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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Winter and Depression 

I've often wondered if I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or some variation of it. I'm not a big fan of cold weather even if I do enjoy the snow. But months of gray skies seem to affect me somehow. I feel like I'm having to fight hard to maintain my sunny, optimistic outlook. I just don't feel right. There are many times when I just want the day/week/month to be over as quickly as possible. I hide out. I resist being around people. I try to get lost in something...a book, movie, or computer game. I feel like I'm fighting it right now.

The symptoms of the official disorder?

Sleep problems - oversleeping but not refreshed, cannot get out of bed, needing a nap in the afternoon.

I'm having significant sleep problems but not quite like this describes. I'm tired a lot. I wake up several times a night. Because of my situation I CAN'T oversleep. I set two different double alarm clocks and my mom often calls to make sure that I'm awake. I can't take naps either...thats frowned on in my profession. I don't usually sleep much at home in the afternoon...the kid situation doesn't allow for that.

Overeating - carbohydrate craving leading to weight gain.

Not really. If anything, I'm eating less. I usually grab a single doughnut on the way to work. Lunch is a hit and miss proposition. I have a bowl of soup or chilli with crackers and some fruit in the evening. The only time I eat much is on the weekends, and even then I don't overeat.

Depression, despair, misery, guilt, anxiety - normal tasks become frustratingly difficult.

I feel all of these emotions and I feel them quite often. I don't let them affect my normal tasks much. I can't. I do my job and for the most part do it quite well. I do all the normal household chores. But a lot of what I do feels forced, like I have to reach inside and summon something to motivate myself. But I often sit alone in the dark wondering what the hell I'm going to do.

Family / social problems - avoiding company, irritability, loss of libido, loss of feeling.

A friend of mine accused me of "hiding". There's some truth in that. There are friends that live within 10 minutes of my house that I haven't seen in the months I've been here. I took the kids to a church carnival recently and was overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety. I know a lot of the people here! What if they want to talk? What if they ask me questions? I spent the hour we were there shifting my eyes away from familiar glances and trying to be unobtrusive. I confine myself to my very immediate family and a few friends. Even then, I don't let them very far in. I avoid personal conversation. I can talk about politics, sports, the weather, my work and be just fine. Ask me about me? I'll usually change the subject as quickly as I can. I sit here in my little house on the hill overlooking the city. Here I'm here with the kids, and alone when they are asleep. People keep telling me I should get out more. I know I should, but I can't seem to find the motivation to actually do it.

Libido? No, I think I'm ok in that department. If anything its on the rise!

Lethargy - too tired to cope, everything an effort

Sometimes, but I fight it like hell. I make myself do things. I make deals with myself.

Physical symptoms - often joint pain or stomach problems, lowered resistance to infection

Not really. I do have more headaches than usual but I work my way through them.

Behavioural problems - especially in young people

Nah, the casual observer would never notice anything wrong.

I've felt this way during winter for many years....sometimes worse than others. This year is particularly difficult. I'm not trying to sound whiny. I'm a big grown man and I will get through this...I always do. Sometimes I just tire of the struggle.

Let the sun shine in. I'm ready for it.

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Monday, November 29, 2004

Skipping 

I've dealt with several students recently who "skipped school". I've heard their stories. I've heard where they went and what they did. It didn't sound like much fun to me, but there is of course the thrill of trying to get away with something.

I skipped school once. Actually, I did it twice and got caught once. As I listen to these kid's stories I think to myself, "I can top that".

I was a junior in high school and it was in the spring. The weather was beautiful outside. My friends and I talked about skipping, but the question was...how not to get caught! One of my friends had it easy. If he wanted to miss school his mom would just write him a pass or call in an excuse. I didn't have it quite so easy.

Then inspiration struck! I had monthly orthodontist appointments. The orthodontist's office would give me a written slip to turn in at school. I would just check out at the office and leave at the appointed time. I got my slip and looked at the time...it said 1:30. A stroke of the pen turned the "1" into a "9". I arrived at school, turned in the slip, checked out after an hour or so and left. My friends came up with their own schemes. The three of us spent the day fishing and hanging out! At 1:30 I left, went to my appointment, and rejoined my friends. It went off without a hitch. So easy!

I requested an appointment for the same time the next month. I altered the slip again and turned it in. I should've known we were in trouble from the start. I picked up my friend a block from school. I asked him what excuse he used and he said, "None. I just left". This was a small school. Could he be connected to me? But I put such thoughts aside, picked up my other buddy, and headed out to the farmland my grandfather owned. He rented out the house but there was no one there during the day. We opened the gate, drove into the pasture, and we were homefree. We spent the morning fishing, drinking a couple of beers, and driving my 1966 Dodge Pickup around the muddy pasture. We cut doughnuts in the truck. We spun out. We jumped over slight hills. You've seen the video "Girls Gone Wild"? This was the teenage boy version.

Then it happened. Right before it was time for me to leave I was driving my truck through the pasture faster than I should. I saw a hill and decided to jump it. It was a little higher than what I imagined. My truck landed with a big thud....in the mud. It was buried. You couldn't even SEE three of the tires. I gunned it, rocked back and forth and couldn't budge it. We were stuck. I walked up to the farmhouse, got a couple of shovels, and walked back. We spent hours digging that truck out of the thick, oozy mud.

In the meantime, I missed my 1:30 appointment. The orthodontist's office called my house and asked, "where is Brian"? My mom called the school with same question. They told her that I had left hours earlier. It didn't take much brainpower to figure out my little scheme.

It was now almost 5:00 and I still had to take my friend home. To get to his house I had to drive right past my basketball coach's house. The coach was in the yard and saw us drive by. When I returned down the same street he was standing in the middle of the road. "Where were you today in practice Brian"?, he asked. I stumbled all over myself giving an incoherent answer. Shit!

I didn't know that my parents knew anything was up. I'd never missed an appointment. How was I to know they would call my house? I was going to call the orthodontist from school the next morning and reschedule. That faint little glimmer of hope was soon dispelled. I drove up the driveway at my home. My parents were both standing outside. My dad is a very genial, soft-spoken man, but he wasn't that way on this particular day. He growled four words out..."Give me those keys". He took them from me, spun away, and walked red-faced into the house. My mom proceeded to inform me that she had figured out that I probably skipped school but had gotten very worried anyway when I didn't get home after school. After all, I had been missing for eight hours now. She had called the state police and had them looking for me. She had also been in regular contact with my principal....both at school and at his home.

She grabbed my arm, marched me to the phone, and made me call the principal at home to let him know I was ok. He was actually very nice..."thats ok Brian. I'm glad you're ok. Come see me in the morning and we'll talk about this". I knew I was in a deep pile of shit at home but maybe the school end wouldn't be so bad! The next morning my mom drove me to school and went to the principal's office with me. He wasn't nearly as nice as he was on the phone. After a verbal tongue lashing about irresponsibility he said, "your options are a three day suspension or three swats"! I opened my mouth to speak but my mom interjected, "he'll take the swats". By this time my partner in crime had joined us in the office. He too was to get swats. The principal ordered him to bend over the desk, raised his paddle arm, stopped, and said, "Ricky, take it out". Ricky sheepishly removed a small, strategically placed pillow. I stifled a giggle and then it came....whack! whack! whack! My friend Ricky was 6'6" and weighed 240 lbs. But after the second swat he burst into tears. The door opened and Ricky stepped into a hallway of our peers with tears streaming down his cheek. Very uncool.

