The little engine that couldn´t #SOLSC March 2022

I thought I could pull this challenge off and signed up for it. I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could.

When Day 1 of the challenge was on, I had woken up at 5 am, started to work at 6:30 am and arrived home straight from school at 8 pm. I remembered the SOL Challenge an hour later and realised that the little engine couldn’t. I felt sad and bad with myself. How weak I was, how weak I was, how weak I was that I could not do the challenge for a 4th year! My brain was fried, my body had collapsed. After an hour lying in my bed debating whether I should get up and write something or not, I decided to let it go with no guilt. A sense of relief invaded my body. I curled up again, closed my eyes and felt asleep until my alarm went off at 5 am on Day 2. Today is Day 5. I will post this writing on Day 6 and maybe delete it on Day 7. And never post it as a comment on 2 writing teachers.

Maybe I can write when I can, when I feel it necessary, not every day but some days, just to leave some trace of my exhaustion. It has been a difficult year, and systemic inequities haven’t made it easier. My load is full and I am done trying to push it up the hill with little help. I need to let things go, and stop feeling that it is wrong or weak, or a way to prove my value to the world.

Sometimes we have to realize that we are like cuadradito, and we cannot be redonditos like everybody else in the Big House. And even if we want to believe we are one, we can’t change our shape, our accent, our skin color, our origins. I need to start believing that we are not the problem, and something else has to change.

So, today, I proclaim that the little engine couldn’t and she doesn’t give a dime. Well, maybe she does, but is working on it.

Note: The two books I reference in this SOL are The little engine that could by Watty Piper (seudonym) (1930) and Cuatro esquinitas de nada by Jérôme Ruillier [originally in French Quatre petits coins de rien du tout (2012) ; in English referred as Four little corners even though the book doesn’t have a print English version, only a weird app].

Day 30: Arf, arf, woof, woof, guau, guau #SOLSC #SOL2021

After yesterday’s hacked slice by Clyde, I have at home a very sad blind dachshund. Not even one person visited his post, zero comments or likes. Not even Steven, so nobody is even (probably understandable since Clyde left a mix review of him). Still, I thought that this is not fair.

For this reason the title of this slice is just Clyde whining, barking and crying in all the languages he knows. What upsets him the most is that Buck received raving comments on his slices.

Clyde is thinking, thinking, like Winnie the Pooh. He might hire somebody that can alter the algorithms of my blog. He thinks Poncho could be a great choice.

Poncho can charm y’all to go back one day and read slice #29.

Day 29: About time #SOL2021 #SOLSC

Today, I am hacking Pia’s computer. She hasn’t invite me to be a guest blogger but I think it’s about time that I write. She has been participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge since 2019, and she has NEVER written about me or given me the chance to show my storytelling skills in this platform. However, she has given Buck the opportunity, TWICE. There are only three days left of this year challenge. I have to say it again, it’s about time.

Let me introduce myself. I am Clyde. On April 2nd I will be turning 15 years old. I am originally from Oregon, but when I was 3 years old we moved to Spain, where I spent ten years. I got accustom to the leisurely pace of the Sevilla countryside, sunbathe almost 9 months per year, and take plenty of naps. Two years ago, my life changed again and I had to get adjusted back. Kind of a return home culture shock. I have to confess though, that I really do like the heating system here. Much better than in Spain where we were relegated to the kitchen which was very windy in the winter, since it didn’t have any insulation. I am not the young stud anymore. Or Queen, since Spaniards always thought that I was a girl, due to my petite size compared to my two buddies. I am a genuine miniature, they weren’t.

I used to be more athletic but lately my bones hurt a lot, and sounds more appealing to sleep the entire day than go outside. Don’t take me wrong. I would love to be able to go outside, but when Pia and Steve are not at home, I can’t. I am scared of the front stairs that are after passing the doggie door. It took me a while to get accustom to feel that heavy plastic rubbing on my neck, every time I cross it. I can only imagine the size of that door. Probably for mastodons.

Anyway, the stairs in question don’t meet the ADA requirements. If Steve weren’t such a good person, I would report him. I know I am not the only one that struggle with the stairs. Buck told me that Pia, when she leaves the house to go to work at 6 am, she goes very slow down the steps, not only because it’s really dark outside (unless it’s full moon) but because those stairs are steep. She is afraid that when she grows older, she will fall and break a hip, and probably Steve will get rid of her.

