December 2013 archive


I introduced my husband to the movie The Breakfast Club on Christmas Eve (we were a little overplayed on all the Christmas movies). I found that while I still LOVE the movie as much as I did when I watched it repeatedly while in high school and as a preteen, I am now perplexed by the character of Richard Vernon more so than the teenage characters. I’m sure this has something to do with my working in the school system. I found myself growing more and more agitated with him because of his narrow views of each child and in particular his treatment of John Bender. I know I disliked him as a teenager, but I loathe him even more now as a person who works in education.

For those of you not familiar with The Breakfast Club or Richard Vernon, here’s a quick rundown of his character. He’s put in charge of Saturday detention and of the five students who show up to serve it. As their punishment, they are to do nothing except write an essay telling him who they think they are. Vernon has already stereotyped them—as they all have already done to themselves and each other—as an athlete, a princess, a basket case, a brain, and a criminal. Throughout the film, Vernon continuously mocks and bullies the students but none so much as John Bender, the stereotyped criminal. Many revelations are made throughout the film that make this worth watching, including one or two made by or to Vernon.

I would think that the screenwriters were trying to exaggerate Vernon’s character in the movie, but it’s sad to say that I’ve run across some people working in education like this. I wrote the following during the past year of my substitute teaching. No particulars as to where I was, who was involved, or even when it was.


Last class of the day. Out of breath, slightly sweaty, and a bit pissed that they scheduled my classes on opposite ends of the high school campus. All I can think is I won’t be prepared. I’ll have no idea what I’m walking into as the substitute. Try not to panic. My day planner drops, and papers fly. Shit! Yet another reason why I should have gotten rid of that dinosaur. Thank goodness for the kind student who helps me pick up everything. Jiminy Crickets, you’d think I was in a high school drama. Ugh!

Walk in and there’s another sub already there. Must be an inclusion class and both teachers have substitutes today. He’s an older gentleman who has already ascertained his dominance in the classroom. Think cat spraying all around the teacher’s desk but with all his personal belongings. He won’t even let me see the lesson plans, stating he can handle it. I can just help him pass out papers if the need arises. (Guess I’ll play secretary.)

Class commences. Right off the bat the class is difficult to control even with “the strong arm of the law.” These kids are good; they know the drill. We really can’t do squat. However, most of the class finishes their work within the first thirty minutes of class. Guess, all that peacocking by the students was just for show since they still did their work. It gets loud, though, since everyone is talking and on their electronic devices listening to music and watching movies. I look at him to see what he’s going to do since I don’t want to step on his toes. He shrugs his shoulders at me. Eventually it starts to get to him, though, and Mr. Hard Ass asks for order. Guess that’s an order these kids aren’t going to fill. Another forty-five minutes to go. Joy!

Surprisingly, this was a pretty decent day as a substitute. UNTIL.

“Wow, what a bunch of nothings these kids are going to be,” the other sub says loud enough to me right before the bell rings. I know some of the kids had to hear him say it.

My look must say “incredulous deer in headlights.”

I audibly say, “What?”

And he responds, “I mean, I know we can’t all be winners, but I can’t believe we got a class full of bottom-dwellers.”

The bell rings. Everyone leaves, including Mr. Asshole. I’m still standing in the same spot with a million things I want to say but can’t.

Were we just in the same class—the class where all the students finished their work? Yeah, they were loud. It was also the last period of the day, and they had two subs. Give them a break. It wasn’t like we were exactly being staunch enforcers of every rule. Was he saying that because most the class was African American and Hispanic and below the poverty line? Am I bad for even thinking that? And what had these students done that warranted such an aggressive judgment? Who was he to pass such judgment after only spending one class period with them? I don’t believe any student is a lost cause, and I don’t believe in feeding negativity to students. In fact, positive reinforcement tends to work best.

Sometimes the only people we need to consult before passing judgment is a mirror, for myself included. Hear that, self?

Because vs. Although

My husband and I attended a wedding last weekend, and this made me reflect on the nature of love. Oftentimes, people fall in love because of certain things. The person looks attractive; the person is an intellect; and/or the person has a desirable background. Because of these things, it is easy to fall in love. But will a love based solely on these things last? I posit that we should fall in love although rather than because. I am not saying that the many reasons because we fall in love are not important; these are of the utmost importance and are what attract us in the first place. I am saying, however, that the reason why we stay in love is although.

