Q&A: Did you leave work on time? Yes, it’s easy to do when the boss lets you go (for a month) and leaves early the last two out of three weeks. I’m torn on this situation because I don’t know the new school principal well, so I don’t feel like I owe her anything. I started interning for my boss in September 2017 when my class didn’t require it until January 2018, and even then only 60 hours was mandatory to pass. I worked way more than that and took it upon myself to do extra at home, taking the burden away from the boss and his assistant.
I did that for a year in the hopes it would get me a job — and it did, but that only lasted six weeks before I was dismissed by the principal and have heard nothing back on the situation. My boss sent out an email this afternoon in relation to the meeting we’re supposed to have in the next two weeks. I let him know that I’m on break because I only work for two hours a week now and made changes in my life to accommodate him and the kids by not taking classes that leaves me with plenty of free time. I needed to relax before hitting the send button, so I took a hot bath, but not before trimming plants and taking out a car battery.
I debate quitting this job too or riding it out till the end of this year with all the holidays coming up I could use the extra $20. I was able to message 3 out of 47 parents last night when I got done grading seventh-grade quizzes. I let them know that the class has spent over nine hours reviewing legs and that some kids did fantastic while one kid scored a 2 out of 20 and it wasn’t for wrong answers but for lack of trying to fill in the blanks from the word bank. That’s not uneducated, that’s just lazy.
I took the ax to the tree to pound out some anger and let the dirt and death fly down my shirt and accumulate into a sweaty puddle of compost. I taped up the loppers (pruning shears — I like that word) broken handle so that I could use them to trim the baby palm growing over the sidewalk. It felt good to get that done, but I find the garage a disgusting embarrassment of disorganization and wished that I spent more time out there so that I would know where tools and equipment are when I need them and could rid them of grease and cobwebs.
I was on a snack break, cleaning out the cabinet from another ant attack, which only upsets me. I can’t clean up the dead ones without new ones coming in and eating their way through walls, caulk, and dishes to get to what they want. I applaud their strong and tireless effort but I also kill them, and not with kindness, but with a spray that stinks and that possibly got on my snack and caused me to rinse my tongue under running water to rid it of the burning sensation that lasted about 15 minutes.
So, I was sitting down and enjoying some calorie intake when Caleb called and we somehow got on the topic of me going out to the Tribute and looking at the battery, which is extremely corroded, and also from Bahrain in 2015. Caleb says they gave us one that was too small for the job, but it did well for so long, so I’m not upset about that. What got me worked up was having to mix the baking soda and water and dump it on the busted mess to loosen the bolts so I could take the battery out when my arms were already tired and this interrupted what I had planned, but it needs to be done.
I was thankful to the neighbor that saw the hood up and stopped to offer help and advice. He was the one to give me the cleaning tip and I wish he’d have stuck around to help me put it back in. I had Caleb on a video call while I went between car and garage looking for a wrench, a flat head screwdriver, and adjustable pliers. I hung up with him so I could get my hands dirty, and gross they got as I stuck the tool down into the murky water and turned a 1/8 of an inch at a time, clank, clank on either side of the tiny compartment space until battery and tray were out.
I drove to the nearest parts store or the one that had what Caleb was looking up online and had to park next to a douche that doesn’t know how to park between lines, so it was a tight fit but I got my battery out of the passenger door and then left my keys in the console on accident so someone could steal the car while I was inside; they didn’t. I got a new battery, with protection pads, and a new cable splicer that I will YouTube how to hook up without dying.
While I was doing all this I was thinking about how I would write about it later and the joy of doing something to make today different. I remember getting this battery in Bahrain and the stress of a language barrier and having to drive to a different garage and then wait on a guy to go get the right one while I sat there on my old battery in the middle of the night. I suppose I could’ve taken it to the dealership but that story is another post.
It felt great to slide into a recently cleaned tub and put my ears under the water and let all the sounds of the city melt into a blur of chaos outside my current realm. I let the soap wash away my stresses of the day, which are probably unrealistic in my Life of Riley situation but still existent in this century and society. I laid there, not thinking about my phone getting messages and missed calls in my absence, not about Sparky staring at the corner by the front door, and not about hitting send on the email.
Eventually, the water got cold and I forced myself up and drained the brown liquid that was dirty from my chores. The trashman came earlier today and left me with yard cans to fill, so I emptied the plants of their parts and put them inside one of the bins. Sometimes I don’t mind doing this as it gives me a chance to move around in the sunshine, but other times it bothers me to look at the stump of my pine tree that the management company killed and it perturbs me that Caleb has let his love of reading overwhelm his other duties.
I started out this morning cleaning up a few things so that I could get rid of them. I have things in excess that I don’t need but seem to hang on to things longer these days. My dad is in the middle of writing a post about how I blog too much about food and not enough about feelings. He called back while I was making dinner to check on how the conversation was weighing on me and I let him know that I was writing in my head while quickly grabbing veggies to add to my overly riced dinner.
I started this blog in 2011, but I carried some posts over from 2009 when I began to write. Back then I was doing it as a way to document what I learned while on a trip, or what I researched about it upon return so that I would have something to look back on with relish and just soak in the moment again and again. At one point I decided to blog daily and moved onto clocks and toilet paper and orange juice. It seemed mundane at the time but it opened my mind to creativity and I was able to write poetry and look at the world in a more positive light through my Canon T2i lens and my keyboard.
Food has worn out its welcome here as I have no recipes or moods to offer with it and rarely a badly lit picture to accompany the morsels that will be devoured in my mouth. I sit in thought as to what will come next. I hoped that by going back to my daily Q&A that I had kept up this year until mid-February would strike the poet in me into creating great art and though that hasn’t happened yet I know these posts will be educational and memorable as I look back on them in ten years.
Or even three and a half. I can’t believe it has been that long since my mom passed. I have written many drafts since but so many were interrupted by tears that defeated me for the day. I was unable to look at pictures of her or cake pans or the color purple, or listen to Shaggy or Eminem or David Draiman, or smell her clothes or touch the few things she left behind that I thought might bring closure. I still have the necklace the funeral home-made of her lifeless thumbprint to wear with the last thing I would hear her say, “Love you, bye.” Even now I want to cry.
The only thing that has helped me was to accept all the moments when her memory surprised me and to let the tears and anguish leak from my weakened body as I let the sadness overtake me. I was hoping to capture it and use it for good, to write about her life in such a way that others would want to read it too and recall their childhoods together or years of marriage or some other engaging thing as my mom was a lifer — meet her once and you didn’t mind knowing her forever. As a child, I felt that she gave too much, but as an older teenager, I blamed her for not giving herself enough.
There’s one post about grief, not a eulogy yet, but I am sitting in one of her shirts from the 80s as I type this. In other news, while I was outside today I noticed my back gate changing colors. I sent the property manager a one-liner about the termites in his wood. He sent a guy to replace only the few that looked bad from the outside so that when the maggots get hungry after hatching they have fresh fibrous food and I won’t bother them this time since the company doesn’t care.
It feels good to share feelings and I get caught up in only passing along the positive as humans want to mask what makes us different from other species. I’m not ashamed of who I am or how old I am or where I came from (though I used to be when I was growing up on the farm). A great author is able to convey his emotion with a subtlety that I once had for the tension and complications of moving to another country. Perhaps I will be able to bring that back into my writing as I explore my mind and the expanse of its circuits that go off with every breath, bite, and heartbeat to make another connection.