I am not saying this lightly. For last Steve’s birthday, we went for a 3 miles hike in the Cascades Mountains. It was a lot of uphill, and I did maybe half of it walking and the other half in a little bag they bought especially for me. The thing is that after all that effort, especially the one going up, and stumbles on rocks, and unexpected bushes, I got a kink in my neck. It was very painful. Every time Steve picked me up, I started crying in despair. I couldn’t help it. Buck and Poncho were not of any help either since every time I complained, they started to make a racket like if I were in real danger. Steve thought that my last days were coming, and when his children called for Pia’s birthday four days after his birthday, he told them that probably they were going to put me to sleep. I thank the Virgin Mary and all the angels that Pia was born that day since she set her foot very firm down, looked at Steve in the eyes and exclaimed: No! I refused to put Clyde to sleep on my birthday!

Not everything is about you, Pia. Clyde is suffering. When I heard that, I realized that if I didn’t change my attitude, my destiny was doomed. So I decided to put my best puppy face, wag my tail happily, and emit some barks of joy. It did work. I was healed.

Pia said that I am like Lazarus. When I was 6 months old, a rattle snake bit me. I laid in bed for three days, without eating and only drinking water by a spoon. At the third day, I got up, and walked. With a limp in my rear end left leg that I still have, but walked. It was a miracle. After that, I acknowledge, I started to behave like a prima donna, a very optimistic prima donna, always happy, always wagging my tale, but always with thirst of attention. I have the middle child complex, I guess. Always seeking attention.

Today though, I am more like Bartimaeus from Jericho, since I can’t see a thing, and I can barely hear. For this reason, every time they put me outside, I bark my way in. It’s my system to scare all the rattle snakes in the summer, and the coyotes on the cold winter nights.

My smell and taste senses haven’t disappeared yet, and probably won’t disappear until I die. Food is my passion these days. I have to be very careful though. Buck, even though is respectful of my food and space, sometimes get carried away when I lose track of a morsel thrown while Steve cook. My strategy? Stay at Steve’s feet waiting for a mishap, or just compassion of my human buddy. After supper, he always picks me up, and put me between his legs while stretched in the sofa watching a Netflix series. He covers me with a warm poncho bought in La Ligua, falling asleep in unison. I really love Steve. Despite his extreme attitude towards my aging and the approximation of my end. I know he does it because he loves me, and he can’t stand seeing me suffering. As far as I know, I still have some time left. My renaissance was from prima donna to survivor. About time.

Day 28: Less is more, really? Well, sometimes

Less talk, more action
Less sugar, more sweetness
Less homework, more painting

Less barking, more listening

Less multitasking, more things done
Less toxic, more healing

Less macho attitude, more women safe
Less gun controls, more shootings

Less worksheets to fill, more free reading in class

Less glue, more nails
Less couching, more biking
Less biking, more depression
Less Spanish, more cries
Less poetry, more gray in the skies

Less libraries, more books on your lonely shelves
Less librarians, more fake news
Less driving, more hiking
Less drinking, more thinking
Less pot, more thoughts

Less plastic, more oceans 🌊

Less travel, more reading

Less salt, more GringoCool extra virgin olive oil 😜

Less dogs, more cats
Less cats, more mice
Less construction, more nature
Less wind, more warmth

Less coffee, more taste. Really? Not, really.

Day 8: International Women’s Day #SOL2021 #SOLSC

My International Women’s Day hasn’t been very exciting if I compared it with my posts of 2020 and 2019. Actually, it was very dull until I listened (while processing books) to a webinar about amplifying the voices of Native Americans. The speaker, Savannah Romero, member of the Eastern Shoshone Nation, walked us through the false narratives, the invisibility and the erasure of native peoples. She is the manager of partnership and programs at an organization called IllumiNatives that has the mission of increasing the visibility of, and challenge the negative narrative about Native Nations and peoples in American society.

While doing my weeding, I was impressed about the lack of literature that portraits Native Nations and peoples in a positive and real way, and how hard is to find own voices in the mainstream. Usually the literature are either romanticized non-native visions of indigenous people, with inaccurate information, and somewhat naive or racist, or portrayals of Indigenous people as part of historical fiction but not contemporary figures and influencers. These include two Newbery Awards, The island of the blue dolphins by Scott O’Dell, that my son had to endure in 5th grade, and Julie of the wolves by Jean Craighead George, both not recommended by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo in her American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) website. Another book that she doesn’t recommend and we have several copies of is Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. I remember it was very well received when it was published in 2001. It was a 2007-2008 Oregon Battle of the Boks title.

