Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Well, Excoooooose Me!

Greetings Kind Reader -

(Hey - look, it's me posting to my blog just a couple of days after posting to my blog - HOLY COW! I'd better be careful - if I do this again in the next few days - it could create pattern that might be difficult for me to maintain and then I'll get depressed because I can't live up to the standard I've irrationally placed upon myself whereupon I'll become obsessed with thinking about the fact that I'm not living up to that ridiculous 'must post, must post' ideal so I simply won't post at all. Yeah, it's a convoluted way of thinking but then again - writers are a weird lot, are they not?)

Where are my manners...

Nice of you to drop by my little spot in the blogoverse even if it is only to figure out what in the world the title of this post means. (Is this the 'excuse' alluded to in the previous - albeit cryptic - post from a couple of days ago? Or is it something wholly different? A red herring so to say...)

Actually it's NEITHER of those things - even though it does deal with 'excuses'

You see, yesterday evening my husband walked into our bedroom and said, 'This is weird.' 

So I said, 'What?' (After all, he had me at 'weird') 

Then he proceeded to tell me that we'd received a letter from our daughter's high school about her having 'excessive excused absences'. In fact, in great big bold across the top of the letter it says: 

Cue the ominous music. Incidentally - if this is the EEA1 form that means there must be an EEA2 form, right? Seriously? 

But I digress...

Notice that the title of this particular informative message from my daughter who is 17 years old and will be graduating in June, deals with excessive EXCUSED absences. That's right. 

I'm talking about the kind of absences where you have to 'explain to your boss why you can't come in to work because your kid is sick and has to go to the doctor to make sure they don't have the plague or something like that' sort of excuses. 

Yes, these are the excuses where your boss looks at you like 'again?' as if their kid has never gotten sick although you KNOW that they do because you've seen them dashing around the office trying to get their crap together so they can haul a$$ across town to pick up their kid from school and take them to the doctor. Yes, it's THAT sort of excused absence - not the kind where dad writes a note saying, 'My kid was sick. I kept him home. Deal with it.'

Of course, odds are likely when your kid is sick - it just HAPPENS - there's no early warning symptom... rather, they vomit - you react. And if your doctor's office is like mine, you can't get your kid in to see the doctor, so you wind up going to an urgent care facility because he has a temperature or she has snot running down her face or something else running out of another part of their adorable, youthful form. 

Now, if you're lucky - you've got insurance which will cover those medical visits - especially the ones to the quick care places - because when you walk into the waiting room of one of those 'urgent care' facilities and you spot what you think is a $5 poster of Claude Monet's 'Water Lilies' only to learn that it's a numbered lithograph - you can almost hear the people at Citibank going 'cha-ching!'

And even though it's technically just a 'copy' of the piece, it's a damn fine copy and you know that your visit will probably be used to help pay for whatever is in that one little room in the back of the facility that no one ever enters...

Again, I'm veering from center...

The gist of it is - you went out of your way to take your cherished little angel to the doctor not just because you want him to feel better but also because you don't want to have to put up with that annoying lady who works at the front office (or wherever it might be) of your child's school because you weren't a good enough parent to take them to the doctor to get a doctor's note! 

Geez, I must be REALLY old because I remember when, if you had a note from a doctor upon your return to school, it meant you'd either been dealing with a nasty case of something like tuberculosis or streptococcus pyogenes or one of those diseases that's so bad it's got an 'A', 'B', 'C', etc... after it. OR you had to have broken a bone - but not just any old bone - no - it had to be one that made you 'incapable of doing simple things' like going to the bathroom by yourself. 

After all it's pretty damn easy to go tinkle if you broke or, God forbid, lost your pinky toe in a horrible farming incident - but break your leg or your arm and it's not so easy to use the facilities folks - not so easy indeed. Especially for guys - they've got extra equipment to deal with and somehow I imagine it's not so easy to call out to your mother - after that tragic incident with the hay baler - and say 'Hey, Mom, could you please...um...uh...help me go potty?' For girls - meh, not so bad - but guys...that's harsh. Harsh. And when mom goes 'You just do you thing, honey. I'll wait right here for you' that has got to be unbearable.

Sorry, did it again...

As I was saying before my mind went on a tripp to Weirdville - there was a time when mom and dad could write a note saying 'Please excuse absence of the eldest fruit of the Smith family loins because she had a fever yesterday. Thanks.' 

