Sunday, April 3, 2011

Letter to my Family

Dear family members who read my blog, Got a call from Mom today. And two yesterday. She wants to talk to me. I e-mailed with her last week. She knows I am having a lot of problems. She wants me to come home for awhile. She has promised me sleep! Plenty of work-out time! Food I don't have to cook! I am putting this off because I don't want her to see me when I'm not good. She blames the cancer. I plowed on ahead when I should have rested, physically and emotionally, according to her. I contend that we are giving way to much power to the amputation of a body part. Why am I writing to you? Somebody spilled the beans about my marriage to Mom. I know who DIDN'T tattle on me: Charles. He got in touch and asked when I wanted to tell her. I asked him to hold off mentioning it while I got my shit together. I realize that a blog is not truly private, and so I'm not mad, exactly. But please be careful what you tell Mom. I process my feelings on my blog, so nothing I write here is definitive. Decisions, once they are made? That's what Facebook is for! Why am I writing here, and not on my new blog? I don't want to send any family to the new blog for exactly this reason. If you talk to Mom about me again, here's the message: I'm fine. I am going to pull through. Recovery sponsored in part by New Balance, Jack Daniels, Castle Creek, Tex's Riverways and Guadalupe School. I will be in touch when I am better. She does not need to worry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Note to my Old Blog

I miss you, blog! I have my new place set up to look a lot like this, but I still find myself wandering back here every day. This is where my good writing is. Mwah!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Check Out Our New Location

It's a safe place, beyond the reach of a once-trusted friend who manipulated, then casually discarded me.

Was it REALLY so bad that I need to close a blog that I have maintained this long? Yes. Shocking. I am still in shock.

But I need to write. I really need to write, if I'm going to emerge whole someday.

And I need the rest of you guys. I have never met Amrita, Maria, Dave, Nikki, Luz, JYankee or Katherine; but we've been friends for a long time. If I could (like in Willy Wonka) send boxes of chocolates through cyber-space to thank you for being such awesome friends, I would do it.

So let's ditch this taco stand. I already have a nice URL that I'm making cozy for us. Here's the escape plan:

Followers: There are 14 of you. I'll contact you individually with the new URL.

Blog-buddies from my blog-roll: I'll visit you on your blogs.

Personal friends, non-blogging friends (Amy, Lisa, John, Angie, etc....): I'll e-mail you or reach you on Facebook.

There are a few of you that are hard to reach, but I would love to keep you if I can (Gibbonesque, Kate, my lovely lurkers from Portland, Iowa, the UK , France). The only solution I can think of is for you to e-mail me if you'd be so kind...

I hope you'll stick with me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Moving On

I've been writing this blog for almost four years. I'm stopping now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nose for No

Let me tell you something interesting I learned in graduate school that I now see played out in my regular life: language change primarily originates with girls in the age group pictured above. Scary, huh? This is true of shifts in vowel height (I did a study on that years ago), grammar, and introduction of new words. Don't even get me started on slang.

It was dreaded Girl Scout Cookie Booth day yesterday, and Sara and I were rostered from 3:00-6:00. We need to sell a lot of cookies if we want to go to San Luis Obispo in June. Our share of the take from a single box of cookies? Forty cents. So I should be gung-ho about the cookie table. We got a good gig, too: Dan's Foods. Only the State Liquor Store would be better. Or the Alta parking lot, maybe. My attitude was not the best, though. Yesterday was a very rough day for me, heartache-wise. When beating the shit out of the heartbreak monster, go in armed with more than a box of cookies. Sadness makes me sleepy - I could barely stay awake while I was driving over there. And then I found that Julia, the troop leader, had set up the table outside. Brrrrr... I hopped and paced with my hands in my pockets. It's not very fun work. The boredom was only broken up by occasional sweet spots:

1. The lady who bought out our entire supply of Do-Si-Dos, then opened a box on the spot so she could have one. She offered one to the guy next to her as well.

2. The gentleman who returned to buy cookies after he had completed his shopping. I saw him and said, "Ha! I knew you'd be back!" and winked at him. He clutched his chest and said, "Woman! You send Cupid's arrow straight through my heart!" I sent him on his way with lots of cookies, but without my phone number.

3. The annual visit from my friend "Uncle" Alan. Our kids have lots of "aunts" and "uncles". He has known the location and time frame of Sara's cookie stint for weeks. He showed up declaring loudly, "I'M HEEEEERE!" He stayed for a good half-hour, bugging Sara. Asking for a senior citizens discount. Cash discount? He eats all the samples: "Yummmmmmmy!" Thank goodness he really buys a lot of cookies, because he also drives Sara ape-shit.

