Monday, December 6, 2010

"Winter's Plea"

This is a short story I wrote for a fun writing contest on the Lackadaisy forum.  The theme was 'Winter', but since the deadline isn't until the end of January, which is when they'll be posted, I decided to post it here.  Because I love it so much and I can't wait to share it!  So here it is...

"Winter's Plea"

The stage was empty and quiet, yet warm and inviting with its mahogany wood covering the floor and walls. It sat in an alcove and decorated itself with naught but a simple wooden bench so matching the stage itself that only the interruption of the plank lines gave away its presence. 

With a sudden whistling air, swirls of snowflakes blew in across the field of view, covering the stage with a blanket of snow, the alcove melting to a frozen landscape from which naked young trees and bushes sprouted, their limbs crowned with snow and home for the robins and waxwings who’d wandered in. They were fat with ruffled feathers against the cold, hopping about in the hopeful search of a morsel. It was Winter’s turn to present her case. In she stepped upon the scene, the folds of her Classical robe wrapping her from head to toe as she stood amongst the branches, a Mucha’s muse. 
“You think me cold and heartless, frigid in affection and void of emotion. You say my skin is as pale as death, and no warmth am I able to bestow. Yet Summer, not I, is more heartless by far, spreading lies of my nature and incites men to lusting after her long after she is gone, blowing kisses of promise and spinning memories of her long evenings. She causes them to forget her scorching embrace, once I have done the work of cooling their fevered brows.
Spring and Autumn are fickle mistresses, stealing lovers from my arms, and planting thoughts of dread at my coming. They are merely sprites and faeries of mischief, playing at the emotions of men in my disfavour. See them flit to and fro, not knowing what to be, whether cool or warm, dry or damp. Spring lures away with pale and temporary flowers, which bloom today and tomorrow are lost, while Autumn dances in the falling leaves, painting death in glorious shade of yellow and red.
I do not cavort like the others, who allow their robes to fall away and flow in the wind, uncovering their heads and exposing their flesh. I have few followers, who stay with me and comfort my loneliness during the time of my work. I do not ask for pity, nor do I wish for raucous celebrations. I am stoic, steadfast and demure, as many rely on me to be, despite their complaints. I clothe the earth when it is naked, I give it a blanket for its rest. If I remove my hood, and thus cause that pure white blanket to melt away before its time, there is despair at the sight of death that Autumn has carelessly tossed aside, and fear in remembering the dry, difficult times when Summer was spiteful and would not allow rain to fall and quench the earth from her scorching embrace. So I replace my hood, lest man become disappointed in their waiting for Spring, who takes her time and only appears when she deigns to begin her passage.
I give the world its quiet rest; I sing it a soothing lullaby. Man huddles in his warm abode, I give him excuse to cease his constant toil, and to enjoy the family he has often missed. I bring warmth to the heart, the wish of the clothed to see their unclothed brothers warmed by hearth and stove. Lovers embrace, and songs are sung, and I accompany though I am shut outside, or listen in muted silence. I hold whispers against my breast, secrets and wishes told to the awe-giving snow. I bring into season the berries and foods to feed my loyal friends, and protect the grasses which escaped Autumn’s grasp. I bring not death, but rest, rebirth and renewal. Do not fear me, but do not be foolish in your love. My ways are stern, and unforgiving. I am not for the weak of heart or will, but if you will open yourself to follow me, you would see the beauty in my work, and the truth in my words.”
Winter paused in her speech, bending to scoop a bird into her hands. She kissed its head, warming it in her tender embrace before releasing it, watching it wing its way through the clear skies. Sighing lightly, she sat upon the bench, a bank of snow at the foot of a young tree.
In the Solstice & Equinox, the ethereal crossroads of the seasons and a traveller’s inn on their journeys, three other muses sat each one on their own dais, surrounded by their attendants. Spring, reclined on a soft moss bed and surrounded by flowers, turned a deaf ear to Winter’s plea as she strummed her small harp, the tune of dripping water and light breeze floating delicately up from it. Autumn, on her bed of leaves, surrounded by a harvest gathered by the hands of men rather than her own, wore a look of ease as her followers regaled her with the feast. Summer had rocked herself to sleep in a hammock, her work long done, her dreams filled with seasons to come, of her worshippers hailing her return.
Winter stood and walked into the distance, disappearing over the horizon of snow. The scene faded, and the stage stood empty once more.

