Mrs. Mann

I had a third grade teacher named Mrs. Mann

They taught me ancient Egypt mythology, Greek mythology and read from a book that had its protagonist, a happy go lucky kid burn their eyes out by illegal fireworks.

I loved Mrs. Mann, and now I see that this person was trans. Back in the 80’s.

I remember they were called a “her” at assembly. Yet, They wore a tie and pants everyday. And corrected ppl.

I was young and didn’t know anything but now I remember and appreciate the moment.

It was a moment before we appreciated the moment.

Back in the day, I made a snide comment at a young age that Mrs. Man was actually a her, but I see now how wrong that was.

Gender is fluid. Somehow this is lost in the older generations.

Certainly lost on me.

I have such great confidence in the newer generations.

You’re so much better!

Things all women will go through

I’m 47. That’s the age most women will experience peri menopause.

You might go for a routine check with your OBGYN.

I did that, 2 years too late, and my OBGYN noticed a large polyp.

She was down there and said something.

I was completely freaked out.

Of course I was thinking, “There’s a huge tumer and it’s stage 4 cancer”

I hadn’t seen an OBGY for years. I had no context.

Apparently, its common for a peri menopausal woman to have polyp’s.

Something about hormones.

My doctor told me not to worry about it. Because I’m still menstruating.

If I wasn’t It could mean cancer.

The moral of this story is, ladies, get checked every year. Especially if you’re over 45.

How can you afford that if you don’t have insurance?

I don’t know.

That’s a crime.

Specifically because you need to check yourself over 40. Male or female.

Here’s my bid for universal health care.

A great dad

I can remember a time when someone on my school bus was going off on Hispanic dads.

Can’t remember the specifics, I can only remember being so shocked at this narrative.

That they’re unavailable or absent all together.

I told this person they were wrong, so wrong.

Being a shy pre teen, I didn’t think to back this up even though this person fought me on it.

I think I said, “not my dad!” And that was that.

On the eve of my dad’s birthday, this memory comes back with a story I wish I had articulated but maybe didn’t have the context yet.

A few years ago, my dad was diagnosed with lyposarcoma. A large non metatastic tumer in his abdomen which had to come out.

In his stomach.

I remembered a time when we vacationed in Florida.

I was sick the whole time. My nose would not stop bleeding.

One day, when I was better but not 100%, we were outside and a sudden thunderstorm broke out.

I feared wind like it was certain death.

I instinctively buried my face in my father’s stomach and he wrapped his arms around me.

Despite the booming thunder and lightning, I felt safer than I’d ever felt before.

Because my dad had me secured.

I thought about this when he was being wheeled away on a stretcher into surgery which would take hours.

I wanted to bury my face in his stomach.

I did metaphorically. And I felt safe.

This is a testament to him and what he’s given me.

A sense of personal and emotional safety.

That’s everything anyone can ask of a dad.

And I love him more than these words can say.

Another Days Work: Part 6

The Greeks

Just as we were about to break, Ptuto raised his hand.

Shiah saw this and nodded.

“Did he sign the letter?”

It was a great question. No one was legally allowed to print the Pharaoh’s name without him knowing about it.

Shiah hesitated for a moment. It was telling.

“I mean…. yes? Sure?”

This sent everyone into a state of disbelief. The workers were getting louder.

Shiah put an end to it. “Silence!! Hear me when I say this! Pharaoh himself handed me this copy AND said it was an EXACT copy of the one he gave his priest! When have I ever lied to you!?”

It was true. She’d always been very truthful and told us what was going on in the highest parts of the palace. Important given we would all most likely die in service to these pyramids. Or, as Ptomeses called them, “unnecessary gravesites for the rich.” I suspected he was sold off for a reason unlike myself. Maybe to avoid Pharaohs judgment? There were rumors.

“Should I just keep any further news to myself!?”

No one was able to answer. Disappointing Shaia was like disappointing the sky goddess Nut or worse, your mom. It was terrible.

“All right then! Let’s get to work!”

