and on day 7…

i finally think i might, just might know what i’m doing.


Laundry has gone unfolded.

I have not played my beloved Fruit Ninja for days

Every night I go to bed with 10 games unplayed (that’s not me)

I forget to poke my friends.

BUT…I have a job.

The day before school started.  I got the call.

A school that I’ve applied to for 3 years.


I was shocked, and thrilled.

Virtual school.  Perhaps my dream come true.

But my life?

It’s been taken over for 7 days with training.

My eyes are bleeding.

But…I am so grateful.

I get myself up to workout, to pray, to coffee, to hang with the boys.

They don’t have to get up at 6am anymore and get each other to school.

I get to do that.

They were trying to figure out what to do with the extra hour.

Gymnotes #2 says “I think I will just sleep”

Gymnotes #1 gives the fist bump in the air

when he hears I am cooking breakfast in the mornings.

Today I got my paycheck

I pay $48 a month for health care.

I have no gas bill.

I commute from my bedroom to my living room.

I am more than blessed.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success.

You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world,

but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

I wanna be on this team.

so much to say. so little desire to say it.

first: the good news

  • will the la marathon just 17 days away, i’ve been running 8 miles so regularly, i can almost run our route in my sleep.  i run, eat, sleep, eat, eat and sleep and run.  that’s about it.
  • stats read: Feb-126.74 Jan-144.46 2011: so far: 271.20
  • i’m in love.  in love with harley guy.  one of the most surprising things to me here, is that i had my life all planned out.  i was going to retire, then move back to woodland hills and take care of my mom and dad when they were 90.  i was not going to fall in love.  he appeared so suddenly in my life and has swept me clearly off my feet.  it’s good.  it’s sustaining me.

now.  the bad news.

  • i found out last week that i will not be hired back.  i was a probationary teacher.  i stood up against a bully.  i took my administrator to the union, because the dye was already cast…but it didn’t help.   i’m not a great team player.  i admit this.  but i hate lying.  HATE it…and my profession has put the good of the students on the back burner in the hopes of using edu-mumbly-jumbly speak to fix the problems.  what about just teaching?
  • full reconveyence of my house.  the next business day after i lost my job, i got this letter.  i think it means i no longer own my house.  whatever the case, it’s not good, and i know it.  i’ve lived in this house for 3 years fighting the lender.  it looks like it soon is coming to a close.
  • the ex husband is full of threats and verbal assaulting and trying to make me out to be a bad mother.  he is especially on fire because of harley guy in my life.  he has been throwing fast pitches at me for years, and i would hit one every now and then…and now i’m swinging at every dig.  every inappropriate comment.  but i’m tired.  he’s a bully.  and i’m tired of it.
  • i woke up one morning with dread in my heart.  i’m almost 32 years sober, and the thought of drinking clearly crossed my mind.  not because i want to drink.  i just don’t want to deal with all these things at once. i won’t drink because i’m a recovered alcoholic.  god has removed my drink problem.  for a long time.  but clearly.  i’m exhausted.

so. so that brings me to the same conclusion.  i must simply keep running.  period.  both metaphorically and physically running both grounds me and helps me soar.  it is in the quiet, dark streets that i lay all this out on the road.   that i take all the bad news and channel it into the pavement.  and i know.  i know that running has saved me, and i will survive this.

“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.”   – Maurice Greene (attributed to Roger Bannister shortly after running the first sub-4 mile)


The “E” Ticket


Does anyone remember the “E” Tickets?

Well, I do.  I remember hoarding the E Tickets so we could go on the best rides over and over.  The most exciting.  The ones that make you sick.  You’d be scared witless, and then get right back in line.

And…they never EVER made enough. 

At the end of the day, you were left with a fistful of A & B tickets, but who cares about the merry-go-round?

I got laid off in February.  Final divorce in March.  By June, I had applied for 77 jobs.  Life was one continual E ride.  But, it wasn’t fun.  I had to hold on anyway, because I wasn’t out of the park quite yet.

Last night, the E ride ended in a couple of ways. 

The night before the school year starts…The Human Resources director calls me.  At 8pm.  Offers me a job.  Starts today. 

I was so relieved and happy.  I laid down in my bed, and started sobbing.  Sobbing that it’s over, that I am one of the lucky ones…that I have a job…that I had $300 in my bank.  For August.  And now…now I have a way to make a living.

The sobbing came from relief and sorrow and joy and gratitude.  And I couldn’t stop. 

And, then it was light.  Again.

I’d like a few A & B rides for a bit.  This morning, my washing machine broke.  But, I have a way to fix it, and that’s more of a C ride, anyway.

Disneyland did away with those tickets.  I can’t remember when…but I know that you can’t stay on that ride indefinitely.

I am blessed.

Ms. V Goes to Washington


(Well, something like that.)  I must write this down, to remember this day in my family’s history, so that I can tell my children one day what this was like.

I gather 30 documents (or so), copy them all, bring them, or order, and head out to my county’s Human Services Department, located in Stockton.  I’m a little late, but I make it on time to find out that there is a PERFECT spot right in front of the office.

