Friday, May 29, 2009
J and I have decided that I will take all of June off (I am leaving Wed. for Florida). If I have not found a job by the end of June, then I will stay where I am. A main reason I feel so much stress in my job is because I took over the class in October because the teacher became ill and could not teach anymore. There were very few materials for the kids to work with, the closet was full of junk (and still is), and I was never given time to make the materials I needed, organize a calendar, get my head above water (unless I had been willing to do it at home, which I refused to do). I wouldn't mind bringing work home if it was because I ran out of time, but I was rarely given any planning time. So if I have July and part of August to make my calendar, put the materials together (three moms have volunteered to help and one is buying me a file cabinet), and drag everything out of that stupid closet and see what I even have and what I want to toss, then I will feel so much more equipped to do a good job. I did not feel I could make very many changes to the classroom since the kids had already had things a certain way. Keeping their routine helped them get used to me. Also, if I stay, there are things that I want put in writing on my contract that were not there before: 1) I must get my planning time each day, which means, also, that I must have time to have parent/teacher conferences at least twice each year. 2) I must have an assistant at all times. There has to be consistency in these kids' days. 3) I am paid for December break (my boss still owes me a lot of money from last December). 4) I will not do child care before or after school!
My one big concern about going back next year is my possible coming out accidentally. Most of the parents I know right now would probably not have a problem with my sexuality, but I fear that my boss's religious beliefs might really make it difficult in my situation. I really don't think she would fire me during the school year, but I feel that she would lose her respect for me and be even more difficult to work with.
I have learned this week that I have more control over my work situation than I originally thought. I have learned to be more assertive with my boss, and I eventually get my way. I AM RUNNING THE PROGRAM. She really is relying on me to make all the decisions, even though she tries to make it appear that she does.
I will still be looking daily for a new job, but I do not feel the stress of "Oh, no, what if I can't find another job?" going on inside me. I don't know. It could be because my year is over and I have a month off. Maybe I will feel differently the closer to the end of June we get.
Thanks for listening to all the rambling during the year!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Originally called "The Eye of the Storm" in the early '70's, my fourth grade teacher made us watch this documentary on a movie (reel) projector. Every since (1971), Jane Elliot has been a heroine to me, teaching about discrimination in a totally unique way. Everytime I hear the song "High Hopes", I think about her. I have followed her for several years. She continued doing similar workshops at prisones and companies around the country. There are some youtubes of these. You can also now find her DVDs at libraries, but they are titled "A Class Divided." I encourage you to watch the programs in their entirety. They are amazing. There are also parts 3,4, 5 and 6 to these youtubes.
Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you. . . you are in for a rude awakening.
In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. over thirty years ago, Jane Elliott devised the controversial and startling, "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise. This, now famous, exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority. Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott's work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it. Decades after she stopped teaching in Riceville, Iowa schools, she is still not welcome in the community. She supposedly “is detested by residents as an arrogant, self-centered opportunist who turned against her town and inflicted untold harm on hundreds of Riceville’s children.”
Okay, I thought I was doing a "good" thing, going for a 2-mile walk on a holiday when I could be gelling out at home. Wrong. I started on my journey in the south side parking lot at Myers Park. I knew the trails were not marked very well, but I wanted to take the 1.27 mile trail. Everytime I would get to a fork, I would take the outside one because the last time I took the inside trail, I was back at my car in less time than it takes to make a three-minute egg.
So I am walking along with my protein water in one hand and my cell phone in the other. How boring. Oh, I should call someone to make the time pass faster, I think to myself. I call my friend V. We get to talking, and about 45 minutes later, I say to V, "I think I am lost. Nothing looks familiar. I should have been back to the park a looooong time ago. I have passed baseball fields, soccer fields, and several fishing ponds. The trail is too straight, not to mention that quite a ways back I went under a bridge at a major street. There WAS a park now, but it was on my left, not on my right, where it should be. I know about what two miles looks and feels like, as that was pretty much my daily routine for years.
V said, "Why don't you just follow someone, B?" I said, "Because they are all going the opposite direction, bikers, walkers, joggers. I mean, wouldn't you think that you would eventually end up back where you started, even if you took the "long way around?" Wrong. I finally asked a woman who almost walked into me while she was checking her Ipod, "Where does this go? Will I end up back at Myers Park?" She looked at me liked I was nuts. "No, you are a loong way from Myers Park. If you keep going, you will end up at Collins Park, which is where I started from." I estimate that I went about 2.5 miles total before turning around and following the woman.
On my way back, I found a map, which I had missed the first time around, because I was so involved in my phone conversation. I could not believe where I had gone. However, "Collins Park" is on the east side of I-45, miles and miles away, so I find it kind of hard to believe that the woman had started there. But, hey, maybe she had, but how was she going to get there without turning around? If she did start there, my hat is off to the woman, cuz it must have taken a long time walking it. I just can't see myself spending that long walking. Walking is just soooo boring to me.
