The Usual Effect

As I sit at my neighborhood Starbucks, reluctantly finishing up teacher prep for the following week, I can’t help but eavesdrop on the patrons.

As a mother and teacher, I am highly skilled in keeping a straight face.

Conversations at 8 in the morning don’t make any sense, especially if you’re a silent, uninvited guest. A group of women in their thirties talking about their husbands’ and children’s behavior, which is one in the same according to one fair-haired woman. A couple of college guys after a run discussing on how difficult it is to write without lines.

A older woman who just came up to me, I kid you not, to wish me a happy Easter and a reminder that Jesus loves me.

To which I replied, “Thank you… And He loves you too!”

She beamed and yelled, “Amen!” and left without another word.

If my friends were sitting next to me, they would have politely waited until the woman exited the establishment before losing it. Not because they are disrespectful and hate Christians or old people.

I have a very dry sense of humor and sometimes my delivery is unintentionally suspect.

It’s a gift, really.

The lady caught me off guard and I don’t like being rude, especially since I know that there is a tendency for many to be uncomfortable and even downright ornery when it comes to matters of religion, Christian or otherwise.

We get the usual religious prowlers [strong word but I’m going to keep it; it was a spelling word for my students this week] all the time. The Mormons on their bikes with their awesome suspenders. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and their pamphlets. My aunts who are some sort of Christian that always leave me with more questions than I have time to ask.

But I don’t mind. It does not take anything away from me to listen to them, to smile, and to accept whatever they would like to share even if it means we recycle it after they leave. Usually that’s all they would like to do.

Usually.

Now if people started to overstep a boundary and wanted to teach our children what we don’t believe in, we’ll politely decline and thank them for their time. There is no need, no obligation, no desire for me to argue. That is just what we believe.

About thirty minutes ago, a dad walked in with his two little boys. They were obviously running late but for some reason dad still needed to come in for a cup of joe.

He handed a drink to the older boy of about five.

Boom. No problem.

He then handed a drink to the younger boy who was probably about four. The boy’s face crumpled up.

Now I’m a sucker for the little ones so I felt bad for him. For a millisecond because I, for one, do love coming to Starbucks a couple of times a month. I will bring my children here even less frequently because come on, four dollars for a drink? Times three kids times me? Um, no thanks.

The dad said, “What’s wrong?”

The kid said, I KID YOU NOT, “DAD! I DON’T WANT THIS! I WANT MY USUAL!”

Yeah, pretty sure I could not keep a straight face.

Get Set…

It would have been pretty easy to ignore my alarm that I’ve programmed my phone to say “GET YO ASS OUT OF BED AND GET TO THE GYM ALREADY.” Okay, it doesn’t say that verbatim but it is pretty close.

It was my first full night’s sleep since arriving here in Minneapolis. I went to bed without having to tell kids to brush their teeth or change. Without letting the dogs out and letting the cats in. Without having to apologize for reading in bed while someone next to me slumbered.

It was quiet. A bit lonely but I knew I wouldn’t be here for very long.

I ate a chocolate chip muffin left over from the airport. (Hrrrmph, you don’t have to remind me of my last post, thankyouverymuch.) I took my time in the bathroom. I fell asleep to reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

It was nice. A bit lonely but I knew I wouldn’t be here for very long.

I got out of bed. I walked five miles on the treadmill at a pace I would consider too fast to which to windowshop. I won’t break any records with this pace but I feel like I can maintain this pace for three to four hours… which essentially will be how long I will be walking in this half marathon.

I need to mention that I am not impressed with the food here. It could just be hotel catering. It could be that nothing is in season. I don’t know.

Do you know how when you go somewhere new and you agree to keep an open mind but nevertheless you’re still disappointed?

We had Mexican food and no, I did not take a pic. It was not Instagram-worthy. No taste in the pico de gallo (jalepenos were nonexistent, not enough lime) and don’t even get me started on the guacamole. I thought I was just being picky BUT THEN I HAD AN APPLE.

Apples are apples, right?

No, not here. I picked up a fuji apple from the fruit bowl in the fitness room. THERE WAS NO TASTE TO IT. Not tangy. Not sweet.

I’m at the mall again. I walked a mile already but I’m not going to tell you what I had for dinner and I’m not going to tell you what I’m drinking in the Starbucks of the Barnes and Noble cafe either.

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Busted.

The Caffeinated Rendez-Vous

This morning I have a very important business meeting with a very important client. She’s one of the three on the board. She’s on a tight schedule, with another meeting for her in about an hour. I believe this meeting entails plans for graduation and a company picnic.

Here we are discussing what’s on the agenda for the summer. Plans include going to Alcatraz, the zoo, and the pool almost daily.

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MilSpouse Friday Fill-In #17

The school year is in full swing and while I am grateful to be working a lot, I’m going to be completely honest and say…

AAAAAAAAARGH! I’ve reached my limit!

