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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Its All About Relationships.... 

So said the keynote speaker("Sue") at the conference I attended last week. She was referring to the relationship between teacher and student. But the same components can be found in any relationship....respect, tolerance, understanding, caring.

She told a story about missing a few days of school, walking back into her science class, and finding that the rule on chewing gum had changed while she was gone. Without warning, she found herself scraping gum during after school detetention and being forced to learn a poem which said she was dumber than a cow. Her sin? Not knowing the rule had changed. Not understanding what the new consequence would be. Her reaction? She tuned out that teacher completely and learned as little as possible. The relationship was broken. Unfairness is something difficult for any of us to take. The teacher may not have even known it, but that fragile bond was shattered forever.

I hope my "chewing gum moments" have been few and far between during my career. I thought back over the years to problems I've had with kids and the things I've said. For sure, I've had words I wish I could take back, things I shouldn't have done. Relationships were strained and didn't reach their full potential. Its not so much what you say.....its the spirit in which it is said, the fairness of what you do, and a general perception of caring. Kids understand that adults will lose their cool now and then. But they have a radar that in inerrantly perceptive. Simply put, they know who likes them and cares about them.

These things are true in our adult relationships too, arent' they? Our actions have consequences and our words have meaning. We care about people and don't always show it. We say things that sting and sometimes hurt badly. Sometimes we are ignorant about what we do, other times we just don't care, and occasionally we want to inflict pain.

One of the things I've always prided myself on is my basic decency. I want to treat people fairly and honestly. Have I always lived up to the ideal? Sadly, no. When I don't, I tend to feel very guilty about it. I've always believed that the ultimate measure of a human being is how we treat other people. None of us exist in a vacuum. The things we do and say each day can have enormous impact on someone else.

The coach that once called me "worthless"? Did he have a clue how bad that hurt a kid who practiced for hundreds of hours trying to meet his approval? The youth minister who made it clear that I wasn't one of the "cool kids" and shunned me? That impacts my view of the church to this day. The girl in college who told me that she "usually dated better looking guys"? Yes my dear, I still remember. The person who knew me best making it clear that I just wasn't worth the trouble? It'll haunt me forever.

The point is not that I've lived a terrible life... I haven't. I'm sure everyone has stories like this. People we looked up to, trusted, and loved are the ones that hurt us the most. We've probably all done it in return too...sadly. Maybe sometimes it just can't be avoided.

We have a responsibility to people in our lives....our families, our spouses, our lovers, our children, our friends, our students, our co-workers. What we do affects their lives. Its not a burden to bear. Its a charge to keep. No one will judge me on my deathbed about how much money I've made, how much success I've had, how many speeches I've given, how many women I've had sex with, the cars I drove, my computer skills, who I voted for, or how clean my house is. What I'll be judged on is how I've treated those who I've been fortunate enough to have in my life.

Sue was right. You see, it really is all about the relationships.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Weekend Roundup 2/25-2/26 

The weekend is here again. What is the latest and greatest in blogland? Read on!

Joan lays her aunt to rest. Patty likes to rest on her bed.

Feisty Girl wasn't getting her "Entertainment Weekly" and wanted to know why.

John is gearing up for a marathon. Vince is gearing up to be a librarian!

AKA Monty just doesn't want bugs touching her. Joe would like the "romance of his life" to reach out and touch him.

Restless Angel has a bad school bus memory. Jack has memories of things his four year old has done.

Tara thinks you can discern true love in the morning. It may not be true love, but Inky has the hots for her dentist. (Scroll to "I'll Never Admit This") Open wide! :)

Deborah sounds like she's been as busy as I've been. So has Caren, even though she's had time to make socks.

Chaotic Serenity meets a suave, sophisticated online gentleman. Maybe he shows his butt crack too.....to Darla's dismay.

Janet's dad is like Motel 6...he'll leave the light on for you. When Jennifer turns out the lights she has an interesting dream.

Nicole celebrates her friend, Cindy. (scroll to "Happy Birthday Cindy"). Leslie is celebrating her shopping bargains by having meat and booze sauce.

Annabel Lee has question about email etiquette. How about personal ad etiquette? Check out some of these ads via Mary Lou!

Thomai is a firehorse. Kristine is a picture scanning goddess.

NewWaveGurly misses kissing. Jen does a lot more than kiss in her Passion Friday post.

Jazzy is a multi tasker. Some Girl only had one task in mind the other night. When you gotta go...you gotta go!

Scorpy's dad is having some health problems. Best wishes for his recovery.

Anne is feeling fragile. Cetta is feeling disconnected.

Ginger talks about her drug of choice. Christine talks about her one-time sugar daddy.

Edge shares some things about himself. Vickie shares what friendship is all about.

Kater is back from her hiatus. Ellen is back from the doctor and has an update.

Dawn is recovering from surgery. Another Dawn didn't have surgery but she did have..well, a shitty day.

FlyGirl is looking forward to a little solitude. Stephanie must've felt solitude under that umbrella.

Sallie is a proud mommy. Veda talks about ways to avoid becoming a mommy.

Steph has some things she'd like to tell her mom. Flirt wants all of us to tell Ellen how we feel about her.

Chuck's daughter would've been one year old today. Faith suffers a loss in her family. Both are in my thoughts.

"C" fantasizes about a first meeting. Erin fantasizes about getting rid of her cold!

Nameless has mom that can irritate her. Janine is irritated by mating pigeons.

Sarah blogs her wedding proposal. Best wishes to them both! There isn't a wedding anytime soon, but Kathy's teenage son is in love.

