All posts for the month November, 2014

Absolutely Absolute

Published November 26, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

My father, in his dadly wisdom, once said, “There are only two absolutes in the world.  That statement and death.” My father is not one to mince words.

I had coffee with my dad today. We talked about a lot of things. We did NOT talk about the verdict in Ferguson. (If you have been in a semi-coma or blissfully unaware-

I’m know we both have opinions and I certainly care that there is looting and riots and chaos, but I didn’t want to spend the rare quiet conversation with my dad talking about something so incendiary  we truly know so little about.

I spent the rest of the day pretending to work on lesson plans.  (I did actually do one for Monday, and I do have the general idea of what is going to happen the rest of the week, I just flat didn’t feel like buckling down, so don’t despair, my Drama Babies will have plenty to do and to balk at and whine about.)

I have been spending a lot of time avoiding introspection. The problem with having some free time is that I am surrounded by things I should be doing, like cleaning my house or finishing up any of the many, many projects that are surrounding me. (It’s not urgent until they fall on me.)

I am grateful for the free time and the rest and the relative freedom to enjoy myself and do what I like.

Yet I am trying not to think about so many, many things. Things like the thought that kept me from shrieking at students last week. I thought as a way to remember to cherish each moment with each child I would think, “One of them isn’t coming back after the break.”  It worked. I didn’t want any child’s last memory of me to be a screaming harpy.

I hope they all come back.

I am also thinking about the one student who was the last to be picked up after school on Friday. She was waiting for her mother to come and get her. She hadn’t seen her mother in six months.  Her mother was supposed to pick her up. After waiting for over an hour, she finally called her step-mother to come and get her.

The hurt and anguish on this child’s face has haunted me for days. There is no way for me to know how that turned out.

But it makes me grateful for my family and their unerring ability to know where I am.





Moments of Briliance

Published November 14, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Many years ago, my brother was involved in our city’s Shakespeare festival. My brother is an amazing actor whose forte just happens to be Shakespearean style acting.  A good friend of mine was a costumer with the same festival. One evening  I asked her how the season was progressing. She responded, “I’m so damn tired of everyone saying how great your brother is.” After some clarification and commiseration I discovered that most of the company knew of her close relationship with our family and thought they would sprinkle compliments in her direction.

I always pictured my brother appearing in the doorway of the costume shop, lounging casually against a doorjamb, perhaps in a smoking jacket and gesturing eloquently with a cigarette holder. He would say, “Hello, Jenni. I just stopped by to tell you how Brilliant I am. “,

This is what I always think of when I hear the word “Brilliant.”

My week is actually going fairly smoothly, considering it is the last week of this six weeks (That means report cards are due soon and students are beginning to panic as they realize that they are going to have to pull themselves together and do something.)  I had a few incident free classes. Today got off to a rough start but quickly rallied when a student turned in her project and apologized for the negative space in one corner (That is a space that has nothing in it which may throw off the balance of the entire piece. )  I was agog. Another student asked me if it was all right if she changed some of the words in her monologue from the passive to active voice because it made more sense that way.    I told her that she made both sides of my teacher brain happy and that she could do whatever she wanted short of running another student through with her prop sword. (By the end of the day I wished I had let her run amok. )

There are several students who aren’t ready and the Assistant Principal did a walk through during the only five minutes that all day where only 2 students were working on something.   There are many, many dark spots through this tunnel, but there are moments of brilliance.

Oh, and that kid who gave me such a hard time last week? Yesterday he came up and gave me a hug.

That’s my problem, I want it to make sense

Published November 8, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Some of my wisdom, such as it is, has come from actually listening to my students as they engage me in tidbits of their life. (One of my special skills is that total strangers open up to me like I’m Barbara Walters. It’s a blessing and a curse.)  I had the great pleasure to teach both this child and her sister. She was explaining a decor choice her mother had made. I was trying to picture it and she said, “Oh I see. You want this to make sense.”

I hear her sweet little voice in my head every time logical thinking has steered me in the wrong direction.

It happened twice yesterday. I hate to publicly acknowledge my naivete  but I honestly thought logical thinking would be the right choice in dealing with school business.

I know. I still believe in Santa and kind of hope that my wishing well wishes will come true.

I have sufficiently ranted and raved about that.

We are screeching to the end of the second six weeks and we are squealing around the corner towards the holidays.  I am looking forward to spending time with Actor Boy. I am not looking forward to the big heap of grading I have to do next weekend, nor do I look forward to having to corral post-Thanksgiving children into some kind of Holiday play.

I still hope.

Fun stuff continues to happen in my class.

The Navy Seal candidate has had his presentation performance ready for over a week. Line by Line perfect with such a natural tone to his acting I thought he was actually speaking to me when he had me check his progress. He is also using his positive influence on other students.

The Acting Hopeful has potential and some natural skill. If he can take direction, he’s in great shape.

I see so much potential every day that I get flummoxed by challenge.

There are so many things to be grateful for in this job. First of all, there’s the job, and you know, the money so I can feed myself and keep a roof, such as it is, over my own head and the head of my spoiled cat.

I get to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

My day aren’t filled with sunshine and hippies lying on the ground singing the Coca-Cola theme song.  I still have a handful of kids who are such products of the system that they fight learning every step of the way because they have yet to make a connection with the process. These are also the kids who know chapter and verse exactly what consequence is allowed for which offense. They are hyper aware of their rights. This is good, except it also makes them defensive.

I have to admit that I am more challenged and wounded by the remarks of one such child that told me that last week’s classes were boring because all we had done was worksheets.  He said that meant I wasn’t teaching him.

