I got to work this morning and discovered that I was scheduled for my review meeting during the day. I've been rather worried about this over the last few weeks. I know that if you do not pass probation, by law they have to let you know by March 15.
My overall rating was "Satisfactory." Given the challenges I have had this year, I was more than ecstatic to receive that rating. We then discussed areas of improvement and how I could best make these changes. The principal mentioned that there is one teacher who does what I would like to do very well. This would be the teacher whose kids were in my classroom earlier this week due to the lack of substitutes. What I really like is that when this teacher returns, I will be given release time from my classroom so that I can observe his.
Part of me wants to go out and celebrate. But I still haven't regained my full voice. And as I am sitting here now, I am feeling slightly chilled. That can only mean one thing. The fever is back. I just want to be well again. Time for more tea and ibuprofen. *sigh*
Wednesday, February 28
I got to work this morning and discovered that I was scheduled for my review meeting during the day. I've been rather worried about this over the last few weeks. I know that if you do not pass probation, by law they have to let you know by March 15.
Tuesday, February 27
Yesterday's re-entry was rough. It is bad enough when we are returning from a break. Add onto this the fact that it was also raining and so the kids could not go outside and run around at recess. Then on top if it all, one of the other teachers was out so I had eight extra kids in my room.
When I went to work, I had a slight tickle in the back of my throat. By the time I got home last night, I had a slight fever (100) and a fading voice. I take that back. Somehow I managed to maintain my voice throughout the day. Granted I had limited volume during the second half of the day. By the time I got home, my voice was cracking. And that's when I was actually able to make sound. If I whispered, then I could consistently make sound.
This meant one thing -- tea with honey and lemon. As the evening wore on, I broke down and added the truly magical ingredient. You know what I mean. Brandy. Because long ago my mother taught me that one must have a hot beverage with citrus and honey in it. Her preferred recipe? Orange tea, a splash of orange juice, some honey and come Cointreau. The first time I tried her cold remedy, I forgot the last ingredient. After drinking it, I told her I was feeling better. She countered with, "How is that possible? You forgot the most important ingredient. How do you think that NyQuil and Robitussin work so well? It's the alcohol." So I went non-alcoholic at first but then I planned to give in and add the brandy. Because then I remembered my favorite pneumonia remedy -- limeade and gin. One of the most wonderful cough suppressants I know. Not that I really have a cough. Just a raw throat. Of course, I somehow managed to fall asleep before that happened.
Being the rebel that I am, I had a hard time staying silent last night. Most nights I am content without speaking except to chastise Boris occasionally. (If someone can tell me how to keep him off the curtain rod, I would be eternally grateful.) So I croaked over the phone to Emerald and Kate. Kate is going to call me later today because she insisted that I did not need to talk anymore as I was in danger of losing my voice completely. And why did I talk to them? Because they are both privy to the experiment. Although they do not know about the whole experiment. What? I told you I was dyin' to spill the beans. Who better than two of my most trusted friends in the world?
So I tested my voice this morning. It will last me through the day. Just as long as I don't have to raise my voice. But the last time this happened to me, I realized how I could command a room by simply whispering.
Monday, February 26
Not literally. Just figuratively. Because there's something that I want to say but I've decided to run this little experiment instead. More in coming months.
I spent the weekend in denial that I had to return to work today. I thought about tempting fate by heading out on Sunday. But it was raining and there was the whole presentable to public thing. This is not to say that I was not tempted to head out on Saturday night especially since this is one of the nights that my fave bartender works (Dan saw him. And I have realized yet another reason why I can never hook up with the bartender -- he knows my game. Because he's a true player. And game recognizes game.), but then I was hit with the prospect of making myself look my usual fabulous self. I know this look seems thrown together. In reality it takes at least an hour to achieve that perfect "just thrown together" look. The look that says, "I'm not wearing any makeup," even though I'm wearing quite a bit. Well, only if you think blending three to four shades of eyeshadow with eyeliner smudged just so is work. One of those things I learned in the days that I seriously thought about modeling. And I relish the fact that I'm not that far from that body. I mean, I can still get into a size 2. Of course, the 1's in my closet are feeling lonely.
By the way, this is one of the things that freaks out my students. That I can put on their jackets. The only problem is that the sleeves are too short. I explained to them that I can wear a children's large in t-shirts. Then again, if I gave up the nightly wine, I could probably be back to that size. Or maybe I haven't been drinking enough wine. Because then I could just puke up my stomach contents. Oops. Did I forget to mention that years ago I technically had an eating disorder? Because I am so obviously fat. Probably why I try to make such an effort to eat so well -- and extravagantly.
So it's back to work today. And I realize that there are some things that I must clarify. When I say that I love my job, I'm not being sarcastic. And when I gripe about going to workshops and conferences, it's only because of the lack of time for me. I voluntarily sign up for this stuff. Because I usually learn a lot. And there's usually free stuff. If you are not a teacher or do not know one, believe me when I say that we really love getting free stuff.
So it's back to the kids. And I've just realized that I barely touched the candy that they gave me for Valentine's Day. Because I'm so mean. Luckily I know that "mean" means "setting boundaries."
I'm just kind of bummed that I don't have another break from work until April. Not that I don't love the kids. It's just that they're challenging at times and I end up feeling a little drained. But I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. Well, except a trust fund.
And in a couple of months or so, I'll tell you about the experiment. No matter what the results are. And no, there is nothing you can do to reveal the whole plan before then. Really.
