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All posts for the month April, 2014

Patience.

Published April 27, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I freely admit that I try to put a clever-clever spin on most of what I see and at least half of what I hear. I don’t know if this trait can fairly be called a defense mechanism or a tool to buy myself time so I can process the information. (Because I have the brain damage.) Sometimes I get moments where I have to call upon my rarely used power of patience.

This week I had the opportunity to work in different PPCD classroom. (PPCD is pre-kindergarten/Kindergarten Special Ed. ) As always, it was an adventure.  This particular school is bilingual and the language of the day is usually posted in the hallway. My Spanish isn’t great, but I can usually fake my way through it. One little boy in my class, Angel, more or less called me on it.  Even though I understood everything he said, he caught on that I wasn’t whipping out my responses fast enough to make me a fluent speaker. We were standing in line and he was gesturing towards the loops on the chain that we use to keep the children in line , (That so doesn’t sound right. It’s a plastic rope with colored loops for children to hold on to as we move through the school. ) and asking me to say the colors in Spanish. I don’t know the word for Purple so before we got to that one I pointed to it and asked him what it was called. He looked up at me with his twinkly little eyes and said, “No, No, in Espanol” meaning he wouldn’t tell me what it was unless I asked him in Spanish.  He’s not even five and he can already run rings around me.

As far as patience goes, I had my most challenging experience with the autistic twins. Five year old identical boys who are both non-verbal but will respond and interact with the group as long as it is part of the routine. (I know a lot of computer guys who fit that description, up to and including the complete overreaction should something go awry.)

These boys are going to have a rough time ahead of them. One moment in particular touched me. While the kids were all working in the various centers (guided play, ala occupational therapy) I observed one of the twins looking at at the books on the shelf. I asked him if he wanted to look at a book and I sat down to join him. He immediately climbed into my lap and handed me a book. I read to him in my best story time voice, but at low volume. Many autistic children are sensitive to noise and respond better to a soothing tone (Don’t we all?)  When the story was finished he immediately  got another book. I read to him for about 15 minutes, which is forever in kid world.   For that few minutes we had a “normal interaction.”

Next year he and his twin will go to another school. I hope wherever they go they are fortunate to have teachers like the ones he has at this school who have the time to be patient with them.  I don’t want to think about what will happen to them if they don’t.

So close

Published April 20, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I gave up negativity for Lent. I have less than 24 hours and the Universe managed to squeak in a chance to mock me.: (This review is also posted on my Facebook page, so apologizes if you have already read this rant. )

, I just had a one star experience at Barnes and Noble. For someone who loves books as much as I (and has a coupon!) this is akin to someone sneezing in the holy water at Easter Services. Okay, maybe not that bad, but it wasn’t good.
I was looking for a children’s book and after milling around for awhile, I realized that I was going to have to ask for help. There was no one at the Service Desk and the only employee in sight was the manager, Anne, who is so grouchy and unapproachable that I would rather adapt Fifty Shades of Grey for the felt board edition. I continued to mill about, hoping I didn’t look like a perv when I noticed an employee helping out another customer. I lingered from a safe distance until she was finished and before I could say anything, this “Bookseller” (I use quotes because no one actually sold me a book.) whisked past me and asked a browsing customer if she needed help.The suggestions this customer received were not helpful and since I know a little about what she was talking about, I interjected and offered up the name of a few books. The “Bookseller” whipped her head around and gave me a look that suggested I had just been embellishing Peter Rabbit with artfully placed boogers. Bookseller continued to help the customer, who, BTW was more interested in the books I mentioned. Bookseller finally asked me what I was looking for. I told her, she entered it into the computer and told me curtly that they didn’t carry the book nor did they carry any by that author. I asked if she could get it sent over from another store. (This is a fairly popular, albeit new children’s book,) She shrugged and said I could order it online and have it shipped to the store but it might be cost prohibitive. I thanked her and said that I would probably get it on Amazon. She immediately went back to helping the other customer. I looked for another book, made a selection and then proceeded to stand in line for 20 minutes, while the cashiers requested help that never came and the information desk paged for help. Since it didn’t seem that the sky wasn’t going to rain Oompa Loompas to help out, I returned my book from whence I got it and left. Just in time to see Bookseller still helping reluctant mom.

This was bad enough, but on my way back home some guy decided that he needed to sweep across three lanes of traffic in order to make the light. Fortunately for me, my shabby car apparently has really good brakes. I came within inches of crashing into him.

There is no way I can put a positive spin on the words that flew out of my mouth. Oh, well, maybe next year.

I’ve GOT to be me. Who else is going to do it?

Published April 19, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

One of the things I truly know myself is that I am always me. I’m always the same person no matter what the situation, I’m always exactly the same. This applies to my appearance most of the time; no matter what I’m doing or how long I’ve primped, my hair is always a little rumpled and my clothes tend to shift as if they are trying to run away from me.

