Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pawning My Heart

My eyes actually teared up as I wrote the title because I do feel like MacKenzie is my heart. From the first moment she arrived in an Apple Macbook Pro box encased within a disarming griddle box, I have loved her unconditionally. Her sleek aluminum casing, cool and smooth to the touch, caused exuberance to bubble up and overflow from the place where my heart's supposed to be. She's brought me so much joy and hope for a future of my imaginings.

So it hurts me to do this, to even contemplate doing this. Fat tears spill over feeble eyelashes as I type this entry. I miss her already and she waits in my lap, unable to do anything but glare at me as my fingers dance across her keyboard.

I'm so sorry, baby, but paying for medical insurance for my biological children is a necessity. I pray I'll be able to take you out in two weeks. God, this hurts.


P.S. In case you haven't figured it out, that means I'll be missing for a couple of weeks-- unless I pen something from my work computer. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Counting My Blessings

What a day! What a busy, busy day.

After school, I visited with my youngest son and we played a very competitive and rousing game of Scrabble, Jr. I kid you not; that game is fun.

Then I headed back to work because tonight was the awards ceremony and I had the pleasure of delivering nearly all of the high school awards for Language Arts. I teach student in 9-11th grade and I took great relish in surprising the girl in each grade with my choice. Of course, I didn't have a speech planned; that would mean that I was prepared (I shudder at the thought). No, I spoke strictly off the top of my head and the words tumbled forth beautifully because they were spoken with sincerity. Those girls have a way of burrowing beneath the skin and laying siege on the place where my heart's supposed to be.

But one of my best and biggest surprises came when I arrived home. As an early birthday present to me, my oldest. spotlessly, cleaned the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, and the kids' bathroom. Plus, he swept the floors. When I swung that door opened and was not greeted with the sight of my youngest's belongings strewn about all over the place, I nearly cried. Now, I understand why my mom bitched so much about cleaning. Coming home to something as simple as an uncluttered home does wonders for the stress level (still fighting hives so I took another Benadryl).

I quite hope that this turn of events foreshadows many more positive things to come. Lord knows I can definitely use a good dose of positivity right about now.

I was going to attempt to get in a bit more writing on Paige's story but off to bed I go. From the day I've had, I'm beat.



Writing a Lil Somethin', Somethin'

Yesterday, I pitched two blog articles to Huffington Post via email.

Last night, I got up out of bed and wrote a little intro to a story; it's not much just yet but it's something. Maybe it's to Paige's story, maybe not. That Jesse character is new, someone I hadn't even thought of until I began writing ( I keep seeing the kid (Macaulay Culkin) from My Girl when I envision him).

I still want Paige to meet Hannah, a precocious little girl with a love of pink, tutus, and lip gloss. I'm thinking Paige will meet her while hanging out at the library in El Segundo, CA. Yes, an idea, planted when I got lost in El Segundo with my best friend and we had to find our way back to Los Angeles during my/our (first) visit to Los Angeles for her birthday a couple years ago, is finally worming its way out of my head and into realization.

Like I said, I haven't got much but it's a start. Anyhoo, gotta run.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Staring at My Present

I spent the weekend reading about women who have changed their lives with an invention when their chips were down. One lady made millions by creating house pins for the homeless shelters. Another lady came up with a purse clip for keys. Another woman created a cupcake business. While these stories are inspiring and fill me with hope, there's just one problem.

I'm not crafty.

I'm not a chef.

I'm not a salesperson; I don't just not take no for an answer, I don't ask the question.

All I know how to do is what I'm doing now: write.

So I write; I started this blog for the purpose of writing more. But I still have a long way to go. I'm forever fighting procrastination and losing, forever starting and not finishing, forever thinking and not doing. That's got to change.

If all I've got are my words and my imagination, then I've got to change. I've got to be more proactive, pull the thoughts out of my mind and put them on paper. What good is having two finished screenplays, three started novels, and an idea for a five-book children's series if I'm not going to take the time to write, revise, rewrite, and repeat?

We, as human beings, are supposed to fully immerse ourselves into living in the present. I've taken stock of my life and realized I'm not living; I'm not loving; hell, I've even stopped learning. I can't be paralyzed by fear of the future, of leaping without being certain of a net to catch me if/when I fall, of putting all of myself out there in the world to be criticized and judged and, maybe, deemed worthy. Why is it so hard to do anything of those things? HOW do I do those things? HOW do I allow myself to be vulnerable, open, naked to the world?

At this moment in time, looking at my life the way it is now, I know that, if I want a change, I've got to change. If I want something different, I've got to be different.

Boy, isn't that easier said than done?


Stressin' & Hivin'

The hives are starting. For the past week, I've managed to keep them at bay with Benadryl, high blood pressure pills, and sleep. But there comes a time when medicine and sleep are not enough.

I'm stressed. Super duper stressed. And my skin's fighting to show it.

As I sat here, perusing news site after news site, futilely trying to secure a small area of quiet for myself, I scratched my wrist absentmindedly. Just now, I stopped scratching and looked down at the inflamed area; the hives are back and they're spreading.

