Flight 2701 to Houston Hobby 3:05 PM

I’m on my way back to Houston after a short holiday visit to El Paso. I have the most beautiful view of the Franklins from my gate. The clouds are rolling over the rumpled earth beneath them. Rolling toward the east, perhaps to meet me in the sadness that settles in every time I have to leave.

It was a great visit. I got to see all of the people that I love and miss. This visit, more than any other, cemented the idea that I have outgrown this place. I love it so much, and I wish that some day, I could come back to live here, but it’s not where I can make my home. The way that people treat one another would probably drive me crazy. I hate how some people think that they are above others.

I wish so much for my mom and brother to move to the Houston area. Things wouldn’t be peachy at first, but it would be so nice to have family around. Sometimes it is so lonely there. So many times there are things that happen that I wish I could have them around to vent or to share joy with. Perhaps someday.

In the meantime, all we have are cloudy skies and teary eyes. 


Live and Direct from El Chuco

Sitting at Barnes and Noble in El Paso having some coffee. Amazingly, the headache that I'd been nursing all day has gone away. Perhaps I am addicted to the caffeine now. What a sad state my life has become.

My rental car is complete awesomeness. It's a Toyota Matrix that uses up hardly any gas and can play my iPod. 

I am enjoying time with the family. Haven't had many thoughts of work which should make many peeps happy although they requested NO thoughts of work. I suppose it's like my caffeine addiction, gotta take it slow. 

When we leave here, I think we're going to go see the Christmas lights in the neighborhood over by Eastwood High. Haven't been there in a while. I hope the decline of the economy hasn't sucked out the Christmas spirit. 


A List

I have thought about updating for days now, but I’ve been stuck in classic me mode. The mode where I have so many things I want and need to do, but become paralyzed and do nothing. Same thing with this blog, so much to blog about, but I just don’t do it. Maybe I’ll try a list. 

  1. Lots of not great things have happened with family, friends, and students. You’d think I’d be in horrible spirits, but I’m not. All the things that are happening hurt, but it just seems like a part of life.
  2. I attended NCTE in San Antonio last week. It was my first NCTE conference and was a bit over stimulated by the end of it. Naomi Shihab Nye made a special appearance at the Middle School Mosaic. Saw Sid Fleischman, Scott Westerfield, Kelly Gallagher, and got to chat with Jeff Anderson for a bit. Anderson is so tall. He truly is like a God. The coolest thing about the whole conference was seeing the CEO of Sesame Street with a special appearance by Grover.
  3. My niece, Joann, was in town, too. I got to hang out with her and her husband. She is leaving for Afghanistan Monday, December 1. I usually have a good feeling about events, but I have no idea about this one. I hope she returns safely from her tour. The best-case scenario is that there would be no involvement in Afghanistan, but I doubt that’s going to happen.
  4. I will be presenting at NABE in February. I will also be attending the Middle School Conference, and Tuesday I began my tutoring gig. Seems like things will be getting crazy busy once again. Maybe that’s the key to keeping my sanity.

I suppose I’m going to try to clear off some bookshelf space. Maybe I’ll put up the Christmas stuff…


The Fate of Palin

As I thumbed through this week’s edition of Newsweek, I thought of what will happen to Sarah Palin when this election is over. 

Last night, an interview with Palin was aired on 20/20. In the intro, they said something about 60-something days. It was shocking to me that she’s only been involved in this campaign that few days. The other guys have been going on a year and a half at least. They’ve become a common character in my life. If I want to know what ‘s going on with them, all I have to do is turn on the TV, pick up a magazine or newspaper, or check my e-mail. 

Palin came on the scene and stole the attention like a bratty baby sister. McCain chose a woman for his VP pick! Sarah Palin is hot! She doesn’t know anything! Her daughter is pregnant! $150,000 was spent on her wardrobe! Etc.

Had I not voted already, I may have been more critical. However, since voting, I have been overcome with this overwhelming sense of hope. I did my part and so many people around me have, too and I have nothing to fear anymore. This isn’t ’04. I will not face election night with a knot in my stomach wishing for a fourth-quarter pipe dream.

So this morning, I wonder what will happen to Sarah Palin when she returns to Alaska.



I have a memory of the day we got out for Winter Break my first year of teaching. We’d been given poinsettias at the annual Christmas luncheon and I also had a plant in my classroom that I wanted to bring home in hopes of keeping it alive. So I had a Xerox box loaded with the plants and the gifts I had received from students. I was driving home and a wall of clouds was creating a gray haze that was shielding the sun. I remember stopping at a gas station and wanting to scream. I was so excited about being free for the next two weeks. 

When I’m stressed or knee deep in work, I like to revisit my collection of memories that evoke this feeling of freedom. As I sit here chipping away at my freelance project, I can feel that such a moment is near.  


Dolores and Bernice

Work has pretty much been sucking up any of my free time, which is why I haven’t been around. I’m really behind on my freelance project so I’ll be dedicating my weekend to it. I just sent in my first batch of stuff and I’m a little nervous and excited.

Things are pretty much back to normal around these parts. At times there is a harsh reality check, like when I briefed on a new student I received earlier this week. Her family lost everything during the storm. I was really happy to see the kids taking to her right away.

There are some good and bad things that have happened, but it’s late and I’m tired. I will tell you though, I made the big switch from PC to Mac. It’s the coolest, best thing I’ve done in a while. Dolores, my Mac, makes me so happy. I love having her. Oh, and today, my brain was named Bernice. Peace out.

Don’t forget to vote!!!


Really? This is newsworthy?

Tough talk from Mayor WhiteTuesday, September 23, 2008 7:15 PM By Ted Oberg HOUSTON (KTRK) --

As if he didn't have enough to do, Houston Mayor Bill White is explaining his tough language to some FEMA visitors from Georgia.

It happened in the days just after Ike when it seemed like everyone was frustrated and stressed.

In storms like this, FEMA sends crews from all over the country to help manage the disaster. One of those crews came from Georgia to dispatch trucks of food and ice to points of distribution, or PODs. Mayor White thought they weren't getting the job done and the governor of Georgia got offended when White told them so.

Surrounded by trash, living with marginal power and dealing with the long effects of a storm can make people angry.

"They ain't picked up my (expletive) trash yet," said resident Third Ward Kenneth Allen. "Hell yeah, I still feel the effects of the storm."

We're not proud of it and it doesn't sound real nice, but when there's no AC, heated language is a little understandable, maybe even coming from our Mayor White.

Last Tuesday morning, Mayor White visited the thousands of people in line at the TSU POD. All the supplies had been sitting overnight at Reliant Stadium. The mayor wasn't happy.

"That is not going to happen again," said Mayor White to the media in the days after the storm.
What he didn't say from that podium is that before the trucks started rolling, some tough words rolled off his tongue. According to a city witness, he told some FEMA workers from Georgia dispatching trucks, to "Get those (expletive) trucks moving" and "You better get your (expletive) act together."