Sunday, February 25
So last night I came home from Sack of Tomatoes and swilled down the French onion soup form Trader Joe's. I picked up a few other things in that shopping trip like calamari rings -- and had a long conversation with the guy at the checkout about what I was going to do with the rings. Have I mentioned how much I love the staff at the El Cerrito Trader Joe's? So helpful and hot looking.
Now that I've hosed myself down -- sort of -- let me return to sanity. Like buying cat food prior to the Trader Joe's trip. Petco is the closest pet store to there. And the cats desperately needed more food. In the future, I'll just have to suck up the extra miles to go to PetSmart. Because their preferred food is less expensive there. I could have bought something less expensive there but the joy in seeing Natasha nudge Boris away from his dish so that she could consume that as well -- a true rarity -- was priceless.
By now you are probably starting to wonder what the post title has to do with all of this. Patience. I'll get there eventually.
After everyone was fed, I started to listen to songs on I-Tunes. Now the one that stuck in my head and made me write this post was The Cars song "Candy-O." This was followed by "Dangerous Type." By the time that Peter Gabriel's "Digging in the Dirt" came on, I felt myself strutting in my chair. I suddenly found myself thinking, "I could be that girl." And the Bill Withers song "Use Me"? Just screams that there should be a pole nearby.
And then I remembered a promise I made long ago. Something to do with if the law school thing did not work out for me. At the time I was living in Daisy Dukes, cropped tops, and my cowboy boots. The promise was that if law school didn't work out, I would work on achieving a full split and getting implants so that I could become a "dancer." I would quickly demonstrate how I had "dancer" moves down, guaranteeing me free drinks for the rest of the evening. That was over ten years ago. Huh. How did I get off course? And what I mean is when did I become so stable and responsible? Stop rolling your eyes. This is compared to who I used to be. Every time I have time off, I remember that person and I kind of miss her. So I'm looking forward to summer when I can be that fun-loving spirit again.
Saturday, February 24
Who would be your celebrity sister?
I was tempted not to post it because of the obvious grammatical errors. Grrrr!
Have fun. It's back to Sack of Tomatoes for me. Oh yeah. And cat food shopping.
Friday, February 23
I cannot believe that this week is coming to an end. Where did the time go? Of course, I have come to think of it as a glimpse of what summer will be like. This summer, for the first time in years, I do not plan to work. I was a bit worried about what I will do over the ten weeks. Now I'm not so worried.
I've had a few highlights to my week. Like going out on Wednesday night. It was nice being able to go out when I felt like it and not having to worry about my ability to function the next day.
It was also nice to be able to bond with the TV. Back on Super Bowl Sunday, I saved all of the episodes of My Boys to the DVR. I discovered this week that there were episodes that somehow I had missed. Like the one where PJ's aunt comes to visit. How could I have missed that one the first time?
Oh, and last night was the series finale of The O.C.. I pulled out my t-shirt for the occasion. Worn with jean shorts, of course. Yeah, it was something like 50 degrees last night. It just meant that I had to turn on the heat. And with the final scene of Sandy, it seemed quite fitting that I chose to wear that t-shirt. So now I'm waiting for Jill and Jolene to move to Berkeley. Because apparently it's the place to be.
So while this week is winding down, I am now completely excited about the prospect of summer. Lots of lazing around. A little cooking. Maybe some partying. OK. So perhaps that's more like a guarantee because me not out and about? Frightening thought. Oh, and maybe some road trips. Summer just can't come fast enough for me.
Thursday, February 22
I know this sounds strange. Me struggling to find the right way of phrasing something. Especially in light of the story.
Believe it or not, I'm actually pretty shy. I get nervous when I meet new people. And what do I do when I'm nervous? I talk. A lot. I do know that if I ever meet up with Dan again, I'm going to do a lot more listening. Because then he won't be a new person.
OK. Got that out of the way. That's right. I actually did make it out the door last night. And I got to meet Dan who is really nice. Especially since he let me talk his ear off. He had to go to work and I didn't so we eventually parted ways. That means that he went home and I closed the place down.
I was supposed to be heading to Tomales Bay today. Didn't happen. First of all, because I didn't wake up until 11 this morning. That would be the time I was supposed to be meeting up with my aunt. Secondly, the weather is kind of so-so. Instead, I've been lounging around and trying to rehydrate. Oh, and the curry chicken salad was quite yummy. But the really scary thought? I vaguely remember telling Jade that we could go to happy hour today. I'm not sure if I'm up for it. I must be getting old.
Wednesday, February 21
Yeah, I stayed in last night as well. Of course it was only a slim possibility that I was going to head out. But tonight is a different tale. I am definitely going out.
To get ready for that, I spent the day doing one of my least favorite things and one of my favorite things -- laundry and cooking.
Now I realized that I cheated y'all out of photos of the Friday treats. Then I realized that I had some leftover ingredients in the fridge that were begging to be used quickly before they went bad. But I also needed to pick up some olive oil and nutmeg. Oh yeah, and white wine. How I allowed myself to run out of olive oil is a mystery to me.
On the a walk to the store, I noticed that it's starting to look like spring.
It's a good thing I had to head out.
There was curry chicken salad in the deli.
And now I present to you the main dishes from the Friday treats.
Spinach lasagna ...
There was also some baklava but that is long gone. I might make some galaktoboureko later this week though, still having phyllo in the freezer as well. Oh, and there was also the tapenade. There were also lots of requests for the tapenade recipe.
