Thirty-two years ago

Thirty-two years ago I pledged to be a better writer. I took New Year’s resolutions seriously then. I hadn’t been into resolutions for very many years at that point, but was already impatient with myself. If I were a turned over turtle at that point, I would have refused assistance out of pure stubborness. Maybe that’s why my family refers to me as S. For all of these years, I thought it was because of my name. You’ll have to ask them. They may not divulge the true meaning.

True meaning is so hard to hold onto. I’m not exactly sure what I mean. I told you that it was hard to hold on to.

As I look at this slightly beat-up spiral from 1983. I think it’s a little on the musty side. It doesn’t get to come off the shelves that often. I am certain that my journal attempt was to get a glimpse of what the true meaning of my life. I don’t really know why a 23-year-old would be so compelled to document as much of their life. It didn’t help that I had a lot of time on my hands.

For those of you who ever got to wander dark halls and streets under the guise of being a security officer, you’ll know what I mean. Long stretches of times, sixteen hour shifts sometimes sandwiched between eight hours off. I think my angels during the times of my patrolling in the Combat Zone of Boston were working overtime. I might have weighed 120 pounds sopping wet and so Niave. I had not one street smart cell in my entire body, but I  wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that I couldn’t do the job because I was female. They wanted to fire me so badly. I pretended I wasn’t scared when I was so scared I could hardly breath. I probably didn’t write too much about this in the journal. Even though I was only writing to myself, some things are hard to face even to myself. Does this make sense?

As a security officer, low on the pole, if you could call my position on the pole, I worked all holidays. New Year’s never were a big thing that I recall, so why not work. I can see myself at the desk in the hall lobby of the Biewend Building in Boston. I no longer remember the name of the street, though Boyleston has surfaced. It’s strange where bits of information come from. If I worked at it, I probably could envision what those streets looked like 32 years old. I’m told that there’s no Red Light District and the city’s cleaned up its act, but that wasn’t the case when I worked for New England Medical Center. That was more than a lifetime ago. Perhaps even two.

I don’t know if I had named the 80 page narrow ruled paper Volume I before I filled it. Duh, all I have to do is read what I wrote 32 years ago, and I’d not have to ask stupid questions. “I pledge this book to be Volume I of 1983 journal.” Even though the notebooks slight in size, at least I did have the foresight to think that 1983 was going to be more important than eighty pages. But since my track record for keeping writing resolutions hadn’t been so great, and I felt like in my 23 years, that was a long time of not being able to write routinely. Twenty-three years seemed like a long time then. Now twenty-three years comes and goes in a snap.

I didn’t really have an idea what I wanted this journal was going to be about. I know I had questions. I really didn’t think I would still have those same questions 54 years later, but some of us are slower learners. After all, is this a race? I used to think so.

One of the things that I promised to do is to write on good days and bad days. When I was twenty-three, I had no idea what a bad day was. That didn’t happen until I was 28. I call those the Cancer Years. Kicked me in the butt from here to Sunday. I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds good doesn’t it?

When I was 23, I was a lost soul. I had no idea who I was supposed to be. Some things haven’t changed. I was just telling a former student, Garrett, that exact thing. Three years after having him in military school, he still wasn’t doing his work, but he’s learned how to do enough to graduate this year. Congratulations.

I think about how I was before graduating from high school in 1978. My life was simple. There was me the athlete and me the not so great student. I had room to be overzealous with hockey and soccer. I knew my role. I dreamed of being a really good pe teacher. Vet school had fallen off the radar early into high school.

When I got to Ithaca College, the person who I thought I was who was going to get me through hockey seasons, and later on lacrosse, would some how haul my ass through the curriculum. But my simple image of who I was started to unravel; it was as if my ball of yarn had unrolled and was just rolling down the hills of the campus. No. I don’t knit. I was going to say that my role after starting college was like that of whale on the Oregon Coast many years ago that was blown up. If you’ve not seen it, it’s probably still on YouTube for one of the stupidest things a person can think of. But that’s the way I felt. I exploded, sending bits and pieces of debris in every direction.

Make that whale an iguana and not an exploding one. I got to be rather good at changing colors depending upon what “kind” of people I was around. And as I was meeting new aspects of my self, it was getting harder and harder to get to that goal.

That goal vanished when I destroyed my right knee playing lacrosse. Depending on the story version I tell, it was a tragic event and one of the stupidest things I’d ever done in my life, and I’ve done my share.

Without sports and the ability to continue as a physical education student, the anchors I had holding me to at least two recognizable characteristics, let go. I got to be such a master of disguises, I no longer even recognized myself.

IC, Ithaca College, opened up windows of so many more facets of my being, even those that I wasn’t sure weren’t mine, making knowing who I was more complicated. Too complicated. Life wasn’t as simple as I had been trying to keep it.

Maybe that is what the purpose of this spiral notebook was for, to keep my life in some sense orderly. That’s not the usual adjective one would use to describe me, though I will admit that the bookshelves of three ring notebooks, which is what the journal transferred to as it grew, shows a rather orderly life.  I doubt that there’s anything earthshaking in my journal, but I’m hoping that down the line, I can sift out a nugget of blogging material.

Cat hair

catsbystyle2-27-15 at 2.22 PM #3If having large Gold fish chew on your toe cuticles, I imagine that having cat claws slightly puncturing my scalp could be a cheaper alternative, not an alternative to bad cuticles and dead tissue, but to some sort of therapy. Why else would Catsby be on my head? Maybe this will be my new therapy when the Neuro Feedback is done. Just a few more weeks.

At first, the mysterious cat head message started very gently. I had just taken a shower, so my hair was unusually wet. And since Catsby hardly ever spends much time with me while I am on my green comfy chair, it didn’t occur to me that it would be her. Licking. Combing with a paw. Yet it didn’t fit any of the other cats M.O., though I can’t pass by a groaner and call it their M.E.O.W. I warned you.

The licking and the stroking was going on for a while. I still hadn’t looked up. I had seen Ying out of the corner of my eye earlier, but she’s so much more of a needer. Kneeder? I like it with a K better.

t was starting to think that I had a former hair dresser perched on my head, teasing my used to be golden locks, though hasn’t been locks in forty years or more. And there is some gold in the mix. Gold. Brown. Flecks of silver.

The first yank of hair finally caused me to look up and confirm that Catsby was about to do something to me. Once Catsby got at least three paws in the mix, I realized that I had to snap a picture of this Former French Beautician at work since it happens so infrequently. This may have been just the second time she’s done this to me. Guess this means I ought to wash my hair more often. You probably already had thought of that, but I’m a little slow today. I only realized that what Catsby was doing to me was inflicting pain when I saw the picture I downloaded. Can’t miss the grimace.

Catsby is in bread loaf position, making sure that I can’t move away from the keyboard. I suspect I have a lot of write down from the indications of her steady purr. It’s also going to take a while before my pin-cushion head stops hurting.

When do I have to start worryin

Wheels are moving; the plans for a European trip has commenced. The wheels may need some WD-40 as they are a bit squeaky and stiff. We may even be a little bit behind schedule for a trip just a few months or so around the corner, but how am I doing for being on schedule for worrying? I don’t want to start worrying prematurely.

One issue worth thinking about now to forgo worrying is the business of credit cards. Before listening to the AAA travel-packer expert last Wednesday, I hadn’t heard of a chipped credit card and that sometimes the non chip card won’t work internationally. I don’t have any credit cards and am reluctant in going back down this path.