Apparently, those Georgia workers' feelings bruise easier than a Georgia peach. They tattled on our mayor and the Georgia governor wrote Texas Governor Rick Perry a letter saying, "I would not tolerate the profane berating of Texas or Georgia volunteers here...and I trust that you do not either."

Governor Perry wrote back, saying he was dismayed and offered his sincerest apologies.
"Now there's a feud between Georgia and Texas," said Allen.

People who stood in the long TSU lines don't think our mayor needs to do a thing.
"I commend the mayor," said Allen. "Because if someone dropped the ball, he should get on their (expletive)."

"I think he's human," added Third Ward Tonya Wyche. "I think he's stressed and I would've said something worse than that."

Tuesday in Washington, the mayor explained his words and isn't backing down.
"I always feel bad if I hurt someone's feelings," he said. "I was trying to get people moving quicker and trying to provide a little incentive to do so."

If not for the involvement of two governors, this sure would seem like a little deal. And it does seem like a little deal to the guy who supervises the Georgia workers. He told me on Tuesday that they've been yelled at by a lot more people than Mayor White and they understand how he lost his cool.

I can't believe anyone would waste time writting letters and complaining about this. The truth is, while Perry and Bush twiddle their thumbs, White has been working his butt off to make sure his people have what they need. If the twits sitting at Reliant, with trucks full of supplies that people need, don't understand, they deserve to be talked to in this manner. Lucky for them, it was only White yelling at them.

Back to School

I got up at 6 AM today in preparation for my re-back to school morning tomorrow. That’s right, re-back to school. I have not been to work since September 11th. I won’t see my students until Monday, which means they will have lost eleven instructional days. ELEVEN. That’s a lot of time. I don’t know what the plan for makeup is. I think it all depends on how much time The State grants.

In some ways, it’s been nice to have the time off. In a moment of panic the other day, I worked several hours on freelance project and did quite a bit, now if I could only coax myself to type the darn thing up. Last night, I read my new Newsweek almost cover to cover. I watched a movie a day, cooked meals at home, spent time with The BF, kept the house clean, and did all of my laundry.

Right before the storm, things were really intense. My mom was in town, and still, I couldn’t drag myself away from work earlier than 6:00 PM, and when I got home, I still managed to work another hour or so. I don’t know if I’ll go back to the same. Knowing myself, I probably will. Still, I wish I wouldn’t.

Last night, we went to Starbucks for a snack and there was a girl, probably in her 20’s, curled up on one of the armchairs with a copy of White Oleander. I could tell she had been there a while because her medium cup of iced tea and large cup of water were half full. I wish I could do that, too. I wish I had time to sit and read for hours like that. Usually, when things are crazy, I still make time to read an article or a chapter from something I enjoy. Sometimes my eyes are so tired that I resort to audio books. But it’s not the leisure expressed by the pose of Reading Starbucks Girl.

Perhaps el Ike meant to make me have a re-start so that I get things right this time, so that I don’t forget that I have to watch out for me.

Here are some pics of Ike’s visit.

Not my building. The guy who lives there was asleep when this happened. He and his family were moved to another apartment. Here is what was under it when it collapsed.
Not sure whose vehicle this is. They probably parked on the lawn because our parking lot tends to flood.

Glad this didn't become something for Ike to blow around.

This was a common image. Again, I'm glad they weren't torn off and blown around.


Slacker Uprising

Michael Moore's new movie Slacker Uprising can be viewed for free!


The Aftermath

We've all got all of our limbs, fingers, and everything in tact. I have some pictures to post that Dan the Man took while looking for some provisions, but I can't find the cable to upload pics onto the laptop.

I know that we are so much more fortunate than others and I am so grateful for it. I don't know who was looking out for us, but they did a great job.


El Ike

I'm hunkering down near downtown Houston awaiting the wrath of Ike. I don't know what anyone did to him, but he's pretty upset. I don't think much will happen to us though. I have a strong feeling it's all going to be okay.


Hi Ate Us

My updates are going to be scarce around here. I have a ton of start of year stuff to prepare. The cool thing is that if I do a good job now, next year, I won’t feel like I’m running on a 15 mph treadmill at my 3 mph rate.

I’m enjoying my side gig. It’s been very enlightening. I don’t know how much I can share, but I will tell you that it’s got to do with education.

I’m really enjoying my students this year. More than half are the kids I had at the start of last year. Today, we had another one of those “buzz” moments. I took them to the library for the first time, and when we came back, they had ten minutes of silent reading time. Even my rowdiest class was quiet and reading the entire time. In one class, I had some whiners, saying “I HATE to READ! I’m not going to read!” at the library. Once the librarian or I got a good book in their hands, they were upset when I made them stop. I felt bad, but I really needed to show them a video to prepare them for one on tomorrow’s assignments.

Aside from work, not much else has gone on. I watched a couple of movies last weekend. Martian Child was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it. I also saw Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead that was sort of twisted and sad. Lastly, I saw a good chunk of Beautiful it had that cute little girl from Paulie and the Pepsi commercials. It was a good chick flick.

My mama flies in tomorrow. I’m so giddy. She’s finally going to meet the bf’s parents. It should be fun.

Hope I can update sooner than later!


Return to the Daily Grind

I apologize for the lack of updates. As you can imagine, or perhaps you know, school has started up again. The kids returned on Tuesday. Last week and weekend, I was really nervous about the school year because I have one new duty and I also took on a freelance project. On top of that, I had a few meetings to prepare.

When I went to pick up my homeroom from the gym, there was a little cheer when the counselor said, “Ms. Baeza’s homeroom come on down!”

I was a little worried about that. I like enthusiasm, but not when they’re going to be with me for a couple hours. When we got back to class and I started my first day spiel, it was all good. At the end of the day, I was really happy. The buzz that teachers talk about, the one that happens when kids are learning, could be heard several times yesterday and today.

I left school at 8 PM today, but I there wasn’t any resent. I still have some prep work to do right now, but I’m okay with it. I know it’s going to be a good year. I have great students, almost a year of 7th grade experience under my belt, great colleague, and a good plan of where I’m going.


Olympic Observations or Procrastination

I have a couple of things to do today, but I stayed up way too late last night/this morning. I don’t feel like doing anything, so I figured I would start and hopefully complete an entry instead of getting in the shower.

Part of the reason I was up last night was because I was glued to the Primetime edition of the Olympics. I wanted to make sure Phelps got his two medals and I’ve always been partial to gymnastics.

Here are a few of my observations categorized by good and bad.

Beijing 2008—The Bad

One of the things I’ve complained about since opening day about these Olympics is some of the commentary. I don’t know the names of all the hosts/commentators on NBC save for Bob “Big Head” Costas or Matt Lauer, so I will call many of them the dude or the chick.

