Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Head Banging

A huge and major misquote in the local newspaper this morning. Major. Big. Large headline. This will take up the rest of at least this day, if not the week.

Editor is trying to make a personal theory stick by using an arcane report in an odd way. A report I voted to approve, and have voted to approve every singly time it's come forward. I told him he was using it incorrectly to draw a strange conclusion.

He used my quote, where I tell him he's wrong, to make it look as if I'm saying that the REPORT is wrong. This morning the big black headline is that I think that the *report itself* is flawed, and that the *District* shouldn't be relying on it at all.

Thanks, dude. I appreciate that. Remind me again why I'm supposed to talk to you guys?

Now I can't get him on the phone to demand my correction or retraction. Ugh!!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Please Forward to all your friends

I have a friend who sends me every possible "Support Our Troops" emailing. The jokes, the pictures, anything which comes into her mailbox. I get about four a day from her.

Mostly I ignore them.

Yesterday I opened one entitled "Traitor!!!", mostly to see who deserved so many exclamation marks. It was a screed against Jane Fonda, ending with an exhortation to get Barbra Walters not to do a special on her as an influential woman. How she had betrayed the POW's in Vietnam, etc. Apparently it hit my very last nerve, so I sent a note to my friend, and looking back in the forward list, I found another friend who had sent it on to her, so I cced her.

Basically I said, please stop. Please don't send me any more political stuff, no more "support our troops" messages; stay my friend and send me pictures of your kids, but no more of this. Please.

So this morning they both write back with, "Well, all you had to do was ask, and we would have stopped some time ago." (Didn't I just ask you now?)

Individually they both closed their message to me with, "I usually never forward these, but I had thought you would be interested. If you're not interested, then I won't forward."

If you don't forward, then why are you showing up on the email as forwarding to each other and why do I get four of these a day? Ugh.

And know I'm feeling like I have to go play nice with them because at least one of them has gotten her feelings hurt (she didn't send me the one in question--just sent it on to her friend).

Monday, February 26, 2007

SBD - Multiple books

I've been looking over my blog and trying to figure out how to streamline the damned thing. I sorta make these promises to myself that I'll stop posting fourteen paragraph essays about some weird thing which happened in my political life. I keep writing about horses, but I don't really get along with a large sector of the horsie community, so that just starts up weird wars over things I'm not that upset about.

(Oh. But don't get me going on Rolkur. Oh, what the hell. Here. I think it's dangerous, painful, and disgusting looking, and this woman wrote about it so much better than I ever could, so go read it over there. Then you can come back and beat me up over here. And you're talking to a girl who rode a horse in draw reins--but never to this extreme. These are International Riders at the top of their classes.)

(Shouldn't have just posted those links--the crazies are coming, the crazies are coming.)

I keep posting long screeds about my son and his behavior and his schooling. (I have another meeting on Wednesday Afternoon! Oh, goodie!) I keep sorta meaning to get around to posting about books.

Monday is Smart Bitches Day, so named by the ever lovely Beth. We are supposed to write about something which gets us passionate in books or reading. (Lord. I spelled that "pationate" about four times, stared at it, erased it, and then typed it back in as pationate. I'm a goober.) I keep meaning to even write ONE thing about a book I've read, let alone a scheduled post on a topic of import to me within the larger sphere of books.

But that's kind of how I read. I'm all over the place. Which gets me (Ta! DA!) to my SBD topic: Reading more than one book at a time.

This seems to confuse those who do not partake of multiple books at once. I am often stopped by friends who are amazed that I read this way. To me, their amazement is mutual. Why are you amazed? Doesn't everyone read this way? I'm still shocked when I find people who are surprised that I read this way.

When I last totalled it up, I was reading I think seven books concurrently. I've finished Sorcery and Cecilia, so I guess that reduces the number, but then I added in a very over the top Romance my daughter found for me. Oh dear. We must work on her tastes a touch. So I guess I'm back to seven again.

But I'm not only interested in horses, in fact a lot of my friends still don't know that I keep up with breeders and with horses. I'm not only interested in local or national politics. Some days I research this, some days I dream about that, some days I shrug off stuff which would have been fascinating a few days ago. Some days I write and blog, some days I don't. But I'm always me in the middle of all of that. And that's why I have to read a bunch of books at once. Some days some books work, some days they don't.

When I totally fall into a book, forget it, that's the one I read all the time. I just went through a Sabrina Jeffries and Eloisa James glom which was like this. But normally I have a Romance (or two), and usually about four general fiction books going at the same time. I guess this is why I don't have a TBR pile. When it comes in the house, it's getting read. It's not set aside for later.

Do I get plots confused? No. Do I get characters confused? Generally, no. They belong to their plots, don't they? Do I forget their names? Hell, yeah. I enjoy names a great deal, but especially in Romances, the names don't stay with me if I'm reading a bunch together.

Two reading tendencies which come out in this scheme. First, I skim a lot. I read the back chapter first, so I can orient myself in the story, and sometimes if I've forgotten whether I liked the book or not, after a few days apart, I reread the last chapter again. It becomes my back cover blurb. Second, it takes a while for me to get to Did Not Finish status. If it's tapering off or I'm getting distracted, I set it aside. And I do that over and over again. Until one day, I pick up the book, read the last chapter, and say, "Nope. I'm not wasting my time with you anymore."

But if I fall into a book, look out. Bread, water, and book. All others get set aside.

So I guess I'm just going to have to leave the messy blog as it is. Is it a horse blog? (I'm a on a horse blog list somewhere. Oh, dear.) Is it a Romance Reader's blog? (Not judging my the number of books I talk about. Oh, dear.) Is it the annoying ramblings of a frustrated mother and politician. (That sounds just like a blog I don't want to read. I'd run screaming into the night if someone sent me a link to a Mommy Politician. Oh, dear.) But I'm all of them and none of them. Somewhere in here there's a point. Something about a generalized survey course giving you a fairly good overview of the complexities of the matter without delving deeply into the details of how or why.

(Is it possible to delve shallowly? Trivially? Desultorily? Mmm. Delving desultorily. There's a cumbersome Rock Group Name.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Barn

Well. It's not much. But there it is. Stallion Row.

The door was red when I knew it, and then it was resided in diagonal weathered grey slats that one summer by the two guys who broke her roof by dropping load after load of shingles on it. Someone's painted it green. A green door. Hmm. OK.

I used to walk up that back path to the barn every morning when I lived at my aunt's. For a few years we had a chicken coop where the blue barrel is. That was a failed experiment, but we dug out the earth next to the ramp there to make room for it. No one ever added the material back.

If you walked in that large slider... (I heard on the radio today that a group of nine subjects can correctly identify a recording of their individual house or apartment door closing behind them. The sound of that slider is still right there. And the vibration of my hand on the metal handle as it opened every morning. And the smell of the warm hay and dusty horses coming through the door, washing you in a concentrated burst first thing. And the murmur of the horses as they knew their breakfast was coming.) If you walked in that large slider, you walked right into stallion row. Ten stallions on the left, hello boys, and six double stalls for mares and babies on the right, hey kids.

Walk up the aisle to the Middle Barn. Walk up the ramp to the Upper Barn. Go up the hayloft and toss down some bales. Here's the Upper Barn where the barn swallows lived. But it's not the same. We never had that gate and a fence blocking the drive just there. That damn electric line is there still though. Guess you guys couldn't get Boston Electric to come move that damn pole, could you? The one George always bumped with the snow plow once a year. It must still be there, blocking parking just to the left of the picture. And you added a silo. That's cute. Not a bad idea too, considering the rats we had to fight off there at the end. But you know? This is definitely the Upper Barn, and it brings back memories. But the silo and the fence are so distracting, that I can't feel what it's like to walk in that front door.

That back entrance? Jeez, everytime I see that picture I just see them all lined up in there. Binni and Tirf and Perri and Najid and Rory and Ned and Val and Marchie and Hal and Phario and Hellas and Portico and Abe and Mystic and Karada under the stairs.

