Log in

No account? Create an account

end of the month reflection

i want to try to update my journal more often, thought not nearly as frequently as i did at my peak. there are things i experience that are definitely worth writing about and recalling in ways that only reading a journal entry can allow me to. i don't really know or understand why i am not writing as much. part of me thinks because i don't think of it as often; part of me thinks it is because i don't think people really read el jay anymore, so the public nature of it is moot; part of me thinks that it is because the online updating process annoys me (no idea why...). i downloaded a client today that i hope will make it more tempting for me to post and that will help me record my memories more easily.

the big goal i have is an end of the week update and an end of the month update where i focus on the 5 positives and 3 negatives of the week for work, and then just whatever is going on in the outside life. i want to be more conscious of how work is going and focusing on the positive.

so... November 2009

+ students making it to places on the phase system that they've never touched before
+ kids enjoying PE and participating in any number of activities
+ Warriors game with Eddie and Jay
+ new students coming in and setting positive examples for their fellow classmates
+ awesome conversations with Marcus about all sorts of personal and controversial issues that help both of us grow as human beings

- being cursed out and hated for having high standards/expectations
- certain students backsliding to lows they've never been before
- poorly planned objectives and a lack of consistency with Do Nows resulting in me feeling lost as to what we accomplished this month

outside life:
rhys and i are trying to buy a house. i really hope we get it. right now it is basically ours, but we are waiting for the seller's bank to allow us to buy it. we are the only offer being considered, it is no longer showing, it is listed as sale pending, and we are pre-approved for a much more expensive place, so our end is ready to go. they have assigned a negotiator from the seller's bank, and i think their only concern is to make sure that the price we offered to pay is what they end up getting- no credits, no changes. we're fine with that, so let's just get this show on the road and let us have our goddamned house.

the upside about this taking so long is that we will have to break our lease and i don't know what the penalty for that is, or if it is even an option, so the longer it takes, the fewer months we'll be breaking. we have until march, which is already paid, so at this point we'd just be out january and february. maybe even just february by the time this whole thing goes down.

it is a really awesome 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom single story with an enclosed porch that we're likely going to put a ping-pong table on. the master bedroom has a freaking fireplace in it. the living room is huge. we'll have a room that's an office/study, a sun-room/guest room, a music room in the garage, a sweet storage space under the house, and a cool eat-in kitchen. the yard has all sorts of fruit trees- pear, cherry, lemon, lime, orange, and nectarine, but the ground is all d-e-d dead, so my research project right now is what we can do with a yard that is drought-resistant, centered on native plants, and still useable.

in a month i'll be with my sister. i am excited but nervous because i'll miss rhys and a vacation that is home-centered. plus it might be time for us to move and i'll be gone. that part i guess isn't so bad... oh sorry, can't carry and labor through the move because i'm in europe. muahaha.

well. i'm tired and the update for the month is done. december holds a lot of interesting things so i'll try to stay more active.

[no subject]

today gaby arrived in town to spend time with me. it will be the last time she sees me before she goes away to florence for a year. we were trying to fit in all the quality hijinks and fun we could think of for each day, so tonight we started with a screening of tropic thunder. about ten minutes into the movie i get a text from kevin. he wants my phone number and he wants to know if he can call me immediately. obviously something is not good, so i say yes and i leave the theater to wait for his call. i know something is wrong but i don't know what. i picture all of the possibilities and my heart is racing while i wait. it feels like forever.

forever could not have prepared me for what i heard. nothing could have. i cannot believe what i'm about to write. it is information only 40 minutes old to me, but i don't know what else to do with it. i called my mom to tell her, and she can't believe it. kevin and i just sat on the phone mumbling apologies and shock while i sobbed in an overly acoustic theater lobby. i don't want to believe this. i am not ready to.

elizabeth and cody are gone. nearly a week apart, from very similar causes. just.... gone. each of them played such a fundamental role in my transition out of adolescence and into adult-hood. i carry such strong memories and think of them both so often it just seemed given they would be around. that eventually cody and i would be adults together and the weirdness would melt away. because the best thing i can think to do is recall some of the best times we had together, that is what i am going to do now. it is weird how remembering how much fun you had with someone is supposed to help you heal; i'm not sure i buy it completely. it just makes me even more broken that they are gone. my mom told me to pray (in denial about my atheism), but i think cody would wretch knowing someone even mentioned god in relationship to thinking of him, so don't worry. no prayers here.

