Thursday, June 30, 2011

Precious Time

I am not writing lately because my heart is breaking. I can't think, never mind write, about anything these days--my summer vacation, succulent lobster, or my beautiful ring--while my beautiful cousin lies in pain, barely able to move, unable to think or speak in full thoughts or sentences. She speaks to us in words here and there, and in smiles when she can muster them. I imagine, when she smiles, that she is trying to say thank you for your company, but I don't know. I do know she cries when she is frustrated, when she can't get up although she wants to, but doesn't have the words to say that. Her tears speak for her.

When she cries I am unable not to cry, too. I break down, but then stop myself, and get back to the task at hand. But at first I cry while Donna cries. I say, I know, honey, you're frustrated, and am in awe that while we both cry, my aunt holds Donna's head and kisses it and says I'm so sorry, but doesn't break down.

When I get home I cry some more in private.

I cry because I am profoundly sad, because try as I might to wrap my mind around the fact that she is in the final, hideous days of a breast cancer that now resides in all of her bones and is ravaging her brain, I still can't accept it. And that makes me angry. So I cry as well because I am mad that thirty years after cancer took my grandmother, and twenty five years after it took my grandfather, it had the f*cking balls to come back and ask for my cousin, too. I am mad that all those cancer walks and pink ribbons can't save my cousin.

So I need some time to be sad and angry, to wait for something else to bring to the page besides those emotions, or to feel okay sharing those things while I wait for something else to appear.

But mostly, I need time to be with Donna.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Photo Journal: Culinary First...on my first day of vacation

marinated, seared ahi tuna with Asian cucumber salad
Looks like it's going to be a very good vacation... 
Tastes like it, too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Endings

Once upon a time there was a teacher who was oh-so-very tired, and just a little bitter and angry that she had to work two days beyond the school year, when just the year before she furloughed two days to save jobs and balance the budget.

The first day of work—full day no less—after the school year ended (which made finishing grades the day before anti-climactic), she had lots of meetings and extra tasks to accomplish. So after work she went shopping on the way home. She stopped at her favorite local jeweler, and bought herself a pretty ring that sparkled in the sun.

Then she went home and made herself a pretty salad for dinner.

And she went to bed happy.

But the next day she struggled again. She sat through a three hour workshop (with only a 5 minute break) and then still had her classroom to clean. She skipped lunch to get it done and a good friend helped her. At 2:30 she turned in her grade book and keys and drove away.

She stopped for a bite to eat, but more so to celebrate summer vacation. And she couldn’t think of a meal that celebrated summer more than steamers and lobster.

And she went home happy.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I had an unusually small Anatomy and Physiology class of nine this year—seven senior and two juniors. Of the seven seniors, five I had previously taught Biology as sophomores. They were all bright and motivated and mature. In two words: dream class.

This was the class that knew when I had a migraine and didn’t make me feel like I had to hide it. This was the class that could be self-directed when I was distracted, when I had to get lesson plans set for a substitute the next day because I was going to be out to bring Donna to chemo. We talked about things other than anatomy—Idol, Oprah, the royal wedding, Europe, Gabby Giffords, going to college—and we got to know each other a bit. They were my class at the end of the day and they were a joy.

Prior to meeting with them for the last time yesterday, I had thought about writing them all a little note to thank them, to let them know how much I appreciated their patience and flexibility and openness. Maybe I’d even let them know that it was especially important to me because I had a particularly difficult year. They had befriended me without knowing it.

And then I thought otherwise.

I thought maybe I could just say that to them all instead.

But I knew otherwise.

I am emotionally frail these days and I didn’t think I could say all of that to them without crying. I’d be short and sweet instead.

So a few minutes before the end of their final exam period, I wished them all well. I spoke fast and told them all it had been a pleasure, and that I hope they’d stay in touch. I might have said another thing or two, but even speaking in double time couldn’t keep my emotions away. My throat started to tense up and my eyes started to well with tears so I stopped and looked away, resumed going through my file cabinet.

But then H came to me and, after handing me her exam, said, “thank you for a wonderful year.”

And then S did too.

One by one this fine group of students did what students rarely do at the end of a year.

And by the time M and A came to thank me for the two years we spent as teacher and students, I was in a full blown cry, unable to say, "Thank you, too."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

[Groan] Is It Over Yet? [Grunt]

This is the second to last week of school and am I more exhausted than ever. Usually the summer weather and long days and promise of vacation put a spring in my step at the end of the year, but not this year....this exceptionally l...o...n...g... year with snow days instead of vacation, which doesn't end until the 24th.

Mornings are a struggle—despite the ease of hairclip season—and the school day is worse. Students are done, have been done, and I’m still trying to teach. Finals don't begin until Friday after all. My usually successful strategy of teaching the reproductive system to seniors in  A&P at the end of the year isn't working. Even bandying about anatomical terms--clitoris, gonads, penis--doesn't get a rise of them. (No pun intended.) They have shut down. And I'm ready to as well.

I want to sit with my new Kindle and play Shuffled Row until I get arthritis in my thumbs. I want the option not to leave the house or the pool for a day--after I grab a book from my new pile to read (I can't eliminate real books completely from my life, despite the Kindle).

What my body needs is not to follow eight hours of sleep with eight hours of stress be it in the form of unmotivated students or frantic final exam preparation or fruitless and frustrating faculty meetings.

I need a vacation.

And I need it NOW.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

[Heart] Summer

I love summer. And I don’t mean just having summer off—although the vacation is definitely nice.

I mean the season of summer and all that it means…No makeup, or blow dryers, or alarm clocks or schedules or pressure. Instead, lots of the sunshine (until after 8!), and my pool, time to write, time to read (novels!), and twisted iced twisted teas and lemon drops, and watermelon, and the beach, and barbeques, sunglasses, hair clips, flip flops, going away (this year to Chicago with Deanna), and having friends visit (this year Jill and Tam, separately), carving out a day to read an entire book, tomatoes and cucumbers, pink noses and pink toenails.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin