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June 27, 2011

And the journey begins ...

I was up early this morning, first to get a THS bloodtest and second to meet with my outgoing principal at her new school. For both I had to come clean and admit something I didn't want to admit out loud. For both, I think I did a fairly good job, only shedding a few tears with my Principal, who has become more of a friend this year, which would explain why I allowed myself to tear up.

What was I admitting, you wonder? Had I robbed a bank in college? Had I killed a man? Nothing so dramatic. But it was big and dark and something that I have held on to for months now.
Continue reading And the journey begins ... .

June 25, 2011

Time for a change

A lot is going to be changing for me over this summer. Since I'm very connected to work and friends and family on Facebook, I'm going to be documenting the changes here. Only those that knows me best know about this place and the changes I'm making are not exactly for everyone to know about. Eventually, everyone will know, for it will be right there in their faces, but for now, I'm keeping some things under wraps.

Why? Let's just say I feel there are people who would not exactly wish me well on my journey. People that like me just the way (they think) I am ... a complacent, docile doormat. I have bitten my tongue for a long time, letting injustices and slights go unchallenged. I've taken an awful lot of toxic shit from family members, supposed friends, team-mates and exes, all in the name of taking the high road and allowing karma to drive. And it worked, to a point ... except for that toxic part.

Continue reading Time for a change.

December 5, 2010

'Tis the season

A funny thing happened here in Eastern North Carolina yesterday. Snow. Just in time for the holidays, wet, sticky, pretty snow. It should have made me joyful and, I'll admit, at first I was pretty excited. Later, though, as I went to pick up my daughter from a friend's house, it turned into something much worse ... familiar and unbidden.

Continue reading 'Tis the season.

July 4, 2010

... and then ...

So what I have noticed it that between FaceySpace and Twitter, everyone I know and/or would talk about is privy to my every post so ... I need to use this more. Because no one comes here or cares what I have to say here. And maybe that's a good thing. Being too linked is bad for the creative process ... I find myself editing, sitting back, changing my words so that no one will be offended.

When did I start caring if I offended someone?

I know exactly when it was. When I realized that by speaking out, I had been black-balled.

I'm not going to change any of that here. It's been done. I'm not moving up here, no matter HOW much I achieve and I've accepted that. Those that have put me here will have to deal with the repercussions someday just as I have had to deal with them every single day of my life.

Karmageddon, bay-bee. Good luck with that.

Anywhooo ... I'm back. I think. Still trying to figure out where and how I fit. Still trying to raise my kids. Still having to remind myself to breathe. SSDD.

March 30, 2009

Focus, please

Having a hard time keeping my head attached lately. Spring fever? Adult ADD? Depression rearing its ugly head? Withdrawal from human touch?

Who knows, but I'm sick of it. Sick of always being in charge, sick of always being responsible, sick of being lied to, sick of not being able to trust anyone or anything. Sick of not having any choices in anything, just being at the whim of the decisions and actions of others all the freakin' time..

Maybe that's the problem. I'm sick of living "this" life. I feel as though I'm stuck, as though I've been relegated to purgatory while all around me, life goes on ... people are born, people die, people get married, people get divorced, people go on living and loving and I'm just ... existing.

Maybe it is Spring Fever.

Every Day Is Exactly The Same
Nine Inch Nails

I believe I can see the future
Cause I repeat the same routine
I think I used to have a purpose
But then again
That might have been a dream
I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
I just do what I've been told
I really don't want them to come around

Oh, no

Every day is exactly the same
Every day is exactly the same
There is no love here and there is no pain
Every day is exactly the same

I can feel their eyes are watching
In case I lose myself again
Sometimes I think I'm happy here
Sometimes, yet I still pretend
I can't remember how this got started
But I can tell you exactly how it will end

Every day is exactly the same
Every day is exactly the same
There is no love here and there is no pain
Every day is exactly the same

I'm writing on a little piece of paper
I'm hoping someday you might find
Well I'll hide it behind something
They won't look behind
I'm still inside here
A little bit comes bleeding through
I wish this could have been any other way
But I just don't know, I don't know what else I can do