And once I started doing laundry, I decided to scrub down the bathroom. Once the food is done, I decided to relax with a nice bubble bath. I haven't felt like I've had time to do that in quite some time. I like to use unscented bubble bath. They'll scent it for you at the store but I like to add oils in based upon my mood. The salesperson who sold me the bubble bath told me that this was just as well since the scent does not always last when they add it. I usually like to use a combination of musk, jasmine, rose, and ylang ylang but I was out of both musk and ylang ylang. So I improvised. I used jasmine, rose, violet, gardenia, and ambergris. The cool thing is that the scent lingers in the apartment for about a day or so.
And now I'm going to make myself all pretty -- painting toenails, picking out the right outfit. Because I'm really heading out tonight.
Tuesday, February 20
...or how I needed a lot of stuff.
Monday I decided that I was ready to face the world. Actually I think it was Natasha who told me to get out. Something about how I was pleasant company and all but that she was used to having the bed to herself in the daytime. Besides I need to start facing the world again if I hope to head out to Tomales later this week. Because as much as I love the place, there is not a wealth of folks that look like me out that way. Which made me a bit apprehensive the first time I headed there alone. But the people? Really warm and accepting.
My first stop with my money was B&N. I really needed a copy of The Problem Child. Just like I really needed the two cookbooks I found in the bargain books section. I may have to read the Sisters Grimm book slowly though since the next one is not due out until May.
Then it was off to BevMo because I really needed a couple of bottles of Reds. But I was foiled. There was no Reds to be found in the store. And it wasn't until after I left that I remembered the Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon. Maybe I'll have to go back there later in the week.
Next stop was Chipotle -- carnitas burrito. And then I did the real monetary damage -- Andronico's. Because the crack cheese was calling to me and I was too lazy to head cross town to Berkeley Bowl where I can get my crack cheese at a lower price. I was also craving the curry chicken salad but alas they were out of it. So I settled on two different kinds of pate. And brie stuffed with cranberries and honey butter. And a bottle of pinot noir as well as a bottle of orange muscat. And then I really needed the raspberry chiffon cake from Rubicon. Because I was planning on getting a quart of Haagen Dazs vanilla and the apple struedel was almost gone at home and what else was I going to eat with the ice cream. Besides all proceeds go to support their programs. And what can be better than a delicious dessert from folks with a social conscience?
After filling my gut with lots of goodies (Which was really a shame because while out shopping I caught my reflection in a store window and realized that for the first time in weeks, I looked like I actually had a waist. Well, I've always had a waist but I think this one is the one I vaguely remember from age 30.), I decided to take the big plunge for the evening. Yep. I was going to head down the street to my usual spot. I hadn't been there since meeting Sports Guy there. It was time to remove his taint from the place. And I decided to live dangerously by walking. Because this would mean that I would have to pass the two places that he hangs on a daily basis. But damnit! This was my town long before it was his. And I know how to cause a big ugly scene if necessary.
But then I ate too much and my bed started calling to me. I awoke around 9 p.m. Somehow Boris had managed to oust Natasha from her usual spot while I was asleep. I realized that I could still go out. Then the cake started calling to me. Besides Monday is not one of the nights for my favorite bartender. Such a lovely example of melanin-challenged eye candy. And now you know the real reason why I go there. That and the fact that he often yells a greeting to me as soon as I enter. And then gives me a hug. And puts lots of limes in my drink. And occasionally gives me drinks for free. And sometimes lets me stick around after hours. So I'm thinking I'll hold off until Wednesday night when I know he'll be around. And then there's all the other eye candy. Who will buy me drinks if I smile and talk nicely to them. (Didn't I tell you that this assimilation thing is tough?) But maybe I'll get wild and crazy and venture out tonight.
Monday, February 19
My dad and his friends like to make fun of me at times. Because that's how we show love -- picking on each other. But they're serious when they say that I assimilate much better than they do. And I do. (By the way, why am I the one who has to assimilate? Oh yeah. I forgot. I'm not a member of the dominant society.) There's just one thing. The assimilation crap gets tiring and so one needs to take a break. Because there's only so long that you can hide yourself without feeling like you're about to have a breakdown. Because there are times that you start questioning your place in the world. Because you know that you don't completely fit into the dominant society and when you try to go back to your own people, you discover that you don't quite fit in there anymore. (This doesn't hurt as much as it did when I was in high school, but every now and then, I still feel the pain. This is what I meant when I wanted to show my students how to succeed without losing themselves. Because if you lose yourself, what else is left?) And because there's only so many times that one can hear the same things over and over.
My favorite gems? "I have friends who are fill in whatever description." That's nice but here's a thought. You wouldn't need to say it if it was obvious. "How dare you say I don't understand because... You don't know everything about me." Here's a hint. Whenever I've told someone that they just don't understand, it's because every statement they have made previous to this has indicated that they don't have a clue. Oh and my all-time favorite -- "I'm not trying to be offensive but ..." Biotch. You knew the shit was offensive before it even crossed your lips so why the hell did you even say it? And probably what gets me going the most with the melanin-challenged is that for them discussions on our society come off as sounding like some new thing they have just discovered. (I know this is usually not the case.) Why does it feel this way? Because these are things that are discussed amongst my family and friends on a regular basis. When I was growing up, these were daily discussions. Now that I'm an adult, these are discussions that for the most part only arise anytime I am around family. These are things I think about every single day. I don't have the luxury of putting them aside only to pull them out when I feel like it. And I won't even get into how it's all compounded by the fact that I'm a woman.
