Two Posts from Last Night

Post #1: "All Growed Up"
I had one of those moments today that let me know that I’m grown up, even though I feel as if I’m still only 21. It all started when I invited my mom, sister, and brother-in-law over for breakfast yesterday.

When Dan the Man’s alarm clock went off at 9:00 AM, I couldn’t go back to sleep because I kept thinking, “I have to peel the papas for the papas con chorizo. What a dumbass, I should have bought some pan or more chorizo last night. I should probably go get some orange juice and my mom’s lechita*.”

Finally, I got out of bed and started prepping for their arrival. I refried some refried canned beans, made the papas con chorizo, scrambled some eggs, made some coffee, and warmed up some tortillas. It was as I did all of the above that I realized that I’m all “growed-up.”

It was kind of nice. It made me think of the days when we’d go over to my oldest sister’s house. She always had, and has, something to offer us as does Gabi. I still have a ways to go, like we still need to get a real living room set, and a bigger place, like a house would be nice. But it’s still kind of cool that I can actually play host. It lets me put to use all the info I take in while watching the Food Network.
*My mom loves drinking her coffee with Hazelnut flavored creamer. She’s been known to carry around a small container with it to restaurants and her day care.
Post #2: Obligatory New Year's Post/Writing While Listening to John Mayer's Continuum
After the aforementioned breakfast, we sat around the living room reading the Saturday edition of the Sunday paper. I came across an article by Ellen DeGeneres about New Year’s resolutions titled “My no-fail guide to New Year’s resolutions (…and do-overs)” that made me think of the upcoming resolution frenzy.

One thing she advised is that “resolutions don’t always have to be about fixing what’s wrong with you. You can use them to celebrate what’s right with you. And, a lot of times, what you think is right with you is exactly the thing that is wrong with you. For example: People who love to be tan.”

Another bit of valuable advice is her recommendation for writing your resolutions. She recommends “writing the list in lemon juice on parchment paper, which makes it invisible to the naked eye unless you hold a candle behind it…[because] it makes you feel like a pirate.”

Although most of her advice is tongue-in-cheek, I think some of it valuable. So this year, I’m resolving to honestly work on my writing. My first step? I’m registering for a writing class.

I’ve filled out the registration form, written out the check, and stamped and sealed the envelope. It’s a fiction class offered to area teachers. There is a bit of a problem because first class takes place on January 27th, the same day as one of my staff developments, but I’ll find a way to make up the staff development. Last year, I was unable to do the memoir class because of the PDAS exam and study sessions. I promised myself that next time I would make it happen.

Other than that, I don’t think I’m going to make any other resolutions. Yes, I need to eat better and exercise, but that’s going to happen because my body is asking me to do it. It’s been giving me some funky signals. I also should probably resolve to be more organized and quit procrastinating, but honestly, that’s something I always work on. Sometimes, I do really well and other times I slack off. I’m also not going to resolve to be a better teacher because if I need to do this, I probably should not be teaching. When I signed the dotted line on my contract last May, I made this promise.

For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually looking forward to it. I’ll be spending the evening in the company of my beloved family laughing and sharing. I hope your New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is great, and that 2007 brings you many blessings.


Cultural Experiences

Cultural Experience #1 Smashed Peanut Shells

A couple weeks ago, Dan the Man asked, “What’s one place you’ve wanted to go eat and haven’t?”

“Hmmm,” I replied. The truth is that we go out to eat often. Something about coming home to un-defrosted meat or having to stop by Kroger to pick up two or three things that dissuades me from cooking. I find myself second guessing my cooking skills wondering if it was me who used to cook all these wonderful things like lasagna, enchiladas, spaghetti, and gnocchi.

After some time, I finally answered with Texas Roadhouse. I thought back to the conversation at one of my co-worker’s wedding and remembered all the raving my friend Mari did about that place. Also, when I do cook, I try to stay away from steaks because I’m awesome at drying out a beautiful cut of meat for fear or salmonella or e-coli. So this suggestion excited Dan the Man.

After watching the massacre of a book on Sunday (see prior entry), we headed to the Texas Roadhouse. It was quite an experience. I can’t remember being at a place that has barrels of peanuts and allows you to throw the shells on the ground. I thought that was an Aggie thing, but apparently, it’s also a Pasadena thing.

“Does that bother you? Would that make you not come back?” asked Dan the Man.

“The peanut shells don’t bother me; I don’t like their food.”

The waitress was short with us. Dan the Man didn’t think so, but I felt rushed when I was placing my order. She also set down my tea refill to hard on the table, and I really didn’t like that she brought out my salad and held it in front of me until I moved the plate I was using for my appetizer. I guess I’m officially a restaurant snob.

Cultural Experience #2 Mi Tienda

Being on vacation allows for a lot of things like cleaning, shopping, watching Ellen, and cooking. The past couple of days, I have reacquainted myself with the kitchen. I didn’t cook Monday because we went shopping on the other side of town. Tuesday, I heated up some nacho cheese that I’d frozen a couple weeks ago. On Wednesday, I made some chili, and today, I didn’t really know what to make.

I was watching Ellen as I finished addressing our Christmas cards (yeah, I know they’re late) and was suddenly inspired when Selma Hayek showed Ellen how to prepare and eat a grasshopper taco. Although I would not eat grasshoppers, I do love me some tacos of any kind really. I’ve given up on the idea of carnitas because I haven’t found a place that sells decent carnitas tacos. Mexican food around these parts is strange to me. When I ask for a taco, I expect corn tortillas but always get flour. Once when I ordered a gordita at a Mexican restaurant, I got this thick tortilla cut all the way through with tons of greasy melted cheese.

Anyway, I decided that my goal for the day would be to make some yummy tacos with maybe some fajita meat. Since I had to go drop off the Christmas cards at the post office, I made my way to Mi Tienda. I tried to go to this store once before, but there was not a single empty parking space. This time, I had better luck.

It took forever to get through the parking lot though because there were so many people walking to and from cars. Getting into the store was also a challenge because there were people standing around looking at signs to the various produce that was at the entrance of the store.

I wound my way around the produce section, and the bachatas and cumbias playing on the intercom made me want to dance. As I walked through the store, there was young Latinas standing around helping people. There were also people handing out free samples for Cacique cheese, yogurt, tortillas, and various other items.

I don’t know that I would go back and shop there always, but it was fun. No one spoke Spanish to me in the store. They just assumed I was a “gringa” in the Latin grocery store. I let them believe it too. I guess it was just one of those days.


Why going to the movies with me is annoying...

I can't take the suspense.
We went to see Eragon today and I couldn't contain myself. Halfway through the movie I said, "I hate this! I'm going home!"
I didn't get up and leave, but I did fidget throughout the rest of the movie. I pulled on my hair and cursed at myself for not having read the book.
If they decide to make a movie out of Eldest, I'm definitely reading the book.



This is the hallway. Don't know if I mentioned before that we wrote the kid's names on the snowflakes. Also, can you tell what year this school was bult? Thank goodness we're getting a new building in a year or so.

Here is the showcase we worked on for almost a week. I think it turned out pretty nice, eventhough those damn snowflakes shocked me. It was my fault though. I was putting them up on a Friday afternoon and not thinking and I started stapling away while they were plugged in. Anyway, I couldn't get a full frontal shot because there was a wall in my way.



Christmas shopping has been rather tedious this year. Of course, there are some people that are very easy, like Dan the Man’s mom, my mom, and my nephews. But my teenaged nieces and one year old niece are really hard to shop for. So is my Secret Santa person. I hardly know this woman. When I drew her name, I thought of throwing it back in the bag and doing it again, but they came by in the middle of class. I quickly decided not to because I had too many witnesses.

When I was talking to my mom the other day, she said, “Jorge dijo que quiere libros para la niña.”

This was the best thing I’d heard all season. Books! Someone was actually asking for them. A gift that I would really enjoy buying.


“Si, dijo que le gusta leerle a la niña. Pero que nomas tiene unos cuantos libros asi que se los lee muchas veces.”

Yesterday, I ventured out to buy books for Little G. Since shopping for all the others took about an hour or so, I figured that I’d be done in time to swing by the craft store to look for some stockings and still have time to get home and record the Razorback upset, I mean game, for Dan the Man.

