Rainey Daze and Crazy Nights

Poetry, Paintings, and Ponderings: Through My Eyes

Unicorns and Tree Spirits October 28, 2013

unicorns

unicorns (Photo credit: Martyn and Debz)

 

I once believed in endless possibilities. Anything, absolutely ANYTHING, was possible. The world was a wondrous place, and I believed it all.

 

In my mind, Unicorns were real. It didn’t matter that my mom told me otherwise. She even pulled out the encyclopedia (this big set of books we used to have before Google) and proved it to me. But I didn’t believe her. Deep down inside, I just knew that one day I would catch a glimpse of this magical creature. I daydreamed about them for hours at a time, imagining our adventures together.

 

There were other things I believed in with the certainty that only a child with a grand imagination could. Pegasus was real and flying around when we were not looking. Characters in books were more than characters. They stepped off the pages and lived real lives. I believed in tree spirits. As a young child I often played, alone, under the boughs of the many trees in my backyard. They seemed to have distinctly different personalities: some were loving and gentle, while others where playful and mischievous. It was all perfectly logical to me.

 

Some of my certain beliefs were not cute or sweet. I believed in horrible monsters who hid in dark corners and waited for wandering little girls. I believed a creature lived under my bed at night. Evil: pure, unadulterated evil, lived and breathed in my world. I could feel it and see it, just out of the corner of my eye…I didn’t know until later that real evil lurked in some people I knew, and the dark corners would one day be my refuge…

 

Somewhere along the way I lost that belief in endless possibilities. When did it happen? Was it a gradual death that took place over a long period as I traded Barbie dolls and toy cars for long-haired boys and beer? Or did it happen suddenly, a lost innocence that occurred like a sharp intake of my breath when I met real evil? I’m not sure when or how it happened, but I do know I cannot go back.

 

I miss unicorns and tree spirits. I miss those times of simple faith. Believing is not easy at all for me anymore.

 

 

Firsts May 11, 2013

It takes guts to try something you’ve never done before. When I think back to many “firsts” in my life, I can still feel the butterflies in the pit of my stomach.

 

My first bicycle ride without training wheels: My sweaty palms gripped the handlebars of my banana seat Schwinn as I pushed off the pavement in my sneakers. My dad had his hand firmly on the sissy bar, so I started off well. The moment I sensed his hand let go I began to wobble. The front wheel jerked back and forth as though it were having a seizure, and my heart nearly pounded out of my chest. I had no control over the direction it took and in seconds the row of mailboxes loomed in front of me. I heard screams of “Hit the brake” but my legs were frozen and unable to respond. CRASH! My first ride ended in tears and bandages. Learning to ride was put off until I could lick my wounds and heal my pride.

 

My first time teaching my own class: I am not going to lie; the first day I was alone in my classroom I cried with joy. It took me seven long years to get my teaching degree, and it was the hardest thing I ever accomplished. I was proud and overwhelmed to finally be there, in MY classroom. Nerves drove me to dive in and prepare the bare room for my 24 students. Books were labeled, shelves were filled, and bright bulletin boards were assembled while the butterflies danced so hard in my stomach that I couldn’t even eat. I bet I rearranged 50 times before the first day of school! When my students walked in on that first day, all my nervousness disappeared. I knew I was right where I belonged. I stepped to the front of the class and began teaching.

 

My first pregnancy: Unless you have experienced this firsthand, you can only try to imagine. Having a life, a real, tiny human, growing inside of you is beyond anything else in this world. My nerves were at times so bad I would shake. Other times I felt confident that I would be a good mother. As my belly grew, I became more afraid. I was terrified I would do something that would damage this wondrous little piece of perfection. After giving birth, I held my body so tightly clenched the nurse kept telling me to relax. It was weeks before I finally gained some confidence and began to enjoy my baby girl.

 

Firsts can be scary, but trying new things or doing something for the very first time makes you feel more alive. Even if you fail, you gain from the experience of trying. I haven’t had any firsts or new things in a while, so maybe that’s what I need. I need to find a good, worthwhile “first” to try. It’s time to shake things up…

 

English: A Schwinn banana seat with sissy bar,...

