The Sessamalie Situation

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Weight-Lifting Gloves

Prompt: Select an item at random from your purse. Free-write about that item.

“Okay my name is Brandye with a 'YE' and I’ll be your AWESOME instructor for the morning. Before we begin, let’s everyone look and my AWESOME body. I work out 24 hours a day. I am on an AWESOME strict macrobiotic diet. In my spare time I sit around just pondering how AWESOME I am. And, I am AWESOME. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!!! Poor you. You'll never ever achieve this level of AWESOMENESS. You can, however, bask in the AWESOMENESS that is my gloriously toned and tanned body. Whew! Now that I have completely destroyed your self-esteem, let’s work out. ”

I take weight lifting classes… classes that I used to find any excuse to skip… the classes led by people with names such as Brandye with a “YE” and Godiva like the chocolate. Such women delight in asking you inane questions, prattling on about Oprah while they lift, and athletically outperforming every single person in the room.

I used to hate taking these classes, that is, until I got the proper gear: Theses are my Harbinger women’s “POWER” gloves. They have the patented Flexback fit, meaning they mold to your hand. They have flex mesh that increases the range of motion while allowing the hand to breathe naturally. Leather palms and fingers cover padding meant to protect the hand and create the maximum in abrasion resistance. They cost ten dollars. They are black and allow my fingers to peak out. I mean business when I wear them.

Brandye with a "YE" better watch out!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Run, Therefore I Ache

Okay, another day, another exercise in the common and completely uninteresting... wanna keep reading? I promised to explain more of my hats in my initial post, so I will do so...

I am a jogger.

That's me in the middle. My sister is the one with pigtails. Her best friend is the winking redhead. We had just completed the 'Race for the Cure.'

I run between 4 and 7 miles per daily jogging expedition. I just really enjoy the high of hitting that perfect stride whilst listening to that less-than-perfect top 40 "hit." There are times that, while I feel completely spent, I push myself through for another mile or so simply because I like the song on the radio...

After every jog, I retire to my porch to smoke... call it my after-jog reward... call it a miracle... call it phenomenally stupid... whatever!!! Given that I run and can still maintain the lung capacity to ingest some serious carcinogens, that's saying something.

Perhaps someday I will quit smoking and take on the training regimen for a marathon... after which I will collapse, wake up, eat a chocolate cake, and (of course) smoke a cigarette. :)

Be happy. Do good things!


Monday, July 23, 2007

Just a litte treat...

Please to enjoy one of my little neuroses:

My typical order from Starbuck's: a triple grande, sugar free vanilla, nonfat, no foam, two equal latte... extra hot!!!

Bellvue Hospital currently has me on their waiting list. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Day at the Nature Center

So many things to comment on…

The Transformation:
As the days go by, our little group grows closer and closer together. Each time we share our stories, our responses, and our ideas, so grows our closeness. Today, we brought it up a notch. We went on a nature hike together. Here, amid the flora and fauna, a bevy of professional ladies let their hair down. We arrived at the nature center as grown up, maintaining our mature demeanors. Once on the trail, we transformed. Awestruck, we began to peel away layer after layer of our defenses. There was Sugey, the normally deliberate and shy classmate, bouncing around from the front of the line to the back, leaning over a flower to get a picture of the insect perched inside it. There was Lourdes, in her baseball cap and ponytail, arms outstretched and cheeks flushed as she considered the creekbed. But, best of all, was Redieshia… so scared of snakes that she almost bowed out of the nature center visit altogether. Instead, she doubled up on her morning prayer and marched bravely out into the wilderness with her cohorts. Exclamations of “Help me, Jesus!” became “How great Thou art!” She saw God in the trees, the flowers, the insects… and she turned a scary prospect into an opportunity to grow in her faith… We all became child-like in our fascination with the natural order. It was an experience that I relish as it brought me closer to these fantastic women… My Bluebonnet sisters…

This exercise made me remember my days growing up in Connecticut. Permit me to attempt to share some images. The personal connections that I made to the nature center were as follows:

  • The hill in our backyard that was just as good for sledding as it was for rolling…
  • The cliff in front of our house that, though it was forbidden, my sister and I climbed countless times…
  • My thinking rock… covered with amber-colored mica that I chipped away at as I pondered such deep topics as the Holy Mysteries…
  • The big oak tree that shaded our swing set…
  • The clearings in the woods that became our “homes”
  • The witches’ tree in the backyard that scared my sister and tempted me…
  • The blackberry bushes in our backyard from which we would pluck succulent berries and deliver to our mother who made little confectionary tartlets for her two little tartlettes at home…
  • The crabapple tree whose truck had hollowed out just enough that a little girl could fit inside…

I definitely think that I will incorporate some nature exposure when I teach students the vocabulary for the environment.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Critical Incident (but not forever) Lance's Story

He was tall, awkward… almost 5’10’’ and in 6th grade. Grace was only something amazing he sang about in church. It was as if his body grew two feet overnight and he brain was still under the impression that he was a tiny boy. In class, Lance would raise his hand and smack the head of the child sitting in front of him. He dropped his pencils, fell out of his chair, ripped a hole in his paper erasing a stray mark. In the halls, Lance literally walked a crooked line, his legs very rarely following his torso. His backpack littered its contents all throughout the school as he made his way through his day.

