Where Shall I Start?

February 28, 2006 at 10:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Nate was an asshole in karate this evening. A couple of times I wanted to walk out onto the mats and jerk a knot in his ass.

In good news, Nate wrote his essay today, all five paragraphs, in two hours.

The Nabes are being evicted. They have to be out by Monday.

I have submitted several resumes. I have heard nothing.

I’m constipated creatively and must have no less than eight bead projects ongoing, trying to get ready for jury in three weeks.

Baby Squeak, that is the abandoned kitten brought over by The Nabes, is dying. It’s sick and Lola abandoned it under the bed. It was so near death when I found it, I thought it was going to die in my hand. Now, it’s gotten warmed up and is living up to it’s name. It’s pitiful. I thought about kitten formula but if it’s sick anyway, why prolong it? Than again, I see this incredible will to live and hate to let it just die without a fight. I don’t think I’ll have much choice by in the morning.

Sensei Smiley was not at karate tonight.

We haven’t heard anything from the private school.

I’m applying for an Associate Editor position at Bead&Button Magazine. Trouble is, the job is in Waukesha, Wisconsin, which is where our dear KtP went to college. Couldn’t be that bad. Could be bad if Jeff wants to raise a stink with me, which, I’m sure he will IF I even have a chance at the job since I don’t have a degree in Journalism or any other art.

It’s been five months since I sent out an article. The months creep by.

I wasn’t able to pay all of my bills this month.

I’m very frustrated, with just about everything right now. Very frustrated. My job ends April 1st. I’m tired of going to work and having nothing to do but look for another job. I’m grateful I still have a job, but I’m bored. I’ve tried pulling files, I answer questions, I’m trying to close out as many files as possible before I go, just so no one else that has no idea what is going on has to deal with it. I check my voicemail three or four times a day. I check my e-mail.

I’m so very frustrated.

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Find Your Orientation Point

February 28, 2006 at 9:43 am (Uncategorized)

I sat down with Nate last night and worked on some exercises from the book, “The Gift of Dyslexia.” It’s a visualization exercise meant to center the “mind’s eye” where it should be and “turn off” the disorientation center of the brain.

Nate looked at me and asked, “What’s ‘disorientation’?” I said, “Confusion, not understanding things.”

He looked at me with those big blue eyes and he asked softly, “Can we turn that part off?”

I responded, “That’s what you’re going to learn to do.”

I had him write “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” before we started. I then had him write it afterwards, noticing when his mind “jumped” away from the subject. I had him bring his “mind’s eye” back to the “orientation point” and write it again.

In the first sentence he made the “q” a “g” and had to write over it. He also capitalized “fox” and “jumped.” In the second sentence, he got the “q” right but erased and re-wrote the “w” and the “z” and only capitalized “jumped.” I pointed out which letters made his mind “jump” and how to reorient himself.

The third sentence was perfect. True, he had written it three times, but not only was it perfectly spelled and punctuated but it was fluent. “Fluency” in these terms means how fast something is written. His handwriting was beautiful and he even pressed harder with the pencil. There was no hesitation in his writing. Normally, no matter how many times he writes the word, “quick” or “pick” or “dog” or “was,” he hesitates because he has trouble with “q,” “p,” “g,” “d,” “b,” “w,” and “z.” At least half the time his “b” and “d” are combined and the “q” looks like a “g” before it looks like a “q.”

For a child who has been writing the alphabet since he was four, he should be much more fluent. He has to stop and concentrate on how the letters are actually formed. With the orientation exercise, he doesn’t have to do this because he has “turned off” the disorientation caused by his mind “jumping.”

I asked him this morning why he thought he did so much better on the third sentence. He said, “Because I worked harder on it.” I asked, “But were you able to work harder on it because you were able to concentrate on it or just because you worked harder?”

He said, “Oh, because I could concentrate on it,” then he scrunched his face up and said, “but I didn’t have to try as hard to concentrate.” *Light bulb*

Last night, when I had him compare the first sentence vs. the third sentence and I asked him what he thought about it, he just grinned at me and hugged me very hard. Baby steps . . . and more exercises.

