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All posts for the month October, 2012

What remains. or What? Remains?

Published October 25, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’m still working on the formal diatribe.  This will probably be cobbled from the bits and pieces you have seen thus far.

Last weekend was my twenty-fifth high school reunion.  This could easily turn into a gritty piece on how I was monumentally warped by my high school experiences; but really, the late John Hughes did that so much better.

I have been of two minds about going to my 25th high school reunion.  I’m usually of two minds, because I’m always kind of afraid of being out of one.  As I began to get ready, I asked myself, “What are you afraid of, really?” My inner child said, in a small voice, “The Big Kids might be mean to me.”

Even I know how nuts that sound.  Then I just shifted into Auto-Pilot and started the routine that I know so well, shower, hair, contacts, make-up.  Not an arduous process really, because mostly I don’t  care, and all of the show biz training, I can at least apply the spackle with the rest of them.

Why that’s important, I don’t know.  And really, really, since when do I care so much?

Now that I’m home, I don’t know what it mattered.  The cliques still clacked, the good  salt of the earth people were still good and salty.

It’s interesting to see how things change and yet don’t really.  A handful of people from my graduating class also went to the same small school that I attended when from K-4th grade.   One of these people was at the reunion and I we talked for a bit.  (Actually, I think I warped him hugely. I’m sorry if I did; he’s a nice a guy.)

For the sake of this conversation, let’s call him Brad. Brad’s older brother-Cyril(not his real name) was in a hurry to get inside after the bell rang and literally ran right over my older brother, G. G had bent over to tie his shoe seconds before the bell rang.

What I remember from this was my brother’s trip to the ER, and then Brad and Cyril and their parents coming over to our house so that Cyril could formally apologize.

As I retold this story, Brad said that what he remembers is that around that same time someone in our brothers’ class died, and all this time he thought that the deceased child was the same one that Cyril had run over.

I told him, no, it was G and G is just fine (well inasmuch as that he is fine.)

Further along in the conversation, Brad said that he and is wife are considering putting their children in parochial school for their early elementary education.

I told him  that I am currently working on formal diatribe about education and that I am a staunch advocate of private education; and I went on to further warp him by citing his case as an example of how impressionable tiny children are and at this time, today, October 25, 2012, public schools in North Texas are slightly better than having a chicken who can play checkers spend the day with your kid.

The formal diatribe will include more specifics, such as my recent experiences in working with public and private education and the reasons why I think we as a society are digging ourselves into a huge hole by not providing every child with the best possible education.

The reason I am finishing the whole diatribe now is that I want to put together the best possible defense. Tomorrow  I take on my most challenging job ever: I will be filling in for Miss Beverly; the Kindergarten secretary.    Anyone who knows anything about schools know that the secretary is the one that runs the place.

Miss Beverly said that it should be easy, I just make sure the classes all get any updated carpool information or messages from parents and that band-aids and other remedies for boo-boos get distributed.

I’m not being sarcastic.  I think being alert and present for any emergent need that a child might have is the most important job in the world.

I have to prepare carefully.

What becomes emergent

Published October 16, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

One of those qualifications and diploma things that I have is a MEd in Educational Research. One of my professors said that once you have honed in on your topic, it becomes emergent in everything you read and experience.

I am half-listening, half-choking on my own rage as Ricki Lake plays in the background.   The topic today is The Childhood Obesity Epidemic.  I don’t want to jump back on the fat  train, but what is becoming emergent is that a lot of the fat shaming is happening at school.

A good point is the fat shaming is part of the self fulfilling prophesy.  You surround fat kids with fat shame and they give up.  That happens with being called Stupid.  Kids feel stupid because they are put in an environment where they are being set up to fail because, guess what, not every child learns in the same way.

What a shock. Individual people have individual learning styles. Quelle Suprise.   I had a professor who said about the “No Child Left Behind” movement, “Yes,but they don’t all have to come today.” Aptly put.

I firmly believe that standardized testing is proof that Satan walks among us.

I live in Texas. Standardized testing in this state has changed three times in the twenty plus years I have been teaching.

To be honest, the idea of Standardized testing makes me want to punch someone in the throat. It doesn’t matter who, first come first served.

Standardized testing limits the teacher’s ability to encourage creativity and a fluid learning environment.

Standardized testing in itself creates undue pressure on both the teachers and the students  to learn the test instead of learning how to think.  This is creating  kids who don’t like to learn , teachers who are burned out and don’t want to teach,and ultimately a population that is resistant to change.

Why is adaptation to change important?