So that was my plan for the weekend. A break from the melanin-challenged. I could go into the conversations that I've had with my mom over the last few days but then folks would really get all worked up. But then again, maybe it wouldn't because my mom thinks that I'm the one who's all militant and stuff. My parents still believe in Martin's dream. Some days I have doubts. She blames it on my career change to teaching and says that I was never this way before. But I was. I like to point out to her that she should not be surprised. Who was my first babysitter? An uncle who was down with the Panthers -- who, by the way, did a lot of positive things for the community. Like free breakfast. Did you know that the free breakfast program that is now in place in schools is modeled on the program the Panthers started? Yeah, the government doesn't like to point that out. Bastards.
Y'all still with me? Didn't get your panties in a wad and all? Cool. The cats were recommending lots of sleep. This would have been fine but my wallet was empty (Damn those Friday treats. Actually damn that new car battery. No, damn them both. Oh, and I forgot to take pix of the Friday treats as well.) and my dad needed me to do some work. He suggested putting it off until another day since I'm off work this week. But my wallet was empty.
So I drove up to Sack of Tomatoes Saturday afternoon. I did some work and got some money. (And let's just say that it's enough to keep me partying quite well for my week off. Because I'm royal and all. Daddy's princess. Yeah, I'm a BAP. Just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on. Although those I have met in bars never doubt my royal standing.) Oh, and I got some wine also. Because there's always a case or two stashed in the warehouse of my dad's office. I just wish that it had been the Pinot Noir but Mac has a hard time keeping that stuff around. Then again, it's not like I had to pay for it so who am I to gripe?
Then it was over to my dad's house. Because there was BBQ waiting there from his friend's restaurant. Ribs, links, greens, and macaroni & cheese. I passed on the sweet potato pie. Have I mentioned how much I love my dad's friends? If Sack of Tomatoes was urban, I'd probably move there in a heartbeat. Because I could so rule the place given my dad's connections. Because his friends? They love me. Well, at least the male ones do. That's not problematic, is it? But I like staying in the Bay where I can try to do things on my own. Because I got most of my jobs on my own. Except for the job I had at the non-profit and my first teaching job. Those were the result of recommendations of family friends. But then again, those were just recommendations. I still impressed them in the interviews. The hardest part is getting in the door for the first interview. That's what my family has learned about me. I interview exceedingly well. Kind of like the fact that I am an anomaly -- a person of color who does very well on standardized tests. (Didn't I tell you that I can assimilate well when I decide that it is beneficial to me?) Thankfully I have a totally Anglo sounding name. And I learned years ago to remove race specific stuff from my resume. You should see the the shock on interviewers' faces when I walk in the door. Not as bad as what Jade gets. Because her husband is Italian. And her paternal grandfather is Filipino. Even when she used her maiden name, they were surprised to see her.
My dad gave me a copy of a local Black magazine because he had been interviewed in the magazine. I have quite a collection of these things because whenever they want to interview Black business owners in Sack of Tomatoes, my dad always seems to end up on the list. I was reminded once more why my stepmother is married to him. She didn't think that anyone else's interviews were as good as my father's. My mother and I have never been able to worship him in quite the same way. We figure it's just as well that he found her.
And then we watched the NBA Slam Dunk. Because even though my dad has satellite with all the premium channels, the TV only seems to actually receive sports and news programs. This is the real reason why I don't spend much time there. After about the first half hour or so, my eyes start to glaze over. You would think that they would have noticed this but no. My stepmother stated, "I bet 90% of the TVs are tuned to the All Star game. Don't you think?" Ummmm. No. And yes, I did actually say this. As of this past week, they have been married for 21 years. She should be used to me by now. Finally, I fled because I had a little over an hour on the road and wine that was begging to be opened.
My original plan for Sunday was to go to the semi-finals of the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition. Jade was down for it but then she decided to invite this other friend of hers -- this kind of pretentious woman who I think has a stick or something lodged up her ass. This woman did not want to go. So we made changes in our plans. And then she decided that she didn't want to go out after all. Which was fine by me. At least Jade doesn't cringe when I start cursing like a sailor.
Really. I do. Once I was hanging in the Castro and these guys told me, "Honey, you seemed all nice and sweet at first but then this stuff started coming out of your mouth..." But that was because I had had a few cocktails and we were playing Spades. And I do a lot of trash talking when I play Spades. And that nice and sweet thing? Just a disguise. Kind of like how Diana Prince is Wonder Woman's disguise. Actually y'all have never seen me at my most evil. Many in my family live in fear of what could come out of my mouth. Because remember how I said I am pretty perceptive about people? Well, I also usually know just what to say to cause the most injury. Fortunately for most folks, that little bit of nice in me stops me from saying these things most of the time. That's what was fun about hanging out with Grasshopper. I could lean over and whisper the thoughts to her. And then we'd laugh. Now you know the truth. I am a mean girl. And who gives a flying fuck if you like me.
But back to Sunday. By Sunday morning, it was just going to be Jade and me. And I knew what that would mean. Jade rarely goes out in the evening if it is not a group. By Sunday evening, she called to say that she thought she was coming down with something. I thought about heading out alone but every place I could think of nearby would be filled with the melanin-challenged. And I hadn't quite gotten over my foul mood yet. So Natasha and I curled up in bed and watched some TV.