The part that struck me the most of Romero’s presentation was that a significant percentage of Americans thinks that Native Americans are part of the past and don’t exist anymore. They don’t know about their Nations, their laws or history, and the only thing that they relate to “Indians” is mascots of football teams or costumes for Halloween.

The other thing that got my attention, was the fact that the percentage of indigenous women that are battered and sexually assaulted is higher than in any other race/ethnic group and nobody knows about it.

I always thought that invisibility was the worst punishment that somebody can give me. Ignoring my existence is saying that I don’t matter at all, my existence is not good or bad, is nothing. As Romero pointed out “invisibility, [the nothingness of the other] is the modern form of bias against Native Americans.”

I was so happy to come across this webinar and IllumiNatives. They have a Guide for Allies and a Guide for Native Peoples. I encourage you to explore their website. They provide a wealth of resources, lesson plans, reports and other wonderful information.

After all, my International Women’s Day was a day of discovery and learning.

Day 3. Honoring Women in the Family #SOL2021 #SOLSC

Last week I started a Latinx Club at the library. We meet every Wednesday. Today we made tie-dye masks and played soccer.

I like to start the sessions always reading something (even when they look at me weirdly while I am holding a picture book). Today I read the book Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds. We did our check-in and introductions by telling to each other the way we felt at that moment if we were an animal. We were sloths, dogs, lions, hungry eagles, hummingbirds, and a couple of animals that students state of mind couldn’t put in words.

Before entering into the tie dyeing session, that I knew it was going to take some time, and probably steal some part of our reflection time, I explained that March was Women History Month. I have left a strip of paper on each desk, and asked students to think about a woman in their family, and write something fun about her or why they like her. At the end of the session I was going to pass them out randomly and do an activity in which they needed to guess from which student’s family was the woman honored. We were caught up in the tie dying and playing soccer. I didn’t want to rush the activity, so probably I will revisit it next week.

What the students wrote is the heart of my slice and the reason why I love what I do.

I admire my tía – dad´s sister because she loves shopping and she inspires me to love the beauty of the world

My aunt Yasman is really nice. She always keeps me and my sister happy.

My mom has two jobs to take care of me and my brother

Lo que me gusta de mi hermana es que es buena conmigo / What I like of my sister is that she is good to me

Mi mamá porque ella trabaja y yo quiero ayudarla / My mom since she works and I want to help her.

Mi abuela Lupe taught me how to speak Spanish.

My great grandma makes good banana bread and I have her hair.

Me gusta mi tía Karin porque me cuida muy bien / I like my aunt Karin because she takes care of me very well.

My younger sister and her ability to be kind after face planting and still being comedic

Day 2: Dear Staff… #SOL2021 Challenge #SOLSC

This is an email I sent to the staff of my school today. Being English my second language, always takes me a long time to craft an email, and at the end, there are very long. Since I can’t help with the length part, I learned to use bullet points or numbers and highlight the important parts. The feeling of culpability is pervasive, though. Every time I click the send button, I blessed myself.

Here is the email:

Dear staff,

Several people have asked me about the library usage. I guess, I have been so trapped in my rearrangement of  the library collection that I never touched based with you about how you and your students can use the library until I finish the project (if you are interested in knowing what I am doing, just read the bottom of this email ;). 

Here are a couple of things you could do with your students and the library.

  1. I love people in the library at any time. Due to Covid restrictions it can only be one or two people at a time. When sending your students, please, ask them to touch base with me whether they get a book or not. As a proof that they have been in the library and talked to me, I will give them a piece of paper with a fun fact that they need to bring you back to the classroom. 
  2. I can visit your classrooms and show students how to search the catalog and place holds. After they learn, I can deliver the books requested to your classroom.
  3. I can go to your classroom to give booktalks, research and/or information fluency lessons (ex. Understanding Fake News). Check with me in advance so I can find somebody who can supervise staff students in the library.
  4. I can curate information needed for a project, or a long term unit.

Here are a couple of things you should know:

  1. Students can borrow as many books as they can carry and return responsibly.
  2. I don’t believe in late fees and respect students’ privacy, so I won’t post lists of students who have late books. However, they will be accountable. Hopefully, with your help, I will get the chance to teach them why and how to be responsible. 
  3. In the meantime, you can help me by telling students that if they have any book from this library (or any school or public library. I can return them to their base home) they should bring them here. A returned book is a happy book. The only thing they will get it’s a squeal of delight from me. If they can’t handle that, they should give the book away.