Short, sweet, and to the point. 

That was during a time when people believed people. Especially where I grew up. Because  we had - Mrs. Gilreath, the lady at my high school's front desk. She would give some of the rule-breaking kids 'the eye' and dress them down after reading their parent's note as if she was waiting for them to break under her scrutiny. Then she'd smile and say, "Hope you're feeling better, Jimmy. Can't wait to see your grandma at Bible study on Wednesday." 

Geez...Wednesday night Bible study - the small town southern child's lie detector. And it wasn't because Jesus had anything to do with it. Nope. Somehow Mrs. Gilreath knew every freaking person in my home town and apparently wanted to make sure she got into Heaven because somehow she was able to attend every Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Pentacostal Bible study in all of the greater Northwest Cabarrus area. Heck, she might have even crashed the synagogue about 20 miles north of our county!

Getting back to MY situation with MY daughter in the here and now...

So, we get this message and I'm looking at the dates and I'm like okay this one was for a sinus infection, that was for cedar fever*, that one was the flu (we both had it), that one was for a weird stomach virus, oh and that was a few weeks after she had her gall bladder removed and ... wait ... hold on ... that day was her 'College visit' and ... damn it ... this one was for her audition to get into the music school!

Needless to say - I was ... upset. Yes, that's the word. I was upset because upon her return to school the next day, my daughter had taken proof FROM THE COLLEGES IN QUESTION and signed by OFFICIALS FROM THE COLLEGES IN QUESTION and yet, they weren't considered 'school recognized events' 

You know - it's that thing where if your kid is in the marching band and they go on a trip to Disney World for 3 days - it's like they didn't miss any school at all - because it was a 'school function' with 'educational merit'. Yeah - right. I'm sure standing in Aerial's Grotto taking selfies is ever-so-educational!

But in this case - she really was doing sh!t that was educational! It's a major step in one's f'ing educational process to go and visit a college or university knowing that in a few months time - you'll be leaving home to essentially start a damn new life as a grown up away from mom and dad and your fish and your cat and... 


So in response to this letter, I did what I do best - I wrote a letter back. An email, really. A very detailed email. And I did NOT once veer left of center in my message. 

Basically it was message pointing out that I was displeased. GREATLY DISPLEASED. 

Not because they'd sent a message saying nicely, 'Hey, just a heads up - your daughter has missed a lot of days of school. Yes, we know they're all excused for medical reasons and it looks like there are a couple here from colleges but we just don't want her to fall below the 'required number of hours' a child has to be physically on school grounds. Her grades are great and it's not a disciplinary issue - it's just a technicality.' 

Now if they'd sent something like that, I'd have been all 'chill' with the whole issue.


And all I could think was 'What the F...is a lovely letter that comes at the front of so many expressive terms!'

So after I sent my very well worded email to the school - I got a pleasant (excessively pleasant) call at 9:10 in the morning from my daughter's Assistant Principal - which lasted until 9:28. And he was all like - 'That's just letter we send out when students hit a certain number of absences and it bears no reflection on Jessica. I see here she's got great grades and really it's just a technicality.' 

Then I asked about the college visit issue - you know, the absences that should be reflected just like the marching band's trip to Disney World. Essentially, it's a Jedi mind trick among educators. 'The children who are not here have all gone to the bathroom...' 

I explained the situation with college #1 and he said, "I understand. I'll have them recode that one." Then I explained the situation with college #2 (it was her audition to get into the music program for voice and classical guitar). I explained how she had to miss Friday so we could make the 4.5 hour trip to the university and she could get a good night's sleep before her audition. I then explained how it started to snow and ice and a trip that should've taken about 5 hours (if you stopped to get food) took nearly 7 hours without a stop because the roads were so treacherous ... we could not stop. We got to our hotel at about 9:30PM. 

Then I said, 'She got her audition itinerary signed by the TA who was in the room for her guitar audition because the weather was so bad - the professor had to Skype with her because his flight to Dallas was cancelled! 

He hemmed - he hawed and then he said 'I understand, just have Jessica bring in the music school badge she got and that should be fine' (After all, it's not like you can pop into the local Piggly Wiggly and pick up a loaf of bread and a University of North Texas School of Music ID badge with it!) 

