Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Beast: Part 6

In my mind, this is where it all really began, but as you can clearly see, I was having problems long before this little episode.  Remember when I told you about Suzie, the girl who baby-sat for me who I was told not to communicate with? Well, during that October meeting I was also attacked over another issue; one far more delicate.

It started year one in Hell (before it was Hell). I was teaching all freshmen, and among them was Will. Will was "one of those kids." Kinda ornery, kinda troubled, but mostly misunderstood. He was a good kid, not one to be in the office or anything, but one of those who needed a little more reeling in than the others.

We didn't see eye-to-eye at first. He found joy in tormenting me and making his hour even more difficult than it was. However, as the year went on, he settled down a little, and I laid back a little, and we found a place to see eye-to-eye.

If you don't teach, you might not be able to relate, but just like in life, in class there are certain kids you just bond with. He was one of those. I got to know his mom. She and I teamed up in a way, to encourage him in school and outside of school. When things got crazy for him, I was that adult he knew he could trust and confide in.

We had boundaries, though. Throughout the two years I taught him it wasn't uncommon for him to be in the office for cursing misbehaving in my class. It wasn't often, but I probably wrote him up more than any other teacher. But the more I got to know him, the more I expected of him, and the more I pushed him.

You can guess where this is going, right? In the meeting, The Beast said, "And while we're on the subject, you also need to distance yourself from Will." My eyes darted across the desk at her. She surely wasn't suggesting Will was the same as Suzie.

I didn't see Will outside of school. We didn't text or talk on the phone. I had stayed in touch with him over that Myspace page, but otherwise it was a school relationship.

"What do you mean?" I asked frankly.

"Well, a teacher told me she saw him hug you at the game the other night, and when it's brought to my attention, I assume it's inappropriate. Obviously I don't think there's anything inappropriate going on, or we would be having a VERY different conversation, but at this point I think you just need to let him know the circumstances."

"So, is this JUST for Will, or is this for all male students?"

"Right now we're talking about Suzie and Will."

"Ok, well, I will let you know right now that Max comes in and hugs me EVERY day when he gets to class and says, 'I love you Mrs. Lastname', and Pierre is constantly giving me a the hallway, in class, at Walmart. Do I also need to talk to them?"

"No, don't worry about that," It said. "And honestly, it's hard. If you were, say, my age, and had students of the opposite sex hugging you it would be different. I'm old enough to be their parent. But you're a young, pretty, female teacher and it just doesn't look good," It went on. So it was saying the opposite sex was the problem? I thought we were talking about Suzie. A girl.

I wanted to fire off at It. I wanted to tell It that's a double-standard. I wanted to say It has no right to sit there and say this student can hug you but this one can't. This one can say "I love you," or write on your board, but not these two. I wanted to tell It that maybe It should follow its own advice. Maybe it shouldn't text students of the opposite sex, or take a truckload of them to Hooters for dinner. Just maybe. But I didn't. I worried.

I had already spoken to Suzie and Will, and they were both confused. They felt like they'd done something wrong, something to get me in trouble, or something to get them in trouble. And how could I explain something I didn't even fully understand, all-the-while keeping professionalism in mind and not letting on to the fact that my boss was bullying me? I felt then like I was being set up. I feared It was fabricating a relationship between myself and Will, and worried that any and every interaction would be twisted and manipulated until there was enough "evidence" to cause more destruction.

This is one of those situations where your worst fears come true. My only saving grace in this situation was Will's mom, a handful of student "witnesses," and my decision to be active rather than reactive...

You know there's more to this one ;) But you'll have to wait until Saturday to read it. Come back for the rest of the story.

Need to catch up? Click HERE

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pretty Little Liar, Your Princess Undies Are on Fire....

I hate hate hate lying.

I don't mean I hate doint it, either. I mean I hate it in general. I'm not good at it, but that's beside the point.

When I had this little squishy smell-good bundle of fuzz to bring home from the hospital, one of the things I knew I wanted to instill in her was honesty. I had the mentality before she was even born that I would reward honesty. That I would punish lying over ANY other infraction. That if she'd just tell the truth, be honest with me about her mistakes and misgivings, that I wouldn't lay the hammer down. That I would help her see the lesson to be learned, and reward her honesty.

Since she could talk, I've encouraged her to "just tell me the truth," promising she won't get in trouble as long as she is being honest with me.

So when I noticed the weather film over her window was ripped, I asked her about it.

"What happened to your window?" I asked casually, even though I had thoughts of a Polly Pocket playing Peter Pan and ripping it open with a plastic dagger or something.

"Hmm," she said, furrowing her brow and cocking her head, as if she hadn't noticed. "I don't know," she decided.

"Chloe, if you know what happened to it, will you please tell me? You know I won't get mad if you'll just come clean," I urged. It was CLEAR she knew what happened, and that it had been at her own hand.

"I don't know, Mom, I promise! You hafta believe me!" she argued. I didn't believe her, but her plea was so convincing. If it weren't so obvious, I would have definitely bought it.

"Chloe. Seriously. Just tell me how it happened."

"I really don't know. It musta been da wind. Ya. Da wind was really stron' da udder night," she fabricated.

"If you did it just tell me. You know I'm going to punish you for lying. Even if it was maybe by accident, you need to tell me," I suggested.

Her face fell, and I knew she'd given up the fight.

"Da udder day when I was playin' Polly Pockets I accidentally ripped it," she confessed. I KNEW those Polly Pockets had a part in it.

"Ok. See? I just wanted to find out what happened to the plastic, that's all. It really upsets me you lied to me, though," I told her.

"I'm sorry, Mom," she apologized.

I tucked her in and read her a story, and noticed a few more small holes up by her top bunk. I just shook my head as I left the room. I have never got onto her for coming clean, even when she broke something or did something that justified punishment. I've always praised and encouraged honesty.

So why does she feel like she has to lie?

If I wasn't dreading the teen years before, I sure am now!

Monday, March 28, 2011

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

Facebook, despite its sometimes bad-rap, can be an amazing tool. I have family and friends around the country, around the world, even, that I do not get to see. It's been a great way to re-connect and stay connected with people who are special to me.

Recently, I got in touch with my one of my cousins and her kids (because my mom was the youngest child, my cousins are HER age, and their kids are the ones I grew up with). It has been so nice to be able to see their pictures and communicate with them on a more regular basis, since I haven't seen most of the kids in fifteen years or more.

A few weeks ago I found out that one of my cousins is going to be deployed to Afghanistan next month. Through the pictures and updates, I knew that his family in Texas had said their goodbyes and did not plan to see him again until he returns.

I began seeing information for his deployment ceremony in Northern Missouri on a Monday, and couldn't get it off my mind. I was pretty sure his immediate family wouldn't be able to be there, and though he has some family here in Missouri, I worried no one would be there for his deployment.

Even though I haven't seen him in years, I couldn't get it off my mind. I finally talked to his sister, and she confirmed what I suspected. No one had plans to be there. I told her I would go. It's a bit of a drive, but I am at least in the same state, and having the luxury of being at home through the week, I felt like I just needed to do this.

I made up my mind and even got directions. I was set. I told my mom what I was doing, and she thought that was so nice of me. I told her to tell her sister, his grandma, because I had a feeling if she knew I was going anyway, she might like to go. I was right.

By the end of the week, there were four of us adults decided to go, and Chloe of course.

He called me last night, and I have had the chance to communicate with him via text and he seemed so excited. It made me feel good that my one little decision and commitment to go see him sparked more family to jump in, and now, in two weeks, we will all travel north together.

I will get to see a cousin who is one of three who are so special to me. I will go to say goodbye, but look most forward to saying hello again. Hopefully we will make some memories and get some pictures and video to send to his family who couldn't be there. Doesn't it feel good when things fall into place and God lets you be part of something a little bigger than yourself? I sure think so :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Judge or Be Judged

If you follow me on Twitter or are my Facebook friend, you've already got wind of this story. I have so much to say about it, though, that 140 characters just wouldn't do!

As you may know, I'm marrying the love of my life in one to six weeks, and until this week, we still didn't have a preacher. We already had a church booked, but the preacher there is new and neither of us knows him, so we were kind of waffling as to who would do the ceremony. That was also kind of my Mister's job, to reserve the church and get a preacher.

Finally I told him we HAD to decide so we could be sure someone would be available. He agreed, and suggestd Pastor Strictchurch. My Mister has known him for years. His family is from the area. He is younger and seemingly a laid-back guy. I was excited. I knew he would be perfect.

I went about my day, and by mid-afternoon I noticed I had a voicemail. I listened to it:

"Hey baby, it's me. Hey, uh, I talked to Pastor Strictchurch and he said he can't marry us because you've been married before. Something about the way he got ordained or his church or something, I don't know but he said he can't re-marry people, so I guess we will try to call that guy Mr. Davesdad told us about tonight. Anyway, I'll talk to you later. Love you."

Tears had already filled my eyes. For a moment I couldn't be rational. My emotions took over. I felt damaged. I felt like our not having a preacher was MY fault. I felt judged and cast out. I became angry.

What that guy didn't know, in his "innocent" apologetic response to our request, was that I grew up in a Baptist church. I know what the Bible says about divorce and re-marriage. I went through a period where I felt I was headed straight to Hell with no escape, and decided that was better than the marriage I was in. This concept has been forced upon me by more than one person.