Now it was my turn. The first swat literally took my breath away. I'd never been hit that hard in my entire life. The second and third swats weren't even necessary...I was already in agony. Unlike my friend Ricky I wasn't going to let my friends see me cry. I summoned something inside and stifled the tears and the pain. I walked into the hallway and someone asked, "did it hurt"? I shook my head and gave my best wolfish smile. Didn't hurt a bit! I walked down the hallway, went to bathroom, closed a stall door, and cried my eyes out! Damn, that hurt so bad. It was still hurting that night. It hurt the next night and I complained to my mom. She took a look and gasped....my ass and upper thigh was black and blue. She began to feel guilty then. To this day she feels bad about it.

I was also grounded from my truck for a month. But not to worry! My parents secured me a ride to and from school....with the elementary principal! It was not the epitome of coolness to be seen stepping out of the elementary principal's car every morning. The razzing from that still rings in my ears.

Soooo....the rest of you. Ever skip?

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A Blogjacking! 

WE WANT BRIAN BEEFCAKE PHOTOS!



Annnnnd, a special little happy dance for a rainy, dark day! ;-)


T-T-teacher stop that screamin'
Teacher don't you see?
Don't wanna be no uptown fool
Maybe I should go to hell
But I am doing well
Teacher needs to see me after school

I think of all the education that I've missed
But then my homework was never quite like this!

Ow! Got it bad,
Got it bad,
Got it bad,
I'm hot for teacher!
I've got it bad, so bad
I'm hot for teacher!

Hey, I heard you missed us
We're back! (Hey!)
I brought my pencil
Give me something to write on, man!
Whoa

I heard about your lessons
but lessons are so cold
I didn't know about this school
Little girl from Cherry Lawn
How can you be so bold?
How did you know that golden rule?

I think of all the education that I've missed
But then my homework was never quite like this!

Whoa! Got it bad,
Got it bad,
Got it bad,
I'm hot for teacher!
I've got it bad, so bad
I'm hot for teacher!

~ Van Halen ~


Be careful asking for more ego stroking. You might just get it!




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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Please Fence Me In 

I spent most of the daylight hours this weekend building a wooden privacy fence. My brother(and landlord), a friend of his, and I built a six foot privacy fence for my very large, very sloping, back yard. Everything is done now except for installing the gates. Once done, our dog Wendy will be able to roam free in the backyard instead of being tethered to the carport all day.

I sit here with sawdust in my eyebrows, arms that feel like wet noodles, ears that still tingle with cold, dried blood on my head, and legs that throb with a dull ache. Damn, it feels good. There is something very fulfilling about doing hard physical labor when you are actually accomplishing something. I may ache but I can look out my bedroom window and see the results of my labor. That fence will probably be here long after I've departed.

One of the downfalls of my profession is that the results aren't always there to see....at least not for a long time. A carpenter, craftsman, plumber, etc....they get the instant gratification of looking at what they have done. Nothing wrong with a little instant gratification sometimes is there?

I also enjoyed the repartee with my work mates...the dirty jokes, macho bullshitting, the laughter, the problem solving. You know, guy stuff! Working together with someone else to accomplish something is a satisfaction all its own. I can't tell you how many self-satisfieds, "that looks like a fence" I've heard or uttered in the last couple of days.

I'm an educated man. I have a master's degree and I enjoy good books, scholarly literature, and academic research. But there is a little part of me that is a little jealous of those who make a living with their hands, their brawn, and their common sense. They may see me in a suit and tie, going to an office, and think, "that guy's got it made".

Boys, I know the feeling.

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Weekend Roundup 11/26-11/27 

The Thanksgiving holiday slowed blogging activity this week, but there were many who wouldn't let a little turkey get in the way of blogging!

The lovely Cetta shares pictures of herself and her family. Faith shares 20 things about herself. Have I ever mentioned that I just love Faith? She rocks.

Undergraduate adds up her debits and credits. Ellen went to the doctor and came away with as many questions as she did answers.

Dawn is spending a little time in Branson, MO. Say hi to that Japanese fiddler guy for me, ok? Janine spent some time pondering matters of faith.

Vegas Baby pays tribute to a special friend. Sally has a friendship that is still going strong.

Phyllis tells us what she is thankful for. So does Gladys.

Wanda was ready to face "Black Friday" this year. Tara shows us her face....almost.

Leslie didn't see anything wrong with celebrating Thanksgiving twice. Neither do I!

Dewdrop has some criticisms of this post of mine. Christine was critical of her mom's new pecan pie recipe.

Anne wants it...love that is. Jen knew what she wanted on Friday night.

Jen dreams of Brazilian waiters, screwers, and sashes. Love Donnaz dreams of a back that doesn't hurt!

Carol has so much to be thankful for. Miss Mita is thankful for memories of her Aunt Fran.

Brian can't believe he ate the whooole thing! Riri has a new "do". She looks maaahvelous!

Jack braved the Friday mall crowds in spite of his feelings about commercialization of Christmas. Its a good bet that he didn't run into John there.

Kristine wants to know why family holidays have to include so much family. Brenda shares some of her family pictures.

Didamo cried when she bought her turkey this year. Chuck didn't cry when he reviewed the movie "Network". He gave it five stars.

Stephanie finds things to be thankful for in spite of it all. Heather wonders why we have to wait until this time of year to be thankful.

Wild Scorpy thinks she is being recruited. Steph wishes a major league baseball team would recruit her!

Ginger writes a letter to..well, Ginger. Shelli writes that she's not sure if she wants to keep writing. I hope she does.

Mary Lou ate too much but it sounds like she had a great time! I hope the same was true for Vince.

Thanks for all of you who share. I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!

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Friday, November 26, 2004

Did You Say Shopping? 

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to shop for gifts. I like finding that perfect gift for people in my life. So today I braved the earlier morning crowds, a 5:30 a.m. flat tire, a night without any sleep, and cold temperatures to join the throngs in pursuit of that Christmas bargain.

Thursday afternoon I ate Thanksgiving dinner and promptly napped the afternoon away. This made it a little easier to stay up all night Thursday night, peruse the ads, and be ready to rumble on Friday morning. I have to pronounce the morning a shopping success! Big remote control truck at half price? Check. Karaoke machine at a similiar bargain? Check. Bratz doll? Got it. DVD player? Its in the bag. Game Boy Advance? Got the very last one at $39.00. My Christmas shopping for the kids is all done. Yay! Worth changing a flat tire at 5:30 a.m. in the dark, freezing cold? Probably. Within budget? So far so good. I'm really trying hard not to do my typical Christmas overspending thing.

I'm such a Christmas guy. I love everything about it. I love the music. I love to shop. I love the opportunity to spend time with loved ones. I love the wrapping paper and the smell of a fresh cut tree. I love how it brings out the best in some people. I love surprising people. I love the parties.

Now if only I can remember to get the right batteries for all this stuff....

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanks and Giving 

Like most others out there my family is preparing for this year's Thanksgiving feast. My mom has already been cooking up a storm. My brother is smoking meats. The kids are excited.

I approach this holiday season with a strong bittersweet feeling. I'm gratified to have a warm, loving family to celebrate the holidays with. I'm looking forward to swapping old stories with my brothers, seeing my little niece, watching football games, and watching my kids interact with the rest of their family.

Of course I can't help thinking of where I was at Thanksgiving just last year. This is our first major holiday apart. I wonder what she'll be doing....what she'll be thinking. Will she remember that first Thanksgiving we spent together as well as I do? Will she miss the cornbread andouille sausage stuffing I always made or the turkey gumbo I made with the leftovers? Will she think of the kids laughing and playing in the warmth of our family home? Will she remember being snuggled up on the couch watching the ballgame together? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to miss her and our holiday times together.

