I Am That I Am.

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I am Mara.
I am the bitterness you taste
In each sip of your morning
Coffee.

I am Rahab.
I am the lust burning in your eyes.
I am the harlot of disquieted imaginings.
I give and you take. You give
And I crawl into my dreams.

I am Sarah.
I am unbelief. I am mistrust.
I am the joy leaving your lips
In your sweet, soft laughter.

I am Mary.
I am the sainted wonder
of His fire. I am the bearer
of life and splendor.

I am Martha.
I am the dishrag hanging
From the hooks of your heart.
I clean. I scrub as you keep tracking
Mud into the waxed floors of my mind.

I am beauty —
I am hate —
I am strength —
I am frailty –
I am…
I am Redeemed.

I am more than my name.
I am more than the labels I give myself —
I am more than the stickers and gold stars
Of approval from other broken
Maras, Marys, and Sarahs.
I am who I am because He is
Who He is – the great and mighty
I AM.

Proud Teacher Moment…sort of…

Dear Reader,

cropped-books.jpgToday is the day that I both look forward to and loathe. It is the day the AP scores come out. I try not to get wrapped up in it, but it’s difficult for me. You see, I am a perfectionist. And when I strive for something, I expect results. It worked beautifully in high school and college. I was number one in my class…I wanted it, so I worked for it and voilà! I made it happen. Although it may have come as a surprise to those who knew me in other capacities…Let me explain with a brief (and braggy) anecdote: I remember walking into my high school graduation ceremony with my special sash and medallion that signified my class ranking. I ran into one of my schoolmates (we never had academic classes together, but we were in the same drama production my junior year). Anyway, he greeted me with a hug and then asked me why I was wearing the valedictorian sash and medallion. I thought he was being playful, so without batting a lash, I told him I found it in the quad…but he was serious. I had to set him straight, so I told him that I was, indeed, the valedictorian. And this, dear reader, was his dumbfounded response (pun intended), “but you’re a cheerleader, and you’re blonde, and you’re hot.” I winced (trying to make it as much of a smile as I could because he was, in fact, being sincere…offensive, yes, but obtusely complimentary). That tautly pulled smile (more of a grimace really) was the only retort I could give…tis best not to say things we regret to people who are less than intelligent. All that to say, when I want something — I go after it, and usually I can achieve my goal.

When I became an AP teacher several years ago, I wanted to be the best damn AP English teacher to walk the halls of my school. My first year…well, let’s just say it was cropped-open-book-on-top-of-pile-of-books.jpgnot so great; I went back to the drawing board. I went to summer trainings and revamped my entire curriculum. And in the following years, my students began to pass their AP English tests with flying colors! This year was no different! My entire AP English Literature class passed their test!!!!!! (These are my AP seniors…I love them to pieces and still cry a little when I think about not teaching them anymore…they are all going to amazing colleges, so at least I know they are in good hands).  Now, I’m trying to stay humble about all this, which is pretty easy to do since my AP English Language class did not do so well on their test, but today, I am celebrating my successes and forgetting my failures (don’t worry, I’ll go back to the drawing board and revamp things later this summer for AP lang). I have a colleague (a fellow AP teacher) who wisely told me: “I get too much flack when the students don’t pass, and I get too much credit when they do.” I try to keep that perspective, especially on days like this.

In closing, I will tell you what I told my AP students: “The AP exams are 6103.jpegimportant, sure, but they don’t define who you are. It does not determine how smart you are or how successful you will be in life. Remember you are more than your AP score(s) – that is just a number based on one morning of your life; instead, measure your success in the day in, day out moments life offers you. And never stop reading; never stop learning.”

My Best to You,

Jaime

his story — untold

My dad is a strong man,
who doesn’t always know
how to express himself,
but whenever he speaks
of his mother, his dark
green eyes boyishly
twinkle with reverence
and regret.
He loved his mother,
as all good sons do.
There’s so much more
to the story that his eyes
reveal, but he keeps
those words locked up
behind his teeth. One day,
I hope to hear all about it,
but for now I’ll settle
for the parts he’s willing
to share.

Dandelion Dreams

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When I was a little girl, I thought dandelions
were beautiful yellow flowers. I never understood
why my dad would get so angry
every time I made a wish
with those cottony clustered clouds.
Umbrella-ed seeds floating all
around spoke of all the possibilities of who I could be and
what was to come. My wishes rarely came true,
but then the parachutes didn’t
always catch the wind. Stubborn anchored sprouts refused
to move with a puff of my cheek. And I knew
that my dreams were stuck.
Now that I’m older, I know better.
Dandelions and their seedling blossoms,
the ones that line the beds of unkempt gardens,
are just weeds of wistful thinking.