saying yes.

I wake before the sun.  I run.  I have a Nike bib, so there is some urgency.  Four weeks, no training.

I no longer am racing my kids out the door at some ungodly hour because I need to be in my classroom prepping.

They get a hot breakfast.  And a lunch.

I can take them to school, do my morning commute to the post office, and come back

To sit with my dogs…they are content to be in the room, just dozing.

As summer finally fades to fall.

The windows open and I’m in my pajamas.

Drinking coffee.  Reading the paper.

I open my laptop, and work like the rest of you.

Answering emails.  Working on homeroom classes, because I am the secretary of my homeroom…

I answer student questions.  Yes, I can unlock that test.  Yes, you can have more time.

You’re an Olympic athlete? A movie star kid?  Your dad is in Europe with the Navy?

It’s easy to help you.  Because you too have to work…on your own, in your house.

Come with me to Starbucks, where I hold my next class.

And I will open up a room, and you can draw with the tools, and chat with each other.

Your mom calls to tell me you are overwhelmed, you are moving, your sister was in the hospital.

I can help.

I am a teacher.  I hold court every Thursday at 10am for 200 freshmen and sophomore English students.

My lessons are fun and engaging.

I’m blessed.  I’m in my element.

And, at noon, I nap or swim or eat lunch with girlfriends.

I come back and answer more questions.  yes.  always yes.

I go to bed with more to do than the day before.

BUT.  i have said yes.  

And I will be here at 8am…in my pajamas, drinking coffee, waiting to say yes again. 

I not only say yes to you, but to my children…who didn’t know what to do with me home…to my friends…to the harley guy.  

i am the luckiest girl in the world.

failure is not an option

30 days ago I took on the 40 day challenge.  Wherein I seek to work out …do some kind of intentional exercise for 30 minutes, 40 days in a row.  I did not finish.  But, I did not fail.

Why did I stop?  I came home on Thursday to a dirty pool, and said to myself, “You don’t need to work out.  You can clean the pool  Vigorously.  And that will be a great workout!”  So, yeah.  That is not a workout.  I said on Friday, “Yeah, you are standing around at a football game.  That burns calories.”  Um, no.  I knew we were in trouble when we headed to Burger King after the game.  At 9:00 at night.  Saturday came and went with a birthday party for a 14 year old.  10 boys …NOT a workout, and not intentional.

Here’s what I DID gain

  • I went from 196 to 189.  Yes.  That’s pounds.  American pounds.  I had such a slide after the LA Marathon, and I was really hopeless to lose the weight.  But, I stepped on the scale yesterday to the numbers staying on the 8.  I was not only thrilled, I finally had hope.  I believe that the small bits of exercise I was getting jump started my metabolism.
  • Tracking.  I started to be more diligent with tracking on Livestrong My Plate.  I’m pretty bad about that, so I just did what I could.  If it goes in my mouth, I write it down.  Simple.
  • I loved swimming again.  I liked running.  I wrote a post about how I was staying on track.
  • I got a new job.  I’m teaching High School English in a public charter online school.  Medical benefits.  Pays retirement.  Working at home.  I started trying to figure out ways I had to move during the day, because sitting with my new fancy computer every day would make my butt get new and fancy and big too.  I rediscovered the gym.
  • I learned that most things are out of my control.  That the only control I have is inside my bubble.  That relationships with harley guy and children and family and work people are all based on me being truthful and staying current.  I cannot control what will or will not hurt my children.  I can only be there when they fall.  And…they will fall.  My job is to be here to help apply a band-aid.
  • I learned that if I don’t workout, I won’t workout tomorrow either.  That’s how I am.  All or nothing.
So today, I being again.  I did 1 day of elliptical training.  I’m ready for the challenge.  You?

Marathon Pace & Harley Guy & A Box of Paper

Endings: Today was my last day of school.  Standing by the door at 11:15.  Room cleaned and packed…chairs stacked, and boards wiped.  Everything delivered back to the students.  Reading letters they wrote to me.  One girl wrote I wish you hadn’t accepted that other job.  I will miss you.  A few weeks ago, a student asked why I wasn’t coming back, and I said I had a job…(yes, I know.  A job as a stay at home unemployed mom…BUT I wasn’t willing to tell them I had been non-reelected…there is some shame I’m dealing with still)…and I dismiss the class and walk out. And, the security guard, the one who covers my back when I’m late and helps me with rowdy kids that I know will not get attention in the office…he comes to me and tells me the Principal has ordered a check of my room to see if I took anything.  He said that I might want to stay just so I don’t get tagged for something.  I was insulted, furious…as if I would take the LCD projector or the ELMO, or any one of the myriad of items in my room.  There was a level of passive-aggressiveness behind that request, but I chose not to address that.  I just said…text me if there’s a problem.  I am leaving.

One of the teachers had been collecting canned goods at Christmas for the poor.  No one knew what to do with them, so they sat in our teachers’ lounge all spring.  I asked her if I could have them, because after all…now I am the poor.  And, I have no shame in having to ask.  At least, I’ve learned that.

