Surely somewhere there’s a terribly interested panda

Published July 7, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I did not leave the house today. It was unintentional. I slept late and lolled about in bed being love-mauled by BatCat and relentlessly licked by SammieCat.  I was watching Dr. Phil over their persistent affections. A nose full of cat hair just enhanced the vitriol of the studio audience as the good doctor tried to explain to a man that his wife, currently 8 months pregnant, may not quite be up to his ridiculously high house cleaning standards.

My plans for today including tidying up. (Before the cats start a manifesto to Dr. Phil) but I had no real time frame, so I wasn’t in a big hurry to get up.   Eventually the cats decided I needed to get out of bed and feed them, so I was forced to begin my day.

As I slugged and sloshed (I’m drinking a lot of water lately) around my kitchen, it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked my email. So I did that, nothing vastly important and then I got on to the Facebook and let myself get distracted by bored panda.com.

This is a dangerous site for someone like me who really would rather not clean and loves to follow trails that lead to fun things like lint and time weasels and silliness and perhaps cake. (If you have seen the Minions movie, I am like Bob, everywhere I go, I have the best of intentions and Fabricated American friend and always pick up extra things, just in case I need them.)

I followed that for a while, also fighting off  both cats who wonder why I need a laptop computer when my lap could play host to one or both cats. (Because they have gotten into fights while in my lap together, that’s why!)  And because my mind works the way it does, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen my favorite show of all time Cold Case. It was cancelled a few years ago and it’s not available streaming, but I thought I would give it a try.

I found it.  It’s available on computer and App via a site called Daily Motion.  There are seven seasons and about 20 episodes per season and before I fell down another rabbit hole, I told myself that I could watch it on my break. I set my time for 60 minutes and tackled one swath of my house. I’m taking it in sections. I still have about 20 swaths to go, but there ‘s a lot of cold case with which to reward myself.

I am a bit worried about the Panda.

Well, that WAS comforting

Published July 5, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Feeling surprisingly life-like today, I wandered out on a planned adventure, the likes of which I only had with the late Steve Garrett. I started with a planned treat of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and coffee. When I arrived, the HOT NOW sign was on, so I took this as a sign of good fortune. I happily made a giant mess of icing and coffee leavings, then headed out to the Thrift Store Outlet (It’s 25 cent day!)

I had a grand adventure (two bags of u for 4 bucks!) and felt so good I thought I would run some errands. I gleefully put gas in my car and got some healthy grub for the week and headed  back home, fully intending to put up my frozen foods away and then go to the gym.

When I got in the car, my keys were tangled in my purse strap, so I simply unhooked my car keys. I was very absorbed in my audio book so I didn’t pay much attention to anything else.

A word about my keys.  I have a history of losing my keys, leaving my keys in weird places and just generally not being able to keep track of my stuff.  To remedy this, I keep all of my keys on one faux carabiner. Each set of keys is on its own mini-biner. I put the whole magilla on a hook that is closely monitored by a bunny named Aerial. (He also keeps track of the important mail. It’s a daunting task.)

When I unhooked my car keys, I’m assuming I also unhooked my brain, because I didn’t give my other keys a second thought, or if I did, the though was knocked out of the way when a car pulled in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes, thus showering myself with cherry tomatoes.  (You know, if I’d bought a box of twinkies, it would have been an easier clean-up.)

When I got home, I turned off the car and looked for my keys. I couldn’t immediately find them and I had frozen food, so I walked around to the back of the house to break in. It’s about 95 humid degrees outside so I was huffing and sweating and completely disturbed the stray cat who hangs out in the driveway. (I probably should have thanked him for the dead Blue Jay I found earlier today.)  I got all of my food inside and started to clean out my car. I worked up a good sweat and then decided to call the store and see if I had dropped them in the parking lot.  I was pretty sure I hadn’t, but I didn’t want to have a heat stroke before knowing for sure.

I felt like an idiot as I described my keys to the clerk. No one had turned them in. I decided I would get a Route 44 Limeade to cool off before continuing to look for my keys. As I turned the corner from my house on to the main street, a plastic ball rolled out from the backseat (a long story.) and lodged near my foot.  I thought I might oughta pull over and so I don’t have a truly stupid accident.  I pulled over and as I picked up the ball, I saw my keys wedged between the seatbelt and center console. As I dug my keys out, the little voice in my head remarked, “This will not be the stupidest thing you do today.”

Oh, no, that was the next thing.  I ordered my big, icy drink and  prepared to go home.  Left turns on this street are tricky because traffic is not consistent and there are two separate blindspots.  I started to turn and noticed a car trying to squeeze ahead, so I turned sharply.  This caused my full drink to leap off of the seat (Not the drink holder, the seat.) where I had placed it.

The entire drink landed on the floorboards.  As I scooped ice out of the car the voice in my head said, “You should probably go home now.”

