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September 2005
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November 2005

Laura Love

Nat_and_laura_st_1 Happy Birthday, Laura!

Laura and me at Mt. St. Helens, Summer of 1987

(I'm the one with what appears to be a goggles on my head, it was the 80s, man).

I met Laura at the bus stop on Alameda one morning when Martin and I started going to McCarver Elementary. She was wearing a hat and she was funny and outgoing and that's all I remember from that day, the hat and that we've been friends ever since.

Even though I can count on one hand the number of times we've seen each other over the years, we've never lost touch. When I see Laura's handwriting in my mailbox, I always make time to read the letter right there in the car and I love that we connect this way. She's the kind of friend you can pick up right where you left off, like it hasn't been seven months since you last talked. And, despite the distance and number of years passed, I know that if I ever needed to talk to someone who really gets me, I could call Laura because she's always been someone who understands me.

Laura was one of few friends who used to come to my house and play regularly and vice versa. I was even allowed to spend the night at her house which was huge for my parents to allow. We always did fun things and she was and continues to be one of the most creative people I know. She taught me to use funky colored nail polish and toothpicks to make cool designs on my nails, the same thing women pay a pretty penny for at salons these days. She taught me it was cool to have your own style. She reminds me to be brave and stay steady in the direction of my dreams. And those are just a few of the reasons I'm glad she was born.


A day at the office

Apology_note_1  My collection of jobs has prepared me well for my new gig - I can handle the multi-tasking, the phone lines ringing off the hook, counting money, accounting, delivering mail, running reports, etc.

It's the headlice checks, busted belts and bloody noses I'm not so experienced with. It's possible those who hired me assumed I had some sort of maternal instinct. Not so much. I don't even know what words kids use. I'm often in situations where a kid and I are just eyeing each other waiting for the other to "get it." It's pretty amusing actually, and even though I'm flying by the seat of my pants, I seem to be coming up with the right answers.

Some things I've learned so far:

     Kids aren't allowed to say "sucks." Several times I was in the health room patching up assorted injuries and said something like "i'm sorry you got hurt, that sucks" and they look at me with this odd, confused expression I'm starting to get used to. It happened several times before it dawned on me I was "swearing." Hell, I was relieved I'm remembering not to cuss, really cuss, in front of them.

     When fixing a busted belt, use string not safety pins. Like I said, this job is an "off the cuff" thing a lot of the time and I'm just trying to deal with totally random situations as they arise. So this little guy comes in with a broken belt, he's holding his pants up and is concerned about me seeing his underwear, which by the way matched his camouflaged outfit. Anyway - he's stressed about this, so I take him back to the health room to see what we can do. The first thing I thought of was safety pins. So I got him all fastened, he even said "this is perfect." Suddenly, I realized we might have a problem.

"Um. Do you go to the bathroom a lot?" I ask him. He looks at me, eyes widening. "Well, see the thing is," I continue, "You're going to need help if you go because while I've got your belt secured, you can't undo it yourself." He nodded and looked at me for a minute, similar to the other kids - eyebrows furrowed - then he shrugged. "Okay. My pants will stay up. That's good." And he was off to recess.

I suspect I'm not going to have a lot of ordinary days at the office!


A Shout Out to my Cribmate

Mel_and_nat_1980_5

Melissa Aino Bakos Maciejewski is my oldest friend. Mel, aka Mumsi and me aka Pupi,  were raised as close "cousins."

Since our parents immigrated to the United States, we didn't have much family here, so a tight-knit group of the Piestany Boys and their families became one family in the States calling themselves MASIORBA. More on the Piestany Boys and MASIORBA another time. The cousins created a new name for the MASIORBA offspring, the Borbeks.

Mel and I have been friends from the crib and I adore her like a sister and am so thankful we continue to be friends after all these years!!! I love her kind heart, her perceptive, intuitive nature and her creative, funny self. I can't imagine my life without her in it.

Masiorba_1979_2 A gathering of part of the gang in 1979 - the birthday girl is featured front and center. The little boy peeking out in the back is actually me :)

Happy Birthday Mumsi - I tip my paper hat to you! ~ Pupi


Something

People who hear voices in their head are normally considered insane. I call it being a writer, but it's still a little spooky. Especially when the voices are being mean and push me to the edge of my own version of sanity.

The new job is still feeling very new. I still love it - the people I work with are amazingly awesome, the kids are great and I think it's going to be a really good fit for me when I start getting the hang of it. Right now though, it's still totally overwhelming and I'm treading to keep my head above water.

Working fulltime is kind of cramping my writing and life style :) I am not able to check email from work so I feel totally out of touch with my friends and my stories. I'm writing this at 7:07 am, which means I have to wrap up in two minutes which will give me just barely enough time to get ready for work ... nope, still not a morning person!

So I'll share this one bit from Izzy and open up for any advice - I'm working out this scene where it's her first day of school and she's getting on the bus and, suddenly, she panics. She realizes she has no idea where to sit on the bus. Because where you choose to sit says something - but she doesn't know the language, she's never ridden a school bus.

I'm experiencing some of this being the "new kid" at work - but I have the perspective of being on the edge of thirty :) whereas Izzy's a fourth-grader.

What are some of your "new kid" or "first day" memories?

