Author Archives: Alysha Kaye Mendez

About Alysha Kaye Mendez

Author of THE WAITING ROOM, available now on Amazon! 9th grade English teacher, tirelessly trying to save the future from their/they're/there catastrophes (it could be ugly). Teaching writing and being a writer at the same time is harder than it sounds. New goal=be both, better.

Savannah

Standard

I’ve been best friends with Savannah since 7th grade, when we were forced into a partnership based solely on the fact that we were the only two middle schoolers who lived in Dixie Cove, the cul-de-sac where we lived, across the street from each other, for six years.

We sold lemonade together at yard sales, we tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk one particularly Texas-y summer, we carved our names into the fresh cement when new development began, and we somehow managed to survive our adolescence as two of the most awkward and weird kids to ever exist. I mean, we even had a “band” called Red Ink and we sold cassette tapes to our friends for five bucks, recording each cassette individually, with a song about the “client” added in. We saved up about $65 and decided to spend it going to a restaurant called The Magic Time Machine, where the staff dress up as various movie characters. We thought we were just about the coolest people on the planet.

Savannah had the crazy house—two yappy sisters, two yappy Pomeranians, an insanely bi-polar mother, and just…constant chaos. There was always a mess and there was always pizza. I absolutely loved it. I had the complete opposite—no siblings, strict rules, and endless quiet. Going to Savannah’s was like watching TV. I could sit on the couch and be entertained for hours, just observing.

Now we’re 30 and it’s kind of funny how some things haven’t changed much.

The other night, she came over with her Mary Poppins bag of who-knows-what, whipped out her eyelash curler, traded her Crocs for more acceptable shoes, and we went to a nearby bar. By the end of the night, she’d danced with a few guys (including an engaged fireman who was almost a decade younger than us) even though the bar wasn’t exactly a dancing type of bar… She made a group of men move over, away from the outdoor heater, so that we could sit by the heater. Then she made them buy us a pitcher of beer. She took the pitcher onstage and gave it to the drummer, proceeding to dance onstage with the singer. Back at my apartment, she raided my fridge while I was in the bathroom. She’d started to make us “tacos”. I let her finish, although I knew my fridge didn’t exactly have taco ingredients in it. She drove back to the bar to get her purse. She drove back over to my apartment. I sat back all night, just watching with wide eyes, like I’ve always done, sipping my drink, halfway wishing I could join her in her revelries and halfway wondering when I should pump the breaks on the whole spectacle. Then she drove to some guy’s place for “Fireball Friday,” which is really just them taking shots of Fireball until they have sex and pass out. Then she went home to her husband and son.

I think when you grow up in chaos, it becomes the only way you know how to live. And then there’s me—never quite getting the hang of drawing outside of the lines. Who’s to say which life is better or more lived than the other.

Savs is hands down the most fun human I’ve ever met. I NEVER have a better time with anyone else. We can go grocery shopping and have a blast. But she also has this pain and sadness and suffering that I can’t do anything about. No one can do anything about it—it’s just there, eating her away and maybe invisible to people who haven’t known her for two decades.

I’ve never known what to do or say—not when we were twelve and her mom would scream never-ending obscenities at her and not now when her husband does much worse and she leaves him for the fifth time.

It’s the perpetual paradox of Savannah, the happiest and simultaneously most depressed person to ever exist. A consistent mix of laughter, white tootsie rolls and mini bottles of vodka lining her purse, an amazing mother and a cheap drunk, never has more than 17 dollars or so but always shows up when you really need her to. I hope she knows that the same goes for me—I’ll show up for her whenever and wherever. My place is her place; my chaos-free life is hers to sprinkle some wild on whenever she needs to. She and her son can move in at any time of any day. I hope they do.

