Thursday, November 25, 2004
Friday, November 19, 2004
M said that, since any student who wanted to participate could, they all did. And he said,
"They kept on killing it. At first they were grossed out but then they got excited and just kept on killing it after it was dead."
"What about you?" I said,
"No, I left." he said
"Oh right," I said, "I forgot how much you hate animals being hurt. Did you leave before it happened?"
"No," he said, "I felt like I should watch it, but once they slit it's neck and the blood dripped down, and everyone else started yelling and stuff, I felt sick, and I just left."
I love this kid, I love love love love this kid. I will note, however, that when I said, whoa, just like Lord of the Flies, he had no idea what I was talking about. Mental note: buy about 10 copies of Lord of the Flies and donate to the school. Mental second note: Are you insane?
*this seems late to me. Aren't they supposed to hang for a week or something? I read some book where this guy drifts up on the shores of Japan and like, totally horrifies all the Japanese by hanging his meat for days and days. Do we not still do that?
Then I had a brilliant idea: bring the dog. Theo, the bouncy dog. The Looooove Dog. The dog who is Jim Morrison reincarnated: he has long hair, won't shut up, chews panties, and wants everyone to love him. Theo will break the ice, I reasoned. I will meet people with Theo there to jump on them and lick their faces! At least I might meet them between apologies. So I asked M's housefather if it was okay for Theo to come. Sure, he said. And if it's cold or raining, you can sleep in the house, we have floor space. And, I think, Theo will keep me warm wherever I am. He's mostly collie, he's like a walking shag rug.
So this afternoon I ran out of work, picked my car up from Red to the tune of about $350 I don't have. Red said, "You got you a right rear tire that's as smooth as my head young lady! And that ain't no good!" Terrific. Car needed some new belt, new tire, inspection & replace the taillight. (It is driving beautifully now) Then I went home, packed up the car, the tent, and . . . Theo.
Uncool. Exceedingly uncool, as became desperately apparent right away. He had to be on a leash and wasn't allowed into any of the buildings. Now I was prepared for the building thing but I thought he could just run loose around the place with the other dogs. Nope. Freedom from leashes is only granted to resident dogs, not visitors. So I had to tie him up. He doesn't like being tied up, and when you tie him up he barks without stopping until you untie him. He'll go on for hours and hours. He really will.
Cigarettes, it is also immediately apparent, are the other problem. This is, of course, a non smoking school. The only other parent I know, who isn't a current parent, since his kid graduated last year, acted like that wasn't a problem. I had forgotten that he's kind of an asshole and no doubt just smoked without asking or worrying. He's immune to criticism. Assholes often are. I lit up a cigarette & M got frantic. "Put that out!" he hissed, "This is a no smoking campus!" Bummer. 24 hours without a cigarette is not my idea of fun. I might just machine gun the whole school.
Oooookay. So there I am, unwelcome dog, no cigarettes, and my little tent looks lonely as hell in the middle of this big field. Apparently no other parents are camping. They must have read the information differently, or I'm out of the loop. Probably I'm out of the loop. I thought there would be lots of friendly Quaker hippy types camping. This was another way I thought I would meet people. Nope. Big empty field. Faaaaaaar away from anything. Dog on leash. Hmmmm.
So we go to the conference, which starts 45 minutes late. I'm afraid to just split and take Theo for a walk, since I think then I'll miss the conference and that would be bad. So, for those 45 minutes Theo, tied up, barks at the top of his lungs. The conference, having started so late, is cut quite short. That's okay. Basically we're covering the same damn ground: noone has any idea how M is doing academically since his astonishingly terrible behavior has ensured that he has done no discernible work in the past two months. The teacher, however, has been snared by the charisma and the charm, and is sure that M. has it in him to do all the work wonderfully. If M. was only so sure, he might actually do it. That would be novel. I'm not holding my breath. The bell rings for dinner.
We're already late, so I tie Theo up again, right by the dining hall. Then I come in, almost last, stand in a silent circle holding hands, while Theo goes completely berserk, directly visible through the glass door behind me. As soon as circle ended I ducked out and put him in the car. I get back, M has thankfully saved me a place, we eat vegetarian food: bean soup, salad, bread. It was good, but I don't eat much. I'm shy, and stuff like this is really hard for me. I talk to M.'s housefather, to another staff member I know a little, and a little to my neighbor, a nice older lady, but I can't figure out why she's here. Community member? Grandmother? World leader on tour? I have no clue. She tells me she once had a one woman show at the museum where I work, long ago, she says. Many many years. She reiterates that a few times. Many years. She tells me they're building McMansions in her neighborhood in Charlotte, I tell her Asheville's just as bad. We commiserate briefly. Then she disappears and I don't see her again.
