Special

Me: “So listen up everyone, I have something really important for you. You see, each of you is unique and special in your very own way and I appreciate your unique-ness very much. But, in my class, you’re not special. Not one of you.

What this means is that when you ask to use your phone, or not participate because you don’t like what we are doing, or go to the restroom 30 times, or be “it” every single time, or play basketball instead of running, or sit on the mats when you know you’re not supposed to; basically, to have the rules not apply to you, the answer, every time, is going to be ‘no’ because in my class, you’re not special.”

Him, with the utmost sincerity: “Teacher? I’m in Special Ed.”

Okay, maybe that one is a little bit special.

Back in the Arena

You know that moment in Catching Fire when Katniss finds out that she has to go back into the arena to fight a second round of the Hunger Games?

Remember it feeling like a punch in the gut, but nothing, NOTHING like we imagined how it felt for her?

“But it was all over,” we moaned.

Our hearts broke with dread – how could she possibly survive twice? What about Peeta? Haymitch?

Well, guess what…

I’m headed back into the Arena.

Court.

I just found out today and I just can’t fucking believe it.

I thought it was over.  I thought not only had I survived but I had also had a win.

And now, I have to go back and I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I am definitely not expecting pretty.

And can I possibly survive twice?

There have been a lot of things of which I let go – just to have some peace. Things that I decided to accept, even though they are so very wrong, just to be able to live without being in a constant battle.

And it doesn’t matter. I have to fight again. I have to gear up, develop a strategy, face my fear, revisit my anger and frustration, and hope that justice will prevail.

I will spend the next month in anticipation, asking myself all of the “what if’s” that I can possibly come up with, and spinning round every move I have already made, especially those that seem to have been errors.

I’ll lose sleep over past mistakes and those that have not yet happened.

Just yesterday I said to myself, “I am ecstatic – I am so perfectly content with my life.” It’s taken years to get to this point and I was so happy to realize that I am here.

I feel a crushing sadness. I feel as if I am suffocating under the weight. I feel dismayed.

And, I have no choice other than gearing up, sharpening my arrows, and getting a dress made of flames.

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The Beach People

The beach stretches for miles in either direction. Really from Miami to Maine. But we’re talking about here in Vero.

Much of the beach is “private” meaning that it belongs to whatever gated community lives just past the dunes. The reality is, you can walk along those beaches and even sit there if you want to drag all of your shit for two miles from the place that you can park if you are not allowed through the gates.

As Peter says, if anyone wanted to harass you all you’d have to do is stand in the edge of the surf and you could claim that you are in international waters and they couldn’t do anything about it.

Not sure if that’s true, but it sounds good.

Since my parents have opted out of the gated community life, we go to the public beach which is two blocks from their front door and next to The Sea Burger and 50 flavors of ice cream.

We’ve spent a lot of time on the beach this trip and it’s been crowded. Crowded here means that there are maybe 50 people on the beach as opposed the usual 3 or 4 when it’s not Spring Break.

Fifty or so people gives me ample opportunity to people watch and run the gamut of reactions.

First, there’s the obvious, I’m too fat. That came up today as I watched a 15-year-old girl lather up her jutting hip bones with baby oil and lay down to properly burn herself to a crisp.

Then there’s, Look at her mid section jiggle in her bikini – why can’t I be that comfortable in my body?

And maybe a little, Wow, she’s bold.

There was the topless girl who had me astounded with her flopping breasts until she got closer and I realized that she was a he and they were man-boobs.

The family who frolicked together for hours in the surf were the perfect picture of a family who actually enjoys each other which brought a little bit of warmth to my heart.

A beautiful couple walked by with their large dogs and I thought, They’re beautiful so of course no one is going to tell them that they actually aren’t allowed to have those dogs on the beach.

I figure their beautiful dogs are probably too beautiful to shit so they’re not a problem.

One woman sat herself down on her towel, back ramrod straight, and sat that way, totally zenned out for the next hour. I wish I had her peaceful posture.

Teenage girls sidling up close to the lifeguard stand reminded me of my youth.

Teenage boys sidling up close to the teenage girls reminded me of the desperation of my youth.

There was the 80+ year-old woman in a bikini gathering shells. I hope to be just like her in a few years.

There was the guy, maybe mid-fifties, who ran in circles; down to the water, uphill to the dunes, back down to the water, back up the hill, down, up, down, up, wearing a huge trench in the sand about 15 feet in diameter, FOR AN HOUR.

And then there was the orange man and his ripped wife. He was in pretty good shape, but definitely not as good as he thought he was. And his muffin top was definitely orange. She had abs of steel with a layer of loose, I’ve given birth, skin over top. They’re kids were so…

normal. I wondered how that could be with parents who were clearly trying so hard to look like they’re still in their 20’s. And failing.

Lots of mothers and daughters walking hand in hand.

And of course, the old people, walking the boardwalk in their Hokams, more fit than I was at 30.

I was so entertained.

Vacation

I’m in Florida – we’re in Florida – Greg and Peter are with me.

My Mom is from here. She moved to this town when she was in high school. She graduated from Vero Beach High.

She went to Florida State. She didn’t graduate. Impatient, she moved on to the next adventure instead.

So my grandparents lived here and vacations were spent here while I was growing up -at least two trips a year to see them.

My parents moved here a couple of years ago after thirty long, cold, dark, winters in Idaho.

They live just a few blocks from the house where my mother grew up.

There is an element of “home” here for me.

I know where to get ice cream. I know where to go to the grocery store and where to get the best grapefruit juice. The drugstore that my grandfather owned is still here and they know me as David’s granddaughter.

