Friday, October 31, 2008
Dear Ms. Jenna Consolo,
I have received your letter regarding the play "Spring Awakening" and appreciate your concerns. Due to the mature nature of the material, the advisory was sent to the parents of the students who might attend this field trip, and it seems clear that, upon reading the advisory, you have decided that the material is not appropriate for your daughter. I respect your decision, and the right of every parent to arrive at their own decisions regarding this matter. However, not all parents agree with your decisions, therefore, the trip to "Spring Awakening" will take place as planned.
Just to clarify, general school funds were not used, for this field trip. Mr. Lawler, the teacher, purchased these tickets out of an arts grant. No general education state educational funds were used for these tickets.
I am sure that sometime in the near future there will be an opportunity for your daughter, to participate in a theater activity, that will be more to your liking. Know that you will always be notified of any theater activities that the students might be attending, and you, of course, will always have the opportunity to make a decision for your child.
I thank you for your concern for your child, and we will respect your wishes in this matter, regarding your daughter's non-attendance at this particular play.
Well, besides her love of the unnecessary, comma, I think she missed the point, of my letter. I already, know, that my daughter isn't going. I was speaking, in behalf of the other students, that I care about, too.
Oh well. It's a sad state of affairs.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Well, thank you. Your votes of encouragement and support literally brought me to tears of humility and gratitude last night. And besides the comments, I received several private emails, and a few phone calls as well. I think you all are wonderful.
I applied for school today. Glendale Community College. I have no doubt that they'll accept me, and I've lived here for more than 2 years, so residency is no problem. I'll be waiting to hear if they'll accept my former credits for some of those general ed classes. If they do, I'll have three Biology classes to take (yuck) before I can apply for the Nursing program.
I have no idea how I'll get there, but first things first, right?
Thanks for the push in the right direction.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
But I have this one regret that I simply can't shake. And I'll probably be crying as I type this.
Last Sunday, representatives from BYU and it's partner schools in Idaho, Hawaii, and the LDS Business College came to our Stake Center to present an education fireside. It was for students in grades 8-12 and their parents, basically with a tutorial of how to get into the various universities and what to expect once you're there. I learned a lot. And the whole time I was wishing that I was in grades 8-12, and that what I was looking at on that screen would be my imminent future and that I could be preparing for it with gusto, as I know my own children are now.
I make no bones about it. I should have gone to school. I had the grades, I had the ACT score. I had the acceptance. I even had some scholarship help. I should have gone. I wish someone had pushed me. I wish I knew then what I know now. I should have gone. I will not allow my daughter to make the same mistake that I made.
Sure, I'm proud of the things that I've accomplished even without school. I've been blessed with many opportunities that I don't feel worthy or deserving of. I'm grateful that I have spent my years as a mother, and I do not regret that. But I should have gone to school. I want it so badly that it consumes my thoughts many days. Is it possible for me to go back in time, in a way, and catch up? Can I go back and fill in that chapter of my life? Sure, it won't be entirely the same, especially socially, being in my mid-thirties and married with 4 kids and all, but I think all that considered, it would still light my fire in a way that I need.
Education is so important to me! I've dedicated 11 years to homeschooling my own children and hammering into their heads that they are each getting at least a Master's degree. Period. We learn and read around here like other people snack and breathe. And I don't discount the learning that I continue to do personally, but I want more.
And life is so uncertain. I've been a single mom with no real job skills to speak of. Now, I'm a married mom who has tried her best to shoulder financial pressures with her husband who struggles against a weak economy and a slow job market, with no steady employment. So I teach piano. I bake cakes. I write. And I wish I could go to school.
I want to get an RN. It hit me two weeks ago. I could be a Nurse! There is a nursing shortage, especially in CA and nurses are paid very well here. After finishing up prerequisites (which if the college will accept my classes from eons ago, I will only have three more to take before I could apply to the Nursing program), the program is 2 years. Well, I'll still be here in 3 years, and probably still struggling. Maybe even more so. Life is so uncertain. I don't like the fear and the helplessness I feel inside. I want to do something about it, for me. For my family. For my children. I know the road would be long and hard, and I know the competition is very fierce, but another goal I've had "down the road" is to be a midwife, and an RN is the foundation of that goal as well. I think I should do it. I want to do it.
But I don't know how. Yet.
I don't have a car. Public transportation is not an option. Even the college website says that. I wish I had a car. I miss being able to drive my kids places, or go somewhere as a whole family. (Ah, the beach! The museum! Sean's soccer game!) It's one of those awful vicious cycles. You need money to buy a car, but you need a car to seek more money. I see lovely minivans and those hefty Suburbans and I send my positive energy out there that somehow, in some way I will be able to have a vehicle to drive my children around, and to get me to and from school. (Heck, to evacuate in case of a fire, like we were threatened with last week! Or in the event of the looming "big one"! All so scary to consider, when you know you couldn't even fit your children in the car, let alone supplies and important things if you suddenly had to leave.)
