Wednesday, July 28, 2010

She Wants...

She wants…
and she wants.
She wants to tell you how
the first rehearsal went.
And she wants to share with you
the funny pink ribbon catalog.
She wants to hear you laugh
at the YouTube link.
And she wants to ask you
a question about Shakespeare.
She wants to know
if you speak Russian.
She wants to give you
the gifts she’s had for so long.
She wants to know
what you know.
She wants everything
as long as its free.
And she wants one more
look at you.
She wants
and she wants.
She wants.
But your death
has made it all

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Make someone happy...

Christine C. Schaefer made people happy today.  That's what it's all about, isn't it?

I made my husband happy by listening to him prattle on this morning about his assorted interests--his short story, his recent FaceBook posts, a movie he watched.  I stayed in bed talking instead of jumping up to go about my busy business.

I made a co-worker happy by giving him the morning off.

I made another co-worker happy by coming into the Gallery and spending time with her before I went to the play.

I made four sets of parents and four little girls happy by carting them out to Westfield and back to see a production of "Annie".

I made another little girl and her parents, and her grandmother and her aunt happy by going to see an almost-perfect-stranger in a play.

I made the aunt happy AGAIN by sending a video clip of the niece to her all the way in California.

I made another parent happy by complimenting her child in the show.

I made a little girl happy by paying attention to her new puppy.

I made one of the drama teens laugh until she cried at Wal-Mart.

I made my older son happy by continuing to work on redecorating his room.

I made my younger son happy by finishing his Black Lantern  cape.

Make someone happy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Objective Missingment...Prose into Poem

"See, Cassie?  This is something I would have called him about," she said, locking up the door.  "I mean, he was honestly good at this kind of thing.  And he would never tell me what to think or what to do, but he helped me organize my thinking."  She paused, fussing with that damnably irritatingly touchy lock.  She looked up at Cassie.  "He would have helped me with this and to know what to do.  He would know how to manage this.  And he could have helped."

Later in the day, she stumbled across a photo on FaceBook.  It was of her college roommate's niece, the niece named for the roommate, but someone she had never met.  It was a photo of her--the niece--at the county fair with her llama, and both dressed up like a certain current techno-pop diva.  Oh, but he would have thought that was hilarious.
And later still, when the catalogue of pink ribbon items came, too funny, too funny.  Or the truck hauling the pink ribbon porta-potties.  You've got to be kidding.  The hilarity that would have ensued then.
And the Onion story.
The rumor she heard.
A joyous moment needing to be shared, and he was the best for that.
An argument.
An epiphany.
A lesson she learned.
These things, she misses.  

Wuthering Heights

My eyes flutter open in the dark.  Please.  Please let it be a decent hour.  But no, it's 3 a.m.  Great.  I can lay awake for a couple of hours and just as I feel like falling asleep again, it will be time to get up.

And so, the Summer of Loss and Lamentation continues.  

Heathcliffe, they're all watching me.  Still.  But they don't watch here.  Not with any regularity anyway.  Here is where the prisoner can walk the grounds unencumbered by watchful guards and shackles.  Here is where it can all be poured out.  But there's not much to pour.  

He said 'sorry was not the feeling he got from me'.  No, that doesn't surprise me.  I'm surprised that he got any feeling at all.  I'm amazingly flat line these days.  The amazing and sorrowing things I hear about him register barely a blip on the roller coaster I used to ride.  My daily dose has seen to that.  

Well?  What was I do to?  That Morning came, the one where I couldn't get out of the bed, the one where I began to consider other ways to stop the empty sadness.  I saw it coming from a mile away, like a rogue wave rolling in and I couldn't stop it.  But I've been there before and I could not go there again.  It's not all about me, anymore.  I've got too many people depending on me, too much to lose.  I had to keep walking; I had to.  And so I did something about it.  And the saving was my undoing.

Somehow, he comes up in conversation at least once a day.  And why not?  We are in familiar places,  oft-traversed now-haunted places, we talk of shows past, of funnies of old, of the old one who liked us or at least tolerated us.  And their eyes flick to me.  They watch for the Wince and they get it.  Like a nervous tic.  Or the Brave Lookaway.  I look away from the conversation and try to drag my brain with it.  Otherwise, I start thinking about those times, and fall silent, pondering, my thoughts rolling downhill.  I try to remember promises I made, where it began to go wrong.  But I, who can't find the checkbook, the keys, my phone, can't or won't remember what I've broken.

They watch and they're glad.  You know they are.  Good riddance to bad rubbish is what they're thinking.  They think I'm better off.  They tell me I am.  Am I?  I must be.