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What If…?

February 26, 2006 at 10:34 pm (Uncategorized)

After doing more research into dyslexia, I’m wondering if Nate is even ADHD at all. A lot of the same symptoms apply. Nate grasps mathematical concepts very easily, yet hates writing anything on paper. He knows the answer, yet doesn’t show his work. There are more and more things. The trouble with time, disorganization, social problems, daydreaming, inability to concentrate, etc.

I ordered the recommended book and read all of the comments from other buyers. The vast majority were positive. I’ve ordered so many damn books. I’ve looked into so many resources. I found you can do a similar program to do at home that the lady is offering for $2500.00. Might as well give it a try.

Jeff saw the price tag on the class and immediately pooh-poohed its effectiveness. Of course, it wasn’t him presenting the material, and it wasn’t his idea, so it has no merit. He didn’t even read the materials on the signs and symptoms of dyslexia. We already KNOW Nate has dysgraphia and although he reads well and grasps that math easily, what if this is the key?

WHAT IF THIS IS THE KEY??? Maybe it’s not. Maybe there is no key, just like there’s no fucking spoon. But, fuck, you don’t give up. You don’t look at a bright, brilliant, funny, creative child and say, “Sorry kid. I give up.” You don’t. You keep looking for the key. Maybe there’s more than one key. Maybe there are so many doors to open. But you have to keep looking, you have to keep trying.

It’s more than just… whatever, it’s an intuition. I look at Nate and I feel it. I feel this incredible longing inside of him to break free, to succeed, to learn how to overcome, to just be happy with who he is.

What others see as a disability, can actually be turned around to be empowering. If it wasn’t for the Leonardo De Vincis, the Albert Einsteins, the Thomas Edisons, where would we be today? Okay, minus an atom bomb, I’ll give you that one.

I’m weary. I’m so very tired. As of April 1st, I will no longer have a job, unless, I get a new one. The employment ads are bleak. But maybe, this coasting time period is the period I need to concentrate on Nate. I’m like a cat. I always land on my feet, especially if you drop me from a high enough place.

I will land on my feet. I will take Nate with me. I will never stop looking for the key.

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Providence Smiles Again

February 24, 2006 at 8:21 pm (Uncategorized)

I got a call on my voice mail today from the private school (we still don’t know if they’re letting him in) letting me know they are having a Young Writer’s Workshop and thought Nate might benefit from it. I discussed it with Jeff who thought it was worth Nate missing Saturday karate (and me missing Sensei Smiley *huff*). I just got off the phone with the coordinator. She said she thought the class would be perfect for Nate, very kinetic and creative.

There’s more though. She works exclusively with dyslexic children and as I described Nate’s writing problem she said, “It sure sounds familiar. You know, that’s one of the easiest disabilities to help. I’ll bring you a brochure to look over. I work one-on-one with kids just like him.”

My people, do you have any idea what it’s like to talk to an educator who says, “You know, I can help your child.” Wow.

Also, Nate’s last essay at school was so good, they copied it and put it on the Principal’s door. Jeff’s rethinking whether we should switch him now that he’s doing better. My response: HELL. YES. Nate looked at me this morning as I said, “Have a great day, Bub. I love you,” scowled and responded, “Yeah. Let’s see what Ms. Teacher can dream up to torture me with today. It’s always something.” I said, “Dude, it’s only one more day. We can all make it one more day. A positive attitude can change everything. Now, let’s both have a great day, okay?”

He lifted his chin and gave me a half smile, which meant, “I’m trying, I’m really, really trying but I still don’t believe.”

Believe Nate. Believe.

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A Little Bit of Nate and A Little Bit of Me

February 23, 2006 at 11:13 pm (Uncategorized)

As you can probably guess, Jeff and I have had a multitude of discussions regarding this school switching thing.

Things to remember:

This private school is not a “quick fix,” even if they accept him. There’s a transition period involved, and wherever Nate goes, he takes his challenges with him, that’s just a given.