Things got slow, though. We were cold and bored. Our legs ached from standing on the concrete. We had one of those signs like the Little Caesar's employees use to advertise on the street corners. One girl said, "Somebody should go out and dance with that sign."
"I donwanna."
"I donwanna."
"'kay. Nose for no." Everyone's fingers touched their noses. Except for mine and Julia's. "What're you guys doing?"
"Nose for no. Last person to touch their nose has to do it." During the questioning, Julia's finger had stolen to her nose, leaving only me. Well, I didn't know about "nose for no". How could I know? Let's do it again. Uh, no.

Fine. I picked up the sign and went to a very visible place. I can take a dare, and luckily, I can still bust a move. I made sure to grab my crotch, shake my ass, moonwalk, play air guitar on the sign, etc... Well, it made my legs feel better, and I was most gratified when I turned around to see that Sara, face purple, had hidden under the table completely.

I got the girls to choreograph and dance to a song as well. Well, kind of a song. It went "Girl Scout Cookies. Aaaahhhhh / Girl Scout Cookies. Aaahhhh" That's what they are doing above.

So, yesterday was bad. But you can't dance sad. At least I can't, so I had a couple moments of relief there. And, since Si is gone (he doesn't eat pizza), we got a couple of Wasatch Pizzas to eat as soon as we walked in the door. As I sat down and picked up a warm piece of pizza in one hand and a bottle of Bobsled Ale in the other, I felt 5 seconds of relief there, too. I latch on to anything I can find. We have Girl Scout cookies, too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shelter from the Storm

This post took a while to write; it was painful and I was not really up to the task. I couldn't wrangle my language. Si is gone for the weekend, staying at his job. I am trying to recover my tranquility.

Please: shelter is what I need right now. I sing that Bob Dylan tune under my breath all day. In previous posts, I have described flying adjectives. Today, we look to Wile E. Coyote for inspiration. In this picture, you can see that the 80 pound adjective is dropping from above. The image I really wanted was the one of Wile E. Coyote walking along with the anvil on his head, all rumpled like an accordion. Remember that one? It was the perfect visual representation of my feelings. Must be copyrighted, though. In a previous post, I described peace, and a plan. Hmmm... Let's just say that Simon didn't get that memo.

Comparing myself to Wile E Coyote kind of sucks. For starters, he is (in my opinion) a second tier cartoon character. Everyone likes Bugs better. I like Foghorn Leghorn better ("I say! I say!") All Wile E. Coyote does is mindlessly pursue Roadrunner and get smashed up every single time. He is a victim, in a way. Or just an idiot. Now, I do have a spine. Anyone who knows me will attest to this. So where does it go when it comes to this relationship? Beats me. But that is one of the reasons that I'm finally done. I'm sick of feeling like Wile E. Coyote. Sitting cluelessly in a hole waiting for the anvil to drop is NOT who I want to be. I think we can all agree.

But I need shelter from the storm. This is hard, and I'm T-I-R-E-D. I would love to find safe harbor. Deciding to end a marriage means saying good-bye to a steady, warm embrace; someone to tell me that I am still the awesome person I was before this started; someone to meet me at the door (both literally and figuratively). I'm single now, so that kind of shelter is not for me.

I have no shelter, but I need to BE a shelter. That's the other hard part. Am I going to have the strength for that?

Sara is sleeping over at her friend's house, so just Nate was at home. After supper, I lured him onto my lap for a little while. Don't worry, Nate! No one looking! Nate wrapped his arms around my neck and we compared bony bits. He has the hardest head! He wins that one, hands down! Who has a meaner, sharper chin? Time for a chin fight. Who has the pointiest elbows? Nate inherited his small, sharp bones from me, so it's generally a pretty fair fight. We laughed; I kissed him on his less freckly spots. I told that kids when they were little that freckles come from my kisses. They still half believe it.

I sent Nate to get into his pajamas and leaned back in my chair. I'm not sure what triggered the adjective onslaught: it seems to have started with a phone call that I answered "tersely" earlier in the day? At any rate, as soon as Nate left the room, I had to jump into my foxhole. Let's add "stupid" and "ignorant" to my personal adjective list. I didn't respond at all. I scrooged up small in my chair and looked at the floor for a bit, but then I heard Nate's little voice keening in his room and hurried down there. He was curled up in a fetal position on his bed, sobbing, with snot bubbling out of his nose. Nate specializes in snot. He was scared of the shouting and worried that I was going to get hit, he said. "Dad is not going to hit me." I curled around him and buried my face between his shoulder blades.
"I can't stand the tension."
"I know. In a few more days, it'll be better. I'm going to live somewhere else for a week, but I'll come over or call every day. Then I'll come back home and Dad will go on his business trips."
"Is this the worst part?" (I told the kids that the worst would be over soon.)
"The conflict will get better, then it will go away. I promise."
"But what if Dad can't get the money to-" (Si thinks it's important to share all the potential financial problems with the kids, so they "know what they're facing".)
"Remember: what is the only thing you need to focus on?"
"I am safe."
"That's right. You are safe. Mom and Dad love you. Life is full of good, happy stuff. After this bad time is over, we'll feel good and happy again." (Jesus, I hope this is true.)
I looked around among the (TOO MANY) stuffed animals on his bed, found the sock monkey and tucked it under his chin. "Mom, if we move from here, can I take all my stuff with us?" "Yeah, sure. Except maybe the crayon shaving collection..."

