Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brain Dump State of Constant Revision Pt. 2

A time of change is upon me and I’m not sure where to go from here. I may talk as if I have everything together but, in essence, this chapter of my life is simply a continuation from another chapter, one in which I admit that my life, as many other people’s life, is in a state of constant revision. What I mean by that is that truly at the end of the day we have no idea where we are going or where we are coming from.

I find that this state can be both freeing and yet it can also feel like you are free falling without a net. I feel like I have no net. I am for all intense and purposes unemployed at the moment. My "current" district has no claim to me, and in truth neither does my next place of employment. I was verifying my employment information with my car loan company today and was shocked to hear myself say, as if an apparition of myself watching from above, say no I am not longer employed through my school district. It was shocking, and liberating. It makes me feel free to say all of the things that I have gone without saying all of these years because I was afraid of retribution. I can talk now openly about the problems that occur in here in my school distrcit and about how frustrating that is for a teacher who is idealistic like I was. I heard a new teacher say to me the other day, after her first year of teaching “listen to how jaded I am”. And in truth, I was jaded too. And how can we not be. We show up out of college ready with all the knowledge a university can teach us and what little we know from student teaching and we attempt to apply this all to a real world scenario. Its kind of like being a gladiator. If you come out on top you are a hero among many, you are revered amongst the peers you have, whom are slaves to the same enemy that you are a slave to. If you fail however, then the lions truly have eaten you up alive and left your carcass to be eaten away by the hot sun. I remember my first year being this way. Half of us survived, half of us left. My classroom in particular was a perfect peek into this formation; myself on one end of the port hole, and another teacher on the other.

She fled. I stayed and fought the lions. I am so glad that she did leave too, because that gave room for one of my most revered colleagues and someone whom I am considering a better and better friend. And now, I have to start all over. New friends. New colleagues. A completely new and not nonexistent political structure. It all sounds in a word exhausting. So much so that I have in the last four days taken three naps and loved every moment of them. One of the benefits of not having a child of my own and being on summer vacation is that I am truly off the hook and I can allow my body to do whatever it wants to do.

Tomorrow it will have to drag its lazy self to the gym because it has been far too long since I have gone, but even that being said I have enjoyed some true time off to really wrap my head around the sorrow that I feel for no longer being in a system with these find young educators, for losing the students whom although I have compared to lions starved for meat I adore, and for an administration who although I have not always agreed with at least I knew where I stood with each and every one of them. These are the things that I will miss. This is why I feel that this new chapter in my life is simply a continuation of my life being in constant revision and this is why I am scared and excited ll at the same time. 

State of Constant Revision Pt. 1 from 10/10/10

A state of constant revision. I’ve had this line on the board in my classroom for weeks now, and it has become a life motto. Everything in a state of constant revision. It seems like an apt piece for my life right now and I know that those closest to me know that more than anyone. My teacher life and my personal life are not that far removed from one another. Its par for the course when your time is spent at school, when everything seems to revolve around that campus, those kids, and that aspect of life. I’m constantly on the lookout for pitfalls, to the point of paranoia. I struggle to live in the moment as others seem to be able to do so so easily. Both my teacher self and my personal self have a hard time being happy, struggling not to fret and worry and stress about what comes next. I struggle to allow things to happen in their own time, to be ok with the here and now and to not work out problems that haven’t even happened. This summer I struggled to find peace with my life, to be less like that person who worries and plans, but that person has started to lose her way again. It takes centering, which there just doesn’t seem to be time enough in the day to do. I want to feel that feeling that everyone else seemingly has, being happy in the here and now. In reality, it should not be this hard, but you never see anyone else’s struggles. Whether you talk to them about themselves as a person, or in a relationship they have had for years, you never see the way things are as being difficult. You don’t see the compromise, the scheduling, the work and the arguments that exist in every place and with everyone. The biggest compromise I ask of myself and of those that love me is to be patient with my constant desire to want to revise, to change and to grow.   

Saturday, May 28, 2011

End of the year...