I go to the college website and browse around. Glendale Community. Great nursing program. Not too far away. I'm sure I could get financial aid. What if I could be a nurse? It's exciting for me to even think about! I could work in obstetrics, or a burn unit, or in surgery. Would someone hire an almost 40 year old nurse? Is it too late? I want to be helpful. I want to be a blessing. I want to know that no matter what happens, I'll be okay.
I'm really toying with the idea of filling out an application to see what happens. Maybe I need to take that leap of faith and trust that a way would be provided. Aaaagh! Scary!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
I've written my fair share of Letters too, carrying on in her tradition. Maybe the fact that I got Letters from her and Italian from my father makes it near impossible for me to keep my mouth shut. And this latest episode at my daughter's high school is a real doozy, for sure. I appreciate so much the support you've given me, and I took the dear talented Letter Writer Supreme Josi Kilpack up on her offer to help draft a letter. She got right on it. I only tweaked it a tiny bit, and then personalized them for each recipient. The letter from yesterday's blog post was merely a theatrical effort to dramatize for the blog's sake. I know enough to not hit below the belt with name-calling.
So, without further adieu, here is the letter that I sent to the principal this morning:
Dear Principal Klewitz,
On Wednesday, October 15, 2008, my daughter, a freshman at Verdugo Hills, received a permission slip asking parental approval for her to attend “Spring Awakening” with her dance class, taught by Mrs. Weber, on November 5. The field trip, as I understand was initiated by the drama club coach, Mr. John Lawler. The permission slip gave a brief account of the “controversial” play, stating that it might not be appropriate for all students.
I am an ardent supporter of the arts and strongly believe that a solid foundation in theatre, dance, and music gives my children a wider view of the world and helps them to tap into their own creativity. I expect that to be the same goal of the public schools they attend, and am therefore extremely disappointed that the teachers and administration of Verdugo Hills High School would feel “frank portrayals of masturbation, abortion, rape, and suicide” are acceptable for any student.
With all the beautiful and edifying mediums of art culture available in this area, it is impossible for me to comprehend why “Spring Awakening” was the venue chosen. It is far beyond the scope of “education” for students to be expected to properly absorb and interpret the themes presented in this musical. Never mind that they are children, but to watch such “frank portrayals” surrounded by other teenagers is not only inappropriate, but extremely dangerous as they lack the maturity to fully appreciate the consequences of things like abortion and suicide. Part of our job as parents, teachers, and administrators is to keep our children safe both emotionally and morally while they are in our care, and this field trip promises to do neither.
The point of this letter is to let you know, without uncertainty, that I am absolutely opposed to this trip, not only for my child, but for every student. Its explicit content is counter-productive to the goals of education that as parents, teachers, and administrators we have all pledged to be a part of. I hope that you will reconsider the trip and choose a more educationally edifying event to support through both student attendance and the financial cost of such an endeavor.
In closing, please be informed that I have sent a copy of this letter to the LAUSD Board of Education District 6 member, Julie Korenstein; city council; and Governor Schwarzenegger’s office; as well as to the LA Times editorial office. I have also let Mr. Lawler know by email of my feelings opposing this field trip. I will be paying close attention to your choices in this matter as I evaluate what course of action I choose to take in the future.
Thank you for your time,
And true to my promise, I sent letters to Mr. Lawler (the drama teacher who drummed up this whole idea), the LAUSD Board of Education, my City Council Member, Governor Schwarzenegger, and the L.A. Times. It's been a busy morning.
And I'm sure Lyndsay is, for the first time, grateful that I have a different last name than she does.
P.S.--Thank you, Josi! xo!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Field Trip Advisory for "Spring Awakening" November 11 (Advisory? Bad sign already)
"Spring Awakening" is a Tony Award-winning rock musical, based on the controversial 1891 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. Set in late nineteenth century Germany, it concerns teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer challenges of sexuality. The music contains frank portrayals of masturbation, abortion, rape, and suicide, uses profanity, and may not be appropriate for all students. Please discuss this with your child, and sign below if you approve of his/her attendance.
Ummmmmm, let me think. How about. . . NO WAY! 'May not be appropriate for all students?' How about any student!
Dear Los Angeles Unified School District,
Are you out of your ever-loving minds?! Good heavens, what were you thinking when you approved this field trip? Which one of you low-minded, permissive, filthy, despicable creatures was it that thought this would be the perfect addition to a dance class for 14-16 year old girls? With all of the beautiful and edifying art and culture that we are surrounded with, this was the one thing you thought they just couldn't miss? This was worth the cost of tickets and the $600 for the use of the schoolbus for the day? This was worth missing all the other classes of the day? Do you actually have children? Really? Do you really care about ours?
This is our tax dollars hard at work for the education of California's youth, huh? Despite budget cuts and educational crisis, this is the school district at its finest? How embarrassing.
Permission denied. You should be flogged.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
'Cause when the darkness comes
And I begin
I believe that. I believe we took it all, knowingly, because we knew it would be necessary. And worth it.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
If you really want to do something kind, bring me a bowl full of pomegranate seeds (all the work done!) from your backyard tree. Just to be friendly. Thanks, Maritza! Holy cow, are they sweet and delicious!
