Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Look out, drop off line!

To the woman in the brand new BMW who could not wait two minutes for everyone in the drop off line to move forward and had to spin around from in back of me to cut me off and take the spot in front of me, nearly causing a multiple car accident, are you insane?  Did you take your meds this morning?

Let's look at this from the beginning.  There are at least 20 visible cars in line.  We would be here until school got out if we all waited until we were at the front of the line to let our kids out, so we're reasonable people and have three or four cars at a time--just as long as they're on the concrete, not the grass--boot kiddies into the cruel day.  No, I did not immediately spin out from my spot, blocking everyone else in front of me in, because I have a minivan.  The doors are automatic.  I need to wait until the back door closes before I put it in gear.  If I don't, the door remains open, and I look like some A-Team reject, burning rubber with my door hanging open, waiting for people to jump into my van so I can rescue them.  I'm not a mercenary, and anyway, it's etiquette for all of us who've dropped off to leave single file.

A second point of note is that you are driving not what I assumed to be a brand new BMW, but what I observed to be a brand new BMW from the "plate applied for" sticker, the BMW insignia (obviously) and the glow of money that hovers over that paint job.  (Seriously, did you get the tears of virgins and wash it with that or what?).  Do you not know that puts you at the bottom of the food chain?  You are the equivalent of blood in the water, fresh meat for sharks.  Me?  My 2007, seen better days mini van--I call her Priscilla--we've got battle scars.  We are the gladiators of the suburbs.  We have picked up, dropped off, hauled stuff AND people, camped out, gotten lost and found again.  A little bang or ding on Priss?  That just marks her as a Warrior to others.  YOUR ride?  It's not made for these mean streets, so I wouldn't be tempting fate cutting people off if I were you.

Oh, and by the way that little stunt?  That was your one.  That's all you get, just so you know.  Because I WILL get out of my van next time, IN MY PAJAMAS AND SLIPPERS and take you down to Crazy Town.  I don't often visit there, but when I do, I act like I'm the mayor.  It won't be pretty, my children will nearly die of embarrassment, but it will be WORTH IT! 

Fair warning, that's all I'm saying.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just an observation

As class was letting out and the building's halls were filled with the crush of students with heads down looking at their phones, letting their backpacks carelessly slung over one shoulder repeatedly bump into those around them, I noticed a newish phenomenon. 

You know how etiquette says we should stay to the right and let people who are walking towards us stay to our left?  No more!  You know why?  Most of the people are righties, and students immediately whip their phones out, and use their right hands to maneuver through their phones.  This means they all drift to the left of the staircase or hallway.  Those of us on the right are like salmon fighting the constant currents.

Amazing what technology can change.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spooky stuff

Some in my family are said to have "the touch" which means we have a low to mid level of psychic ability.  I'm not running off to join that housewife in Jersey who has her own show or anything, but I definitely have something I don't understand going on.  As a kid, I remember having imaginary friends that seemed awfully "solid" to me, and I often told my mom certain people "glowed" with different colors.  As an adult, I seem to know people's first names before I'm introduced to them with terrific accuracy, and as a waitress, I can't even count the number of times I brought out a dish and customers would tell me it was the wrong one, but that was ok, because they couldn't decide between what they'd ordered and what I'd brought.  The most jarring instances for me today are when I can sense someone is ill.  I don't have any control over it, I just get a palatable feeling that people are sick.  I shrug it off, but nine times out of ten, I'll later find that person has been fighting some serious illness for quite some time.

I mention all this, because I know my son has inherited some of this.  Even though my mom passed away when he was only three months old, he would often as a toddler talk about how Grammy had come in to talk to him, and I remember hearing him babble often in his room.  In some ways, I thought nothing of it, until he mentioned an aunt who had also passed away who I wasn't particularly close to.  There's no way I'd ever have mentioned her, yet he knew her by name.

One of the most striking events that showed me psychic energy is a real thing was after the young man from my last post had died.  My son had just turned five, and we often talked about this young man, especially right before we'd go to his home.  I wanted my son to understand why he wouldn't see his buddy and if he had questions, I preferred to answer them.  Once, while I was going through this, Cubby said to me, "Mom, you say I won't get to see him anymore, but he comes to see me all the time."  I was lucky to choke out a "what now?" before Cubby went on to tell me that this young man came to him every night, sat on his bed, talked about video games, various superheroes, airplanes, and all my son's favorite things. I sort of reserved me judgment, thinking maybe there was a good helping of wishful thinking in there. 