However, once I did get to the bookstore, I realized I may not make it home in time. As usual, I was drawn to every table set up along the aisle. I must admit, I went to Barnes and Noble because it’s down the street and because I was getting an extra teacher’s discount. Anyway, I started off with a stack of paperback copies of the Bernstein Bears, but after much deliberation, I ended up with the following:

The Paper Bag Princess (teaching her about Feminism can never begin to early)
Five Little Monkeys (I remember discovering this book in kindergarten.)
Where the Wild Things Are (I never really read this book until today, but I know it’s a classic.)
Dora’s Book of Manners (Daniel sarcastically said that all Latinos have to like Dora which only got him a nasty glare from Bandit and I.)

My family doesn’t have many traditions, but it’s nice to see that my brother is trying to keep one alive. My mom always tried to show us the importance of literacy. Books were a treasure in our home. They were not to be written on or thrown. They were to be kept in a place where they would not get damaged.


All Things Winter

I’ve been sitting her with a blank document for a long time. I had the urge to write, and then, just like that, it was gone like snowflakes on El Paso pavement.

My life seems to have gone back to normalcy. It was good to go back to work even though I hate waking up early. I enjoy having time off, but I think I enjoy working a lot more.

I was very busy this week. My neighbor across the hall and I decided to take it upon ourselves to decorate the 6th grade hall. My mentor, who used to kick this off, is now teaching 7th grade and so she got their butts in gear instead of ours. Anywho, it took us the whole week to get lights strung all the way down the hall and tie snowflakes to the lights. We also redid the bulletin showcase with a winter theme. We’re not completely done. I’ve yet to make a sign that says “6th Grade Winter Wonderland,” seeing as how we have many JWs this year. I’ll take pictures once it’s all done and post them up here.

Bandit has become my new best friend. I think it’s due to the cold weather. Instead of hiding under the couch or in the corner under the bookshelf until Dan the Man gets home, he now cuddles up next to me where ever I happen to be. I imagine that once it starts to warm up around here, he’ll go back to his old ways.

There is a flurry of thoughts going on in my mind, but I can’t seem to get out in a coherent manner. I think I just need to stop listening to John Mayer. I forgot what his music does to me.



I don’t know how people do it, the people that are far away from their families. It’s difficult. Pictures and phone calls can only take you so far. I sit here on the eve before Thanksgiving with a heavy heart. While I know the reason for her not coming is legit, understandable, and is just the thing a selfless person like her would do, it still saddens me.

I was really looking forward to this Thanksgiving because not only would I have my sister and her hubby over for dinner, I would also have a very special guest: my mom.

I was beside myself since she gave me the news. I went out and bought her craft things like ribbons and flowers and little red bows that could come in handy. We bought her some Mickey Mouse window clings.

I wrapped up the presents I bought her for Christmas, so she could see that despite being on the other side of this gigantic state, she’s still important. Only to find out last night, she’s not coming. I know that she’s needed there now, but I can’t help feeling the sucker punch to the gut and think “why do I have to pay for their mistakes?”

I’m very thankful to still have her around. I’m not thankful to having her so far away.


The Case of the Missing Turkey

This year has allowed me to get to know my colleagues a lot better and has forced me to re-examine prior notions about a few of them. It has not, however, made me change my mind about Marla. We’ve always been cool. We’re very similar in many ways, and best of all, we can read it each other really well. This of course, lends itself to other types of interactions like sharing secrets, being there for each other when we need to vent, and playing jokes on one another.

This is why, when I came back to work on Thursday, after being gone for a training on Wednesday, there was a slight chance that she was the one that’d taken my Gil, and left in his place a letter that read:

Help! I think they’re going to put me in an oven. I hiding in a closet. Wait, I
think I hear somebody coming…oh no! Hurry!

Now, upon reading this, I examined the handwriting and thought of possible suspects; but quickly dismissed those possibilities because I knew they wouldn’t make such a glaring subject verb agreement. I was really blaming it on one of the math teachers, but not Marla. This teacher would always saunter by and call me “Ms. Peacock.”

The day went on; I had to teach class and could not take time out to look for my poor Gil. I told my first class about the turkeynapping and they, like me, automatically accused all of the people on the sixth grade team. They told me they’d keep an eye out for him.

Homeroom time came around. Although these kids can drive me nuts with their talking sometimes, I love them and they love me. Thursday, it was crystal.

“Ms. What happened to your turkey?”

“It’s gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean?”

“Someone kidnapped him and left this in his place,” I said as I held the note before them.

“What! How could they do that?”

“I bet you it was Ms. B!”

“No, I think I saw it in Mr. O’s class.”

“It was Mr. C and Mr. A because they were begging us to buy them feathers yesterday!”

“Well, whoever it was, I think I need to make some posters so people know I’m looking for him.”

“We’ll help you Ms!”

Within five minutes, I had a slew of “Missing Turkey” flyers and a crew of kids putting up posters in the hallway.

During lunch, I continued giving everyone a hard time. Calling them all “turkey snatchers,” and saying, “It’s okay; I’ve got a lot of little detectives on my side.”

The science wing people hadn’t heard and so they asked what was going on. As I told them, Marla asked, “Well, what did the notes say?”

“Notes? You mean there’s more? How do you know? It was you, wasn’t it?”

I don’t remember her reply, but I know her answer didn’t satisfy me.

As we were walking to the cafeteria to report for after lunch duty, I found a note in my mailbox. This one read:

Help me! It’s getting really hot in here. I heard them talking about stuffing
me…please find me!

We walked into the cafeteria to find Mr. A, the counselor, holding up
one of the signs my kids had made telling the 6th grade diners about my turkey. As I walked
around the cafeteria, the kids were all calling my name and telling me who they
thought had taken Gil.

The rest of the day, assistant principals,
teachers, students, even the aides asked if I’d found Gil. And of course, I
always had to say no. I was starting to wonder if I would ever get him back. I
was so proud of how big his tail had gotten and I really wanted to get him

At the end of the day, we were having a bridal shower for one
of the ladies on our team. Most of my day had been spent on preparations for
this event, but we couldn’t really put any of this up because our classes were
going to the library which is where we were hosting the shower. When the final bell of
the day rang, I rushed down to the library to finish setting up.

It wasn't until we had everything set up, that I remembered I’d left the napkins in my
classroom. I ran up the stairs and found one my students, who is also a Watt
Watcher for Student Council, writing on the “missing turkey poster” posted on my
door. (She’s the sweetest kid too. My pick for student of the month)

“Ms! It was Ms. B and Mr. O! There’s Gil!” she said as she
pointed toward my first suspect’s classroom.

Indeed, there he was.
Hanging from Mrs. H’s flag outside her door. Mrs H. looked at me and said, “I
saw them do it but I was sworn not to tell you! I was so upset! By the way, I
should be looking shocked.”

I carefully pulled down Gil and took him to
my classroom and laid him on my desk. At last, he was safe and sound.



Every year around Thanksgiving at school, a copy of a clip art turkey is given to each teacher. Teachers are then to color their turkey and post it on their door. During lunch, teachers and students can buy construction board feathers with “thank you” messages for teachers and students.

Monday should have been the first day that feathers were sold but because of some beauracracy flaw, they were not sold until today.

When I went to my inbox in the mailroom during my afternoon conference period, the NJHS sponsor was putting them in our boxes. We both had to be in a meeting in a few minutes, so I asked her if she needed help. “No, I’ve got them all sorted. I just need to put them in people’s boxes. You have a whole bunch.”

Of course, hearing that last part peaked my interest; so I dilly dallied around for a while in the potty room. When I came, I went to my box; and I did have a “whole bunch.” I didn’t really count them, but I had close to fifteen feathers.

Needless to say, my students made me the envy of the sixth grade team at our meeting. They joked around about how I probably bribed my kids like a former teacher at our school and how my well-feathered turkey was going to put theirs to shame.

My students’ messages were so sweet. My favorite thus far was “you are the best teacher I’ve had in all my living years.”



Thanks to the wonderful downpour and our school district being so adamant about giving our kids the best education possible, Dori, my little car, is sick.

When school let out, I went over to find out if we were staying for the Promethean board training and I heard people saying, “they said to go!” I felt frantic and grabbed my stuff and ventured out into the streams, er streets. All I wanted was to get home. I tried two streets and finally got out of the area where the school is. I would have made it home had it not been for that damn school bus that stopped. When it did, all of the water it had been pushing out of the way for me, came back onto and into my car.

I took it into the dealer and now I’m waiting to see how much my stupidity is going to cost.


