Friday, January 29, 2010

Gangsters in Public Office

You can learn a lot working at a school.

I always know when I've pissed off a teenager.  (Excuse my language---language gets rough when you work at school!)  No matter what I say or do after that, I'm wrong.  Persona non grata.  No eye contact (except for a glare).  No acknowledgement (except for sarcasm).  Certainly no applause!  If I piss off one of the 1400+ students at my school, she will probably get a bunch of her friends to ignore me too.  Even if I'm handing out extra credit or free passes to an early lunch, she will find fault.

That's how I know that the Republicans are mad at President Obama, and the Democrats are mad at the Republicans.  When the President speaks, the Republicans won't even look at him.  In an enormous bill, like Heath Care Insurance reform, there's not ONE SINGLE THING that deserves their acknowledgement.  And the Democrats will NEVER applaud a Republican idea.  NEVER.

That's the way it goes with teenagers---but oops!  These are not teenagers.  These are elected officials engaged in "tick tock the game's locked and nobody else can play!"

It's disappointing and discouraging to regular mopes like me who actually have to  listen to their colleagues.  We have to work WITH people.  We've learned that means actually trying to hear and understand someone else's point of view.

That's right.  Try to understand the other guy.  Give him credit for a good idea and work it into your plan, bragging about where you got it.  Let him shine in your world.

I'll bet the country's bloated and expanding Health Care Insurance bottom line that adults on both sides of the aisle in the Capitol Building secretly recognize some excellent components of the other guys' proposals.  But like wanna be gangsters, they will never give an inch of territory because his shirt is red and mine is blue.

And the penalty for being red is death of your ideas.  Or if you're blue, I will never acknowledge your contributions. 

Let's line up with our homies and watch their backs!  Loyalty to the point of idiocy.  To hell with the country.  To hell with the charge of serving the people.  By god, I will play it safe!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's logical, isn't it?

I'm so glad the Supreme Court has allowed corporations and labor unions to make unlimited donations to political candidates.  Those corporations and unions will no doubt assess their own interests and begin donating immediately to any politician who might help them out.

See, that gives me hope.  Logically, corporations and unions might now look at schools and donate to them on the same enormous scale.

Afterall, their fate depends on schools too, not just on politicians. 

Sure, some corporations give money to schools already, if schools ask for it.  My school fills out applications every year and we sometimes receive as much as $5000 for teachers' materials, supplies, even equipment.

There's a website where teachers can go and apply for funding for as many as three projects of $400 each.  It's a big help.  It lifts our spirits when we get this kind of support.  Students definitely benefit.

But now, now we will get hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars!  We can refurbish our tired and sagging campuses. We can pay teachers commensurate with their training, skills, and contributions.  Reduce class sizes.  Give our students the real world curriculum they crave and the technology at school that they will encounter in those unions and corporations, the ones that currently bemoan students' knowledge and training.

These corporations and labor unions aren't stupid.  They know schools are fundamental to the success of communities.  Those communities make up their customers.  The schools feed their workforce.  They know.

There's nothing to hold them back now!  The Supreme Court said it's okay to give as much as they want.  Why, a consortium of major corporations could lift schools up to adequate funding---no! super funding so we can't lose!  Like the politicians.  If they want us to win, they will buy us a win.  Won't they?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Emergency Room

I didn't exactly cry in the Emergency Room. I was a visitor after all, not a patient.

Still, sitting on a rolling stool in the ER while the doctor set up to perform an ultrasound on my neighbor, I was fear.

I can feel my chin soften, my lower face sag. My eyes fill with tears. I look down to hide my struggle. I remind myself that I am not the first fearful person to cry in an ER.

But I'm not afraid for my neighbor. I'm afraid for myself.

My neighbor is 75, widowed, alone, belly full of radiating pain. Only a step-son on her list of contacts.

I am not even 60, married, happy, in a rewarding career. I live in a warm house with a caring husband, a dog and a cat. (His son, my step-son, is 24 and living with his mother---another story.)

What have I got to be afraid of?

Doctors and nurses and orderlies (Do they still exist?) pass me in an array of pastel with business on their minds. A Candy Striper (Okay, a Comfort Service Volunteer) asks if I'd like some water. Yes! She brings water with that wonderful hospital crushed ice and a cellophane-wrapped packet of graham crackers. Pathetically, I drink, peel back the cellophane and eat on the stool, distracted, feeling a little better. Another patient rolls through the sliding glass doors, morose, an EMT pushing his wheelchair.

The doctor draws the curtain back and smiles at me. I can return to my neighbor's side. She smiles at me too. "They've ruled out gall bladder," she says waving the arm with the blood pressure cuff, not the bruised one with the IV drip and the shunt.

When she speaks she lifts her head off the pillowless bed and the monitor behind her shows a fluctuation in her pulse. I watch her blood pressure rise on the screen from moderately high (in my estimation) to high...what number will finally trigger an alarm?

I go out again when technicians come with a portable x-ray machine, set up, step away, tell my neighbor not to breathe, and to breathe.

One of my neighbor's friends arrives. Seventy-five, creased pants and a cashmere V-neck over starched white shirt, YSL glasses. The three of us chat. Movies, shopping, home maintenance. Care in this hospital. "Oh, they're very attentive," says my neighbor. "They're very thorough."

"I remember sitting in this Emergency Room with Ed before he died," says her friend. "We were here 12 hours before they put him in a room. Twelve hours and I became quite a bitch," she says with a rueful smile. "Then they moved him."

It grows dark outside the double sliding glass doors. Drizzle falls on the EMTs readying their van for the next outing.

I decide to hand my neighbor off to her friend. "I think I'll go," I say. "I've got to go to the store and fix dinner."

"Oh, thank you so much! Thank you for coming. Thank you. You have my keys? Would you turn a light on in the house tonight? Oh thank you!"

As I walk toward the double doors I keep my head down. Sooner than I expect they hiss open and I fairly run to my car.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Crossing a threshold

I asked my dreaming self if I could really retire---a big decision!

I dreamed I had an invitation to change my life.

A lanky man said he loved me, wanted me to come with him, away from the life I know. He showed me what he offered and I was drawn in.

I had to change my clothes and jump from an impressive height onto a suede and leather cushion in a beautiful wood paneled room. An indoor pool stretched wide. It wasn't too deep for me, the scaredy-cat swimmer. A wall of windows three or even four stories high showed a snow-covered mountain side and deep lush valley. Exhilarating! I grinned, tingling with anticipation. Let's go!

Then, in my dream, I remembered: I'm married. I don't want to get a divorce! What was I thinking? I can't do any of this! I can't change my LIFE.

I can't keep what I have and get what's calling me...

Now, you know dreams aren't literal. But they can give us insights into our waking life.

This one shows the dichotomy, the struggle. I do want to change my life, to retire. Even though I love my life. Even though I'm married to it, identified by it. I'm drawn to another beautiful retired life.

What to do?