Monday, June 25, 2007

Opening up a new class

I'll have to go all over the yard to recruit students, but my reputation has preceded me, so it should be easy to get 28 and a waiting list.

I actually ENJOY this, more than any of the many other things I do. I'm not a cupcake or a pushover, but I am firm, fair and predictable. I run the class on a strict schedule, much like a kindergarten class.

My two clerks (both Life Without) are very OCD, so the room is perfection itself. All the books are filed, so it is easy to start a student as soon as I test him for his English abilities. Every file is updated immediately and the paper work is immaculate. Every drawer, every cabinet is labeled so that I know what is in there.

My porter has been my porter off and on for the last eight years. Tomorrow, he is stripping and buffing my floors, so the shine like glass. I appreciate him as much as I do my clerks...he comes in at lunch and after class has been dismissed to wipe everything down with an antibacterial wash. I'll have a preponderance of inmates who are fatally ill, so I really appreciate this little kindness. When I lose a student, the class will write letters to the family, so that they have that comfort...their boy was not just an unknown number.

Those few students who have signed up for class came in this afternoon and wrote essays, telling me WHY they wanted to come to school. The essays were in Spanish and told me how much schooling they had already and what their personal goals were. Since they are in Spanish (and so pretty private), I'll be posting them on the wall with some kind of snappy saying in Spanish meaning "Your future does not simply occur. You must first have a plan."

Tomorrow, I put up bulletin boards. I'm using fadeless paper in turquoise, grass green, yellow and hot pink. As you must know, there is very little color in a prison and even less in the classrooms. I like to make my room a safe haven that LOOKS like a place where learning takes place.

I have a large set of Nat'l Geographic videos that we will watch in English, in Spanish, in English with subtitles, in Spanish and then again in English with subtitles. I have Nat'l Geographic photos that have been mounted and laminated; I have about 30 for each movie, so that every day, no matter what level the student is on, they can write about the picture.

I also teach them how to write legible cursive (D'Nealian) and life skills, as well as rewriting and illustrating children's books in both English and Spanish, to send home to their children. I want them to be proud of what they learn and share it with their families.

Each man has a story; a future; a family. My goal is to help them discover themselves in class. I can't change what goes on outside of class...the kind of prison I teach at is a very hard row to hoe. It is violent, lonely and difficult, especially if you don't speak English.

I do all the translating (Mainly Spanish, but also Illekano and Tagalog), so it is good practice for me, too. I do all of the concurrent translation in writing, too....I'm rusty now, but in six months, I'll be speaking more Spanish in a day than English.

Despite my "mission" to give these men a second chance in life, I know that prison is the best place for them. They have committed terrible crimes and because of their lack of good sense, as far as choices go, I treat them with the same respect I expect.

So far, it works both ways. I learn far more from my inmates that they learn from me. But that's the way it has always been for me...anyone can teach the subject content that I do. It is the personal growth (usually mine), that makes my work meaningful.

Where I work, I have former students incarcerated and former students who work there. They are each individually recognizable to me and are always happy to know that I remember them personally. No matter what they are doing with their lives, each time I run into them, it gives me great please to know that I recognize THEM.

They were and are distinctive individuals and important enough to me that even 35 years later, I can remember their names, their families and usually even the school they attended. (I can't remember to buy trash bags, but I think that is a different part of my brain!)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Home again, Home again

I have never been so happy to sleep in my own bed in my life. Yesterday, which wold be Wednesday (since I watched So You Think You Can Dance), I spent most of the day in the ER, having been whisked there by AMBULANCE from work.

Chest pains. Like a heart attack.
Well, it was more like a gremlin fist, wringing my heart out, saying "Have another piece of fudge! Wanna Twinkie?"
Very scary. It really hurt and I couldn't catch my breath either.

So I called 222 (the 911 at the prison), which is answered by the fire chief, the ACH, the watch office, central control and somebody else. I cheeped out "I'm at the snackbar and I think maybe I'm having a heart attack." WHOOSH! There was about 3 minutes before the cafeteria was full of a ton of people, oxygen tanks, gurneys....mercy. Then the real abulance showed up, bundled me up and off we went.