I need to lose weight so badly, but that is not really why I am walking. I am more worried about my blood pressure and my mental health at this point. Exercise is really supposed to help with anxiety and depression, both of which I have. Although, personally, it never has really seemed to help me that much in those areas. If you have something in your life to depress you or stress you, that is the way it is. But maybe it will help me deal with those things in a more constructive way.
Above is one of my favorite parts from Benny and Joon. Smile and enjoy!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
1. B 2. Mom 3. Flipper
Three jobs you may not know I have had in my life:
1. Reader to a blind man
2. Legal transcriptionist (loved this job!)
3. ESL instructor to the Vietnamese (volunteer)
Three Places I have lived:
1. Huntingburg, Indiana
2. Houston, Texas
3. San Marcos, Texas
Three shows I watch:
1. Wife Swap
2. Amazing Race
3. Nancy Grace
Three places I have been:
3. Las Vegas
Three people that e-mail me regularly:
1. My sister-in-law
3. Dead Celebrity Update (sad, isn't it?)
Three of my favorite foods:
1. mashed potatoes
2. Mexican (doesn't matter what it is)
3. fried mushrooms
Three things I'm looking forward to:
1. 50 year wedding anniversary, although I may be bedridden
2. My daughters' weddings (if I'm invited)
3. Grandchildren, which I hope I will be allowed to help deliver
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
My 18-yr-old graduate with her 15-yr-old sis, with her 93-yr-old great-grandmother, with my brother and my father.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
6-year old S was talking today about her dad serving in Iraq. I asked her if her mother had ever showed her where Iraq was on a map. She said, "No," so I told her to remind me when we went back inside, and that I would show her where Iraq was on the globe. She replied, "I hope it is near Florida!"
6-year old S (again) was telling me how people get old. She said they have water in their blood that gets old, and then they die. She said that she and I have new water in our blood. Glad to know that and that someone thinks I am still young. LOL
It was quite windy today. 5-year old M and 5-year old I asked me, "What does it mean when there is a lot of wind?" I said, "There is a lot of wind." "Well," they asked, "what does it mean when there is a lot of wind and rain?" I said, "Usually, that is called a 'storm'." They said, "Isn't it a tornado?" We started talking about tornadoes, and I said that I had driven my car through a tornado once. M looked me in the eyes and asked, "Did you survive, Ms. B?"
I was trying to get everyone lined up. M was picking grass, the trash bag was breaking, little S from the preschool room who I watch at playtime for her mom was bawling, I was trying to carry a cookie sheet, bug spray, and my lunchbox, and holding a kid's hand all at the same time. I mentioned that no one was listening to me, and one of the children said, "Everyone loves you, Ms. B!"
Ugh, what a day.
J is doing okay, but she is in the doghouse because she took a shower before I got home, and that was NOT a good idea! She also unloaded the dishwasher!!!!! Grrrrr. I love you, sweetie.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I guess by now most of you know how sappy I can be. So, yes, I want to take J’s last name; I have since we wed in 1980. I never told her, I guess because I thought it was always just understood. You get married; you change your name, right?
Last year, I mentioned to J about changing my last name to match hers. She seemed to be in shock; she couldn’t believe it. She said that the thought had made her so incredibly happy. She never even had a clue that I had wanted that my whole life.
We talked about how her dad would have felt about the name change, since I would be getting his last name. I think we are pretty much in agreement that once he had accepted our relationship -- which we are fairly certain he would have eventually -- that he would have been okay with it. I loved J’s dad very much, and it would be such an honor to have his name.
Why is it so important? Sharing her last name will once and for all show people that we are a couple, never to be separated again. It represents more than marriage or commitment; it represents who I am and have always been.
On the day of our wedding in Vegas, we were presented with helpful info on how to legally change your name and a checklist of places not to forget about sending the change to. So I AM eventually going to change it, but not yet. My kids and family are not at the point right now to handle a name change; but in my heart, all those years, I have always been B.B. I love it when we buy raffle tickets or something and J signs my name that way. I told her once that I would like for it to be that way when she signs us in at church on Sundays, but so far, she hasn’t written it like that. I cringe when I see our names on our checking account because they are not the same, and I want that soooo much!
So to our IRL friends, don’t be surprised if you receive a Christmas card this year with “J and B B.” written on the return address. My new e-mail address already reflects the change and I am consciously thinking about other ways in which to “sneak it in.”
My world changed
I was faced with the reality.
We could not have what others did
We could not share our joy
We had to celebrate together, alone.
But behind this door
My heart changed
It became entwined with hers
The love we shared
Was sealed with a promise
My heart now beat for two instead of for one.
Behind this door
My life changed
She asked me to marry her at 5:45
Just as the sun was about to rise
I said “yes” without thinking twice
And we go on forever.
I think of our life as two bookends. Our story started as one bookend. Then there were all those years apart that followed. And now we are spending the rest of our lives together as the closing bookend. It is as if our love has supported us all those years, and that is how we got through them.
