*see link above in title*

OK, the teacher in me talking right now....

Phoebe Prince didn't have to kill herself. Any one of the adults in the school she attended who was aware of her situation could have stopped it. I'm sure they discussed it in the teacher's lounge.  I know the administrators considered the liability of confronting the "mean girls".  I want to know why none of them did anything.

The parent of one of the "mean girls" actually has the audacity to say it was "Phoebe's fault" as if its ok for children to verbally abuse each other.  It isn't.  Yes, I KNOW it happens; at some point in our childhoods, the vast majority of us did it to someone.  Someone cared enough about the abused as well as the abusers to stop us all though.  Why doesn't that happen anymore?  Why is it always someone else' fault when the worst thing possible happens? 

When I'm in my classroom or monitoring the hallways, I'm listening to the conversations, the words coming from the mouths of some children so angry, frustrated and lost that all they can do is find new ways to push the pain away by finding the "weak one" and dumping on them.  I stop them.  I talk to them.  I report them to our counselor and she intervenes, forcing the parties involved to confront each other and work out whatever real or imagined disagreement there is between them.

Bullies have self love issues people, self image, self respect, self acknowledgement issues.  They are usually raised by parents with the same sorts of issues. A parent of a child who has bullied another child who says it was the victim's fault it all started is a sad excuse for a parent. That person, along with the adults in the school with knowledge of the situation should ALL be punished (mind you, I said punished, not disciplined) for their lack of mature, adult, authoritarian response to the matter. Simple as that.

Now, the mother in me is speaking...

My son was bullied while in the 5th grade.  We transferred him from a private school to public school, partly because the private school closed, partly because it was time for him to observe the world from a different perspective.  The boy that bullied him would come to the house to visit and play.  The boy was a little rough around the edges, but we monitored them, so we were ok with it.

Until the bike disappeared. I asked where it was and I was told he's "borrowing" it.  Ok, no problem: wish you'd asked one of your parents first.  After 3 days of no bike and no kid, (ummm, he doesn't come around anymore)  my husband tracked him down in front of his house, the bike in the yard.  The mother INSISTED it was her son's bike.  Ok, no problem.  We're loving people; it was decided to let the kid have the bike.  We were blessed enough to get another one.  There was a bigger lesson to be learned for our son and yes, he learned it. 

However, emboldened by this I suppose, the boy decided he could get more.  Threatening to take lunch money, stealing his bookbag, hitting him, chasing him home from school became the new norm.  I showed up more than once at school to complain to administration. The principal claims he called in the mother (why I wasn't invited to that meeting, I'll never know) and had the teacher monitoring behavior in the classroom.  At one point, I was told to "stop babying my son, let him grow up".  What the Hell?  I persisted, even having my mother begin to pick him up from school, because even after taking a different route home, he found himself harassed.  It finally stopped... when the family moved.

I"m not sure those who don't have to force frightened children from bed, who refuse to go to school or are afraid to even play in their own yards because "he might show up", fully understand the emotional toll of bullies on children.  This isn't the first time a child has kill himself or herself because of words, actions, behaviors that demenish self worth, cause the child to lash out violently if only to give the pretense of strength and courage and want to simply disappear so that those "mean kids" will leave them alone.

*deep breath*

Citizen of the universe speaking now...

Ladies and gentlemen, verbal and physical abuse of anyone that results in death is a criminal offense, plain and simple.  Anyone who is witness to verbal assaults or is told by a child that they are being harassed and does nothing about it is an accessory to the crime before the fact.  We are NOT so self absorbed that we can't stop to save a soul.  We aren't.  I refuse to believe we are.  The deaths by gunfire at Columbine, and other schools occurred because of bullying; children like Phoebe, who become so deseparate for relief from the pain of abuse that they kill themselves are a result of bullying. 

Kids DON'T call names all the time.  Its NOT just what they do.  Angry, self loathing children want others to feel as worthless as they do.  They know how to find the ones with the weak spirits, chip away at those spirits and then stand back and play the innocent when those spirits finally crumble. The adults responsible for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of these children are liable for crimes against the spiritual lives of those hurt. 

Its a  damned shame.  It needs to stop.  We need to quit pretending its "just the way it is".  I suppose, for some, it will take THEIR child being abused, or dying before it makes sense.


Second dumbest conversation I had this past week involved justifications by some people for why some churches have metal detectors at the front doors and why the pastors have bodyguards and are packing heat. 

