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My second career as an exorcist

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St. Dymphna in full effect

I went into my career because of my first principles. I love to read. I love to write.  I love to share ideas through conversation.  I love to help others.  So, fresh out of college, I stayed at my beloved alma mater, despite acceptance letters from prestigious East Coast universities(mi mama was upset about that for years), to get my teaching credential.  I was 23 and I thought I was going to change the world and somehow also write the next great American novel.  I’m 44 now. I have changed many lives, most importantly, my own, and my writing is still my true passion.  I still love books and people.  So how is it that in the past few years, I have found myself in the role of exorcist.  Que?  Como?

When I was six years old(be patient, y’all who know this story), my soccer playing dad  would take us to the park every weekend so my mom could hang with her besties and all the kids would play in a huge multi-age pack.  The big kids decided we could head to one of the soccer players’ home nearby and watch a movie on the Betamax. I was introduced to the horror movie that would stay with me por vida.  I know a thing or two about fighting el chamuco and now I have real-life experiences.  (Lessons from the Exorcist)Because while the devil may be a lie, evil is real, relevant, and very much embraced by many.  Pick a city anywhere on the planet.  Point your finger at someone you know.  Evil is there, giving you the side eye of all side eyes.

Though I’m only a few years into fighting evil as part of my nine to five, I can tell you some must-dos.  In no particular order:

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Fear is normal.  My head aches. My stomach churns. My heart starts pounding like I’m six again and the nightlight just burnt out.  Accept your fear.  Feel it.  Then move forward.

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Have a battle buddy.  Find a mentor who is strong, tough, and stable.  Your mentor, like mine, can serve as your coach and partner.  This is not work you do by yourself.  You will need someone to have your back.  Work on the bond you share.  You may have disagreements but you must share the same vision, mission, and purpose.  Of course, the demon will attempt to divide and conquer.  That won’t work if your team is strong.

Take care of yourself.  Sleep (though it may be disturbed for a few days or weeks depending on the situation.) Eat clean. Hydrate.  Pray or spend time in silence.  Doing battle with evil is like preparing for a half-marathon or training for Carnaval without the glamour or fun.  A weak warrior will fall.

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Finally, believe in the good work that you do. Believe in the good person you are and understand that this other individual is a hot mess for reasons beyond your control.  If you’re a really good person, realize that somewhere underneath all that maldad, there is/was a good person who got lost along the way. Know that you are protecting others by taking on this challenge. Now let’s go get ‘em!

Why Latinos don’t obsess over Prom

What today’s reflection forgot to mention was the ethnic twist on the whole situation. Maybe, just maybe, the reason I’m not tripping over this whole Prom Night thing is because there are other rites of passage that I have celebrated and most definitely plan to enjoy in the future.

M’s Quince:

Someday, M’s boda:

And maybe we’re not in formal attire, but the ultimate pachanga (and it’s coming soon!!!) :
Carnaval!

Prom is a four-letter word

Prom is a four-letter word, perhaps the one word most dreaded by school administrators like me.  
After all, apart from graduation, it is the quintessential high school rite of passage and therefore brings forth all sorts of emotions.  Prom can lead to temper tantrums, tears, bouts of paranoia and rage.  Sadly, I’m not talking about the students attending. Perhaps all I ever needed to know about prom came from watching Carrie back in the 70s. On the eve of the 19th high school prom I have attended, I am waiting for that bucket of blood to fall on my head.

What is it about prom that can bring out the worst in some?  Why does one night hold so much power? And shouldn’t we have outgrown our adolescent aggrandizement of a dance?  I will be the first to admit I’m not particularly sympathetic to those for whom this night means more.  I know many see the prom as a night of beauty, romance, sophistication.  I realize that for many people, young and old, it is the one time in your life you look red-carpet ready. Maybe because Prom was neither the magical night to conclude my high school years nor the only time I have looked fabulous, I simply don’t understand.  While I have enjoyed the many proms I have organized and/or chaperoned, I wasn’t disappointed when my new boss said our school wouldn’t have a prom.  I have endured many an insult and outburst over prom; imagine my chagrin when I realized this year would be no different. Telekinesis would have come in handy this week.

Despite the occasional drama at work, I’m not against prom.  As the parent of a little girl, I now see this event differently and I look ahead to the days when I can help my M get ready.  In my heart, I know that to give anything, whether it is an event, a person, or an object, so much importance can backfire.  In real life, it is a dance, one that requires organization, attention to detail,and the involvement of big bad administrators.  Better that I be the target of the negative emotions than the poor kids endure some Stephen King moment.

So I will act professional, look nice, and compliment the kids. And I will look up at the ceiling just in case.