I think subbing three days a week is my limit. Any more than that, I miss out on the endorphins of Zumba, the benefits of stay-at-home such as being able to kinda keep the house clean, down time whenever I need it and eating right.

When I can’t do those things above, things happen: Starbucks moves back into my life. I’m not exercising. I am not motivated to eat better. Making poor carby choices. I can’t stop to take time out for me!

Today I hit a teacher milestone that I am sad to admit. I am so sad I will probably cut and paste into its own post to truly feel the full effect of guilt.

I kicked a student out of my classroom.

Not literally, of course. But I had to.

Earlier that morning a VP came to warn me about a student who may need to be placed in a different environment and gave me her number to call if I had any problems.

Well, fast forward a few hours and I am teach teaching math with all fifth grade classes. I have the lowest students in the grade level. As you may or may not know, some come with behavior problems. EXTREME BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS.

Three boys gave me the impression that they thought they were badasses and I’m thinking, HMMM, not a prob. Just get through the lesson. No biggie.

I separate a pair of boys who I have already warned to stop talking. They do and one in particular is, when you get him away from his friends, the sweetest kid. The other not so much. He couldn’t concentrate on his math to save his life because he was so busy trying to see what my reaction was to the head honcho. We’ll call this head honcho J.

So J mocks me, constantly mumbles through the test even after several warnings, whistled loudly, and eggs his neighbors on to join in his behavior so finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. I called the VP.

She gets to the classroom and I said, “I need you to take a student but you never told me which one it was.”

She said, “I NEVER SENT HIM.”

Right then and there my heart, my world, my spirit stopped. I was kicking a child out of my class. I could not reach this child no matter what I did.

She began to escort a student out but it wasn’t the one I was referring too.

I know, right?

I don’t think I’ve ever felt that deflated before in my entire life. And here I was, chuckling because yesterday I saw a substitute teacher make his students go back and line up, taking up his own lunch time.

All day I’ve just sighed at myself and wondered what I could have done differently. I didn’t want to be a substitute, a teacher, a parent, a PERSON who gave up so easily but I also needed to give the other students a chance to learn.

I read in a staff room bathroom (of all places): “Every child deserves to be loved, especially those who don’t deserve it.” And isn’t that the truth? How much was this child at fault for his own behavior? Was it ANY of his fault? Or was any or all of it learned?

I was truly sad to know that an eleven year old could have so much disrespect, defiance, and just utter disregard. But I don’t know his story.

And I know he’s got one.

***sigh***

So over on Wife of a Sailor, Wife posts questions for other bloggers to answer on their own military spouse blogs. (Still with me so far?) And since my brother freaked me out by telling me he killed the neighbor’s rotweiller because the dog tried to bite him earlier (HE SAID HE WAS KIDDING AFTER I FREAKED OUT IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS’ GYMNASTICS STUDIO! AAARGH!), I thought this might be fun to fill out because I haven’t posted in forever. Then I’m going to zzzzzzzzz…

1. Right now, our weather is STILL IN THE 90s AND 100s, but what I’d really like is FALL WEATHER TO GET HERE ALREADY.

I was born and raised in the Monterey Bay and went to college in San Francisco so I’ve been spoiled with mild temperatures. I wore shorts and flip flops with a sweater tied around my waist all my life. All my life until I married my sailor then moved to the DIRRRTY SOUTH, that is! I miss fog!

2. I like to let my hair down and WEAR CAMISOLES AND PAJAMA PANTS AND LAY AROUND THE HOUSE READING VAMPIRE NOVELS AND EATING KIT KATS.

Okay, probably not the way it was supposed to be answered but hot damn! I’m tired and this is what I’d rather be doing all weekend.

3. Mommy Rambles made a post about heroes… my heroes are MY CHILDREN because INSTEAD OF LOSING IT AFTER EVERYTHING THEY’VE BEEN THROUGH, THEY’RE TAKING IT ALL IN STRIDE.

If anything, this whole experience has made them grow up faster. There has been a lot of heartache and sadness and fear in the past year but there has been so much love and understanding as well.

4. It’s a weird combination, but I swear MY HUSBAND and I are a perfect pair!

Our interests are so different like night and day. He’s so mellow and easy going while I kinda like being the devil’s advocate when we “discuss” various issues. He keeps to himself a lot (but still as friendly as can be) but I don’t know. I have word vomit and will probably talk to anyone and every one if you give me the chance. We’ll probably never agree on a honeymoon or a getaway since I’m more five-star where he’s more into roughing it.

Despite all of these things, we’re a great pair! (Usually.)

5. Some may see the glass half empty and others may see it half full, but I SEE TWO GLASSES BECAUSE SOMEONE LEFT THAT SHOT ON THE TABLE SO I DRANK IT.

FAST. YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE BABY!

Good night!

