Saturday, June 26, 2010

A 4.0

This last class is a pain-in-the-ass. Really. I'm sure it's valuable information and I might use it some day (doubt it), and if I had taken this course a year ago I would be more into it. But this is the last class for my Master's degree and I have senior-itus so bad even the the lull of a good night's sleep away from home barely makes up for my utter boredom with school. It's only five weeks: I should be able to focus and do more homework for only five more weeks... right? Come on, Terena, you can do it. You can write another paper and read another chapter and retain a little bit of what you learn. This is it! No more classes after this one. Don't give up now.

And then the one motivating thought that could cut through the haze of school fatigue trumpeted loudly in my brain: don't mess up your 4.0 in the last class you have to take.

Right now, I have a 4.0. I usually don't care about that, I mean really, are any potential employers going to check my GPA? I doubt it. So who cares, right? But for some bizarre reason that I can't fathom, I suddenly care a great deal about maintaining my 4.0 in grad school. I started caring when I decided to walk in the graduation ceremony next June. I didn't walk for my BA. The school sent my diploma in the mail. This time, I want to wear a gown and that silly square hat with the tassel and walk with my classmates up to the stage to get my diploma in front of my family and a few thousand strangers. And if I have a 4.0, I get some kind of acknowledgment for that, like a sticker or a gold chord on my gown.

Again, I have to wonder why this is suddenly so important to me. A sticker? I'm going to bust my ass in this final class for a sticker?

Yes. Yes I am.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Here's soap in your eye

On a cool, sunny Wednesday, I was sitting in front of the Peete's in West Portal, San Francisco, drinking a latte when my phone rang. It was Rick.

"Queen Teen just squirted liquid soap straight into her eye and I rinsed it out the best I could but she wouldn't hold still or keep her eyes open so I'm not sure if I got the soap out and she's still crying and her eye's all red and I don't know what to do now."

Um, I thought. What am I supposed to do? I'm 2 and a half hours from you guys.

I did my best to be helpful, but he'd already done everything I would have, so I praised his quick action for rinsing the eye and told him give Queen Teen a kiss from me. It was Wednesday, so I'd be home after class, late that night. There was nothing else to do but wait and see.

How the hell did she manage to squirt soap directly into her eye? That girl is talented.

When I got home that night Queen Teen was asleep, but she woke up several times that night complaining that her eye hurt. I sat up with her, wiping it with a cool cloth and assuring her it would be okay. By the morning her eye was bright red and the lids swollen. I gave her a cool cloth to hold against her eye and she stayed home from school that day. She was rubbing it so hard the area around her eye socket was bruised and raw. We couldn't get her to stop, and we didn't want to tie her hands behind her back. After dinner that evening, Rick and I decided to take her to the ER because her eye was looking worse and getting goopy.

The good news was that her eye was fine. Rick had done an excellent job rinsing it, despite Queen Teen's refusal to hold still. The bad was that she was having an allergic reaction to the soap which was why she was rubbing it so much. The doctor prescribed eye drops for the itching and antibiotic drops just in case it was getting infected and sent us home. That was the quickest ER visit I've ever experienced (less than 2 hours. gotta be a world record).

It took five days for the itching and redness to go away and another couple of days for Queen Teen to stop complaining that her eye was "bugging" her.  I felt bad for her and I knew it was genuinely bothering her, but after day four of constant whining I really wanted to tell her to "suck it up." I love my girl dearly, but boy can she be a drama queen!

All is well now. She's back in school and so am I. Her eye looks great with no sign of redness or injury. But I'd still like to know how she managed to squirt liquid hand soap directly into her eye. Did she lift the bottle to look at it with the spout pointed at her face and push the lever? I bet she never does that again.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some pictures from Graduation

My beautiful daughter on her 8th grade graduation.

Queen Teen and her teacher, Laura Fogg, and our good friend, Sharon


  Getting her Certificate


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One last class at SF State

I'm sitting in the student union on the San Francisco Sate University campus, sipping a lukewarm Latte and watching other students wander by on their way to classes. It's summer, so the food court is quiet; you can actually find a table. You can walk through the bookstore without squeezing past hundreds of students fighting for the last few used copies of the text book they need. The mood of the university is laid back and slower then during the Fall and Spring. If you're here taking a class over the summer, you're either very dedicated to your major, or are very close to graduating.

I'm very close to graduating. After I take this one class, I'm finished with all of my course work for my Master's degree. I'll just have my internships in the Fall,  plus a Master's exam. No more sitting in a classroom absorbing information; it's almost time to put all that info to work.