Katriana enjoys Sunday mornings. VegasBaby wasn't enjoying her work neighbors....but it looks like the police have taken care of that problem.

Nikki has some wishes. Rachel wishes she hadn't lost a friend.

T Marie is officially a "Mainah" now. Puglet was officially exhausted.

Feb. 20th was a significant day for Gladys. Shadowbox has some significant verbiage for one of his clients.

Riri writes about sex, sexuality, and love. Diana writes about her son's birthday.

Hippie Chix makes an apology. Frani makes a list of where she's been.

Enjoy the great posts and have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Midweek Musings 

Is it Wednesday already? The week is flying by!

Yesterday was a very busy day. 7:15 am.- a breakfast banquet with our student council and other students from the area. 9:00 a.m. - arrived at school to face a burgeoning stack of student referrals on my desk. A particulary frenetic day at work left me feeling behind all day. I left the school at 3:45 and went to a 4:00 meeting on ELL (English Language Learner) students which lasted until 6:00. I was the only guy in a room of about 40 women....definitely a testosterone shortage there! I left the meeting and went straight to my dad's basketball practice. He is 74 years old, but is coaching a team of 8th grade girls. Still clad in my "dress outfit" I taught post moves to the girls for about an hour. After the obligatory post-practice chatting I gathered up the kids and got home around 8:30. I tossed them into the shower and got them in bed. Aaaah.

I'll be attending the OMLEA (Oklahoma Middle Level Education Association) convention this week. It'll be a nice chance to hear some good presentations, network, and see some colleagues that I haven't seen in many years.

Aubree is selling those "World's Finest Chocolate" candy bars as a school fundraiser. She is an aggressive salesgirl and has already sold a good portion of her box. I work in a school and I know these fundraisers provide badly needed cash for student programs. But I've never liked the whole concept of putting kids out there selling. When I was a kid we sold that stuff door-to-door in the neighborhood. You can't do that anymore. What happens is that parents try to help out by selling to their friends and coworkers. Why can't we just adequately fund schools and ditch the damn fundraisers?

I wasn't flirting with that subsitute teacher today. I swear!

Aubree and Patrick will be flying to England this summer for two weeks to visit my first wife. Their aunt will accompany them on the flight and they are so psyched. It should be quite an adventure for them. Patrick has been practicing "drinking tea" and informing me that "the right way to drink tea is with your pinky extended" (in faux English accent). Cracks me up.

Speaking of their vacation....that means that I will be childless for two weeks. Two weeks! Whatever shall I do with myself. One idea that is taking hold in my mind is going on a long road trip. I've thought about heading east.....Arkansas, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta,...all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. I could just relax, see the sights, and take it as it comes. Sounds like fun.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Lets Get Physical 

One of the things I miss about my married life is the ability to have sex on a regular basis. I know there are married people that don't have sex regularly, but I was never one of those. I miss touching and being touched. I miss the connection. I miss cuddling afterward. I miss the physical and the mental. I miss it all. I haven't exactly joined the priesthood since I moved back here but my sexual activity has been sporadic at best, sometimes by my own choice.

When you're married, the question is whether to have sex tonight. Don't feel like it? Well, there is always tomorrow night. I know that there are married people who don't have an active sex life for whatever reason. But if they do have sex there isn't a big question about what it all means. It just means they are having sex!

Then there are single folks like me! The good news is that we can have sex with whoever we want to, whenever we want to. The bad news? It can become really complicated.

Everyone seems to have their own way of looking at this. When is it ok to have sex with someone? First date? Second? Six months later? Only when you're in a committed relationship? I've met women that have given all different answers to this question. If you do have sex, what does it mean? Is it always just a choice between casual/meaningless sex or sex as part of a committed relationship?

Our sexuality is an important part of who we are. I crave human contact....human touch....release....affection.....tenderness.....excitement. What I don't crave are the complications that come with it. There's the guy part of me that really wants to get laid. But then there is another part of me that just can't deal with some of the complications that inevitably come with it. Purely casual sex isn't really my thing as much as my male ego would like to think. Heavy duty relationships aren't either right now. Maybe as I slowly move out of the fog I've been in this will all make more sense.

Well, there's always celibacy. Know any good monasteries?

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Beautiful Day 

It was absolutely beautiful outside today. Temperatures soared into the 70's, the skies were blue, and a gentle breeze blew across my face. The kids suggested that today would be a great day to go for a bike ride. So bike riding it was!

I live at the top of a very steep hill. We had a lot of fun riding down the hill. Getting back up wasn't nearly as much fun! Still, we had a blast. We rode down by the local golf course and cruised through tree-lined residential neighborhoods. Aubree got annoyed a few times because we had to stop and wait for Patrick. But she was thrilled that we were all riding together.

We got home and the kids wanted to wash the van. We drug out sponges, soap, and the water hose and gave the van a nice bath. It must've looked like the scenes out of that old commercial where people are throwing water and soap at each other. All of us got a little wet. All of us were laughing hysterically.

I made dinner and we had one of our fairly rare nights where we all sat down and ate together. The kids are often fed at my mom's house before I pick them up after work. During the week it is usually me eating alone. On the weekends? Take-out or fix your own snack. But this was an honest-to-goodness sit down family meal. The kids wanted me to quiz them about state capitals and presidents (see what happens when your dad is a social studies teacher at heart?) . Patrick said, "this is just like it was in the old days". Damn...out of the mouths of babes. We all agreed that we would do this more often.

Do you know how long its been since I laughed this much and meant it? Well, its been a long damn time. The thing is....I love to laugh. I love to play. I love to tell jokes.

