Friday, April 29, 2005

blowing off steam

ahhh...the bureaucracy of the public school system. Fresno Unified is laying off....oops wrong word...."releasing" 400 highly qualified teachers (HQT to you acronym-mongers) because of budget cuts--and yes, I am one of them. Now, according to my principal, there will be students here at the school in the fall....but they can't guarantee me my job. If I can hold out til the first of June (or the first of September...depends upon whom you talk to), then maybe they can offer me a contract. Mind you, Central Unified, Clovis Unified and Madera Unified are all hiring and signing contracts now for the fall, so take a guess where many of these "HQT's" will end up. So the fall will arrive, and Fresno Unified will be in the predicament (again) of stocking classrooms with long-term subs and/or teachers without the proper credentials; which will make them out of compliance with Mr. Bush's "plan" to educate the masses. But think of the money they'll save by only having to pay $100/day (no benefits) for a sub.
Meanwhile, at many schools, teachers that sleep in class will stay. Teachers that yell and belittle students will stay. Teachers that have been using the same lesson plans for 40 years will stay (so glad that heart surgery is not done the same as it was 40 years ago....). But teachers that are current with the new pedgogy (see, I do know some big words :} ), teachers that are willing to be involved in the comminuty, the school, and with the student are being forced to seek employment elsewhere...or play the "waiting game"
Ahh...great place to blow off steam. Those of you who know where I work, and/or know my "real world" name, please stay mum. I don't mind ranting and raving, but I do need to eat. :}

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

How "Swede" it is

Oh, I know, tacky, tacky, but still made ya' look, eh? Here's a look at a day in the life of a party element :
“Brinnngg! Brrinngg!”
I groggily reached for the phone, regardless of the time, because, you never know: it could be a true catastrophe….or Ed McMahon lost and trying to find the way to my house with my $1,000,000.
“APJ! I know it’s late, but it’s an emergency!”
“Steve, this had better be good—it’s almost midnight.”
That was the phone exchange last week. Steve and Kajsa called from San Fran to inform me that I HAD to come for the weekend because Kajsa had been notified by the Swedish Consulate that the Swedish Navy had a ship coming into port. (Don’t ask, if I told you why she was on the e-mail list….I’d have to kill ya’)
“APJ, you’ve got to come up! A big ship! Sailors! A big ship! Sailors”
“Kajsa, you’re repeating yourself--"
“Yes, but Steve and I want you to come for the weekend. Come on! It’ll be fun.”
Being as I didn’t have anything more pressing than yard work and laundry (ugh), I headed for San Fran on Friday.
“Okay, according to the website, you guys can go on a tour…if ya’ make reservations,” said Steve upon my arrival.
“APj….you must get on that ship! Take Kajsa – but you must go! And tomorrow there is a dance at the Swedish Hall. You must dance!”
“Yes, Obi-wan. I understand….the force will be with me, yes?”
So at 10:00 AM, Kajsa and APj (me) left for the Carlskrona, docked somewhere near Pier 30.
Okay, here’s where you have to use your imagination, ‘cause I don’t speak or write Swedish. Kajsa does, but she’s not here to help me.
xhxhxhxh,” says Kajsa to the sailor at the gangplank. English Translation: Hello
xhxhxhxh,” responds the sailor, probably thinking, “oh great, another American that has learned to say ‘hello’ in Swedish.
xhxh yyy ff rt,” continues Kajsa. English Translation: We are here for the tour.
ff tt byby rtg,” exclaims the sailor. English Translation: Oh my God, a real Swede! Here, let me bring you on board! Please! Follow me!
So this sailor takes us to the man in charge, who, of course, has a list of names, (and of course our names aren’t on that list) ….but the Viking Princess continues her Swedish persuasion:
xhxh rr tyty up sth” English Translation: oh yes, we emailed a few days ago.
xhxh rr tyty up is tre” English Translation: No problem, we’ll get you a sailor.
So Kajsa and I got a one hour tour of the Navy frigate! It is currently traveling the world as a training exercise for it’s new national servicemen and women. Note of interest: on this ship, the men and the women do everything together: no separate toilets, showers, saunas, etc. In fact, Jerry, “our sailor” told us, “The girls and the boys do everything together. Um, how to say? The girls sleep with the boys…um in the same room. No difference, yes?” (sadly, I am too old and otherwise out of shape to join the Swedish Navy… :(
Six hours later found us at the Swedish Hall for an evening of dancing and reverie. If I may be allowed to generalize: the Swedes are fantabulous dancers. But…I have never heard so much ABBA…at least not in the last 20 years! All the “Party Elements” were there: Me, Superman Steve, Brain Dead Red and Irish Pat. As usual, we got the party started, and almost closed the party! BDR and Steve met an officer who promised us an even better tour of the ship on Sunday, sooooooo, Sunday morning found us back at the ship again for tour-part deux.
Good weekend, lots of laughs and great friends!