So I'm sitting there totally alone and decide, since dinner is obviously over, and I've helped clear the table, to go & check on Theo & smoke a cigarette to kill the hunger pangs. I do this. I get back and discover that, lo & behold, there are announcements going on. Noone told me there were going to be announcements. Damn. Everyone looks at me as I come in the door and a couple of them wrinkle their noses - double damn! Busted! They smell the cigarette! (How did I get away with it in high school? Did everyone smoke then so nobody could tell?)
I ask one of the staff members what I have missed. "Nothing much" he says, "Except that some hunters lost 7 bear dogs around here and they're not the friendliest dogs, so be on the lookout." Great. Wonderful. My mind instantly flashes to a news story from a couple months ago, where a lost pack of about 10 bear dogs killed a nice Lab in someone's yard. I think about my little tent, all alone. I think about my bouncy Love Dog in the tent with me. I think about Cujo. I think of all the feral dog pack horror stories I have ever heard. It's actually quite amazing how they all leap to my head at once.
That's when I conceived of the idea of just leaving. Packing up the tent, and driving home. It's only an hour, it isn't that far away. And the car is no longer in imminent danger of dying.
So I helped clean up dinner a little, there were lots of people who all knew each other, and me. I wiped tables and stacked chairs, and then walked over to see the play. The play was great, they did a fantastic job, and M had the teeniest part: he sat motionless & invisible in a box for an hour and then jumped out, grabbed his red electric bass, strummed some chords and did a total Joe Strummer leap off the stage. Short but cool. That's my boy. After the play, I told him I was leaving, and I did. Pulled the tent down, didn't even pack it up, just hauled it to the car & threw the whole thing, complete with sleeping bag & pads & all into the trunk. I second guessed myself all the way home.
I feel like a total chicken shit but the truth was I just couldn't face the whole next day, with this miserable barking dog, and me having no idea where to go, what to do, knowing noone. It was just too painful and too scary. I really am shy as hell; as a kid I was damn near catatonic in social situations. I've gotten over most of it with age and liberal alcohol - but stuff like this sends me right back into freaked out trance mode. And it's a self reinforcing cycle: when I feel like that, I start sending out the big Repell-O Rays, my patented Repell-O rays, and noone wants to be anywhere near me. I sat at one end of a row of chairs for the play; the room filled up around me, noone sat in that row until there was literally not one other seat left and some people had opted for the floor rather than sit next to the strange woman.
Finally M's roommate's mother sat near me. She's very nice and we discovered that her husband's great uncle and my great grandfather both worked at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston around the turn of the century. Thank the GODS for Southerners. If all else fails, talk genealogy. They had gotten a room at the Celo Inn (expensive) and the one set of grandparents were at a hotel in Burnsville (also expensive.) But there are some shithole dive motels in Burnsville and next year I will know to book a room and not bring the dog. Next year I will know what is going on and I won't be so scared and freaked out and unable to speak. Next year will be better.
And tomorrow? Tomorrow morning I'm driving back up there and I'll do the whole thing: dinner, auction, parent meeting. I hope it's better than today. I really hope so.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
I've been getting good spam lately. It's so beautiful . . I can't bear to just discard it. So, here are three recent selections - poetry from Mars:
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004
This is the next morning. Today my son went in for what I thought was a psych screening. No! It was, in fact, an appointment to make an appointment. An appointment that could have been done over the phone quite well. An appointment that will probably use up my entire health insurance mental health allowance, so I will not be able to pay for the appointments (yes, two. You can't expect one highly paid doctor to do everything, now can you?) that were made at this appointment. This bites. But I'm out of outrage - I'm just tired. This is how they get you; not by malevolence, but by entropy and outrage fatigue. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Meanwhile, in other cutting edge financial news, I'm broke. At least, I think that's the technical term. I managed to overdraw my checking account to the tune of about $200 last week, how? I don't know. I knew it was close but I thought there was about $40 in there. And not only that, but I used my debit card at the post office to mail some packages for my job on Friday. There were three packages; each of them cost $3.85. I had to put my card in three times, since the machine wouldn't allow me to do more than one transaction per card reading. Well, I have something euphemistically called "overdraft protection" which means that the bank pays the merchant when my account is overdrawn - instead of letting it bounce - but they charge me $25 a hit and they don't tell me about it until days later. You guessed it - I'm out $75 for those three transactions of $3.85 each. Well, I'm out $50, because I went to the bank in tears and begged. They took one fee off. Big of them.