Thus ends one of my saddest assignments in my career.  Ends with a whiff of stealing…of dishonesty…that my integrity was questioned had me baffled, but I choose get in my car, turn on the ignition, and try to have some dignity and grace.  I drove away with no music on.  Nothing, except the sound of my wheels.  And I did not look in my rear view mirror.  Couldn’t deal with my lack of emotion.  I was feeling nothing.

This morning’s run: Today’s schedule called for 6 miles at MP.  I finally have admitted that I have a problem training at the level to which I can run.  I like to pick my marathon time, then try to run to those paces all training season long.  Since I’m a 6 hour marathoner, that’s something like 13:45.  Which is a pace that I do.not.want.

So today I shot for a pace somewhere between 11:30 (4:30 marathon), and 12:00 (5:15 marathon).  Again, not accepting where I am or what I can do, I predictably suffered in the first mile.  I settled in, and ended up with a 12:00 even pace (1:12:00).  I came home, and consulted the McMillan calculator, and again kicked myself for not just targeting 12:30 or something.

This is what I do.  This stab my finger in the air and land on a spot thing.  I picked 11:30 because slower sounds, well…slower.  I don’t recognize my limitations or my realities.  Running heavier does not make for fleet feet, and until this weight comes off, I will be slower.  Period.  (On a side note, I joined Weight Watchers AGAIN …I’m a LifeTime member from 1990.  I went into Baskin Robbins that night with my nametag on.  Not so cool.)

My thoughts were as we started were like, how in the hell could I have run 8 miles 3x a week right before the LA Marathon?  It seems like a long time ago that I was able to do that.  I stopped at the gym, ran over the overpass, and started to accept that I would be on Spring Creek for that long stretch.  As I was rounding Mile 3, my drinking fountain came into view.  It seems like I got some wind after the water break.

It was treacherous and painful.  But I finished this little training run.  My marathon pace is much slower, so next week I attempt somewhere between 12 & 12:30 for that run.  I’m slow.  I’m okay with it.

Beginnings:  Tomorrow I head to Merced to be with Harley Guy.  We have been together 6 months…..me, the girl who was never going to fall in love again, who had shut the door on the possibility of real love, has found a peace inside of a relationship where he loses everytime he says he will never cheat on me, because I’m hard wired to disbelieve him…because I was told that regularly, and long time readers know…that people are dark, man.  But, he tells me anyway, and we have our alert system, and watch for hits and keep our relationship a priority.  That because I was willing to learn to have integrity within a relationship, I get to have this thing.  We head to Merced, to celebrate 6 months, then to the Bass Lake Triathlon where we sleep in Sam’s cabin in Wishon Cove, and I run a 5k and we drink coffee and hang out and enjoy summer.

And as I end this post…my son unloads my car with all the last remnants of a teaching career…and he pulls out a full ream of white copy paper that my students accidentally took to my car.  The ultimate joke.  Copy paper, which is like gold to most teachers…and I have a full box in my garage…I’ll be heading back down that way for the Udder Run…and this box will be left my old classroom, because God knows…I don’t steal…and even if I wanted that paper (i don’t), I would not take it.  Especially not now.

and. that is all.

tomorrow the career changes. or something.

from 1981 until now the only thing i could count on

was a fresh classroom that i could call mine

with my name on the board and a fresh set of students

waiting to do battle with ernest hemingway, algebra and the periodic chart

long gone are lesson plans created from my heart and soul…

yet. even if i could get that time back, i’m sure that i would. not.

1981. long ago dreams. $12,000. a year.

and i was happy to have it because i did not go into teaching for the money

i went in because i had nothing else to do.

i stayed for the joy.

even as my students are finishing their presentations

on romeo and juliet

i am trying not to love their work.

but i fail and fail again when students decorate the class

for the wedding that the lovers should have had.

i am trying to pretend that i do not care.

my heart and my head are mismatched with anger at injustice

and hope and love of the craft that is teaching.

and tomorrow.  i drive down a different street. and say.

goodbye.

random dark day. etc.

I look outside the window.  It’s Memorial Day weekend, and it’s the nastiest, darkest, weirdest day.  Of course I went to the car wash.  For the first time in months I dared to pay someone to delve into the belly of my vehicle and clean it.  It took a long time.  Dishes and cups and CD’s and books.

I’m not a depressive.  But, I’m blue… and thrown for a loop at the prospect of real change.  Like, you just always think things will work out, but I’m not so sure this time.  I have zero job prospects after submitting 35 applications.  It’s the first time that I can remember not being secure about a job in the fall.  I have always landed on my feet, and planted myself in a classroom with my bag of tricks.

But, not this time.

I look out the window and see the metaphor of the day.  Off balance.  Not our usual holiday heat wave.  I wash my car and it rains.  I have vertigo (again) and cannot attend the fundraiser in Thousand Oaks that my family has put together for my fundraising efforts for LLS.  I have a man in my life that I love, and the relationship, although previously rocky in parts, has a new sweetness to it.  Lack of drama.  Trust.  And yet.