And from earlier days it's Nat and Tilly and Twigga and R and Nana and Tiger and Friday and Rocket and Heifer and Handsome and Aragorn and Canyon and Donnie and Remi and Hero and Katie and Rosie and Steeldust and Folly and Max and Alaska and on and on and on.

They're flashing now like some film strip on speed: bay, bay, bay, grey, chestnut, grey, good, cranky, schoolie, pony, Sweetie, Prissy.... The deaths, the births, fluttering like a flip book. Which stall they were in when I was a kid, which stall they were in when she died. All from the creak of a door and a peering down into the darkness of a barn aisle.

I guess google searching her address was fruitful. I think. But that picture is disturbing and overwhelming simply because I could have been standing there yesterday and taken it yesterday. Or I could have taken it twenty years ago when I was in High School. It's the same damn door. And so much has changed. But not the door.

Curses! Foiled Again!

By way of Fiona, I bring you What Curse Word Are You?

I'm "<span class=Shikseh"!" border="0">
I'm "Shikseh"!
Take What Curse Word Are You? today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

Shikseh is the Yiddish word for a non-Yiddish girl. Basically, a slut. Why you'd even know this I'm not sure - I had to look it up.

But obviously, you use it because you're one of those really smart people who does those kinds of things. Looks up curse words in other languages to say to your teachers and random people in your class and then tell them, in your nicest voice, that you're simple saying "thank you" in Zulu. And hope that no one knows Zulu.

Umm. Ok. Can I just say here that I'm totally confused? Mostly because I overthink these things. Is this the curse word I am supposed to use? Or is this the word that best describes me?

Because I AM a shikseh, but I never thought of it as being a curse word. Really. I mean, like yeah, it is, but it's also kind of a joke? What confuses me is that if you read the description of the curse word, then it says that I'm smart enough to look up words in other languages and use them in front of my teachers.

But how do you swear using the word shikseh? O, Shikseh This! How dare you shikseh up my double latte order?

Sob. I'm a failure at swearing. Sniff. Sybil, I need an intervention. Sybil? Yoo Hoo!

(And you know what's a little spooky? I spent waaay too much time on the internet the other night looking up a translation for "Inch Bessis", which is Armenian for "What's up." Sort of. But I wanted to get a translation of that and the phrase for "Hey! I'm an Armenian too!" But I couldn't find a phrase generator. Which would make sense, because I don't speak Armenian, I'm only 1/4 Armenian, and if I spoke to someone in Armenian, then they would expect me to speak Armenian, and what an disaster THAT would be.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

No Left Turn

My County is trying to reduce childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and concurrently trying to reduce car exhaust emissions which contribute to greenhouse gases and increases rates of childhood asthma. In order to do this they are receiving Federal funds, matching them, and then redistributing them to cities and schools around the County to improve the "Safe Routes To Schools" programs and encourage walking and biking to school.


We've been having audits of traffic flow at various schools, followed by community meetings. No one from the community is showing up. (We're still getting work done, but it's a bit depressing that not a single parent at the High School or Middle School has any interest. Oh well.) There's a whole crew which comes to the meetings: City Traffic Engineer, Police, City Councilmember on the Pedestrian Bicycle Safety Commitee, Superintendent, Principal, School Baord Members, and the Director of the Public Works.

By the way, I love our city's Public Works Director. He is so fun to be in a room with. Sewer systems make him gesticulate. Water treatment plants make him talk faster. Traffic flow patterns make him glow. But bring up traffic lights, signage, and (oooooo!) thermoplastic crosswalks, and he practically quivers in delight. The other School Board member on the City Council - School Board Liaison Committee and I sometimes conspire to get him to say "Thermoplastic Crosswalks" just so we can hear that shiver of glee and awe in the back of his throat. But all that's laughing at his expense, which is mean. He's actually a dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable man who is dependably concerned about the safety of the kids as they get to school.

Wednesday morning we had our community meeting at my Elementary School (Maybe evening meetings don't work? Let's try mornings?). We had two parents show. YAY! We practically wet ourselves welcoming them into the process. One is a fairly good friend of mine, sorta. We talk a fair amount, but we're not friendly enough outside of school to get coffee together. The other one is a pleasant person, very involved with the parent groups at the school. She is the BFF of the School Board Member who resigned in a huff this past September, but we've generally been OK together.

Well. Let me tell you. THAT was an interesting meeting.

The City Councilwoman is trying to figure out ways to get kids to bike to school, the other School Board Member is trying to orient herself on the aerial map, trying to figure out where "The Old Gate" is (or was), and the traffic guys are congratulating the Principal on the order and politeness with which the drop-off and pick-up proceeded. My parent-friend says, "Well. We were all quite polite when there were three men, the principal, and a cop standing at the corner. You should see the craziness which goes on most days."

At which point, BFF of Former School Board Member (BFF-FSBM) says, "It would all work FINE if SOMEONE hadn't restricted our options!"


"SOMEONE has convinced this school that the parents don't know what they're doing, and that we cannot make a left turn out of the front circle! You're restricting our options! Let us do what we need to do, and the traffic will sort itself out."

Sighing, I jump into the fray, "The left turn out of the circle has been illegal for some time. The only thing new is that there's a sawhorse in the left turn lane. If you make a left turn out of the circle, you enter the lane which is trying to make a left turn INTO the traffic circle. Once no one can leave or enter, there's no movement."

And the City Councilwoman says, "We are trying to reduce idling cars in this program, actually. It has been shown that idling cars contribute to greenhouse gases at a higher rate than moving cars. And if those cars are idling near students, then the incidence of asthma can increase."

Oh, woe betide the woman who brings facts and figures. For Shame! Shame upon you and yours!

The Public Works director is looking a touch alarmed, and the Principal is looking down at her paper, tracing the word BICYCLE over and over in big swoopy letters. The other School Board Member is beginning to simmer; the steam is just barely beginning to wisp out of her ears.

I start to explain, "There have been all sorts of experiments tried here. I've heard about putting in a speed bump. I've heard that the street should be a one way, which I'm sure the City will not do. I've heard that we shouldn't let people make a left turn INTO the circle. I've heard that we shouldn't let people into the circle at all..."

"I've been here THIRTEEN years, and we've been able to make a LEFT turn out of that circle the whole time. When you restrict our options, you make traffic worse!" She interrupts, pointing at me.

"We're trying to prevent people from jaywalking in front of the school, so there's less parking across the street. And we're trying to get people to WALK to school, and we're trying to move the backups farther away from school. If you turn right out of the circle, you can go up one block, turn left, make a circle through the residential streets, and come right back into the traffic circle again."

(I loved this line) "But I don't LIVE to the Right. I live to the Left. I know that YOU live to the Right, so for you this is easier. But some of us life to the Left. I need to turn Left."

My Parent-friend says, "If you make that back circle though, you can get out at the bottom and go home. I live right next to you, and the right turn works for me."

"It was fine here until SOME people showed up and prevented us from driving home the way we want."

The cop is now watching this like a tennis match. The Traffic engineer is flipping through his notes, trying to figure out when he can break in. The Director of Public Works now tries to bring the meeting back to bicycles and educational incentives we can propose so that the children will WANT to ride to school. BFF-FSBM silently watches the conversation, shifting in her seat every once in a while like an upset hen. One shoulder up and forward, chin down, bounce bounce her hips, and then the other shoulder goes up and forward. I'm watching her thinking, "Oh, just lay the egg already. Make you feel better."

The meeting went on for two hours. She would stay quiet but annoyed while everyone else spoke, but the minute I spoke, she leapt in to interrupt. Any idea I brought forward was ridiculous. And if I was talking about block parents to walk groups of kids to school or punch cards the kids could redeem after a week of walking to school, she always brought it back to the Left Turn. After the fifth time she interrupted me, I asked, "Can I finish this thought?"

"Oh. I didn't know you were still talking. I thought there was a pause."

(A pause clearly being an invitation for interruption. Right.)

Two hours of this crap. At the end, the pre-schooler she had toted along got impatient, and she had to leave. The door closed behind her, and we watched her walk down the hallway. When she turned the corner, the Director of Public Works says, "I never thought this meeting was about Left Hand Turns. May I just say here, Suisan, you did a marvelous job with her. She's a very tough customer."