For months I struggled. I pulled away from the church, because all they seemed to have for me was judgment and doomsday. I still prayed. I still felt like I had a relationship with God, but His people had ruined church for me.

I was finally able to express my troubles to a preacher friend from college who has studied the Bible and the times of the Bible in depth. He is an intelligent, understanding, non-judgmental person. He explained some of the passages to me, explained the CONTEXT in which they were written, and how it's not as literal and black-and-white as some of the people like to read it. Like any literature, it's not meant to be taken at literal face value. It contains symbolism, metaphors, analogies, satire, and allegories.

But Pastor Strictchurch, he opened that all back up for me. He automatically made me want nothing to do with his church, or even his denomination. I realize it wasn't "his" decision, but that of the institution he represents, but either way, they are supposed to reach people. Supposed to care. Not make certain people feel worthless.

I told my mom about what was going on, and she told me about the verse I am all-to familiar with, and that some pastors see re-marriage as adultery when the other spouse is alive or not, and basically they don't want to "condone" that. Which wasn't all that helpful, except in making me even more angry with the whole situation.

So if all the preachers refuse to marry us, are they encouraging us to "live in sin"? They're encouraging "adultery" either way, right? So why not let us be married. Why do they get to be judge, jury, and executioner?

I betcha if Jesus were here, he'd marry us. Because he was a kind man who welcomed all kinds of people, who saw past the things they did to who they were inside. He's the kinda guy who dies on a cross for all the bad things you did, not throws you out with the bathwater because your marriage failed.

I made up my mind that I was going to try Pastor Newguy, and if he had issue with it we would forget the church, go with a civilian officiate, and be done with it. I phoned him, and explained my situation. He was glad to marry us. Mr. Davesdad had already talked to him about us, and he had no issue with my divorce.

It's nice that there are good and helpful Christians out there, but it's sad that I've encountered far more judgmental jerks. The ones who claim to be God's people, who run "sinners" out of their church. If I didn't have the church and Bible background I have, there is no way I could see past the jerks. It's sad they feel the need to take it upon themselves to do the judging. They must have missed the verses about not judging others.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Beast: ANOTHER Idiocy Detour

So it's obvious, by now, that I despised didn't exactly care for Ms. Idiocy. Having a degree in English, it's difficult to accept an English teacher "wannabe" who knows NOTHING about the subject. I mean think about it. I spent five years in school, was paying a ridiculous student loan off, and had labored over grammar books, analyzing literature and writing papers. And here comes Ms. Bank Teller doing the same job, for *almost* the same pay, and with NO qualifications.

I tried, however, to be as cooperative as possible and to help her as much as I could.

We had this PLC thing going on, and with it we were supposed to make classes EXACTLY equal. They didn't want students learning "better" from one teacher or another, so we were all to do the SAME thing, which makes sense, right? Right. Good plan, Stan.

The problems arose when Ms. Idiocy couldn't keep up with Ms. Fatbelly and myself. She shared classes with us, but not with Mr. English. The three of us girls shared English II, so we were all to work together on planning that. That basically turned to Ms. Fatbelly and me doing all the work. Ms. Idiocy didn't know what allegory was. She didn't understand points of view, she couldn't grasp parallelism.

By October she was merely copying whatever plans Ms. Fatbelly had made for English II and whatever plans I was making for English I and (obviously) contributing NOTHING to the planning meetings. Ms. Fatbelly and I commiserated many times about the workload we were carrying for three people, and how frustrating it was that we had to do our jobs and hers.

We let Mr. English in on the problem, and he relayed the problems to The Beast.

In the meantime, we tried to work with her, but she always had an excuse for why things weren't working. What she really hated, was that I always had a response for her excuses.

"My sophomores REFUSE to do bellwork, or else they take all hour," she defended when we confronted her about (always) being behind.
"Then write them up for refusal to do work. You're the adult. They can't dictate your class, or you'll always be behind," I said unsympathetically. She is the one who took a job knowing she didn't know Jack Shit about English.

"My kids don't read if I assign it as homework. We HAVE to read everything in class."
"We can't do that," Ms. Fatbelly said.
"Are you reading the stories at home, or are you reading them with the kids in class?" I challenged. I knew what she was doing. She was reading everything in class because she didn't want to have to study it at home. That, however, is part of being an English teacher.

Finally The Beast called Mr. English, Ms. Fatbelly and me to a meeting in the lounge. It dismissed Ms. Idiocy when she tried to come in.

"Are you guys having a problem with Ms. Idiocy?" It challenged. Neither of us knew what to say. We didn't want to talk to The Beast about Its Golden Child. Mr. English finally spoke up.

"She doesn't know what she's doing. You can't just throw someone in an English classroom and expect them to be able to teach it. She needs to be studying or doing something to better prepare," he offered. Ms. Fztbelly folded like a lawn chair, saying she couldn't say anything because she was a new teacher as well, and she felt Ms. Idiocy was doing her best.

"She's not reading ahead. She's letting the kids run the class, and when she's not prepared, kids KNOW that," I offered. I didn't want to say too much. "I think she can do a good job if she'll just prepare a little better," I sucked up. The Beast was clearly unhappy.

Of course, Ms. Idiocy painted us as harsh and unhelpful. I wasn't sure what more to do with her. She was let off the hook on planning, and she didn't have to take on any units of her own.

I e-mailed her in November and gave her the rough outline for the rest of the year so she could stay on track. I encouraged her to come by my room every morning if she needed to to get on track for the day. I also told her that we were doing Romeo and Juliet when we came back from Christmas, and that it would be a good idea to read it, watch the movie, and be ready before school started in January.

We came back from Christmas break and she came in for lesson plans. She looked at my book. "Whoa. I didn't know we were doing Romeo and Juliet," she said. "There is no way I am ready for that," she confessed, looking at me stupidly.

"I don't know what to tell you," I told her. "I'm giving notes over Shakespeare today and tomorrow," I said, handing her a copy of my notes. That will give you a couple of days to get prepared.

I didn't hear anything else from her that week, though I did notice her in The Beast's office after school that day. I figured she was telling her what a mean bitch I was, but I didn't care. I had PROOF that we'd discussed doing Romeo and Juliet in January so I couldn't very well get in trouble for it.

The next week, Ms. Idiocy didn't come in for lesson plans. I was perplexed, but figured it wasn't my job to baby her any more than we already were.

In class that day a student raised her hand.

"Yes, ma'am?" I called.
"How come the other English class isn't doing Shakespeare?" she challenged.
"They are," I argued.
"No, they're not," she said firmly.
"They have to. With this PLC stuff we have to do the exact same thing EVERY day," I explained.
"Well, they're not doing it. They're doing grammar," she told me. I raised my eyebrows, not sure how to explain to her the fairness of them doing grammar. Freshmen HATE Shakespeare btw ;)

I went to Ms. Idiocy after school. "Are you not doing Romeo and Juliet?" I asked her point-blank.

"No. I talked to Beasty and It told me I didn't have to since I wasn't ready," she explained. I was furious. She HAD gone and whined about me, giving The Beast even more ammunition.

"OK. Well good luck, then," I said, letting her know I'd written her off and that she was on her own with her lesson plans. I knew I would suffer for this, and I knew she'd be painted as the perfect teacher.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Beast: An Idiocy Detour

So, in case you've had trouble following my timeline, let me set you up for this story. I had worked in Hell for a year, but it wasn't really Hell because The Beast was not yet in full power. I was working for Mr. Boss, who is a kind and fair man, but had The Beast as an assistant and was sometimes distracted by Its games.

I had been offered a job in juinor high by Mr. Junior Boss, but had turned it down because The Beast manipulated coaxed me into staying in Its building. The real "scolding" I'd had was via e-mail when I had shingles and left early (read that here).

So. School is almost out year one. Mr. Junior Boss asks me if I'd like to teach summer school. Nah, not really. Not even for 600.00 a week? Ok I'm in. We're not talking about delinquent summer school, either. We're talking about enrichment. Students who WANT to go to school in June to obtain extra credits or just for the fun of it. I decided on teaching creative writing. It's my most favorite thing, and it's much more fun when you're teaching people who WANT to write.

I spent endless nighttime hours at school getting the curriculum ready. After all, this was a year's worth of school in four weeks. I had the same kids 8-3 every day. We had to have lots to write about! I planned it all with my own blood, sweat, and tears, and it was a great class.

But that has nothing (really) to do with this story. It was during that summer class I heard the familiar footsteps of The Beast approaching (I could distinguish Its walk from any other person in the building). It summoned me to the door, where It was standing with a girl I knew from high school.

"You know Ms. Idiocy, right?" she asked immediately.

"Yeah, of course," I said, smiling. Smiling on the outside. Ms. Idiocy wasn't exactly a peach of a gal. She was hateful and snotty, and few people I knew liked her.

"I'm thinking of putting her in the open English position," she said emphatically. I tried not to screw up my face in puzzlement, but I'm sure it was pretty twisted.

"It's not like it's math or something where you have to know what you're doing," It went on. "I was at a function for my kids last week and was so impressed with how well Ms. Idiocy worked with them. She just whipped them into shape," she said. "You can't say anything to ANYONE," It cautioned, "but if she gets this job, will you step in and help her out?"

