Still Striving to improve myself, one board break at a time

Please bear with me-this post is colored by the fact that I’m crabby due to a long day at work, coupled with feeling badly about my son’s schoolwork and my poor parenting skills. (that’s a subject for a different post).

In today’s society, it’s all about being number one. Number one this, number one that.  It’s all about winning and not a bit about looking at the people who are either helping you win or being ignored along the way. You’re not “good enough unless you’re part of the elites”. Being part of the “elites” apparently gives some people license to be ugly and nasty to others.

This evening was the last Monday night rehearsal for the local high school marching band. My son hasn’t been able to participate in the marching competitions due to the aforementioned poor parenting.  When we got out of the stadium this evening, he was in rare form. I wasn’t very happy myself and cut him off, which I shouldn’t have done. I told him not to air his laundry out for everyone to hear, that we’d talk in the car.

When we got to the car, I found out what happened.  Apparently, he was trying to help someone by answering a question and was accused by a director of talking.  He received two warnings and was told that a third warning would result in him being told to leave (as in, being sent home for insubordination). Okay. I get that. He was trying to answer a question.  My response is, next time, send them to the director. Tell whomever is asking questions that the only person/s qualified to answer are directors.  Takes care of THAT issue.

Unfortunately, there’s more to this story than that.  Being as he’s “not good enough” for the actual show, he’s an ‘alternate’ (meaning, he stands off the field IF he’s in competition and just watches his fellow band members march and provides support). There are several woodwinds who are also “alternates” and apparently one of them is a loudmouth who spews massive amounts of ugliness in my kid’s direction. Normally, he’d ignore it, but after being told for the umpteenth time that he’s “not good enough” and hearing derogatory comments about his marching skills, he’s a bit frustrated.  I’m feeling downright rotten because this is not something I can fix.

So I have a teenager in agony here. He’s not happy with the way things are going and feels that the directors don’t care about the alternates. He  feels that he’s not been given a true chance to prove himself to them.

How am I supposed to react to that?  Part of me wants to write a scathing letter to the band director, but I don’t think it would do any good. I want to come out of my corner swinging and take names later. I am restraining myself and writing this blog instead of succumbing to my first instinct because I don’t want to make my kid’s life a living hell.

I just don’t know how to fix this issue. I want to be the good parent. I emailed the directors earlier this year and asked how to help him so he wouldn’t be stuck in “alternate limbo” (this ins’t just “shadowing” someone.  This is outright, “You don’t march the way we think you  need to, so you’re not getting a place in the show. You can provide minor support, you absolutely MUST show up and ‘practice’ marching in order to improve and you will still not have a snowflakes’s chance in a hot environment of being allowe to participate this year. IF you improve, we’ll consider seeng how you are next year.”  Okay, I get that. I totally get it’s all about being THE BEST out there and whatnot. (yes, I am sarcastic tonight. I’m as frustrated as my son is now).  I GET that you want only the best marchers.  I want to know why there wasn’t an offer of “we’ll have you work with our drill instructors” to improve marching or whatever. I have no idea what goes on at the morning rehearsals or the Monday ones because I’m not there for either one.

So supposedly he’s “on the radar”.  Nothing’s happened.  Okay, again, it’s all a “you have to bust your butt and improve so we can consider you because this year’s a washout.”

Fast forward to the real issues. There are people who are “alternates” who have taken it upon themselves to decide they know who knows how to march and who doesn’t.  One of those has decieded to spew rudeness and invective in my son’s direction. My son knows the consequences of fighting. (he has a mouth on him that is inexcusable sometimes, but for the most part, he’s just sarcastic and lashes out verbally, NOT in the manner he’s been spoken to. He knows I’ll kick his ass if he says anything that is unacceptable to me, and that includes any sort of slur against a person.)

I really want to call a meeting with the band directors and say, hey. You need to deal with this but do NOT make my kid the scapegoat. I don’t want him to have a reputation for being a whiner. I’ve already gotten him noticed because I asked them if he could skip a practice to work on homework. (let me tell you, that’s going to go over like a lead balloon. “He has all weekend to do homework. He has to show up and practice his marching.” was the response I got to that!)