Just because I don’t like to worry, this doesn’t mean I’m not a realist. I wish I didn’t have to worry about thieves and scoundrels. If there’s a will, there’s a way for someone rip us off. I wish I could be ignorant of this, but there’s no bliss when getting ripped off. I am told that I can’t even wear my ballet in my back pocket. Couldn’t I have it booby-trapped?

I do know from plenty of experiences that often times, a good thing isn’t always as good as it seems. My dad was really good at teaching me this lesson. While at AAA, they were having a promotion for their credit card. Of course they did. And we were able to use the cards right away. The free emergency travel kits motivated quick signatures. Suitcases. I have had bowling balls with wheels, but I’ve never had a suitcase with wheels, four of them. I’m trying to remember the name of the suitcase my mom had; she had the entire set; they were red, as I recall. They were the kinds that Gorillas could mess with and the suitcases proved to be strong enough. I’m sure someone will be able to tell me the name. Maybe the name will pop up in my mind as I write. Samsonite or something like that. Makes me think of Samson. Heavy and awkward, but Gorilla proof.

There were a lot of things that we could have bought at the AAA store. I didn’t even know there was a store. I thought the little penguin suitcase was cute, but I maybe have been able to get a pair of pants and a shirt in the case. I would never have thought about buying clothes at AAA, but they had some great Columbia shirts. But we were able to resist from buying much. My card’s  still a virgin, and it may just remain that way since I’m learning more about the way credit cards work. It’s more like a re-learning. I do know that all credit cards will be cut up when we get back home. Giving me one less thing to worry about.

I may get away with not having to worry about anything on this trip because I have someone willing to do all the worrying for me. She’s already started. Of course, figuring out how to lessen the burdens would be the best.

Can preparing for a European trip be like a game of whack a mole? When the worry or concern pops up, address it, and beat the snot out of it if possible. Like the credit cards. It didn’t occur to me to compare the different credit cards out there. I’ve not used one in so long; all of mine have expired or never were activated. Yearly fee or not? Turns out, the yearly fee may not be such a bad thing to pay. With AAA, I may not have to pay a yearly fee, but the  transaction fees for international purchases is higher than the card that charges a yearly fee. There’s a bank that will even waive the yearly fee and still not charge  transaction fees. Too bad we couldn’t just work off the costs and not have to deal with changing money. Maybe in our youth we could have done something like this, but right now neither of us are sure that our bodies will handle this trek. Unfortunately, this just gets me thinking about how I ought to have all of my affairs in order before stepping onto that first of many planes.

I’ve already promised that I’m not going to garden or bowl about a month before taking off for the Friendly Skies. That should take some of the worry away of how my body will be feeling. How long can a massage and a chiropractic treatment keep me pain free? I’m trying to not worrying about my back and traveling. That’s something I don’t need to begin to worry about. Some things are worth waiting for the last minute.

I am not beyond having worries. I ignore them as much as possible. As a result, I don’t make too many changes very often. I can go days without ever leaving my property. I’m easily content in familiarity and routine, though I’m that kind of person that has resisted creating routines, but they happen. Daily rituals have a way of sneaking up on me, creating a rhythm that’s predictable.

But just when I get settled in, the predictable collapses and life’s direction takes an unexpected  turn. I refuse to worry about the twists and turns that are going to happen  considering I don’t want to worry about anything. Change, I tell myself, is an opportunity. Perhaps I won’t know what that opportunity will be, but it will be something. it’s good to have a positive voice reassuring myself.

Last Friday, while at bowling, I was telling my friend Joan that the hardest change will be being away from the dogs and cats, though mostly the dogs. I don’t leave them very often. It’s probably a lot harder for me than for them.

But I don’t want to worry about this until just a few days before I leave. It’s not like I can do anything about this worry. The animals were fine when I went back East last August. I was gone close to three weeks by the time traveling days were counted in and all was fine for me and the dogs. The dogs and I.

Is there something else that I should be worrying about for a European trip down the road? But since today’s a Sunday and Sunny, I can’t imagine that I need worry now. Maybe I can figure out how to have a worry-free vacation. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The magical moments of teaching

Today, February 19, I substitute taught a first grade class at Bertha Holt Elementary School. Love that school. Actually, there’s not an elementary school in Eugene or Springfield that I don’t like or even love.

Today’s highlights were bookends on a great day.  Typically, I’m not a morning person. 7:30 in the morning report time didn’t get me up on the right side of the bed, though after feeding the Pack of Labs, my sour mood disintegrated. Sorry Ricky, Abby, and Lucy, but you were not one of the bookends.

What really started the day off was when the first two little boys came into the classroom. Upon entering after the first little boy arrived, the child was disappointed  that he was not the first child in the room. I told him that the other little boy was also not the first child in the classroom that I was the first child. They laughed and said that that wasn’t possible. Why? I asked. Almost simultaneously, they said that I couldn’t because I was a teacher. I pointed to the student-teacher and said she was it; she probably didn’t realize we were playing tag and she were now it.

I stomped my foot as lightly and as emphatically as possible and showed my displeasure by making my lower lip stick out. I begged and pleaded, “Can’t I be a kid again just today?” I told them that that wasn’t fair and retreated. The boys laughed at me. I think I made bonus points with Anthony. Anthony, and these names by the way are fictitious, except for the school, so don’t get the wrong idea, was one of eight children on a point card system. For the ten years I’ve been in the business, that’s far the most I’ve ever seen. Maybe our early morning pre-class joshing session allowed him to deal with another sub and not have any behavioral problems.

These special moments I have with kids aren’t things that can be planned. It’s like a teachable moment, though the majority of the time, I become the student.

The day was coming to an end. a room full of first graders going in so many directions is tiring for me. It was fun, but I was ready for some Lab time.  While waiting for parents to pick their children up, I had a chance to shoot the dandy Lion with a student who complained about always being the last one to be picked up. I took a dandy lion and flicked the head up high into the sky with my thumb. The kid looked at me with astonishment, a feat that marveled anything that he’d ever seen before. Okay, so he’s only a first grader and easily impressed, but that’s okay. I’ll take a minute or two of Fame even with a small munchkin.

For two minutes we both picked the weeds and watched heads fly. And every one of them caused my heart to soar as well.

This moment is brought to you by, “This is Why I teach.”

Save Often

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I’m listening to the song  Over the Rainbow by Israel ‘IZ’ Kamakawiwo’ole. That song’s like seeing an old friend, an old friend that doesn’t mind my singing voice. There aren’t that many of them. This song is helping me put the final touches on this blog so I can finally give the stamp of approval.

Earlier while blogging, I was listening to a new song, 75 Septembers by Cheryl Wheeler, a singer that I should have known about so much longer than just today. Have I been living under a rock? For those of you who know the words to this folksy song,  I’m not sitting on a porch, but I am wondering where the time has gone just the same. My comfy green chair will have to suffice for this metaphysical journey. Thank you Bex, my buddy in Salem, Massachusetts, for introducing me to Wheeler’s melodies;  dominoes have fallen all around as Cheryl’s songs string together  so many more more musicians that I had never heard before. Pandora’s also made sure that I’ve had heart-felt reunions. I’ve not listened to McLachlan in a while, though that doesn’t seem feasible. Where has the time gone by?