English: A Schwinn banana seat with sissy bar, bobbed fender, and slick, square-profile tire, on a bicycle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Too Much Suffering February 20, 2013

She is running. J is never home these days, and when she is it is not for long. She is frantic. Her speech is like verbal garbage falling from her mouth. Her eyes are huge and she barely blinks. She is the walking poster child for mania.

It doesn’t help that she just got paid and her tax money is due any time now. For J, money and mania is as deadly as drinking and driving. I’ve talked to her already and she sees the signs. But how do you pull back? How do you stop the freight train that is flying down the track without any brakes? The doctors never really answer that question. How do I sit and watch the accident unfold? All I can do is warn her, but when she is in this state it doesn’t stop until…well, you know.

Depression. The evil twin of mania. It will slow her speech, stop her traveling, and halt her spending. Each time, I pray it doesn’t take her life. And, if I am being truthful, I pray it doesn’t take my life. Every time I watch her go through this, I die. I rage against a God, or Gods, or just the fucking universe, for doing this to her. Yeah, I’ve heard it before: there is a reason for everything. I have to say, I don’t see a reason for this suffering she must endure. I don’t want to know that there is an all-powerful BEING who would allow the agony I have witnessed. For that matter, what type of glorious  GOD would allow me to be molested at the age of four? Or gang raped as a teenager?

Sorry, I got carried away. I’ve seen too much suffering lately. I sat in the hallway today as a nine-year old described her home life. She lives with eleven other people, all but one older than she. They make her fist fight her eight-year old brother because they think it is funny. She had a busted lip. I’m pretty sure she’s been molested, but I cannot get her to admit it yet. Another child was so hungry he was literally shoving food into his mouth like some sort of caveman. This was on Tuesday, right after we returned from a three-day weekend. I wonder if he had eaten at all since school on Friday.

There is so much pain with our young people. They don’t deserve this kind of life. My daughter is a good, decent person. She doesn’t deserve the pain she deals with every day. The children I see at school are too young to deal with the adult issues they must deal with daily.

My heart hurts today. I’m having trouble seeing the beauty in this world when all I see is immense pain and suffering of our children.

 

An Angry Child February 12, 2013

Hot, pulsing anger pushes her

flows from her fingertips

like bolts of lightning.

She wears a daily  mask

of hatred and apathy

so no one can guess her reality.

But, if you look closely

you might glimpse in her eyes

the scared little girl inside…

Eight in years but thirty-eight in her soul

too wise for her young age

too broken to still be a child.

Beatings routinely rain down on her

a small punching bag for mom

rape is her unwelcome companion.

She knows only searing pain and hate

lashing out at school because

love and caring are foreigners.

All she really wants, all she really needs

is someone to see; someone to care;

someone to save her.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Do February 3, 2013

I’m enjoying a quiet weekend. There is much work to be done, but, as usual here lately, I am content to do just enough to get by. I hope my energy and motivation returns again one day. Until then, I will do what I feel able to do.

Maybe it’s because I am such a go-getter at work that I have nothing left when I get home. My job is very demanding and the hours are usually long. The funny thing is, I have no problems keeping up with the demands I have at work. I have decided to share what I do. For years, I was a teacher. Then last year I took on a new role in the education system. let me explain what I do at work.

I work in an elementary school. I oversee and support 26 teachers. My job is hard to explain because I do so many things. I train teachers in any and all new teaching concepts. I oversee a huge testing program and make sure it is completed on time and correctly. I often test the students myself. When the county or state decides to drop by for a site visit,I must walk with them through each class and listen as they point out all that is right or (more often) wrong.  The principal and I must answer for anything that is not done correctly in the classrooms. I am the “go-to” person for any and all needed materials used for teaching. I am also the “go-to” when teachers need to vent or have difficulty of some sort. I run after school tutoring for selected students. I go into classrooms and teach demo-lessons or co-teach lessons with the classroom teacher. I evaluate teachers and give them feedback on how to improve. I also provide support by assisting with students who have discipline problems.

