Wednesday, May 27, 2015

40 and f*cked or 40 and fabulous?

In about four and a half months I'm going to be 40.

The big 4-0. 

Middle aged.

Half way to 80. 

It's not been setting well with me. 

You see, I had a plan to help myself cope with turning 40. I was going to dedicate all of 39 to making sure when I turned 40, I was fabulous. I was going to have muscles and be in the best shape of my life. I was going to have my career going on a path that would actually allow me to retire one day. I was going to be all zen and wise and shit, so I could rock my 40th birthday, possibly on a beach in a bikini. I mean, probably like one of those high waisted 1950's ones, but still, a bikini. 

But, like I always do, I let everything else get in my way. My career is doing pretty okay, but other than that, I'm looking at 40 and flabby and that zen wise shit is out the window. 

And it got me down. Which didn't help with the flabby part. Life was a lot easier when I was an emotional puker instead of an emotional eater.

Then, I had an epiphany. In about two and a half months, I'll be an empty nester and that doesn't make me sad. I've been raising kids since I was 21. Max's dad wants a go at it (i.e. wants to buy Max off)? Cool. Let him deal with the male teen years. I've done my time and now I don't have anymore excuses about waiting to do the things I want to until my kids get a little older. They are older. 

This girl thought she was old and fat. And didn't worry about
skin cancer. This girl was dumb. She would like to
thank both of her parents for having skin cancer
within a year of one another because now no
matter how fabulous she is at 40, she's still
gonna be pasty. Damn it.

So, you know what I did today?

I applied for a job in Washington, D.C.

Tomorrow?

I'm applying for one in Alamosa, Colorado. 

I might even get crazy and apply for one in Washington state, although the one time I went to Seattle it did a number on my hair. 

(Speaking of hair, I will fly home to you, loyal hairdresser, no matter where I land, if I land anywhere at all, because I trust no one else with my tresses.)

Know what else I did today?

I ran again for the first time in ages. My gym is in a metal building and every time it lightninged I got a little tingle, but did I let possible electrocution stop me? 

No! (Although, in retrospect, I probably should have.)

And it felt good and I want to keep running and running and running, like Forrest Gump, except not really that far and with less shrimp and facial hair.

The point is, I'm turning 40, not 90. I don't have all the things I had holding me back before. All the adventures I was sad I missed when I was young because I was busy raising babies are right at my fingertips. But, unlike when I was young, I have the sense not to screw it all up now. (Not that having babies screwed it up; I was just a moron and screwed things up.) 

I also have about half the energy I had back then, but I really feel like that's irrelevant.

So, I refuse to be 40 and f*cked! 

I'm gonna rock 40! I may be rocking it alone (well, with Mocho and Scout) in a place I've never even been writing copy or articles, or helping work on women's campaigns or figuring out how to make the best damn marijuana gummy bears in all of Colorado (That's not the job I'm applying for. I'm just mesmerized that you can get a gummy bear full of pot. Who the hell knew?) but I don't care. 

I'm ready for my adventure! 

And no one or nothing is stopping me this time!

I feel like I should scream, "I am woman hear me roar!" or "Jane Fonda!" (for some odd reason) right now.  

Or, "I'm having a huge mid-life crisis!" 

But, I feel like it'll be fun! 

And absolutely will not involve a 21-year-old and a Corvette. Because I'm not a boy.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Since the end of the school year is near and so many teachers are being asked to help a kid out...

I recently heard from a student who was freaking out because she might not  graduate. As it turns out, Lisa* had been absent for an extended period of time earlier in the semester and didn't turn in her make-up work. She's known for some time she was at risk of not being able to graduate because of the missing work. It's not like she hasn't had a progress or report card or two since failing to turn it in, but I guess she decided the best time to address it was two weeks before graduation. 

She gave all the excuses that placed the blamed solely on the teacher that every teacher in the world hears from every kid freaking out because they are failing due to not turning in their make-up work: she didn't give it to me, she didn't remind me it was due, she told me not to worry about it, and, my all time favorite, "I don't know why she can't just give me extra credit and change the grade."

I was like, "Dude, you had months to take care of this and your teacher is not going to go back into a previous six weeks and change your grade when you should've taken care of your business when you got back to school. Actually, I don't even think she could if she wanted to because when we turn grades in for the six weeks, we "lock" them."

Her response?




"The principal said she could change it if she wanted to and all my other teachers did to help me out. She just doesn't care if I graduate." 

And there, there it is. "The principal said..."

