Today

Two things tonight: trash and holes.

First:

Today, I got to experience a delightful little bit of small town life. No one put out the trash this morning, so, once I was up and finished with tutoring, I handled it myself. There were still trash bins all down the street, and, when I had been doing the running for my workout, I discovered that some really reeked… suggesting that they still had trash in them. In fact, it smelled outside period, because of trash. So, I cleaned out the trash cans throughout the house, added their trash to the kitchen bag, and stuck it in the trash bin. I hugged the bin out to the curb, and headed back inside, out a clean kitchen bag and cleaned the trash can lid, and then washed my hands.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. After a pause of contemplating the possibilities and likelihoods, I went and opened the door. An older, grayed and balding yet able-bodied man stood on the doorstep. “I hate to have to say it, but the trash man’s already come today.”

His southeast Texas small town accent only increased the endearment of the whole act. Only in small towns, communities that care openly about one another, does this happen. The other week, my mom said that the fat layer on my arms was due to my having been in the boonies for so long – it was just part of living out here. I laughed really hard at the joke, and told her later how grateful I was again and again at her having given me that silly way to look at the unpleasant situation of having gotten fat where I didn’t want it. That was, nonetheless, one of the drawbacks of small town life. This week, I got to have a positive of small town life, and enjoy the super sweet neighborly kindness that this guy gave freely to me. Just lovely. 🙂

Second:

I talked with my old high school boyfriend this afternoon. We have remained friends these past many years, despite the oh-so-different paths our lives have followed. We don’t talk often, but, when we do, we have to be cut off by some activity of some sort, or else we talk for hours. And we do it with ease. We weren’t just a dating couple in high school. We were really good friends for years first.

Talking today, I noticed how there is a piece of me – un trou – that is filled only by him. It sits just behind my ribs, from the center to the right a few inches or so, and it has a bit of depth to it, though not uniform. I could feel it so incredibly clearly today, I am surprised that I hadn’t fully identified its existence before. It had just been one of those subconscious knowings, I suppose, until today. But now I see and feel how that one spot is filled only by J——–, and it makes my heart, somehow, feel more full. By the knowledge of his absence, he somehow goes everywhere with me, whether I realize or pay attention to it or not. It was a kind of fun realization to have.

While we spoke, I could feel an intangible heat stretching inside my ribs, expanding to fill, at least in part, his space within my being.

Whenever I see him next, I can definitely see myself hugging and hanging tightly around his neck for quite a while – he is so important to me. But it is truly out of love through friendship, not romantic love. Frankly, we are so not interested in one another on a day-to-day or dating level – that’s a hard pass for the both of us. But, just because we are not romantically for one another, doesn’t mean that we cannot improve the foundation of our relationship, and stick with that: friendship.

Anyway, I’m losing focus, both visually and mentally, actually. So, I’m going to end here and do my stretches and reading so I can go to sleep now. Goodnight!!

Post-a-day 2020

A Memory

I think it was the summer before my junior year in high school that I didn’t really put much effort into playing the trumpet… I had played since sixth grade, and had never had to work too hard to have a good sound and play decently.

At this point, I think I had taken it a bit too much for granted, and so practicing had dropped quite low on my list of activities the summer before junior year.

I had also just spend a chunk of the summer studying in Spain, so my focus was more on Spanish – a subject I did not study in school – than on preparing for August chair placements for band.

My brother picked me up from the audition/chair test – he was an alum of the school, and so had spent a bit of time looking around while we were doing the test – and drove me on his motorcycle to a dance class.  I wasn’t taking the dance class, but I was working the welcome desk for it, in exchange for a free group class of my choosing later on… I also had the added benefit of watching this class happen, and learning from the seated sidelines.

