Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The first indication we got that something B I G was up was in the Monday morning weekly teacher announcements. According to our principal: the teacher parking lot would be unavailable to staff on Wednesday; moreover, the entire bottom level of the building would be "off limits" to staff and students. Later that morning the equipment began to arrive. Now this is not your normal load of equipment. Huge semis pulled into the loading dock. Millions of dollars of sound and video equipment were unloaded in huge crates. Enough cable is being laid to electrify downtown Kansas City, Kansas. When asked what was going to happen on Wednesday to necessitate all this activity, we were greeted with silence. "No one knows," was the standard reply given by even the most inside sources. The people who always know in advance of any really good school gossip also claimed to be equally in the dark. "We can't find out a thing!" was the hue and cry all day Monday. The rumors were rife. The top four were:

  1. The President of the United States (or his wife) was coming. Well, there has been no advanced warning of his traveling. You'd think the PR people would be hyping the event. However, clearing the parking lot on Wednesday could mean the arrival of someone by helicopter.

  2. Governor of Kansas Brownback was coming to make a big speech about more cuts to education. Well, he's been in this school before -- never did we have such a media circus going on just for the governor.

  3. Oprah was coming -- and the reason the parking lot would be off limits was because she was going to present each one of us our own new car! Well, clearly the best of all the rumors, Oprah is in Australia and she would have had the media vans all marked with her Harpo logo.

  4. A movie scene is being shot here. Well, we would probably know if a big name movie was being shot in Kansas City and the KC Star (our newspaper) has not published a thing (even in the arts and entertainment sections.
So, what's up? We don't know yet. This morning, Tuesday, it was like a huge concert venue trying to wend out way into the school. The entire lower level is lined with crates of video equipment. Wires and cable are everywhere. Strange, huge trucks line all the access points into the building - and in one this size, there are many entryways. The third floor corner where my room is tucked away is still quiet. We are in the farthest corner away from the auditorium (where we hear the action is going to take place on Wednesday) so the activity has not yet made it into our arena (if it ever will). Everyone is buzzing, though. Stay tuned. If you get a chance and we are in the news tomorrow night, do take a peek at our glorious auditorium (the building itself is on the historic register and was built by the WPA in 1937) -- it truly is a place of outstanding craftsmanship and beauty. And if the President is here -- well, you might want to hear his message, also. ____________________ Tuesday afternoon update: the city spent the day vacuuming the lawn and the football field at the high school. Then sent crews around to hand manicure the lawn in the front and side of the building. The city streets and the sidewalks were washed. More equipment arrived. We are told the AP will be in the building tomorrow. My principal came by and asked several of us to attend the "assembly" 3rd block tomorrow -- but only if we agreed to dress-up. After determining that "dressing-up" didn't entail things like panty hose or dresses, I agreed to go. We are quite sure at this point in time tomorrow's arrival will be plenty B I G! Too much money has already been spent sprucing up the area AND the school. Fun times!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm soooo smart!

For one of my grad classes I just took a multiple intelligence test. Where I thought I was really smart, seems not so much. I fit all the characteristics of exactly what every "career interest inventory" says I should do in my life for a vocation, and I've never had the talent to pursue. What can you do if your natural talents do not match your desires? All I can say is, I really married my ideal job.

Here are the categories of multiple intelligence:
  • linguistic -- word smart
  • logical -- math smart
  • spatial -- picture/space smart
  • kinesthetic -- body smart
  • musical -- music smart (dah)
  • naturalistic -- nature smart
  • intrapersonal -- self smart
  • interpersonal -- people smart

I thought I would be word smart -- good at reading, memorizing, word games -- in other words, linguistic. Yes, it was one of my second highest ratings (I tied in second place for two intelligences).

But #1 -- I'm musical. There were no qualification about it -- I answered every single musically oriented question positively. I didn't miss one in that category. Here's the musical intelligence review:

A listener to recordings. Talking to oneself. Making up songs. Mentally repeating information to yourself. Reading aloud. Changing tempo.

Yep. That's me. I love tones. I love sounds. I do talk to myself. In fact, when I read the information about the musical intelligence, I was talking loudly to myself: "Yes! That's me! Oh! I do that all the time." And then I heard myself -- and realized, "Oh sh*t! This really is me. And I'm reading this stuff out loud." One of the things I enjoy in my SPED classroom is reading to my kids. I really like it. And though my body has no tempo ability what-s0-ever (I scored zero on kinesthetic) I can change moods, places, chores, in a heart beat. I can flit with the best of 'em.

Every career interest inventory I've ever taken (even when I try to cheat) says I should have been a piano teacher -- or a teacher of music. The people in my life I have most gravitated to were artists, especially musicians. Look at who I married! I've always said, though my life with him has not ever been easy, he was always interesting -- and he could fill my life and my soul with music (you know music doesn't always have to be heard).