Why the hell do we have grading policies that state very explicitly you have a certain number of days to turn in your work at a point reduction until it's no longer accepted and you receive a zero if the principal is going to undermine teachers when they try to follow it? (I am in no way saying every principal does this because I know there are some that are like, "Too bad, so sad, lazy pants." You, dear principal, are wonderful and loved.) 

The principal at my old school was notorious for being like, "Hey, XXX is failing your class again and it looks like they have no grades in the grade book. Go ahead and tell the them they will stay before and after school until they get it all turned in and can't get higher than a 70 on any of it." 

Of course, when I mentioned much of the work was due several weeks before, that the principal had been copied on the e-mail I sent the parent letting them know their little pet was failing and that what he was asking me to do was in direct violation of the school's grading policy, he was like, "Well, these kids just need a break. Oh yeah, and you're fired."

Yeah, and you need the TEA off your ass, but I digress. 

How are we preparing these kids for the real world when we let them turn in their work whenever they feel like it, even if it's 26 assignments at the end of the six weeks so they don't fail? Or passing them because "at least they made an effort to get most of it in?" They are going to be awfully surprised when the outcome for the same behavior is very different with a professor or boss. 

Will they be incensed and cry and whine when they are failing their college courses or lose their job and say it's because their professor or boss doesn't care? 

You bet your sweet ass they will. 

Because, by always making exceptions and undermining and punishing teachers  who actually do the right, ethical thing and fail these kids for being lazy, we are creating a generation of people who take zero responsibility for their actions and are always looking for a shortcut. 

Teachers are leaving the profession in droves and, according to an article I read a few months ago in my professional organization trade magazine (because unions are frowned upon in Texas), one of the main reasons was lack of support from administrators. 

I know it has been a few years for some administrators, but don't they have any recollection of what it was like to be a teacher in a classroom? Don't they remember the principal not having their back and questioning everything they did? Based on the actions of a lot of them now, I guess maybe they enjoyed not being valued as professionals?

I suspect this teacher will be bullied into changing Lisa's grade and she will graduate with the rest of her class in a couple of weeks. Lisa will feel like she won, the principal will have a higher graduation rate which will please the TEA and, if the teacher felt like I did when I had to give a 19-year-old senior fifth grade level work last year so he could get his grade up to passing high enough he wouldn't fail the class for the semester and finally graduate the week grades were due, the teacher will feel defeated and wonder why she even wastes her time. 

On a bright note, Lisa plans to join the military. I wonder if the principal will make a quick call to her important military-person-in-charge and try to bully him into not making her run and lift her rifle in the air while being sprayed by a water hose and singing a song (Yeah, I know that's from An Officer and a Gentlemen. It's all I got, man.) when she doesn't do something she's supposed to? 

Or if she'll feel like be coddled served her well? 

*Lisa isn't her real name, obviously. It may not even be a girl who contacted me. It could be a boy. You don't know because I protect the innocent and sometimes the not-so-innocent.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Just in case you thought now might be a good time to be my neighbor

We have a really bad feral cat problem in our neighborhood. Like, bad enough that we have a feral cat program where a company will come out and leave a trap and then come pick the cat up and our local vet will spay or neuter it for free. 

The problem is so bad because there is a cat house one street over from us. Not an actual whore house, but a house that some idiot has cracked the windows on, taken the screens off and set out unlimited amounts of cat foot. As a result, we've got cats and kittens all over the place. As you can imagine, the people in my neighborhood really love it. You know, if love it and hate the hell out of it mean the same thing. 

Two of those feral cats landed in my backyard and both had kittens within a week of each other—10 in total. Which is why we have Scout now and we found good homes for the other nine. I trapped one and got her spayed last week. The other, much meaner and apparently smarter one, has been a tad more difficult to catch. 

Also, showing up in my backyard is what I thought was one orange and white cat who is the baby daddy. Well, lo and behold, I looked out my window and what did I see today but two damn orange and white cats. It's probably one of his kids since he apparently always takes his love to town. One or both is the daddy to the kittens that were birthed in my chicken coop. 


Those orange and white males cats can try to say they aren't
the baby daddy, but I had four more that looked just like these
that told a much different story. I feel like Maury Povich
could help me out with this one.

I have been chasing them out of my yard all day long while I waited until it got dark enough to set the trap. There may or may not have been an air soft gun involved. I don't aim at them. As much as I want to never see them again, I can't actually hurt them. And I have bad aim anyway. As it turns out, I can't hit the side of a barn, but I can hit the side of a shed, which scares the hell out of those cats and sends them flying over the fence. Until they come back. 

