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

Soon to be over…

I am SO looking forward to May 13th!  I am going to come home from work that day and if I haven’t done my finals before then (I think they open up on the 10th!), then I’m going to do both finals and have a huge glass of wine to celebrate!

I’m over school. This semester has been brutal on me. I took a science clas and an English class online. The English wasn’t a problem, other than having a professor who didn’t grade a paper for nearly two months. The Science, on the other hand, was a severe disappointment to me. I was told that there would be very little, if any, math and yet, every single unit has had math in some form or fashion. Some of it was easy enough, but most of it was more complex math. It was math I haven’t had exposure to in well over thirty years.  Ah well. It’s over or almost over now.

I spent Friday doing all of my video labs and my remaining simulations. I did one of the at-home labs today and set the other one up. I have to  test acids and bases. Once that’s done, it’s just a couple more discussions and the final.

English is much easier. I have a paper to write (it’s set up already. I just have to sit down and put words to paper and get them out of my head) and a final test. The final is over The Color Purple, The Namesake and The Bottoms.  I truly enjoyed The Namesake and The Bottoms, but wasn’t as thrilled with it as I thought I’d be.  It wasn’t a horrible book, just not one of my favorites.

As I said, I’m completely ready to be out of school. I’ve got a math class still to take, plus a couple of electives and I’m set to graduate with my Associates’. I will admit, it’s been a very long time in coming. I dropped out of school when I was 19 or 20 and didn’t go back until my daughter graduated high school. I don’t regret my decision to go back for a second.

Two weeks.  I can hold on for two weeks.

Outlander: My thoughts

I’m an avid Outlander fan.  I can’t help myself.  My friend, Lassair, introduced me to the books well over twenty years ago. When it was finally optioned as a series by Ronald D. Moore, I got all “screamy” and excited.  I knew that the series wouldn’t be exactly the same as the books and I’m pretty much okay with that. I understand that it’s difficult to take over 800 pages of a book and condense it into an hour at a time, for a season, which could be as short as eight episodes or longer.

It was with great anticipation that I caught the season two premier last week.  I loved it!  Was it identical to the books?  No, but I expected as much.  I learned a lot of the backstory of what happened to Claire when she came back through the stones.   You could feel her grief. It was just that real!  Even Frank (whom I don’t like, sorry gang!), was awesomely portrayed.  I feel that Tobias Menzies was the best possible choice for that dual role. He’s incredible! He can be the tender, loving husband and the evil, nasty ancester all in one. They struck gold with him!  Jamie and Claire…it goes without saying that I adore the casting choices of them as well.

Anyway…back to what I was saying.  The adaptation was just different enough that even though I’ve read the books multiple times, I felt that the writers more than did justice to Diana Gabaldon’s brainchild. I loved how Claire jumped in at the docks and got all up in that harbor master’s face about the smallpox. And the Comte?  Brrr!  You want to see someone who is trying to figure out how to dispose of someone else?  That would be him. He was so…no, I’d not want to meet HIM in a dark alley. Not that I would. He has underlings for that, but still.  No.

Last night’s episode took a slightly different path as well. They touched on Jamie’s nightmares, Claire’s reluctance to allow the servants to wait on her and of course, the Pretender. It all tied in nicely.  Again, not exactly to the letter of the book, but at this point, I don’t care.  It’s OUTLANDER!!!!

The costumes were…oh, my gosh, the costumes!!  I loved the red dress!  “I can see all the way to your third rib!” “No, you cannot!” (I’m just curious as to when she changed fans from that little red fan she had at the house when they were getting ready to go out to the giant fan with the stags she had during the ball in Versailles.)  The King…Well, he was just petulant enough that I could tell he was a young person. He remembered Jamie, but why did he just look through Claire?  She was wearing that incredible dress!  Oh wait…it was the OTHER dress, the swan dress that had HIS attention!

THE SWAN DRESS!!  I admire anyone who can bring Diana Gabaldon’s visions to life.  Terry Dreshbach.  That’s all I can say.  That dress was oh, so incredible!  I read an interview of how she created it.  If that lady wasn’t pierced, you couldn’t tell!  It was In.Freaking.Credible!!