"Of course," I said cheerfully. Inside I was dying. You couldn't pick a more difficult person to work with, much less teach with.

Ms. Idiocy stayed behind and visited with me. She was pretty nice, and asked some good questions, and I won't lie. I kinda liked being the "expert." No longer the low man on the totem pole. I was second in command of four now instead of fourth. I started to look forward to this little arrangement. If nothing else, it would make me look like an even better teacher.

I went about my summer and started the year with a good attitude. I was SO sure I'd made the right decision in staying, and was really excited for the upcoming year. We had a little English meeting before school started and I let Ms. Idiocy in on the beginning of the year plan to teach a grammar unit.

"What. The Hell. Is a preposition?" she asked with a stupid look on her face. Freshman English, folks, not rocket science. Mr. English and I explained it, and gave her the grammar teaching packet so she could prepare. I mean ALL we were teaching at first was prepositions. Memorize them and identify them in a sentence. You know, bird cage words? She was already rattled.

I could write paragraph upon paragraph about the things she did that year, but let me just bullet them for you so you're not reading all night.
  • She allowed 20 - 30 minutes to do bell work each day. Something that should take 5 or less.
  • She was constantly a day behind (or more) but never told us until she was way behind.
  • She had her students read a story and discuss it while she was gone to a conference. She NEVER read the story (that the students were tested on --a test written by "REAL" English teachers)
  • According to one of her students, she gave them an hour to do 1-10 questions over a story, and they had LOTS of free days.
  • She couldn't figure out what "Om-niss-Kent" point of view meant. You know, omniscient? All knowing.
  • She had her English II kids doing the same thing as her Creative Writing kids...thus some of them were doing the EXACT same thing twice a day.
And that creative writing class I mentioned her teaching? The Beast forced me to hand over my unit I'd done with summer school. The one I'd put so much blood, sweat, and tears into? The one I worked on for nights on end. Yeah.

So I was POSITIVE she would be a one year teacher, considered a mistake, and let go. After all, even her A and B students were getting Ds or Fs half the time.

Imagine my surprise when I had the following conversaton with Mr. English:

"Well, it seems Ms. Idiocy is the "Golden Child" of our department, and you're...well...somewhere on the other end," he confided. I smiled and shook my head, thinking it was some kind of sarcastic joke. "No, I'm serious," he said.

"WHAT?" I asked him.

"I know. I mean she is a real idiot, but she has some kind of favor with The Beast for sure. The Beast told me It thought Ms. Idiocy and Ms. Fatbelly would do fine, but that you would be the one struggling this year," he said.  I would be the one struggling. Well, It got THAT right, but it wasn't because I didn't know how to teach.

"That's unbelievable." I was dumbfounded. My mouth hung ajar and my head shook slowly as I tried to figure this all out.

"I know. I think you do a great job," he encouraged.

The best I could come up with? The Beast liked Ms. Idiocy to begin with, and The Beast liked to be right. So It wouldn't LET Ms. Idiocy make a fool of It. It went around covering her mistakes, throwing me to the wolves, and making sure everyone KNEW The Beast had made an amazing choice in this bank-teller made teacher.

I won't even start on some of the conflict and animosity I had with Ms. Idiocy, and the fact that I wasn't alone. But that's a story for another day...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Beast: Part 5

So The Beast was basically THE problem with working in Hell. After all, you can't have Hell without Satan, so you can't work in Hell without The Beast. There was a secondary storyline being woven, though, and it did nothing but complicate my situation. In a way, it was really all my fault...

Toward the end of my first year in Hell, before it was ACTUAL hell, I found out that The Beast would be coming to power in the coming year. I also found out there was an opening in the junior high English department. Now, even though I was a bit naive as to how extensive the Beast persecution would be, I was absolutely NOT looking forward to working for It. Even before all the harassment began.

When I first came to the district, I didn't even apply until I had heard the Beast applied for Boss's job and was turned down. I wasn't alone. There were others who knew what it was capable of. I was certain, after being rejected by the board, It would NEVER come to power. Imagine my dismay when that happened within months.

Fearing the worst, I applied for the junior high job, and was told I could have it if I wanted it. The principal knew me, had worked with me, and told me that even though I wasn't certified for junior high, he would take me and let me get the certification later. I was to pray about it, discuss it with my family, and let him know.

Then he told the Beast.

The Beast knew It was coming to power, so when It got wind of this, It called me to the office immediately. BEFORE I had a chance to even consider my options.

"Mr. Junior Boss tells me you've applied at the junior high," It said, as if waiting for a response.

"Yeah, I did," I said. I wasn't sure what to say. I knew It was going to ask me WHY, since I was 9-12 certified, and since I was,a that point, very well-liked by my students and working well with the department. I sure wasn't bold enough to tell It I was scared to work under It.

"Well, I think the students who signed up to have you as sophomores are going to be very disappointed, and I know the upcoming freshmen are looking forward to having you. If that's what you want to do, I understand, but I think your gift is in high school, and I hate to see you move," It explained.

"Yeah, I haven't really decided yet what I'm going to do," I said frankly.

"Well, Mr. Junior Boss and I both want you in our school. I guess it's just up to you where you want to be. I think your place is here, but it's your decision. We will both respect whatever you decide," It said.

And I was torn. It's no secret my heart is NOT in junior high. Or it wasn't at that time anyway. I've learned to love them a little more, and I've learned how to teach them, but I truly did love having freshmen. I loved the material I was teaching, and the thought of teaching the same thing a second year was very appealing.

When Suzie and some of the other kids got wind of it, they begged me not to go. They loved me. They needed me. I had so many kids sign up for my one section of sophomore English they had to cut it off, and even then I had thirty kids.

And The Beast wanted me. It told me I was gifted, that I was a good teacher, and that I belonged there.

And I fell for it.

"I'm sorry," I told Mr. Junior Boss. "I just feel like my place is here," I explained. He understood, and gave the job to the other high school English teacher who had applied for it. She made her escape. Lucky bitch.

The truth? While The Beast was coaxing me to stay in Its building, it was telling parents of upcoming freshmen not to let their kids enroll in my class because I was worthless. It had access to schedules, and made sure its spawn and friends of spawn were in the one section (out of five) that I didn't teach.

I regret that decision more than any other, I think. I still want to go back and slap myself. Reading it, you can't understand, but The Beast could make me, or anyone for that matter, believe Its lies.  It could tell you the sky was purple with yellow clouds, and you'd likely believe it.

I believed It thought highly of me, that I was safe because I'd be one of Its chosen few. WRONG. It wanted me there BECAUSE it hated me, and It knew I would be able to prosper if I moved to junior high. I would fit in. The principal liked me, and The Beast would have little influence or control there. The Beast wanted full control of my destiny so It could do Its damage and laugh as I suffered.

Now, the secondary story line comes into play. You see, since Lucky Bitch took the junior high job, there was an opening in the high school. The classes included English I (freshmen), English II (sophomores), creative writing, some kind of applied English, and a couple of middle school speech classes.

The "teacher" who was hand picked by The Beast hired? We'll call her Ms. Idiocy. She was a bitch of a teller at the bank with a degree in something that gave her credentials to be a probation officer I do believe. She did not have a teaching degree. She did not have an English degree. Her most-quoted line (by me)? "What the hell is a preposition?"

Stay tuned for a quick detour as I introduce you to Ms. Idiocy, and let you in on how she became the Golden Child of the English department while I became the red-headed step-child.

Want to read more Beast stories? Click on "The Beast" tag below the post. That will get you to the entire saga.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Beast: Part 4

It was February of my second year in Hell when conference time came around again. Remember that Write to Learn conference I went to the year before? It was that time again, and I was so looking forward to going since I could enjoy it sans drugs :) Besides, a day away from Hell was ALWAYS welcome at that point. That other teacher and I had all the information, and even had our registration forms copied and had looked over the courses we might want to take.

Just before the registration deadline (we were both procrasinators), I got an e-mail from The Beast, who was in full power. It told me It would like me to go to the W2L conference on Thursday, and that I was to contact some lady at the elementary school (who was also the P-something chairperson) so she could get me signed up.

I went over to Mister English and asked if he'd got the e-mail.

"No. It told me not to go," he answered. He'd been suffering at the hand of The Beast as well and was told by a professional to de-stress. The Beast took this as "He is in a very different place than you English girls, and he doesn't need to be included in anything."

In a way I felt a little relieved. Maybe It had moved on to someone else? I could at least hope. Hope was all I could do.

We discussed the whole thing, and he confided that he'd like to go to the Friday conference that we'd gone to the previous year. I was in agreement. The Thursday conference was a day-long deal with the key-note for K-12, while Friday was lined with thirty minute break-away sessions with different speakers specific to age groups.

He asked if he and I could go Friday and was given the run-around. We even wondered if I could go BOTH days.

Finally the P-Something lady told him that one of us girls could go with him on Friday if we wanted to. Yay! I immediately e-mailed the Beast and asked if Mister English and I could go Friday.

"No. You need to go with the group." (I do not exaggerate these e-mails. I still have hard-copies)

When Mister English found out he was on his own I think he opted out completely. I got in touch with the P-Something lady and arranged to ride the school van to the conference since I was without a vehicle at that time.