Friday, September 17, 2010

What defines me

Sometimes I think about the things people use to describe me.  And I think of how many different groups of friends (online and off) that only know little bits about me.  And some things that hardly anybody knows.  So what are some things that I believe define me?  Here are some of the things that go into the whole crazy package you see as me:

  • I am curious.  About everything.  There are lots of things I want to know the answer to, and will go forth and research (thank you, internet!).  And as much as I love to learn, I love to teach others.  But complex issues confuse and mystify me.  Which is why politics anymore complex than general knowledge will remain a complete and utter mystery to me.
  • I am lazy.  There are so many times, and so many situations, when I simply just cannot be bothered.  I also love sleep.
  • I am shy.  Lots of people don't know this.  I'm more shy over the phone than face-to-face, and more shy IRL than online.  I stay away from lots of parties and clubs where I won't know anyone, or only know very few.  It's just far too intimidating for me.  At work, in a professional light, I'm much more confident, but I still hate calling people I don't know.
  • I am a furry.  That's right.  I love to roleplay anthropomorphic characters, and I often wish I was an anthro jaguar (hence my twitter name, cammyjag).  I love other roleplays as well, but anthro is my first love.
  • I am obsessed with other cultures.  Asian, Irish, Native American and historical American are my favourite cultures to explore.
  • Food.  I love food and will try almost anything once.
  • I am passionate about equality and social respect.  I despise things that cause people to have superior attitudes towards other people.  This involves fashion, gossip, willful ignorance, and Disney Princesses.
  • The thought of Barbie and Disney Princesses makes me gag involuntarily.  I never liked any of these as a child, and seeing my students completely obsessed with them turns me off even more.
  • I want to live somewhere else.  Nowhere exotic.  Just somewhere else.  Like the UK.  Or Philly.
  • I would rather work for nothing than to work somewhere that I hate.
  • I could never give up meat.  Never ever. *gnaws on steak*
  • I love to laugh and make others laugh.  Whether it's teasing, harmless pranks, or just sharing a funny story, I love when people are happy.
  • I love pretty much any music genre from the 1920s to the 1980s.  Except for modern jazz.  Swing Jazz and Blues Jazz are fine, though.  Modern jazz makes my ears bleed.
  • I love to dance.  Not all dance, though.  Liturgical dance.  I'm in my church's dance ministry and I absolutely love it.
  • I am socially awkward.  I don't know if this is part of my shyness, or exactly how they affect each other, but I've always been on the edge of a group, even if I'm fully involved with it, I've never felt completely emotionally accepted.  I hated high school.  This also frustrates me in that I'm a very generous person and love to help others, but often receive very little in reciprocation.  It's to the point that this is normal for me.  I don't give expecting something back, but sometimes it's nice to feel that I'm not ignored or taken advantage of.  Lots of times I really don't feel the love and support I give, especially when I need it most.  But I'm too shy to say anything really about it.
  • I love casual gaming.  I suck at video games.  Always have, always will.  But give me a hidden object game or a puzzle game, a solitaire game or a social game, and you have my attention for several hours.
  • I am FORGETFUL.  OMG, I'm forgetful.  I have a sanguine temperament (HIGHLY sanguine!) and one of the features of the temperament is forgetfulness, or being 'scatter-brained'.  That is so me!  I even forget to write things down, as often as I've tried, or if I do actually remember to write things down, I forget to go back and read what I've written.

That being said, I can't think of anything else, even though there's probably more.  Hope you enjoyed this look into me.  Ask me questions!  I love to answer them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The high point of every working day...

Ok, so my last two serious blog posts have been pretty rant-filled, and after laughing my head off reading Baby Rabies' blog, I remember some of the fun I wanted to have actually writing this blog, even if most people don't read it.  So, I will now recount to you what I pretty much live for every day I go to work.

