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We Marched Today

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Today, my daughters and I marched. We didn’t march in January, though I knit lots of hats for friends and family who did march. We didn’t march THIS January, because we were celebrating my son’s birthday. But today we marched. I didn’t see how we couldn’t.

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You see, I am a teacher. Every day I’m in charge of 20 little minds, hearts, and souls. Every day I not only teach them how to blend sounds into words and add and subtract, but I try to teach them how to be kind, how to be a friend, and how to look out for one another. Every day I make sure they have a snack, they feel heard, they are happy, and they are doing okay. Every day I give and get hugs. I comfort. I encourage. I applaud. Every day I try not to think that some horrible thing could happen to all of us while trying to learn.

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photo by Julie Rodriguez

I am also a mother. I have three precious beings that go out into the world every day to three different schools. We all leave in the morning, off to our separate classrooms, hoping to just learn. Hoping that nothing terrible happens. Hoping that each one of them comes home.

It’s easy to forget. If I didn’t forget that a school shooting could happen ANYWHERE, I couldn’t do my job. I couldn’t send my own kids to school each day. If we didn’t PUSH the fear back into the recesses of our minds each day, none of us could function in the world.

I realize it’s not just schools.

It’s movie theaters. It’s malls. It’s clubs and concerts and parks and colleges and churches, and restaurants. It’s outreach centers and post offices, community centers, and of course homes.

Over and over and over and over and over again.

I’m done. He’s done. She’s done. They’re done. We’re ALL DONE.

ENOUGH.

Stop telling us it’s not guns, it’s that kids are bullied. If that were truly the case, most of the mass shooters would be gay kids, transgender kids, special needs kids, girls, and minorities. But it’s not, is it? It’s white males. With access to guns. I know not all white males are awful. I’ve got a father, 3 brothers, a husband, and a son for starters, who are all wonderful. But let’s be real. It’s the angry white males getting ahold of these weapons of mass destruction and killing innocent people. And it’s EASY for them to get ahold of these killing machines.

Those of us who want reform and change don’t want to “take all the guns away” (though truthfully, I’d be 100% okay with ZERO GUNS anymore), but we DO want to make it harder to get these weapons into the hands of men and boys who will go on shooting sprees and kill kids, teachers, innocent people.

Right now it seems more difficult to buy sudafed than it is a gun. There’s something wrong with this picture.

So we march.

We ordered these shirts from Lin Manuel Miranda’s teerico.

This was our first march. I am sure that it will not be our last. Something has changed in our country. Not only are the adults fired up, but so are the teenagers. So are the kids. We are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Did you march? Will you march?

~Genevieve

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Late to the Hamilton Party

So, I’ve been wanting to see “Hamilton” for some time now.

I’ve seen friends fly to New York and see it, travel to Chicago to see it, and lots and lots and lots of friends see it here in Los Angeles. My husband has a great aversion to spending so much money on tickets. I have to say that I don’t blame him to a degree. 

See, tickets to Hamilton here in L.A. START at $358 for seats in the back. They go up to $1520. (To compare, “Aladdin” tickets at the same theater start at $90. “School of Rock” at the same theater starts at $58.) Granted, I don’t expect them to be as cheap as that, but trying to get decent seats for all 5 of us would be a few thousand dollars.

I decided to try for the lottery. It would only be two tickets, but it would be cool if we got to go- at least my husband and I. Stupidly, perhaps, I mostly shot for weekends, because trying to go to Hollywood during the week is so difficult. If I had it to do all over again, I’d try for every single day.

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This became a regular message to pop up on my phone.

Soooooo, knowing this, I held off on getting the music. I (mistakenly) thought I shouldn’t get the music before seeing the show. (This is what I did for “Wicked,” “Into the Woods,” and other shows we’ve seen.)

My husband, knowing that I’d been trying to get tickets via the lottery, bought me two things that have changed everything.

  1. This speaker. Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 3.55.36 PM
  2. This!  Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 3.57.06 PM

Luckily, he knew I’d want to combine the two, and play it loudly in the house, so he bought me the “clean” version. 😉 My 12-year-old loves it almost as much as I do, and we sing it all the time. She’s got her favorites, and so do I (this can be another post, if necessary).

BOY, all I have to say is that I’ve been depriving myself of listening to this soundtrack for TOO LONG. I’m so happy I have it and can listen to it whenever I feel like it. It truly is amazing, and I am going to figure out how to get tickets to this at some point in my lifetime (hopefully not too far into the future).

Go ahead, you may mock me. I’m late to the party, but I’m FINALLY AT THE PARTY.

~Genevieve

 

The Uncertainty of Life

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

                                       Courage to change the things I can,

                                      And wisdom to know the difference.

My husband often tells me that worrying about things I have no control of isn’t going to help anything. He may have a point, but honestly? That’s precisely why I’m worried… because I HAVE NO CONTROL!!

Life is uncertain right now. I know I’m not the only one for whom it’s uncertain, but it’s no fun, and it’s weighing over me no matter how much I’m not “supposed” to worry about it.

We have a new administration that seems unpredictable. We have a new Education Secretary that has me really worried for the future of public education. People I love are dealing with medical issues that worry me. And last, but not least, I have no idea where I’ll be working next year.

What can I do about any of these things?

Well, for the first, I can join friends and family in activism. I can be more informed on issues and contact my representatives.

For the second thing? I can do my best at my job and fight back against crazy changes that might be coming up the pike. Those are things that might help me feel INVOLVED, although when push comes to shove, I just don’t know how much we can do.

For the third? Pray, I suppose. I don’t know that there’s much else I can do in that department.

And lastly? I honestly have no idea. Get my name “out there”? Cross my fingers that I land somewhere? I’ve been told that we currently have 10 teachers at my school, but we will only have room for 8 next year, unless our enrollment drastically changes. I find out my fate – at least whether or not I’ll get laid off or transferred – by March 15th. Supposedly. It seems an awfully long ways away from here.

Re-reading these things makes me feel a bit petty. I have a roof over my head. My children, husband, and I are healthy. We are well-fed. We are doing well. So many more things could be worrying us, that it makes my worries seem small. But still, they are my worries, and no matter what, it’s how I’m wired.

I think I need to take up Yoga.

 

A New Year, A New Outlook

A New Year, A New Outlook

School has been in session for two weeks and my team, the students, and I are all trying to get in the swing of things. Routine takes time, and we’re trying to get it right. Overall, things are going well. I have a very chatty but overall good group of kids. It’s a big class (34 students in one and 33 in the other), but so far they’re manageable. I like my new partner, and working together is going well.

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Me by my tree, that changes with the seasons just like me.

I am really trying to keep in a good headspace this year. It’s so easy to get mired in the negative. Last year, I had a lot to mire myself in – including inconsistent leadership and kids that I was pretty sure were trying to get me to quit. Add to that  going back to teaching after 14 years off, seeing less of my kids, losing the daily support of my “mommy friends,” moving homes (and all the stress that goes with it)… it was a bit crazy, erratic, unstable, and sometimes I just felt ridiculously under pressure.

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This hammock saved my sanity on numerous occasions last year.

This year, I actually started out under a lot of stress. I was (am) taking online classes for a CLAD certification. At one point, I was taking three classes at once, while planning for the first week of school. It was very stressful, but thankfully I managed to eek out 2 A+s and am almost done with my 3rd class and so far so good. I’m still not getting enough sleep, and its something I’m working on.

What’s different about this year? Well, for one I’ve got one year under my belt. Instead of starting work 3 days after I got hired, I had a whole summer to think about things, and relax. I knew what I was teaching. I was somewhat familiar with my students and I knew who my partner was going to be, which is so helpful. I’ve also got a big support staff in my corner. Not only do I have two amazing aides in my classroom, but I’ve got my husband cheering me on, my girls telling me I’m doing a good job, my own parents supporting me, and my son who inspires me every day to be positive. He reminds me of the good things when I’m in a bad mood in the morning. The other day I was ready to snap and I was just getting in the car. He reminded me of a time a few weeks before when we ran into a friend who stopped her car when she saw us walking and literally told me that I inspire her. If that didn’t snap me out of my mood, I don’t know what would have! As my son got out of the car when I dropped him off at high school that day, I told him that HE inspires me.

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This kid… meditating at Vasquez Rocks.

I’ve found one last thing that makes me happy and helps me destress, which was completely unexpected. Last week, my husband brought home Coldplay tickets. He likes them and wanted to go. I admit, I was coming down with a cold and wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but I did. We hadn’t been on a date in ages, and we haven’t been to a concert (not at the Hollywood Bowl) in years. (Probably the Police reunion concert or Flight of the Concords) Anyway…

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I’m just going to say it. That concert made a fan out of me. I’ve been listening to their music every day for the last week and it just makes me… HAPPY. I want to dance (and do) and I have to say, Coldplay may just get me through the stress of being a student and teacher at the same time. I’ve also been watching interviews with Chris Martin (or rather of Chris Martin… sadly he’s not sitting here with me 😉 ) and he is just SO positive. I have to remind myself to be positive and grateful, and thanks to not just Mr. Martin but my son, my daughters, my husband, my parents, and my teammates at work, I think this year can be a great one.

 

facebook makes me sad

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Back when I first joined facebook and started connecting with all sorts of old friends – from high school friends to teacher friends to friends I worked with at Universal Studios… even former students of mine, I loved it.

I loved connecting with my cousins and seeing what was going on in the lives of my friends and family, near and far. It even helped me get to know local friends a little better.

But there has always been a part of facebook that has eaten away at me.

~When I see friends get together in groups and I’m not invited.

~When my kids’ friends’ parents post photos of birthday parties my children weren’t invited to.

~When my aunts, uncles, and cousins all “like” each other’s photos and posts but mine go literally unnoticed by 90% of them.

~When people get political.

The first three things have bothered me on and off for YEARS, but I have (mostly) made peace with it. I try not to let it shape my feelings about certain people or my own self-worth. It is hard sometimes when you feel like your life accomplishments or celebrations mean nothing to them, but you tell yourself stories to make you feel better. “Maybe your uncle accidentally unfollowed you. Maybe that’s why he like everyone else’s posts but never once has done so for yours.” “Maybe my friends think I’m busy on Fridays… maybe that’s why they don’t invite me.”

The other night I was at a gathering where I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in far too long. It was great catching up, but she said something that hit me rather hard. She said she was glad for facebook, because she could keep up with me, but let me know that she’s not “one of those crazy people who’s on facebook all the time” (like me). I know she didn’t mean it as a slight against me (or did she?), but clearly the reason she can keep up with me is she knows that when she signs into facebook after months, she can go to my page and see exactly what I’ve been up to.

{Maybe that’s part of my problem. I post TOO much. Who wants to keep up with that?}

The last thing, however, is what’s causing me stress at this moment. Whether it’s Gun Control, taking away women’s rights, calling our president a criminal, calling our presidential candidates ugly names, or calling certain groups of voters stupid (or worse), it’s all taking away the joy that comes from connecting with people I care about. It’s making me angry at people I like because they’re posting such negativity.

I’ve tried to keep away from posting anything too political. 8 and 4 years ago, I was VERY vocal about my support of President Obama. This time around, I have been silent. Mostly because I’m afraid to post my support of Hillary Clinton because I see SO MUCH HATE for her from people I call friends. And I want to keep that off my own page. So I seethe in silence and I like all my friends’ posts about their support of her – in a space I know is safe for me to do so. I don’t start arguments with gun enthusiasts, or Trump supporters because that will get me nothing but stress and strife. My husband would tell you it’s healthy to argue, but I don’t think anything good ever came of arguing on facebook.

I need to figure out a way to limit my time on this social media without isolating people I really want to connect with. I may need to take a little time out. I don’t want to make a big dramatic exit, but I do need to back away. I need to take care of myself and my family and get ready for the classes I’m taking that begin next week. I need to figure out how to balance things and not take things so personally. Hell, I suppose some people will read this and think I’m oversharing. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I’m a chronic over-sharer, and that is where the problem truly is.

I don’t know how to curb that part of me, but I suppose I can try. Is there a 12-step program for that?

~Genevieve

 

This Week in Pictures – 7/2/16

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It’s been a LONG time.

We visited a hardware store that carries some interesting “antiques”… like this commemorative plate.