This may also explain a little why the neighborhood kids avoid my yard a lot.

Last night, around 7:30, I looked out my window and saw those SOBs again and something inside of me twisted off. Which led the neighbors to hearing this: 

(Ping, Ping on the shed)

Me: Get the eff out of my yard, mother effer! GET OUT NOW!

Grace: You sound crazy! 

Me (ping, ping): I'm coming for you mother effer! Your days of screwing are over! Eff you!! 

Grace: What if the neighbors were cooking out?

Me: Well, I guess they're probably pretty confused and maybe a little scared right now. 

Grace: Our poor neighbors. They have to listen to you talk to the chickens all day and now this.

Me: What the hell ever. They should be used to this stuff by now. They can move! 

(Ping, ping, ping, ping)

I took great care setting the trap last night because I am over running a cat brothel and someone was about to enter a life of celibacy. 

Guess what I caught.

Nothing. 

Nada.

Not a damn thing. 

The cat sluttiness will continue for another day. 

And, I suspect my neighbors also won't be making eye contact with me.

Again. 

Whatever.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tips for our local storm chasers and meteorologists because, you know, I'm totally qualified to dole out advice to y'all.

As of late, we've have had some crazy weather here in my part of the world. It's been so crazy, we made national news because the National Guard had to come rescue people off their roofs because of high water. Lord, did those National Guard trucks rolling into town get the Jade Helm conspiracy folks all in a tizzy. 

Anyway, most of my readers reside in two counties and neither of our counties are exactly urban. I've noticed when covering the severe weather, which seems to only love Oklahoma more than us this spring, we sometimes get shafted. Or they just screw up altogether. In my town alone, the location of a tornado was misreported twice, on two separate occasions. I feel like knowing if the tornado is coming at my head is kind of important information to have. So, to help all my rural peeps out, I've comprised a few tips for our local weather professionals when letting us know if our death is imminent. 

  • When we are having the crazy weather that is purple and black on the radar, please, in the name of all that is good and holy do not zoom out to show us nothing is happening in the Dallas and Tarrant counties. And, when you say, "We just want to zoom out to show you everything is quiet in Dallas and Ft. Worth," while the sirens are going off outside my house it makes me scream, "HEY, THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW THEY ARE ALL SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT RIGHT NOW, ASSHAT!" at my television and it scares Mocho. You know, more than the thunder, lightening, hail and liquid falling from the sky. 

  • Speaking of farm-to-market roads like they aren't actual, major roads is not really accurate. The main road through my town? A farm-to-market road. The main road to the town to the left of the four way stop? You guessed it. Our roads are farm-to-market roads. No, they aren't what you would call high traffic roads—mostly because don't have high traffic. Hell, we don't even have a red light.
    • Don't just make an educated guess about the highway or farm-to-market road you happen to be on when you think see the funnel cloud, especially if it's on the ground. Last night, I took cover in a laundry room with an anxious cat, a gassy kitten and a pissed off 17-year-old only to find out from listening to my police scanner app (yes, I was that girl because channel 8 kept going back to Jimmy Kimmel) that they'd been reporting they were on the wrong highway the whole time and the tornado was actually headed to a town north of us. If ever there was a time both towns in that situation needed accurate information, I feel confident that was it. Look, I'm not asking you to tell me which direction the tornado is headed in relation to the four way stop (although, if you could provide that service when in town, I'd sure appreciate it because that's how we give directions around here), I just need you to understand that, although close in numbers, FM 2450 and FM 2449 are two very different locations. 
    This is Scout. She is the newest member of our family.
    She is tiny and adorable, but she farts like a grown man.
    I don't know if it's a nervous thing or what, but her farts can
    knock ya out if you're locked in a laundry room with her.
    I was almost willing to take my chances standing my a window
    so I could breathe. 
    • What appears to be a largely unpopulated area with mostly open fields and a lucky place for a tornado to touch down is called a farm to some people. They don't feel so lucky when their livelihood is being destroyed and when most insurance doesn't cover flooding. I don't actually know if it covers farm animals and crops. I have five chickens and a thriving garden, so I feel like I should look into that. 
    • Just because we spell a town a certain way, doesn't mean we actually pronounce it the way it looks. Era. Rio Vista. I heard them both pronounced multiple ways by one person in the same newscast. Ask the mayor. Or one of the people telling you what the tornado did and remember it for the next newscast. 
    Basically, just remember we depend on these newscasts for weather information just as much as the people who are actually in the metroplex. So do people in parts of East Texas. I will say, our police have done a phenomenal job of keeping everyone abreast of what is going on, but there are only like five (or seven) of them. In these situations, they kind of have some other stuff they need to focus on, like saving lives and junk. 