Men, women and children of all ages are spilling out of the door.  I walk in, and the first thing I see, is the direction sign all colored in with someone’s marker.  Okay.  So, no one noticed that this is a mess.  I wander around from group “A”, “B”, etc.  Finally I ask.  There is a fellow around 22, enormous in stature, hat on backward, probably gang affiliated.  I look at him and shout out. “Where do I go.”   He blows me away with kindness, explaining that first I must go to the kiosk and register for my appointment.  I go to “A” area, and a young woman is standing there waiting for her name to be called.  I ask her if I’m in the right area.  She points me to “B”, where there are no chairs and mass of humanity everywhere.

I probably shouldn’t have worn faux diamond hoops and Calabasas Classic 5k shirt to this appointment. What was I thinking?  Finally, Mr. “N” calls me in to the big offices, dominated by cubicle after cubicle.  I sit down, and he is very impressed that I have everything.  I start at 11:15, I’m done around 2.

I’m listening to the guy in the next cubicle try to explain to his worker that he does not have his own refrigerator, but pays his Mom rent, and she is clearly not believing him.  He says he didn’t get the notice to come down and bring papers, and she says, “So, how do you figure out this was your appointment then?” Ooooooo nailed him.  He proceeds to be slippery, and she calls him out on EVERYTHING. 

My guy was very nice.  I thought I was done.  I was not done.

Then, I go to Ms. “G”, who is the Family Support person, and my guy didn’t give her my SSN, or my kids’, and she has to chase it all down again.  A baby is screaming.  Not crying, screaming.  Nonstop.  The mother is doing nothing.  Ms. G is gone, and I start to tear up.  This is insane.

Next stop:  Medi-Cal.  I step into a cubicle of 3 people.  The woman shows me the Medi-Cal cards, and I start to cry.  I simply cannot do this.  My pride is not allowing me to pick a medical program, and she is telling me it’s okay.  I know these cards:  I used to take them when I was a therapist.  I’m on the other side of the table now.  She is very sweet, and she assures me that I deserve this, that the state will help me.  I want to throw up.

Clearly, I’m not finished.  Now, I must get fingerprinted and photo’d for my Food Stamps card.  No. Way.  I sit down with several families.  One girl and her boyfriend, have the screaming baby.  They look at him, hand him his empty bottle, he keeps screaming.  I say to the boy (17ish?)  “Do you think he needs a diaper change?” He nods. I say, “Do you have a diaper?” He nods.  He does nothing.  The baby continues to scream.

By the time I sit down with the photographer, I am beside myself.  I talk.  She listens, and SHE starts to cry.  I ask her what’s wrong, and she tells me that her husband has just gotten laid off, and it’s either her mortgage, or buy food for her kids, and she says, “Let’s change the subject.”  I ask her if she knows about the laws that President Obama has signed lately.  She does not.  I tell her: You cannot stick your head in the sand.  You must call ACORN.  I give her the number.  We have the same birthday.  I give her the “Put on your big girl panties” speech.  I tell her about our fabulous governor, and how his office has helped me.

You know that great parking space outside?  I have a ticket.  It wasn’t a parking space.  I was so glad to see my car though, that it was worth it.  I got in, and sped away.

I did it.  It’s over.  I hope to never have to do it again. 

(PS-news on the last school district is good; news on the home situation is good)

Roller Coaster

Nothing makes my friend Robby crankier than seeing only running posts on this blog.  He says to me last night:  that’s all you ever post about.  Okay, so let me set the record straight.  I try to post the good training stuff, because running has shaped me emotionally.

This post isn’t about that.  In fact, when I get done writing it, I might even have to set it as private.

It’s a bullet point type of post, because to actually write about it in a journal type of way, would take me all over the map emotionally.

  • I ran 4 miles this morning.  Yay.
  • First things first:  I wake up this morning to find ALL of my iTunes music (5000+) gone.  I spent over an hour on the phone with Apple Support.  Bad, bad experience, and I usually find great success with them.  Boo.
  • I go to the UOP graduation.  I’m thrilled, because I know what an accomplishment this is.  It’s when you believe you will do something in this world…that the degree will open doors.  It does. 
  • I start to ponder learning more about systems.  Like the one I’m about to enter.  That somehow, someone must make this easier.  Not everyone has internet yanno.  Particularly those who need the system.
  • I get a letter of default on my home.  It goes up for sale August 8th. 
  • I get letters from realtors promising wonderful things.  Boo.
  • I hop online to try and navigate the Home Loan/Acorn bit.  I’ve turned in paperwork weeks ago.  Can get help from no one.  I will try again Monday.
  • I try to fill out Unemployment.  Turns out you can’t do that until your last day of work.
  • We are moving.  We are.  There are no more cute smiles or genies in a bottle.  My new income with unemployment will be $22,900.  Per year.
  • The dogs.  Where will the dogs go?  They have given my children peace and comfort through a very hard time.  There’s no way I can take them with me.
  • COBRA.  I am informed that I can get COBRA.  A new bill…yada yada…and pay only 35% and it can go on for 36 months if I’m CALCOBRA eligible.
  • Eligible.  Words like this I am hearing a lot.
  • Food Stamps.  Next.  Print out application.  Got it. 
  • PG&E CARE program for limited resources.  Check.
  • Making my lender produce the original note for foreclosure.  Check.  Did I mention that in California, you can’t do this unless you initiate a lawsuit? Looks like I’m headed back to court.
  • I have a certified letter waiting for me on Monday.