Costas and Lauer annoyed me with some of their comments during the Parade of the Nations (my favorite part of any opening ceremony) because they poked fun at the clothes some of the different countries wore. Perhaps some of the garb seems ridiculous to you, but you are on a television station that can be seen around the world. The other thing that annoyed me is that as Guatemala marched in, one of them talked about the guy carrying the flag, Kevin Cordon who is their badminton player, and said, “He might as well go home because China has the gold medal locked in on this one.”

D-dawg was annoyed that they kept saying, “Such and such country has NEVER won an Olympic medal.” After seeing the magnitude of the U.S. Olympic team, D-dawg said, “Well, no wonder we win so many medals! They should take that into account when tallying up medal counts.”*

I know it’s their job to talk and fill us in on these little tidbits, but watch what you say. Ethnocentric much?

Then, last night, when the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team was done and they were interviewing they team, the woman/chick would not lay off Alicia Sacramone about her mistakes. I mean, I get it that they could have taken gold and they had a chance and yadda yadda yadda, but it happens! People fall off the beam or miss a landing or step out of bounds. And from all the camera in your face shots of Alicia after her last two events, you could tell, she was beating herself up over it, why lay into her in the interview? I just wanted to reach through the TV, take the mic, and whack Mrs. Interviewer over the head and tell her to shut up. They could have not placed. They could sucked it up on all of the events and came in last place. Leave her alone already!

The Good

It was awesome when the men’s relay team beat the French in the pool. I’m not partial to smack talk. In fact, in politics, when people put out negative ads, each time I see one, I loose a bit of respect for them. I firmly believe there is a high and low road, and I like it when people take the high road.

The other good is that I’ve noticed more diversity in the U.S. Olympians. When I saw Raj Bhavsar, I thought it was so freaking cool. Then when I heard how he was an alternate and this was really his last chance to be in the Olympics, I was even happier. The icing on the cake was that his hometown is Houston.

I’m also super excited about the Lopezes who are competing in Taekwando next week. Ahem, also from the Houston area. And lets not forget Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong.

Prior to the start of the games, I had read an article about how some countries import their athletes and I thought it was unfair and certain the U.S. did this. But some of them they didn’t import; they’re actual home grown peeps with some spice. I think that’s awesome.

*Neither of us had paid much attention to prior Olympics. We watched them here and there, but not like we have this year. I suppose the giant TV helps. D-dawg says it’s not “giant,” but it is to me! I’ve always had a 21” TV; this is like twice as big!


Little Big Planet

Growing up, I had a Sega. I loved all the Sonic games. My absolute favorite was Sonic Spinball which I was never able to beat. Still, I was never really the kind to becomes obsessed with video games.

Now, we own a PS3 and a Nintendo DS. There's been talk of a Wii, but no final decision has been made. I mostly play on the DS, but I'm really looking forward to Little Big Planet. It might even make me a video game obsessed junkie.



It’s 6ish and I'm at the local Barnes & Noble Café.

It’s the first time I’ve been here all summer. Mostly because I’ve been too lazy to leave the house or because my late nights force me to do the house cleaning when I’d normally be here. Today, I bribed myself with a Chai Latte if I came here to work on my syllabi.

It’s pretty empty. People are probably at home having dinner, fresh from work, which probably felt like a Monday if they were forced to take the day off yesterday.

My usual seat next to the trash can was taken by a kid who had his headphones on and the volume turned up loud enough for me to hear. I sat two tables down. I have a clear view of the potential US Travel shopper as well as the Bargain Books section.

Before I had to turn up my iPod because of the loud father and daughter duo, I overheard the woman one table in front of me say into her phone, “Estoy leyendo. Ahorita te caigo.”

She’s about 200-250 pages into a Sherrilyn Kenyon book. She’s got a young girl with her and they’ve both been in a reading trance for a while. I smile at them behind my Grande Chai because they don’t look like “readers.” Not that I have an idea of what “readers” look like, but I know some people do.

An old man with a cane came a while later with a loaded B&N bag. He sat across from my favorite seat and looked through his bag. After the kid left, he took half his stuff and set it down on my favorite spot. Then he went and got the rest of it. He started looking through his mail and has been diligently reading and tearing up his stack.

For a while, I was busily highlighting through the last couple chapters of Kelly Gallagher’s Deeper Reading in hopes of getting down the elusive “best way for me to teach.” But when I stopped for a breath and look around, I had to take a break and tell you about my surroundings.

With my ear buds plugged in, I feel like I’m watching a movie. Here I am, having my own Regina Spektor concert watching a movie reel of people’s secret moments with books, mail, friends, a cup of coffee, or a cupcake. Perhaps it’s sick that I sit here and glance with curiosity at the couple in the Relationship section hug and laugh as they look through books or the two ladies who look like they just got off work and met for some “girl time” before going home to their families, but these are just the things that make me enjoy life so much.

For all I know, someone is doing just the same thing to me. Wondering what it is I’m typing or listening to and notice how my eyes begin to wander as I look perfect word…



Back when I was in college and still living at my sister’s house, Caro would often stay with me when my sister and her hubby went out of town.

One of those times, we were driving home from perhaps a usual Friday dinner when we noted the ominous gray clouds. It was summer; so of course, there was a chance of some sort of crazy weather.

She talked about the possibilities and mentioned a hurricane. All I could think about was that song that says, “El hura-can-can-can!” After a while, much like Homer, it got the best of me and I blurted it out.
Yesterday when the local, alarmist media began reporting on good ‘ole Eddie, people dashed off to Wal Mart making it seem like it was Christmas in August (bummer it wasn’t July!). I was surprised the even Target looked busy from the parking lot.

My school district closed (not like I was going to work anyway!), as did many non-essential businesses.

I was driving around doing some errands when my sister called. As usual, I didn’t hear the phone ring until the voice mail alert sounded. Retrieving my message, the first thing she said was, “El hura-can-can-can!”

It’s all good around here. It’s not an hura-can-can-can, but a tropical storm which is some wind and rain—nothing we’re not used to in these parts.

All summer long, I was wishing for a rainy day. I guess all my wishing built up into this storm.
As soon as I’m done with this, I’m planning to set down the lap top and settle into my recliner with my favorite throw blanket and a book.


Ode to the Cana

Growing up, my mom was always concerned about her canas. It wasn’t uncommon for my mom to don a large black trash bag around her shoulders to protect her clothes from the jet black, goopy concoction massed in her hair.

The message was clear canas=the enemy.

In my early twenties, when I came across my first enemy, I examined it carefully in my 10X mirror. Was it simply a light colored hair or was it a legit cana?

When I determined that it, in fact, was a cana, I plucked it out. A few weeks later, it came back…with a friend. This time, I doused them in Cherry Jubilee goop.