    If I'm going to die in a laundry room with a farting kitten, anxiety-ridden cat and pissed off teenager, I would like to prepare myself for that being my legacy. You, storm chasers and meteorologists hold the keys to making that happen. 

    Monday, May 18, 2015

    I could've totally been attacked by a tick. Probably.

    I've been known from time-to-time to convince myself that I have contracted a random, deadly disease from work I do outside in my yard. After my most recent bout of mowing, my go-to brush with death was via a tick stuck to me, sucking out my blood and replacing it with Lyme Disease. I don't even really know if that's how Lyme Disease works, but in my very scientific and completely logical brain, that's exactly how it works. 

    Saturday, when I mowed, my yard was extra tick-worthy. My little town made national news last week because we had so much flooding, the National Guard had to come in and rescue people off the roofs of their houses and one sweet little baby angel out of his truck when he decided to do a little exploring and got washed off the road. All that rain led to seriously overgrown, soggy yards around here. Mine was extra overgrown because my lawnmower was in the shop for three weeks and I feel like the John Deere is just an accident waiting to happen. And also will not help me get my 10,000 steps for the day. 

    So, as I plowed through the jungle, I felt like I had all sorts of insects, reptiles, arachnids and maybe some mammals stuck to my body. But the one thing I was 1000% certain was stuck to my head? 

    A tick. 

    I first tried to get NJ to check my head, so you know, we could be a stronger, closer couple because he risked his life to save mine from the gigantic tick slowing removing all the blood from my body. 

    He mocked me. 

    Then, as I was getting in the shower to try to scrub the tick off since NJ obviously didn't care if I died, my mother called and I was like, "Yeah, I just got done mowing, so I was about to jump in the shower because I'm pretty sure there's a tick stuck to my head killing me."

    She was like, "Oh, okay. Well, let me just tell you this one thing real quick before you get in the shower."

    And I was like, "Well, you should probably make it something really good because it might be the last thing you ever tell me because I think I'm getting light headed from the tick taking all he blood from my brain."

    So, she told me the thing that wasn't quick, but did involve a moment of confusion my uncle had when he got Grace's graduation invitation because, as it turns out, he had no idea what any of our last name's are. Dude, his daughter has been married three times and I know all three of her last names. Whatever. Not the point. 

    I was like, "Well, that's hilarious, but I'm going to go now to lessen the odds of me passing out in the shower from the Lyme Disease currently flowing through my body and then drowning on top of everything else."

    And her response? "Well, before you get in, write down this address so you can send my friend an invitation since I talk about Grace to her all the time." 

    I was like, "Uh, okay, if the Lyme Disease hasn't affected my motor skills yet." I don't even know if it does that, but neither does she, so she had no way of knowing if I was lying. 

    It smarted a bit that the two people who are supposed to love me the most weren't worried about my impending death and, I decided if I survived the Lyme Disease, both of them were going to really crappy nursing homes. 

    But today, I got vindication. There, stuck to the skirt I wore outside to get eggs yesterday, was a tick. Fine, was something I convinced myself was a tick but may have been some other kind of bug. However, when I tell the story to NJ and my mother later, it's going to be a tick for sure and it's going to be so full of blood it was about to pop. I don't even care if that's not a thing. 

    You would think from my screaming, "WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!?!" so loud that Mocho ran from the room as I tried to wash it down the drain, it was a flock of ticks. You know, if in fact they live in flocks. Then I remembered you're supposed to burn them. But, do you burn them off your head or once you get them off your head? And if you do it on your head, how do you not catch your hair on fire? My hair is cuuuttteee right now. I don't want to burn it off. 

    And do ticks just get on your head?

    Obviously, my tick knowledge is limited—aside from the part where they are trying to kill me and there was totally probably one in my bedroom earlier today. 


    Well, now that I made the mistake of googling this,
    I am also certain they are in both ears, on my neck
    and possibly on my leg. Death is
    imminent.
    Photo source: http://goo.gl/EeSoFu


    And that my mother and husband are going to be really sad when I die from the disease the tick that may or may not have been stuck to my body may or may not have infected me with.