i first met elizabeth hanging out with ian and eddy. coming over to ian's house, she would always be really nice to me and even though she was kind of shy, she always made me feel welcome and included me. i remember her 18th birthday at chili's in westlake and all of the man-porn she got. i remember her hanging out in the living room with her boyfriend joel and me talking about snowboarding. she even came to celebrate my 16th birthday with me. what is so weird is that she came and was such a huge support in my life after cody and i broke up days before that very birthday. it seems surreal that they are gone so close together.

cody... skateboarding outside of my mom's house desperately, patiently trying to teach me how to ollie. buttering up my mom so she would make spaghetti for dinner. the fact that he trusted me enough and took me seriously enough to take the website down when i told him to, nevermind that it was too late. driving all around hollywood with me so i could try to see saves the day and missing out on good clean fun as a result. finding me online after all of the crap went down so we could catch up. so much vegetarian chinese food you can't even understand. an incredible day in sandy eggo seeing nine inch nails. coming to see me at the bike shop since i was grounded and not allowed to use the phone or go out for three straight months (way to destroy a relationship of people that go to two different schools...). boogie nights. lost highway. my grandma's heart attack. my mom's destroyed back. the first prom i ever went to. late night swimming in the community pool. helping me get the help i needed to survive.

i hate that we ended the way we did. i have missed him so much since then and it has made me crazy. no more regrets. no more i wish i talked to this person again. i am so sorry i missed out on this chance.

please say it is not too late. please tell me this isn't really... real.

i guess what i told gaby is that once you're through college, you feel so much safer. like hey, we all made it through this crazy, partying, ridiculous-behavior-filled way of life. everyone is going to go off and do their thing and be great. this isn't supposed to happen anymore. not like this.

i'm out of words. i am even out of tears for the moment. sobbing in public has a good way of sucking the cry right out of you. i will always miss you two. i will always remember you and smile inside. right now it just hurts too much.

captain's log

awesome nicknames for my cat that rhys and i have developed:
dirt cat
fuzz butt
hork hork
puke queen
cat face
jap face (rhys came up with that first- don't rain racism on me!)
kitty face

ways we declare our love for one another that others most likely find offensive:
i will punch you, i will punch you right in the face. until you bleed from it.
don't make me take your HP.
stink butt.

ideas for our wedding:
a raffle instead of favors
having our first dance to patently inappropriate songs
getting married by an officiant wearing a pope hat
challenging our wedding guests to games of texas hold'em for money, which we will then win from them
registering for laser eye surgery
registering for dune buggies

tomorrow i need to do a "huge favor" for a student of mine (his words): pick him up and take him to buy a soccer ball. whoa. i don't know if i can even get that done within the year, let alone before the summer ends. i definitely will have to clear my schedule in order to fit in "going to big 5 for 30 minutes." this kid is probably one of the coolest kids i'll ever meet in my life. one of his goals is to write the story of how he came to the US from el salvador and i think he'll do it. he's pretty incredible.

well. i'm busy being distracted by news of the OPD's continual killing of oakland citizens. i'll post more on that later, probably. i've got a lot of thoughts on the topic, duh.

over and out.


watching my grandma die has been a very surreal experience.

i think everyone in my immediate family (well, besides jeff, maybe) thinks i am callous because i am not in an outpouring of grief, freaking out and calling her every moment because it might be her last, and what if i never get to talk to her again. but instead i think i am dealing with it in my own way.

if anyone knows i love her and will miss her, it is her. i know she knows already. i know she loves me already. she could have picked any one of her 46+ grandkids to have her diamond, and she picked me. she always asks about me and rhys. she knows that gaby and i are the real deal for her. she knows that without her i would not be the speller i am today. i wouldn't have my penmanship skills. i wouldn't be as worldly. without her i wouldn't be as kind or compassionate. i wouldn't be so strong and able to weather the storms. i wouldn't know the downs of life can always be worse than what they actually are, so i know to be grateful for what is there instead of lamenting what isn't. i know that in some weird way, she can live vicariously though me as the first female teacher of her family since the only option she had was the sisterhood or marrying grandpa martinez. i know how lucky i am to have the opportunities in my life that she never got, and i can't even picture who she might have been had someone told her that double XXs don't mean all you're good for is cooking and child rearing.

