Friday, September 5, 2014

The Clothing Clash Wars

        My mother would buy us school clothes in August and again for Christmas. Never in between nor after the holiday, and certainly not because a growth spurt had sent the hem lines soaring above our ankles like a plane above the horizon. Mamma would simply remove the stitching and let the hem hang low -- if she did anything at all. Most of the time, she didn't seem to notice, though other people did.
       There was once  the school counselor who offered me a bag of someone's second hand donations. She called me into the office and closed the door tightly behind me.
       Softly, gently, she began, "Someone gave me a bag of clothes, and I was trying to determine who to give them to." She said this while slowly opening the black trash bag treasure trove of woolen skirts, ruffled blouses, and 4 inch wide belts. 
        I had hoped my face did not betray me and give away my revulsion to the old faded linens. 
       "I hope you don't mind me asking you," she continued.  "You don't have to take these if you don't like them."
       Yes, I thought,... I was off the hook.
       "Do you want them?" she plied.
       Ever so slowly I shook my head left and then right, while squeaking out an embarrassed, "No thank You."
       Once home I was immediately greeted at the door by my mother.
       "Where are the clothes they gave you?" 
       You see, Mrs. Marlie had called my mom early in the day to get permission to give them to me, so I really did not have the choice that I thought I did. My mother, livid, went on a rampage about me being inconsiderate.  I was to never turn down anything offered to us. "Money don't grow on trees!" 
       I was ashamed for the second time that day.
       A week later, I saw my best friend wearing one of the skirts.
       After that incident, I had become rather adept at accepting these gifts and was learning to pair them quite stylishly, or so I thought.
      About a year later, Mrs. Sharpley's daughter gave me some thick beige leather square-toe boots. I never owned leather before, so I could not wait to wear them. And though they were a little big, I happily stuffed the toes. Next I paired it with a beautiful burgundy 3/4 leather coat with buttons as big as fifty cent pieces and lapels that stretched all the way to the middle of my shoulders. I was finally in style and was wearing designer quality gear. I dreamed of the compliments that would be hurled my way.
       However, instead of shout-outs and compliments, I began to notice smiles behind hands and hushed toned whispering. Instead of fighting the usual crowded hallway to get to my locker, the kids seemed to part before me like the red sea.  I did understand quality clothing, but I had no concept of the term "out of style." Though it was close to 1980, my boots were from the early 70's, and my coat looked like something from the Black Panther era of the late 1960's.
        By the time I had made it to 10th grade, I was working every summer and used my money to buy the appropriate gear -- clothes that coincided with my era. But even that was not enough to save me from being the center -- think bullseye-- of attraction. 
        I spotted the suede belted boots from aisles away and could not believe my luck. The one inch crepe sole boots that were filled with beige faux shirling (crushed pile) would be perfect to keep my feet warm while walking around the school's campus. My favorite part was the belt that kinda half tightened them around my calf yet was loose enough to leave the top part flopping down just below the knee. I loved those boots.... Until that day when I realized the chanting I had been hearing coming from every window of the male dorm was aimed at me in a tone and rhythm much like a cow mooing, "Boots! Boots!" 
       You see, I was by then attending a boarding school and the only thing remotely stylish had to come from a magazine called L.L. Bean (which I had never heard of, and once I caught a glimpse of, I realized that I could have never afforded it anyway.) It was the magazine of the rich filled with preppy gear. and since I was attending a prepatory boarding school (on a scholarship of course) everyone else was wearing those hideous rubber and leather duck shoes and boots. Not faux suede from Zayres.
     Needless to say, from that day forward I rode out the rest of the harsh Ohio winter in weathered beat down penny loafers. Even those were black, with a nickel in the slot instead the customary burgundy, with a penny, because I thought silver looked better in my pleather knock-offs.
       I suppose this is why I was so upset with my son this morning. Unlike my mother, I buy clothes at the first sight of ankle or tight thighs. I watch the male students to see how they dress making note of the cool outfits. I buy Addidas, Nike, and elite socks. I make sure each shirt has matching shorts. Yet,  at 6:30 in the morning after I have spent time digging out the correct pant to match the colored coded shirt, and ironed and hung them on his door, my son arrived downstairs wearing  wrinkled clothing with odd patterns of mismatched colors: lime green and black striped shorts with a red and blue crumpled top.
       So, yes I was frustrated. I demanded that he switch back because he clashed.  He, on the other hand was angry that I would not let him pick his own clothing. He actually claimed that he hated to match because matching was "not cool."  He wanted nothing more than to trade his color coded outfit for one that vaguely resembled a brightly colored rainbow after a storm. But our storm had not passed, it was raging right there in our living room. And I knew in my heart that I needed to let him win. So, I did. 
       In hindsight, I suppose the real conflict was not in mismatched clothing, nor was it in his fight for independence.  It was in me wanting to protect my son from the harsh words and taunts of his peers. Mean words of a childhood long passed -- that still haunt me to this day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Good for Ten Years? (A Clean "Colonosco-me" Tale)

