Saturday, February 22, 2020

February Week 4: Curriculum Vitae

Job 1: WalMart Checker. Proficient in:
  • Checking out customers, handling currency, providing basic teenage customer service
  • Taking it. Just taking it all with a damned smile
  • Memorizing the bar code numbers for all the baby formula and dog food in the store
  • Encouraging fellow employees not to despair
Job 2: Cloth World Associate. Proficient in:
  • Assisting customers with fabric, notion, and pattern choices
  • Estimating yardage requirements for last minute Halloween costumes
  • Praising projects of customers desperately needing affirmation
  • Arguing with fellow college-aged employees about fabric
Job 3: Resident Assistant (College Dormitories). Proficient in:
  • Repairing broken items before checkout
  • Imparting illicit knowledge
  • Letting people be
  • Patrolling hallways and common areas like a negligent security guard
  • Doing the minimum requirements to fulfill job duties for free room and board
Job 4: First grade teacher. Proficient in:
  • Assisting functionally illiterate parents in filling out vital forms
  • Wrapping supplies in kraft and tying with twine
  • Deftly avoiding sexual assault in my own classroom in front of first graders
  • Making do with nothing in order to provide everything to everyone
  • Accidentally self-identifying as Jewish and playing along all year
Job 5: First grade teacher's aide. Proficient in:
  • Assisting with planning and implementation of lessons with lead teacher
  • Copier repair and functionality
  • Picking up dry cleaning and diet coke with lemon
  • Recess and lunch duties in all weather situations
Job 6: First grade teacher. Proficient in:
  • Individualized, differentiated instruction
  • Reading remediation
  • Rabbit care
Job 7: Middle School Math teacher. Proficient in:
  • Developing school-wide mathematics curriculum, scope and sequence, and plans
  • Rebuilding school library 
  • Teaching middle school mathematics including Algebra I
  • Limited Vietnamese, Romany dialect, and Portuguese slang
  • Celebrating and understanding immigrant and refugee families' culture and experience
  • Checking for lice
Job 8: Stay at home mom. Proficient in:
  • Feeding, clothing, and caring for three children for 12 years
  • Keeping other people alive 
  • Selecting appropriate education, health care, and extracurricular options
  • Gardening, sewing, household chores, home repair, girl scouting, dance mom duties
Job 9: Middle School Math teacher. Proficient in:
  • Conferencing with parents, colleagues, and students for exceptional outcomes
  • Mentoring new teachers
  • Light janitorial, counseling, maintenance, and event planning duties
  • Making and covering up huge mistakes
Job 10: Middle School Special Education teacher. Proficient in:
  • Supporting classroom teachers' efforts to educate students with special needs
  • Gathering evidence and evaluating data to improve student results and raise test scores
  • Navigating relationships with burnt out and negative coworkers to maintain sanity
  • Crowd control 
  • Mediating dangerous situations with students and adults
  • Alleviating burdens of coworkers in exchange for Dr. Pepper and chocolate croissants 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

February Week 3: I'm Good.

A list of ten things I like about myself. I am not modest and this was easy.

1. I'm game for whatever

Want to go to a bar where they open champagne with a sword? Ok. Can you help me move? Sure. Here try this squid. Mmm. Let's tile an entire retaining wall with student-made mosaics. Yeah! Come with me to Chicago/the cemetery/the high school football game/the bar/the storage locker/the Social Security office/the concert. I'm there. Try this craft. Yay.

2. I meet people where they are

I am really good at not assuming that someone comes from the same perspective as I do. I find this is something that other people do not do for me very often. This makes me good at negotiating and working with children and adults with all sorts of abilities and backgrounds.

3. I am a very, very good teacher

I am. Even in the midst of what I do now, which is essentially test, test, and retest children who have already plateaued at age 13 in the middle of a dumpster fire of a failing school, I try my best to bring in good teaching. I want to be good, and I feel bad when I know I've phoned it in. These days, just showing up is good teaching where I work (and larger than that, in a nation that values teachers for their cheapness, not their expertise).

4. I have central heterochromatic blue and yellow eyes

My eyes are my best feature and they're weird. Less as I get older--the yellow and blue have blended more in the middle, but I still like my yellow ringed pupils.

5. My house is very clean

I thought I was bad at this. I'm not. I was just fighting a losing battle against a hoarder in a house constantly in the cycle of disrepair - try to repair - fail to repair - hire to repair - complain. Now I have a clean tidy well-repaired house.

6. I know how to do a lot of things

I really do. I like learning things, but some things I know at a deep level. Like quilting--I asked a friend about her grandmother's quilts and she finally cut me off and told me I was too specific, that she didn't know the answers or even the terms I was referring to. I realized last year that I had become the husband I wished I'd had, but I'm also good at grandmother skills.

7. I can be your cut man

November 2013 Text Conversation:

Me: I'm in your corner. Talk anytime, good night 
John: Bridge you are not only in my corner, you're like a cut man
 Me: What's a cut man? 
John: In boxing your face swells. Your eyes blow up your nose gets broke. A cut man's job is to push out the swelling. Seal cuts with salve and open your nostrils with ammonia to keep you in the fight. 
Me: Gah! Too many details!
John: LOL There will come a time when I have beaten the tar out of life and you will know. Your effort, your time, your investment won't be for nothing.

8. I have never pushed my children to have the same activities, profession, hobbies, or interests as I do.

Maeve loves theater and dancing and singing and tried wrestling and lacrosse. Sophia is likely going to work for the Forest Service or some such as a wilderness first responder and a forester and plays piano and did Irish dance. Leo plays volleyball and video games . None of them knits, sews, quilts, or plans to teach. This is good.