Basically, I was focused on doing my best to live frugally with dance, because I was all too aware of my family’s financial situation – well, my mom’s side, anyway… my dad’s was a different story, but I functioned with the mind of one with extremely limited funds, so that’s why I was spending hours of my time working the welcome table at dance classes, in exchange for a ten-dollar class…

Anyway, so I rushed from the chair test to the dance class, loving the first ride on my brother’s motorcycle – while simultaneously being terrified(!) – and had asked a classmate to send me a text message with the results, when they came out in another ten or so minutes.

I was placed absurdly low in terms of capability…, and it hurt my spirit a lot.

But, I imagine, it was entirely valid based on the amount of practice I had put into it all.

I had begun this with a certain incident in mind, but I am not wondering if that incident was even that year… I am beginning to think it was the following year, my senior year, that this incident happened…, but I’m really not sure.

I shall continue with the incident, nonetheless…

So, I was placed after this one kid, who had become a semi-distant friend of mine.  We sat side-by-side five mornings a week for 45 minutes, and chatted here and there, so we were comfortable with one another’s company, but we didn’t spend time together outside of band, right?

Anyway, I had liked being in the Jazz Band, and you had to be placed so high in the count of trumpets in order to be included in the Jazz Band each year.  I had placed one below what was included in Jazz Band membership.  So, I initiated a challenge.  The two band directors each picked a selection of our current music, and told us to prepare to play those and any two scales that they would say at the challenge.

The day of the challenge arrived.  I played beautifully for the selections, and my sound quality was stellar.  The guy had incredibly powerful sound, though with a very odd and un-musical edge to it all, as usual.  The scales they selected, naturally, involved playing really high… something which I was not great at doing, but that usually didn’t matter at our area in the chair placements (higher notes for higher chairs), and I could play the ones that popped up in our music… what’s more, this kid and I played off the same sheet and stand, meaning the only difference, if I were to win the challenge, would be that we would switch chair spots, and that I would be in Jazz Band when it started up, but he would not be in it.  In terms of performance in the band, nothing would change.  Nonetheless, they picked scales that were hard for me, and I made the decision to play beautifully for a single octave, instead of iffily on the second octave… one I had been taught by the band director himself.

We had assigned ourselves the letters of A and B.  When the challenge finished, the directors came out from behind the wall, an area from which they had not been able to see us during the challenge.  They told us that player A had won, and who was that?  The guy wasn’t quite sure which letter he had been, and so looked to me questioningly for help.  I, processing much more than the result of the challenge, informed him kindly that he had been player A, and so nothing was changing with our chair rankings.

What was I processing?

Well, the way the band director had delivered the news… He had put on an air of unknowing, as though he hadn’t known who player A and player B had each been.  I had only been on the planet a teen number of years, and had minimal musical training,  – he had had probably more musical training than I had had in years of life itself – yet I could tell the difference in almost every player in our band, especially the trumpet players.  And he played trumpet, too, so I knew that he knew each of our individual sounds.  Especially between this guy and myself, the identification was easy… even for someone who had never heard us beforehand, one could accurately guess whose sound was which.

So, I knew the band director knew who had won… yet he pretended not to know, to be utterly unaware of who had been which player… It felt like he was proving a point to me, that I needed to practice more… no matter how good of a sound I had, if I didn’t improve further, I couldn’t even beat the nice guy with a weird sound.  I had taken lessons from the band director during my freshman year, but had been able to manage on my own eventually, and so we did not continue the lessons after a while.  For me, no matter what his intentions were, his pretended ignorance of who had one the challenge was like a slap in the face and a terrible scolding… I was embarrassed and somewhat heartbroken.

I had let someone else down, too…, not just myself.  I knew that he had wanted me to be in a higher chair placement, and that he had wanted me to be in Jazz Band.  But he was not going to let me do that without putting in a lot more effort.

Again, that is all my own interpretation at the time.

But it still holds about the same, looking back on it all today.

The irony of it all, however, is that, when Jazz Band started up that year, the band director casually upped the number of trumpets in Jazz Band… by one player.  So, I ended up in Jazz Band, anyway.