But life requires us all to deal with things as they are. So on this holiday I will give thanks. I will give thanks for six good years of marriage. I will give thanks for my wonderful children who sustain me when I don't feel like going on. I will give thanks for friends who are there for me, love me, tell me when I'm wrong, criticize me when I deserve it, and pat me on the back when I most need it. I will give thanks to a family who welcomed me home without judgement. I'll give thanks to co-workers who give so much of themselves to help kids in need. I will give thanks to my blog friends who offer me strength, encouragement, sage advice, and fellowship. I'll give thanks for those bloggers who share of themselves and their lives with the rest of us. I'll give thanks to those kids at school who reinforce my faith in the future. I'll give thanks for my good health.

I wish all of my fellow Americans a happy Thanksgiving. Its a time to take stock in our lives, realize what is really important, and enjoy those we care about. Even in bittersweet times that is something to treasure.


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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

An Affair To Remember 

Several of my blogfriends have published "confessions" in recent days. I don't have a five-point list, but I do have a doozy that I'm going to share here.

Eight years ago during this time of year I was involved in a passionate relationship with a woman. Her name was Kathy and she lived in Kansas. I was going through a divorce with my first wife, had met Kathy online, and began a chat/email/phone correspondence that resulted in our meeting.

There was just one small little problem. Kathy was married and living with her husband. She had two kids. She was a Catholic and a Sunday School teacher to boot. She had just started working at a small, local internet service provider.

Kathy is one of the funniest people I've ever met in my life. We spent hours cracking jokes on the phone and laughing until we could laugh no more. She was also just sexy as hell. Both of us knew that we shouldn't, but we arranged to meet. I got up at 2 a.m. one morning, drove to Kansas City, and met her for breakfast. By noon we had checked into a hotel near the airport. I'd been married to the same woman for fourteen years. This was my first experience with another woman since I was 19 years old. I was totally blown away. You mean it can be like this? I set a personal mark for sexual, err..prowess and recovery that remains unbroken until this day. I think the walls in that hotel room must still be shaking. We went to the Outback Steakhouse afterward and couldn't stop laughing at our uptight waitress. We kept saying, "she needs to get laid", and laughing uproariously. I was in a daze for days afterward.

Kathy told me she hadn't had sex with her husband in more than a year. Her marriage was a loveless one. She yearned for passion, romance, and excitement. I yearned to feel like a man again. I wanted to be desired and appreciated. It felt like we were kindred spirits on a grand adventure. We met again in Coffeyville, Kansas and spent the night in a hotel. I don't think we left that room for more than a couple of hours in the twenty four hours we spent together. We listened to "Lets Make It A Night To Remember" by Bryan Adams and decided that was our song. She brought cookies she had baked for me to take home to the kids.

We met a couple more times in Coffeyville. Passion ruled the day. The future would come up sometimes, but it was an uncomfortable subject. She was a small town Catholic Kansas girl. Even with her marriage in the shape it was, leaving didn't feel like an option to her. I also didn't want to be a homewrecker and was suffering some major guilt about the whole thing. I wanted to stop, but for those few months, just couldn't do it. We caromed down the path of secret, illicit romance not knowing where we were going.

A week before Christmas in 1996 I drove to Kansas City to visit Kathy. She was working by herself on a Saturday in that I.S.P. office. I parked my car at a McDonald's in her hometown and drove with her to work. We did some things that probably weren't normally done in that office setting! We also exchanged some small Christmas gifts. We spent the day alternating between "extracurricular activities" and allowing her to get some work done.

As we drove back to my car that evening I suddenly felt very sad. She noticed this and asked why. I told her that I was overcome with the feeling that this would be the last time we would see each other. I dont' know why I felt that way...I just did. We stood in the McDonald's parking lot, hugged and kissed goodbye, and got back into our respective vehicles. As she drove away I sat there watching until her car disappeared out of sight.

Our discussions over the next couple of weeks led us both to the conclusion that we wouldn't be able to continue our affair. She was taking big risks to spend time with me and it was a matter of time before she would eventually get caught. She wasn't prepared for what this would bring..divorce, embarassment, and a damaged reputation with family and friends in her small town. I very regretfully agreed with her. Our conversations dwindled to the occasional phone call or email. Aside from her marriage situation, I was unsure if this could really be something more anyway. We had some magic, but there were a lot of doubts from both of us how it would translate into real life.

During this period I had also met a lovely woman in Louisiana online. Her name was Lee. We met a couple of months after Kathy and I ended our affair. A year later we would be married, I would move to Louisiana, and not look back. I was deeply in love and excited about my new life.

A few months after I moved to Louisiana, Kathy attempted to contact me through chat. I ignored her at first. I didn't want this old romance to cause any problems in my new marriage. She sent a couple more messages and I finally responded through email. I was shocked by what she told me...her husband had died of a sudden heart attack in their home. She was going through a lot of guilt, her kids were suffering with the loss of their father, and she didn't know what she was going to do. I kept up occasional correspondence with her as we kept each other updated on what was going on with our lives.

She took her husband's insurance money and bought half of her employer's business. She became his partner and immersed herself in learning the business. She built and designed web pages and learned the ins and outs of keeping people connected to the internet. She also began a romance with her business partner. This too was to end tragically. A few years ago Bill was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. She was devastated by this and wondered if she was cursed. She bought out his half of the business from his family and is now the sole proprietor.

We kept in contact all these years. Nothing big....just an occasional chat or email. Months would go by without any communication at all. But we had settled into a mature friendship and would share things about our lives. Aside from some very light flirtation and the occasional reminisce, our conversations centered on our families, jobs, and life.

I called Kathy a few weeks before I moved back to Oklahoma to let her know what was happening with my life and marriage. She listened to me cry, offered some good advice, and tried to cheer me up. In spite of everything she could still make me laugh. I was very grateful.

We've chatted occasionally since I've been back. She is still having some trauma in her life. Being in business by herself is exhausting. She never intended doing it alone. She has dated but hasn't had much luck in the guy department. She checks in with me to see how I'm doing. We've talked about getting together but it hasn't happened yet.

I talked to Kathy on the phone this evening. Her 18 year old daughter (God, is that possible?) recently had an emergency appendectomy. After removing the appendix a cancerous tumor was found inside. The prognosis is good...it looks like the cancer was completely contained within the appendix. Still, another piece of trauma for someone who has been through a lot.

All of this seems so far removed from those few wild passionate times we shared. Other than a few pangs of guilt, I've never regretted our affair..... not one single minute of it. For a brief shining moment we shared something special. The realities of life intervened and we moved on. I moved on to a marriage that I cherished. She moved on to a series of tragedies that ultimately left her a much stronger woman than the woman I knew.

I'll always love her in that special way we reserve for lovers and close friends. We had that "night to remember" and I still remember it so very well. Our lives have changed so much over all these years and I don't regret any of it.

I'm curious to see her again...not because I expect to rekindle a romance or have a relationship. I would just like to sit over a cup of coffee with a woman who knew me in a different place and time.


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Monday, November 22, 2004

Judging 

One of the things in my job that occasionally causes me distress is having to make decisions that my heart doesn't really agree with. My head knows that I must do my role, play my part, go by the rules. Sometimes that doesn't necessarily agree with what I think of as right and wrong.

One of the most difficult areas to deal with is violence/fighting between students. Sometimes you have fights where the blame is pretty equal. Both kids mouth off at each other, someone throws a punch, the other responds. This kind is easy. I nail both of them. I enforce the rules without a hint of remorse. This is school, you can't fight here.

Then there are cases of pure bullying. A student follows another student around, harasses him, and eventually takes it to a more violent level. No problem here either. Taking care of my bullies is why I'm there.

Then there are situations like I had today. Stan is a large built, blonde headed, meek, somewhat immature 6th grader. He reminds me a lot of my son, Patrick. Today he got hit in the face in the middle of a basketball game. When I turned around he was waylaying another kid. I saw four punches land, two to the face. The other kid appeared to be just protecting himself, pushing Stan away. Stan was red-faced, in tears, and trembling with anger. I sent them both inside, talked to the kids who witnessed the whole thing, finished lunch duty, and went back inside to deal with the situation.

