This is still so very weird to me.
And it is so not about me.
I find my days are not really occupied with thoughts of the murder or who committed it.
But at night my brain and my heart race.
I put my children to bed and I kiss them goodnight. I think that because of a choice Jose may never be able to do this with his children again.
I lay in my bed and I try to put myself in his shoes. I cannot. What made him so angry? What made him break?
What made him become someone I never, ever, knew?
I see that horrendous picture of him and it is not the man I knew. Except for the glasses. Jose ALWAYS had glasses that never really "sat" on his face correctly.
It occupies my quiet time.
It surrounds my mind.
It breaks my heart.
I try to describe the man I knew. I try to tell people about the Jose who I met as a 12 year old and who asked about me and my children consistently.
I want to tell them about one of the kindest souls I knew.
I want them to understand that this man was good.
I want them to see the man I saw that night at the Easter Vigil with my friends. The man we supported when he chose to become Catholic.
But I cannot find the words.
They are there but I am trying to come up with words to convince people that the Jose I knew was NOT a murderer.
Except he is.
And this is not about me but I cannot get it out of my mind and my heart.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This is still so very weird to me.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 10:32 PM
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I really debated about whether or not to write this or how to. I'm going to try and see where it goes.
I grew up in an idyllic town. Not perfect but far from dangerous. So when things go wrong in that town- where my parents still reside- it makes the news.
This weekend was no different.
If you are in North NJ you have most likely heard about this. If not, here is the story link:
I knew both men.
Fr. Ed Hinds was not someone I knew well but I had interacted with him many times over the years. Being a former parishoner and being a Catholic high school teacher, our paths would cross from time to time.
He helped to bury my grandmother when she passed away.
He was behind the scenes at my wedding making sure things were taken care of and going beyond his "duties" as a pastor and priest to help make the day wonderful.
He has been at mass at my school more than a handful of times over the past year.
And he was mercilessly killed by another man.
There are no words to express the shock and sadness that this death has brought to the community in which I was raised.
There is very little that is clear right now. There is very little that provides any type of answer.
There are so many questions and so much left to be figured out.
There is so much pain and confusion.
And so much loss.
I knew Jose Feliciano. I did not know the man that murdered Fr. Ed Hinds. Sadly, it appears they are one in the same.
I met Jose as an 8th grader. As I grew, I came to know Jose as a compassionate and quiet man who was giving and welcoming. I worked with him during the summers. I joked with him after school with my friends.
I was there the night he became a Catholic.
I knew his wife and his children. He had met my son when the boy was only a few months old. Jose was there on my wedding day, as well. He had helped to get the church ready and then helped to clean it up.
Were we the best of friends? No. But Jose was the person who always asked how you were doing and was willing to talk and listen and help in any way he could.
That is the Jose I knew. This is also the Jose that will be prosecuted for murder- a murder he confessed to committing and will be tried for.
Tonight I sit here and I cannot begin to fathom how this comes to be. I cannot begin to understand how this man who worked tirelessly for his family and loved to be around people and joked with us could commit such a heinous crime.
But he did. He waved his Miranda rights. He confessed to this disgusting crime. And he is behind bars tonight.
I don't know when the Jose I knew "died" but clearly he did.
There is so much loss tonight and it will not go away easily. It cannot be packed up or ripped down as the police tape and command center will be.
The pain will not get washed away with the rain storms we are living with right now.
The sadness will dissipate but it cannot be blown away as the leaves are blown off the trees.
The idyllic place that provided me with cherished memories of childhood, my teen years and college homecomings is no longer all that idyllic.
We mourn the horrible death of a man who was quietly kind and showed his faith and dedication in simple ways.
We question how this all could have happened and we look for answers in any and every spot possible.
And really, right now, there is nothing.
There is loss and sadness and it needs to be embraced and dealt with. It needs to be accepted in order to even consider moving forward.
There are no words. To be quite frank, I'm surprised I got all of the above words out.
I used to laugh when people would talk about feeling like they were in a nightmare and they wanted to wake up. I keep thinking that this is all a horrible nightmare.
And any minute, we're all going to wake up and life will be idyllic.
But we won't and it's not.
Life does not have to be perfect to wonderful but a little less sadness right now would be appreciated.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 9:04 PM
Friday, October 23, 2009
I am not above bribery.
I use it on my kids. I use it on my husband. I use it on my friends.
I have no shame and I have no problem admitting that I use it freely and openly.
That being said, I have some of the most wonderful students around.
Teenagers are TOUGH. I thought that an almost 5 year old and an almost 3 year old were difficult, they've got nothing on teenagers. Especially teenagers who have no blood relation to me whatsoever.
I think teenagers want to please. They want people to praise them and recognize them. They want to be appreciated and have attention paid to them but more often than not they don't want to ask for it or do much for it.
I get that.
I work with very typical and very a-typical teenagers and for that I am BEYOND grateful.
I teach at a Catholic high school and I am a Theology teacher. To be quite frank, I'm usually the last class that kids want to take but one of the only classes they HAVE to take for four years straight.
I start off the year, sometimes, with the deck stacked against me.
