Monday, September 28, 2009

My Dream Life Part 7

Chapter 6
“Uncle Shawn!” The muffled cry blasts through the door as my niece tries to unlock the 84 locks my paranoid sister has installed on the door. There have been many times I have told her those locks would more likely end lives rather than save them. If they ever needed to get out quickly they wouldn’t be able too. She watches a lot of CSI type shows and that, unfortunately, has shaped her world view. It has gotten to the point that the argument was no longer worth having.
“Gabby! Move away from the door so I can let your uncle in.” My sister’s voice travels through the door almost like she has nothing between us. She has always been loud.
When the door finally opens, a Gabby bolt shoots out of the opening. She wraps herself around me so tightly that someone might thing she is a symbiotic parasite.
“Hi Gabby! How are you?” I ask. She launches into a long litany of things she has done since my last visit. I smile at her, nod at the appropriate places, act surprised and laugh at her train of thought delivery. Her conversation is peppered with a lot of “Guess what?” and an exceedingly liberal amount of ums. Her mother gives me a sympathetic shrug and I wave it off. I like listening to my niece’s oddly tacked together stories. It makes me happy.
She gives me a small break when she runs off to find a new doll she has acquired. That is when my sister’s interrogation starts. Someone not keen to my sister’s way of uncovering the truth would mistake her questions for friendly small talk. At first it is all filled with safe topics but she is merely building her case; slowly getting to the truth. She knows my visit is not just because I had some time off scheduled.
It has been 6 weeks since that letter appeared in my dreams and nothing has happened since. I am not even sure if I dream anymore. I lay down and the next thing I am aware of is the sound of my alarm clock. The missing dreams were bothering me a lot and soon my irritation and frustration began to bleed into other parts of my life. My work “suggested” I take a vacation for a little while. I decided to take their request as an excuse to see my sister and her daughter. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do. I was uncertain now as I sat under my sister’s penetrating gaze.
“How is Jen? You two are still an item aren’t you?” How had we progressed to this question so quickly? She hadn’t even started off slowly, she had simply started right at the heart of things. There was no pretense of conversation this time, merely an interrogation. I looked at the door my niece had gone through; wishing she was back already. She must have become distracted and forgotten the doll I 'had' to see only moments ago.
“Jen’s…… well, she is good. I think.” I hate questions; especially questions about topics I don’t feel like discussing. I know my answer would trigger the “Let’s not talk about it” switch in men. Unfortunately, my sister, no matter how hard she punches, is female. She will not put this topic on the backburner. I prepare to be needled.
She gives me the “Cut the crap” stare but I decided to remain uncooperative. It isn’t so much that I want to avoid the topic as much as I wish I could visit for a while before I have the “state of your relationship” discussion. My sister would have been great during the Spanish Inquisition. I remember watching her make our parents, grandparents, pastors and her teacher squirm during her very determined questioning. She was the kid whose answer to “Later” was “what does later mean to you?”
“Damn it Shawn! Just answer the question! It’s called communication! I talk and you talk; we both talk! So talk!” She snaps.
“Come on Emily! What is happening here has nothing to do with a conversation. You know just as well as I do that when you ask questions that I have to answer, the conversation is one sided. How about you start with “Hi Shawn. How ya doing?” I say in reply. “I’ll even start. You look nice Emily. Is that a new hairstyle?”
“You suddenly become a female Shawn? Am I not concerned enough with your feelings?” She sneers. “By the way, your butt looks huge in those jeans.”
I can’t help but laugh. I have once again lost our sibling battle of wills. “Thanks for humoring me sis. I was just about to ask about my butt and these jeans. As far as Jen goes, It’s over.” I reestablish my battle for control of the conversation because, technically, I told her what was up with Jen and me.
“Seriously? You are refusing to explain? If I put on a pot of coffee and grab some munchies will you freaking talk?” She is just getting started with her lecture but has also started getting the coffee brewing. “You call me a few days ago to ask if you can come visit and here you are, 3 days later. Every other time you gave me a long waiting time. So I know something is up. I look at my single brother and I know he was dating a girl, so I start there. If it is not her, we will move on to a new topic but it is almost always members of the opposite sex that cause trouble like this. You remember when you told me about this chickadee Jen, right?” I nod at her. “What did I tell you?”
“You told me the girl was all wrong for me. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back.”
“Shut up with the moping! Tell the break up story already!”
“Well you remember a few weeks ago that I called up complaining about hating all of her friends?” She nods and makes the rolling motion with her finger to tell me to keep going. “Well I brought up that her friends always seemed to flake out before the bill arrived. She starts going on about how they felt like I didn’t like them and that I kept choosing places they couldn’t afford. The first place they ditched the bill on was having a '2 dollar you call it' well drink special and the second place, the bowling alley, had 5 dollar pitchers. Not exactly bank breakers and we weren’t even doing rounds at the first place. So they were supposed to pay for the drinks that they had. I explained all this to her and I mention that I would have happily went else where had they sugested it. She started freaking out and yelling at me about how inconsiderate I am and how I don't know what it's like to be low on funds. I want to argue and point out most of my 20's were barely above poverty wages but I bite my tongue. After a while I ended up apologizing; just to get her to shut up. So next thing I know we are going to a place that her friends recommend and feel more comfortable at. It looks like a dive bar but none of the drinks are priced below 6.50, meaning it is more expensive then anywhere I had suggested in the past. Once again the bill comes and we are light. I had a beer for 7bucks and that was it but I end up dropping a hundred bucks.”
“Why?” She interrupts.
“Good question. People kept saying they were paying at the bar as they left and suddenly there is a hundred and fifty dollar bill set in front of me and someone Jen works with. He bought a few drinks but maybe 25 bucks is his. He only has 50 bucks in his wallet so he drops it all. He tells me every time he goes out he pays more then he should but has never seen a bill this high. He is upset but not really because he’s known these people for years and is kind of used to it. He usually gets his own bill but decided not to worry this time. Anyway, I am totally pissed and Jen is wasted. She is up at the bar talking to a friend that just showed up from another bar and I know Jen doesn’t have any money. She never has any money. So I pay the damn thing and I am ready to go home. When I go up to collect her she wants to stay a little longer. I tell her that I am not having a good time and would like to just head home. She turns to me and says “Do whatever you want! I could go home with some other guy if I wanted to!” I look at her for a moment while her friend is trying to get her to apologize wile telling me Jen doesn’t mean it and that she will make sure she gets home safely. While this drunk friend is talking I just turn to the bartender, give her money for a cab for the two of them, tell her friend to cab it and not to drive and then I walk off.”
“What happened the next day?” She asks.
“She called me and was upset that I ditched her at the bar. I told her the real story and she stops blaming me for ditching her and starts complaining that I think her friends are dead beats. I told her ‘You better believe it!’ She got more upset and starts on a tirade how I am an elitist. Finally I told her she could save all her anger for someone else because it was over.”
“Ha! Ok… so when did this happen?”
“About 2 weeks ago. It might have affected my state of mind. I was irritable for quite a while the last month and a half because of Jen. Of course if I had to name a specific issue for why I am on a surprise vacation, I would say it is the monotonous job and the lack of sleep. I haven’t been able to get a full night’s sleep in 6 weeks.”

