12/31/2012

Thank You 2012

I thought yesterday's post would be the final post for 2012, but since I find myself at home tonight, I figured I would post again... I decided to stay put tonight, I didn't want to be out late and didn't put any effort into trying to find something to do... and I am happy about my decision.  I am enjoying the quiet as well as being surrounded by my cats.  I just read the post I had written at the end of 2011 and it was filled with optimism and gratitude... and I feel fortunate that this year has been the same.  Something that I did not realize until tonight, is that in 2012 I didn't lose anyone I was really close to... 2012 was filled with challenges and changes... positive changes... today one of my friends asked me if I thought that 2013 could possibly top 2012.  Without hesitation I said yes!  2012 was incredible.... but as we all know two of the most stressful things in life, rated by the so called experts, are moving and getting a new job.  Both have been amazing and changes I needed and could not be happier about.  2012 is also the year that I have felt happy again... not just content, but happy.  So yes, it will be hard to top all of those things, but... now that I am settled into my new place, and into my new job, I can relax and begin to do other things that I love.  I can open myself up for new adventures and hopefully plan and take at least one trip.  I hope to meet Michael in 2013... I am still amazed and feel so fortunate that I consider him such a close friend when we have never sat across the table from one another and shared a live conversation.  2013 will be a year in which Betty does not have to battle cancer.   2013 will involve more time with my family... February will include another winter adventure when I take the boys up to spend time with Dad and Betty.  Sis and I will have more chances to spend time together, hopefully some with Jacey.  We will all gather as Jacey graduates with her Bachelor's degree and celebrate her accomplishments and will cheer loudly when she is accepted into her graduate program.  There will be kayaking... oh yeah and apparently snowshoeing... (I think I am going to have my first snowshoe adventure next weekend!)  I also hope to make good on my hope to do something to challenge myself for my next birthday... I believe I wanted to attempt to challenge my fear of heights by doing some indoor rock wall climbing... Still have a few months to think on that one!

Of course there are things that I have anxiety about in 2013... cancer... which is greatly impacting the lives of many people... two specifically come to mind.... my friend Debbie of course... I am confident that this year will bring even more challenges to her and her family and I know that whatever curve balls are thrown at them, they will attempt to hit them out of the park and argue with the umpire if a strike is called... they will share tears and laughter... and love... and I will do better at being present for all of them...
and my friend Pam's husband, Mark... they learned last week that Mark's brain tumor is growing, quickly, and they have decided to discontinue the experimental treatments they have been doing...  and I worry, that while I work hard to live in the moment, to embrace happiness, that the rug will be pulled out... but that fear is gradually decreasing... and I know that at some point something bad will happen, but I also know that I can't let that dictate how I live...

So, 2012, Thanks for the love and 2013, you better start figuring out how 2012's shoes are gonna be filled!



12/30/2012

Some pictures and updates... in no particular order...

I haven't written in a while... Hello Blog Buddies! 
Life has been busy, I have been having a lot of fun.  I have uploaded some pictures, some from my camera and some from my phone, so the order of the pictures is not necessarily chronological... but I will try to explain... and hope I don't lose you in the process.  

This first pic is of Lucy, who doesn't often get blog time because she is not as much of an attention seeker as Stella... although now that I am posting this I wonder if this picture was shared in my last blog post...because it was taken when Dad and Betty came down for Christmas with Jacey and me... Oh well.. here she is... perhaps again... 

I feel very lucky that Dad and Betty came down for Christmas early.  It made it so that this vacation, I didn't have to be on the road the entire time.. and has allowed me to have some me time... which I am enjoying... 

ok... next picture... There was a night a couple of weeks ago where it was kind of rainy and kind of freezing at the same time and the ice clung to the trees... I tried to get some good pictures, but this was the best shot I got...


One day I came home to a couple of packages on my front steps... gifts from Michael, in Oregon!  Petit fours and some chocolate pumpkin bark... I had never had Petit fours before... they look like a box of chocolates, but each one of those squares is a mini two layer cake.  Delicious.  The pumpkin bark is good too, still working on that! 

The Christmas lights in Portland are beautiful.  These are two trees that are outlined with red lights with blue ornaments.  I love the lights in the city.  They are so pretty.  I hope to get more pictures of the lights to share. 


OK... onto my vacation... so far... and my Christmas travels... 
My last day of school was Friday 12/21/12...since the world didn't end it meant that I could continue with my plans... That Friday night I had planned on going to my friend, Jaime's house, to be another person in her house when a man came to install a ping pong table... but the weather was awful and she called and her furnace had malfunctioned and asked if we could cancel.  So I thought about going to a basketball game... but when I received a call from Suellen, my decision to stay home was an easy one... Suellen called because she and Mike had no power and in her refrigerator was several pounds of meat she would be cooking for her family and asked if they could come over to put it in my fridge.  Of course I said yes and she and Mike came over and we got a chance to visit.  It was nice.  It was also nice that I had the entire day on Saturday to pack and get ready to go to NY. I slept in and throughout the day did laundry and packed... and took down my Christmas tree.  I didn't dare to leave it here, drying out, with the lights on.  I packed up my truck with presents and clothes and blankets... and went to bed... the next day I got up and put the rest of my things in my truck, including food I needed to take with me and went for my walk... somehow I ended up at the bakery!  How did that happen? Well truth is, I was ready earlier than anticipated, but I had to wait until a local business opened at 9:00... One of the gifts I got Sis for Christmas was a lobster pot.  Her new apartment is much bigger than her old one and she has room for things like lobster pots... so I figured that I should also show up with lobsters... I got to the seafood place that is closest to my house... owned by the husband of a woman who is the school nurse at my former job.  He was very helpful in knowing how to get those little suckers to NY alive and after packing them in the cooler I was on the road.  

I got to Sis's and managed to get a sweet parking spot right in front her her apartment and we unloaded my truck.  Sis was happy to see me and maybe just as happy to see the lobsters and muscles!  It didn't take long to get those things cooking... 


Oh I should tell you that Davin named the lobsters... as they were awaiting their demise in the kitchen sink.  The one on the left is Jim an the one on the right is Bob... or was Jim and was Bob... Davin helped eat them, the only one of the boys who likes lobster... I ate a few of the legs... the only meat I like on the lobster.  It was nice to bring them to Sis.. not sure why I have not done that before... and apparently some of her friends like lobstah, so I should take some for her friends the next time I go.  

After the lobsters, the boys headed to their dad's house.  Sis had made plans for us to join a party called the 12 bars of Christmas... Someone she works with started this crazy tradition years ago and get dressed up... I thought dressed up meant dressy festive... but to my surprise I was very much in the minority amongst people wearing crazy holiday garb... including Santa hats, wigs,  and lit up strings of Christmas lights... we only went with the party to two establishments... it was quite an operation... about 40 people I would say, maybe 50... most of whom were loud and enjoying the holiday 'spirits' ....converging on a bar.... after spending some time and cash at the bar, the group leader used her bullhorn to organize the group into singing... yes, caroling, to the 12 bars of Christmas... a song which sounds much like the 12 days of Christmas... oh, and there were song books that were given out so everyone could sing along.  That was funny!  It was fun, but I was relieved when Sis and a few of her friends decided to go back to her place to enjoy conversation.  It was a good night.  The next day was Christmas Eve and was the day Sis and I would spend with the boys as our Christmas.   

In previous years when I have been in NY for Christmas, usually with Dad or Mom and Dad, the opening of the presents was stressful.  The dynamic was... chaotic... the living room was always filled and by filled I mean hardly room to sit because it was so full of presents... and the boys never knew how to navigate it and their stress increased and Sis's stress increased and it was uncomfortable... THIS Christmas was so different... The boys were excited to open their presents, but it was also calm... they took turns, watched each other and appreciated the gifts they got... none of which required batteries, chargers, or uploading... there was laughter, sharing, and excitement...but a calm excitement if that makes sense... It was nice.  

Here are some pics of the boys sporting their Cabela's sweatshirts Dad and Betty gave them... perfect fits! 