Two days ago, February 13th, my eldest of elder sisters turned 65. I’m probably not supposed to mention your age, but I’ve never been very sensitive to my age. Okay, so the never’s an exaggeration. I used to hate be considered younger than I  really was. It was very embarrassing to be pulled over because I didn’t look old enough to drive, as if I were sitting on telephone books. As I recall, I was on my way to the cemetery. It was the first time I had ever driven by myself. I must have been driving my dad’s Buick. The Boat. The Big Green Riviera.

Was I the only one with the lead foot? Was this an inherited Gene? I still like to go fast, though I have to be on the defense when I get the Mini Cooper out. I don’t want to think how many times some huge rig hadn’t seen me, causing me to get the fuck out of their way. People, it’s not that small of a car. (Not sure if this paragraph is going to make it past the next editing. Doesn’t quite match my style, but sometimes I get so tired of being so clean-cut.)

This isn’t the year for birthday milestones for my sisters and I, though eventually less time will happen in between those markers. Every year will become worth celebrating. The problem is that we never know when that age is.

A week ago, I attended a friend’s memorial service. Thirty-Nine years is way too long to be at the end. It’s not even midlife.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. To see a vibrant life-lover go before his flame had a chance to peak. What right do I have to even begin to doubt my purpose in this life and dare to do something about it as if I really had a choice. I know that Life’s not something to be taken for granted, though isn’t that true in that it’s so much easier to feel that way when we have plenty of something rather than not having much left. Not many people know where the gas gauge of life sits at. We don’t get a red light that goes on to tell us that were running on fumes.

Please don’t jinx me. I think the Mini and the Subaru have enough gas to keep me going for a couple of weeks. I think I’ve only ran out of gas once in my life, but I  try if humanly possible to steer clear of these kinds of hazards.

Speaking of hazards, I’m not sure what I think about turning the speed limit of 55 next month. What choice do I have? I might as well embrace the double five. I should at least feel proud that my birthday is on one of the best pi days of this century, perhaps even more. There’s a shirt i want to buy to commemorate the number. At least if I had the shirt, I’d remember the number beyond the  3.142015. It would be cool if there was another Pi baby reading this, but I’ve got my doubts. If I were picking up more followers, the odds would increase. Yes, this does mean that if you were born on March 14h, I’d love to hear from you. No pressure.

I’ve been chasing down a blog for a few days now. Any blog would do. My last blog was rather on the lame side, so it’s feeling like it’s been longer since I last posted. I start to itch when I go too long without publishing something. Getting started in blogging has never been a problem. Some get started easily, but then when I least expect it, I run into a wall and fall flat on my face. So many ideas never get out of the pages of my journal; they never get off the ground.

Some blogs make it through a draft, but don’t make it through the first editing. Some blogs I’m so desperate to put up a shot that I’ll blindly hit publish though I know my heart and soul isn’t it. That’s okay, isn’t it? Can I afford to invest heart and soul in everything I write? Can I afford not to? I never thought that I would ever say that this was good enough for publishing. I thought I was done a few hours ago, but then I made the worst mistake a writer on a computer can make: I didn’t save. I tried to pick up the pieces the best that I could. I almost scrapped the project completely, but that itch is going to be too great if I put it off for tomorrow.

 

 

Does this scam actually work?

Friday, February 13, 2015

I’m so sick of fraudulent emails, promising me thousands of dollars; money they say is my inheritance or such and is easy to get at.

Are there people who respond to these emails? Dave Bernards from the bank of Africa emailed me and said that I have $570,000 in an abandoned  account. Really? I think I would know if I had something stashed away.

Typically, I don’t read these kinds of emails. I just delete them. In the letter from Mr. Bernards, it stated that I hadn’t done anything about my account because I was hospitalized. Unless it involved a concussion, I would think that I would remember something like this.

Do you ever reply to the people who write to you and say they have important information? Lilian wrote to me: ‘How are you? hope you are fine and in perfect condition of health. Please I went through your profile and i read it and took interest in it, please if you don’t mind i will like you to write me on this ID ( lilian.evean@hotmail.com )”

I don’t know what Lilian wants, but in this email she sent me, “I am a woman,My name is Lilian I do not know how you feel about it, can write me through my e-mail address as well. I’m sorry if I’m embarrassing, I have to explain everything about me, and I will send you my picture, when I receive the answer in my address.” Maybe Lilian doesn’t care that I’m also a female. Susan may not be a common name where Lilian is from. I just wish I could tell her that she’s barking up the wrong tree.

I admit that I subscribe to too many things. Quotes. Horoscopes. Teaching tidbits. And so on, but I’m so inundated with so much junk. I got an email from Bank of America saying that the security of my account has been breached and  some features of my account will be frozen until I…I don’t have a Bank of America card. Are there people who actually write back or click on the link?

I feel badly that I’ve become such a pessimist, but when I get emails like this: “We very much regret to inform you about our present condition,an incident of war rebellion operations puts my parents and my siblings to the graves .
We don`t know if you can be of assistance as our representative or guardian in a  financial matter ? which our uncle swore to  eliminate our live in order to acquire all by himself.We are ready to reward you greatly.
Awaiting your fruitful and positive reply.
Thanks  and Warm Regards,
Gisele and Tah.” It’s possible that Gisele and Tah are in dire straits and are truly reaching out for help, but until I have proof that something is legit, I’m going to continue to hit the delete key.

The internet has been a true blessing in our lives. It’s made us richer in so many ways; just the other day I received a letter from the Western Union in Malaysia: Congratulations! Send you Name, Address and Phone number to Mrs. Eva Lee at: wumtaccess08@aol.com.”  And it’s so easy. All I have to do is send that information to Mrs. Lee and I’ll get $7,600 in daily payoffs.

The internet wasn’t around when I was young, but there still were scammers, the get rich quick proposals. I remember reading about how I could make such and such amount of dollars just licking envelopes. My dad was quick to point out that if there’s something that’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

Have any of you heard of Box Hill Institute? Joanna Moss was so kind enough to forward this email along to me: “Dear Friend, I have a legal business proposal of 30,500,000 United State Dollars only for you contact me via my private emailpersonalidentity@foxmail.com if interested.
Regards from,
Ms CHIANG Lai Yuen JP
[Box Hill Institute]<http://www.boxhill.edu.au>” I’d love to know what I’d have to do to get $30,500,00. What was most intriguing was this email came with a security clause and stated, “If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by telephone and destroy the original message.” They are expecting me to contact them to let them know fraudulent emails are being distributed? I’m not taking any chances by telling anyone that my email address is live.

If only it was true that the Central Bank of Nigeria really had $12.2 Million dollars waiting for me. All I have to do is send Tony William my basic information and an account number so they could make the transfer of money. Again, I wonder if there are people who believe they are beneficiaries for this lump sum and cough up their bank account number.

In many cases, I look for the absurd typos. The only thing that I caught in this email was the fact that In the beginning of the letter, Mr. William was writing to me, but the signature was from Mr. Williams. It’s easy to get your own name wrong, isn’t it?

