From The Sick Room


Suicidal Lunches & Bad Ink

When I’m not typing in bed, I’m “setting” at my usual hard chair kitchen table “sitting.” Intentional inverse word choice here guys. Ha ha…I was just thinking of two teachers that I know. One in particular, almost daily doses companions grammatical homicide over lunch. Forces this on us. In like manner she Fat Cats. She bowls like a 14 pound pink swirl bowling ball down the hall, where I can only hope I’m not that spare pin she is trying to pick up in improving our grade level scores. I resort to guttering. No. This is not the set of Duck Dynasty, but close. Look out orange clay pigeons! Pull!

The teachers’ lounge sometimes becomes a veritable CSI crime scene of “Crude Speech Idiocies.” I am served a slow death, chewed up and spit out in unhealthy food and conversation. These are pet peeves of mine. Word choice and poor diet. Still, I continue to endure them in this sometimes low place.  This in seeking out adult companionship, in compressing and releasing steam for a few minutes a day. I point fingers at these grammatical and digestive errors sometimes, and yet, I too am an offender. I should get lost, or take a walk toward more healthy. Isn’t this my duty? Could be my recess, or release. 🙂

Poor diet, definitely this afternoon. Mark went to work instead of Ward Conference (church). He had to get into the Operating Rooms on a day that surgeons weren’t operating. Delanie held up in her room with her best friends Kate and Ipod,  with take-out of sorts, in low cal, Instagrams of fat. And now, Devon is on her feet moaning hunger. She has momentarily left a Hallmark love story (the man, a FINE dish) to query cereal in the deep, dark reaches of the cupboard. The plan was to cook something together. This quickly fell apart without a fight.

No go. Instead, this hungrier daughter cookie cutters Grandma Sycamore (white bread). She performs a heart transplant in removing a soft, white dough center, and in plopping a yellow raw egg in its place. Yolk high in cholesterol! Yes! This over easy toasted fried egg frees me up to write. This delicious buttery writing thought is interrupted as I wonder if guilt is in order. Realize my girl is happier in her choice than any I would make. I let it go.

Don’t get me wrong. I was alright in theory. Just wrong in application. See, I was voted down in making vegetarian lasagna. We don’t have any shredded cheddar cheese or sausage for meat lovers. Just vegetables, and these are mostly repulsive to my children. We have tons of beef and lots of cheese: four rectangular prisms of knock-off brand cream cheese, a ten pound bag of CostCo frozen Parmesan, and an old, useable brick of pepper jack. The other brick I had to toss on the back hill. Marbled in moldy, minus Michelangelo.

I want to create something wonderful with the little that I have.” I tell her.

This is my personal mantra in most things. Especially in teaching. I Can do this. I just can’t do it alone. Just say Jesus some days. On Jesus days I remember to pray in my car as buses drop off kids. On Jesus Days, I can more easily pause, breath in being present, listen, feel for another. At the end of Jesus School Days, I unplug a pink neon RIO sign from Opera, lock my classroom door, make the tired walk to my Pearl, pile everything in, plop down, dial up Sirius Radio. I sing and smile softly. I pull out of “my spot” and drive off thinking…..this day was good….it worked out better than not.

On Friday, I drove home in my usual speed racer way. Void a favorite swim team routine on this Valentines Day.  I felt a loss, but I was not lost. The holiday sometimes leaves me feeling more the broken heart. The end of swm season leaves me lonely. I drive on. The broken white divider line melts together like the continuous white line that guards an etched edged rumble strip. Pearl floats and flies leaving silent paw prints like a luck dragon. Some days I drive and think, I stayed in my lane, straight and narrow even in being thrown curves and lane changes.  I traveled safely, in choosing.  I pull into my driveway and into the purrrfect keeping of our cats’ garage. On Jesus Days, I am filled less with myself. More with gratitude and love, than with the alternatives.

Today is Sunday. By afternoon the power and spirit of the sermon has begun to wear off, in spite of being part of a wonderful choral arrangement. In spite of playing with toddlers.  I supplement with electronic Sunday messages.  It is a Jesus Day, but it’s not feeling all that Jesus now…

“Don’t bother! said Devon. We won’t eat it. You will only end up throwing it out in a few weeks.”

My daughter certainly won’t have vegetarian lassagna. So in an attempt to be a better mother, I start to peel the yams I won as a white elephant gift at Christmas. Yes, I know these are nearly two months old and dried out, but they are raw vegetables and I feel more productive and venerated in this healthy peeling. I slice the tuber into rounds, plunk them into a pot of boiling water and walk away. This is my great vice and error: neglect. I remove focus from one thing toward another. This, and many other times toward……Writing.

Before too long…. I smell it. The yams are burning. I want to cuss, or cry. This thing I do…it happens over and over again. If it were possible to burn Jello, I would find a way to do it too. And if I did burn gelatin, would it smell like cattle horns and hooves? I wonder. I yank the yams off the burner, run them under water. This makes a steamy yam smoke cloud. Evaporation. Condensation. Repulsation.

“What the smell!?” asks Devon from the front room.

“I did it again!” I shout.

