School Daze ( Pt. 2)

If you think the traumatic incident that occurred at the middle school was the end of my teaching career…  Think again.

Teaching was a chosen profession for me. After I made the decision not to attend law school but rather pursue an undergraduate and graduate degree in my first love, English, I was not content to give up on this career that I loved so dearly.

Yes, I could always return to the paralegal arena which had finally become an accepted and even lucrative profession in the South. I even did a brief stint working for the government as a legal analyst, but it was not teaching.

I had traded students for case files, and despite the significant pay increase, I was not satisfied with my 9 to 5-is-it-lunchtime-yet cube existence.

I reasoned that if I  could not teach at a public school, I could seek teaching jobs at community colleges and universities.  My first college teaching position was at a major Virginia university.  Members of the faculty saw me conduct a workshop at a middle school conference and invited me to interview for a faculty position .

I was hired after the interview, mere months after leaving my middle school position. Following that position, I was able to parlay my experience into jobs at several community colleges and an HBCU in Virginia.

Life as a contract professor or adjunct was interesting and challenging especially teaching freshman or adult learners. However, the pay and lack of benefits did not lend itself to the needs of a single parent.

I began considering reentry into public school. But this time up North. The sting left by the uncaring administrators at the middle school was still fresh

By this time, I  had published 2 history books for young people , several journal articles, received several national fellowships, and taught in higher education so I easily secured an 8th grade English position.

The school was in a bedroom community of Washington, DC with a large Hispanic population. I enjoyed the school’s diversity and the nearness of the nation’s capital.  Unfortunately,  an unexpected illness caused me to end my tenure there, but once I recovered, I  found another position in the largest and most influential county in Northern Virginia .

After several years in this county,  I  relocated to a sleepy litle town  in the Northern neck of Virginia  where I  landed a position at both the local high school and community college.

This was my last stop on the teacher train and probably most memorable because of the faculty and students who welcomed me (an urban  Black teacher) into their community and their hearts.

Officially retired now, and pursuing writing fulltime, I  still dip my toes in the teaching pond…subbing at local school districts (my experience working at the local Gifted School will always be a fond memory of both talented students and dedicated educators) and conducting teacher training workshops.

When September rolls around, I still feel that excitement and air of expectancy heralding the start of a new school year

No longer do I  feel anxious upon entering a school; instead I feel at home…looking forward to the interaction with colleagues…and facing a roomful of new, fresh faced, inquisitive students  and the promise that Learning brings.


photo of sticky notes and colored pens scrambled on table
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on




Part 2 Vegas: The Exciting, Adventurous, No Good, Horrible, Terrible Trip

Well Reader, here is the Exciting /Adventurous part of the Vegas trip.  The unnamed one and I are both anxious to get to the Grand Canyon.  Many years ago, I had been on a road trip from LA to Michigan with husband #2 but I had only glimpsed parts of it as he put pedal to the medal in that classic Riviera .  The unnamed one and I hurriedly dressed mindful of the searing heat that promised to abate once we arrived in Arizona.

According to the website, the Bus would leave at 6:15 a.m., stop at the Bridge leading to the Hoover Dam, make a rest stop in Kingman, Arizona at the Mickey Ds, continue on to the Natl Geographic Museum for lunch and optional IMAX.  Then on to the GC with two stops along the South rim and lots of photo opps and trail climbing time.  The return trip would include dinner at Mickey Ds again (they must have the hookup) and then back to the hotel by 8 p.m.

The Bus arrived promptly at 6:15 and every seat was taken.  Once we got underway, however, the driver announced that he was Not taking us to the GC, but instead he was transporting us to a site where we would be divided into groups to board the actual Bus to GC.  Huh?  The early hour and heat prevented most of the passengers from doing anything but grumble, but certainly no one had expected this twist in the plot.  This is what I like to call a bonding moment…like in the movies…when the actors realize their/our fate lies in the hands of someone’s Employees.  The Bonded Bus Riders all exchange an anxious, half smiling, querulous look.

After about 30 minutes, we arrived at what could only be described as the cattle pen.  Hundreds of people were lined up in front of a building boarding/waiting for buses.  We sat on our Bus another 20 minutes before being herded into a huge building and told to form two lines:  the West rim and South rim groups.

A perky employee launched into her presentation and soon the West rim group was on their way to the buses wearing the important red tag.  I overheard their perky presenter say their 8 hour trip included  a skywalk, helicopter ride and pantoon boat. Our group was given a green tag and advised that unlike the West rim people, our trip was going to take 10-12 hours.  The entire group simultaneously turned to their partners/significant other and repeated..did she say 12 hours? In the background, perky employee droned on…But Guests, I always save this for last because I want you to know YOU are getting a much better experience than the West rim people.  She must have bumped her perky head!