I really wonder when I get emails that tell me that I need to pay them a fee to get my money. Another email from the Bank of Nigeria wants $180 to reactivate my account.  Mr. John Atta was really nice to reach out to me: “MY DEAR ATTENTION, THIS IS TO NOTIFY YOU THAT WE HAVE VERIFIED YOUR OUTSTANDING PAYMENT VALUED AT USD2,500,000.00 WITH THE HELP OF OUR PAYING BANK, WE DISCOVERED THAT ATTEMPTS HAS BEEN MADE SEVERALLY TO DIVERT YOUR PAYMENT BY SOME UNSCRUPULOUS OFFICIALS WITHIN VARIOUS FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS. I WANT YOU TO HENCEFORTH STOP ALL FORMS OF CORRESPONDENCES AND COMMUNICATION. FURTHERMORE, DO NOT PAY ANY FORM OF UPFRONT PAYMENT TO ANYBODY OR INSTITUTION.”

I guess Mr. Atta hasn’t heard that it’s not polite to all-cap someone.

Well, it’s 1:11. It’s time to stop. Unfortunately, I could go on and on with examples. What I want to know is what can I do about stopping all of this crap from clogging up the works? Do you just delete the nuisance emails or is there something that can be done?

New computer

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A few weeks ago I bought a new lap top. It used to be I’d have time on my hands and wasn’t in much of a rush to upgrade technology. Research was part of the game. but this time the MacBook Pro’s track pad gave up the clicker. It had been getting painstakingly slow and sluggish, but it was adequate. For the first time, in many, many years, I put the blinders on before walking into the Mac store.

My computers are getting smaller and my cell phones are getting bigger. Is this true for any of you? When it comes to size, I’m kind of like Goldilocks except I don’t choose between the sizeYings, I choose them all. My mood dictates the size.

The new laptop computer, a MacBook Air, just an eleven-incher, is perfect. I can accommodate a Ricky dog on one side of the computer, and lap cat on the other. I will admit that I do get a lot more work done when my lap top is the only occupant, though sometimes I need the seat belt a cat or dog can provide. I’d rather be forced to keep writing than disturb them. They are my willpower.

It has taken me a bit to make the transfer from one computer to another. Operating systems are different. Programs are different. I was used to Office 2004, not 2011. I think I like the more current Word processing, but I detest the Mail application. I was so used to Entourage. I find myself kicking and scratching while fighting the new program. I should look into at least seeing what it would take to get Outlook. The logo shows up, but it says I don’t have access to it. I’ve heard Word does this now. Show you programs that I’m not authorized to use. Just a tease.

I’m rather good at adapting to changing technology, though some times I wish I could return to paper and pen. I’m so spoiled, but at least technology makes revising tolerable. One of these days I’ll have forgotten about Entourage. Lots of programs have come and gone in the thirty years that I’ve been using a computer. Should I admit that I miss my Amiga? Scribble was the Word Processing program for the Commodore. 512k RAM. Makes me laugh every time I write this. My watch has more RAM than my first desk top computer, but it sure had nice colors.

Either this blog is real short and sweet or it hasn’t sat and stewed enough. Maybe it’s time for a walk…

blackberries021215

We’re having such wonderful weather in the Pacific Northwest that I brought out the gas powered weed wackier and chewed up some blackberries. Worked up a bit of an appetite as well.

Guess short and sweet is what this will end up to be.

Garrulous Writing

Wednesday, February 11,  2015

In honor of this date I shall write two blogs. Not totally unheard of. I’ve not seen any rules against two in a day. Nothing happened after I wrote two once or twice before, at least nothing that I noticed. Nothing out of the ordinary. Eleven is my favorite number, though I would truly do it justice if I wrote at 11:11 p.m., but I’ll probably be long asleep by then.

I’m not sure why I am aligned with number eleven. I’m like a spoiled child when I can’t wear the number eleven on the field or on the ice, though mostly I just wear it around the house. It’s the closest thing I have to having a super power costume. But when I am donning number 11, all feels right in my world. Hey, maybe I’ll have to be like Shirley from that sitcom from days gone bye. Shirley & Laverne? Shut the Front Door. I have no idea how that name came to the surface, but that’s as close to a miracle as I have had today. I do believe in miracles.

Believe it or not, the subject that I had in mind before I started spilling words onto paper was whether being a garrulous writer is good or bad.

I started reading William Zinsser’s book, though for some reason I keep thinking his name is Howard, On Writing Well. I have the twenty-fifth edition. I’m sure the thirtieth edition is much different. I’d hope it would be different or I wouldn’t bother buying a later edition. And William does say that his book will reflect how much the writer has changed.

For those of you who know me or have read much of what I write, I tend to ramble. I tend to chase tangents as if I were chasing butterflies, but I go down rabbit holes in pursuit of the flittery game. Flit is a word. Flittery is not a word? I want it to be a word, so for this moment I grant that word immunity. It’s kind of like a pardon of a death sentence.

I would consider myself a garrulous writer. Never had it in my repertoire before I read page xi in On Writing Well. You can tell I’ve taken that speed-reading course. What was her name? I’m a tortoise when it comes to reading, but in this case Surely doesn’t follow the slowly. Who knows, I may never get past the Roman Numerals and into the meat of the story. Most people don’t even read the preface or introduction. Heck, I even read the date and the location of publication and see how many editions the book has been printed, though it doesn’t do any good if I am reading an edition that is at least five years behind the last edition. I’m not sure if 30th has been passed.

William Zinsser uses the word disorganized when describing garrulous. Disorganized can never be a good thing, but there’s room for persuasion with garrulous. What’s wrong with talkative? I’m talkative with people that I know when I’m actually communicating. Writing is no different. If I could, I would write every single second of the day, or until my butt goes numb. No, I won’t present what I spew; most of what I write is for my eyes only. This is a rare occasion. In fact, my goal is to be so bold and so garrulous that I’m not going to re-read this. I’m going to let the cards, or in this case, characters in the shape of letters and symbols, fall.

If I lose you, just hold on, as in a sentence or two, you’ll catch the drift again and can follow again. Maybe.

Back to the question. Can garrulous writing be good? Or shall it be written in stone that thou shalt never publish a blog without editing it?

Was the Incredible Hulk credible?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

There’s a strong reason why I haven’t been watching television lately. I’ll watch an episode of Big Bang or Criminal Minds every so often, but mostly I have been reading and writing. I stepped away because most of the time I spent much time in front of the Boob Tube, I felt like had lost brain cells rather than getting the synapsis to fire more efficiently. I think I just mixed my metaphors. You can sort it out yourself if you want.

But the other day I was lured back. The Ovation Channel, a channel I had never been on before, had some great movies on. Glory.  The Pianist. Amadeus. Unfortunately, the movies must be expensive since the station depends on showing more commercials than movie segments. The movie about Rudyard Kipling was so much longer than it needed to be. I almost gave up watching the movie about the death of Kipling’s son. It was a pretty good movie, but three four five hours gets to be rather ridiculous. I don’t have that long of an attention span.

So, today, I got tired of that station and flipped around. Incredible Hulk. How could I resist. I didn’t know if I were about to watch a movie or a television show. I recognized David Banner’s face, the guy who becomes the Incredible Hulk if irritated. In this episode, the gasoline attendant refuses to sell Bill Bixby gasoline even though he has a pregnant woman in the back of his cab. 1979 must have been the time of cynicism as the guy doesn’t believe the driver; he says that someone tried that the other day and gave birth to two pillows. Twins. How cute.

