Different Perspectives

Each summer growing up we would visit my grandparents at their cottage on Grand Lake. My cousins would come out too when we came up, and we had some amazing times there. Because of all the visitors my grandparents converted their garage into an apartment of sorts, a couple of beds, a half bath, tables, plenty of places to sit, and a TV. We spent a lot of time in that garage.

One summer while sleeping in the garage we encountered the Possessed TV. This TV would randomly turn on by itself, yes by itself, and at an extremely high volume. That memorable night, it woke us up and scared us out of our minds. Twice. The memory is very vivid. Most, if not all, of my aunts, uncles, and cousins have had their own experience with this TV as well.

I have used this story as an example for personal narratives in my classroom for as long as I can remember. If it doesn’t inspire my students to write, it at least gets conversations going. Just a few months ago after sharing this story with one of my 8th grade classes, we ended up sharing stories the entire hour. Seriously the entire hour. We got nothing else done; we just shared stories. That class is one of my more challenging classes, but that day, we had fun and enjoyed one another’s company. But that is not where I was going with this post. Let me get back on track.

This past summer at a family gathering we all started reminiscing about the Possessed TV. My cousin, who had been with me that night, told the experience from what she remembered, and I was surprised to hear how much it differed from my own. Okay, well it wasn’t a huge difference but enough of one. I remember being startled awake by the loud white staticky noise and snow on this Possessed TV, looking for the remote and turning it off. She, however, remembers it turning on to one of those televangelist programs and right when the preacher clapped his hands the television turned itself off. The only show I recall from that night was the one we watched before we fell asleep, Circus of the Stars. Her memory of that night is different than mine.

I can’t remember after she told her version of the memory whether or not I also explained my version. It didn’t matter. Her memory is hers and mine is mine. No one has to be right in this scenario. But it did make me think of all of the times myself or others have gotten into arguments so certain what they saw, or said, or did was the absolute truth. I am completely positive I remember what I remember. And I am completely positive my cousin remembers what she remembers. We all have a different perspective about everything in life, and one is not more right than the other. It’s just different. It can be difficult to step back and remember this.

I wonder whatever happened to that TV. It’s probably scaring more kids in other parts of the world after someone found it washed up on a beach.

My Mom’s Nightly Orange

First of all, let’s just pause for a moment and recognize that it is April 2nd, and I am still writing and posting every day. Yep, two days past the challenge end date. Whew, I am a serious overachiever.

Truly, I am not an overachiever, just an achiever. However, I can hear my husband in my head urging me to keep writing whenever I am just sitting around this Spring Break. It is wonderful to have his encouragement, but also annoying. Mostly because he’s right. Also, there is yet another challenge I am trying to partake in during the month of April called Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is usually in November, but has April as a “camp” to keep the writing going, check it out and hit me up if you’re interested.)

I started a story last summer that I am still working on. It is loosely based on events and people in my life. As the saying goes, write what you know. Of course I see the benefit of writing what you know and writing out of your comfort zone, as with anything in life. But for now I am sticking with what I know until I get this story finished.

While working on this story, I’ve become more aware of childhood memories that randomly pop into my head. Weird little things that stick out, like my mom eating an orange before bedtime. She’d either be sitting in her bedroom or in the living room enjoying some evening television eating an orange as a snack. It wasn’t necessarily the orange that sticks out, but it was more about how she used a paring knife to peel her orange. Then, once eaten, the orange peels were wrapped up in a ball of paper towel. For the final touch she would stick the paring knife into the ball. It would sit there staying in a ball shape with the yellow handle sticking out until she got up to throw it away. I don’t think I ever said anything to her, or anyone else for that matter, about it. I simply remember noticing it, and even today 25+ years later I can picture it vividly. It’s a comfort memory of my childhood. Hmmmm … comfort memories… I sense a story or a poem in my future.

I recently started peeling my sometimes-nightly orange with a paring knife too. It really is easier than just making cuts into the peel and tearing it apart with your fingers. While I haven not begun wrapping my orange in a paper towel ball and stabbing it, I have seen my oldest try to peel his oranges with a knife as well.

I am still in awe of my mom’s ease at doing little things like this. The ball of paper towel and orange peels stabbed with a paring knife is just one of them. It’ll be interesting to see what strange memories my own children have of me 25 years from now.

Vanderpump Rules

I started rewatching Vanderpump Rules on Hulu within the last week or so. I’ve seen these episodes before when they first aired. I have some new shows that I haven’t watched yet piling up on Hulu as well, but I can’t bring myself to watch them. I just keep clicking on Vanderpump Rules when given the opportunity. I wasn’t sure at first why I was spending my free moments during my Spring Break watching old episodes of Jax and Stassi fighting. Wondering will they or won’t they get back together when I already know the answer. And now in Season 2 it gets even juicier when we find out that Kristen and Jax hooked up. Why do I keep watching this trashy television that I have already seen? Why aren’t I catching up on the latest epidsodes of New Amsterdam or Chicago Med or Grey’s Anatomy?

