All posts for the month August, 2014

If it looks like crazy, it’s just an ordinary day

Published August 31, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I survived my trial by fire first week as a Middle School Theater teacher. I love the school, the faculty is great(even though someone left a paper jam in the copier. I un-jammed it, but the office machinery surgery took so long, I didn’t have a chance to make my copies. I passive-aggressively left the paper I pulled out of  the jam and left it on top of the copier.)

This week was interesting.  Considering that I am used to teaching classes that have 20 or less students, jumping into a new job where my smallest class has 20, and the fact that I didn’t officially have an email or a roll of tape until fourth day of school, it actually went more smoothly  than I anticipated.  I was so focused on wowing them on the first day, I kind of forgot to plan the rest of the week. That mostly took care of itself and when the principal of the school and the theater director of the whole district dropped by, the kids (all 43 of them) were actively engaged and having great noisy fun.

The highlights:

1) at least five sixth graders say that theater is their favorite class

2) I actually found time to blink twice this week

3) Fun things are starting to happen.

4) I got that “we have a show” feeling when I looked at script for my ninth graders.

5) I got the kids attentions by using 600 hedgehogs in the hallway as an example for truth in improv and they actually understood the point I was trying to make.

6) The Fabricated American Mascot I chose for each class is working. A student actually walked into their scene wearing a Manatee. You just don’t see that kind of confidence everyday.

I have been too busy focusing on being in the moment for my students that I haven’t had time to focus on the fact that if racial tension doesn’t explode and divide the country, the Ebola Virus and the flame of violence shooting through the Middle East will. I can’t doom and gloom while keeping the kids focused on the manatee of the moment.

I’m exhausted. It takes a lot of energy spreading crazy around one day at a time.

I can handle 43

Published August 25, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

But the room can’t.

It was a long and insane day. I  still love to teach. I met some great kids and have some challenges ahead of me, not the least of which is that I have someone in each class that has the same name as EH.  At least no one shares a name with the Adulteress. That would be infinitely more challenging.

There are some things I had forgotten about organized education, such as the scheduling which changes on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.  (In fact the only thing permanent about the schedules in a public school is that they will, indeed change.

I did a lot of advance planning, and then left my notebook and flash drive at home.

That is par for the Crazy Drama Lady course.

There are many wonderful kids and I did say something that I usually keep to myself, “It’s never too late to be amazing.”

I have a class with 43 students in it. I can handle a crowd that size, but the room is too small. I’m afraid someone is going to pop out with an audible “Woop!” and I will get in trouble for making an unsolicited hilarious noise.

There are worse things.

And there are better things. Like tomorrow.

I have to go rest so I can be amazing.

Masking anxiety with prairie dogs

Published August 24, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Tomorrow is the first day of school. I’m very excited and not a little overwhelmed. I was out running the last minute errands with my Amanda Friend because the teacher might need to have some basic supplies and something to eat for lunch. (I don’t think I will be able to trade a bag of frozen broccoli and five very old chocolate covered coffee beans for anything good.) On our way back  to my house, I mentioned to Amanda that I kind of achy, which I hope is due to anxiety and not some major impending attack (Because you know how my brain tends to spring that kind of thing on me. )

Amanda Friend mentioned that she and her sweetie AOG would  like to redo their lawn in Native Texas Grasses. I said, “That’s what, dirt and cactus?”  She said, yes, and that she would want to put in prairie dogs, too.

This got me going on the black footed ferret. I had a freelance gig writing about endangered species and discovered that they black footed ferret is the real jerk of the animal kingdom. They will take over prairie dog tunnels and not only eat the prairie dogs, but also live in their tunnels. Then I started thinking about how Lawton, Ok, wanted to run all of the prairie dogs out of town.

I immediately thought of some kind of prairie dog rustler, driving the prairie dogs out of town. Then I pictured all of the prairie dogs sewing their jewels into the hems of their garments as they flee for their lives. I painted a picture of herds of prairie dogs in various pleasant costumes, all of their worldly goods slung on their shoulders, holding hands with their young.