Food storage makes me happy. Today we picked up our first order from our food storage co-op. That's 4 buckets of hard white wheat, and 2 buckets of rolled oats. It's a start, anyway, and progress is good. Now I just need a NutriMill wheat grinder.
And a winner of this sweet Cupcake Dress? (Drum roll. . .) I am so excited!!! I'm so excited!!!
I wanted you all to win, but I'm thrilled that Hannah's name was drawn! She's my fabulous cake-baker-decorator-Coupon-Queen-of-a-sister! Oh, Hannah! Yay for you! Bella will look so cute in that dress! I'll give Ale your address and have her send you one out! And everyone else, thanks for entering! Go to Ale's site and buy something fun! She's wonderful! And thank you, Ale!
Friday, October 10, 2008
My oldest, and certainly one of my dearest, bestest-ever friends called me on Monday. Her voice was soft as she said, "Jen, I think this is it."
Every woman knows. Labor. The blessed day had come.
She's Jenn. Like me, Jen, only with another 'n', which makes sense because she's a lot taller than me. Two peas in a pod, we were, friends since age 8, both with brown hair and freckles. So many of my childhood memories include her. She was always there.
And we grew up, but never apart.
We were supposed to go to the Y together, but she left, and I stayed behind. And then I got married. She couldn't be there. But she found rides from BYU for almost every Thanksgiving for the first several years of my marriage. She loved him too, for me. I had my first little baby girl, and we flew to NJ when she was 5 months old. Jenn held my baby. She loved her too.
Then Jenn left on a mission to Costa Rica, and I wrote to her nearly every single Tuesday. I was pregnant with my second child, and she was teaching the people of Costa Rica about Jesus Christ.
My parents divorced. Her parents divorced. We both felt our worlds rocked. Her parents were a part of the background of my life, and now, even if I'd gone home, to the ward we'd grown up in, it wouldn't be the same. Ever again.
When she got home, we still never let too many years pass without visits, mostly her to me. She finished school and graduated and found a job teaching. She traveled abroad and had exciting experiences. And then I was pregnant with my third baby, and she came and held my belly and marveled. She helped me paint the nursery and stencil Noah's Ark around the walls. She gave my husband and me tickets to Alaska to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We'd always wanted to go, and so we planned to go the following summer, when the baby would be about 6 months old, and the other two 6 and 4 1/2.
A year later, my husband left me. After more than ten years together, she was broken-hearted too. She'd loved him, but she loved me more, and my hurt was her hurt. We've always had that kind of connection, despite the miles.
She found a great guy. A really great guy who loved her, and was willing to go the distance, and she married him. I couldn't be there, because I was getting married for the second time that very same weekend. Now we share anniversaries! (Someday that will mean something cool, and we can go on a trip together or something.)
I became pregnant with my fourth child, and she came and held my belly. Listened to my baby within. Felt the jabs and the squirming life. And when he was born (just missed being there for the birth!), she came and held him, and because he was part of me, she loved him instantly. I watched her caress his cheek. I watched the way she held him, the way she looked at him.
And I wanted her arms to hold her own. I wanted her heart to burst.
And now it was time. Labor.
I wanted desperately to be by her side, but circumstances did not allow, so after a pregnancy of shared experiences and questions through phone calls and emails, I was able to be with her on the other end of the phone as she breathed through those surging waves of contractions, bringing forth her firstborn.
I couldn't help but feel the spirit of the event. Birth gets me every time.
"You're a queen," I told her. "Look at what you are doing. Your body is literally performing the measure of its creation in this very instant. You are a queen."
"And think of the sacredness of this moment. Your little boy, is at this time, saying his goodbyes to all of his loved ones in heaven, ready with anticipation and probably a little trepidation for his mortal experience. The veil is so thin. Maybe he's there right now with his siblings-to-be, and he's saying, 'I'll see you soon! This is it!' Maybe the Savior himself is giving him a farewell kiss. You are both having the most powerful experiences of your existences up to this point right at this very moment, simultaneously."
She's crying. So am I. But it's all good. Breathe.
"You can do this, Jenn. You are stronger than you know. Your body is wise and knows just what to do. Don't forget to marvel at its power and strength. It was created to do just this. You are doing it. I love you."
She needs to go to the hospital soon. And just a bit later, she calls and she says, "Jen, he's beautiful."
As I knew he would be. And now her heart is bursting. As I've wished for her for all these years. I remember vividly that first day of motherhood. And the second. And the third. And now, fourteen years plus down the road, I wonder what I'd do differently, what I've learned along the way. I can't possibly give it all to her. Maybe a bit here and there, but it's her journey, and I wouldn't spoil it for her.
For now, her heart bursts with love (and her body aches, and she can't shower, or go to the bathroom, and her back hurts, and sitting hurts, and she's oh, so tired, and her breasts are adjusting, and she has no time to herself. . .)
And my heart bursts in gratitude. Now, we are truly sisters.
Welcome to the world, Alden Michael. Boy, are you gonna love your mommy.
*Don't forget to enter the Cupcake Dress giveaway if you haven't already! You have until Saturday at noon!