Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Semana Santa Approaches

We leave on Saturday  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Five (Weird?) Thoughts I Always Think

1. How did they come up with that idea?
Every time I watch a new movie, read a book, or hear a song, I start wondering how the writer came up with the idea. Lots of scenarios run through my mind. Are you an insane psychopath if you write a screenplay about some ingeniously twisted murder plot, or are you just creative?  And,  I mean, who or what prompted the lyrics, "I see a little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouche! Scaramouche! will you do the Fandango?! "
Some German guy thought of this one....
Curious? "Read" it here: The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit (youtube)

2. Will that person remember this ten years from now?
You know how you can completely forget huge events in your life-- the first time you failed something, perhaps, or (hypothetically) the first time you told your husband you loved him.  Birthdays, graduations, first days, last days... they just seem to disappear.  And yet, you can vividly remember the shortest, simplest, most mundane moments. For me, I can clearly recall a particular bike ride down my street.  I  can also remember walking down the hallway at school one day, deciding that my favorite color was green.  I remember the day my 7th grade English teacher asked me to run an errand.
And so I compare myself to others.  I wonder which small moments they remember (and which big ones they might forget, too).  Is Valeria going to remember the time she taught herself how to play "God of Wonders" on the recorder in third grade (Like I remember how I couldn't play anything and I pretended to at the All Children's Choir performance)?  Will Gabriel remember any of the frustrated conversations I've had with him in the hall (like I remember the one time my teacher called me out because she thought I made fun of a girl's glasses (I didn't))? Will that kid on the street remember that I gave him cookies and my granita when he asked me for money?
Hopefully these aren't the memories my students remember forever!

3. Am I the first person to do this?
Do you ever stop and think something like, "I wonder if anyone else has ever ordered the falafel sandwich, with a skim latte, and apple pie for dessert. Maybe I'm the first!" or, "Am I the only person who has ever dreamed about being Dr. House's Spanish Teacher?"
Well, I do.  I think those thoughts a lot.
Hola, Sr. House. Hiciste tu tarea hoy?

4. Can I say that in Spanish?
Whenever I have time to sit and think (lately that means my bus rides to work) I end up replaying conversations in my mind, or predicting those that are yet to happen.  Inevitably, those conversations morph into Spanish, as if my mind is testing me. So I sit there, with my silent Spanish conversation, until I come to something I don't know.  Then I rack my brain for some possibility that I have learned that word sometime, and I try to dig it out of some dark, dusty, mental filing cabinet.  That only works occasionally.
Usually, I won't remember those Spanish speeches later and I'll forget to look up my mystery words.  But sometimes they come back to me at random moments.  Like the other day when I asked Daniel, "How do you say "tornado" in Spanish?" because I had remembered a time, 4 years ago, when I translated for someone and wasn't sure if simply pronouncing "tornado" with a Spanish accent was correct. (It was!).

5. Am I actually some sort of color blind?
I'm particularly sensitive about this one.  As the most artistic one in my family, I believe that I should be credited with having specialized knowledge of colors.  And yet, my mom, sister, and years later, my husband, have all accused me of colorblindness.  I stand firm in my belief that we do not see the colors any differently, we simply disagree on the color's name.  So what if you might choose to call fuscia purple, when I see it more as pink?  Maybe, for you, chartreuse is yellow, but for me it's mostly green.
And yet, after Daniel, who did not know about my previous family battles regarding colors, told me I was colorblind, I began to doubt myself.  Could there really be something different about the way I see colors? I really don't think so. Well, I hope not. 


My Favorite Chartreuse

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


17 days and counting!

The Corn Islands is where I will be for Semana Santa this year! 

Friday, March 09, 2012

Pay Attention!