If you are interested…or still have time
Here is what I have been doing:

  1. I have been weeding and rearranging the library collection for easier and friendlier access. It’s still a work in progress. 
  2. So you know the collection had around 14,000 copies with an average of publication year of 1996. Of those 14,000 copies, 267 were published after 2015. None in 2020.
  3. I have weeded around 4,000 copies after developing a collection development and weeding policy. I hope to launch in the late Spring or maybe early Fall a Used Book Fair with all the Fiction books weeded plus all used books donated by students and staff. With the money we will buy books published in 2021-2022.
  4. I applied to two grants and got them. I have $1,300 to spend in books and $200 for one book of their liking by each member of the Latinx Club we started last Wednesday during LIPI time with 10 students. They will help me choose books for the library.

Phew. I am done. I didn’t grow up in the US and I will never comply with the adage “the shorter, the better”.My sincere apologies. I always feel guilty, but I can’t help it. Still, I am soooo happy to be your librarian!!!!
Have a nice day!

Pia

I received several kind replies. Here are two of my favorites:

I love it. Good humor included from my principal and

Thank you for your email. It’s my favorite email of the day! It’s the only one that made me smile! from the Speech Therapist.

Day 1: Dreaming in Dewey #SOL2021 Challenge #SOLSC

One year passed, I never wrote again in my blog and Covid is still here. Probably, everything is related or I am just coward to undress my soul.

In any case, as usual I thought the entire day of what to write, since my day was pretty dull, and still my brain is fried. Last November I started working in one of the middle school’s library at the same district. Last year I was in an elementary school.

I received a library with more than 14,000 copies, of which around 1,000 are lost since 2002 and I don’t know why nobody got the guts to delete them of the system. The average year of the collection was 1996, and out of the 14,000 copies, 267 were published after 2015. You don’t have to be very smart to realize that the library has been treated as the landfill of books. Everything was crammed in shelves with little breathing. Good books were screaming to get out and be read. Outdated books were sleeping, hoping somebody take them out of the stretcher, and make some art with them. Transform their misinformation in an abstraction that could be read in a different dimension.

After a month of assessing the situation, apply for a couple of grants, write a collection development policy to support my massive weeding endeavor, and explore eBooks possibilities with no budget, I started the tedious and exhausting task of weeding, and relocating books. The only advantage of a Covid situation is that students were distant learning. Perfect environment for throwing myself into the murky waters. I have been working long hours, putting extra 2 to 3 hours per day, just because I want to get done with it. Students started hybrid learning and I can’t wait to open the library to small groups. Still it’s an old collection, despite my weeding of around 4,000 copies. When I think I am done, more books show up under tables, in unknown corners, back offices I didn’t know exist or unopened drawers.

The obsession and time I have been putting in this project is so intense that a couple of nights ago, I dreamt in Dewey. Yes, people were talking through the Dewey Decimal System. You have to be a librarian or an old library user to understand my dream, but it went like this.

-Where are you going?

-I am going to play 796.352

-Again?

-Yes, you know the 551.6 was not good yesterday.

-How about you?

-I am going 796.6

-Well, be careful, especially with 625.26 and 629.222

-Did you feed the 636.7?

-Yes, I did, and tonight I will do some 641.5 since afterwards I want to watch a 791.43 about 940.53 on Netflix.

-I am so tired, I think I will read a 094 for a while. If it wasn’t because I am hungry I would think I am preparing a 393 or maybe we live in 154.4.

-I know this is just a 154.6

It wasn’t a nightmare, but it was definitely bizarre. I can’t wait to be done!

I was seriously thinking of moving this book to the 900s
Genrefying the collection: Historical Fiction
The beginning of my alive nightmare

Day 29. Slices of music #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 29th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Thank you to all my fellow writers for your best wishes and desires that my migraine disappears soon. Health and science are crucial to our well being, and the current events are a brutal testimony of that.

Music can’t cure Covid-19 but definitely can help us cope with quarantine. Today I saw in Instagram a 20 songs challenge, and I decided to take it. Basically, it asked you to answer 20 questions related to music . I was impressed of how each question put me in a path of remembering or making efforts to decide what to say. At the end, each question encapsulated a little story that I couldn’t convey in my Instagram’s stories.