Monday, April 25, 2005

How far would you go?

dirty mind - not talking about that.....perhaps later, after we know each other better.
How far would you go to keep your child from experiencing pain? Kien shared a story of his childhood involving stew and a pet....which made me think of pets and DEAD pets....which made me think of my daughter, Erynn, and her pet hamster named Baby.
Well, Baby had lived two years, which is a long time for a hamster. Baby had been a very smart hamster - so smart that she was an escape artist...which wasn't a problem since all you had to do was knock on a wall and she would come to you! Each night I'd knock on her cage and up the tube she would come.
So one night knock I did...and no Baby. "Hmmm...maybe she's still sleeping," I thought. Twenty minutes later, still no Baby. This time I knocked a bit longer, and heard her stirring, and saw her walking towards her tube. But not really walking....more like waivering...a bit like a drunken sailor.
"Mommy!" cried Erynn, "Somethings wrong with Baby! Fix her, fix her!"
So I scooped her up in my hands. Her eyes were almost closed, and she just shook in my hands. I promised Erynn that I would make Baby better....and convinced her to go to sleep.
Alas, Baby died in my arms. I cried, because I'm a softie, but then I thought, "Oh Lordy, what am I gonna tell Erynn in the morning?"
Take #1: "Good Morning sweetie, your hamster's dead. Get ready for school"
Take #2: "Good Morning Erynn, Baby you want cereal or eggs?"
No, neither of those "takes" would do..... I could not give Erynn terrible tragic news about her beloved pet and then cruelly send her to school. I had to protect her from the pain, even if it were only for a little while. How could I do it? I had to switch into Mommy-mode, and quick. I wrapped Baby in T.P. (soft burial shroud), and placed her in a coffee can.....then I put the can in the refrigerator. That way she wouldn't start to smell...or worse.
Morning arrived and it was easy to distract Erynn from Baby. The day went as it normally would, with me picking her up from school and heading home.
"Mommy, do you think Baby will be okay?"
"Oh honey, you know...Baby lived for a long time. She didn't look too good last night" and thinking to myself, "true, no one looks good wrapped in T.P"
"Mommy, I'm gonna hold her and make her better."
"Sweetie, she was so sick. I just want you to be prepared...she might not be okay."
"I know, Mommy."
So we arrive home, Erynn leaping out of the car and rushing for the door.
"Hold up sweetie-darling!" frantically I tried to think of some suitable delay. "Would you please go get the mail?"
"Mommy, I gotta check on Baby."
"Oh sweetie, I'll go check on Baby. You go get the mail"
As Erynn stomped to the mailbox, I rushed through the door, tore around the corner to the kitchen, threw open the fridge door, grabbed the coffee can, unrolled Baby from her burial shroud and plopped her in her cage. At that exact moment, Erynn came through the door.
"Mommy! How's Baby?"
Quickly catching my breath, composing my face into an appropriate mourning demeanor, I replied, "Oh sweetie, I think she's dead."
Tears welled in her eyes as she approached the cage. " Oh, mommy, she's so still....can I hold her?"
I carefully picked up Baby and placed her in Erynn's hands.
"Oh Mommy....she's so cold."
(Yes, I know....I should have thought quicker, longer, something. But honestly, after everything that had just transpired, it was the best I could come up with.)
"Yes, sweetie, I know. Ah...that's what happens when you die."

Erynn did not know the true story of the demise of Baby until she was in high school....she then proceeded to write a story about her horrible mother keeping her dead hamster in the fridge! Yes, she has a wicked sense of idea where it came from. :)
So, how far will a mother go to ensure her daughter doesn't have a bad day? Pretty damn far: Dead loved ones kept in the fridge....

Sunday, April 24, 2005

why "airplanejayne?"

Well, it all started sometime around the year 19-seems-like-forever-ago, when I went to watch my bestfriend, Claire, jump from a perfectly good airplane. "Sounds like fun!" I said. I went out to the DZ (drop zone)and watched her go through the class, and jump. Awesome! Right there and then I decided that this was definitely something I had to try. But, being a starving college student and skydiving being an expensive hobby, I found myself in a predicament. What to do? How to do? As I spent the next few weeks hanging out at the drop zone, watching all the action (in air and on the ground...), I stumbled on a money-making opportunity: Skydivers would rather skydive than anything else, especially packing parachutes. They were willing to pay good money to almost anyone who would pack their chute. Ka-ching! One afternoon packing class was all it took - Within a few more weeks "Plain Jayne" was making money packing.
Yes, hated being called "plain" anything. But ya' see, at the time, the drop zone was populated with Ironworkers. These rough-and-tumble guys had nicknames for everyone: Red Baron, Captain Cut-away, the Reverend (note: not the altar boy type), White Boy, etc. I felt flattered (and a little nervous) that they gave me a nickname at all.
"Hey! Plain Jayne! Ya' done with my rig?"
"Hey, Plain Jayne! When ya' gonna jump with us?"
"Hey, Plain Jayne! Come on, ya' ever gonna jump, or what?"
After 2 1/2 long months of packing parachutes, eating only PBJ sandwiches (sometimes without the bread), and stealing T.P. from public bathrooms, I had saved enough money to jump. I made my reservation for the next Saturday class, and showed up at 7:00 AM
"Hey-hey, Plain Jayne! Hear ya'lls jumpin' today! Can I go on your load?"
"Hey, Plain Jayne! This here is the Red Baron! He's gonna be in class with you."
"Hey, Plain Jayne! Ya' scared?"
I just smiled at them, and breezed on by. Little did they know that I had been flying in my dreams all my life - this skydiving thing was gonna be a snap!
Class flew (pun intended) by and it was finally time to jump. I remember that Ray was my jumpmaster, and Red Baron was on the load, but I don't remember who the other jumper was. sorry, some memories aren't as clear as others. I do know that Ray was only supposed to snap one photo, but said my, "exit was so clean he snapped off the whole roll." Personally, I think he was just twitterpated with me....... :)
Jump was great - just like my dreams. Did a perfect landing, which at that time meant thudding non-gracefully on the ground and trying not to break body parts. Red Baron and I were jumping, screaming, hugging and hollering as everyone ran out to greet us.
"Plain Jayne! Plain Jayne! You looked awesome!"
"Plain Jayne! Plain--"
"Hold up!" interjected Red Baron. "She ain't 'Plain Jayne' no more. She's Airplane Jayne."
Twenty-plus years later, I'm still called Airplane Jayne. what can I say? sure beats "Plain Jayne" anyday.