We can’t go back to when we’d lay on my trampoline and plot out our future adventures—we had so many ideas and dreams. When we were 30, we were going to be filthy rich, traveling the world together in our private jet. Our realities are so far from perfection, but one thing is for sure. A friendship that’s lasted this long isn’t really a friendship anymore—it doesn’t even feel right to call her family, because it’s almost more than that. It’s like Savs is a chunk of my soul. I’m always going to be hurting a little bit if she’s out there somewhere, hurting. I’m always going to try to mend and fix what only she can mend and fix. Until then, I’ll be here friend-sister-soul. If you need to take a few shots and belt the lyrics to “Goodbye Earl” at the top of our lungs, I’m here. If you need to cry and watch 15 hours of Christmas movies, I’m here. If you need to dance until the clubs close and then keep dancing through the whole Uber ride home, I’m here. If you just need to raid my fridge and make mystery tacos, I’m here.

Advertisements

My friend wrote a poem

Standard

*Wrote this awhile back and just found it floating around on my laptop. Liked it better all these months later*

 

My friend wrote a poem today and read it to me over tacos and Big Red (in the bottle) and—well, that was all mine, his was a pecan porter and something called a chicken lollipop? His poem made me sad because I don’t want to feel better that other people are going through what I’m going through. I want to look at my family and friends and aspire to have what they have.

My friend wrote a poem today and it reminded me of how many times I’ve been heartbroken (technically three, potentially 3.5). It shouldn’t be that way, right? It should probably cap at twice, maybe even once.

My friend wrote a poem today and he’s going to read it aloud at a coffee shop in front of a girl he hopes will one day break his heart just as good as the girl-who-the-poem-about’s did. What a strange concept, to admit to someone you’re in Phase 1 with that you recently were in Phase 300 (Phases 5-300 are all just heartbreak in various forms including depression, self-deprecation, and gym memberships).

My friend wrote a poem today and it cut into me for some reason, as if I’d never read a poem so raw (I’ve read a million poems just like this, I’m sure of it). Why is that? Why can we go hours, days, weeks even without feeling that sick, gutted thing and then randomly feel it punching through our organs like (use Cookie Monster’s voice here, it works for some reason) “YOU THOUGHT I WAS GONE, BITCH?! THINK AGAINNNN!”

My friend wrote a poem today and we finished our drinks and food and complained about the flies or mosquitoes or sun or all of the above. We hugged goodbye and I found myself jealous that he was off to let someone new turn him down or stomp on his feelings or commit but then change their mind or fall in love with him and drive him mad, but in a good way, til the end of time. It’s probably time to be destroyed again, I thought, driving home through the humid traffic or trafficky humidity. I wrote a poem and then started swiping.

Peter Pan Syndrome

Standard

peter_pan_syndrome_by_haatsu

When did men become more interested in swiping right, gaze down than catching your eye at a bar? Peter Pan Syndrome got them in their late 30’s still thinkin’ they’re gonna be a DJ superstar, barista on the side, chasin’ every skirt in sight, 21 forever. Ever seen a balding guy trying to grind on women, slurring “You should smile more” and pounding Lonestars? You’d think he was a hobo and seconds away from getting escorted out except…you look around and the place is filled with mustaches just like him. You think, is this a nightmare? Is this some Twilight Zone shit? But then you remember that it’s 2018 and it’s Austin, Texas and 98% of all men here who are under the age of 45 believe in ACL/SXSW>stability and hipster beards>marriage.

No wonder women are settling for the kind of men they’re settling for…at least those men aren’t afraid of commitment.

Meanwhile, I remain team #nosettle and also team #gtfohPeterPan–therefore team #singleforever. Shout out to those of you who are in the same boat. Le sigh.

Admin Affecting Teacher Mental Health

Standard

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m getting a PhD, which yeah, is cool. But my writing time is pretty filled with research papers and Blackboard threads (ugh, Blackboard, I’d forgotten how much I despise you) instead of blogging or working on the second novel…

Becoming a professor was always the end goal though. I found a super old Word doc the other day titled “Life Goals” (way to be discreet, young Alysha) and at the top, starred and bolded, it read: “As long as you accomplish three of these, you’re good!” Ha! So three life goals, that’s all I need to be fulfilled. Going off of that list, I’ve actually already reached fulfillment. Getting my PhD, traveling the world, and publish a novel. Done!