After a rinse and some air dry time, it was made known that Thing One and Thing Two were resistant to such a thing. Unlike the rest of my hair, they’d only taken a smidgen of the hue. My canas were demure ladies on a date.

Gabi was the first to begin questioning the canas=the enemy theory when she stopped dying her hair. Suddenly, I became ultra aware of them.

I noticed how the less you mess with them, the cooler they look. Men with the salt and pepper look pretty nice. But my most remarkable observation was that many of these academic types I admired were cursed with them. Because they were associated with one of my pedestal dwelling ideas, my point of view shifted and my analogy did as well: canas=intelligence.

Now every new sapling is celebrated in my 10X mirror. I run my fingers across my hair in search of them and stare in wonder as the reflection of light glistens in the reflection of the mirror like a shooting star.


Breakthrough Award

The Breakthrough

In my last post, I talked about the issue of sleep. I’ve had a breakthrough here recently. Yesterday, I actually woke up before my usual 2 PM and I didn’t even have anything to do. Although I did manage to clean up a little, hang up “art,” and run a few errands. This morning I was awake by 8 AM thanks to my alarm and having gone to been before midnight.

The coolest thing about waking up early was being able to watch Sunday Morning, Meet the Press, and This Week. I also had some early morning coffee. There are still several hours left in the day and I feel ahead of the game.

The rest of the day holds more errands and some quality time with the printed and soon to be printed word.

The Award

Not Quite Grown Up, who is starting her first year as a full fledged teacher (and a great one she will be), merited me with an award. An award! I think it’s awesome when people list me on their links.

The coolest thing about this award is the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

I like the idea of paying it forward. Without further adieu, here are my nominees:

Annette--because whenever the homesickness sets in, I can always visit her site to calm the senses.

Bad Texas—a fellow proud Texan, UH Alumni, and just plain cool.

CAD—she takes awesome pics and is living out her dream.

Cracked Chancla—another woman living out her dream. I hope I get to visit el Tianguis soon.

Cindylu—she inspired me to revamp my blog and raised my awareness to so many issues. Plus, she’s almost a Doctora in an issue I care about deeply.

ElenaMary—inspiring in so many ways. If only we could all be half the activist she is.

El Chavo—his useless kitchen tools crack me up, the HR posts make me drool (even the bad ones because I always imagine my mom’s delicious HR’s), and his pictorial tours of are cool.

Gwen—who provides tales of shopping, Metro rides, and the whirlwind that is publishing.

Because I am a rule follower, I must stop at seven. However, anyone over on my links list is a nominee.


Sleepless Wedding Dress Video

El Insomnio

This summer, more than ever, I’ve been having sleep issues. At the beginning of the summer, I was used to my school schedule. I’d fall asleep around 11 or 12 and wake up around 7 AM.

But the week before the trip to El Paso everything got all screwy. I was staying up late almost every night preparing for my presentation.

Then, when I returned from El Paso, things just got worse. I’d stay up later and later until I wouldn’t fall asleep until the sun was coming up.

Now that I’ve had training to attend, I usually sleep two to four hours. It’s always the same. I go to my bedroom at around 11 PM, watch TV or read, and before I know it, it’s 2 AM. I force myself to go to sleep. Then when I least expect it, I wake up wondering what time it is. I realize its 2 or 4 hours later and can’t go back to sleep.

Because I hate lying there idly, I get out of bed and annoy the cats by turning on the lights and making coffee. Probably not the best thing to do, but it’s one of my favorite things about waking up early, having the time to make coffee and watch the morning news.

The Wedding Dress

Long ago, I planned on getting married at some point. Nothing has been done about it really. For me, both of us being on the lease is enough.

Sure, I used to plan Barbie weddings, but they were not ever my own. Sunday nights, when I watch Bridezillas, I revel in the joy of not being them especially that lunatic in the video below.

My mom, however, has a different view.

When I spoke to her the other day, she was so excited about a wedding dress she saw at the Goodwill store. When her friend asked her why she was so interested in it, she said, “Para la Georgina, la mas chiquita. Ella se quiere casar.”

I was touched by the tone in her voice; it was like a joy with a hint of joy smothered with love. I’ve been thinking about it a lot trying to capture the tone in words. I might hit replay on that conversation* hoping to hear it again.

*I was trying to link the story, but I realized it’s from one of my mom stories that I’m currently collecting. Anyway, my mom often tells you the same stories if you call her frequently. She calls it darle vuelta al cassette.



Recently, there was a big fight over the revised English Language Arts state mandated curriculum. It appears that one group of people wanted to remove comprehension and increase the stress on teaching fluency. They also wanted to take grammar out of the writing process.

Many of us were up in arms and complained, but the board still had their way. They voted and passed a version of the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge Skills) that was not what had been put up on the web site or the version a group of English teachers had revised.

And now, this. The ire is causes.

I’ll be happy when someone with some sense are on the Board of Education. Currently, it is not a requirement to have any experience in education to be on the board. While sometimes we need outside perspective, not having a true idea of what effects your decisions are having on millions of children is a huge problem.

The problem with education is that it has become muddled by so much red bureaucratic tape and loss of power. These people need to step back and really listen. There are so many of us wanting to do powerful things for our students, but stopped or disillusioned because of them.


From the Vault

My little blue flash drive that I got when I was still in college has finally run out of space. Because I know that I have multiples of some files, I decided I should clear up some space to keep adding stuff to it.

Anyway, I found what seems to be a blog entry that I never posted. This was typed up 12/29.2006...

As I sit/sat here in the wee hours of the morning, listening to my favorite Counting Crows album (Hard Candy), chipping away at my brain for words and ideas, I’m reminded of one of my favorite places on the UH campus, the library. It is one of the things I miss most about college. Unlike most students at U of H, who hardly or never set foot in the library, I was there almost on a daily basis.

In my early college days, I didn’t know how to use the library. I’d end up frustrated and running to the internet or bookstore to find enough info to write my papers. It is of no surprise that most of those papers were really a piece of crap. I haven’t seen one lately, but I’m sure they were. On top of that, I had just learned to use a pc and I’m certain I’d been using something other than word to type them which made them esthetically horrid.

Moving from El Paso to Houston didn’t automatically make me a library expert. In fact, I’m sure that I still didn’t know how to use a library when I got here. It was slowly and with the help of many people that I learned about all the different sections of the library. There were some I spent a lot of time in and others I never set foot in (which is really pretty sad).

But my favorite thing to do at the library was sit in a cubby and study or write. I remember the year I got stuck with the ghastly schedule in which I worked most of the day and had class at night, I’d leave work and spend the rest of the afternoon on the fourth floor in a cubby in front of the window translating Chaucer as I listened to some music.

Going to the library, I always had to go alone too. It never worked if I went with someone else because I would talk or they’d want to leave.