We went to Ptuto for our daily assignments. There was dissent in the air. I got the feeling some didn’t believe Shiah and maybe thought Ptuto’s question was agreed upon before the meeting. Actually, that second part was me. Best not to share that, I don’t even know why I thought it.

I blame the Greeks.

Nothing good happened whenever they were mentioned. My parents had once invited a merchant over for dinner.

He knew a man who knew a man who’d been to Memphis and had seen multiple pictures drawn on large pieces of papyrus of Greeks.

They were always laying down and eating grapes. They were fat too. No surprise there. If you’re just eating grapes all day.

What were grapes anyway? The man called them that, I just pictured whole cooked animals like rats. And laying down!?

Who lays down without sleeping?

Greeks.

I had no reason to believe these pictures weren’t true.

I almost bumped into the man ahead of me when he stopped.

I’m taller than most so I could see why he stopped.

One of Ptuto’s bodyguards drew a dagger and put his massive body in front of him. Ptuto held onto him trembling as they both looked at something in the sand.

Another Days Work: Part 5

Letters to the dead

“Our Pharaoh has assured us that he will do everything he can to keep us safe. I myself saw him write a letter to his father, who as you all know rests in the field of reeds at its highest point!”

Ptomeses groaned and shook his head. He didn’t like this Pharaoh or his father. He thought they threw too many feasts for too many visiting dignitaries and worse, philosopher’s.

Shiah noticed this but she ignored it like usual.

She raised her hand. She held a folded papyrus.

“Here is a copy of the letter.”

Shiah opened it up. This really was serious.

“Father, I beg you to keep Egypt safe from those who would harm us. Bring forth an army of snakes and lions to guard our shores.”

She folded the letter back up.

We all just kind of looked at each other.

It seemed anticlimactic. A little bit short. I wondered if he really meant it.

There were rumors that the Pharaoh had taken many trips to Greece and had hundreds of lovers and political ties there.

I didn’t believe them but I did see his caravan leaving his palace many many times.

You don’t bring a caravan if you’re just going somewhere half a days walk away.

This was going to be a very long day.

Another days work: part 4

Shiah

Shiah took a deep breath in, her eyes closed, chin up to the sun god, then she exhaled, her chin down to to the god of the underworld, set.

This couldn’t have been good.

“There is talk from the north. The kingdom of Greece. There is talk of expansion.”

We all knew what that meant.

A change in management and worse, ideas.

Shiah herself knew better than anyone. The kingdom of Kush was constantly being attacked by older Kingdoms from the west and south.

There was this new idea of expansion.

It used to be a kingdom would send an army, conquer, take anything they wanted and went back home.

Now, it seemed like kingdoms wanted to own everything and everyone.

I didn’t really get it.

Why would anyone want that?

You wake up, you bless the Gods, and you work.

More importantly, you live that day, put in a hard days work for your family and love who you love in your heart.

Shiah spoke again.

Another days work: part 3

Once again, I didn’t get to the fountain quick enough. There were already 6 men in front of me, drinking their morning water.

We got four bowls each.

It was enough at the time but given what we knew was in store for the day, it was never enough.

By first break, we’d all be painfully parched.

I looked at the sky and Ra was going to be ever present today.

The sun God was usually there but at this time of the cycle it was especially hot and dry.

There was constant talk before sleep of the water source and how for all we knew, it was much more plentiful than anyone in power made it out to be.

Ptomeses claimed that it was a mountain of water on an endless flow. Limitless.

But, he hated Ptuto for whatever reason. In his stories, Ptuto was the one hiding the limitless source of water.

I think it was because of his assistant, Shiah. A beautiful woman from the kingdom of Kush.

Ptomeses was obsessed with her. Her dark skin, her wit, her power over Ptuto was irresistible to Him.

He always wanted things he couldn’t get. His father was the same. He had two camels. Milk to sell from the female and a strong procreation possibility from the male mating with her.