Oh, but he was disorganized too! Lance’s locker contained more mysterious contents than Area 51, and probably twice as many biohazards. Imagine if you will cramming all of your books into your one foot by two and a half feet locker. Now, add some gym clothes, preferably the ones in desperate need of laundering. Next, jam in two or three partially-eaten lunches. Finally, and this step takes awhile, take every paper and assignment ever given to you by your teachers over the course of the school year, you know the ones you never turned in, the ones that your mother got a call about, and shove them in all remaining crannies in your locker. This was Lance’s locker.

After school one day, I was making my rounds: check my mailbox in the office, stop by to reserve the library, visit with my teacher friend Christie… the usual Thursday afternoon routine.

Walking back to my classroom, my last stop before retreating home for the evening, I came upon a parent and child in the otherwise cavernous hallway. Lance and his mother stood amid a minefield of papers, books, clothing, pencils, pens, and broken crayons. Over and over, he reached into his locker to pull out an item from his hoard. The cleaning was systematic. Lance placed things meant to be saved on the floor while trash went in the garbage bag his mother held open in her outstretched hands. Despite his grand size, he looked small, cowering under his mother’s disapproving gaze. His hunched shoulders signaled defeat. His mother lorded over him, letting out sigh after exasperated sigh as he deconstructed the malaise in his locker.

By chance, or perhaps by habit, Lance happened to look up. His almond brown eyes met my pitying countenances. At that moment we had a conversation without saying a word.

“Yep, this is my locker,” Lance said with eyes that feigned shame.

“Oh my GAWD!” my wide eyes said.

“I know, can’t help it. Do n’t want to. This is me now.” Lance’s smiling eyes responded.

My eyes met his smile. “Don’t change a thing,” they directed.

I loved him for his awkward bravado. I encouraged his tangential conversation. I accepted Lance… as no other teacher had before. And, I saw more growth in Lance than any other teacher had before. It taught me a powerful lesson. Don’t try to change your students. Accept their eccentricities and encourage their individuality. Know that a certain lack of coordination goes along with growing up. Give students a place where they feel safe and accepted, and they will calm down enough to give you their best.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I, Teacher

I promised to explain some of my "hats" (teacher, student, runner, etc.) in further blogs. So, no place better to begin than at the beginning of that list. Here goes!

I am a teacher.

I have taught for six years. It is the most worthwhile endeavor I have ever undertaken in my life. It's a privilege. It's a ball. I feel as if many days I am cheating the system... Should I really get paid to be this entertained by the seemingly mundane? Honest... Best job with such liberal vacation time!!!

The Tale of Ms. Huster/Mrs. Hancock

My exploits as a professional educator started in the Austin area teaching middle school English/language arts. I was also pursuing my masters degree at the time, so my classroom became the little laboratory in which I tested out all the theories and practices I learned in the run-down classrooms of the Sanchez education building at UT. What did this look like? Everything done in theme, complete with decorations, costumes, and (yes) animals. For instance, when we studied the book 'Hatchet' I turned the book study into a study on survival. We converted the room into a deserted island. I played the 'Survivor' theme song as the students issued into the classroom every day. We followed the 'Worst Case Scenario' guide and learned about ways to win out over adverse conditions in nature. Students organized themselves into tribes (like the 'Survivor' show) and competed in various survivor challenges. The kids even brought in their exotic pets as examples of the types of animals you would encounter if stranded in the woods, the desert, or a tropical island. It was fun, making the study of an otherwise annoying novel tolerable... at least for me.

After I graduated from UT, I moved to Waco to pursue my doctorate and to teach undergraduate education classes. Gone was the wonder of my middle school classroom. No paper flora and fauna. The exotic animals tended to be identified by facial piercings, rather than colorful plumes of feathers. It was my time to try to survive. The only thing that I can say about that time is that I learned that my undergrad self fooled no one when she came to class hung over from the night before. My undergrad students operated under the same delusions. Who did they think they were kidding? But, heck, at least they came to class. I was thankful for that. I pitied them to a certain extent because they had to listen to me drone on while following a set curriculum. I tried the Socratic method of classroom discussion. But, as previously mentioned, they were hung over and not too eager to talk let alone think.

After that, I moved on to high school. I currently teach at the same high school from which I graduated. I work with some of my former teachers. I teach English to speakers of other languages. It's a literature-based curriculum, not a this-is-your-head-this-is-a-table class. My heart breaks as we read the classics in paraphrase (Eliot would damn me!). But, it's a great little niche. I am comfortably complacent with my position.

Looking forward, I see myself leaving the classroom to (gasp!) make more money and teach at a different level. I joke about having a job which requires a brief case and a cell phone, but (throw in a pair of kick-as* heels) I might be game. Student loans and the inevitable privatization of education make this a potential reality for me in the upcoming years.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Hancock

So, I've been a little busy this past month. My beloved man spirited me off to Jamaica where we said "I do" in front of a small crowd of family and friends. It was a wonderful trip... gorgeous scenery, lots of yummy food, and great fellowship.

Now back in the States, we are having a heck of a good time referring to each other in terms of "husband" and "wife." In the words of Eliot Ness in the movie 'The Untouchables,' "It's nice to be married."