Or, they could accidentally throw off my routine: As I was leaving work or class, I’d plug myself up to my musical device. Upon arriving at the library, I’d pick up a Daily Cougar on my way inside. I’d usually take the older elevator because if there were too many people milling around, I’d take the stairs across from them. When I found an appropriate cubby (if mine had been taken), I’d sit down and take out my books, notebooks, and pens (I usually carry at least three pens and pencil). Then, I’d read the Daily Cougar, maybe do a little free writing to clear the brain, and then start my homework.



Since my last entry, a few things have occurred. For example, I turned one year older. My new profile picture was taken during my birthday celebration. It was a fun evening with delicious food.

I also started a three week period of nothingness. There are no staff developments. The only work I have is to keep the house clean and whatever else I decide to do.

I also made the epic journey home and back. The goal of the visit was to help my mom settle into her new apartment. Mid-March, my mom had a stroke. It was a really hard blow. It made me look at the people around me with two living, healthy parents and wonder why I mine had to be sick. It made me very angry.

Fortunately, my mom was able to overcome the effects of her stroke. Although at times she forgets or says the wrong word, she’s doing well. Her CT scan found that her brain had not bled. And now that she’s on her own again, her zest for life is back.

Still, on the drive home, I couldn’t help but think about the inevitable. One day, I will be driving back toward Houston and there won’t be a mom waiting to hear if I’ve made it to Ft. Stockton or San Antonio yet. I know that the empty feeling I had when I found out about her stroke will be ten times worse. I will probably go around saying “Aye Amá,” like my own mom did when hers passed away. Eventually, I will get used to it, but what seems so difficult now, is that I don’t know how I will.

For now, I know that I need to enjoy her as much as I can and do as much I can to make her as happy as possible.



That was my reaction to Tim Russert’s death. Meet the Press and This Week are my Sunday morning indulgences. It’s going to be strange this Sunday.


Brief and Wondrous

I was tickled to see that Sunday Morning was airing a story on Junot Diaz this week.

It’s been an adventure for some of my friends to get a copy of Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. At one Barnes and Noble, my friend was told, “we are a didactic book store and we stock what our customers want.’

Her reply was to order five copies, four of which she never intended to pick up. She also said to the sales person, “This book is going to blow up. Do you know what that means? People, my friends, are going to come in looking for it and I hope you have some in stock.”

After allowing another friend to read the first chapter, she was immediately drawn into the story. “I’m going to go get it after we get done here.”

“Be sure not to go to Barnes and Noble.”


“Because I bought their only copy.”

“What do you mean?”

“This was the only copy they had when I went to get mine. (I only got it there because I had an extra discount.) I’m pretty sure they haven’t replaced it yet.”

She didn’t listen to my warning and there weren’t any new copies.

Anyway, that’s all beside the point. The point is that it’s awesome he’s getting more media coverage. All real people accounts I have read and heard about this book are positive. So it’s nice that for once the critics and the readers agree.


La Naca

Growing up, I always thought the Cheros (cowboys) at my high school were such chuntaros. My friends and I used to laugh at their chingamelavista lime green boots, painted on Wranglers, and motley-colored cowboy shirts. When they cruised through campus in their supped up pick up trucks blaring Ramon Ayala y Los Tigres del Norte, I would turn up whatever grunge band I had playing on my Walkman.

Since I’ve left home, I’ve become quite a fan of “chero music.” As I told my mom a while back, “me estoy haciendo bien naca.”

I am such a naca now, that I almost jumped out of my seat when I was able to download the newest Intocable cd 2C before midnight.


Status Update

Friday was the last day I got to spend n the building I began teaching. Come mid-July, all of my classroom things will be in a brand new building. The old building, which was “condemned,” will be repaired to house a middle school (grades 5-6).

Of course, it was only fitting that my friend and I be the last ones to leave. As with any move, there was a lot of work to be done. However, we had a lot of buildup from teachers past in novel cabinets, closets, and filing cabinets. When 7PM rolled around and my friend still had seven banker boxes full of files from teachers past to go through. By this time, we had fully pledged to our mantra: I am a much better teacher than that. So when she suggested throwing it all away, I was ecstatic.

I didn’t have a final moment with my room. Not only did I not have time, but I don’t really buy into that type of sentimentality. The future was on my mind, the prospect of our new school, our new work family, my new students, and my new responsibilities.

I am very happy that summer is here. There are so many projects that I want to dive into but have not had the time.


Can You Smell Hope?

I’ve been trying to stay off the politics topic here because it really chaps people’s hide. For a while there, many of us were in agreement: Bush sucks and he needs out. Now that we have the chance for that, ideas have diverged--which is cool.

Often when people talk politics around me, I tend to do a lot of listening. I’ve mentioned before why it is that I support Obama. I understand that a lot of people think he’s green and won’t do a good job and then there are all the rumors of him being a secret Muslim and he won’t swear on the bible and that the media owns him, but I still got the dude’s back.

As I end my third year of teaching, I can’t help but think back on my interview almost three years ago. I don’t think the principal, at the time, really wanted to hire me. I had no teaching experience. I had this dreamy view of what teaching would be like. I’d go in there and be like Ms Dangerous Minds or something. I think the principal sensed this and gave me a really hard time. He asked me some questions that are not normally asked. I know this now because I have been on my share of interview committees.

Not only that, from asking around, I was the only one that had to go back to a second interview with potential colleagues. Nonetheless, I was given a chance and I think I have truly proved myself to them. I consider myself a valuable asset to our campus. Sure, I made some mistakes, but I never stop trying or learning. When I’m dying to go home or wake up and think about calling in because I just want time off, the end result, the kids, always force me to hang in there.

So yeah, Obama may be green, but that doesn’t mean he won’t do a good job. I honestly feel that his heart is in this, and he truly understands the repercussions his choices will have on the people. Finally, the playing field has leveled out.



These last couple of days, I’ve been giving up some of my conference period to attend some of my former students’ Rights of Passage presentations. Rights of Passage, or ROP, is this new school-wide program that we adopted that has kids look at the good things they have done for themselves and their community. It’s supposed to make kids feel like Middle School weren’t just those awkward years we all remember.

When they talked to us about this program at the beginning of the year, I was confused. Then, I thought it was a drag. Then, I just sort of paid no mind to it unless I had to. But now, I think it’s really, really cool.

As grown ups, we are constantly needing to take stock in our life. When the invisible monkeys the Universe hires, fling their poo at us or in our general direction, we have the tendency to look at what is good in our lives and remember that things will and do get better. For some of us, this skill wasn’t learned until much later in life. Given the lives of some of the students at our school, I think it is important for them to learn to do this now.

I still have two more to attend, but I’ve really enjoyed going to them. Being the total sap that I can be, I thought I would be crying through some, but I haven’t. I’ve just been so happy to see all of the great things some of these kids have done. Kids who I had two years ago and still want to share their accomplishments with me. My favorite part is when they say, “In five years, I see myself…” because in my mind, there is no doubt that they will be where they imagine.