I arrived at the elementary school on time, and I sat through the day's worth of K-12 information. Some of it was good info, some of it was way lame. We had to get partners and make bookmarks and engage the elementary teachers, which is part of why I didn't teach elementary.

The P-Something lady kept making comments to me about, "See isn't this nice?" or "This isn't so bad, is it?" which I thought were small-talk at the time, but I was wrong. I had been painted as a belligerent, defiant bitch who wanted anything but to go to that conference. If you know me in real life, especially in a professional setting, you know that I'm obediant and submissive.

Fast-forward to board meeting time. I was in the middle of a three ring circus you'll learn about later, and was in constant communication with a board member. As he was going through my file of "documentation" one day, he stopped at my description of the conference, and the e-mails that accompanied it (included were e-mails between myself and P-Something lady).

"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Are you telling me you WENT to the W2L conference?"

"Of course," I said, perplexed. He continued scanning the documents.

"I see you made arrangements to ride the school van. Did you do that?"

"Yeah," I said, still confused. Then things started to click. "Wait. WHY?!"

"We were told at the last board meeting that you refused to go to this conference," he said, shaking his head, looking over my registration form, and all the e-mails referring to said conference.

"There are fifteen elementary teachers who can verify I was on that bus," I told him, "and I have all my literature from the workshop."

He was dumbfounded, and frankly so was I. The Beast had told the board I flat-out refused to go to a conference I had been to not once, but TWICE. It had almost got away with it, in fact. And to this day, I have no idea what other monstrosities were fabricated and told about me in those closed-door meetings.

Sadly, that was NOT the end of it...

Are you just starting The Beast Saga? You can read back-story here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mundane Monday

I know we just did 5QF, but Mondays are so BLAH, I need something to get my bloggy week going. SO. It's time for Meet Me on Monday :)

1. What jewelry do you wear 24/7?
Since I'm not working, the only thing I wear 24/7 is my engagement ring. When we go out I usually wear one of my necklaces, and maybe earrings, but those come off before bed. When I'm working full-time I usually wear my rings and earrings 24/7. The only thing I plan on adding to my jewelry ensemble in the next few weeks is my little gold band :)
2. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?
First of all, I'm very upset there's been mention of spaghetti. On THIS, the day my Wii Fit has alerted me to my "overweight" status. The day I've sworn off "bad food" even in small portions, and have worked my poor muscles until I can barely move. This, the day I am having a grilled chicken breast while my family has delicious chicken alfredo.

But. When I DO eat spaghetti I twirl it. Mmmmm spinny spin twirly twirl. I can see it in my mind's eye. The noodles al dente, the saucy red meat tied to the fork with oodles of noodles, emitting steam and the smell of oregano. Mmmm.

3. How many siblings do you have?
I have one brother. I still call him my "little" brother, even though he is almost 26. I'm going to have a brother-in-law soon, though, and I'm claiming him as my own, so let's make it two ;)

4. Were you named after anyone?
I have my mama's middle name, Lynn, and it is also my aunt's middle name on my dad's side, though this was unbeknownst to my mama when she picked it. Otherwise, no.

5. Coke or Pepsi?
If it's fountain, Pepsi all the way. Throw in finely crushed ice and I'm in HEAVEN.
But I also LOVE Sonic Coke.  Although, if I had the CHOICE at Sonic, I'd probably pick Pepsi.
In a bottle it's gotta be Coke, and same for a can.
I'm complicated, what can I say?

Thank you, Internet. Now I want a huge plate of spaghetti (with bread of course) and a big fat Sonic Coke. Or a fountain Pepsi. Or both. Sigh.

WWL: A Failure

I haven't updated on my Operation Wedding Weight Loss in a while because it sucks. I've cut out a lot of things from my diet, been active, and I'm doing worse than ever.

It's frustrating.

It makes me feel like a loser.

My Wii Fit thinks the most "healthy" weight for me is -24lbs. I can't even keep four off.

I eat a salad for lunch every day. Every. Day. And I'm not talking about a ranch and cheese covered salad. Greens, a few croutons, and light Italian dressing...very little.

I'm walking up to two miles a day, at least three days a week, which is more than I was doing this winter when the most exercise I did was walk from the couch to the fridge.

I quit snacking during my nighttime tv altogether. If I get hungry I eat whole grain cereal.

I cut my dinner portions, and usually opt for a grilled chicken salad at least one or two nights a week instead of whatever I'm frying preparing for my Mister.

I miss pizza and McDonald's. I miss brownies and ice cream at night. And for what? For NOTHING.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Poor, Pitiful Me

You know what bugs me?

Martyrs. You know, the self-made kind.

I, of course, have a specific example or two in mind, but I'm not going to spew other people's idiocy all over the Internet. That wouldn't be nice, would it? Nope. I'm just going to write a general blog about it and let them feel their own guilt and shame :)

You know who I'm talking about, right? Those people. The ones who somehow find joy in making others feel sorry for them. The ones who think they're the ONLY ONE to ever go through something. They're your classic "one downers" as my bloggy friend Chibi would say. The ones who are constantly trying to tell you how much worse their ailment/situation/life is, as if it's a competition to see who is more pathetic.

ANYONE can pinpoint the negative things in their life and make a sob story out of it.

Want an example? Let me tell you my brief life story two different ways.  First: THEIR way:

Nothing ever goes my way. My parents got divorced when I was in elementary school and I never saw my dad. My mom had to work two jobs just to make ends meet, and even then I remember scraping up change from the couch cushions to buy bread. I had to borrow all kinds of money to put myself through school, and that ended up taking me five years. I got a job teaching, but when I moved back to my home school I was bullied until I finally gave up and left. My marriage failed, my mom got cancer, and now here I am, living on a farm, job-less, trying to raise a daughter on my own living in a house that isn't my home. I lost my home because I let my ex move back in on the agreement he would take over the payments. That bit me in the ass when he up-and-left. My life sucks.

How about MY version?

I grew up in a small-town with just my mom and brother. Times weren't always easy, but I had a mom who loved me more than anything, and did everything in her power to make sure we had the things we needed and a lot of the things we wanted. She always did things with us, and she always put us first. I had the opportunity to go to a private Christian college, which was really important to me. I loved the small school and felt like I got an awesome education. I became a teacher, and even though I had a couple of rough years, I learned so much and truly LOVED what I was doing. Although my marriage didn't work out, I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl, and I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to stay home with her now. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and now, three years later, she is CANCER FREE and the best Nana a little girl could ask for!  I've had many financial struggles along the way, but we have a home and food on our table every day. We live out in the country with the guy of my dreams, who also comes with a loving family. We'll be married soon, and will begin our life as a real family with all the love three people could want.

Same story. Two perspectives. I could CHOOSE to maintain the first perspective, telling my sob story to anyone who would hear it, or I can choose to see the love and happiness life has given me and live a blessed life. I choose to make the best of what I have.

I'm not saying we should hide our troubles or bear our burdens alone. I vent to my family and friends, and even on Facebook about the low things in my life sometimes. Sometimes I take thirty minutes and cry, giving me time to just feel "sorry" for myself.

But there's a line. We all have or have had a parental issue of some kind. We've all lost someone we love. We've all (most likely) been affected by cancer or AIDS either directly or indirectly. We've all had something tragic happen in our family. We all had some kind of problem in our teen years. We've all had financial struggles.

But you make a choice every day. You either take the hand you've been dealt and make the best of it, or you dwell on the negative. But let's get one thing straight. If YOU choose to see your life as negative, don't expect me to feel sorry for you. If you have to try to convince me that your life is pitiful, then guess what? You're right.

Friday, March 18, 2011


'Tis Friday again!!!!! I'm ready for a weekend, oh yes I am. I know, I know. You don't like to hear me say that. After all, I don't *work* so how can I look forward to the weekend?  Let me tell you. The weekend means I free myself from the obligation of laundry and dishes. And cooking. Except for Sunday.  Weekends mean my Mister is mineallmine for two whole days and nights! I usually walk in his shoes over the weekend (seriously. I wear his rubber boots ;) and have fun just following him around, spending time outside, taking drives, yadda yadda yadda.

This weekend Chloe was supposed to go with her dad, but "something came up" and she is with us. I broke the news to her this morning that we were going to do tux rentals tomorrow and she'd be tagging along doing "grown-up" stuff all day, and that we wouldn't get to look at toys, not a one. Her response? "Mmmm! Where we gonna eat?!?!" She is her Mama's daughter.

OK enough blah blah blah. Let's get to the good stuff.

1. Have you ever testified in court? For what?

I was supposed to testify once when I was in middle school because a neighbor's dog bit my other neighbor friend, but the guy didn't show up, so we just got out of school and all dressed up for nothin'!

The only other thing I've ever "testified" for was my divorce. Since I was the one who filed, I had to be sworn in and answer a lot of questions about my identity, my income, my child, etc. etc. It wasn't very fun.

2. Do you still have your wedding dress?
I still have my dress from my first wedding, yes. Well, I guess I don't technically have it. It's hanging at my mama's house. And obviously I have my current wedding dress, because it has yet to be worn!!!  SOON! It's one I plan to keep, take good care of, and hope that someone will find it vintage and "way cool" when I'm like eighty and beg me to take it in for her and let her wear it in her own wedding. We shall see. It's classic enough I think it could stand the test of time.