It wasn’t enough though. He took his earnings and invested in things like, the sale of imported goods from other shores. More importantly, sailors who talked about imported goods from other shores. Things he’d only heard about in taverns.

My parents were different. They were happy with food on the table at least once a day, two if we were lucky.

I finally made my way to the fountain. The water was sweet as I drank it.

I headed over to the breakfast area. It was a handful of figs, a piece of wheat bread and a cup of camels milk.

What a treat!

To be fair, I had just only started working on the site when Ptuto was in charge.

I’d heard that conditions weren’t so good in the recent past.

Shiah clapped her hands.

We all stopped what we were doing and paid close attention.

Another days work: part 2

I saw Ptuto leading multiple women with jugs of water to the fountain.

He was my boss and always claimed to be awake before us.

We all thought he was exaggerating, talking about his lack of sleep because he’d go to the wells while “we were dreaming” but at least today, he wasn’t.

The women poured their water into the fountain.

I suddenly became very thirsty.

I had to ignore this because I wasn’t permitted to drink or even be awake before the appropriate time.

I headed back to my sleeping quarters.

All the fires were lit now.

I could easily make my way back to my sleeping quarters.

It wasn’t hard to find. I just listened to Ptomeses snoring.

When it became unbearable, I knew I was there.

Just as I lay down, I heard the morning wake up call from Ptuto.

“Get up! Time to meet Ra and see another day!”

I always thought Ptuto was great.

He was a former slaver turned job site manager due to the fact that he was caught letting his slaves go free by the Pharaoh’s men.

The truth is he’d never really believed in the slave culture and had subsequently fallen in love with a slave.

The rumor was that his lover was a male slave and he’d professed his love and lived on some sort of commune.

Everyone was equal and they were some kind of family.

Not unheard of but unlikely nonetheless.

I made my way to the fountain.

Another days work, on the first great pyramid.

I woke up in darkness.

No one had lit the morning fires.

That was unusual so I stayed in my sleeping quarters for a moment.

I could hear snoring.

It was like a blade sharpening on a stone wheel.

Ptomeses. He’d broken his nose moons ago when we were kids. It had never healed right. It made sense. The people in our village couldn’t afford a priest. A priest would’ve fixed it.

Not that we were poor. We had a few Ox. Two village huts for gathering and worship.

I’d woken up before I should’ve. That had been happening lately.

Best to just try and go back to sleep.

Except, I had to pee. I knew I shouldn’t have had that extra sip of water before bed. But I did. And here I was.

I cursed myself for not trying harder to get a sleep space closer to the entrance. I would’ve but there were old men in there 30’s! I wasn’t exactly young but at 20 I just couldn’t justify it.

Oh well. I could just close my eyes and go back to sleep. Once the first morning fire was lit, I could just run out and pee. No problem.

I listened to Ptomes snoring. It had a rhythm.

Like the performers on holy days.

I closed my eyes and timed my breathing with the rhythm of the snoring.

Just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard the commotion of sticks rubbing together.

It was morning.

A fire ahead lit up.

It illuminated the middle aisle in our cave.

I sat up as they moved closer to me, starting the process of lighting the next of many fires.

It was enough light for me to make a bee line outside to pee.

I did.

When I got outside, I could see the dim brilliance of Ra. The sun God. He had granted us another day. And more importantly, light for me to run to the ditches we could pee in.

I ran, and released. Good thing. If I had gone in my sleeping quarters, I would have had to clean it.

That could take some time. Time when I was supposed to be working for our Pharaoh.

Could’ve really affected my wages.

I needed all my wages to buy food for my sister and her son.

They depended on it.

I was about to head back to the cave when I saw the most beautiful sight.

Ra, the Sun god had risen from his slumber. He shined a soft light on the side of our building site.

The architect had said that would happen and that it was a sign of good fortune yet none of us had actually seen it.

It was amazing! Real! Maybe what we had sold ourselves into was worth it!

We weren’t encouraged to talk to each other about such things but I couldn’t wait to spread the word.

The pyramid we were building would in fact bring freedom and good faith to our families.

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