There are good things and bad things about this.  As Actor Boy says, my downfall as an educator will be directly linked to the fact that I insist on talking to children as if they are people. To be fair, I generally talk to adults as if they are bright children.   Most of the time this helps me disguise my freaky obsessiveness and hair trigger temper. This just means I bring it home with me.

There were a couple of times last week when I wished I could NOT be me for a few minutes.

On encounter one, a colleague, let’s say her name is Persimmon, lightly chided me and another co-worker for talking. Persimmon is not my supervisor, nor is anything I do related to her, but because I respect people for their experience, I didn’t respond as I wanted, “You’re not the boss of me.”  It upset my co-worker and the only reason I still care about it is that  I want to live in happy bunny land and I don’t want anyone to be upset. {I won’t even read the Tale of Benjamin Bunny because (spoiler alert) he and Peter Rabbit get spanked }

On a different day, an older gentlemen maybe late 50’s, came into the library to fill out a job application online . He was Mexican. Not Mexican American, but Mexican. (As my brother-in-law says, we can always tell.)  He asked if anyone there spoke Spanish. I understand it when it is spoken to me and I can read Spanish, but it takes me awhile to process the information to respond. I don’t even speak enough Spanish to tell him that.

None of my colleagues speak Spanish.

The only thing I could do was log him on, show him the website he was looking for and show him how to cut and paste information into Google translate.  He was applying  for a menial labor position.

Because I am who I am, it hurt my heart to see a man who is clearly trying to get a job, but doesn’t have the skills to communicate that.  This man was neatly groomed and courteous and I wish that I had been able to help him.  He was about a zillion times nicer than the two guys who came in to take an on-line test for their jobs. One of them didn’t even speak, just communicated with grunts and gestures. The other didn’t stop chewing his tobacco long enough to speak to me.

But I’m a nice person, so I didn’t say anything.

Stay tuned for a diatribe on standardized testing. Because that’s who I am .

 

Dis IS sociating!

Published April 14, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Every single time I leave the room, either at home or at work (I don’t say at play, because really, I just don’t have the time or the energy, and BTW, I’m kind of bitter and twisted because of the whole relationship fiasco that is part and parcel is my life.) I walk into a perception that is convoluted I wish I had a talking coyote to show me the way back.

No, Writer Chick hasn’t completely slipped off of the stack of crazy crackers on which she has perched lo these many months.   Notice I said perception. It’s just the way my brain is processing things. I eventually get there, but it takes a moment. And yes it  is exhausting, and because I always sort of look like I know what I’m doing, some folk begin to question their own veracity because of the spacey vacuous look on my face. (This happened twice last week. It was kind of funny, but stopped being so laughy when I realized that I am an educator and  library lady and I should instill confidence and quench the people’s thirst for knowledge, so I shouldn’t be amused by my own glassy expression.

Of course, I may be  suffering from a Dissociative Disorder. This is so new  spell check doesn’t recognize it!

I don’t mean to mock and that is certainly not my intent. I know that there are legitimate mental illnesses that are under reported and under treated and it is a great responsibility to be healthy and well particularly if you are going to be interacting with the public.

I truly believe that slapping a label on anything gives the label-ee that opportunity to fully check out because now there is an excuse. Which, if you are suffering from an detachment disorder is exactly what you don’t want.

Unless you do. Then congratulations! You win.

I have a detachment disorder right now. I really miss my couch. I should go reattach.

Just the perfect blendship

Published April 12, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I know a friend will take a bullet for you. A real friend will divert the bullet towards your archnemesis.

Today my Amanda friend and I went on a shopping excursion. Towards the end of our adventure, we stopped at the book store. (Yes, we both work in a library and we both have digital reading devices that are chock full of reading options and we both have so many books of our own that we have to divide them into subcategories and give them their own rooms.) As we began our browse we stopped in the local history section. Both of us grew up in the local area so we gravitated towards the neighborhood specific books that were featured. (I kept my comments about the lack of, shall we say, diversity, to myself.) I noticed that the book in which I am featured,Renegades, Showmen & Angels: A Theatrical History of Fort Worth, 1873-2001, was not on the shelf. I inquired, as I am wont to do, if this were something that the library in which we work might purchase the tome. My Amanda friend went forth to the information desk at the bookstore (A large chain that rhymes with darnes and cobles) to inquire about a copy.  The “bookseller” (I use the quotes to indicate that I doubt that this person has the qualifications for the job title.) asked my Amanda friend if you spelled Renegade “Reni?. .. ” Amanda knows me well so she shifted her positions so that the “bookseller” would not be withered by my glare or dampened by my indignant splutter.

That whole experience made my head hurt.

But grateful for my Amanda friend.

