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Marsha
06 July 2014 @ 10:17 pm

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

How do you measure a lifetime?

Mom had her own weight in photographs. Every time we open a drawer or a box, we find more. I brought a full trunk home with me to sort through, but they’re my father’s mother’s, and some of them date to mid-1800′s or so based on the daguerreotypes and clothing. Some have names. Most don’t. I should have written or taped everything Mom ever told me about Grandma Mac’s side.

None of the Allenbys are actually related to me. My paternal grandfather was adopted into the family, and the albums and bible were passed down through him. You can’t throw these things away, but I’m wondering what we’re going to do. Store them for yet another generation?

Mom seems to have kept almost every card she was given. My grandmother was worse in that she kept letters, too. It was pretty astonishing finding two notes written by my dad in second and third grade to his grandmother. None of it is organized. Heck, it’s not even in the same boxes. Grandma’s stuff is with my other Grandma’s stuff is mingled with Mom and Dad’s stuff and all our kids. Even the boxes that pretend to be organized aren’t. And if I find any more unidentified locks of hair… (Two today. Please, no more. Maybe if you know the person. But if it’s 50-year old hair? Not so much.)

We cleaned out Mom’s closet yesterday. Considering that Mom only left the house for doctor appointments and hospital stays this last year, she had more clothing than I have. We happened on some vintage pieces (40′s, I think) of my grandmother’s, both the coat and the top with lovely cuts and trimmed in fur. Real fur. Those we’re saving for the estate sale along with the nicer pieces Mom had. We cleaned out Mom’s bathroom, too.

And all this cleaning and sorting has convinced me that I can’t leave anything like this for my kids. I’m cleaning out the bathroom tomorrow, and I’m adding my closet to the list.

I’m pretty sure I’m focused on the ‘stuff’ of a lifetime so I don’t have to contemplate the hole in the center of me.

 
 
Marsha
03 July 2014 @ 03:20 pm

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

Mom’s gone.

 
 
Marsha
01 July 2014 @ 10:12 am

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

I haven’t gotten to the hospital yet this morning, but they’ll be sending Mom out today or tomorrow, I’m sure. Hopefully, it won’t be home–she’s not able to get herself out of bed independently, and there’s no way she can put on the back brace she has to wear on her own.

So now she’s moved to the next thing on her list–she doesn’t want to go back to the same facility as last time. Well, that is all about what’s available. One of my brother’s (the RN) is on the task. I really hope she can get in the facility she wants–and the one her neighbor works at. We’ll all be happier she gets in there, plus we know that the PT there will get her into better shape.

But the good news is that Mom appears to be improving. After the meeting yesterday, we’re putting her chemo (first time that procedure’s been referenced as that!) on hold, with the option to return to it, if her condition improves enough. Surgery’s right out, and fine with us. So for the moment, it’s wait and see, but nothing is imminent.

Well, except for the part where we all scurry about and get 24-hour care for her, which is how she wants to use her money.

It’s really hard watching someone lose control of their own life. Mom has fall-back positions–you want me in rehab? If I have to, but I won’t go to that one. I can’t say I blame her.

But I’m heading for my writing retreat later this afternoon. My youngest sister arrives tomorrow, my youngest brother on Friday, and I’ll be back on Saturday. And next week will be whatever it is.

 
 
Marsha
29 June 2014 @ 10:53 am

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

Mom broke her T12, which explains all her back pain. However, her white blood cell count is in the leukemia range.

We’ll be talking palliative care with the doctors tomorrow.

(I am so not impressed with this particular aspect of my stage of life. But I’m grateful to have five siblings to share the angst–most particularly the ones who live in town and bear the brunt of it.)

 
 
Marsha
27 June 2014 @ 06:47 am

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

I’m still heading into town every morning.

I’m sitting at a computer all morning and well into the afternoons.

I’m not writing fiction while I’m there. Go figure.

Last day of face-to-face support as I write this curriculum, but I’ve only gotten through twelve weeks and two units. I wrote another two weeks late yesterday afternoon. I’m getting paid per unit, and at this rate, I’m probably making minimum wage. :P

In other news, the daughter, to my horror, picked up a hitchhiker. To her credit, she was not killed, and he’d been on the trail for 2.5 months and 1000 miles, and it was where the Pacific Coast Trail crosses her road into Pinecrest.

However, I failed as a mother. I cannot ever remember a time when I insisted to that particular child never, ever pick up a hitchhiker. Even as she admitted she was stupid for doing so, (yes, because you can so tell the difference between someone who has been on the trail for 2.5 months and your everyday crazed homeless person) she was happy she had done it, so the guy would not have had to spend another night out.

