Archive for November, 2010

Bullying

Several people in the faculty lounge were discussing bullying. One retired teacher said that in her day, everybody rode on the bus together and there wasn’t any bullying. Everybody played together and just got along.

A younger lady shared how her daughter had been the victim of pretty vicious tiny girl bullying in the 2nd grade in which nasty little girls laughed and whispered about her, told the teacher lies about the the little girl, stole her pencils and school work out of her desk, did things like sneaky hair pulling and kicking her on the bus and in class with teacher’s back turned (and then denying everything), and treating the other children that tried to help the little girl to the same tactics. If the child(ren) had attempted to fight back in any physical way, she would have been the one expelled from school. I wish I could say that this is an exception or an anomaly, but it isn’t.

I shared a story about bullying from my youth. I was a tall, skinny bookworm that preferred the company of my books to that of most of my (unread) peers. I was new in that particular school that year. A group of adolescent boys had run past me on the sidewalk, shoving me aside, knocking me and my books off the sidewalk, and nearly sent me sprawling. Nearly. I grabbed one by the hair, yanked him back, and whacked him across the face with my bag of books. A Steinbeck novel is not just hours of reading escapism but also makes a pretty effective weapon, along with my sci fi loves of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov! I knocked out a front tooth and served notice that the skinny alta gringa didn’t take no shit, and I had no further trouble.

I don’t think that anybody there truly understood what I was saying because I didn’t come right out and use a Powerpoint presentation with the salient points in bullet paragraphs. We have a lot more bullying in schools now because kids that are being bullied are actively prevented from defending themselves, and the strategies that are being used to stop bullies and bullying aren’t very effective. “It’s not nice to pull hair (etc.)” isn’t a very strong disincentive. Writing multiple page reports about the problem and sending them up the ladder punishes the teacher who has a shitload of paperwork already, and then the teacher is punished again because administration blames the teacher for not having control of the class. Suspending a kid from school so that he or she gets to stay home for three days and watch movies and play video games (or burglarize the neighboring houses)? Oh, please. Yeah, that would have made me walk the straight and narrow back in the day. Snort. Notifying parents only works if the parents care. Many don’t. Some parents that are notified come up to school and cuss out the school receptionist and principal.

Back in my school days, if somebody was sneaky pulling somebody’s hair while teacher wasn’t looking, they would turn around and punch them in the nose and teacher would say it served them right. This was actually a very good incentive for children to not engage in bullying. A big bully’s size advantage could be overcome by numerical superiority of many smaller children who Have Had Enough (or the element of surprise). A bully might be publicly humiliated by a much smaller child whipping his ass. In other words, bullies got a taste of what they dished out frequently enough that it provided a painful disincentive for picking on other kids. Not anymore.

You know why the kid that is defending him or herself from a bully’s assault gets kicked out of school, too, under “zero tolerance for violence” rules? My personal belief is that it is because at least one of the parents of said bully child is his or herself a bully and has in the past (or present) threatened administrators, school board and teachers with lawsuits and bodily harm. Rather than incur the wrath of said parent about why their pwecious 150 lb. 5th grade bully was kicked out of school for smacking around a 50 lb. third grader and the 50 lb. third grader who kicked them in self defense wasn’t, the rules are now incredibly stupid so that everybody gets kicked out.

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I Planted Cabbage But I Dunno Why

We had so many things planned to do over our Thanksgiving holiday. There was lots of work that needed to be done, as always. Our fences are still in pitiful shape, rusty fence with whole sections that have fallen out and rotten posts all held together with hay rope. I was going to finally get my winter garden put in and all my greens planted. Mmmmm. Mustard greens. Turnip greens. Collard greens. Nope, nope, nope. The house was going to get painted this winter, and we need to do roof repair work. We REALLY need to do roof repair work. Didn’t work out that way at all.

We spent the entire weekend (including today!) with me draped over, under, and inside SwampMan’s truck handing tools, collecting parts, and going back and forth to the parts store. SwampMan is MAD. Said he’d NEVER have another new truck. I pointed out that the problem is that it is nearly 20 years OLD and parts are failing. He wants something that doesn’t have electronic components that fail and then won’t generate a computer error message because it doesn’t have a damn computer. Or injectors. Or sensors. If there’s a fuel problem, it will be either the pump or the carburetor. We’re talking 1960s or 70s technology here.