I work in a school that has major discipline problems. We have some kids in the upper grades in gangs. Lower grades often deal with students who throw chairs, scream, kick, and swear at the top of their lungs. The hell these kids live in would produce nightmares in you for years.

Here is a typical day for me:

7:00 I arrive at school, click on my laptop, and quickly gather needed books for 1st grade. I clip on my walkie-talkie and deliver the books.

7:10 Time to report for morning duty: meet and greet. It is important to greet students when they enter: for some, it is the first “nice” they hear in the mornings.

7:30 Go to my office and check email and text messages. This is how teachers let me know if they need supplies or help. While there, 3 different teachers stop by. One needs supplies. The other two need my advice.

7:40 Deliver needed materials to 4th grade. Stop in to see Bob, one of several students with which I seem to have a special bond. He is doing fine, so I move on. I check on Delia next, a first grader who is often thrown out of class for being disruptive. She is screaming and hitting the assistant, who is trying to remove her from the room. I squat beside Delia and talk in a soft but firm voice. She has to get quiet to hear me. Delia knows I will not put my hands on her; I repeatedly ask her to calm down, take my hand and go to my office with me. She puts on a show for another minute before she takes my hand and walks with me. We sit in my office and discuss whatever set her off, and how she needs to make better choices. Delia has anger issues; but so would I if my dad had been shot and killed 4 months ago and I was taken from my mom because she was too coked out to care for me. I walk Delia back to class just as I get called to a 3rd grade class.

8:45 Go to the 3rd grade class. We have a long-term sub in this room because the teacher resigned at Christmas. When I arrive, she is in tears and yelling at the kids because they will not follow directions. I spend much time in this class because of the sub, and because these kids need me. I take over teaching and get the students back on track. The assistant comes in to help me and we get the kids rolling again. The kids in this room love me because I give them structure, I listen to them, and I don’t abandon them. They feel abandoned by the teacher who quit. Many have been abandoned by their own parents, so it is a big issue for them. I make sure to spend time with them daily.

10:30 The 3rd grade goes to art, so I go back to my office. I have two students I need to test; one in kindergarten and the other in second grade. I test each of them. While testing, Michael stops by to see me. He is a first grader who saw his dad stick his sister’s legs in boiling water because he was angry with her. Michael stops to see me 4-5 times a day, every day. I hug him and he is on his way back to class. Then Brandon is brought to me. Brandon is in kindergarten and has thrown a chair at his teacher. He sits with me to cool down. We talk. The teacher has called mom, and she says she is on the way. She never comes. I send Brandon back to class after he calms down and apologizes for his behavior.

11:30 I meet with the principal.  She is someone I truly respect and admire. She has her hands full at this school, so we often meet as a team to see what needs to be done to accomplish needed goals. We discuss problem areas and possible solutions. She has several items for me to take care of, so off I go. I see Angel, a girl who was suspended for swinging at her teacher, sitting in the office. Her parent sent her to school anyway because she had to go to work. As I am leaving, I get two text messages. One is from my daughter, J, letting me know she is having a good day. (Sigh of relief). The other is from a 5th grade teacher who needs to see me after school. I reply okay.

12:30 I stop in and co-teach a 4th grade math lesson. We have a first year teacher in this room who needs much support. The kids are often off task, so I give them plenty of chances to talk and move during the lesson on comparing fractions. Bob is in this room, so I make sure he is engaged. I have given him a small piece of putty to hold in his pocket. He has trouble focusing and needs to “fidget”, so playing with this in his pocket helps to keep him out of trouble. It seems to be working today.

1:30 As I leave that class, another 4th grade teacher stops me. They team is having trouble and need to meet with me after school. I make arrangements. Then my walkie-talkie calls my name. It is the office, letting me know a delivery of supplies is in. I tell them to send it to my office and I will deal with it later. I don’t even know what it is. Back in my office, I grab my lunch and eat while checking email. I have 10 emails, 5 of which require a response from me. I take care of these while eating.