In some ways, it’s a miracle children live to old age, you know? You get them through all the childhood dangers, all the teen and early twenties when they are apparently invincible, and you think they have half a brain. Ha.

(Yes, I am way more of a wimp than any of my children. I like to call it an excess of common sense.)

An only-in-Fillmore moment at the drive-up Starbucks window:

Bearded kid at the window: Good morning–Mrs. Sisolak?!
Me, O.O: What’s your name?!
Bearded kid: Johnny ______.
Me: OMG. I didn’t recognize you with a beard!

Yes, because 5YOs so frequently sport them.

It doesn’t beat the time at the United counter in SFO, when one of my ex-kindergartners recognized me as I was checking in. And it doesn’t match the time that the middle child pulled into some shop in town and paid by credit card, where the girl serving him promptly said brightly, “Oh, you must be Mrs. Sisolak’s son!” and thoroughly horrified him. (You can run, but you cannot hide in Fillmore. This is probably true of many small towns, including my dad’s home town of Exeter, where he and his brothers were referred to as ‘the Crist boys’ well into their own parenthood and beyond.)

And now, back to work. I have just remembered a bazillion things I have to accomplish this morning. This afternoon is all about a (paid!) meeting on transitional kindergarten, with two other long-time friends/teachers. I would be more excited about all the money I’d be making, if I weren’t hyper-aware that this district keeps retired kindergarten teachers/ex-administrators working long after retirement on other projects.

 
 
 
Marsha
27 June 2014 @ 06:46 am
I'm still heading into town every morning.

I'm sitting at a computer all morning and well into the afternoons.

I'm not writing fiction while I'm there. Go figure.

Last day of face-to-face support as I write this curriculum, but I've only gotten through twelve weeks and two units. I wrote another two weeks late yesterday afternoon. I'm getting paid per unit, and at this rate, I'm probably making minimum wage. :P

In other news, the daughter, to my horror, picked up a hitchhiker. To her credit, she was not killed, and he'd been on the trail for 2.5 months and 1000 miles, and it was where the Pacific Coast Trail crosses her road into Pinecrest.

However, I failed as a mother. I cannot ever remember a time when I insisted to that particular child never, ever pick up a hitchhiker. Even as she admitted she was stupid for doing so, (yes, because you can so tell the difference between someone who has been on the trail for 2.5 months and your everyday crazed homeless person) she was happy she had done it, so the guy would not have had to spend another night out.

In some ways, it's a miracle children live to old age, you know? You get them through all the childhood dangers, all the teen and early twenties when they are apparently invincible, and you think they have half a brain. Ha.

(Yes, I am way more of a wimp than any of my children. I like to call it an excess of common sense.)

An only-in-Fillmore moment at the drive-up Starbucks window:

Bearded kid at the window: Good morning--Mrs. Sisolak?!
Me, O.O: What's your name?!
Bearded kid: Johnny ______.
Me: OMG. I didn't recognize you with a beard!

Yes, because 5YOs so frequently sport them.

It doesn't beat the time at the United counter in SFO, when one of my ex-kindergartners recognized me as I was checking in. And it doesn't match the time that the middle child pulled into some shop in town and paid by credit card, where the girl serving him promptly said brightly, "Oh, you must be Mrs. Sisolak's son!" and thoroughly horrified him. (You can run, but you cannot hide in Fillmore. This is probably true of many small towns, including my dad's home town of Exeter, where he and his brothers were referred to as 'the Crist boys' well into their own parenthood and beyond.)

And now, back to work. I have just remembered a bazillion things I have to accomplish this morning. This afternoon is all about a (paid!) meeting on transitional kindergarten, with two other long-time friends/teachers. I would be more excited about all the money I'd be making, if I weren't hyper-aware that this district keeps retired kindergarten teachers/ex-administrators working long after retirement on other projects.
 
 
Marsha
21 June 2014 @ 10:02 am

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

The classroom is clean. Not completely organized because the room doesn’t lend itself to storage. At all. They would have had to have built storage if they wanted me to actually hide things away.

Still better than what it was, and if they actually replace the tile floors that lifted this year, then it will be a disaster when I get back to school. (Probably won’t, though… I think the legal issues of that will take more time to resolve. Which means over Christmas vacation. Or, best case scenario, next summer.)

So, now I’m on to the next thing–an iPad, so I know what I want to do with the set of six iPads I’m getting for the kinder kids to use next year, and signing up for the Write-a-thon as I do every year.

If you want to keep me encouraged and accountable, click on this paragraph. Any amount is welcome, and you will have the satisfaction that you’ve whipped me into action and donated to a worthy cause.

