Fear

Spiders Eat Mosquitos

spider-595301_1280Last night Mini-One Mean woke up in the middle of the night. Mini is usually a great sleeper, rarely waking in the middle of the night. Even as an infant, I was blessed with a baby that slept like a baby. I am probably one of the only women who in the first few months of motherhood was “well-rested.” Okay, enough bragging.

Last night was different. Mini was shouting from the crib, “Get you! Get you!” and of course, like the paranoid woman I am, I thought someone was in his room trying to kidnap him. Is it me or is the fear of kidnapping something that you always think about as a mother? I literally worry all. the. time. that my kiddo is going to snatched up by a stranger never to be seen from again, and you’ll all see me on the news trying to fumble through sentences of “Bring back my baby!” It’s probably super melodramatic of me, but the fear is real.

Mini was also screaming, “Scary!”Convinced a kidnapper was in our home (and of course the husband is traveling for his work, so I was alone in the house–this clearly only amplified the fear), I jumped out of bed. I didn’t even bother with my glasses, which in retrospect was fucking stupid because what if I was going to be asked to describe the perpetrator? I am blind. Like severely blind. My contact lens prescription is a -9.0. I take my glasses off and colors merge into one another. It’s madness.

I went into Mini-One Mean’s room. I held my kiddo in my arms and could feel Mini shaking. Mini is generally pretty fearless so the shaking made me nervous. I grabbed Mini’s favorite stuffed animal and blankets and marched back to my bedroom. The bed had extra space given Mr. One Mean was traveling. I generally do not believe in co-sleeping. I am not going to get into it here. This isn’t a Mommy Blog. I think it if works for your family that’s great. It’s not for me or my husband. As a result of our no co-sleeping policy, Mini-One Mean does not get into our bed at night. Last night was an exception.

The shaking got to me, and I caved. I let Mini calm down and then the child was returned to the crib. As we lay together, Mini-One Mean–who has recently begun to call me Momma, which I don’t love (I’m a fan of Mommy as a name), chatted me up. At one point, “Give Mini a kiss” was uttered and my mother heart melted. I had to be firm and so I reminded Mini it was time for sleeping.

Turns out the child thought there were spiders in the crib. Once I had convinced Mini-One Mean there were no spiders, all was good.

An hour passed between the initial crying and my return to an empty bed. Of course, I was unable to sleep so I picked up my cell phone and began to peruse social media. It was then that I saw the shooting in Dallas was occurring. Mini had woken me up as the trauma was starting, startled by something scary.

Earlier that day, I had seen something on Facebook or heard something on the radio–I can’t recall where I heard it–about being afraid to go to sleep for fear that he or she would wake up to more violence–and there it was on my little screen. More violence.

I’m not going to use this space to get political. Though is this really political? It shouldn’t be. Still, the violence of this week has been politicized, which is maddening. So many lives are being lost senselessly, and my social media feeds are filled with ignorance and rage.

When I had my daily text chat with the husband, I confessed my inability to focus on job applications and writing.

“I cannot concentrate today.”

“Why?”

“Slept like shit.” I told him about our kid not sleeping and continued, “Then the news…” I couldn’t really type. I explained my being upset over the violence and didn’t get a response. I’m sure the Husband wasn’t sure how to respond.

It reminded me of when the Paris shootings happened in November. I sat in front of the TV staring at the news. I did the same today. I just sat there (both times) crying. When I got in the car to pick up Mini-One Mean from daycare today, I cried the entire drive to the school–it’s a 30 minute drive. I had to gather myself before going into the building.

While I’m not part of either community whose been under attack this week, the violence is too much. Two weeks before there was the massacre in Orlando, and that was too much too. For the past month, it seems me (and the rest of the country) keeps waking up to horrifying news of violence. Human on Human killings.

Enough.

As nighttime approaches, I now echo the same fear that I heard the night before. I don’t want to go to sleep only to wake up to more violence. What’s even more wild is that I feel guilty for being upset. I think about how lucky I am that generally I’m safe pretty much every where I go–except maybe work because let’s face it, school shootings are a reality in this country. I can go to church or the grocery store or the mall and for the most part, I am not concerned about my safety. It’s a non-issue. Meanwhile, around the world people are trying to escape war. In my own country, there are groups of people who do fear for their lives. This is not okay. It has to stop.

I almost kept Mini-One Mean home today. I debated spending the day playing and hearing Mini’s little voice around the house while I folded clothes. It felt selfish to keep the kid home given the today the school had water play, which is like every kid’s favorite thing ever. I was grateful for the hour we spent snuggled together as I soothed Mini, assuring there were no spiders in the crib. “Spiders are good. They eat mosquitos,” my child whispered back to me.