Now that I'm a teacher, I often try to recall my own behavior as an elementary student.  I guess now that I see so many different personalities, attitudes, and learning styles, I try to find myself among the crowd.  Was I the quiet, well-behaved student with average grades who sometimes raised her hand but preferred not to take the risk?  Was I the know-it-all kind of participator who waved her hand in the air? Was I constantly turned around in my chair, talking to the friends behind me?  Honestly, I don't really remember much about how I participated in class.   But, in that funny way of memories, I do remember the times I got in trouble.
One vivid memory is from 6th grade when we were reading "Mrs. Frisby And The Rats of Nymh"; except that I really wasn't reading it, I guess.  So when my teacher called on me and asked me some content-specific question about the book, I, of course, did not know the answer (now that I am a teacher, I'm sure she knew that I wasn't paying attention and that's why she called on me...).   So, sixth-grade-Tara began to attempt what was, based on the utterly embarrassing look of confusion on the teacher's face, a completely off-target response.  I was humiliated and started really reading the book after that.
I was thinking about that situation today because I have several students who have serious attention issues.  Ok, so I know that English is not their first language... but they are fluent. Fluent. Fluent enough to hear and understand me when I say, "No, we are not tearing this page out. Class, eyes on me.  Do not tear out this page!"  Yet, inevitably (and especially often recently) five students will ask, "Miss, do we tear out this page?"
Today, instead of the regular reading test we usually give, students had to do an "interview" paper, pretending they were one of the two main characters in the story.  I had just spent ten minutes with the kids on the floor, books open, doing examples.  I said, "Question two says, 'Describe your home.'  Daniel... does that mean you are going to tell me about your house here in El Hatillo?"  "No", they responded... it was about the character, not themselves.  However, in spite of all those prompts, as I walked around during the test I caught three students answering the survey like it was asking them personal questions about themselves.  I had to conceal the insane frustration boiling inside of me.

What I wanted to say was, "If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better WAKE UP and PAY ATTENTION!" (Yea, ok, that is not an original line....but it's truth)

Here, listen to the Sister Act version.  It's pretty great, I know. You're welcome.

Maybe I should teach the class this song.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Oh The Places You'll Go

Today I read, "Oh The Places You'll Go" to my class.  One of my students, recently back from a trip to Universal, bought it in Seussville and wanted to share it in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday.  
It's been a while since I've read the book, and I really wasn't prepared for all the profundity it held for me.  
You see, today was the deadline to turn in contracts, or a letter stating your intent to not return.  It was a sad day amongst my closest Pinares friends and myself--those of us who, with heavy hearts, turned in letters, and not contracts. In two or three stiff, formal sentences it felt as if three of my most wonderful years came to an undramatic close. 
I'm sad. So sad to leave these children I've come to love so much, and these friends I can now call bests.  But even though I cry at the drop of a hat nowadays, thinking about leaving...I still don't see myself here next year.  I still feel like the decision to leave is right.  I feel peace.  Which is weird to say for someone who hides her tears from the bus kids almost every day (I don't know what it is--maybe the time it gives me to think--but I get choked up all the time on the bus lately; thinking about "my babies!")
I turned in my letter without any fuss... the secretary wasn't at her desk so I just dropped it off and left.  No questions, no talking... nada. I didn't think much about it after that, until Dr. Seuss had to barge in and spew profound nonsense at me.  At first, I did just fine as I read the last book Seuss published before he died. However, near the end it was hard not to cry as I thought of all the places my kiddoes are going and all that awaits them!

"You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


I want them to move mountains!  ( ... I'd like them to do it by having faith as small as a mustard seed (see Matthew 17:20).  I want them to succeed!  I DON'T wan't them to "mixed up with many strange birds" as they go!  I hope I've taught them, in some small way, how to "step with care and great tact."

And I hope I can keep it together when I start to tell them I'm not going to be here next year.  

You can read the whole "Oh the Places You'll Go" here.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


"Yet no one seized him because his time had not yet come." (John 8:20...and 7:30 and 7:44)
The people who hated Jesus had a few opportunities to catch him but as this verse (and several others like it) says, it wasn't time yet.
I have been reading John lately and these verses stuck out to me in light of my not-so-pleasent (yet not too terrible)-event one month ago.

I'm not going to go into all the details. I wasn't even going to post it because I didn't really tell people from back home (lets just say there are some people who really do not need another reason to dislike Honduras.)

The essence of my story is this:  It was the morning of our 6 month anniversary and someone tried to rob me while I was waiting outside for my bus to come in the morning.  I had everything with me, and the guy could have gotten away with a lot.  He tried to pull me up the street, away from the direction I had been walking.  The whole time I was praying that my bus would come (or my student's bodyguard, whom I often see driving to work on the same street).  But no one came.
There was no one around... and yet, all of a sudden, he saw something and ran away.  I, of course, ran in the opposite direction... towards whatever it was that scared him off.  There was nothing there.  No car had passed and nobody was walking by.  God saved me... it's that simple.  My time had not yet come.