Interestingly, I also scored fairly high on the intrapersonal score -- solitary, working alone, setting my own pace, avoiding distractions. I'm as good at that as the linguistic intelligence.

I guess I can use this information to plan my retirement. I'll turn on the CD really loud, play a word game while talking to myself, and be ready for events to change in a flash. Should be a good time . . . as long as Hubby is there to create a little background music.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dinner for Breakfast

Since Hubby has been diagnosed with a "failing" heart (congestive heart failure -- what a terrible name!), I've made it my job to "fix" him breakfast every day I'm not working. Always a fruit -- bananas and oranges are his favorite at breakfast time -- a cup of hot tea, a slice of toast (or tw0) and an egg if he's really hungry or I think he needs something warm inside him (after a bad night, say). Now on the days I'm at school by 6:15 (or thereabouts), he's on his own. Then he usually eats Cheerios with a sliced banana.

This being spring break as well as Hubby's birthday week, I've been doing the breakfast chore very dutifully ever morning. But today I got up and couldn't face the egg and toast routine. I did brew the tea but I microwaved the left-over chicken and spaghetti that Hubby had prepared for our Friday dinner from the recipe books he was gifted with for his birthday (all low sodium and low fat recipes). The spaghetti had been utterly delicious but we hadn't gotten around to eating it again since. When I opened the frig door and saw that bowl of leftovers I thought to myself, "Self, that looks quite yummy. Let's have that instead of our regular fare." So we did. And Hubby, who has been picking at breakfast ever since he got sick, lapped up every shell and chicken bit and seemed to be a bit forlorn when I had to admit we had emptied the pot.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wearing Your Bathrobe to Work

For the past week I've been both depressed AND tired -- a combination which allowed me to think that wearing real clothing to work was simply way too much effort.

The kids are always aware when I show up in a huge, baggy man's shirt, that I'm cranky and difficult to approach. Wednesday I wore the favorite of Hubby's shirts -- a nice, large red-checked one. Under it was a red tee and a pseudo pair of jeans that wouldn't get me written up for violating the "no jeans" until Friday policy unless someone was really looking closely.

Today I wore a long caftan. My sister-in-law designed the pattern and has made me five of them. One is silk for summer fancy dress and one is pure red velvet for winter balls. The other three are really rather like "lounging" robes because they require no structured undergarments under them. The green snowflake print I wear all Christmas day. One is an African print and the last one, the one I chose for today, is a black and white musical motif. With a white tee under it, and my piano bar pin and some big black earrings, the kids thought I had really dressed up. I swished around all day in my full angle length gown like I was queen of the third floor.

Because I teach in an African American / immigrant heavy environment where the kids really like unusual costumes and strange jewelry, I was considered the height of fashion instead of someone who actually came to school wearing her robe.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Update -- working through it

A friend asked if my tears were the cathartic kind or the depressed kind. I'm not sure. I think they are the "I'm miserably frustrated with my life at the moment" kind. And my mistakes are making the frustration worse -- and often it's my mistakes that are causing the tears.

After making Hubby breakfast this morning, I plopped myself down at the computer and spent six hours working through the midterm. Oh, it's not finished. Not yet. But I've got a handle on it. I just need to ask the speech pathologist a couple of questions and review my answers and I'm ready to "submit." I know I've missed one question completely -- and possibly many more, but the truth is, at this point, I don't much care. I just want a B out of the thing.

While I was dragging my ass through the test, Hubby spent the afternoon cooking. We now have a lovely pork rib roast all seasoned with garlic and non-salt herbs for the week ahead. Even better is a wonderful pan of rice pudding that is so fragrant and creamy that two bowls were called for after a heaping plate of pork. Good food does help one feel more mellow, I must admit.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Tears on my pillow

Two weeks ago we went to a hugely expensive restaurant for dinner with our coupon for a "nearly" free meal. The dinner bill -- without any drinks -- came to over $100. I had brought the wrong coupon with me, which luckily Hubby discovered before I embarrassed us both by presenting it for the dinner tab.

I sat at the table and cried.

A friend in the Chicago area sent Hubby a beautifully crafted hand decorated box to keep his prayers and worries in. Hubby loves the box and has it sitting beside his bed on the night stand.

When I opened the package I filled the box with my own tears before handing it over to him.

I was bored out of my mind in a department meeting on Wednesday and since we had been requested to bring out computers to the meetings, I sneakily decided to open my personal email account and read up on the day's news. There I found that a dog I had never met and who lived at least 1000 miles from me and was very, very old had died. The dog was one of my last living links to Wolfie, the dog of my heart.

I immediately broke into tears right during the meeting. I had to quickly gather up my junk, my computer, and my office chair and noisily exit the room, still trying to conquer my sobs.