Stan related to me a tale of weeks of being harassed by the other student and his friends. They call him "gay". They walk up and hug him saying, "I love you Stan" in a "gay" voice. They call him "fat" and "fatso". They kick the back of his chair in class when the teacher isn't looking. They aren't physical. They just harass Stan, who has never been in trouble in his entire school career. I found Stan to be credible. I'm sure these guys did those things. One of them is the kid he punched out.

Stan lives with his grandmother and aunt. He told them of his problems at school. He never told an adult at school. His guardians never called the school and relayed this information. He simply took it until he blew his fuse, partially at the urging of his family.

When I look at the situation, I see a student who battered another student with about 10 punches to the face, chest, and stomach. After the fact, he relates that he has been harassed at school. That never should've happened. If he were this angry he should have told someone. If he couldn't, the adults in his life should have. Maybe he didn't know what to do...how to handle the situation. Those of you who have kids this age know this fact. Middle school kids are mean as hell...they are the worst. They can be unbelievably cruel. I've seen dozens of cases like Stan's.

I can't go back and punish unreported deeds from weeks ago. The other student did call Stan "fat" once during this melee. I punished him for that with two weeks of lunch detention. Thats as far as I could take it. Stan, on the other hand, committed a serious violation of school rules. I gave him the minimum penalty...5 days of out-of-school suspension. Had I been so inclined I could've been much more severe and even filed a police report. But I had sympathy for this child. He handled this in the only way he knew how.

I'm not the most popular person in Stan's house this evening, as you can imagine. They see injustice. These kids who harassed Stan are in school. Stan, who is a good kid and a good student, is suspended. It doesn't seem fair at all to them. I understand how they feel.

When I was growing up I was taught not to take any crap from anyone. If they harassed me, I was expected to fight back hard. Many of us grew up that way. Many teach their children that. I would submit that times have changed. If I fought the bully back then, the worst I could expect was a black eye or a bloody nose. Last week, I expelled two students for possession of knives at school. What if a child decides to fight back against one of those kids? Worth the risk?

I told Stan's grandmother that she had to let us do our jobs. We're responsible for the safety of all students, including Stan. I probably could've put a halt to this harassment stuff long ago if I had known. Either they would've stopped or they would've been sitting at home.

As a skinny, shy kid I was bullied in junior high school. My son is a prime target for bullies. From a gut level it pisses me off that this kid had to endure this kind of thing at school. He is there to learn and deserves an environment where he feels safe.

Today, Mr. S, the school administrator followed the rules and did what he had to do. Brian, the former bullied kid, didn't like him for doing it.

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

Snail Mail 

Some of the best ideas are those you swipe from someone else. So I'm unashamedly swiping one from Shelli. We all comment on each other's blogs and exchange emails. I love this interaction and communication.

But Shelli is right. Getting an email is not the same as getting a holiday card with a personal note. So for anyone that would like to receive one from me, email me at princ61@gmail.com with your address. I will send you a Christmas card and a nice note! I won't send you any spam for penis enlargements, miracle cures, or get-rich-quick schemes.

All of us have a zone of anonymity we maintain online, so I understand if you decline to participate. But I would enjoy communicating with you in a more personal way. So what are you waiting for? Lets have those addies!

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Weekend Roundup 11/20-11/21 

Jack remembers an incident at summer camp. Sally remembers Honey.

"Sex and Candy" makes Sunshine remember an affair. Gladys chronicles her relationship with her mother. If you only click on one of these links, make it this one.

Ellen receives get-well wishes from her students. Faith received her first paycheck!

Tara gives us an art lesson. Sooz learned a few valuable lessons from this book.

VegasBaby has having a major TGIF moment. Every day is a Friday when Miss Zoot visits Target.

Andie posts a recipe that even I might be able to follow. If Steph followed her heart she would have a different job.

Anne's doctor lacks a human touch. Sound familiar? Miss Mita may not be a doctor, but she is making post-graduate plans. Fascinating!

Dana can tell you what fills her with joy. We now know what feels Chuck with joy...and it isn't blogging on weekends.

Kristine had a really bad dream. Didamo fantasizes about a Silver Bullet.

Christine shares some of her dirty little secrets. So does Jen and Jennifer.

Flax has a special outing with her mom. Dawn's Thanksgiving will be a little more special because Roy's surgery was a success!

Ginger had a day that strikes a chord with me. Pissed Kitty has been striking a few chords with her...er...output.

Vince remembers high school as her 20th reunion approaches. Stephanie remembered an old fling when he became her patient.

Zandria just read "Bonfire of the Vanities". Good book, bad movie. Erin is happy about the return of one of my favorite TV shows.

LoveDonnaz offers the chance to download a tune. MP3 blogging? Wanna know how to tile your bathroom? Just go ask Dwayne.

Shelli has the alphabet covered. Heather covers the difficult topic of "moral values".

Like me, Leslie is the oldest of five. Nicole had a Thanksgiving lunch that won't win any awards, but the company was great.

An overseas war hits close to home for John. Wild Scorpy might have a different home in her alternate universe.

Don't knock on Phyllis' office door unless you don't mind being embarassed. Don't give Feisty Girl more than two cups of coffee.

Maggie has a medication for a life partner. Liz may need medication after this little episode.

Janine is experiencing "crack and groan" syndrome. I'll resist the temptation... It sounds like Frani suffers from "pack rat" syndrome.

Thomas lets us know where "Fanta" soda came from. Now how about Nehi? Carol lets us know that her cats run the show.

Shelly loves milk. Molly loves her new cool t-shirt.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Growing Up 

I was getting rid of some of my kid's outgrown clothing this past weekend. Things that fit a few months ago no longer do. They are growing up before my eyes. Each day brings their childhood closer to the end. I want them to grow up to be happy, healthy adults. I also want to remember them like they are now.

My mom recently gave me a boxful of old pictures. I've been sorting through my childhood pictures, smiling at some and grimacing at others. Many spark memories of a success, a failure, something that hurt, or something that felt good. As far as childhoods go, mine was one of relative innocence. I see pregnant 6th graders today and think how far removed it is from my own experiences at that age.

I thought I'd share a few of these pictures. As I look at them, I remember this child. I remember how he thought. I remember his dreams. I remember those things that made him cry softly in his bed. I remember the times he howled with laughter. He was trying to find his way in the world.



Dateline: May, 1962. I'm 11 months old and the barber is my Uncle Randall. He eventually gave up barbering and went to work in a factory. A woman would not cut my hair until I was 13 years old. I threw a fit! Guys were supposed to go to the barber shop and women to the beauty salon. I thought the world had gone mad!



May, 1967. I'm a few months shy of my 6th birthday. This looks like the backyard of our house on Moccasin Place. In spite of my dad's best efforts, the grass would just never take hold in the back yard. I would've been in kindergarten. There was no public kindergarten in my town, so I attended kindergarten at a local church. Somewhere there is a class picture of me graduating from "Little Friends" kindergarten. I was painfully shy and my parents worried about how withdrawn I often was. I watched the soap opera"Dark Shadows" every afternoon. I was already a reader and spent much of my time reading "chapter books". I played on the "Big Rocks" at a park down the street. I roamed the neighborhood in my bare feet.



June, 1970. I'm the eight year old with the goofy smile on the right. The boy on the left was one of my best friends, and his name was Mike. I was in Mrs. Walkup's third grade class and was probably the shyest kid in that class. I wanted to be a police officer and was intrigued by uniforms. I read "Hardy Boys" mysteries and collected comic books.