Cubby came to me very sad one day and said to me that this young man had come to him and told him two important things.  One was that he didn't want Cubby playing with guns, and that he should never ever touch a gun without an adult around.  While I knew this young man had used a handgun to end his life, there's NO way Cubby would have.  It's only in the last year I've told him that fact.  The other thing was that Cubby wouldn't be seeing this young man anymore, because his grandfather needed his company, and he had to go be with him, but he told Cubby to remember him.  What I knew, but Cubby didn't, was that this young man's grandfather had passed away from cancer very recently.

Do I believe in psychics?  You bet, and not just because that's a great memory for my son to have.

Any times you've known something there was no way you could have?  Any times you've felt someone's presence near you?  Let's save the scary ones for Halloween.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Suicide Awareness Day

The day is nearing its end, but today is Suicide Awareness Day.  I really struggled with whether or not I should post this blog today.  I ultimately decided one perspective may change a life, so here goes.

In 1995 I met a person who, for a time, would fill a place in my heart as one of my best friends.  She already had kids, but I wasn't even married yet.  I spent a LOT of time with this growing family, often taking on childcare, giving advice, and getting to know the kids as well as I knew the parents.  When I had my son, the first two years of his life, his care when I was at work fell to this woman.  Our kids, especially mine and her youngest, were effectively raised as cousins.  A truly fabulous thing happened with her then ten year old son and mine.  As the youngest in his clan, you'd think her son would welcome the opportunity of a younger boy in the house for the opportunity to spread a little good natured torturing around.  Not so.  He loved my son absolutely and totally.  I will never forget how he let my son, then a two year old, wander into his room, where NO ONE was allowed.  He would hand Cubby a video game controller that wasn't hooked to a game and let him sit right next to him while he played.  Cubby thought he was the bomb!  I can't count the number of times I had to wait for the school bus, because even if I got off early from work and could have gone home, it would have ruined both boys' days if they didn't get a chance to see each other.

As things happen, the loving boy grew into a teenager.  He was often sullen, as teens are, but he was also equally smiling and enjoying the company of those around him.  He had issues beyond the norm that were both organic and environmental in nature, but he was such a loving child, so many of those issues seemed to take a backseat to those around him.  It wasn't until a horrible morning in March just a few years ago that those issues overcame him, and he took his own life.  He didn't leave a note, so we'll never really know what was going on inside his head.  Later, it was found that he'd looked at sites on the internet that talked about ways to commit suicide.  There was a journal found, but it equally spoke of future goals and snippets of songs and poetry as it did fatigue of living this life day in and day out for a shy kid who hadn't quite found his niche in life.

Those left behind?  For each person there is a different emotion, depending upon the day, the hour, the minute.  For some, there was anger, shock, denial, avoidance, a feeling of being unmoored on a choppy sea.  I watched his family devolve in ways that stretched, frayed, and sometimes broke their relationships with each other and me.  They lost so much more than just one person.  I've seen the pain in their eyes and the void there too when there are no more tears the body can give, but the heart is still sobbing.  I've felt the anger myself.  I'm angry that at five my son idolized this boy, but at 11 Cubby can barely remember him, despite talking openly about him all these years and a picture still plastered on my fridge.  I'm angry that I had to talk to my son about guns and never to play around with them, then tell him why I was so adamant about it.  I'm sad too.  Sad that I'm the one talking with Cubby about superheroes and going to The Dark Knight Rises with him, when I know he would have schooled Cubby on all things superhero and probably would have seen the movie with him.  God knows I'm worried too.  While they may not have shared DNA, I look at the similarities I see--a love of superheroes, camoflauge clothing, graphic arts, a sensitivity that can't be taught--and I think "please, God, not my son too."

Because it isn't right for parents to bury their children.  When the cause is something as preventable as suicide, it feels even more wrong. 