Since January I have been crying myself to sleep over the grad school situation. I hate the last three classes. I will never teach functional students -- and six hours of the nine is in functional education. Three hours are in elementary education -- and I'll retire before I ever enter an elementary classroom. But my provisional license cannot be renewed again and was up in November so I was trying to convince myself to struggle on through. Six hours this semester and then three in the summer -- which would involve working 150 hours with a group of functional students. Pretty soon I was crying almost all night long, what with the worry and the stress and the misery. Finally, this week I gathered up enough courage to call my advisor and ask for a meeting, which she arranged for that very evening. Before I had even arrived, she had met with both my instructors this semester. I laid out my misery and tales of woe and she offered several different options -- and pointed out a HUGE error on my part. Yes, my provisional license was up in November -- but November of 2012 -- and that's still two years away. In my misery I had simply seen November -- and thought it was the upcoming fall month. I have plenty of time. I do not need to teach summer school with functional students. Plus, my advisor is teaching the fall semester of the last course and will make sure I end up in her section and help me through. And -- she had already gotten permission for me to take incompletes in both courses this semester -- meaning I could finish up the huge papers due in each during the summer (the summer in which I will NOT be going to grad school working 150 hours with functional students).

I started crying the minute my advisor said "we can work this out." By the time she called in both instructors to insure me I could take incompletes in the class without penalty, I was nearly hysterical.

Now I've got a mid-term to take this weekend (to be finished by Thursday). I've accessed it already and I don't know the answers to over half the questions. The tears are dripping down my face as I type.

And here's the crazy thing:

  • Because we paid for the $100 dinner ourselves, we still had the coupon available and tonight we're having our second $100 dinner -- but this time using the coupon. I didn't choose very well for the first dinner -- I only really liked the salad. Tonight I'm having the lobster tail, the lobster bisque, and the fancy Caesar salad, a meal I'll like much better. We could afford the first $100 -- not that I wanted to spend it -- but it didn't hurt the budget all that much.

  • The gift from the Chicago friend was meant to bring joy -- and it has. The box is lovely and delicate and is already filled with tears to wiped away.

  • The dog who died was very old and the owner did him a huge favor. The staff who saw my melt down all came to my rescue to see how they could help.

  • If I had only gone to see my advisor in January -- or December -- when I began to be so distraught over the final nine hours I could have saved myself a lot of misery. And I would have learned that I had plenty of time to fill my final SPED requirements.

  • I should have started my mid-term this afternoon. At least I could have begun the research to find the answers to the questions. But I couldn't bring myself to start the process. Instead, after I got Hubby breakfast, I crawled back in bed and watch DVR recordings of The Defenders. And it really doesn't matter that I blow my 4.0 -- as long as I pass the darned course.

I've got to get things under better control, find my equilibrium, and dig myself out of the hole I'm in. And I've got to stop the crying -- somehow.

Thursday, March 03, 2011


Updates lately are few and far between due to grad school and Hubby's on-going health problems but today the sun is going to shine and the temperatures are predicted to be above 60 and I didn't need a coat on the 5 a.m. on the drive into school. Because daylight savings time has not yet started, at 7 a.m. I can actually see out of the four huge windows that dominate a wall of my classroom. I'm thinking leaves on trees and green grass but, of course, it's still too early for that -- but in my mind I can picture it and I feel just a bit more at peace with the world. Also, last evening dear friends had Hubby and me over for a sweet and early dinner (they dine at 10 but in deference to us, we ate at 4:30 p.m. -- they called it breakfast) of things that Hubby is enjoying eating at the moment -- baked potatoes and several types of lovely fresh fruit. The day before the Italian old school gentlemen that teaches next door to me had delivered meat ball subs to me for Hubby and he thoroughly loved every bite.

But . . . and of course there is a "but" in my world at the moment . . .the 7 a.m. bell just rang and students began pouring onto the third floor, I'm scheduled to be a monitor and reading for the ESL testing today, and tonight I have grad class from 5 to 9 p.m. Hubby's anti-coagulating factor is still in huge flux and yesterday he had a very bad day -- he could feel his heart racing and got extremely cold and very tired all at once. These episodes are frightening to both of us. He's also lost a lot of weight very quickly and now his clothes are hanging off him and, I admit it, he does look haggard.

But . . . it's always wise to try and see the bright side of things. I had my annual health assessment this week and Hubby's new diet is working well for me, too -- not as well but I'm not on the Lassic -- and I've lost weight. But . . . my blood pressure is on the rise, even with that.

In two weeks we have spring break -- and it will be filled with paper writing for both grad classes. This week one of the classes is giving an on-line mid-term -- 65 questions and some of them are ESSAY.

Updates will remain sparse.