And the Councilwoman says, "Thirteen years she's been here? How is that possible?"

To which the cop sullenly replies, "Mormon."

We all burst out laughing. He hadn't said a word the whole meeting, and his one comment broke the tension and led us into guffaws.

In the last fifteen minutes, we tossed around all sorts of workable ideas, some really good brainstorming, some excellent programs which can be started right now with no money and no help from the County. We came up with some priorities on our engineering projects which the County would have to pay for. A really productive meeting.

Just as we were getting up to leave, the Councilwoman turned to me and said, "I've watched you on TV, but I've never worked with you before. I'm just so impressed in the way you handled yourself this meeting. For some reason she has it in for you, and you were fair and articulate the whole time. Does this happen often?"

"At this school? Every week. There's a cadre of parents here who are quite vocal politically and who absolutely despise me. But there's only about four of them this year. I hadn't realized that she was quite so bad."

The Director of Public Works says, "Just so everyone's clear on one thing. There's been a sign prohibiting a Left Hand Turn out of the driveway posted for about six years. No one notices it. I'M the one who told the principal that the only way to prevent it was to block that part of the driveway. I'M the one who had the sawhorse painted bright orange, put the No Left Turn sign on the sawhorse, and gave it to the principal in order to direct traffic away from the front of the school. She only noticed the restriction when the sawhorse went up."

But apparently it will always be my fault.

I think if/when I run for re-election I'm going to put a flyer out which says, "Bringing No Left Turns To A Neighborhood Near You."

(In the past few days, everyone who was at the meeting, except the laconic cop, has called to express their concern for my well-being after having to sit through that meeting. To which I can only say, "Gee guys. It's ALWAYS like this. And this one wasn't so bad; sort of comical actually. But I have to ask: what foxhole have you been hiding in? Welcome to my life. Want to help out? Great. Tell everyone you know that I'm a cool chick and that harpies are attacking me at every opportunity. Or better yet, at the next meeting, stop drawing on your pads of paper and speak the hell up." The Councilwoman said that she would. She's the only one so far. Humph.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I can't think what to title this post.

I don't quite know how to write this post either.

I feel as if I'd be whining if I wrote it one way, and I feel as if I'd be laying it all on too thick if I wrote it another. I don't quite know how to begin or end this idea. Well, it doesn't have an end yet, so I guess I'm getting ahead of myself.

I have a good friend who's been through every single step of my issues with my son. There's a long story in here about how I left that daycare and how she found me another daycare with a loopy Wiccan who played Jethro Tull for the kids. The Wiccan has her own story too.

My friend is super down to earth. (Well, the Wiccan is too. Not much phases me as long as I know that the kids are safe and OK.) My friend has had a huge medical issue for years. Something like fifteen surgeries on both her knees. Her cartilage won't heal, and the other leg suffered stress fractures from supporting the weight of the damaged leg. She has three kids, all from different marriages, and she supports herself by watching kids and getting paid under the table while she's waiting for the permanent disability to come through.

This year, she's been picking up my youngest from Kindergarten and has been my rock for my son. If he's pissed at me, he goes to her house. Her High School son is calm and gentle with my son. A great Big Brother character for my son, the High Schooler has taught him about football and baseball and how to play a game without losing your mind if you lose the point.

This year she had her seventeenth surgery, which absolutely refused to heal. She was on crutches forever, and the drain from the surgery which was supposed to come out within a week, stayed in for three weeks because nothing would heal. It's been a mess. Sometimes I bring her cash. Sometimes I bring her meat from the Butcher shop.

The surgery process freaks me out, because my aunt died after having her leg amputated. My friend called me one night crying because her doctors had told her that since her surgery sites refused to heal, and since she was too young for a double knee replacement, they were considering amputation. Oh lord. I can't go through this again. was my first selfish thought. Her dad came down from Seattle to fight with the HMO doctors, and it seemed as if things were getting better.

Two weeks ago she called and started asking me questions about Special Ed and IEPs and how to request testing for her Middle School son. What could I as a Board Member do for her? Who could she write to? Why was her son failing courses, and why didn't the Middle School intervene before he fell so far?

And then she started saying weird stuff.

Stuff which set off my alarm bells. Things like, "I can't tell my husband about this meeting, because he's got it in for that kid." Things like, "My husband won't have anything to do with getting him tutoring, because it's my kid, not his. If the oldest were in trouble, then he'd do anything, but with that one, he doesn't want our business out on the streets."

"Out on the streets?"

"He doesn't want any kid in our family to see a therapist or a tutor, because you never know what they might say to someone outside the family."

Ding Ding Ding Ding. Alarm bells. What's he hiding? Why does she think it's OK to hide school meetings from him?

Monday I got a call from her. "I can't pick up your kid on Tuesday. In fact, can you do me a favor?"

"Yeah. You want me to pick up yours?"

"Um, yeah. Could you?"

"Sure. All three? Just the youngest? What's the scoop?"

"Well, the oldest moved out, and uh, we had a bad Saturday. My husband's in jail."

"Whoa! You OK?"

"Um, yeah. Now I am. He got really drunk on Saturday and threatened to kill me."

"Holy Christ! Are you OK? Do you have a restraining order? What Happened?"

Long story goes in here about drinking eighteen beers, a fight with her at a friend's house, a hit and run with a parked car, and then knocking her down when she got him home. Fortunately her friend had called the police and followed her home, just in time to witness her getting slapped through the kitchen window. He got her out of there, and the cops took her husband to jail in his boxer shorts.

Since Saturday, she's been navigating the legal system, getting a restraining order, filing for legal separation, and learning about his past. The past which includes amongst other things, knocking a pregnant girlfriend down some stairs. Detectives have interviewed all three kids, and all three have said that he slapped them when he was drunk. (The Kindergartner, not so much, but it sounds as if he was escalating.) From jail he called her eleven times in one night, until she informed the jail of the emergency restraining order, and they stopped him.

We sat outside her house late the other night, shivering in the cold, puffing on illicit cigarettes, and she started the tales of I Should Have Known.

I should have known that he was bad news when he took pride in calling himself a Mean Drunk. I should have known that something was wrong when he made me cut off all my ties with my parents and my family. I should have known that I needed to kick him out when he pushed me off my crutches. I should have never let the kids see me lying on the floor with him standing over me, cursing at me because I never gave him enough sex. "And this was AFTER my surgery! I had no legs and he's angry that I'm not spreading them?" I should never, I should have known, why did I?

We talked about her safety. We talked about her finances. We talked about her need for a lawyer. We talked about her safety some more. We smoked a little more. I congratulated her on getting her kids to a therapist as soon as she did. We talked about how they were going to act out at some point, that at some point they may be angry at her for sending him to jail. We talked about her Kindergartner. We smoked some more. She apologized to me for having an abusive husband. I told her to knock it off -- there was nothing she could say that was going to shock me, so just give it a rest. I told her that I was going to stay a friend of hers as long as she kept herself safe, but that my kids weren't going to be able to come over until I knew they would be safe. And she agreed. I told her that I would still pay her under the table the same amount that I had been when she was watching my daughter, because she needed the money. Or I could keep her in groceries (or at least meat) for a while. She opted for the meat.

There's a terribly selfish part of me which is depressed that all this happened. It's a nasty little nibbling part of me, covered in pus in some wretched corner of my mind. That part whispers from time to time, "But she was my best babysitter! Now what do I do?" Ugh. I hate that part. But it's there. Yuck.

Overall though, I'm impressed with her forthright attitude of "That's it. No more." I really believe that she means it. (I think. You can never be totally sure if that will completely last. But with her, I think it will. I think.)

She finally ended the conversation with: "I know he's coming after me. The minute he's out, he won't come around in daytime, mind you, but the minute he's out, he's coming back. He's either going after his eldest kid and his ex-wife, or he's coming after me. About this time of night. Not in the daylight, but when it's quiet, he's coming back. I think I can get to the phone in time. I don't think he'd hurt the kids, but I think when the cops get here it's going to be all over."

