Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Count the Ways

Lola and I had been sitting on the grass for at least twenty minutes when I saw the writing.  The air was finally getting cooler and the moon was lit by more than fifty percent.  We stared at the street.  We do it day and night.  I enjoy it.  She likes it too.

"You are enough, just how you are." was written on the sidewalk, directly in front of my house.  I wasn't sure if it was in spray paint or heavy white chalk.  I stared at it for a while.  I am not sure if I agree with the sentiment.

1. I am getting shit at school.  Students, parents and administrators are coming after me.  I don't know why I can't play the game. 
2.  I am really fat right now.
3.  My dog always seems discontented. 
4.  I am broke and adding debt to accounts that I fought long and hard to pay off.
5.  I drink too much.
6.  I am not taking good care of my princess house.
7.  The students say I wear the same clothes all of the time.  They're right.
8.  My dog isn't trained.
9.  I haven't been taking care of my skin.
10. I don't like getting out of bed. 

There's an eleven, too. 

I don't know why those words are out there.  But I guess I like it that they are.

I hope they stay.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Simon (e)

"ON FIRE!!" the kids shrieked. "WE ARE YOUNG!!!".  Two of my sweeties jumped up and down, delirious, singing their favorite song after school in Teresa's classroom.
So many months ago.  My little elementary babies.  Screaming their hearts out to every top forty business they heard.  They were young.  And on fire.  I think of them every time I hear that song. 

And when I see their hands stretched out of open windows while their parents tear by my house after picking them up from school.

"Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you know...
Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean...
Sleep in peace when day is done
That's what I mean....."


Lola and I were shaking it to our woman Nina.  She was playing our song.  I was making a peach pie, Lola was eating some peanut butter, and Nina sang OUR song.  We were dancing.  It was a street party in that kitchen.

Alec looked surprised when he walked in.  

I picked Lola up from the vet after her observation.  She busted out of the door and I fell to my knees and hugged her.  The vet tech sunk to his knees as well.  I was holding her, kissing her.  He earnestly explained her after-care while we both remained on our knees near the waiting room.  I suddenly felt embarrassed and rose, then thanked him profusely as Lola dragged me to the door.  All I could say was thank you.  I had asked him in desperation that morning to save my dog, and he had done it.  He was calling something to me as I left.  I said 'thank you' over and over as I bolted through the door. 
 'Thank you' didn't seem like enough.  That's why I got out of there. 

Lola stood on the passenger seat of my car, tail curled in the air.  Her friend with the pick waived at us, smiling. 

I sat next to her crate while she fell asleep.  She had gone in there voluntarily and passed out. At first, her cheeks puffed out every time she took a breath, as if she was blowing a bubble.  Then, she slept more soundly.  I sat there for three hours, listening, watching if the breathing stopped, not knowing what I would do if it did.  

Lola and I relaxed in the Conservatory, the most beautiful room in our house and the one that she prefers.  There isn't a television in there.  Only records, a stereo and a big Victorian bay window with stained glass at the top.  We listened to the new Shins record.  At first, she assumed her position, standing over the back of one of the two chairs in the room, staring out of the window at the street.  Then she settled in and laid in the chair.  Slowly, she fell asleep.  I did some school work, and glanced over at her.  She looked like a bag of bones.  I watched her carefully, again, to make sure she was breathing, feeling the panic again, the memory.

She's breathing. 







Saturday, September 15, 2012

The One

As Lola and I relaxed in the front yard, a grey sedan pulled up.  Two men jumped quickly from the car, darted up the steps and grabbed Lola.  They threw her in the trunk and slammed it.
"Bait dog" I heard them mutter as they jumped back in the car and sped away.  I started running after the car, feeling terror, knowing I was about to scream...

When I woke up.

Lola and I relaxed in the side yard.  When we get up, she does her business and then likes to lay in the grass.  I just sit next to her and drink coffee.  I took her to finish her booty business before going inside.  She scrambled down the weedy slope of the abandoned lot next to our house.  She hopped around, trying to get in the perfect shitting position, then suddenly darted through the weeds mid-act.  She was tangled, her leash was tangled too, until she burst through the vines that contained her.  Lola ran wildly to the cement path that leads to our porch, one leg pulled close to her body, rigidly, with even her toes in a spasm.  She sprawled on the cement.   

I called for Alec.

"Maybe it's a sprain," he guessed as I tried to figure out what was wrong with Lola.  I gently lifted the hurt limb.  Two red puncture wounds were on the inside of her leg.  I picked my fifty pound dog up and ran for the car, screaming at Alec to get the keys. 

Lola laid limp in my arms as Alec weaved around cars and sped down the road.  Her eyes were closing.
"Wake up, Lola, wake up!" Alec yelled, clapping his hands and driving at the same time.  Her eyes fluttered open, only to begin closing again.  Her body sagged like a bag of beans, head and arms on my lap, butt and lower legs sliding to the floor.  I smelled urine.
"Wake up, baby, wake up!" I said furtively, clapping my free hand against my leg.
"Run the light!" I screamed.
It was the longest ride of my life.  I knew she wouldn't make it to the vet.  I couldn't believe that I was holding her in my arms while she died. 
"Eyes open, Lola, eyes open!" I implored, manually opening her eyes for her.

I darted from the car, carrying my dog.
"Please!" I called as I burst through the door.  "My dog has been bitten by a snake!".
A doctor came out and hustled Lola to a waiting room.  Lola's friend, the one that calls her mamí, came out.  The man with the pick with the blue pitts just like her.  She was active now.  They took her in the back.

I stood alone in the room with the door shut, shaking and hyperventilating.  I was praying.  The longer I waited, the more I knew that she was dying.