Does any of this sound familiar? The music is great. Do they play music like this in current sitcoms? I haven’t paid attention. Full orchestra for the intense scenes like The Incredible Hulk sending tools across the room. The oboes and other instruments shoe the Hulk walking over to one of the workers. Reminds me of Peter and the Wolf. With one roar, the attendants hat goes flying. The violins get into the action when he’s holding the attendant up and his feet are just tangling, but the movement is perfectly choreographed.

What I don’t get is that the Doctor’s shirt rips off; his boots split. But his pants fit. How can that be? And then when the Doctor comes back from being the big green machine, the pants still fit him. Are they elastic? Wasn’t there a football player, maybe Al Green that was the Big Green Machine. I want to say Packers. I don’t have a clue. I can’t trust my memory at all. Help me out peeps if any of this is ringing any bells.

Meanwhile, on this very realistic show, the Baby is born in the back seat; the mother did it all by herself. No mess. Nothing.  Even the baby is cleaned up. What happened to the cord?

Courtship_of_Eddies_Father_1969I don’t remember being a Incredible Hulk fan. I was nineteen spent most of my time on the ice or on a soccer field. There was also college. But I was a Bill Bixby fan. I loved My Favorite Martian. And before that, I felt bad for Eddie, in the Courtship of Mr. Eddie, or something like that. Three years down the road I would be able to relate with young Eddie, though I was a little older than Eddie was when I lost my mom. Even Bixby and I had similar experiences; his father died of a heart attack in 1971 and my mom died of a heart attack the next year.

It’s hard to compare, special effects from 1979 with today. Everything about the television show, aside from the music, is extremely hokey. Was this the best they could do? Did they put money into this enterprise or was it supposed to be in the B range.

I guess this blog is going to be one of those short and sweet. I’ll work on having better special effects for next time.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Little Chewies

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

This blog is for the dog lovers out there who might know what I’m writing about. I call this affectionate behavior between a dog and his sister or his little brother and more “Little Chews.” They are like gentle little nibbles. You may even know what I mean if you have had a male dog. My theory that it’s a predominantly male dog kind of thing. Little Chews is just what I named this grooming session. It’s good to see any species take care of each other. I wish humans took as much care of each other as my dogs do to their pack.

If you have had similar encounters witnessing this display of affection, let me know. It’s probably one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. Maybe there are YouTube videos of this behavior.

Enter dog number two or three, Harold; the order depends on which sibbling came first, Harold or Maude. Harold introduced me to this strange phenomenon. Constant grooming caused his sister Maude to have a perpetual wet head. She could have filled in with one of the characters from the Spanky and his gang. I think that’s the name of that television show. Memories are dim from that far back. Buckwheat was the nickname for my First Love. Nancy. Do you ever get over that first One?

Yes, it’s going to be another one of those crazy rides, so buckle up. I suspect that I’m about to take you down quite a few rabbit holes; some may not even lead to anything.

In the Spanky show, there was one character who always had his hair standing on end. Maybe that was Spanky. Come to think of it, Dennis the Mennis had that blonde tuft perpetually parading in a different direction than the rest of the head of hair.

Out of that rabbit hole and back to the dogs grooming. I don’t know if it is a sibling thing or a male thing. I don’t remember any of my male beagles ever doing this, but we only had one dog at a time. Harold and Maude, named after my favorite movie, were my first pair. Having two to three dogs at a time has been so much fun; I can’t play like other dogs do. I try hard, but it’s just not the same. I’m also finding that by bringing in younger dogs, it helps me deal with the aging one, as we all know they age much too quickly.

Maude never groomed Harold, but Harold was constantly grooming Maude, though he did stop when she got sick. He knew a lot earlier than I did, but I’m blind when it comes to dogs aging, animals in general.

And maybe the Little Chews is a hierarchal thing. Maude was always the first in line on walks or hikes. I considered her the Alpha dog. When she was young, she looked just like a small bear. Sometimes people would be alarmed when coming around the corner and see her perhaps out of the corner of their eye. It doesn’t take them long to realize her canineness and breath a sigh of relief. She was friendly enough to be trusted off a leash. I couldn’t keep up with Maude the trailblazer; she always came back to me to make sure I was okay, and then she and Harold would take off ahead to make sure the coast was clear. These two mutts had so many breeds all rolled up into two miracles. German Shep. Chow. Artic Wolf. I know there’s more, but I can’t remember.

Most of the dogs in my life, perhaps all, have come with the purpose of guiding me through rough patches. Call it Celestial Intervention, but when I first saw Harold in a car parked near a neighbor, I knew another Angel had been sent to help me get through some more rough bumps. I’ve been blessed to have a mostly easy going life, but the slippery times weren’t so great.

Kahlua and me 1983?I’m not sure how much time had passed between burying my first dog, Kahlua, in the back yard on Rasor Ave. and when the puppies arrived. People visiting from Montana had these still-nursing pups, the last of the litter, their favorite ones. What shocked me was that Harold looked exactly like I remembered Kahlua looking when he was a puppy. Blown away is an understatement.

My current partner can attest to my lack of planning, and this was the same when it comes to the dogs. The majority weren’t planned, though Kahlua’s adoption was probably the worse unplanned event that turned out to the be the best possible choice.

I was living in Massachusetts at the time Kahlua entered my life. Life wasn’t great. I was a lost twenty-something year old. On this particular day, I was in Rhode Island shopping with my mother-in-law, though she didn’t know that her daughter was a Lesbian at the time. At least Phyllis’s mom thought of me as one of her daughters. We got along so well. The entire family. I got a chance to bring the little bit of my Italian heritage to the surface, though recently there’s been a genealogical debate whether my Grandmother Anita was Italian after all. I will have to get back to you on that.

Anyway, we’re shopping and we pass by a young boy with a wagon full of puppies. All I could hear was, “I want, I want, I want!” I’m practically yelling at myself with desire, but there was the other voice, the rational one that countered, “That would be crazy! Are you reality insane?”

I’m ultra sensitive around that issue, so the rational side of me won that battle, but obviously not the war. I managed to walk away from the pups and do our shopping. I sort of hoped that the puppies would be gone by the time we got out. Phyllis’ mom was not fleet of foot, so everything was in slow motion. And try to shop produce with someone who has to touch and smell everything. Actually, I was very content. One of Phyllis’ nicknames for me was Dawdles because I’m always slow motioned in walking, especially the produce section. But I was feeling a bit anxious about the puppies.

Eventually I’ll make it back to the original story of little chews…

Was Kahlua the last puppy remaining in the wagon when I stepped back outside. Yes, the wagon and the boy and the sign of $25 had waited patiently. The kid probably knew a sucker when he saw one. I doubt I had that much cash on me. Tightly budgeted student I was at the time. This was my Northeastern University phase and maybe my first time being out from under my dad’s roof. Life was a struggle then.

You might have guessed that those voices of insanity were screaming at me as I asked Phyllis’ mother for a loan.  Realistically, this was one of the stupidest things I could ever have done. I hadn’t asked Phyllis for starters nor thought about what would happen when the landlord found about my breaking the no pets clause. We lived in a tiny little studio apartment on the third floor in the Back Bay of Boston. There was not one whit of common sense when I brought him home. It was as if I didn’t have a choice.

Kahlua was named after my favorite drink at the time. He had all of the mixings of a White Russian. Various browns and tans mixed in with white and tan. He looked German Shepherd in face and eyebrows, but he had a lot of hair like a Collie.