It is a pleasant end to a rough, rough year. It reminds me what it is that convinced me to go into this profession: kids jammed packed with potential.


B&N Disappoints

J.P.’s post made me think of my evening yesterday. I had originally set out to find a pair of sensible shoes, the kind that will look good when I have to dress up and my loafers won’t do. Since it was Sunday, everything closed early.

I parked my car on one end of the shopping center and decided to walk my way down in hopes of finding a store that stayed open past 6 P.M. One of the stores that I passed was Barnes and Noble. Now, B&N has never been my favorite bookstore, but I end up there a lot because it’s the only one near by.

I decided to go in because I’d read in the Houston Press that the Ask A Mexican book was now in paperback and I also was considering buy Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize Winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

I was really disappointed—yet again—by B&N. I had to go dig through the stacks to find a copy of each. I would have thought that they’d at least have the Diaz book on one of their shelves near the front. I mean, he did win the Pulitzer.

Needless to say, I left with nothing. I really didn’t feel like investing my time in money at this place. Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize Winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

I was really disappointed—yet again—by B&N. I had to go dig through the stacks to find a copy of each. I would have thought that they’d at least have the Diaz book on one of their shelves near the front. I mean, he did win the Pulitzer.


Teacher's Lounge

Since taking the position in 7th grade, I don’t use the teacher’s lounge very much. Most of the time, I eat in my classroom so that I can keep working. Yes, that caused me the freak out earlier this year, but lately, I’ve been way better about how late I stay and the workload I take home.

When I was doing cohort training the summer before my first year and in my university classes, we were always told not to hang out in the teacher’s lounge. It was described as a breeding ground of negativity—at times, it really is.

Today, after extended day, some of the kids missed the bus. It was partly my fault because I made them stay so the kids with perfect attendance got an extra prize. It was also the fault of the bus driver because after one kid got on, she took off like a bat out of hell. Because I hate to leave kids waiting alone, I hung out until their parents came to get them.

We were in the entrance of the school sitting on the sofas, and one kid said, “Ms. can I look in here? I’ve always been curious.”

“Sure,” I said as I opened the door for him.

He walked in and immediately sat down at one of the three tables and propped his feet up on the table. “What are you doing? We eat on those. Get your feet off!”

Two of the other kids waiting wandered in and took a seat at the other two tables. “Wow! It’s cool in here!”

“You should see when there are no kids, a disco ball pops down out of the ceiling,” I said.

“I’m sure,” he replied. Then he looked around and said, “You guys have a vending machine!”

“How much is the stuff?” asked the first kid.

“Fifty cents! That’s cheap!”

“Whoa, what’s in there?” asked kid number one as he wandered in to the kitchen area. “A coke machine!” He walked out and asked, “Can I buy one?”

I nodded my head yes. It was so funny to see them so amazed by a simple room. I don’t really know if I should have let them in there; however, I don’t see the harm. I remember as kid always wanting to be the kid Mrs. Rutherford chose to fill her cup with ice, so I could see the inside of the teacher’s lounge.


Shifting Focus, Old Friends, La Doctora

Shifting Focus

This Saturday is the last Saturday I have to work. I am so excited! It’s been fun though. Usually, before the TAKS test, we have what we call “extended day.” This is when kids stay later or come in on Saturdays to work on skills they need to pass TAKS. Usually, it’s by invite for the kids who struggle in class. Teachers try to do fun lessons; there are snacks, prizes, and some gym time. This year however, we had the crazy idea to do this for the kids taking the EOC (End of Course Exam given to Pre AP students a week after TAKS). We’ve had a really good time reading one of Robert Karimi’s poems. Saturday, they will create a blog with a literary analysis on Karimi’s poem and an MLK Speech. Should be cool. I’ll also be glad to have my Saturday mornings back next week.

I’ve shifted my focus back to students and in turn, it’s made me so much happier. I fake the good mood when I’m tired or lazy, and it rubs off on the kids, they behave, and make me want to be there. Kids are asking me if I will move up to 8th grade so they can have me one more year. There is a position open, and it would be interesting (what effects would this have on their learning?) and cool (to be with one group of kids for three years, very Freedom Writer-ish). However, I think for my sanity I will need to remain in 7th grade, for now.

Today, a student I don’t know (although this happens a lot, kids say hi, come into my room for tutoring, etc. and I don’t even know who they are) came to ask me for some advice about voicing her opinion. She was upset that students are being asked to remove Peta2 stickers from their binders. She had written a letter. It needs some work, but she makes some very good points. I gave her some suggestions and told her to go for it. I think it’s really cool and the peeps I’ve shared the story with think its cool, too.

Old Friends

If any of you have read any of the stories I wrote for Windows, you will know about Gabriel.

Gabriel was my best friend growing up. A few years after high school, we lost touch. About two weeks ago, when I checked my phone after school, I had three missed calls and a voice mail from my mom.

In the voice mail, my mom starts off stating some numbers, she says them again and then says, “Ese es el numero del Gabriel.” Too bad I’m old and it was the end of the day because I almost started jumping up in down, actually, not too bad because I could have further ruined the foundation of our old building. ;)

Since then, we’ve talked, e-mailed, and texted. It’s been the coolest thing in the world. I can’t even explain how happy it has made me to be in touch with him again.

La Doctora

I got a text earlier today from my sis letting me know that our sister-friend got her Ph.D. I suppose she defended her dissertation today. How awesome is that?

Felicidades Caro!


Marjane Satrapi

I was so anxious for last Saturday. Not only was I not working, I was also having a outing that entailed an author reading. I’d been looking forward to Marjane Satrapi’s reading for so long. Every time the Houston Inprint sent another e-mail advertising her reading, I’d get excited all over again.

That evening, my sis, her student, and I made our way to the Hobby Center. As they stood in line to buy books, I wandered around looking for the ticket counter only to find that I’d been right in front of it the whole time. When I got to the front of the line, I asked for two tickets. The woman replied, “We’re sold out.”

“You’re sold out?”

“Yes, but at 7:30 we will release all seats, do you want me to give you a number?”

I looked around a little disillusioned. How was it that I wasn’t going to get to see the author of one of my new favorite books? Finally, I said, “Yes, please.”

She gave me back half of an index card with #18 and Satrapi scribbled onto it. My claustrophobia kicked in so I had to make my way away from the crowds. I thought about going outside to see if there were any scalpers, but figured that it was highly unlikely. So I hung around inside and mingled with my sis’s student as my sis mingled with some of the people she knew in hopes of scoring some tickets. No such luck though.

At 7:30, we herded over to the ticket table again. It was only a matter of minutes before our number was called and we were able to get some tickets.

It was so worth it.