I don't think I realized how much I've missed it until today.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Weekend Roundup 2/18-2/19 

Another weekend already? I'm so glad its here. How has everyone been this week?


Its P.M.S. time around Joe's place. Its Hooters time around Fran's place....soon!

Red Head Gal is back in the saddle again! I hope Dawn's dad will get better and can be back in the saddle himself.

Veda worries that her mom might find her blog. Stephanie's husband doesn't have to search for her blog. She posted a touching Valentine's Day tribute to him.

Vickie identifies what friendship is. Mary Lou's friend CJ "blog forwarded" her. What a neat idea.

Anne has some college memories. Tara has memories of her prom.

Joan's waited patiently for her Valentine to arrive. Rachel is tired of waiting for "Unrequited".

Jerzee pays tribute to her sister. Nameless pays tribute to her kids.

Vince can tell you what states she has visited. Some Girl can tell you why she opens her mouth.

New Wave Gurly comments on "Sex and the City". It would've been a better show if Edge had been writing for them. Wow.

Restless Angel has the whole alphabet covered. So does Flirt....and then some!

T Marie doesn't have everything she wants but she is happy. Leslie is happy her nieces are coming but wishes she felt better.

Charkey just wants to be found. Faith just wants to eat meat and not be reminded where it comes from.

Feisty Girl almost had a nervous breakdown. A rodent almost caused Kathy to have one too.

Ken has too many pockets. Chaotic Serenity has a ghost in her house.

Wanda has some good Valentine's Day advice. Steph's advice? One guy is not enough.

AKA Monty is a girl in search of a label. Annabel Lee could be searching for a thoughtful, intelligent guy. This one probably doesn't make the cut.

Ginger is sending out a few messages. Liz has a message to day care...you cost too damn much!

John is celebrating his anniversary. Scorpy celebrates Friday with a few tasty questions.

Jack lives life with reckless abandon. Cassie is just living life searching for green tea ice cream.

Katriana has a sizzling Valentine's post. Didamo had a fun Sunday.

Improve the flavor of cum? Kristine would like it in green apple flavor please. Gladys would just like a guy who can have a better conversation than this.

Shelli's hubby left her a message. Jen's message? We are more than what our bodies look like.

Puglets knows what sucks and what doesn't. So does Love Donnaz, and he can tell you that the band "Angel" definitely did not suck.

Caren has a new love interest...with zoom. She should get together with Sallie...this picture is awesome.

Christine talks about blog sluts. *Gulp* Jazzy talks about the Dragon Lady. Read both of these posts...you won't regret it!

Hey folks....have a great weekend! OK?

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

School Night 

Aubree's drama club performed their version of "Willy Wonka's Chocoloate Factory" tonight at Washington Elementary. The performance was proceeded by the "dinner theater", and the three of us dined on barbecue and chatted with Aubree's friends.

The kids were really cute and performed very well. But a 1 1/2 hour performance is quite long for this age group! It was a full time job for me to manage Patrick and try and keep my eyes on the stage. But seeing these enthusiastic kids act with such gusto made it all worthwhile. There is something about kids that replenishes my faith in the human race.

I attended this school during my fourth grade year. I scored my first basket in a real game in the same gym where Aubree performed. I won the citywide free throw shooting contest there. I won the spelling bee there. Hell, I wore bell bottoms, open collared shirts, and platform shoes to this school! Mrs. Lewis was my teacher and was on the edge of retirement then. I remember her kind face and the liver spots on her arms. She is probably long gone by now, but she was a great encouragement to me. I remember her saying, "Brian, if you can ever get over being so shy, you could really make something of yourself"!

I strolled the halls and looked at all the plaques and trophies. Many of them were of kids I knew during my middle school vice principal years here. Wrestling awards, beauty pageant winners, basketball trophies, and poetry awards festooned the walls of this 100 year old school. Most of the winners are adults now. Were these years the highlights of their lives or did they go on to bigger and better things? I looked for awhile at Jamie's picture. Her mother relentlessly pushed her to enter "Miss Teen USA" contests. When I knew her she wasn't able to live a normal kid's life. She would now be about 24 years old. How is she doing?

I came across a newspaper article on a bulletin board about a couple I knew from my own school days. They had been high school sweethearts, planned to attend college together and get married. He nearly died in a car crash in the summer of his senior year. Their college plans went awry, they drifted apart, married other people and had kids. Last year they ran into each other and discovered that both were divorced and raising children. Both were teachers. They began dating and are now happily married, 27 years after first meeting at a local drive-in. I stared for awhile at their picture. He was a couple of years older than I am and was someone I looked up to back then. They were the homecoming king and queen. Now, all these years later, they are finally together. I felt a wave of emotion rush over me and could feel my face burning. Is it possible my story could have a happy ending like theirs? I am such a sap sometimes. Ok, I'm a sap most of the time.

It doesn't seem like 33 years have passed since I was where Aubree is. As she sat in my lap during the program's final act, I hugged her extra tight. She is still young enough to sit on her dad's lap unashamedly, hugging me, whispering in my ear. Those days won't last all that much longer and I intend to savor them. She has so much of life to look forward to. She has so many possibilities ahead of her. Perhaps some day she'll be sitting in a gymnasium like this one, proudly watching her own child. What will she have done with her life by then? Will she have made the right choices? Will she be happy? Sometimes the awesome responsibility of being a parent really hits me hard, and tonight was one of those times. My kids are a humbling responsibility and yes, sometimes a burden. But they are also my greatest gift and my special blessing.