"because there are some crazy people out there and the pastor wants his congregation to feel safe."

Are you FREAKIN' kidding me? FEELING UNSAFE... IN A CHURCH???

ok, wait, hold up...

I will be the first to say, I am not a big fan of organized religion. Haven't been for a while now.  THIS mentality is part of the reason I'm not a fan.  If you are afraid to step inside of a church building because someone might show up to kill you, why do you bother getting out of the bed Sunday Morning? 

I did a Google Search on the topic, just to make sure this wasn't some sort of isolated insanity, and girls and boys, its not isolated.


I went on a tear with the person that told me this little story about the big megachurch preachers and their sense of safety. I reminded this "christian" that if one has faith in God as the omnipotent, omnipresent creator of the universe and everything in it (in other words, God already knows what's gonna happen to you in your life, so why try to manipulate that), then what EXACTLY are you afraid of, inside a church?

People don't believe me when I say I sometimes lose myself in my passion for what I know is God's Word.  Its ok, I know I am a vessel and that sometimes I say things that really aren't my words, but the words of God being spoken through me.  So, when I began to "spill" all over this person, I didn't feel bad about them deciding I was nuts.

"You do realize that God put you here and that He will be the one to take you away from here right?  You do realize that you haven't an ounce of control over that AND that it really shouldn't be the focus of your daily existence, right?  You do understand that ALL things happen because God chooses for them to happen, so, if some "nut" comes into a church and shoots the place up, and you end up being one of the dead people, its because that's the way God wanted it, right?"


"Ok, so, again, why are there REALLY metal detectors and pistols inside the "house of God"?
 (it made me a little ill to ask question, I had to stop and get a drink of water.)


Ladies and gentlemen, as the biblebeaters are happy to tell you, God don't like ugly.  Perhaps people who say that, should actually consider what that means.  The church has become this boil, this cancer, this diseased monster that  acts as the unstable foundation on which everything we've decided is sacred, rests.  (the sacredness of stuff is another topic for another day.)  So much energy is invested in the "presentation" of religious fervor that the content of spiritual faith is almost nonexistent.  Does anyone hear the still small voice anymore?  If they do, do they understand what it means to heed it?

Who EXACTLY are you protecting when you have metal detectors and pistols inside the church?  Why? What is so special about that/those people that all of this is necessary? Where is your faith?  What do you truly believe to be God's Will for you and how are you playing that out when you think its ok for there to be metal detectors in a church?  What the hell are you thinking to actually believe its OK to have/need security inside a house of God?  If you think its necessary, doesn't it occur to anyone that maybe, just MAYBE the problem isn't OUTSIDE the doors of the sanctuary, but INSIDE?  HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I love God.  I KNOW Jesus Christ, His Son, is my Lord and Savior.  I know Jesus taught me that there is nothing to fear but the wrath of God when I've done wrong.  I feel safe in my belief that one day, I will complete the task set out for me on this Earth, and God will come and take me away from this looney bin.  i look forward to that day.  In the meantime,  I make it clear to people who are PLAYING with God that there is no reason to be afraid inside the one place on the planet that is SUPPOSED to be a safe haven. I make it clear that if they actually believe the noise coming out of their mouths concerning faith and God being good and a fence around them and the one who protects them, WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN A CHURCH THAT OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T BELIEVE THAT????

Wait, what am I ranting about?  Hell, these are the same places that have ATMs in the foyer and do credit checks on members so they can make sure the tithes are right.  (blank stare)

Forgive me, I lost my mind there for a second.  I'm ok now.

One last thing...
I am reminded of the story that was going around a few years ago about the hooded men that showed up in a packed sanctuary one Sunday morning with guns and began shooting bullets into the ceiling and the majority of the congregation ran for their lives.  When the dust cleared, they removed their hoods, smiled at the few remaining, praying parishioners, turned to the pastor and said, "now you can start service, the fakers are gone".

Maybe there should be more of that.  Just saying....

Feeling... Green

I am an African American woman of above average intelligence with 2 degrees, a husband, 2 children who have life goals and a mortgage.  I am, apparently, different.

I've had people who, based on comments I've made, have determined, in their minds, that I'm "not black".  I once commented on a forum that I didn't use a lot of salt in my food, that I liked to season my food with garlic and lemon pepper and other more exotic, flavorable things and that I hadn't use Lawry's Seasoned Salt in more than 15 years.  The response to this was: "who are you, and why are you pretending to be black?"

