Before I knew what it was

Before I had heard the words “misplaced modifier” I had already learned that it would get me in a world of trouble.  I could recount more, but the one that stands out was the first.

I heard hushed whispers in the kitchen.  I was trying to read in my room.  I always tried to escape to my room as soon as possible.  There was a plethora of worlds waiting within my books.  The whispers sounded more urgent.  They slowed and I thought “eh…”

My mother came into my room.  I thought of all the possible things I could have done wrong that one day.  I broke into a sweat.  I was a sweater of sweat.  My mother looked at me and said “I need to tell you something.”  Yep, I had done something wrong.

She looked at the floor.  “You know how your uncle is always carrying on with strange women?” No, no I did not know that.  I had overheard that repeatedly in the ten or so years that I was alive.  Officially I knew nothing.  When the overlords are questioning, play dumb.

“Well, one of them shot herself in the bathroom over him.”  I pondered this statement.  I turned it this way and that.  I could not understand this pronouncement.  “Er,” I stammered “Um, did that hurt, do you think?”

My mother looked at me for a few hours (it may have been seconds) and said “What?”

“Shooting yourself in the bathroom”

My mother sat and said “You are impossible to talk to most of the time.”  I took it that this must have been one of those times.  She left the room looking at me disdainfully.  It could have been distaste.  It could have been distrust.  I will never know.  I will also never know how the story ended.

To this day, a misplaced modifier hold terror for me.  Slain by the creeping terror before I had a name for it.



Shall I compare thee to a rose

The summer of 2018 is turning into something that smells.  Let me think this through for the benefit of myself:

1-school ended on a high note…then I discovered no one would teach Biology summer school.  I am drafted.  Summer school is to last three weeks.  On the first Thursday of summer school I broke a jaw tooth off even with the root.  I will require oral surgery and an implant.  On the last Thursday of summer school I managed to get a catch in my back.   This is not unusual  since I fell out of the a tree at 34.  I ask my mate to pop my back as he has done for years.  He pulled me in and an awful snap was heard.

2-I wind up in ER and I am given meds to combat pain from ribs that have done something.  The next morning I have my daughter drive me to summer school.  I teach (I suppose) and then return home.    I start complaining that I feel like I have an ulcer in my eye.  I am on meds for pain and wonder how I can even feel anything.

3-Sunday my face turns into a world of pain.   I realize I have shingles developing around my right eye.  I have previous nerve damage to this eye and can’t believe this is happening.  I send my principal a picture of my eye and he asks that I not come and finish summer school.

4-The sores erupt around my right eye.  I feel as though my eye is melting.  I have forgone the pain meds by this point.   I am hurting all over and they are useless.  I hang around the house as I can’t go out into the 100+ degree heat without hurting more.   I have an allergic reaction to the only medication that helps with shingles.

5-I just realized that I have one month to get ready for the school year to start again.  I am not well and have only traveled to the ER, the dentist, and the doctor.    This vacation has been costly in more ways than I care to admit.

6-I am grouchy because I hurt.  I am grouchy because the pain is pervasive.  I can not tolerate any pain medication except tylenol.   Imagine if you will the efficacy of Tylenol on any of the pain I feel.   Oral surgery has been postponed until next week.

7- I will get well in time to be myself for school….For the first time ever “CAN SUMMER PLEASE STOP?”



There have been moments that I felt time stretch.  I could count each second.  Example, a few weeks ago I feel off a ladder.  I felt each second.  Time compression.   During a car accident I have felt each second.

Today, I was talking to my oldest daughter about my grandfather Newman.  I explained that he road the rails throughout Mississippi and Louisiana playing music.  He said he made a living doing this.  He also told me that is how he met my grandmother.  I wanted her to hear him play the flat-top or dobro or fiddle.  I wanted her to hear him sing “I am dreaming tonight of my blue eyes” or “the prisoner’s song”.

He and my grandmother became share-croppers in Louisiana.  It was time on Saturday to play music and sing with his family.  My uncles played and my mom and grandmother sang with them.  No one was drinking it was just about music.   I remember sneering and pouting because I was forced to go to their house.

I realized that time is speeding by at this point.  No one takes the time to go sing or get together on Saturday nights as in the past.  No one is interested in why this is an important moment in time.  Sadly it is all slipping away.