Then it hit me. The other shows I tend to enjoy are dramas, mostly medical dramas or police/law procedural shows. Someone is always sick, or getting sick, or almost dying and then getting saved, or tragically it was too late to do anything though they tried their hardest and they have to console the families. I watch those shows, and I ball my eyes out. And right now I am just not in the mood to ball my eyes out at a stupid show. There’s enough of that happening in real life. So, for now, I am reliving the absurd lives of the beautiful people on Vanderpump Rules. Their craziness is exactly what I need right now. Watching 30-something waiters and waitresses act like teenagers is the perfect escape for me at this time. Plus, it is extremely fun listening to my husband complain about this show, then watch him get sucked in and start asking questions (I am sure he’ll deny this if you ask him, however), then abruptly say, “Never mind, I don’t care” and act like he’s got more important, scholarly things to do.

Right now, I need to go finish watching the episode where Jax and Stassi decide they are officially broken up, again, because he hooked up with a random girl even though he just he tattooed Stassi’s name on his arm AND where Kristin freaks out over a text that Tom sent to Ariana. See what I mean? With all of this idiocy it is easy to get lost and flee from reality for awhile.


Day 31, last day of the SOLSC

In honor of my brother in law, a man who had the most amazing smile and who smiled often and easily, I wanted to focus on a couple of times smiles like Eric swept through our house today.

Playing hide-and-seek with my four year old this morning. He thinks 5 seconds is plenty of time to hide. He announces where he is going to hide, and he is a horrible cheater. Every moment of today’s game was amusing.

“Your turn Mom. You hide, Dad and I will count.” “Ok, but you can’t look.” He turns and starts counting. The second I start to creep away he looks. “No looking!” I holler, and he turns to start counting again, and then finds me only a few short seconds after that. Smiles and giggles.

“Mom you count, and Dad and I will hide.” I sneak around and make my way into our bedroom. “Why is the closet light on?” I wonder out loud. Giggles can be heard from inside the closet, but the doors won’t move as I attempt to slide them open. They are trying to keep me out. More giggles and more smiles.

“Ok, now, Mom and I will hide, and Dad will count,” he announces as he grabs my hand. I tug him into the bathroom to hide in the shower. Right when Dad announces, “Ready or not, here I come,” he erupts in a fit of giggles giving away our hiding spot. Smiles and giggles galore as we are found.

The brutal honesty of my middle son. He and Dad went to go visit with his uncle, aunt, and cousins who were visiting at Grandma’s house today. I had jumped in the shower while they were gone. I was brushing the tangles from my hair when they got back. My son saw me and asked where I was going. “Nowhere, just took a shower,” I answered. “Oh, well you normally don’t wear that shirt unless you are going somewhere.” Dad starts laughing, but my son is oblivious to the possibly hurtful truth of that comment. He just says it like he sees it. Clearly when I am home I only wear certain types of clothing, mainly pajamas, and it is out of the ordinary that I am wearing a non-pajama shirt around the house on a lazy Sunday. He has made such observations before. Once when his laundry basket was heaped high with clothes in need of washing, he said, “Man, laundry’s piling up around here” as were tucking him into bed one night. Honestly, it doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. It’s hilarious, and now “Laundry’s piling up around here” has become a sort of family mantra. I love his brutal honesty, and today it gave us another reason to #smilelikeeric.

A Small Enlightening

Day 30 of my Slice of Life

My husband was texting with his younger brother this evening and started chuckling.

“What’s so funny?” my nosy self asked.

“Oh John sent me a screen shot of some domain names,” he then listed off the names.

I didn’t see the humor, so naturally I responded with a snarky, “I guess you had to be there.”

To which he replied with, “Shut up. Read your book.” I wasn’t reading, but even if I were, making a comment of how much I read is far from an insult.

Scoffing, “You’ve been reading more than me lately. I have so many books I want to read. I just need to figure out what is important.”

I didn’t realize what this off the cuff remark really meant right away.

“I need to figure out what is important.” I actually repeated this out loud to myself.

It can pertain to so many aspects of life. Not just which book I should start reading first.

Life can get overwhelming. Some days I feel like I’ve got it all together. And some days it is as if I just can’t catch up.

All the stuff starts piling up like dishes in a sink. There are some days I think eff it, let the dishes sit there. But doing that too often leads to dishes spilling onto the floor. It becomes so overwhelming I don’t know where to start, and then I feel like just shutting down. Again.

I see this a lot at school with students who get failing grades. They get so far behind they either give up completely or they slowly start chipping away at that failing grade by focusing on what’s important and completing one assignment at a time.