The following year (Or the year after that, depending on which year this had all been during), I ranked even lower in the chair placements at the end-of-summer chair test.  After several weeks of Jazz Band rehearsals, someone was sent one day to bring me into Jazz Band… so, I ended up in it then, too.  I was clearly good enough for Jazz Band – I even practiced that music, including when I didn’t really need to practice it, because that music came so naturally and easily for me – and the band director agreed with that sentiment enough that he kept letting me be part of it, even though I didn’t ever do well with the whole ‘practice on your own over the summer’ thing.  During the school year, I was always fine, and I always got A’s on my playing tests at grading periods.  It was when there wasn’t a concert or performance coming up, and I wasn’t surrounded daily by musicians and music that I struggled to practice and perform well.

I’m not entirely sure what brought all of this up today… I am reading a book about poetry that was recommended to me as a novelist/writer, because it is supposedly applicable to all forms of writing (which, the author even says this in the book, and it seems so far to be entirely true…, but it makes me want to write poetry now, too!).  Something in that got me thinking, and somehow sent me to that memory moment of embarrassment after the chair challenge with that guy.  I wonder if he even remembers it… if any of them do.  Clearly, it had some significance for me… whew…

Anyway… I’ll let that muse in the background, while I move on to other things in my day now. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

Oh, dear…

I overhear a girl complaining… I look up.

It is to her friends that she complains… it seems she went to the cafeteria to get food for all of them.

She is complaining that she is hot and tired… a girl commented at her in the cafeteria, “That looks like a lot of food…”

“Yeah…,” she responded, slightly ironically, but in agreement.

It seems she did not say it was for multiple people… for three people…, and she felt extreme embarrassment at being considered someone who would be eating it all herself…

“Can you imagine what it must be like… standing there with all this food?.. like…”

I reevaluate what she holds in her hand, as she fans her face with the free hand.

She holds three small paper trays, each with two medium-sized egg rolls and a sweet and sour sauce container in it – any pair of the egg rolls could fit in the palm of my hand at once, with no concern of being dropped.

I probably could hold all six in one hand, if I curled my fingers upward only slightly.

It is not a lot of food.

It is three servings of an appetizer.

And it is to be lunch for three high school girls.

I guess the sauce has loads of calories, but how can they possibly survive on such a meal?

I am hungry just watching them, and I already had lunch.

The worst part for me, though, is how they are embarrassed at the amount of food – all three were embarrassed for the one who bought it all and was seen carrying them solo – and that they consider it to be “a lot” of food for one person.

It makes me gag just thinking about the eating disorder tendency…

::sigh

😦

And then, what’s worse, they didn’t even finish eating all of it…

Post-a-day 2020

Repairing and Improving, with Joy

I will have some classes to teach for the next week and a half… French classes.

I wasn’t sure how exactly I would approach it all, until this morning, that is.

In the first class of the day, it happened that two of the students had a sibling who had been taught by me during the first quarter of this school year, also for French.

After answering some of their questions regarding things like, ‘Do you really only talk to them in French?’, we entered into a natural and almost immediate discussion on whether I could do that with them, these students I have now.

We talked through the method I follow, as well as some whys for it, and every single one of them was enrolled in the idea: Yes, we want to do it, please.

It was almost shocking, but also not, when I considered how I have always loved such opportunities as a student.

Nonetheless, I was delighted.

And so we began setting up their tools, discussing barriers they are likely to meet, and preparing overall for what was going to start next class meeting.

I even gave them homework, and they were okay with it (and surprised themselves that they were okay with the specific assignments).

They left with excited nervousness in their space, and I was delighted with the whole ordeal.

Another two younger siblings were in my next class, and discussion arose – though differently than before – regarding my teaching methods, eventually reaching the point of my asking them whether they would be interested in using the method for our time together.

They, too, were unanimous in the affirmative.

The final two classes of the day were even more willing to be enrolled into the idea than the morning kids, and some even went so far as to smile really largely and to bounce and say how excited they were.

It was adorable.

