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Protected: Raising Cain

February 25, 2010

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Protected: Hello, I Love You

February 24, 2010

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I received another good dose of holiday spirit yesterday when a student presented me with a card.  Inside, she wrote:

I have been so lucky (and happy) to have you to confide in!  Seeing and talking to you always lifts my spirits.  It has been a blessing to have you in my life.  My words could not cover the amount of gratitude I have for all your help!  Thank you so much!  You’re like my school mommy!  You’re an amazing and encouraging woman!  I pray you get all you want and deserve!  Love, B

I cried when I read her words.  There’s a lot of crap going on at work (for one thing, I’m involved in a grievance against an administrator), but kids like B, along with my “merry band of misfits,” remind me of what’s important about my job – the students.

Speaking of students, here’s an update on Manny the Puppet Master.  He’s been busy working on his resumé and applying for jobs.  Please keep your fingers crossed for him.  He deserves a break.

Merry Christmas!

Song of the Day:  It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.

Smells Like Christmas Spirit

December 20, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the library office with a few students, one of whom has seen (and caused) more than his fair share of trouble. On display on the shelves in the office are some of the librarian’s souvenirs from her trips, including a marionette from South America.   Manny has had no prior experience with string puppets, so we were all amazed and delighted when he picked it up, laid down a beat, and made the clown dance.

After watching his performance, I decided to get Manny his very own marionette.  I put it in a Christmas gift bag, and gave it to him this past Thursday.  I wish you could have seen his face when he saw me holding that bag out to him.  His expression was one of pure disbelief.  He kept saying, “No.  Really?  No. Really?  That’s a present for me?”   I was finally able to convince Manny that it was indeed for him.  Much to my surprise,  he had tears in his eyes as he accepted the gift.  When he looked inside and saw the marionette, a huge smile spread across his face.  He thanked me over and over, and gave me a big hug.

Manny is a “tough guy,” and I thought he might be embarrassed to walk around the halls with a puppet, so I suggested that he put it in his backpack. He said, “Are you kidding?? I want to show this off!!”

Manny’s priceless reaction to an unexpected gift really touched my heart and gave me a good dose of Christmas spirit.

Song of the Day:  The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles

“Sharing so much joy and cheer
What a wonderful feeling.”

I just read an entry over at LA’s place, the content of which left me feeling pretty disturbed.  It triggered some deeply unpleasant memories about being sexually harassed.  My worst experience had more to do with words than it did with groping, but a lot of damage was done, nonetheless.

It began about a year after I started working at the high school.  The creep in question was an English teacher.  He knew that I was married, and was married, himself.   This man would sneak up behind me and whisper in my ear.  He always made comments about the way I walked, as well as what I was wearing and how I looked in it.  Things got so bad, I started to wear loose, shapeless clothing, and even went so far as to put on some extra pounds.   That wasn’t my conscious intention, but I have no doubt that the stress, combined with a fervent wish for Mr. Creepy to stop overtly lusting after me, had a lot to do with the weight gain.

The situation reached the boiling point and finally ended with me in tears, shouting at him to “Stop! Stop watching me so closely!  Stop looking at me like that!  Stop making those remarks! Just stop!”

After my outburst, I ran into the library office and sobbed my heart out.  The librarian I worked with at the time knew what was going on, and she was very supportive.  She did her best to comfort me, and suggested that I turn him in, but I was afraid to do that.  This was happening during the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, and I couldn’t bear the thought of being put through what Ms. Hill was going through.  I was already feeling much too vulnerable as it was.

Fortunately, Mr. Creepy did stop bothering me after my public outburst, but I didn’t feel comfortable and relaxed at work again until he retired.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

I had an ugly reminder of those days a couple of weeks ago when another co-worker (someone I barely know), in response to my totally innocent remark about rubbing a magic lamp, replied that he had something else I could rub.  This was not the first inappropriate comment he made to me, but it was the last straw.  I felt sick to my stomach, and once again retreated to the sanctuary of the library office.  To complete the feeling of Déjà vu, it was once again a librarian who was a witness to my tears, and who tried to console me.

I am neither a delicate flower nor a prude.  Among friends, I am perfectly comfortable with dirty jokes and conversations about sex. But this kind of thing is something else entirely.

Psychologists and social workers report that severe/chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault.

Sexual harassment hurts.