Well the year has finally come to an end, and I believe that my body is in recovery mode. All I have done is sleep and eat and relax and I'm, for now, ok with this plan. I know I am going to miss my students and my school and... everything that is familiar however I am very excited to begin a new journey. It has been suggested to me (by someone I truly adore, Mary Carmen Cruz) to start another blog that I blog to specifically about my new job and I'm for now trying to make a name for that blog. Suggestions?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slice of Life Pt. 2

The next few hours were a blur. Sarah after a period of denial called her mother who lived half an hour away to come to pick up her small children. Leaving them alone for her morning run was one thing but leaving them for an unknown amount of time was too much to ask of anyone that wasn’t family. A reliance that only works with family is without a doubt one that can only be asked of her parents. Her mother arrived, helped the children and Sarah pack and then left without another word. Her mother was not a part of the military, and had always taken a stance of I support the soldiers, not the war. She wanted nothing to do with this man who had called up her only daughter and upset her entire life.

It helped that Sarah and her children spent entire weekends with her parents. Her old bedroom was now after all of these years set up as a guest room for her own children. The car showed up and the driver although was momentarily surprised by her punctuality prepared to leave. Sarah had always prided herself on being punctual in all aspects of her life, she was not the person who believed in fashionably late and in fact was so early to some of her social functions that she would wait in her car before going inside. She did not pretend to think that everyone else was ready a half an hour early for people to arrive and therefore did not want to intrude on someone who was in the throws of last minute details of their preparation.

The driver drove to an airport hanger where another man in another military uniform was waiting for her next to a small plane. She was given no details and at this point in her journey did not expect to get any. The man offered her a drink before they started their next stretch of the journey. She smiled politely took three shots of jack she was ready to fly. Sarah had never had an easy stomach when flying and so the assistance of jack and assorted other drugs her mother had handed her before she left suited her, for once in her life, as just fine.  She took the drink, took the drugs, and feel asleep.

When she woke it was by the kind nudging of a kind looking man, in a more functional military outfit. Sarah in her groggy state could feel the heat from the open cockpit door. She had no idea how long she had been asleep but by the pain in her eyes from sleeping in her contacts told her it had to have been longer than a quick nap.

“Mrs. Harris?”
“Hmmmm” Sarah grumbled stumbling out of her fuzzy headed state.
“Mrs. Harris here is some water” Sarah took the water from the man but did not speak again “Mrs. Harris, you’ve been asleep for quite sometime I was starting to get worried. Mrs. Harris I don’t mean to be rude but your eyes, they are red, are you alright?”

Sarah chuckled “that’s what I get for not taking out my contacts for a plane ride I planned to sleep through”.
The young man, with his sandy blonde hair and his calm blue eyes smiled. “How about I give you a few minutes to collect your things and maybe change into your glasses. Contacts get really dried out here anyway. I’ll meet you outside of the cockpit in fifteen minutes.”

Sarah thought to ask where she was but she didn’t need to ask. The flight had not taken them West from her home in Norfolk in the beginning so she did not think she had magically made her way to the safe Sonoran Desert. No, this heat was different. She looked painfully out the hole on her right and saw what she feared, desert landscape, and Arabic printed on the airport. What the hell am I doing in the middle east? She had studied history and had her Bachelors degree from Northwestern in History; she could identify Arabic when she saw it. She also knew how far away from home that she was. One thing at a time Sarah come on contacts, bathroom, brush hair, go. Small steps. The family therapist had suggested that when things got tough for the kids to take things one step at a time. How was this any different? After removing her contacts, freshening up with a new layer of deodorant and brushing out her hair she stared at herself in the mirror. The woman looking back at her was not a pleasant site. With a red dark line that matched that of the airline seat stitching imprinted on her skin, the bright red eyes, and her hair which looked oily and dirty she felt as though it was as good as it was going to get. She walked towards the open cockpit door, allowing the heat to blast her face with pain that surged over her whole body. Walking down the stairs of the plane made Sarah realize how groggy she was from the pills, the drinks, and the lack of water.

She entered a car where she was alone for what felt like the first time in days. Military life does not leave much for privacy Matt would always say. Thinking of him brought much needed moisture to Sarah’s eyes and she thought of him for more than a moment.