… and refreshing.

I can hardly wait for next class. 🙂

Note: It had seemed that having everyone on board and truly understanding the expectations and the hows were my biggest struggle in the past…, hopefully, this one day in mostly English will be the needed improvement for me… fingers crossed!! ❤

Post-a-day 2019

Je te déteste :P

Well, pretty much the only thing going on (of which I can makes sense, that is) in my head is the somewhat constant loop of this song the kids played in class today.

We were working on self-introductions, and, as usual, the kids were asking for additional phrases to throw into the practice conversations they were having with each added question I gave them to ask and answer.

(For example, on the first day of class, one kid asked for, “Can I have your number?”, and, as I gave him the French for it, the kids learned that they really could learn to say in French everything they want to say…, and now, they bring up the number question just about every other class meeting, as can be expected of teenage boys.)

When we brought up the question and answer for “What do you like (to do)?”, there was the natural question of, “What is I love you in French?”

And so I said and wrote Je t’aime on the board.

Then a similar phrase they requested.

And then there was, “How do you say, ‘I hate you’?”

**Do note that the kids are asking all of these things in French, with only the unknown phrase being said in English, and I only speak French with them… and this is only their third week of French ever.**

I laugh, and then write Je te déteste on the board, and I help them say it properly.

Immediately, I recall a beautiful bit of music I’d been shown a few years ago (by a student), and I explain to them that there is a song called “Je te déteste”, and it is sung by an artist called Vianney, and that they should look it up.

They asked if they could play the song now, and I told one of them to go ahead and pull it up on the desktop and projector, so we could all listen to it and watch the music video.

In shock for only a moment, the boy jumped into action – seemingly before I changed my mind or rescinded (is that right?) the unexpected offer.

He found the song, and played it for the final minutes of class, and I showed them how Vianney spells out déteste in the song, and, frankly, they kind of jammed out.

It was adorable.

And so, now, hours later, I have the middle of the song playing on loop in my head…

Je crie de tout mon être

Sur un morceau de bois

Plutôt que dans tes oreilles

Qui n’écoutent que toi

D E T E S TE te déteste

D E T E S T E….

So good, but so loop-inducing 😛

Je te déteste by Vianney… you’re welcome 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Football

I had never been to one of my school’s football games without being in the band.

Tonight, I simply attended a game as a guest/patron (for free, of course, since I work there).

I didn’t know where to sit (or do they all just stand?).

So, I went and sat with the band. 😂

Although, I technically sat next to it while it was there, because that was where the orchestra director, whom I knew, was hanging out, and he invited me to join, once I found him.

But, when the band went down for half-time, I sat in the band section with him to help keep other people out of it.

Nevertheless, I basically sat with the band.

It was a good enough evening, I suppose, though in large part due to the conversation I had with someone about modeling and high fashion and photography – we’re going to do some photos together, and we’re both excited about them. 🙂

I did somewhat miss being in the band, though.

However, I enjoyed it lots in high school, because I sat next to a bunch of older, handsome boys, so the dorky, skinny, boys, combined with the required dance movements of the band tonight really had me not want to be a part of it… it mostly just made me miss my old band days and people a little more than usual.

P.S. I have had a headache and a sense of nausea nearly the entire day today (and night thus far)…. ugh!!!

Post-a-day 2019

Life and Language

No, I don’t watch television.

Do you watch Netflix, Hulu…?’

I don’t have Internet, wifi at home.

“Your life is boring,” he declares, matter-of-factly.

The other kids begin to panic, eyes wide at his blatant statement of potential rudeness to the teacher.

I laugh heartily, tell them how to say it all in French, and then mention how I’m actually really busy a lot of the time, and that my life is actually rather interesting – a fact which even takes me a bit by surprise in the moment.

I laugh and smile some more while they recover.

Later in the day, I am told…..