Today was the day I was dreading for quite a few years... ever since I learned it was the next "routine" exam to add to my list: a colonoscopy.

When I was first advised during my routine exam this year that I need to schedule one, I made light of it. I have a cruise coming up, and since I was told one could lose about five pounds with this procedure, I scheduled it three before my ship set sail. Hey, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do get into a swimming suit, right? 

All jokes aside, I was extremely apprehensive and nervous to say least and my husband tried to comfort me by saying, "Don't worry, the prep is the worse part, and then you are good for ten years."

He was right.  The prep was truly a nightmare. For starters, seven days out, I had to stop taking fish oil pills and my beloved Aleve which I personally pop like candy for my herniated discs. But, of course they said Tylenol was an acceptable substitute.

WELL, HELLO! If Tylenol worked to reduce the swelling causing the pinched nerve, I would have been popping it all along, instead.

Next, five days out, I had to give up seeds, anything with red and purple dyes, and popcorn. Unfortunately for me that was as bad as the Aleve. I am one of those quasi health fanatics with just enough bad habits to prevent me from being a hippie. For starters, I eat chia seeds every morning in my yogurt. (It keeps me, well, I guess I can go there - regular). I put flax seeds in my smoothies. And, I eat sunflower seeds and other nuts on my salads. Not to mention, in light of my newly self diagnosed fructose malabsorption, the majority of the only fruits that I can eat safely is berries: raspberries, strawberries, and kiwi. All filled with seeds. (On a side note, I am allowed kumquat and jackfruit; however, I have no clue what they are.)

Next went my homemade juice complete with bright orange carrots for my middle age failing eye-sight and deep purple-red beets to clean my liver from the evening bad habits.

Lastly, there was the popcorn ban. Popcorn is my main chip replacement salt-satisfier for my Weight Watcher regiment. How was I supposed to watch a movie without popcorn! I went to my cupboard, and all I could find were my hemp seed tortilla chips. No seeds allowed so no snacks for me. It was the hardest hour and half in my life especially with my selfish son snacking away on his hot buttery popcorn, smelling up the place. It was a cruel and unusual punishment.

Finally, the "day before" arrived. The liquid only day. Clear liquids such as chicken broth, Jell-O, and clear sodas were on the menu, but I am not a soda drinker and was fearful of the salt content of the broths. So I was a water drinking fool.

It started out pretty good. The Jell-O was so tasty, I made another batch for the afternoon. I initially thought I would just lay still all day to conserve energy, but reality set in, and I ran my normal mile and half, took my hubbie to work and my son to day camp, I shopped for groceries, and went to the cleaners. I also did some gardening and washed a load of laundry. Needless to say I was exhausted and ravenous by 2:00 and wanted to throw the bowl of Jell-O out the window, but it was time to pick-up my husband to take him in for his procedure, (a different one.) By the time we got home that evening, a headache was setting in, I was sleepy and... Oh Joy! I still had the worse part to initiate: the "Moviprep" drink.

The box was big and looming. I had to mix a giant pitcher of stuff that they strongly suggested I add Crystal lite to just to get down. Next, I had to drink 8 ounces every 15 minute for an hour followed by 16 ounces of water which left me felling like a water ballon, all bloated and full of liquid. And to make matters worse, I had to repeat it four hours later. Each time I drank it I sat still, near the restroom that was stocked with extra soft Charmin, ready to make a mad dash. But for some reason, I was left somewhat surprised at the lack of, well, urgency. I guess I really won't mind having to do it again in ten years; it was not as bad as my husband said. Men can be such babies sometimes.

The next morning I was very tired and the headache was still there, but it was almost over. Unfortunatelty for me all the morning slots were filled, so I had to starve myelf (including no water) until noon. But at least I would be done with it for ten years, so I was glad to get it over with.