Ben.. or as I have come to call him Benny Bo Ben Ben... He loves that nickname!  


Not exactly sure what Jack is doing here... but I said strike a pose... so I guess I got what I asked for!

And last but not least...Davin..  with his sweatshirt from Dad and the hat I got him... Yes, he is almost up to Sis's shoulder!  

I am sure Sis will hate me for posting this, but ... here is a pair of earrings Betty had gotten for her... they looked fabulous! 

And speaking of earrings...
 These two pairs are awfully similar... both are 'tree of life' earrings... the ones on the left are ones Sis bought for me, the ones on the right, the ones I bought for her!  Too funny that we would get something so similar for each other... reminded me of the Christmas where Sis and I had bought the book "I'll Love you Forever" for Mom and Dad and as we continued opening presents, (Sis was in NY I was in Maine) there was a present from Mom and Dad... a copy of the SAME book along with a wall hanging... it was crazy!  

As the day unfolded Sis had hoped to have her new kitchen table and chairs set up so that we could eat together for dinner... we had all gone to the furniture store the night before to pick them up and with sporadic help from each of the boys got all of the chairs put together.  And then... it was time for some games!  This one was canasta... with Ben, Sis, and me... After talking with one of Sis's friends the previous night, who is also the mother of one of Ben's best friends... we learned some of what Ben has been learning in his health class about sex education.  This was Ben's reaction when the topic came up... 


This photo, not taken in the same game... was taken on the day after Christmas... when Sis was at work and Ben and I were playing canasta... Ben was determined to beat me... and in the second hand, he kicked my butt... but as it is with canasta... winning the battle does not mean winning the war... I kicked his butt... Canasta etiquette says take no mercy... but in the moment, he was happy! 

Later Davin got in on the canasta action.  He is a competitive little bugger! 


We were able to have Christmas dinner together, around the table.  I made Mom's homemade macaroni and cheese... and I must say... it came out really delicious!  

I had planned to come home on Thursday, but Mother Nature had other plans... she dumped about 8 inches of snow or more on us in NY and I knew I would be staying an extra day... Sis had Thursday off and we had all planned on playing in the snow.. but, as we were all getting ready to go... Sis stubbed her toe... badly... and when I say badly... I mean BADLY... it was her left foot, the second smallest toe... and it was perpendicular to how toes are supposed to be... crossed over her pinky toe... instinctively she sat and grabbed her foot and when she did that, she somehow put it back in place... sort of... I do not know how she did not pass out.  She ended up heading to the ER and I stayed with the boys... and after she got home, she was in no shape to go outside... but the boys wanted to go out and I needed to go see if my truck was plowed in... so the boys and I (me without winter boots and only sneakers...yes stupid!)  headed to my truck... while I dug around it the boys built this snowman.  

After getting my truck dug out enough that I thought I would be able to move it the next morning the boys wanted to head to their favorite hill in the park... my feet were freezing!  We eventually got there and the boys headed up the hill... Ben was first...

I love this picture...Ben is so tall, a bit taller than Sis... and looks more and more adultish every day... and yet in this picture, he is still a little kid... my Benny Bo Ben Ben... 

Then Davin was up... He has had a pretty bad cough and kept wanting to take his hat off and I wouldn't let him take it off, not wanting him to get sicker... 

Davin... is not necessarily the most graceful of the three boys... he seems to enjoy crashing and rolling down the hill...which led to his hat flying off a few times!  

As Davin ascended the hill to take the sled to his brothers, they did what most brothers would do... attacked him with snowballs! 

Jack's turn... he was determined to go further than the brothers and did...

As the boys were sledding I noticed another family in the park with a real toboggan...I was surprised to see it being used in this way... but was impressed the dad didn't fall.  


Jack came flying down the hill, gained speed, and caught some air... 

Then... Davin... attempted to get on the sled mid slope... Hey Davin, you sure that's a good idea?

uh oh... he's going backwards... 

Tuck and Roll, Davin!!!  This kid came up smiling!

He later redeemed himself... catching some air on their jump.  

Davin, where's your hat?

The boys wanted to stay for a long time, but my feet were getting cold... I told them they could each get a couple more runs in... Ben made his a good one, hitting the jump, but I took the picture a little too soon.  

Then Davin caught some air... and Jack thought he could do better. 

The jumps look pretty similar to me! 

 One morning Jack and I were up before the others and he decided he needed some cuddle time... actually I think he was cold and wanting to share my quilt... but I took the cuddling!  
 I also have to say that Sis and I got a lot of time together.  I am so happy to have those moments again.  I feel like they had disappeared for a while... and have been reminded of how much I need her and how much my friendship with her means to me.  Love ya, Sis!!! 
After some amazing time with Sis and the boys.... it was time to head home... It was a beautiful drive on Friday.  The sun was out, and most of the drive involved seeing lots of snow.  I was happy that the roads were clear and the traffic was pretty light.  

Oh... I tool this picture with my phone at the grocer store... to show Sis that I had found the delicious salad dressing she had shown me at her place.  It is delicious.  DAD and BETTY, you would LOVE this stuff, look for it at your grocery store! 


When I got home Friday I was pretty tired... the cats were happy to see me... well Sheldon and Stella were happy... Lucy was mad at me and hid under my bed for a while before coming out to say hello... then she stared me down from the other end of the couch before giving in to needing some loving... I shoveled my back deck as well as a path from my deck to my parking area to try to make it easier to carry  my trash out etc... I hate shoveling, did I ever mention that? Oh, I also ordered boots that I think will be good to wear when I go snowshoeing... which I think I am going to attempt next weekend.   (Unless I get inspired to tromp around in my backyard before then!) 

Saturday I got up and went to my hair appointment.  I was looking forward to it.  My hair dresser had been on maternity leave and I was overdue for getting my hair cut... she had time to blow it out straight... here is a picture of me with straight hair... 
The lighting isn't great, but it shows how straight it is and how long... and that's with just having taken over an inch off.. It is a nice change.. but... hard to manage... because it is so long, it gets caught between my back and chairs, etc... and I am not used to the fly away hair... on many ways... I like my curly hair better!  

After getting my hair cut I went to the art store and bought paints!  I have been wanting to paint for a while... haven't really painted anything since Mom died... and have been wanting to... I also found this sign... which did not have any border on it.. it was just plain white with the words on it.... I loved the saying, so figured I would use it... and then decided I wanted to add to it... so I started working on it... started by painting a  black border.  


Then I started adding some color into the letters... 

Then wanted to add some color to the black border...which required a few coats...

The finished product:
So while it isn't wicked creative.. it did get my painting... and I have started another piece... not sure if I am going to like it or not... maybe you will get to see it, maybe not... but it's been fun to try! 

Today's paper:

Last night the first gay couples were, by law, allowed to be married.  The paper had two great articles about this and I found myself tearing up as I read them... One couple who had been together for the last few years had a moment of silence during their ceremony to honor one of their uncles who had been murdered years ago due to his homosexuality... It's about time that we demonstrate equality... Congratulations to all of the newlyweds! 

In other news... today was day 39 of my 100 day challenge... it is getting easier to incorporate it into my day... and I am feeling better... today I woke up to several more inches of snow... and decided that my 30 minutes would be used to help others... I cleaned off all the cars in my parking lot... shoveled my back deck again and re-shoveled a path from my deck to my front parking lot... while I was out there, this clump of dried flowers blew by... kind of pretty... random, yes... but pretty... 


So... there's not much new here... except that I am enjoying my vacation.  
As 2012 comes to a close I do reflect on it as an amazing year that included a new job, a new home, closer relationships with my friends and family... 2012 may be the year I once again found my smile!  