All of that in about three blocks.

I was laughing so hard I was crying.

I do feel less achy.

So I can either have sanity or anxiety.

Those are my only choices.

It might have been something I said

Published August 24, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

So I got a full-time teaching job.  I’m excited and overwhelmed and overjoyed and a little nervous. I have it on good authority or at least in the opinion of my friend, CWH, I don’t have to actually become a grown-up, it’s still theatre.  I’m excited that I will finally have my own classroom, albeit temporarily empty (I just wanted to say” albeit”)

I strongly suspect that I will have many, many things to write about in the upcoming days, especially since I’ve only been a full-time teacher for 36 hours, have yet to met a student and am already so floopy that I not only put my pants on backwards this morning, I also put my shoes on the wrong feet. The capper was the fact that the shoes were from two different pairs.

I have many, many things to do. It will be an adventure. I get to be a part of the amazing.  I know I need at least three shots of espresso followed by two cups of coffee, doled out over six hours to be a fully functioning cog in the educational machine.

Could be. Who knows?

Published August 22, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

If you could sing the title, you might be a theater afficionado. (Or Taffi. I just right now coined that. You know the rules, you use it, you have to encourage someone to visit my web page and/or buy my book .

I’m in teacher limbo right now. That doesn’t mean I am writhing, snake-like to calypso music whilst trying to crawl under a yard stick, although that does sound like something I would do. It means I am waiting to hear about the full time job that will kick my ass/bring me job fulfillment/allow me to earn a living wage. Why yes, it is awfully last minute for someone who has to fine tune levels of caffeine and chocolate in order to stay alert without going over the edge to jittery and anxious, but things are what they are.

I’m still journaling because I get some of my best ideas when I’m not thinking.  (Yes, I wrote that sentence on purpose.)

That’s the thing about amazing. You don’t know you’ll get there until you’ve gotten there. That’s  why you have to bring your A-game to everything. (Think it out  slowly. It will make sense.)

So while I’m waiting to mold and shape the young minds into my own graven images, I’m pretending not to notice that crazy is continuing to happen everywhere.  I find it hard to believe that race relations have changed so little in the last fifty something years. (I know, I know. It’s almost like I want people to be nice to each other.)

An American journalist was beheaded. The Middle East continues to  blurble and rage. Pope Francis continues to be awesome. And the beat goes on.

We still have the chance to be amazing. We just have to start.

Why, yes, that is what I said

Published August 20, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I had an action packed day. I woke up at a responsible time and started  this writing project on schedule. An hour into my day, I got a message from a friend who has been teaching theater in our district for many years.  (She is amazing and it that sentence in no way does her justice) She said that she discovered that there was a last minute opening at School X. (Last minute indeed. School starts on Monday.)  I immediately jumped on that lead and bombarded the school and principal and secretary and did the “Please hire me” interpretive dance. (This is pretty damn hard to do via voice mail and email.)

Apparently another friend who is also a teacher in this district was bombarded other people in charge of this department.  All of the bombardment paid off. I got an interview.

I arrived hellishly early, even for me.  I got there 50 minutes early.  I wanted to have time to get lost,and find my way again. (Not existentially, for real.)  A few parents and students came in, including a Spanish speaking family. As they were wrapping up, two women who I will refer to as entitled flip-floppers came in. They asked me if my little girl was sitting in the empty chair next to me. I refrained from saying, “Not every  Mexican child is mine”. (Now THAT could be existential.)

The interview went well, I guess. I was as much me as I could be and still be professional. It’s hard for me to have both enthusiasm and sense at the end of a very full day.  I don’t remember the context, but in response to a question from the Principal, I said, “I would be delighted, nay, thrilled.” He paused for a moment and said, “Did you just say, ‘nay thrilled'”

I said,” Why, yes, I did.”

I hope being me worked in my favor.