"Mrs. Smith!"

This is it I thought. I almost couldn't wait to see my new flat belly. Bring it on!

They took my vitals, inserted an IV, and five minutes later, so it seemed, my husband was standing by my side and they were waking me up. I had no memory of the procedure. Though the prep days were a nuisance... okay, more than a nuisance, the procedure itself was not that bad at all. I would not be so nervous in ten years, I thought.

While waiting for the doctor, I dressed.The world began to spin as I bent to tie my shoe, but James caught me and steadied me so I could finish. That's when the doctor came in with my results.

"Everything looked good," (if such statement makes sense under the circunstances) "up to a certain point."

That is when she dropped the bomb on me, "The "MoviPrep" did not completely work.

"Huh! What does this mean?" I already knew before she answered.

"The results are considered inconclusive. You'll have to do it again. Call the the receptionist to set a date as soon as possible. Next time we'll have to give you the larger kit. It's double the size. Don't worry this happens sometimes."

And just like that, all non-chalantly, she turned and left the little curtained cubicle, leaving my husband and me dumbfounded and in disbelief. It was inconceivable. First of all, I only lost one pound, and secondly, I have to go through that horrific prep again in a couple of months. So much for once every ten years!

Friday, May 16, 2014

We're not in Kansas Anymore!

A weird alarm on James' phone awoke us around 3:30 am this morning. "It's a tornado warning," he said, "we've got to get in the basement!" The mommy in me ran for my son and dog, the ex-flight attendant grabbed him a t-shirt, socks, and a blanket as we all rushed to the basement with James. I ran back for our wallets, cell phones, and some clothes and shoes for me. It would be wet and cold outside.
Once settled in the basement, we sat by the TV and heard a play-by-play in minute increments: "It is 5 minutes from route 15 and 50!" "It is 4 minutes from route 15 and 50." "It is 3 minutes from route 15 and 50." The picture on the weather map showed a trapezoid shape that encompassed our area. "It is two minutes from route 15 and 50!"

Wow, it was two miles from my home. We headed into the bathroom -- the inner most room with no windows. That is when I kicked myself for not grabbing a flashlight.  I should have known better from my years of practicing airplane evacuations. The first thing we grabbed was the flashlight, even if the lights were on because they might go out at any time.

 "It is one minute from Watson Rd!"

Huh, what did they say? I think it has passed us. The funnel cloud was already moving further away. After a few more minutes, we felt safe to come out and go back to bed... as if that was going to happen!

In the morning, I talked to some other neighbors and they too heard it and hid in the basement with their children. Some of my neighbors ignored it, thinking it was nothing and went back to bed, while others, still, had their phones off and never got the alert. Please take these serious. The GPS on the phone made it alert us for a reason. It did not alert the whole county, just those in its path. Please, do not ignore the warnings. Also, if your phone did not come with it, download a weather alert system. Lastly, keep a bag with batteries, a flashlight, water, and a first aid kit in your safe spot and consider adding clothing and shoes. It was real -- very scary --and I found out it had actually touched down in the town right next to ours before it passed over us. So never second guess, just take cover and pray you are wrong.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Limerick Lines

I was teaching a unit on poetry and to show the students that anyone can write, I decided to pen my own as proof. Now as a teacher, I truly could not pass up the opportunity to remind the students just how important learning is to their future. On a side note, the term Cashburn in the poem rhymes with the actual suburban area where I teach. It is a term that they coined themselves in reference to the perceived affluence of the area. It is a place where midlle to upper middle class family work extremely hard in order to spoil their children with everything that they could possibly give them. The children in turn have learned, unfortunately, that they are entitled to absolutely everything and for no particular reason other than want.

Burning Burgers

There once was a kid from Cashburn,
Who thought there no reason to learn.
Since he had his way,
All day he would play,
And now he has burgers to turn.

For another limerick, a friend of mine from work had a birthday recently, and I forgot to buy a card. I decided to have a little fun and write her personal limerick to make up for my forgetfulness. Since I got a few giggles out of it, I have decided to share... especially since I have not had time to write anything else lately:

Que Sarah Sarah

There once was a Girl with a class
Who also was known for her sass.
When you didn’t learn
Quite mean she would turn
And kick you right straight in the …

Assss,... I was saying she was really quite tough
The students would scream that’s enough!
Though we are inspired
Our brains are too tired!
“But I haven’t even given hard stuff.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hell and the Homework Demon

My son spent the evening being as nasty as he possibly could to me (without being disrespectful enough to be reprimanded, that is.) And it pissed me off to no end. Why was I so bothered by his unsurprising antics? Because I just spent my entire last week up to today celebrating his 8th birthday, and all I asked him to do was a simple task that he already knew he had to complete, his homework. Yet he acted as if I had made him dig 8 ditches. Heck, I did not even make him shovel today. I am completely baffled and perplexed and cannot figure out why he jumps up and cheerfully completes any and all work for his dad without complaint yet fights me tooth and nail.