And tomorrow it's back to Sack of Tomatoes so that I can finish my work. And it looks like I may actually have to get up in the morning. Because I forgot that I have a doctor's appointment in the afternoon. Yep. During my various appointments with the doctor over the last couple of weeks, they finally realized that I have not had a mammogram. And let me tell you that I am totally thrilled by that idea. Not. But that's OK because later in the week I hope to hit Cowgirl Creamery because I need more jam and I've been told that I can find what I want in the Tomales Bay spot.
Friday, February 16
So I survived Wednesday. No, I don't mean the whole VD thing. I had my observation for my evaluation on Wednesday and I like to think that I kicked butt. Then again my mother always says that it is a dangerous thing when I start thinking. Luckily I was given the choice of doing a language arts or math lesson. It was a no-brainer as I told my dad. When I called him Wednesday afternoon (Have I mentioned that I talk to my dad near daily?) to tell him about the observation, he said, "Of course you chose math." Specifically the lesson was on finding the percentage of a given number. I tied the concept into past lessons. I talked about alternative approaches. When the majority said they were getting it, I turned them loose independently. I then checked in with the ones for whom I know math is challenging. I pulled my small group for further instruction. Then they got it. The kids who finished early? They volunteered to help the other students. Kids who have doubted their mathematical abilities were getting it and I gave them high fives. One of these kids -- the one who purposefully shoved me a couple of weeks ago and got a two day suspension but who I also know is bright as hell -- questioned his answer to a problem. Seems someone else had told him the answer was something else. When I asked him to explain his answer (I already knew that he had the right answer.), his mathematical reasoning was right on. I gave him a high five. And I felt like a rock star.
A couple of months ago the science coach told me that she was concerned about me. I was on my way to burnout and she recognized it because she said that sometimes when she heard me speak to the kids, I sounded like I hated them. What concerned her was that she was the one who had interviewed me for my summer school position at the school. She decided in that interview that the reason why I teach is because it is emotional for me. And it is. Somewhere along the way during this school year, I was starting to feel beat up and had lost my heart. It has been a long journey back. And I had to take the journey because I can't imagine doing anything else at this point in my life. Wednesday was an affirmation that I had made it back.
Perhaps this is part of the bond that my dad and I share. My parents instilled me with a strong Protestant work ethic. No, seriously. Most Southerners -- well, at least the ones whom I have met -- are either Baptist or Methodist. My family? Presbyterian. When I was growing up, I tried to explain Calvinism to my friends. (Have I mentioned my love of Calvin and Hobbes? On that note, have I mentioned my love of William Faulkner and stream of consciousness? My mother has made me start to verbalize the stream these days because I often lose her in my mental acrobatics. This is why Emerald and I are great friends. She doesn't have to explain the jumps; I always know why she has made a particular leap to a new topic.) Where was I? Oh yeah. Work ethic. I would work myself into an early grave given the opportunity. Like my dad's dad did. Like my father would if I wasn't around to tell him to slow down. I'm the family caretaker so I don't have anyone to tell me to slow down in my family. Sometimes my friends tell me to but I have a tendency to hide negative things from people. Don't want them to worry and all. In some cases, it's that I don't want to give them ammunition to use against me at a later date. A true Cancer through and through. So the only person on whom I can rely for this kind of advice is myself. That hating my kids thing? Made me realize that I had stopped taking care of myself and I was resentful of the kids. So maybe I don't always take care of the paperwork the way I should but I know that I am rested and happy and therefore, able to kick butt in the classroom.
Another lesson learned? It doesn't really matter if the kids like me. They tell me on a regular basis that they don't like me but their actions show the opposite. Everyday at the end of the day, I have to kick kids out of my room so I can leave. No matter what time it is. And usually it's the worst behaved kids. Because I know that their behavior is just a cry for attention. My latest thing that I have been trying to work on is lowering my voice. I don't like to yell but sometimes I feel like the kids drive me to it. But they don't. Because there is only one person who is responsible for my actions -- me. I try to remember my first year of teaching. When the kids would raise their voices, I would lower mine. To the point that they strained to hear me. And like magic, it would become quiet in the room.
And yes, today is my day to bring treats to work. I spent way too many hours early this morning in the kitchen. (Yes, I was up cooking at 2:30 a.m.)Photos on a later post. Hopefully it all goes over well. Because once today ends? School's out for the next week and I can't wait.
Thursday, February 15
Well, maybe not all of you but perhaps some.
Things got a little heated over at Neil's earlier this week. Well, they did for me at least. The thing is that what I wrote in comments there was only the tip of the iceberg for me. So here goes. And please pay attention because I don't know if these words will ever come from me again.
I grew up middle class. I was a deb. I briefly attended law school. These things I can hide if I choose but there's one thing that I will never be able to hide -- my race. Please bear with me if along the way I end up retelling stories previously told. I don't have the energy to go back through all of my posts for that kind of editing effort.
I was born and raised in California. My parents are Southerners who moved to California a year before my birth. Berkeley was a wondrous place to them. They had met white people before but they had never interacted with the level to which they were introduced when they chose to move to California. Because my parents are Southerners and they grew up during Jim Crow. And even if they now have White friends, there will always be a level of distrust of Whites for them. I understand completely. Needless to say, this caused many a clash when I was growing up. So much so that my mom and I ended up in family counseling over the whole thing my junior year of high school.