Sigh. I hope my stupidity is done for the day.

Hey, Baby, it’s the Fourth of July

Published July 4, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Great song by an great band.  It’s on my mind today, even though it has little to do with my mood and overall demeanor today.  There’s a lot going on in my head, on all levels. (yes, my head has levels.)  I get a daily update from the fine publication, The Week. It is a list of the ten things I need to know today (Not me, WriterChick, but me as part of the public that has access to the still free press. )

At the top of the list is the statement that North Korea has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. Now BatBeard says that I shouldn’t put a lot of stock in what the press says.  I agree with that to an extent, but I have to say that the mere concept makes my sinus cavity pinch a little.

Now the sinus cavity pinch could actually be a clot of cat hair waiting to break free in  giant sneeze. I pulled a muscle in my lower back Sunday evening. It’s nothing major.  I have done this before.  I have a bazillion good intentions, including getting the hell back into the gym to start good habits before the next school year. I also need to clean my house. All of these things are not possible while my lower back seizes.

I spent yesterday lying very still. The cats were delighted. There was a hilarious acrobatic routine with my sweet old kitty Samantha.  She’s very lightweight these days and I kept trying to get her lie somewhere else while I went to the bathroom. I would pick her up and move her, but by the time I was able to leverage myself into a position where I could sling myself out of bed, she was back on my shoulder, chest or stomach. This went on for some time before I was actually able to get out.    BatCat Frances is bigger and is very aggressive in her need for affection, she pummeled me around for a while but eventually settled in.

So to celebrate my eventual win over the cats, I took myself down to the Starbucks to get a latte (double points today). I reveled in my ability to climb into the car and actually function in the sunlight. As I pulled into the drive-thru, I noticed a man sitting on a bucket in the parking lot. He was wearing a tinfoil hat upon which he had affixed two huge wings and he was playing the guitar.  This is notable because I have heard of the tinfoil hat community, but I had never actually seen a member. (And, judging by the headgear, he is clearly a leader or at least a messenger.)  This entertained and delighted me.

Because today, we are still free.  Although if things get any crazier, I’m going to make my own hat and see if i can join the band.

Do yourself a favor and give X a listen:

Fourth of July by X

So this . . . .

Published July 2, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

It is the beginning of the first full week of July and it is also the second week of my summer break.  I spent most of last week with BatBeard. It wasn’t enough time.  But as I said in regards to teaching, is there every enough? Have you ever spent weeks with a loved one and thought, “Well, that’s about enough time.”

Never.

I am very lucky to love and be loved by good, kind people. I don’t think I get enough of them.  But I’m also pretty sure I don’t get enough of me.

What, pray tell, do I mean by that?  Well, at the risk of sounding like a complete and total intellectual, elitist snob (although if you live in a house with a leaky roof and only have transportation because you have a very loving and giving mother can you really be called elitist?), William Wordsworth said it well, “The World is too much with us.” Poem is here.

A lot is being said about mindfulness and how we, as a society, should be practicing it. When did we get so damn busy and distracted that we have to practice paying attention? I certainly am guilty of losing track of the point (It’s a huge shock, I know. If I needed any more proof, not even an hour ago I was watching a movie while trying to walk across the room and stepped in the handle of a suitcase and fell, face first, into the bookcase.  Fortunately, I have a lot of practice with klutzing around, so I didn’t hurt myself, the books or the suitcase.  The cats were most entertained.

I have a month until my next teaching contract starts, so I have this time to take care of myself.  I plan to relax, organize, work out, read, relax, watch tv, relax, plan lessons, and relax (you may have noticed a theme; a recurring pattern is called a motif.)

As I focus on my health, mental and physical, I am reminded to free myself of distractions. What am I supposed to do if my mind, itself, is the distraction?

There is a lot going on in my head both physiologically and metaphorically (Are thoughts considered metaphors, they CAN weigh heavy but they are figurative. Maybe I should send my brain to a weight loss seminar.)  Even before my head blew up, my brain had a mind of its own, but it has gotten worse since my brain has healed. (There are those who say that I have just put  dab of Krazy glue on the unravelling knot of insanity)

Years ago I asked my Neurologist what I could do about my brain taking three separate sides in an argument. All he said was, “It sounds like you’re in tune with your Id, Ego and Super Ego.” That was not at all helpful.

Its nice to know, but how do I relax when my inner child is constantly in search of something new to distract her?

 

 

I don’t know, maybe ask Gef?

Published June 19, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I am officially released into the summer! Except I decided to take a short term gig teaching summer school because it’s only half a day and I certainly could use the extra money. So I’m done with the full-time gig at one school (You know the one with the sketchy pay history and shaky foundations?) and am wrapping up a summer school this week before a luxurious eight week break before I start a new teaching position.