The class I'm taking teaches how to write a research proposal, but since I don't have to do a research project for my degree, it feels like a massive waste of time and money. It's a 15 week class crammed into a 5 week summer session. 5 weeks is better than 15, and I'll do my best not to give in to the school burnout I feel. I might actually learn something useful, and I get to spend three days in San Fran again, sleeping in, exploring my favorite city, seeing friends.... I mean studying every single moment because I'm far too busy to have any fun. And besides, after all those weekend classes learning to cross streets under blindfold, this one research class is going to feel like a leisurely stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden while sipping soothing Jasmine tea.

The hardest part of all this is my family. Being gone for three straight days has created a lot of tension again. Queen Teen is PISSED, and is taking out all her anger on Rick. Rick is tired and has been working too much, so really doesn't have the patience to deal with angry-teen. I feel guilty that I'm here in a quiet room (I'm staying at a friend's house while she's in New York. So nice, all this solitude.) able to to hear myself think again. But I'm trying to enjoy this time and not let guilt ruin it. This is the last of my "escapes." Once I'm done with my classes, it will be very, very, very, very, very, very, hard for me to run away from home any more.

So here I sit, sipping my latte, staring out the window and writing in my blog, when I should be working on the first draft of section one of my research proposal.



Update on Queen Teen's graduation

Queen Teen didn't make it to the actual ceremony with her classmates. It was just too hard on her. Instead we had a party at our house and a small ceremony of our own where we presented her with her Principal's List award. Several of her teachers were there, as well as my dad, mom, brother, sis-in-law, niece and nephew and my good friend Jody. Queen Teen was so excited and looked gorgeous in her new dress. Here's a pic. I'll post more soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

8th grade graduation: what's the big deal?

Today is Queen Teen's last day of Jr High. Tonight is graduation and a celebration here at the house with family and many of the people who have helped her get this far: teachers, therapists, advocates and friends. She has a new, pink and white polka dot dress (so pretty!) and a new white crochet bolero sweater. Family from far away have been sending cards, cash and good wishes. I'm cleaning the house and baking quiche for the party. Only one problem...

Queen Teen doesn't know what the hell is going on.

I've been trying to explain what "8th grade graduation" is for a month.

"Graduation is a ceremony where are all the kids who are in the 8th grade are honored for all their hard work. You get an award and all your family and friends will be there and we'll cheer."

She looked at me slack jawed and blinked.

"Um... we're going to have a party here at the house to celebrate all the hard work you've done. Then we'll go to the high school with the other 8th graders and you'll get your award."

Again, she stared at me, this time scrunching her eyebrows.

"It will be fun. You'll see. Your cousin is coming..."

She smiled at that.

"... and Nana and Uncle Chris and Aunt Margie and Grandpa Bear..."

She giggled.

"We'll all be there to cheer when you get your award for finishing Jr. High."


"Why will we be there?"

"Why do I get a award?"

"Because you worked very hard and are now ready to go to High School."

She sighed. "I don't understand anything."

I've tried this conversation several times. I've looked for books about graduation and found one with Clifford, but it didn't arrive in time. I've looked for movies, but didn't find any she would understand. The problem is that the concept of a graduation is completely foreign to her. We went to her cousin's 8th grade graduation two years ago but we had to leave early because she had a panic attack.

She really doesn't care about all this fuss. What Queen Teen wants is for her days to be normal again. Early release, assemblies, parties and field days at school are annoying. Why all the excitement? All the fuss and rushing around. Everything just needs to be "normal." Then she'll be happy.

Later this morning I'll meet Queen Teen and her O and M teacher, Laura, to check out the location of the graduation and figure out how to get Queen Teen on the platform to accept her certificate. Wheelchair or Walker? One of her classmates, a strong boy who has become a good friend, will help her. But as we're sorting out the details of where she will sit and how she will get her diploma, I'm beginning to have doubts about the whole thing. The ceremony takes place on the football field, just as her cousin's graduation did. Will Queen Teen have a panic attack like she did at her cousin's graduation? Will she be able to sit through the almost 2 hours of speeches and band performances?

Who is this graduation for? Queen Teen, or me?

If it was up to Queen Teen she'd skip the whole thing.

But I want her to experience what a graduation is and accept her certificate, be acknowledged for all her hard work, and soak up some of the accolades that she misses out on.

Again, is that for her, or me?

If it's for me, is that so bad?