12/21/2012

Happy.......Holidays

Thankfully the last couple of days at school were uneventful... well... less eventful than last week at least! (It's all about perspective!)  There was however a situation that evolved today is one I will remember for a long time.  This morning I met with four of my kids who I see often for one reason or another... good kids.. kids who I keep an eye on... who are part of the after school program we started for kids in danger of not graduating... I rarely meet with multiple students at the same time, but these four friends decided to skip a class yesterday and hang out together.  They know they are supposed to be in class.  I have busted them individually in the past and they know I keep an eye on their attendance... so when they all came to my office, together, they were pretty jovial... and I asked them about the curious fact that each of them was absent from their period one class.  Fortunately they are not liars and confessed to being together.  I asked them if they liked being together and they all said yes, so I told them I had a holiday gift for them and assigned each of them a late night detention... a regular detention is an hour and a half... a late night is three hours.  I told them I was fostering their desire to spend quality time together.  They all tried to barter, to get a regular detention instead... and I refused.  They were not happy... and left my office... not long after that two of them returned to talk to the other assistant principal (AP).  They asked him if one of them could have permission to go to our vocational center with the other for the afternoon even though he is not enrolled there.  The other AP said no.. and they were mad... and I was frustrated... how could they possibly ask permission for one of them to skip two of his classes after just getting in trouble for it?  So While the kids were waiting to catch the bus to go to the voc center, I decided I wanted to go talk to them and let them know that there is no way they are going to be allowed to have tie off from classes when they just got in trouble for skipping... and in reflection did so with a bit of a chip on my shoulder.  I approached the boy who wanted to go and asked why on earth he thought he could go to that other school, which would mean missing his classes, after our discussion that morning.  He got really mad and defensive and said things like him being so tired of this school and people lying to him and told me he really didn't care to hear my opinion... and did so in a way that was the most rude I have ever seen him... and then the kid who does attend got involved and said that the kid should be able to go and I came back at him with a mother knows best tone and said, yeah, after skipping class yesterday I am going to let him skip two more... and he became rude... again out of character for the kid I have known for four months... and as he started saying something about it having been in the works for a while, the other kid coming with him to the voc center and when I started to question that, because I was totally confused, he got more mad and started walking out of the school to the bus and yelled, and I mean yelled, "Happy F*$&*$^ Holidays."

Oh. No. He. Didn't.

Of course I went after him.  The other kids were already loaded on the bus and I told him that I didn't think he should go to the voc center today either.  He didn't like that and became even more aggressive and told me I wasn't going to stop him.  I told him he was not going to get on the bus and that he needed to come to my office and he told me there was no F'ing way he was going to do that, that he would just leave... and I told him to consider himself suspended... and he walked away.  I assumed to his car and was leaving...

So I called his mom and told her about it... and she was supportive and asked where he had gone and I told her I assumed he had driven home... and she told me he has no license... and that she was going to leave work to go find him... Not long after that my phone rang and it was the student... I asked where he was.. and he had ran after the bus, which stopped and picked him up... and he had arrived at the voc. center.  He was calling to apologize.

Apologize? I was both happy and cautious... he explained to me that he had gotten on the bus and for a moment had been the hero... kids high five-ing him and telling him that it had been funny... and he said that as he rode to the voc center he felt guilty... and said that he was so frustrated with the situation but that he didn't think I deserved to be treated as he had treated me.  I told him that more than anything I was confused because that his actions were not reflective of who I have known him to be.  And he said that he was just frustrated with the situation, that his friend, the kid who wanted to go with him, keeps getting screwed... and I told him I had no idea what he was talking about... So he told me the situation... his friend, as a freshman, had failed some classes.  His guidance counselor that year told him that it wasn't even worth him going to summer school to try to recover some of those credits... then as a sophomore and junior he was allowed to go to the voc center... and while there made a huge connection with the teacher he worked with... he explained that this teacher was like the father his friend never had and that they were just trying to arrange a way for them to spend time together.  That explained to me, the other kids behavior and frustration, but I knew I didn't have the whole story.  So this kid again apologized and begged to not be suspended... I told him that I had to do something because he caused a scene and he could not be allowed to do that without consequence.  He agreed and I asked him what he would propose for a punishment.  (In my mind, suspending him for the rest of today, which would have prevented him from participating in the party at the voc center, was enough..)  He told me that he thought it would be fair for him to stay in the office at the voc center and that he could do three extra late night detentions... I told him that I appreciated that, knowing that most kids think three hours of detention is the worst possible punishment we hand out... and I told him that I thought that was too much... and told him that I felt he needed to not return to our school on the bus, that the other kids needed to see that he had not gotten away with it... so I wanted his parents to pick him up at the voc center and that he could do an additional late night in addition to the one he had already been assigned.  He agreed.  He proceeded to again apologize, telling me that he needs to work on his anger and telling me that he wished he would have been able to tell me what was happening so that I could understand......

So then I called down the other kid, the one who wanted to go... and he arrived, avoided eye contact... and I told him that I didn't like our earlier interaction, because he had never been rude like that and I was worried about him. He looked up and said he was just mad about the whole thing about the lady who kept lying  to him... and I said to him, I just spoke with your friend and he told me part of the story, but not all of it and asked him to fill in the details.  Turns out that this year he has asked a couple of times, to visit the teacher at the voc center, and has been told that it was possible by a guidance counselor, who then later told him it wasn't.  This time he said, she had made it seem like it would happen, but then today, last minute told him he needed a permission slip (impossible to get while at school) signed by a parent and also needed approval of the other AP who works closest with the voc center.  I was, in that moment, angry, not at the kid, but at the lack of communication to me about this kid who I have worked so closely with... I got more information about what had happened and as we talked he relaxed and also apologized to me for being rude earlier citing his frustration.  I asked him to tell me about the teacher at the voc center and this tough kid got a bit  emotional and told me that this teacher was probably the person who has impacted his life the most... and it made me love the dedication of teachers... he talked about how hard it was to not be there this year... and when I asked why he wasn't, he went into a detailed explanation of needing specific classes and credits... and he was right... but there were so many details that made me mad... and after he explained I paused and he looked at me and I said I owe you an apology.  He looked at me, confused, and asked what I was talking about... and I said that the school has failed him.  That somewhere, someone should have noticed all of the little errors that had added up to the situation he was in... which was not being able to go to the voc center because of needing to retake some classes due to failing his first year... He has worked so hard since then, carrying full loads of classes and earning credits to be able to catch up to his classmates... and he didn't know what to say.  I pulled up his schedule and grades and talked to him about his needing to attend our after school program, but he told me that he often has to take care of his younger siblings and can't stay.. which I know is true... and then I looked at his schedule and every other day he has a workshop and an independent study during the time the other kids go to the voc center... and I asked him, if I could arrange it, would he be willing to keep his grades up in order to go to voc every other Friday... and he looked at me, furrowed his brow, and said he didn't think that was possible, but said..., "It would sure make it easier for me to want to come to school."  Done. Sold.  Deal complete... So while he was in my office I emailed the teacher with whom he is doing the independent study and the teacher at the voc center to see if he missed class at our school once every two weeks if he would still be able to pass and earn the credit and to ask the voc teacher if having a student there so infrequently was doable, if it would make sense starting at the beginning of the second semester.  I told him that it couldn't hurt to ask... and as we concluded our conversation and he got up to leave... his eyes filled up and he said, "I don't know what to say to you... nobody here, in this school, has ever..." and he looked away..." ever gone out like that for me... fought to do something that would help me... Thank you."  At that point I held back the tears... and told him that it was me that needed to thank him.. and again he was perplexed.  I said, "I thank you.  For not dropping out when I think that probably seemed a lot easier.  For telling me how important this teacher was to him, and for working so hard to graduate despite the barriers that were put in front of him...." What a great conversation to have moments before the end of the day... and then, the cherry on top of that sundae... immediately both teachers responded to my email and said yes... both indicated how important they feel this is for him, knowing he needs it... and thanking me for thinking of  it...

So I wrote a notecard to this student... so that he would get a positive note from school... that told him that it was approved and that we would start at the start of the next semester.  It was a fun card to write! I would like to see him reading it.

