Thursday, December 21, 2006

Santa Claus is a Sustainable Corporation with a focus on Equal Rights and Progressive Team-Centered Leadership

On the ride home from work yesterday, I had an almost overwhelming feeling of... gratitude. Or maybe it was luck I felt. Or blessedness. Who knows what it was, but I kept thinking how lucky I have been over the last year, how I'm alive and healthy and in love, how I have wonderful friends, a nice place to go home to, a great job to get up to, and how I'm not homeless or hungry or sick or alone. I was feeling it all over, happy and giddy all wrapped up in the holiday cheer. I wasn't even listening to carols about immaculate conception, but it was one of those cheesy-happy cliched holiday moments.

Yesterday was (speaking of blessed events) that beautiful day just before winter break at public schools when you get to watch movies, decorate the tree, and eat all day. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, I was glad the winter break had finally arrived. I can't tell you how many teachers greeted me in the hall with a big, "You did it! The year is halfway over!" (I think it's tradition to congratulate all the rookies like that). I have to admit it felt good, and thinking back, those 7 nervous breakdowns I had the first 12 weeks may have been worth it.

It was a great day yesterday, though. To fifth graders, the last day of the year at school means eating way too much- what with all the pizza and hot cheetos and enchiladas and tamales and flautas and cupcakes and soda and flan, and then complaining all afternoon to Ms. Lee that, "I don't feel so good." We topped off the day with some Wallace & Grommit, karaoke and rainy day soccer.

The best part, I think, was seeing my kids taken care of by the community. A local high school raised money and had a toy drive to make sure everybody had a good Christmas this year. It made a big difference to those who didn't know what they were going to get to have a new bike, an iPod, a camera, and a laptop show up at the last minute. I swear I was almost brought to tears. Thank God I don't have kids.
And then there' my gift, of having some time off. I know it will fly by, but I'm so excited about not having to be up at 5 a.m. for the next 2 weeks. I don't even think it's hit me yet that I have a full 9 days off. Have mercy.

Here on the homefront, it's Christmas as usual. The halls are decked, the tree is trimmed. The chestnuts... well, you get the drift. We're having some very wintery weather, which is a little odd, and we're planning on getting the flock out of town for a few days, heading to Austin to catch some shows and relax amongst strangers. The only way to do it, in my opinion.

I'm thinking of all my friends all over the U.S. and beyond a lot this year, and of the Christmases I've spent with them in the past. I miss them all, but am hoping that everyone is feeling as lucky and blessed as I am. I swear I'll get Christmas cards out soon. Until then, I love you all and am wishing you the best holiday ever.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Wierd, these last few weeks. Wierd, because, I guess, cancer has been at the back of my mind and not at the forefront of everything. Wierd because someone said to me, "You're a cancer survivor?!? I had no idea," and I thought, how strange that they didn't know that. "Cancer survivor" seemed like my whole existence- everything was wrapped around that- for the last year.

Ah, well, I guess the Beatles said it best, as usual. Life goes on.

I've somehow lost part of that me that I found during cancer treatment, that girl that didn't scream at people in traffic. The Me that wondered how so many precious little minutes slipped by without being appreciated.
Funny, isn't it? We move on, we forget the realizations, we become normal people again.

On the other hand, I'm to the point again where I walk out the door in the morning and see the barely rising sun or the moon still up and I think, "Ah, another day that I'm so happy I can really do something with." It's been since A&M that I can remember saying that in the mornings.

It's so nice to be wrapped up in somebody else besides myself for a change. Students. Work. Traffic. So nice to worry about the everyday things instead of life and death.

Bobby and I only had a few months together before full-blown chemo started. It was tough dating through chemo, not really knowing each other as well as I'd liked before he had to start helping me off of the toilet. Through it all, though, we laughed. I can say that honestly. We really tried to make the best of it. And our favorite thing to say was "if we're having this much fun now, just wait until after Interferon."