I need to take some of my own advice that I give to my students. Maybe this is something we all need to do from time to time. Whether it is with a to-read pile or the bigger stuff. Take a minute, focus on what’s important, and keep moving one step at a time.

10 Things I Am Grateful For

  1. Being able to keep the windows open
  2. Hearing the birds chirp
  3. The sunshine
  4. My kids playing basketball outside
  5. The cookie place that opened down the street
  6. Piles of books to be read
  7. Iced coffee
  8. Queen (the band)
  9. Double Bubble gum
  10. Pajama pants

A Found Story Starter

Day 28 of my Slice of Life

When I got home from school today, my oldest immediately launched into an extensive explanation of his field trip. They went to a local waste treatment plant. Based on his description, it has a large incinerator used to destroy classified material. He said they were not allowed in a certain section and that it was guarded a SWAT team. “Probably burning drugs they said.”

“Well, that actually sounds like a pretty fun field trip,” I said.

“Yeah, and check out this souvenir I found.”

The found souvenir

After reading this note he found so many questions ran through my mind. Why was it left there? Is it a real missing hamster? And if so, why was it at a restaurant? It must be some sort of toy because of the word ‘set.’ The word ‘pass’ is used in a peculiar way, why would you need to write this note if you are close enough to pass something to someone? Was ‘Mommy’ just trying to be sneaky so ‘Parker’ wouldn’t freak out about her missing hamster? How did ‘Madi’ react to this request? Did ‘Parker’ ever notice that it was not her original hamster?

I love finding or seeing odd things that make me go hmmmm…

And I love that my oldest likes to find these types of things too, and that he shares them with his mom.

I’m going to save that little gem of a souvenir for a day I need some writing inspiration. I feel like there could be a good story there.

C&C Music Factory, Things That Make You Go Hmmmm
More writing inspiration maybe?
I’m in the mood for some bad 90’s music and dancing to celebrate Spring Break 2019! See full song and video below.

A Weird Freaking Day

Day 27 of my Slice of Life challenge.

Before I leave for school in the morning, I wake up my four year old. Today, I woke him up as I normally do by singing “Baby Beluga,” turning off his sound machine, and rubbing his back. He normally just scrambles into my arms, and I lay him in our bed to watch some TV as he fully wakes up. This morning, however, when I woke him, he started whimpering. I asked him what was wrong, and he cried, “I am want hot dogs!”

I started laughing and gently told him we don’t have any hot dogs but maybe we can get some for dinner knowing full well I have parent teacher conferences tonight and Dad will be in charge of dinner.

School carried on fairly well. We had an adjusted schedule due to conferences, and I decided to fill the time with watching The Twilight Zone episode of “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” Some classes were more into it than others as usual, and while we will be doing some writing based on what we watched, it will probably wait until after Spring Break. I felt extra grumpy today. Well, grumpy isn’t the right word, touchy or sensitive are probably more accurate. I try to keep my emotions in check as every teacher does, but some days it is just too much. Some days it feels like a personal attack when students blatantly talk over you even after you’ve asked them to listen for just a few flipping minutes. The logical part of me knows it is not necessarily personal, but today the emotional part of me won. I may have flipped my lid a few times. So when an announcement came on at the end of the day that “staff could attend an optional staff meeting right after school,” I opted to not go in the name of self-care. Today that self-care looked like a Jimmy Johns sandwich and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I had 2 hours to myself at home before the kids got out of school. I intended to enjoy it.

Right when I walked in the door, however, my cell phone rang. My middle son’s school was on the caller ID so I picked up. It was his teacher. She explained Declan was upset about something, but didn’t want to talk to her about it. He requested to talk to me. I had a feeling about what it could be and filled her in before she gave him the phone.

“Mom?” he said choking back his tears.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Don’t freak out OK Mom?” At this, I realized it was not what I thought it was.

“Okaaayyy,” I said hesitantly, “Just tell me what it is.”

“I have been swearing at recess since 1st grade.”

It took all of my strength not to burst out laughing as he rambled on about another kid daring him to and he just kept doing it for apparently years now. He was suddenly struck with a strong sense of guilt because he also stated, “He knew it was wrong and had to tell me.”

I was baffled at where this came from. He hears his mom swear a good amount at home. And while I do not condone swearing at school or in front of your parents and grandparents, I have never been one to chastise those who swear openly. I didn’t question his reason for telling me this of course, I simply offered my assurance that he can fix it now and to not swear at school and that it really is OK. I told him I loved him, he said the same and then hung up on me.

It was all very bizarre.

I worry about his reaction to the guilt of swearing, but I am very glad and relieved he felt he could to come to me to tell me about something that was bothering him.

Perhaps I should be a better role model by working on swearing less at home too. Damn it.