This happened to me three years ago when I completed my first year at my current school. The hives came at this time too, just two days after the school year ended and days before I left on my birthday trip to New York. Now, I'm staring at my 33rd birthday in the face (this Saturday), fighting to keep the stress hormones at bay but I can't find any rest, any peace.

My son is different. With no other recourse, I let my son go to a school that changed him for the worst. Well, if truth be told, each school he has gone to, minus the one he attended for a week, has changed him. School was the last place I expected my son to be harmed but I was wrong. In the halls and hidden crevices are where I lost my son.

The enormity of the uncertain future, his and mine, has heaped on a nearly unbearable load upon my back. Today, after a family therapy session, seeing my son walk farther and farther from who he could be, stress wrapped its arms around my shoulders, gripping me tightly its embrace. And the hives returned.

I've got to figure out a way to keep stress from overtaking my whole body again. That last time was truly miserable.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Plans Are for Wusses

"Let life surprise you. Don't have a plan; plans are for wusses. You know if my life went according to my plan, I would never have the life I have today...Don't deprive yourself of the exciting journey your life can be when you relinquish the need to have goals and a blueprint...You know that when you feel sick to your stomach, it's a good thing. It signals opportunity for big growth ahead; something's coming, something good. So don't ignore the nausea, step up to it..." Jane Lynch, 2012 Smith College commencement

"People, who want the best for you, want you to be your best. So my greatest advice to you is to surround yourself with people who are going to fill your cup until your cup runneth over. So, when people say you're full of yourself, you can say, "Yeeeeah"...once your cup runneth over, you can not spend your life with your gallon-sized offerings offering them to pint-sized people. You have got to surround yourself with gallon-sized people who can hang in the same company with you so that you're not offering your gallons to those little pints out there, who can't hold it anyway." Oprah, 2012 Spelman College commencement speech

"For me, the most important thing in life is to live your life with integrity and not to give in to peer pressure to try to be something you're not; to live your life as an honest and compassionate person, to contribute in some way...follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path-- unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path, then, by all means, you should follow that. Don't give advice; it'll come back and bite you in the ass. Don't take anyone's advice. So my advice to you is, be true to yourself and everything will be fine...some of the most devastating things that happen to you will teach you the most...Life is like one big Mardi Gras but, instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain. And, if they like what they see, you'll have more beads than you'll know what to do with..." Ellen DeGeneres, 2009 Tulane commencement speech

As you can see, I've recently watched a few commencement speeches given by today's prolific women. Just soakin' in the inspiration.

Parenting Perplexities

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Being a parent is hard; being a parent to a pre-teen is very hard; being a parent to a preteen who has been diagnosed with ADD, ODD, ABCD, EFG since he was young and is only getting worse is veeeery hard; being a parent to a preteen who has been alphabetically diagnosed and who has revealed in a few therapy sessions a history of being sexually abused is...what's a word that really captures "near impossible"?

So, now, enters the medical question. No, it's not should I medicate; I think, at this point in the game, I'm beyond that question. The question is, which medicine do I choose? Which won't have the worst (any) long-term effects? Which won't have immediate harmful short-term effects? Which will really help? Which will give me back the son I never got to know?

I got a call, this morning, from a doctor wanting to put my child on Risperal. I stalled, asking for some time to do research on this drug I never heard of. So a Google search turned up pages and pages of information as to why this is not a drug to take if a person is not truly psychotic. (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that my research turned up that this was an anti-psychosis pill. My son is not psychotic). The search also turned up dozens of YouTube videos that point to male children growing breasts as a result of taking this drug. No thank you.

So I turned to looking for something that would deal with my son's impulsiveness, his venomous tongue, and his lack of focus. I've read nearly a thousand user reviews in the two hours since I got the phone call. Adderall's out. Concerta's out. Strattera is out. Ritalin is waaaaay out. Focalin is an option but I'm scared about what it may do.

Why is it so hard to find a drug that treats ADD without causing heart or liver problems, mood swings, or thoughts of suicide?

Will I cause more harm in giving a green light to a pill than my son's issues?

Contrary to some of the parents posting reviews, I don't want to medicate my son so that my life could be better. I'm looking to make his life better. As I read review after review of Focalin where the users said, "Now, I feel like a normal person" and "Finally, my brain doesn't feel so cloudy", I'm drawn back to the living room where, many years ago, while helping my son with his homework (more like barking at him and growing increasingly frustrated at his lack of success), my son grabbed his head and said, "My brain doesn't work". I switched from yelling to encouraging, telling him that it can work and that he can do the work. But I have to wonder if, at just the young age of six/seven/nine, he was right. Was his brain too cloudy to think straight?

I know I felt that way for a few years after being raped. For four years, I couldn't think, couldn't concentrate, couldn't feel. I was in danger of failing my senior year of high school. I, definitely, failed my first two years of college. The first feeling that returned was anger. I was just so angry at the world, at my rapist for stealing and alternating my future with a child, at my mother for not listening, at myself for not speaking up and for allowing myself to be a victim. Was this the same way my son felt?