Penny Cup

Reading El Chavo’s post made me reminisce about my youth. There was this one time that my mom and I had walked to El Bronco, a swapmarket, a couple of miles from where we lived. When we left, we were thirsty and hungry; so we decided to stop at the Good Times (a convenience store) to get a drink and a snack. They had some kind of deal that you could buy a drink and a hot dog for like $1.99 or something.

When the cashier rang up the total, my mom was two cents shy. The cashier was this tall guy who’d had part of his face burned, so the skin was shiny and waxy. He was always rude and never bothered making conversation like the other cashiers. On that particular day, he did a thing that would stay with me and forever place him under the jerk file in my mind. Because that day, despite there being a penny cup like the one in El Chavo’s post, he didn’t allow my mom to take the two cents she needed to complete the total. He made her give back the hot dogs and pay for the drinks.

I felt humiliated. I don’t believe there was anyone else in the store, but I know it made my mom feel really bad. Like many people, I’ve never been in the business of letting anyone humiliate or put down my mom. She got enough of that at home and at work. Why should anyone else do that to her?

For this reason, once, I was at Wal-Mart and there was this kid ahead of me buying car parts. Apparently, his car had left him stranded and he was trying to fix it enough to get home. When the cashier rang up his total, he was a short like a couple of cents, so I unzipped my wallet and gave him the money. He said thank you about ten times before he left. I thought it was no big deal, but I guess if someone had done that for my mom at the Good Times, I would have done the same.


What it takes to be a life-long reader...

Accessability to books, any and all books. According to the speaker at the workshop mentioned in my former post, kids need to be exposed to all types of literature, even bad literature. Once they click with a piece of literature, they will be more likely to venture into a bookstore or library to look for more books of a similar nature.

I’ve bared witness to such experiences. I’m asked for a
Gloria Velasquez title at least once a day. It’s really an amazing thing.

Speaking of literature,
Arte Público Press is in need of some help, monetary help. They have until December to raise $250,000. Why this much by then? Because the Brown Foundation, who we all know is awesome, will match dollar for dollar donations up to that amount.

Those of you familiar with the press, you know what awesome work they do. I know they bring lots of joy to my life and the lives of my students. And those of you not aware please check out their
website and donate. It doesn’t have to be a substantial amount, anything will help.


If you still come around, finally, an update!

It’s incredible how priorities shift in our lives. When I started writing here, I was really full of myself. A cocky, thinks she knows it all, college senior.

These days, I’m still cocky in many ways, but I also know that there are things that take precedence over my ramblings. Besides, the kids fulfill the diva in me by greeting me any chance they get, especially when it’s ones I never had as students, but have heard about me from someone. It is for this reason that I have not updated. For now, all the things in my life are either all about work or my personal life that well, is sort of a train wreck at times.

In any case, I still wish to share about my professional life seeing as how I’ve been presented with some delectable new opportunities.

My Latina empowerment group will meet for the first time this coming Friday. I have yet to put together the first day materials, although I do have an idea. I’m rather excited about the whole thing. I met with the girls that helped out with last year’s and will help out this year. I received an e-mail from one of them that basically fed my barril sin fondo ego.

This Pre-Ap/GT teaching is great. However, I’ve managed to turn it into this huge discussion that my selves have with each other. The question that haunts me on a daily basis is “Why can’t ‘regular’ ed do all of this?” And honestly, I haven’t really found an answer on why they can’t. I have not delved into the whole annotated essay topic with my “regular ed” classes yet, but we’ll be going there.

Also, I just got home from this training that talked about producing life-long readers and my head is spinning. It even hurts a little because the tiny mouse in on overdrive. Sometimes, I feel so frustrated because there are so many things that I want to do, but I don’t have the time.

The other project in the making is seeking permission to put on a play at school. We were talking about it yesterday at the baseball game, and we came up with ghost stories. I’m standing firm on La Llorona. I would probably have to write the script, but I know it would be successful.

Other duties that are taking up time are mentoring, 6th grade team secretary, and student council co-sponsor. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but if it helps me become a bigger superstah, count me in.

* * *

The new apartment is great. Thanks for all your good wishes.

We were forced to fully settle in last week when Daniel’s parents announced their visit right before they left Dallas.

My mom had surgery last week. She had a pace maker installed. It caused me to be antsy the entire day making it impossible to get any work done. I spoke to her yesterday, and she sounded like a brand new mom.

Lastly, I’ve become a social butterfly at school. I’ve gotten to know many of the teachers on Lesson Plan Friday after School “Coffee” Meetings. I’ve heard many stories and drunken philosophizing and have been dished much advice that has caused me to feel that perhaps fall will bring many changes in my little world. For better or worse, I know that I won’t be able to stop it.

I’ve been reading journals/blogs, just haven’t been commenting. I’ll come back around sometimes in October or November when routines start to set in.


New Undertakings

Howdy. Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been busy. I’m so behind on my journal reading too. I’m hoping that perhaps I can catch up on Monday, since there is no school.

Dan the Man and I are finally moving out of our current hell hole. Tomorrow is the big moving day. I entrusted my young scholars with a substitute. This year will be somewhat difficult because I’m going to be attending tons of trainings during school hours, so I will have to entrust my classes to a sub. I’m not ecstatic about it, but I have no other choice.

Things are going great at la escuelita. I was under the weather the first part of this week, but my body managed to get past it after lunch yesterday. I still have the stuffed up nose and funky voice, but the fever and sore throat is gone.

Yesterday, I was asked if I wanted to head a program for young Latinas whose focus is on building self-esteem among other things. Of course, I said yes. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get started.

Well, I’m cutting this off now because I have more to pack.


Adios MTVR

Today, I spent a couple hours with my friend in her almost desolate apartment. As it always happens, when one is moving, there were the small things scattered here and there: a stack of copies for one of the many papers a grad student must write, ashtrays, couch cushions, and knick knacks she doesn’t need and can’t take anyway.

I helped her clean out a closet. She gave me a bookshelf and a printer. We blindly dumped boxes of papers into the trash bins and dropped off two suitcases full of clothes and other reusable items at a donation center.

It all seemed so odd. I’d known this day was coming for almost a year now, but now that it’s here, it’s weird. I can only imagine how she feels. Although I’m sad that my friend will be moving across the Atlantic, I’m happy she’s going. I think back to how I felt when Dan the Man was finally moving to Houston; and I can still remember the excitment. For almost two years now, she and her Nalgarito had been wishing for this day, and it’s finally here.

Te deseo todo lo mejor Carnala. Nos volveremos a ver muy pronto.


Writing has been a rather erratic process lately. I do it when I get time or want to procrastinate something else. Today, I’m procrastinating the big stack of papers of I’m supposed to grade today; hence two entries.

I’ve had disturbing dreams the last today. When ever I tell my mom about stuff like this, she always asks what I ate before I went to bed. Then she makes some kind of remark about Jesus or God watching out for us so that nothing bad happens, since bad dreams can be an omen.

To be honest, I’ve just been thinking too much. Friday night, I went out with the fellow teachers for a couple of beers. Somehow, we ended up talking about dads. Of course, it got me thinking about mine. Then it got me thinking about Dan the Man’s dad. He’s always really nice to me. All of his family treat me like I’m family, especially his dad. Anyway, all these thoughts provoked a dream about his death. In the dream, Dan the Man and I were in Houston because I had a kid (first weird thing). His mom called him to tell him that Dan Sr. had died. He’d been sick in the hospital and had refused treatment.

Yesterday, I was thinking a lot about the Juárez murders. I was wondering if this time they did catch the right guy, what’s going to happen, and will we get more information soon. Not to mention, I watched half of Pirates of the Caribbean before I went to bed. While sleeping, I dreamt about being in a church where people were being kidnapped during church services. I don’t really know why I was there; it wasn’t because of the mass. I think I may have been there to help figure out what was happening or something. Anyway, I was there with my sister and during the mass, she was kidnapped. It was done in a split second. I remember feeling the wish of the air and turning to see her place empty. I immediately stood up and started wanting to curse and screaming for my sister. I made it my personal goal to find the kidnapper. After what seemed like months, I found him. I cornered him somehow and made him take me to my sister. When we arrived at his house, there was a little girl in an inflatable pool with no water. The name “Teresita” was written on the pool. It was at this point that I woke up.

I hate when my dreams are not resolved. I tried going back to sleep, but the dreams never come back to me. Maybe tonight I’ll have better luck.