1:40 Rashad comes in for a quick hug. He is in 1st grade and has much trouble with behavior. He informs me that he has been good today. We have an arrangement that he gets a treat if he can be good all day. I tell him to keep it up.

1:45 I have stacks of books and supplies that need to be organized, so I take time to work on that. While working, 5 staff members come by for various reasons.I talk and continue organizing.

2:15 Time for afternoon dismissal. Rashad earned his treat, so he stops by. Afterwards, I help load children into the appropriate bus or car, and chaos becomes quiet.

2:20 Time for the staff meeting. The principal opens the meeting. When she completes her part, I step in. My teachers are having trouble teaching math, so I show them some ways to do it correctly. Most are grateful for my advice. Some seem beaten down and unresponsive. We are still working on staff moral.

3:30 The meeting is over, but I am still talking with a core group of teachers who have questions and need more time with me.

3:50 I meet with the 5th grade teachers. They are having trouble with a lesson in reading. so I discuss it with them and we find a solution.

4:45 I walk back to my office. Many teachers are gone, but some are still in the building. A 4th grade teacher is waiting for me. She is upset with her team and needs my advice. Just as we are finishing up, a 3rd grade teacher comes by needing my help. Soon after, a 1st grade teacher comes in. Before long, my office is filled and we just have a much-needed gab session to relieve the tensions of the day. Sometimes we cry, but more often we laugh.

5:30 I pack my laptop and needed papers. I am usually worn out by this time.

So, you see, I often don’t have much left to give when I get home. So if I choose to let a few things go right now, I’m alright with that. There’s always tomorrow.

 

Simple, Sweet, Pure and Clean January 15, 2013

Once…

life was simple, sweet,

pure and clean.

seemingly infinite days of summer brought

sun-burnt noses, pony-tailed hair,

skinned knees and rosy freckles

sprinkled on tan faces.

Friendships

born and cementedMoonlight

over grilled cheese sandwiches,

soda pop on back steps,

energetic backyard baseball,

and rainy day marathons

of Monopoly and Clue.

Glowing flashes of yellow fireflies,

streetlights illuminating the dusk,

and hide-n-go-seek

brought the golden days to an end

when

life was simple, sweet,

pure and clean.

 

 

Betty Sue and the Explosion of Colors: A Bipolar Fairy Tale January 13, 2013

Once upon a time there lived a little girl named Betty Sue. Betty Sue lived in a small village in the Kingdom of Nomia with her mother and father. Her parents ran a small shop on the corner of King Street and Prince Way. There they made an honest and decent living selling milk, hand-woven cloth, peacock feathers, and other necessities of life.

Betty Sue was a lucky girl. Her parents loved her and gave her all the things a young girl desired. She had her own bedroom decorated in black and white zebra stripes with accents of pink and green. She wore the latest fashionable clothing. Betty Sue even had her very own unicorn with a sparkly pink horn! Betty Sue’s parents doted on her and made sure she had all she would ever need.

Betty Sue was incredibly happy and energetic.  She excelled in her studies (she did very well in Dragons 101), she dominated in jousting, sang like an angel, delighted in eating a hearty meal, and glided through life with seemingly little effort. Most importantly, when Betty Sue looked at the world with her big green eyes, she saw the world in an exciting and vivid explosion of color that no one else seemed to see. It was amazing, exciting and beautiful!

Those times were the happiest of her life, but for some unknown reason, she suddenly changed. Betty Sue felt dull inside. The beautiful, colorful world around her suddenly turned to gray. The delight she usually felt in her accomplishments sputtered until -POOF- it was gone. She lost her appetite. All she wanted to do was sleep and let the dull, gray world go by without her.

Her parents were naturally concerned. They took Betty Sue to the family doctor. He checked her temperature and looked at her tonsils. After much muttering about, he declared she was fine. The doctor was a good man, but thought Betty Sue was just being a dramatic little girl to get attention. He informed her parents that she needed more of their time and she would be back to normal.