3. Is there a special place you like to go when you're happy, sad, stressed, etc.?
If I'm happy, I'm going about my business, doing my thing, with a little pep in my step. There isn't one particular place I go. I enjoy life and you might find me doing anything from cleaning the house to riding around next to my Mister listening to country music. I might go shopping or take Chloe to the park, or do all of that in one day on a good day.

When I'm uspet/mad/stressed/overwhelmed? You'll find me in my bed. Earbuds in. Sharpie notebook and Sharpies nearby. I'm usually quiet, shut-down, and aloof. I turn off the lights, snuggle down in my covers and let my troubles sink into the memory foam with my ass. :)

My Mister has said, on more than one occasion, "I can't figure out if the sheets smell like you, or if you smell like the sheets."  :)

Sometimes, if it's just stress or angst, or if I need to clear my mind, or think about something, you'll find me on my church walk. There's a cute little church exactly a mile up the road from my house, and if I need time to think and get away, I'll grab my phone and my earbuds and head for the top of the hill. I don't stay at the church or anything, just walk there and back, and always feel better when I get home.

4. If you have kids, do they sleep with you? If you don't have kids...will you let your kids sleep with you when/if you have them?
Chloe does not sleep with us. Ever. We have a full-size bed, so there just isn't room. In the time between her dad moving out and The Mister coming into the picture, she slept with me almost every night. I think it was a good thing for both of us. She went back to her own bed easily, and that's the time I actually transitioned her from crib to bed. She's always been a good independent sleeper, and I like that about her.

Since I've been an at-home Mama, we have a routine, though, of sleeping in, then snuggling in my bed before we get up and make breakfast and get ready. She'll come in here sleepy-eyed carrying her blankie and say, "Good mornin' Mama!" she climbs in bed with me, puts her cold toes on my legs, and we snuggle until they're warm :)

5. Do you watch late night TV?
It depends. My Mister goes to bed pretty early, because he gets up pretty early, and is just plain worn out at night! So I usually go to bed when he does, around nine. We talk, snuggle, and get our quality time in for the day. When there's a long pause, I'll say, "Are you going to sleep?" He says, "Mmhm," in his sleepy voice, and then we kiss goodnight. If I'm in a normal sleep pattern, I roll over and go to sleep as well. If my mind is still racing, I'll get up and watch tv until I get sleepy. I really like to watch Chelsea Lately. It's my favorite "late night" show (I usually miss it at 10 and watch it at 11:30). If there's nothing else on, I'll watch Jay Leno until Chelsea comes on.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Beast: Part 3

The first year I worked in Hell, things were going rather well. Remember, The Beast had not yet come to full power, and I was having a good year. In February, however, I started having terrible pain in my left side. It's an old muscle injury that bothers me when I'm over-exerted, which I was not. I kept putting off going to the doctor, but woke up a few mornings later with red spots around my waist.

Worried sick about what disease I was coming down with, I knew I had to see the doctor immediately. The problem was that we had some BIG! IMPORTANT! MEETINGS! that morning at school. So important I couldn't tell you now what they were about. MAP? MSIP? Curriculum? Who knows. Anyway, I decided it best to go in the morning for my meeting, then go to the doctor in the afternoon.

I made an appointment and let the office know immediately.

It turned out I had shingles. Yeah. BUT. The doctor caught it so soon and gave me preemptive meds (and pain killers!) so that they didn't get any worse. But I was IN PAIN.

The following day I had a conference at Tan Tar A with another teacher from my department, and even though the doctor suggested I stay home for a few days, I knew I just couldn't skip out on this, either. So, I doped up and met the other teacher early that morning. We rode to the conference together, and ended up having a great time. We got to go to several sessions, some together, some separate, and had plenty of new ideas and innovations to take back with us.

When I got back to school, however, I found out things weren't as hunky-dory as I had thought.

My kids, for one, were awful while I was gone. Did I mention I taught all freshmen? I did. So this wasn't unusual for them to be idiots for a sub. The Beast had a conversation with me about their behavior (I realize I can't control fifteen-year-olds, especially when I'm not there...but it IS well-known that classroom behavior when the teacher is away reflects, to some point, behavior when the teacher is present), and what I should do to handle it. Looking back now, I wonder if they were even really bad, or if It was already starting Its plot.

I came in the next day ready to deal with the Freshmen when I opened an e-mail from my Boss. He expressed that in the future I was NOT to make doctor's appointments on the same day, and that such short notice in the future would NOT be tolerated.

Wait, what?

Hold up.

Here I thought I was doing the RIGHT thing. See, I could've called in at seven a.m. and skipped the WHOLE day. I mean, I had paid sick leave I was entitled to. Instead, I went to the ridiculous meeting and made my appointment for later in the afternoon so I'd only miss THREE hours of school.

And I was in trouble?

I was HOT.

Remember what I said about firing off e-mails? This was one of those times.

Mr. Boss-

I'm sorry for the 'short notice,' but I was diagnosed with Shingles on Wednesday. When I woke up with spots on my skin and pain in my side I thought it best to see the doctor asap. I would have stayed home altogether if it had not been for the meetings I felt it important to attend. My doctor suggested I stay home for a few days, but I went ahead to my conference yesterday, and am here today.


Yep I did it. And I probably shouldn't have. But he scolded me IN AN E-MAIL. 

In the mean time, The Beast was up my butt, saying It was sorry for the way The Boss had handled it, asking how I was feeling, and teling me that if I needed anything to let It know (you know, go AROUND the Boss).  Being sick and emotional and vulnerable, I took the bait, telling It I was just stunned at how The Boss had reacted, and that I had meant no one any harm. I had just been trying to do what I thought was best. Words I'm sure were twisted and repeated.

On Monday The Boss apologized (via e-mail of course) and checked in with me several times thereafter to see how I was doing. Boss is a very fair, very good and decent man, and it was so unlike him to become so angry over something like that. I figured he was just stressed (there had been rumors he was leaving...rumors that turned out to be true) and moved on from the issue. I later learned that his anger was fueled by none other than The Beast. Yep. The same Beast who was going behind HIS back making HIM seem like the bad guy to me, and me seem like the bad guy to him.

Did I mention this was right around contract time? Not the best time to have The Boss mad at you.  Unless you're The Beast, and you're hoping to get rid of a certain someone...

While this wasn't a direct encounter with The Beast, it would come into play the next year without me even realizing it...

Catch up here:
Part 1
Part 2

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chloe Says the Darndest Things...

Chloe, if you don't know her in person, is quite the Chatty Cathy. On long drives sometimes we have to turn the radio up and tune her out just because she talks non-stop the entire time we are in the car. NON-STOP. This does, however, make for some interesting conversation.

For example, we were driving home from school the other day when she educated me on how scissors can cause suicidal thoughts. Those are my words, not hers. Here's her take:

Chloe: "Mom, didja know daycare kids shouldn't use scissors?"

Me: "Mmm, no, why not?"

Chloe: "Because day don't know how to cut berry good, and day might accidentally cut deir eyball out." She said emphatically, making hand gestures to match.

Me: "Ohh my goodness, that wouldn't be good,"

Chloe: "No, because if day cut deir eyeball out day would hafta get a fake eye, and if day didn't get a fake eye dat would be SO disgustin'! If dat happened to me and I couldn't get a fake eye I would probably just (clicks tongue and rolls eyes as if thinking about what to do) climb one of those electricity poles and just---shock myself dead."

Me: "Whoa! Why would you do that?"

Chloe: "Because, my eye would be so disgustin' and I wouldn't be able to see wif it" (Winking one eye shut looking like a super-cute Popeye.

Me: "Ya, but you'd be able to see out of your other eye..."

Chloe: "Would you show me where to go an' stuff so I wouldn't bump into things?"

Me: "Yes. If you accidentally cut your eye out using scissors improperly in daycare and couldn't get a fake eye I promise I would take care of you for the rest of my life and show you everywhere to go," I said, trying not to laugh.

Chloe: "Hmm. Ok, den. I guess I wouldn't hafta climb that electricity pole..."

And then we pulled in the driveway. And she wanted to know if she could have a bowl of cheeseballs when we got inside.  I don't know about you, but I found the "where do babies come from" talk to be much easier than the stuff she comes up with.

Friday, March 11, 2011

You don't have to thank me in writing.

It's FRIDAY again!!!!!!! Yay! With spring trying to poke through the last remnants of winter, and with the wedding coming oh-so-quickly, my weekends are pretty much booked through May I think, with a free one here and there. This weekend is a-typical in that Miss Chloe is home :) If you ask HER what this weekend means, she'll shout, "DA CIRCUS!!!!!" She got a little free ticket at school, so I guess we will be headed to the circus tomorrow. It's her first time and she is all full of energy and life. She asked me last night, "Do you think if I show them I can do a trick they might want me to come up and do the tightrope?" all excitedly. I told her I didn't think they let kids up there. He he.

Anyway. It's time for your regularly scheduled 5QF!

1. Do you know what your REAL hair color is?
Yes. I know because I am reminded every six weeks or so when my super-tall *almost* BIL scrunches up his nose and says something like, "Holy gray!"