I’m working on the second novel in my fantasy series (See how casually that drops from my fingers? I remember my initial horror.) and I’m getting a decent start on my goal of 15K+ when I get to my writing retreat (with the Freeway Dragons! Yay!) the week after next. I can’t wait to be back in the Bay area. (Yes, San Jose counts as the Bay area. I’ve lived too long in SoCal for it to not count. I should be able to see friends, too, while I’m there. Go me.)

So lots of positive thinking and planning at this moment, and school is far, far away. (Yes, it will come back to roost on Monday morning at 7:45. Dang.)

 
 
Marsha
16 June 2014 @ 07:11 am

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

And yet, it’s not. I’m back to school all this week for aligning our curriculum map, which is giving me the horrors. My principal dropped the fact that the alignment will extend to writing, which means the entire school will complete each strand of writing standards (opinion, informative/explanatory, and narrative) during the same trimester.

Kinder’s order has been: narrative, opinion, informative/explanatory. I’m not sure we’re going to be allowed to keep that order–which makes complete sense for new little writers. You keep it all about them the first trimester, all about them using their powers to convince you of something the second trimester, and by the third trimester, you’re letting them see they can write about anything.

I’m more than a bit concerned. The district’s whole move this past year has been toward lock-step. We’ve moved that direction in ELD, and now, here we go again. Language arts.

So much for the so-called ‘creativity’ that Common Core will provide us.

We unlocked one more level this week as a family–my daughter-in-law graduated from UCLA with her master’s in clinical nursing. Yippee!

2014-06-14 11.26.43-2

Now the next level: find a job and pay back six years of student loans. Eesh.

Yesterday, I ran back to the valley (third time in two days, and I remembered why I never go 101 almost immediately. The trip was a river of cars with huge blocks of sitting time for no reason.) to go to D. Lynn Smith’s kickstarter for Gates of Midnight. She’s starting a comic press with an all-female comic book team, and searching for backers. The first two comics are gorgeous, with fantastic art, two more are in process, and they’re looking for support for the next four issues.

And, oh by the way, I got to meet Barbara Hambly (and some other great people, too.)

Debbie is one of my online crit group members, another grad from Clarion West, and she wrote screenplays for Touched by an Angel and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. If you’re interested in reading more, click here.

And now, off to the Common Core mines.

 
 
Marsha
06 June 2014 @ 08:28 pm
Next  

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

What I should be doing:

-report cards
-wrapping two presents/purchasing a birthday card for Mom’s 85th
-refreshing my memory for where exactly we’re staying, because ‘a hotel’ isn’t going to suffice
-laundry
-repacking the suitcase I just emptied

What I’m doing:

-thinking about chucking it all and going to bed, because hey, it’ll all look better at 5A after a vat or two of coffee, and report cards are always better on a Sunday night. :P

It’s supposed to be 106 in Fresno this weekend, but all of my siblings will be there. That hasn’t happened for a while.

 
 
Marsha
01 June 2014 @ 08:02 am

Mirrored from Marsha Sisolak.

This morning, only one mass. And then a race home to throw things in my suitcase and a second race to the airport. I’m off to Las Vegas–a place I’ve always managed to avoid except for one transfer in the airport–until Wednesday. Our principal’s taking five of us to the PLC (Professional Learning Communities) for that time.

So the good thing: away and out of the classroom, mitigated by all the hoops I had to jump through to prepare to leave. One of my little nemesii, is that the plural form?, is destined for another K teacher. I want the sub to at least survive, if not walk away with a smile on his/her face.

The other good thing is that I think a few people will see a show with me–either Rock of Ages or O, so I’m looking forward to that. I’m also going to see one of my online crit group members: Deb lives in town. So that will be high on my list of exciting things to do. (See how there is no mention of gambling? So not a gambler. Not all that much of a drinker, either.) I’m bringing my laptop. Either I’ll do report cards or I’ll actually, gasp!, write.

Why not? Enforced relaxation.

I found an appetizer to bring to the choir party yesterday which was a big hit. I’m saving the recipe, because I liked it to, but it was a bit fussy. Brushing the wonton skins and getting them into mini muffin cups without collapsing on themselves was annoying. And there were forty-eight of them to get right.

I’m saddened by the fact that Jay Lake is gone. I’ve been remembering him this week in my few interactions with him–at a Strange Horizons tea party, his tie-dye shirts and socks which always amused me, and the stories he sent me when I was an editor for Ideo. The first one he sent me, I read four times before rejecting him–sure I’d missed some nuance in the tale. It was one of my first rejections, period, right after my Clarion summer, and one of Jay’s clown stories.

Rest in peace, Jay. And may your tales live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew you.