I was a goofball. But I am a goofball. I can’t be anyone else and if I get this job I will teach 6 periods of theater with class sizes ranging from 15-45.   Starting at goofball is pretty good. (And other short stories by Yogi Berra.)

Maybe doughnuts are the answer.

Published August 20, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Kind of a grim day. WordPress just ate the first draft of this blog, so I apologize if my whimsy is a bit diluted (Diluted,deluded, you decide.)

I overslept this morning but didn’t stress about it because, hey, I’m unemployed so who cares? The cat actually cared a little because she was out of food and she has no thumbs, nor car keys so she had to stand on my spleen and stare at me til I woke up.

The spleen standing was really the only thing happening this morning and I had to drag myself into clothes so I could take the signed paperwork to the lawyer, so that it can get filed so EH and I can go to court and get dissolved with as little acrimony as possible (Rhymes with Matrimony, coincidence?)

The law clerk said that everything was in order, except that EH’s notary signed the document in the wrong place.  So another wrinkle in the timeline.

I couldn’t shake the grim mood. A trip to the Thrift Store Outlet did nothing to help my mood, but did make a dent in my faith in humanity.  As I made my way home, I decided to treat myself to a trip to the Dunkin Doughnuts drive through (I know that sounds lame, but there is only one such establishment in my whole area code.) Is it my fault that giant iced coffee’s are half price after noon? No, nor is it my fault that Munchkins are so damn tasty.

I got home, got myself all cranked up on sugar and caffeine and discovered that there was a contract pending for a proposal I had submitted on Odesk. (Last week, I was asked to interview for a contract, I did and submitted a proposal, I heard nothing.) This means someone will be paying me to adapt a graphic novel for the stage.

It’s not much, but I will get paid and adaptation credit.

Because this is a new start on a new contract I decided to set up a new work area so I can start tomorrow. So I am now in the process of setting up the new laptop and noodling around with the keyboard so I can switch back from  Teacher Girl to Writer Chick tomorrow.

I need to find my Sock Monkey pants.


What it if it’s been nose hair all along?

Published August 18, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

The part of my naivete that I miss the most is the complete and total belief in wishes. Now, I do have a certain amount of hope attached to birthday wishes and intense wants, but when I was younger I had complete faith in wishes made on falling stars, suddenly visible satellites, rings around the moon, blown dandelion fluff and lost eyelashes.

I know that the laws of statistics state that some wishes do come true and I certainly don’t want to blast anyone’s hopes and shatter dreams, but for every wish that comes true, a wish doesn’t happen.

I can’t help but wonder if we’ve been  misplacing our hopes. What if we’ve been trusting the wrong follicle? Stranger things have happened, most of in the last few months. Things are going kerfluey all over the place and I have already ranted and raved about Human Nature’s inability  to leave crap alone and stop wandering around forbidden caves and poking in hell mouths (Or is hells mouth?)  That stuff is happening and people look at me like I’m crazy when I mention that there are a certain number of things that I would like to do before the super-robots get us and we are fed to the aliens.

Why does that sound crazy?

I know that I’m a little frayed today because today is the day that teachers go back to school to prep for next week. I am at home, signing the final paperwork to end my marriage with the flick of a pen I got at a workshop a few years ago and a firm handshake. The only thing that made that less festive was the stale fiber one brownie I ate.

Trust me, these are not the last memories I want to have should the next knock I hear be the sound of the robots tripping over the trashcans at the foot of the driveway.

It’s not the craziest thing. But I guess “When you wish upon a nostril” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

But why are we listening to a cricket in top hat anyway?

Potato Bugs happen while you’re looking the other way

Published August 18, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I still don’t know what’s going on even when I am trying to pay attention. My brain has been particularly windsocky  lately (Worlds Worst Asian Fusion Restaurant and Micro Brew.)  This is to be expected since I am post project and two damn lazy to clean my filthy house in order to start the next project.

What I should be doing: Cleaning my office so I can rearrange things, vacuum and get set up for my fantastic birthday present from my grandmother: A new laptop.