Song of the Day: Keep Your Hands to Yourself by The Georgia Satellites

Enough is Enough

October 18, 2009

A lot has happened since I last posted here.  Right before I went back to work in early September, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital.  She was there for quite some time, and it was touch and go for a while.  She ended up getting a pacemaker.  As you can imagine, that was a very stressful time.

Last month, I participated in our annual  “Dress Up As A Literary Character Day”  at work.  I went as Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  What a trip that was.

On Tuesday, the husband of a much loved co-worker died unexpectedly.  I went to the shiva house after work on Friday, and was dismayed to see how frail and fragile my co-worker looks.  She and her husband were married for 41 years, and they were incredibly devoted to each other.  My heart aches for her, as it does for my darling LA, her fiancée, and his family as they deal with the very recent loss of Mick’s grandmother.   Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

A little over a week ago, my father had a total knee replacement.  At present, he is in a rehabilitation facility for physical therapy, which means that my 98 year-old grandmother is alone.  Michele, Mike and I have been running around like those proverbial chickens with their heads cut off.  I am beyond exhausted, and in extraordinary pain.  I don’t know how I’m going to walk to work every morning this week (Daniel is visiting his family in Canada)… The walk home isn’t too bad, but I am especially stiff and achy in the morning.  This is going to be very difficult for me.

Yesterday, Leigh had to go to a walk-in clinic because she thought she had a UTI. Turns out that she has an unusually high amount of protein in her urine, which the doctor said can be indicative of kidney disease.   He wants her to follow up with a urologist.

To top things off, Tuesday will mark the third anniversary of my brother’s death.

As I said on Facebook, my “downer” quota has been filled for the month.  No more, please.

Song of the Day:  Downer by Nirvana

Nokay

July 1, 2009

I received an email from Sunshyn this morning asking if I’m okay.  I appreciate her concern, but, the truth is, I’m not okay.  Here’s why.

1. Scary headache – Day 31 (not to mention all the other pain).
2. One of my sisters is in crisis, and she is at my house almost every day.  I want to be here for her, but it is draining and stressful, to say the least.
3. I still haven’t found out whether or not I’ll be working summer school, which starts on Tuesday.  It’s not looking good.  This is a potentially catastrophic situation, financially.  I am sick over it.

Song of the Day:  I’m Not Okay by My Chemical Romance

My brother, Mark, would have been 42 years old today.  These “significant days” are harder to bear than regular ones.  Mark’s twin, Mike, will have his own particular pain to deal with today.   My heart goes out to him, and to my parents and other siblings.  We all miss Mark so much.

As for physical pain, I’ve been suffering even more than usual lately.  The worst of it is that the scary headaches are back.  Living with chronic pain takes so much out of me.  By the time I get home from work, I’m too exhausted, both physically and mentally, to do much of anything.  Weekends aren’t much better, although I do push myself to get out of the house as much as possible.  It’s too easy to fall into a depression when I’m trapped inside for long periods of time.    It’s bad enough to be trapped in this pain-ravaged body.  I need all the distractions I can get.

Something else that is causing me stress (which adds to the pain) is that I will only be receiving one more paycheck until September.  This is quite disturbing because we can’t live on Daniel’s salary alone.   I applied for summer school about a month ago, and have been anxiously awaiting word about whether or not I got the job.

On Wednesday, My Friend informed me that she had received an email from the summer school principal informing her that she had been recommended to teach summer school.   I became distressed upon hearing that, and emailed the principal to ask if a decision had been made about the summer school Teaching Assistant position.  I reminded her that I have held the position since it was created, with the exception of the past two summers when I was unable to work because of back pain that was the result of a work-related incident.   (It should also be noted that the principal at the time the TA position was first created lobbied for it with me in mind.)

Ms. Summer School principal responded to my email by asking how many years I held the position, and saying that she has to check the “union issue.”  I suppose that means that the person who was assigned the position during the summers when I was unable to work has applied for it again this year.  However, it is my understanding that seniority is a factor, so I should get the assignment.  Also, I should not be penalized because I was unable to work due to an injury I sustained on the job.

I am a nervous wreck about this situation.  If I don’t get the summer school position, we are up the creek without a paddle.  Even if I do work summer school, it will only be 16 hours a week for six weeks.  We still won’t be able to make ends meet.  But, without that extra money, we will be in serious trouble.

All positive thoughts will be much appreciated.

Song of the Day:  Get a Job by The Silhouettes