She was taken from the airport to another location where she was unloaded. The Arabic lettering had disappeared and was replaced by beige signs with brown letter reading US Army Base and other such nonsense. It did not surprise her and she for a moment allowed herself to think of what would surprise her at this point in her life. Hmm perhaps not much actually, at this moment everything is strange so that strange  is the norm. Sarah did not like being kept in the dark, a part of their marriage that had always been on edge from day one and had not changed for her or for him. He could not and would not tell her the happenings of his everyday life, and she would ask. They drove each other crazy in both good ways and bad.
This combination had been what had brought them together, and what kept them together after all of these years. They loved each other more than they could articulate, and because of this love had brought her two children into this world. She missed them but hoped that her mother and father were enjoying their time.

After many twists and turns down what seemed like one way roads Sarah found her and herself being unloaded into a housing barrack and left without a second look. Her irritation level, her anger from being picked up and dropped in the middle of this place, was finally at its tipping point. Dropping her bag, she marched herself out of the housing barrack determined to find someone that could point her to whomever was in charge of this whole situation and hopefully would be able to help her find her way to whatever was her reason for being. As she made her way towards a group of men standing around, one of them caught sight of her marching around the yard, they came at her, all at once to escort her back to her cot. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Everything right now seems like an adventure. Even looking into how to make a move from one city to another is an adventure all in its own right... its not the first time in any way shape or form, but it is the first move I've made between cities with furniture... ahh the benefits of dorm life!

These daunting boring tasks that usually make my hair fall out at an incredibly fast rate are even exciting in their own way. Planning a new curriculum? SURE! I'd love the challenge! Can I get this excited about life today? No, not really. I find the mundane life of day to day at this point to be daunting but the idea of what will come and what is next is exciting, thrilling, and refreshing all in the same time. Like jumping into a swimming pool for the first time during summer vacation, it reminds you of the wonder of the world and the power of diving in, getting wet, and finding your way back to the surface for some sunshine, rest, and relaxation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Slice of Life

Sarah lay on her back, face up to the ceiling and took a deep breath. She had not felt this pain, this hurt in some time and had no coping mechanism for it. She was a problem solver, she knew it was her best and worst quality, because when presented with a problem she cannot fix, she cries. She had finally after all this time reached her wits end, and as the tears slowly trickled down her face she listened to the song lyrics meld to her soul, “just breathe”. She looked at the picture of her and Matt and felt her stomach muscles clench as a new bout of tears came over her. How long had it been since they had been together she thought? How long had it been since she had felt his hand in hers, or felt his lips against her head? She missed the little things, 
much more than anything else.

The song changed but no matter what it was, every song brought her mind back to him “I’ll never tell you that your voice is my favorite sound”. His voice she sighed internally, the way his eyes spoke volumes, she couldn’t help but wonder if she would ever see them again. To date she had kept the positive mind set. With her husband gone overseas at war, she was the envy of the other wives on base because she seemed to have it all together. Her morning runs gave her the energy to get through the day but what people did not realize is that she ran in the morning because she did not sleep at night. She would lay awake at night thinking of him, wanting to have his warm body lying next to hers, and as she thought more about him yet another wave of tears came over her small meek body. She thought of Matt, held on to his memory and let the sweet relief of sleep take her in its arms.
The night before seemed like a blur. The tissues wadded up and lost in her covers was evidence that it had been a long night, but that would not stop her run this morning. If she let this feeling consume her she would lose everything and it wasn’t just about her and her husband any more, it was about Molly and Ryan as well. Upon Matt’s last return they had conceived Molly and quickly upon having their beautiful baby girl, they decided she needed a brother. Sarah remembered when Matt left this time, kissing her pregnant belly, it had been two years and eight months since Molly had been born when he left she had been left to record all of their memories for him. She still remembered screaming for him when she had Ryan, and it ran like a cold wind down her spine. She sent pictures and he had seen his son, but his daughter was forgetting what daddy looked like and would point to him in pictures asking who the man was holding mommy.