One jangled her new bangles in front of another and he said, "Where'd you get those?"  
And she said, "I inherited them." 
And he said, "So the divorce is final, huh?"  

Ha.  Funny guy.  

And another is diligently deleting graffiti, names and signatures, from everything.  She cleaned off something written my desk with the Goo Gone.  "Don't do that!" I said.  "That wasn't a bad thing--it was a good memory."  She was indignant and kept on.  Those are touchstones, I explained.  I want them around.  She was indignant still.

One thing I still have.  One thing he left.  Was it of no value? 
I had a dream that it was gone, that it--like the clothes that still smelled of...Burbury?--was gone.  In the dream, I went to the restaurant and demanded it back....  So when I awoke, I dressed and went straight to the Gallery to make sure it was still there.  It was.  And it still plays music. and Davey Jones listening to music boxes from another era....  I can't find the green bracelet though.  The blue one, I have, but the green one has slipped away.

Like so much else, it slipped away.

I'll pour it out here.  Where no one is watching.  Pour it out until the pitcher is dry.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Gifts--a vignette

         “Here,” the text read.
         “Hold,” the response.

         She glanced at the three gifts placed strategically on the passenger seat and mused over the order of opening.  She decided on the biggest last, not because it was the biggest, but because it was the most heartfelt, and it should have been given long before this. 
         She had no illusions that her gifts would even register, but they were so ‘him’ that she couldn’t pass them up.  Two of them anyway.  The third was a relic from another time that had most likely already passed into meaninglessness.  Still, there was no one else, so to him it would go.
She’d given so many things over the past couple years—shirts, pins, the stocking, silly things, funny things, heartfelt things, symbols.  She thought of what she’d received from him—a Japanese music box, a director’s chair keychain that had soon fallen apart from the daily battering it received attached to her keys.  If she’d known it was one of the few tangibles she’d get from him, she’d have preserved it for all time in her memory box. 
         She checked her phone for messages.  She changed radio stations, twice, three times.  She got out of the car.  She never could sit very long.  Fidgety.  That’s what she was.  She looked at the house, the yard, the neighborhood.  Pick-up trucks, dish antennas, lawn ornaments.  How could he have come from this?  Amazing.  And what was taking so long? 
         Finally, he jounced out, phone in hand, aviators, untucked button down shirt—all his trademarks.  “Did you see what I posted?” his delight over his own humor was infectious, as was so much about him. 
         “Yes,” she smiled, immediately caught up in the gravitational pull of his aura.  So many were.  High-flying, adored.  His presence was a carnival of wit and edgy humor.  “I commented,” she added. 
         He climbed in and shifted the gifts first to the dashboard and then to his lap.   She could smell the whatever-it-was he wore that she associated with him.
         “Of course.”
         She checked to see if she had money for drinks, then put the car and drive and pulled out, her attention alternating between the road and measuring his response to the gifts. 
He opened the first one.  “Ha!  I saw this in the BSU bookstore. It’ll come in handy, I’m sure.  Did I tell you about the e-mail I got last night from _________?”
“No, forward it to me, will you?”
“Oh, I will, don’t worry.  You’ll love it.  I almost pissed myself.” 
“Eek,” a smile to him and to herself.
He inspected the second gift, already opened.  “Oh.  What is these?”
Ah, her cue. 
“Those is…candy…” 
Raucous laughter burst forth.  “My good friend Kate.”
“Yes,” she agreed and smiled again.  Omg, he never forgot anything.   “Actually they’re gum, but what’s the difference?”
He began tearing into the third gift.  She reached over and placed her hand on it, briefly, and looked at him. 
“Let me open it, woman,” he growled.
Her point made, both hands were back on the steering wheel again.

“I know this book,” he said, flipping through it.
“Yeah, it’s one of those sappy-ass graduation gift books,” as she laughed it into meaninglessness all by herself, but just ahead of him, as he fumbled for his iPod.
“You know this will just go in a box under my bed,” he reached into his backpack, “or under a printer somewhere,” a wry smile at the old-old inside joke.
He plugged the iPod into the car stereo.  “You gotta hear this song,” he said, spooling the green dial through the songs.

And as they drove along the familiar route, she listened to him sing with the music.  Of course, it was one she’d never heard before, but was sure to hear over and over again, marking this moment forever.  How now would she keep up with the music?  She thought of how differently she felt now than she thought she would this time last year, and that it really was a long good-bye after all, complete with enough grief to last a lifetime.  She thought, it’s just like the poem.  He’s already gone. 