I am very spoiled, but sensible and I know if I set up the new shiny before the office is clean, I will just burrow a tunnel in the mess and my Amanda Friend will have to bring a posse (you dumb horse) to drag me out whilst I make wild swipes at the smudged screen. (My new shiny is a touch screen, because I am spoiled with the latest technology.)

What I should be doing part 2: Going through the heaps of clothes piled on the spare bed. They have been there since early summer because I was supposed to be revamping the entire closet system and streamline my wardrobe in an effort to be more efficient and more of an adult than I have been, well, ever. I got derailed by the big suck that was the last week of June and just never really recovered.  Things need to be sorted, discarded and ironed.

What I should be doing part 3: cleaning the damn kitchen so I can restock in an effort to feed myself. I WILL NOT BUY PLASTIC CUTLERY TO AVOID DOING DISHES. (I have to say this to myself so I will actually follow through. Yes, I can feed myself around a mess, but I really shouldn’t because I was going to make myself a baked potato and some vegetables for dinner, but when I opened the potato drawer, I was greeted by the kind of odor that one usually finds under a carpet on which a leaky soda fountain has been resting (Trust me. I know this.)  Some extra squishy potatoes and some bugs and other demons had taken up residence on top of my stockpile of paper Target bags. The bags and potatoes are gone and I doused the drawer with a liberal dose of Fabulosa. (The cleaning solvent of my people.) act

So to comfort myself and actually root myself in the reality that no cleaning will or should happen past 6 PM on a Sunday, I had a glass of excellent wine (Also a spoil of Grandma.) and  mini-bag of cheezits. I watched a Lifetime movie that actually made me tear up.

I blame the potato bugs

Sometimes a fantasy (Or how Bob Dylan got me through college)

Published August 17, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I do have a tendency to embellish and dramatize most events in my life. (Must be those credentials, diplomas and training making a stand.) That being said, I’m pretty sure that even an outsider would admit that I have been handed a life full of challenges that might cause a bit of fluster. (I’m not talking life handing you lemons. I’m talking a dump truck full of citrus up ending itself on you in your convertible.)

This flair for surviving the dramatic is not anything new. I have had many chaotic crises/opportunities track me down and give me a wallop with the crazy stick. I remember my last semester in college was particularly rough. Not only was my scholarship not renewed (Not my fault, federal funding dropped a lot of us smart minorities when we had to go beyond the usual four year mark. It was also not my fault that I didn’t finish in the four years. There was a required course for my major that wasn’t offered for three consecutive majors.  I was not thrilled about this and after many, many conferences with the Provost and my department head, where I was told more than once to stop fiddling with the pencils on the desk and to not touch the art, it was decreed that the requirement would be waived, I just had to take another upper level class: Directing.  I am the only theater major in Texas Wesleyan history to have graduated without having taken Shakespeare. )

Academics were kicking my ass, my family life was going through major upheaval, I was emotionally rescued on more than one occasion by someone I will call CWH, and there was some pretty major fallout from a terrible on again/off  for good again relationship. (I will call that guy Toy-Boy.)  Oh and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life whilst still passing my chemistry class (That whole adventure is a story in itself.)

To keep my brain from completely unhinging, my madness found a method: I set a goal. I was going to be a back-up singer for Bob Dylan.

This makes perfect sense when you are an emotionally wrecked, tragically naive and mentally exhausted 22 year old.

I surrounded myself with the various forms of Bob Dylan. I went Freewheelin’ straight to the Nashville Skyline with some stopovers on the Train to the Travelling Wilburys.

I knew all of it and even had a song prepared to for my audition (the harmony part to the Everly Brothers’ “Dream” ) I planned my interview with Rolling Stone.

As nuts as all of this sounds, having that goal in mind kept me going. It kept me going to voice lessons and auditions. It kept me awake and sober enough to keep it together as I dragged myself through the last several weeks of school.

I’m trying to find another impossible to dream.

Anyone need a back-up singer?