I was shocked, sorta.  In another discussion, I commented on my son going to Japan.  This went over like a lead balloon.  I've used my rather large vocabulary on people, told them what sorts of books I like to read and what I do on weekends that doesn't involve televisions or sporting events.  I am, according to these black people, different.

I've been considering this assessment of my nature by these total strangers.  I've decided, yes, I am different.  Not in the way some of them choose to make me different; not in a "you think you're on a different level from us" sort of way, or in a "you're an uppity bitch" sort of way, but in a "well, I suppose its true, there is classism in black america" sort of way. 

There is this sense out there in cyberland amongst my people that we should all be exactly alike because we all have African blood in our veins.  Well, this would be ok, if those who believe this, actually acknowledged the African blood in their veins.  Instead, it is this rather loud, self loathing bunch that spends every opportunity presented to it, to belittle any black person that has risen above "their level". 

Take "po Tiger".  "He was never really black anyway, he never acknowledged it, I don't feel sorry for him."
or "Crazy Bill Cosby". "That N-word as forgotten where he came from; how you gonna air OUR dirty laundry (mind you, noone noticed it was dirty til he mentioned it was) for all the world to see?"
or me... "why are you always talking about going back to school and your damned house and some dumb ish you read in a book?  You must be a republican, cus you NEVER defend "our" president." (I get that one after I remind them they didn't even know where their polling place was before November 4, 2008.)

I've been called elitist, uppity, wannabewhite, conservative and fake.  I've had my intelligence questioned, my level of spiritual understanding belittled, my desire to wear my hair naturally laughed at and my marital status argued over.  I am hated on the internet.  I love it.

When I first began interacting in cyberland, I recognized that I was an individual.  I also recognized that I was raised in an environment different than most, and that I was probably exposed to things in the world that others may not have been.  I knew right up front that I was an anomaly.  The thing I've found interesting is how others have made the assumption that everyone they encounter should be just like them.  Like attracts like, I know, however, the beauty of the internet is, you can find difference and embrace it.  Unless of course, you're so dysfunctional that difference is a shock to your system.

Oh well. I'm green. Its all good.  I have, admittedly, had quite enough of being told I'm green, however.  Anyone know where I can hang out where there are other green people?  Let  me know.  I'm sick of the "black" folk now.

I've made a point of not commenting much on the health care reform issue.  Its so much more complicated than whether your mother will be allowed to die or if immigrants get medicaid.  The really scary thing is, those who consider themselves "anti-reform"  don't "see" those that are affected by the current system and will be affected by a change in the system.  Reform of the health care system in the United States is about poverty and who remains below the federal poverty line.  Its about why they get to stay there and how, even while there, they are the "bread and butter" of health insurance companies.

I ran across this article this morning... The real anti-reform cost: Two women die every day giving birth in America and it caused me to reconsider my quiet observation. Being a woman and having given birth twice in my life, I do know the cost of prenatal care and delivery.  Now, I will admit, its been more than 18 years since I last had this experience, but as I read about the cost of delivery alone in the U.S. now, I was shocked. How do women give birth without some sort of insurance? How?

Medicaid and other insurance sources are an important component in the health of our children, even before they are born.  The same segment of society that decries the notion of having an abortion appears, on the surface, to be the same segment that doesn't believe those who don't abort should be afforded assistance in the prenatal care of the fetus.  This is also the same bunch that isn't real big on sex ed in schools, and probably are scared to death to say penis and vagina in the presence of their children.  These are the people who think those who get big diseases with little names "deserve" what they've gotten because they have no self control and are pawns of satan. These people probably have health insurance, they're saintly and highly favored before God, so its all good, I suppose.

Women who become pregnant have to go through so many changes in order to even get on Medicaid that they don't bother.  Why do you have to prove you're pregnant?  Hello?  Look at me, I'm 6 months along and the kid is kicking his foot out at you!  No, its NOT a tumor!  They don't receive the education they need to eat correctly, get enough vitamins, exercise or anything else.  They give birth to underweight children with physical and mental deficiencies, who, because of these deficiencies, now qualify for Medicaid. (Ain't that some irony on a stick for ya!)  The children, in turn, if not placed in the system (it happens), end up not receiving the vaccinations, etc, they need to be healthy.