It's after Interferon now, though I still feel the effects every day. I had hoped I'd bounce completely back, and, where I'm at now is a walk in the park compared to where I was on the "big I". Every day, every time I go to the doctor, things are a little better. I'm getting closer and closer to where I wanna be. And this has been an adjustment for Bobby and I, as sad as that is.
We've had to relearn the roles of whatever we are (boyfriend and girlfriend? sounds so high school). I wouldn't say it's been tough, but it's been an adjustment. It's been up and it's been down, and I'm finally to the point where I'd say we're past the adjustment, and we're just Bobby and Lori again.

For my birthday, Bobby got us tickets to the Dixie Chicks Concert at the American Airlines center. It was the last show of their tour, and even if you don't do "country" music or you don't like the Chicks for political reasons, I'm telling you that you're missing out if you don't give these girls a chance simply for their amazing musical talent. It was a great show, and having seen their documentary, even though I've never been a die-hard fan, made the show even better.

I really relate to the lead singer. She's stubborn, opinionated, and sticks her foot in her mouth. It's not hard for her to say she's sorry but it's hard for her to forgive when she's been hurt. It's even harder for her to open up to someone and let them try to take care of her.

And she wants to be strong. You can really see this in her music, and a lot of times I hear myself in her lyrics. When my dad died, "Fly" was always in my head, telling me that I couldn't hold on to keeping him here with me when he was in so much pain and needed to be let go. And now, her song "Easy Silence" is saying everything I feel about Bobby.

He's been that person that I've let myself rely on totally for the last year. Doctor appointments, medicine, financial and physical and emotional support. He was the one that took care of all of that. I was cleaning in the bedroom and found a beenie under my side of the bed, probably one that he put on me in the midst of a crazy fever in the middle of the night, bundling me up while I was shaking. I hated it - hated it that I needed someone there to cover me up when I felt like I couldn't move. Hated it that I couldn't get down the stairs on my own. And yet he made it so easy to rely on him.

We moved out of that phase and into another where I was supposed to still be okay relying on him and him relying on me now, and yet, with all the changes we were making, it just felt like something was uneasy. We were both making mistakes and trying to fix them at the same time, and I had made up my mind that I was going to end up getting hurt all over again. I kept thinking back to a time when being with him was the only time I felt safe, like nothing bad could happen to me, and wondered what had happened to that.

It occurred to me one night when we were talking that he was in the same position I was, though. He had been bitten in the ass by a relationship one too many times, too, and now that I was up and running, he was pulling away. He, in essence, was doing what I do all the time, and I was feeling it from the other side.

At the Chick's concert, Natalie sang the words that I had thought so many times with Bobby-
"Anger plays on every station/Answers only make more questions/ I need something to believe in/ Breathe in sanctuary in the easy silence you create for me/ It's okay if there's nothing more to say to me./ And the peaceful quiet that you make for me/ And the way you keep the world at bay for me."
It occurred to me there, in the stadium with thousands of other people, us leaning up against each other, that we were both in that place where we felt like we loved each other way too much, like we were both feeling that insane feeling when you are allowing yourself to feel some way about a person that could, if things went wrong, essentially rip your soul out. It's a scary, scary thing, and, I guess, one of those risks that you take in order to experience the good things in life.

I've felt this way a few times in my life: with Mandy, with my Dad, with my stepmom, with Tamara, with Bobby. Sometimes I get burned, but mostly I don't. Mostly I suck the marrow out of the experience and am glad that I let myself experience this insane chance we take on each other in everyday life.

Whatever happens between me and Bobby, I'll be glad for the chances we took on each other. But, taking another chance right now, I'd like to put myself on the line and say this: Bobby and I are going to be okay. We've found something in each other that some people goes their whole lives looking for.

And I'm finding myself, again, very lucky.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Dyslexics of the World Untie!

Have I mentioned I'm a workaholic? Actually, work has been going really good lately. I've even been able to come home on a regular basis before 6 o'clock (most days). The Thanksgiving break really gave me a chance to get caught up on a few things and Christmas is only a week and a half away!