My high school was a strange place. It's located in a neighborhood that makes most people nervous after dark. During the time I was there, it was also the best high school in the district so the kids from the hills also went there. These were the majority of the people I saw in classes everyday. I learned to be a chameleon who could easily glide through all worlds. And along the way I felt like I had lost a huge part of myself. By my senior year, I could be in a roomful of friends and feel utterly alone. Why? Because somewhere along the way I had lost myself. It took a lot of years before I was able to find my way back. It's the price that one pays sometimes in trying to fit into the dominant society.
I went off to college and met wonderful people. A lot of the people who looked like me left after freshman or sophomore year though. No one had prepared them for the culture shock they would go through once entering college. I stayed because I did feel prepared. It didn't mean it was easy though. There were times when I would walk into my upper division classes and not see another person of color. Hell. Sometimes I could count the women in the room on my hands. And all the while, I would sit there thinking about what the people in the room thought of me. Because sometimes these folks would slip at parties and say things like, "You know. You're a good Black person." Nothing new but it still stings every time you hear it.
Kind of like my first month in law school. I had invited a few girlfriends over for dinner -- White and Black. (Coming from California, I found the lack of Asian and Latino students to be kind of strange.) For the most part, folks of different races didn't really interact socially at my law school. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the place didn't integrate until the 60s. One of my Black friends shared during the dinner that she had overheard a couple of white males from our class saying, "You know. They don't really deserve to be here." She knew that they meant us. I pulled out the class composite so that she could ID them to all of us. Unfortunately, she couldn't. So we were left knowing that there were definitely people around who thought that we shouldn't be there. It makes you know that you have to prove them wrong.
Right before I chose to leave law school, I spent a summer clerking for a federal judge. He is a Carter appointee and more importantly, he used to live in the city in which I grew up. A city that managed to make it onto 60 Minutes when I was in high school. Why? Because the police officers had used the choke hold on an African American male one time too many. It wasn't the first time that someone died from this action in the city and I'm not sure that it was necessarily the last. But the community had had enough.
Oh and those high school classmates I mentioned? Not the ones from the hills, but the other Whites. Well, some of them had family members who were Klansmen -- or at least that is what I was told. I do know that around my junior year of high school the Klan had a march near an elementary school in my neighborhood right before Halloween. There were no trick-or-treaters that year because parents were afraid to send their kids out into the night.
But back to my law school experience. I learned then that African American males are a large percentage of the prison population in this country. And that when they were convicted of a crime, it was more likely that they would receive a longer sentence than their White counterparts. So when folks argued on Neil's blog that the decision in that particular case was creating two separate legal systems, all I could think was that this has always been the case.
As I stated previously, there were many things I did not state in my comments. Some of these ideas I shared with Neil via email and BWB during a phone conversation. As a person of color, I find it highly offensive for a person of privilege to tell me what equality should look like. Believe me. I'll know what equality looks like when I see it.
And BWB used a word in our conversation that I had not thought to use -- apartheid. But it made sense. Isn't that what the Jim Crow laws were all about? And yes, those laws are gone but there are still those who are benefiting from the system that they created -- the people of privilege. And yes, people of color can make achievements but they have to work much harder to reach those goals than people of privilege do. Because the deck has been stacked against them the minute they were born.
You think it's unfair that these African American youths were not tried for a hate crime? (And by the way, at least two of them are being tried for a hate crime. Probably the two who uttered the words.) I think it's unfair that I, and every other person of color, should have to jump through more hoops to make any form of achievement. I think it's unfair that children of color are made to feel that they have to have money in their pocket before entering a store. (A teacher at a workshop I attended recently shared the story of sending her biracial son into a store to look for a clothing item. He was to report back to her which item he wanted. He told her that he had to have money because even though he wasn't buying anything at that time, he knew that he would have to be able to prove that he had the ability to buy something in the store as he would be under suspicion otherwise.) I think it's unfair to walk into a store as a person of color and to either have people following you around because they think you are going to steal something or to ignore you because they don't think that you have enough money to shop in the store. (This has happened to me more times than I can count.) I think it's unfair that a person of color be pulled over because the police don't think that a person of color belongs in a certain neighborhood. (This happened to one of my college friends in her neighborhood.)
Yes, I do feel sorry for the victims of the crime. My family understands how that feels. Eighteen years ago my stepbrother was killed. He was out celebrating his college graduation and completing his LSATs. An African American male with so much promise gunned down in the streets. From what I was told, it was an argument over a parking space.
But hate crime? Well, at least two of the assailants are being tried under the enhanced provisions. But in some ways, I feel a great discomfort. Yes, literally they are guilty of a hate crime. But that was not the intention of the crime -- or at least not what I believe to be the intention. The intention was to give a voice to those to whom the law previously had not afforded a voice. People who had previously been victimized by the dominant society without recourse.
And so I love all the liberals out there who want to join in the fight for equality but then I am reminded of a song.
Who gave u permission to rearrange me
Certainly not me
Who told you that it was alright to love me
Certainly not me
Erykah Badu, Certainly
When we decide what equality should look like, we'll let you know how you fit into the picture.
I'm sure there's more but I'm getting tired. Probably from too many years of having this same conversation. Because there's always some well-intentioned soul out there who still doesn't quite just get it in my eyes. And besides, I've always loved a lively discussion.
Posted by Dagny at 6:36 AM
Wednesday, February 14
So I've been tagged by Rach so here goes.
Rules:Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things/habits about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird habits/things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you are tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog.