I cautioned Jeff not to hope for a miraculous change in Nate. It took time for him to get where he is, it’s going to take time to get him where we know he can be. Right now, he’s very down on himself. His self-esteem spikes and plunges.

In my heart, and don’t try to talk to me out of it, I believe the teacher and principal are wavering between hoping this is what is best for Nate and hoping he falls flat on his face to spite me and Jeff. The principal’s attitude was, “I hope you find satisfaction in what you’re doing” or something to that nature and it wasn’t with good tidings.

If I didn’t believe that this would be the best thing for Nate then I wouldn’t do it. What’s more, it takes pressure off of his current teacher to keep her test scores up, although Nate has always scored in the upper 10% on standardized tests. I’m sure if we can get Nate transferred by the 28th, she’ll be happy he won’t bring down the test scores for the 4th grade writing assessment. Writing, obviously, being his worst subject. Part of me wants him to take the writing assessment, just so all of his hard work has not been in vain.

Nate pulled up all of his grades and came out with 3 A’s, 2 B’s, 2 D’s and an E. This was much better than last time when he pulled 5 E’s at midterm and 3 E’s at the nine weeks. Nate buckled down and utilized the accommodations for his writing, still showing he knows the material. I’m very proud.

****

As for me, I’ve edited two more short essays for the WV writing competition. I’m entering “Chrysalis” in the Non-fiction, “Fruit of a Christian – Sermonus Interruptus” in the Humor and “Down the Nar’ Path” in the Appalachian Writing categories, all three will be entered in the Emerging Writer category, since the last time I won anything for writing it was in high school.

What used to be these posts have been broken down, cleaned up, added on, edited, edited, edited (definitely less cussing), making them stronger and tighter, and in the case of “Fruit,” I think, funnier. If you would like to review, refresh, or simply read them for the first time, leave your info in the comments or e-mail me and I’ll ship them off to you.

All of these hold a special place in my heart and perhaps they would all fit in the Appalachian writing category. I’m not so sure. I think “Fruit” is uniquely Southern (as in Baptist), and “Chrysalis” not so much so. “Path” was written specifically about West Virginians and therefore Appalachia. I’ll just keep it as it is.

Nate and I got to the dojo way too late to even think of seeing Sensei Smiley. The yellow stripe belts were testing for their yellow belts and it was a mad house!! I couldn’t even sit inside the dojo to watch Nate. I sat on the inside steps leading down into the dojo and ran into a classmate from high school that I hadn’t seen in 18 years! She was two years behind me in school but I recognized her name and then the face, although she’s 8 months pregnant with baby # 4! The world is small folks.

Later, as the multitude of parents and children filtered in and out amongst the bathrooms and up the steps and down the steps, and in and out of the dojo, Nate finally caught up to me and then drug me into the dojo, the entire length of the dojo, back to the offices, with me asking him every step of the way, “What do you need Nate?” “What do you want Nate?” I thought he was going to try and con me out of a shield, or sparring gloves, or worse, THE DREADED CUP. No. He marched right up to the second office with Master J and Sensei Smiley, waves and says, BYEEEEEE!!

He turns and says, “Okay, I’m done.” I just stood there and asked, “What did you want?” Master J said, “I think to say good-bye.” DOH! But, I did get to see Sensei Smiley smile. Which isn’t hard to do with Nate, in all his enthusiasm, waving and saying good-bye, even though I felt like an idiot for being drug all the way across the dojo, caught up by Nate, having no choice but to go instead of making a scene. I guess it was worth it seeing his smile. Nate’s and Sensei Smiley’s.

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In Other News…

February 22, 2006 at 7:01 pm (Uncategorized)

Nate starts thrice weekly karate on Saturday. Tae Kwon Do on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Iaido and Aiki-Judo on Saturdays. They then have a beginning and advanced class of Tae Kwon Do directly afterwards. Twice the fun. Heh.

****

Lola has become a surrogate mother. One of the Nabes’ cats had kittens and she carried them all over the house and then abandoned them. They found one in a the closet, starving after its Mommy hadn’t been there for two days (and had no milk because the kittens weren’t sucking) and brought it over in the hopes that Lola would take to it. She did. It looks a lot like the black and white one she lost. She’s been cleaning it and even after last night when it wouldn’t latch on, is now happily sucking away. I’m keeping tabs but basically letting nature take its course.