But when she got to the school to turn in the note we got yesterday from our doctor because - I kid you not,  Jessica was stung by a wasp on her freaking right eye lid AND bitten by fire ants on her right foot and she's very allergic to both of them causing her to miss school on Monday because her right foot and right eye were swollen. (Oh, and now she has to carry an EpiPen so she's THAT allergic to the damn things) - she was told 'Sorry, I can't accept that (official UNT badge). It has to be a letter.' And Jessica lost it!

Imagine standing in the hall at your high school with your eye puffy, your foot itching, you're on steroids, and you've just been told that what your Assistant Principal just said doesn't matter. Yeah, it was NOT a good day for her either. 

And in between all this lunacy - I'd personally contacted both universities and had them not only FAX proof of her Jessica's attendance on those days - but asked them to send letters through the mail. The lovely ladies at the schools obliged and were so truly kind and understanding - they've had to deal with high schools that get crabby before. 

Then, J's counselor called me because she was concerned for me since my email sounded like I was upset and frustrated and angry. (Really? She must be a friggin' rocket scientist to have figured that one out.) And I said, 'Why yes, I am angry and frustrated and upset.' Then she tried to do that weird 'counselor' thing where they say, 'Umm, yes, I hear you. I understand. Now tell me, what do you see as a solution.' I really hate that. 

But I did not want to play her counselor reindeer games - I told her I did not appreciate receiving a letter that makes it seem like my daughter is some sort of truant miscreant doomed to roam the earth in search of a piece of cardboard and a broad tipped permanent black marker so she can spell out 'No job. Missed too many days in my last year of high school' and that she is like that because her father and I made her that way.

I told her I know that it's all a game of numbers - more warm bodies in the classroom means more cold cash in the school's coffers. I'm not an idiot. 

I know it's getting near to the federal and state fiscal budget appropriations time and my daughter's school district wants every penny they can get (even though the average income of the parents at my daughter's school is about $140K- and I can guaran-damn-tee you, there's nothing her school is in want or need of). 

I know that there are other schools in the district where the average income is around $35K. And yes, I know that's a HUGE gap and that 'it's not just about one school or another - it's about a whole community of young people'. 


But Jessica is MY daughter. 

You mess with her - you get me. 

You mess with me - you get someone who isn't intimidated by people who sit behind the big desk. You mess with my cub and my cub's future you get every single fiber of Mama Brown Bear and this is one mama who will not back down. 

I am a woman with a voice. I am a woman who votes. I am a wife. I am a mother. And I have a husband who lets me get all my 'crazy' out of my system then tells me he loves me. 

So, if arguing a point about 'excessive excused absences' not being really freaking excused ... because it's the principle of the matter well then...


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Excuses, excuses - but you're gonna have to wait for it!

Yes - I know.

I've been a slacker.

My excuse is good. Really.

But you'll just have to wait because The Walking Dead Season 5 finale is on and our BlueRay player is acting screwy - Jessica got a bee sting on her freaking right eyelid - and we are all sneezing like loons thanks to the wonderful seasonal allergens.

So - I'll do this blog post right - I promise - later.


OY! (Really the excuse this time for my 6 week hiatus is great)

Monday, February 9, 2015

3 Things to remember...

Greetings Kind Reader. So nice to have you stop by. And before I go any farther I want to say - from the bottom of my heart I'm sorry for having been away for a ... month. Geez, it sounds so bad when I see it in print like that. It sort of makes me feel like someone who dropped their kid off at boarding school and said, 'I'll call you as soon as I can' - only 'as soon as I can' never came because I let things get in the way. 

But then again - this is more proof as to why New Year's resolutions and I don't do too well. I go into the year with the very best of intentions and then, well, I do a little of this and a little of that until the thing I said I was going to do gets pushed so far out of the picture, I forget it was there. 

Although, I didn't actually forget about my favorite little blog site. No. Believe it or not, I think I've been sort of afraid to post here because I've been feeling a bit of self doubt in regards to my 'light, airy, step away from the harsh realities of life' posts. Posts which are exceedingly long winded but at their heart always have a message. I'll bet you didn't think there were messages in those little stories I've been telling over the past...gosh, close to 7 years. But there were. 

If you've followed along with me through my journey here at WASWR, you probably know that I've taken several of my favorite posts over those 7 years and have put them into books that are available (at the moment) for free. I hope to complete a full set of WASWR books (It'll wind up being a set of 7 books - but as of now, I've only actually 'published' 5 of them) 

Now as for those writings - my goofy little stories about people being people when they think no one is watching them and my sometimes silly, sometimes sentimental stories that come directly from things that have happened in my personal life. Occasionally, I have thrown in some serious pieces, too. Yes, I can be serious - very serious - when I feel the mood strike.