And the MEN!!  Jamie! Murtagh!! The Comte! The Duke of Sandringham (“Traitor!!”  “Murtagh!  You mustn’t draw a sword in the King’s presence!”)  Murtagh!  He cleans up nicely!!  He’s still bearded and yes, he stands out in a crowd because the French were all clean-shaven. All I can say is WOW!!  I love how clearly the writers have made the men stand out in this series! I loved the sword practice in the garden.  I loved Master Raymond.  Oh hell, I loved the whole thing!!

I love how they’ve taken the bones of the books and have created this splendid masterpiece of beauty, darkness, intrigue and heroism. This series is my favorite Saturday pleasure. I easily binge-watched it three times last night. I appreciate the hard work our writers, our consultant, ALL involved in this series have put into it. Cast, crew, all are giving 110% and it shows.

Now, please ink an agreement for Season 3 already!!

Individuality

I can’t help but wonder why we human beings get so angry with each other for being individuals.

I’m not a conventional person, by any means, but I absolutely bristle at things I read where people are squawking about things they disagree with. I keep my disagreements to myself-why force MY opinions on others when I know darned well that my opinions are purely my own and not that of others.  It just aggravates the hell out of me to see people complaining that people aren’t carbon copies of them.

I made a deal with myself when I reached the dreaded “half century mark.” I promised myself I wouldn’t try to force my views on others. I don’t follow the same religious beliefs as others.  That’s my right. I have “idols” in my house.  Again, my right. That’s what makes this country a free country.  Hell, I even ask my family WHY they say things in an effort to spark discussions on things.  I don’t tell them they’re going to hell unprotected because they think Pepsi ™ is a better drink than Coke ™. (For the record, I don’t drink either–I’m a water or coffee person.)  I don’t tell people that drinking coffee with creamer and sugar is “evil” and whatever.  Yes, I have STRONG opinions on things (“bulletproof coffee”, anyone?) but I won’t try to dissuade anyone who thinks it’s good. My family (distant) should know this.  Please don’t try to swap my coffee cup for yours.  I’ll make nasty faces and act like I’m dying if it gets near me. You may hear me say “Ewww!  Gross!  Gross!!” Will it stop you from drinking it like that? Probably not.  You’ll laugh in my face and keep going. I’m pretty sure of that.

I was in Starbucks ™ today and the barrista asked me if I wanted room for cream and sugar.  I shuddered and quickly said, “NO!!” She said, “I drink my coffee black too!”  It was all good. Had she told me that the sky was green and I should absolutely drink cream in my  coffee, I’d have said, politely, “No, thanks!  I’ll leave it for you.  The sky IS  a pretty shade of green!” and that would be that. It wouldn’t stop me from visiting again.

I guess the whole point of this session is to remind myself (because all 1 of you who reads this blog may be really busy with your life right now) that it’s okay to be different.  I dare you to be different.  Don’t get wound up because Persona A disagrees with you.  Just smile politely and go on with things. After all…you may be right in your head. That means I’m likely right in MY head and so forth…

 

 

Merry Christmas!

There are only three more days until I send my son to California for a grand adventure. He is part of the largest high school marching band in the nation and is going to the Tournament of Roses. He’ll be marching in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. He’s leaving on the 28th and will be gone until the 2nd. I haven’t had him go anywhere without me for that long. Last year, he went to San Antonio, but that was a shorter trip. This is the biggie, the one we’ve been waiting for all year long.

I’m sad, in a way, because I can’t go with him. He’ll experience Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Battle of the Bands and some other things. The band gets a preview of the floats for the Rose Parade. They’ll wander around on the Santa Monica Pier.  700+ kids from Texas, invading California!  Watch out, California!  They’re coming to show you how marchcing is done in Texas.

I’m looking forward to seeing them on television. While I’d like to be out there, I couldn’t afford to go, so I’m watching from the comfort of my own home.  My feet will likely thank me for it anyway.  I’m envious of the ones who get to go, but they’ll have to fight crowds and all the assorted things that go along with it.  I’ll just think happy thoughts that they’ll all enjoy themselves and have lots of fun.  They can have fun for me too.

 

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.

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