Besides the children.  That's just a given.  This is bonus.

I love to mess with my boss.  She is absolutely hilarious to tease.  She's a middle-aged lady, even though she calls herself old, and has such a wonderful sense of humour.  Being the owner/head teacher/assistant in a preschool is really stressful, so I help by spending little moments of my day making her laugh.  

One of my favourite ways is to stand outside her office window (which is directly across from the door of my classroom) and make faces at her until she looks.  The other is to stand directly behind her when she's talking to another teacher.  Once she was talking to the teacher for over a minute, even hit me in the boob, and still didn't realise I was there until the teacher she was talking to couldn't keep from laughing.

I don't know what it is that makes me want to tease her like that.  Maybe it's because I know she'll laugh, and maybe because it's just so dang easy!  She reminds me of my mom, the way I can take what she says or does and use it to tease her, and all she can do is laugh and try to hit me.  I have good reflexes :D.  And because I know she'd never really hit me.  Hard, anyway.

This is key, because I love to take advantage of the backup camera she has in her new Kia Sportage and dance or do something crazy when she starts backing up.  She always cracks up laughing!

I work with some awesome ladies, I tell you.  It's not just the children I go to work for.  If it wasn't for an equally wonderful staff of teachers that I work with, there's no way that I could enjoy my job so very much!  I would never work somewhere to make more money if it meant working in a hostile, gossiping, spiteful atmosphere.  Having fun with my coworkers and especially my boss is definitely the highlight to every working day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why parents infuriate me...

It's not all of my parents that frustrate me and get me angry.  It's not all of them that I want to shake.  It's the few.  The few that make you forget all the rest of the wonderful parents who are a pleasure to work with.  Since everyone seems a little list-happy recently, I have compiled my own list.  This is from my own experience, but you may see similarities to other lists, because these people are everywhere!

10.  You have 1 child here.  Sometimes 2.  We have 8-12.  Every day.

9.  We cannot remember everything you say, and we can't stand around and talk to you all day.  You are not the only person we have to deal with today, and not even the most important.  We are here for the children.  If you really need to talk to us, call us at the proper time (ie, when you know they're resting!) or email us.  Or even write a note!  It's not hard!  Don't be selfish with our attention to you.

8.  Don't dress your child in white and look at us funny when they come home brown.  They are children, they will play.  Please dress your child appropriately.  They can't tie their shoelaces, and you know they take their shoes off when they come inside.  Why are you going to do that to us?  And on the other end of the spectrum, don't send them in flip-flops either.  They're not proper support for the running/jumping they do all day.

7.  PLEASE check your child's communication box/folder daily!  There's important information there, and we aren't always there/available to talk to you when you pick your child.

6.  Please please PLEASE be on time!  This counts for drop-off as well as pick-up.  You distrupt the class when you waltz in late and go through your unnecessarily long, drawn-out separation process as if nobody is there.  And we don't get paid overtime to sit around and wait for you to come and pick up your child at the end of the day.  The child also begins to worry and become distressed.  If you have to pick up your child by 5:30, don't LEAVE at 5:30!  And don't complain when we charge you the late fee, either!

5.  LABEL EVERYTHING.  Again, we have multiple children we are taking care of.  Many items look similar to us, and most children cannot identify their own belongings.  If it looks nice to them, they will claim it whether it belongs to them or not.  If it's not labelled, don't blame us if it goes missing.  We don't have the time to play the elimination game to guess whose it is.  Anything that can detach from them physically should be labelled.  This includes socks and underwear!  Don't assume that your child will always keep these on.  They don't even do it at home, why would they do it at school?

4.  We are not a party venue!  We are a school.  If you would like to have an elaborate birthday party for your child, do it on the weekend.  Keep the birthday celebrations at school simple and quick, and work with our schedule, not yours.

3.  DISNEY IS THE ENEMY!!  Not literally, but it really doesn't belong at a school.  We do not promote images and some of the messages they give to children.  They often distract from learning when children are more focused on what they're wearing or what they have on their lunchbox/bottle/hat, etc.  Keep such images at school at a minimum, and downplay their importance as much as possible.  There are more important things to focus on.