Crawling up from that depression took a hell of a fight. I still work at keeping my head floating above the drowning waters of that egocentric disease. But it's easier now because I realize that life is filled with up and down cycles. Sadness is just a part of the plan; so is happiness/contentment. It's all about perception.

My son is currently a very negative thinker. However, I can't help but feel there's another way to reach him other than in pill form; I have yet to find that way. I've tried rewards and punishments, discussions and Disney; I've even tried letting him live with his deadbeat dad for six weeks (and spent six weeks crying until the tears left permanent stains on my pillows). All to no avail. But I haven't tried medicine.

So, I'm at a crossroads, trying to figure out the best course of action to take, praying that I don't do something that is negatively irreversible. I can only hope the solution is just as simple as waiting for maturity to take over, rendering medications unnecessary; but, since I have to act now, I can only hope the medicines do not annihilate that possibility.

I'm just so scared of making the wrong decisions.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Game of Life

Leaving me to my thoughts is a very dangerous thing to do, especially when I'm feeling the foreshadowing emotional effects of Mother Nature and the Crimson Crasher's impending week-long visit (Hey, it's my blog; no one's reading it anyway, so I can say what I want).

So, while sitting in this waiting room for the last hour, I've been thinking. Well, that's not entirely true; I woke up this morning with heavy thoughts on my mind. They are not depressive thoughts, though it may come off that way; they are more about realization. I realized I'm tired of playing the game of life. Not tired in an I'm-going-to-commit-suicide way. More like tired as in I'm-not-playing-a-game-I-can't-win kind of way.

You see, my life, for the most part, has been really hard. Yes, I am well aware that other people have it worse than me, but I'm not talking about other people. In fact, I'm not currently interested in other people because I'm trying to live my life right now, the one I was given. Or, rather, I'm trying to figure out the rules to this life. Apparently, the basic ten found in the Bible aren't enough to get the game right. I don't understand a game where the cheaters win during the present and the righteous win when the game is over and the pieces are all packed away.

So, I want a new set of rules.


Friday, May 25, 2012

I'm Back

I've been missing for a week. I think I snuck in a post at work but, at home, I had no internet. Yes, my cable/internet was disconnected because I had other pressing bills to pay. Ah, the life of the single mom, always having to make the Solomon-choice between gas and grocery. Can't steal from Peter to pay Paul because both of those mickey-fickies are broke. And, yet, I still had to find a way to give my kid $100 for football.

So what choice did I have but to pray? I prayed and I prayed. I reminded God of His promise, His whole "Test me in this" schpiel (sp?). I held up my end of our 90-day bargain; I tithed. Boy, oh, boy, oh, boy was it hard! Does it get any easier because 10% of nothing hurts a heck of a lot more than 10% of something.

And, you know what? That $100 showed up. My mom texted me one morning this week to tell me she left it for me in her living room. I would have kissed a cloud in thanks for that unexpected blessing. Instead, I sent up a quick mental thank you in prayer.

Back to what I was talking about: not having internet for a week. Well, one thing my dilemma helped alleviate was the temptation to go on to Facebook. I mean, I went on today to see if I had any messages in the last two weeks (I missed an acting gig the last time I went off Facebook and a friend of mine had a really tragic accident) but I did log right back off. I proud of myself for not giving in to the desire to click on my friend's page and see the updated pics of her newborn. That was hard, really really hard.

But I don't want to mess up what God and I got going; I don't want to be the one to back down. I want what's promised; I want a purposed future; I want my health, house, husband, kids, and career. I want my vision. But, most of all, I want to keep my word. I said I would do this, that I would allow God to make the hard shifts in my life.

I need to get out of this rut.

I have, virtually, no friends active in my life. Most of my friends only converse with me on Facebook, even though they have my number and/or email. I work with my best friend but I don't think she really gets that I'm a single mother, separate emphasis on "single" and "mother". Everything I do, everywhere I go, it's me times three. And, if it wasn't apparent by the way I opened up this blog post, I'm barely making it. The $200 a month I receive for one child ain't cutting it. My other son's father is the epitome of deadbeat. To top it off, this year has been harder than the last fifteen years; it's been so hard, I've had to seek therapy just to make sure I don't give under the weight of everything.

So, yeah, I need this bargain to work. I need to see that tithing works because nothing else in my life is really helping.

This morning, while the sun warred with my sight on my way to work (the sun won quite a few times, so blinded was I that I couldn't even see the traffic light-- so much for transitional lenses), I felt that same sun seeping through my skin and spreading through my soul. Suddenly, my thoughts were as golden as the rays coming through my windshield. I felt God's promise in every pore of my being. There are good times ahead. I want them. Lord knows I need them. I just gotta keep driving towards them.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Who’s accountable for the FCAT tests?