School News

It’s only the end of the first full week of school, and I already know who can give me trouble. Actually, I knew that by the end of last Friday. The little sister of one of my former students said, “Oh, you have him, he’s big trouble” as she scanned the list of names on my hall pass one afternoon. Later that week, when another of my former students stopped by to ask how my new batch of sixth graders were behaving, the kid passed by and I said, “they’re great, especially that one.” The kid smiled at me. He’s been on his best behavior in my class.

I’m completely sold on this humanitarian way of teaching. I’m trying to build relationships with my students, so that I’m not just their English teacher. I shake hands as they come in, I smile even when I’ve had a headache the entire day and all I want is to shut the door, turn out the lights, and chill. Within the first three days of school, I memorized all of their names and encouraged them to test me. And you know what? It’s paying off, because when the day is over, and the halls are clear, I remember all the good things and smile. It makes me want to go back to work the next day and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything n the world.

And this GT/Pre-AP thing rocks. Class moves along so much faster. When anyone asks me how it’s going and I say great, they all say, “I knew you would love it.” But honestly, all in all, this bunch of kiddos seems like a great bunch. They’re so sweet and really just care about school.


I demand justice

Amidst the World Cup and Presidential Election debate, Mexico has dropped a causa that is very near and dear to me. It’s pretty pathetic that people’s last hope is Hollywood. Please, if you have not, sign the petition.


La Footnotes aka mi ama

Mi ama has spent most of her life using the bus as her main source of transportation. This enabled her to do one of her favorite things: talk. Mi ama will talk to anyone about anything.

I remember being at a bus stop or on the bus and mi ama striking up various conversations with people, from the lady who was counting “penes” for bus fare downtown to the young girl who was working in the U.S. illegally and looking to marry for a green card.

Calling her is a one hour event. First, she asks how I’m doing, then I ask her, and then it begins. I hear all about the adult day care events, family events or wrongdoings, celebrity gossip (telenovela soap stars who I don’t really know, sometimes she has music gossip about La Julie Venegas or A.B. Quintanilla), y luego vuelta al cassette o la bendicion.

One of the most comical aspects of conversation con mi ama is the footnotes. When I still lived at home, she used to drive me nuts with her uncanny ability to provide footnotes to every story. At the time, I was still really young (because I’m still young you know, but not really young) and I don’t think I had completely developed my critical thinking skills; therefore, I was unable to follow non-linear conversations. Sometimes, with a frustrated tone, I would say, “Go back to the original story!” She would oblige, with hurt feelings.

It wasn’t until I went away to college that I learned to entertain her footnotes and coined her the nickname La Footnotes. I learned the value of being able to tell one story, the fill in with some much needed information, and still know where one had left off in the original story. Heck, I was reading texts with half a page of footnotes that weren’t nearly as entertaining as my ama’s. Besides, sometimes the footnotes provide even better stories or a point of reference for further inquiry about my ama’s unbounded wisdom.



One of my Godmother’s favorite songs was Black Sabbath’s Changes. I acquired a cd with that song a couple years after she died, and it soon became one of my favorites. This last week has certainly seen many changes.

For one, I don’t have a trip to look forward to. We got back from El Paso on early Sunday morning (12:30 am). Although it’s always difficult to leave, this time seemed more difficult than usual. The time I spent there was so relaxing. We did what we wanted to do. We went where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go. I was able to help out my mom with some things she had to do, and the best part was just handing out. Every evening at 7:30 pm, we would hang out in her room to watch La fea más bella. Afterwards, we would work on her crafts or sit around and watch TV until she fell asleep.

Going to my dad’s grave was really sad this time too. Dan the Man went with me and took a picture of him headstone. He insisted on my squatting next to it, but for some reason, I couldn’t do it. Taking pictures of such things just isn’t something my mom ever condoned. Maybe it wore off on me.

As I said earlier, leaving was quite difficult. My mom was really sad that we were coming back, and that’s what made it the hardest. Seeing the way she was leaning on the wrought iron guardrail watching the car drive away from her was so difficult. I was glad when I called her from San Antonio to learn that she had gone out to eat with one of her friends. When I called her last night, her friends were over at her apartment visiting, so that was good news. But I still have this empty feeling, the same kind of feeling I had when Dan the Man and I were doing the LDR.

The other changes that have occurred are at work. There’s been a lot of shuffling around at work. Some people have left, and others have moved to another grade, one of them being my mentor. She will be teaching 7th grade next year. She gave me this news over the phone when I was in El Paso, as well as the news that I was recommended to teach the GT/Pre-AP Language Arts class. I have mixed emotions about it, but overall, I welcome the challenge.

Also, when I checked my work e-mail, I found out that I will be mentoring the new 6th grade LA teacher. She has a Latino surname and I’m wondering if this is the reason we were paired up. I’m really looking forward to meeting her.

In the early pre-school staff events letter, we were given a list of all of the changes. Being the way I am, I counted all the Latino names, there are six. That makes a grand total of 12 Latino faculty members. I wonder if any of this has anything to do with the new principal.

I’m not eager for the year to start, but I know it’s inevitable. People tell me that it will be much easier, and I have a hunch they’re right.


The Bandit

I always considered myself a dog person. I liked cats, but they weren’t my favorite. They seemed distant and I hated how they got up on the kitchen counters and left hair everywhere. While I lived at my sister’s they acquired a cat. She is quite the character, a very classy young lady.

Dan the Man, despite allergies, is a cat lover. When we got a place on our own, he kept hinting about getting a cat. I wasn’t all that interested because I didn’t want the responsibility. One day, I was won over by our little guy, Bandit.

It was he who made the first move. While looking around at the Pet's Mart adoption center, he began pawing at my pants. He was quite the persistent little fellow. He didn't stop until I squatted down and began petting him. Then he tried to get me to open the cage. Clearly, he had devised a system to get out of the cage. It was evident that he was good at it since his was the only cage with cardboard covering any large openings. Despite his allergies and want of a kitten, Dan the Man agreed to adopt him.

When we brought him home, he was ve
ry scared. He ran and hid under the kitchen table and wouldn't come out. I read all of the literature they gave us about bringing home a new cat and put his food bowls near him and the kitty litter, in sight, but far away from his food. Although it took him some time, he finally felt comfortable to let it all hang out. One of his favorite positions to sleep in is on his back. From an aerial view, he looks like he's standing. He'll sleep like this practically anywhere. His favorite spot to lie on his back is in front of the window on a sunny day. ¡Gato tenía que ser!

However, his favorite places to sleep are in bed, particularly between Dan the Man and I. I think they're both going to have withdrawals this coming week since Dan the Man and I will be leaving to El Paso el sábado en la madrugada. Its evi
dent, that he loves no other more than his dad.


No Title

I’ve thought about updating a lot, and I even had titles and entries all ready in my head…I just never made it to the computer. I guess now that I am here; I can touch on all of the subjects I wanted to blog about.

Friday, Dan the Man, my niece, her bf, and I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean and had dinner. I tried to be as pleasant as possible to her bf. I can’t stand the guy. He acts like such a jerk at times. He can be condescending. I really didn’t like him referring to her as “my tard.” He also made fun on me when I said “punch buggie” and because I got a Lonestar. That’s strike number three. The first one was when he tried to explain to me what a graduate degree is. Idiot. My niece knows how I feel about him, but I try to be amiable because of her.

Saturday, I invited my friend MT over for lunch because she’d never really been to my apartment. Actually, the only people who have actually been here besides Dan the Man’s friend with the exasperating wife are my sis and her hubby. Anyway, I told her I’d make shrimp po’ boys because she likes them and I wanted to try out the recipe. Since the closing of Randalls down the street, Kroger thinks they’re the “fancy” supermarket; this is evident in their prices. So I went a little further to Fiesta. I love shopping at Fiesta’s, especially in predominately Latino areas because they play Spanish music, the workers speak Spanish, and they have a huge variety of reasonably priced items. The best part is that I can listen to La Raza with my windows rolled down and not get strange looks.

Yesterday, I made some more Mujeres de Juárez shirts. I never realized how much time I spend on making them. It took me about two and a half hours to make six. I realized this because it was while I was trying to watch my novella, La Fea Más Bella. Also, I made el coraje del año. When I was leaving the gym, for some reason, I walked around the back of my car. When I did, I noticed that some punk ass wrote “BK” on my car in old English lettering with blue marker of some kind. I was so upset. Fortunately, I was able to get it off. Still, I’m seething over it. I can’t believe how disrespectful people are. I think it was done at our apartment complex by one of the little punk kids that hang out with our neighbor. I’m so glad that our lease is up in a couple of months. For now, I’m parking my car in front of my apartment so I can keep an eye on it. I think Dan the Man kept an eye on it last night.