Actually, I am so tired, the memory I was intending for the past few hours to share has decided to go on vacation for a while…

I guess we’ll find out later, if it ends up coming back… 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Story-time

Staring at the ceiling, slumped backward over the sofa cushion that had been knocked onto the floor at some unknown time in the evening, Ch—- inhales sharply, and releases in a heavy sigh…, “Man…, I wanna do something!” he declares.

“Like what?” responds C—, only half interested in his little brother’s response.

“I don’ know…. just something….”

M—- chuckles from his spot in a chair across the room, resuming his tossing of a Hacky Sack into the air over and over again with the same hand, having abandoned actually standing and kicking it around in the air half an hour earlier… Ch—- always says this.

“It’s not like we can actually go anywhere, anyway, Ch—,” M— reminds him, “seeing as how it’s already nine o’clock and all, and your parents have gone to bed.”

Ch—- is silent for a moment, reflecting, ignoring M—‘s comment.

“I wanna go swimming,” Ch—- says, “That’s what I wanna do: go swimming.

Let’s go swimming, you guys!”

“In which pool exactly?… None are open and, in case you forgot, we don’t have a pool,” C— calmly reminds him.

Silence.

M— speaks up, “Swimming actually would be pretty nice right now.. zI could totally go for a swim.”

Baffled, C— regards him, eyebrows scrunched together, raised.

What?” asks M—, defensively, “I’m just saying I’m not against the idea.”

“Again, where would we be doing this swimming? Nowhere is open.”

“Too bad we don’t live near the ocean – the beach is always open!” Ch— chimes in, somewhat passively.

Silence…

C— turns to look at M—, then slowly tilts his head to one side, eyebrows raised…

M— regards C—, questioning at first, and then raises his eyebrows in recognition, drops the sides of his lips, and raises a shoulder, as if to say, ‘Why not?’

“Whadda you say?” asks C— to M—.

Ch— sits up suddenly, looking back and forth between the two older boys, jaw dropping in disbelief.

M—- smiles.

“Let’s do this,” declares C—-.

The three jump up, and each rushes to grab a few items, including the keys, use a bathroom, eat a quick snack before moving silently and stealthily toward the minivan that is parked in the driveway – their mother’s minivan and the only vehicle C— has started driving since getting his license recently.

An hour later, the trio find themselves on the Galveston beach, Ch— frolicking gaily in the sand at the water’s edge, while the other two take another hit on their unsophisticated and uncaring palates.

Ch— and M— share a drink or two, but they forbid C— from drinking – he is still driving them home later, and even the stupidity of the youth has its limits when dealing with genuinely smart and somewhat self-aware teenage boys.

By three a.m., they are careening back toward Houston, searching for a gas station with a vacuum to clean out C— and Ch—‘s mom’s minivan – it is filled with sand, though no one quite remembers when or how it all got in there – the haze of the fun was kind of in the way for them.

Eventually, they find it, and somehow manage to clean the minivan up really well, returning it to its nighttime place in the driveway.

Finally back home, the boys head silently into the back of the house, and lapse into total unconsciousness in the form of sleep.

It is five a.m.

At seven, their mom wakes up, and heads off to work, leaving the boys to their usual sleeping in routine, unconcerned.

When, after a week, no parent has mentioned anything, the boys begin to believe fully that they actually away with it.

And, somehow, they did

Post-a-day 2019

Yearbooks

***Update on the ant bite: My bicep still rocks, but the bite swelled and split open this morning, only to close up, turn green in the middle again, and start swelling again… we’ll see how it looks in the morning, now! (And the coach’s bites did not turn green, he said, but one was hurting a lot.)***

We now return to regular programming.

There is a guy working with me who graduated high school with my youngest brother.

I pulled out the yearbook from their senior year today, and had a brief look through the senior photos.

I enjoyed how much hair this guy and my brother both had in their photos, and how they both have almost none now, and both keep their heads shaved (though my brother uses a razor, and the other guy only seems to buzz it as short as possible).

One thing I noted was that their service work locations seemed almost stereotypical for each of them…. interesting, perhaps.