I'm feeling so damn emotional tonight. I'm not sure exactly why. Its like I'm extra sensitive and all my senses are firing off. I want to laugh loudly. I want to cry. I want to make love. I want to smile. I want to run. I just want to....feel. Maybe I just suppress these things so much that they come bursting out when the right moment hits.

School nights. Sometimes they are more than they seem.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

A 6th grade boy sits in front of me, accused of biting a girl on the arm. She was helping him on the computer and her story was that he leaned forward and bit her arm. He was denying it vehemently. "Mr. S, I swear I didn't bite her". I rested my on my palm and affixed him with my patented skeptical look, not saying anything. He kept fidgeting and finally blurted out, "I swear, I swear, I swear I didn't bite her. I'm not even hungry"! LOL. You really can't make this stuff up.

Of course the same guy was sitting in front of me today again, this time accused of telling a girl to, "suck my dick". He denies saying such a thing. I looked at him in the eyes and said, "You're lying to me. I don't like being lied to. I'm going to check my email and when I ask you the same question again, you had better tell me the truth. If you don't, I'm going to throw the book at you". He sang like a canary a couple of mintues later.

Aubree has a performance of her drama club tomorrow night. This was originally scheduled for December but has been put off until now. She has her lines memorized and is excited! The kids and I are going early so that we can dine as part of the "dinner theater". It should be fun!

A mom of a handicapped child told me today, "a big important man like you wouldn't understand what its like to have a daughter like mine". Oh yeah? I don't often do this, but I told her that I was a single dad whose son operated on a level fairly close to her daughter. Yes, I do understand. I'm also not very important!

A drawing confiscated from a student today showed males in various stages of development. At age 5, a tiny little penis. At age 10, a little bigger. At 15, its humongous. At age50? The drawing shows it falling off. Yikes! The drawing was part of perhaps 10 pages stapled together and titled "The Life of a Dildo". Ahh, our young creative minds.

A few months ago the city billed my brother/landlord for $400 for one month of water usage. Obviously, that can't be right. We had the city come out, had a plumber look things over, and could discover no problem. The next month's bill? Forty bucks. A few months pass by. The most recent water bill is for $475.00 (30,000 gallons of water)! I'm mortally certain there is no leak. We have one bathroom, a kitchen sink, and a washing machine. I measured the difference between yesterday's reading and today's. My water usage in 24 hours? 110 gallons. That is with three showers and washing two loads of clothes. Something just isn't right.

Ever had a Mojito? These things are way yummy! Give me a couple of those and a plate of hot, spicy food. Ahhhh.

Our midwinter warm spell was broken today. Overcast skies and 40ish temperatures. Ugh!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Weekend in Pictures 

The past weekend was filled with activities. Some were my normal weekend things....laundry (always laundry!), housecleaning, washing my van, doing and doing a little grocery shopping. But then of course there was the Valentine's Ball!



My lovely date "T" and I spent Saturday evening at the Kappa Delta Psi's annual Valentine's dance. She looked stunning in her black evening dress as you can see! We enjoyed a nice steak dinner at a Tulsa restauraunt and headed over to the Doubletree Hotel in Tulsa where the dance was being held. We sipped our champagne punch, laughed, talked, and danced the night away. "T" is a blast to go out with. She is beautiful, intelligent, and a great conversationalist!

A live band and a DJ provided the dance tunes...mostly R&B. Number of people at the dance? I'd guess around 400. Number of white people? Perhaps five, including us! It didn't matter a bit. We had a great time, and if anyone was amused by my lack of dancing ability they didn't let it show. We danced to tunes by The Isley Brothers, Teddy Pendergrass, Marvin Gaye, etc. The dance floor wasn't quite big enough for the number of people there, but I think I managed not to step on anyone's toes.

While "T" went to the bathroom at evening's end I headed out to the parking garage to get the van. I stood in front of the elevator and when it opened there were perhaps seven kids in pajamas riding the elevator. As I stepped in I heard a voice say, "hey, thats my Dean"! One of my students was there having a birthday slumber party for a friend. We chatted as the elevator went up. Thank God I wasn't falling down drunk or something!



Of course, one of the evening's highlights was getting to spend some time with my friend Janet. She has changed jobs and I haven't seen her in months. She flitted around socializing, but I managed to share a few laughs with her.



The next day it was time to go pick up the kids from my parent's house, where they spent the night while I was out partying! My parents have a basketball goal in their backyard, and I can never walk past it without taking a few shots. Some of those shots even go in. Notice the perfect-form release! :)



I had a few shots left in my disposable camera, and the kids I took turns taking some pictures. Aubree and I enjoyed playing around in the backyard on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon.



My dad apparently spent quite a bit of time teaching Patrick how to tie a Windsor and double Windsor knot, using one of his spare neckties. Patrick loved it and didn't want to take this shirt and tie off the rest of the day. Now he wants to wear it to school!

I can't quite say that life is a bed of roses, but I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend!

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Monday, February 14, 2005

The Heart of Things 

First, let me wish a Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! For those of you who are in love, married, or in some type of committed relationship, I wish you and yours the best on this day. For those cynical types out there? C'mon, let the sappiness flow for just a day. Don't have a sweetheart right now? Want to give me a pass to the club? I hope you find that special person if that is your wish.

I had a much sadder post that I've been writing for this occasion. The more I played with it, the more it didn't feel right. Yes, I do feel waves of sadness, bitterness, and regret. I try not to let those feelings dominate my thoughts. Do my eyes mist when I see a happy couple kissing goodbye at their front door this morning, flowers in her hands? Yeah. Do they know how lucky they truly are? Do they understand how difficult that is to find?