I read from Harry Potter and tucked him in, then returned to the (blessedly) deserted kitchen. I'm not really cold, but I am shaking with emotional fatigue. My friend Liliana assured me today that, yes, I would find happiness again someday. When I am out in the world during the day, chatting with my friends, I feel a lot better. Here, in my own home?

Not a safe harbor. No shelter here.
I opened a checking account today. Every day I move this boulder a little further up the hill.

My heart is still at large, too, which doesn't help. I told my friend Diane that I would try not to write about that, so I won't elaborate too much. It is not getting any better, though. That much I will tell you. Today (what the hell is it about Fridays???) was so hard. The rim of the bathtub, where I perch to wince, to slump, to stare straight ahead, to yell my heartache into a folded towel? The fucking enamel is going to wear off. If you are going to be a shelter from your kids' storm, all your emotion has to be confined to the bathroom. Or the late-night commute.

I'm working on it: healing up. Once in a while, I wink at myself in the mirror and treat myself to my old, world-beating grin. Oh, yeah. THAT girl! She's FUN! SHE IS STILL ME. I'm still in pursuit of her. She deserves a chance. She deserves fewer anvils. She may be ignorant at times (the blind spots are plain to see..), but she is not stupid. She sure as hell could use some shelter. Wile E Coyote would order a "shelter from the storm" kit from Acme. I'll go on-line.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


First of all, JYANKEE! Send up a flare as soon as possible, please! Iwata/Shitzuoka is south, but still coastal. Your fans will be waiting to hear that all the Beans are OK.

The last few days have been sooooo busy. You know how I was going to conquer all my paperwork? OK: "Uncle". That was the plan, and you know how I love a plan. However, the plan has joined my heart: they are both AWOL. That's OK, I'll punt. Some lists for our amusement:

Junk piled on my nightstand (a real cross-section of my life just now):

kids' school photos;

Scrap of paper where I have jotted down a bunch of places I'd like to visit someday;

Lego Club membership form;

"Runner's World" magazine;

"Paradise", by Toni Morrison;

"Running 101";

Letter from Evelyn Jahnke, elderly family friend from Markesan;

"Justice" catalog;

"Shambahala Sun" magazine for Sara, who is still fascinated by Buddhism;

list of puns;

Index cards with different weight-lifting routines on them;

flier for ESL overseas teaching fellowships (as if...);

hot cup of chai, with spoon;

school chorus schedule;

Pamphlets ("Divorce Education for Children"; "Mandatory Divorce Mediation");

Note from a friend;



half-marathon training schedule.

Things that are causing stress (I don't stress out too easily. Normally, I just get a little adrenaline rush, them laugh it off. But things ARE starting to pile up a little. Forgive me for not being your Zen poster child just now. I will again later.):

  1. Fear. [to the tune of "Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Ales"] "I have nothing to be scared of / I am not a chi-cken-shit!" I sing it pompously, in a stately fashion. It doesn't really work, though. I am about to make an enormous change. I want to have faith in my judgement and feel strong. I am learning that I have holes in my faith-bucket. I feel alone. My heartache is as bad as ever, even though I don't write about it. Still lots of head-beween-the-knees time. Maybe I need a different tune. Something snappier?

  2. Hash from a can. I admit that I liked it OK as a kid, the way my mom made it with an egg on top. We ate it a lot. This, and Spam - I fear them for their fat and sodium. I am currently able to afford fresh healthy food and plenty of variety. I don't want to feed my kids hash & eggs.

  3. My hair. It's catywumpus, and now it's suddenly too long. It was perfect yesterday and too long today. How does it DO that? This will be the second haircut since the sad times came along. First I measured it in days (42); then weeks (6); now haircuts (2).

  4. Judgement. I found an anonymous printout in my cubby today: statistics about how miserable people are after they get divorced; how many people regret it; what percentage feel lonely; the number of people who think they will find happiness, but don't; how most people would rather stay unhappily married than get a divorce; etc...

  5. Shoelaces. I bought new ones for Nate, but they are not the right length. I discovered this after I had removed the worn-out lace from one shoe. I had to put the worn-out lace back in, using a nut-meat pick to push it through the eyelets. While Nate stood there with his book bag in hand, fussing at me.