I’m sitting here with a miserable kid. He came home dejected and feels like he’s nothing. Part of that, I blame on the director asking him “are you going to pay attention this time?” and then giving him the warnings. In her defense, I don’t have her side of the story. I don’t know what happened from her pov, so I won’t get overly ugly on that part.

I’m just frustrated for my child. I have watched his hopes get dashed by the “you’re not good enough” and by not having support when I think he should have support. I’m now hearing that they aren’t doing much about helping him improve. Whether or not that’s true, it’s still bloody frustrating to me as a parent.  This isn’t really a battle I can fight, but dammit, I want to come out swinging and ask questions later.

When did the band stop being “fun”, which my daughter experienced during her tenure in high school and when did it start being a job? I realize the kids sign up for band and they are expected to put effort into it, but when did it become their top priority, eclipsing all other things?

I had a blast last weekend in New Orleans. I haven’t posted about it because I was exhausted from the trip-the flight, then running around the area before we got to the hotel and then…THE FRENCH QUARTER! I’ve never been there before and this was a trip without my family, just a girls’ weekend.

I stayed with several lovely ladies who are part of a group that is united by our love of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and the televison series on Starz.  We were celebrating the group’s second anniversary, which coincidentally, happened to tie in to the second book of the series, hence New Orleans.  I won’t give it away if you’ve not read the books, but if you have, you will understand the reference.

I loved my trip to New Orleans.  I had great companions and we ran around the Quarter, exploring. They went out of their way to show me the sights, which I greatly appreciated. I was introduced to the best fried chicken I have ever eaten at Willie Mae’s Scotch House.  The food was awesome, the companionship was beyond compare.  Yes, it was great!

We had a great dinner at Cafe Soule on Saturday night. After all the running around during the day in our own groups, it was fun to get together for dinner.  Several of the ladies told the waiter a fun thing about why we were there, which he shared with another table of patrons. At least one of those patrons kept getting up, walking past our table and checking us out-unobtrusively, of course!! 

While we were there, a small visitor (a tree roach, I think)  freaked out another table behind us.  He climbed the wall and I do believe the girls at that table thought for sure he was trying to join their meal, so they all moved until one of the wait staff removed him.  (Another one showed up shortly after that. I think he may have been wanting to have dinner too.)

Sunday afternoon was brunch, then it was time to pack up and come home. I drove home with another friend and had a lot of fun just chatting about this and that. We had a lot of fun singing to a repeat of Casey Kasem’s Top 40 from the 80’s.

I took Monday off. I needed it. I slept poorly Sunday night. According to my Fitbit, I had fits of 1 hour and several minutes sleep, then 2 hours and some, then 2 and some.  Definitely not restful at all. I did manage to get homework finished and was happy about that.

Tuesday, it was back to the grind and I managed to make up for lost time. I finished a couple of tasks that had been left over from the end of the quarter and was back on track to move forward with my regularly scheduled job.  I also had school work to get caught up on. Wednesday was a big (to me) quiz, which I scored significantly better on than the quizzes from the prior week. I’ll take it!  Made my day to do better.

I’ve been getting caught up with my household tasks, plus staying on top of school today. I need to settle in and study for an actual TEST on Monday. I’m worried, but not overly so. I believe that if I get help from my family and friends again, I’ll be able to score better on the test.

It’s good to take a break periodically. I needed the break from work and school. I got away, had loads of fun exploring a city I’ve only heard about in the past. Being there was definitely a good thing. I can cross that off my “to do” list because I’ve done it now.  I want to go back sometime, but it’s not pressing. I’ve got a trip to Hawaii, one to Italy, one to Scotland and Ireland and a trip to Wales on my agenda next. I suppose I need to look at getting my passport.

I would highly recommend a trip with friends as a great way to decompress and forget the cares of the work week. I feel less stressed and much happier since I went and came back. Who knows, maybe I’ll get over my “antisocial” phase on Facebook again. I’ve not felt very friendly recently. I think it’s because I’ve been stressed out between work and school.   A friend reminded me that I am not the sum of my GPA and work is going to be there tomorrow. I don’t need to bring it home. (I do anyway, but I’m working on that)

What is help?

I’ve just finished my homework for my Italian class and was thinking about what it means to help someone. There is a young lady in my class who sits near me who has offered to help me. In turn, I give her the assignments when she can’t be in class. We give and take. That’s the kind of thing I want my kids to learn, to give and to take. It’s a pretty valuable lesson and it’s one that we can all benefit from.