One of the things I've come to realize is that you can't rely on someone else for your own happiness. The ability to feel happy and at peace can only be found inside yourself. Some recent reading I did discussed the idea of "choosing to be happy". Its about getting up in the morning and tackling my day with the ferocity of a linebacker chasing down a ball carrier. Its about respecting those who have given me their time, their affection, and yes...their love. Its about emphasizing those things we have that are so wonderful. It sounds so easy. Why haven't I done it? Because its easy to wallow around in comforting pit of sorrow. Throw me a lifeline you say? I'll hang on to it for awhile and then slide back in. I don't want to live like this.

Could I have had my own Valentine today? Yes, I could have. I've been offered friendship, affection, and love. I've returned doubt, fear, and guilt. So, I can't wrap myself in pity over a situation that is at least partially of my own making.

I have a lot to learn and much growing to do. I've got to get out of this damn depressive state that hovers over me. I've got to learn what it is about me than someone else would want. I've got to learn to respect those who offer me their friendship. I've got to learn to love a woman again instead of just loving women. I've got to understand what it is that I really want.

On that last point? I have a clue. I saw it this morning on a front porch in a small Oklahoma town.

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Weekend Roundup 2/11-2/12 

Another week gone by in blogland. What are we thinking? How are our lives?

Edge shares his take on voyeurism. Mary Lou shares how she began blogging.

Stephanie introduces us to Lindsay. Vickie introduces us to her hero....her dad.

Restless Angel's friends don't get her taste in men. How about her taste in sofas? Talk to Jen about it!

Faith has a little princess. Jack has a love/hate relationship with some of his fellow bloggers.

Charkey is a coffee connoisseur. Is VegasBaby's cat a plant connoisseur?

Veda had a dream. Ellen had some good news.

Scorpy is excited about her bonus check. Joe sounds excited about his kick-ass Friday!

Vince shared a moment on the train with a stranger. Ken shares his blog song.

Steph is giving something for Lent....being stubborn. Caren wants everyone to give up nukes.

New Wave Gurly reminds us that all women are beautiful. Janine is reminded of the miracle of life.

Marc is ramblin and thinking about hosting a party. Love Donnaz is fuming over Alice Cooper's exclusion from rock's hall of fame.

Anne has some advice for a pain-free Valentine's Day. Andie's Friday isn't exactly pain-free.

Jennifer asks the 8-Ball for advice. Katrina's advice? Shop at Safeway instead of Wal Mart.

Katya thinks she needs anger management classes. No one got angry, but Wanda's post on the gay marriage debate stirred up some debate!

Inky wonders why guys like phone sex. Katriana didn't need phone sex....she had the real thing.

Flirt says goodbye to Snowy. "C" is happpy to say goodbye to this week.

Kristine's little girl is growing up. It sounds like Liz's sister never did.

Sallie shares some uses for household products. Aubree shares her unhappiness with being sick on her birthday.

Rachel writes to her future Valentine. Gladys writes about her mom, life, and living life your own way.

Tara was born in the wrong decade. Its just wrong that Annabel Lee doesn't have a Valentine, but she isn't letting that stop her from partying.

John's son is really having a hard time of it. Frani wouldn't have been happy if she didn't get the cookbook she wanted.

Nikki recognizes some customers from her stripping days. Chuck recognizes a conspiracy when he sees one.

T Marie has romance on the brain. Molly might have romantic ideas about her mayor if not for his marital status.

Christine had a perfect day....even without sex. I don't know if Ginger had sex, but she did have the perfect hotel room.

Kim writes about a dis-robed judge in my town. Cetta writes about her love of books.

Dwayne reminisces about childhood diseases. Carol reminisces about a cross stitch item from her childhood....and she found it again!

Lisa paints one of her Fantasy Friday masterpieces. Pissed Kitty reminds us that you can't hump a car.

Erin has a hot Valentine's date. Some Girl has a lunch date.

Jeni hopes she isn't having a midlife crisis. Maybe she could try some of Shelli's discovery! Hey..it couldn't hurt.

Have a great weekend everyone!


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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Cutting 

"Stop her Mr. S!" my colleague yelled as the 7th girl girl sprinted past where I was standing. I was in the process of bring basketballs out for the kids to play with at lunch. I dropped the balls on the ground, leapt off the loading dock, and took off running after "A". She turned the corner, ran down the sidewalk, and took off at full speed. I was narrowing the gap when she reached the busy city street. Cars whizzed by a few feet in front of her, and she looked back and forth between them and me. I approached her, took her by the arm, and said "lets go back inside". I had no idea what was going on.

She told me, "you don't have to hang onto my arm. I won't run again". I replied, "good, because I don't want to repeat that chase!. I'm getting too old for this". She said, "how about I take your arm"? Sounded good to me. I walked her back into the building and into my office where we were joined by her counselor. Why did she run?

The counselor was talking to "A" and a friend. The friend made mention of cuts on "A's" arm. The counselor looked at her arm, was alarmed, and sent her to the school nurse. When the nurse made mention of contacting her mom, she bolted and ran. She didn't want to get in trouble.

I asked to see her arm. She rolled up her sweatshirt and I could see very new looking slashes on her wrist. Older cuts were further up her arm. She told me that there were even more cuts on her shoulder and chest....easier to hide. She'd been cutting herself since November. These new cuts were scary looking, long and precise.

Sobbing, she told me that when she cut herself that pain makes the "other pain" go away. She was fearful of being forced to go live with her dad again. She told of how he beat her and slapped her when she lived there before. She was scared of him. Her mom had told her that if she didn't get her act together she would have to go back and live with dad again.