And, to top things off, my car has two lights, two odd squiggly lights on the dashboard that have lit up - they did it just as I pulled into my driveway tonight. I've been googling for a while and I can't find a list of Saturn ideograms to tell me what they mean. I think they mean that the battery & the coolant aren't working. This has a picture that looks like the one I got - the red one which it says is the cooling system and the blocky black one, which I guess is the battery. Now what? Do I go to the laundromat & the grocery store anyway? Or what? It never rains but it fucking pours. . .
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Christopher Moore, Island of the Sequined Love Nun (bwah ha ha ha! I LOVE this man!)
Eyes of the Calculor
Tony Hillerman, The Sinister Pig (not so good)
Diana Wynne Jones, The Homeward Bounders (okay, a kid's book, I was desperate)
Christopher Paolini, Eragon (another kids book, not great, also start of a series, boo hiss)
Kinky Friedman, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (love Kinky, but his newer stuff is not as good as his older stuff)
Jennifer Roberson, Sword Singer & Sword Dancer (okay)
Wilson Rawls, Summer of the Monkeys (ditto okay, also kids')
Simon Green, Guards of Haven (okay)
Armistead Maupin, 28 Barbary Lane & Back to Barbary Lane (skipped the first Tales of the City part since I read that a year or two ago - I liked it up to the end where Mary Ann turns into the psycho bitch from hell, that was annoying)
Elizabeth Hand, Waking the Moon (a reread: now THAT is a GOOD book!! She rocks)
Emily Brighwell, Mrs. Jeffries on the Trail (I am embarrassed as hell to admit this, it ranks up there with cereal boxes)
Faye Kellerman, False Prophet (okay)
And I think that's it for the last two weeks in November, although at some point recently I reread most of William Gibson and Neil Gaiman, American Gods (awesome) but I can't remember whether it was after November 15 or not.
I heard from a friend who's SO's sister was a crackhead, desperately in need and in fact wanting help. There was none to be found - they had to get her to commit a crime to be helped. Yup, absolute fact. They took her to a department store and got her to obviously steal something in front of a security guard and then insisted that the guard call the cops. That was the only way they could get her into rehab, get her therapy, get her the help she needed. Very very very goddamn fucked up system.
At any rate my son is back at school tonight, and hopefully (oh please) everything will work out, he will get the help he needs, he will get an education, he will be okay. In the course of my telephone odyssey I spoke to a psychiatrist who told me that I was asking for too much, since I was unwilling to help. Apparently the fact that I am a single mother who works about 50 hours a week meant that I was unwilling to help my child. If I was willing to help my child, I would be home every minute that he is at home. Right. Uh huh. Has she checked into economic reality lately? I kind of think that if I quit my job than ADHD might be the least of our problems, but I guess I'm wrong. Yeah, okay, I'll quit, stay home - in a cardboard box on the side of I-40, I guess. God knows I don't quite make enough to live on as it is, but if I don't get a paycheck things will be infinitely worse. She was very helpful. Kind, too.
If you don't know, my kid's father opted out of this pain in the ass parenting thing about 11 years ago. No child support, no nothing. Sure, I could go after him with lawyers, guns and money, but since the last I heard he was homeless, drunk and crazy in West Virginia, it seems kind of pointless. Moral lesson? Don't get pregnant with sexy bluegrass guitar players. Actually, get pregnant with noone unless you get a full genetic screening. All I asked him for was an STD/HIV test. Getting married is cheap and easy. Getting divorced is expensive and hard, and the pain goes on forever.
Which brings me to the next part of this rant: my ex boyfriend, another bluegrass musician, has a new girlfriend. And my ex really important boyfriend not only has a girlfriend, but they have moved together to central America to start a new and wonderful life. And the guy I have a crush on? You got it - I hit the trifecta this weekend - he has a girlfriend now too. Nothing like hearing this from one to two to three, all in a row like the three fucking blind mice. They are my friends and I'm happy for them. Really. Any minute now this terrific happiness ought to kick in.