=/  Being tall has its MOST people can't see your roots. But he can. And he says they're half brown, half gray.

2. Do you plan ahead for summer, or fly by the seat of your pants?
Oh we fly by the seat of our pants around here. That doesn't mean I'm good at it, or that I like it, but that's how we do. This summer we are planning our belated honeymoon, and I'm planning on getting a Big Surf pass, but other than that, the schedule is to-be-determined. I love summer. It's so fun when Chloe and I are home together all day every day and can just take off and go do whatever we want :) I'm looking forward to girls days with my mom, going to the park, going to the beach, going to Big Surf, MOWING, grilling, spending long summer evenings with the Mister, ahhhhhh I can't wait!

3. What is your favorite meal to cook?
Well. Probably pot-roast. Because I plop it in the crock pot first thing in the morning, and don't do another darned thing to it. I bake some bread in the afternoon, and when we are done eating, all I hafta do is wash that crock.  Love it.

But I like cooking anything I know makes my Mister happy, and I especially love cooking spaghetti...because I love to eat it!

4. Do you get offended by not receiving thank yous?
Nope. I might get offended if I sent someone a gift, or a card, or did something way out of my way and they didn't acknowledge it at all. I like to know they at least got it, but a verbal "aww thanks," or a text, or a facebook nod are all sufficient. If I give it to them in person, even at a wedding or birthday party, I certainly don't expect a written reply. Maybe because I'm the world's worst at doing it myself? Probably ;)

5. How did you meet your best friend?
Well, my BFF Lindsey and I met in kindergarten. I don't really remember "meeting" her. We've just always been friends. Good friends. The kind that can not talk or see each other all year, then pick right back up where we left off. We can tell each other pretty much anything and know we'll still love each other.

Then my BFF Jamie came into my life sometime around 1996 or thereabout. That's the first time I remember hanging around her, anyway. I'm pretty sure we first bonded through youth group activities and an Easter production at church. That's the earliest memory I have of spending time with her. She is five years older than me, but even when I was fifteen that never made a difference in our friendship. She's literally been there for me through EVERYTHING in my life since adolescence. She gets my family. She understands my relationships. She loves me no matter what idiotic thing I say or do, and she never EVER judges me. And I do the same for her. We're great like that :) As Chloe would say, "We love each udder."  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Beast: Part Two

The first year I worked at Hell The Beast was not my boss. Well, it kind of was, but it wasn't the principal. It was a pretty harmonious year, and I felt I learned a lot and grew immensely with the help of my boss at that time.

I met and became acquainted with a freshman girl we'll call Suzie. Suzie was very involved in sports, was a good student, and was trustworthy. She took immediately to my daughter, Chloe, when she saw her at after-school activities, and Chloe loved her back.

I began using Suzie as a baby-sitter when my mom was unavailable, or when it was short notice. By the time summer came, she was a regular in my house. The next year, when The Beast came to power, Suzie wasn't in my English class. She started going with me to the youth function I helped supervise, sitting with us at church, and was still baby-sitting as needed. Even after I left the district, Chloe and I still had her over for dinner once a week and for a short time we were our own little girl family on Tuesday nights :) She became more than just a former student. She was a family friend.

If you knew me in high school, you could compare our relationship to that of mine and a familiar family I baby-sat for regularly until they moved. I was older than her, but not so old I seemed like a mother figure. I gave her advice and listened when she had concerns. We didn't talk on the phone or have lunch dates, but she was a regular figure in our lives.

I remember when I was in high school having good relationships with my teachers, especially those who went to church with me. It was a special kind of bond, having fellow Christians in a sea of ungodliness.

The Beast, however, didn't like it. Granted The Beast had school-age kids and no-doubt had teenagers in and out of its home on a regular basis. But that was different.

I was called to the office one day, and by that time I knew to dread those trips.

"I have some concerns," it admitted.

"OK?" I waited for the 1-2-punch.

"Suzie was asked in English class to write about a friend she trusted more than anyone. She wrote about you," it expressed. I smiled. I was honored.

"Oh." I said. Utterly confused as to how I was getting in trouble for this.

"Given she is a teenager, I think it's highly inappropriate for her "best friend" to be a teacher," it went on. I shook my head. It wasn't like Suzie didn't have friends. She had her same-age friends that she went out with, played ball with, and slept-over with. It wasn't like I was her only friend in the entire world.

"She's a very close friend of our family," I explained. "She goes to church with us, she baby-sits my daughter. She is a dear friend, but I don't think she meant I was her only friend..." I trailed off, knowing there was no arguing with The Beast.

"Well, you need to distance yourself from her. It's just not appropriate," it went on. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. She'd pop in my room before school now and then, or give me a hug in the hallway when I saw her, but it was nothing different than any other kid might do.

"What do you want me to do?" I asked it, completely irked that it was now messing with my personal life. "She's not in my class, so I'm not favoring her or anything, and I hardly see her at school."

"Talk to her." It demanded. There was more to this conversation, but it's a post in itself, so we'll deal with it another time.

I went to Suzie and explained what happened. She agreed to distance herself from me at school, and not to mention me in any way in any teacher's class. She realized what I was up against. The Beast wasn't exactly fond of Suzie to begin with. I promised her she could still baby-sit, and I would still come to her games. If it didn't involve school, The Beast had no control...or so I thought.

Several months later, toward the end of the year, Suzie came by my room when I was gone and wrote, "I love you Mrs. Lastname" on my board.  It just-so-happened The Beast came by to "observe" me (It was in my room constantly looking for anything to pick at) and saw the note. It didn't address it with me verbally, but made note of it in my observation form, showing I had "ignored" something it had talked to me about.

As I walked down the hall at the end of the day, I looked in at all the boards. Over half the boards had a "love" note of some kind from a student. Most of the students were girls, and some of the teachers were even male. Yet I was singled out and reprimanded for what? For not erasing it? For not banishing the student from my room forever? I don't know. But it was one of many complications, and one of the first times I felt truly oppressed and bullied. It's an unsettling feeling to have someone else trying to control every single aspect of your life.

Did you miss part one?  Read it HERE.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Time Stood Still

Even though it was once home to me, my mom's house is just that these days: her house. It's changed over the years as we grew up and grew out of it. It's been re-carpeted a time or two, and the kitchen and bathroom have been redecorated.

Slowly our toys were put away (some of which I wish so badly I'd kept now), our out-grown clothes were boxed up and put in garage sales. Our bedrooms turned from childish play rooms to smelly teen rooms with constant science experiments growing in forgotten wrappers and glasses.

Eventually all the things we held dear were either taken along on our journies, or boxed and stored away. All that remains are boxes of "stuff," old clothes, and some of our furniture. There's nothing left of our childhood, because we grew out of it, gradually changing as we went.

That, however, is not the case at my grandma's house. My granny has the same velveteen flowered couch she bought brand-new when she moved into the house she now occupies. Her living room furniture has never changed. Her bedroom has the same beautiful lavender carpet and dark wood furniture. Little things have changed here and there, but for the most part, her house is always the same.

So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised by the events I'm about to describe, but I was shocked.

Chloe and I were visiting recently, and Chloe was wanting some toys to play with. My grandma thought for a minute, then asked me where my Barbies were.

"Oh Lordy I don't know," I said. "If they're still here I guess they'd be upstairs, but it's probably been twenty years since I played with them," I told her. I knew how things worked. As we grew up, the adults moved out our toys and took back their space.

"Oh, no I wouldn't get rid of the Barbie dolls," my Mimi said. "Where did you used to play with them?"

"Well, I had them in the bottom drawer of your wardrobe," I told her. She suggested we go look, and as I opened the bottom drawer, there they were.

Memories flooded the room, nearly drowning me. It was as if in that tiny little corner of the universe, time had stood still. The Barbies were untouched. Suddenly, seeing them that way, I felt like a child again. Like I had played with them JUST yesterday. They were just as I had left them.

It made me sad, in a way, to know I grew out of them without meaning to. I'm sure I put them away neatly when I was finished playing that last time, probably in the middle of some big story, and probably in a specific order so I could remember where to pick it up next time. I'd say my mom came to get me, and I shut the drawer with every intention of coming back to it.

But I never did.

I didn't KNOW that would be the last time I played with those dolls. I didn't intend to grow up. I didn't see it coming. I sure had no idea the next time I opened that drawer I would be thirty years old and looking for a toy for my four year-old daughter.

Time kind of stood still, but I didn't. I kept going. If I'd known that would be my last time with my Barbies maybe I'd have dressed them in their best dresses, fixed their hair, and tucked them neatly away somewhere safe. Maybe I'd have wrapped them up to preserve them.

Maybe I'm kinda glad I didn't know...because sometimes life is easier when you move on without meaning to.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday, Monday

It's Monday, and although I don't have to punch a clock, I'm stressed today. As the wedding gets closer I have more and more details to work out, and I don't like it. In addition we're trying to plan a trip, which should be easy, but it's becoming a pain in my side every time I hear "I'm not sure yet," or "We'll see," in reply to one of my questions pertaining thereto. So. To avert my attention, I'm trying a new cookie-cutter blog post, Meet Me on Monday. It's basically 5QF on Monday, but whatever. It's hosted by:

1. What is your favorite way to eat potatoes?
I love potatoes. So this is like asking me to tell you my favorite thing in the bread category. I'll do my best.
I love home-made scalloped potatoes. And I ROCK at them. But I don't really like making them. I also love love love mashed potatoes (I lick the pan clean ;) and fried potatoes. But I like 'em baked, too, and french-fried. I guess fried is my over-all favorite, but I'll pretty much eat a potato any way you slice it ;)

2. What was the last package that was delivered to your house?
Some kind of ATV rack thingy that the Mister ordered from Bass Pro. Nothing ever comes for me...or for Chloe. That's what she says so emphatically EVERY time he gets a package.