9. I wear a size 10 or 10.5 (US) shoe 

This means I get a lot of fun shoes on clearance and men's running shoes and boots and whatnot are within my reach.

10. I'm a great friend to go out with because I will laugh and cry and drink and eat cheesecake with you all night and my hair will always look worse than yours and I've come to accept this.

Monday, February 10, 2020

February Week 2: Old Lovers

I want to write about five Johns I loved and lost. I have written about all of them separately but here they are wrapped up together.

1. My longest-lasting-never-coming-to-fruition high school crush was a John. He always had a girlfriend but I was in all his classes junior year. I thought I was over him but then we drove together across Texas at the beginning of senior year. I was still just crazy enough to take the seat in the middle between him and his new girlfriend. They broke up by the end of the weekend retreat but John never so much as asked me to go out dancing. I finally asked him, and that was the last time I ever asked anyone out anywhere. He was polite but declined. 

2. My last high school boyfriend was a Johnny, not a John. Typical ADHD gifted nightmare. Our socioeconomic differences were hard to overcome and his childhood trauma even harder. I was too young to handle someone so fun, so broken, so much not fully realized. We broke it off when I came home after freshman year. He was still a busboy, not in college. I couldn't wait for him to figure it out (he did).

3. This John was 11 and hurting and I was his teacher and I wanted to put him in my car and be his superhero. I lost touch with him for three years and he called out of the blue. More radio silence for a solid decade and I find him on Facebook. Two months later he's living in my house and everyone in my life is like WTF BRIDGETT. It was complicated and I doubt even my closest friends understood any of it. We had two good hard summers together, then fleeting contact here and there. I hugged him goodbye outside the emergency room and I knew it was our last goodbye, I knew it with my whole self. He wrote me from jail one time in pencil. I still have the letter. And then he died. 

4. John, Fr. John this time, I fell in love with this man completely and irresponsibly. He had eyes the color of my son's, was as gay as a priest could get away with, sung show tunes from the pulpit, and one Holy Thursday after a long Lent, I went up to have my feet washed and he did so, kneeling in front of me, and then kissed the top of my foot like it was the two of us alone in that church with no one around. But I wasn't shocked by the gesture, I reveled in it. I needed that kind of intimacy and we were great friends, outlasting his move to another parish and almost surviving my divorce, until the week my daughter was in the PICU and he didn't come through for me in any fashion. He broke my heart like no lover ever has. I don't even have his phone number anymore.

5. And John. As in, the john. As in, the bathroom at my old house. Most specifically, not the john, not the toilet, but the bathtub. Six foot soaking tub with nickel plated claw feet and pristine porcelain. Oh I miss it. I now live in a house built in a more sensible era with a sensible modern tub. But love isn't sensible. And I miss that tub.

Monday, February 3, 2020

February Week One: Misdemeanors

Small confessions are best. Little things we do that perhaps are sins, perhaps are just bad judgment, and perhaps are merely figuring out how to get by in a world that often doesn't help folks get by. Small things. Misdemeanors and omissions and slip ups and tiny little private revenges. Those are the best. Mistakes aren't so much fun but little ways to even the score warm my heart.

Like when I would forget my fork for my lunch a few years back and take a plastic fork out of the cup my co-teacher brought in "for her use only." As if I was going to use up all her forks. Instead I just used one. And wiped it on my jeans each time and put it back in the cup. For her use only.

In my high school it was against some ridiculous rule to step on the school shield that was unwisely placed right inside the front doors to the school. Large ficus trees and rotating plants cradled around the shield to remind us to walk around. Walk around! The fat priest would yell out at us, sweating on his neck as he pointed, his arm flab wobbling around. Then when I was first in class but not picked to be valedictorian, I told the priest what I thought of him, and seventeen year old me walked to the front doors of the school and jumped up and down on that damned shield, each flat footed landing like a gunshot down the hall.

I got bought out of my teaching contract. It was at the end of a very long month that started with my moving into my parents' house and navigating what it was like to only see my kids 50% of the time. I was bought out of my contract--ironically for things I DIDN'T do--and my parents were in Europe and I didn't tell them and I would cry myself to sleep. Then came the day when I was going to go clean out my classroom. The vice principal and my old partner teacher (not the one with the forks) met me there on a misting Saturday right near my birthday in October. I started packing up and Jenna would ask, "Are these yours?" and the answer was always yes. Yes. The books, the manipulatives, the fucking magnetic name tags on the kids' lockers, the compasses and pens and pencils and crayons and paper clips and yes it is all mine. I took it all home to my parents' house and sorted it all, mine and not mine, in the alley. I threw away almost everything, nearly filling a dumpster. And then I slapped some of those magnets on the dumpsters up and down the alley: Doug, Ava, Tim, Madison, all the little white brat names. They were trash, the school was trash, it was all fucking trash. Eventually the city spray painted over them like they were graffiti. Obliterating them.

Our favorite Irish (big on the -ish part of Ir-ish there) pub shut down and we tried another one--it was  local chain of a few locations that shut down its heart, its original place. I never trust an establishment that does that, forgets its roots. At some point in the dinner conversation I started to cry--but I cry a lot and it wasn't that big of a deal in the end, considering I don't even remember the reason--and asked the waitress to bring us two shots of an Irish (real Irish, not -ish) whiskey we liked. She pretended she didn't know the brand. She went to the bar and came back and said they were out and she could get us another appetizer or some bread? We realized she thought I'd been overserved, the teary blotchy faced girl, when in reality I was only one beer in and had finished a burger and fries. We paid the bill and left out the back door. I stole an umbrella and it wasn't even raining. It's still in my car.