I asked for the siren and some lights, just for leaving the prison, since it would be SO dramatic, but the guys said no. I got more oxygen, nitro (yuck, nasty) and several attempts at getting a line in. Unsuccessful.

I spent most of yesterday in the ER, getting poked and drugged. Sad to say, when I'm in the midst of this kind of life or death drama, I can;t remember my name, the date OR the president's not only am I worried, who ever is working on me is worried, too.

After about 2 hours, I managed to call Darling...he was going crazy, trying to find my car, since my boss had told him I was DRIVING to the in I was driving, as opposed to being driven. So he searched the hospital parking lot, my doctor's lot, the worker's comp lot (maybe I got confused and went in for Josie to take care of me)...the pharmacy (maybe I thought I needed migraine medicine), the grocery store (maybe I decided I was hungry and it wasn't a heart attack at all). Anyway, he was at that moment where you can;t decide if you are relieved or furious but once he got into the ER, he got over that.

He called Boy-o, who came and sat with me, so I was never alone. We decided not to call Girlie, since it would just worry her (she works, goes to school and is in the next town reason to have everyone upset....and we have no intention on telling my mother AT ALL).

I was there for three days for tests, which all came out peachy keen. My BP..perfect. Cholesterol? Perfect. Everything....if I could bottle it, I would make a mint. The only thing that is wrong with me is my migraines...which is another story.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

150 Things to Do

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa.
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states almost
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing--in the great outdoors
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured an ancient site
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played Dungeons & Dragons for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently well enough to have a decent conversation
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised (raising) children (child)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life
151. Finished a marathon = Portland marathon 2005

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My week so far (it's only Wednesday)

I had a migraine on Tuesday, so after I took my medicines (which didn't stop this particular train wreck), I went in for a shot. My blood pressure was 177/125...which is like a stroke, which is what the nurse (who said, Oh. My. God. when she took the reading) and the doctor they fixed me up RIGHT. THEN. and I slept all day and all night. June 5 post----the baby cardigan.

I ordered TWO. One for Girlie's baby chest and one...well, someone will have a baby. Probably Ruthie or Steven's wife, Erin. I love, love, love these two as if they were my own. They are just really neat gals who happen to be part of my friend Peggy's, voila! Isn't it just handy to be having babies in my orbit?

I have been reading files for the last week and today I actually TAUGHT A CLASS. Gosh, it was fun. We were working on writing descriptive paragraphs and after walking them through the thinking, the visualizing,working with five senses....they generated some really good pieces. Rough, but good. We even used a graphic organizer (hey! I'm a real teacher!)

Then on Friday, I test all day long...12 guys in, 45 minutes, 12 guys out/12 guys in. I can do a group per hour. 60 guys out of the 300 I need to test on that yard. Then it is back to reading files.

I stopped by the scrapbook store for an actual scrapbook (the 12x12 kind, which I almost NEVER use), some paper and some glue. I like to go to this little independent local store instead of Michael's. I can park right in front, the gals know me and besides, if I don't shop there, it will close and then Michael's will be my only choice...sort of like WalMart. If there is something totally special I am looking for, I will STILL stop there first, just in case.

I hate big stores. Too many people. Too many cars. Too much sensory overload.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Yard sailing...found a highboy!

I've been looking for a narrow something with drawers that will fit into a narrow niche in my new closet. I have the velvet lined jewelry organizers and wanted something I could simply put these trays in....and maybe have a couple of lingerie drawers, as well. We were yardsailing and I found a 1903 highboy for TEN DOLLARS. The drawers need to be remade and it needs to cleaned up...but it is in great shape with a pretty inlaid wood pattern on the doors...did I mention that the jewelry drawers are hidden behind a pair of doors? Original hardware and those really cool wooden wheels.
Yes, I scored big time, I know.
Luck, not talent.

Photos later on. I never have my camera when I need it!