For parents, check in on your kid.  I don't care if you think your kid will hate you, if they SAY they hate you, check in on them. Snoop like you're the freaking CIA.  I used to believe in privacy for teens, but I don't anymore.  Raid their rooms, and if you find a scrap of evidence you think they're hurting themselves or planning to, make them talk to someone.  If they won't talk to you, find someone they will, THAT DAY.  Especially be on the look out if they give away their things, seem to be settling old scores by talking things out all of a sudden.  If they've been in a constant bad mood and are suddenly happy, be cautious.  That can often be when they've made a decision to harm themselves.  If someone close to them has committed suicide recently, that often sort of gives permission to those who are contemplating it to also do the deed.

This young man lived in a home where he could have gone to any number of people and voiced his concerns and fears, and anyone would have listened.  Sometimes, they just don't come to you.  They just don't.

For those who suffer with the thoughts in your head, please, please, please, contact someone.  ANYONE.  I know you don't believe it, but there are people in your life who love you beyond measure, so much they can't put it into words.  It's just that living the routine of life has made them forget to stop and tell you that you are worth more than the moon and stars and oxygen combined.  I promise, it WILL get better.  If you think it can't get better at home, find some place you are safe and work on "better" there.  Call a hotline, talk to a friend, clergyman, teacher, someone who will listen.  Tell them it's important, because it is.  YOU are.

1-800-273-TALK (8255) is the number of the 24 hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need to.  Be known for the courage it took to call, not for your last act.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Don't worry, this has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats. My daughter had her first student council election, and along with that came her first disappointment related to candidate dishonesty.

First, one candidate, instead of just relying on her speech, brought in little tie dyed buttons on glow sticks with "vote for" and her name. She even had different colors for boys and girls. Another hopeful was engaging in negative politicking on the playground, talking trash about the other candidates. The worst was the girl who told Brownie "hey, I'll vote for you if you vote for me" then proceeded to vote for herself and rub Brownie's nose in it right after she did it. She did it just under the radar of the teacher, because those types of kids always know how to do that perfectly.

Of course, little Miss Dishonesty won. I had to tell a sobbing, bitterly disappointed in humanity Brownie that not everyone is honest like she is, and karma will come around, and everyone will be on to this girl's ways soon enough.

Me? I just hope karma takes a HUGE chunk out of that girl's behind, sooner than later would be good.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hopped in the way back machine today

I was driving to work and an idle comment from a radio DJ filled my head with memories.  A song was just ending, and the DJ noted that the upcoming song was from 1988, and she was sure many were saving for CD players then, because that was the hot new thing.

Oh!  The flood!

Near the close of 1988, I was partially through my junior year at North Central College in Naperville, IL.  At NCC, I was an on-air DJ for their award winning radio station, WONC.  We'd recently changed formats to more rock, no pop stuff, and I was often taking various forms of music and putting them onto cartridges to play in the studio.  Oh, the music that was new then that I was getting to jam out to!  You BET I was saving up to get a CD player.  I've always been an electronics freak when they meet up with music.

I can even remember when I bought my first CD player.  I was with one of my then (and still) besties as I dragged her to not one but TWO Marshall Field's locations.  On the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday sales because the first location was out.  Yes, she helped beat back greedy crowds at two locations just for me (remember, Bethie?).  Of course, she was staying at my house since she was from Florida, so she was kind of captive.

I know one of the CDs I bought that day was Melissa Etheridge's Bring Me Some Water.  I don't remember the others.  I'll have to think about it more.

Now?  My kids only know CDs play in our vehicles.  They have their own ipods, and I share with them my 18 gig library of music, much of which was born of my 350 CD collection.  I'm not buying discs now, though.  I wonder what songs they'll remember that shaped their music appreciation.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Stupid is nothing

Oh my, do we have a stunning example of stupid today!  If you're a local, you've seen this recent story.  If you're not, OH you've missed some good stuff.  The Chicago Sun-Times actually had a page and a half spread on Bryan Craig's story, which really does the whole sordid situation justice.