i am ready for her to go, but i am not. i want it over because until it is, i can't cry. i don't know why not on that one. maybe it is because there have been so many false alarms. so many "binky, this is it. grandma is not going to live through the night/week/?" that to cry just seems to be... not a waste of time but i am not sure *how* to describe it. premature, maybe? i don't want to mourn someone who is still here. it seems unjust. plus if i cried every time, i'd be like mom and gaby: exhausted and sick.

i am ready for her to go because i can't stand how much she wants to die and can't. i hate knowing that her body has become a prison to her. what's weird is that if she could kill herself innocently, a pill or slow o/d on morphine, i don't think she would because of her religion. god needs to do his job, i think she'd say. but what could the purpose in this possibly be? i would want to ask her and never would actually say. so instead we all sit around waiting. watching. it is a constant vigil just waiting for the inevitable to come and sweep her away.

my grammy is going away. my mom won't have her mom anymore, and that is the part that i am NOT prepared for. i am prepared to be without her. i am at peace with what an amazing gift she was to me, and that i can't have her forever. but i am not ready to know that my mom doesn't have a mom anymore. that she doesn't have anyone to be a little poopy-faced girl to, that she doesn't have the person to call and say "what do i do, mom?" to. we can get advice from so many places, but none of them mean quite the same thing as a mom's guidance. even if it is just the ear of a mother, the bond with her is one that cannot be even sort of replicated with anyone else. no matter how awesome your siblings are, or aunts or uncles (who are all gone, too...), or your friends or partner, they cannot be your mom. they cannot comfort you like mom does. and i am so sad for my mom that she will have that taken from her.

she has said multiple times recently that no one is ever ready to not have a mom, and i agree so fully, i don't know how to reply besides silence. i sure hate knowing that one day i'm going to have to do this to.

"mom. i'm going to invent a medicine that makes it so you and me never have to die, okay? we're just going to live forever, but only you and me [sorry gab- this was before your time. you can have some, too]. no one else. and we'll always be together."

as much drama as we've had, god damn do i love my mom.


Upon hearing that I pierced my nose, an unhappy and sarcastic Rhys declares:

"I'm going to pierce my rectum and hang a giant cowbell off of it and no longer wear pants. I'm just going to wear a kilt, and with every step I take, the cowbell will go off. And when people ask me why I did it, I'll just get right in their face and yell 'MORE COWBELL!'"

At least he didn't take it to any sort of extreme or anything.

I had a very happy dirtday despite blisters on my feet that have me flashing back to Vegas last year and not getting to spend today with my boytoy.

Here is my new face hole:

Rhys and I are officially engaged, now, too. I suppose that is worth posting, huh ;-) He proposed after fireworks at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk where we celebrated our 5th anniversary. I cried like a baby and can't really believe it is finally true! Oh my geez I love this man and I cannot wait to be his wifey. In order to celebrate, I also got this sweet henna today:

The guy that did it spoke almost no English and my Spanish is limited to bicycles, classrooms, and restaurants. Photo booth can only take pictures backwards, and there is no way to flip it. It's also pretty uneven and has weird "shading" he did, but it says JONES.

Tomorrow is a day of beauty with a facial, mani/pedi and a haircut. I cannot freaking wait for the haircut. I might die of excitement. It will be the first since August when Gab gave me the super cute cut. I hope this girl tomorrow can replicate my sister's sick stylings. Pictures to follow.


really, guy upstairs? really??

for a really long time the apartment above us was vacant and it was delightfully quiet, especially because the whole building has wood floors. when you take a hard step up there, it is a HARD step.

this past week has been exceptionally loud and i've tried to let it ride out. i figured they were moving in, getting settled, etc, so rhys and i just sucked it up. tonight i was really exhausted, it was closing in on 11pm, and i needed my sleep, so i quietly, reluctantly, climbed the stairs and knocked on the door lightly.

"what's that noise?"

"it's your neighbor from downstairs."


"who's out there?"

*oh eff. they're older. goddamnit* "um... it's your neighbor from downstairs."

pulls back shade and mad dogs me "what do you want?"