I grab a fork. I pick through the burnt yams, removing the more salvageable from the top. Set a plate aside for myself. Take a plate of these to Devon. Serve them with an impish smile. She rebuts with a suspicious glance. Fork spear. Cautious nibble. Judgement.

“They taste smokey,” she insists.

“They are. It’s a new gourmet dish. Smoked yams. They’re intended to accompany smoked salmon and shallots. Imagine a wonderful entree and side dish.”

My daughter would rather imagine dessert from Ruby Tuesday I think. This would be a thick slice of frick’in delicious double chocolate cake.  The sweet possesses a hollowed out center full of thick chocolate sauce and escorted by a scoop of vanilla ice cream in strawberry sauce.  The cake presents like a choco wishing well.  I think I could submit this recipe, minus the dessert to The Wellness Warrior Recipe Contest in our School District. Don’t.

“You fail, mom! ”

“You don’t say?” I tell her we should have taken up her dad on his 1 p.m phone call invitation to eat Chef Jason’s organic cuisine at the hospital. But WE DID NOT! Instead of satisfying stomachs, I graciously declined my husband, in following Devon’s religious advice.

“No. It’s Sunday,” my girl reminded. We’ve practiced this Sabbath Day Holy observance for a life time. Now days, it only seems to work against us in part. I realize… life is hanging upside down.  Religion, my heritage, something I have for many years hung my scrupples on.  I realize things are upside down in no way because of church, or the Sabath, but because of my own undoings. This not a thing that happens to me. This a thing that happens to “other” people. Hm.

Anymore…I feel my children have become more the parent than me. Maybe this is just what happens in time. I think it a bit premature though. I think my girls deserve better, more from me, less the absentee.  I think they have been trying to tell me this thing. I haven’t been hearing them well. Devon gave me a hug today though. Maybe I could listen better. She is often more wise than I give her credit for. Perhaps I could put my desires on hold for a few years when the children are gone and  I’m more the empty nester. Perhaps I could just learn moderation.

Instead of working at my girls, I turn back to the writing after swallowing the last not so singed bite of yam. Some of my worst work has been completed while wincing and swallowing something singed. This perhaps a yellow flasing caution light.  I will this thing not to be so today. And yet, I binge in eating evil Lays potato chips. I’ve dealt my share of poor food and word choices, and so I think I likely have “No room to talk.”

Some days I leave teachers and “the room” for library bean bags, or for pic nic blankets outdoors in search of greater light and knowledge in nature and nurture, in pondering higher things. I think these better alternatives for me, but it is the dead middle of winter and if I were to go out I would be sitting on an arctic ice slick or in a frigid puddle on a super soaker plaid blanket by myself. Hm. Sounds about right. Wrong. I need a warm friend.

I wonder if someone has ever tried to fix that teacher friend’s speech. I rehearse in my mind what I would say to her if I were the messenger of life, or death. Eventually bail on this idea. Still, I wonder if I don’t say something, if anyone ever will. Not likely. It is a sensitive thing.  I resolve to not go there.

I’m not much better in speech these ways. But I can hear and see my errors, and the message is I too am faulty. The greater sin is…in knowing this, I still don’t fix these errors permanently. I apply cute, fabric bandaids. Laugh it off. So, I’m under reconstruction. This is like a blog on ice. In no way related to Disney on Ice.  I’ve shipped out on an iceberg…FROZEN…after dealing bad ink.  Some days I’ve lost my edge, or tip to what is hidden menacingly under the water.

Yes, ME, a self proclaimed offender. I’ve been known for using “can” for “may” most regularly, “got” for “have,” “they” in nondescript subjects, and other usages and techniques I can not share. Sometimes I catch myself. Sometimes I fix these close to uttering, or in completion of a sentence. Sometimes I quickly clarify, revise. Apologize. Sometimes I blunder BIG TIME and simply can’t retract. It’s quite the act to follow. Phew!

I used to cringe much more at others’ grammatical errors. Not as much these days in seeing my own erred ways magnified in theirs. I kind of find it reassuring anymore, when someone starts talking Red Neck. I think at least it’s not me. This works toward self aggrandizing. Prideful. Truth is…their idiosyncrasies, don’t make me any better. Just lend to negativity.  I must love my neighbor better.

I can’t help but think that these poor practices deposit on and in the minds of students. This modeling may work toward reinforcing poor grammar in our students. Ultimately effecting testing, grade level, and school report cards. Or not.

I wonder what some parents think in hearing this person speak. I wonder if some parents use the same constructions. Then in the end I come to the conclusion: Most of this is not in my span of control and none of my business. My best defense and cure is to teach correct principles in my instruction. This I must do. These poor grammar expletives fall on my ears less painfully as they once did though….now that I’m doing deaf and dumb, and numb, but I can not approach my students this way.

I am trying to find a silence, a presence, what’s most important, and a less hurtful presentation of myself to others, complete with joy and smiles. I hope these searches work out better in my Googling and blogging. I realize I can not change, or fix other people. Only myself. And yet I am asked to do this thing with children. This is overwhelming.