 

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Cobwebs Away

I know it’s been almost a year, but here I am alive and well. 

After my mother passed away, things got crazy. There have a been many big changes in my life that I’m not quite ready to discuss here, although I am still teaching at the same oppressive school (in case you’re wondering).

 I’ve been in a major writing rut since about May, and after some very jarring words, I’ve decided it’s time to get refocused. Time to prioritize. Time to write. For real. 

This may sound terrible, but I’ve been wanting to write a memoir for about 5 years but didn’t feel comfortable writing it with my mother being alive. I don’t know what will happen when I really start writing it, but I know that I wouldn’t have been able to stomach her reading it. What’s even more depressing is that now I don’t have an excuse to not write it. The excuse was always that she might read it. Even though she died almost a year ago, the not writing it has seemed to keep her alive. Once I really get started, it will be another confirmation that she is dead. 

There have been small things that on a regular basis remind me of the permanence of her death. Before she died, she and my dad brought me some food from home that I can’t get where I live, and I had frozen some of it and when I finally decided to eat it, it was irreplaceable because she wouldn’t be able to bring me more. Or going through her clothes with my sisters and realizing she’d never wear them again. Bringing those clothes home and storing them, going through them again and smelling her scent on them. Listening to old voicemails over and over and over again. I have a voicemail from her from years ago, and it’s about 10 seconds long. All it says is, “Hi [insert my name here], it’s Mommy. I love you.” Writing the memoir will only resurface the pain that the voicemail does, or her clothes do. Except, I think that the longer I make excuses not to write it, the easier it becomes to abandon the storyteller in me.

Here’s the thing, the mega-Catholic in me has this weird fear that her spirit will read it. I know that it sounds crazy, but I swear this thought has occurred to me. I’ve even debated fictionalizing it, so no one can get pissed. I would prefer, however, to write the story in my own voice and not in the voice of some fictitious version of myself.

Thankfully, Husband is always around to remind me that I’m not writing for anyone but me. This is a challenge as I’m so insecure and worry deeply about what others think of me. I also worry that my memoir will focus too much on Black Sheep sister and not really be my memoir. I’m not sure how to combat this. 

Writing it and seeing where it goes might not be a bad idea.

Starting a big writing project is always scary. I think that’s why I’ve been putting it off for so long. 

In the meantime, I’ll be warming up here again. 

I hope the cobwebs clear soon.

 

 

The Tale of the Overly Horny Teenagers

This isn’t my first time teaching high school. My first teaching gig was high school, I taught seniors and freshman and for the most part liked it enough to decide that teaching was the right career choice for me. The right choice to enable me time to write and still have meaningful, and stimulating conversation almost regularly.

While, I love teaching college, unfortunately I need to graduate with my MFA in order to get a permanent teaching job. I’m hoping that I get to do this in the fall. This past week has been a reminder to me about my goals, my ambitions, and what is right for me as both a writer and teacher.

Don’t get me wrong, I have good kids, and I’m teaching American Literature which means I’m teaching some really really great stuff. The teacher I took over for, I believe, did not have her whole heart in teaching which would explain why she left in the middle of the year. I teach three classes, one of the classes is great. The students are well-behaved and quiet. They let me teach, rarely talk over me–they are a teacher’s dream. My other two classes are not so lovely, and while it is partly because the students all seem to be friends both classes have one student who are such distractions that I’m not quite sure what to do with them.

Now, I’m a young female teacher. I’m in my mid twenties and while I’m not super thin, I’m not fat either. I dress professionally and I’m a goof. For some reason, these two boy students think I’m some gorgeous goddess and are constantly hitting on me while I’m trying to teach. It’s not flattering, it’s annoying. They are rude, and I’m concerned their behavior will get me into trouble.

Yes, yes, yes I’ve told them about how inappropriate they are being and have told them how unethical and unprofessional it is for students and teachers to have romantic relationships. I’ve also told them that hell could freeze over, and the Pope could come visit me in his fabulous Prada shoes and I still would not date them.  Never, not in a million years. Never ever ever, so stop asking.

I will admit, it was slightly comical on the first day. I tried knocking them down which resulted in other students reminding these rude students that their teacher had “burned” them and “oh snap! our teacher don’t play!” Day two, I reminded them that they were being inappropriate and rude. “No, I will not be your facebook friend. I’m not your friend I’m your teacher. Also, I don’t like you.” After THREE friend requests from the same student I changed my privacy settings so that only my friends could find me and subsequently blocked this student and reported them to facebook.