I think the thing that is so appalling to me, is that with all the letters after my name, a BA, an MS…certificates and awards…Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers…With ALL of that, I am completely overwhelmed and scared to death.  My boys are at their activities, which I’m glad for, but I sit here in stone immobilization, and wonder how I will ever manage this. 

With a swoop of a pen, my boss could have given me a pink slip, like 27,000 other teachers in California.  He didn’t.  He fired me.  He admitted that he didn’t know I couldn’t work again in my district.  I don’t really know how he sleeps at night, knowing what he’s done to my family.

While I appreciate all the Governor’s office has done to try to help me, even the Governator can’t fix this.

Ring up Ahnold please

This is a sad day.  Last night, I spent an hour on the phone with PG&E trying to get the electric and gas bills figured out.  An hour.  Once I got it all straightened out, I told them I needed to enroll in the CARE program, which is a program for low income people.  On the form was a box to check for food stamps.  Food stamps, CARE…and I’m trying to fill out an application for unemployment online, but no…I don’t have a union number, and they don’t know it.  No, I stop work in 10 days, so I can’t fill it out anyway.

I have degrees, and initials after my name.  I have 3 different teaching credentials.  I am NCLB compliant in 7 areas.  I have a license to practice family therapy.  I suddenly realize that someone who does not know how to navigate the system may want to give up.  I want to give up, and I have a lot of resources on board.  So, to all those people I have erroneously judged in my life.  I’m sorry.  I understand now what it’s like to be on hold for 45 minutes to try to get some help.  I know what it’s like to be shamed by a bill collector.  I know what it feels like to look at the empty box that I must check for food stamps.

Why did this happen?  I left a tenured position, and became probationary, and not protected by the cuts.

There is no magic answer.  27000 jobs will not appear out of nowhere.  Someone get the Governor on the phone.  Stat.

*Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!!!

*Lyric from Paradise By The Dashboard Light

I have no idea why this song is running through my head.  However, the title tells you where I am right now.  I seem to wondering what’s it gonna be…a lot.  Today, I’ve applied at all teaching and counseling jobs in a 200 mile radius, all over California.  I even applied to Heinz.  Yes, the ketchup people. 

I’ve been really thinking about the events of the last week (*cough* Half Marathon), and how I vowed I would never run again.  Then, I caught myself telling the sweaty-from-a-run computer guy how he should just suck it up and enter that 5K.  One of the girls I sponsor has printed out the Couch to 5K program.  I may not want to run, but I just can’t shut UP about it.

I was also thinking about the bike riders on the trail on Sunday (many), and how this guy with a COORS bike shirt came racing by me, and I swear, I would have taken a beer right THEN.  (My sponsor says, “honey, you were just thirsty…it means nothing).  But…this is what running did to me.  Pushed me to my limits. 

What the run did TO me was push me to my limits.  What is did FOR me is increase my confidence.  I know, it was horrid, but yes.  I did it.  I also ruminated a lot during the run, and decided that I

  • can move on from 30 years of knowing my current ex-husband…that sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.  Even when the planets seemed to be aligned in our favor, it just did not make it.  Time to move on.
  • can get a job.  Any job.  That I will never be on unemployment.
  • can still be proud…even if I was #10 out of 10 runners in my age group, (yes.  I was.)  I still was in the top 82% (positive spin) of the whole field.
  • have two great friends who pushed me and made me train even when I didn’t want to, get up at 4:30, get out there and just do it.  Maybe I can do Boston in 10 years, since the BQ time is 4:30 for 60 year olds (thank you Joja)!  HA!

I went to the doctor Tuesday for my shoulder injury that I had earlier this year.  Doctor (a runner, who just happened to run during lunch in 100 degree heat, and had run Death Valley Marathon), says I have arthritis and a tear in my rotator cuff, and gave me a cortisone shot.  My question:  How does a teacher get that injury? 

Yesterday morning, Kim and I walked.  For an hour.  Hashing over the run.  We jogged a block, walked a block.  Today I lifted VERY light weights. 

I know I will do this running thing soon (maybe tomorrow), but for now, I’m still high from watching/blogging/tweeting the Boston Marathon…(Speaking of that…still waiting on a Frayed Laces and Running Laminator report)

Twitter.  I love twitter.  It’s keeping me entertained, and has introduced me to many new runners.  The Neumen Show is one.  The only person who can tweet his whole life in 7 tweets. (I can do it in 8! 8)

So.  I am “Praying for the end of time.”  This job ends 4 weeks from yesterday.  I cannot wait.  That’s all for today.

*What’s it gonna be boy?  Yes or NO?