Monday, August 29, 2011

My First and Last Trip to the Balcony

Last week (Tuesday or Wednesday) it was beginning to rain in Houston. Can you believe it? I went out on the balcony to see if I could salvage a pair of shoes I had thrown out there. Said shoes had dog poop on them from about six months ago when I took a friend's dog out for a walk. That is how long it has been since we have had a good rain, to my knowledge.This was the first time I had actually walked out onto the balcony, and it will be my last.

Not thinking, I closed the sliding glass door behind me, thinking it was the screen door. As soon as I closed it, I knew I had made a major mistake. Click, thud. The Charlie bar came down and locked me out, on the balcony, all alone. J was not coming home that night. Couldn't reach her. I was stuck. We face another apartment complex and a bank. There are never any people below, but I yelled over the edge for the hell of it, "Help!" No one was around. No one answered. I began to panic a bit. I threw one of said shoes down below to try to hit our downstairs' neighbor's window. Missed the window. I saw something in their window that said, "Texas A & M." I began yelling, "Hey, Texas A & M! Hey, Aggies!" No reply.

I called the apartment complex, even though it was nighttime and I knew they don't do lockouts. The lady answering the phone said, "We only do lockouts for elderly and disabled people." I said, "Does 49 and a half count?" I was trying to keep my sense of humor. She finally called someone from the other side of town and told me to be patient. She said he would drive out here, go to the office and get our key.

I waited for what seemed like eternity. I was tempted to surf Facebook or play solitaire on my phone, but my phone battery was low. We are on the second floor. Trust me, if there had not been an endless concrete wall below, I might have jumped while waiting. Later, I finally heard someone at our front door, trying over and over to open it with a key. He could not get in. "How stupid," I thought to myself. "He can't get in the apartment!" I had locked the deadbolt lock from inside. I was literally locked outside from the inside.

I heard the nice man, Mike, from down below the balcony, "Hello! I can't get in your front door. The dead bolt must be locked." When I asked him how he planned on getting me down, he said, "I think we should call the fire department." I yelled down at him, "Don't call the fire department! I'm already embarrassed enough!" What made it worse was that the apartment manager called me and laughed. She found the situation quite humorous.

I told Mike, "I have a metal chair up here. Shouldn't I just break a window?" He advised me not to, stating that it would add to the cost of my rescue. He said he would find a tall ladder, put it in the flower bed on the first floor and cut a small hole in our front bedroom window so that he could unlock it and go in that way. As luck would have it, the bedroom window was unlocked. It doesn't seem safe, but I was quite relieved. I'm pretty sure that a burglar with a long extension ladder would have been noticed if one had ever tried to break in.

Long story over, "Mike" got in an saved my life. I say that because if I had not had my cell phone with me, I would not have been found until morning when I hadn't shown up for work. If I had needed medication overnight or had a heart attack or anything serious, I would possibly be dead by the time someone had found me. Anyone wondering if a Charlie bar works or not, trust me, it does. And now I cannot even go near the balcony door. And I still do not find the situation humorous.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Countdown Begins...

3-2-1. School starts on Monday. Whoa, let me back up. In Montessori our parent/teacher conferences actually include the students so that they can be accountable for their learning and all three of us (parent/student/teacher) are on the same page. There are no surprises. There are no secrets. So I have enjoyed getting to know these great kids this week, along with their parents. I already know so much about each child - their interests, strengths/weaknesses, their goals - which totally excites me! Now, ask me at the end of next week and it may be a different story - and also at the end of Week 2 when we take them all camping for three days in this God awful heat.

Also, I have what they think may be a UTI. I am praying it is on its way out by Monday! Some of the responsibilities that I have been given are to check 4th and 5th grade homework every day; give spelling and handwriting lessons to 4th and 5th; make sure all grade levels know their multiplication and division tables (this includes giving them timed tests and follow-up work as needed); check 4th grade math classwork and some 5th and 6th grade language; to teach creative writing and poetry to all grades; to give 4th grade math lessons; to present a country in Africa (we received a Smart Board for a donation to give presentations on - too cool!); to mummify a chicken with the entire class after we visit the King Tut exhibit; and to be responsible for making sure that all 6th graders have their work done by Friday. I volunteered for quite a few of these responsibilities, which I am hoping will show initiative on my part.

It sounds like a lot, but I have a list taped to my teaching table to keep me on track.

On the homefront, J's mom is doing great after a knee replacement on Wednesday and is coming home today! I hate not seeing J much, but I am so happy for her mom! This surgery will change her life.

Today I am going to visit both gmas and also spend some time with K18, who is successfully on her way with Mary Kay. She turned in her first real order last night, which makes her an official MK beauty consultant. She also informed me that she is subbing for the real "Marian, the Librarian" during rehearsals for the Music Man, because the girl is ill. That role was made for K18. I could thump her in the head for not auditioning for that role.