Jesus, woman. Can you get yourself in a battered women's shelter? Can you get to a hotel? Do you want to bring the kids to my house? He won't mess with me--he's scared of me because he thinks I'm a bigwig in town. Don't stay HERE.

Yeah, but he's not getting out. It's a felony. I stay up night worrying, but he's not getting out for a while.

OK, if you say so.

Today he was released ROR. Shit.


Big fat plopping drops of rain.



Eldest daughter, who finds gaiety annoying, is in heaven. "It's raining! All RIGHT!!"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Devil Rat (Now with pictures)

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! For just a nickel, a single shiny nickel, no more than a nickel, you can see a double feature! Not only do we have the amazing, never before seen in captivity, first time on these, our native shores, the famous Devil Rat! But today only, we have for your enjoyment! For your pleasure! The crazy animal lover who has taken the Devil Rat into her home! Yes! The mother and the animal lover! The Devil Rat and Keeper!

Now folks, just behind this curtain, I tell you, there's a sight like no other. We keep the lights dim in there folks, to keep the Devil Rat calm. But never you fear, he's safe in his cage. No hope of escape or injury there. The Keeper is the only one in danger here today, folks.

As you process through the line, stay in line! Stay in line! You'll have the chance to peer into the cage so cleverly constructed by the Keeper. Yes, it may indeed look like an average Rubbermaid storage bin, but the Keeper ensures us that it is indeed especially constructed to hold the terror that is the Devil Rat! For the Devil Rat cannot climb its sides and so stays on his structures below. As you pass the Devil Rat's enclosure (Hands to your self! Stay in Line!), the Keeper will lift the lid and allow you to peer inside.

Now! You may have heard the unsubstantiated and wholly false rumor that this Devil Rat is nothing more than a Syrian hamster! Do not be fooled by those who are jealous of our World Renowned Exhibitions! Nothing but the best for you today here, folks! This is no hamster scuttling out from under his bedding! This is no diminutive rodent rearing up on his hind legs to bare his teeth at you!

This is the one and only Devil Rat! What hamster ever displayed such clear markings of black and white? What hamster ever displayed such agility? Leaping over logs and scurrying across bricks to launch himself at the Keeper's hand with such fortitude? We all know, folks, how docile and friendly the average hamster is. Why, children even keep such animals as pets! No so with this rare specimen!

Spare some time as you pass through the curtain just behind me so that the Keeper can tell you her story! How she originally was misled to believe that this was indeed a hamster, and how she constructed a complicated tubular complex for the little menace. Give her just a moment of your time (Just a nickel, folks!) to allow her to tell you how the Devil Rat would attack her from INSIDE the tubes when she changed its water! Eventually she realized that this was no ordinary hamster, as you can see from him limber and agile form, his muscular torso, and his pointed teeth of destruction! So she disassembled the complex, putting her very life at risk as she did so, because the Devil Rat was INSIDE the tubes as she pulled them apart.

The Devil Rat is in his new habitat and with this Keeper as a limited engagement! Time is short! Only a nickel, folks, for this once in a lifetime opportunity! Tell your kids and grand kids that you saw the Devil Rat, the one and only Devil Rat In Person! A tale for the ages! And only a nickel!

Horrible part is though that the youngest daughter adores this little creep. And I'm supposed to hand tame it. Stallion? No prob? Wild Buffalo? OK, it worries me but I can slide food to it. Hamster? Yikes! It hisses and squeals to itself in preparation of my hand entering the "Training Bin" as the hamster aficionados on the web call this thing. (On the other hand, since it has no tubes, it's not peeing in the tubes, so that's one thing in its favor. I think.)

(Edited to add pictures. I like to call the first picture "Kung Fu Rat." Except for this last picture, he's hissing at me in every one. I can't really blame him for hissing at me in the towel, but I felt as if the post deserved a close-up of his teeth. Which as of yet have not made contact with my skin. Hurrah. And the second picture, where he looks to be leaning oh so casually against his fiber hide out, kicking back, so to speak? Yeah. NOT! That's him on his hind legs showing me his teeth as he prepares his attack. He really deserves a movie instead of stills. Even I think he's cute in these pictures. Humph.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hello, Monday

No School
Lots of Sun
Leads to no time for blogging.

On the other hand, I do have to share this:

How do you know when your twelve year old daughter has hit the teenager grumpies? Let's see.

Yesterday it was in the seventies, sun shining. This is after weeks of drizzle and rain. I get the little ones to a playground, but Eldest won't budge out of the house. Then I demand that she come with us to the off leash dog park by the ocean. The dog always splashes in the surf and has a marvelous time. After that, we can visit Dad and pick up something for dinner. (Here's my hook.) If you want to, you don't even have to leave the car. Bring your iPod and your sketch book, but come with us.

Grumble, grumble, grump, grump, grump.

As I'm piling everything into the car (leash, tennis balls, bucket, soap, towels, jackets), I ask Grumpy Lady, "Do you have a jacket?"

"No. It's supposed to be a BEE-ew-tiful day. Isn't it?"

Bwah-hahaha! She kills me.

(I'll just note here that we all got out of the car at the park and had a good time. And then Dear Butcher took pity on her and asked her to stay with him so that he could take her out to diner after the shop closed. She ended up having a good time.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Again with my son

Before me I spy the Long Weekend. Oh Goodie.

Last week was a long weekend too. Back to Back long weekends, Lincoln's Birthday and President's Day. (See. Now I'm confused. I though President's Day was the combination of Lincoln + Washington. How do you celebrate one and a half holidays? Poor George.)

Remember all the drama with my son this Fall? How we had to pull him out of school for two weeks and get him a new teacher in October, along with a Special Purpose Aide? Remember how I told the school in December that he was going to act up in January, and how they didn't believe me or my husband and instead called the cops on him when he dove under a table?

Add up the days from the start of school in August to the date when we pulled him out, and then add up the days since school came back into session in January until today, and you're almost at the same number. And I'm RIGHT back where I started. (Except this current teacher doesn't terrify Saul. Well, except for that calling the cops thing.)

Monday, Feb 5, Saul was out of school for testing. Tuesday, I drop him off at school in a cold drizzle. When I picked him up from school he's plastered in mud.

"What's the deal, kid?"
"It was a horrible day. I had a substitute and Nate [his aide] never showed up. I got really upset and spent all day outside."
"Was there anyone with you?"
"Yeah. Some lady. I missed lunch."
"Wait. The Burger King lunch you won for having such good behavior last week?"
"Yeah. I couldn't come inside."

Breaks my heart.

Tuesday night he can't sleep. Wednesday, I have an appointment with a lawyer to figure out what the hell my options are with his former teacher who is still telling parents that he assaulted her. Also I've learned that on two separate occasions the School Psychologist has talked about my son on the Kindergarten playground with other Kindergarten parents. So I had to visit a lawyer.

Therefore, Wednesday morning, Dear Butcher is to take the younger two kids to school. He and my son got into a fight over whether it was OK to play Gameboy before school, and then my son refused to go at all. Dear Butcher ended up dropping him off at a babysitter's. (Thank God for her.)

Thursday I go in with my son: No Teacher. No Aide. WTF? I'm hanging out with him in the hallway, trying to figure out what to do, when in through the door strolls the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education.

"Hi! I'm your son's aide today!"
"Grade level staff is at a training in the District Office on Crisis Management. So I'm here to look after the five kids who need aides in this grade."
**Light dawns.**
"Where you the lady who stayed with Saul outside on Tuesday?"
"Yup. Two hours. Rain. Mud. That was me."

Can't fault her dedication there.

My son stayed at school only until 1:00 on Thursday. Friday he went to school and stayed only until 11:00. Saturday, he got annoyed at a friend of his older sister and ran away (around the block and came back, but he had no shoes, it was raining, and I had to leave a house full of kids to follow him). Monday--no school. Tuesday, he was at the babysitter's and ran away with no shoes in the mud. (She also had to leave a house full of kids, but most of them were mine.) Yesterday, I got a call from school that my son had left campus. They thought his aide was with him, but they weren't sure.

I went out to my car to start trolling the neighborhood. When I opened my garage door, there was his aide standing in my driveway.