Music itself has a story, and each piece hides behind a slice of our lives.

1. My favorite song. Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez. Two years ago I discovered this artist, and I don’t know why I became obsess with his songs to the point that it was the artist I listened the most in Spotify in 2018.

2. A song I hate. I couldn’t find any song I really dislike to the point that I hate. The closest is #11 in this list but I actually like the song, I just dislike in what it became. Hate is a strong word and I can’t hate music.

3. A song that makes me sad. The Well-Tempered Clavier: Book 1, 1.Prelude in C Major, BWV 846 by J.S. Bach. Every time I hear this piece, I remember my mom and when she was fighting cancer. I wrote a slice about it last year.

4. A song that reminds me of someone. Buckin Up Song and Bed Intruder . These two songs are part of my kids’ childhood. When they came up, we were amazed at the creativity that people have. It was one of the first stages of something becoming viral. When I listen to them I can see my children laughing and enjoying the twist. Now these two songs are part of our family repertoire.

5. A song that makes me happy. Bicycle race by Queen. Anybody that knows me, knows that this song combines my love for biking and Queen.

6. A song that reminds me of a specific moment. Bachata rosa by Juan Luis Guerra. When I met my husband in New York, this song was en vogue. We went to the Madison Square Garden together to listen to Juan Luis Guerra. It was really fun. Everybody started to dance everywhere. We even thought of playing the song in our wedding but we couldn’t find anybody who knew or wanted to sing it. I gave Steve a cassette with all the songs and left it in his apartment. The story of what happen with that tape is another story.

7. A song that I know by heart. Alle Vogel sind shon da. I attended a school run by German nuns in Chile. We learned this song at an early age and we have to sing it every year. All my classmates, even the one that didn’t learn too much German know the song by heart.

8. A song that makes you dance. Madre tierra (Oye) by Chayanne. I didn’t know this song until I went to Spain, and I got introduced to a fun way of dancing it when the swimming pool on my town organized an Aquadance. It was hilarious. From that day on, every time I listen to the song, I stop everything and start dancing. Last September, I introduced the song, lyrics and dance movements to all my classes from 3rd to 5th grade as part of celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. It was the third or four weeks of school and the kids barely knew me. Probably they thought I was crazy.

9. A song that helps me sleep. Arroró mi niño by  Maria Lopez. I put this a little bit as a joke since I can’t sleep with music. I prefer to sleep with no sounds that distract my brain from resting. This song though is a song that my mom sang to me and I sang to my kids. While searching for it in YouTube. I learned it was featured in the soundtrack of a horror movie called The curse of La Llorona. It was not very successful as you can see in Rotten Tomatoes.

10. A song that I secretly love. Wake me up by Avicii. When Avicci took his life in 2018, I didn’t have the foggiest idea who he was, let alone knew his songs. I started to read about him, and watched a documentary about his rapid success and all the pressure he received. I usually don’t like the trendy music, but Wake me up touched me, and since then I secretly love it, especially knowing the tragedy behind his creator.

11. A song that I used to love and now I hate. Libre by Nino Bravo. This song was beautiful until the Pinochet regime in Chile took it as its unofficial anthem.

12. A song from my favorite album. Piano man by Billy Joel. I have many favorite albums but Billy Joel has a special place in my heart. I first heard Piano man in a party when I was in 8th grade and a boy invited me to dance when it was playing. Later,in 1979, when I went to Germany as an exchange student, I went to my fist pop concert in Hamburg, and it was of Billy Joel. It was an eye opener. I thought I was going to see just a guy with his piano and his harmonica. When I saw all the equipment and display, and performance that he put on, I started to understand what a real concert meant.

13. A song that I know how to play with an instrument. Los pollitos dicen. I can’t play any instrument. This is a very popular and simple Latinamerican children song that I can play barely with a flute.

14. A song that I sing in public. La Bamba by Rickie Valens. Curiously this song is universal and can be danced and sung by anybody. I sang it in an intercultural camp I attended in Thailand in 2015, where only I and a boy from Cataluña spoke Spanish. Everybody loved it. More recently I sang it in my first Karaoke appearance at the last Holiday party of my new school.

