Thursday, August 30, 2012


I stood at the corner of the park as Lola sniffed around in the grass.  A large SUV stopped at the light and I was face to face with ex-Kinder, now first grade George.  He rode in the backseat.  I immediately smiled at the white haired boy, then looked down.

"Do you remember me?" the six year old asked through the open window, as if he and I had run into each other walking down the street.   The driver of the car didn't seem to notice. 
"Yes!" I responded "I was afraid you didn't remember me!"
"Lola is really big now..." he responded as the vehicle began to drive.
I saw his little face hanging out of the window, speaking, arm outstretched, saying something unintelligible as the car whisked away.

I heard whimpering.   I woke up and realized I was on the floor, saying Lola's name as my hands searched for her in the dark.  I couldn't find her.  Slowly things came to focus and I saw her sleeping on our bed as she always does, sprawled, her neck stretched out, facing the foot of the bed.  She wasn't whimpering.  She was sleeping soundly.

I walked past my niece in the hallway at school.  My eyes were still puffy, swollen.
"Are you okay?" I whispered, picturing the yard, the carnage in the yard.
She nodded.  And kept walking.
I went to my class.  The bell rang.  I started yelling greetings to them over the noise, over their loud conversations that weren't interrupted by the beginning of class.  It didn't matter.  They just kept talking.

I slept hard, pulling Lola up from the foot of the bed and clutching her now fifty pound body in my arms, her head resting on my face.  She would try to resume her normal position but I would only wake up again and drag her closer, her face resting on my neck, my head, my pillow.  Or my head resting on her chest while her chin laid higher,  on top of my head. 

I woke up for work in the morning with Lola laying next to me, her neck and head resting on my stomach.  I had to get up, take a shower, get dressed.  But Lola's eyes stayed closed and her chin seemed to press on my stomach, her belly glued to my hip and side.  I laid there as long as I could and arrived for another day at school with wet hair, glasses on and my only make up being bright red lipstick, as if that could make up for the rest of my disheveled look.

And I taught. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As Days Go By

Lola and I sat on the steps in front of the house, watching cars go by.  There was a weird silence between us.  I wasn't singing to her or calling her my 'good girl'.  But she sat beside me, solemnly.  We sat about a foot apart and stared at the road.

Her eyes didn't look as guilty and downcast as the night before when she awkwardly took a piss right on her bed, something she has never done before, then walked cautiously in circles around me while I sat on the laundry room floor crying, before putting herself in her crate and leaving her back facing the open door. 

I only remember screaming.  Screaming and grabbing her, picking her up.  And crying.  The baby chick was still in her mouth.  The rest of them were strewn around my sister's yard.  The baby chickens my sister had been carefully raising.  Gone.  All of them gone.

Lola and I walked around the block.  Suddenly, I saw a hand shoot out of a window.
"Maestra Hilary!" a child called.
I knew who he was.  And I felt such a pure longing in my heart that I couldn't believe it.  Something on my side hurt.  I did it myself. 

"Why didn't you take his phone up?" one of the students asked, after some kid's phone rang loudly in class.
"I don't know," I answered, "I don't feel like it".
I gave them some shit to do.  A lot of them didn't do it. And I could really give a shit.

I stood in the copy room, um, copying shit.  Some lady busted in, some other teacher that I don't know.
"So, are you part-time by choice or because you couldn't get anything else?" she asked abruptly, even though I smile a lot, an awful lot.
 I try to put on a nice veneer.  I've learned to pretend to be happy.
"By necessity," I responded "I got laid off in May, they cancelled my program.  There weren't any jobs left". 
Any more questions, you stupid cunt?

"Hilary!  We would like to invite you to help us with our October conference of international teachers on Fulbright exchange to the United States" the email said.  "We are so glad that you landed on your feet after being laid off.  Do they know that they are lucky to have you?  The Atlanta schools NEED you".

I'm not as good as I used to be.  I am just so tired.

Fulbright always pops up when I am low.  And I am really low these days.

I hope they can help me.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Feel the Train a Comin'

I walked around my house, randomly, not knowing what to do.  Alec had taken Lola for a walk.  I put the onions and celery in the oil and sauteed them, then went in to de-frag and de-whatever to his shitty PC computer, uh, my old computer.  And paced the floor.

It's not that I have nothing to do.  Today was mad.  I woke up sleepy, like always, though I got up at eight-ish.  Took Lola out to do her business.  Drank my coffee and watched Lola eat.  Jumped in the shower and dressed casually for "Spirit Friday".

Have I mentioned Spirit Friday?  Every school I've worked at, which is adding up to be a lot, lets teachers where jeans on Fridays, as long as they wear a school T-shirt.  I don't really care so much about the jeans, as much as the T-shirt.  No ironing, not that I do that anymore.  I have spirit shirts from everywhere; I've thrown some of them away and the rest I use for jogging.  I have a new one now that I wear each and every Friday.  Yes, all of them. All those Fridays.   I will wear that pinche shirt for thirty-eight weeks.  Don't question me.  I've done it before.