Wow, it sounds exhausting.  It is exhausting. In fact every day after lunch I have taken a nap. Actually, the naps have been taking me.  As you may know, I generally have trouble sleeping and I often need background ambient noise to keep my brain entertained. (Remember the evil robot lizards?) So I’ve been dozing off to old episodes of Dateline mysteries. Some of these contain bizarre and disturbing stories.  My brain apparently took this as a personal challenge. So while the TV entertained my conscious with lists of tragic disappearances, my subconscious was whipping together a convoluted tale of Batman’s friend Frank needing to disassemble and particle board shed in Tennessee, but somehow we had to wait until Frank’s dog was satisfied with this baseball team’s performance in that evening’s game.  It got down to a wing nut holding the whole thing together, but we were all waiting to for the final go ahead to release it.

As I woke up, the crazy list show was regaling me and Frances (BatCat) with the story of Gef (pronounced Jeff) the clever mongoose. read about Gef here. Gef made his presence known in the 1930’s, manifesting himself in series of grunts and growls from inside the wall of his abode. Eventually he began to speak long sassy sentences, zinging and participating in the family’s conversation.

Eventually Gef revealed himself to be a clever mongoose from India. How he got in the wall is anyone’s guess.  It took me a while and two separate internet searches to figure out that this was a real thing, and not part of my subconscious’ wild adventures.

I’m not sure if all of this is the world’s way of telling me that I need to relax more or if I’m finally having the breakdown everyone has been predicting. In a world that gave us a clever mongoose and several spokespastries, a dog as a demolition  supervisor almost  makes sense.

 

I

 

 

Eve

You say good-bye . . . . 

Published June 15, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Many moons ago I was in a Outdoor Summer Historical Drama (All of the adjectives I hate in front of the word “Drama” ) called Black River Traders.  (I was also in the sister show, Dreams and Drillbits, but that is a nightmare for another time.). 

In Black River Traders, I played a character called Wife of White Eagle. I was asked to audition for Josefina, one of the leads, but the director looked right into my little brown face and told me I wasn’t right for the part of the Hispanic woman in her thirties. I was thirty-two at the time and have been Hispanic for many years.   The nightmare for the other time is directly attached to the woman who did get the part, but I digress. (That’s a shock.) 

As Wife of White Eagle , I did little except stand around dressed as a Navajo and hover frantically over my ill son.  My very few lines were allegedly the only English my character spoke, because I said nothing else to the Billagonna who helped my child. Several scenes later, my clan invited said Billagonna to dance ceremonially with us. Prior to this dance was a sit and chat by the fire. One of the lead characters delivered his line, “The only constant in life is change”  directly to me.  It took about two months of performances before he realized that his character talking to mine was an exercise in clueless and closing night he mouthed,”You have no idea what I’m talking about.” I  nodded my head and we went on with our lives. 

I am about to jump right into a change.  

Today and tomorrow are my last day in the employment of Kauffman Leadership Academy.  I have to go out there to tidy up my classroom, take inventory of my room and have my exit interview, as well as attend my last faculty meeting.  I’m trying to get everything situated so I can just go to the meetin and then blaze out of there.  This is because of what I plan to say in my exit interview.

This has not been the idyllic experience that I had hoped. Mostly because all I had was hope. I worked fifty hour weeks in stuffy classroom with almost no back plan by the administration for things that might go awry. 

What went awry: Five times our paychecks were late. Many times plans and schedules were not distributed until moments before they happened.  The superintendent is married to the biggest bully in the school and can’t/won’t do anything about it.   We did not have a school nurse or full-time counselor. Several times the schools bills weren’t paid and we were left wondering if we would have to adjust our lesson plans to accommodate no power or internet.  A lot of things happened in a “let’s just cover this up and see what happens.” It seems that they only time action was taken was when it was something that the general public witnessed. 

I am trying to find a tactful way to present all of this. I’m pretty sure I’m going to give up on that and just boil it down to the two major things that helped me decide to get out of the haunted house.

One of the several times our checks were late and one of my colleagues asked, desperately, what we were supposed to do, since we were all broke and had no real safety net. The principal/superintendent said, “This is an at-will state. You can always go or somewhere else.”  In the ensuing silence, my colleague put his head down and cried. 

Then there’s the bully that no one does anything about. This full-grown man seems to take great delight in talking down and denigrating teachers and students. One of our students is transgender (female to male) and was very upset that the Bully kept calling him “her”. Bully was corrected by other students, yet insisted on using this word.  This is in direct violation of the school’s policy and counts as bullying.   I did not teach this student, but since the teachers who did teacher him wouldn’t do anything about it and since I have nothing left to lose, I’m going to mention in.  

Because something has to change. 