She pulled herself out of bed, threw her legs over the side and eased her way up to make as little noise as possible. Her children took after their father in so many ways, including that they were incredibly light sleepers. She dressed for her run, pants, top, socks shoes, iPod band around her arm, and called next door. Jennifer her next door neighbor had no children and was willing to come over to Sarah’s place to help out. It was their system. Sarah watched Jennifer’s house when she was out of town for work, which was months at a time sometimes, and Jennifer would always watch Sarah’s kids while she went for her morning run. The system had worked for them for the past two years and was preferable to waking up sleeping children to load 
into a stroller to take on her run. On top of everything else Sarah had wanted to run this run on her own.

Ring Ring
Jennifer’s chipper voice met Sarah’s tired head “Morning Sarah!”
“Morning Jen, would you mind coming over this morning?”
“Not at all darlin’, I’ll be over in a minute my breakfast is finishing up.”
“Sounds great, I’ll see you soon.”

The informality of their relationship was comforting but Jennifer was always that happy, excited. For Jennifer  being a military wife was what was ideal considering she traveled so much herself. She loved being aunty Jen but never wanted children of her own, to the extent that she had had her tubes tied almost a decade ago. Sarah unlocked the front door and began stretching. Jennifer walked in quietly, smiling at Sarah whispered a quick good morning and then sat at the bar stool in their kitchen. Coffee, breakfast, and morning paper in hand she needed no further entertainment.

Sarah left without a word and began her run. Feeling her shoes on the road made her feel like she was twenty years old again when she was first learning how to be a runner. Pacing her start, monitoring her breathes and the way that her arms moved at her side. She was always intent on having perfect form for her warm up and wondered if she watched video of herself that she would be appalled at how quickly that good form disappeared. She blended in with the other morning runners, living on base had its advantages including that many people both men and women were runners in the morning as well intent on keeping their physical shape in tact.

She made her way onto the path that snaked its way through the park. As she began down her familiar path her mind wandered. She thought of the night before, of Matt, and tried to remind herself of what was important and how lucky she was to have two such gorgeous sweet children. They were healthy and what more could she ask for. She needed to remind herself that she had a good job, she had a great home, and she had a great man that would be coming home in just a few months time. Sarah felt the weight of the world life off of her shoulders and relaxed. She made her way around another turn and realized that there were not as many runners on this part of the path. Typically a realization like this would have put her at ease instead she felt in a sudden wave a cold chill rush down her back and she realized she was no longer running alone. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a shadow running close behind her. She quickened her pace and made her way back to the population of runners.

Walking the last block home she took in her surroundings less casually than she normally would have on any given day. When everything felt more normal she made her way to the front door, pulled her key from the pocket inside of her shoe and unlocked her front door. Jennifer came out of the kitchen smiling holding Ryan and sighed. “Here you go mom, he woke up right after you left. Good run?”

“Of course it was” she replied taking her big blue eyed son from his ‘Aunt Jen’s’ arms, “thanks as always”.
“Anytime, it reminds me why I choose the life I did” winking Jen smiles, and is gone as quickly as she came. After that things went along as usual. Breakfast for everyone, clean clothes clean faces, then play time. Play time was followed by lunch then art time. With Matt leaving again, Sarah and Matt met with a family therapist to discuss how best to handle the transition to a one parent family. Their family therapist had felt that this structure would help them with the every day things. During art time while Sarah was changing Ryan’s diaper the phone began to ring.

Ring Ring
“Molly will you bring me the phone please?!”
Ring Ring
“Molly please I’m changing brother!”
The silence filled the room, Sarah slowed her motions until Molly appeared in the door way, “Mommy?” Molly was carrying the phone, “He wants to talk to you”. Sarah reached for a sani-wipe and took the phone “Hello?”.
“Mrs. Harris?” a male voice answered, with an air of stiffness indicating to her immediately this was a military phone call. Her head began to spin, as she became light headed and sank back into the rocking chair in her sons room, her mind raced to the worse case scenario, he’s dead. Oh my god what am I going to do, wait, calm thing , a phone call that’s better than a knock on the door, ok, breath, Sarah breath.
“Mrs. Harris this is Colonel Mayborne. A car is going to pick you up on one hour. You need to find some child care”
Sarah was stunned. She had never heard of a thing. Is this a joke? “I’m sorry, what?”
“Ma’am I’m sorry I know there isn’t much time. A car will arrive in one hours time. Thanks to you ma’am.”