I haven’t been the best at giving recently. I see all these pleas for help on Facebook and I cringe. I want to help people but at the same time, I’ve been burned in the past by “helping” someone, so I don’t want to help anymore. The best way I can help is through good intentions.

I realize I sound snarky and rude. I don’t mean to. I just feel that help is a two-way street. Being promised something in return for something and then being forgotten obviously cuts pretty deeply. It makes me cringe and want to go beat my head against a wall. Or the floor. Or some hard surface/object.

I will help my kids. I will help my immediate family. I will give to well known organizations. I will never again help a person who tells me a sob story and then “forgets” who helped them. That’s over.

My memory is long. My forgiveness is short.

whispers…psst!  Anyone here?

I haven’t written for a while.  Life has a way of getting in the way. I’ve been trying to get through school and have somewhat dropped off the face of the earth for a while. I’m presently taking four classes, while working full time and managing a family.

Things have been odd for 2015.  During the Spring Semester at school, I managed to injure my heels.  I have plantar fasciitis in both feet and believe me when I tell you, it HURTS!! I’m presently on my second doctor because the first one pretty much told me, “sit, don’t do anything and it’ll heal.”  I saw him at the end of April, during May and at the beginning of June. I wasn’t getting anywhere with the healing process, so I switched to another doctor this month.  This one  says to give it 4-6 weeks and if it’s not better, call him.

I’ve also joined a “10,000 steps a day” challenge at work. I’m trying really hard to get in steps, but my company pedometer is inaccurate as anything. My Fitbit is definitely more accurate. I did, however, manage to get in several steps, despite sore, swollen feet last week. They’re still sore, less swollen and better rested as of right now. I haven’t been walking this weekend though. We’ll start the week of limping off again tomorrow. The good thing is, my new doctor highly encourages exercise!!

On the weight loss front, things have stalled out. I’m not losing, but  my cousin, who revamped her entire lifestyle,IS dropping pounds (I think her comment was, “it’s melting off” to one of her friends) and I cheer quietly. I’m a terrible cheerleader in that aspect. I think that’s pretty cool for her.

School is kicking my butt pretty hard.  Four classes, three of which are online, are all tough. I’ve been trying to suck it up and deal with the math class, but it’s really hurting me. I don’t understand the logic part of it at all. The entire first section is logic and probability. I don’t see how that is going to help me as a Liberal Arts major but apparenlty, it’s necessary to prove that I’m “well rounded”. (and insane.  Don’t forget the insane part)

I’m debating dropping the math class. It would be a shame but at the same time, it’s definitely NOT AS ADVERTISED!! I was told it would be “easier” than College Algebra. No, it is not. I’d rather stick bamboo slivers underneath my fingernails than deal with math. I’ve said recently that math is “Mental Abuse to Humans” and I stand by my thinking. It hurts to see failures. This is a failed class. I get halfway decent grades on the “homework” (with copious help from a friend and family members) and fail the quizzes. I didn’t even take the second quiz because I couldn’t pass the homework with a 70 for intersecting sets and things. Probability isn’t even that much easier. I failed a 12 point quiz with only 5 correct. That should say something about trying to teach yourself math online. It doesn’t work if you don’t understand in the first place.

Two failed quizzes today means I’m walking away from all homework for a while.  My brain hurts, hence I’m writing. I usually workout a bunch of frustration by writing.

First Sunday of 2015

It’s the first Sunday of 2015 and I’m spending it with a slight injury. I managed to strain my back on Friday and felt it yesterday (Saturday), so didn’t do much in the way of physical activity. Today has been pretty much the same-still sore, still hurting and I’m not doing much. It’s some mental downtime. I think I’m going to say it’s needed and move on without beating myself up over it.

Now that 2015 is here, I have a lot to think about. I have a LOT of things I want to accomplish this year. I went back to school actively last year and managed to pick up some decent grades-after agonizing over a lot of things during the semester. I went to school in the summer and took one class. It wasn’t an easy grade. I had to read plays (took drama) and learned that I really didn’t like Hamlet, nor did I care for one of the other plays I read. Can’t even remember the name of it, so it wasn’t memorable at all.