Reposting of a Miami Herald article regarding FCAT testing:

Posted on Friday, 05.04.12



Who is Pearson accountable to?
The state of Florida is paying the testing company NCS Pearson $250 million to administer and score the FCAT through the end of 2013. That amount could buy a lot. But in the case of Pearson contracts, Florida seems to be getting ripped off.
Students can be retained in third grade if they don’t pass their FCAT. They will be denied high school graduation if they don’t pass their FCAT. For the first time ever, 50 percent of teachers’ evaluations will be based on student FCAT scores. Two out of three negative (or two negative in a row) mean the unemployment line. As of 2014, the scores will also determine pay. Schools will, as always, be assigned a letter grade based on student FCAT performance — only now the test is harder and the proficiency scores are higher, meaning hundreds of schools in Miami-Dade County alone expect to drop as much as two letter grades.
It’s supposed to be a secure test, but The Herald recently exposed that the tenth grade FCAT reading tests use the same passages and questions throughout the “testing window,” which is as long as two weeks: The test has moved online and most high schools do not have enough computers to administer the test to all tenth graders on the same day.
When students leave the test, they can tell their friends (or post on Twitter) the titles of the passages in the test, giving students those in the second or third testing group a great advantage.
They can also report back to classmates what vocabulary words they will be asked about, or what background knowledge they will be expected to know.
The remedy? The Florida Department of Education has made students sign a pledge this year not to talk about the content of the test or share test information with anyone.
SB 736 mandates a standardized test for every subject taught by every school in the state by 2014.
These are the infamous new “end-of-course exams,” better known as EOCs, and NCS Pearson has the lucrative contract.
Naturally, these new EOCs are all computer-based as well . . . contributing to the two-month testing calendar at many high schools lacking sufficient computers.
The testing windows for the EOCs are just as long as those for the FCAT reading — meaning the possibility of cheating by reporting content is just as strong, making the tests just as invalid.
The test questions are harder. (And some are misleading or just wrong, too.)
Robert Krampf, a science blogger, checked out the FLDOE’s FCAT Science Test Item Specifications as he made FCAT practice questions to help students review for the test. He found that some definitions listed in the specifications were flat-out wrong. He also found multiple-choice questions where some of the “wrong answers” were scientifically correct answers.
The response of the FLDOE? Fifth grade students would not be expected to know enough science beyond the benchmarks to know that the scientifically correct “wrong” answers were actually, well, correct.
In other words, children — and their teachers — could be penalized for knowing too much.
Problems with the test questions cannot be reported by teachers, as they are not allowed to see the test.
When confused students alert their test proctors that the right answer is not among the answer choices provided, even if the teacher ascertains that this is indeed fact, he can do nothing about this situation, because by law he is not allowed to see the test or assist students taking the test in any way.
Thus, wrong questions with wrong answers pass by in silence, and can determine whether students advance to the next grade level, get credit for a class, or graduate from high school.
And the results of those students will determine which teachers keep or lose their jobs, and which teachers are eligible or not for a raise.
For the honor, Pearson will take your money, thank you very much.
In the Age of Accountability, the only ones not accountable for anything, apparently, are the testing giants who have lobbied hard for the “accountability” legislation.
They are accountable only to their shareholders.
Jennifer Smith is a teacher, United Teachers of Dade-designated building steward at Hialeah High School, and co-chair of the Legislative Relations Committee at UTD.

Read more here:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Two Year Plan

Ok, I've figured it out; I've got a plan. A two-year one. If you know me, then you know what a big deal it is for me to have a plan. After my life was thrown off track when I was 16, I gave up on making plans. In fact, I found it near impossible to create one. But, this week, maybe as a result of the 90-day plan, the ideas shaped up into the short-term and long-term goals you see below.

                     YEAR ONE (Starting June 2nd-- 33rd birthday, YAY!)
 1) Get back to working out.
 2) Renew my teaching certificate.
 3) Take an ESOL workshop.
 4) Go for National Board certification.
 5) Teach six periods next year.
 6) Re-enter the MFA program at National University.

                     YEAR TWO (34)
 7) Teach one last year in my current school.
 8) Achieve National Board certification.
 9) Save money.
10) Complete my MFA.
11) Shop the resulting screenplay that comes from completing the program.
12) Look for an adjunct faculty position to generate extra income.
13) Watch my oldest son graduate from high school.
14) Look for employment (if need be while pursuing freelance writing) and high schools (for my youngest) in New York.
15) Get my oldest son situated in college. =)
16) Scope out living arrangements in New York.
17) Move to New York.

Not an impossible plan, just one that requires tenacity and hard work. But it's one that has created peace in my soul.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Rihanna: Where Have You Been?

The title of this post is not just the title of the song but a real question: Rihanna, where have you been? This newly released music video is what so many videos are missing. You have a teensy bit of your typy Rih raunch, a dose of sexy, and a health dollop of story with what a music video of this genre should have-- dancing (nice choreography). And let's not forget, it is visually stimulating, at the very least, visually interesting.

If you can't tell by now, I really enjoyed the video. I found my mind urging my body to get out of its prone position more than once, anxious to try one or two of the dance moves. Laziness won every time, though. But that didn't keep me from noticing that I wanted to dance. I miss videos like that.

