plenty of drink.

Yester-Year, on a particular 4th of July, our family was missing that tradition.

And it felt ironic.

roberto july 4 2012

I did chat, eat, and drink with Roberto, and laughed loudly as he ran around the pool waving the American flag, before he had to head off to his afternoon shift in a non-American restaurant. Brad had spent the night with a friend, then had made plans to celebrate with said friend on that 4th day. And Liz, well, she was socializing, kicking back in London, preparing for her long flight home.

There I sat. Independently. In California.
And there Rudy sat. Independently. In Arkansas.
Each of us doing our own thing.
I was reading, writing, and lazily watching TV.
While he made himself a meal, and lounged on the couch, entertained by sports.

Independence Day.
A day to be independent.
To lavish the day with self.
To be alone.
To gather one’s thoughts. And listen as fireworks explode skyward.
A reminder of our county’s independence.
Independence of being free.

The working woman. The stay-at-home mom.

IMG_0279Friday night. I’m exhausted. I’m slouched on the over-sized faded denim sofa, watching TV. My eyelids droop ever so slowly. Yet, I can’t sleep. I will need to pick up my youngest kid. Unless he calls, asking if he can spend the night. I’m a working mom. I’ve been in the classroom all week teaching. This. That. And the other.

As I readjust my slumped position, I begin to reflect on my summer life. The one I lived only a few weeks ago. My life away from the school setting. The days I was a stay-at-home mom. Oh, how I enjoyed waking up at a ridiculously late morning hour, like 7am, rather than my working hour of 5am! With coffee in hand, I’d watch recordings of Dateline, Modern Family, and Say Yes to the Dress.
When Brad would wake several hours later (if he didn’t spend the night anywhere), I’d whip up his favorite breakfast – pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, and orange juice – instead of quickly dropping a granola bar next to his cup of coffee. We’d talk. Shoot the shit. Discuss something new. Or revamp something old. Summer days. Days I truly feel connected. Devoted. Stellar. Like a mom.

I know I have the best of both worlds. Staying at home, working, engaging, and being involved is just as beneficial and rewarding as working outside the home. My family needs time with me just as I need time with myself.

And, so, I know, without a doubt, that the Friday night slump will soon pass, bringing forth renewed energy so that I can spend the evening writing up lesson plans for the following week, along with offering Brad and PB and J for dinner.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara and San

signature of Guevara,Che.svgHave you ever been sitting around just chatting with someone and the conversation goes off into various directions? I bet it’s happened to you more often than not. And when you have these kinds of conversations, do they usually start off with one subject and end in a completely different mode of thought? You know, like you might be talking about the walk you just took and end the drawn-out conversation about a revolution? Well, that is exactly what happened this afternoon, upon my arrival home, after exercising my way through the local hills. Rudy and I casually began our conversation with “Man, the blister on my toe is killing me!” into “Seriously, Che Guevara gave him his freedom?”

Well now, Ernesto “Che” Guevara is one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century, one of the few men trusted by Fidel Castro. Lots of people think he’s pretty awesome, especially those in Cuba. So much so, that his face is on the 3-peso note. His admirers are all about the fact that he stood for freedom from imperialism. And he was one idealistic dude. I mean, really, the guy had a love for the common man. Sadly for him, and his followers, Che died for his beliefs.
Yet, on the other hand, there are a ton more people that despise him. Che was a murderer, overseeing the execution of Batista supporters. His critics say he failed in representing the communist ideology and had a hand in ruining the Cuban economy. They weren’t spilling any tears when word spread that Che had been executed, having been shot by a sergeant in the Bolivian Army.

There is a ton of information out there about Ernesto “Che” Guevara, none of which I had ever even heard about. I admit it. I have been clueless about this guy and where he stood in society. There is even an award winning movie, The Motorcycle Diaries, from 2004, based on a book he wrote about his travels through South America. Which is at odds with the fact I have heard so much about Fidel Castro.

Anyway, this guy’s name, Che Guevara, came to my attention, for the first time ever today, when Rudy happened to mention San, a gentleman that he was acquainted with several plus years ago. San claimed that Che gave him his freedom from Cuba. That one day, while at work as an engineer, Che, who had been told that San was a brainiac, stopped by, unexpectedly and asked – or told – San to do something with something, about something. Something that somehow involved Fidel Castro. (Yep. That’s the best description I have of what San was asked to do. Weak, I know). “If you help me, I’ll help you. I will buy your freedom,” he allegedly stated. Well, of course, San conceded, and therefore, true to Che’s word, San was quietly and quickly given papers, shipped out of Cuba, and began a new life in the USA.

Even though the information is hearsay, I believe what San told Rudy. Which means I also believe that this tiny piece of nugget is one part of a much bigger story. One I wish I had access to. I mean, come on, if I had San’s whole life story, including his interaction with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, I could write a really cool story. I am sure I could. I’d write about the life of an ordinary man, intersecting with a powerful one, and how his freedom was given for completing… something.

San? Are you out there?