Every day is exactly the same
Every day is exactly the same
There is no love here and there is no pain
Every day is exactly the same

March 27, 2009

Family matters

Every year, I walk for our Relay for Life team at my school. I walk as a Survivor (14+ years) but I also walk in memory of my family members that lost their battle with cancer (my maternal grandfather, Anthony, 30 years ago and my father, Ken, 15 years ago) The Luminary ceremony is a very emotional one for me but it is also my favorite part of the walk because all the lights are turned off and no one can see me cry.

This year will be especially poignant because my uncle Carl lost his fight with brain cancer this morning. He beat the prostate cancer that, 30 years ago, would have been enough to take him. When they found cancer in his brain, though, we all knew that it was bad. He was sent home from the hospital a few weeks ago and they had hospice care and that is never a good sign. He went on morphine a few days ago and that was how he went, in a morphine haze, hopefully at peace at last.

Uncle Carl was a cool guy, ex-military, ex-cop, with a quick wit and an infectious smile. He had his demons, fighting alcohol and a painkiller addiction brought on by trying to self-medicate against the depression that plagues our family, against the daily pain from the self-inflicted gunshot wound in his shoulder. The last few times I saw him, I could see a big change in his personality, an urgency to prove he was still young, still tough, which I found odd. He had always been the easy-going one, his intensity mostly evident in his bright blue eyes, Grampy's eyes. Last time he was here, his eyes were decidedly older, more tired and slightly clouded, as if he was resigned to the fact that his fight was nearing its end and this was months before we all knew.

My mom and my sister are going to the funeral. I'll be staying here. Not avoiding the funeral but I can't afford a hotel room in Savannah, GA, nor can we be away from school/work for several days right now. My son's orchestra is in a concert festival Tuesday and my daughter's play opens next week and we most likely wouldn't be back until Wednesday or Thursday. Instead, I'll be here, writing my National Board Entry (due April 15) and feeling morose all weekend.

My favorite Uncle Carl memory: When Grampy died, I was 15 or so. After his long illness, the family was very emotional on the morning of the funeral, especially my mom. She had taken to flying into a rage at the least little thing and I was having a hard time staying out of her way.  No matter what I did, it was wrong and after letting my mother cry and rant and rave every day for 13 months about Grampy and the hospital and work, I was tired of being her punching bag. I had taken to my room, wishing that someone would realize that I had lost someone I loved too. Just before we were about to leave, Uncle Carl found me. We shared some wine and some memories and he helped me deal with the tons of people that were in my house. I got pretty drunk on that cheap rose but I also was allowed to grieve, something I hadn't been able to do until then.  

I love you, Uncle Carl. I'Il be walking in your memory this April, but this weekend, I'll be lifting a glass and thinking of you.
If you can find it in your heart to support our  Relay for Life team, please click here

March 20, 2009


More Grace in Small Things

1) My son finishing his rough draft for his Junior paper that he was convinced he couldn't do.
2) Sitting in a dark auditorium listening to the High School orchestra make incredible music.
3) Seeing my son in a tux. Heh.
4) Sweettart Jellybeans.
5) My new sheets. 400 thread count, purple, yummm.

March 13, 2009

Holy Looney Bin, Batman!

That was the subject of an actual email I sent to Tim yesterday shortly after the bell rang. I was still on an adrenaline high from the day and had a hard time typing even that. I had to type something, though. I had to reach out to someone that would reassure me that the entire world wasn't f*cked up, that there were good, decent, sane people out there and that someone loved me and, of course, that person was Tim. I'm sure the rest of the email was a garbled mess that made very little sense but I clicked send, tossing out my message in a bottle from the isle of crazy that is my school.