I must say, too, that it was nice not seeing the slutty Rihanna; she was sultry but she wasn't slutty (came close during those pat the kitty cat gyrations and hand movements at the end of the dance sequence). Here, Rihanna was just a woman comfortable with her body (made me jealously long for my youth, not that my abs were as wonderfully flat as hers then either), not a woman trying too hard to sell sex.

So, um, yeah. I liked the video. See for yourself below.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Operation: Makeover Mom

The bathroom is my thinking chamber; it is where I go to ponder problems and summon solutions. Sometimes this type of thinking happens subconsciously.

(Side note: It's Mother's Day. While I was in the bathroom, my oldest kid closed my bedroom door. Now, as I type this, the scent of something singeing in the kitchen wafts under the door and disturbs my nose. It smells of burnt popcorn but that can't be it; I guess they're making breakfast.)

As I conducted my business in the bathroom, a few thoughts pinged around my head. 1) It is awesome how God can stretch time; I went to sleep around 2 and woke up at 8:30, yet I had really awesome dreams and feel rested. 2) I will not text my ex. My thank you for his Mother's Day wish (which I think was a general text to all the moms in his phone) needs to be enough communication. I tend to want to write dissertations in my messages so keeping it short is killing me. 3) My dream of my ex (2nd one in a row) pointed out he isn't ready for me or QoMV material. 4) My boys need a dad. 5) It's time for a Mom Makeover.

Those first three thoughts flitted by at the speed of a blink. Those last two thoughts, however, were, apparently, applied with double-sided sticky tape. A Mom Makeover. My mind quickly filled in the details: acrylic nails, pedicures, long weave, daily workouts, makeup, heels-- all the things that say woman to a man.

Before I could even shudder and dismiss the idea, the fact entered my mind about men being visual creatures. I may be all about taking a spiritual journey through my hair but the rest of me still isn't in order. (Wait. My boys are knocking on the door. Awww...they made me breakfast [waffles and eggs] and a card. See pix.) I'm still carrying around an additional 20lbs from last year, 20lbs, which I had lost by this time last year and found when I reentered the classroom (see my other post on the health hazards of teaching).

Anyway, back to the topic of this post: Mommy's Manhunt Makeover.

My foot is nearly healed; it's the best I've felt in a long while. Wearing nothing but heels or the walking boot these last  three weeks has really helped. I'm estimating another 2-3 weeks with the addition of a little self-therapy should really set me back to right. I won't pick up with running right away but I'm eager to get my walking on. And what's really spurring me forward is the fact that I've done this before; I've lost weight, INCHES off my waist in the span of three months just by walking. And I'm excited about having the opportunity to do that again. Fantastically excited about it. Zealously exuberant about it. I'm foaming at the mouth and chomping at the bit like a racehorse at the starting line.

But I'm not there yet; I still have some pain. So I have to (impatiently) bide my time.

I'm turning 33 next month. If I'm to have the life I envisioned a few years ago, then I've got to get on the ball. Why the rush? I've just decided that I do want more kids; I want my daughter. Again, 33 is right around the corner; the eggs are getting dusty and my mind might change again. Still, I'm on time with the vision-- we were relaxing on the beach; my boys were teens playing football in the water. My oldest turns 16 this year and my youngest turns 13; my youngest was a smidgeon older in the vision. So I've got time. But, still, I need to align myself so that I'll be in place mentally, spiritually, and physically to meet the man in the vision.

Ooh, excited once again.


Teaching: A Health Hazard

Just what is it about teaching that makes me so fat anyway? Before I became a teacher, I was a very manageable 250lbs (had gained quite a bit of weight after my grandfather's death). I wasn't ready yet to change my life because it hadn't really sunk in how fat I was. But, after I became a teacher, I ballooned to 271lbs and it took losing my voice for three months to heartburn erosion (was carrying and taking Tums daily) to make me finally get serious about losing weight and I dropped down to 251lbs. I hovered around that mark until I changed schools and went back up to 264lbs. Last year, I dropped to 228lbs during my leave of absence, went back to work for the remaining six weeks and was back up to 250lbs before school was out. Now, my weight goes up during the week and comes back down during the weekend. I don't get it.

My job, especially my recent school placement, has been a health hazard. Since I started working where I am, I've had migraines, nightmares, hives, a strained achilles tendon, high blood pressure, adult acne, feminine plumbing issues, strep throat three times in less than a year, and hair loss, as well as cycles of depression from being unsatisfied with work, pay, and the way of life it's creating-- all in the four years since I walked through those double doors.

So, finally, I'm fed up and have been applying for job after job. The only problem with that is that teaching for the last seven years has made it hard to compete in today's job market. Employers are asking for acronymed things that have me scratching my head in bewilderment. And, here in South Florida, this bilingual requirement is a pretty big deterrent (see my post from before). With my kids, I can't afford to start on the bottom rung of a company unless it matches or exceeds my current salary of $40k. And, again, in South Florida, bottom-rung jobs are about $30k with the bilingual requirement. I'm of the mindset, "Screw the requirement, someone in the office will speak the language so that I don't need to" and I apply to jobs anyway. Besides, I can make out a smattering of Spanish and whatever I don't know I can put through Google Translate or the app on my phone. How, again, is declaring English as the official language of the United States unconstitutional but the bilingual requirement is not? Sigh, sigh, triple sigh.