15. A song I like to listen to while driving Aria (Cantilena) of Bachianas brasileiras No.5f or Soprano and Cellos, W.389 by Heitor Villa-lobos sang by Kiri Te Kanawa. I find this Aria very inspiring. When I was in my thirties, I participated in Chile in a group that we called Cucópolis which was the fantasy city that appeared in the play The Birds by ancient Greek play writer. Aristophanes. We met to discuss things that we were passionate about. By turn we gave a lecture or explanation to the rest of the group of something that was prowling on our minds. My cousin Paula, the same of song #18 sang in a choir and was very gifted. She gave us a presentation of music and how the same piece could be interpreted very different depending of the singer or the director. One of the examples she gave was with this Aria and Kiri Te Kanawa. Since then, I love to listen to this piece, and if it’s in the car at its maximum volume, while driving in the countryside on a summer day with the windows open, the better.

16. A song from my childhood. Salta, salta pequeña langosta by Los Cinco Musicales and danced by Chilean Música libre show from the early seventies. When I was 11 or 12 this song became very famous by a TV show where a group of young people danced and dubbed the top hits. One of the girls in the group was Mera. She had very long hair and wore long socks just above the knees. It was the maximum. I just loved the show and waited anxiously every day to 6 pm to dance barefoot along with Mera.

17. A song that nobody expect I would like. Bailar by Deorro. My daughter introduced me to Deorro in January of 2018 when I needed to direct one of the act of a play by Spanish dramatist, Ramón María del Valle-Inclán. I wanted to give a modern twist to this beginning of the 20th century play. I wanted to set my scene in a Spanish discoteque, so I messaged my daughter and asked her what music could I play, and she sent me Deorro. I enjoyed so much directing the scene, and coming up with an original idea, that started to listen to Deorro more than I thought I would, until I found the perfect song for my scene, and I actually like it.

18. A song that I would like to be played in my wedding. It was already played in my weeding and it was Amazing Grace interpreted by my lovely cousin Paula Siles (in the link is a version by Ella Jenkins). She told me she wanted to sing in our wedding but she told us that she wanted to surprise us what she was going to sing. After our vows she start singing with her beautiful voice. It was magical. She also sang the Ave Maria by Schubert.

19. A song that I would like to be played in my funeral. El derecho de vicir en paz (The right to live in peace) by an ensemble of several Chilean musicians. It was inspired by Victor Jara’s original song that he composed in 1971 to protest against the Vietnam War and the US intervention. The song was widely sung during the 2019  Chilean protests that started in Oct 25, 2019. The lyrics are very powerful, and somehow are resonating all over the world. They should be sound loud and clear.

20. A song that I am currently listening. The Night we met by Lord Huron. This was the first song that Spotify started to play when I clicked on the playlist I follow, Bike Ride Tunes by Christina Waddle. I like to play this list when I work in my computer not when I bike ride. When I bike ride I like to listen to the wind, the birds, and my wheels crunching on the gravel.

MySpotifyWrapped2018 EN
My 2018 Spotify

 

Day 28. Moving Slowly #SOLSC20 #SOL

Today, March 28th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

Moving slowly today

I can’t write too much

Gigantic circles spin next to my left eye

Retreat, retreat, stay in bed today

Amazed I have to obey

Indulge yourself, no need to ask for a sick day.

Numb yourself, sleep. As everything, it will pass

Elation will come when I regain strength and can write, and read again.

Day 27. Stages of grief #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 27th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

Since my Coronavirus quarantine started 14 days ago, I have thought a lot about the five stages of grief by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. A friend of mine recommended me her memoir The Wheel of Life when my mom was dying of cancer in 2011. Since then, I always recommend it to people that are going through something similar. During the current crisis I feel that I am participating in a global grief: people are dying, and my own behavior can affect other people’s lives.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think I have been through the five of them already.

 

 

 

 

Day 26. Between the lines #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 26th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. Today is also my daughter’s birthday. I remember with so much longing last year when I was with her, on her 23rd birthday. Love you so much hija!!!

 

Today I participated as a surprise guest in the 2nd Online Thursday of my Spanish friends’ Thursday’s Foam writing workshop meeting (via Whatsapp). Maria, the fantastic person who runs the workshops, receives all the stories ahead of time, and also an audio of each participants reading their story. By 6:30 pm Spanish time, the workshop starts via Whatsapp. Maria sends all the stories in an email and in alphabetical order we read and hear every story. At every time, we comment and Maria makes the most important points and analyses of the story just read/heard through an audio recorded in real time. I am so impressed of her quick grasps of each story, and how she can see (or not) immediately the elements of the homework she had given the group the last week. This time they needed to include 4 elements that drove the actions of the character: Lies-Motivation – Needs – Ghosts.

