Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the wall.

Talking with my friend tonight was like looking in the mirror. Our childhoods were incredibly similar. Our family member's actions mirrored each other: physically abusive fathers, depressed suicidal mothers, dependent siblings, (yes I realize how incredibly trite these sound and no, please don't allow them to evoke pity*). Our lack of shame for our past, our blatant approach to communications, and our ever-positive perspectives on the impacts our pasts have made. All mirrors. And not the contorted fun-house kind either.

My friend mentioned that his sister wasn't around and constantly receives credit for being the strength in his family. He feels hurt by this as he knows he was the one who was there to take care of his mother. I'm afraid that this is how my own brother feels as I moved away... twice, and am constantly referred to as the 'strong' one. I - and literally no one else - was asked to finish my grandma's eulogy in the event that my aunt could not, (it was her mother's ashes in the box two feet from her, anyone would have shaken too badly to speak). My aunt's husband hugged and thanked me for being his wife's strength. Where does this 'strength' come from?

I saw my grandpa for the first time today since my grandma passed away. It felt like I was wearing a heavy led jacket that was crushing my rib cage. There was no one there to crochet with, or brush half of my hair, or laugh hysterically at Elf with me. My grandpa cried as soon as he hugged me and cried when I left. I drove 7 hours in one day because he was lonely and I love him and want him to be happy. But he was sad. I didn't cry in front of him.

Oh Tera, why oh why would you ramble on about these things? I am petrified that I have a disconnect with things to protect myself. This is frightening for two reasons. One: you can't protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness. Two: I want to live in the present and experience things as they are. Huh? Today I took a deep breath and said "focus on the present" to myself. The moment I did that I burst into tears. I spend a good portion of my time in hyper awareness. Yes, I teach Special Education. Yes, I now analyze myself. Hyper awareness means I move through life pushing onward not really experiencing the things around me. On occasion.

Mirror mirror...

*I ask for no pity because I have none unless I feel that someone has really, truly struggled. Many people walk around like they have holes in both of their hands while they never really know sacrifice.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Jenn and I were cutting through HIT's main campus, (in the heart of Harbin), to get to our favorite French cafe - inexplicably the best espresso and crepes in all of China. We just had hour-long massages at a place that cost roughly three U.S. dollars and we were lazily seeking sustenance from receiving the beating that is a good Chinese massage.

(this is my little La, Jenn)

In Harbin Spring-fashion, the heavens opened up and dumped an entire lake's worth of water on our heads in less than 30 seconds - which was exactly how long it took us to realize that running was futile. There's no need to run when you're wearing a jacket and your bra is already soaked through. I stopped at a little store on campus, (where many students were huddled under the awning), and bought a plastic bag in which to wrap my computer. Jenn and I put our things with the students and began kicking the water from the quickly flooded streets onto each other.

Brazilian Jujitsu. Jenn and I had joined a bjj class during the winter months to avoid being cooped up as Harbin's weather plummeted to a brisk -30. I'd specify if it was Celsius or Fahrenheit but honestly, around that point, the numbers actually start to equal each other.

(through the ice)

Knowing this side fact, it's easy to imagine that kicking water at each other could quickly turn into a full-on throw down. Which is good. Because that's what happened.

Jenn and I literally wrestled in a flooded street. When I say flooded I mean at least 7" of water in any given point of where we were picking each other up, tripping each other, and dunking each other. All the while the spectators under the awning looked on with perplexed expressions. I'm sure they were thinking "crazy foreigners..."

3 years ago we fought in a street in China, grabbed our things got some Boba tea and hopped in separate taxis.

(the day you left)

Today I will be picking Jenn up from the Tulsa airport. Life is such a blessing and words can not fully express my euphoric feeling.

(The last time I saw Jenn... 1.25 years ago)

Monday, March 7, 2011

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

7. 35. 100.

7 of these:

$35 a piece.

100% class participation.

My 5th hour class typically looked like this:
A student with Asperger's stabs a student with Cerebral Palsy with a pencil and he screams "MUTANY!" They argue over who's going to shake whose hand first while I try not to look perplexed as to why they are even shaking hands to begin with.
A girl with emotional disturbances yells "shut the f* up" and throws her calculator because the child with Cerebral Palsy is ticking.
One student talks loudly out of turn because the girl with emotional disturbances is trying to borrow his paper.
Two other girls bicker over who can get the kid that keeps on talking to the other girl pay attention to them.
I bring everyone back to attention, we start taking notes, the students finish writing at different times, problems restart.

Thursday I gave everyone in my class an exercise ball with EXPLICIT instructions: no, you may not lay on the ball; yes, you can bounce, but if I hear you the ball goes up; no, you can not recline on the ball; if you fall off the ball, you lose the ball privileges for the week; if you are talking, you put the ball up; if you are late, you don't get to sit on a ball.

When students finished taking notes on a slide early they merely rocked back and forth on the ball and clapped their hands to Freelance Whales I had playing in the background. My student with Asperger's whispered "That was a great transition, Ms. Hering." He was absolutely correct. No one got stabbed with a pencil. No one threw a calculator against a wall. Everyone was on task or waiting patiently for others to finish. My child with Cerebral Palsy had time to get all the notes that day before we 'had to move on.'

This makes me teary-eyed when I think about it. I love my job and finding solutions that create a positive impact on my students' learning environment.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I like to make things as awkward as possible.

Sunday I still had the mustard-yellow paint on my hands, hadn't showered, and spent the morning cleaning my old house. Internet still hasn't been hooked-up in my new house yet, so I ran to my favorite coffee shop to e-mail my program director.

The guy behind the counter, who is always really nice, said "you're late for your typically Sunday meeting."

"Yeah... I just bought a house and had some things to take care of." He looked at me with a perplexed expression and asked how old I was, which was immediately followed by him asking my name and telling me two times that it was nice to meet me.

He gave me my coffee, I sat down and wrote a note that read:

Do you want to be friends?

Circle One
Yes No Maybe

If you circled yes
(arrow to flip over fold in page)
*my phone number*

Anyone who is going to hit on me when I look like that deserves the digits.

I am an old woman and I go to bed around 9:30 sometimes, last night was no different. I was awoken by a number I didn't recognize around 10:45.

"So... I circled yes."