Why does doing the right thing sometimes feels wrong?

I like to think that I’m pretty honest. I’m not very good at lying because my face says it all, all of the time. That’s why when the self checkout machine gave me a hundred dollar bill instead of a twenty, I took it to the girl that oversees them all and traded it in for a twenty. Yeah, I could use the money, but I got nervous since the machine had my debit card info and thought they could somehow trace it all back to me. Since then, I’ve thought so many times, “Que mensa!”



For some reason, I've always been the one that gets quirky t-shirts. Like during the first Gulf War, my bro god me one with a caricature of Sadam that said, "So Damn Insane."

The same brother also got me a shirt of Jesus on the cross trying to push it up and I think it said, "Bench press this!" At the time, I had no idea what that meant, but I wore the shirt. Often times, people would stare and sometimes laugh.

Fast forward about ten years, I started to make my own quirky shirts. I made myself a Frijolera t-shirt after listening to the Molotov song. I also have one that says "Mexican Jumping Beaner" and of course, a "Big Brown Girl" one.

However, in between my "creative creations," I've made some for las mujeres de Juárez. Whatever money we make off them goes to their organization. This week, I was asked to make a couple for an event later today. This time, the creativity kicked in and I decided to make each one different, after all, each one of those young girls was different in her own way. The one in the picture is my favorite.


ESPN vs Univision

In my rancho, these are the only two channels that show the World Cup games. Fortunately, I have access to both of these channels. However, when asked to choose, I prefer watching the games on Univision.
Le ponen mas color. Plus, aren't the commercials awesome? My current favorite is the Coca Cola one where the ice cube jumps out of the cup and is screaming, then he melts and says something like, "Siempre pasa lo mismo."
Any of you guys have a fave?
An aside-I finally figured out how to post a pic, as you can see. Dan the Man says I look funky in that pic because I look disproportioned.


Nervous Energy

Last week, as my sis drove west on I-10, there was this nervous energy about us. We listened to 850 AM until we were out of range. The voices of the soccer commentator only enhanced the energy. When we arrived in San Antonio, the nervous energy only increased. Not only did we get a little lost, there was a lot of traffic near the hotel.

Today, the nervous energy returns. I hope El Tri does its best or I might pull out some of my hair or kick Dan the Man (accidentally of course, can you believe he's still sleeping on such an important day?!)!

Si se puede! Si se puede! Si se puede!


Rain & weekend

Something very bad happened to my computer. I fixed it, but for the time being I don’t have Word and all of my music was deleted. This is yet another instance proving to me that I need to make a switch to Mac.

Anyway, my last couple of days have been good. Class was cancelled today due to the rain. My neighborhood didn’t flood when I went out, but there’s no telling what happened earlier today. There was a truck on the median leaning into the ditch. I tried to take a picture of it, but Dan the Man was being a jerk and erased it. He also put his arm in the way.

Anyway, Thursday was my birthday and it was great. My sis got me a copy of The Adventures of Goat. I think that’s the one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. I also got a retro Super Mario Brothers game for the Gameboy which has caused me a bit of frustration. I’m terrible at video games, but I really wanted this game. My mom also rocked my world with the new Julieta Venegas cd. It’s awesome.

On Friday, I went to the big ranch, AKA San Antonio, with my sis and the ex roomie to see Robert Karimi. His show was awesome and I liked hanging out at Bar America, but I could have done without the jackass server at Blue Star. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of Karimi, I highly recommend checking him out.

Well, I’m out. Home duties need to be tended to.


Help Save El Segundo Barrio

I am incensed after reading the plans to wipe out El Segundo Barrio in El Paso. The more I think and read about it, the angrier I get. It makes me think of historical houses on the North side of downtown. Why don’t they wipe them out? What is so special about them that they can stay pero the south side gets wiped out?

Please, please, please help a sister out and sign it and pass along the info.

Hello everyone,

I am writing to let you know that there are efforts here, spearheaded by developers (the Paso del Norte Group) and politicians, to demolish 128 acres of el Segundo Barrio, the second oldest Mexicano barrio in El Paso, an area of critical importance to Chicano history and a living community. For a hundred years or more, el Segundo has served as the port of entry to thousands of Mexicano immigrants. It was in this barrio that Mariano Azuela published the first great novel of the Mexican Revolution, Los de Abajo. It was in this neighborhood that Teresita Urrea, la Santa de Cabora, lived and healed thousands in the 1890s. The barrio is rich with Mexicana/o and Chicana/o history.

As scholars of Chicano studies, our voices are needed to stop the destruction of the barrio. We have seen this type of destruction before, whether it be Olvera Street in the 1930s or Chavez Ravine in the 1950s. We can't let this keep happening.

Please visit the website of Paso del Sur and help save the barrio. Please spread the word.


Yolanda Leyva


Divisions, yay or nay?

Yesterday, we had a little extra time before I had to be at Quilty's class. Dan the Man was borrowing my car cbecause his does't have a/c. Since he was going to get gifts for a certain Browngirl's upcoming b-day, I decided he could use my car.
Anyway, we'd gone to the library earlier. I was curious to see what the library in the "ghetto" part of town was like. It was actually much better than the one near us. It was pretty big, and had tons of resources like a computer lab, a good size reference section, a good size children's section, a rather large collection of young adult novels, and computers throughout the library. Dan the Man doesn't understand the concept of sitting in the library reading the books you plan to check out, so we left.
We then went to a carniceria because I was looking for the Gamesa pastries with cards of El Tri's team members, but didn't find any. Since we still had time left, we decided to go to Barnes and Noble. Even though I don't like to buy books from them, I like using their facilities to read and write. I think of it as a private library.
Yesterday, their Latino Studies shelves seemed emptier than usual. There were only two shelves with the classics: Richard Rodriguez, Victor Villaseñor, Julia Alvarez, Denise Chaves, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Piri Thomas. After browsing the shelfs, I asked myself: Is it better that the Latino themed titles be seperated or would it be better to put them under their subject area?
I san see the plusses on both sides of the issue, but I still can't answer my question. What do you guys think?



Mexico juega hoy. I can’t wait. I don’t know if I should go to the gym and watch the game there. It would give me something to do, but then I might get upset and kick something or worse yet, someone. You should have seem me the day the spelling be was on and the kid from Houston lost. I didn’t hurt anything or anyone, but you were able to hear a “Damn!”

I don’t really follow soccer until these major games. My problem, as with hockey, is that I like so many players, that I just can’t choose one team to follow. Therefore, I like when they have events such as the World Cup, because then they have many of the players that I like. Although, this time they didn’t take Paco Palencia.

Do you guys remember that year that Mexico beat Brazil at La Copa FIFA Confederaciones? Oh man, that was the best year ever. I had an outfit that I wore for the games. It was some mismatched thing: a black t-shirt (I think it was an old Levis t-shirt) and some white shorts with red pinstripes. I used to hide it on the top shelf of my closet in the crate that held my purses. I was convinced that it was because I was wearing that getup that they had made it. I wish I had my little getup today; I’d definitely be sporting it today.


With a Little Help From Your Friends

Necesito ayuda. It seems that no matter what songs I have on my MP3 player while I'm at the gym, I get bored. Thus far, the only songs that seem to keep me moving one of the Selena songs from her live concert and Carnaval by Celia Cruz.

Anyway, since many of you are music connoisseurs, I figured I'd ask for your help. What songs get you moving?

And you said you had nothing to say...

I don’t necesarilly have anything to blog about. I do need to say where I copied and from whom in my last post. I copied from: Spelling with Flicker and from MsABC.

The last couple of days I was engulfed in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. I think it would have been cool to see this book as a movie. But like Dan the Man said, “You never know, since The DiVinci Code did so well.”

Of course, like a loving partner, here I am wondering, “Did The DiVinci Code do very well?”

I was stuck in GT (Gifted and Talented) Training all of last week. I doodled, read, and worked on the puzzles they gave us most of the time. It just seems like after the first day, none of the information was new. That’s sort of like that damn Generic Teaching Strategies class I’m taking now.

Everyone that’s had this professor has complained about her. When she gave us our syllabus last week, some people in the class just about fainted because we have something due every day except for two days. Up until now, all of our classes had been a joke. I mean, if graduate classes were as easy as ATCP makes it for us, everyone would have a masters.