I spent almost 4 hours listening and reading ten amazing stories, and reading to witty and funny comments that were scrolling fast on my feed.

This morning, at 9 am, I was in the chopping block since I haven’t written in so long in Spanish. The workshop was about to start and my screen page was in blank.  Since my brain can’t write two pieces in one day, let along in different languages, I am going to put here what I wrote in Spanish, and give my best in translating it into English.

Entre líneas

9 am. ¡Mierda! ¡Solo tengo media hora para sacar algo de mi cabeza, escribirlo, grabarlo con mi sexi voz y enviársela a María por whatsapp! Ayer abrí los 1818 mensajes que tenía guardados del chat de la Espuma de los Jueves. Me he pasado siete meses buscando palabras en español. Mentiría si dijera que lo he intentado. La única vez que lo hice fue el  sábado 11 de enero cuando organicé el drive de los jueves. Mientras creaba la carpeta de cada uno de los participantes, y en ella sus relatos, me los fui imaginando en cuerpo presente, cada una de las voces que conocía y la de los nuevos, inventándomelas como si ya las conociera. Me daba tanta envidia que los jueves tuvieran nuevos amores. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite y que mi propia espuma ya no desbordara del tazón.  No ser parte de esas risas, y esos juegos. Que mi piel no sintiera el sol sevillano, ni que pudiera subir la cuesta de Guzmán con 40 grados de calor, o llegar a saludar a Chema y entrar a un aula blanca, austera, fría que solo los días jueves a las seis y media de la tarde se llenaba de ilusiones, donde éramos capaces de matar la soledad y enfrentar a nuestros propios fantasmas. Esa sola vez, miré con envidia los relatos que iba insertando en cada carpeta. Tan buenos, tan prolíficos, tan agobiantes. Cuando creé mi carpeta, me armé de valor y abrí un nuevo documento. Lo titulé Retomando la pluma. Permanecí diez minutos mirando la blancura de la pantalla. No tenía nada que transmitir. Me había convertido en un café expreso amargo.

Al mes siguiente, lo volví a abrir. Esta vez lo titulé Tinta invisible, y de mi teclado solo salió una frase. Si no vez nada, es porque se te han acabado los poderes de leerme entrelíneas.

9:24 am hora de Oregon del jueves 26 de marzo 2020. Cumpleaños de mi hija Matilde. 18:24 en la provincia de Sevilla.

Fe de erratas: Calculé mal la diferencia horaria entre España y Oregon. Me había adelantado una hora. Sin embargo, la presión me ha hecho romper el hielo y escribir. La espuma de los jueves es mi motivación y necesidad.


Between the lines

9 am. Shit! I only have half an hour to get something out of my head, write it down, record it with my sexy voice and send it to Maria via WhatsApp! Yesterday, I opened the 1818 messages I had saved from the Thursday’s Foam chat. I have spent seven months looking for words in Spanish. I would be lying if I said I tried. The only time I did it was on Saturday, January 11, when I organized the drive of the Thursdays’ Writing Workshop. While creating the folder of each of the participants, and placing in it their stories, I imagined them face to face, listening to each one of the voices I knew, and creating the one of the new participants as if I already knew them. I was so envious that on Thursdays they had new lovers. Ceci, Carmen, Pedro, Maite and that my own foam no longer overflowed from the bowl. Not being part of those laughs, and those playful days. That my skin did not feel the Sevillian sun, or that I could bike up the Guzmán slope with 40 degrees C of heat, or get to greet Chema and enter to the white, austere, cold classroom that only on Thursdays at six-thirty pm was filled with illusions, where we were able to kill loneliness and face our own ghosts.

That one time, I looked enviously at the stories I was inserting into each folder. So good, so prolific, so overwhelming. When I created my folder, I plucked up my courage and opened a new document. I titled it Taking Up the Pen again. I spent ten minutes looking at the whiteness of the screen. I had nothing to convey. It had turned me into a bitter espresso.

The following month, I reopened it. This time I titled it Invisible Ink, and only one sentence came out of my keyboard. If you don’t see anything, it’s because you have run out of powers to read me between the lines.

9:24 am Oregon time, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. My daughter Matilde’s birthday. 18:24 in the province of Seville.

Errata: I miscalculated the time difference between Spain and Oregon. I was an hour ahead of time. However, the pressure made me break the ice and write. The Foam on Thursdays is my motivation and need.