On the other hand, nearly all the electronics under the hood now are nice and new. It still isn’t fixed, but we *think* we know what it is now.

To satisfy my urge to plant, I planted cabbage. I do hope the squirrels, rats, ducks and chickens haven’t devoured the infant cabbage plants yet. Their survival is doubtful even if the critters don’t get them. The ground is dust. There’s no (working) hose connection near where I planted them (need a new deep well pump that we probably won’t be able to afford until January), and I’ll have to carry water to them daily. I wonder if I planted them because I have this incredible urge to garden, but don’t really even care much for cabbage and if they all die (like, for example, I forget to water them for a couple days), it wouldn’t be that big a tragedy. Maybe the tragedy would be if they all survive. What would I do with all them damn cabbages?

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I Think I Need to Throw a Pity Party and Invite All My Friends

More and more, I feel like my life is spinning crazily out of control and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

My job sucks and is a dead end job. There. I said it out loud! I desperately need to get into something else soon because this thang ain’t even paying the grocery bills anymore, but *sigh* there’s all that unpaid vacation time coming up that I desperately need in order to get things done that need doing. I feel like I’m moving much more slowly than I used to. I sometimes feel like the world is in fast forward while I’m stuck in slow motion.

Mom is painfully thin now and hardly eats anything. She says she’s just not hungry. I need to go up to her house over Christmas vacation and help her clear out the clothes that she is getting rid of because they’re now all too big and help her put her house in order. She’s giving me all of her painting supplies and beloved paint brushes because painting, her former passion, is just too hard to do. Her extensive flower gardens are gone now, as is her garden that she used to be so proud of. She’s so tired. Now she wants me to come pull up the shrubberies that are dying because of the deep drought. I didn’t know she couldn’t drag the water hose out to water them. She never told me until I wondered aloud why her landscaping was dying. She’s gotten way, way worse since school started. How could I have missed it? My mom is slipping away, and I’ve been so busy with job and home responsibilities and finances that I have been oblivious to the changes. Perhaps I’ve just been ignoring the changes hoping that they would go away.

She’s been telling my obliquely all along that she doesn’t have much time left. Her affairs are in order. Her headstone is in place in the cemetary. She told me that she probably wouldn’t outlive my stepdad, who is a complete invalid that needs her constant care.

We sat out on her front porch just rocking in the breeze on Thanksgiving afternoon and reminiscing about times past. I felt relaxed and peaceful for the first time in a long time. We talked about the carpentry shop where I worked during high school, and she urged me to go ahead and quit my job and go back into business for myself. She went inside to check on my stepdad, and while she was inside, SwampMan told me that it isn’t that he dislikes my family, he just wanted to spend the rest of the day with me. So we took our leave and headed back home, where I fed the livestock and SwampMan watched movies that I don’t like and that he knows I don’t like. Nothing says Thanksgiving like people chopping off each other’s limbs with swords and axes with fake blood spraying everywhere followed by the Godfather.

It’s 1:30 a.m., and I’ve been pacing the floor trying to decide what to do for 5 hours now. Back and forth, stop at the computer, type a sentence, stand back up, pace back and forth. My heart is telling me to drop everything because family comes first. My head is telling me that property taxes are due (about $4,000 this year), property insurance is due, we need a new roof, and we need a new A/C and heat system. Children need Christmas presents. We can’t really afford it with my underemployment, and we damn sure can’t afford it if I walk off my job. Hyperventilation. Pace.

I am depressed. Maybe I need to pay somebody to come kick my ass so I’ll get really pissed off and snap the hell out of it. Probably most of my problem is that I’ve cut out my prescription medicines that allow me to sleep at night because my prescription costs have doubled, my fuel costs have increased, my grocery costs have gone way up, my feed costs have gone way up, but my pay has decreased. I went to get my prescriptions, was told the cost, and didn’t have enough money in the bank to cover them. We’ll probably owe more federal taxes, too. We did last year. Dang. I’m going to need some really kickass antidepressants.