On Friday, a special education teacher handed me a post-it note. I sought this teacher out to discuss a child’s perfect spelling test paper. The student is on an IEP for reading, and does less the content work for me than for this teacher, so it seems. So in return, my colleague handed me a sticky note, which in large letters spelled out “BRUNG.” Indeed it was quite sticky. Sticky to my teacher friend. The child had said, “I brung you my spelling test paper. I didn’t miss any!!”

“She brought it in perfectly spelling!” I pointed out to my acquaintance.

I wondered if the teacher had the presence to congratulate and celebrate in spite of this travesty. Hope so. She told me that she set her right in ways of grammar. She petitioned me to follow up with the student. I said I would.

I do attempt to fix my nine year olds in many ways. They are more conducive to change than some adults. Affecting change is in my teacher job description. It is expected of me. Sometimes the fix’ins stick. This unfinished work continues. I have a student, a clever girl who still insists on “ax’in” her mother. Her older sister had the same habit. This family does not consist of hipsters or axe murderers. They just have many questions. My question is….why do they weild this language weapon, not all that common to our area? Ha ha.

After twenty plus years of marriage, I am still unsuccessful in reteaching my own husband. He continues talk of “being borned.” I can’t tell you how many times Mark has been “borned” again, and again. Somehow, somewhere in time I had to change my thinking. My husband is a good man with a bad habit. I’ve renamed him Nicodemus. Interestingly enough, this language error has strangely elevated him in repeatedly “coming to Jesus.” I start to think….I might adopt his bad habit. If I could be “borned” again to Christ and other people, I would gladly use poor language. Here, I will try:

We was going to church…..and then it done flooded! So we left to sand bag and pull pigs out of the mire. Ha ha.

Obsessing on this subject probably makes little sense. I know. No more sense than surfing cable t.v. on Sunday afternoon. On A&E my Devon had a layover in a program called Bad Ink. This is a reality show, not unlike Container Wars, or Hoarders, or Duck Dynasty. This entertainment genre is intended to expose the every day life of working class America. However, these sketches come across to the more educated as ex pose’s of white trash, money hungry infidels who swear and do just about anything to secure the deal. They cuss, they dress down and down, they use poor grammar, and frequently can not be understood in their dialects. Oh, maybe I’m thinking of Swamp People.

So in listening from my sore butt seat in the kitchen I comprehend something about Bad Ink. It is exposing someone’s Fifty shades of booty: Bad butt tattoos. Some camouflaged guy whose all inked up looking more like a Picasso painting than a person says to a potential distraught customer,

“If people quit making bad decisions downtown, we’d be out of work!” says the parlor artist. Then he sells his services.  I wish I would quit making bad decisions, err more in choosing the right. This reminds me of Richard Harris, who played King Arthur in the musical, Camelot.  I love his mission statement.  I empathize his plight, in spite of being more the Guinevere myself.

“Might for right.”

This majestic setting is so incongruous with a cramped and bawdy tattoo parlor. The artistic subculture, these words, or sayings appear bold and permanent on the customers skin.  I think, What if I could have Jesus written on my heart?  Then perhaps I would have more permanent outcomes and better effects in choosing motives and bringing about action and change.  I try to do this thing figuratively in my mind, only it produces more the mirage, or temporary tattoo, than anything lasting.

Later I hear this same hopeful woman’s testimonial and see her rear end again. Picasso has worked wonders in recovering and remaking a horrible mistake of a tattoo into a work of Rose Art. Also, the “butt”- er-fly flies once again in a metamorphosis of amazing. Really. You should have seen the before and after. By the end of thirty minutes of painfully heard conversation, I am laid low, but the Monarch flies high. The reality show rises from under the needle to an audience applauding happy ENDINGS!  I was applauding the change of programming. I am seeing the possibility of change even in this metaphor.

So this is my Camel- lot. I am hoping half pint milk cartons and bendy straws don’t break my back or anyone elses in this submission from the Sick Room. So hello and good-bye from the teachers’ lunch room, from my scanty, meal-less kitchen, from the low-life mouths and writings of some people body types (me included).

And the moral of this musing is:

People may fail in certain grammatical and communicative ways, BUT every person most definitely has some endearing feature.  Everyone has a hidden gift that must be found, seen and celebrated both internally and externally.

Sorry. Today I’m telling, or selling sick, slick stories. Another day I’ll post a piece on Giving Blood or something noble, All American or better yet…Universal. Something that crosses cultures. I will attempt this in ALL the best writer, speaker ways that I can muster, mister!

Now, what you are likely thinking is………why doesn’t she just shut up and write her way into silence, concision and better spelling.  At least learn to use SPELL CHECK!!! Bah!!!

See you next time…..from the SICK ROOM.


About hrobertson2013

“Each man ( and mermaid) will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land”. Isa 32:2 NIV Warning: The author of this blog is not an ordinary individual. Even Mermaids need a rest from all that's real and grown up. Welcome to the wonder of blog. Come be audience to all that's wet and wild in her stories, poems and thoughts. Instructor by day, super hero by night, and mystical mermaid by summer. Whenever she has the fortune of diving into a pond, reservoir, or mountain waterfall, you'll find her there swimming, and singing songs of life.
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