I know that as long as I am sticking within the curriculum, I’m fine. I have checked with my principal and my department heads. I am perfectly within my bounds as a teacher to assign written work as long as it is within the curriculum guidelines.

A colleague  curtly reprimanded me in front of my students during a fire drill yesterday.

I feel worse about being told by a student that I am not teaching.

That’s the kid that needs to be taught.

Because I want it to make sense

Famous words. Do they last?

Published November 4, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Years ago when several members of the theater community died in quick succession, my friend Steve Garrett walked around glooming and dooming declaring that he would be the next one to go.  I remarked that I could be the next one, for all anyone knew. He said, ” You had your chance and you didn’t take it!”

So either that hex or the fact that I have three plus decades of artificial sweetener coursing through my veins means that I may actually be around for awhile . I don’t seem to have the fear of instant demise that many people do. Maybe it’s the fact that I got a least a decade longer than anticipated (Refer here to  previous musings where I wonder if perhaps this is the purgatory I am working my out of.) or maybe it’s the fact that  I spend all day every day juggling monkeys that I no longer fear death.

Part of me wonders what words will survive me. Days like today when the most creative thing  I have done is to draw a smiley face on a note.

It was a note to myself.

Here’s my current thought: “It was a day so wretched that she sought respite in the ghouls and gore of American Horror Story.”

That doesn’t sound like something I would say.

Published November 2, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I am tense in the head these days. Lots and lots going on. A couple of weeks ago, I was playing telephone tag with my neurologist and the pharmacy  to get my blood pressure pills refilled. I had a very stressful and trying day with my most challenging class and just when I got past that, I got yoinked into another direction. Then I had tests to take. I passed both of my certification tests, so that was good. What wasn’t good is that my tension got to the point that I popped a blood vessel in my eye.  I know this is not a big deal, but I’m a bit leery of things that go pop in my head. I know I need to relax, ansd wit h that in mind, I’m trying to advance plan and avoid panic when at all possible. So I am working new pathways in my head and it seems to be stalling creativity. The time weasels do pop in and out , because that’s what weasels do. They pop. (Oh, come on, you couldn’t have expected me to pass by the obvious, could you?.

I never thought I would be relying on devious vermin to help my writing along. It makes sense, if it wasn’t for the tiny little mouse in the back bedroom, I wouldn’t have reorganized a portion of my too big, too filthy house.  The corpses of multi-dimensional roaches make sure I sweep. Why wouldn’t I rely on a bother of weasels assist me through the rough bits?

Write Choice?

Published November 1, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

The Great Wendy McClure (Author of I’m Not the New ME, The Wilder Life and the Amazing Mackeral Pudding Plan) made the thought provoking observation that the rapturous descriptions of food in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy is the author’s way of rewriting the history of the winter she and her family almost starved to death.

My thoughts are provoked because it is November 1, the beginning of NaNoWriMo (as if I need another acronym crowding it’s way into the alphabet soup in my subconscious).

I am hoping to at least get a good start on a new story. I am going to tighten up the draft of Circumstance and get it in the mail to my new Beta Reader, CWH, by Monday. I did manage to find the time to put the whole draft into one file so I can edit it in order.  I am two weeks away from the end of the next six weeks and then I will be working on the Christmas play with the kids and I’m finally getting the endurance that allows me to have a few extra moments of brain power at the end of the day.

I want to write something new and not poke at the semi-conscious body of a work in progress.

I’m kind of stuck for a new idea, so I ‘m going to just ramble for the first few days of Nanowrimo.

I’m wondering if I should dance down the what if path.  Even thinking about writing the trite makes we wince. So that’s not really a choice. Maybe the genius will find me.

Choosing my words

Published November 1, 2014 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I have a recurring dream where my teeth fall out. Sometimes it’s just one or two teeth. Sometimes it’s whole sections. I have had this dream so many times that I actually researched how to save the teeth for surgical reattachment. (It’s storing the tooth in cold milk. If the root is mostly intact, it can be reinstalled with minimal fuss.)  Now this dream features me searching for a glass of cold milk.

I have heard that this dream means that I regret something I said or something I ate.

This says a lot about me.

I love words. I love reading and writing and I love wrapping myself in the comfort of a well-turned phrase.

My life being what it is these days, in which I am barely managing to feed myself. (In fact, if it wasn’t for my Amanda Friend and AOG, I would be eating cereal while sitting on the floor in my underwear, or eating tuna out of the can while leaning over the sink.)  I don’t have the time to write anything more thought provoking than a carefully worded email whilst choking on my own rage at the condition someone left the auditorium. (That was very challenging.)

I have had several moments of reflection in regards to my career/calling/ caterwauling. (The rhyme and alliteration is intentional)  I continue to be both challenged and entertained by my students. (Sometimes at the same time.)

A lot of my struggle and strife comes from word choice. Twice in the last three weeks I have had girls come to me in tears because a boy said something that made them feel ugly and uncomfortable. I dealt with both situations by telling the girls that a) they were brave for telling someone; b) boys are turkeys and they don’t stop; c) don’t ever let a turkey tell you what you’re worth. and  c) telling the boy(s) that their behavior was bullying and that I will not tolerate it in my classroom.

The whole situation reminds me of a grudge a have carried for  three decades.

When I was 12 years old, a boy made me feel worthless because he said I was fat and ugly.

He is now the size of a small dinosaur and his children all have their mother’s unfortunately pug nose.

Sometimes I wish more people worried about words as much as I do.