3. What is your favorite scent that you love to smell?
If we're talking manufactured scents, I love cinnamon in the winter, and something beachy in the summer. If you mean actual smells, newborn baby heads, line-dried laundry, and baking bread :)
4. Do you smoke?
No. I do not smoke. I try very hard not to whine, cough, and throw a hissy fit to tolerate loved ones' smoke when it's necessary, but I'd honestly give anything to never have to breathe second-hand smoke again. It burns my eyes, it irritates my nose and lungs, it makes my clothes and hair smell bad, and it causes cancer. I don't have a problem at all with people who do smoke, I'd just prefer if they didn't smoke in my presence.
5. Are your parents married or divorced?
Divorced. There's really not much to say about that one. I was maybe ten, but I have only a handful of memories before the divorce, so it doesn't seem like I ever knew any different, even though I guess I did.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lucy Gets Revenge

I'm pretty sure that theory about birds evolving from raptors, or vice versa, is pretty legit. I live with a raptor. Ok, ok, it's a turkey. But still. I need to properly introduce you to Thomffson and give you our history, but I just don't have time to do that today. What I do have time for, is to tell you about another Lucy Ricardo episode of my life :)

I came home from dropping Chloe at school just after noon yesterday. The dogs had been out of food for a couple of days (don't worry, they had lasagna, fettuccine, a can of puppy food, and other unidentifiable things from the fridge), and Mister had brought home a bag the night before, so I was feeding them. As I was getting them all situated, I heard that all-too-familiar GOBBLE!

The deal we have out here is that Thomffson stays in the chicken coopy pen thingy as long as I promise to keep him fed and watered. Not my pet, but I do this because the sheer terror we experience when he's loose is unthinkable. Again, I'll fill you in on all that later.

So I got the ol' sack-o-corn and headed out to his pen. Normally I will just toss some through the chicken wirey fency stuff and be on my way, but I knew I hadn't fed him in a week day or two, probably and figured he was completely out of corn. So I scooped up a big handful and put my fingers up to the fencing in order to pour the corn in without spilling any outside the fence.

*Disclaimer: If you're sensitive to language, please do not read on. You've been warned.

PECK! He got hold of my finger.

"OUCH! Damn you, you stupid shit!" was something close to what I said, after screaming like a little girl.
"You wanna peck me you sonofabitch? You want to? Haven't you heard not to bite the damned hand that feeds you? NO? Ok, well I'm about to educate you on that, you shit head!"

I then scooped up a few handfuls of corn and pelted him with mad fury gently tossed it into his cage.

Then I got the hose.

Because he was thirsty. His bowl was dry. Bless his little turkey loving, hand-pecking heart.

I always stick my thumb in the hole of the hose and strategically shoot the water through the fence into his bowl, because there's no WAY I'm going in there.  So I filled up his water bowl. Then I thought to myself, "Hmm. Thomffson looks like he needs a bath."

So I stuck my thumb in the hole and shot that water with as much pressure as I could get.

"How do you like that you sonofabitch?! Hm?! How's that? It's raining, it's pouring!!!!"  I may or may not have "watered' him a little more than necessary to avenge my poor pecked finger, but I was like one of those crazed killers who means to stab once, then can't stop ;) Once he was thoroughly wet, and running in circles trying to avoid the water, making himself look crazy, I finally quit.

"There. Teach you to peck my hand you stupid shit!" I hollered at him. I hung the hose back up oh-so-smugly, and walked out toward the driveway.

Then I heard something.  Er, ah, someONE.

Right across the road, in the field getting up cows, was my lovely soon-to-be brother-in-law, and his "farm hand" for the day, a guy from up the road.


They. Got. A. Show.

They haven't mentioned this incident yet....but I've been pretty good at avoiding them.


Such is life when you've got a little Lucy in ya ;)

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Note of Insecurity

After reading all the other 5QF posts I've realized two things:

1. I'm also afraid of dark places, bugs, sink-drain hair, and a lot of other things. THANKS for bringin' all those up I hadn't thought of, blog friends!

2. Everyone else was dating at 13??? Or 15??? LORD almighty. My first time spending any time alone with a boy was when I told my mom I was going to see Space Jam with my BFF Lindsey and we met "Charlie" (he made two appearances in my dating career...the first was short-lived, and this was it) and this guy we'll call CTV and watched Ransom (RATED R!!) instead. I was a few weeks from sixteen fifteen. And that barely counts considering he tried to kiss me and I turned my head, he spilled his Pepsi on my leather jacket, and I broke up with him pretty much the next day. *cries loudly* I'M A LATE BLOOOOOMMMMMMMERRRRRR!

Ok. I feel better now. Off to my weekend!

A first date and irrational fear...

It's FRIDAY again!!!!!!!!!!!  I'm so happy to be back to my "normal" weekends. My mister is home, and I'm even dragging him wedding shopping tomorrow. He's making up for that hog hunt one way or the other, isn't he? Ohhhh yes he is. I'm also trying to plan a honeymoon right now, and I'm becoming stressed.

But. Today is Friday. That means I'm going to spend time with my love and probably eat something delicious. That also means it's time for FIVE QUESTION FRIDAY! 

1. Have you ever forgotten your child in a store or at school?
I have not ever forgotten my child. In fact, it's usually the other way around. She's not here and I think she IS or SHOULD BE for a few seconds, begin freaking out, then remember, "Oh yeah, she's at Nana's/Sheila's/her dad's house. Whew!"

I used to have dreams about forgetting her when she was a baby, or leaving her somewhere, but so far that hasn't happened. I figure I do only have ONE child, though, and if I can't keep track of one, I need some serious help ;)

2. Where did you go on your very first date? (Like...first first, not first with your spouse or current significant other!)
Oh my Lawd! Well, we won't count any of the "meeting a boy at the movies" when mom drops you off dates, although I had a couple of those. My very first real real date was the summer of 1998. I was dating a boy who could also drive :) (I had previously dated "Charlie" who was younger enough he could not drive).

This boy, we'll call him....Doug...*swooooon* he called me from his BAG PHONE in his truck, and asked me on a proper date. Ok I don't know if that's how it really went down, because we'd been "talking" for a week or so (and this was pre-texting, young'uns. We were, in fact, actually out loud and everything) already, but I just thought it was SO COOLhe had a PHONE in his vehicle! Unheard of at that time, especially for a teenager! Anyway, we decided we'd go to the late show at the GALAXY in Sedalia. It was a new theater then, and I had never been. Oh, I was excited. He was picking me up at 8:00, and it was the dead of summer, so it was still daylight outside.

I waited waited waited waited and finally 8:00 came.  And he wasn't late :) I waited inside and he came up to the front door to get me. My mom embarrassed me just by breathing met him and we were on our way. We went in his truck, a white Ford (ah hem..maybe I have a white Ford thing?), and we stopped at McDonald's on the way. Could I eat? LORD NO! I think I just got a drink, then we went to the movie. I still remember what he was wearing: he had a hat on, which I hadn't seen before, and his shirt was black with red and very slickery (yeah it's a word). He wore baggy jeans then, and his shoes were black. We went to see.....wait for it......wait.....Armageddon :)  Or was it Lethal Weapon 4? Uh oh. My memory fails. We went to see both of those that week, and sometime during a fight scene in Lethal Weapon 4 he "asked me out" which was awkward, but I thought it was soooooooo sweeeeeeeeet because I was sooooooo smitten! I rode in the middle all the way home, and he kissed me right there in that white Ford truck. *Swoooon*

He broke my heart about two months later, and it took me years to recover. But. It was the best first date ever.  Well...aside from the first date with my Mister...but that goes without saying.

3. What's your "silly" fear? (We're not talking water and heights.)
Don't laugh at me. Ok? Please.

The basement.

I know! It's awful. During the day I will run down there to get meat out of the freezer or look for something in storage if need-be, but I don't linger, and I sure don't hang out. And if the sun has gone down, I refuse to go down there. I don't even like passing it to go to the laundry room at night. We have lights, yeah, we're not Amish or anything, but still. It's creepy. And I think ghosts live down there. I've never heard or seen anything strange, but I just have a feeeeeling they do. So I stay away. Because they only come out at night, right? Right.



4. Confrontation: do you cause it, deal with is as it comes, or run far far away?
Run, run, run, run! I hate it! I hate when people talk down to me, confront me, get on to me, or anything similar. I hate talking on the phone, and prefer the passive text/e-mail message. Oh I hate it. Especially if I KNOW it's coming. I back down. I get insecure. I turn into a little jelly fish.

Then I think about it afterwards. And I get angry. And I think of alllllll the points I couldn't make during the confrontation.

And I fire off an e-mail :)

And turn off my phone.

And lock my door.