1. Some of you have read this one before but it's still there. The silverware must be stacked in the drawer just so. I will even rearrange the silverware at someone else's house given the opportunity.
2. I am usually cold. This means that it can be 90 degrees outside and I will wear a sweater. Of course, this sometimes causes problems as I usually like to wear shorts at home. Luckily my legs seem to be immune to the cold. This also causes huge conflicts with the kids. They are always begging me to turn on the AC. I'm sorry but I don't own enough layers to accommodate that request.
3. If the bed is pushed up against a wall, then I have to sleep on the outer edge. Otherwise the right side is mine. And no, this is not open to discussion.
4. I tend to date guys younger than I because guys my age or older just seem so ummm old. And there can only be one person who is deeply set in his/her ways in a relationship. Guess which one that is?
5. I like my rum and coke with lots of limes. And by lots, I mean at least three. A guy in a bar pointed out to me that I could achieve that limey flavor by mashing the single lime at the bottom of my glass with the straw. Nope. Too much work. My favorite bartender recognizes this and always makes sure I have plenty in my drink. That's why he's my fave. Well that and he's easy on the eyes. This is also why I will be meeting Grasshopper there later this evening.
6. Crap. I have to come up with another one? OK. I am quite skilled at saying the alphabet backwards. My friends and I often practiced this in college. You never know when some cop will ask you to do this. Because I guess they could if you are walking while intoxicated but it seems that it would be pretty obvious without having you go through this. So now I sometimes do it just to pass time.
Now I guess it's my turn to tag some folks.
Tami, Silly, Jen, Madame D, Kapgar, and Daniel.
Oh yeah. And Happy VD!
Monday, February 12
The weekend turned out to be better than I anticipated. Yes, I still feel a little evil. Of course, that could be the normal me. Still stewing over things that have peeved me over the last week or so. [I chose to remove some text at this point.] I still think I need this t-shirt. The company also makes several other shirts I "need."
But onto happier thoughts. I finished reading Forever Blue The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood and started reading The Unusual Suspects, the second in the Sisters Grimm series. Can't wait to finish it and to get the next two books in the series.
I spent some time on the web. I received an email from the Berkeley S'n'B group. (No, I have not shown up still.) Apparently one of the women in the group has a book coming out. I'm quite fascinated by it all. Then again, why do I need fancy lingerie? And most of it? Well, it would only fit me post surgery. *sigh* Kind of like going to Victoria's Secret. [In case you're wondering, the wonderful folks at VS make all of two bras in my size. That's why I still have a gift certificate for there from last VD when I was dating Musician Boy. He was not that smart. One of my great loves (Depending how you count them, there were two or three in my life. And then I turned bitter.) had the sense enough to sneak and read the tag in my bra while I was in the shower before heading to VS. My mother has never forgiven me for dumping him.]
Then I started listening to music. But of course. My latest addiction is The Evolution of Robin Thicke. I just can't seem to get enough of the album. And at first I thought that I'd hate it just because of his parents, or more specifically his dad. But no. It's one of my true faves. One of those CDs you can pop in and listen to in its entirety. A rarity these days.
Oh, and I believe the woman in the video is his wife. As in the woman who co-starred with Denzel in Deja Vu. I obviously had too much "free time" on my hands over the weekend. And perhaps I should have saved this for VD. Because if you haven't guessed yet, I can be a bitch on wheels most of the time but that's all a front to hide my true inner romantic. As I've told many a person over the years, a cynic is nothing but a hopeless romantic who has been burned one time too many.
So now it's back to reality. Like preparing a kick ass lesson plan for my evaluation on Wednesday. And this is my week to prepare food for Friday. Suddenly I'm trying to figure out when all of this is going to happen. And I'm trying to figure out things to do over the coming weekend. (I do have some plans actually. I'm going to check out the semifinals of the Bay Area Black Comedy competition with Jade and her sister and possibly some other friends. This is thanks to my websurfing over the weekend. Check this out for some of the past participants.) Because I really do need to head out. I realized over the weekend that I have not really been out since getting rid of Sports Guy. So unlike me.
Monday's suck. I got up this morning only to discover that my car wouldn't start. Then the roadside service folks said that it would take one hour for a tow truck to show up to give me a jump. By that time I would have been late for work. Fortunately BART is convenient to me and I can actually get to work that way. It's just that on Monday I'm usually pretty loaded down with stuff. So now I'm home and it's time to deal with the car. *sigh*
Friday, February 9
This week has been a hard week for me. The kids have been energetic. My stepmother started chemo yesterday. On a plus, my aunt was feeling well enough that she spent most of the week in Vegas. And then there was some other stuff that I'd rather not go into here.
My sleep pattern this week has been to feed the cats once I reach home and then crawl into bed. I then get up around 1 a.m. and eat dinner and watch some TV. Then I'm back in bed around 3 so I can get up at 6. Believe it or not, this has been working for me. I was actually walking into work feeling rested. Probably because I was getting more than six hours of sleep in a night. And I can't sleep for more than six hours or so at a time.
So here it is Friday evening and I am completely drained and ready to head off to sleep. Hopefully next week will be better. Although I know this weekend will be hellish.
Wednesday, February 7
You would think that I would have learned this lesson well enough in the past that it would have stuck. Obviously not. I really must stop second guessing myself.
This all came about after a conversation with my mom about Sports Guy. She knows that I was a bit hesitant to say yes when he called that first time. She told me I should have gone with that feeling. She then reminded me of something about which I had completely forgotten.