But I’ll be damned if I can find an ATM in this town.

Turns out they’re everywhere, but discreetly placed inside of elegant buildings with fountains and palm trees. You’d think that with all of the old, hobbling people around here they’d have drive-throughs.

There’s this place on the beach, The Sea Burger. I actually think the name has changed but it will always be The Sea Burger. The Sea Burger has been in the same place at Jaycee Park on the Beach since my mom spent her weekends drinking beer on that beach.

The smell of the ocean mingled with grilling burgers is the best smell in the world.

When I was young and frolicking on the beach with my family, I loved going up to The Sea Burger all crusty and sandy and barefoot to get a milkshake. Their milkshakes are the very best, ever.

My mother, unwilling to move from her beach chair where she was finally relaxing after traveling and dealing with family, would hand me her wallet and say, “Go get yourself something.”

I felt so big, so independent. I hoped that the lifeguard would think I was cute as I strutted by his stand.

He never did.

I was 12.

So yesterday I was sound asleep on my towel, which was actually under my towel because it was totally freezing yet we were determined to be on the beach, and Peter said, “I’m thirsty.” So I gave him my wallet and sent him up to get himself a treat.

And there it was. In my mother’s town, on my mother’s beach, I had turned into her.

 

I have the power

Whistles have been around since early humans first carved out a gourd or branch and found they could make sound with it. In prehistoric Egypt, small shells were used as whistles. Many present day wind instruments are inheritors of these early whistles. wikipedia

Let me begin by thanking those quick-witted Egyptians: Cleopatra, Pyramids, Human-Cats, Whistles – they put the rock in rockin’.

My first day of Middle School PE, I attempted to teach without a whistle. Quite honestly it was because I forgot one, but I viewed it as an opportunity to connect with the kids without being a drill sergeant. You know that whole gym-teacher-sweatpants-whistle-sporting stereotype?

Yeah, stereotypes aren’t created out of the blue.

Day two had me with a whistle around my neck along with my keys-on-a-lanyard and walkie-talkie in hand. I wore some yoga pants which were one very small step above sweatpants because I just couldn’t bring myself to walk out of the house in sweats, let alone go to work in them.

I tentatively blew that thing that first day, unsure of myself. Now, I blow the fuck out of it – over and over and over.

It makes me feel big and powerful and authoritative and commanding and bossy and badass. I am one of the elite few allowed to use such a powerful tool. I am also above the dress code – rules don’t apply to me.

You should just see me strutting my stuff in drawstring waisted pantaloni, clipboard in hand, walkie-talkie at the ready, “Nurse, Nurse, we’ve had an incident.”

I’m blowing the whistle at them as I open the door to the gymnasium. I blow it before I talk to get them quiet. I blow it to signal that I am finished talking. Sharks and minnows begins and ends with a few long blows. I use it for:

get off the mats

put away your phone

no rim shots

get out of the supply room

off the bleachers

RUN

rack the weights

shut the f@#$ up

I don’t like you

you’re not special

put the balls in the bin

stop shooting baskets and put the balls in the bin

if you shoot another basket, you’d better hope you make it, then you’re getting a zero

that’s a football – we’re playing basketball

class dismissed

The blowing of the whistle, the constant screech, is the theme music to my day. It conveys a message without words. It’s a beautiful thing.

ps: if you’re mind went down into the gutter with all of this talk about blowing, shame on you. 

 

If you hear that I’m the mean mommy…

…I totally am.

I’ve reached a limit of sorts.  I feel as if my good will and openness has been pushed and under-appreciated.

We have a boil.

It could be that I’m around the house more since I’m unemployed.

It could be this beautiful house that we’ve just moved into that I want to keep beautiful.

It could also be the security deposit we didn’t get back because we have to replace the carpet.

It could be not being able to walk around half naked at 5 am because there are too many impressionable teenage boys that might see my cottage cheese ass.

It could maybe be the dozen eggs that I boiled that were eaten before they had time to cool.

Or the shells that were left on the counter.

Or the empty string cheese bag left in the deli drawer in the fridge.

And it could possibly be a combination of all of the above.

All I know is that my good will has thinned.  I don’t want to be a hag – I truly like being the cool mom and having everyone feel welcome in my home. But I also want to feel like it actually is my home and that I can enjoy it in ways that I like to.

Like sitting on the couch with my coffee in front of the fire in my undies and no bra before anyone else in the house wakes up.

Can’t be done if there is someone sleeping on that couch.

And I want that couch to be cared for so that we will still have this time next year.

And I really really don’t want to lose my security deposit due to carelessness ever again.

And I want to be able to want those things without being considered selfish or unreasonable.

And I want to be able to talk about it, in my home, without hearing later through the grapevine, that “(Their) mom totally flipped out about some stupid shit.”

If that kid thought he witnessed a flip out, he doesn’t know me very well.

So rules have changed, laws have been laid down, and easy-going fun-for-everyone mommy has left the building.

 

 

Just sayin’

What I DO say:

Run

Give me your phone

Run

Put the snow down

Run

Do not lie down on the track

Get off the football equipment

Do you think I can’t see you behind the bleachers?

Run

You get a zero for the day

For someone who thinks he’s such a great athlete…I’m not seeing it

I can (will) write you up

Run. NOW.

What I DON’T say:

Run you little bastard

Go ahead and listen to your shitty music

You have no friends

You’re a puss

I’d put money on you being knocked up by 11th grade

And you, you’re going to be the baby daddy

Exactly what is it that makes you think you’re cool?

No, your 13 year old biceps are not a turn on for me

I hope you fall down