Over the past few years, I've had some awesome students and some not so awesome students- both academically and personally. I count myself extremely lucky to be where I am with the kids that I'm with.
One of the big "pushes" that we're doing this year is to get kids to come to morning mass. Each morning we celebrate mass in our school chapel at 7:15am. It's early and I admit that I don't make it everyday. But it's really a very nice way to start the day.
Calming. Unifying. Energizing.
So, I've been trying to come up with ways to get kids to come to mass.
How do you get a 17 year old to school 40 minutes earlier AND get them to sit through a 20 minute mass?
This plagued me as I drove in each morning and home each afternoon.
This bounced around in my head as I lay in my bed each night and showered each morning.
It was everywhere.
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Or bagels, actually. (Either way it's 2000lbs)
I brought a bagel in for breakfast the other morning and as I was sitting at my desk one of my favorite- ok my favorite student- yes we have them- came into my room and we chatted. We chat almost every morning.
He bounces things off of me- emotions, thoughts, problems.
And I listen.
He watched me eat my bagel and I offered him half. He passed. Then a few minutes later, "Well, if you're really not going to eat it...." And he ate it. Saved me the calories.
And there it was.
Where there is food there is a teenager. Where there is a teenager there is food.
I don't give out extra credit points or grade points for going to church, I think it's a "conflict of interests". I am not above giving out food for going to church, though.
So, I gathered a small group of kids. Come to mass on Friday morning, I said to them.
Ok, they replied.
I didn't even have to promise food. They said ok, for me. Every Friday they promised to be there.
And then I promised food and their eyes lit up.
Today, was the first day. I got into work early. Hot bagels in hand. Orange juice. Apple juice. Cream cheese. Butter. A lovely little breakfast. I was worried.
Worried they would let me down.
Worried they wouldn't be there.
Worried I'd be "stuck" with bagels.
And then they filed into the chapel and my worries were erased.
I have some of the best students around and I am not above bribing them to join me in mass each week. There is a value to be found in spending some time in prayer and meditation first thing in the morning.
There is also value to be found in the time after prayer spent with bagels and juice and conversation. There is a recognition and attention that is given to even the smallest action- getting up early and coming to church- that is important.
I bribed my students to come to mass with me this morning, but I didn't have to. And for that I am grateful and lucky.
And I have every intention of doing it next week.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 8:45 AM
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Very rarely do I find it appropriate or necessary to comment on how other people parent their children. We are all doing the best we can and what is right for me and my family may not be right for anyone else's family.
So, I try my very best to keep my mouth shut in all instances.
There are exceptions.
I think it's ok for me to call the parent that beats the crap out their kid for any reason at all a bad parent.
I think it's perfectly acceptable for me to pass judgment on the parent that calls their kid horrible names and puts them down simply for the sake of putting them down. They are doing a shit job as a parent.
And today, I'm going to take a leap and be ok with myself when I say I witnessed some horrendous parenting today.
I took my kids to a party at a family member's house. It was mainly this family member's friends and their kids, with a few other family members thrown in. Honestly, it started out being a fun day. The kids were looking forward to it. I was looking forward to it.
Then Mother of the Year (MOTY) and her beast child showed up. Please understand this child is clearly a beast because her mother has allowed her to become one.
MOTY drops her kid inside with my family member and me and my kids and then proceeds to go out to her car and talk on the phone for 35 minutes!!
The beast child, who is bigger than my almost five year old son, will be three at the end of this month. She proceeded to pick up every knicknack and small object around the house and carry them on her person as if they were hers. When my family member tried to take them back, the beast refused and freaked out!
MOTY comes back inside and proceeds to demand coffee and sets up her Angel, or beast, with a juicebox while my children look on longingly. Never bothering to offer one to us.
The beast gets all up in my little one's face and tries to take her hot dog.
Now, anyone who knows my daughter knows that you do NOT take food from her. EVER. The beast didn't care- she wanted that hot dog.
And where was MOTY you ask?
The day went on. MOTY left again to take a phone call and never bothered to let anyone know she was leaving. Just walked away. Where was the beast? Taking glue and pouring it all over herself while she ate cheese balls and screamed at everyone to get her decorations for her pumpkin.
MOTY returned and grabbed her demanded coffee and plopped herself on the couch while the beast went in the backyard, in a nor'easter, with no jacket, no hat, no nothing, and my family member's full size German Shepard. Luckily, another mom was willing to go out there and supervise and offer the beast a jacket. I believe the beast's response was, "No, stupid!" MOTY handled that one by screaming at the beast 45 minutes later when the "caring" mom was able to talk with MOTY about the incident.
MOTY pushed everyone aside to get food for herself and demanded her child's juicebox when it was time to eat and then demanded a seat at the table for herself but wasn't overly concerned about the beast. Know why?
The beast was on the front porch, alone, pouring bubbles all over the floor. That was after she had tried to use the mini-pumpkins as bouncy balls.