I miss working in the corporate world and the ability to climb up the ladder. The only thing I will miss about teaching is the flexibility for family emergencies-- oh, and the summers off. I'll, also, miss the kids who I genuinely care about. But I won't miss the stagnation, the disrespect, the helicopter parents staring eagle-eyed at the grade book, or the grade-grubbing students. I could continue with that list but it's Sunday and Mother's Day and I don't want the tension to build within my body.

So I'll just wrap it up by saying I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to take my health and happiness in my own hands.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Joshua Ledet: It's a Man's World

I just had to devote a whole post to this performance. I know I spoke about Joshua Ledet on another post but, tonight, I've watched this performance, at least, four times and each time I positively lose it. My favorite part starts at 1:56 into his performance. So hot. That man is truly gifted but he's living ambiguity. It's like there's a struggle between what was and what is. I don't know but that's just what I get. In the meantime, I love listening to dude and watching his performances. I pray that God continues to bless him.

The full video with judges commentary is here:

Trayvon Martin: The Story Continues

Sigh. Big HUGE sigh. The racial ignorance that plagues America's non-visibly Black people, at times, knows no boundaries. I just read an article about a company selling shooting range targets with the now ubiquitously known Trayvon adornments of a hoodie, Skittles, and a can of ice tea because the sellers "support Zimmerman and believe he is innocent and that he shot a thug". Innocent? The man has confessed to shooting Trayvon Martin. A thug? The kid was just 17. Now, could Trayvon have been on the road to thug-dom? Sure. But that night, he wasn't doing thuggish things. That night, he was just walking through the neighborhood, minding his own business, unlike the thuggish behavior of George Zimmerman.

Selling those targets was tasteless and a poor showing of humanity. Labeling the boy as just a thug takes away the fact that he was still a human being. It's what people do, this labeling, so that they feel better about what transpires. History is filled with labeled people, the "they" versus "us", ones stripped of their humanity. It happened to the Jews, the Africans, women, Japanese, Cubans, girls, Protestants, Catholics, and many, many other people. This type of labeling is just simply wrong.

So, within the space of a few minutes, I land on another article which talks about some Cornell students pelting other students, Black students, with bottles as the Black students walked by. The assailants even told one of the students, "Come up here, Trayvon", referring to the young man who was killed in February. This incident reminded me of my stay in Santander, Espana just 11 years ago. While there, I was pelted by bread, shot at with water guns, and called many names in Spanish by a few of the inhabitants there. Apparently, Black people don't live in that part of the country.

It is so unfortunate that Black people have to be repeatedly discriminated against. I want to yell that this is 2012 and all of our knowledge proves there's very little difference between a Black person and the Others and that most people, including those who don't look it, possess "Black" blood. But, as I'm finding, the world is not an intelligent place. This country, for instance, boasts an 80% illiteracy rate. Can I really expect a person who can not really read to understand something that isn't explicitly and verbally taught? Some people still think Black people are 3/5 of a person, that a Black person can not lead a country (at least, Betty White doesn't feel that way), that laziness and a fondness for chicken are only reserved for melanin-endowed.

Big big BIG sigh.

Positive note: Trayvon's mother's colleagues have donated sick time to her, accumulating over 8 months worth of sick time, time she's definitely going to need to see this case through. It's good to know there's some good out here in this world.


Think Like a Man

Finally saw Think Like a Man, a movie based off of Steve Harvey's book of a similar name, with my mom today (the company is one reason I'm glad the sex scenes in this movie were very PG). I tried to read the book but didn't get pass the first chapter so I expected Kevin Hart to be the funniest part about the movie; I expected this to be like every black movie that crams every named black actor into the film; I expected it to be bad.

I'm glad it wasn't.

Maybe it was one big commercial for the book and a little too fairytale-ish with all its happy endings-- at least, one person could have gotten left out in the cold. But I appreciated that, not only was there happiness, all the characters grew and became better people. If only life was that way.

My ex only got out of this film that men, who are not where they want to be (or have nothing to show for their life), are right to break up with their mate (his reasoning for why we're no longer together). What he missed was that the men in the movie went out of their way to work on improving themselves-- at first for the women, but, ultimately, for themselves. So, I guess, it's a good thing that he is my ex because I need positivity.

I keep trying to compare myself to Taraji's character (don't remember the name) and her situation with Michael Ealy's character (again, don't remember the name-- guess there were too many characters. I only remember Meagan Good's Mya because it was said over and over and over again, plus it was written on a card). But there's, literally, no comparison. Michael's character had not only a dream and potential, he, also, had a skill-- he could cook. I have NO idea what my ex's skill was/is, even after nearly a year of dating. I had asked him about his goals but they were so vague and he was making no moves toward them (probably because they were so vague) so I had a hard time envisioning his future, let alone one that involved us.