"well, um, i'm sorry, but um... actually, could you open the door?" (you know, so i'm not trying to quietly yet effectively communicate with you through plate glass without disturbing my other neighbors as i have been so disturbed?)

door opens

"hi, i'm really sorry to bother you, but... i think it is the wood floors... its just kind of loud and well... it sounds like someone is stomping, and i know you're not, but if you think maybe-"

"well i'm leaving tomorrow, anyway."

"oh, you're not, i mean you didn't, um... i thought you were moving in this weekend."

"no. we just rented for the week."

"oh, i'm-"

"11 o'clock is a little late, isn't it? coming up here at 11 o'clock at night, i don't know what you're thinking" fading into mumbles and grumbles and closing the door literally in my face.

well. if i thought i was waking you up, i wouldn't be coming up at 11 pm. but i knew i wasn't waking you up. i knew because i kept being woken up by your actions. how much later was i supposed to wait before i just couldn't take it anymore and had to go say something?

like, obviously you're a crochety old man, and obviously i shouldn't let your rudeness on multiple accounts faze me, and obviously i shouldn't take your reaction personally, but. i am.

am i crazy? did i mess up? should i have just tossed and turned trying to block out what sounded like someone with concrete blocks on their feet learning out to walk? now i can't sleep because i feel some weird mix of guilt and annoyance. i think i could have ignored the stomping a little easier.

mother fuck.

not dead

so i haven't updated since september.

every time i talk to my dad about my classroom adventures, he says "i really hope you're keeping a diary of this year, aly." i always lie and say "of course i am, dad. how could i not?"

but the truth is... i'm not. most often i don't even tell the truth about what goes on during my day because 1) he is obsessed with giving me advice that so would not pan out and i really don't need to hear what he thinks i should do given his complete lack of knowledge about the parameters i deal with on a daily basis, but more than that 2) it is exhausting to recount what has happened within the 8-9 hours i just spent in chaos.

that is also the reason i tend not to write really at all anymore. i am old. life is just so intense to live through that it is too much work to actually document what happens, to boot.

i realize, though, i should be writing some of it down. the highs with the lows. like maybe people would be entertained by the time i got punched in the face because i heard rumbling in the hallway so i went to look outside my room, and unknowingly walked into the beginnings of a fight. it was pretty funny. maybe people would be freaked out by the time i had to sew make-shift stitches into a students' hand because he flipped out and punched through a plate glass window while trying to attack one of his peers. or the time the bus didn't come to pick our kids up so they had to walk home and this middle-aged, rich, white, blonde lady that lives in the hills where my school is came up freaking out about the "gang" that was "roaming through the neighborhood" even though the school district had apparently agreed that kids would never leave the campus without adult supervision if they weren't in a vehicle. wow. i guess we should have all just camped out at the school then?

but i've made some really insane accomplishments. in a school where no teacher had ever completed a novel in a year, my classes have each completed two. we are about to begin our third, and will hopefully hit four before the year's end. i've helped kids that literally never came to school more than once a month become steady attenders and earn decent grades. i've broken down and cried in front of them only to have them care about the fact that they were breaking me, not take pride in it.

so yeah, early in the year one of them got into my wallet and jacked $34 from me, leaving me without my bridge toll to get home when rhys's mom was near death in the ICU at stanford. and yeah, they've told me to go fuck myself as they stormed out of my room. yeah, they've threatened to slap me if i got in their mother fucking face one more time. but they've also taught me what potes are and laughed when i knew the words to independent. they were amazed when i could do the soulja boy and enjoy challenging me to games of one on one. they know that occasionally they can take me off track by talking about video games. they know that the first week of every month they'll get breakfast from me because i just got paid, and they always say thank you. they know that if they ever need it, i'll take them home. they know that if they stop showing up to school, i'll also ambush them at home to make them come back.

i've brought christmas presents of hot chips and snickers and reese's to students locked up in the hall only to find out i was their only visitor for the 2-3 months they'd been in there.

its been a hell of a year. and all of that is just school.

we just moved into a pretty awesome little apartment. very little, but with good features. our brand new washer and dryer come on saturday, and sweet jesus i can't wait. now if only i could finish unpacking.

must try to update more. it is worth writing down, even if it does take the last little drop from me.

oh, and the funniest book in the world: a practical guide to racism.