5. Wood floors or carpet?
You know what I LOVE about wood floors?

Spilled juice? Paper towel. No stain.
New puppy? No problem.
Muddy boots? Let it dry, then sweep it up.
You can see the dirt and just sweep it right up. No Hoover necessary.

But you know what I miss about carpet?
It's warm.
It's snuggly.
It's homey.
And you don't have to sweep it with a broom every day.

So, you could say I'm torn.

Happy Friday!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Beast: Part 1

I try to keep my posts light-hearted and fun-loving. I like to showcase my vocabulary, wit, and dry sense of sarcasm. I like to express my quirky, odd humor, and say things that would make my BFF laugh out loud. But today my heart is burdened.

I struggle as much as you do, but there is a fine line between being honest and putting yourself out there and being one of those emo, suicidal-seeming weird-o Internet posters. I refuse to be the latter. But, every now and then, something consumes me so much that I feel I need to express it just to get it off my heart.

Remember when I opened up about my mom's cancer? That was a dark time for me, and it took me more than two years to finally open up about it. What about when I told you about my new life plan? After the scrutiny I'd endured in my former small-town home, it took a lot to open up about the true love I finally found. Oh, and what about when my book got published?! I was excited that my dream had finally come true; that I was going to be an author. Nevermind the negative criticism I got for Life as She Knew It, it was mine, and no one could take that from me.

There are three types of people in my world: the ones who have no idea where I've been, the ones who THINK they know EVERYTHING (aka the Gossip Queens), and the FEW who KNOW where I've been. I'm not here to make you a member of the latter group, but I just feel compelled to share what's bogging me down today.

Have you ever overcome something so evil and so sinister that you felt like you were on top of the world, only to be plagued by the treacherous journey months, even years later? That's where I find myself today. I walked through the fire. I survived. Yet the scars still exist. I still see them from time-to-time. I still feel them from time-to-time.

Parts of me don't even want to divulge what I'm enduring, for fear the perpetrator reads my blog and might take the smallest amount of delight in my misery. |But part of me loves exposing The Beast for what it really is, which I intend to do in a serious series of posts hereby dubbed "The Beast" series.

The Beast, if you're not aware, is a former boss of mine. It's also a Biblical reference to the Anti-Christ, and though my church-going is nearly non-existent these days, I firmly believe The Beast, if it's not THE Anti-Christ, belongs to his minions.
Let me introduce you to my world for more than nine long, horrible months of my life, and I will still only be able to scratch the tiniest surface:

My troubles seemingly began (you'll learn later the troubles went much deeper and much farther back than I had conscious knowledge of) when I created an alternate MySpace page (this was back when MySpace was IT). Since I was getting SO many requests from students, and since, as a teacher, I felt it was inappropriate to share my personal thoughts and adult interactions with said students, I created a "Mrs." page where I posted updates such as, "Go Cats! Football tonight!" or "English I don't forget your vocab test tomorrow!" I had no messages, I had no awkward comments, and the profile was public, so anyone could see it. Students left comments to me, they responded to each other, they asked about homework and essays and things like that. I found it to be a great avenue.

Much. To. My. Demise.

It wasn't long before The Beast gave us a speech about the "dangers" of online communication with students (which is still a debted issue today), and forbade us to have any type of social page, MUCH LESS add students to it. Was this a meeting for the masses? Nope. It was a speech directed SPECIFICALLY at me.

I was what you'd call a "popular" teacher in my day, though I'm still not sure why. I was a rule stickler. I assigned a lot of work. I wasn't really one of those "let's do nothing" kind of teachers (until May at least he he). But for whatever reason my kids always started the year hating me and ended it loving me. Always. The Beast didn't like this.

So I went home that day feeling disappointed and guilty and deleted the MySpace, as was suggested in the meeting. My last status was something that let everyone know the account was being removed, because teachers were told we were not to have any students on social network pages. I knew they couldn't force us to delete our personal page as long as we didn't have students on it, and there was NO WAY I was getting rid of my MySpace and Facebook. I did my best to contol who could see it, and went about my business.

The fact that we were told not to have students as "friends" wasn't really the issue. Although I did like having that avenue, it wasn't a big deal to delete it. What bothered me more is what unfolded in the weeks to come.

The "policy" we were informed of about social networks was not in our handbook. It was not made a board policy. Therefore, it could be enforced or overlooked as The Beast saw fit. When I began looking at some of the other young teachers' (and some of the older ones) Facebook pages (it was gaining popularity then) later in the year, I saw a multitude of students, even MINOR students, on those pages. And these were the teachers' personal pages, where the interacted with their own friends and vented about school issues.

Double standard? Kind of. We're going to refer to it from now on as the Andrea-Standard. A standard created ONLY for me.

Several weeks after the meeting, and after having deleted my Mrs. MySpace, another teacher from my department came to me.

"I need to talk to you," he said.
"Great. What now?" I said, rolling my eyes. He usually brought bad news or gossip from The Beast.
"It said you have a MySpace with students on it, and It's unhappy about it," he confided.
"I HAD one. I was never told that we couldn't do that. I had even created one that was school-related so there were no lines crossed, but when It told us not to in that meeting one day, I deleted it that afternoon."
"Really? Well It just asked me to talk to you about it," he said, implying this conversation had been SINCE the meeting.
"Yep really. And if IT has concerns, as my boss, shouldn't IT address those with me? Not go talk to another teacher about it and ask him to do Its dirty work? That's so unprofessional."
"You would think," he said. "I think It's just looking for things," he confided. I stood there wondering how It even knew I had the page. It had to have seen it weeks before, which meant It was most likely looking for me and stumbled upon the page (this is before I found out about the student spys, which is another post in itself). Either way, I considered it a lot of work just to "check up" on me.
"Oh. So It's spying on me AND gossiping about me, rather than doing its job. Great."

The Beast never did bring this issue up with me. It was, in fact, only mentioned once, and that's when I threw it back at The Beast in The Meeting, which you'll learn more about toward the end of the series. Things only got worse from there...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Separation Anxiety slash Fun

It started out as kind of a bum weekend. My Mister was leaving me Thursday night, and would be back sometime Sunday. Being the woman baby I am, I was very forlorn and pouty in the hours days before his departure. I knew I had some plans to keep me busy, but we've spent so little time apart since we became attached at the hip two summers ago, it's just hard to imagine being without him.

I might have also been just a little jealous that he was headed for warmer weather with the guys rather than with me. Never mind the fact they were hog hunting and fishing. I said I was jealous, I didn't say I was rational!

The first night was the worst. I was like a two year-old whose mommy had left. I cried. I felt separation anxiety. I wallowed. I let made Chloe sleep with me. I submersed myself in my spring cleaning and got everything spic and span, even Chloe's room, on Friday.

And then I kinda forgot my proverbial mommy was gone. And I started having fun!

Friday night Chloe and I had a nice visit and some greasy Casey's pizza with my mama. Oh did I mention those slimy little mushrooms I love? Mmmmmmm. I spent the early evening there, then headed home. Alone. At first it was a little scary. The house seemed darker and much quieter than it normally does, but I was bound to overcome it. I fired up the laptop, kept my phone close, and went to work.

I ended up writing a blog post, 3,600 words on my novel, and a lot of Facebook comments/chats ;) I stayed up late, enveloped in my characters and story-line, and finally lost the battle with sleep somewhere around 3am. It was like being a (gasp) teenager again!

Saturday my bff and MOH came to babysit entertain me. We went to lunch, where we indulged ourselves with hand-breaded fried mushrooms (seeing a pattern here?), and the special: beef stew and homemade rolls (you locals know right where we went, don'tcha?). We then cruised around the area, and I showed her the church, the reception site, our home, and my future MIL's area. We came home and chatted a while, then decided we'd go to Springfield for the evening.

We were going to wait until later in the evening to go, but I got a text from the cousin-from-heaven saying flowers were 50% that day only, so we headed on down to buy wedding flowers. If you've kept up with my wedding blog, you know I'm not much of a decorator, and I don't have a big budget, and I don't have a clue what I even want. So buying flowers for such an event was not an easy task!

We did it, though! Motivated mostly by our hunger, we got the flowers and headed to...drum roll please....HuHot! When we went in the door, they told us we would have an HOUR wait minimum. We decided to wait it out. We had nothing else to do, and we figured on Saturday night we wouldn't find anything much shorter. We made a quick trip to the ladies room, then decided to sit at the bar to kill time.

We were greeted by a young bartender (he looked all of twelve) who told us about their signature drink, that included (but was not limited to) Parrot Bay and Peach Schnapps. We were sold! We each ordered one, and he promptly carded us, apologetically. We both smiled and told him he just increased his tip! Then he asked if we'd like to dine at the bar!

"As in right now?" I asked.
"Yeah," he replied, putting the menus in front of us.
"You're our new favorite person!" we told him.

He guided us in the right direction, and made our drinks. We had an amazing dinner, delicious drinks, and even ordered the s'mores for dessert, which was an event! As we were finishing up, we saw the couple who had been in line in front of us sit down and order their drinks.

We left, satisfied stuffed, and headed home for a girls night in (after a girls night out?). My mister was home early Sunday morning, and all returned to normal. I had an amazing weekend, but I'm sure glad to have him back! Hope he likes HuHot....