You know, when I became a teacher, I didn't go in with many romantic notions. I knew it would be hard but I also knew there were great rewards. My first year, a one year stint in the media center at a large, overcrowded elementary school, was a learning experience. I fell in love with a couple of special needs kids. I got punched in the head while breaking up a fight. My heart broke when we lost a student to a house fire. I realized at the end of the year that yeah, maybe I could make a difference, that maybe I had just found what I was supposed to do for the rest of my career.

When I got my own library at the end of that year (in a much smaller school with a better reputation) I was thrilled. With fewer students and fewer classes, I would be able to really get to know the kids and the teachers, maybe even get in the classrooms to help out the teachers with special projects. I had a courtyard right off my library and I could envision taking my students outside on nice days for storytime. Ok, so maybe I got a little romantic about it.

Over the past 6 years, my school has seen a lot of changes. We're on our 3rd principal, 75% of our staff has turned over, we've been redistricted and a full half of our clientele changed. Suddenly the West Greenville kids were taken out of their neighborhood school and bussed across town to our East Greenville school (and vice versa). What this did was send some very low performing students to our formerly high performing school. It also made us a Title 1 school (meaning the majority get free or reduced lunch) which makes us eligible for more federal funds. Our previously strong PTA redistricted to nothing. It also brought a whole host of behavior problems that our tiny neighborhood school has never had to face. 

I'm not being Pollyannic about our school. Seriously, we never even had a need for In School Suspension (ISS) before. If a student had trouble, we called home and it got taken care of. Since the redistricting, we have felt a change. If a kid gets in trouble, a call home ends up with the parent coming to our school ready for a confrontation. Some of them bring weapons. Calling home doesn't fix the problem, it invites more problems onto our campus.

Still, we were sure we could handle it. We created an ISS class, we created a positive behavior program. We loved all our kids, found ways to get them to be proud of their new school and to teach them basic skills (respect, self control, kindness) that many seemed to be lacking. We tried, we really did, to make the best of a difficult situation for everyone involved but, sadly, it's not working.

Take yesterday for instance. Now this was arguably the worst day in the history of our school but it is pretty indicative of where we are right now.

The day started out pretty normal. I had an ECU student come to read to my classes so she could finish up an assignment. Our media center was busy, bustling but happy. Meanwhile something was brewing on campus that no one could have seen coming.  Around about 11 am, several students from the SED (Serious Emotional Disability) class (formerly the BED or Behavior/Emotional Disability class) came into the library and plopped down at the computers. Something was up and I had no idea what but they know the Media Center is their safe haven whenever something is up. I found out later that the 3rd grade student in there was attacking the Assistant Principal and had kicked her in the face before he was finally calmed down.

About half an hour later, we went into our office for lunch, still not too alarmed since the SED kids usually have one or two blow ups a week. We were just starting to relax when we heard blood-curdling screams coming from the 5th grade hall. Several teachers went out in the hall but we stayed in the media center to keep the students calm and focused on their work. When we walked down the hall about 10 minutes later, though, we saw a few dazed faces and a cop in the hall talking to a surly 5th grader. It took us a while to find out what had happened but apparently there were 2 separate incidents.

  •     Zach (aforementioned surly 5th grader) had decided he didn't want to comply with the rules and he turned into The Hulk, pushing his desk across the room, sending it crashing into several others and screaming at his teacher that he "don't have to f*cking do anything!!!" The class was taken off to PE and he was left behind with the teacher and the cop that was still on campus from the earlier kicking incident.
  • Meanwhile, in the Art class, two girls got into it, one hit the other and the other hit back so hard it knocked the first girl back into the doorjamb so hard she got wobbly. They were taken back to their class (after getting ice) to talk the problem out and, while everything seemed fine and calm for a bit, the instigator (who had hit her head) suddenly stood up and started backing out o the room. In the doorway, she started shreiking about the monkeys in the classroom. She was totally freaked out so apparently she was seeing  those freaky flying Wizard of Oz monkeys, not cute little chimps. Her teacher held onto her while he waited for her mother to come get her. When the mom was advised to take her daughter to the doctor, that a hallucination could be the after effect of a concussion, she kind of shrugged it off, as if her daughter complained of seeing monkeys every day.