The doctor emerged.
"We think it is some sort of bee sting" he said.
"She may be allergic," he continued, "I gave her a Benadryl shot and an anti-inflammatory shot for the swelling in her leg.  I want her to stay here a few hours so that I can observe her".
The man with the pick watched me.
"She is going to go upstairs with his dog and we are going to check on her every few minutes" the doctor stated, motioning to the man with the pick.
"Your dog is up there?" I asked him, feeling as though my eyes were bulging from my head.  The blue pitts.  The ones just like her.
"Yes". 
He patted me on the shoulder.

"She's okay". 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Everything Is

I remember the transit of Venus.   I sat in the park while the nasty elderly father of one of my first graders petted Lola lovingly.
"Such a beautiful dog...." he kept saying.
"What kind of dog is she?"
"She's a Pit Bull".
His hand retracted quickly.
"I don't know about those kinds of dogs.." he muttered, gathering up his kids.
"You always read about them in the papers".
An older, African American woman sitting nearby looked at me over her sunglasses.
"Staffordshire Terrier" she said with a smile.
"No, I really think she's an American Pit Bull, but I can't tell the difference between American Pits and Staffordshires" I responded.
"There isn't a difference," she said laughing,  "You just need to learn to say 'Staffordshire' in a snooty way".
I started laughing.  She did too. 

As I threw the laundry into the dryer, I noticed these old shorts that I sleep in all of the time.  The crotch was torn out.  I love my dog.  But it disturbs me out that she is so attracted to my underwear, or anything that has come in any sort of contact to my, well, crotch.  She's my little girl.   It freaks me out that I care for her like a mother, that she is my little miss, I help her into the car, down the stairs, clean her ears, take her to doggie day care and kiss her and tell her to have a great day....yet there is something completely feral inside her that is wildly attracted to my crotch.

THAT is not my sweet baby.  

I heard a noise and looked out onto my porch.  Sixth graders that were fifth graders a year ago were on it.  Three of them.  I hugged them.  And felt sad.  I don't get a lot of student visitors anymore.  I would taser the kids I teach now if they came anywhere near the porch.

Lola was pulling.  Pulling really hard.  It was Thursday, my late day.  I don't have to teach until two.  We always sleep late.  I don't even set my alarm. She could hear the kids on the playground and wanted to go up there.  I begged her in English to let me get out of my pajamas and have my coffee and that I would walk her up that way.  She complied.

We walked up the hill.
"It's Maestra Hilary!" I heard a kid yell as the entire third grade ran to the fence.
"AND LOLA!!!"
My evil 'Staffordshire' stood up and licked hands and faces through the chain link fence.  My babies.  A little boy that I had never seen before literally seemed to scale the fence.
"I'm new!" He announced.
"Hi!" I responded as my dog licked his hand.  "I used to work here!".
I waved to the teachers across the field, worried that they didn't know what was going on.  Teresa ran across the field, Lola's real mother. 
Lola sat solemnly, without direction.  She stared at her intently.  Teresa knelt and let Lola lick her through the fence.  Lola knew who she was.

"You are not going to believe this" Teresa stated, eyes half full of tears from seeing her baby.
"We are almost a million dollars in the hole.  We have to add two kids to every classroom NOW or people are losing their jobs, like next week. LIKE YOU DID".

She stared at me.

"I can't believe this". 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Every Day is Like Sunday

I stood at the edge of the lake.  The sand, or should I say dirt, around it was kind of muddy and orange.  Logs and branches were strewn everywhere.

I was smiling.  Actually, I was laughing.

Lola rampaged along the shore, running wickedly fast and literally hopping in and out of the water like a giant bunny.  She dove in the minute we got there.  Cautiously, we removed her leash.  I took my watch off and emptied my pockets, ready to jump into the muddy lake with my clothes on if Lola got in trouble.  I noticed Alec wordlessly doing the same thing.  Lola went immediately to the deep water and swam stealthily, all four legs churning without a splash beneath the water, head outstretched above it as she mowed across the lake like a little submarine.

I love my sweet baby.  This particular lake is not a place that I would ordinarily frequent.  But now, all I can think of is packing a lunch and taking Lola back there to spend the day.  I would even swim with her in that muddy water.

A text message came through.  "This is my new puppy!" it read, followed by a picture of the Pug.  It was Elena, my fifth grade friend.  Another came through shortly afterwards from Warren, explaining that he wanted to visit Lola when she looks cute, not scary.  I responded to my ten year old friends. My peers.  It was seven in the morning.  

As I drove down the steep roller coaster-like hill toward the water, I realized the platform that held the highway up had fallen into the ocean and that my car was going to as well.  Somehow I managed to stop the car before it plunged into the water.  Alec and I opened the hood and carefully lifted the engine and set it as far out of the water as we could.  I looked up.  Our house was sitting on a dangerous incline in a few feet of water.
"The floors," I thought "the floors.  The hardwoods will be ruined....".
I opened my eyes and petted Lola, asleep next to me in the bed.  Another nighttime at the movies.

All of the students are doppelgangers.  The fourteen year old blond that looks like she's thirty is a ringer of a girl I taught four years ago.  My head whips around in the hallway, thinking I just spotted goofy Clark that I taught four times or that pot head Gabriel who liked the same music that I do.  I stare at them, looking for recognition and have to remind myself that these kids are not the same kids, those kids are not in high school anymore, some of them might be almost done with college by now.  They didn't even go to this school.  All the souls that I have ever taught are not existing forever between high school walls.  There are not haunting these buildings like I am.  They've gone on.

The brunette Raquel I teach now is not the same one I taught five years ago.



*title:  The Smiths or Morrissey, can't remember which.