Christmas morning, 1972. I'm 11 1/2 years old and woke up to a new pool table. I liked it so much that I received a full-size pool table for Christmas a couple of years later. I would play basketball all day, and when it was too dark I would come inside and play pool. My 6th grade teacher is Ms. Newton...called "Fig" behind her back. Out of the three paddlings I received in school, I would receive two of them this year. Our sixth grade class sang, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" in a school program. I still remember all the words. I was beginning to like girls for something other than easy marks in playground volleyball games.




Both of these pictures were taken during my senior year of high school. In the first (November, 1978) , I'm wearing one of our brand new basketball uniforms. We sold candy bars and magazine subscriptions to help pay for them. I'm 6'3" and weigh 160 lbs. I don't have a girlfriend, but have a huge never-to-be-realized crush on Diana. I could dunk a basketball with two hands. Our coach used to run us after practice and after awhile would tell us to "run on our own". He would leave and go to the locker room. I was always the last one to stop running. It was a point of pride.

The last picture was taken at the "All Sports Banquet" in May, 1979. I'm a month shy of my 18th birthday, and graduation is only a few weeks away. I'm making plans for college but I have no idea what to major in. I'm still occasionally sleeping with the 25 year old sister of my good friend. I'm a huge fan of the professional soccer team in Tulsa. I drive a 1966 Dodge pickup and changed the head gasket by myself. I don't like beer but have drank a bottle or two of "Tickled Pink" and "Mogen David" wine. The guy on the far left is my friend, Kent. Once, the coach walked in the locker room and asked if anyone was hurt. Kent, having not played a single minute that night, raised his hand. The perplexed coach asked him how he could have possibly been hurt. Kent responded, "my ass hurts from sitting on the bench". The locker rooms erupts in laughter..except for the coach! The guy to his right is Mark who attracted girls like flies to honey. He married our class valedictorian a month later. Today he is a telephone company executive and has a slew of kids. The guy on the far right is Daryl. He was a good guy, very quiet but funny in his own way. After graduation I would never see him again.

How will my kids look back on their childhoods? What will they remember? How will it shape their lives?

They will find their way just as I found mine...just as all of us have. And they will remember.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Midweek Mishmash 

Heard on the playground of my school..."Mr. S just couldn't get it up". There is a context of course, but I'll leave it to your imagination.

Our dog Wendy has a new place to sleep. She is now the proud owner of a "Dogloo", a hard plastic doghouse. Combine that with a soft, fluffy pillow, and she's feeling pretty good right now. The doghouse is big enough for Aubree to climb inside with her and play. This weekend, weather permitting, she'll have a fenced backyard to play in. Things are looking up in Wendy's world!

We went to see "The Incredibles" last night. Sharing a bucket of popcorn, we laughed our way through the movie. It was really just too cute! If you haven't seen it, I would strongly recommend it. For me, it was the best animated film since "The Lion King".

Patrick to Me: "Dad, I have detention in the morning".
Me to Patrick: "Why do you have detention"?
Patrick to Me: "I went to the bathroom and forgot to ask before I left"
Me to Patrick: "You forgot? How can you forget something like that?"
Patrick to Me: "Dad, I just have a bad short-term memory"

Aubree (at 9 years old) to Patrick when he tells her about his detention (accompanied by a roll of the eyes and a disgusted voice): "Patrick, don't you know there are consequences in life for everything we do. Next time, think!" Hell, who needs me. She's got this parenting stuff down already.

Keeping Patrick's clothes organized and having them ready in the morning is always a bit of a challenge. So I purchased a hanging clothes organizer that has bins for each day of the week. On Sunday I'll lay out his clothes for the entire week. Lets hope it works!

I couldn't get the song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" out of my head today for some reason. I was singing it in the car or humming it to myself all day. Damn, I'm doing it again!!

I'm loving this gas clothes dryer. It dries a load of towels so quickly! My motorized tie rack also totally rocks. Yeah, I know its nothing to get too excited about, but you've gotta take the thrills where you can get'em.

I'm so saddened by recent events but resolute in my determination to get my life figured out. Nowhere to go but up, right? Maybe I shouldn't tempt fate by saying that.

And how is YOUR week going?


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Monday, November 15, 2004

Big Hands 

Saturday night I decided to install a new hard drive on my computer. My 60 GB drive which was noisy, buggy, and crashed often was to be replaced by a spiffy, yet cheap, sparkling new 250 GB Maxtor hard drive. I've done many things inside a computer but I've never actually replaced a hard drive before, so I thought it would be a learning process.

I also decided to sip a rum and coke while I was reading through the manual. Then I decided to sip another. In short order I was a little toasted and had my computer case open, ready to rumble!

I don't want to get too technical, but this operation involved changing the jumper settings on the hard drives. This involves tiny pieces of plastic and itsy-bitsy metal pins. My fuzzy alcohol-laden brain tried to concentrateee on those little pins. I thought I had it. I rebooted. It didn't work. I tried again with the same result. My hands are quite large which doesn't add to the ease of working inside a computer case.

I banged around. I lost a jumper and found another one on an old CD drive. I curse a little..ok, I cursed a lot, Drunken computer repair is not for the faint of heart you know! In a state of frustration I decided to take a break and read through the manual again. Thats the last thing I remember. I woke up the next morning, fully clothed, with the manual across my chest. I got up and had the hard drive working correctly in 30 minutes.

I want to replace the CPU one of these days. I might even try and do it sober. But whats the challenge in that?

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Fear Factor 

As regular readers of this blog know, my friend Marlane recently came to visit me. We had a wonderful time together. We discussed seriously taking our friendship to another level. We've been the best of friends, and grew closer together during the difficult summer months before I moved. We have talked almost every day since I moved here. I care about her and her children deeply. I love her as a friend and more.

She has been divorced for a long time and is ready for a relationship. She's tired of being alone and wants someone in her life. I've told her that I could see us together. I encouraged her to consider moving here so that we could begin to build a relationship. Part of the purpose of her trip here was to see if she really wanted to do that. She did. I wanted her to. I knew I wasn't totally ready for a relationship, but thought that our friendship would make it different than any other potential relationship.

After she left my feet started getting cold. Fear took over. The seriousness of such a move hit me like a ton of bricks. How can I just lurch from one relationship into another one? How will this impact the kids...mine and hers? So many questions, so much fear, so many doubts.

Now I'm backing away and its hurting her feelings badly. I hate that so much. She's my best friend and the last person I would ever want to hurt. She takes it personally..."whats wrong with me? What have I done wrong?" I tell her that its not her...its me. I'm afraid and I'm unresolved. What am I afraid of?

I'm afraid of beginning a relationship when I'm not over my the breakup of my marriage. There are still a lot of strong feelings there.

I'm afraid of commitment. After all, look how great I've done in my committed relationships.

I'm afraid of jumping into something too soon.

I'm afraid of getting hurt.

I'm afraid of hurting someone else...her kids, my kids.

I'm just plain afraid. Its too soon and I have many issues to work through. I know this but it doesn't make it easy to hurt someone I care so much about.

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Weekend Roundup 11/13-11/14 

Anne finds words to sometimes be inadequate. Jack has some words for married men who break the "code".

Becky is founding her own cult and accepting disciples. Sally may not be a cult leader but she is a star, and she reminds us that we all are. "You don't have to be a star baby to be in my show..."

T Marie is finding out about life as a single person. SexAndMoxie can't decide if she wants to be single or not.

Chuck and Stephanie celebrate their anniversary. Banshee Gurl celebrates nudity.

Ginger knows what she wants for Christmas. Carol does too, and she wishes she wasn't jonesing for material things!

Jen says goodbye to her grandfather. Vince remembers having to say goodbye to Chip.

Jeni is annoyed by nosy people. Leslie was more than annoyed by this jerk.