Her mom arrived at school at met with me, the counselor, "A", and the nurse in my crowded little office. The mom burst into tears when she saw her daughter's arm. Through tears "A" explained the same thing to her mom that she had explained to me. Mom cried and told her that she would never make her live with dad again. She turned to me and said, "her father is a very mean and cruel man".

We supplied her with a referral for a free assessment by local agenices for her daughter. I looked her mom squarely in the face and told her, "you need to take her to see someone today. Not tomorrow, not next week.....today. As soon as you leave here you need to take her straight there". She nodded in agreement, but I will follow up tomorrow to make sure that she does. This girl has been slicing and dicing on herself for months. Couldn't anyone see what was happening with her? Sometimes this stuff just drives me crazy.

In the conversation her mom told me that she had given birth to twins at 15 years old. "A" was born a few years later. I didn't get the whole story, but there is a lot of history in this girl's family. I think her issues go beyond a fear of her father. She needs help and she needs it now.

Just up the street from our school another tragedy was taking place. The latest story I've heard was that a man served with a restraining order this morning took a shotgun to his wife's workplace, hunted her down, killed her, and turned the gun on himself. Damnit. Our school was on a modified lockdown all afternoon.

One woman's life snuffed out by someone she once loved....and maybe still did. One little girl crying out for help.

Its a helluva world isn't it?


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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Midweek Musings 

Is it Wednesday already? This week is going by quickly!

I've been working on my taxes. Ugh. The federal part of my return is going fine. I have a small refund, and with some more work it will probably be a little larger. But now I've moved back to a state that has a state income tax. I tried to work the state return online and it kept counting all of my income from last year as taxable Oklahoma income. This doesn't make for a pretty picture. I kept scrolling back through the options and couldn't find one that let me differentiate between income I earned in Washington and income I earned here in Oklahoma. Its back to the drawing board.

At least I get to deduct all those damn moving expenses. For once, I actually am halfway organized in that area. I kept the receipts in a nice file folder, ready for my calculator.

Socks and underwear are the bane of my existence. No matter how much laundry I do and how often I do it, the kids (especially Aubree) always seem to come up missing socks or underwear. I wish the gremlins that are stealing those things would kindly return them.

The last of the Star Wars saga is only a few months away from opening in theaters. Like any Star Wars fan I'm looking forward to seeing it in theaters. The first Star Wars movie was released in 1977 when I was a sophomore in high school. They've been able to milk this thing for almost 30 years! Its hard to believe that I saw the first one at the drive-in movies as a teenager and I'll see the final installment as a middle aged adult. Geez.

I remember having the Star Wars soundtrack on 8 track tape as a teenager and thinking it sounded like my speakers were having a fight with each other.

I did remember to put my garbage can at the curb this morning. This is a very good thing! I hate forgetting and having to spend the next week cramming stuff into the can to make it all fit. It must be a sad life when I get excited about this!

The song I couldn't get out of my head today and sung to myself while making one of my many strolls through the hallways of our school? "Turn Me Loose" by Loverboy.

I was born to run, I was born to dream,
The craziest boy you ever seen,
I gotta do it my way,
Or no way at all.
And I was here to please,

I’m even on knees
Makin love to whoever I please,
I gotta do it my way,
Or no way at all.

Maybe this should be my new theme song!

And how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Body Parts 

So it begins. Aubree hopped into the van today and the first words out of her mouth were, "We had to take Human Growth and Development today. It was so gross".

Dad to Aubree: "What was so gross about it. What did you study"?

Aubree to Dad: "We had to learn about the parts of our bodies. We learned about eggs. We even had to look at pictures of a vagina".

Dad to Aubree: "Eggs eh? That reminds me I need to stop at the grocery store"

Aubree to Dad: "Dad, thats even worse than your other corny jokes" (eyes rolling). Anyway, look at this picture (a nice color picture of the female reproductive organs). How do you pronounce this word anyway?"

Dad to Aubree: "That word is fallopian. Do you know what the fallopian tubes do"? (Patrick interjects and says, "I look at that same picture every day in my science book")

Aubree to Dad: "Yes dad, the eggs travel through those...how do you pronounce it again"? (turns head and says, "are you sure its the same picture Patrick?") (he nods)

Dad to Aubree: "Anyway honey, this isn't gross or disgusting stuff. Its just the human body. Its important for you to understand your body and how it works"

Aubree to Dad: "Yeah dad, but it is sooooooooo disgusting. They gave us this coupon for tampons. Tampons! Do I look like I need tampons, Dad"?

Dad (feeling slight uncomfortable) to Aubree: "No, but you will some day" (cringes inwardly)

Aubree to Dad: "I know this girl that got her period at nine years old. I'm already ten and I haven't started mine yet. When do you think I will"?

Dad to Aubree: "I don't know. Everyone matures at a different rate. It could be sometime soon or it could be years away" (Pleeeaaaaase!)

Patrick interjects, sounding very clinical, "Everyone hits puberty at their own time".

Aubree to Dad: "I'm so glad its over for now. That was so disgusting. All my friends were just going....yukkk!. Next year we have to study the boy's body. If the girls' is this bad, just imagine how gross it will be learning about boys"!


Where is the manual for this anyway?

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Deja Vu 

In a great many ways my life feels like it did eight years ago. At this time in 1997 I was newly divorced, a single dad, and working as a school administrator....just like now. I'm now living about six blocks from where I lived before. I was driving a minivan then...I'm driving one now. In some sense its like the past eight years have been a wild ride that dumped me on my ass right back where I started. As the immortal Yogi Berra said, "its deja vu all over again"!