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And this odd little chicken.IMG_6825

We were picking out knobs and pulls for the kitchen. It’s amazing how crazy some of the hardware gets.IMG_6827

We did not pick any of these.IMG_6828

That night, a friend and I saw a play at the local playhouse. We had pretty good seats. I have mixed feelings about the actual “play,” which seemed more like we were being read a woman’s actual diary on stage.IMG_6858

The kids have found the fun little “jail” in the staircase.IMG_6934

And my son finally emptied (most) of the boxes in his room, with TONS of help from my awesome parents.IMG_6947

We got a new bed.IMG_6969

The kids played Monopoly. They played the same game over a series of days.IMG_6970

Last night we watched the local fireworks from a friend’s front yard, catching up with people I adore that I haven’t seen in far too long.IMG_7004

This morning, my husband put up some art on the wall. IMG_7005

And finally… we got some random candy left on our doormat last night. So odd.IMG_7006

This weekend we’ll celebrate the 4th with family. Happy Independence Day, Americans. Let’s get our act together, shall we?

 

On Being Happier

I’m trying very hard to be happier. I have recently realized that I don’t always seem like a happy person. Anyone who drives with me on a regular basis can see that I’m usually very unhappy with most of the drivers on the road around me. I’m constantly asking drivers what their problem is, why are they in such a hurry (or why are they going so slow), or why they don’t seem to know where they’re going, and why they have to be in front of me when I’m in a hurry.

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I’ve been unhappy with my weight. Getting older, stress eating, having thyroid problems, and eating when I’m bored have left me weighing more than I want to. I won’t get into numbers, but I am at least two sizes bigger than what I’m comfortable with. All over the internet, I read that I need to love myself for what I am and who I am, no matter what size. I’m trying. Though it doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep exercising and do weight watchers, I will try to be more forgiving and gentle with myself as I would do with anyone else.

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I’ve gotten good at hiding behind my kids for photos.

 

I’m stressed in my job. Going back to work after so long has been very difficult. The field has changed tremendously since I’ve been gone. Also, being a working mom is difficult for me. I’m sure it’s difficult for most women, but it’s definitely difficult for me. It’s getting better, but it hasn’t been easy. I don’t want to let my students down and I don’t want to let my family down. And in feeling this way, I worry that I’m doing both.

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I have daily headaches. I get annoyed and frustrated because it’s the Christmas season and we aren’t sure when we’re moving, so we don’t know if and when and where to put up decorations and a tree. This feels bad to me to not have any signs of the holidays at our house, so I need to figure out what to do in order to help us ALL get into the spirit. Which reminds me that I have to start shopping, which has to be mostly online, which is daunting to me at this point.

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I find myself so agitated that I can feel myself tightening my forehead and my frown lines are getting deeper and deeper.

But this week, I’m not sure what happened, but something changed. Maybe it’s all the Ted talks I’ve been listening to. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be the negative person that I think I might becoming. I wonder if the reason why I don’t have nearly as many friends as others have is because I’m not a happy enough person. Am I spreading gloom everywhere? Am I bad company to be around?

Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to be happier. I try to tell myself stories about people making terrible driving mistakes. Maybe they’re not paying attention because someone in their family is sick and they’re distracted. Maybe they’re stressed and overstretched. Maybe they’re not sleeping well. Maybe they’ve got more problems than I can imagine. I try to just smile at people, rather than look past them. When the checker at the grocery store returns my question of “How are you?” I will not tell her how I’m exhausted and whatever else is happening. I will smile and say “pretty good.” Maybe soon I’ll be able to say, “Great!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not UNhappy. I have more than I need. I am loved. I am healthy. I am living in a country that – while so many events are making me very sad and very angry and somewhat afraid – is free. I live in a community that pulls together and helps each other. I have friends. I have an amazing family.

This week, I’ve made a concerted effort to be happier, and so far, I am. I noticed this evening that my forehead is smooth, and my head hasn’t hurt as much as usual this weekend. (I did have headaches, just not as many, and I tried to take notice of the times I didn’t hurt.)

Of course, it’s easier to be happy when I’m on vacation and home with my family. I hope I can take this with me tomorrow as I drive to work and during the day when my students aren’t listening. I hope that I can just choose to be happier, and in doing so will truly be happier and perhaps even spread it around a little every day.

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~Genevieve