The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Overview of My Fall

To my blog readers...
(whoever you are)
I know it has been a long time since I have blogged. Painfully long. I think so long that the thought of me catching up has almost kept me from blogging, if that makes any sense at all. (Writing that incidentally reminds me of how I used to apologize to my diary in high school when I would forget to write for a long time.  That's kind of funny. What's not funny is that I cannot find my old high school diaries.  :/  I know they are somewhere). 

As busy as I have been though, I feel like I have achieved some peace and balance in my life this fall. I have spent a lot of time with my children and my family, and even more time with my friends than I would have thought possible with this schedule.  This has all felt really good, and I am proud of myself. 

Mickey's Halloween Party
Even in the midst of tech week for the play in October, we managed to pull of some cool stuff. A friend of ours had something come up last minute and couldn't use her tickets to the Halloween party at Disneyland, so we accepted them last minute and went. What a special, special gift!  When Marc called me that day to see if I wanted go, I knew we didn't technically have plans that evening, and that I wasn't totally behind on homework, so even though a huge part of the responsible adult in me said, "What the heck are you doing? It is a weeknight. You are a mother of a small child and a school age child. You are a graduate student with homework to do. You are a teacher with papers to grade. You are a sleep deprived director in the middle of tech week," a little voice inside me reminded me of reading an entry in a journal I wrote my freshman year of college. The journal was about what I hoped to find in a husband someday. I wanted someone spontaneous and fun.  Because that is what I wanted in life.  Here I was, with my spontaneous and fun husband offering me a spontaneous and fun outing that we could never afford on our own. The little voice one.  So we went. It was super fun. Not at all crowded, and a really cute way to spend Halloween. The kids were delighted. Normally, Disneyland is this long stressful day when you go with two kids, but for some reason, dragging two little ones around until midnight was not at all stressful. I think it was the spontaneity of it, if that makes any sense. (It doesn't, I know).  

My daughter and my niece trick or treating
This Halloween turned out to be really cool too (I mean the 31st), in that it reminded me of when I was a kid. I grew up in a neighborhood where, until I was a teenager, trick or treating was a big deal. Everyone in the neighborhood got in on it. Plus, I was friends with a lot of kids in my neighborhood, so all our moms would get together and we'd all go around the neighborhood together. There was a wide age range, with my sister being the youngest (who is six years younger than me) and me being the oldest, and the other 7-10 kids or so who would join us each year usually ranged somewhere in between. We'd go running around the neighborhood with our parents yelling at us to stay out of the street and not to get too far ahead. My sister would get scared of someone jumping out of a bush or something and go sprinting down the street with my mom tailing after. It is a miracle we all survived and all ended up back at home together at the end of each Halloween night. That is pretty much how it went this year. We invited Vinny and some of his friends and their families and siblings and my sister and her daughter. We all had a mini potluck dinner at my house (which meant I hosted like 20 people for dinner... on Halloween... during tech week.... how do I do this stuff? I haven't a clue) and then set out trick or treating. Our neighborhood is one of the few in town where it is still like it was when I was a kid. With the first graders running from door to door and the toddlers running in and out of the wagon, its was again a miracle that we stayed mostly together. It was a fun night that I will always remember.  
In November, my musical, Quilt, ran for two weekends, and my kids made me so incredibly proud. I literally cried in every performance. What a beautiful tribute this show was to the lives and legacies of those lost to AIDS. They made such an impact. I know that my school community will never look at AIDS the same again, plus, it taught my kids so much. Compassion, perseverance, professionalism. In addition, I think this group has become a family in a way I haven't had a group grow together since Go Ask Alice, which was back in 2009.  What a special year. This group will truly hold a special place in my heart for many years to come. 

For Thanksgiving this year, we did something completely and totally different -- we went on a cruise. Marc's family has been trying to coordinate this one for years. The last time that it was looking like it was going to work out was in 2009, but we cancelled it at the last minute and all agreed that we would for sure go the next year.  Then I got pregnant and realized that there was going to be no cruising with a newborn. This was the first year Tiana was old enough to go, so I agreed and we planned it and went.  I have to say that cruising with a two year old is much different from cruising with a three year old. Vinny loved it and was rather amiable. Tiana was... a handful; however, we still had a really good time. I had a lot of time to lay around and read and watch Vinny swim and stuff like that. Plus, on the last night of the cruise, I got to perform on stage with the Carnival Legends show.  They dressed me up like Gloria Estefan and I performed "Rhythm is Gonna Get You." Time of my life. So much fun. Rejuvenating for sure, but also reminded me how much I miss the stage. The theatre bug is an interesting virus. Once you catch it, you've got it for life. It can sit dormant for periods, but when it occasionally flares up, the symptoms are intense. (Those of you who have been bitten by the theatre bug will know exactly what I am talking about, particularly if you have ever had to spend extended periods of time off the stage).  

Yes, this is my two year old sipping a tropical beverage at a resort on the beach.
That's just how we roll, I suppose.
Overall, spending my Thanksgiving week in semi-tropical weather and having my toes in the sand multiple times throughout the week was just what the doctor ordered. Beach sand (enjoyable only when combined with beach sun) is like food for my soul, and I often will spend long stretches of the fall and winter deprived of this joy, so a late November blast was perfect for me. Tiana is truly a girl after my own heart in this way. She was a handful on the boat, but on the beach, she is a delight. 

I've spent the past few weeks since trying to survive crunch time at grad school and at work. I've been doing crunch time study sessions for my students on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I've had a room full of kids reading, doing extra credit activities, and getting tutoring in their writing. It has been worth the time though. One student who just never really got narrative writing back when we did it in August came in two weeks ago to ask how she could improve her grade. Since she hadn't turned in that assignment, I talked to her about it and she just totally had a mental block on writing about herself.  I've been in her boat (not about narrative writing actually, but about fiction. When I had to write fiction during my senior year of college, I felt like I was going to die), so I tried to understand and get her started. It was a long process. After literally 8 hours of working, she finally finished a narrative essay today. It was only a C, but that C felt like a badge of honor for both of us. 

On Tuesdays, some of my drama students and I have been working with a professor at the local university. We received a community partnership grant for a fashion design class to make costumes for our upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing. Many of my students have been going weekly to work with the students since September. I am proud of them and the results are really cool. When they did their presentations yesterday, I could tell that the university students learned a lot too. For most of them, this was the first time that they had ever made something that an actual person would wear. For a fashion design student, that is kind of a big deal. 
This is about half of the costumes. Gonna be a fun spring. 

Today, was also a very special day. My cousin Brenda, who is really more like an older sibling to me, got married. Sadly, I didn't get to share this special moment with her, but they decided to do it very personal -- very them. They got married on the beach in Hawaii on 12-12-12. Very romantic. We celebrated her joy with a small bachelorette party and bridal shower this past month. They were small special affairs in which we celebrated, well, the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. 
For me, this is an interesting feeling. It's like there are no single women left in my immediate family. We've all started our own families. We all belong to others now. I feel like I've waited for this for Brenda for forever. Since before I was even a teenager, I felt like I was imagining Brenda's wedding, even more than my own (that's weird, I know).  And now it has happened. The queen of far off exotic places has gotten hitched in a far off exotic place. I couldn't be happier for her.   :-)


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