Belize!

Some people have dreams. Little dreams. Big dreams. If you truly know me, you know education is of the utmost importance to me. No one can ever take knowledge away from you. It is why I do the job I do. Someone once begged me: Jackie, promise me you will never let these kids down.

I don’t intend to.

This isn’t one of my students, but she is a College Crusader who is now attending Providence College. I once had the chance to study abroad, and it was one of my best experiences ever. I wasn’t able to travel another time and it nearly wrecked me. Please help Jessie meet her goal and follow her dreams! Thanks!

https://www.gofundme.com/tropical-biology-trip-to-belize 

-Jack

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Hello?

Is this thing on? Is anybody out there? Can anybody hear me?

Testing, testing: onetwothree. No one seems to be getting email notifications when I post. Does that mean I get to be completely honest, uncensored and completely out-of-control-raunchy?

So, this one time, at band camp…

He.

Maybe it’s a test. Yes, a test. I’ve been tried, wrung, hung, thrown, ripped, literally thrown under a bus and stomped with spikes. Kinda like when a product is in the development phase and is being tested for durability. For example, a maxi pad. Imagine the commercials: how many ways can this thing be twisted and turned? How much shit can we pour onto it before it becomes overwhelmed and collapses into itself?

Thing is, it won’t fall apart. That pad has wings! Back-up, baby! Like the maxi pad in the menstruation commercial that makes the big boys look away in disgust, I refuse to give in. This isn’t a test, it’s a joke. Yes, a joke. This type of heartache can’t be in vain. The times that I have cried into my steering wheel on the way home from work count for something. I carry the generations of resentment mixed with equal parts love on my shoulders like a badge of honor.

To the God that I never pray to: Please tell me it’s all a joke. I’ll submit to your bidding, denounce my incredulity and heathen tendencies, and bow at your feet until I am reduced to dust if you tell me that when my time comes, He will be by my side, faithfully, singularly. He will be my partner in the afterlife. He will make up for the time I spent walking alone. The pain I spent while comprised of flesh and bone will pale in comparison to the ecstasy in which I will indulge while a faithful, ethereal servant in your Fatherly skies. Lord, I need you to tell me it’s so. 

That’s what keeps me going: the thought that when I die, the truth will be revealed to have been all a joke. He has been, all along, mine. That we will love and reign together as we should.

My heart it breaks / every step that I take / but I’m hoping at the gates / they’ll tell me that you’re mine. – Born to Die, Lana Del Rey

Don’t you know I need you, Lord / don’t you know that I need ya? Don’t you know that I need ya? – Sinnerman, Nina Simone

One.

“Maybe you’ll write about me one day.”

“Why the hell would I do that? I only write about things that actually matter,” I replied, hopping into the front seat. If the look on my face could kill, I’m sure you would have flushed yourself down a toilet.

I hid my face so you wouldn’t notice that my heart had dropped into my gut. Psssh. Me, write about you?

Boy. The very first word I wrote was for you. Everything I wrote in my youth led me to you, and every word after has been dedicated to you. You have been a muse your entire life, my beckoning to the universe for creativity, a continuous poem stringing itself together in my mind. Words brought us together and keep me connected to you like the spine of a book.

Things have been different, though. I find myself speechless, wordless. People ask me why I don’t blog as much. It’s because of you. When you left, my art left. When you rejected me, you rejected my craft. When I realized I wasn’t good enough, I gave up on writing, because no one else’s opinion matters. If you don’t read me, who else will? Did I give away my art, or did you take it away?

Words burst out of me just as easily as they escape me. Words are my life, and my words are yours. I find this exasperating and unnecessary. I am useless without words.

“Maybe you’ll write about me one day.” I hear those words in my mind a lot. I hate it, that you didn’t realize how much I cared and that you consider my writing to be such a joke. Write about you, I did. For close to 30 years, I did. For thirty more, I will.

Two weeks.

There are two weeks left of school and today was one of the hardest. A student came to me with a real life issue. Not a “Miss, a teacher won’t sign off on my work!” but a “Miss, I don’t know what is to become of me because my life makes no sense and I need help.”

Two weeks left of school and I am only finding out now that a student is having a hard time. It has taken me eight months to figure out why they seemed to be avoiding my questions about “the future.” And now all we have is two weeks. How am I supposed to say that I might not be able to come up with answers? How do I tell the student that they are two weeks away from maybe being on their own to figure things out, to brave it out and be tough when when all they want to do is cry?

As the student spoke to me I could feel the sadness overwhelming their face, and I felt it in my chest. If it were up to me I’d fix it all and promise them an easy life. I wish I was having a conversation about moving onto campus and making new friends and explaining the Freshman 15. But I cannot. All I could say is everything will be okay. But we both know that is uncertain.

I have put myself in a position where I am supposed to be a resource, guidance, and encouragement, and I didn’t have shit to say. I asked questions and kept a positive smile on my face as I watched their body shrink into the stool they were sitting on, shrink into themselves and into their worries. I wanted to shrink, myself. I have faced my own issues, so I know I can fight. But I was twenty-five at the time, not seventeen. I was sure I was fit for this job; am I?

I will do the best I can to help, exhaust myself until I can find a sliver of hope. It is hard, and overwhelming. I am tired. I am sad. Not for myself, but for someone who should be enjoying the end of the school year but is facing real life, deep-shit issues.

I wish I could rewind today. I do not know what tomorrow will bring.

English or Spanish?

Jackie, which language did you learn first: English or Spanish?

I learned both at the same time.

Ok, but, when it was time to go to college, did you still struggle with your English?

I was going to give you a moment to let that sink in, but I won’t. I know the majority of my readers, therefore I know that many of you speak/read/write in Spanish as well. So I wouldn’t be surprised if any of you have ever heard:

Oh, you write so well!

You don’t even have an accent!

You are so well-spoken!

But I don’t get it, how can you learn both at the same time?

The individual who asked me such an absurdity is college-educated, only a few years my junior. We are peers. And this peer cannot fathom the fact that I am proficient in two languages and don’t have a hard time with it. I must be frank: I was insulted at first. Me? ESL? But I am an English major! I could read and write in English and Spanish since I was four! One of my poems was featured in a creative writing anthology! Me? Then I started to wonder if my English was choppy. I talk so fast and I stutter a lot, that must be it!

Then I got pissed. Fuck whatever accent or lack of accent that I might have. Fuck what I know or how many fill-in-the-English-word test problems I can do or how many A’s I got on the fucking hundreds of essays I have written. My coworker implied that every person who speaks Spanish is stupid. They are incapable of processing words. They will struggle in high school and college and work because their parents taught them Spanish. Not just Spanish-speakers. But Creole and Japanese and French and anything not English. English English English. I love English but it is not a way to gauge someone’s intelligence. I love English but you can live your life just fine without it.

I take most things with a grain of salt and approach many experiences in my life with humor, and that is how I tell this story. But when I sit and think about it – really think about it – my blood boils. She insulted my mother and father, my sisters and family. She insulted so many of my friends and the students that I help. That person insulted my brethren. She insulted all of my people whose tongues hold orchestras of Spanish sounds. Since that day I have a grudge, and I need to get it out out OUT DAMNED SPOT OUT before I annihilate all of her preconceived notions with a few palabras en ingles. Because we know I could.

She is no better than me and I no better than she. Apparently, however, I am the only one of the two that thought so.