I think it is fairly simple to understand what it means to love someone because, but what does it mean to love someone although? In my own marriage, I believe my husband loves me although he sees all of my shortcomings. He loves me although I have baggage and has become the bellhop to help carry these bags. I am aware of my husband’s eccentricities and his baggage, as well, and I love him although I can see he is not a perfect person. In fact, his imperfections make him more endearing to me. We often say that we may not be perfect, but we are perfect for each other. (Feel free to retch if this is getting too saccharin for you. I’m just trying to illustrate from my own experience what it means to love someone although.) Stephanie Perkins wrote in Lola and the Boy Next Door, “’I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” These imperfections are the although through which we grow our love and make our love last.

Although we had to go through a rough month, patch of months, or a rough year, we still love one another. Although we suffered a loss together, we still love one another. Although there was a loss of trust, we choose to continue to love one another. Although we do not see eye to eye on a huge issue, we choose to still love one another. And since we are loving each other although, our love grows more and more with each passing year in a way that those who love because do not experience. The love grows stronger, as well, like a basket weave as we see each other as we truly are rather than how we initially wanted that person to be.

My husband first caught my attention because. I first fell in love because. I wanted to marry him although. I continue to love him although.

“Ugh, gross…”
Wrinkle my nose in the
Too close for comfort.
Imperfections magnified.
A new crop of pimples
Brought on by hormones
Time of the month.
Another “ugh.”
He asks me,
“What’s wrong?”
Show him the pimples.
He starts to tickle
As I squeal and
I squirm.
He kisses the

 “We like someone because. We love someone although.” –Henri De Montherlant

The Monkey On My Back

I have a monkey on my back. He’s called Complex Migraine. I take daily medication to stave off the effects of him and have medication for when he visits. I even have shots to give myself if CM gets to the point where the oral medication just isn’t helping. I pray every day that I won’t have a visit from CM because he renders the rest of my day useless and usually does the same to the following day. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I live in constant “fear” of him, but he is an ever-presence on my mind.

If this seems extreme to you, maybe you’re just not familiar with complex migraines. A migraine isn’t just a bad headache. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone has a bad headache and complains that she is having a “migraine.” If that’s the case, here’s some symptoms that should accompany that “migraine” that she’s having.

The first sign I’m having a migraine is that I begin to lose my vision. I begin seeing stars or pinpoints of my vision are taken away. This can be a big issue if I have to drive myself home or am already driving. Yikes! Another indicator of a migraine is that I’ll start to experience numbness. Where this numbness occurs varies. Sometimes it is only my hand, arm, foot, or leg. However, if my mouth and/or throat starts to go numb, I have had issues breathing. Not a predicament I want to repeat. After these indicators, I get the pain in my head. The unbearable, horrendous pain that makes light, sound, and even the feel of sheets against my skin feel like torture. If the pain gets too bad, I begin to vomit and can’t stop. Yeah, it’s gotten that bad before, too. In that case, I have the shot to give myself because obviously I can’t keep down the oral medication to make the migraine go away. In severe cases, I have to be rushed to the emergency room. My family and some of my friends have been witnesses to this.

I’ve written two poems about my experiences with migraines. Hopefully these will help further illustrate my ordeal with migraines.

Dark Demon
Tiny pinpoints of light
Obscuring my vision
Impossible to see the
Warning Me
Of the upcoming pain
Left fingers becoming numb
Toes aching but no feeling
Praying the numbness will not
To my tongue
Taking my voice
Or to my throat
Stealing my
Numbness on left
Pain on right
Take the pill
Hop in bed
Pray for a quick recovery
… that doesn’t come…
Pain ravages my body
The only reprieve
Vermillion vomit
But now it won’t stop
Sirens outside the window
Light, sound
Make it stop…
… Riding…
Needle in my arm
Sweet bliss as it goes in
Reprieve from the pain as
It enters
Drugs trickle in
Turning my body to
Cerulean ice
Covered with sterile blankets
Tomorrow my brain will be
Recovery will take days
But right now
I thank God for the
Drugs of the White Knight
Chasing the
Dark Demon of the

Bruised Banana
I’m having trouble stringing words together
On the clothesline called sentences.
I can’t seem to make a connection
Between my hand and the item I’m reaching for.
My words they come out garbled,
A ball of yarn put up messy.
The word I search for can’t be found,
A building block needed to complete the set.
I got in a fight with a foe last night called Migraine
And Lost.
He’s beaten me twice in three days
Yet I showed up today.
I’m over the pain, over the vermillion vomit.
I have my vision again, and the numbness has rescinded.
Yet my relentless foe has left his calling card—
His footprint—reminding me he won.