Unless you’re a platypus or coelacanth, it’s survival

The beginnings

Published October 15, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday chatting with some of my friends from college. I had a good time and I also remembered that I do have qualifications, diplomas and skills that I rarely use.  (Although at my mother’s request, I did stop using my Diploma from Texas Woman’s to hold up the short end of the couch.)

To that end, I am actually taking notes and roughing at the draft of what I hoping will be a brilliant diatribe on education.

I do have the opening , and this, of course will be subject to edit and change, not in small part because I’m pretty sure I have a fever and I’m waiting for the cold medication to kick in.

 

“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”

I have often understood this quote by Flannery O’Connor to mean that childhood is such an ordeal that one will have writing material for a lifetime.

I also associate O’Connor’s work with the same grimness that I associate with Faulkner and Steinbeck, not to mention their lighthearted, madcap pals Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill.

Childhood does not have to be grim. It so often is, but it doesn’t have to be.  Maybe that’s because all of the writers of the grimmest childhood tales (no pun intended) are adults.

I think we are very hard on our children.  We do not have to be.   This progress we have made in the last century was supposed to make things easier. After the  Industrial Age we were supposed to do things to let children have childhoods.

Dorothea Dix and John Dewey  worked towards social and educational reform.

Yet here we are on the verge of what may be the Mayan Apocalypse (This is where I think we will all agree is where I need to stop and take a breath and perhaps my temperature.)

I’m not a professional conspiracy theorist, and personally the main reason I long for Apocalypse is because all of my credit cards expire in 2013, but I’m sure I lose credibility leaping from Dorothea Dix and John Dewey to the expiration of the Mayan Calendar.

 

 

Not again, still

Published October 11, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

So it’s back to the fat.

At the end of the last diatribe I said that 138 was my rock bottom weight.

I am 5’4″ and according to most calculations doctors, and, I am not kidding you, the book, “Here’s to You Miss Teen”  a normal weight for me should  be 120-125 lbs.

Yeah.

Considering that at 138 lbs I am approximately a size five and only got there by focusing on the air content in anything that passed my lips, I can’t imagine what I would look like at 125.

My brother is 6’2″   and from the age of  thirteen to thirty-two he weighed 119 lbs.

That is seriously skinny.

And for a large percentage of my life people felt that it was within the realm of decency to comment on the differences in our sizes.

I recall a family reunion when we went to greet the eldest member of our family, our grandfather’s oldest sister.   Upon seeing us she said,

“Why are you so skinny and she is so fat? Does she eat all of the food and not leave any for you?”

What I clearly remember is that my brother was quick to respond that was not the case at all.

No one else said anything.  No other adult ever said a word to me about this, not even when I specifically mentioned the incident

True, this was in the early 1970’s when it was still okay to emotionally scar your children.

This is but one in a myriad of incidences when adults provided a commentary on my appearance.  Another time the parent of a fellow student asked me point blank, “Why are you overweight?”

Now I wonder what would have happened had I said

“Well, I am creating a nest of fat and flab to cushion the blows of stupid soul robbing questions that volleyed at me by adults while I repress a childhood trauma and deal with the day to day nightmare of being the chunky kid in a small school.”

Definitely one of those moments I would love to have back.

I know this is just one of the many stories out there in the lexicon of “how I got fat” legends.

And that’s not at all what this is about.

This is about trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into words and get stories written and books sold (Bet you thought I wouldn’t mention that again, but really, I promise you will like at least one of the stories in this volume of five short stories, plus bonus chapter for the low, low price of 2.99.

Here’s the link again for your convenience)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/213296

 

But while I’m out in the world getting the stories and learning the lessons, I am observing,  I’m not entirely sure why.

Something I have noticed is that even in the books and stories that push the idea of “Hey, I’m fat and it’s okay.” even the heroine who is pushing that agenda decides that it’s not okay for HER (and it’s usually a HER) to be fat anymore and she goes about a massive makeover by dieting/exercising/ seeking out magical help and when she does lose a huge amount of wait she meets the man of her dreams and has the life she always wanted but never knew.

I could go on like this for hours, but I’m trying to decide if I should have a few cocktails before I watch the vice-presidential debate.

 

 

Fat Part 1

Published October 10, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

As Edward Albee says, “You have to go a long way out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.”

So as I am organizing the rant on education, I will begin my warm-up rant about Fat.

I am of the firm and sometimes flabby belief that one can’t create anything completely without any influence of their past.  One does not live in a vacuum.  ( And if you have ever seen my carpets, you know how I feel about vacuums-badum ching!)