I saw my first paycheck.  I nearly fell out.  I made more waiting tables in college.  I am half-time.  But I am still at the school all the time, all most full-time.  There is just a lot to be done.  But I have to curb it.  Lola is going to doggie daycare or staying in her crate for hours, which I can't handle.  I work half time.  Twenty hours a week.  Or so they say.  

So, my day, today.  I didn't take Lola for her two mile walk.  She wanted to, but I didn't feel like it.  I watched her while I got ready for work.  I felt bad.  "Doggie day care" I thought, "I will take you there today".  A consolation prize for not getting her long walk.

Doggie day care is expensive and I am making pretty frightening money these days.  I watched Lola.  Finally, I decided that if she went voluntarily into her crate, with the incentive of a giant cow ear chew thing, I would leave her there.  If not, I would take her to doggie day care.

She went in.

The big train that crosses the road that I drive on to work was passing by.  I remember that train.  I used to ride my bike down the same road to work thirteen years ago and it used to make me late.  I sat.  Then I drove all the way around the pinche thing until I got to work.  Running, copies not made, sign-in not done, to my class.   My crappy fucking apathetic class.

I had planning after that and all that I did was run around making copies and connecting with folks about asshole students that think it's too much to ask to sit in a fucking desk and to shut up when I try to teach.  Then I taught another class.

Some kids came at me a bit.  I don't know why.  Maybe because its the third week of school and they're testing the situation.  Great.  I spent an hour after school chasing down counselors and calling parents.

My dog was in her crate for six and a half hours.  For peanuts.  For the peanuts that I make.  As I opened the crate and ran with Lola toward the door I watched the wagging, whipping tail of my dog.  We bolted outside and as I hugged her and kissed her I realized again that it was Friday. 

Definitely the best day of the week. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ríe y Llora

I saw the little recorder killer in CVS.  I always liked that kid.  He was playing intently with his mother in the toy aisle.  A few months ago, I would have stopped and said hello.  I didn't this time, just went straight to the pharmacy and paid $85.00 for a prescription that cost $15.00 when I had health insurance and made more than twice as much as I am making now.

"Pretty good, Ms. Hilary, pretty good" the administrator commented after my first evaluation.  I was glad.  I am teaching in a way that I have never taught before, using a strict methodology that I am not used to.  I am not doing any of my normal things.  I should be bothered, but I'm not.  I should be screaming that I am a professional and I KNOW how to teach!  But I don't.  What they say goes.  It oddly doesn't matter to me.

It's hot.  All I do is sweat.  It makes me lazy.  It makes me not want to go outside.  I randomly weed the garden I worked so hard on as I take Lola out for a walk before my part-time job.  It is an accomplishment if I walk the whole two miles around the park.  Not run, walk.  

I worry about Lola.  My job could easily keep me in the building forty hours a week, but I am not willing.  Not for part-time pay.  And, I have my dog to worry about.  I stagger her days between her crate and doggy day care for the long days.  I even bring work home, something I stopped doing years ago, in favor of doing it at school and leaving it there.  I say openly to me colleagues, "I have to go.  I have to pick up my dog".  I say it in the same way they talk about their children.

We have one hundred, sixty-eight instructional days left in the school year.  I have to admit, the school has done nothing wrong.  It's me.  I have never started counting the days this early in the year before.

I see my old kids everywhere.  They rarely see me anymore, not the way they used to.  A few do, but most don't.  They have forgotten.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let Me Sing You a Song

"You look beautiful, Ms. Wagner" a tall, adult looking kid called out, "you have a date?  No glasses and you let your hair down" he continued.
"You never have to raise your hand to say something like that," I responded, "just yell it out".

I flew back from France almost two weeks ago, jet lagged and tired.  I showed up for work a couple of days later and a week late, with only two days to plan.  I had missed the rest.  I am back in high school.  Again. 

Lazy days, drinking Rosé and eating olives, cheese and bread.  Everywhere I looked there was something beautiful.  It was like a dream. Staying up late in the night, eating, drinking and laughing.  Laying on a chair reading my book with the smell of lavender everywhere and the Mediterranean in the distance.   A dream that ended too fast, a dream that still seems like a fantasy.

Lola was dragging me on her leash.  I was running behind her in flip flops and a skirt.  Families started waving at me, a lot of them, calling out from the elementary school.  My old job.  I had no idea what was going on.
"Are you going to be teaching the afternoon Spanish class?" my brand new, Kindergarten owning neighbors asked me.
I shook my head.  Who the fuck was teaching Spanish up there?

I laid awake, Lola's neck stretched across mine.  Alec was already gone, on his way to his shitty job.  I can sleep late now; I only work part-time.  Lola didn't want me to leave, to get up.  I laid there as long as I could, then took her outside to do her business.  I could hear my kids screaming from the playground.

I have new kids to love now, big ones again.

But, I'm tired.  Very tired.