Kristine has a question about blowjobs. OkieDoke has a roundup of his own.

Mary Lou has a new toy. Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! Vegas Baby's mind isn't in the gutter. She has a headache.

Shelli got her husband and child sick. Thats the rumor going around there anyway. Don't be so sure...it could've been Christine.

Kim remembers "Welcome Back Kotter", one of my all-time favorite shows. Joel remembers our nation's veterans.

Wild Scorpy's hubby is causing people to gag, but in a good way. It made me gag to think that this piece by Tara got rejected by a magazine. Fools!

Someone is monkeying with Stacey's blog. Round up the usual suspects. It couldn't have been Nicole. She was too busy shopping on a cold, wet day.

Janine loves Bridget Jones...her diary that is. Jen loves ranch dressing and potatoes even if they don't love her back.

Scott thinks its time for Joe Paterno to step down. Sweety isn't stepping down, but she is taking a blog-break while preparing for her exams. Cramming for exams...I do miss it so.

John wants you to "name that tune." Steph wants Scott Peterson to suffer.

Curtis hates running over manhole covers and making girls angry. Riri hates it that she couldn't sleep.

Andie is having hotel sex. Faith isn't, but she's trying to smoke orgasmically.

Joshua didn't have the best moving experience. Frani is planning to have a very nice Thanksgiving experience.

Hey everyone. Have a great weekend. Really! Don't do anything I wouldn't do.

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Friday, November 12, 2004

Prayer For A Friend 

Many of you have read Ellen's blog and know her to be one of the most articulate, caring, and gifted bloggers out there. Ellen is now in a fight for her life with cancer.

I've been thinking a lot about Ellen lately. I've been thinking about her courage. I've been thinking about the unfairness of it all. I've been thinking about her fighting spirit that sets an example for all of us to follow. This world is a much better place with her in it, and I want to be reading her blog years from now.

Take the time to stop by Ellen's place and wish her well. She has much to face in the days ahead.

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Letter of the Day is S 

I am feeling Sassy this morning. Stalking Brians blog will cure me. Spank the monkey, how many miles per hour can you do it? Spunkytown is cartoon spunkilicous silliness. Surprisingly, surreal spanky fractal art. Santa spanking the Penguin, spank it into the baskets! Smashback those squares. Surely stupid, spanky Britney Spears.
Don't feed or spank the little red monkey blog.
blog spanky stories
Stupid blog
I am stumped now, I am sure you are thinking shut up.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Wacky Wednesday 

The mother of the student with the knife in my previous post was a no-show for our meeting and has failed to return my phone calls. I filed a report with the police and child services. I'm not surprised, but it is so disheartening. How can you just not give a damn about a child that is so troubled? This is when he needs his mother the most.

The movie "Lean on Me" never fails to inspire me. I watched it tonight for probably the 20th time. A tear or two ran down my cheek. Its a testament to the power of an individual to make changes in the lives of kids. Its why I'm an educator....its what keeps me there after all these years. Its why I put up with indifferent parents, bureacratic bullshit, governmental red-tape, and all the other obstacles that drive good people out of my profession. I'm here for the long haul. I'll make my own small difference in my own way.

Today at my school, over 100 immigrants to the United States became naturalized citizens. Three black-robed judges swore in these new Americans. Our choir sang patriotic songs and our students got a rare look at something wonderful. As one of the judges said, "most of us are American by birth. We didn't choose. These people had to work hard to become citizens. They want to be here." I saw the Oriental couple clutching their months old baby. I saw the middle-aged Hispanic man with a flag pinned to his chest. I saw proud relatives and friends surrounding new citizens. I saw the tears flow freely down their faces. I matched them with a few discreet ones of my own. It was beautiful. You should've seen their faces when they sang, "God Bless America". Priceless.

I jumped in the four-square game today at lunch with a group of the kids. When it came my chance to serve, I removed my jacket and handed it to one of the kids, prompting a chorus of "ooooooohs...he's serious now"! One of the kids promptly got me out. I laughed and put my jacket back on and started to walk away. One of the kids yelled out, "Hey Mr. S"! I turned around and he said, "you should've rolled up your sleeves". Hehe. I went back and high-fived him.

I walked outside after school and there was a group of students with suckers. One of them related how he'd bought them for his friends. I said, "what...no sucker for me? I come here, work hard all day, and NO ONE buys me a sucker. Whats up with that?" They all giggled and one of them said, "but Mr. S., you give us detention. Why should we buy you a sucker"? Another student said, "yeah, but he only gives it to us when we deserve it". I high-fived him and started walking away. One of the kids called my name and when I turned around there was a sucker flying toward me. It kinda hit the spot!

Then there was the girl who tried to persuade me that she didn't say "fuck you" under her breath to the teacher. She said, "forget you". Hon...that makes it so much better.

I'm the proud new owner of a gas dryer in my house. I get a washing machine tomorrow. My mother has done my laundry for the past three months. I'm sure she'll be relieved and so am I. Another of my dirty little secrets is that I like doing laundry. I like the way it smells coming out of the dryer. I like hanging up fresh, clean shirts. I don't really like matching socks, but thats another story. I've never had a gas dryer before. I'll take it for its maiden spin tomorrow.

Speaking of clothing, I've purchased one of those little motorized tie racks that you hang up in your closet. My ties are a mess. I can never find the one I want. Maybe this will help!

My personal life still feels like such a mess. Sometimes I don't know what the hell to do. I'm not sure where to go from here. Part of me just aches to find a relationship like I once had. Another part is just scared shitless. It hasn't been all that long really. I still talk to Lee regularly and sometimes I just miss her so much. I'm truly not over it by any means. I feel frozen and wonder if I'll ever break through and see the other side. What does the future hold? Often it feels like one step forward, two steps back. I'm optimistic for the future but am no longer under any illusion that it will be easy. I've gotta write more about this in a separate post.

My mom came over while I was at work to let the appliance guys in to install the dryer. While she was here she cleaned my kitchen. For some reason that just bugs the hell out of me.

I've promised to take the kids to see "The Incredibles" in the near future. That should be fun!

How's that for a hodgepodge post? And how is your week going?

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Sappy Songs 

I have a confession to make. I really enjoy sappy, romantic songs...the sappier the better. You know those uncool songs that you jeer when they come on the radio? Do you ask, "who the hell buys all those records"? I like those songs. I sing along with those songs. Those songs make me feel all fuzzy, make me cry, and make me smile.

As a young guy I liked Barry Manilow. I loved "Mandy", "Looks Like We Made It", "Could It Be Magic", and "Weekend in New England". I never really learned to play the piano like I wanted to, but I did learn to play the opening chords of "Could It Be Magic". I wasn't sure what this love stuff that Barry was singing about was, but I thought I wanted some of it.

Other sappy songs you ask? Player's "Baby Come Back", Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" and "Photographs and Memories", Gino Vanelli's "I Just Wanna Stop", Nat King Cole's "For Sentimental Reasons", "Autumn Leaves", and "Unforgettable". I've wo-wo-wo'ed to Morris Albert's "Feelings". Karen Carpenter strikes a deep chord with "Merry Christmas Darling","Close to You", and "We've Only Just Begun". I love The Platter's "This Magic Moment" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". I enjoy Elton John's "Little Jeanie", "Candle in the Wind", and "Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word".

You get the picture. If its a sugary, romantic song, I probably like it. This doesn't stop me from also loving Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Metallica, and Aerosmith. But my musical taste includes an uncoolness factor! I like the emotions that these songs produce in me. "Looks Like We Made It" makes me feel sixteen years old again, all smitten with the cute blonde I met at church camp. That was our song! Of course, I never saw her again after that week. There are songs that make me sad, but I listen anyway. I like being swept up in the emotion of the moment. I abandon all the protections I erect around myself and just let the feelings flow.