I then called the other student back.. woke him up, which I was good with... and told him that he was a good friend, that because he had been able to calm down and express to me that he was frustrated because he felt like his friend wasn't getting something he needed, I was able to step in and try to help... and told him that at the end of the semester some good things would be in place.  He simply said, "Really?"  And I said yes... and told him that I wanted him to enjoy vacation... and he said to me... I hope you have a good vacation too.. and Miss B... Happy" and he paused then said, "Holidays."  And again apologized for swearing at me earlier and said, "I really hope you have a good vacation...Merry Christmas."

So my lesson here... is that even when I think I know what kids are doing, I don't.  I need to ask questions before making assumptions about kids... especially kids who I have gotten to know.  I should have known something was off, that there was something deeper going on... the other lesson... is to not hold a grudge against the kids... which I don't think I do... but this is a huge example of that... And... I need to talk about communication with guidance about 'my' kids...

I'm not a mom... but... I am protective of my kids... I learned so much about these kids today... and it is only going to help me as I continue to work with them... It was stressful, in the middle.. but... I feel like I got a happy ending... a great way to end my 2012 school year... I am lucky to have this job... with these kids... I am grateful.

12/18/2012

It only took four months...

Back in the day kids who were mad at teachers or other school officials would scrawl things across bathroom stalls... while there are still things written, in poor taste, in the stalls in the restrooms, it is uncommon... kids have transitioned to facebook, twitter, tumblr, and a few other social networks.  They post anything and everything that comes to mind... I figured that I would be written about on facebook or that a picture would be posted... and knew it was a matter of time... truth is, I am surprised it took this long..  About two weeks ago I heard that there was a picture of me on facebook... posted by one of the students in my school.  I heard that it was taken from an angle that shows my backside (including my BFA!)  and shows me talking with another teacher who of course happens to be very petite... the picture was taken and posted to obviously show the size difference between us.  As often happens with facebook, people make comments about the picture and other people can 'share' the picture, which means they re-post it and open it up for even more comments... My curiousity got the better of me and I asked our school resource officer, who is 'friends' on facebook with many of our students and 'polices' some of the activity there, if he had seen the picture.  He said he had, but hadn't brought it to my attention because at that point lines hadn't really been crossed... but I asked to see it... and other than my BFA I didn't worry too much about the picture... but as I kept track of it I began to get... uncomfortable... wondering if I should address it... if addressing it would give the kids more ammunition... and thought on it for a while... the person who posted the original picture didn't get many comments, but the person who had reposted it was getting a lot of comments and comments that were disrespectful... and I decided I would put the word out that I knew about the picture... so...last Friday I approached the girl who originally posted it and, in front of her friends said to her, "Hey, next time you take a picture of me to post on facebook, ask me to pose first."  I was calculated in this approach... knowing that calling her out in front of her friends, many of whom had seen the picture but had refrained from commenting (which says something  given their histories with me), would make her feel awkward and would make her feel guilty.  I also didn't want to directly tell her to take it down because knowing her, that kind of approach would have led to more pictures and posts... so over the weekend I checked on the re-posted picture... and it was escalating... comments like, "That's a BIG bitch!" "Fee Fiii Fooo Fummmm" and "That Bitch is GIANT!"  were posted by students who are not only in my school, but are kids I have helped with different situations... the boy who posted it... is an instigator.  I have had conversations with him about the content of his facebook page due to the complaints of other students and his take on it is he can post what he wants about whomever he wants.  He is a student who is not white, who has been on the receiving end of racist comments that upset him, yet posts racial slurs... I don't get that... He sees it as entertainment, as not a big deal... and despite being public doesn't think anyone at school should be able to interfere with his online activities... even if he posts while at school through his phone or school issued laptop... He is smart... he himself did not call me a bitch... however when someone posted that he said something to encourage it.  And I knew I would have to address it...I just had to figure out when and how.... I felt I needed to be careful because approaching it wrong could lead to more and more posts... and that was the last thing I wanted to do... And timing... when to approach kids... and on that issue, my hand was a bit forced.
Last night on facebook, one of my former students sent me a message on facebook. (It is like an email, not everyone can see it.)  She first apologized for messaging me there because she knows my 'rules' with kids about facebook.  (I will not 'friend' students until they are 18 or have graduated from high school, whichever comes second. And I will not engage with people who allow students to access their pages.)  then she went on to tell me that she was worried about me because she had seen a picture of me posted on facebook and that the comments that kids were making were mean and made her uncomfortable.  She then took screenshots ('photographs' of the content of a computer screen.)  of the picture and of the comments being made and sent them to me.  This girl, who sent this to me, who was concerned for me, was a student who was a kid who attached herself to me when she was my student... she has had a rough life and I always told her to set boundaries with people, to stand up for herself, and to stand tall...walk proud... and here she was, reminding me that the things these kids were posting were outside of those boundaries... and I knew in that moment, it was time to address this thing... now... the how... was the next question... so I have been mulling it over for a while... the casual approach to the girl who took and originally posted the picture removed her post... I know this from a few sources and also because she commented on the copied picture saying that she took her picture down because in her words,"That bitch scares me."  (She is a kid with whom I have had A LOT of contact.  She and her Mom started coming into my office before the school year even began.  She had dealt with issues of being bullied.  She has dealt with situations where she ratted out her friends in some pretty big things... and academically she struggles... through those things I have supported her and have arranged help for her in a way that she will accept it, which has to be done cautiously because she is an insecure kid in some ways and doesn't want people to know she struggles...)  I admit, that I was disappointed that she would post that, but also know, that these kids are kids... and they live in a different time than I did...
So, last night I began thinking about how I was going to approach it.. and decided that I would print off the picture along with all the comments and post it in my office.  If they can post it publicly, on facebook, posting it in my office is not violating any confidentiality laws... I could repost it here even, but won't... I hung it in a prominent location and asked my secretary to call down the student who had originally posted the picture... but she was absent... well coming in late from a doctor's appointment... so I decided to have the kid who reposted it come in next...
I had my secretary call him to my office... and assuming that he thought he would be there for the facebook post (Because one of his comments was something about him asking me my opinion of the post when he got called to my office...)  I told my secretary that I was going to have him sit for a while... and wait for me.  Hoping he would get a little nervous.  And as he waited, I intentionally walked from my office to the printer a couple of times as he sat in a chair across from the printer.  I greeted him as I always to, "Good Morning, how are you?" He answered that he was doing well and started to get up.  I stopped him and told him I was in the middle of something and would let him know when he could come into my office.  So eventually I called him in.  Immediately he noticed the 'post' I had posted and tried to engage me in conversation about it.  I interrupted him.  I told him I had called him down to talk to him about his attendance.  Which was true.  He missed some days and I needed to verify the reasons.  So without addressing the facebook post, as he couldn't take his eyes off it, I dialed his mother's number.  When she answered I asked her about the reasons for his absence and made appropriate changes in our system... and then after that I said to her, that while I had her on the phone I had another question for her.  I asked her if she was aware of her son's online activities.  She said she wasn't.  I asked her if it would surprise her to know he had posted a picture of me and had encouraged people to make comments including things like calling me a bitch.  His mom claimed to be surprised and admitted that she is unfamiliar with facebook and twitter.  I told her that at this time I was not going to do any school consequences because I thought that it was more of a teachable moment than anything else.  She told me she would deal with him when he came home and later called me to let me know they had talked when he came home from school and that she wants me to let her know if there are other issues.  After hanging up the phone the student looked at me and said he was sorry.  I told him that I didn't believe him.  I asked him why I should believe him, when the last conversation he and I had about his online activity on twitter involved him being arrogant and rude... and he said he was having a bad day the last time we talked and said he was rude and was sorry.  I told him that I didn't care about the picture, that I am tall, exceptionally tall, out of the ordinary tall... that it is something I have been acutely aware of my entire life... and I told him that the reason I needed to intervene was that people were becoming disrespectful and people were becoming uncomfortable.  He told me that he disagreed with what I told his mother, that he was encouraging people to post mean things... and I read some of his comments to him "Miss B got a hundred likes! oh yeah keep it up."  (On facebook when people see something that someone else posts and they think  it is cool or funny...)  He had also commented,"Three people so far have called her a bitch, lmao!"  (LMAO= laughing my ass off)... he liked the comments people posted... but again, he is smart... after my former student had commented on his picture,"hey guys I know her, she's  nice lady. You guys are being disrespectful to her and you should get to know her before you judge her."  His response was that he liked me, that I was a good assistant principal.  In my mind, covering his ass, knowing that at some point I would most likely see the post.  I asked him how he could say, after making those comments, that he was not encouraging people... he couldn't disagree.  He told me that he does like me and that I am a good assistant principal.  I told him I didn't trust that.  I told him that he is a kid with whom I will be working with until he graduates.  Since he is not graduating this year we will have some quality time together and that the relationship we have is going to impact how the rest of the time at high school is for him.  I told him that people show us who they are  and that when people show me who they are, I believe them.  (thanks Maya Angelou!)... I told him what he has shown me, is that he likes to entertain people, regardless of whose expense it comes at... I gave him a couple of possible scenarios (that are similar to situations I have dealt with him in already this year, where I gave him the benefit of the doubt)  and asked him why, in those situations I should take his word over the word of someone else? Why I should go out on a limb for him? I told him that at some point, given his history, it is likely that a situation will come up where I am faced with the choice of how to discipline him.... why should I choose detention  because it wouldn't show up on his high school transcript when applying for college vs. a suspension which would show up and about which he would have to offer an explanation? He asked if he took the post down if it would repair things.  I looked at him and said that in order to repair something one first had to realize/recognize that it needed fixing.  He said that he sees how he was disrespectful.  I told him he could take it down or not take it down.. that in the past he has not heeded my advice about what to post or not post or remove.... so why would I continue to offer such advice... before he left I said to him, regardless of this situation... if something comes up and you need help, I will help you.  I will be here... and he thanked me... ... As it worked out... timing is everything... today the other assistant principal came to my office with this student.  He brought him to me because I am his assistant principal.  (We each are assigned specific grade levels.) I asked why he was there and the other assistant principal said  that he had gone into a class to pull a student out to do a search for drugs... he had gone in and asked a student to come to the office with him and asked to bring his things... which often is a way that students know we are searching a kid... and this student had to get involved and sarcastically say something about how he should get searched too because he may be a 'bad boy'... the other assistant principal, knowing what was going on with the facebook stuff, said to me, I think I am going to give him a detention, but if you think I am overreacting I will reconsider... I looked at the student, looked away for a second, towards the wall where I had hung his facebook post, and slightly shook my head and said, "I have no reason to think that there shouldn't be a consequence.  I have no reason to say that we should chalk it up to being funny and I definitely can't say that it won't happen again...so, no, I don't think you are overreacting."  For him... I think..he feels accepted when he is entertaining people....So... perhaps this student will have gleaned something from this experience... maybe... so.. onto the rest of the story...
A student who had commented "THAT BITCH IS GIANT" is a student with whom I have had one interaction and as it worked out his Dad was present at the time.  So... I called him into my office, with the facebook post laid on my desk... and asked him if it looked familiar.  He looked at it... waited and then kind of shook his head, no... I said really? You sure? looking down the list of comments... and he said, well maybe I have seen it... and I said seen it? you commented on it... and he said, uncomfortably, yeah.. yeah I did... and I asked him to read what he had said.  He read it, while looking down.  I then asked him to look up, to look at me, to make eye contact... and he did.  And I said to him: Say it to my face.  He immediately dropped the eye contact and looked at the floor and said nothing.  And I said, no seriously.  I want you to say it to me.  Look me in the eye and say it to me.  He looked up and said, "I can't say that to you.  It wouldn't be respectful." And I said to him that I was confused.  That he 'said' it on facebook, about me,  and that if he could say it there, he should be able to say it here, in my office, with me, to me.  And he said no. I said why not and his response (Which I was hoping for) was that he thinks that saying it to me would probably hurt my feelings.  And then he said he wanted to take his comment down.  I said I hoped that he realized that what he posts online should only be things he could say to someone's face.  I told him I was less worried about that particular comment, but that it did make me wonder about his character and what he was saying to other people.  I asked him if he had made similar comments about other kids... he acknowledged that he has, that he does... and I said to him... look at this post... look at those comments... are those comments saying more about me or o they say more about the people who are making them... he said that he thought that his comment now makes him look ignorant and mean.  I asked him if he was ignorant and mean.  He said no.  I asked him how I knew that? He said there isn't a way for me to know that.  So I said to him, there are no school consequences for this, at this point, but I do think your dad has a right to know that we have met today.  I told him that we were going to call his dad, on speaker phone, and he was going to tell his father what was going on, what he had written... and he looked at me, with wide eyes and said, "Now?"  I said yes.  he swallowed hard and looked at the floor as I dialed... unfortunately his father didn't answer, but I left a voicemail... told his father that I was meeting with his son about a comment he had made about me on facebook.  I told him that I expected this student to come home and have a conversation with his dad about the comment... After hanging up, he looked down.. and I told him that he is someone I am just getting to know.  That what he does, the choices he makes, from here on out will shape my opinion of him... and gave him the speech about if it's ever his word against someone else's... at this point the scale tips in favor of the other person...I think he got it.  Again, as I did with the other student, before he left I said to him... I am putting this behind me.  If something comes up and you need help, I will still help, I will always help.  Later in the day his father and I played phone tag and eventually when we connected, he apologized for his son's actions and thanked me for how I approached things with his son.  He said that it sounded like I used this as a teachable moment and that he appreciated it.  He assured me that a conversation would be had at home tonight...
so that left the girl who posted the original picture... this morning when I realized she would be in late due to an appointment I left her mother a message to stop by my office when she dropped her off so the three of us could chat.  She didn't.... but what she did do... again, timing is everything... called to leave me a message, asking if I could, on her daughter's behalf, intervene with a situation involving her daughter, asking if I could talk to a teacher to see if that teacher would change the detention he had assigned from tonight until tomorrow because the team she is on was having a critical practice today... (thank you timing gods, thank you!)
So... I called this girl to my office... and had the picture and the comments... and with her, I told her that the picture she had taken didn't upset me, but that her comment, specifically the one where she called me a bitch did bother me.  I told her that I was going to call her mom... and we did, on speaker phone... and as soon as her mom answered she said, "I am glad you called.  the first thing I want to say to you is how sorry I am about the picture my daughter posted of you on facebook.  I know you know about it and I told her to take it down."  I told her I appreciated that, and that I had told her daughter to have me pose first the next time she decides to post my picture as a way to let her know I knew and as a way to try to maintain a rapport.  Her mom understood that and said that she had spoken with her daughter and had cited to her daughter all of the things I had supported her through this year... and how disrespectful it was.  I told her that I knew she had taken the picture down, but that I wanted her mom to know about the comments she had made on the picture after it had been re-posted.... I asked the girl to read the comments to her mom and she said no.  I asked her why not and she said because it was not nice and began crying... So I went ahead and read the comments to the girl's mother and her mother went off on her daughter and threatened to take away her facebook privileges (which I know are empty threats at this time.)  I told her mom that I was not doing school consequences, but that if similar things were posted that negatively impacts me, my ability to do my job, or negatively impacts other students who are made to feel uncomfortable, there would be... her mom, then asked me, after all this, if I would be willing to change her daughter's detention to tomorrow!!  Yes, she did.  I said to her, "given all that we just talked about, I was not currently in a mindset that would be willing to go the extra mile for her child.  She said that her asking for that was not necessarily for her daughter's benefit, but for her daughter's teams benefit... I told her that her daughter would have to face her coach and teammates knowing that she had let them down, that I was not willing to protect her from the natural consequences of that today.  We ended the conversation and I said to the student, Do you think I am a bitch? She emphatically said no.  I asked her why she would post it? she had no answer... I asked why she posted the original picture and she had no answer.  I told her that she apparently had a lot of thinking to do.  I asked her if I was scary when I protected her from her friends when she ratted them out for doing drugs? She said no.  I asked her if I was scary when I arranged for a senior to tutor her in a place where nobody else would see them... and she said no.  I asked her if I was a bitch when she had come to me about other things... she said no... I told her that we would be working together until she graduated and that between now and then there will be situations with which she will need support from her assistant principal... and that I will help her... that this will not prevent me from helping her... but I also told her I wouldn't forget this...