the last two weeks have been intense. i started my new job at cds and while there are a lot of things i think i'm doing well and succeeding at, there are at least as many (if not more) that have me questioning my abilities. last year i got so lucky to have the kids and classes i did. even 7th period, as often as they could be slugs, was composed of awesome kids.

my kids this year are also really cool for the most part. they just have so much shit behind them it is kind of overwhelming. i appreciate where they are coming from and why they are the way the are most of the time, but sometimes i really can't comprehend the choices they make. at what point did those decisions seem like the right ones? what kind of reaction do you expect for some of your behavior? how could i NOT step in?

the worst part for me is that i can't seem to find peace in what i do. i am constantly feeling like it is not good enough and that there must be some magic combination of activities or responses that will work. i am probably looking for the impossible, but i definitely have to keep trying to find it. what adds to the kind of overwhelmed feeling is that planning five classes means that i spend so much time just figuring out the basics of what i have to teach and how i want to teach it that taking those activities to the next level is like the last thing i can do. there are so many awesome techniques from dave and marilyn, but to implement them means pulling out my papers from last year, re-reading how it is done, then taking the time to apply it for what- a fifteen or twenty minute respite from monotony? by the time i spend the hour and a half to get that done, i've lost out on planning jack shit for my other classes.

there is so much to be said for being a creative teacher. these kids can't handle the mrs. walkers of the world and even the mr. j's or mr. c's or mr. warshaws are too mundane for them. they need to almost be tricked into working- like "ha! i taught you and you didn't even see it coming! suck it!" but fuck if that is just so much extra work that a first year teacher doesn't have the time for when she's got 8 million things to take care of. i also need to get real about how i plan and store lesson materials/units. organization is definitely going to be key and i have a feeling that my current system, though it had good intentions, is not going to work.

on monday i am going to get back in the habit of going to the gym. i've lost about 15 pounds since my birthday, which is cool, but about 45 shy of the goal i had set for myself for the end of the summer. i also cut my hair. actually, gaby cut my hair when she and ryan came to visit, and it looks effing awesome. she is a ridiculously talented kid. so monday marks my return to the good habits i spent this summer trying to form. the house is looking decent, though the living room still needs a better way to keep my shit in order, and i need to finish the bedroom. also could use a better way to keep my shit together in there. like a dresser for work clothes and a dresser for not work clothes or something. i don't know.

i call this one "on the phone with dad"

rhys is good. he's been working a ridiculous amount of overtime finishing up NBA and now is finishing up NCAA. he's pretty excited and apparently is doing really well there. the guys at his work all like him, and he has fun so that's all i really care about. i wish it were closer, but since neither of us have control over that, i'll let it go.

i also bought a PSP in august. that shit is so much fun i can't even take it. the websites for modding it are all really obnoxious though and i can't find one that i feel comfortable with. between the crazy amount of ads, hoops to jump through in order to get a download going, and all the geekspeak... its just not worth it right now.

tomorrow we're going to spend the day at the boy's office while he works some o/t and i plan for the week. i love being a dork with him.

there are a lot of people i need to email and call back. i should get on that.

over and out,

a professional conflict, kind of

one of the cool but weird things that happened this year was that a few of my students decided i was worth hanging out with outside of my classroom. they don't feel weird about wanting to be friends with a teacher, which is pretty cool of them, because i wouldn't expect that out of a group of high schoolers. they are all girls, so that eases up my concerns that people might think i'm some sort of mary kay letorneau or however she spells her name.

but i still wonder... what do their parents think about me? what do they assume or wonder about me and why i am okay with hanging out with their 16 year old daughters? what would iiii think if it were my kid hanging out with their teacher? my students are really cool and i hang out with them because they are funny. a lot of it is that they remind me hella much of gaby, so it is fun for me because i get to enjoy having little sister relationships again.

maybe in part, i am a little insecure about it, too. how much can i be myself with them and how much do i have to be an "adult" with them? where can i let go and where am i supposed to hold back? i swear sometimes, but i also usually apologize after i do it, too. obviously i don't drink or talk about drinking, but like... what kinds of jokes can i make? how much about my personal life can i talk about? do i tell them stories like i would tell hoffman or dustin? how frequently is it cool for me to hang out with them?

sometimes i feel bad because a few of them are like... really into me being their friend, in a way that makes me a little uncomfortable. i don't necessarily want to hang out with them 24/7 like i do with the rza or d. there is still SOME maturity gap that is present and so am i a jerk for not wanting to hang out with them all the time?

hopefully as i get more experience as a teacher i'll adjust to what to do, or how to behave, or that i'm okay. but if i were their parents, i'd still be a little curious.