Normally, my legal training kicks into gear when I am booking anything online and unlike most people, I do read the small print and the terms and conditions.  Never did I recall reading that the trip would take 12 hours.  Bait and switch strikes again.  We consumed the sumptuous breakfast of oj and mini honey buns while listening to perky presenter extol the wonders of the IMAX presentation that would be held during lunch.  I mean, who needs to see the real GC when we can watch it in IMAX.  Finally after another 45 minutes, we were allowed to board the real Bus to the Grand Canyon.

Our driver was a frustrated actor who was determined to narrate the entire trip in a droning, robotic voice that sounded worse when amplified by the speakers.  Oh, did I mention the website said it was a deluxe double decker motor coach.  They must have removed the deluxe and double decker before delivering our bus.  Nevertheless, the droning continued despite the early hour and our need for sleep and the fact that half of the Riders were non English speaking.

Does anybody speak English?  How long before we get there? Oh, we will be there in 5 minutes.  Really? No 5 hours…

After stopping on the bridge to view part of the Hoover Dam, we’re finally on our way.  Kingman, Arizona and the Mickey Ds stop took up considerable time as it was packed with other bus passengers.  We finally reached the lunch stop just as the IMAX was starting. The lunch was a choice of pizza, hot dog or rice bowl.  We were told by Security we could NOT take our lunches in the theatre.  The IMAX was supposed to have been award winning…maybe the photography was, however, the acting was poor and offensive to the Native Americans who made the GC their original home.

By the time we arrived at the first stop on the GC, we were already 2 hours late.  Madam driver said we could only go down to one spot and under no circumstances were we to go down Any Trails because it took twice as long to come back up.  And she was NOT waiting for Anyone.

We stumbled out of the bus into the 90 degree heat awed by the raw beauty of the GC.  Cameras snapped, brave men/women stepped over the guard rails to perch precariously on the was a sight to behold. In a matter of minutes, it was over and we were herded back on the Bus headed to the second stop.

Again, the warning Do Not Go Down The Trails…but That’s were everything worth seeing is..and the website specifically said Trails included. A young man lamented and whipped out his ipad dashing off a complaint letter to corporate no doubt.

Oh, did I mention, the unnamed one was in Rapture at all of this Nature, snapping pictures and even pulling up a purple flowered plant that he carefully put in his Dasani bottle for the trip home. Huh..really? Did you Not see that sign about desecrating the national park and what about the Airport baggage check?

After about an hour, we boarded the bus for the return and were matter of factly told by Madam Driver, we would Not arrive at 8, but closer to ll p.m.  The non English speaking people had to have that bit of information translated for them and there was much swearing in multiples tongues throughout the bus. One couple pleaded with the driver that they had to get back before 11 because they had purchased $150 tickets to a show and the bus company had assured them they would be back in time.

Madame Driver was adamant..11 or later…take it or leave it.  Her attitude had changed into one of near hostility and I was glad I had brought a Xanax so I could retreat into another world on the ride home in the dark, already scary, multiple S curve mountainous terrain.

As we neared the strip, Madame Driver announced  that she would have to Stop Driving as soon as she reached the Boulevard because she had used up All her Driving time.  However, she had radioed the company and another driver was being sent to meet us and transport us back to our various hotels.  The Bonded passengers all exchanged looks of  how did we get here…and as soon as she pulled into the parking lot of the Excalibur everyone jumped ship following the bright lights, speeding traffic, winding parking lots back to their respective hotels.

Finally. The day was over and if I could just hold my nose and make it down that long, dank corridor, surely tomorrow would restore some balance to this crazy, up and down trip.  Safely in the room and drifting off to the land of nod, I felt someone poking me ( No Reader, get your mind out the 50 Shades book…lol). The unnamed one nudged me awake and pointed to a growing sea of red welts down his arm…mosquito bite? too much tomato juice on Delta? stamin from the liberated purple prairie flower?  What the hell?

Thanks for Reading…comments Always welcomed…Stay tuned for Part 3?

Looking into the Abyss OR the Pleasure Dome

60 is a very pivotal age for the Baby Boomer. Ten years apres finding that First AARP in the mailbox… the lilting ring of I’m 50 something replaced by the thudding sound of Yeah Man, I’m 60. The reality that there are more days behind you than ahead… and depending on your world view… this could be the beginning of staring into the Abyss or racing into the Pleasure Dome. After all, we were the generation that was going to change the world…baby if I cooould channnge the world…Remember.