MOTY disappeared again because it was time to talk about her extra-marital relationship or maybe it was her husband's or maybe it really didn't matter because at that point the beast was in the midst of mocking my daughter and taunting her with toys and candy that I wouldn't allow my child to have because, well, I don't want her to look like the beast.
It was time to go. I had to leave before I said something to MOTY about the fact that she basically dumped her beast on to people she barely knows so that she could go off and do whatever the hell she wanted all day.
Lucky for me, I was blocked in the driveway by, you guessed it, MOTY and the beast.
We said our good byes. We said our thank yous and nice to meet yous. We accepted cupcakes graciously and happily. The kids gave hugs and kisses and I apologized for having to jet before dessert. And then MOTY was asked to move her car.
And it seemed like it was going to be ok, she claimed she was leaving, too.
Not until she took 16 pictures of the cupcakes that she and the beast would be missing.
Not until she got another cup of coffee.
Not until she forced the beast to the bathroom.
Not until she argued with the beast to get her to put down the bubbles and put on her coat.
Not until she took another phone call.
Not until she got everyone to help her out to her car with the beast and their bag o tricks.
Not until she made my blood pressure go up so high that I was reminiscing about being on bed rest and seeing spots during my second pregnancy.
I had to hold myself back from getting out of my car. Thank God for text messaging, Mobile email and the DVD player in my minivan, otherwise you would have been hearing about me on the news tonight.
I drove home and I could not help but think about how this was something I had never ever experienced before. I had never been around a parent that was that lackadaisical. When I take my children to places where I know there will be a lot of unknowns, especially people, I take extra care to make sure I am with them constantly. I do this for their safety and comfort and also because it is no one else's responsibility to care for my children.
Did MOTY know that she had basically dumped her child on everyone else? Did she know that her child was misbehaved and rude? Did she know that her child was a bully and mean? Did she know that she left such a sour taste in my mouth and the mouths of my children that it still makes me sick to think about the events of today?
Does she have any idea that her crappy ass parenting is making her child a total raging beast and she's creating problems for herself more than anyone else?
Probably not, I think she's on the phone.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 10:11 PM
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Let's go for some randoms...haven't done those in awhile and I need to get some shit out of my head.....
* I am in loathe with my primary care doctor's office staff right now. This is nothing new. They are incompetent and lazy. And inevitably make me cry everytime I talk with them on the phone. Today was no exception.
* My son has some sort of cold/flu coming on and I am PRAYING it's not the swine flu.
* If it is the swine I'm hoping God is not "punishing" me for telling my son if he doesn't wash his hands he'll get the pig flu and his nose will turn into a snout
* My daughter is almost potty trained and I am hoping that this weekend will seal the deal.
* We have open house at work tonight for prospective students and parents. This is one of the longest days of the year.
* One of my co-workers wore sweats and sneakers to work today and has no intention of changing for the open house tonight. He's a history teacher.
* I have been in a cast and on crutches since Friday and I have managed to get myself dressed in professional clothes and NOT wear sneakers because I thought it would be inappropriate.
* I had planned on arriving late to work this morning, even called in and got coverage for my homeroom, but one of my co-workers happened to be behind me on the winding single lane road we both take to work and she tailgated me the ENTIRE way.
* I am still furious with the liar in my last post but they stepped up to the plate and have been beyond helpful this week. Although last week they didn't want to know me because I wasn't in "crisis" mode.
* This stupid ankle has put me in such a funk that all I want to do is go home each day and sleep.
* I've been sleeping on my couch because I can't do the steps in my house more than once a day and children can't join me on the couch and kick me in the leg.
* I'm going to a wedding on Sunday and I now have nothing to wear because not much goes with ankle casts and crutches
* My students decorated my crutches for me and I thought that was one of the sweetest things to happen this week
* My friends at work have been unbelievably helpful with anything I need and I could not be more grateful
* I was given two Xanax for my MRI on Friday but now I realize that I won't be in the tube completely so I really don't need them. I may hang on to them anyway.
* I feel like I shouldn't get to complain about this injury because I did it completely to myself.
* I just realized that unless you know me personally or on Facebook you probably have no idea what I'm talking about
* I broke my ankle Friday night at the Springsteen concert while dancing on the arms of a chair- I'm an idiot, I'm well aware.
* I would get right back up on that chair a million times over the show was that good and that worth it
* I have stopped drinking from Monday to Friday- alcohol that is
* I refused all painkillers from my doctor and I am just doping myself up on 800mgs of Advil- it doesn't help
* I was up until 3am in pain last night
* I really want to take my kids pumpkin picking and had planned to last weekend but as stated above, I'm an idiot and I dance on chairs and slip off of them
* I am just so tired
* I hate feeling like I'm invited or included as a second thought
* I hate feeling like things are my fault when someone else's conscience is guilty
* I really wish it was Friday
* I am so looking forward to happy hour on Friday after my MRI- I'll definitely need it
* My husband has been wonderful through all of this injury crap
* I can complain until the cows come home but in reality I am unbelievably lucky and have been shown that through my family and close friends who have really stepped up to the plate this week
And I've vented....not everything but enough so that when my next class walks through the door I don't explode at them as much as I may have.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 11:44 AM