As surreal as that was, we were getting back to teaching when I was asked to cover a 4th grade class. "They should be fine, they are just writing and don't worry, Robert is sleeping it off." Not sure what the teacher meant (and a little afraid to ask), I went out to the trailer to cover the class and sure enough, there was a group of students diligently writing stories and one boy sleeping at his desk. Apparently, he had lashed out at the teacher while taking his meds earlier and thrown his water glass in her face but had been sleeping since. How are we supposed to teach him when he sleeps half the day? No one had an answer or me but I did find out he was going to be in the SED program starting next week. Only 6 months into the year to get his some help. Yay red tape!

Before I left that classroom, one of the exceptional teachers came in flushed and winded. She was told to come there to get her out of a different situation in the SED trailer. Apparently a student bit her arm, then went on to slap her teacher in the face. The Assistant Principal came in a little later to check on her and thank me for covering. I went back to my (hopefully) peaceful media center.  I heard later that I had just missed the motorcycle cop driving down the sidewalk between the trailers and the school to respond. I would have had to jump aside. *shucks*

I was just getting back to work when I heard a commotion at the door. The 3rd grade TA had her arms around one of her very angry students and was bringing him to me (of all people). Apparently, he had a fit in music class and the principal, after hearing me talk about him earlier in the day, thought I would be a good person to help calm him down. I led him into my office, asking one of the students that was in the media center to jump behind the desk and run circulation while I talked to him.

It took a good 5 minute before he would look at me but as I touched his arm, his clenched fists unballed and he finally grabbed onto my fingers. Holding his hands, face to face, I just talked to him until the rage left his eyes. He is suspended until next week so I'm not sure what is happening with him but I do know that, in part, was what set him off ... he is in a very volatile household and being home will be a huge inconvenience to his mother, which will cause more volatility. I felt terrible putting him on the bus but I told him I loved him (I seriously do love this kid and I have since the first day I met him last year. More on him later, I'm making him my project) and to come see me Wednesday.

MEANWHILE, one of our 4th graders found out he was suspended for 2 days and HE flipped out and had to be carried to the office where it took 2 people to hold him while waiting for his social worker to come pick him up.

AND a parent came into the office drunk off her ass to complain that her son is being unfairly punished because can't ride the bus anymore after he "allegedly" sexually assaulted another boy on the way to school. She eventually was escorted out of the office and off campus only to meet with several police cars across the street.

There were many more little incidents yesterday ... the parent that tried to barge into the principal's office without checking in, the rude phone calls about the late bus in the morning, a little fist fight in Kindergarten (I say little because their fists are little) over two pencil boxes that were touching ... and at the end of the day we were left shell-shocked and bruised.

I filled my water bottle at the bubbler and went to check in our first year 5th grade teachers Robbie, 22 (who was with the monkey-seeing girl) and Katie, 22 (who had the surly HULK SMASH DESK kid) and make sure they were ok. Slowly teachers began filing in to talk and share what had happened and before you knew it, a group of us were laughing to the point of crying.

Some teachers (like a few of the 1st grade team) were totally oblivious to the entire day, which is great because we know that the volatile emotions were contained. Some of the teachers knew every detail about their one incident or about the incident in the office but had no idea everything else that had happened. In the end, none of these teachers knows every single student that was affected nearly as well as I do, having had the privilege to teach every last one of them. To say it was an emotionally wrenching day is a gross understatement.

Again, I have to say this was an UNUSUALLY insane day. We were chalking it up to a combination of the full moon and spring fever. Then we realized today was Friday the 13th and we all thought we should boycott for our own safety. While that sounded like an excellent idea, when I pulled in this morning, every single teacher was there, even the one that has a black eye. The police weren't called once today. We all kept looking at each other nervously, as i we were waiting for the other shoe to drop and, when the end of the day came with no incidents, a spontaneous celebratory cheer rang through the halls. 

Do I still think I can make a difference? Of course I do.