This article made me think of the rest of the warm-up rant.

http://www.xojane.com/healthy/its-hard-enough-to-be-a-fat-kid

And now, behold:

Part 1

I know why I’m fat.  I eat too much because I try to eat my feelings.  This stems from a secret kept for going on forty years now.  I still can’t divulge the secret and confront the person responsible, because of a family truce, long story, too long and not entirely related to the topic.

In addition to this carbohydrate laden prison of repression, I have genetics from one side of my family working against me and horrifying self-hating fat angst from the other side.

I am currently dealing with my weight by attending Weight Watchers.  My weight goes up and down the kind of pendulous consistency that I wish I had in the rest of my life.

When people ask me how long I have been doing Weight Watchers, I say, “Since 1975.” I’m only kind of kidding.  I seriously have been dealing with weight issues since I was around six years old.  I vividly remember one of these Weight Watchers meals- Tuna Bake.  This was a drained and rinsed tuna (this was in the days before water packed tuna was readily available.) The tuna was then lightly tossed with canned green beans and baked with a light glaze of sugar free barbecue sauce.

Who would do that to a six year old?  Someone who didn’t know any better and as a society at large, pun intended, we didn’t know any better.  Now thirty-seven years later, I know where I went wrong on my weight loss journey.  The only time I can remember having any real success at losing weight was in high school when I did a diet of my own device.  I ate one meal a day, but I ate whatever I wanted.  Then I kept myself occupied for  the rest of the day so I could ignore any hungry pangs.  This was by no means a balanced diet, but it did get me from a size 18 to a 13 and for a sixteen year old, that made all the difference.  I maintained this weight for about a year and when I was seventeen I was in a mandatory health class in school where we were told to keep a food journal.  I was terrified that I was going to be judged for what was probably a similar way of eating to all of the other kids in the class.  To deal with this terror, I advance panicked and ate very little.  For breakfast I ate cereal with skim milk, measured out very carefully.  I also drank orange juice, also carefully measured.  I decided that since this was pictured on the box and also in the health book as “part of a healthy breakfast” it was yea, verily, a healthy breakfast.  For lunch I had a boiled egg and a banana or apple. I would also have Diet Coke.   Dinner was a sparse portion of whatever the family was eating for dinner.  For exercise, I was in the marching band, I took dance class at school and if I didn’t have rehearsal, I would do sixty sit ups and sixty different stretching exercises.   I had a boyfriend at this time, and we would go out to dinner on Fridays or Saturdays. I would eat whatever I wanted for these meals.  By the time Christmas came around, I was down to a size 10.  I was also very weak and wan.

I snuck a look at my weight at the doctor’s office.

I weighed 138 pounds.

This is the least I have ever weighed  in my adult life.

Still in Process, Now that’s Progress(s)

Published October 9, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

To paraphrase Ron White, I’m going to tell you this story so I can tell you that story:  I have the great pleasure of having once out-talked Uncle Hugh Bailey.  Hugh Bailey is Katboy’s uncle.  We were at the reception following my father-in-law, Thomas D. Hembree’s,  memorial service.  Now, I love my in-law’s, but I sometimes wonder why they see me in the light that they often do.  When my father-in-law died, my sister-in-law, the brilliant and talented writer, Jody Wallace, said

“I can’t wait for you to get here so you can deal with people.”

I still wonder what it is she had in mind.  I figured my choices were  to either a) wrestle people to the ground as the tried to approach, or b) squat on the roof like a gargoyle.

Anyway, Uncle Hugh, is known for his ability to talk ad infinitum about anything and everything.  I decided that as a favor to the family, I would have a chat with Uncle Hugh while the rest of the family enjoyed their lunch.

One month prior to this I had completed the Oral Exams for my Master’s in Education so when Uncle Hugh asked me what I thought about the role of the teacher in the current environment. The Mary Kay Letourneau case had just gotten national attention, so I was well prepared to answer that.  I covered the topic citing examples from Bell Hooks, Jonathon Kozol and touching a bit on chaos theory.

After that, Uncle Hugh  got up, thanked me for the informative chat and walked away.

Now that story is important because it sets the stage for the speechifying that I am preparing to do.

The topic of the rant I am currently working on is: We are hard on our children and we don’t have to be.   I am speaking in terms of Education, although I am also thinking about how society has viewed children throughout the development of society.  It’s a lot to wade through, but I am a firm believer in not speechifying until you have lined up all of your ducks.

And I don’t want to bother the ducklings until they are ready.