But, apparently, he made the comparison between Taraji's and Michael's character to us. He said that I had everything: a stable job for 7 years (granted it never made me happy but I have responsibilities [READ: children] to take care of), a car (have only been without one for 6 months in my whole 15 years of driving), and a place (that I think is, literally, making my children and I sick). Yes, compared to him, I do have everything-- except support, love, and companionship. We, humans, are geared towards companionship. I may have been okay with being single before but that was because I never thought I would find anyone who loved me, who would bother to try to get/understand me, who wasn't intimidated by my intelligence, who could help me achieve my dreams and wouldn't think them silly, who I could build a life with. I was content being single because I thought I had to be content and single.

Now I know better. How I wish I didn't. 

Not only that, but Taraji was happy and successful with her career. She was accomplished. I'm really not. Now I know, had I reached the level of success I dream about, I would have been much like her character because I kinda have the same standards myself, which is why it took me a while to even fall for my ex in the first place. That whole no-degree-hourly-job-having-Chevy box car-driving-living-with-his-parents thing was a REAL turn-off (given my face as I type this, it still is-- especially the Chevy, ugh).

Given my current level of (un)success in the career field (I don't want to be just a teacher) and the fact that all I have, at this time, is a bachelor's degree, I don't think that section of Steve Harvey's book applies to me. But, I do already think like a man; I was raised around nothing but boys. So I think it's the act like a lady part that may be more beneficial for me. But I'll give the book a real chance to see if there is any help for me because, let's face it, I need better and I need it soon. I've got two children who have NEVER had a strong male figure in their life, though, they have had male relatives around. They need a dad and I would really like to meet and have a forever-love.

Sigh. Is it even possible?


Yearning for Yesterday

I am so damn lonely, it hurts. It is a literal ache in my chest cavity. And what makes me the most upset about my condition is that, before my relationship, I was fine with being single. I was blissfully ignorant about what it means to love and be loved by someone who wasn't a child or family. I took myself out to eat; I took myself out to the movies; I worked out for me. I just didn't care about being un-coupled.

But, now, I know what I'm missing and I yearn for love's return. Or, at least, a return of my happily oblivious self.

I have nothing more to say on this subject so I'll just end here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is it August 4th yet?

Boy, oh, boy, oh boy. What a news week, one I would give a left pinky toenail to be able to discuss on Facebook.

First, there's Biden irresponsible comments forcing the President's hand.

Next, it was North Carolina banning any recognition whatsoever of gay unions, marriage or civil. What this also means is no recognition for common law marriages either. Wonder if they thought that far.

Then, it was President Obama actually commenting in favor of gay marriages (I spoke on this yesterday). The nation blew up. Ignorant black folk, who barely vote in the first place, said that Obama lost their vote. Um, well, if you're not going to give it to him, who are you going to give it to? Someone who is, by far, more oblivious to the struggles of daily American living than someone who is deaf, dumb (meaning mute), and devoid of sight? Or no one at all, which is the same thing as a vote, only it takes away your right to have any say about the political moves in America? And I say ignorant because, ethnically speaking, black people, my family included, like to pretend that gay people don't exist while some are secretly meeting up with male prostitutes up in the northwest section of Miami, Atlanta, Wherever America, secretly giving another dude the eye, secretly slipping cell phone numbers into pockets of other men, and some of them don't even know that their sons are secretly uploading videos of themselves dancing like female strippers (and, by dancing, I mean just shaking their booty). If it wasn't true, why would there be a phenomenon called a Down Low Brother? It's almost the same as the Republican party thinking homosexuals only exist on the Democratic side.

Look, as I said yesterday, no matter your preference or belief, it's just constitutionally wrong to deny someone else a basic right as marriage-- which, by the way, isn't solely religiously Christian thing. "Pagans" had marriage; Europeans and historical nations hammered marriage out as a business thing, alliance and all that, not a result of love. That idea is pretty much a newfangled one. Now this isn't to say I'm in favor of gay marriage or not; I just can't as a black, as a female, as a single mother, as a teacher be for denying people their civil rights.

Well, today, the news has revealed Biden's remorse about opening his big fat mouth prematurely (or at all for that matter). Why does this country have such a bad record of recent vice presidents? Other than Al Gore, the recent decades' VPs (Democratic and Republican alike) have all, pretty much, demonstrated an extreme case of stupidity more often that not (remember Dan Quayle). Well, no, not all. Dick Cheney was more the devil's secret love child than Forrest Gump.

And then there's the report that Mitt Romney may or may not have been a bully in high school. Given the sensitivity of this nation, I have to wonder if high school hangups or racism (I don't believe that everyone against Prez O is a racist but there certainly are a heck of a lot of people *who vote* that are) will win with the voters. Yes, I'm being facetious.

On a lighter note, the AI 3 are the ones I thought would be there. I'm just happy my boy, Joshua Ledet, is there to sing another day. It may not behoove him to win it all because the winners get locked in these crazy contracts with songs that are bad for them. The successful winners grew when they got to distance themselves a bit from AI. But the almost-winners got to experiment.