Here's the latest twist:

Eight years ago my friend Janet told me that I was going to a Valentine's Ball sponsored by her husband's fraternity. You noticed that I said "told". Janet didn't leave me any choice in the matter. She told me then, "you've been moping around, spending every weekend at home, and not having any fun for months now. You are going out and where you are going is this dance. Either you get a date or I'll get one for you. But you ARE going, Brian!" Janet is not the easiest person to say no to. I protested that I couldn't find a date. Through a series of friends she procured a blind date for me and a friend of mine. He and I went on a double blind date! We met our respective dates at a "pre party" and then went to the dance together.

There was one small problem. I was not the least bit attracted to my date. Thats the problem with blind dates, isn't it? You're rolling the dice. Still, I thought the evening would be fine. She seemed very nice, worked in education, and I was sure we would find something to talk about. We chatted at the "pre party", the four of us piled into my friend's car, and we headed to the dance. My date was already pretty tipsy and proceeded to the point of sloshiness before the dance had even started. She began to get a little more physical with me than I would have liked, especially since I didn't want to get physical at all! I understood how teenage girls must feel when they are getting pawed on by some hormonally charged guy. I was trying to be a gentleman and artfully dodge her advances. For the most part I was successful. We chatted, danced a little, and I maneuvered away when she had her hands all over my butt! We all went out to eat afterward, I hugged her goodbye, and thanked her for a nice time. She drunkenly stuck her phone number in my shirt pocket. I knew I wouldn't call.

Fast forward eight years. Janet called me this weekend and said, "What are you doing next Saturday"? When I replied that I had no plans she said, "you do now. You are going to the Valentine's Ball"! Once again she told me that I could bring a date or that she would fix me up with one of her single friends. I reminded of her of the last time. She cackled and said, "this time I won't fix you up with a wild, crazy woman"! She reminded me about an old fling that she was sure still carried a torch for me after all these years...."Brian, I know she'd say yes if you called and asked her to go". I demurred and told her that I thought I could come up with my own date this time.

I asked my friend "T" to accompany me to this very formal dance. Its tuxedos or suits for guys and formal evening wear for ladies. She graciously accepted my invitation. So next Saturday night we'll be partying in downtown Tulsa at a very nice hotel. The sponsoring fraternity is an African-American one, and we'll definitely be in the minority. It should be a blast!

But its definitely a deja vu moment!

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Sunday, February 06, 2005

Birthday Bummer 

We were all set for Aubree's 10th birthday party. The presents were wrapped, the guests were invited, and the cake was ordered. The night before she was giddily excited and had one of her friends over to spend the night.

Just before we left yesterday morning she said, "Dad, I don't feel all that good". I patted her on the head, thinking that she probably just stayed up too late giggling with her friend. We stopped at the store, picked up cake and ice cream, and headed to my parent's house. The little boy that walks with her from school each day was there. My brothers and their families arrived. We were ready to party!

Aubree went back to play with her friends in the back bedroom. A few minutes later she came out and put on her coat. My parents keep their house very warm but she complained of being cold. I sat in a recliner, chatting with my dad. Aubree walked in, hopped on to my lap, put her head on my chest, started sobbing, and said, "I'm really feeling sick now Daddy". I put my lips to her forehead and she was warm to the touch. I took her temperature....101.6. Ack.

She curled up in a little ball on the recliner. She asked me if I would blow the candles out for her. She let others open her gifts up and show them to her. She was happy with all the really cool gifts but wasn't in much of a celebratory mood. All I could do was give her Tylenol and take her home. Great timing for getting sick eh? She is really bummed about her party getting cut short.

I'm doing all the stuff that you're supposed to do I think. But its times like this when I feel inadequate as a parent. This would normally be a mommy thing...the comforting, the medicines. If her mom gave her a sugar pill she would believe it would make her well. She is more questioning of me......"are you sure I'm supposed to have two of those tablets Dad"?

I hope so honey. Dr. Dad at your service.

UPDATE: Its Sunday night and she is still feeling ill. She complains that her ear hurts and that she can't "hear anything through my ear". She also has a lot of congestion. It looks like its time to go the doctor in the morning.

UPDATE #2- Aubree stayed home from school today (2-7) and I took her to the doctor? The verdict? Sinus infection. She should be ok in a day or two.

Thanks for all the good advice everyone! :)

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Weekend Roundup 2/4-2/5 

Its that time again! In spite of my daughter having a friend over, I fell asleep early on Friday night and awoke about 1:30 a.m. The house still looks intact. The roundup was about 80% done, so I thought I'd polish it off.

Several people have asked me how long it takes me to do this. I'd say that I devote about three hours a week to this little extravaganza. I usually begin bookmarking posts on Wednesday, start writing on Thursday, and finish it on Friday night. I visit every blog on my blogroll during that time. (Yes, I know thats a lot of blogs!) Then I search for new blogs by clicking on the blogrolls of my regular readers. That of course leads to MORE new blogs.

Without further ado....here was the week in blogland:

Nameless got pulled over but didn't get a ticket. Chuck wouldn't get a ticket, but he might get clucked at by some of his coworkers if they saw his calendar.

Tara talks about time. Diana talks about menu planning.

Scorpy has some new shot glasses. Annabel Lee probably felt like taking a shot or two when she lost her car keys.

Liz touches base with her feminist roots. Mary Lou touches base with her childhood and the birth of her sister!

Jen reveals the complexity of her relationship with her father. Steph talks about her relationship with her dad and her Welsh grandmother.

John pays tribute to a fallen soldier. Flirt pays tribute to Ellen.

Aubree is a birthday girl and knows what gifts she wants. Vickie has some gifts that you can give to yourself.