(Moving) Foreword

Published June 8, 2017 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

The intended pun in the title is a play on the phrase “moving forward” combined with what I will hope will be a moving (emotionally) foreword for my next published tome.

I’m fairly certain that most people who may stumble across this blog will understand this, but I’m looking at this from the perspective of a teacher who is STILL IN THE CLASSROOM ON JUNE 8.  This is not an inservice day, it is a regular school day. You may ask,”Why, Writer Chick, aren’t the kids balky and horrible, having to come to school while EVERY OTHER SCHOOL IN THE STATE is on summer break? ” Yes, yes they are. The teachers, at least this one are even worse.  I’m pretty amazed that I haven’t shoved/punched/kicked anyone yet.But after today we still have one more day and two days of inservice left.

I am vexed and frustrated by all of it. It’s hard to single out what bothers me the most.  It may be that even though  I am not qualified to teach our Special Ed Student, a fact that mentioned/proclaimed/screamed for the entire first month of school, but has fallen on deaf ears because there is no one else to teach him. Or it may be the fact that lot of this week has been running in place  until the clock winds down, but I still have to deal with a student who should have been sent home or possibly executed because his negative comments to his fellow students are planting seeds for future therapists to harvest, or it could be the fact that I am exhausted by the nine hour school day multiplied the stress that five late paychecks in one school year have caused.

A by-product of this year is my current attempt to be brutally honest and specific because apparently no one is understand the words that are coming out of my head unless I spell it out.

Yesterday was rough because we had the planting of the tree in memory of the student who was murdered back in February.  This was scheduled in the morning, after which we had the full school day. So once again, the teachers who loved this child were not allowed the comfort of  a good long cry so that we can begin to heal.

Wow, that sure was a long rant to get to the point.

Another by product of this long, long school year and my long, long expensive drive is that I have had the chance to listen to podcasts and learn some new things.

I listened to an episode of This American Life yesterday.  I’m not sure if I’ve heard this one before or if it sounded familiar because I’m very familiar with the topic-“Call me Fat.”

I think I commented on this before, but this time I have  a name.

Lindy West, who sounds like someone I would totally be friends, is a contributor to many of my favorite magazines/blogs. Her new book, Shrill, also sounds good. So good that I just bought it on Amazon, full price and brand new!

There is a quote from the book that rings true to me, mainly because I will always feel like the fat girl. Even when I was below my ideal weight. (Sometime in the late eighties it didn’t last long) I still felt like the fat girl. Possibly because even at my ideal weight, I am still considered on the fluffy side of perfect. I blame my hearty peasant stock.

I am mostly ok with myself. My fat has not kept me from teaching or writing or reading or doing anything that makes up my real life.  I am also famine and drought resistant. And as I used to say, “In that first nuclear winter, you’re gonna want my big ass pulling a plow for you, and not that twig girl you just eye molested.”

But there fat girl inside  and outside of me , really got something out of the following quote.  This is directly from the This American Life’s podcast transcript.

Act Five. An Immodest Proposal.

Ira Glass

Act Five, An Immodest Proposal. So here in the podcast and the internet version of our radio show this week, we are adding this. I just thought it would be nice to end the show with one last anecdote from Lindy West’s book. And this is kind of an uplifting one. I hope that’s not bad to say.

Lindy is married to this guy, Aham, and raising his kids with him. And as she points out in the book, he is conventionally handsome, very tall. And when the two of them are out together, sometimes people assume that because he is slim and good-looking and she is fat that they’re not a couple.

Even if they’re at a bar holding hands, looking exactly like a couple, people say stuff to them like, so you guys roommates? Women hit on him in front of Lindy. She read for me– and this is what we’re going to close out with today– the story of their engagement.

Lindy West

Aham took me out for dinner on my 32nd birthday, then suggested a quick nightcap at our neighborhood bar. Everyone was there. It was a surprise. Our friends, our families, the kids, a cake. Aham took my hand and led me to the back. There was a paper banner that said my name.

Our friends Evan and Sam were playing a duet on cello and bass. I was confused. Why were there somber strings at my birthday party? Why was Aham doing intense face? Wait, it’s almost 10:00 PM on a school night, and we’re at a bar. Why are the kids here?

Then it all happened at once– the knee, the ring, the speech, the question, the tears– all the hits. It was a full-blown grand gesture. Later, I asked him why he did it that way– such a big spectacle, such an event, not precisely our style. And I expected something cliche but sweet like, “I wanted to make sure our community was part of our marriage,” or, “I wanted everyone to know how much I love you.”

Instead, he said, one time, when you were drunk, you told me, “if you ever propose to me, don’t do it in the bullshit way that dudes usually treat fat girls– like it’s a secret, or you’re just trying to keep me from leaving you. Thin girls get public proposals, like those dudes are winning a fucking prize. Fat chicks deserve that too.”

(https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/589/transcript)