Sigh. I'm going to just stop here. Can't really have a good debate with myself. Is it August 4th yet? Sheesh, I'm just itching to discuss so much on Facebook.

Positive note: school's almost out. :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lost Without Facebook

I'm lost without Facebook.

It's been three days and I keep reaching for my phone, wanting to post the interesting things I felt compelled to share.

Like the Korean pills made out of dead Chinese babies.

Like my frustration with the people at my job.

Like my son being threatened by a bully at school.

Like my school ranking in the top percentile out of 4,800 schools in the nation ranked (a total of 22,000 schools were analyzed) by US News.

Like my mom exclaiming her love for her early Mother's Day present in teenage text speak: "OMG!"

Like President Obama giving in to the pressure to speak on something that was a big mine field containing a boatload of "damn if you do, damn if you don't", leaving him open to even more criticism as well as paving the way for his not-to-be-under-estimated opponent.  (Maybe if Biden would shut up, Prez Obama wouldn't have to stepping in fresh steaming dog piles). North Carolina holding an unconstitutional vote didn't help. Regardless of personal belief, denying someone legal rights on the basis of what they are is just wrong. As a fat black single-mother and teacher, I know a thing or two about being glared at or disregarded on one or a combination of the "what I ams".

Joshua Ledet: Sultry
Joshua Ledet: Smooth
Joshua Ledet: Soulful
Like my discovery of the awe-some-ness that is American Idol's Joshua Ledet (haven't watched AI all season until tonight-- can't wait to hyperlink This is a Man's World when someone uploads it to YouTube). I would totally pay to see him in concert (and not that American Idol thing either). I'm trying to resist making a blog post just about dude. He is soooo good. He just doesn't fit in with the crud that is playing on constant rotation on the radio. His Change Gon' Come and Ready for Love almost got a shout out of me. Definitely makes me smile. He is Mantasia. He is Beyonce. He is Luther and a touch of so many of the greats. I hope he gets some really good writers and producers because I would definitely buy his cd. Yes, I've gone overboard with the pictures of him. And, no, I don't have a ridiculous school girl crush on him (from what I've discerned that would be totally stupid and a waste of energy). I just think he's really awesome and I hope he stays humble. Also, I didn't see too many interesting and lively pictures of him so I snapshotted a few to add to the world wide web. :)

This clip of Jessica Sanchez was pretty great too.

Like the Miami Heat sweeping the New York Knicks in round one of the playoffs.

Like my 90-day tithing commitment to God. "Test me in this...," He says. It feels more like a test for me rather than a test for Him. And, boy, I certainly hope I pass because, so far, the only floodgates that have been thrown open are the ones that have been holding back my tears.

Nearly everyday this week, the tears fell from my eyes in fat droplets as relentless as the rainfall that doused Miami these past few days.

"Test me in this," He says. I need to.

How else am I going to make it through another 87 days of no status updates? How else will I be able to pay all my bills while devoting the first 10% of my income to God? How else am I going to move from my current situation into something more aligned with my purpose?

"Test me in this," He says. I will.

I'm fighting to be obedient. I'm waiting on those blessings. I will test Him. I will trust Him. I will believe him for His word. 


Found the video for Joshua Ledet's cover of It's a Man's World:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In a Nutshell

May 1st.

I didn't want the first day of the new month to go by without me posting to the blog. I can stereotypically begin with, "So much has happened since..." but I won't (though it's the truth). While a lot of things have happened, most of it resembled the changing landscape of a hamster wheel. If you missed the sarcasm, I banish thee to the depths of...some really deep and dark place...where ants crawl inside and earthworms salmon-slink up your nostrils-- all while rats nibble on the cuticle area of your toes, swishing their long and disgusting tail against the epidermis covering your ankles.

Me foot's still injured (yes, I wanted a lickle bit of an Irish accent-- now a Caribbean one, eh). I've actually been wearing heels (not supposed to wear flats w/ Achilles tendonitis) and just last week my walking boot arrived in the mail, so I've been wearing that as well.

My youngest...

My job. Sigh. Apparently, there are rumors floating around my job about me. And, in keeping with the characteristic of a rumor, they are rather unflattering ones. The shame of it is that they are not being spread by the students (I'm getting used to the backbiting of the girls-- don't expect better of them and I won't be disappointed). Nay. These rumors were breathed life by coworkers. They do not warrant repeating.  I'm not hurt, just mad because it's like, "Really?". Why? Ugh! How old are we? Thirteen?

My finances...suck major hard-boiled egg with an extremely dry yolk. So, I've been applying for jobs. Teaching is too vampirish on my bank account.

My love life is still quite dead. Or, rather, it's a bit undead-- more zombie like really. A mere shell of what used to be. That translates into he and I exist but not as a "we".

My life...I'm still here; I'm still breathing. If there's anything these last seven months have taught me it's that I'm a lot stronger than even I imagined (and I thought myself pretty strong). I've bent, yes, but I didn't break. I became the palm tree in the storm. And I owe that all to my faith/belief in a higher power I like to call God.