Satrapi is so awesome. She didn’t read from the book, but instead talked about why she chose cartoons to tell her story and how the book and movie came about. I haven’t seen the movie yet. I’m going to wait until it’s on video because I’d prefer to see it in its original language.

After the reading, there was the mandatory book signing. The line was incredibly long, but she moved us along pretty quickly. For the first time in a long time, I was so nervous and excited. She was so pleasant. I’ve ordered Embroideries off Amazon (of course B&N didn’t have it, why would they right?).

If you haven’t checked out her works, you definitely should.


Send Off

The sun is up I’m so happy I could scream
And there’s no where else in the world I’d rather be
Here with you it’s perfect
It’s all I ever wanted
I almost cannot believe that it’s for real
So pinch me quick

-The Cure, Mint Car
Although many memories are associated with The Cure, today, I want to remember the summer of ‘02. The time for my imminent departure was near. My time was split between Lucy or Armie.

Lucy and I would spend hot nights packed into Speaking Rock slinging back bottles of Bud and shots with the guys who had bets going on how many girls’ pants they could get into. I don’t know if Lucy was aware of this since she always accepted their drinks, dances, and walk to her car.

Nights with Armie were always more fun. She wasn’t out to find a man. All she wanted to do was drink. Because of this, we would often change scenes and go to The Comic Strip or some dark bar to shoot some pool.

It was great send off.


Sent Home

I was sent home Friday because my blood pressure was high.

I wasn’t going to talk about this here because I didn’t want people in my family to find out. At first, my reasoning was because I didn’t want them to worry about me. But the truth is that I am extremely embarrassed.

I am embarrassed that I have let myself go this far physically, mentally, and emotionally. Talking to my writing buddy today really made me take stock of what my life has become.

Teaching was never my life goal. I fell into it. It was meant to be a retention pond before going on, but it’s becoming a retention pond with no outlet. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with kids and certain kids really make me feel fortunate and happy to do my job, but something tells me it’s not meant to be my “life work.”

My writing buddy also told me that I’m failing my artistic side. And really, I can’t argue with her. Looking at this blog, I can also see the effects of my current situation and I can even track I got where I am. Sometimes, I don’t even want to blog because I know it’s going to be about work. Every other conversation that I have somehow involves work, and I’m sick of it.

As much as I’d like to give my current life the one finger salute, I know I can’t. That's not what grown ups do. Instead, there are small things that I can do to increase my quality of life. The first of which is not brining home so much work. Instead of filling up my spare time with more work so that I end up like a vegetable at the end of the day, work stays at school, and 30 minutes of writing will take it’s place. Even if I’m not exactly writing, but reading an essay on the craft, editing something, or re-reading things I feel good about.

I have also scheduled into my week three days for exercise. I know I should probably do more, but for now, I will work with that. As I learn to take things off my plate, I will be able to increase real life activities.

When I see how the quality of my life either increases or decreases, I will be more inclined to do more for myself.


Our Ass Has Hit the Floor

I know that as a woman and feminist, I should have voted for Hillary. But there is that part of feminist ideology that talks about helping all people, not just some. I also know that Hillary has a lot of experience. However, when I’ve been down in the slumps after watching Sicko (which thouroughly depressed me for a while), a long day of work battling a system that doesn’t work, reading lists of the deceased in the Iraq war, the only candidate that has been able to inspire hope in me again has been Obama.

Sometimes, it’s okay for the inexperienced to try their hand at something new. As my 9th Grade World History teacher used to say, “Once your ass hits the floor, you can’t go anywhere else but up.”


Civil Duty

Today I missed out on a day of “OMG I’m like a 7th grader so everything comes with a side of extra drama” because I had jury duty.

This is the first time I ever really have to show up to jury duty. In the past, I was able to get out of it because I was in college and I used to help out at the foster care my mom used to run. But now, I have no excuse. It seems sort of ironic though that the state pulls me out of work and has to pay someone else to do my work because I have to serve on a jury.

Anyway, as luck would have it, I was in the first group of people that were called out. There was a lot of standing around and waiting until we were finally released. As hard as I tried to create the sense of adventure, I couldn’t. First, I was annoyed by the lack of organization. My inner teacher was mentally organizing everything with, in my mind, fool-proof procedures. Then, there were the people who don’t know to stay to the right of the stairs. Then the greasy haired guy who tried to make small talk and the old man who wouldn’t take off his damn boots and when he finally did, put them after my coat so they ended up on top of it when they were run through the metal detector. The last straw though had to be the guy that was trying to pick up juror #2, a late 20’s petite Latina. It wouldn’t have bothered me had they not ended up around me the whole time or had I not over heard him ask her if her purse was truly a Prada and not a knock off like a Prado.

I did appreciate that the bailiff wasn’t a total jerk and that the judge was very conscious of our time. Needless to say, I didn’t get selected for the jury. We were all let go because they were able to work it out before the got around to picking jurors.

So tomorrow, it’s back to work. We have TAKS parent night tomorrow. It sucks because I found out tonight that I have to wear my sausage arm, lame staff shirt and it's the same night Obama will be speaking at the Toyota center downtown Houston. Just my luck. I’m not looking forward to spending the entire day at work tomorrow. Even though I live quite close to work, I never see the point in coming home. Well, really, I know that if I come home, I will have a real hard time going back to work.

I’m off to spend some quality time with my current obsession—Persepolis.


Another Great One Passes on

Going to Austin with Gabi and Caro is always one of my favorite things. The company of course is great, but the city has this vibe to it. One of the last times we were there, I had the privilege of meeting raúl salinas.

Today, raúl salinas has passed on, but he has left behind a legacy that, through our work, should keep on for years.


OK Gambling

“Come a little closer baby, I feel like laying you down…”

Smoke infests the air. It’s hard to breathe. Wedged between fiber glass and aging thighs.

From the back, I hear a twangy voice say, “That guy is hawt!”

Another cigarette is lit. A Milwaukee’s Best is popped open.

“I’m gonna win big tonight baby,” says the twangy voice.

Despite the smoke, the air is thick with anticipation of what could be. Will I win big tonight?


Another Low

How sad is it that I’ve already started a countdown for the end of school?

This year has been rough to say the least. As much as I want to be the person that can, I’m not. And it’s not because I suck, but because I don’t delegate much. I’ve gotten a lot better about it, but I still don’t do it enough. I feel like I have to do it all.

All of these extra things I’ve taken on or have been handed have really taken away time from my students, and for this, I feel really bad. I know that it could be worse, but I also know that I could be better. And while I’m rocking out with some awesome lessons that don’t involve worksheets and are challenging, etc., I don’t have the time to spend with the kids. I’ve been out of class at least twice this month and will be out two more times doing extra stuff. Meetings after school and the never ending research, filing, etc, keep me from attending games, competitions, concerts. This is what I’m missing the most.

