P.O. Box 4803 Baltimore MD 21211
I was going to write Chris an email and tell her I couldn’t make it this time. I didn’t feel bad about that, as I have been making deadline for my column for a while now. So, it’s OK to take off once in a blue moon.
I have ideas fermenting, for column subject matter. I wanted to write about the free school we tried to make (the journey that Faith, Megan, Alison and others continue, of educating their kids outside the school "system"), the community building in Baltimore, and right now… the idea of Mentors. I am looking for mentors for my "kids". I have a 15 year old and a new "kid" now who just turned 18. Mandango the wild one. (We have known her since she was 13, she’s a neighbor from when we lived by the airport)
My daughter is interested in learning how to play the piano, kick boxing, and sewing. She has been designing clothes for a long time now and has sewed two purses. She is really creative. (It runs in the family, if I do say so myself) She wants to take her designs into the next level and be able to sew the stuff she has drawn on paper. I am a creative sewer but know nothing about sewing clothes. My friend Sara, asked her neighbor friend, who is a great seamstress. She wanted to take my daughter to work at Fandangos - this amazing place that build and makes Anything. One person there was siked, and said "She will be our intern for the day!" Another boss, said No. This person was worried about the insurance, and the big machinery, or something. So apparently, now it has come down to this really creative Fiber Artist graduate who has taught children at some museum and works at Fandango - has said she would be excited to give my daughter formal sewing lessons for 10 dollars an hour. It sounds really good: to go over the sewing machine and to sew a shirt pattern (since it has all the aspects of pattern making in it) with someone who can help get my daughters idea’s into reality.
I wish she would call back! I am playing phone tag. And also with another person. A drummer, a really freakin amazing drummer, of a really excellent local band. I spoke to her at a show and told her about my new kid. (Mandango the wild one) How, her mother is completely out of the picture - on drugs. And the girl was going to be homeless, I got her a bus ticket from North Carolina, where she had gone with the promise of being able to work at Pizza Hut. Mandango, hasn’t gone to school since she was 13 or 14, and she has barely any work experience and she really doesn’t know how to function in society. I mean, I was there before with that. Sometimes, it amazes me the stuff she doesn’t know how to do, BUT needs to be shown how. She is really open to being shown stuff, and learning stuff and getting attention. Yesterday I showed her how to turn over stuff in a pan, when you are cooking, with a fork and not your fingers.
I was scared to take the wild one, into my house. But I could see she was at the end of her rope, and that a visit wouldn’t suffice. She needed someone to help her figure out how to support herself, take care of herself, and also to give her inspiration. I feel because I am in the subculture, I have more resources and inspiration to share. I also, felt I had to do this, because of the situation, because there was no one else. Because she is my daughter’s friend and she cares about her.
Now, I am in a weird situation. I look and act kinda young. But I’ve got two kids, not easy kids either, who make no mistake, act like two year olds sometimes, and I am trying to be the mom. I’ve got to be strong. I work full time and take care of this household. I pay the whole mortgage on this house - because I finally broke up with my boyfriend and got him out of the house. And I am really glad about that. (I really needed him out of my life. He was no help. He was no family. He didn’t even comprehend my daughter as a child, really. That hurts, that you can live with someone for three years, and still be a single mother. Good riddance to the drunk I say.) But one thing, he did faithfully pay his half of the mortgage and bills around this house. So now, I am paying all the bills and have another mouth to feed.
But there is hope. The wild one is really proud to be working one day a week as a dishwasher. You wouldn’t believe the self esteem and happiness this gives her. Its a good place, and she is becoming a part of something. She says she will get more hours and can start paying me rent of 200 dollars instead of 100 dollars. (Hay, she has her own bedroom) She is also baby-sitting a tiny little "wild one" one day a week and that is a good experience. She is learning a lot of things in that regard and I am happy how this other mom has been looking after Mandango’s fate too, even really got her, her dishwashing job.
This is good. But I want more for her. I want her to find a trade. She is not a school person really. I want her to eventually get her GED. I wish I could get her photography lessons too, as she is always interested in my photography. I would love to get her in the dark room. Interests are good and important. Hanging out on the street, drinking and smoking, fighting and yelling at people, and running from the law - in my opinion is Stupid! Make art, learn how to support yourself, find a community, be good to others and Live. That’s what it is all about. I’ve got writing. The wild one, she loves matchbox cars and video games. But, she’s had quite a life and goes weird places. Would have been nice if she had some photographs of the things she’s seen. I promised her lessons at the Art Institute, but it comes down to it now, I don’t have the money to pay for those classes. (My parents will pay for my daughters sewing lessons, but those photography lessons were like 300 dollars)
So, anyway, back to the awesome drummer. I found out she has her own business painting houses. Sounds really good. I want her to take Mandango to work with her for the day, so she can see what this is about and see if this is something she could see her self doing for a living. Which, painting houses, was on her list of interests, as possibilities. Also dance choreographer, pimp, and crooked cop who steals people’s drugs. Hay but that’s a joke! She’s my responsibility now. I vouch for her! She doesn’t get in any trouble anymore (and drugs were never the trouble with her) and has totally chilled out over the course of this last year. Don’t think she would be a bad kid to mentor, she’s a kid in Need of a mentor. I say "kid" because she looks 15. Her mother was doing everything for her, cooking every meal, until she got too bad off, and I mean Real bad off, in her addictions.
So call! Mentors, Call! (The Painter expressed total interest in doing so. But we been playing phone tag. And now no call back)
Well, today is Sunday. Guess what that means for me - Miss office worker. It means on Monday I will start my 40 hours a week in the cubicle, plus 7 hours of commuting a week, and I will come home at 7 pm with little energy left. The kids will sit home and watch television, for the most part. My daughter will cook supper (She’s an excellent cook) and the wild one will clean the dishes. Ever since we worked out this plan for chores, I have started to think that I might be able to make it after all.
I don’t have enough time. I won’t be thinking about mentors this week. There is probably all kind of things that need to be done. I keep forgetting my daughters dentist appointment. I am on the edge of survival. I need and want this job right now. I got writing goals. I am working on projects. I am struggling. I am in the middle of things.
I want to get these idea’s on "Mentoring" more together. And write stuff about free school, community, and college, because as anti-college as I used to be, I have had a lot of good experiences there when I went when I was 30 and my daughter aims on going to college. I want to write a critical piece on "education". I have a lot of things in me to write. But guess what? I am supposed to be getting together the fatherhood issue of my zine together, this weekend. Yikes. And its Sunday. Running out of time.
So this is just some stream of conscience on the scene reporting from your TFG columnist. I’ll be back soon with a "real" column. I hope things work out, things are kinda tuff right now.
(P.S. If I sound like I am really together, just know it ain’t like that. I am far from perfect. My daughter constantly criticizes all my downfailings. My daughter and I do a lot of yelling and crying around here. My boss tells me "I got to get my act together" when I’m late to work. I am totally in survival mode right now. But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like there might be hope for us all.)
And hay, if your in Baltimore and have any ideas about these subjects or would like to get in contact, do so! China410@hotmail.com or PO Box 4803 Baltimore MD 21211