Saturday, October 27, 2012


Lately, I’ve been walking around feeling like I just want to fall apart. I’m not sure where it’s coming from, though I suspect it may be from feeling overwhelmed, not with what’s been happening lately; the book launch (it seems to be selling well), the loan refinancing (all papers are signed and I received the closing documents and overpayment), as well as teaching with some very disrespectful, unruly, and immature students, but mostly a feeling of uncertainty around the upcoming election and its potential effects on my personal and professional lives.

Part of all this, I feel, is the overwhelming feeling of responsibility I have for the house. It’s all mine. MINE. In the long run, it will be a financial plus. I should be elated. And I am. Grateful, too. Really. But, it’s all mine. I am solely responsible; financially and physically. I can paint the rooms the colors I want; I can put up the artwork I want where I want when I want.  I can plant what I want in the garden. I schedule the repairs and handle the maintenance. But, as it’s all mine, I am financially responsible for it. Only my paycheck. I have no one else to rely on. And I want to make these changes, but I can’t at least. Not until after the election.

I also have the sole responsibility for the dog and cat. Sure, he helps out financially. A bit. And he takes the dog, ONE weekend a month.  Don’t misunderstand, I love my kids. But, I'm the one who cleans up after them; the vomit, the accidents, the hairballs. I'm the one who makes sure they have their meds and the pill pockets to more easily dispense them, so they think it's a cookie, not a pill. And I'm the one who has to research an allergy formula for the cat. She can't eat chicken or fish. Try and find a cat treat that doesn't contain chicken or fish by-products, I dare you! But, I do love the evening family time my dog and I have before lights out. We lie on my bed, he licks my hand while I am trying to write, read or play on the iPad. If not, he licks himself raw because of some undiagnosed condition, though my vet thinks it could be Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Poor guy! Sometimes the cat joins us on the bed if she can tolerate coming up the stairs due to the arthritis in her hips. She demands to be petted, often while the dog is licking one of my hands. So, both my hands are then occupied, which makes it harder to write, read or play on the iPad.

The fiscal crisis affecting California (and other states, as well) has had numerous effects on city and county government positions, in addition to services and programs. Over the last couple of school years, teachers in my district have had to take some furlough days, and I know friends of mine in other districts and government areas have had to as well. This current year we are taking ten unpaid days. The schools will be closed for five of them, and five are other paid days we are giving up.  As of now, the students are losing five days of education, as well as other programs in schools, like art, computer classes, etc.

There is a proposition on the California ballot to extend the sales tax and raise income taxes to provide funds for the schools. If it fails, and it’s looking likely, my district plans to cut another ten days from the students’ education. Professionally, I am appalled these kids will lose out as they have lost at least four days per year for the last three years that I can remember. It could be more. Personally, I will lose another ten days’ pay. The uncertainty of the election prevents me from making many of the large-scale necessary changes I would like to make to MY house, like; repair the washer, repair the oven, paint out all the orange in the house (his favorite color), and redo the front flower beds. There are also some things I’d like to get for myself; perhaps upgrade my cellphone to a smartone; maybe my own iPad so I don’t sit in Starbucks or some other place hiding the “Property of LAUSD” sticker on the back. School districts are known for buying less than the best quality merchandise or taking whatever hand-me-downs are offered, it’s cheaper that way. My laptop is also acting up so I either need to repair or replace it. I also need some new shoes, and I am kind of particular.  I may just need to wait it out and trust this will all turn out for the best. In time.

And there is another attack on me, personally. One possible outcome of the election will continue the advancement of the Human and Civil Rights of LGBTQ people. The other possible outcome will set the clock back for us to the late 1950’s or even earlier. Certain laws will be targeted for repeal, like marriage rights, job discrimination, and hospital visitation rights to care for ill and dying loved ones. I’m surprised the idea of concentration camps for us hasn’t been proposed again. It’s sad to say my family doesn’t see it this way. Most of them see only the economy issues, not my personal life. They haven’t had to suffer as I have. I guess the only way for me to get over this mood is to do what I can to see the correct outcome comes out, and then just wait and see. Then, take it from there.
Not my favorite color.