I wish I could go back in time and hear this just once more.  I wish people would unplug and rejoin the party.


tha freaks

So, around 2002 or so, I had a group of students that called themselves Tha Freaks.  This was just after Columbine and I found this troubling.  They had reached a point where their paths could go either way.  I was determined that they would head down the right path.

Other students were becoming concerned.  The principal announced that we had a “free dress day” on Friday.  One student came to talk to me.  Tha Freaks were planning on wearing all black and trench coats.  The talk was that they were going to “scare the sheep.”   They had not counted on the Shepard.

I contacted each teacher…the older the better.  I asked them to dress in all black and trench coats or long black dusters.  I also asked that they meet me in the front of CHS at 7:30.  Most of the teachers complied with my strange request.  They were used to my “methods” and strange requests.

7:45 came and the student body of CHS was standing behind a line of old ladies wearing black.   Tha Freaks came around the corner from the parking lot and stopped cold.  I raised one eyebrow and asked “Why are you guys trying to steal our thunder?”  I acted hurt.   I never let on that it was a plan or why it was taking place.

Tha Freaks muttered an apology.   They turned out to be some of the brightest and best students I have taught in 26 years.  It just took a change of clothes.


I hear the Bathroom calling my name

Last Tuesday I was trying to leave work when my cell phone rang.   I looked and it said “KW is trying to facetime. ”   I could not fathom why this would happen but I answered the call.

I soon realized I was seeing the inside of the teacher’s bathroom at my last school.  I recognized the tile and the cabinets.   I could not see anyone but I said “hello” to the tile.  I hear a small voice calling my name (or at least “gaga”).   I start waving AT THE TILE like a fool.

I said “Hey, Zac!”   I am still smiling at the tile and the cabinets.  I hear water running as he washes his hands.  I said “Zac” again.  Finally, the bathroom answered. “Gaga, I saw the ‘mom’ face time button and I knew it was you!  Mom is in a meeting.  I called you!”  I am still staring at the tile and smiling.  I said that I was so happy to hear his voice.  I explained that I thought I was supposed to see his face.   The call abruptly ended.

A few minutes later, I am in my car headed home when “KW Face Time” lights up again.  Zac has found his sister and she has shown him how to show his face and see mine.  The call was strange as I saw people and not the tile.  They expressed amazement that they could see the bridge I was on and the cars.  (I had my phone in it’s cradle on the dash)   After a few minutes they hung up and I drove on home.

This was the day The bathroom called my name…and I ANSWERED.  Well, because when the bathroom calls you best answer…


The Drive

I now drive 50 minutes (one way) each day to teach.  The drive gives me time to think and reflect.   I am reflecting that an hour commute is tedious, onerous, and overwhelming…

At the end of last year I was handed a piece of paper that in effect moved me 45 minutes from my home to the opposite end of a neighboring parish.   The paper was handed to me with the directions “sign or be fired.”   I signed.  No mention was made of negotiation or hardship.  The only directive “sign or be fired.”

Five minutes after I received that piece of paper, I was handed a job opportunity at a neighboring district.   The distance was going to be comparable.  I took a job at a neighboring parish that is 5 minutes further away from my residence.   I make more money and work four days a week.

The drive to move on was strong.  The drive to continue was strong.  The drive (in context) really is not that bad at all.

children road-trips, Uncategorized

The Road Trip

7/19/2016  my daughter ( Kelli )and I drove to Shreveport to pick up the 2 year old and her 3 year old cousin.  I need to drive as she just had surgery number 53.  This seems to be an easy task…I mean, I think this is an easy task.   We went through Stoner Avenue (and yes, I am sure that is what the sign said) and I am still thinking ‘easy task’.  If Stoners have their own Avenue it must indicate the town and trip are going to be soooo easy.

Arrived to see the other grandparents looking harried and I thought “eh?”  These are two toddlers and this job is a snap!  I know this because a million years ago I had two toddlers.  Oh, the things time glosses over.

We  Get both kiddos in the car and realize “HEY!  There is a waffle house right there” and Chloe loves waffle house.  I forgot the last trip… We get them inside. The three year old has realized I will laugh at anything.   So she begins telling the same joke over and over to make me laugh.   I do laugh because I cannot stop.

At last!  Food!   I remembered to hide my pickles so no repeat of the waffle+pickle incident occurs.  No, she dips toast in ketchup and eats it.  Auggh!  At least I stopped the mustard.