Monday, May 4, 2009
I think that speed dating is great. Think of all the dinner tabs and embarrassing and boring moments it spares you? I once went on a blind date where the guy actually had a FILE on me! How weird is that? I once went on a date with a dentist (okay, I totally admit it. I answered a personal ad in the Houston Chronicle on a dare from a friend. She didn't do much better.). I swear, he was looking at my teeth the entire evening, and my teeth are nothing special to look at. It was a total drag of an evening.
But with J, just hanging out for a couple of hours at Square Pan Pizza was a blast, playing air guitar to My Sharona and hugging "goodbye." Man, there is no comparison! I wanted so much for her to take me to prom. I really envy you ladies who went to prom together. I think we would have looked magnificent together in turquoise! I have to admit, that during homecoming, I secretly wanted J to buy me a mum, maybe even a double or triple mum! I would have melted. How cool would that have been to have had an anonymous triple mum at homecoming! I would have been the only one who would have known who it was from, and my stomach would have been doing flip flops during the entire football game, straining my neck from the woodwind section of the band to look up at the brass section in the stands?? Oh, my, how I secretly longed to kiss her!
My elderly grandmother is going to have a long day, and my parents were wondering what to do with her after the graduation. There is approximately one hour to one and a half hour wait between the graduation reception and the afterparty. So I mentioned to my mom last night, "I'm not going to the afterparty (which is really called a reception), so I can take Grandma home after the ceremony. My mom said, "Why are you not going?" I said, "Because it was made clear to me that I am not invited."
A few hours before my conversation with Mom, I talked to my dad. I said, "Hey, Dad, are there any plans for Mother's Day?" I kind of assumed there wasn't since the entire family would be at graduation festivities from around noon to 10 pm Saturday. He said, "Yeah, we were all invited to your brother's house for lunch!" Helloooo, I was not invited. I kind of sounded surprised, I guess. I mean, my kids are going to my brother's house for Mother's Day without me, their mom? So wouldn't you know it -- bless my father's heart -- got a call from my brother last night, and he invited me. Remember, he's the one who left me out of Thanksgiving dinner??? My daughters have known about the Mother's Day get together since last week. Turns out, my youngest will not see me on Mother's Day afterall because she obligated herself to work backstage for Annie and didn't realize it was Mother's Day.
On a better note, I WAS invited to the Lord's table on Sunday, and I partook, AND I DID NOT CRY!!!!
Had three kids removed from school today because -- here's the background story -- three after school kiddos ride in a van to my school from a public elementary school which has been closed because of exposure to swine flu. So my boss allowed them to join my class for TWO WEEKS. One of them is in fourth grade. I have no equipment or resources for fourth grade. So for thirty minutes this morning I am hunting down and copying math, language and science work for him so he will have something to do. Meanwhile, a long line of parents is waiting outside my boss's office, waiting to pounce on her in anger for allowing these kiddos into the school building. My boss asked me if my assistant could take the exposed kids to an empty classroom for the day to maybe satisfy the parents. "Or," she said, "would you be okay having them join your class?" After three kids were taken back home, she finally decided to send the public school kids home and quarantined them in the library. Then I took my entire class outside for over an hour while my assistant disinfected the entire classroom. Total waste and interruption of our day. Kids this age just cannot handle it when the routine is upset. Now we have parents semi-concerned because one of my students has a sibling attending that same public school, so now it is exposure once removed. When does it end?
I saw two men on my way home in a car with masks over their faces and what looked like plastic wrap around their heads. Come on, people! It's a flu!!! Like someone said (I paraphrase), so many people are wearing masks to keep from catching the swine flu, but they won't wear a condom to stop the spread of AIDS. Go figure.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Last night I applied for nine jobs with the largest district in Houston (hint,hint), which is something I said I would never do again. I have worked for two ISDs in Houston in the past, one year with the above mentioned and three years with a smaller one. I said I would never go back to the bureacracy. But -- would it be different for me in a non-teaching position, which is what I applied for? I know there would still be bureaucracy, but would I be able to make more of a positive difference in children's lives if I was in more of an administrative job? Or would I just continue to be pooped on by those above me? Would I have more of a say in what goes on, or would I still be squashed like a bug for speaking out? My one and only year there, I witnessed a teacher hit a child because she was talking in line. I reported it to the principal and was basically told that he wasn't going to do anything about it, and that if I tried to take it higher, it could mean my job. And at that time, I was not in a position to lose my job. So I decided right then and there that would be my last year in that district. If I had to stand by and not be able to protect a child, then I just couldn't do the job at all anymore. So if I get called for an interview, will I go? Should I go? I would get a good salary and good benefits. Would it be worth it? Do I want to see the junk that goes on in administration, I mean, REALLY see it? I already know it's there. That's what's wrong with the system. Would it be really stressful for me, or would I look forward to going to work more every day? Hmmmm.