So here I am almost sixty (technically I am still fifty-nine) but when the ball drops next month I will be throwing rocks as they say, at sixty so why not claim it now…it will lessen the shock…and make it easier to mouth the words when some Uncoth type asks me my age. Not that I have any problem telling them…but why is it really important? Does it tell them Anything really relevant about who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and more importantly what I am about to do. Like leave this establishment as soon as I finish this drink because this conversation is boring me to thoughts of suicide or better yet homicide…His.
When did I become so impatient with men…people in general…but especially men in my age bracket…knowing what they are about to say before they engage their brains and let their mouths belie their intelligence. Able to spot an Old Playa from across the room or right up in my face whispering that I should remember his phone number without bothering to ask mine.
I think most Boomer women would appreciate it more if men just knew how to graciously accept their age and flow with it. This obsessing over younger women who see nothing but dollar signs when they look at them and the constant need to put down the women who really are in their age category has made many of my sisters declare that the war is over.

I should be stickaforkinme done but every now and then I allow myself to traverse down that road. Often because of an unexpected gift- a smile- given to a Stranger as I am leaving say… a business mixer.
He said his name was L and the smile on my face made him think I was up to something. I was. Trying to get home after two drinks of Grey Goose from a friendly bartender at the first stop followed by another less generous pour at this place. The silly grin was, I admit, Goose induced and He just happened to open the door as I was trying to gracefully ease out of the place.

     After depositing my distinctive blue business card in his hand and declining to remember his whispered digits, I found myself mildly entertaining thoughts of his phone call and what might ensue. He was charming enough and had the balls to approach me so I was intrigued.
     And then reality set in as day three or four since our encounter and no phone call. I put thoughts of him out with the smelly trash and immersed myself in grading yet another freshman essay about the horrors of abortion, war and gun control.
And then he called – very formal tone- as if he wasn’t sure I would answer. The conversation was brief. He was on his way to have his car inspected and I guess thought he would ring me up on the way. Not too impressive I thought for a first call since I seemed to be part of his errands for that day. And when he abruptly arrived at his destination the call ended and his promise to return the call shortly did not materialize for another 24 hours.
This time it was at my insomniac hour. I guess he didn’t believe I would really be awake but unfortunately for him I was already engaged on the phone with a close friend and ironically at the moment he called was sharing something about Him with her. I told him I would call him back which I did some two or three hours later… all is fair in love and war…and got his voicemail.
      The phone remained silent for the rest of the day and finally later that evening over sushi and a second glass of wine in a new spot downtown, I did break down and call him as he had suggested just to see what his reason was for ignoring me. Yet another voicemail that signaled he was otherwise engaged. This is going nowhere fast and time to pull the ripcord.  So I decide I will not entertain this nonsense any longer because those freshman essays are still piled on my living room floor ungraded.

Friday rolls around and I decide to treat myself to some seafood in the form of Cioppino which usually is reserved for holidays or special occasions since the ingredients are so costly…shrimp, clams, mussels, cod, halibut, salmon, lots of garlic, tomatoes and of course white wine…but I tire of reserving things for special occasions.

     I trek to Whole Paycheck and purchase the necessary ingredients together with those for Muffaletta, a shamefully greasy salmon /spicy ham/three kinds of cheese and a slathering of olive salad on French bread kind of sandwich that has become my latest passion.
     Armed with these pricey ingredients and a bright yellow blast of daisies, I surrender to the peaceful hum of my kitchen and prepare the succulent seafood stew when the phone rings and surprise, surprise…It is none other than elusive stranger. I decide to just slice through the small talk when he tells me he is on his way to a Sushi joint near my hood. And announce that I am making the best seafood dish ever and invite him over to sample my cooking.

     Within minutes he appears at my front door, not as dashing as I remember from the dim lights of the club doorway but congenial enough and anxious to see if I can really cook. Since he appeared without so much as a bottle of wine, I offered him some  Sauvignon that I was using in the stew.
The conversation was pleasant, informational, non threatening as I put the finishing touches on my shellfish feast. He had never had Cioppino and as I instructed him how to sop up the broth with the Italian bread, I could see the pleasure spread across his face… that look which tells the cook he has eaten something truly divine.

     Before I had a chance to offer him some fruit and cheese for desert –organic pears and buttery smooth Havarti- He announced caveman style that he had other plans for the evening and had to get home and prepare himself.
    I smiled sweetly to cover up my agitation. A smart guy would never have been this rude and a young guy would have been anxious to see what was for dessert. Schmuck!
Now I could really see him for what he was…an old has been who needed a good hearing aid instead of that earring in his ear. Who fancied himself a Playa when Senior Citizen more accurately described him. I quickly closed the door on both the cold winter night and him. (Note: This is My Version of Fiction. Your Comments Appreciated!)