Day 5: Face-bucks and a sad goodbye

I ended my week-long hiatus of Facebook and Starbucks… at the same time. I had coffee with my daughter L and two moms from the kids’ gymnastics studio while the older two were at gymnastics. I’m sure the moms laughed at the glazed look in my eyes, sipping frappuccino while updating my status. I was giddy…

And a bit bummed. After being without those two time-and-money wasters for a week, I thought I’d feel renewed and energized from using both. AT THE SAME TIME.

Then I realized that I didn’t miss Face-bucks exactly. I like the way they make me feel. Connecting to friends I haven’t seen or talked to in years, even if it’s a quick hello. Reading about funny, silly, or even sad experiences. Staying up-to-date on a friend’s health. The resignation of admitting that a break is needed and treated with caffeine.

So thank you, Face-bucks. We had a great run together all of these years and while I’m not breaking up with you forever, let’s be friends with benefits. How about a weekly rendez-vous? No more, no less. Face-bucks Fridays, it is.

Another goodbye I said today was without humor.

Walking into any bookstore brings me so much joy. I love being surrounded by the written word, the smell of expresso wafting in the air. My teacher ego is satisfied with wandering people in search of entertainment and learning through books and magazines.

But today was different. Today L and I walked into Borders.

Though we have only lived in this city for three years, my family and I were frequent visitors to Borders. We got to know the staff quite well, including one barista who made the best goddamned mocha in the world and shared pictures of her growing newborn son. One of the employees even recognized my husband with whom she went to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey twelve years ago!

We walked into the store this morning and everything was different. While no one was rude, it just didn’t feel the same. I hung my head in sadness like everyone in the store.

I know there are those who feel, like in that Tom Hanks movie “You’ve Got Mail”, that these giant superstores like Borders are shutting down independent bookstores just as book series like Goosebumps or the Babysitters Club are detrimental to children. But people need to start where they feel comfortable. Borders, giant superstores, Babysitters Club… they grow readers who will shop anywhere and everywhere for a good book.

I never felt like our Borders was a chain bookstore. On the contrary, it couldn’t feel more personal. Many employees knew me by name, asked how my husband was doing, and when I showed up without my little ducklings in tow, they smiled and told me to enjoy my time alone.

And that’s how I felt in there today. Alone.

I held L’s hand just as I did every time we went to the preschool storytime and stood in the building where I spent so many hours getting lost in a mocha and a book. Where M found the first in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and voraciously read each one in forty-eight hours or less, begging to go to Borders to get the next one. Where A practiced being in school, listening and following my directions, learned to sit quietly for storytime, and found new friends. Where L packed her huge backpack that was bigger than her each week so she could carry her snack of string cheese. Where my husband and I would spend part of our alone time, looking for new authors and books that our friends were reading.

Where our family of readers and thousands of other families have been nurtured for years.

There you have it: the beginning of Face-bucks Fridays and the sad ending of our time at Borders.

NOT dedicated to the new owners of Borders who chose to liquidate everything. May you get an itchy rash that is only curable by finding jobs for all Borders employees and filling Borders-less communities with huge library grants.

7 days of everything

Oh, alright. I admit it. I’m a slacker. I’ll do day-to-day stuff as far as emptying the garbage and doing the dishes but hate hate hate getting down and dirty for big jobs. I was hoping to marry someone who liked getting down and dirty and also for big jobs.

And I did. Problem is: he doesn’t live with me!

I’m obsessive. My habit has gotten pretty bad. First thing in the morning. Several times a day. Sometimes right before bed. Easy access is no more to blame than myself.

I’m talking about Facebook. Facebook mobile. It is sucking me of my free time that I used to use to… I don’t know, read? Blog? Time away from cleaning? What? Did I just say that?

I’m a hoarder. I don’t have dead cats in my living room. I don’t think. I go through hobby phases like knitting, scrapbooking, and painting.

Then I abandon them faster than I can check my Facebook status.

I used to be a teacher of a bazillion grades. Okay, just kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grades. Teachers steal ideas and file (or not) a copy of a colleague’s lesson or activity for later use, just in case. We keep books, lessons, and study aids because you never know what grade you’re going to be teaching next fall.

But it is time for me to come to terms with something very difficult. It could be years before I’m able to go back into the classroom as a teacher. I’m subbing, yes. I quite enjoy it also. However, the state of education and the state of the state are in trouble. Jobs are few and far between. Even if you find a job, you may not have it next year.

I don’t need all of my stuff. I don’t plan on getting rid of all of it but if it isn’t relevant or won’t benefit my kids NOW, I need to be rid of it.

So there you have it my plan for the next week. I need to hurry up and hit the “Publish” button before I wimp out.

MY WEEK OF CLEANSING
1. I will not check my Facebook account for a week. This includes updating my Facebook status but does not include uploading pictures.
2. I will do one big chore every day.
3. I will declutter one bag of toys and/or teaching aids a day.
4. Here’s a bonus one: I WILL NOT GO TO STARBUCKS THIS WEEK.

Stay tuned for my challenge. Maybe I’ll put it on my Facebook status.

DOH!