"So this is where you live."
"Uh. Yeah."
"Saul said he was going home, but I didn't know where that was."

Saul and I sat on the front step a little; I gave him some water, and we talked about walking back to school so that the Principal could know that he was OK. He agreed.

Those of you who have been following his story will love this next part.

A cop car pulls up. Out come two cops. My son ducks behind me, growls, and says, "I'm NOT talking to them."
"I know. I will. I'll get rid of them."

Can I just say here how very annoying cops are when you are dealing with an eight year old? I'm the mother, this is my house, this is my son, this is my son's Special Purpose Aide, and everything is now fine. Thank you, Officer. We're walking back to school.

No, you cannot talk to my son. I'm telling you he's fine. NO, you cannot ask him any questions. Look, he's scared of cops. He's not talking to you. I'm his mother--do you need to see ID? Because I'm the one in charge of him, and I say that everything's OK.

So the cops reluctantly get back in the car, but as they're getting in, one is talking on his shoulder walkie-talkie. As he shuts the door, he says, "The School Safety Resource Officer [another cop] will meet you at the school to ask you some questions."

I turn to my son. "And we're not talking to him either, OK?"
"OK, Mom."

After he got to school, he stormed out again (with me following), came back, settled, and then tried to leave again. The school staff tried to get him to sign a contract saying that he wouldn't leave without being signed out by his mother. He crumpled it up and left. He's got chutzpah, that kid. (The principal, to her credit, laughed. She doesn't believe in contracts, but her staff does.)

Today our one and only goal is to see if he can stay at school for most of the day. I don't care if he does any work at all. I just need him to be able to at least call me if he has trouble before walking out the door. I'd like him to stop being afraid that if he does "something wrong" at school that the cops are going to show up.

(Here's an interesting note--the reason he got so mad and left yesterday was because his teacher saw him thumb wrestling with his aide in the hall. She came out to tell him that he needed to come back into class and to "stop playing". It escalated from there. Thumb wrestling. Good grief, lay off, would you? That's why he HAS an aide. To help him relieve anxiety.)

This morning he's at school. It's 10:30, and he already has called me to come get him. I went, I talked, I thanked him for calling me when he was upset. I thanked him for waiting for me. We talked some more. I got him set up in the hallway working on some puzzle books, and he said he was fine. That he would call me before lunch.

Then the teacher comes out from the classroom with a worksheet, a project that the class is working on, and starts giving him detailed instructions as to how to fill it in. Ever want to completely strangle someone?

At some point in the next two weeks we'll get the psychiatric written report which will give us their specific medication recommendations. Until then, I'm basically back where I started. Sitting at home waiting for the next crisis to flare up.

(And I spoke to the psychologist on Friday after the Principal called her into the office to discuss the Kindergarten conversations. With her head tipped to the side and in her little tiny voice, she denied ever having a conversation about Saul. Well, yes. When pressed, she says that she did mention his name to another parent, but that parent brought him up first. But they didn't TALK about Saul. She's sorry that I'm upset, but she would never do *anything* to hurt Saul. Yeah. Except talk about him with other parents. I pointed out to her that the person who told me about the conversation was livid once she overheard it, and since I wasn't there, I have to judge by the strength of her anger that something did happen. And besides, ethically and legally you cannot mention any child's name to another parent. You cannot divulge any details of his educational plan. And I know that, and you know that. So shape up. She was only barely chagrined. Just barely.)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

As if to prove a point

Adding on to my commentary about having and expressing opinions, we come across this little gem:

A commenter wrote on this post:
You have no right bashing Namusca. I happen to own one of her older foals, and find it unlawful what you're saying. And bashing Magnum; who do you think you are? Just because you're not fortunate enough to actually own an Arabian, or probably any horse, does not give you the right to slander the breed. Grow up.

I'm thinking this person does not agree with me. And look. I'm not supposed to express my opinion. Wow. I'm chagrined.

Here's my response:

I'm not slandering the breed. I think the older lines of Arabians are fantastic examples of all-around riding horses. They have excellent attitudes, wonderful athletic abilities and engaging personalities. Perhaps you noticed my link to the CMK Arabians on my sidebar. I fully support those bloodlines.

And yes, even within the "Preservation" bloodlines, there are examples of horses I do not like. There are some examples of Al Khamsa horses I do not like. I do not believe it is unlawful for me to say so.

It is not unlawful for me to post a picture of Magnum Psyche and say that to my eye he looks to be a victim of too much plastic surgery.

It is not unlawful for me to comment on Namusca. Certainly others have done so. She's the most discussed Arabian mare on internet message boards. About once a month another poster somewhere in the world posts a picture of her saying, "Oh my god. I can't believe this is real." To which the rest of the board says, "Oh not AGAIN! Please search the archives--we already did this dance." You do know this, right?

What I do not like in modern-day Arabian breeding is the attempt by Midwest Arabians (amongst many, many others) to promote horses which are useful ONLY for halter competitions. And I am not alone in that assessment. It's a fairly widely held view in the non-Arabian community. And it's even a widely held-view amongst Arabian owners. You know, those owners who enter their Arabians in open shows without disclosing that they are Arabians simply because they do not want to deal with the prejudice the larger horse community has against those "goose-necked, sickle-hocked Arabians"?

But you enjoy them. Excellent. Please go ahead and enjoy them. Please get them out in the public and compete them.

And in terms of who "I think I am" to make these statements. I am a person who grew up around Arabians, Quarter horses, and Welsh Ponies. I have owned Arabians (and a Morgan and a POA). I worked as a stud manager and I have researched pedigrees. I come from the "Preservation" movement, and am a supporter of Al Khamsa and CMK and Davenports. And I still have every right to write what my opinions are of David Boggs and Midwest Arabians. He was suspended for five years for entering animals who had had cosmetic surgery in competition. You do know this, right?

Here's a summary of the proceedings if you are unaware: From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It's public knowledge. You do know this, right? Fat sucked from mare's croup to make her topline level, another horse (Ace of Bey) who had his tail nicked to correct a "wry-tail", etc. Seven horses were shown to have had surgery.

You do know this, right?

But really. I'm not competing. I'll never go into a halter class. I'm no threat to you or yours. Enjoy your horse. Nariadni and Musca (Namusca's parents) were good horses. Enjoy your program.

But don't ask me not to have an opinion about the horses I see in front of me, or about the way in which people choose to frame their "For Sale" ads.

This theme of the week thing has got to stop.

Next week I'm writing about water balloons and bubble gum. I bet we can get some great crap spewed about how terrible it is that I, as an adult, really like bubble gum and really dislike water balloons. Lawsuits to follow...

Edited to add: Since I tend to take anonymous posters with a hugish grain of salt, I would like to point out the futility of all that. There's not much point in hiding behind your anonymity if you are going to identify yourself as being "the owner of one of Namusca's older foals". She only has eight registered offspring. We have the 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2004 models. Say we throw out the last three foals; that narrows your identity to one of *five* people in the world. I subscribe to ArabDatasource, as do a number of pedigree reaserchers, where the names and addresses of owners are listed. Why be anonymous? I'm not getting it. 5:41 pm 2/13/2007

Reviews, Opinions, and Mudwrestling

As a writer of a blog, I have an opinion on this review thing which is....

No, wait. I have a lot of opinions. Sounding a touch like Dr. Suess here, I even have opinions on opinions. I have opinions on people expressing opinions too. (Why is it that when I type "opinions" it comes out as "pononions"? Onions grown by the Pon-People? Ahem. Back to the subject at hand.)

I recently experienced a personal reaction to pictures sent to me by my beloved Mother-in-Law, and the reaction was clear enough that I was moved to write about it in my blog. A "pro-life" blogger picked up the post, and along with people who agree with her, decided that I must have had an abortion, or that I was a very very sick puppy to have had the reaction that I did. Interesting leap.

For four years I have sat on my School Board. I ran for office because I was a concerned enough parent that I became truly worried that the educational system was going to affect my children if I didn't do something about the decision-making. So I ran for a seat and (gasp) won office. Oh, the folly of that thought process. What was I thinking?