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sho 'nuff!

My friend Betty pointed out that it was time for me to get something new on the blog. She was hoping for more of the dream story but at the moment I am still working on chapter 6. I have been pretty busy with student teaching responsibilities and I have neglected my creative endeavors. The good news is that I have half of chapter 6 written and I am trying o get the second half complete in a manner that moves the story forward in a good way. I am happy to report that I have begun my first Croc comic in over a year. It was neglected for quite a while but I am working on Croc's teaching career. Don't worry.... he will definitely be eating people. I just want you all to know that I am being creative when I get a second to think but most of my seconds are filed with lesson plans, teaching and retarded homework for my university classes. I am working as hard as I can to get another story chapter up here but you will have to be patient. :)

A lot of you have asked questions about my student teaching and I feel that I owe some words to you. My student teaching is taking place in Roseburg, OR. I am working at a school called Hucrest in a 4th and 5th grade blend. Blends are a little crazy because kids need to get certain grade appropriate curriculum. Luckily the teacher I am working with has awesome teaching partners that help him get this done. It does mean a lot of switching for the kids and a lot of the day we don't have our entire homeroom there. We are coping though. I have been teaching 4th grade science since the second week of school. I am responsible for the entire lesson; from knowing what is going on to making sure all the materials are ready. I like working with these kids. They are nice and do a decent job of following directions. I am staying pretty busy making sure I am ready for school with my teaching assignments and lessons.