Kelli comes rushing back to table and informs me that her bandages are soaked and we need a pharmacy.    Great.  Put two toddlers in the car and brave the traffic.  Find a pharmacy.  While Kelli is inside a PINK bus passed on the road.  Chloe almost cries as she wants the pink bus.  Plus, she wants me to just leave Kelli and go get the bus.  “Get the bus and drive Gaga!”

Kelli finally makes it back just as I had lost all hope.   Chloe tells Kelli that she wants the bus.  Then I realize we are right by the interstate.  Look!  Wrong…  Now Chloe wants to get on the overpass and she wants the pink bus and she wants to be home and she wants to cry and leave her mom for taking so long.

We get on the interstate and she begins to sing song “So people can’t see us” when we go under and over pass.  She then adds “So people can’t see us” and “I told you” when we go over an underpass.   The trip is looking long and difficult now.   Then, just to keep me on my toes she and the three year old start with the “Are we there yet?”   So, I said “Yes, we are there.”  To have Kelli say “No, we are here.”  Which leads to a long discussion of why we can never be there along with the sing-song going in the back seat.

So, I was wrong.  Difficult task.  The two year old:  1- made me slightly ill with her culinary experiments, 2-wants me to enter a life of crime and steal the pink bus, 3-wants me to leave mom for taking too long, 4-makes me so happy to see her that all these things seem sane.     Typical Road Trip!


What it is like

Two years old and my mother is diagnosed with glomerulonephritis.  Degeneration of the kidneys.  At two years of age that means nothing. In the 1950s it was a death sentence.   I had a new brother that screamed night and day and a sick mother.  That I can remember.  At an early age I learned to worry.

I do not remember childhood being traumatic or trying.  Yes, I remember being sent to live with my grandmother (mammy) and granddaddy far away from my home.  I remember the outdoor toilet and the water-bucket on the back porch.  I can feel the sun and smell mammy cooking.  She cooked three square meals a day.  Rain or shine.  I don’t remember her ever looking on me as a burden.

I was allowed to go to the hen house with her.  I followed her to milk cows.  When I whined I was given a small container and allowed to pick cotton from the field beside her house.  I watched her quilt and work.  She had all sons and I was a welcome change I guess.  I hope.

My brother was sent to live with our other grandparents.  I missed him.  Our grandparents lived out in the sticks of Louisiana.    Back in those days travel was something that required a non-work day.  Phones were on a party-line and it was difficult to arrange things even though we were close in proximity.

My mother would, when told by the doctors at Ochsner’s that death was imminent, rise up and get better briefly.  My dad would gather us up and we would go home.  I still don’t know how my parents managed to hold together.  Most men would leave.  My dad and mom never gave up.

What is it like to have the opportunity to observe people that do not give up or give in to overwhelming odds?   It means you learn resilience.  It means you learn you learn to not whine and not give up.


6 year olds and love

I have been lectured to by a 6 year old, to-wit:

“you are like a tree that a bird pooped on.  Now you are afraid all the birds are going to poop on you. ”

My mom and I sat there in stunned silence.  My mother finally says that you know she might be right.

6 year old “You are afraid of all the birds.”

She may be right.  The lecture involves me ever loving anyone again.  I am afraid that I will be hurt.  40 years of marriage thrown out the window tends to do that to a person.  I wish I could say that I am not afraid.

But…the birds might find me.


H and the crazy day

I was in my room a few years ago with about four people.  They were desperately trying to catch up on work they had missed.  I felt like I was doing a fair job with helping some with science.  One or two of them needed help in other subjects,  I can try to help with other topics.

I heard the side door of the building open.  My door was open (right next to side door) so I looked to see what was happening.  It was H and he was sniffling.  He did not act like it was a cold.  H acted as though he had been crying.

I went back to my students.  I was going on as though I had not noticed H.  His hand darted through my door and grabbed a box of tissues.  I thought that MAYBE he was sick and MAYBE he was going to blow his nose.   The bathroom was right past my door.

All at once his hand reappeared around the door and he grabbed a bottle of lotion.  H mumbled to the others “May need this also…”  He then went toward the bathroom.  His girlfriend (who was in the room) and I looked at each other.  We then looked some more.

I told the rest of the room “best we don’t think about it.”   Never was brave enough to ask H about that day.  Never was brave (or stupid) enough to ask for tissue or lotion to be returned.  I now keep lotion (for after labs) in the lab area FAR AWAY from the tissues.