During those four years, I have had to think very carefully about opinions, priorities and reactions. I have had to frame my arguments *just so* in order to communicate them clearly. For about two years, I have had a personal blog, and I have run into this "what is a review" question over and over again. I think the reason authors, readers, and bloggers can't quite come to an agreement on this question is because the question itself is flawed. I believe that the question which underpins "the review question" and which is not being addressed, is "I have an opinion. What do I expect other people to do with it?"

If I read a book and hate it, should I express that opinion? In general, I do not think that the Romance community (whatever that is) is going to say, "No." But there is a lot of verbiage about how to temper your remarks so as not to insult the author or her readers or her booksales. I'll get back to that response in a sec.

If I see a political decision on the horizon and think it's a terrible idea, should I say so? What if a group of parents spend hours and hours on an unsolicited project and then report to me their findings? Do I have to accept their report and their findings if I think both are flawed (because to do otherwise would hurt the parents' feelings)?

When I was in the minority, there were many calls for unanimous votes, because minority opinions were "divisive." Now that I'm in the majority, the same folks who used to cry for the end of divisiveness are clamoring for "expressions of independent thinking." Interesting leap.

It all goes back to what you want OTHER people to do with your opinion.

I don't know about you, but I am a brilliant person. I am cultured, articulate, respectful, wise, modest and use polysyllabic words. Therefore, you all agree with me. If you read something here that you do not agree with, then you have not thought the issue through carefully enough. Really. If you have a certain opinion, and I express a differing opinion, then clearly I having a bad day, perhaps engaging in a hissy fit on my blog, crying out for attention and doing my very best to destroy an Innocent's reputation. You know that about me, and I'm glad to prove your thesis correct. It's always good to always be right.

Gee, Suisan, you think. That was a bit off. Well, no. I think it sums up the What Do We Do With Our Opinions conundrum quite well. If you are right, clear and just in your thinking, then no one can have a differing opinion, because logically, that person must be flawed, befuddled and unjustified in their thinking.

I see it in politics. I think that President Bush should not have gone to Iraq. Obviously you all agree with me. Every single person on this planet must, because it's the right opinion. Well, I guess President Bush doesn't agree with me. But that hardly means that I want rabid pitbulls to drag him from the Oval Office and attack his children. I'm not a mean person. I don't want him dead or maimed. I just don't agree with him.

I see it in reviews. I greatly disliked a number of books that I've written about. (I STILL get flashbacks to the rage I felt at reading a certain book about a circus. ::shudder::) Obviously you all agree with me, and those who recommended the book to me must have done so only to tweak my sensibilities to watch me writhe on the ground. Like Bull Baiting, only one step removed. Well, I guess the author doesn't agree with me. Or some of her fans. But I don't have anything against her, no bone to pick. I'm not a mean person. I just didn't like it.

I think the writing of reviews, or commentary, or recommendations, or whatever we want to call these things which show up here on blogs and are not published in trade magazines and are not published on Amazon and are not used by publishers to track sales, is not the source of the continuing "review" discussion in Romancelandia. The writing is not the thing. Even the reading of the piece is not the thing.

It's that sense of outraged injustice someone somewhere feels when they read something they do not agree with. I do it. Everyone does from time to time.

How Ridiculous!
How could she SAY such a thing?
Did she think before she typed?

But then you have to get over yourself. Calm down. If you want to respond, fine. Then do so. But to pretend that everyone has to have the same opinion, or that only the "nice" opinions should be stated is ridiculous. Even in Grade School you ARE allowed to say not nice things. No name calling. No attacks on a person's parentage. But even Kindergartners are allowed, nay ENCOURAGED, to say, "I don't like this. Can I try something else? Can I sit next to someone else today?" It's a measure of emotional intelligence, logical skills, and self-assessment to describe your own experience to others. Educators and psychologists work for years to get kids to say what they do and do not like. It reduces bullying, reduces anxiety, and increases self-value and peer relations.

I know we can all agree to that. Right?

Now. Where's that book I was going to write about? I know you'll agree with every word I write about it. Because I'm just that brilliant.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I just needed to remind myself who usually reads my blog

I went looking in my sitemeter to see if I had hit "the Google" yet on this whole ridiculous ultrasound thing, and just laughed out loud.

The Danes and the Germans still love me, although they are ever disappointed I fear when they click on my blog. They want to find pictures, I think of a certain sexual practice, but no. Instead they find only Doug and me trading friendly insults. Sigh. I am so very juvenile. (I'm going to be FORTY this year. Yeeps.) Behold the power of Teh Internets. The persistence of the searchers. The examples of sheer timewasting that such Hit Counter exercises expose. My readers, I give you my most recent hits from Google searches:

Debbie's Petland (Massachusetts)
Autocunnilingus (Germany)
Review As You Desire Brockway
Autocunnilingus (Denmark)
Autocunnilingus (Britain)
Debbie's Petland (Massachusetts)
Debbie's Petland (Massachusetts)
Virginal Heroine Contemporary Romance Book List
Namusca/Arabian Mare
Namusca/Arabian Mare (Didn't find it the first time?)
Download Sneaky Special:Black

Good reminder that sometimes a tempest in a teapot is only that. Those autocunnilingus searchers are very dedicated. And folks, Debbie's Petland has branches in Braintree, Marlborough, and Saugus. OK? Apparently they have no internet presence, but I come up as number two on a search for saying that when I was five, my parents bought me a Pomeranian in the Newtonville branch. These Google searches are so accurate, don't you think?

My final word on the matter

OK. I'm not checking the links anymore. For those who keep clicking over from Jill's blog, "Hiya!"

But I can't spend any more time trying to explain to people that I have emotions when seeing a photograph of *someome else's* unborn baby which have nothing to do with what they assume my reproductive history is. I wrote this in the comments of Jill's blog and this is where I'm leaving the issue. (Funny how she won't comment here unless she's anonymous. Good thing to know that she's interested in learning all about me. Huh. I do so love the unbridled bravery of anonymous posters.)

Jill, you really do not understand me, and I do not understand you very well either. What I do know about me is that I have a lot of veterinary experience, and most of my human medical points of view grow out of the experience that most shaped me when I was a child: my experiences on a horse breeding farm.

I had to make the decision a *number* of times about what medical procedure would save the life of horse, or ease its suffering. And sometimes that included ending that horse's life. Those experiences are etched on my memory MUCH more clearly than the deaths of a number of my family members. Because I had to assist--it wasn't a separate or clinical experience.

Look at the post above--did you include any of my horse-related comments in that post? Do you think your decision to edit that section out was honest? Do you think that not posting on my blog to engage me in a conversation about your concern for my well-being is honest? If you have questions as to how I came to this point of view about seeing someone *else's* ultrasound pictures, you might want to ask me some questions. Or you can just call me post-abortive and pro-abortion and think you're right.

You know nothing about my experiences as a pregnant mother, but you might be interested to learn that my husband, whom I refer to in my blog as Dear Butcher, was similarly confounded by my complete lack of interest in decorating the nursery or giggling with my girlfriends at a baby shower. I actually sent him to one instead. I didn't particularly enjoy being pregnant--my pubic symphosis hurt quite a bit and I was anemic for my last two pregnancies. I don't understand the gushing over the "coming event", but I was quite happy in private contemplative moments. I dont' appreciate the publicity of the thing. I almost hit a woman who started rubbing my pregnant belly without warning me she was going to. She thought my pregnant body was available to her as a good luck charm, and I thought that my body belonged to me. I don't rub people's noses on the subway for good luck--I thought that I could be afforded the same level of respect. But when pregnant, apparently not.

Yet I deeply love my own children. I breastfed all three until they were one year old. I trained to become a childbirth coach, and I volunteered in low-income hospitals to help prison inmates give birth to children. I was and still am a stay-at-home Mom. I listen to Dr. Laura; can you believe it? And I AGREE with most of what she says. And that bothers Dear Butcher too.

I have had years of therapy, professional therapy, for issues not related to this blog-post. I was in therapy during the pregnancies and births of both of my younger children. Funny how no one in those clinical situations ever assumed I was post-abortive or that my viewpoint was twisted.