Some of the children I teach children are receipents of public health insurance.  Children currently on Medicaid, who, if they break a bone, can only get it temporarily set at the local hospital, and then, in order to use the Medicaid services, must drive to Indianapolis (2.5 hours from here) to see a doctor, get a proper diagnosis and then have the bone set.  This, of course, means, the parent must miss a day of work (hourly pay) and the child misses a day of school (they're already behind academically) At the end of it all, they lose time and money again to have the doctor at the Children's Hospital in Indianapolis say the bone is healed and remove the cast. 

The parent can't get on the insurance plan at work because s/he works less than 40 hours a week.  If they're lucky enough to work 40+ hours a week, the cost of the insurance is so much per pay that they opt out of getting it.  Afterall, that's $80 a month that can pay the water bill or gas bill or buy a new pair of uniform pants... or liquor/drugs to drown their pain and sorrow and frustrations in.

Speaking as a woman who has been fortunate enough to have health insurance and simply wouldn't know what to do without it, is emphathic to the frustrations of women without insurance who are trying to raise children without insurance. This past winter, as my daughter fought off an infection that simply wouldn't go away, we spent money on co pays and things not covered and even at one point an ambulance (that bill made me sit and stare out the window for an hour) so, yes, I KNOW what is out there for those without.

Children who become ill, break bones, have issues that require medical attention.  Women who want birth control but can't get it because it costs way too much out of pocket.  People who want to do the right thing for themselves, to lift themselves up and have what others have, yet are being treated as if they simply don't exist (until, of course, one of their kids becomes a statistic of some sort later in their lives).

Health care reform is about more than having insurance.  Its about having dignity, being able to take go to the doctor of your choice, when you need to go and know it will be paid for, because you have the insurance to pay for it.  Its about giving birth to healthy children and not having to sacrifice in other areas to keep them healthy. Its about being able to function in society the same way people who do have insurance.  Its about classism, sexism, wealth vs. poverty and control of the masses.  This is about changing the rules of the game.  Its about time, don't you think?

Ok, that was the longest title ever.  Good. 

Anyway, in case you've been blissfully unaware of my side gig and/or just don't know me at all (very possible) I make handmade jewelry.  I do this because it gives me pleasure; its an outlet for my pent up creative juices that can't be relieved by writing on this silly little blog. 

I am an eccentric.  I like being different.  I insist upon being as far away from center (sometimes left, sometimes right) as possible.  So, I make jewelry that kinda represents that.  Well, it was supposed to be stuff for me, my personal jewelry, not to be shared with the world except in having people look at it as I wear it and say stuff like "gee that's cute, where did you get it?", and "ooooo, can I borrow that next weekend?"

It started with, "I'll pay you for a necklace... just "make something"."  So I did.  She loved it.  She asked for more.  I made more.  Her friends liked it.  So I made stuff for them.  So forth and so on, etc.  Then someone suggested I sell my stuff on the internet.  So I spent a good deal of time and energy building, creating, ripping my hair out, over a website.  I finally got it right.... check it out sometime.

And now, I'm officially an internet entrepeneur. Oh happy day!  Now, I'm forced  (?) to make jewelry all the time cus people out in cyberspace like my jewelry too!  Ha! There's no forcing involved, I love making jewelry.  I find myself checking earrings on ears of total strangers to get a feel for how they were constructed, knowing I could come up with different takes on the same ole thing.  I troll second hand stores in search of vintage jewelry to pull apart and reuse.  I spend entire weekends straining my eyes over my work table.

I love making handmade jewelry!

Now, making handmade jewelry is one thing.  Wearing it is a completely different matter.  I wear my pieces or the pieces of ladies I buy from (what, I shouldn't buy from mah sistas?  yeah, right) I don't flaunt, I just dress conservatively, and then slip on the funky pair of earrings and the wildest necklace or bracelet in the inventory.  Ladies smile and look.  Men say, that's different.  People want to know where I got such an amazing sense of style (I am the only person I know who can wear a brown top, beige pants and hushpuppies and STILL look like I should be somewhere other than a classroom). 

The fine art of wearing handmade jewelry is making sure you have an audience, making sure the jewelry is what they see (even if you are too cute for real life and they keep looking at your face) and always have business cards in your pocket.

If you'd be interested in looking different (its ok, different is good, ask Kermit the Frog), holla at ya girl... I got something I think you should see.

As promised, a little more about the 2010 U.S. Census. Our copy arrived Monday afternoon and in his excitement, my husband filled it out, put it in the return envelop and took it to the post office before I even saw it.  I'm not happy about this.