Out of the three students I think that I was least effective with her... because I don't know how much she will absorb... because of so many other circumstances in her life...

One word comes to mind... filter...I wish students could be forced to look into someone's eyes to see the pain that their words can cause when they say them... my fear.. as we 'progress' with technology... we will regress with our humanity... our ability to communicate meaningfully... and that we will lose empathy...

It only took four months... for kids to post something about me that had negative overtones... however... one thing that really stood out to me about all this... are the kids who did not 'like' the post and who did not comment on it... some of the kids on whom I have had to come down the hardest... who comment on most of his other posts... didn't comment... (the majority of comments were from kids who are not in my school...)... So the kids who would perceivably have axes to grind... didn't post anything.. stayed out of it... I think THAT says more about me than the comments that were made... and... I had a couple of kids approach me in the hall yesterday and tell me that telling the student to ask me to pose for my next facebook appearance was awesome... I had other kids tell me that they had seen the post and didn't know what to do or say but found it in poor taste... there is a fine line.. between overreacting to something like this... and not reacting... part of me had thoughts about how having that picture of me up, perhaps distracted the kids from making derogatory comments about other kids... but the reality is it's not enough to distract them... I think it is natural for kids to poke fun at the authority figures in their lives... but... I also think that I need to do what I taught my former student to do... set boundaries...stand up for myself... I am grateful that she reminded me of that lesson... I am sure it won't be the last post about me or picture posted of me... but... this one, for now, is disappearing in the rear view mirror...

12/16/2012

'Tis the season...

This was a nice weekend.  After having some down time Friday night I was able to sleep in a bit on Saturday morning.  But I knew I couldn't be wicked lazy because the 'rents (what Jacey, Sis, and I now call our combined parents) were going to be on their way down... and I needed to get a few things done.  So I got up and put a load of dishes in the diswasher and decided that it would be a good morning to head to my bread store for a breakfast sandwich as well as picking up some bread for my guests... After my walk... 
So I walked down one of the streets... and on my way back stopped at a store where I found a couple of Christmas gifts.  Then I headed to the bread store... what I call my bakery... not sure it is technically a bakery because they focus so much on bread... but they do make a few pastries and other things.  But I like the idea of living within walking distance of a bakery... 
This is the inside of the bread store... You walk in and the smell of the bread is overwhelming and delicious.  It is an old fire house.  I love the brick walls and the wood...

This was the shelf usually filled with bread.  One of the kinds requested wasn't on the shelves so I asked if they had a loaf, and it was not yet cool enough to slice, but it would be by the time I finished my breakfast sandwich... 

So I sat, not at one of these tables, but at a 'bar' that lines the front of the store looking out onto the street.  I enjoy being here, in this 'bakery'... and it is a fun place to people watch.  Yesterday there were a couple of families there... with little kids, probably two years old, walking between the tables, one chatting about going to the 'lie-bway-ree' after having bread.  I got to see some people, old friends, see each other for the first time in a couple of years...
I ate my breakfast sandwich...got my loaf of freshly baked and sliced bread...  and came home to get ready for my family arrive.  I cleaned a little and made sure there would be a place for everyone to sleep.. wrapped the gifts I had gotten on my walk and put out some snacks for us to eat during the afternoon as we visited... 

Betty and Dad arrived at about 1:00 or so.  Jacey arrived about an hour later, and we just sat and talked.  I love having people here, at my home... and we decided that we would have an early dinner and open presents.  Dad had brought a batch of his homemade spaghetti sauce.  (I had put in a request for that sauce, which I love... and he said he would make it... what I did not know is that he and Betty had recently had it... so it felt a bit soon for them to have another round... I told Dad he could have said no to me and we could have had another option, but he just grinned and shrugged... Thanks Dad!! I had some leftovers for lunch today.. yummy!)  

It was nice to open presents... but I do enjoy seeing people open their gifts more... 

I didn't take any pictures as we were opening things... except for a couple of me in my new hat! 

I wanted this hat, to keep me warm while I snowshoe  this winter.  I have the snowshoes, the hat, the coat, and mittens... all I need now is some boots to wear... which I will have to shop for when I get back from NY... I am looking forward to snow... so that I can snowshoe... We talked about February vacation, when I will once again take the boys up to Dad and Betty's for the week.  Jacey is also going to try to get up there.. and I hope I can snowshoe while there.   

It is nice to have things to look forward to.  I am so lucky!  

Oh... I wanted to post a picture of Sheldon... one of my cats.. he is the most affectionate... well at least to unfamiliar people... of all of my cats.. and he doesn't often photograph well... but I like this picture of him.. as he lays on Jacey's jacket... he loves Jacey and when she was here on Friday doing laundry,  Sheldon decided her coat was a nice place to lay.  What a great cat!  


I hope people are also enjoying the holiday season.  I know that the holidays are hard, missing the people we love... wishing maybe, that we had a special someone to share it with... feeling pressure of gift giving... and it is hard to move away from the holiday blues... 
This year, the holidays, have felt the best for me they have felt in a long time.  Yes, I miss Mom... and the holidays make me miss her more than usual... but... I also think that fining joy in the holidays is a tribute to her.  The way I have done the holidays has been a lot of fun and hope that these events can become tradition... 

12/15/2012

Hard to imagine...