I’m finally teaching at a school where I feel respected. My AP is an amazing woman who never belittles teachers in any way. My dissertation is going to focus on administrator behavior and how it affects teacher mental health and my new school is a shining example of how things SHOULD be in public education. Are there still kinks? Of course. There always will be in a K-12 setting. But it’s great to be in an environment where admin trust teachers to help with the kinks instead of an environment that simply blames teachers for the kinks.

Everyone is pretty weird about openly discussing anxiety and depression, but I hope to be able to break those barriers. Maybe one day soon I’ll post something more in-depth about my own personal struggles, but for now, I wanted to post about my dissertation topic. Teacher mental health is so damn important! Why is this not talked about more? More specifically, why isn’t it common practice for administrators to be trained on how they affect teacher mental health?

When I started this program, there were so many topics floating around my mind—topics I’d love to study. But the one issue that continued to pick at me was teacher mental health—and how administrators can make or break your entire experience as an educator.

I had an absolutely awful experience at my last school. I was bullied and demeaned until I finally applied elsewhere. It was traumatizing. The sad part is, I’m not alone. Countless teachers are treated this way, or worse.

Now that I’m in a completely different environment, I’m having to remind myself that I AM a good teacher and a good person. I’m still getting over the terrible way I was treated at my old district. My coworker joked that I have PTSD, but it really does feel like that at times.

Teachers should never feel scared to go to their administrators, ask for help, or work with them toward a common goal. In these times especially, people should be uniting and working together toward a brighter future, not tearing each other down. I know one dissertation can’t change the total atmosphere of administrator-teacher relations, but maybe one dissertation will lead to another and another and another…until something does change?

P.S. I reached 3,000 followers today! Hollaaaa! Super cool. If you haven’t read The Waiting Room, I’m sending out free e-copies to willing reviewers 🙂 shoot me an email if interested: alyshakaye@gmail.com

An Open Letter to My Grandparents

Standard
Dear abuelitos,
     I can’t believe you’re not speaking to me. I’ve called you multiple times and left voicemails, texted you, and I mailed you a letter. No response. The last time I called, you ended the call after it rang a couple times. I didn’t think you could “break up” with your granddaughter, but I guess that IS a thing. I thought “ghosting” was only something in the online dating world, but apparently, it’s not reserved to 20-somethings who don’t know how to be honest or have real conversations.
     I’ve been ghosted by my grandparents. It’s actually kind of funny. Or it would be, if the reason wasn’t so absurd, mind-blowing, and hurtful.
     I asked my dad to adopt me last month. He’s been my dad for 22 years–almost my entire life. It was such a happy moment and we all cried tears of joy, knowing that this was only making paper-official what has been heart-official for over two decades. We went to court, stood before a judge, and threw a small party to celebrate. Everyone was over the moon, sending us their well wishes and congratulations. Everyone except you, I guess. You decided to cut me out of your life instead.
     What confuses me the most is that we’ve talked about your son, my biological father, on many occasions. You’ve apologized to me for his actions and his absence. We’ve talked about his drug use, we’ve talked about his violence toward my mother, and we’ve talked about how he hasn’t made any attempt to reenter my life or get to know me in any way. If he was half a man, he’d thank my dad for doing his job for him.
     Despite my resentment toward him, I contacted him, to try to find out why you were ignoring me. He didn’t respond. I guess social media is the only way to reach you–that seems to be the way you found out about the adoption. You definitely didn’t talk to me about it. I can’t get ahold of you at all, so I’m hoping this letter makes its way to you.
     My dad has done so much for me in 22 years–do you even realize what he’s done? Your son never paid a cent of child support (which you said you’d do for him, but then never did). My dad is the reason I’m not in extreme debt–he helped me through college, he helped me buy a car, not to mention feeding me, clothing me, putting a roof over my head…you know, the usual Dad duties.
     More importantly, my dad has been my shoulder to cry on. He’s held my hand, hugged me tight, and bandaged my injuries more times than I could possibly count. He was there through both of my surgeries. He knows all my friends. He knew my boyfriends. He answers his phone every time I call.
      I am grateful for your son, for giving me life. I am grateful for his creativity, which I’m told he had much of–some people say that creativity is passed on, some say I’ve acquired it through my life experiences. I’m not sure, but if the former is true, then I am grateful. I am grateful to keep my last name, which connects me to my Mexican heritage. And I was grateful for my relationship with you–my grandparents–even though we didn’t have a relationship for years and I felt like you’d abandoned me just like your son did. But for the past few years especially, I’ve loved the relationship we’d formed. And now you’re gone again, like you never existed at all.
      How odd it is to only have half a family. It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life. Most of the time, I feel OK, I feel whole. Aunt Gigi helped with that–she, as you know, has always been an important person in my life. She stuck by our side after Mom decided to get a divorce. She’s never been absent from my life. And now you’ve taken her away from me too. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse–you blocked my number at her house. I used to talk to her on the phone almost every day.
     I didn’t know you could be so heartless. It astounds me that your blood is my blood; I came from you. We are the same yet so, so different.
     I will probably never hear from you again, and that’s fine. Well, it’s not fine, but if that’s your choice, then I will live with it. All I can do is hope that one day, you’ll realize the senseless pain you’ve caused. Or maybe, since you claim to be good Catholics, it will be God who helps you to realize this when you meet him at the gates one day. I have never wanted more for Him to be real.
     Sincerely,
your granddaughter