This past weekend, some of my students competed in The Future City Competition. They built a model of a city that was eco-friendly. Even though I helped out with their abstract, I missed out because I was meeting with my colleagues about a grant to some traveling this summer. Although they didn’t place, they did receive an award for Most Eco-friendly city. Really, they didn’t place because there couldn’t be two teams in the top whatever from the same school (another group placed 3rd).

I hardly get to see the girl’s group. We have yet to meet this semester. After school tutorials are a dream. Making time to meet with students is really difficult. I have to schedule it way in advance. If you look at my agenda, it’s sort of a joke.

And personal life? Hah! That’s a joke! My loved ones hardly get to hear from me on the phone much less see me in person.

I know this is a career choice that I made, and I love aspects of the job. There are days I come home with my head in the clouds because I had a good day with that kid who doesn’t get it, or a kid said/wrote something amazing, but lately, those days have been few a far between.

I just wish I could go back to my roots. Go back to being what I was at the beginning of the year. I’ve seen too much of the ugly side of education. This side makes me negative and bitchy. It makes me long for summer, but the saddest thing is that it makes me wish I didn’t do what I do.


I Kiss You on the Brain in the Shadow of the Train

I spent the evening in a quaint little coffee shop in Deer Park where everyone knows everyone’s name…seriously, the do. If they don’t, they know someone who does. That’s strange to me. People think that’s how El Paso is. Many have been shocked by the size of it.

Anyway, I was at this coffee shop because my friend’s band was playing. It was pretty cool. Their chai lattes are amazingly good. They’re better than very friendly college student barrista’s at the old peep’s Starbucks.

As I was sitting there listening to them jam out, I was sort of wishing I had my notebook. When I’m around creative people, their vibe rubs off on me. However, now that I’ve sat for a while playing Super Collapse 3 (I rock at the puzzle section, I unlocked more than half!), the muse packed up and took off. I hate how she feels like she can do as she wishes. I need to learn better muse skills.

What’s up with this weather? It’s actually been cold around here, like cold enough to turn on the heater. Insane.


My Version of Counting Sheep

It is 1:34 AM and I can’t get my happy self to bed. I had fallen asleep earlier, but the sound of a ringing phone woke me and I haven’t been able to go back to bed. I dabbled with some of the various notions flailing around in my brain. Still. I need to go to sleep already.

Fortunately, tomorrow will be a day of meetings and mingling. But I’ll pay for it because I’ll be slow when it comes to doing menial tasks like filing or re-organizing my great piles of junk. I have hope that with the good drink (coffee) and some catchy tunes, I’ll be able to whistle away the afternoon and items on my to-do list.

It’s rather sad that my days of nothingness have come to an end. I’m really going to miss them. I attempted to have an adventure every day, but none of my adventures were too thrilling. The coolest thing was Saturday, when I went to Niko Niko's and the owner took my order. He greeted me with a smile. When I said I would like a falafel sandwich, his facial expression portrayed pride in my choice. He also seemed very happy to be at work. That’s always nice.

This evening I was drawn out of my pj’s when Dealy-O called me up and said, “I miss you. Come meet us.”

That’s one of the nicest things someone can say in my book, so I could not object. I’m such a narcissistic bastard sometimes. We met for coffee/tea/hot chocolate. After my chai latte was prepared, the barrista sang out my order. He had a very nice voice, so nice that I heartily said, “Wow, thank you.”


Ode to My Thermos

Chavela is tall and thick como una luchadora sanota. Her body glistens in the sun, but never reflects any facts. The cup attached to her top by screwing it on is big enough to hold the contents of a regular coffee cup, but you would never know that just by looking at it. I fill her up every morning to help endure our long day of incessant whining and last minute meetings. Every evening, when we get home, I take her out of my bag and rinse her out, leaving her insides to dry in preparation for the next day.



I was going through boxes of crap today trying to clean out the closet, not because I need the space but because I really don’t need all that stuff. I’m really trying to purge my life of feelings, things, ideas that I don’t need. This particular task had been on my to-do list since last summer.

It was kind of cool to run into old journals, cards, college essays, letters, and pictures. While going through the box of photos, I ran across one of my best friend Gabriel and I at my sister’s wedding. Seeing our faces frozen still on a day that was so happy and blessed stopped me in my tracks.

Gabi was the first in our immediate family to have a real wedding. All of my other siblings had run off to City Hall to get married. I’ve always thought it was cool that she had sent me an invitation, not included me on my mom’s. Of course, I was given the option of a plus one. As soon as I got it, I knew there was only one person who could fulfill that plus one: Gabriel.

I can’t remember if he attended the mass or I picked him up before the dance and reception. What I do remember is him saying, “I’m going to dance with all of the women in your family before the night is over.”

And that he did. He danced the night away with my mom, sisters, aunts, and nieces. He even got me to dance with my dad.

Seeing that photograph also made me realize how much I really miss him. I’ve tried so hard to find him, but my searches have resulted in zilch. We didn’t have a falling out or anything, we just lost touch.

Sometimes I wonder how different life would have been if we’d stayed in touch because he’s been the one person I can honestly say was my BFF. There was nothing I couldn’t tell him, he always knew how to make me feel better, and he accepted me for me.

For a while, I didn’t think about him. My mom would sometimes ask, “Oye como estara el Gabriel? Dios lo bendiga.” It was then that the memories would rush back. Writing the story about him put some of the memories at ease. It’s weird because I hadn’t felt like this in a long time. I know that I may never see him again, but damn how I wish I would.

The First of Many Victories

When I came out as an Obama supporter, many people told me I was nuts. Frankly, as much as my feminist self would like to vote for a woman, I just can’t. Hillary and I don’t agree.

Obama to me is someone who can seriously help us out. I’ll shut up now and let Mo Rocca’s words do my talking because they say it better.

Here's the thing: Hillary's the person who helps you pack boxes and organize all your shit when you're moving. No one is more dependable. Obama, on the other hand, is the guy who finds you a new place to live.


Adios Navidad

I hate this time of year. All of the Christmas lights are coming down, stores are dead, and the good cheer is gone. It could potentially be a very depressing point in time. Fortunately, the depression hasn’t set in. I’m hoping it doesn’t. I have three more days before I return to work.

Speaking of returning to work, I’m sort of scared of going back. There are many tasks to be completed this spring semester and I fear that I’m going to lose some of my me time. The couple weeks before school let out, I was working 12-hour days pretty much every day. I did tell my students that I was done accepting late assignments. At least their homeroom and unbook reports. They are given deadlines for these assignments in advance. Plus, they are given time in class to complete the assignments.

I really thought that this year was going to be way better than the last two. It seems like there’s always a monkey wrench to be dealt with. There is always more that needs to be done. Or a new task that needs to be fulfilled. And it’s not such a big deal if my writing didn’t have to take the back seat to all this. Perhaps someday I will figure out how to balance life, work, and writing.