The two remaining kittens, MJ and Marco, are HUGE! I mean, HUGE. MONSTROUS. They’re only four weeks old but look six. When I came in this evening to look at them, Marco and MJ had wedged the baby between them, the three of them wrapped up like a kitty burrito. My concern is that she’s not feeding Baby enough, since the other kittens don’t need her all the time, but, like I said, nature will take its course.

****

Took Nate to the private school today. He took a spelling test and got 18 out of 25 right, even having never studied the words. We wanted him to get a feel for what they were doing in the class. They are much more laid back, yet strict. It’s difficult to explain. He said he liked it. They kids invited him to play and he actually did, which is different for him. The classroom is smaller but the kids there are totally into what he’s into and I think he fits in better. Plus, there’s not as much noise and voices which make it hard for him to follow a conversation. We’re starting the application process. His current school said they don’t know how long it will take to get his transcripts together because they have to go to each individual teacher. Pardon me? Whatever. Punks.

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Providence Smiles

February 21, 2006 at 8:56 pm (Uncategorized)

As luck would have it, Sensei Smiley was exiting the dojo at practically the exact moment that Nate and I pulled up. I put on my best smile and he said, “Hi, how are we this evening?” I said, “I’m great!” Hell yeah, I’m great, I’m seeing you, outside the dojo, without people standing around. All that preparation and worry, and there he was… all mine. He said he just had to get out of there for a minute. I told him I had something for him and rooted around in my pocket, fishing out the slip of paper with the name of the massage oil I use for sore muscles. I found out he had an AC joint problem which is why his shoulder had been sore. He had surgery last year.

Ummmm… I told him how great I thought they all were with the kids and told him that he was Nate’s favorite and how he was the only one that Nate knew his name and thought he was funny. He laughed and said he was afraid after being in the office for so long due to his injury that they would all look at him and say, “Who are you?” I mentioned the tournament and Other Sensei. He didn’t have much to say about Other Sensei, which didn’t surprise me.

I gave him some brief instructions on the oil usage, since it has to be massaged for about 15-20 minutes to really have an affect, “you know, wax on, wax off.” He smiled real big and thanked me genuinely. I tried, again, to linger as much as possible at the end of class as he was coming my way, but then someone else took his attention, and people were everywhere and I had to find Nate.

And, I forgot to introduce myself. DOH!

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Ivy and Thunder

February 21, 2006 at 9:47 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve wanted to write about my dog, Ivy, a Chocolate Lab, for a long time. It’s a tragic story, putting a 3 year old dog down for cancer, but Ivy was much more than how she died and the difficult decision to free her instead of keeping her for my own selfish reasons.

Seeing the Other Sensei at the tournament reminded me of Ivy’s loyalty and take-no-shit attitude.

We were in search and rescue. Ivy and I worked very hard, to the point she stopped running away from me and responded both to voice and hand commands. We spent practically every free moment together. She was a riot and she loved to “search.”

Even though she was a Lab, Ivy was not an in-your-face, slobbering mess of love, unless she knew you. She had a healthy disdain for strangers, some more than others.

As we arrived at the staging area for a fake search, one of the main rules was that the dogs, even though they’ve searched together, been socialized, and knew the other dogs, was to keep them on a leash. All dogs were to be leashed until they were searching. Period. Until the Other Sensei arrived, and he opened the tailgate and brought out his white German Shepherds.

I love Shepherds. They’re beautiful animals and even though I’ve been bitten by one, whose name was Thunder, I still think they are an incredible breed. Other Sensei’s white Shepherd’s name wasn’t Thunder, but that’s what I’ll call him. Dogs have personalities just like people and I think in some instances dogs tend to take on the personality of their owners. As I remember this situation, and know my own personality and that of Other Sensei, I would have to say it can be very true.