Anyway, people were bitching and moaning to no end. I was fine with it. I mean, I have easy street with the other prof and then this one; it’s a pretty good balance. Besides, I’m not working so it makes it easier to get stuff done (unless of course, I’m enthralled in some book at the moment).

However, the thing that drives me crazy is that she makes us print an endless amount of handouts and then goes through them on the overhead in class. I mean, really, why not just add that to the reading material and save us that crap. I can read and comprehend. Plus, I’ve found that all this education stuff, its repetition half the time or it’s something that you already know about, but someone just gave it a name.

So she uses up five hours of my day going over all this crap, telling lame stories, and freaking me out with her voice. It goes from high to low without warning. It’s quite creepy. I am very curious about her as a person. I figure she must be pretty religious since she is working for a Catholic college. Also, I don’t believe she has any kids; but I have a feeling she fills her days with activities such as quilting. She always wears a jacket made out of quilting fabric. Thus far, she’s had a different one each day, but I’ve only seen her twice. I don’t know what else takes up her time, perhaps that’s why she keeps us up until the very last second. Anyway, I better stop; I will learn something from her.

Last thing, I know I said I didn’t have anything to say, but I just thought of this stuff. You know that if you have a
Gmail account, you can set up a personalized Google page right? Well, on mine, I have links to NPR stories because thanks to my sister & ex-roomie, I’m addicted to it. But since I don’t have to wake up early, I’m not in the car to listen to Morning Edition or All Things Considered, so I use my Google page to keep up with the news.

I was delighted to see a story on Michelle Serros’ new novel. It’s a young adult novel. I suppose I’ll have to look into adding this to my classroom collection. If you have a chance, check out the

Well, I guess since I’m up, I should head out to the gym. Maybe I’ll make it back in time to complain about the
Great Day Houston host.


Se acabo

It’s early afternoon on a weekday and I’m home. I’m done. No more lessons, no more books, no more students’ dirty looks.

Yesterday, when the kids left, it felt like any other day. I don’t think it’s started to sink in that when they come back next year, they won’t be in my class anymore. I don’t know though, I mean, maybe I got myself used to the idea that they wouldn’t be my kiddos forever. I think maybe if I had one class of kids all day, I would have bawled my eyes out. But they didn’t cry and I didn’t cry. Some of them got hugs and I signed everyone’s paper, notebook, or yearbook. I tried to make it personal to each one. I guess I’ve accepted as territory that comes with the job.

I’m really looking forward to next year. I’ve learned so much from the kids I had this year, and I know that next year, I’m going to have a much better start.

I’m excited that I’ll have more time to blog and stuff. This morning on my way to school, I felt so relaxed. I mean, I have some things that I’m worry about right now, but it’s nice to not have to think about work for a while.


The Guys and I

Since the sixth graders got the highest test scores out of all the grades, they were rewarded by a swimming trip to the nearby YMCA. But because of hormones and lawsuits, girls and boys go on different days. The way it turned out, I got put on the chaperone list for the boys. So today and tomorrow, I will spend the day with the boys in my homeroom and my buddy teacher’s homeroom class.

Because half the teachers would be gone, we would have to remain in homeroom until sixth period (which today was at 11:15 AM). To pass the time, I showed them the end of Selena.

It turned out quite nice because after the movie, we did end up having a short discussion. Most of them had seen the movie already and helped answer questions for those who had. We talked a little about Saldívar and what would happen to her if she came out of jail. It was a quite fruitful discussion.

Tomorrow should be a lot of fun for them. It’ll be cool to see them enjoying themselves. After all, they definitely earned it.


The Adventures of Ms. Baeza & Goat

School is over on Wednesday for the kids and Thursday for me. I’m excited but I hate having to pack all my junk because summer school will be held in our building. I’ve received so many thoughtful cards and drawings from my students. It’s quite an accomplishment for me to see how much they have learned. I think my first year out of college hasn’t been in vain and I’ve done pretty well.

We’re spending the last couple days watching Selena. The kids seem to really be enjoying it. I wish I had more time to discuss it with them. She was so much like them. I’m sure that they get that and I would love to hear what they have to say.

The Adventures of Goat

My entire life I have been surrounded by books. I had tons of them when I was a kid. My oldest sister started the collection and everyone else continued it. Some of my favorites were My Little Golden Books. The other day, I was browsing in an antique shop, when out of the corner of my eye; I caught the glimmer of the spine of a Little Golden Book. I immediately walked over to the bookshelf and rummaged through them. They had a copy of the very edition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that I had.

One of my fondest memories is of my mom reading to me. My mom worked a lot while I was growing up, so when I was a kid, having alone time with my mom was sort of a luxury. One of my favorite things for her to do with me was read to me. All of my books were in English, and even though my mom couldn’t read it, she managed to tell me a story. If she didn’t know the story, she used the pictures to guide her.

One of the stories that she did not know was The Adventures of Goat. According to her, it was about a goat that leaves the farm because he is artist and one of his portraits is entered into a contest. What I remember the most is when the goat is boarding the bus and turns to his farm buddies and says, “Pero voy a volver!”

I used to laugh so much at that for some reason. I don’t know if it was the slurred deep voice that she said it in or the way she hung her hand attempting to imitate a hoof and waved goodbye to me. In any case, I’ve spent much time looking for this book. I never knew the title of the book until I put my Google skills to good use.

Thus far, I think I’ve found the right book. I’ve tried to locate a picture of it, but it doesn’t really look like the one I had. Of course, editions change over the years. I guess the only way to really find out is to order it.


A Year Ago...

Yesterday, I graduated.

That is all.



Okay, so TAKS scores are in, and although I hate the idea of teaching to the test, I'm really happy that out of my 61 students, 58 passed. For a brand new teacher, I think that's pretty good.
But that's not the only thing that's got me smiling from ear to ear. This morning I recieved the following e-mail:
We talked about you in 1st/2nd period. And J, M, and G spoke highly of you!

You are cool and you have a genuine attitude towards classwork.
They enjoy joking and working at the same time.

That is an awesome compliment! I do not think German is even in your class???

Hope this adds a little sunshine to your day!
On top of that, I made it to the Orchestra concert earlier this evening and this one kiddo I'd been having some trouble with said, "Miss, you remember our concert!"
Then she turned to another kid and said, "She even wrote it on her calander. Now that's a teacher."
It's hard to believe that nine months ago, I didn't even want to go into work. I had knots in my stomach every morning thinking about work. Lunch was some crappy snack food or crackers because I couldn't stomach a real meal.


An Introvert Reflects

I didn’t realize how long I’ve been gone. I feel like a distant observer in Blogatitlan. I read so many people’s journals but hardly ever leave comments. Maybe it’s because I say so much every day, I feel like I’m being redundant.

I have a bit more introverted than usual the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reflecting on mostly work. It’s almost the end of the year, I’m excited and then I’m sad. This morning, as I lay in bed soothing the pain in my heel, I thought about the beginning of the school year. I was so nervous that I couldn’t eat. I was shaky and kept thinking, “This is really it.”

Then I thought about next year, and I got really excited. I know I won’t be as nervous and I’ll have a much better plan. I wasn’t one of those people that kept a written running list of all the things I did wrong. Instead, I made mental notes. When I think back, I remember the exact moment and cause of my wrong doing.

Next year, I’ll introduce myself to all of them before they walk into my class. Instead of the word puzzle packets, we’ll do some kind of ice breaker activity after all that paper work. And, I’ll be able to attend Tiger Camp, the sixth grade informational meeting for the kids. It’ll also be cool because I’m sure I’ll have a couple of kids from this year go by to say hello or bug me.

At the same time, I’m saddened that I won’t have some of the same kids. Yesterday, during a meeting, a fellow teacher asked, “Do you joke around with all your classes? Don’t you find that you can’t do that with all of them?”

“No,” I said.

And really, I do joke with all of them. I may have a little turd here or there, but I’m not going to let them stop the other kids from having a good time. I have some very depressed kids with really crappy home situations and they need to laugh somewhere.

In other news, my nephew is well. Thanks to all of you for your concern. He’s back at school and the kids that beat him up were sent to an alternative school. His mother has been taking and picking him up from school like she should have been doing a long time ago.