Meanwhile, I haven't had a date in like, 8 months. Terrific. Wonderful. To paraphrase Richard Brautigan, if I was dead I couldn't attract a male fly. I could take my final vows: I haven't been this fucking sin free since my first communion. God is happy with me now; no lust - but okay, some serious envy. Some soul consuming envy. What exactly is it with me, what horrible personality disorder do I encapsulate that makes me so totally undateable? I don't know. I brush my teeth, I shower regularly, I work like a demon, I am a great cook and a caring friend, etc. And I'm not even fat. But apparently I cannot be in a relationship. It is forbidden, I broke some kind of crazed taboo, and it's all over. Okay. I could handle the fact that this now makes FOUR of my close male friends, three of whom are exes, who are all happy and shit with other women now, if I had anyone, anyone at all, to walk around the goddamn block with. All I ask at this point is that he breathe unassisted and have a working dick. But probably I am too picky. No doubt I am too picky. Maybe there's a homeless paraplegic schizophrenic convicted murderer with an oxygen tank whose dick was shot off in Vietnam somewhere who would date me. But I doubt it.
And I even got whistled at tonight. Great, terrific. I get whistled at (and believe me, I appreciate it, when you're as old as me, you have given up that faux feminist outrage at whistles you have when you're 20 and can't walk a block without being hassled) but go out for coffee? Nope. No way. Nothing, nada, noone, and I guess it will be like this for the rest of my life.
So, it's quite possible that tomorrow I will have a hangover to bring you. I have been busy being a good parent, inasmuch as that is possible without quitting my job, and I haven't been drinking much. Dag. Sucks, this high functioning alcoholic social drinker shit. But right now I'm going to go build a fire and drink in front of it, smoking up the chimney as always.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
It was one of those kind of buzzy hangovers that are almost pleasurable in a sick way, a little sleep depped, a little out of it, a headache threatening but not quite there, sleepy but a little wired.
The hangover evaporated and the headache took over though, when I got the news about the damn school.
So I'm sitting on my friend's back porch having a glass of wine and my phone rings, it's my 12 year old son's school and they want me to come pick him up; he's essentially been suspended. Since this is a super ultra hippy vegetarian experiential boarding school on top of a mountain, they don't put it like that. They say, he needs some time to examine his motivations, and his commitment to the community and the community's ideals.The problem is the same old problem: He's great on his own or one on one, he's great at home, he's great in a lot of ways, but in a classroom situation he's totally impossible. He isn't working, he won't focus, he's disruptive, he's disrespectful, and he's the ringleader of a gang of boys who are all trying to behave just like him.So I don't know what to do. I've never really known what to do. I picked him up and I yelled and cried, and talked and cried, and told him that he was getting his hair cut off - it's longer than mine, it's past his shoulders, so then he cried, then we both cried. Then he swore up and down that he would be better, and I said I wanted to believe that, and on & on & on. Tomorrow after the haircut I am going to try to get him in for an emergency psychiatric evaluation and I think maybe it's time to try drugs.
I have based a lot of my life as an educator & a parent on not believing in ADD/ADHD and in vehemently opposing the drugging of children. I think that there have never been longitudinal studies done of how years of ADD drugs can affect kids' livers & kidneys, I have heard of several deaths of kids on Ritalin following minor head injuries, like it makes the brain more vulnerable to bleeding, I am opposed, totally opposed. I think I'm about to put my own child, my darling, my precious, the most imporant person in the entire world to me - on these things that I oppose with all my heart and soul. Because I just don't think I know what else to do. The teachers said, YES! And looked relieved, that I had suggested it, and not them.
I have always believed that TV causes ADD - take away the TV, you take away the problem. And now that my son is in a completely TV free environment, vegetarian, no sugar - all that good hippie shit I believe in (well, the less cynical part of me believes in, anyway) and it isn't working. In fact, it's getting worse. And it's been getting worse every year since he was five.
This kid is so bright, so lovely, so charismatic and wonderful and special - and yet he has this dark streak, like his dad - and he sometimes seems to create failure for himself, to set himself up to fail, and he will just shut down and refuse to do anything at all - and it breaks my heart, and I'm so so damn afraid for him. I don't know what will become of him.
This school was supposed to be the thing that saved him, I'm mortgaging my soul and one hell of a lot of my mother's money for this, traditional schools weren't working, he was within a hairsbreadth of getting kicked out of the local middle school for this kind of behaviour - and this place seemed like a miracle. LIke the kind of education you always wished you had - the kind that every child should have - and it would make everything okay.
Fuck. Yet again, there are no fucking miracles, and the gods never relent.
Monday, November 08, 2004
My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus. Given the way the country's going, that ought to be enough to get me hung quite soon.
Anyway, it occurred to me that this was a hangover free weekend, what a novelty, and what a good time to start a blog called the Hangover Journals, which I've been meaning to do for, oh, about two years now - and now I am. Welcome. As it were. Or something. Should I post a picture of my cats now? Here's a link to one of my best friends' band www.countyfarm.net - now, give me a few days, and I'll make that look far cooler.