Days three and four I thought ignoring them would end the problem. It did not. By Friday, I reminded them of the ethical issues, called and emailed their parents and alerted adminstration.

There are a few things that bother me about this situation. The first is that I’m being sexually harassed by seventeen year old boys. I refuse to be a victim to this. I do not dress inappropriately, and do not discuss topics in my classroom that would warrant any advances from my students. This is flat-out abuse and I will not tolerate it. I have no problem asking adminstration to switch them out of my classroom.

The second thing that bothers me is that they are disrupting the learning of the other students. This is also unacceptable. The students are there to learn, and I am there to teach them. This rude harassment is preventing me from doing my job at one hundred percent. This is not acceptable.

Finally, this behavior is not acceptable for boys who wish to contribute to society and eventually date–if they aren’t already–girls. No woman should be treated like this, regardless of if they are the teacher, or an innocent girl at a bar. The constant pushing by these boys is not okay. If a girl says, “no I don’t want to be with you,” the boy shouldn’t keep asking over and over again. They must move on. In the instance with the facebook friending–it is flat-out stalking which is illegal. High school is the age when boys and girls are supposed to learn how to treat each other when it comes to dating and things like that, and these boys are tormentors, abusers, and it should not and will not be tolerated.

I discussed this issue I was having in my classroom with my best friend, who is a high school teacher as well. She was shocked by the consistent behavior and was surprised the other students in the class were letting it go on. She said it was one thing for it to happen for two days but the fact that it was blatant and continuing was a red flag. 

Her saying this made me think of being in high school, while my class never had a young good-looking female teacher, I know the boys in my class would not have allowed any boys to be so rude to a woman. It would have been an issue that would have been self-regulated by the students. It makes me wonder if young boys have become too aggressive when it comes to advances towards girls. If this is the case, I’m pretty sure the crap kids watch on tv is partly to blame.

I may use this situation as a teaching moment to show the boys that treating women like objects and harassing them is not the way to get a girl to like you; sexual harassment is illegal.

One of my deepest concerns is that these boys will start some horrible rumor that insinuates some kind of inappropriate relationship between the teacher (me) and the student. While, of course, this is not going on, students can be cruel and I’m concerned for my career. I’ve worked too hard and long to have my professional reputation put at risk because of two horny seventeen year olds.

I’m hoping the harassment stops once the parents and adminstration get involved.

I will say this week has been eye-opening, and has given me a lot of motivation to graduate this summer. Can’t wait!

The Fear of Poetry

A year ago I was teaching high school seniors about poetry. I had recently graduated from college and let me tell you I was scared to death of poetry. I had never written it (except of course maybe in high school as a lame sauce assignment).I didn’t understand it despite how hard I tried. The fear had taken over and I had basically ignored the existance of poetry. That’s right, the English major ignored poetry.

Well, when it came time to teach my seniors I realized it was time to face my fear. I wasn’t about to destroyed by some sonnet. So I worked hard and my students worked hard and you know what? Together as a team I think we conquered poetry. My students too were afraid, as I had once been at their age but we busted ass together and I would say a good sixty-five percent of them got over their fear. They were writing beautiful essays about meaning and symbolism and form and it was great! I thought…

Now here I am a grad student studying creative writing and I thought my poetry fear was over. Oh no, instead it has come back and bitten me square in the behind. I’m currently taking a poetry workshop and today I have to submit my first poem. Let me tell how much I’m freaking out…a lot, tons, Oh MY GOD!!

I had a weird incident about a month ago where I had had the best run of my life and decided I would write a poem about it. What? I know for someone who is definitely a prose person I was surprised, but I wrote a poem. Is it any good? Heck if I know, but nevertheless there it is saved on my computer and I’ve done some revision and even wrote another poem the other day but I have this horrible fear (and I think this is the real fear) that I’m going to turn poems into my workshop and they will be so badly received. Or worse they will suck.

I’ve been studying literature and writing for a while now and you know I still can’t decided what makes a poem good. I taught the important people in poetry (Wordsworth, Dickinson, Keats, Browning, Plath etc…) but you know what? I couldn’t tell why those poems were good.

So today I go into my workshop with my copies for everyone and send my work out. I guess that’s what this whole grad school thing is about as well, facing that fear of “you suck and aren’t talented, maybe you should go work the projector at the movie theater.” So I guess come time for class my mantra will be, “here goes nothin’!”