I slaved over invitation designs, shopped for decorations and ballons, chased all over town for the right cupcake holders that no one even noticed, baked all night Saturday with him (cleaning up his mess for him) only to finish baking without him on Sunday morning. I answered all the email and made the goodie bags -- including laser keychains I had to hunt down all over town for everyone. I even made a last minute stop for extra food for the parents. Heck, I went so far as to actually play one game of laser tag with him and his friends.

Dad, on the other hand, showed up, sat in the corner, chit chatted, ... and paid the bill.

So why, this morning, after I was left alone with our offspring for three days, and after I decided to let him enjoy his birthday gifts with a marathon play day, did he lose his sanity?  As the sky darkened and day turned into night, I asked the child to sit down and and finish the fifteen minutes worth of homework and hell opened its doors unleashing a demon in all its fury.

He sassed, and he grumbled; he scribbled out wrong answers. He sucked his teeth and sighed a breath that could power a sailboat. He was downright beligerant and nasty. But, because I know my child, I felt it might come to this, so I had steeled myself with a pre-emptive glass of wine. And just because I expected it does not mean that I minded it. Thus, I was angry; I just didn't let it show.

After the 45 minutes of agonizing completion of a 15 minute assignment. I sent him to dress for bed. And I can only guess that the doors of hell re-opened and reclaimed its demon because 5 minutes later that little booger had the audacity to come running around the corner pleading, "Mommy, will you read me a book!" as if nothing ever happened.

Can the thought of homework really change him that much? I wonder what the future will bring once he has two hours of homework. At any rate, I took one look at him and said, "Oh, now you need me?" His response showed that he got the message -- sort of. He said,"Sorry, Mom for not listening to you! I will read to you instead."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Are you there, Margaret?

Happy New Year! Well, sort of! I almost feel wrong for saying it because it feels so darn disingenuous. Yes, I mean it, but considering the fact that it is January 9th, AND, the fact that I have not written since August, well, I probably should be starting instead by re-introducing myself. Oh well, such is life, and life has a funny habit of getting in the way these days.

For starters, I am now the SALT for my school. SALT stands for Subject Area Lead Teacher  -- basically the chairperson for my department. It is a position that steals one late night a month as well as a few required meetings at my home school in addition to a few other time eating responsibilities to boot. And why is this important? It leaves me less free time to write.

Another time stealer would be my son. Just shy of eight, he requires even more time now than when he was in diapers. When he isn't looking for a playmate in me, we are working on his homework, and if we are done with homework, then we are off to swimming practice.

And let's not forget the hubby who needs almost as much of my time as my son, though his time stealing is not as obvious since we rarely get to enjoy one another's company. His comes in the form of expectations. You know, -- he expects dinner done when he walks in the door. He expects the beds to have been made. He expects the dog to be walked, and he expects a clean house. No, he is not one of those miserly old farts bossing his wife around, I just know what he likes and I spend a lot of time trying to get it just right. Besides, he will help in the chores at times, so I won't complain too much. I am just saying that I just don't have much time to write.

But just like last year, I made a promise to myself to post my blogs more regularly. I have got to start back because quite frankly I miss it. So why did I stop for real? Well, I had to ask myself why did I start? And I realized that I stopped because I felt it was useless. I wanted an audience. I wanted to make some women laugh and commiserate and realize that they were not alone. But after months of writing, I got to a following of 10 and half were from a class. And as far as comments, they were next to none. I had one person I could count on to write something. I began to feel like it was done out of pity. But I have realized that even if I never got another comment, I was winning by writing my blogs. It was therapeutic and fun. And if all I ever get is that one comment, then I appreciate her taking the time to do that.

There used to be a popular book in fifth grade called Are You there God, It's me Margaret, well, since that is her name, I fell like shouting, " Are you there Margaret, it's me, Tina, and I have missed you so."