I cannot help but feel oddly out of sorts.  I can’t run for a few days, but that’s not it.  I have a new life in a new program, and I’ve stepped on toes and have hurt people I cared about.  I didn’t mean to.  I was a bull in a china shop when it came to gracefully telling my truth.  Did you know that?  I had no words.  I stuttered and stumbled and tried to stand up for a new principle that I simply had to embrace.  That even as Gallo Red Wine was something I adored, my obsession with it in 1979 was unhealthy.  That mothering men who don’t need mothers, that having inappropriate boundaries with men while I was still married, these things had taken me down the end of a dark path…one i had been on nearly all my life…and that I emerged from about six weeks ago.

I went to court this week.  I stood up for myself and my boys and seemingly things went very well.  Lack of drama once more.  It took a long time, but I looked over at the man who had my history for 30 years, who birthed and nursed children with me and then broke me and us and spent time with another for 8 of those years…I looked over at him and I hardly recognized him.  Like, when did the universe take away his joy?

I have two more paychecks.  I looked into the face of my boss’ email to me.  Where he called me outlandish. Exaggerated.  And, I stopped.  Because some people simply cannot go there.  I knew.  He knew.  But the world isn’t always fair.  And maybe I don’t play well with others in the sandbox.  That I don’t share what I know and where I’ve been and the awards and accolades I’ve received because it doesn’t really matter to the child in the classroom.  To LeDale.  To countless boys and girls who have allowed me to make a small difference…no, turn this way, not that way.  No medals or trophies or certificates proclaiming me best teacher could ever replace a smile on a student’s face when I stood up for him or taught her how to be a scientist.

My car has secrets.  Of a girl who drives 30 minutes back and forth each day.  Who questions.  Who wonders why we can’t just memorize times tables after all.  Because there’s safety in that.  In learning subjects and predicates and knowing that in May, it’s supposed to be hot.  Knowing that the sun will rise again and set again and knowing that this random dark day will end.  And knowing, that even if it’s dark out, it won’t always be.

In Which He Handed His Balls To My Boss.

100% of my Sophomores passed the CAHSEE test today.  Too bad he let me go.  There’s a longer blog post coming, but I’m pretty sure I should not do that until the last day of school.

What do you think about a CA teacher being let go with such a huge success rate?  Hmmm?

On that first day of school last August, when it was announced that she was no longer my peer, but my boss?  I knew.  My days were numbered.  She became a Vice Principal, X,  with a cause.  She does all the grunt work, so my boss lets her.  She’s on top of that.  So he likes it.  But, in the process, he handed her his balls.

I caught her in some lies.  I caught her quoting my favorite Taylor Mali Poem (What do Teachers Make), and she denied she had ever heard it.  She would not help me when I needed disciplinary assistance.  She told me when I said a student of mine was being bullied, “Well, she hasn’t been honest about her MySpace”.  As if that mattered.  She allowed the bullies to stay at school, while the victim eventually had to leave for a different campus (Happens a lot).   I took her to the union only after 99% certaintly I was being non-reelected.

So now.  100% of my students pass the CAHSEE.  And, because she had an axe to grind, I no longer have a job.  And he let her get away with that.  When he sent out the scores, I sent him back an email saying,  “100% passing.  Too bad you let X win.”  He had promised me a letter of recommendation.  I asked him for it three times.  He never gave it to me, and I’m done asking.  So, it was with certainly that I sent the email, knowing that I had nothing to lose.  I had offered him a conversation whereby he and I could leave our professional relationship without resentment or rancor.  He declined.  So.  I had nothing to lose.

I don’t play nice in the sandbox.  If you lie, I will call you on it.  If you don’t protect a student, I will fight you to the end …it’s not the first time I’ve had to do that, and it won’t be my last…I prefer my integrity to my job, even if that characteristic will not pay the bills. If you say you will help me, but you don’t…I will call you on it.  And I will make you prove to me otherwise.

I’m difficult.  I admit it.  And, I am exactly the teacher I want to be.  High standards. Great demands on students.  And if I have to become a waitress, I will expect the very same thing of myself there.

It’s good to be me.

Onward.

McMurphy: I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.

In one week, I can put a bug so far up her ass, she don’t know whether to shit or wind her wristwatch.

P-p-p-please d-d-don’t tell my m-m-m-mother.

If Mr. McMurphy doesn’t want to take his medication orally, I’m sure we can arrange that he can have it some other way. But I don’t think that he would like it.

Your hand is staining my window.

Education:  California style.  Nurse Ratched likes a rigged game.  That she does…

And…from the book, by Ken Kesey:

“While McMurphy laughs. Rocking farther and farther backward against the cabin top, spreading his laugh out across the water—laughing at the girl, the guys, at George, at me sucking my bleeding thumb, at the captain back at the pier and the bicycle rider and the service-station guys and the five thousand houses and the Big Nurse and all of it. Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy” (p. 237).