2.  Let the children be children.  Let them develop on their own.  They grow up too fast anyway, so why speed up the process by flooding them with images and messages that are not age appropriate?  Little girls should not be obsessed with make-up, fashion and gossip.  Boys should not be obsessed with guns, fighting and monsters.  They can be aware of it, but when they're fed a steady diet of it so that's what is most important to them and that's all they focus on, something is very wrong.

1.  RESPECT.  Please respect the teachers and the classroom.  This is our workplace and our profession, so please treat it as such.  We take our jobs very seriously, and our first and most important goal is the safety and wellbeing of your child.  We are not your servants, we are not second-class workers.  We are professionals, just like you.  We work hard, and we work long.  We go home tired and drained at the end of the day, but we never stop thinking about your children.  They become like our own and we are devoted to them and to you.  When we say something, or suggest something, it's because we care.  Work with us, not against us.  At the end of the day, it's not the paycheck we're looking for, it's knowing that we're doing the best for a child.  Let us know that you appreciate us, you have no idea how it helps us when we're tired and stressed.

Teaching is not an easy profession.  Teachers don't get paid a lot of money, it's long hours and it's mentally and physically draining.  But we teach because it's our passion as well as our profession.  Just because we teach preschool, don't think we are less than a grade school or high school teacher.  Let's bring back the respect that the teaching profession deserves.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What's your favorite season of the year?

late spring

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

What one thing are you exceptionally bad at?

drawing. omg the horror!

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

If you won a $1,000 shopping spree for any store, which store would you pick?

Apple, or Old Navy.

Ask me anything! I accept all challengers!

School is in session!

I started writing this post about 2 days ago during rest period, when the power decided to go out.  Fun fun.  We ended up calling parents and sending the kids home early (those who stay for the after school care), because it was raining off/on so we couldn't stay outside, and it was too hot/dark inside.  Of course, the poor head teacher was stuck calling parents on her cell b/c we couldn't use the phones. :P

But, other than that (and 4 new parents in one class deciding not to send their children to the school after all, and the toilets not working yesterday due to the power outage on Thurs), it has been an amazing first week of school.  All the classrooms had a big makeover in terms of layout, we have brand new carpets and new paint, and we seriously purged all our storage sheds, getting back to a nice, minimalist feel, as a Montessori school should feel.  It's so strange, the way things have changed so much between the end of the old school year and the start of the new one.  It feels really, really good.

Things are still a bit hectic in the office, getting files re-organized, and both the head teacher and I have to squeeze in office time outside of teaching to get everything rolling.  Thanks to the head-teacher's mother-in-law who works part-time for us in the office, there's a lot of stress gone out of it, though, since we can rely on her to do a lot of the organizing.

So, school is now back in session, I'm getting my students in shape and in order, and it's looking to be a good year.  The real work starts on Monday.

Funny story about my class:  my students told their old teacher they wanted to go back to her class, because they have too many 'chores' in my class. XD

It's true, I do have them do chores after lunch.  They eat off of plates and drink out of cups to learn good table manners, so after lunch there are dishes to be washed, tables and floors to be wiped, and sweeping to be done.  Once they really start working on the shelves, there will also be dusting and organizing of shelves as well.  I do this for two main reasons: to give them a sense of pride & responsibility, and to fill the time during their shortened rest time.  They'll be heading to primary school next year, which means no more rest time, no more naps.  We prepare them for this by shortening their rest time down to one hour of quiet rest during the school year, then quiet activity during summer camp.  Chores after lunch and before rest time help to fill that gap.  Also, when their work time in the morning gets longer.  Also, I told my class that it's their space, and they are responsible for keeping it clean.  I have already seen the smiles on their faces after sweeping up the floor, or washing the dishes.  They're more than eager to do a good job.  They almost fight over whose turn it is, which makes me thankful for my job chart.  They can see their names on the chart, and know whose turn it is to work.

Hopefully this week I'll remember to charge my camera and take pics of my classroom.  Maybe I'll start my own Wordless Wednesday posts!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010