The Button

Standard

If you had just taken that damn tag off of your button, maybe we wouldn’t be here, two years later, still splitting sour beers and smoking in your truck and kissing eagerly after a week of not talking. What a cycle we started, almost immediately. It’s almost laughable—what a witty piece I could write—almost. I could be sarcastic and flirty and go the whole Cosmo article route and shrug this all off as an unfortunate series of events—oh how I wish I could do that and end it all with something like, “At least I still have wine, am I right ladies?”

But I can’t do that. We’re so past the silly, ridiculous point of me being able to do that. Now we’re here and I’m split and splintered and shattered and suffering and every heart-wrenching s-word you can think of; I am that.

I think about that button a lot though, and how it was cold that night and I saw a tiny glint of white silk popping out of your collared shirt.

“Did you buy a new shirt for our first date?” I asked coyly.

“What? No…” you looked down and pulled your jacket to the side and noticed the white. “Oh. I thought you were supposed to leave these on.” You toyed with the small tag around the middle button.

“What?!” I was incredulous—half on purpose, half actually incredulous. “Of course you’re not supposed to leave it on!” I laughed and took another sip of the sour beer you’d bought us, pretending to like it.

“Well take it off then,” you said, leaning towards me. I knew I liked you then, after only 15 minutes, because if I didn’t, I would have scoffed and told you to do it yourself. But instead I leaned closer to you than necessary and took off the button tag more slowly than necessary, smiling up at you as if I was fixing your tie for the hundredth time.

If only every human came with a list of warnings, like medicine does.

Male, aged 30 years. Much like the bullshit biblical figure he is named for, Adam is amazing at reaping all of the benefits of the earth while his companion sins and is blamed and undergoes great hardship. He will be messier than any person you’ve ever met, yet he will not trust your dishwasher and will re-wash every dish and glass offered to him. He prefers dinner no earlier than 10PM and he will never try to not wake you up when he gets up earlier than you, flicking the bathroom light on before shutting the door like some sort of animal. He will introduce you as a friend and he will smell so good, but he will never, ever know how to communicate. He will be the first person you want to tell things to and you will always want to feel the tiny gray hairs hidden on his head but he will be absent when you most need his Tejano music and giant breakfasts and giggly existential conversations so you will be forced to tell someone else all the things.

Consult your therapist before accepting this human into your life, as this is not the suggested course of action for all willing participants. Side effects may include love, regret, heartbreak, death, or in some cases, all of the above.

Let’s be real though, I still would’ve taken that pill—I still would’ve leaned toward that stupid, fucking collared shirt. That’s what we all do, right? We’re warned and warned and warned—every day, about everything! And we still do almost everything that “could be” harmful or “could be” dangerous or “could be” the worst decision of our life. You could’ve been the best decision of my life. And now you’re just last night. Now you’re just text on a page. A button in a whole box of buttons.