Yesterday, not unlike the rest of this week, was busy and hectic... And in the background was knowing that Dad was having a colonoscopy.  He was supposed to have his appointment at 8:00.  As my morning unfolded with having to suspend a student who I have spent a lot of time with and have wondered this week about whether or not I can help him, if his parents can help him.... around 10:30 or so I messaged or called Betty to see how Dad was doing and she told  me he hadn't gone in yet.  This felt odd to me and as her texts kept updating me on him still not going in... there was a part of me that thought that something wasn't right, wondered if in fact he had gotten in for his appointment and that something had been found and that Dad and Betty didn't want us to worry until they knew more... and wondered if they were waiting to tell us how it went until they had bad news to share... as this was circling in my head I was called to deal with several other  issues that were cropping up with some of our most needy students... As early afternoon approached and I was waiting in front of the school with a student waiting for a parent to come and get him, I checked my facebook through my phone, which I never do during the day, and saw a post referencing a school shooting in Connecticut.  I didn't have much time to thing/react because the parent picked up their child and I needed to talk with the parent.  As I came back into the building my radio went off, telling me I was needed back in my office as soon as possible.  On my way back I heard a couple of teachers say something about Connecticut, but headed straight back to my office.  I dealt with a few more things, checked my phone for Dad upates, and saw the other assistant principal and school resource officer looking at a computer.  Eventually Betty texted and Dad had been taken in for his procedure and then a text that all was good and I was able to relax and believe that he was okay... relieved... not that I thought something was wrong.. but this 'happiness streak' I have been fortunate to be on has to end at some point... and there is fear about how that ending will unfold... The school day ended and a couple of teachers stopped by to talk about a few things and after they left the other assistant principal and I looked at each other and hoped that next week will be less eventful.  Nothing was really said about the tragedy in Connecticut.
Our principal was out of the building yesterday... and I wonder if he had been there if something would have been said about what had happened... and hope that Monday there is some kind of announcement...
I came home last night and it wasn't until after having dinner with Jacey and going for a walk that I had a chance to look at the internet to look at the news about the elementary school shooting.  In some ways it seemed surreal to me, in other ways, sadly, seemed like familiar coverage I have witnessed in past news coverage of other school shootings... I cannot imagine that happening.  I am disturbed that the media felt it was okay to interview children who had been in that school, who have lost their friends and teachers... why do that? Is getting a moving news shot more important than letting those kids and their families hold each other and try to begin to make any sense of a senseless act?
I didn't spend a lot of time looking at the coverage... because selfishly I knew I wouldn't sleep... however it was on my mind as I woke up this morning.  I checked my messages on my phone and there was a thoughtful message from a man I only know through my sister... telling me that as he watched the footage yesterday he thought about me, knowing my role and knowing that it would impact me... it was a nice message to read... and then my mind started going to places I don't want it to go... wondering which of my students have that capability.
Undoubtedly this will prompt us to do out emergency drills sooner than later and will prompt discussions about what if... we will talk about our security and in some way we will take comfort in knowing we have 'done what we can to prepare'.... but can we ever be prepared?
As a classroom teacher I worried about school shootings from time to time as similar events have happened... and I there was a part of me that assumed if someone came into a school that it would most likely be the people in the office that would be at greatest risk... because if it was an angry parent, chances are they would be angry with administrators... I thought less about a student targeting teachers or peers...
This morning I think about the role I am in and the consequences I have given out, the conversations I have had with parents... and is there potential for me to be a target? I think I would be naive to say no.  No matter how hard I work to build relationships with kids who come through my office, even through discipline... there are kids who are mentally ill... and how they think about and process our interactions could be different than my thinking...
It is disturbing to think about schools being a place where people feel unsafe.  Well... I think many kids feel unsafe at school every day... kids who are bullied for example... and knowing the limitations of dealing with every instance of bullying due to the lack of reporting... is frustrating... to think about schools and having to worry about guns... seems so incongruent.
It is scary... it is sad...
People start talking about gun control... either the lack of or the need for more... and while I understand why people's minds go there... I hate that the attention is drawn from the kids and families... I understand the need to figure out why something like this happens... we need to place blame... on guns, on violent video games, on bad parenting, on lack of security, on mental illness... even if the pieces of the puzzle are put together, will we know the whole story? will we be able to ever 'understand' the thinking behind someone who could go into a school and kill children and the adults who are there to help them?
I hope... would pray if I did that kind of thing... that I never have to experience something like this first hand... yet hope if I am ever in a situation I would somehow be able to diffuse it, would have the courage to step in front of someone else, would be willing to hurt the perpetrator before he/she hurts others....and would be able to offer comfort in the aftermath... but the truth is, someone in that mindset, doesn't want to talk about it, doesn't want to be talked out of it... so diffusing it at that point, is unlikely... stepping in front of someone... hard to know if that would be my instinct or not... hurt someone who was threatening to hurt others... maybe... comforting others afterwards... when I would probably be in great need of comforting...
So... as many other educators, I am sure, are thinking... I hold my breath, cross my fingers, and hope that it never happens 'here'...

... just posted this blog, but am adding something here... as I just reviewed my facebook page... people are offering prayers... asking people to find strength in God... one post that says: "dear God why o you allow so much violence in schools? signed, a concerned student...Dear concerned student, I'm not allowed in schools. - God."
Really?
This is where people go? blaming the lack of religion in schools? If this GOD everyone talks so much about is almighty and powerful... God would not allow such things to happen.  People are worried about God not being in school? Where was their god as that shooter loaded his guns? as he killed his mother?
People say that things are 'God's will' or things are 'part of God's plan'... when they need to make themselves feel better about something... If God could make a difference if god was 'allowed' in schools... the same god could act outside of schools... so what people are saying is that God is a vengeful god? Would this almmighty entity everyone talks about say: Because I am not allowed in schools I will not only not protect them, but will allow tragedies to happen there?
.... stepping off my soap box.

12/13/2012

'Mamma said there'd be days like these...'

I have checked and double checked the calendar to see if this week has full moons... moons that are fuller than full... but the truth is that the moon isn't supposed to be full again until the end of the month.  So... maybe the 12-12-12 phenomenon has created the havoc.  Havoc is a good word for it... ups and downs... and I don't even know where to begin with it.. the insanity started last week and it has continued... when I say insanity it isn't necessarily negative... there are a lot of good things in the mix as well... The last two days, for the first time since starting this job, I have felt .... discouraged... maybe discourage is the wrong word... worried that there are kids I can't help, can't reach... I want to write all about it to share it to get it out of my head, but I feel like the information is so sensitive that I shouldn't share here... students locked up, students wanting to kill themselves or run away, students who are in emotionally abusive relationships, and more... this week I have been more of a detective than anything else... There is a kid who I am worried about... so disengaged... and I have no ideas on how to help him... leading a horse to water and not being able to make him drink... There are so many ways to support him, resources offered... and yet he is choosing things that are not going to help him... I have spent a lot of time with him this year including over two hours yesterday and for what? I don't know that anything I said or did during that time was helpful to him...

But then again, I was at work tonight until 5 with a family I had been with since early afternoon... a kid in crisis... (which means we call a local organization that needs to screen a kid for safety.)  Complicated.  A kid who has shared with me several times this year that he cannot trust people.... yet today when the crisis worker met him, when I introduced them, I asked him if he wanted me to be present with him or if he wanted to have privacy with this person, he wanted me to stay... and at different points in the afternoon looked to me for guidance and reassurance... at one point his mother hugged him so tightly it brought tears to my eyes... and as I gave them a ride home because they don't have a car and the public bus wasn't coming until much later... got to see that maybe there is hope for this student, for this family... that this is a kid who I think will be okay...

And there was the kid who admittedly has been a pain in my ass this year... a kid who I have worried a lot about and while there are times he annoys me, I see him as having potential and needing an adult to set limits... who was in my office today and went off on such a tirade that my secretary instinctively came close to my door so she could hear the conversation and get help if  needed it... who asked to be assigned to the other assistant principal.... who told me he was going to drop out and stormed off, then came back and we were able to talk a bit and get to a better place... where I believe that the worst thing that we could do in this moment is switch assistant principals... because it would reinforce the lessons he has been taught all his life: throw a tantrum, get what you want... when you disagree with someone in your life you walk away angry instead of working on things, through things, and build relationships....

It's such a weird balance... of stress mixed with hope... and even as I write about it I am exhausted and am going to sign off....

In other news... today was day 22 in a row of being active... the last couple of days has been a challenge for sure.... but... I did it... 78 more to go...

12/09/2012

"People WILL stare.. make it worth their while."