Go ahead and say it....Brian, you're a romantic sap!

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Decision Making 

I hadn't planned on doing another work-related post tonight. But today's events compelled me to write about them. I had to make a difficult decision, one that I believe is correct, but that leaves me troubled. Ever wanted a window into how school administrators make decisions? Well, here's your chance.

"J" is a 15 year old 8th grader with learning disabilities. He has experienced significant discipline problems during his four years of middle school (he was retained one year). He also comes from a hellish home life and is actually a pleasant kid to talk to.....and I have talked to him often this year.

"J's" mom was evicted from her home last month with him and his two brothers. She found a place to live with a friend, but that friend would not allow "J" to stay there. He ended up living with his aunt who has several children of her own, and let it be known that "J" was on a very short leash with her. Mom then moved 100 miles away, stayed gone for a month, and is now back to the friend's house. "J" has worn out his welcome at his aunt's home and his mom really has no idea where he will live now.

Today, two boys reported to the office that "J" had a knife and had threatened them with it, telling one, "don't mess with me or I'll stick you with this knife". I pulled "J" from class, brought him to my office with a witness, told him that we had reason to believe he had a knife, and asked him to empty his pockets. He denied having the knife and began to empty his pockets onto my desk. He told me he was done, and I asked him to turn the pocket inside-out. "J" stuck his hand back in, looked at me and said, "oh, maybe I do have a knife". I asked him to hand it to me and he complied. When I informed him of the consequences he faced he sobbed and kept saying, "my life is so worthless".

When I consider discipline issues I must go by the "Code of Student Conduct" which specifies minimum and maximum penalties for every conceivable offense. The minimum for this type of offense is a 5 day suspension and the maximum is expulsion for the remainder of the school year. So how do you decide what to do?

Several things come into play here. First, what was his intent in bringing the knife? Allegations of threatening other students take this to a very serious level. Second, what is the discipline history of the student? Has he committed similiar offenses in the past? Third, does the presence of the student constitute a danger to other students in the school? I strive to be fair and make a judgement consistent with the facts and common sense.

"J" vehemently denied making a threat of any kind. He denied showing the knife to anyone at school. My question for him of course was, "how did these other students know you had the knife if they haven't seen it"? His denial casts doubt on his credibility. But in the end it comes down to his word against the word of another student. It is difficult to expel a student from school on that basis. Every time I make a decision like this, I picture myself defending it before the school board and lawyers. If it doesn't feel right I make another decision.

Then I pulled "J's" discipline record up on our school's mainframe computer. Since he has been in middle school, "J" has three suspensions for possession of a weapon (other than a gun), including a 31 day suspension just last year. He also has several suspensions for battery or fighting. This turns things on its head a bit. What are the consequences if I DON'T long-term suspend him? What happens if he brings another knife to school next month and harms another student? Given his history, the school could very well be held liable and I could even be sued personally. Furthermore, can I risk the safety of the rest of the student body?

I went to the principal of the school, and with a heavy heart, recommended that "J" be suspended from school for the remainder of the school year. She agreed, and I began the paperwork to set the wheels in motion. "J" will be given an opportunity to attend alternative school if a slot exists for him. This may sound like a good option but one of the staff refers to alternative school as "Thugs R Us". If anything, it will hurry him down the track he is already headed on.

I will meet with "J" and his mother tomorrow and inform them of my decision. I don't look forward to doing this one little bit. I believe that my decision is the right thing to do, but I can't help but wonder if this will be the final nail in this kid's coffin. He doesn't have a stable place to live...he'll probably just bounce around. His mother is....well....loony. Now he's losing the one normal thing in his life. He loved the "leadership" class and the Army Captain (who just spent a year in Afghanistan) who taught it. I saw this as one of the few forces in his life pulling him away from the "Dark Side".

Now its gone. What will become of this troubled young man? What does his future hold? I told him, "I'm so sorry that you got yourself into this mess. When you do something like this I can't do a lot to help you anymore."

Good luck "J". When I said I was sorry I really meant it. You didn't see me after you left my office. I buried my face in my hands, pounded my fist on my desk, and let out a big "damnit".

Damnit.

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Sunday, November 07, 2004

Hard Life 

Aubree asked me in her precocious nine year old voice, "do you have a hard life Dad"? She said, "well, you know mom left you, you have us to raise, and..... ", filling in some of our setbacks. I told her that my life was indeed hard sometimes, but that others have it much worse. I have a very recent example to go by.

At lunchtime on Friday several boys got into a scuffle on the playground. They were referred to me and I imposed short-term suspensions on all three. I called the home of "M", an eleven year old 6th grader, got mom's boyfriend, and he told me she would be there shortly.

"M" was to wait in the office until his mom arrived while I dealt with other students. He was horsing around in the office and the secretaries moved him back behind the counter, sitting next to them. He then proceeded to repeatedly pass gas, annoying the very nice office staff. They put him in the nurse's office. The nurse noticed a mark on his face that I had also seen and assumed was part of the "fight". He told her that his mom had slapped him the night before. She called the police, unbeknownst to me.

Mom arrived and had a seat in my office. I talked to her for a couple of minutes and told her that I would get "M" so we could all discuss this together. I entered the nurse's office and found him talking to the police. I said, "what are you guys doing here? It can't be about this fight". The officer said, "what fight"? After a few moments of confusion I understood the situation. The police joined us in my office and asked mom what had happened.

She burst into tears and said, "I can't lie, I did slap him". This child has several hospitalizations, is on multiple medications, and has been aggressive not only at school, but with his younger siblings. The night before he picked up a heavy plastic megaphone and walloped his seven year old brother in the head. His mother lost her cool, slapped him in the face, saying, "see how that feels"?

Child welfare was called in and my office was occupied with police officers and caseworkers for a couple of hours. Mom told her story, sobbing almost constantly. Her boyfriend had been arrested a year before for abusing her. "M" was repeatedly aggressive toward her seven year old and now she was concerned about the two year old as well. Medications, counseling, therapy....you name it, he's done it. His biological father pops in and out of his life whenever he isn't in prison. I know that she has played a role in creating her situation, but I couldn't help but feel sympathy for her. What do you do with a child like that? How frustrating it must be. What the hell is she to do now?

After much discussion, it was agreed that "M" could go home with her. He told the police that she had never done anything like this before. It might even work out for the best. Now she has the attention of the "system". Maybe some resources can be put into place to help this family. But I see years of frustration and heartache down the road.

"M" banged on my office door repeatedly, not wanting to be left out of what was going on inside. At one point he threatened to run away and took off out the door, staying gone for 10-15 minutes. He yelled, "fuck all of you" and took off again. I told her to call me if there was anything I could do, knowing that wouldn't be much. I could only imagine what the weekend was going to be like at that home.

My life is hard sometimes, as I told my daughter. There are times when I am so frustrated, so discouraged, so heartbroken.There are moments where I weep and feel so lonely. But after that episode, all I wanted to do was come home, hug my kids, and thank God for my relatively good fortune.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

Weekend Roundup 11-6/11-7- 04 

Dwayne got stopped by the police for picking up illegal signs. Why don't they bust the people who actually broke the law? Jeni didn't do anything illegal. As a matter of fact she's legal after passing her state test!

Cheri is popular these days but she's no slut! Watching Vince became a popular pasttime on the subway.

ChunkyGirl sings the virtues of "make-up sex". Thomas can tell you about the virtues of losing control.

Liz could make a sailor blush. I'd blush if Ginger wrote something like this about me.

Ask VegasBaby about "Bubba". Ask Jen about her horoscope.

Keep my friend Ellen in your thoughts and prayers. Keep Dawn's husband Roy there as well. While you're at it, think about Delia as well.