Lastly, I’ve kept up the gym thing. I gained a lot of weight this year and with the help of many people, I’ve been able to keep up the gym thing. Yesterday, I played racquetball twice. Once with the people from work and the other with Dan the Man. It’s quite fun because I’m so bad at it that I run around like a crazy person. I did a kickboxing class the other day, too. That was like hell, but it was great.

When I’m doing my cardio, I see all sorts of people pass by; and of course, because I’m so nosey/observant, I examine everyone. I mostly like to read t-shirts. But some of the people really inspire me. But I find that the guys inspire me the most. In particular, the ones that work out on the weight machines and make it look so damn simple. That’s what’s made me try some of those hellish machines that leave me weak in the arms/legs/abs and make me feel like I’m the biggest bad ass ever.

Well, I’m off. I have to change the songs on my MP3 player, and head out to the gym. Later, I’m going to the eye doctor and the Latino Book Festival.


It's over!

I was so relieved to hear the 3:45 PM bell today. After spending days locked up in a room getting only 45 minutes to myself, I was ready to be back on our regular schedule. I was giddy with excitement thinking that I won’t have to tell kids to read, stop talking, turn around, or what time it is. Next week, we’re exploring poetry in the form of corridos, haiku, and limericks to name a few.

In my quest to be a medium brown girl, I joined a gym last week. I’ve been working out almost every day. Well, except for Easter because it was closed and the day my heel was killing me. Anyway, as an employee of the school district, I get a huge discount on membership, as do some of my colleagues. I usually run into two of them. Today, we planned to attend the Salsa class. It was actually quite fun, and I managed to look like I was kinda dancing. Have a mentioned before that I’m a horrible dancer? That could be another reason people think I’m a gringa.

It’s not all fun and games though. On Wednesday night, I received some horrifying news. My nephew, Richard, a sixth grader at a school in El Paso, got beat up by seven kids on Tuesday afternoon. He was trying to be chivalrous because some kid was pinching his girlfriend’s breasts. So he confronted the kid and they ended up meeting after school. Well, the kid took his friends and they all joined in on the fun. Richard passed out and didn’t wake up for a while. He’s got some bruising of the brain and yesterday he told me his face looks funny and his head hurts a lot.

I tear up thinking about the whole thing. I work so hard to keep my kiddos safe. If I know that they’re talking about fighting someone, I’m on them. I tell the counselor or another teacher. I watch them as the go from class to class because they don’t have all the skills to deal with problems rationally. I’m not saying his teachers had to do this. His mom could have helped out by getting off her lazy ass to take him to and from school. But I digress.

I hope you all are having a good week.



A couple months ago, during one of my post-observation meetings, my faciliatator, said to me, "I think you're a great teacher and you have so much to offer to your students, but I'm afriad the harsh reality of the classroom is going to push you away."
At that moment, I thought, "Hah, you're crazy!"
But her words resonated in my ears this morning when the principal came on the intercom this morning and said, "We want SJ to be recognized! Do your best today!"
It took me back to my Wal-Mart days. It gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. Yeah, our kiddos have to produce, but not in this way. It further upset me that at 3:15 kids were sent to their 5th period class and we're expected to teach. What the heck are they thinking? You force a kid to sit for six hours and test, then read, and you don't allow them to go outside, stand up, or breathe and then you want them to go to a class at the end of the day to learn?
I took my class outside and we played Red Rover. All anyone talks about is TAKS, it's over now, so of course the kids think school is out. I think I'm up for a couple of challenging weeks. However, I think they might actually be fun. Goodbye TAKS prep packets hello Literature and Writing.
In other news, my heel is killing me. I decided to do something good for me and join the gym and either the walking around all day or the working out has irked something in my heel. It hurts like a mother to walk and at times, I get these excrutiatingly painful throbs.
I hope everyone had a happy Easter and/or Passover. I'm off to look for poetry lessons for the last couple of weeks.


Immigration & Little League

You all know about wearing white on Monday, not purchasing anything, and being encouraged not to show up to work or school, right? I'm showing up to work because I'm a square like that, but I am wearing white and not purchasing anything (I must say, the purchasing thing will be difficult because I usually eat dinner w/ my co-worker & classmate because we have class on Monday night.)
Anyway, my sis and I were talking about this the other night because she was asking if I was going to any of the protests. It gets a little hairy because my commitment is to the kids not the education system. On our trip to "teacher happy camp," I had a conversation with one of the other fellow Latina teachers. She wasn't aware that there were only about four Latino teachers on staff and fewer African Americans. I think it really opened her eyes.
So when I think about it, I feel like I'm doing more by actually going to work. I submitted this week's headlining article with my lesson plans. I didn't get them back yet. We're still reading it on Monday, regardless.
On Monday, when I asked them to write about their weekend in their journal, A.T. told me all about opening day and getting the game ball. I asked about his team and what position he played. Friday a few minutes before the bell for the end of homeroom rang, he said, "Ms. will you go to my game later?"
At the end of the day, all I wanted was to come home and sleep. Since getting over my cold, I haven't had the sleeping effects of medicine and so I don't get to fall asleep until very late. Pair that up with feeling dizzy and weak b/c of the nasty salad the night before and you'll get one tired me who didn't want to go to this game.
However, Rachel Ray was making ballpark food, and I knew this kid would be waiting for me to show up, besides what's two hours. So come six o'clock, I headed toward the general direction of where he said his game would be. After weaving through some neighborhoods, I found the park.
I was a little shy about showing up. It's mostly parents that go to these things. How would I look showing up there. I don't even know this kid's parents. After watching the little girls eat ice cream as the jump on a trampoline in the backyard of the houses that lined one side of the park, I gained enough courage. The only thing I kept thinking was that I'd made a commitment to this kid.
After a couple plays, he saw me and alerted A.S., the pitcher and another one of my students, that I was in the stands. They both looked at me and smiled. Later, another one of my students came to the bleachers and looked as if he'd seen the most amazing thing in the world. "Ms. Baeza! What are you doing here?"
After I told him, I inquired about his game. He was playing after the game we were currently watching. I told him I'd stay to watch him too. As more of his teammates showed up, more kids asked his same question. They would go run around and come back to sit with me while I watched the game. When shocked kid's mom showed up, he whispered to her that I was there and that I would be staying to watch his game, too.
It was so nice to see them outside of school, doing the things they love. I felt like I do when I read their journals, honored, that they would share this part of their life with me.


Overdue Update

I know, I owe you guys. I owe you about a million entries, but you’re going to get one, a long one. Unless of course, I mess something up so bad that I need to come back and add it.

WPA Conference

It was pretty awesome. I went to most of the Con Tinta events. I was actually at the one on Thursday night. The most exciting part of the night besides being greeted by Alicia Gaspar de Alba and chatting with Rolando Hinojosa was seeing Matthew McConaughey. He was eating dinner with some buddies on the patio. Fortunately, we ended up having dinner there and got a table in the patio adjacent to his. When he walked through the lobby (where were sitting) from the restroom to his table, we all just about fainted.

Anyway, this Con Tinta stuff is pretty cool. Rich was awesome for looking through the program and hooking us up with the Latino events so that we could go and support each other. It was cool to have to choose between a couple of events instead of having only one option. I would encourage any of you writers to attend. Just like the protests for immigration, we need the Latino voice to be heard in places like this. Anyway, I’m sure you all know how I feel about certain top selling authors.

Capturing Kid’s Hearts

I got sent to this training in Podunk, Texas. Okay, it was really Round Top, those of you who don’t know Texas, it’s just outside of Brenam, which is near College Station (home of Texas A&M), which is just outside of Austin. So really, it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, we got to stay at this Christian Retreat. It was a huge chunk of land with about four farm houses. We got to stay in the biggest one. It was a really nice house. My room had a door to the balcony and bunk beds. The décor was country-style. They had a little pond with fish and the porch on the first floor had about a million rocking chairs.

The training was pretty good. When I got back on Friday, I had students running up to my room to see if I had turned into one of the “nice” teachers.


I’ve been busy because I had that training and I’ve been lagging three days. TAKS is only a two short weeks away and yesterday we got the “talking to.” I seriously don’t get what these legislators are thinking. I mean, how can I increase the percentage of kids passing TAKS when I don’t have the same kids as I did last year, but I digress. If I’m absent, this is why.

Immigration Protests

So there have been protests going on. Our school is freaking out that our kids are going to protest. They keep talking about it and the kids are like, “What protests Ms.?”