P.S. I called this post "something" because as I was arguing with myself about writing this morning - I finally snuggled under my covers convinced I had nothing polished to share. The part of me that understands that the last ten minutes of sleep in the morning are useless, whereas not writing at all makes me a crazy person, forced me out of bed with the command to "just say something."


A Mrs. Understanding

Word Count: no changes - but I did read Kickin' it with Ralph out loud in my writing group and got the feedback that it's time to bring out the Ralph Remnants file I created when I had to cut the hell out of it to meet the contest word count.

Don't give up on me!! I'll be back to blogging more regularly when I get a grip, however loose, on my new schedule. I'm loving my new job, but my brain hurts by three o'clock with all there is to learn and remember ...

So, I know that an elementary school might not be the best platform for a feminist stand, but I hate being called "Mrs." Am I crazy or is there something totally wrong about women having a title preceding their name making known their marital status?

To be clear, I am so happily married and talk about Matt all the time, nothin' to hide here. I never take my wedding ring off. But the Mrs. thing gets me for a few reasons. Mostly because I don't get it. Why isn't there a title for a Mr. wearing a wedding ring? 

I'm not correcting anyone because I don't want to offend people who do prefer to be called Mrs. or Miss. but to me an across the board Ms. just makes sense.

What am I missing?

Overheard: (from a scene in Izzy)

"Mommy, are you an alcoholic?"
"No, honey." She said, sipping her third martini, "Alcoholics drink cheap wine, out of bottles and boxes."


First Day of School

Word Count, Izzy: Still 4,642

Even though I'm completely overwhelmed with all there is to learn, I can already tell this is going to be my favorite job. My first day of school started off with a hug from the principal.

As I ease into this next transition, I want to make sure I keep up on my blogging and writing practice, but the posts might be short and scattered since I'm on attempt number 9 to transform myself into a morning person. Any tips?

While I was sitting at my new desk, I realized that in my myriad secretary jobs, I've never had my very own desk and I'm surprised to find how thrilled I am at the prospect. I've always had an unnatural affection for office supplies and the illusion of organization.

Overheard:

I'm adjusting to the steady stream of children, parents, volunteers appearing at my desk throughout the morning and am learning to field a wide assortment of questions from "Where's the nearest florist?" to "Is so and so there?" I always had to put the person on hold and ask "do we have a so and so?" My job will be much easier after I learn all the names. Which, by the way, is a totally different deal at a school job. You have to learn everyone's names but you learn them separately. So at one moment someone will introduce themselves as John so you try to remember "ok, that's john" and then later you see John and are trying to remember his name and he's with students so he's not John at all, he's Mr. Smith.

Anyway - so this little girl comes up to me and says

"Excuse me. I need a container."

"A container. Okay, for what?"

"My tooth." She holds it out in her palm.

"Hmm. That hasn't come up yet this morning."


Nathalie Hardy, Please report to the Principal's office

Word Count: Ummhmm...I'm sure you're not surprised to hear - no progress!

But I am employed again! I start my new gig at the grade school today! I am so excited and just wanted to write a quick post to prove, to myself, that I will continue to write and post even while working. In fact, I trust it'll make me a better, richer writer. I am curious to meet the new people I'll be working with and already like and respect my boss, how cool is that!?

I made myself a cover for my notebook because I'm facing a steep learning curve and I want to keep in mind that we all start at the beginning and it just seems like you'll be "the new kid" forever ... there was a time that school seemed scary and the adults were all so tall and I never thought I'd learn cursive!

Front_cover Back_coverFront, Back

So, I'm off to report to report to the Principal's office!

Overheard: You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. - Anne Lamott


Flashback

Word Count: Same as before, guilt-free since I'm convinced writers are always working

Rain beating against the roof, whipping wind waking me from my sleep and I can smell the ocean from the front door.

I'm back in Tillamook County for the first time since leaving last June. Time passing evident in some of my old haunts now boarded up, renamed or demolished.

I was excited to go and spend the weekend with Rosie and Paul and Matt chilling out and kicking-off our writing sessions. The nostalgia I wasn't expecting. At all.

As Rose navigated the windy curves of Hwy 101, I experienced constant flashbacks complete with voices, faces, and memories buried somewhere in my brain suddenly surfacing like the endless ebb and flow of the tides.

More on memory lane later. It was an interesting weekend in several aspects. It's the first time I've really relaxed in ages. I just enjoyed myself, and considering that I was sick and I'm one of those miserable sick people, I'm delighted to still be able to say that it was an awesome weekend.

Enjoying the company of my friends and husband, surrounded by quite a collection of magazines (Bitch, Oprah, Poets & Writers, Portland Monthly, Ms. Bust), books and newspapers we read, played a couple games (Apples to Apples, Pass the Pigs), and ate some tasty food, highlights include Wanda's Bakery and Currents both in Nehalem.

And then there was the sharing of the writing. Which included, incidentally, a medley of flashbacks and feelings dating back to grade school when I was horrified to share my work in public and somehow be wrong for my ideas. And this is how I felt with very close friends. Maybe I'm not ready for the Big Bad World of Publishing ;) In actuality, it was cool to share our work and comments and I'm looking forward to growing together as writers, and as friends.

Overheard: once again, it's between me and matt - so maybe i should come up with a different name for this part ;)

Me: Well, the rainy season is here. At least I can stop worrying about washing my car.

Matt: (looks puzzled) but you never wash it.

Me: I know. But now I can stop writing it on my "to do" lists.