Chuck has some thoughts about the evangelical movement. Sweety has some thoughts about a senseless political murder in her home country.

Carol has a long list of hobby projects to finish. Diana needs to finish her "novel".

Rock Star Mommy is running for president in 2008. I can't wait to see her commercials.

Flax worries about her daughter. Some Girl worries about a parenting mistake.

Jack gives the world a raspberry and wants to know what you've done to help people lately. John thinks politicians should re-read Robert Fulghum.

Sally has a special friend. So does Faith, and he's guest blogging for her.

Wild Scorpy is off for a weekend in the big city. Banshee Gurl will have fun on the weekends when she gets her bike.

Tara rocks the house. In Andie's house, it sounds like beer and pumpkin ice cream is the order of the day!

Steph is glad the election is over. It sounds like Erin is too...especially when she visits Pennsylvania.

Kristine wants the tone of our debate changed. Mike is doing his part with a new project.

Maggie wants some kitty advice. Renee prefers dogs, especially Snoopy!

Brenda's father is ill and she doesn't know if she can forget the past.

Didamo celebrates a birthday! Caitlin celebrates her first day on the job.

Dave lets us in on 10 things about him. Zandria lets us in on her trip to London.

Nicole is done pouting and is proud of her brother. Shara just feels like a nut.

It looks like Frani had a great time trick or treating. Snowball has the "blahs".

DM had a musician boyfriend who couldn't sing. He probably couldn't sing any of Roxanne's random songs.

Have a fantastic weekend!!

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Role Playing 

One of the things that I've done off and on since I got on the internet in 1986 is to play text-based role playing fantasy games. These games are called MUDS (which stands for Multi User Dungeon). They are based on the old Dungeons and Dragons formula, except that the game software takes the place of the "dice". I've never played D&D in my life, unlike many of the other players. An old girlfriend insisted that I give it a shot. At first I was totally baffled and couldn't understand the attraction of playing. After all, it was just lines of text on a screen.

The objective of the game is to build a powerful character that can kill bigger and bigger "mobs". You gain experience by "killing" small mobs, level your character, gain more skills, and get better equipment. All of this makes you more able to do more and more. I've spent close to a year "maxxing out" a single character.

What I've really enjoyed is the interaction with other players. To kill the biggest mobs for the biggest prizes it often takes a combination of many players all working together. One may be a warrior who is taking all the punishment and another might be a cleric who is "healing" him up. Sometimes it can take hours of strategizing and slowly wearing down your enemy. If you are not careful you might "die", losing experience and equipment.

I first started playing a MUD called Deaths Domain way back then. I still play it off and on today. I've played there since 1986 and there are several players there who have played much longer. Some of them I met when they were playing in high school and now they are college graduates and married. Some of them are older than I am and some are teenagers. We all know a lot about each other and have followed each other's lives. I've talked to several on the phone and met a couple of them in person. Several of my "mudding friends" have developed relationships and a couple met there and got married a couple of years ago. Yes, girls play too. They are some of the most fanatical players out there!

The thing about role playing games is that they are addictive as hell. Once you are hooked, you are HOOKED. Since the game is entirely text based it requires a great deal of imagination. After all these years of playing I can visualize the entire "world" in the game. Whether I'm casting spells, moving between rooms, or attacking a mob, I can see it all in my head.

I'm currently playing a "Star Wars" based MUD. If you're buff enough you can go kill the Emperor, Boba Fett, or Luke Skywalker and get their prized equipment. Right now I'm just trying to kill frogdogs and citizens. But one of these days, look out Darth Vader!

Its really difficult to understand if you haven't played. I'm not sure I even understand the appeal. Perhaps its just a way to escape for an hour or two and leave the real world behind. There I am powerful, knowledgeable, and know what to do. Real life isn't anywhere near that simple.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Midweek Tidbits 

Our school is having some sort of contest where the kids guess who faculty members are from a baby picture. Think they will have any luck with this one?



Its been cold and rainy the last couple of days. One result of this is having "inside day" at school. The kids don't go outside for lunch. They go into the gym...with me. Four straight lunch periods of kids in a small gym. I think I'm losing my hearing and my voice!

I don't often praise politicians these days, but I'd like to compliment John Kerry on his concession speech and George Bush on his victory speech. Both were gracious, humble, and conciliatory. I know it won't last, but it was nice to see for a day anyway. I'll work up a political post sometime when I'm more in the mood.

My friend Jen is off to Seattle on vacation and I have agreed to guest blog for her. Her site tends to be a bit more racy than mine. ChunkyGirl is also a guest blogger there, and after reading her first post , I've got my work cut out for me to keep up. Since I'm visiting there, when in Rome you know...:). I should have something up there tomorrow night.

My vice principal, who is a couple of years older than I am, tore his achilles tendon playing basketball this weekend. He is to undergo surgery in the next week or so and will be unable to run for six months. He is an incredibly competitive guy and is most upset about missing this season of refereeing basketball. This has prompted a discussion among some of my colleagues. Do you get to a point where there are certain physical activities you should just give up?

Add "Alexander" to the list of movies I'd like to see soon. I'm a sucker for movies like this. Braveheart is one of my all time favorites!




Ok...one more picture. I had hair in 1986!




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Monday, November 01, 2004

A Day In The Life 

Today I spent the good part of a morning dealing with a young man. He is almost 15 years old and is in his second tour through the 8th grade. His grades are almost all failing again. He was sent to me because he literally could not stay awake in P.E. class. I found him dozing in a chair in our outer office. When I brought him into my office he was snoozing away while I looked up his information on the computer. He awoke long enough to tell me that he'd just had a few hours sleep the night before. His mom told me that she had him in bed by 9:00 and up at 6:30. So what was the deal?

I took him for a walk around the building to wake him up. During our walk he confessed to slipping out of the house after his mom fell asleep and heading to a friend's house for a party. He also confessed to consuming a fair amount of beer at this party. I asked him if he had smoked any weed and he just kinda smiled and shrugged. The truth comes out...he had a hangover! Our ROTC instructor, overhearing this, informed me that "hair of the dog" was the best hangover cure. I told him I didn't think we could get by with that one!

I informed his mother of the information of the night's partying and she burst into tears. She sobbed on the phone about how difficult her life was and how now she couldn't even sleep for fear of her son slipping out. She asked for some suggestions and I gave her a few (first: get this kid a urinalysis done now!). At one point she opined to me that I just didn't understand how difficult it was to raise a kid with disabilities. Au contraire mademoiselle! I gave her a synopsis of my situation with Patrick...I do understand.

The conversation streched on and on. She wrote down all my suggestions about how to proceed. She promised to come meet with me in the next few days and to set up meetings with the teachers.

Then she wanted to know more about my son. I was uncomfortable giving much detail, so I once again just sketched out the situation. She said, "you're a single dad. There's no wife there helping you"? I told her no. The conversation rambled on some more. Then she giggled and said, "do you have a girlfriend"? Not really, I replied. She purred, "I'll bet your girlfriends just love your voice. Its so deep and warm. I like hearing your voice". Ahem. Shuffle in seat. This conversation is becoming interesting if perhaps a bit inappopriate! Being the coward..err, professional..that I am, I steered the conversation back to safer ground and wished her well. She called back twice more to ask questions and have more conversation.

Add to that a young man who swore that he said, "fluck you" instead of "fuck you". That makes it so much better I told him. Then there was the saggy-pants guy who required four plastic ties from my desk to keep his pants from falling off his ass. There were the two girls who couldn't seem to stop calling each other "hos". Can't forget the boy who ran his hand under the girl's skirt, got slapped for it, wrote her a note talking about how "I like feeling you up" and "Sex is on the way". He denied the whole thing until I pulled his own note out of my pocket and dangled it at him.

I love my job.

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