  6. My paycheck, which is not as big as I wish it was all the sudden. I looked at it tonight and thought: the retainer I own my attorney is DOUBLE this. A month's salary. Granted, I think we will use only a fraction of that, and I will get most of it back; but I need the moolah. So I can get a haircut.

  7. The student newspaper. I LOVE our student newspaper, and I'm proud of it. one of my better ideas! It's fantastic! It is also a hell of a lot of work; and on the day it comes out, I am always pinched for time because of it.

  8. Mark. I had to tell him about the demise of SiKat tonight. He was one of the last people to find out, because I fear his disapproval so much. There are two people I reeeeeaaaally don't want to tell: my mom and my Mark.

  9. Anne is resigning. Another school made her an offer she couldn't refuse. She needs to be out of here in about two weeks. Hmmm... I need to post the position and collect sufficient applicants (10 days - 2 weeks); interview (1 week); facilitate paperwork, orientation, security check, W-4, office training (3 days); train the new teacher on assessment, administration, curriculum, volunteer support (4 days); get transitional cross-training set up (1 week). This is making my stomach loop the loop a little. She felt bad, springing this on me at such a rough personal time. I thought, "drop in the bucket"; but it is a VERY LARGE drop. The stress is two-fold: the work, the upheaval, the substitutions, etc..; and that Anne is a phenomenal teacher. She is one of those professionals who has both amazing cedentials and a great classroom presence. I'm going to miss her.

Things that relieved stress a bit:

  1. My attorney. A) He looked at our money situation today and assured me that I would NOT be eating hash. He looked me straight in the eye and told me that I can do this, emotionally and economically. B) He is cutting me a big discount. I wonder what he likes to eat? C) We had a very enjoyable verbal spar about a criminal case he is defending. It is a well-known case here, and I loved getting him animated about it. D) As I left today, he reached out and grabbed both my shoulders from behind, gave me a shake and told me again that I was going to be OK. I felt like a prizefighter. He didn't try squirting water into my mouth, though.

  2. My colleague MarySue, who took me out to lunch at La Cai Noodle House today, listened to 92% of my sad story and didn't judge me. She went through a divorce a few years ago, and her second marriage is "a thousand times" better, according to her. She reminded me that, in tough times, work can be a sanctuary. "Let us be your village", she said.

  3. Mark. He was shocked into complete stillness for a moment or two while I thought, "Oh no! What must he think of me?" Then he grabbed both of my wrists in his hands and assured me that everything was going to be OK.

  4. Linguistics. I tried to blow off Public Relations Committee meeting, to work on my paperwork; but I was called in regardless, because the conversation had turned to language. Actually, there is very little I would rather do than discuss semantics. Why does the phrase "teach vision" grate on us? Which two of these three words are most important when describing us: literacy; community; education? How weighted has the word "immigrant" become? I am fascinated with words that get highjacked by politics. It's a hobby of mine. I could go on and on - it's a whole blog entry on its own. Just the word "Mexican"can get me on a 10 minute mini-dissertation. I love this stuff!

  5. My students. Of course.

How my students and I amused each other this evening:

  1. Betting;
I found this "ice cream scoop" in Second Grade. It is really a game spinner of sorts: you push the little lever and the "ice cream" spins. It comes up vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. I was enchanted. I asked my tutor, Josh, if he would care to lay down a nickel on guessing the flavor that would come up. He did this a few times and lost a number of nickels. Then Hugo did a few tries, then Victor. The house was definitely up on the deal, so I took my casino on the road and roamed from classroom to classroom. Things got fairly high-stakes while playing with my "boyfriend", Bill. He ended up winning $.25 from me. Still, the house came out ahead. The students laughed their asses off. This is a good thing.

2. Explaining the difference between "lie" and "lay". Native speakers gathered round for this one as well.

3. Writing my examples of present / past / participal of "lie" and "lay" on the white board with such geek-ola enthusiasm, that I realized too late that I was using a permanent Sharpie.

4. Using a trick that a volunteer showed me, I took a Dry Erase marker and wrote over the Sharpie, then wiped the board clean with ease. Did you know that? That Dry Erase will lift permanent marker? I was so impressed!

5. Explaining why the "-ed" ending on past tense verbs somethings sounds like a /t/ ("washed"); sometimes sounds like a /d/ ("played"); sometimes sounds like "uhd" ("lifted").

6. Putting my hand on my throat and making everyone within a 30 foot radius do the same while going "Aaaaaahhhhhh..." "p-p-p-p-p-p-p-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-", etc... "Are your vocal chords vibrating NOW? How about NOW?" Paul Delgado said, "You CRAZY, Teacher!"

Oh, Paul... You don't know the half of it!