23rd year

having people say congratulations on your birthday is so weird. happy birthday is cool and appreciated. congratulations just kind of makes me think wtf? is it really something to be congratulated for? survival? i guess it is contextual. like... in a third world country, living to 23 as a healthy young lady might be worth a congrats. does that mean i am stuck up for wondering why in the hell people are congratulating me? i really don't know. all i do know is how awkward i felt yesterday every time someone chose to say congrats instead of happy bday.

speaking of context, last weekend i went to logan's graduation to say farewell to the seniors i taught this year. it was really sad how many of them did not cross that stage, for reasons i suppose i'll never find out. but getting ready saturday morning i realized how spoiled kids in suburbia are in terms of education. for many of us, high school graduation didn't matter at all because it was automatic. kind of a "duh." i have realized this year what an amazing feat it is and that it something we should all be grateful for. there are so many kids in the US that do not make it through because it is never expected of them to do it. there is no support in the school or at home. no one hoping they get all the way through, let alone go to college or trade school. in the systems, they are just someone else that a teacher or AP has to deal with and the sooner they're gone, the better everyone's life is supposed to be. there were many students getting their diplomas saturday for whom graduation was a major accomplishment. students who defeated the world's expectations for them and set their own bar. kids who lost parents, siblings and friends over the last four years. kids who entered logan with police records and probation officers. kids who have their own kids. there were also students who were the first in their family to finish high school, something that i think many people in the suburbs cannot even imagine happening in the year 2007. it just made me reflect on how grateful i am that high school was an automatic for me. that college was an automatic for me. that it was never a question of if but where.

last year on my birthday i started the first day of my credential program. less than a year later, i made it through. there were moments where it got shaky; never was it about my ability as a teacher, but always about some task i was supposed to accomplish to prove my worth as a member of the educational community. did i serve enough hours in certain situations that supposedly make me more qualified, did i fill out the forms completely, does everyone on this planet know that i can write a lesson plan and write a reflection? this was far and away one of the most insane years of my life.

i am curious if this upcoming year will be just as crazy, crazier or somehow- more sane. this year on my birthday, i got a job. starting in august, i am a teacher at a school in oakland called community day school. it is for kids who have been expelled from OUSD or are transitioning out of the juvenile justice system back into mainstream schools. there are 20-60 students enrolled at any given time, and the class sizes max out at 12. there are more therapists than teachers, which my principal is fond of telling people when introducing the school, and we get a mental health assistant in every classroom. to be honest, the kids are the least intimidating part of the whole gig. i have to teach 10th, 11th and 12th grade social science AND english, which means i have to develop a curriculum for all of those classes. luckily have a lot of good stuff for 10th and 12th grade history from this year. my only hope is that i don't spend allllll my non-teaching time developing lessons and that i get a little more "me" time this year.

there is a pretty cool gym in alameda called bladium, which is a ridiculous name, but i kind of want to join it. they have dance classes, sports leagues and a lot of open activities. i really miss being athletic and want to stop making so many damned excuses and just get down for once. my mom is hooking me up with this supplement stuff for diabetics that should help me shed the first 5-10 pounds and then i need to do it on my own. i gained weight this year instead of losing like i stated in the entry from last july. curves didn't work out because it was impossible with my schedule. the pilates thing is fun but requires massive rearranging of the apartment every time i want to do it, and that's a huge pain in my ass. there's got to be something that i can do, feel good about and have fun with. bladium appeals to me because i can try a lot of stuff out, like hip hop dance classes, boxing classes, and karate- all of which i want to try out but would cost a lot of money if i went to three separate studios to do it. everyone says variety is key, so who knows? maybe this will work. i just know something has got to give. i am frustrated and ashamed and bored with myself. i want to feel proud again. i want to feel attractive again.

also, i really want to cut my hair short again, and short hair on a fat girl is gross. so there's the real motivation... what a fucking dork.

i think i will try to write more. it seems many of my friends have abandoned their journals. finally, i might actually be writing only for myself and not considering my audience. weird.