A Pint Glass of Water

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I actually said that in a bar last weekend. Twice to be exact. Of course they didn't put their bar water into a nice pint glass like everyone else with a beer. i got a little plastic cup. I didn't mind. When it was time to toast my colleague who was on his way out of Tucson and into the swamp we call Washington, D.C., i hoisted high my glass of water.

this is a far cry to the pre-chemo George.

Fact is I've only had one beer since mid-August. It was about three weeks ago; to celebrate Julie's visit to Tucson. It was a skinny bottle of Fat Tire ale. Good beer. I used to be able to polish one of those in about 90 seconds. this time it took me 45 minutes. it gave me a buzz and wiped me out an hour later.

I've been to house gatherings and parties since I finished chemo.. For the first time in my bar wandering life I have been able to sit in a pub, dive or at a dinner table and not get anxious for some sort of alcohol concoction.

I remember going into chemo. and asking Dr. Ahmann if I could drink during my treatment. (Wow -- that's a sign of something: either a problem or dedication... or likely both). He said I could have a drink with dinner. Moderation is key, he reminded me. He didn't know my habits.

But looking at how alcohol affected me that night with Julie, I just don't need it right now.

One month and day

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yesterday marked one month since my last session of chemotherapy.
the first thing I've noticed since finishing chemo. is that every day, I'm a little stronger. While I've got to pay attention to my body and not push myself, every day is better.
This morning I arose early for traffic school (remember that -- the consequence of disgracing Tucson's law abiding bicyclists...).
As I was driving back to my apartment this afternoon, I ran my right hand over my head and face and felt the short hairs sprouting up all over. If I'm lucky, I'll have slight beard for my high school reunion. I planned on rolling like Common -- bald head and beard.
but I noticed for the first time that my face, my flesh, doesn't feel waxy or dead, like it did through chemo., or that the flesh of my face doesn't have that chemo. scent to it.
This week I swam twice. Of course I wasn't able to do much, but just getting back in the pool was amazing. Before chemo. I'd usually swim for about 45 minutes. before my workout, I'd warm up with a 500 meter swim. right now, 500 is about all I can handle so far. but it's nice to be able to do that.
I was in San Francisco last weekend. Saw Phil, Harley, Diana and a host of others. most importantly I was reunited with Guadalupe. It was the first time in six weeks we were able to speak each others name and simultaneously look into each others eyes. I'll write about our hotel experience another time.
Tomorrow I join Francisco and others in the first Jarocho jam I've been able to do since before surgery.
funny -- the difference the first month makes.
it's good to be back.

Letter to the Editor in the Arizona Daily Star

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This was published the Letters to the Editor section of today's Arizona Daily Star
Article unfairly targeted TUSD

Re: the Oct. 28 article "Kids' programs at risk as TUSD shortfall grows."

Unfortunately for Tucson Unified School District students, staff and parents, sensationalized stories erode the public trust in what should be the keystone of the community — the public school system. If continued, this predatory journalism will exact long-term damage to public education in this community. There are no better examples of this than articles by George B. Sánchez. Regarding his story on potential budget cuts discussed at a recent TUSD Governing Board meeting. The reporter fails to mentionthat he didn't attend the meeting, and therefore was not aware of the context or discussion of the listing of specific items on the draft document. Rather than listen to the available online audio transcriptof the meeting, the reporter simply reported on what would be the most sensationalized program cuts, which were in fact only included as items for discussion. TUSD does not need to be the target of continued "gotcha" journalism. We need the support of our community.

Chyrl Hill Lander
Director of communications and media relations,
Tucson Unified School District, Tucson

Editor's note: TUSD officials are aware that Sánchez did not attend the Oct. 9 governing board meeting because he was in chemotherapy.The Star's Josh Brodesky reported on the meeting.

Oct. 9, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I just finally got around to scanning this photo.

it was taken by the nurses on my last day of chemotherapy. As you can tell by the note on the poloroid, it has been almost one month since I completed chemo..

You'll note the blue bandage on my right arm, just above the bracelet (a gift from Esme). the bandage was applied to my arm after the last blood test to measure the cancer markers. the blue bandages had a funny name that I can't recall anymore.

And on my left hand, the shunt, where the nurses administered my last dose of bleomycin. A slow ten-minute injection that is preceeded by intravenous benadryl and some other premeds. We usually had to wait half an hour after the bendryl injection to move forward with the bleo. It took about that much time for the drug to circulate. I used to fight off the sleepiness that followed bleo. Both my mom and Guadalupe laughed when I did so. but I'd eventually give in.
As you can tell by the photo, I'm smiling and staring at the bubbles, the shiny spheres floating on the upper right edge of the photo.

At the conclusion of chemotherapy, the nurses give you a bubble shower, or bubble party, to celebrate the occasion. I witnessed one such event on my first day of chemotherapy, in August. Now i was having my own.

People who can do...people who can't teach!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Well, I am and always was a teacher. From the time I taught my doll how to burb, I knew that I enjoyed this special something that was a part of me. I babysat, was a counselor in camp and the older I got the more positive I was that I would be a great teacher.

I had a wonderful career and what made my life so delightful has been the experiences and memories of my days and nights as a teacher. Whether I was a supervisor or not, I was always a teacher. And I could have done many things but elected to be a teacher.

It is unimaginable that for years I have heard ,"People who can do. People who can't teach." and I laughed as others did. Then one day while I was listening to New York Mayor Bloomberg tell us how well the children/students were doing ---I knew the truth in my heart. Since not much has changed since I retired in 1996 and since I see new teachers drowning under paper work, schools teaching for the tests, and Math being taught without understanding - I questioned whether the Mayor had ever tried teaching! I also wondered if he knew what it meant for the children/students to be doing well! How can our precious children succeed if their teachers are overwhelmed and under supported? Be real, Mr. Mayor.

I was a New York City educator for thirty-two years. And I loved every minute of it. That doesn't mean I didn't have "dog down days" but after I recovered, I knew that I loved my profession. I neither questioned my intellectual ability nor did I think I had become a teacher because I was incapable of doing anything else. I had the responsibility to know the world's Sciences, Historical and Current Events, Arts, Music, Literature, Politics etc. and in addition manage a classroom of children, teach them a love for education while somehow keeping their attention, stay in the syllabus, offer an enriched program, interface with my supervisor, be welcoming to all parents/guardians while being honest, sincere and professional, get along with all school personnel etc. And of course there is the paper work, the endless amount of paper work. Trust me, and I know you will because why would I lie? What I tell you is only about 50% of what all teachers do.

I challenge anyone who says "People who can do, people who can't teach." to take a week, no, two weeks off from his/her job and spend one week as a regular classroom teacher and one week as a substitute teacher doing the job that is described for you - all the planning, all the research, all the paper work, etc. Then write to me at this website and share with me your experience. I promise to be kind, supportive and professional. After all I am an educator/ teacher and I can do anything. Then together maybe we can come up with a descriptive sentence about teachers that recognizes that not only can they do things, but they are the ones who taught you.

Hopefully, there are no spelling or grammatical errors in this article. Oh, what about structure. Just having some fun. God bless us all, AMF