With that said, I want to reiterate the importance of completing the form.  I had a conversation with a couple of ladies today who hadn't decided whether or not they would complete the form.  I pointed out how completing the census is as important if not more important than voting, as the head count determines the congressional distrcts for the next 10 years.  If they change the district boundaries, you may possibly lose representation.  Or gain.

"but I don't want people knowing my personal business."

Its not like they aren't asking stuff that is already known.  If you complete your taxes, vote, have a bank account, own a home, etc. folk already know most of you're "personal" business.

Somewhere in the distant past, black folk were told they had privacy.  We were dumb enough to believe it.  Oh well.

I tell you what...don't fill out the census.  Don't complain about fewer services from your local court system, police department, fire department, or county services,. Don't say a word about bad roads and rundown schools, etc.  Don't comment about old books in your child's classroom, teachers laid off, excurricular activities  cut off.  Say nothing about sales taxes going up and quality of services going down. 

My census form is in the mail.  It took 10 minutes to complete.  It had 10 questions, none of which were invasive.  Get yours done ladies and gentlemen. 

Thank you.

  • robins start singing...(yes!)
  • you wash the car and it gets pooped on by seagulls the moment you come out the automatic wash...
  • back up... when the damned seagulls come back...
  • its 50 degrees outside and SOME people start wearing shorts in public...
  • you wish it would stop raining...
  • the middle schoolers' sap starts rising and you're using crowbars to pull couples apart in the hallways
  • you start considering the summer roadtrips...
  • its time to "spring forward"... (if you're reading this on the 14th... that would be tonight... if not... hope you weren't late)...
  • my child calls everyday excited about coming home for spring break...
  • your other child starts counting down to graduation (sigh)...
  • jay knows exactly how many days til he leaves for Japan...
  • invitations to reunions of all sorts appear in the mail...
  • cleaning things is on my mind (cleaned window screens today peeps)...
  • I pull out the boxes of summer dresses...
  • there are a hell of a lot of fish and seafood commericals on the tv...
  • the Cadbury Bunny is back!!
  • I start thinking about when the last day of school is (june 10th, btw)
  • I make plans to put children out of my house for the summer... (what?)
  • hubby has ways to spend the tax refund ...
  • I feel like... writing, dancing, singing...
  • the sun shines ALL the time (yippie)...
  • I go Goodwill trolling for vintage jewelry...
Ahhhhh, welcome spring...

 Possibly due to the fact that I simply have grown out of the habit of watching, or maybe because I just don't give a damn about any of that stuff anymore, I stopped watching Oprah years ago.  So, every now and again, when she has a topic that piques my interest or an interview that moves me, I make a point of paying attention.  I don't watch, I can't watch anymore... it nauseates me, but, I do pay attention.

I paid attention yesterday.  Roger Ebert, fellow Chicagoan, fellow writer, movie buff extraordinaire and all around good guy was on.  The shock of seeing the photo of him jawless, literally, took a moment for me to process, and considering his inability to actually speak left me speechless, but, naturally hearing that he was using cool technology to actually "talk" to people made me glad his "voice" was still out there.

I remember way back in the day, when I was a kid and Roger and Gene Siskel were just two movie critics with the two major local papers in Chicago with this cute little show, "Sneak Peeks", on WTTW 11.  It came on late in the evening on Thursdays as I recall, and I would fall asleep next to my father as they argued about technical stuff and not so technical stuff, screenplays and actors.  It was the local show to watch at the time.

When they went big time on us (as all great voices in the world do), we were happy for them.  I wondered if the show would change, the men would change, the world would change because of the way they saw cinema.  It all did.  If Roger and Gene didn't like it, it was a flop.  If the thumbs went up, it was #1 at the boxoffice that weekend.

After Gene's death in 1999, I was convinced Roger would fade into obscurity, but was glad he didn't.  Although, like Oprah, I stopped watching all the time (I was never very good at sharing the local favs with the world), I enjoyed watching him with lovely Chaz on a red carptet somewhere.

As I read the summary of the Oprah show he was featured on, I discovered his website and greedily began reading his comments.  Such sweet nectar!  It's better than the newspaper column, better than the show, better than ever.

So what, Roger can't fuss like the grumpy, old curmungeon he really truly needs us to believe he is; so what if his vocal cords are gone and he now sounds like a computer.  His "voice", his amazing VOICE is alive and well, and he will continue to see the world and write about it as only he can.

Get well soon Roger, I love you!