Do I think I deserve more money for what I do? Oh, HELLZ to the YEAH!!!  Our state/county/city is facing a budget crisis of epic proportions and with the recent hiring and budget freezes, no one feels too secure in their job. I know, I should be glad I still have a job. I would like to get paid for what I'm worth, though. 

Do I wish I worked someplace else, in a cubicle perhaps? Some days, you betcha ... but not today. This Friday the 13th went off without a hitch. Monday? That's another story.

March 9, 2009

Grace in small things...

Since I seem to be unable to write anything of substance lately, I thought I would try to start this.  Not only that, but I have been getting a face full of HOLY CRAP, HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS?!?! and not much time to just slow down and breathe. Maybe this will help.

1.  The smell of his t-shirt on my pillow. God, I miss him.
2.  Coming home. There is nothing like unlocking the door to my house, walking through it and locking it behind me. I feel safe inside.
3.  Cold water when I've got a sore throat.
4. Walking into my library in the morning before the kids are there.
5.  The way the sun shines in the library first thing and makes even the dust motes look like gold.
6.  Haiku.  I can't emphasize enough how much I adore counting out, writing and reading poetry, especially haiku. Small bundles of joy.

February 11, 2009


Have pride in how far you have come, have faith in how far you can go!

Had an epiphany of sorts last night. Was giving a presentation about journaling to my Delta Xi chapter and was talking about how writing can be great therapy. I had been thinking about how I actually got started writing, why I wrote, from a technical, professional point of view that I  totally forgot the pure anguish some of those sleepless nights, weeks, months were.

When I was talking last night, I remembered the rush of actually letting it out and looking at the paper and being horrified that I had finally said out loud what was happening to me. I remember the day I went to my shrink and handed her a piece of paper and showed her something I wrote about a panic attack and she finally GOT it. I had been seeing her for a year and I hadn't been able to put into words how I was feeling but that day, she changed my medication. Why couldn 't I say it? I'll never figure that out.

I truly thought I could make a difference in someone else's life when I started all this. I was going to write a book about theraputic writing and tell my story, and give people that tools they need to work through painful memories safely by writing. It was my calling, my destiny ... I was sure I would finally realize my dream.

And then I went back to grad school. I had to support my kids. I had to work full time but I was sure I would keep writing. How could I not?

And then I realized what being a teacher meant, how all consuming it was, how I would be filling up my spare time with details and reading and preparing and learning and workshops and SIT meetings and committees and oh my god I haven't written anything substantial for ages.

How did this happen? When did I put my dreams on the back burner for my career? How did I go from the free-spirited artist that I used to be to the over-worked, under-paid overachiever? 

I was talking to my assistant this morning (can we just call her my Handler, really? Stacey does so much more than assist me in the library. She keeps me from screwing up constantly!) and I told her how the presentation went last night (good, I hope!) and how it made me realize how my ship might have sailed, how sad I was that I have put my dreams on hold.

"I really thought I could help people. I feel so ineffectual sometimes," I lamented.

"Sharon, you do help people. Every day, you make a difference in AT LEAST one person's life. Whether you help them with a computer problem or answer a question or find them a book or just show them you care. You make a difference to every person in this school."

(see how good she is?)

I could feel the tears coming, but I blinked them away. She's right. Every smile I give to a child changes their day, if only for a minute or two. Every hug, every laugh, every story, every word out of my mouth has the potential to change a life.

I got this job because I needed way to support myself and my children.

I've become a teacher because I realized that I have the power to change the world, one child at a time. 

I just needed to be reminded of that today.

In other news, my LSTA grant went into the FedEx truck tonight and will be in Raleigh tomorrow, almost a week before its actually due. I KNOW, but I wanted to give myself a cushion just in case something happened to it and I had to send in a new packet. It was a job but I'm almost sure I'll get it. *prays*

In OTHER other news, Tim comes tomorrow for Valentine's weekend. Can I just say "Squeeeeal!!!"

*ahem* yeah, I'm a little excited. :)

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