I have referred friends to therapists, and I even encouraged another friend to check herself into a psychiatric ward--but I didn't do that by talking to yet another neighbor about my concerns.

So in the end, I don't think you are really that concerned about me personally; I don't think you are at all interested in learning about the lives of people who do not appear to agree with you; and I think you have a very narrow view of what emotions a woman is allowed to experience.

I think you picked up my post because it was well-written enough that you could use it to point fingers at those you do not understand. I do not appreciate the name-calling (post-abortive), and I really wish you had the honesty and integrity to have started the conversation on my own blog before just throwing an edited version out there as an example of horrific thinking. I'm a little more complex than you think.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Oh Excellent

A pro-life blog picked up my blog post about ultrasound pictures.

Now the craziness will begin. Great. I certainly have the time and energy for THIS disaster.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Baby Pictures

I have a synapse missing.

I keep getting pictures of my soon-to-be twin nieces/nephews from my proud mother-in-law. The latest batch was ultrasound stills of them at 13 weeks. I know I'm supposed to gurgle with glee when I see proof of their existence. (I don't think I'm supposed to comment on their cuteness, unless a distinct resemblance to a hurricane on weather radar is an example of cuteness.)

But I can't open more than one picture. Because they truly squick me out.

(Not much totally disgusts me. Except eye injuries or watching eye surgery. Bleggh. The WORST medical experience I ever participated in didn't disgust me at all. It was flushing a "mummified" foal from the pus-filled uterus of an aged mare. Truly gross. And smelly. And yuck. But I wasn't disgusted by it. Just concerned about the mare, really. And worried that we were never going to be thorough enough and that this infection could kill her and angry that the former owner had shipped her to us with a temperature and how could he not have known that there was something wrong and do we have enough DMSO and where's the rest of the case of Ringer's Lactate and what's her pulse and how do we dispose of this crap and how do we keep the barn cats out of it? But my stomach never turned over.)

Ultrasound pictures of unborn babies make my stomach turn over.

Which is not a good reaction when the proud parents point to the picture on their refrigerator, he with his arm around her waist, she with a bright smile on her round face as they say, "Isn't it wonderful?"

And all I can think of are anti-abortion protesters.

There's a disgust and a hot rage and a feeling of nausea or maybe fear I feel when I see an anti-abortion protest, even on TV. It's like watching a lynch mob, or maybe a lynching. That hot sweat of fear behind the ears. The stomach cramps. The panic of, "I don't know what I can do. I don't know what to say. I need to go be safe somewhere else."

That's what I experience when I see an ultrasound of an unborn baby. Oh please don't make me look at this. Don't try to prove to me that you have life within you. I believe you, really, without the photographic evidence. No. No. I mean it. It's OK. I'm happy that your happy, but you don't need to show me ALL of your bodily functions, right?

Dear Butcher carries an ultrasound of our son in his wallet. And sometimes just knowing that makes me slightly ill.

So what do I say to the mother-in-law when she sends me pictures? The same thing I always say, "Thanks for the pictures! Bet you can't wait!"

But I wonder about the synapse.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Updates on my Son

We spent all day yesterday in a psychiatric consultation regarding my son. For those of you who haven't been following the story, here are a few links:

The Start of School

The highest moment of drama

Traveling with my son

There are additional issues, like the fact that we just found out that his first Third Grade teacher continues to talk about the way in which my son assaulted her. (Which he did not do. Believe me, if I thought he had, I would be the first to honestly say that he did.) And my daycare provider just told me that she overheard the school psychologist talking about my son with another parent in the Kindergarten playground. Hello! Confidentiality! Hello! (We actually have an appointment with lawyer to see if we can get everyone to shut the fuck up about my son in public places.)

But. All that aside.

The verbal version of the report says that my son has an anxiety disorder. He may have traces of Asberger's-like behavior, but not enough to bring him clearly into that diagnosis. They have ruled out ADD and ADHD (which we ruled out some time ago). For treatment, they are recommending more frequent psychotherapy visits and some anti-anxiety medications such as Zoloft at low doses. We are waiting on the details of that second recommendation.

So this gives me a label to bring to the school. He's got anxiety, so YOU need to help him relieve it. No more dragging him out from under tables, OK? Because that would INCREASE his anxiety. OK?

Next week I have yet another meeting at the school (Another IEP addendum). Lord, this is time consuming.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Making a move, Making a motion

I've been having this ongoing THING with another Board member. Let's call her Sarah. If I'm anonymous, then I have to keep the rest of the Board anonymous. There's only one male on the Board, and he's currently the President of the Board. Let's call him the Prez.

I keep having these little odd spats in meetings which are really hard to write about, because there are two layers of meaning going on. I'll talk about an example below. But first some background.

Sarah was elected to the Board in November of 2005. She takes her cues mostly from the Prez, as do I. I served with the Prez for two full years before Sarah came on, but she's been friends with him for much longer. In a weird way, she's very protective of him. I figure he's a big boy, and that he entered politics all on his own. Personally, any time he gets attacked, I hurt. We go out to lunch, and we commiserate.

On the other hand, he is not without flaw, and I don't always support every single thing he brings forward. Sometimes he makes mistakes (as do I), and if I have time, I usually try to let him know if I think he's off target. We really have a good working relationship. We apologize to each other immediately when we flare, but overall we trust each other and respect each other very much.

Sarah is making me crazy. She's a new board member, but she tries to convince me to do things by saying things like, "I know that you're not as connected to the community as I am, but people are telling me that we have to..." Or "We're part of a team now. We have to go forward and get this done now, while we all have the chance." I didn't think I really had this in me, but I feel disrespected. That my two years of service prior to hers means nothing. That my experience or advice is useless. I can't believe she's acting this way.

In December we had what I call, The Phone Fight. One of those doozies where each person starts crying partway through, all the while thinking, "Damn. I'm glad I'm on the phone, because this would suck if she could see that I'm crying." But we each knew that the other one was sniffling a little too much.

At the end of The Phone Fight we basically agreed that we were not going to change, and that even though we thought we were friends, it would be better for the Board if we just stepped back. The friend thing was getting in the way.

I tried to tell her that I felt as if she didn't respect me, or my experience, and that it was going to be a long time for me to get over the way in which she constantly pressures me to agree with her. "Stand up and just do what you want to do. I'll either agree or I won't. But I'm not going to agree before you get all your facts straight. Go get your committee work done, and then report back to the Board. I can't do anything with a rumor of a project that came up in one meeting. Flesh it out."

"I feel as if what you're saying is that you don't respect me as a Board member."

"Well, I wouldn't put it that way, but I think you rely too heavily on what the Prez thinks is a good idea. And I'm not sure you do enough homework."

"He has good ideas. You follow his lead."

"Yes. Absolutely. But you pressure me to agree with you by saying that the Prez wants it. If he wanted it, he'd call me. Just because he wants something, doesn't mean he's going to get it. When you support him just because he wants it, I think less of you."

"What do you mean?"

And here comes the hard part of writing all this down. Because we all had an unspoken conversation in a Board meeting, in public, where we all said something to each other without words. It was clear enough to me that I got pissed off, it was clear enough to the Prez that he apologized later, and it was clear enough to Sarah that she got defensive when I brought it up. Here's the part of the vote where we all disagreed.

(OK, by parliamentary rules, a motion is made, someone else has to second. If there's no second, then the motion dies, and someone else makes a motion. With a motion and a second, you can move on to a vote.)

I made a motion which the Prez didn't really like so he asked, "Did you want to amend that?" Which is code for, "I think you may have misspoken? Did you mean to say that?"

I responded, "If there's no second, it can die for lack of a second, but that's my motion." Which means, "I know exactly what I said, and I want the vote to go forward on my motion as stated, but I won't be upset if no one supports me. It's not that important to me. Go ahead."

Prez says, "OK. Anyone second?"

Sarah, not knowing whom to support now, says, "I'd like to amend the motion to say..."

Prez says, "Only the maker of the motion can amend. Suisan?"

"It can die for lack of a second."

Sarah says, "I'll second the motion if you amend." (Suisan is now thinking, "Oh my god, please stay out of this!")

Suisan, "You make a motion. This one currently has no second."

