Thursday, July 29, 2010

summer school sux

Le Pie decided to go to a very popular, academically-advanced summer school instead of regular camp this year. Last year, he stayed home because we thought it might be his last summer with me. One of the law schools I applied to was a part-time day and started in May, so we didn't want to take any chances by keeping him home this summer.

We should have.

He decided to go there because he had friends from his school there and because he (and we) thought the work would be like what he did in school. While both are true, it has become a frustrating experience for him.

There is almost no recess for his class. He says it's just "work work work and no free time". I think his teacher must be against summer vacation or something because she told me another teacher had to tell her to ease up on the homework. It is really oppressive.

She also has this thing against talking in class. Fine. They shouldn't be talking. But she gave Pie 1 30-sentence essay on why he should pay attention in class. He almost died over that one. She never even checked it. That really pissed me off. She takes away recess for talking. So that means he's not been outside to play for the last 4 weeks during the day. She also took away a field trip once. Both John and I are thinking laziness. Her classroom is one of the 2 the school is using that has a/c. Staying in there is much nicer than going outside in this heat, never mind the kids who need to stretch.

I had to make a comment on one of Pie's report sheets that not having recess is working against her. Pie is bored and was beginning to stray in class, finding other things to do beside his work. I also wrote that I was against cancelling field trips for talking.

A series of events led to Pie crying in frustration over this place. Since then, it's been a pep talk every morning from me to get him through his day. I don't think an 8-year-old needs that over his summer vacation. There are things with the camp that don't sit well with me and I told John I have buyer's remorse.

Le Pie has one more week over this and I already told him he can stay home the last day. They are supposed to go to Victoria Gardens for a grand trip and the teacher has been collecting points for talking from the kids and told him that if they get X points, they can't go. I want to know how she is going to tell parents their kids cannot go. Pie also said that she could cancel the first trip because that was free but the VG trip is already paid for, so she cannot cancel it. I told him not to worry and we decided to take him there as a birthday gift.

One concern we had was the Pie's experience here would spill over into his actual school when the new term starts. He's going into 3rd grade and there will be more work and more responsibility and if he hates summer school, he might not be so thrilled to go back to Harlem Academy.

But he seems to be separating the two. HA kids work very hard but they play very hard, too. It's mandated by the school that they go outside every day. On the days it's too hot or too cold, they might just walk around the block to get some fresh air but there will still be activities inside that they can have fun with, and sneak some learnin' in too! But nearly every day, they have an hour of recess and an hour of P.E. in Central Park. Bliss.

I've been having to pick Pie up at summer school at 3:30, although we paid for after-school and he's supposed to stay till 6. This is a kid I have to drag away from HA every day at 6. Drag. I have no recollection of wanting to stay in school past the set time.

I hated school. Hated it. Hated it. And I only have my parents to thank for that. Common Entrance was the death of childhood. In Standard 5, I had lessons before school started (at 8:30 a.m.) and after school ended (at 3:30 p.m.). My father made me go to lessons on both Saturdays and Sundays. Passing for SAGHS wasn't any great compensation for that misery.

It wasn't until UWI that I looked forward to going to school, for the learning part. SAGHS was miserably for me, academic-wise. I loathed Spanish and Math and I am not a memorizer, so History was painful. My only good subjects were English and Lit and the teacher pretty much sucked and I had to rely on my genetic talent to get through those. A'Levels was a bit better, but still tough for me.

UWI brought me into my own. If it wasn't for that, there would be no ambition to continue my education. I do not want Pie to feel the way I felt for 10 years. I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach every morning before heading off to school. I had good friends but the work was beyond me. I can only hope Chris had a better experience (but he's way smarter than me when I was in high school) and I do not want Pie to lose his enjoyment for school. The kids at HA have no clue as to how hard they work, because the teachers make the learning interesting.

I know we've been spoiled at HA, but I hardly regret it. I cannot wait for Pie to be done with this summer school.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

a womb of my own

I decided to name my new laptop Louisa and my new mouse Jane, after Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home, a book I read at university and just loved. It was about a woman putting her life back together, bit by bit and the structure reflects her fractured soul. It also introduced me to the concept of the kumbla and how I can make one of my own.

I am my own kumbla. I thought I wanted a different one, but over the years, I realized I was never going to be able to separate myself from myself without a great deal of pain and my only refuge was my kumbla. I live separate lives inside of myself and now I will be beginning a whole new part to one of those lives, or both. But my kumbla remains. It comforts me when I am sad, picks me up when I am low and loves me in spite of myself.

Jane and Louisa are new parts to remind me of the old.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

letting go

In b/w moving from the Guardian to the other paper, I had about 6 weeks or so to myself. I thought that I would try to be a grown-up and let go of some shit. One of the biggest pieces of shit was my sister, whom I hadn't spoken to since I found out I was pregnant with my older son, about 6 years before. I called her up and went to see her.

We got back in touch and hung out for about a year or so. Things had changed b/w us, obviously. I was older, and not the baby sister who could be ordered about to do things. I also no longer revered her like she was my world. In my head, she was just my sister, flaws and all.

Then I got pregnant with Le Pie, whose father was a black man with dreads. One phone call from here where she used a derogatory word and I never spoke to her again. I was hardly heartbroken.

During my pregnancy with Christophene, I mourned the fact that my mother and sister were not around to help me. I was angry about that for years. With the Pie, not so much. Despite severe depression, I didn't really care about her or my mother's reaction to the baby.

But that didn't mean that I wasn't hurt by their reactions to me. I cut my sister out of my life, but not my mother. I've always had this irrational guilt where she was concerned, which abated somewhat when the Pie came in the picture, but I always held on to the fact that she was my mother and I should care about her.