SwampMan would be totally pissed off if he found that I was saving money by cutting my prescriptions. He would say “it isn’t my money, it’s OUR money” and that I should ask for it when I need it, but I can’t. I’m an adult. I should be self sufficient. Now it’s 2:30 a.m.

My whole problem is that I can’t ask for help from anybody. I am incapable of even praying for help with my problems, but I can ask for (or even demand!) divine intervention for others. Strange. Am I even a real believer or not? If I am, what do I believe in? Seventeen steps into the dining room. Pivot. Seventeen steps back to the computer. I need a better-paying job. Pivot and walk 30 steps into the living room and back to the computer. If I have a better-paying job, I’d be working longer hours and would have even less time available for family. Pivot and walk the long way around again.

Guess I’m not going to solve anything tonight. Maybe things will be brighter in the morning. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be all strong again and have my perpetual smile pasted firmly in place. Maybe everything will work out. Maybe I’ll get enough sleep in the 3 hours left before the alarm goes off if I go to sleep right now.

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Oh, Snap!

Coming home from Georgia last night, SwampMan’s truck developed a case of hiccups coming down our road, and cut off right before the driveway. We coasted up to the gate. GOOD TRUCK! He was able to get it restarted and, after dying several times, it made it to his barn.

We stood around doing a verbal necropsy of the patient. We agreed that it wasn’t spark plugs or wires because it happened so suddenly. The truck went from running well to not running at all in about a half mile. He had filled up with gas shortly before this incident, so he thinks it could be the fuel filter plugged up. I’m cool with the fuel filter theory but asked him to consider the possibility of a sensor going out. It probably is NOT the fuel pump because I could hear it pumping.

Update: Wouldn’t you know it? We’re both wrong and the obvious solutions ain’t worked. *sigh* The problem didn’t show up on the computer diagnostic thing that you plug into the vehicle, either, damnit. (When in doubt, use the computer diagnostic thingamabob, and when that don’t work, start replacing cheapest stuff first…..)

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Happy Thanksgiving!

So what’s your favorite Thanksgiving meal? My favorite turkey for the holidays is smoked. We used to have my brother-in-law’s smoked turkey every Thanksgiving but, unfortunately, he’s moved up to north Georgia, so no more smoked turkey for me, damnit! My second favorite turkey is deep fried turkey (mmmmmmmm! Fried turkey!) but tea-brined turkey is really, really wonderful. *sniffle*

Why the sad face? Because my husband and children *do not like* turkey. My stepdad *hates* turkey. Mom and I snuck out to Cracker Barrel on her birthday to get a turkey dinner but it just ain’t the same. Mom and I have sadly agreed that cooking a 12-lb. turkey is probably not a good idea if we’re the only ones that are gonna eat it!

Sooooooo, I’m off to feed the livestock and then we’ll head up to mom’s house in Georgia. Son is working 7/12s and will be at girlfriend’s house afterwards. Daughter and son-in-law are in south Florida at his parents’ house.

I may just go ahead and get a turkey tomorrow, tea brine that sucker, and cook it anyway. So there. SwampMan is free, of course, to eat at Burger King instead.

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The Mammogram Wasn’t Bad At All!

I went to the Mammography Department at the local hospital today expecting torture. According to my mom, it was the single most painful thing she’d ever experienced in her entire life up to that point, so I was expecting the worst. The only reason that I was there at all was that a coworker shared with me that she had no symptoms, no risk factors, and had a mammogram at a younger age than I am now which revealed bilateral breast cancer. *sigh* Plus, SwampMan insists that I need to be completely checked out before I leave a job with insurance to strike out on my own again ‘cuz I ain’t no spring chicken (per him).

Standing in front of the machine, my body was leaning towards the door to the great amusement of the technician. My head said I gotta do this and get it over with but my body was sayin’ “have you LOST your freakin’ mind?”

Now, either mom’s breasts are waaaaaay more sensitive than mine, or I have experienced pain beyond what she has so I have more perspective. Or it could just be that I’m more pain tolerant, of course.

If you, like me, have been putting off this procedure because of fear of discomfort, take it from me. It ain’t that bad. It doesn’t take long. It *might* save your life.

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