Inky compares the "perfect guy" to the "nightmare guy". Maybe the nightmare guy got some advice from Kristine!

VegasBaby found heaven on earth. Some Girl found a broken gate.

Stephanie shares some of her paintings. Lovely! Ellen shares a picture that reveals..well....life.

Kim discovers that imitation isn't always the sincerest form of flattery.

Faith knows that every word has its uses....even the bad ones! Vince probably had a few of those words in mind for her old professors.

Caren is planning a trip to Europe. Cetta should be planning to get some sleep!

Veda shares here perspective on relationships. Mystic Spirit shares why she thinks that her relationship has lasted so long.

NewWaveGurly feels like a piece of bubble gum. Ken? He just wants light bulbs that live up to their advertising.

Marc is frustrated in his efforts to help a friend. Christine's insatiability causes her to get frustrated sometimes too.

Jack's wife things some of his schemes may be.....cockamamie! Some people have the idea that 40 is "old"....right Anne?

Edge has a theory about attraction and attractiveness. Rachel isn't sure she's attracted to this guy but she's giving it a chance.

Sallie shares a "blonde joke". Restless Angel shares a memory about ants.

Some things about aging scare Charkey. Didamo's short story could scare you!

Stacey writes a letter to her ex-boyfriends. This is a "must read" post. Katriana writes to the guys who don't know what they are missing. Another "must read".

Jennifer shares the single girls Valentine's Day wish list. Wanda shares her taste in music.

Andie loves going to the office supply store. Me too! Zandria is still loving her IPOD. I'm sure I would too if I had one!

Alyssa has caused a few cases of "whiplash". Janine has a case of eye-rolling after the government's latest announcement.

Brenda has a dreamy new cell phone. Becky is dreaming up a new magazine..."Grrl Toys". Its not what you think!

Gladys still dreams about being a rock star. (So do I darlin..if only I could sing!) Terri dreamed of a dialogue with her old friend...cigarettes.

Sally is ready for some football! Puglet is ready to see a childbirth...or is she?

T Marie doesn't understand why guys over-promise. C doesn't always understand why she stays in her relationship, but she has some ideas.

Caitlin has been singing a lot lately. Ginger has been obsessing over Julius Caesar.

Shelli shares a story about death by enema. Flax shares her newest pet....the mighty Quinn!

Kater is going to be a "big sister". Stacey is just going to do the "monkey dance" with her girls.

Nicole thinks that high school sucked. Fly Girl thinks she needs to take a trip.

Nikki shares that "after bath" feeling. Aaahhhh. Leita shares who she'd like to be coupled with for a day.

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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

This morning was a frustrating one. Patrick is prone to impulsive, unexplained behaviors. This morning at 6:40 a.m., we left the house and began loading into the van. Patrick got in first and he picked up a cup half full of soda, removed the lid, and tossed a healthy dose of Sprite all over Aubree. She cried out in anger and had to go back inside to change her clothes. I don't often yell at Patrick but I sure did this morning. What the hell is going through his head to make him do something like that? He didn't really have an explanation other than, "I just wanted to empty the cup out and Aubree was in the way". I was totally exasperated and fussed at him on the drive over to my mom's house. I could just feel my heart pounding. I spent the drive to work calming down and then feeling guilty for yelling at him the way I did.

No sooner did I get to work than Patrick's school called. He rides a special bus and there are several larger, older boys on the bus. Patrick makes it a habit to annoy them....touching them, making barking noises at them, teasing them. This morning one of the other boys had to be physically restrained from attacking Patrick. During all this, Patrick just sat there and laughed. He has a most annoying habit of laughing when he is in trouble. I told the teacher I would talk to him about it when I got home. I sat and thought for a few minutes and decided to go to his school and deal with it right then. I turned around and drove back the 20 miles I had just driven an hour earlier. I talked to his teacher and took Patrick out into the hallway for a chat. I was calm and measured but trying to really impress on him how serious this problem is. He's putting himself, the bus staff, and other students in danger. He seemed to listen and understand but you can never tell with him. He's lost some privileges at home and he's not happy about that.

One real breakthrough with Patrick is that he will actually clean his room now. Cleaning his room used to be an ordeal. Either you spent half the day cajoling him while he cried or you just gave up and did it yourself. For the past few weekends he has been able to clean his room in a reasonable amount of time without whining. It may not seem like much, but its a pretty big change.

Aubree and I continue to sing karaoke together almost every night. Last night she was singing "The Wedding Song" ("There Is Love"). When she finished she turned to me and said, "Dad, if you ever get married again I could sing this song at your wedding for you". I nodded and told her that would be very nice. She said, "I'll sing it like this"... and proceeded to sing it again with real emotion, movement, and hand gestures. I felt myself tear up just a little bit and she noticed it. When she finished singing she walked over to me, hugged me, and said, "I have such a sappy Daddy".

I received a glowing evaluation from my principal. It was so nice I think I should frame it!

Aubree's birthday is tomorrow. I cannot believe my little girl will be 10 years old. TEN! We're having a party for her at my parent's house this weekend.

And how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The People You Meet 

I've thought a lot about the phrase, "everyone you meet, you meet for a reason" in recent weeks. At my age, I've met many thousands of people. How have they influenced me? What impact did they have on my life? What did I learn from them?

Toss out family members who I didn't really "meet". What other people have impacted me for better or worse?

There are so many more. I've purposely left out more recent relationships. They are too raw, too fresh, to think about how they've influenced and impacted me. I know that I've been enriched somehow by them all.

The person we are is made up in part by who we've allowed in our lives.


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