I’m going to commit myself to making public my battle with weight loss and exercise in this forum. I’ve battled weight all my life. I have lived with negative commentary from one of my parents. Because of that, I’ve pretty much integrated the negativity into my own personal thinking. That’s changing this year. I will be 50 in six months. I don’t need that negativity anymore, therefore, I am banishing it from my life. I’m not going to allow negative self talk to take over my life. I just can’t.

That makes a huge difference in working out and trying to lose weight. If you constantly think you aren’t good enough, then you start internalizing it. It becomes how you talk to yourself.  Instead of acknowledging that I’m good enough for things, I sit and bemoan my “fate”. It’s my battle and I’m fighting it on a different plane. I’m not going to tell myself that “I can’t.”  Instead, I CAN. I WILL. The people who tell me not to bother?  Not listening to that either. I am doing this. FOR. ME.

Thanksgiving thankfulness

Thankfulness isn’t a word, I’m sure, but it’s going to be allowed into my vocabulary for this post.

I have a lot to be thankful for and I figured that since this is the month for giving thanks, I would do it here.

I am thankful for Heather, Chelsea, Vanessa, Sandie, Gisela, Sam, Kluane and countless others who have stuck by me and haven’t given up on me, no matter how aggravated or aggravating I have gotten. There are not enough words to say to thank you all for being there for me.

This has been a rough semester for me. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and have hated every step of it. I’m only taking 10 credit hours this semester, but it’s been hard. I’ve also been trying to maintain my “good attitude” at work.  That’s not always happening, but I’m trying. I’ve been crabby and irritable with the family, who seem to look the other way.  Thank you!  I appreciate you for that!

I’m looking forward to what next semester is going to bring. I’m here, writing this blog instead of working on the three papers I still have to write for this semester.  One paper is due this evening, but I’m pretty sure that once fortified with coffee, I’ll be able to knock it out. It’s an extra credit paper anyway.  I figure that since I hate the paper I wrote for the test that’s due tonight, I may as well add in another paper I am displeased with.  I’m my own worst critic, I know. It just happens to be that’s how I am.  Maybe it’s from years of internalizing ugly things.  Who knows?  I’m pretty thankful that people forgive me for being so snippy anyway!

Not a ton going on in our little part of the world.  I really need to finish writing and get started on my final, which is due in two weeks. Then I have a month off before school starts again. I’m finding that I really like school the second time around. I may go up to the counseling office and see what I can do about changing my English requirement.  That’s just an idea I’m tossing around. I have to take another composition class and I really am not keen on it. Oh well. You have to do things you don’t like occasionally.

What have I been doing lately?  Let’s see…looking at new opportunities is one thing. I was told I’m “not competitive enough” for one of them. Okay. Moving on. That bridge is now burned.  We’ll see what happens in the future. I’m now taking classes again. I’m presently slogging my way through a Theatre class (Introduction to Theatre) that has proven to me that I need to learn to write. I’m okay with the criticism from my professor because I needed it. I skated through the 4 chapters and quizzes, the final test and then bombed on the paper.  AH. The light bulb is on. 

Today I had an agenda that I kept up with for the most part–until I broke the database!  (laugh) I tried to log in to take a test over the last chapter in the book I read and it failed three times. I think that’s my sign that I’m not to take the test tonight. I’m going to take it. It throws off my own personal time-table, but I can catch up and work past it.

Why am I working on a time-table? Because this class is highly accelerated. Because there’s a boatload of reading.  For the entire class (4 or 5 weeks. I forget the count. Doesn’t matter), we’re expected to read 6 plays. Two down. Two on tap. I’ll make up my time somewhere this week. I still have two more response papers to write.  I’m struggling with those, but have one kick-butt editor and a few privileged people who are being tortured with the paper. They haven’t begged me to stop sending it to them, so I will just continue to do what I’m doing.

Haven’t been out riding my bike much this summer. I think I’ve had it out maybe three times. I bought a new bike in February and haven’t had it tuned up and made ready to ride. That’s also on the agenda…hopefully someday soon. I need to get out and feel the wind on my face. That’s my thinking time. I’d prefer to have it less than triple digits but I DO live in Texas and it’s July.

I will try to be around more often. It’s going to be a little challenging for a bit. My son starts high school this year, my daughter is in college, I’m taking classes.  We’ll make it work.



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