The university requirements are driving me crazy. That is all I really want to say about it. I do not understand why the state of Oregon requires 2 work samples be done in order to get a teaching certificate. Shouldn't I be more concerned with attaining the teaching experience in a safe environment and less concerned about a huge paper that nobody seems to do anything with? I should go ahead and say that I have a huge issue with busy work. What I have been led to understand is the work samples I am responsible to create do not really change anything. Nobody asks to see them before employing me and the state does not give me feedback on the job I did. Maybe you have no idea what a work sample is..... I should tell you. A work sample starts an an in depth study of the school, community and students I am working with. From there I talk about my plan for teaching, assessments and the lesson I do. Then I give results, of the unit I taught, for the class, a small group and a few specific students. Then I write about why things happened as they did. It is a 100 page P.O.S. that never gets critiqued and does not really get used after the certificate is attained. In fact, the lessons section is a synopsis and not the actual units. I am creating lessons to teach from but I will need to rewrite a narrative of these lesson plans for the paper. I have no problem creating lessons, teaching, and evaluating my progress for my own edification but to put together some polished crap that nobody will pay much attention to kind of makes me want to smack people. Anyone need a good smacking around? I am just saying that these time consuming work samples should be worth something after I get finished. Someone should care about all this work. Otherwise it is one more hoop...

If I could leave the work sample out of the mix I would say that everything is going swimmingly. I like my coordinating teacher and all the teachers I am working with. I like the students. I am enjoying having people to talk to after I get done with my day. I like the chickens and enjoy making up stories about the house bunny. It has not been as terrible to be stuck in Roseburg as I thought it would be. How are you finding yourself? Is your life going well? If not, how can you take steps to change that?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Things I shouldn't say...

Here is a new portion of the blog. If you see this title you will know I am going to say something I wouldn't normally say. I might think it but I would not normally voice it. Here goes!

Last night I popped into a Fred Meyer grocery store to buy some oil for my car and to grab a few snacks for the apartment. As I was walking along, I heard Michael Jackson being played on the store's radio. This was the first time I had ever heard Michael Jackson being pumped throught the speakers of a grocery store. This was new.

That was when I thought, "The best thing that could have happened for Michael Jackson's music was his death."

I am just as tired of hearing about his funeral and death as all of you are. This is not about that. This is about all the "fans" that came out of the woodwork to celebrate his "legacy". He is the top selling artist on iTunes since his death; according to a podcast I listened to called 'Stuff from the B Side'. Some of his albums have sold more copies posthumously then they did when they were new. Did death change how people saw him? Did his death absolve him of the "crimes" that kept these new "fans" from buying his albums while he was alive? Do you become more socially acceptable after your death?

Let's face it... the dude was weird. Now that we have faced it, is his music accetable? I found peace with his weirdness right before I bought his Invincible album. I don't know or care how many surgeries he had. I could care less that he used to hang out with a chimp. I am not even curious who the biological father of his children are. The fact of the matter was and is that I liked his music. I don't have it loaded on my iPod. It is not in regular rotation but when I am reminiscing I like to hear it. I enjoy being surprised by hearing it while I am out. It is not an everyday kind of music for me but it is in my collection.

The reason I found peace and bought a few albums was a chance encounter with some of his songs. I liked them as a child and they make me nostalgic and happy when I hear them now. The thing I had to get over was his molestation cases. What I realised is that I don't know what happened behind closed doors. I will never know. I have made my peace with that... as uneasy as that peace is at times.

I can not wait to see what happens after the backlash, because you know it's coming. The media will take the gloves off eventually. Will all these new Jackson "fans" deny that they ever bought the album?