After my parents divorced, my mom eventually started dating. Actually I believe this was within a year of her divorcing my dad. That would have made me nine or so at the time. We referred to one of the first guys she dated by the "pet name" of The Turkey. Actually, I think I am the one who came up with that name. There was something about that guy that just didn't seem right to me from day one. It took my mom months to discover the problem. Turns out he was a bit of a liar. No, he wasn't divorced. In actuality he was still married and living with his wife. My mom quickly dumped him after learning these things.
So this weekend my mom reminded me of this story. She said that this was the point when she decided to always trust me when it comes to people. She reminded me that when I have said, "There's something wrong with that person," even though everyone else is saying otherwise, I have always been right. I replied, "Yeah. I'm pretty good at reading people, aren't I?"
So the lesson learned here is to start listening to the little nagging voice in the back of my head. No, I am not being picky, judgmental, or any of that other stuff by choosing to listen to that voice. No, these folks do not deserve a chance. Even though these situations often lead to entertaining stories, I deserve to have less drama in my life. Because the truth is that one day I could end up with something more than an entertaining story.
And if you haven't figured it out yet, this is all part of my great master plan in taking better care of me. Because I haven't been too good at this in the past.
Monday, February 5
Friday night I got home from bed and headed straight for the comforter. That's right. I pulled that baby over my head and did not surface until sometime Saturday afternoon. Well, actually I made a guest appearance on Saturday morning and then thought that I should go back to sleep. By Saturday evening, I was feeling much better. Not well enough to make a public appearance, but better. Good thing too.
Around 10 a.m. I received yet another call from SG. By the afternoon, after speaking to my mom who wants me to call her friend who owns the winery, I decided that I was ready to listen to the SG messages since Thursday. That would be three messages -- Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Well, seems that the Saturday message was that he had left a gift for me on the steps to my building. Like I ever saw it because by the time I retrieved the message, it was hours later. He also said in a later message (because yes, he called twice on Saturday) that his best friend was the one encouraging him to continue to call me. I think they both need to be committed. Anyway. I decided to do the phone call thing even though now I knew that I was clearly into restraining order territory. Luckily he did not answer so I left a message -- "Please do not call anymore. I have enough stress in my life as it is." If he doesn't get the point after this, well, then I'm going to the cops.
So after I dealt with that ugly business, then it was back to bonding with the tunes on my computer. This time it was Stevie Wonder, Brian Setzer, Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, and Living Colour.
Oh yeah, and Metallica. By the way, can you believe it but about a week ago, one of my kids asked me if I knew who James Hatsfield is? Hello. It seemed more a shock to me that he knew who he was. I told him that Metallica totally rocks. Apparently his dad knows James. I always seem to get just so close to Lars -- yes, I know that he is married but that does not mean that I cannot lust after the man. And yes, I cruise around with the Black Album in my car. Although I am partial to their version of "Wherever I May Roam" with the San Francisco Symphony. Makes me suddenly remember the bellydancing lessons that I took. Cause that's how I roll. And obviously Laurie has infected my brain.
Sunday I decided it was time that I do something productive so I headed to Berkeley Bowl. It was a wonderful experience. I started my shopping for next week's Friday treats. Friday treats is this thing at work. Every Friday a staff member feeds the rest of the staff. Now folks have set the bar pretty high and so I had spent the last week stumped as to what I would do. Then Jade pointed me in the right direction. So I've planned my menu and started the shopping. I also picked up some crack cheese along with a lovely baguette from Acme. I never got around to doing laundry though. Perhaps this afternoon.
I ended up napping Sunday evening. Good thing too. Sports Guy called and left a message saying that he received my message and that he would not be calling anymore. Oh yeah, and he admitted to the crying. About an hour later I was talking to a family friend when he called again. I listened to his message immediately -- some whining about a relationship that failed in December. That was it. I picked up the phone and called him back. When he picked up, I screamed into the phone, "Why the fuck do you think I care about your life? If you call again, I'm calling the police," and then I hung up. I think things are pretty clear now. And then I pulled the blankets back over my head.
Friday, February 2
Yes, between all the gloom of aunt's cancer, stepmother's cancer, and dad's emphysema (Notice how I slid that one in.), we manage to have fun here in the People's Republic. A couple of weeks ago I went to a conference for work and won a door prize. I was truly shocked because the last thing I won before that was bingo night in law school (Three rounds, baby!) and a couple of wedding bouquets. (My stepmother's friends are probably still upset that I caught the bouquet at her wedding to my dad over 20 years ago.) Enough about her already though. She claims that she is starting to reclaim her memory. Hopefully not too much. Because she used to think that I was a spoiled brat. Oops. I forgot on the winning thing that I have been to so many bridal and baby showers over the years, I totally rock at those games.
At my home, things have been rather chill. Natasha has been content with playing soccer for almost two years. Then the box arrived. At first, she thought it was the perfect hideaway. That was until Boris pounced upon the box. Now Boris thinks of the box as his bed. Natasha has other ideas.
Natasha has given up soccer for "pawball." Like handball, she smacks the ball against the wall (backside of the box) and waits for its return so that she can smack it again. She has gotten quite skilled at this game and can play it for hours. Well, maybe not hours but for at least a good half hour at a time. Luckily -- for her -- the box is in my line of sight to the TV. This means that if I am watching TV, I get the added bonus of watching Natasha play. And somehow this has managed to reduce my stress level -- along with not talking to my aunt.