Mock me to sleep

Published April 5, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I get so many headaches that I can now identify the type and origin. (I’m thinking of naming them, perhaps after the Osmonds.) The one I have now I’m going to call Jimmy. (Not after the youngest Osmond, but for the way that it has pried open my brain and let the bats, and not a few thoughts out.) I feel some pressure across my forehead and behind my eyes. I think it is sinus related or is linked to whatever noxious chemical the custodians for the school district use in the bathroom.

I understand that public bathrooms get icky an disgusting and they are probably especially bad in areas used by small children, but I don’t think it can be good for growing creatures to be exposed to bleach and cleaning fluid so strong it makes your eyes wrinkle. Not the area around your eyes. Your actual eyeballs wrinkle in the effort to get back into your head where the thoughts might be scary, but at least the walls aren’t wavy with bleach fumes.

All of that put me in a pretty sour mood, but not so sour that I can’t point and laugh at something.

As I may have mentioned I am loving the library job. In addition to playing with puppets and generally being a goober in literary fashion, I get to do something called “The Pull List.” The library gets a list a couple of times a day (Notice how I said, ” A couple of times” and not “A couple times”? Because it doesn’t take that much longer to do it correctly.) of books and media that have been requested by patrons at other branches of the library.  The librarian who is responsible for opening or closing the library goes on what I think is an action packed treasure hunt gathering the books and preparing them for their journey on to their next location. (I know it sounds like we give them a sandwich and map and a kiss and send them off on their way while we wave tearfully from the reference desk.  It’s very official and there are a lot of other details and steps that go into it.) I love exploring the library and interacting with the books,so I was thrilled when my Amanda friend (who is a reference librarian AND my BFF, how awesome is that?) asked if I wanted to help with the pull list. I snatched the paper from her hand and skipped away before she could change her mind. I discovered three books that roused enough interest for me to check them out.

The one I will be mocking the most is  How to Write and Publish Your Own eBook in as little as 7 Days.

This caught my attention because a) I have seen numerous web-promos about this very book and b) I have self published an eBook and will be releasing my novella as an eBook. (Before June! I promise!) The creators of this tome (Notice how I didn’t say ” author” ? That’s because the creators claim you don’t have to know how to write to publish an eBook. Too true.)  thoughtfully list reasons why people want to publish books. One of the reasons is to garner respect because “People respect people who write books.”

I want to challenge readers everywhere to pull at least five books that are written by authors they don’t respect.

I will share other mocking springboards but my head hurts and I need to have chocolate milk and Law and Order and go to bed.

 

I think I know, you know?

Published April 1, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have always heard that the more you know the better off you will be. (Unless the Moor you know is Othello, and then I would find another place to keep my hankies! Esoteric joke in the second sentence! I crave attention for my crowded brain.)

I’m not entirely sure that knowledge is the solution it intended to be. (Bear with me, I’m  personalizing knowledge to make a point.)

I had the opportunity to interact with some middle school students. I threw out the question, just as quick opinion poll and diffuse a situation between two girls that could have turned ugly, “What do you think happened to the missing Malaysian Airlines  flight  370 ?  A couple of students vehemently defended their supposition that the plane has been found and the whole thing is being hushed up by various political groups. That’s so preposterous it makes sense.

I mentioned that I thought things were easier when large ships, planes and such could be explained away by witchcraft, sea serpents or Elvis (Mojo Nixon thinks that Elvis needs boats.)  At a time in world history when we new very little about  the world and could do even less about it once we got there we were appeased by supernatural answers. That actually makes sense to me. Maybe it’s because my mind easily molded and shaped to fit the job that I am doing on that day. Sometimes my brain gets caught between transitions.

But I think Albert Einstein said succinctly

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.”

I agree if for no other reason than the theory I cobbled together from Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone.  This book explains the story behind a highly contagious virus and how it got from the African Rain Forest to the United States. The answer: Scientists went into caves that the natives warned them not to. Take a minute. People who live there and have lived their for centuries warn and have been warned for centuries that there are bad things in the cave and  no one should go in there.  Well of course, us educated and brilliant folk know better than the natives so we’re going to stomp around in the unknown cave and they come out with a disease that is built on a RNA strand. The Science proves that the disease has been there for a long long time.  And now it’s out.  Because we thought we knew enough about it.

That is the idea of levels of truth.

Which is more real? Should truth be subjective? Or is the truth a popularity contest? Do we really need to know everything?  Well I didn’t want to know that last weekend there was a pretty frisky game of truth or dare going on after a soccer practice mostly because you know, gross, but there’s not anything I can do about it.  I didn’t need to know how many calories are in a Chimichanga, but now that I know, I can’t not know and if I want to be responsible, I would chaw down on one anytime in the near or far future.

It was so much easier when Sea Monsters and Giant Rats could be the solution to everything.