Other Sensei did not leash his Shepherds. They had never been on a search before with our group so none of our dogs knew these two strangers. Thunder immediately set out to settle the pecking order by pissing on available foliage, then preceding to sniff down the line of dogs leashed and heeling. I got the same feeling from Thunder that I have from people I’ve met. Aggressive and arrogant.

The closer he got to us, the more concerned I became for Ivy’s safety. Ivy was a respectable 75 lbs. but Thunder had to go 120. The other dogs were restless and nervous as well. I tried to stay calm and quell the butterflies in my stomach, knowing Ivy would pick up my trepidation. As he came down the line, with each successive dog, Ivy leaned closer and closer to my legs, until finally she scooted over and sat on my feet, her head pressed against my kneecaps. We stood there as one, extensions of each other.

Thunder stopped in front of us and turned, coming around to sniff Ivy’s butt. I recognized her “worried look” but she turned and pressed her head against my knees again, until Thunder gave a low growl. I’m pretty sure he meant it as a “know thy place, bitch” kind of growl but Ivy was having none of that. I think as long as Thunder was sniffing her butt and being a jerk to her, that was all fine and dandy, but when he turned to me and growled, Ivy took exception to that.

In a split second, she turned her head, snapped the air half a dozen times, let out a high pitched yelp/growl that scared the shit out of me, and drew her muzzle back to show her teeth. Pussy Thunder wasn’t the big, badass he wanted everyone to believe he was. He tucked his tail like a little sissy and went off to greener pastures. On the other half of that split second, Ivy was back to licking my hand and being my loving, loyal girl.

I knelt beside of her, kissing her and rubbing her silky ears.

“Good girl, Ivy.”

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F*(& Damnit F*(&

February 19, 2006 at 9:29 pm (Uncategorized)

I now know Sensei Smiley’s and Sensei Blondie’s real names. First and last. I went to the tournament this weekend. I was talking to one of the other Sensei’s (he runs a dojo in a neighboring city), we were talking because we used to be in search and rescue together, and Sensei Smiley was officiating (looking all hot in his suit… meow), and they were hollering at the Sensei I was talking to because they needed him to help officiate. And there was the reason I call him Sensei Smiley. He was smiling and laughing at the other Sensei since he was too busy talking to me to realize they needed him. Actually, the other Sensei and I almost disgraced ourselves by laughing our asses off at some search and rescue remembrances. No, I’m not interested in him.

Later, I caught Sensei Smiley’s eye and smiled at him. He looked away rather quickly. I’m not sure if it was an “Oh God, she caught me looking at her,” or an “Oh God, she’s looking at me. Help!” I didn’t really have a reason to hang around after everything was over, although I lingered as long as possible. I didn’t get to see him again. Fu*(&!

Coming home from Jeff’s this evening, I was trying to tell Nate all of the Senseis’ names so he could remember them, because I didn’t think he even knew any of their names, and I said, “And then there’s Sensei Smiley,” and he cut me off and said, “Oh, I know him, he’s my FAVORITE!” I said, “Yeah, buddy, me too.” *smirk*

Sensei Smiley was rubbing his shoulder at the end of the tournament. I know he had a shoulder injury that prevented him from teaching for a while and I thought, maybe that’s my in. I could pop up out of my seat, introduce myself, and ask about his shoulder, maybe recommend a massage oil I could slather all over his body for his shoulder. So? Is that a good idea? Ya’ll, I need some serious help here.

I keep thinking, “What if… he’s married… has a girlfriend… isn’t interested….” then I make a fool out of myself? Then I think, “What if he’s thinking the same thing?” Beanie said, “Ask him out for coffee!! Don’t wait on him to ask you!” I said, “What if he says no?” She said, “What if he says yes?”

F*(& Damnit F*(&!

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Windkisser III

February 17, 2006 at 2:24 pm (Uncategorized)

I didn’t expect you to kiss me there, in front of your friends, in front of strangers. I didn’t expect your kiss to lift me up, to cocoon me in silence, a rush of security. I didn’t expect to forget they were watching.

I didn’t expect your kiss to taste like the wind.

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