It comes down to an issue of safety. I’m not against the protest, heck, had I known, I would have been there. But these kids, the ones I teach, they have no idea. If they protested, I’d be upset because they would make us look like dumbasses. Anyway, I’m doing a lesson on the whole issue. I’m getting the ones that want to, to write letters and sending them off. I think we might have a debate in class on this issue.


Day 3

It’s day 3 of Spring Break. Funny how I’d be wishing it was Friday if it were any other week. At least when I get back, I work one full week and I'm off to "the camp that will change my life and make me nice." (The entire staff has been signed up to do a three day training in Round Rock, TX.) But after that, it's nose to the grindstone time. We don't have much longer until TAKS.
I'm heading out to Austin tomorrow. I'll be attending the WPA (Writers and Poets Association) conference. It should be fun. A lot of Latino faces will be there.
I suppose I should get back to cleaning. We're trying to get the place all spic and span before we head out to the park to fly kites. Monday we went to the zoo and it was one of the best days I've had in a long, long time. Anyway, foaming bubbles are waiting to be scrubbed onto the bathtub.



What channel will the Grannies or Oscars or whatever the heck is going to be on TV tonight be on? I’m guessing it will probably be ABC so I’m going to have to miss my Grey’s Anatomy. The bastards.

Well, Spring Break has turned out to be quite eventful. I woke up at 2:00 AM Saturday morning needing to drain the turtle and freezing half to death even though I was wrapped in two blankets. Two hours later, I woke up burning up, even though said blankets were on the opposite side of the bed. Yep, I got sick, majorly sick. I guess that’s what happens to for saying, “Nope, haven’t used that insurance yet. I haven’t gotten sick at all this year.”

It wasn’t until today that I could fathom the thought of ingesting anything food-like. Now, I’m dying to eat bread. Not any bread, a bolillo with a crispy crust. It seems like that’ll make my stomach finally feel okay. Earlier, I was craving chicken breast with rice and some kind of green vegetables, but I think I’ve waited too long. I’m heading out to Kroger in a few in search of the perfect meal for the sickling. The only good thing that has come out of it is that I’ve slept. I think I was awake for a total of two hours yesterday. The rest of the day was spent either clinging or fighting with the blankets dreaming about saving the youth of American with an IKEA duvet.

P.S. I blame all this sickness on the fact that I asked someone to get me a six pack of Lonestar and instead, they bring home a six pack of Keystone Light.


Spring Break and Acts of Cuteness (?)

This afternoon, the faculty vs. students game, kicked off our Spring Break. Boy was I excited to get out of dodge. I got home at about 4:30, I haven’t been home that early in forever. I hardly knew what to do with myself. I turned on the T.V. and passed out for about two hours. I still think I need to go pick up a six pack of Lonestar to celebrate.

Today, my cool friend M., asked me to cover her class for the last five minutes or so because she had to see the doctor before she skipped town. I arrived ten minutes before students were released and low and behold, the handsome young man was in there.

The handsome young man and I have developed a sort of interesting relationship. He manages to stop by my class about two or three times a day to say “hi.” He always walks in and says, “Heelllooo.” He sounds a lot like a Tele Tubby when he says this.

The other day, I was joking with him and told him that I was quitting after spring break. He quickly replied, “But you can’t! Not until the end of the year!”

“Who said that? I can quit at any time.”

“Let me see your paperwork!”

“I don’t have any paperwork.”

“Who’s going to be our teacher then?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I guess some sub.”

“But Ms! Can I give you a hug then?”


“Because you’re retiring!”

“Maybe after school.”

Well, ever since Thursday, he’s been coming back after school, to claim a hug.

So anyway, he was very happy to know I was going to watch the class. As soon as he heard me speak, he turned around in his chair and said, “Ms. Baeza! Come watch me play!” (This was a Tech. Applications class and playing on the computer is part of the curriculum.)

After they turned off the computers and were standing around waiting for the bell to ring, he invited me to sit next to him at the basketball game. I didn’t because I had to stand around and watch, make sure no one was up to any funny business. He did get his hug at the end of the day though.

During morning detention, another one of my students invited me to the skating rink. When I said I didn’t know how to skate, he quickly said, “I’ll teach you!”

And during our third period conference, I went to help my mentor and another fellow teacher practice shooting hoops for the game. The 6th grade girls came out of the locker room and one of them lunged herself at me and wrapped her arms around me squealing, “Ms. Baeza!”

It’s so funny that at the beginning of the year I was so afraid of them. I thought they were going to eat me up alive. Now, I have issues thinking about being away from them during vacations and my three day out of town training. My mentor said to me the other day, “Oh, you wait until the end of the year. You’re going to cry.”


Chick Flick Dreams

Last night, I had a dream that I was the star of a chick flick. Everyone in the movie was white. I think I may have been white too. I can’t say for sure because I was seeing it through my eyes.

The movie was about this girl who can’t make up her mind between two guys. There’s the one guy who is the good guy. He loved her with all his heart, but eventually, he got tired of the way she treated him. It was at this time that my character falls in love with him. However, it’s way too late because he asked the perfect, goody two shoes blonde, to marry him.

Then there was the other guy who has financial promise, but he’s sort of an ass and not as handsome. He proposes to my character, and she says no, but he tells her to keep the ring and think about it.

At the end of the movie, my character is at the wedding of the guy she loves and the perfect woman. At the wedding reception, the younger sister of either the girl is shooting hoops in her bridesmaid dress and everyone is shouting, “Go Squirrel!”

My character is eating a piece of pie feeling sorry for herself. Someone sets on fire the binder that contains all of the secrets of these girls (there was like four of them). The perfect girl, who’s wearing a simple cotton dress for a wedding dress, says she needs to get some joints out of her purse to burn in the fire. One of the other girls is watching my character eat the pie and says, “I loved him too.”

And the other character, who sort of looks like the lesbian friend on Roseann, is saying that she’s hoping to get transferred to Virginia (she’s a teacher), but the school secretary won’t let her.

At this point, I woke up, but fell back asleep and the dream continued.

Before the final credits start running, there are those freeze shot scenes that tell you what happens after the action. There’s a song in the background, but I can’t remember what it is. Anyway, lover boy and perfect girl end up happily ever after. Squirrel makes the basketball team, becomes some sort of All Star player. The chick that wants to move to Virginia doesn’t. And my character, she ends up with the ass.

I wake up again and force myself back to sleep. I want to change the ending.

The chick that was in love with lover boy ends up with the ass.

This is where the dream ends. I couldn’t break apart the perfect couple because somehow, it would ruin it. It would be too much like every other chick flick. And so, I’ve decided, I should never attempt to write a chick flick.


It's All in the Way You Say It

The horrid TAKS test is coming up, and since our school's budget and the teacher bonus depends on scores from this exam, we have all sorts of help for the kids. We hae the pull-outs in which certain students are taken out of their Math, LA, or elective class to practice TAKS strategies. We have what my mentor calls "The Giant Fairy" which is known schoolwide as KBL (Knowledge Baseball League). Homerooms go up against each other in Math and LA. We will eventually have a World Series, but we also have a door, locker and scavenger hunt competition. Finally, there are the extended days. Math stays after school three or four days a week. LA does three Saturdays before TAKS, 8-noon.

Last week, I had to hand out the letters to my students who I though needed the extra help. The day before I did this, I had an observation with my mentor. Before she read Ch. 3 of Face on the Milk Carton, she said, "I have given some of you a letter for Reading Extended Day. I need you to take it home and bring it back signed by your parent. It's going to be a lot of fun. We will be playing games and you will be getting candy every time you switch classes. And at the end of the day, we will have gym time and the teachers will be playing games with you."

"What kind of games?"

"Any kind of game you want. We'll have basketballs and pretty much all the gym equipment."

"What about wrestling," asked another student.

"Oh honey, don't even try because we'll beat you. Right Ms. Baeza?"

"That's right."

"I want a paper," one kid said.

"I'll have to put you on a waiting list."

"Put me on the waiting list too," said another kid.

The following day, when I handed out my Extended Day letters, I put to use my mentor's tactic. I had a similar response from my students. There were about five kids that wanted on the waiting list in each class.

During our ELA meeting, the racist said her students were complaining about getting a letter. My mentor quickly responded, "Not mine. Georgina saw, right?"

"Yep. I did the same thing with mine and they were asking to be put on 'the waiting list.'"

When academics are competing against entertainment industry, it's important how you say things. Of course, they're going to be learning, but it's going to be fun. If we have to take away a Saturday because these kids aren't drawn into studies to begin with, making it fun is our job.