“What do you think?” he said, checking his phone again.  “Here.  You gotta hear this one, too.”  The volume of the music made her jump.  
“It’s got a good beat, can you dance to it?” she smiled, pulling into the tightly packed parking lot.
He chuckled, but she knew he didn't get it.  That reference to a 60s TV show was even older than herself.
“All right, well…got a lot of appointments this morning.  Can’t be late,” he said, packing up his stuff. 
“You know you love it,” she said, watching him pack up.  He left the gifts.
“Can I leave these here for now?” he said, rather than asked, now out of the car.
“That’s fine,” she said, “Have a good day.  See you...when?”  But he was already gone.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Nice..." he said.

So I was lying in bed this morning thinking about Bernard's comment to my previous blog post about my school dream.  I don't think I know him, so it's hard to know what inflection to put on his comment of 'nice'.  I suspect it's sarcasm.

It made me think back to the 19 years and three weeks I put in as an IPS teacher.  Were there ever good moments?  Of course there were.  There had to have been, right?  Otherwise, I wouldn't have kept at it for said 19 years and three weeks.  I have people in my life that I collected along the way--Julie, Scrib, Beth, and a good number of students:  Harrison, Holly, Corey, Rose.  They are still in my life.  But it was that last couple of years that just beat it out of me.  I always thought I was an amazingly strong person, but I found that I wasn't.   

One of the real horrors was the way the kids treated each other--name-calling, put-downs, horrifically scarring verbal abuse, baiting comments, hitting, pushing, shoving, laughing when someone was hurt.  I couldn't understand why such meanness was considered so funny.  I couldn't imagine what it must be like to be an urban child, to leave a possibly abusive homelife, to get on the bus to jeers and put-downs, and be faced with such insults to the soul ALL day.  
Eventually, I couldn't stand up against their hatred of me, the teacher, the white teacher, who just wanted them to learn, to achieve, to succeed, to find joy in learning and joy in life.  I mean, I knew I wasn't there for them to like me, but how much can one person take?  I could no longer find purpose in teaching children who so adamantly opposed to learning.  They clearly despised me and all I stood for.  I began to crumble.  
I began to think that I could never understand those kids.  My values--decency and kindness towards another human being, culture, education, lifelong learning, literacy--seemed to be so diametrically opposite of theirs.  How could we ever find common ground, connect in an atmosphere of mutual respect and knowledge?  And gradually, I wore away, like sandstone.  

My six years at Marshall fractured me and that last year at #69 shattered the fractures.  Inner city teaching broke me.  I won't go back to the classroom again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Dream About School

I dreamed I started back to school. Julie was there. It was the most natural thing in the world for me to be there and I was excited and happy about it. I was teaching 4th grade. I realized that the first day was about to begin and I hadn’t made nametags for the kids’ desks. I was trying to cut them with the very dull paper cutter when my first student came in. I asked her to help me, and she did. I wondered how it was that I was just able to walk right back in and get a teaching position. I wondered how long it would be before I felt the despair and futility of my task.

I think this dream comes from the need to have more money coming into our household.  But I have absolutely no desire to ever return to teaching.  I don't know why I did that to myself for so long.  Wow.  And in truth, I don't think I could return to urban-teaching again.  I would never be able to shake the sense that I was engaged in a pointless, fruitless pursuit, trying desperately to teach kids who were simply not interested in learning.  Argh.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Lake Chronicles--2010, entry #2

I was awakened this morning in two stages by two separate sounds.  The first was the song sparrow, marking the 8:00 hour on the bird song clock; the second was the buzz of my iPhone under my pillow with birthday wishes from a friend.

I love having a summer birthday. 
Because we are travelers, I have celebrated my birthday in many places—at summer camps, in Boston on the Freedom Trail, at Gettysburg and Cape Cod, on Route #66 in Arizona, in Montana and Wyoming, on the Oregon Trail, and more than once, here at the cottage.
Yep, a summer birthday is good.

It’s cool and sunny here today.  The lake is smooth and calm.  The water reflects up into the green of the trees making them look like electrical neon trees.  There’s a swan on the lake in my front yard.  HJohn reads on the dock.  Ben is putting together small cardboard animal models.  Charlie is eating a big fat chocolate donut from the Elk Rapids Bakery.  Ron Jolly is hyping the weekend air show on WTCM.  The dogs loll in the sun.

Our plan today is to maybe go in to Traverse and see a movie, eat out, spend several hours at a book store.  A slow, relaxing day that was enhanced by over 40 birthday wishes first thing this morning.

“No man is a failure who has friends.
                             —Frank Capra