I don’t remember if Kahlua ever gave me little chews, but everyone who met him commended me on what a remarkable dog I had; not sure why they attributed his good behavior to my training since he was the one being remarkable and he did it all by himself. That’s just the way he was. I’ve never had another dog since who didn’t chew anything. In fact, I think all the other dogs I’ve had since Kahlua picked up on this and have made up for what he didn’t chew. I could leave chicken bones in the garbage out in the open, and that dog would not only not get into the garbage, but would try to keep the cat from getting the bones. Currently I live with two rustlers. I’m not sure if it was Ricky or Abby that ate a loaf of bread that had been left on the kitchen counter. Things have a way of disappearing around here when there aren’t humans around.

Kahlua lived a somewhat long life. Ten’s really not that bad for a hundred pound dog, but twenty still wouldn’t have been long enough. I lost him to thyroid cancer. I tried everything that money could buy, but then it came to be his time. I saw it as the beginning of a new phase of my life and saw that this protector as going off to be a guardian to another being. Celestial Intervention knows exactly when to visit me.

The loss was still raw when the Montana born pups arrived. I can’t even begin to describe the astonishment that I felt when I saw the eye brows, the German shepherd look. The eyes. The voice of “I have to, I have to.” was strong and steady. And for the first time there wasn’t another voice trying to squelch my idea, though there was my present partner to consider. I was still just a student but the voice of reason didn’t come around. In regards to asking permission to bring home animals, I’ve not been so great about this. But it has only put a few dents into the current Twenty-Seven year relationship. Nothing worse, and you can only see the dents in certain light. I learned that my not asking would get me into hot water, but I like baths, and the water does cool eventually.

When did I realize that there were two puppies from Montana? I must have known right away. I think that when I went running into the house to tell Sylvia about the puppies in the car parked practically on our property, the internal voice was saying, “I  want them, I want them. And there was a voice that knew that agreement would be immediate. And it was not the Shep looking one, but the little black fluffy female pup. She was the trump card in the deal. My partner’s dog, Caftain, a Black Labrador, hadn’t been gone that long.

As I insinuated earlier in regards to manners, Harold and Maude were horrific in the chewing department. I knew I had a once-in-a-lifetime dog with Kahlua and comparing them wouldn’t be good, but it was like going from a smooth tasting wine to sour grapes. Grapes picked too soon perhaps, but again during their long lifetimes, they proved to be one of my best choices.

Maybe in another blog, I can go into more detail on what they chewed as they chewed everything!

At least I haven’t written myself into a corner, but am actually at a great transitional place. Eventually Harold and Maude did settle down and side by side was the way they were most of their lives.

The first time Harold started grooming Maude, I heard a noise I wasn’t familiar with. Little chews involves hose breathing, so there was quite a bit of snuffling sounds as Harold worked through each black strand of fur on Maude’s head. She was in so much bliss that she hardly made a sound. Leaning her head close, she directed where the chews went, around an ear or perhaps to the other ear. I think Harold even cleaned her ears, but didn’t use the little chews.

I don’t remember what I was doing when Harold tried to do little chews on me, It was like he was using his teeth as combs or some sort of apparatus that had blades of teeth rubbing across one another. It didn’t hurt that much, but little pinches from the Little Chews wasn’t something I wanted to experience very often. I did understand that this was Harold’s terms of endearment or he was hinting that I needed a shower or something.

Jules as a pupEnter dog number four. Once again, not planned. My partner’s cousin wanted to give us the last family puppy they would ever raise. Since the dog was like getting a piece of my partner’s family, we named the Chocolate Labrador after their most famous relative, Jules. Luckily our Jules didn’t possess the cranky disposition of his namesake, Old Jules.

Perhaps it was clear that this pup would turn into being another once-in-a lifetime dogs. Harold knew it. Harold wasn’t old at that point, but he exuded an Elder Statesman full of air character to the pup. Always after the growl to put Jules in his place, Harold would begin the Little Chews. Jules had no problem with his status. Who doesn’t like to be preened?

I should have known that something was happening to Maude when Harold started to spend more and more tie grooming Jules than Maude. I’ve heard that dogs can smell cancer.

My theory that only male dogs do Little Chews and that the ones that receive Little Chews don’t pay it forward.

Lucy, Abby, and Ricky121513Enter dog number six. Ricky was sort of a planned dog. We had already been planning on getting a pup down the road when Jules was getting towards the end of his life. Lucy was going to get her own dog, But as death often does, it snuck up on me. Jules’ death took me by surprise. He was undergoing Liver cancer surgery; the vet was confident that he could get it all, but instead I had to say goodbye to him while he was still under and on the table. This was now how I imagined our parting would be, especially since I thought he was going to be around another five years or so; he sure had a lot of spunk. I always said that his constant energy was the caffeine in the Chocolate Labrador. He was such an energetic dog that he constantly quaked; it was as if his engine was always revving. His death was a blind-sided ambush.

I hadn’t been with just one dog since my days with Kahlua. He and I were hardly ever apart, though he did have this friend of mine that he would go visit. I think Kahlua had a crush on her dog or perhaps new I had a crush on my friend. I wasn’t the only one who lost their best friend. Lovely Lucy, after all, was Jules’ dog. I don’t even have her in the formal count, though she counts just as much as the rest. But she was Jules’ dog and Jules was my dog. Lucy went wherever Jules went. She only came to me when Jules came, and then she would do her best to push Jules away. Now she’s got to compete against Ricky and Abby.

For me there have been times when grief of one being brings leftover grief from prior deaths, sending my fragile mental health into a tail spin. Grief consumed me and unless I found something, I was afraid that the tail spin was going to be my last ride. Everything was going to pot. My teaching. My life. My relationships.

My life was like the typical Chick Flick. Girl meets boy. Loses boy. gets boy back. In my case girl meets boy dog. I began to search for another to fill the open wound. I went to dog pounds. I went on the internet. I was so desperate. I needed stability.

Enter dog number what? I’ve lost track. If you feel like telling me, I’d be flattered to know that you’ve kept reading this far. Ricky was that number. And he’s not even the last to arrive.

Out of the blue, just back from a wild goose chase at a pound where I had just missed adopting a dog that would have worked, I got a call about a dog that needed an immediate foster-home. Right now kind of thing. I had never fostered before. I had never brought an adult dog into my household; the cute adorable puppy track was all I knew. There’s no arguing with Celestial Intervention. I don’t even try anymore.

When Lisa from Save The Pets brought Jules to the dome, the connection was immediate. It was almost as if Jules’ spirit had somehow touched Ricky, otherwise known as Sparky, but that had to change. I had already had a cat named Sparky. No, Ricky didn’t get the amazing intelligence or physical agility that Jules had, but his sweetness makes up for all of that.

If you are still counting, right after getting Ricky, I asked my partner if we could still go ahead with the plan to get a puppy, and that’s how Abby the Labby Number Nine came to be. I don’t think she is dog number nine; that’s just her AKC name. My pack is complete. I’m not due for another Celestial Intervention for a while.

Ricky carries the torch for a dog who does Little Chews, though he prefers to groom pieces of dismembered stuffed animals. It must have been the snuffling sound that sent me down this particular rabbit hole.

 

 

The Price of Happiness

Saturday, February 7,  2015

I’ve been thinking about Whitney Houston’s daughter a lot lately, though her name thrown about in the media makes it hard to not. I can’t listen to a Whitney Houston song and not thing tragedy; she was a gift to the world and the world didn’t pay her back, though she was at least an active participant in her flawed life.