Betty Sue went home with her parents that day and nothing changed. Her parents gave her even more attention than before, but Betty Sue did not care. Her dad bought her a rainbow, but all Betty Sue could see were dull shades of gray. Her mom created a fairy garden for her, where they could work side by side and grow toadstool houses for all kinds of fairies and pixies, but Betty Sue would not even come out to see it.

After a few more days, Betty Sue started feeling better. The colors came back into the world, just as bright and vivid as before. She came out of her dungeon for the first time in days. Betty Sue joined her parents at the dining hall table and enjoyed eating mush again. Back to school she went, showing delight in all that she did, just as before. Her parents were happy to see the doctor was correct and all she needed was a little more attention.

However, it wasn’t long before it happened again. Everyone who knew Betty Sue became puzzled by her bizarre behavior. This girl had it all; why did she seem so sad all of a sudden? Her parents were even more concerned than before. This time, they took her to the Wise Woman.

The Wise Woman lived on the outskirts of the Kingdom. She was considered a witch of sorts, but not a bad one. Still, she was a little scary to the people in the village, so they left her alone unless they needed her. She lived in a little cottage surrounded by a strange garden. Most people in the Kingdom had gardens, but none like the Wise Woman’s. Her garden consisted of unknown trees, bushes, and herbs. Some glowed with an eerie blue or yellow glow; others looked as if they watched and followed your movements as you passed by. It was said that she used these strange plants in her magical potions. These potions could cure the ills that all others could not. For that reason, Betty Sue’s parents took her there one afternoon.

The Wise Woman took one look into Betty Sue’s dull, flat eyes and knew she could help, but also knew it came with a price. She explained to Betty Sue’s parents that she could help, but what it would cost. They did not care as long as Betty Sue could be normal again. Muttering and shuffling her feet, she motioned for Betty Sue to follow her into the cottage. Inside, she pulled various jars from a shelf and dumped the contents into a large boiling cauldron. She stirred it exactly three times, then scooped a spoonful out and poured it into a wooden bowl.

“Drink!” she whispered. Betty Sue gazed with uncaring eyes and did as she was told. The liquid seemed to disappear on her tongue and tasted faintly of silver. Betty Sue looked down at the floor. As usual, everything around her was gray. Suddenly, she felt a tingling in her toes. She lifted up her skirt to see what was happening and she watched, with amazement, as her toes filled with color. She could see the sparkle of her toe polish. Betty Sue watched as the color began to slowly fill in all around her. It was like watching a child color the world. She danced and clapped her hands together with delight as her world became colorful once again.

Her parents cried with relief. They paid the Wise Woman and went merrily on their way. All the way home, Betty Sue marveled at the beauty of the Kingdom.

Betty Sue never saw gray again. But, just as the Wise Woman had explained, she never saw the explosion of colors she once saw. She saw the ordinary colors that everyone else saw. Betty Sue never again sang like an angel; she just sang like any ordinary girl. She enjoyed eating, but did not find the pleasure she once knew. Betty Sue lost the gray, but she lost the brightest colors, too.

One afternoon after her studies, Betty Sue ventured to the edge of the Kingdom. She saw the cottage in the distance and hastened her footsteps. As she approached the gate leading into the curious garden, Betty Sue saw the Wise Woman standing on the porch watching her. The Wise Woman whispered, “I knew you’d be back.” Then she turned and shuffled inside. Betty Sue quickly raced up the path and followed her. Without saying a word, the Wise Woman held out a cup filled with an oily liquid. Betty Sue gulped it down. This time it tasted sweet and sticky like a summer day. Her eyes thanked the Wise Woman and she left without a word.

Betty Sue was delighted to see explosions of colors in the Kingdom again. But she also knew that with the colors came the gray. Betty Sue decided, on that very day, that she would rather be herself, both colorful and gray. She knew the gray days would make the colorful days even better. She walked back toward the village and lived (mostly) happily ever after.