Screenshot_20200320-092936_WhatsApp
Thursday’s Foam – My Spanish Writing Workshop Chat

 

Day 8. Women’s voices #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 8th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. Also, today I am marching in the cyberspace to keep the good fight for women’s rights and gender equality, to get my words out, and never, ever give up.

I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

I am so disappointed that in the US people don’t march for International Women’s Day like the rest of the world. The month of March is women’s history month, but today is not an important day like in the rest of the planet. History is relevant if we can bring it to the present.

Same thing happen with Labor Day. It’s a day to remember here but in September, and not May 1st. It seems like here we don’t want to remember anything that’s negative (or attached to anything that is associated with a socialist past as Kristen R. Ghodsee points out in an interview with Penn Today, University of Pennsylvania). Or women’s day will be celebrated from now on the day prior Inauguration Day?

Interesting enough, both, International Women’s Day and Labor Day started due to events that happen in the US (New York 1909, and Chicago, 1886, respectively). It’s like we have to sugar coat everything. It has to have a happy ending, like a Hollywood movie. But there are things that haven’t ended yet. If we don’t make them visual we don’t see them. It’s like stories. If we don’t write them, they don’t exist.

Through my Sunday email of the Conversation Canada, I found a really interesting gender gap tracker in the media. It’s only based in Canada, but I found it very relevant today. It measures the ratio of female to male sources quoted in online news coverage across some of Canada’s most influential national news media. It was developed with the premises of helping the public and journalists to amplify women’s voices. If you check the tracker there are still overwhelmingly more male than women voices on 7 Canadian media outlets (roughly 2/3 to 1/3). The tracker’s website also provides journalists with a database of informed, qualified women willing to give their opinion on certain issues.

Last year, I was marching with my fellow Spaniards on the street of Sevilla. Today I am alone, afraid of the coronavirus, and bummed that wipes are sold out in Amazon. Not!!!

 

Day 31. Saying goodbye is like dying a little #sol19

slice-of-life_individualMarch 31st

Partir, c’est mourir un peu,
Partir es morir un poco
Parting is dying a little

Edmond Haraucourt

Goodbye Virginia, welcome Oregon

Goodbye daughter, welcome son

Goodbye Winter, welcome Spring

Goodbye March, welcome April

Goodbye English, welcome Spanish

Goodbye parties, welcome solitude

Goodbye Richmond, welcome Redmond

Goodbye James river, welcome Deschutes

Goodbye weekend, welcome new working week

Goodbye full house, welcome empty home

Goodbye cold days, welcome warm and flowers

Goodbye warm days, welcome still cold and snow

Goodbye refrigerator full of food of different people’s taste, welcome abandoned refrigerator with nothing

Goodbye Mati’s thrifty red car, welcome gas eater white  pickup

Goodbye writer’s block, welcome inspiration

Goodbye faithful commentators, welcome random visitors

Goodbye welcome wagon volunteers, welcome me to the cart

Goodbye Slice of Life story challenge, welcome Classroom SOLSC

Goodbye Slice of Life story challenge, it has been a pleasure, welcome in search for a job challenge, it will be exciting

Parting is dying a little, arriving insufflates life.

I did it! Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Day 30. Tiredness is a good feeling #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 30th

Only 2 days…the Slice of Story challenge is winding down, many people are on Spring break trying to squeeze the last minutes of relaxation to the max, slices are shorter and comments on my own blog are skimpier. It seems that everybody is tired. Some teachers are also preparing for April’s classroom Slice of Story challenge. Wow. That’s really commendable.

I am not the exception. I am tired but in a good way. It’s like when I go for a long bike ride and all my muscles ache and I am worn out to the point that I can’t rest. Suddenly, the whole body gives up and collapsescollapses . But feels good.

Now it´s almost 1 am of March 30th. I will have a busy day. My daughter of 23 years old decided to celebrate her birthday as she was 5. We went biking together to the supermarket, bought candies for the piñata, hot-dogs, ice-cream, and some goodies. I am making a hand made piñata remembering the ones I made when she and her brother were little. I just made a cake that tomorrow I have to put layers of strawberry jam and dulce de leche that I still need to find somewhere. And the frosting, and finishing the piñata. Oh, and we are going to raft the James river in the morning. And is almost 1 am. And I am tired, but it´s a good tiredness, the kind that leaves you feeling good..