Just to recap, this man, recently a high school counselor and girls' basketball coach, self-published a book on sex.  Let's be clear.  This isn't a bodice-ripper romance where sex was intermittently introduced, nor was it even a "how to make relationships better" kind of book where sex was a subject.  This book was about how to bed women, including such fun discussions as why men need a partner "just for sex" as a "release" and pages of in-depth reporting on how the texture of women's vaginas differ, based on race.  He also rates races of women by "hotness" scores.  In short, it's 44 pages of nonsense, wrapped in crap, with an are-you-freaking-kidding-me bow.  I thought of every loser misogynistic date I ever had and pondered the personal hell that must be his wife's life.

Mr. Craig resigned from his position as coach, and he's on paid leave pending an investigation.  Lawyers for the district, rightfully aware there could be legal implications leading from this publication, are running around touting the fact that Bryan Craig has a right to free speech, which I absolutely agree with.  Mr. Craig has EVERY right to spout whatever idiotic crap that runs through his head if he so chooses, but that doesn't mean I have to want him near my daughter.

And that's where the rub is for me.  It's not in this article I've posted, but in other print articles it states that not only does Bryan Craig identify he's worked for the school district and the Department of Children and Family Services in a biographical sort of way, but he references those positions, as well as his coaching position as giving him insight into the female psyche.  That's where you lose me on free speech, Mr. Craig.  If you're saying that you've counseled women in ways to "take charge" of their relationships, meaning with sex, and you're saying that in the book, that means those work situations informed and influenced your writing.  By extension, that means your writing informs and influences your work.  Here's where I start to get that icky feeling.  Bryan Craig works with young, impressionable males and females.  While none are my kids, I don't want him telling ANY child that they need to be promiscuous prior to marriage, or that men and women should maintain five partners simultaneously for different purposes, all of which are pieces of advice from his book.  I mean really, could I MAKE this stuff up?!

Legally, we'll see where this goes from here.  I hope, even if by the letter of the law, Mr. Craig is allowed to remain in his position, the district realizes the protection of the children is what's most important.  Then Mr. Craig can go from part time to full time at his other job--bouncer for a strip club.  Again, NOT kidding.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yes, I AM peevish, thanks for asking

I'm pet peeving it today, and there are plenty, what with school starting for both the little darlings and my job.  I will try to keep the list light.

To My Kids' Teachers/Principals:
  • BEFORE putting out the supply list, I beg of you, TALK to each other and determine what is needed.  I shouldn't have to run around to three stores and spend a small fortune on four (specifically noted on the supply list) 3-subject notebooks, only to find NOT ONE TEACHER WANTS THEM, and they ALL want the 1-subject notebooks I purchased for $.17.
  • When scheduling classes, keep in mind the three minutes they get to move from place to place--and maybe, oh, I don't know, PEE--and stop putting them in a back and forth from one end of the earth to the other trajectory.  When tardies start on Tuesday, after having had to do my son's schedule at open house, I WILL be writing fun and pithy notes back if I get tardy slips for my kid.
  • Don't use the open house time to showcase fun stuff our parent organization has bought that you like.  Yeah, smartboards are cool and all, but I don't need a demo.  Far more important is how you see my kids as individuals and how YOU interact with them, not the board.  I'm not so easily placated as an 11 year old. 
To MY Students:
  • Don't ask me for an extension because "the bookstore gave me the wrong book." The syllabus was up for two weeks.  Yes, mistakes happen, but it's YOUR class.  That means the responsibility falls upon you to double check.  This is not the clerk's class.  You are the one getting the grade.  Even if you couldn't swap it out in time, I've got a copy on reserve in the library.  The assignment has been up for almost two weeks.  If you wait until the last day to do it, you'll run into some issues.
  • I am not a miracle worker, nor am I grading scantrons here.  If an assignment closed the day before, you need to WAIT to get your grade.  Even if you completed it on the first day it was open (Good for you!  Keep it up!), I have to wait until the due date has passed to grade items.  Writing, and the grading of writing, takes thought, consideration, and contemplation.  I need more than 24 hours, yo.
  • Along the same lines, I promise to return emails within 24 hours.  Please STOP acting like I'm derelict in my duties if I don't get back to you in 15 minutes.  Sending three emails in 12 hours asking why I haven't responded and demanding a response is not cool.  I have a life, and it doesn't revolve around YOU.  Would you like me to assign something and say it has to be done in one hour?  NO, you wouldn't!  Give me the same consideration.
I think that covers it for now.  Stay tuned, though.  The year is young.