Color your World

Color your World (Photo credit: Michelle Brea)

 

The Perfect Christmas Tree December 6, 2012

He stood outside the window and admired the twinkling lights and shiny decorations that adorned the tree. The brightly colored lights flashed on and off and cast reflections of green, red, blue, and yellow against the dark green evergreen branches. The boy loved that the tree was real, not one of the fake ones he saw in all the stores. The branches displayed a variety of ornaments, all unique and unmatched. That’s the way it should be, he thought. A Christmas tree holds memories of all Christmas’ past, with new memories added each year. This tree was the definitely the best

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

English: A Christmas Tree at Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tree ever.

His eyes drifted from the tree to the presents beneath. His breath caught in his throat as he imagined ripping into the packages in the early hours of Christmas morning, with his mom and dad looking on with sleepy eyes and faint smiles. I wonder what is in the big one in the back, he thought. Perhaps it’s a football. Maybe it is a pair of cool tennis shoes. His mind began to reel with the idea of the many things it might be, and how it would feel to rip open the box.

“What the hell are you doing, boy?” Startled from his thoughts, he looked up to see an angry middle-aged man bearing down on him. The boy felt rooted to the ground where he stood outside.

“Planning on stealing from me? Hell no, you will not! I will teach you a lesson you will never forget!” The man stepped from the door and marched toward him. In his hand he held a wooden baseball bat. That sight motivated the boy to move. He took off running in the opposite direction of the threatening man. Never daring to look back, he ran down the middle of the road without stopping until his sides ached and felt ready to split open. Only then did he look back and finally stop. Tears were streaming down his face as he gulped in the cold air. The boy leaned against the lamppost until his breathing returned to normal. He continued walking slowly down the street until he could see the neon lights of the burger restaurant glowing in the distance. Right before the parking lot of the restaurant he looked around to make sure no one saw him before he ducked underneath the rusting chain length fence that surrounded a dilapidated building. The building used to be a factory. Now it was his home.

When he stepped inside the dank building he heard his mom right before her hand came down across his face.

“Where you been?” she hissed through clenched lips. “I been worried sick about you!” The boy hung his head and didn’t even try to explain. How do you say that you were standing in someone’s front yard, wishing and dreaming that you could be someone, anyone, other than who you are?

Just as quickly as she slapped him, his mother grabbed him and held him tightly in a hug. “I jus’ worry ’bout you, you know? Anyway, I found some pretty good leftovers next door. Let’s go have some supper.” The boy untangled from her hug and walked deeper into the building. It was time for supper.

 

Survivor November 26, 2012

Child sexual abuse effects and INFECTS too many lives. It changes the normal path of thinking when a child has to deal with the conflicting feelings that arise.

I was abused more than once. I suffered the guilt, the pain, the shame. I still feel it when it rises up in the middle of the night and threatens to choke me. It is decades later, and I still feel it.

But I survived. I am still here, and I am fighting.

Why? Because after all of this time, I am slowly beginning to think I might be worth it.

A Self-Portrait

 

Different July 4, 2012

There once was a girl who had everything she needed. She had a mother and father who loved her. She lived in a nice house in suburbia with her parents, brother, sister, and dog. She had many friends to play with in the neighborhood. This girl had everything, and yet she felt different. She was an average looking girl, but she always felt ugly. Because she felt different inside she learned to hide her feelings and true thoughts at a very young age.
This girl grew up and became a young woman. She had strange new feelings and began to drink and do drugs. She still felt different, as if no one would ever understand her. She tried to fit in with first one group, then another, but never felt herself.
This young woman grew up and became a mother. She tried her best to be a good mother, but it was so hard. She still felt different and by this time unlovable. She sometimes felt so incomplete she just wanted to run away or die.  She still felt unhappy and different.
~
I wish this story had a happy ending. I don’t know yet, though, because I am still living it. Maybe, one day, she will fit in, feel lovable, and find out it’s okay to be different.