Something bigger, however, was the other people I found in the yearbook.

I crossed names of people whose faces I knew not, but whose names I knew well from my brother – how fun to put faces to the names, even almost two decades after the fact.

And then I realized that I finally had the opportunity to look up and remember my brother’s best friend’s full name – I forgot his middle name a few years back, and haven’t recalled it since…. I just always thought it was fascinating, because he was the fourth with the name, so he had a “, IV” at the end of his legal name.

And I use the past tense here, because he died at the start of their sophomore year of college.

It was drinking and a bit of drugs at a party, and everyone thought he’d simply fallen asleep, but, of course, he hadn’t… I’ve always remembered most that my brother was invited to that same party, but chose to work on his absurd amount of homework, instead (thank you, UT Architecture program [not for the first time]).

And so J—– died at the party, and my brother spoke at the funeral, at the request of J—-‘s family, and he did a wonderful job.

My mom and I also attended the funeral, along with a lot of people.

After the funeral, since J—- had always said that he wanted to go out with pinwheels and fireworks, we (a handful of select people that happened to include my mom and me) went to an open land area across from a movie theatre, and set off a bunch of little rockets and a few big shebang fireworks (the pinwheels had decorated the casket) – it was a true party and celebration to send off J—- and to say goodbye together.

When I came across his name today, I was delighted – I finally have it(!).

And then I gave his photo a good look.

And it was almost terrifying as an experience, though terrifying just is not quite the right word…

It suddenly occurred to me that this was the first time I’d seen a photo of J— since around the time of the funeral – I’d only had mental visions of him since then.

It was weird to think that, u like my brother and that other guy, J— had not aged from this photo… maybe two years’ worth of aging, but that was little different from the boy who sat in the frame that is in front of me now.

These were posed senior portraits for the yearbook, and so they each are looking directly at the camera…, directly at the viewer of the photograph… J—- was no exception…

And it was spooky, knowing that those eyes, so true and almost penetrating in this photo, were no longer here, no longer existed.

And then, it had me wonder how many people in this book, this yearbook are no longer around?

And that was perhaps even spookier…

I had to move on to other things then, both in terms of productivity and in terms of an emotional desire to step away from the increasing discomfort and potential sadness of what sat before me, visually and mentally, at that moment, and so I closed the book, put it back in its place, and walked away.

I soon had tears in my eyes, and the feeling of hollowness just behind the bottom of my ribs was growing.

Now, hours later and many tasks and conversations later, I feel less afraid, and more aware of the fleeting aspect of life, the circumstances that allow us a promise of a chance at everything, and at a chance of it all going away at any moment, in a moment’s time…

On my way up to the house where I am housesitting tonight, I passed their church, where J—-‘s funeral had been… I think of him every time I pass it (though that doesn’t happen too often), because it’s the only thing I’ve ever attended there…

……

I don’t have anything insightful about this… I just wanted to share…

Post-a-day 2019

Photo boss

Okay, maybe “photo boss” is a bit much, but it sure sounds intense, and in the right kind of way… ;P

Anyway, so I did the senior portraits for someone the other week – remember that?

(Maybe not, but let’s continue as though you do.)

Using the money from that, I invested in a new lens I’d wanted for a while (which has a high likelihood of earning me menu for a certain kind of photography rather soon, consistently), and in a second memory card that will be extremely useful as I do more and more photo sessions, and in an external hard drive exclusively for photos (since they take up loads of space, now that I’m doing the RAW files and all).

And – possibly the best part – I still have a bit of the money to spare, even after buying myself a huge tank of gas for the truck (the vehicle a family friend has lent me, so that I can go longer distances reliably, instead of only short distances, and unreliable so).

Isn’t that great?

Oh(!).

Of course, the photos turned out totally awesome – I’m super proud!

So, yeah… I’m really happy about these steps I’m taking.

It really makes a difference to declare that I am doing this. 🙂

Post-a-day 2019