But Whitney’s daughter didn’t deserve the fate that the cards dealt her. Lots of use have had that experience when we’re not in control at all. Is her daughter’s name Christine? I know she tried to continue with her mother’s legacy, but once again the World reared its ugly head at her. I saw an article that said that Christine hadn’t  inherited her mother’s voice and acting ability, but the daughter really wanted to go in that direction. Some people blame it all on the money that Whitney left her daughter at such a young age and if only she were older or it was in a trust fund or whatever.

The bottom line is that Christine’s mother’s death was such a tragic loss, and Christine was more of a victim.

I don’t know if Christine is still alive or what. I don’t know if it wasn’t an accident. Not likely. But she really was just a kid. It would shake anyone up, for her to go through what she went through when her mom died. No one deserves that.

Before I started this blog, I was thinking about Happiness. You don’t believe me? I always start with a headline; if my story and headline don’t mesh, I wasn’t really paying attention when I wrote the headline and have gotten off track.

But sometimes I am able to catch myself and get back moving in the right direction. It’s one of your lucky days. My main problem is trying to connect the title with the first few paragraphs. I’m sure I’ll come up with something. I usually can fake it until I can make it. And I’m feeling mighty good about the direction this is going even though I haven’t quite turned the boat around.

All that Whitney Houston wanted was to to be happy. I can say that about any pop star that got lost in the glitz and glamor, the wanna be that never got there, or anyone just trying to make their way through this life.

I may be taking the simplistic route, but I believe that all drug use and abuse is an attempt to be happy for as long as one can be. Life can be on the contrary. The day to day can push me to the brink. I can no longer count all of the attempts at pursuing the art of happiness during my 54, almost 55 years, on this planet. Just a few weeks ago I was telling my Psychiatrist that I simply didn’t understand what it was to be happy. She asked me what it was that made me happy. My Wings Seminars background would tell me that nothing can make me happy, but Dr. G. never was a wing nut, and I say this with love and appreciation for the Wings program. They were after all, many of my experiences as I sought, pursued happiness 24/7. I even tried Vegas, but that was a bit too much 24/7.

To answer my psychiatrist, I said that puppies make me happy, though the same adult canines continue to show me love and that’s a good definition of being happy. My bumper sticker on my Subaru Forester says, “God help me be the person that my dog thinks I am.” I just need to change it to dogs and I’d even settle for half the person that my dog thinks I am. As long as I feed them on time and spoil them.

I’m into using any resources that come my way as I write. Now I’m listening to Rolling Stone. What was it that Wild Horses couldn’t drag him away from. What’s something that I wouldn’t let Wild Horses Drag me away from? Some thing that’s got me passionately hooked.  Some thing that makes me happy. Looks like there’s a wide chasm between those two ideas especially since Wild horses dragging me away from something has got to be worse than painful. And since he’s talking about a love that died, it doesn’t get any sadder than that.

Flipping the coin to a happier side.

Helen Keller wrote about happiness, true-happiness, as being gratified through the commitment of helping others. I’m a teacher. And a passionate one at that. But why am I not happy all the time? Is it because I’m not teaching full-time and that I’m only just a substitute teacher, one of the severely abused teachers in the population, though teachers of all walks say they are abused or used or not appreciated.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so.

Two experiences make me retract the statement that if i were only working full-time I’d be happy or if I weren’t subbing part-time, I’d be happy. There’s a fine difference between the two ideas.

I thought I had struck gold eight years ago when I land a full-time job after subbing miserably here and there. For five-years I tried to convince myself that I was happy or at least better off than substitute teaching, but I wasn’t happy; in fact, I was unhappier. I sometimes brush these dusty thoughts aside, especially as the years pass. But what really trumps my theory is that until this past Monday, I was really happy, perhaps not every day as I have been on a roller coaster ride, but there were times while working a 20 hour job that had me see more smiles and giggles and feel more joy than I’ve experienced in a long time.

When I began a job at the end of October at an alternative elementary school, I knew that it wasn’t permeant gig. I was just a sub, but I was lucky in that they couldn’t find a person highly qualified to teach the class, so they had me coming back, one week at a time. but I was there three days a week until the end of January. Nice long run.

Towards the end of my time at the school, before I really knew I was at the end, thought I knew the school district wasn’t going to let a non highly qualified teacher teach Physical Education even if it meant no one else was. Perhaps I knew the end was around the corner as I began investing  all of my energy in doing things that the kids enjoyed or would be challenged in doing.

One day I built an indoor obstacle course. I dragged out as much equipment out onto the gym as possible. I left out the humanly possible because it took me and two kids to get it put all back away. Earlier, I did have the help of a janitor to get the gigantic pads in the gym; the kind that pole-vaulters land on. That thing is heavy; practically broke my body getting it back into its cage.

I had this one little guy, a first grader, who didn’t want to do it; it didn’t look fun at all. I told him that I would help him. He barely got through the balance boards, but he held onto me the entire time so he wouldn’t fall into the sea of alligators and sharks and what other creatures I told the class was swimming in the depths of the gym floor. He was beaming when he got to the events he could breeze through. Not a sign of being bored. He then got to another hard part and backed out again. This time he admitted that it would be too hard. I told him that I would help him. It was more balancing, but this time on big inflated exercise-type balls. I don’t even have the words to describe the grin on his face when he got through what he thought was impossible. The big mat/pad was the big finale for all of the kids. There was a little baby trampoline that the kids could jump and then vault onto the big pad for a gentle landing. Some kids kept doing the entire course while others focused on the mat. As long as they weren’t in anyone’s way who was finishing, I had no problem with that.

I’m basically knocking this story over my head to realize how much Helen Keller was right. It didn’t matter that I was only working a half day that day. I was basking in the warmth of serving the kids regardless of what the payout was.

All good things do come to an end. Whoever said this must have been in the know because that’s all I know. This good thing is done and now it’s time for me to create another experience to put me back in that state of bliss. It’s all up to me now. I think Marshall Tucker is singing along this line in Can’t You See, though I’m not about to buy a one-way ticket to Georgia. I think Oregon will do for the next thirty years.

Addicted to words

I’ve always been attracted to words. What’s that called? Bibliophile? No, not quite, but  I’m definitely a bibliophile in my compulsive desire to collect books. I recently added bookshelves to my rooms, but I’ve still got books living in boxes. I’ll do my best to steer clear of the April book sale that the Friends of the Eugene Library put on. For a couple of years in a row I would come away with a few boxes of books. Books that I want to read some day. Books that I would love to teach. Authors that I have read in the past. Since my Reading endorsement covers K-12, I have the excuse of buying for that range.

I try to read a wide range. I’ve been working on Great Expectations for a while now. Sometimes I have to let it go and read a great young adult book or a book that isn’t so chewy. But chewy words entertain me. Get me off on tangents.

My problem with chewy books or chewy blogs is that I get hung up on words and phrases that I don’t know and the tangents distract me from the mission at hand: reading. Yes, I admit that I have a problem.

My name is Susan and I’m a logophile, a hopeless addict of words. I’ve been this way ever since I knew what a word was. I used to keep a hand-written list of words that I didn’t know, and since it was alphabetical and hand-written, I had to re-write the list often. Not only would I write the word down, but everything that goes with it. Part of speech. Definition. Example. Sometimes the example would come from the passage I was reading or some times it would come from the dictionary.