I am still working contract for my old boss. My replacement is not working out and I am stressing over the fact that he is not happy with her work at all and with the thought of what will happen should he choose to let her go. I am already trying to do my job at the school and make up for what she isn't getting done. I thought I could handle the two positions, but my heart just isn't in it. I am ready to cut ties with him and put all of my energy and extra time into my class. I know that you will all agree with J and say that it isn't my problem, but I consider it my problem and I rarely let things go.

For any of you parents or teachers out there in cyberspace, I wish you/your students/your kids a great school year! You may not hear from me for awhile since I will be exhausted at the end of each day and have to get back into the groove of teaching!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"K" is for my last name

My last name starts with a "K." I have such mixed feelings about this.

There are positives:
1) My last name is easy to spell. It is a male's name; everyone knows how to spell it. My maiden name was butchered more ways than you can imagine.
2) It is the last name of my children. I hesitate to change it for that very reason. I want a connection with my girls.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to share J's last name. She said that her dad might have been okay with me having it, and I plan to change it to hers when my children are married and take on their husbands' surnames. When this will happen, I have no idea. I find myself extremely impatient for that.

"K" is my current identity. Hopefully, I can change it in a few years. It is like a monkey on my back. I just don't think I will be able to wait much longer. When I change my surname to "B", I think my coming out will be complete and I will see us as completely married.

Which brings me to my next issue: I don't think that marriage will be legal for us in our lifetime (Texas), so I hope in the near future that we will just bite the bullet and just do the whole name change thing. It may not seem important to most people, but to me it will be the final push. Taking J's surname means the world to me. Now that I am known by my first name at the school I am teaching at, even though I don't think it is respectful, the kids are not going to notice the change in my surname. I could lie and say it is my maiden name. My kids will only know if they see my driver's license. Is it worth the risk of my daughters feeling upset? Their father and I are divorced. Would it be any more difference than if I went back to my maiden name?

For those of you who have not been following our blog, the school I am teaching at is gay friendly. In our faculty directory, under each teacher's name, there is a place that reads "spouse/partner." Today I noticed that only one teacher out of about 30 has a partner listed. I want to be the second. This teacher is in the hospital with cancer right now, and the entire faculty is supporting her. It just doesn't seem to matter at all. Today everyone was sending cards, flowers and fruit baskets to the hospital. She is truly missed and appreciated. Our teacher handbook reads that no teacher shall be discrimintated against regardless of gender or sexual orientation. How many of you have changed your surname to that of your partner? Does it matter to you? It matters to me. I want to be connected to J in that way, forever. Comments here are greatly appreciated.

J is for "Joy"

J, I know you think I am going to say your name for "J." Ha ha. That would be too obvious. I have been struggling for the "J" word for about a month. I chose "joy" because you exhibit it in all that you do. You bring such joy to me and to others in your life. I have been told by others that your smile lights up a room. I couldn't say it any better than that.

When you smile, you do light up the room. Everyone seems comfortable with you. You never seem to meet a stranger. Even my youngest daughter, after struggling to meet you for almost three years, has noticed it, although she will never admit it. How can she help but like you? If everyone could know you, they would see what I and others see. You always seem happy, even when you aren't exactly happy. You don't wear your heart on your sleeve. I wish that I could be that way.

When we were in high school and college, I remember how you would make everyone feel comfortable around you. You are still that way. You are very approachable. You can be hard to get to know because, in your own way, you are shy. Your intelligence is sometimes intimidating, even to me at times. But you make everything seem so simple. For example, if you are approached with a problem, you appear not to panic and you just address it, head on. I love you for that. You don't analyze everything into the ground as I do.

You exhibit joy in everything you do. Joy for being alive. Joy for getting the job done well. Joy in taking on responsibilities, even when they are a burden and are not your responsibilities. You never let that "burden" show. I watch and try to learn from you.

I love you, J. Thanks for being someone whom I admire and strive to be like! Love, B

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

K18 Update

K18 came over on Sunday; K21 chose to stay home and be bored (Her Facebook post reflected this boredom.). Oh, well, her choice. J and I took K18 out to dinner at Spaghetti Western, and she got to ride in the back seat of J's new Mustang. The two of them talked a lot at dinner. I was beaming inside the whole time.

We bought K18 a Mary Kay starter kit. She starts on August 15th. I am excited for her and hope she can make a little extra cash for school. She accepted a marketing internship and has to help raise $100,000 by December for a theater group. She already has a job at the college bookstore. I am just afraid she is spreading herself too thin.

I am now officially on the payroll of the school and start back August 8th. We have 35 kids, 2 teachers and one assistant. That is all I will say to keep my (and the students') privacy. You may hear me reference students' comments from time to time, but no names will ever be mentioned here.

I am at the lake for the next couple of days, spending time with my parents and two grandmothers. One grandmother is jealous of the other, so it has been quite interesting so far trying to divide my time.

Did the first day of Couch24k this morning at 8:00 a.m. It was already close to 100 degrees when I returned to the house. I am going to continue bugging the office about getting a new treadmill. No one should have to walk/jog in this heat. It's outrageous.

J, if you are reading this, I miss you so much, and can't wait to see you on Thursday when I return.