Maybe it's not so much the responsibility, but the uncertainty of everything. I have been waiting for my situation, mostly the financial aspect, to change, and now it has. But, I still can't do what I need (or want) to do to improve the quality of my life. Maybe, I need to find a different, less financially dependent, way to move forward. Maybe I just need to learn patience. After all, the election is very soon.
He never finished painting the second time.

But, damn it, I want to make these changes in my house now!

But, I've waited two years, a few months more won't hurt. After all, I can just prime the walls to cover the orange. And that's not too expensive.

That gives me an idea.....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just Once

Just once I would like to go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, like in those television commercials and not feel like I need to go to back to sleep again to get over the sleep I thought I just had. The trouble is, I am so adjusted to my work week that my mind and body are used to waking up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays, no matter how exhausted I am. So, I still end up stumbling ever so groggily to the bathroom at that time, and then back to bed if only for a little while, but usually I can't get back to sleep. Because, by this time, I have awakened the dog, who hates being penned up all night and starts to fidget wanting out of his run, and the cat begins to howl from downstairs, because she knows there is no food in her bowls, even though she hasn't gone to check for herself. (There's always plenty of kibble for her, but that's not what Her Highness wants.) The dog never got used to going outside for his business, so he is paper trained, and after I clean up after him, my mind has already begun thinking of all the things I need and/or want to do for the day, whether it's for school, home or personal or some combination of all three. Or my mind takes me on a journey of all the mental and emotional roller coasters I've been on lately.

For example, I knew September would be a rough month as I was preparing to release my first novel, Out of the Past. I was also in the midst of a home loan modification or refinance which had me jumping through hoops and worrying I would be declined yet AGAIN! I also had begun a new school year and I have so much to do to prepare for the year, both as a classroom teacher, and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) Program coordinator at my school. And as a result of my financial woes, I had volunteered for a pilot program at school for a small stipend and my 40-question self-assessment was due at the end of September. No wonder I couldn't sleep!

In terms of the novel, I had no idea what I was doing and I am a man who likes to know exactly what to expect. No surprises. But, going into the editing process, I didn't know what to expect this time, and I survived. Yet, now I need to learn to market the book, and myself, which is another new unknown path for me to wonder about. Am I doing it right? I must be, the book is selling very well!

The loan papers were finally signed, the closing costs came in WAY under estimate (SURPLUS!!), and the loan was indeed funded! Now I just have to worry about not spending all the extra money frivolously. My house is ten years old, my car has 92,000+ miles, my dog is 9 and has hypothyroidism and OCD, and my cat is 15 and has hyperthyroidism and arthritis. Fortunately, I am in good physical health. But, now I have begun to look at all the little things I need (or want) to make my home mine and remove all traces of You-Know-Who, like turning his orange-colored office into a soothing reading room!! I'm thinking of a soft blue-gray.

(He had painted it orange in keeping with our elemental theme for each of the four bedrooms; earth, air, fire, water. And orange is his favorite color. I'm going with the blue-gray to keep with the fire theme; you know, ashes, after all the fire has gone out.)

The school year is off to a start, maybe not a great one, but at least it has started. I did finish my self-assessment on time, I'm just waiting for my principal to agree or disagree with me about my teaching habits. The big GATE project was postponed until mid-November as the people above the Central GATE Office haven't done their job in order for the Central GATE Office to do their job so the school GATE Coordinators can do our job. But, it will happen.

Now that it is October and most of what had been worrying me has taken care of, and I did indeed survive, and things are doing well, maybe now I can sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, if only my inner alarm clock would just turn off on weekends and holidays!

And if I stop thinking of how different my life is becoming and just let it become what it is to be.

Maybe then I can sleep in more.

Just once, at least.