This may explain why I have over thirty games of Words With Friends going at the same time, though I will admit that I don’t know the meanings of some of the words I put together. I know enough to throw together common letter combinations and when WWF accepts my creation, I’m surprised, but often too busy with my other games to take the time to look them up.

I was reading a blog about someone blaming Jamie Lee Curtis and just within the first two paragraphs, my curiosity was piqued. (How can a word cause somebody to be in a bad mood and arouse somebody’s interest as the word piqued does.)

The blog I was reading referred to a person as being henna-tressed. In the good old days I would grab one of the two volumes of my Oxford Dictionary and glance through the pages to locate henna and tressed. I often found other words along the way. This is what I miss about using the computer’s dictionary; it doesn’t give me other words that may be of interest, and it my case, this means most of the words on the page.

I’m not a person that does anything with my hair. To me, hair is a pain in the butt. When I go to get my hair cut, I tell them that I don’t want to come back for a while. I loved working at the military-style school because I could get away with having a military cut without getting strange looks. I certainly wasn’t ever going to let my hair grow long enough to put it up. That would take too much time in the morning. My basic routine is to wash, condition, towel dry, and run a comb through my hair. I don’t touch it for the rest of the day. I don’t carry a comb or a brush to touch up my hair. Sometimes I get home and I look in the mirror for the first time and I wonder how long have I had a clump standing up or doing it’s own thing. I live the out of sight out of mind philosophy when it comes to hair.

Of course I looked up the words henna and tressed. Since henna could be referencing to a bush, and I’ve seen some hairstyles that look like they were attempting to be bush-like, I figured that in this context, it had something to do with reddish brown.

I’ve colored my hair just once in my life. I was coming to the end of my career at the military school. One of the rules sometimes enforced prohibited cadets from coloring their hair. As I said, coloring my hair had never been in my repertoire, but I was in the mood for breaking some rules. I didn’t come to school totally blonde, but I did have blonde highlights. At the root of the military-style issued rules, hair was supposed to be the natural color of that person. I wasn’t really breaking the rule since I had been blonde for most of my life. Okay, so at least half of my life. It says I’m blonde on my driver’s license. There’s not enough room to say dirty dishwasher blonde or whatever in the middle my hair is. It’s not really grey; I thank genetics for that, but it’s not really brown. If it were grey, I’m not sure if I would mind. I’ve never been there, so I am guessing I’d have the same attitude as I do now. Maybe.

me on 2-5-15 at 12.49 PM (compiled)Tressed was a word that my Office Word program couldn’t process. It’s that archaic that I had to use the internet. I knew it had something to do with the color of the hair. Braids would have been recognizable, but it doesn’t have the same rhythm of tressed.

You may be getting the impression that I’m a slow reader because of all of these extra steps. I had to stop twice in just the first paragraph and the second paragraph was similar. The woman with the colored braids asked another woman what she was doing with her hair and was so shocked at her statement that she wasn’t coloring her hair anymore that it stunned the room into silence. The blogger went on to say that hipsters call this silence Crickets. We must not have hipsters in Eugene, Oregon as I’ve never heard this phrase, not even in the most hippest of high schools that I’ve been to. As a substitute teacher, I find myself in the know of the newest of phrases. I’m so glad that the word dank is finally starting to fade from vocabularies as dank will never be anything but dark and moldy in my books. There’s nothing good about being dank.

The Life of a Substitute Teacher

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

This past Monday was my first day since the end of October that I wasn’t needed to sub at The Family School. I knew that the run would end as I was after all just a substitute waiting for the position to be filled permanently. It had been my lucky break that there weren’t any highly qualified elementary Physical Education teachers around willing to teach twenty hours a week for a .4 Salary.

I was more than willing. I told HR when asked why i keep applying for a job I’m not qualified for that I had been doing this job for months and was willing to get qualified if they would hire me. I had just picked up my HQ status in reading and wasn’t really in the mood to spend more money on a career that’s not shown capital gains. I’m barely treading water in a profession that I’m  so passionate about.

I didn’t care about working only twenty hours a week that probably wouldn’t come with benefits. I just wanted to be with the kids. I already felt the positives outweighed the negatives. I was close to my home. I could go home and let the dogs out and recharge my batteries. My batteries don’t recharge so well when other people are around. I enjoyed the school and felt at home with the alternative philosophies, though I wasn’t exactly sure what made them alternative. I loved the fact that the kids could call me Susan. Some people will be up in arms claiming that its impossible to teach structure and discipline if I’m too casual with the kids. Just because students called me Captain Honthumb at my previous school, this title didn’t bring automatic respect. Far from it.

Maybe it was the fact that I tended to play with the kids I was teaching. I was a PE  teacher; how could I not get in there with them. Ii had such a blast teaching the floor hockey while playing against them. I had a blast, the kids had a blast, and that was the beginning of the end.

The hardest part of subbing longterm, especially with this particular school and population, is that I fell in love with the kids. I had been working so hard on learning their names and learning about their personalities. I was especially aware of what it took to build trust with spectrum kids. Most, if not all of my experience, with kids on the Aut spectrum were older kids, so getting a chance to work with the younger kids was an amazing opportunity.

I’ve never been diagnosed with spectrum “disorders,” but I can relate with some of the issues that they go through. Issues that I’m going through right now.

There’s a sense of a comfort when I have known where I’ve been going  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for three months. Sometimes I wouldn’t be scheduled and didn’t really know that I was working, but I would always find out that they did indeed need me and how grateful they were in my taking the initiate to come to school anyway.  Comfort is an understatement. I’m not a person who casually deals with change and having some as semblance of routine is like wearing a favorite sweatshirt, that sweatshirt that has  stains and should be thrown out or at least shredded for rags. To me that would be like destroying a friendship. I didn’t care  about the stains and I try hard to not think about other people caring about them either.

Last Monday I showed up to my school, a place I was starting to call home, without knowing if I was needed, but I was confident since I hadn’t heard that a new hire had been brought on board. I had been doing a good job. The kids thought I had. It warmed my heart when kids would tell me that that I was their favorite PE teacher. No one had ever called me their favorite English teacher. It does help to be teaching a class that more kids want to be in.

Perhaps I had jinxed  myself by changing my uniform. This was the first day I had shown up in black wind pants instead of my usual black “formal” sweats. Professional sweats. But when I was told Monday morning that I wasn’t needed, the wind was taken out of my sail. I felt sucker punched. No indications or signals let me know what was coming. I’m not sure what I would have been able to do if I had known. Perhaps being able to say goodbye to the kids may have helped heal my broken heart.

And now I have to deal with what I hate about being “just” a substitute teacher. I hate not knowing where I”m going tomorrow or the next day or if I am going anywhere at all. I check for jobs for two school districts, I check on the internet and do so multiple times a day. When I first began subbing, I was fanatical and would speed-dial the numbers. First come, first serve makes it competitive.

So, in addition to missing the kids that I had gotten to know, I have to deal with not working. I’d like to come to a place where I don’t think that I’m not wanted just because I’m not asked for a job. I turned down a lot of jobs since the end of October while being slated. Never thought that being slated was a good thing. Not being chosen to substitute has nothing to do with me as a person, but I’m going to have to fake this sentiment until I convince myself to not feel unwanted and dejected.

Wish me luck.Photo on 2-4-15 at 5.21 PM