But her love was conditional, and it made mine conditional as well. I don't blame myself for that. If you don't receive something from someone, how can you give it back? My whole life, I've believed in one thing: treat others how you want to be treated. When John tries to fuck with me, I used to do my best not to retaliate, but after 5 years, I give back. When my mother hangs up the phone in a tantrum. I stopped calling back, and even hung up once myself.

One morning, a few months ago, I woke up and everything to do with the two of them just fell away. There was no pain or hurt anymore. I genuinely didn't care. I used to be sad that Pie didn't have his grandmother, and she is a good grandma. But now he has John's Mum and she is terrific. I love my sisters-in-law to pieces. I consider them my family. John's Mum treats me better than my own mother, how can I not love her?

I write my mother a letter every couple of months, full of mostly nothing news: I'm studying, Pie and John are fine, it's hot here... etc etc. It's about all I can do now. I say I have 4 brothers and a sister, but so what? I don't know where one brother is, I don't care where my sister is, one brother and I exchange phone calls once a year at Christmas, one brother is in Canada and might be rearing sheep for all the news I get from him and my other brother, my favorite, has been the greatest thing in my life. No one has ever been more supportive of anything I do, not my mother, not my husband, not even myself. At my lowest, financially, emotionally, mentally, he has always been there with "how can we get this done" and never "you cannot do that". I have no guilt about calling him my favorite.

Letting go of shit I held on to since I was 16 made me feel so much different. I actually felt like a different person. My whole outlook changed. I feel so much more open now.

Making the decision to go to law school definitely helped. It was a decision I made on my own. Naturally, John had a say in the finances and the timing, but holding on to it and making it real was all me. I'm not doing it for anyone (at least right now) but myself. I only have to impress myself. I do not intend to fail.

The only other thing, at least the next very big thing, I need to let go off is the battering I took living with my older son's family. A lot of that dissipated over the last few months emailing my son and just talking to him, sometimes in a one-sided way. I want him to be proud of his Mum.

In light of all these things, I'm making some more tangible changes. I've had 5 years at home to get fat and lazy and I loved it. It hasn't been an easy 5 years but medication helped. Reading books and learning about the City helped. Friends visiting and going back to Trinidad this year has been a life-saver. And there will always be GusIda and IdaGus and a snowy day at the Central Park Zoo with a woman I love.

So I'm trying to be less of a sour puss. I've changed my diet and the results have already been remarkable. I sleep better because I eat a lighter dinner and I've completely cut out soda (again) and snack on fruit and yogurt. I've even learned to like nuts! Still not in food, but I ate a handful mid-afternoon during Law Preview and it really helped to get me through.

And I do need to start writing again, exorcise some of the lingering shit. I need to make this my outlet again. Law school is going to be tough, even though I am doing my best to alleviate some of the pressure from now. I need to find something to do for myself as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

golly gosh

I was writing to a new law school chum yesterday and as we were exchanging blather about coursework, it hit me that law school is just weeks away. Two weeks ago, I was chomping at the bit to get my new laptop and books and reading assignments. Today, I am seeing each nerve joining a small bundle in my stomach.

I am still reading the book. It's been on hold b/c the boys were both home last week and today a friend from Trinidad is meeting me. I am so happy to see her.

I'm also trying to change my diet. After years of hounding me to include more vegetables in our diet, I am finally listening to the husband. We all love green beans, but Pie might be in love with them. I am yet to eat a green bean. I bought some fresh yesterday, so I am hoping I can steal some tonight.

I also bought these huge, gorgeous bell peppers to stir-fry with some beef strips. I am trying to ease up on rice and pasta as well. I like bread too much to give that up. I am also hoping that distracting myself with this little project will ease those jumpy nerves a bit.

Also, I am stalking my new laptop online. I have these bursts of "BUY A MAC", but I'm trying to stay the PC course and not vomit. The Sony Vaio Y series is lovely and I do like it a lot. I'm hoping it gets here next week... once I actually buy it. I have to reimburse family funds for it so we have to make sure we take care of other commitments before spending on a laptop. So far, I'm storing my notes on Goggle Docs to make the transition easier when the new machine gets here.

And I have a sore throat that won't go away.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

my top 5 "avatar: the last airbender" episodes

In no particular order.

1. "The Ember Island Players"
I laughed my ass off every time Toph opened her mouth in this one. I didn't want to believe her when she said that the play was dead-on characterizations but when I was watching the series over from the beginning, I realized Katara was always full of hope and even though the acting was exaggerated in the play, it wasn't wrong. The Katara-Zuko "romance" is also very funny.

2. "Tales of Ba Sing Se"
The Momo dance. I'd leave it at that but Iroh's sweet song to his son breaks my heart and makes me cry. Every time I catch myself singing it, I think of Le Pie and must kiss his face.

3. "Sozin's Comet: Avatar Ang"
It's really Sokka, Suki and Toph's take-down of the fleet that does it for me in this ep. I love how protective Sokka is of Toph and how take-charge he is. And how he grows as a warrior but still sucks as an artist. I also love hearing him say "hair loopies". And Katara finally gets her head out of her fussy britches and returns Ang's love.

4. "The Siege of the North: Part 2"
Zhao eats it. Angry Avatar Ang merges with the Ocean Spirit and saves the Nothern Water Tribe. Great battle scene and I love watching Katara fight and Iroh step away from the tea cup.

5. "The Blind Bandit" & "The Firebending Masters"
A little cheat because I cannot decide b/w the 2. The introduction to Toph really sets the tone for the rest of the season and her individuality stands out. My favorite line in the entire series comes from "The Guru" when she tells her kidnappers, "I'm the greatest earth bender in the world and don't you two dunderheads forget it." And the next episode is about Zuko re-discovering his fire bending and learning the dragon dance. The husband and the Pie do the dance and it is very cute.