You often hear about people having those moments where life makes sense, where everything is right in the world... a moment where someone embraces who he/she is, the good and the bad... you never know when those moments will happen... but I think perhaps I had one of those moments this weekend... A friend of mine was in town on Friday... someone I love spending time with, someone that has the ability to make me feel at ease and comfortable easily... someone I trust in a way I trust few people... I trust that no matter where we are, what we are doing, I am safe because he is there to 'protect' me... he hates when I tell him that because he knows I don't need protection... but when I say that to him, what I mean is that because my life is as it is, I have to be in control 99.9% of the time.  Being single I am responsible for all aspects of my life, me, just me...I always need to know where my keys are, my wallet, and my phone... and without them I feel anxious because they are things that help me keep and maintain control...  I am rarely able to relax enough to not think about those things.. but with him, I don't worry... I don't check my phone, I don't worry about my wallet or my keys... I just enjoy.... Friday was no different... He picked me up and we went to a local spot to play some pool and ping pong...at  both of which I fail miserably!  but it was a fun way to catch up and have some laughs.  From there we went to a local place, one of my favorite spots, for dinner, but they had changed their menu and nothing there sounded appetizing, so we sat at the bar for a drink and then walked to another restaurant.  The Christmas lights were so pretty and it was nice to have someone to share it with.  After dinner we walked around a bit. In previous visits we had seen this dive bar and had joked about going inside, but never had... until Friday. Before going in my friend had said ot me, if you get uncomfortable we can leave at any moment.  I already knew that, but it was nice for him to say.  He knows that sometimes when I go out, people are less than respectful to me, due to my height... but with him, I never worry about it... We walked into this place not knowing what to expect... and interesting isn't even close to describing this place...I had wagered that there would be animal heads on the wall... I was wrong... it was a little hole in the wall place, maybe 10 stools at the bar and a few tables parallel with the bar with maybe 10 more seats... it was narrow... had a jukebox (Not the old school jukebox, but one that hangs on the wall and costs $1 per song.)  The music was playing, some country stuff mixed in with some blues and rock n roll... the crowd was... eclectic... to say the least... age range from probably 23 to 60+, and much to my surprise, some racial diversity as well.  as we walked in, everyone looked up and with my height, 6'6", with my three inch heeled boots I was wearing, I kep their attention.  One man, probably in his late 50s was obviously enjoying a few drinks, immediately came over to me... He told me his name, Smitty I think it was, and asked me mine, took my hand and kissed it saying it was a pleasure to meet me.  My friend watched me and my reaction, I could tell he was gauging my level of comfort, but this man was harmless... I have had people approach me in ways that are rude, this guy meant no disrespect.  After he let go of my hand he welcomed us to this place and kind of acted as the ambassador of this place... close behind him was another gentleman, I think he had cerebral palsy and loudly said, "Wow you are big for a girl!"  I agreed and my friend and I went to the bar to order a drink.  The bartender, a woman probably 65 or so, called us "Hun" and welcomed us to their place.  Next to us at the bar there was a group of people playing Jenga.  The group included the ambassador, who, by the way, had a tape measure on his belt... perhaps he had been at this bar since he left work that day...a younger black man, close shaven hair cut,  wearing black skinny jeans, black sweater with a white button down shirt underneath... wearing buddy holly glasses... and a few others... The Ambassador kept coming over to us and talking to me... looking at my friend and I trying to figure out the dynamic between us... in between his visits my friend asked if I had noticed his tape measure and I said yes, because I had heard them bantering about the highest height they had been able to get the jenga stack to that night... 15 1/2 inches... and I told my friend that I predicted that before we left, the ambassador would ask to measure my height... he didn't believe me... as we sat there, an couple probably in their 60s came in, apparently regulars... and my friend and I gave up our seats at the bar for them to sit down... As I stood up again, I had a few of the women, regulars, approach me and tell me about their children, their heights, including how long each of their children were at birth along with their birth weights... proud of their children... and happy, for whatever reason, to share that with me.  Anne Murray's song, "Could I have this Dance," sang from the jukebox and the older couple began dancing... and the ambassador came to me to ask me to dance... I exchanged looks with my friend to let him know I was okay, and I danced.. with the ambassador, his callused hands trying to spin me on the minute dance floor... he was laughing and smiling... and enjoying himself... and I was enjoying myself as well... and eventually, he asked how tall I was... and I told him it had been a while since I had been officially measured... he immediately knew he could solve that...found a place on the wall for me to stand... got out his pencil and tape measure and climbed onto a barstool, in his words, for accuracy so he could see the top of my head... and insisted I take off my heels... so I did, took off one boot and stood there, in a dive bar, on one stocking foot, and let him measure me... he then, gathered some of the other regulars to help him pull the tape measure to the floor and then called out my height "6 feet 6 and one quarter inches!" to the bar and it was a moment where the announcement was a thing of honor... the people in that bar were so curious about my height... they inquired about my height, but in a way that was oddly embracing... that my height was a reason for celebrating... and in that moment, I looked at my friend and smiled...because... while people there reacted to my height... in ways that have in the past, annoyed me, they had no malintent... meant no harm... and I learned that instead of them judging me, negatively, which I admit I had anticipated...(Because I have had a lot of experiences in which people can truly be asses, I often anticipate people will be asses....)  I was judging them... before entering that bar, I assumed that it would be redneck... that it would be filled with smokers and ignorance... (most everyone there was smokers...) but I had misjudged... My lesson there, was to stop assuming... assuming that when people make comments about my height it is with negative connotation... in that bar because I was so at ease and comfortable, which I partly credit to being with my friend with whom I am maybe my most confident... even if there had been negative connotations, it wouldn't have bothered me... and that if people do have negative things to say... I need to just turn it around, to be who I am, and let them think what they want to think... while I know it is not my job to make other people comfortable with my height... there are times where my defensiveness about it, as I anticipate rude reactions... probably heightens (no pun intended) increases people's discomfort...My friend told me that watching me in that bar, being confident and 'humoring' the people there with, as he said it, grace, was fun to watch... me being me...  So with that lesson so newly learned... Saturday I invited a few friends over to my place... but only one was available... a friend from high school, recently divorced... and herself, fairly tall at 5'11... we decided to go out.  We had agreed that we didn't want to be in the clubs where the twenty somethings were spending time... so we went to one place for dinner, a hole in the wall restaurant with great food and a relaxed atmosphere... from there my friend was curious about some of the other bars in town because while she lives only 20 minutes away, she has not spent much time downtown, and less time at the bars.. but in her words, she "has heard stories" about many of the places... so... we ended up at one of the pubs that I really enjoy... a place where there is plenty of room at the bar as well as long tables with benches.. the type of place where you sit at the table with complete strangers if there is room for you or vice verse... I told her that I wouldn't want to stay there too late because it would fill up, get crowded, and the twenty somethings would be running rampant... often the age group who are the least respectful to me... the age group who try to stealthily take my picture to share with their friends... but when we arrived it was fairly empty and we found a couple of seats at the bar.  She was asking me questions about the place and I told her that they used to have cribbage boards out for people to play and we asked the bartender if there was a board around... and there was.. so we sat at this bar playing cribbage... and watching the other people who were also enjoying the pub... and the place started filling in.. including a group of about a dozen Irishmen... whose conversations and accent we could easily overhear.  They were on the opposite side of the bar from us and I admit there were a couple of them that were kind of cute.. but nobody that really caught my attention... they kept an eye on us and we kept an eye on them... then... one of the men in their group stepped toward the bar, I had not seen him at first, and he was adorable.  Perhaps the oldest in the group, definitely the shortest at probably 5'7" and the most handsome... I kept my eye on him and my friend and I were talking about him... and we caught his eye... and then it was one of those moments where they were watching us and talking about us and we were watching them, talking about them... I told my friend I have been trying to be more outgoing.. in that I have been trying to approach people to say hello more than I usually do, to see if I can open some social more doors for myself...because of my new job I feel like I can't socialize with my staff and am feeling like I want to start branching out... so... I told her, out loud, because studies say if you say your intentions out loud, to someone, you are more likely to do them... "If when we leave, he is still standing there, I am going to lean down to him and tell him he is adorable." ...... So... as the bar got more and more crowded... I decided it was time to leave... and we walked out, in a way that forced us to walk by the pack of Irishmen... and as promised I leaned down, whispered in his ear, "You are adorable."  And began walking away... he responded with a great smile and said, "Then why are you leaving?"  We ended up staying for a bit, talking with these men... witty banter was exchanged... along with some stories that were obviously BS.... and the man I was talking to did not ask about my height... although some of his friends whispered into my friend's ear asking her my height... and telling her that I was the tallest woman they had ever seen... how impressive I was... Eventually, despite their charming Irish accents, they bored me and I asked my friend if she was ready to leave.  They asked us to meet up with them later, but we told them we were unavailable... So... without worrying about his judgement of me, I approached him... a man close to a foot shorter than me... to tell him he was adorable... I had no intention other than telling him that... I did not want anything else to happen... and again, it was a lot of fun...
I must say here that Rico... has been telling me exactly this for years... that men do not automatically think my height is a bad thing, that many, if not most,  probably enjoy it... and that the assumptions they make are that I would not be interested, that they would be too short for me... maybe he has been right all along...

So... the title of this post... "People will stare..make it worth their while" is a quote my friend who was here Friday sent to me, saying he had seen the quote yesterday and made him think of our experience at that dive bar.  Yes, people do stare at me... will stare at me... because of my height... my job... is to be me... to enjoy being me, in every moment... and see what happens...

My Favorite Place

My Favorite Place