Had an epiphany this week regarding school and other things.

Let's start out with a brief work history:
In high school, my evening job was working an afterschool program till 6 and the nursery (as in babies, not plants) until 9.

Then I went to A&M, where I started working at a recreation center my junior year of college- a job that totally changed my life.

I graduated, moved to San Diego and ran a school program at an inner-city elementary school for about 5 years.

In between that job and my becoming an elementary school teacher there was a brief stint as a pediatric nurse.

The whole point of this rant is that over the last 16 years, about 12 of those I've been working with kids. And out of those 12, 8 were working with the poorest of the poor kids.

But, in essence, kids are kids. You either can relate to them or you can't, and, generally, and my immature sense of humor seems to help. I've been thinking about it this week, and I think I've figured something out. Working with kids has made me train myself to see something good in every personality. I even find myself saying to people, you'll love this person. Then, to my surprise, my friends (as in long-time ones) end up hating him/her. I couldn't figure it out until I started realizing how much I work at finding something in every kid that I can relate to or just plain enjoy.

I guess that's a lot easier to do when you don't have your own kids. I've known for a while that having kids may not be the best idea for me. Even in college, I loved my job, and, like I said, it changed my life, but I often appreciated the fact that when I left that job, the kids stayed there and I didn't. I figured that later on in life, this would pass. That I'd get to a point where I was willing to put myself second to another little life that depended on me.

But as I've gotten older, that still hasn't changed. Putting myself second has become some kind of joke to me. Are you kidding me? Me- Second?

Work is one thing, and having a job I can throw 12 hours of my day into makes me happier than most things in life. But one of the things I love most about giving all of myself at that job is that I can walk away from it at the end of the day and really concentrate on that other parts of my life, which, in an essence, are myself and my needs as an individual.

In other relationships, I've always floundered to the thoughts of my significant other and believed as they did, that making a family would be the next step in making a marriage complete. What was I thinking? I guess because I truly love kids, in a lot of ways it made sense to me that I should be a mom. For a while, I even got off of birth control so that when we decided it was time to conceive, my body would be ready.

Now it has become clear to me that being a mom is not only not in the cards, it's not a good idea.

Let's face it: I'm a selfish person. I don't mind saying that when I really want or need something and I don't get it, it bothers me. A lot. Especially if I've worked hard to get it and I deserve it.

With kids, though, everything that you want and need comes second to them. And that's how it should be. But I'm just at the point where I can finally say without any shame- I don't want to be a parent.
There's guilt in saying that, even now, even at 32, when I know there shouldn't be.
And I even that out in my head by saying, I give a lot to kids right now. I dedicate myself to giving them not only an education but the ability to deal with life in better ways. And that, I'm not sure if I could do as a parent. Not consistently, anyway.

My dad was a wonderful man. He gave his whole life up to be a good father, and my needs were always first before his. I can't think of one mistake that man made, ever, as a father.
On the flip side, there's my mom, who never could seem to grasp that motherhood was a full-time job. She was pissed about that. A lot.
It's funny to me now that she was pissed everytime she had to take me to school or fix me dinner. As a child that hurt, and I blamed myself for her being unhappy so much. Now I have a great relationship with my mom, and I think a big part of that is because I'd be pissed, too. It's so clear to me now why she felt the way she did. Because she gave in against her own better judgment.

Wow, I don't know where all of this came from. It was supposed to be a funny blog about how I like people that no one else likes simply because I've trained myself to see something good in all kids. That ability is something I've now learned to carry over to big people, too. But geez, this blog was like some kind of purging. Who feels better?
Oh well, I guess it needed to be out there, and now it is.

Peace. And I mean that, man.


Monday, December 04, 2006

It's been a while....

... and it'll be a while.

Okay, okay- so I haven't been so great about keeping you all posted. And, of course, there's lots to catch you up on.

For now, though, just know that I'm thinking of you all and I'll have more info for you soon on the ever-so-fascinating life of Miss M.


I'm Too Young For This!