Prez says, "Only one motion on the floor at a time." (Which means, "Wait your turn. You can make a motion later if this one goes nowhere.")

At this point the sharks are circling in the waters. There are a few members of the audience who love this stuff. "Wait," they think. "What are they fighting about?" And I can see a few of them shifting in their seats. Now if Sarah would just shut the hell up, my motion can die, and she can make her own motion which the Prez has obviously signalled that he'd support. When you don't know what to do next, shut up.

Sarah says, "Won't you amend it to say..."

Suisan is now placed in the position where she can make a big deal about this or cave. Is it really THAT important that her original motion stand, or can she come up with an edit on the fly which will satisfy everyone? My motion only calls for one action, the Prez wants one motion with two actions in it. I agree with the Prez on the larger issue, but I want two votes. One on each action. (And not just for parliamentary reasons. Other members have signalled that they may indeed vote down the second action--if you put them together, then we'd never know.) But is it THAT important to me? Sarah only wants to support what the Prez wants. So she needs to hear a motion that has two actions. (Note here: Under parliamentary procedure, you are not supposed to make a "compound motion", but people do it all the time.) So I tip my head from side to side, signalling that I'm thinking, make a few scratches on my agenda, and think about how I'm going to do this.

"I make a motion that we take action A, and action B. Action B not to be carried out until we get advice from counsel."

"Second!" says Sarah. We all vote: motion carries.

Back to The Phone Fight:

"There was no reason for you to ask me to change what I said. I said it. I made a motion. Agree or disagree, but don't ask me to change it to make the Prez happy. Even HE didn't ask me to change it."

"But you didn't have the two things in there."


"But it wasn't correct that way."

"Yes it was. And actually, I feel bad for caving on the second part, but I figure it will take forever to get legal advice on it. But the point is: you pressured me to change to make the Prez happy. It didn't have to change, it could have died and then, God Forbid, the Prez could even make his own motion. What ticks me off is that you assume that I'm in error and I need to shift my point of view so we can act as a team. I resent you pressuring me."

Sarah says, "Well, I didn't get any training when I came on the Board. I had an inexpereinced Superintendent, and a disfunctional District Office when I came in. No one trained me. No one told me how to do this. I don't know how these things work."

"You think I got training when I came on? No one told me anything! It took me forever to figure out that only resolutions require a roll call vote. I couldn't figure out how to get an item on the agenda, and then I felt totally stupid when I found out that I just had to ask at the end of a meeting. And I was in the minority, with people constantly trying to trip me up. I only learned that stuff by being watching."

"Well, I still don't understand everything which goes on in a public meeting."(!!!!) (Wow. That's a dangerous thing for a Trustee to say.)

"Right. Which is why I get annoyed when you try to pressure me to come along with your team. Sometimes 'the team' is wrong, and sometimes you don't know what you're doing."

I think we can call that the moment when the friendship ended.

After Sarah left the Policy Committee, the Superintendent and I brought forward more policies to be approved by the Board. Sarah sits next to me in meetings, and as we were approving them she whispered to me, "And I read every word."

Yeesh. So you read every word NOW, but did you help edit them when you were on the committee? No. That same meeting I thanked the three secretaries who had worked on formatting the policies, and mentioned how time-consuming and confusing it all was, and that I appreciated their grace under pressure. Sarah leans in to whisper, "Are those the only people you are going to thank?"

Um yeah. I think so. Inferiority complex?

There are times in my life when I really hate acting like a girl. This is one of them. I can get to a more professional relationship with her (by basically not working with her anymore), but I'm annoyed that this is all so petty. I've had my spats with the Prez, no doubt, but I don't ever remember it being so very muddled up with friendship. Gah.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Everyone say "Hi!"

I just got that email on my *personal* account which makes my heart stop. "Hi! I just found your blog!"

Uh oh. You aren't supposed to do that.

Tightening the "scrap of black silk" which is my mask and nonchalantly swishing my rapier through the air in a practice cut, I wonder to myself, "How did THAT happen? Who's next?"

The writer of the email is a good friend, and has nothing to do with local politics, but I'm left trying to remember if I've ever told her or any of my other friends in her circle about the blog. It's not like she's going to OUT me, I'm not at all concerned about that. But I am trying to figure out how she made the connection. She breeds horses, so maybe she backtracked a link? Or maybe a hit counter directed her here?

Mustering a suave demeanor, I enquire casually, "How did you find the blog?"

This Post which I wrote in November about what makes me nuts about horsie For Sale ads on the internet has been linked to on three other horse message boards. I've gotten hits from Australia, Connecticut, and now, due to the last linkage, all over the US. (Recently a total of maybe nine hits over two days--no records broken on that last linkage.)

One of those to visit was my friend. And she recognized some of the other horses I've written about. Small freaking universe. Because that last message board has NOTHING to do with this very small group of horses I dabble in. It's perhaps one of the broader discussion areas of the web.

First the Boston Globe picks me up when I'm complaining about my mother who lives in Boston, and now a breeder of Davenports finds my "Anonymous" blog while surfing the net. This is getting a bit tight, you know? I may need a new secret identity. Sigh. But Zorro loves me so.

Either that, or I'm going to have to stop writing such informative and engaging posts which by their very nature encourage others to link to them.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

I miss Boston, except for when I don't

After hearing the news, about how Boston Police shut down overpasses because a viral marketing campaign placed blinking icons from Aqua Teen Hunger Force on various buildings and bridges, I have to ask:

a) How idiotic is the Boston Police force, really? And the Mayor? I'm sort of stunned really to learn that Tom Menino is still Mayor, but not so stunned to read his inflated comments about how he's going to go after Teh Evol Corporations who set this thing up. Enough, already.

b) How is it that the viral marketing campaign failed so miserably in the OTHER nine cities: New York, LA, etc?

Well, at least Ray Flynn (who presided during the notorious Charles Stuart dust-up) isn't around. I remember Menino making some fairly idiotic comments during that fiasco, but all in all I think he's wicked more competent than Ray, Me Boy. Every time I hear about the Boston Police overreacting, I always come back to Charles Stuart murdering his wife and blaming it on some darkie in Mission Hill. The police, the politicians, the media, everyone was so ready to jump on that story. Wrestle families from their homes for strip searches, harass parolees, it was all for a good cause. After all, a PREGNANT white woman had been attacked. Justice and Vengeance can only be protected if we all act swiftly. None of this staring at our navels wondering if there's an alternate explanation. Ugh.

And the whole "post 911" aura of this latest Boston craziness (They're BLINKING! OMG! Bombs blink! I've seen it on TV!), also makes me nuts. Does ANYONE make a blinking bomb in real life? When your computer is "thinking", do an array of square blinking light flash on and off? Because that's the way computers "think" in the movies.

My little itty bitty town, I've been told, is apparently on some list somewhere of high-risk terror targets. I've heard seventh in the state, and seventeenth in the nation. This is because there are three interstates, two bridges, two oil refineries, and a railroad close by. So, add those up, and we pop to the top of some list. For a few years there the City website included a Terror Alert Status icon. Because at any moment the Terrorists were coming to blow up a bridge to nowhere.

Hello! No one in San Francisco knows where we are. Are we really thinking that they are going to bypass the Golden Gate Bridge, the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid Building to come here to attack our bridge or very small refinery? Really?

Yep. Just talk to any police officer in our town. They are getting ready. They are preparing. They live secure in the knowledge that the terrorists do their research, and they will tabulate the damage per hit ratio and figure out that it's better to attack us than it is to attack the Golden Gate.

Kind of like those guys in Boston who saw a blinking placard with a robot giving them the finger and thought, "It's TRUE! The terrorists do love us more than New York! Our day in the sun has come! Crisis Response Team, GO! Swat team, GO! Bomb squad, GO!"

Did it occur to no one that perhaps even one of your universities was pulling a prank? Say MIT, known for its quirky sense of humor? Or BU? BC? Northeastern? or...oh hell, look them up yourself: Colleges and Universities in Boston With that many, I'm not sure how the Boston Police ever get around to taking anything seriously. Except the everpresent danger of black men walking the streets.