But to be honest, I've tried to stay clear of writing commentaries on issues that might be inflammatory because I don't want my readers to become incensed with me because I make a comment that stabs at something they believe strongly in. I suppose it all goes back to my Grandmother - I loved that woman. 

Aside from my father (who was my bestest best buddy), my grandmother was a hero of mine because she did some really cool things. She came from a rather 'hoity-toity' family with a great deal of money - How much? I don't really know. I just know my great grandfather owned a coal mine allong the Tennessee/Kentucky border. So I assume it was a good deal of moola. 

But if you met my grandmother she would have talked not about her childhood. But not because it wasn't good - it was rather nice, rather it was because she didn't 'do' things until after her childhood. Meaning - when my grandmother went to college the world opened up to her. She studied acting and even directing. I have one picture of her - I cannot put my fingers on it at this exact moment but when I find it, I'll make sure to post it - she's about 20 in the picture and she's walking tall (which is pretty impressive since she was my height 5'2"!)  with two of her closest friends through the city. 

The smile she's wearing says 'I can do whatever I set my mind to.' And she did. When she was married to her first husband and things went south - she divorced him.  And that was in the 1930's folks...in the South. That sort of thing was pretty much unheard of back then. But my grandmother was a maverick of a lady. 

Eventually she met and married the man who would become my grandfather. Now he had to be something like 6'4" and sort of a hulking man who moved to America from England when he was very young. Their marriage was not the greatest, I must be honest. They argued - loudly. They sometimes drank a bit too much and argued even louder. But in the end, they loved each other. 

One of the coolest things about my grandmother was the fact that she always loved the theatre. She'd been enamored with acting her whole life. And when I knew her she performed in plays and even did some TV commercials. (She was the 'Cate's Pickle Lady' for a few years - yeah that was pretty cool) 

She's part of the reason I love the arts. Grandmother took me to see some awesome exhibits in Charlotte. I remember going to the Mint Museum when I was about 10 and seeing the King Tut exhibit. And I didn't just see the 'standard' exhibit. Nope. My grandmother was active with the museum, so I got to go on a behind the scenes tour. How many people can say that? Not a lot, I'd imagine. 

I suppose my grandmother was as odd fish with the ladies at the Junior League and at the Country Club because whereas there were women who 'enjoyed the arts' my grandmother had actually lived the arts. Grandmother was also the president of the DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution - so, yes, that makes little ol' me a DAR Dame, too. Oh, and I suppose I should also point out that she was a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy - NOT because she wanted to be - it was sort of expected by people like my great grandmother and the rest of the family.

Even my totally cool grandmother knew there were some family lines that were best left 'uncrossed' because the turmoil it would have created would have done nothing but cause division and discord. 

That's why my grandmother told me there are three things you never, ever discuss in polite company. Likewise, there are some things that you must carefully weigh before you ever commit them to paper - will it be hurtful to others? - will it anger others? - what is your reason for putting pen to paper in the first place? 

Now what 3 things could cause that much friction in polite company (code for among friends and sometimes frienemies)?  Sex --- Politics --- Religion. To be honest, I sort of knew this before she told me - but hearing it from her really made it click in my head. Since the tender age of about 10, I've always been aware of those 3 'no, no' topics. 

So that's why I've tried very hard to avoid writing stories about sex (because what folks do in their bedrooms is not for me to judge). I also steer clear of anything political here at WASWR because your political views are your own. 

And the last thing I do NOT like to discuss here is Religion. Nope that  is not a train I want to ride! 

Geez, the hearts of the world are heavy enough without another voice to make them chuckle or down right giggle. I don't want to cause strife for anyone...    
Alright I've had my ramble and now I'm REALLY tired - my new medicine makes me very tired. Gosh I hope this wacky ramble made some sense to you all - because It makes PERFECT sense to me. 

Ok there you have it! I'm done. I did it. I got at least 1 post in for the month of February got too far into! I will try to do more. 

Now - I'm off to bed because the medicines I take for Fibromyalgia are pretty darn strong and my pillow is calling me. So if this is riddled with errors please know that I am sorry! Sleepy eyes are not good editing eyes. 

Night y'all!