Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Things I H@!&

Hey there!  Remember me?
Stealing snuggles from my napless Cupcake.

Here's a blog post!  It's about things that I hate.

I bleeped the "H" word in the title because hate is not a word we generally use in our house, and although he doesn't read my posts, Rip Claw does often see the titles.  Hate falls into the same category as stupid, dumb, ugly, idiot, kill (only taboo in the context of people, not bugs), fart, and butt.  When Rip Claw was very small, I noticed that I was cringing every time I heard children use those words.  The dissonance between the young child's voice and the ugly words being said was unnerving, and I didn't like it.  (By the by, there are no pretty words to use in place of 'fart'.  We say 'stinker' or sometimes, 'boom boom', but I fully realize that those are also cringe-worthy.)  I'm not one who curses, generally.  See, I've become so used to being around my children, that even when I can't control the urge to use profanity, it comes out like, "FrickaflickinspintaGAHduffaflun."  I tend to agree with this blogger, Matt Gemmell,on the subject of profanity, in that sometimes, its use is just. plain. right.  Therefore, Thing I Hate #1 is that Rick Grimes said "screwing."
                                                           ***SPOILER ALERT***
So, we're to believe that the same guy who just ripped someone's throat out with his teeth after surviving unimaginable horrors like filth, starvation, dehydration, loss, fear, injuries, hallucinations, killing people, killing the same people again, infidelity, and the complete breakdown of the world as he knew it is not the kind of guy to say "fucking" when he and his friends are imprisoned by cannibals?  I hate that the rules regarding what can be broadcast on television are stupid.  I would wager an awful lot of money that every single person who watches The Walking Dead has heard the f-word on more than one occasion.  I would also wager that anyone who knows anything would agree that certain characters are more believable, in books, television, and movies, if they use profanity.  If people, even some who don't generally use those words themselves, are watching shows like this one, with so much violence, gore, drama, suspense, and mental anguish, they will not be offended by hearing the right word used for the situation.  Even if that word happens to carry a hefty penalty from the FCC.

I've been working as a substitute teacher for an entire 6 months, so I'm a bit of an expert when it comes to education.
Like Daddy Pig, I'm a bit of an expert at many things.
I bet you think that now I'm going to say that I hate Common Core State Standards.  I don't.  I'm actually rather rabidly in favor of the program, but that's a subject for another post.  In fact, I hate something about our education system that doesn't really have anything to do with me, personally, or my children, specifically.  Thing I Hate #2 is that para-professionals are paid less than $8.50/hour.  To be fair, they have the potential to earn almost $10.50/hour after earning a 2-year degree and working in the field for several years.  This fact literally makes me feel nauseous.

Many of the substitute jobs I have worked lately have been in classrooms with special needs children.  Some of the kids have Emotional/Behavioral Disorders, some have been diagnosed with disorders on the Autism spectrum, some have learning difficulties because of physical problems or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  All of the classes have one teacher, one or two paraprofessionals, and access via radio to a trained behavioral specialist.  In my relatively limited time working in these non-traditional classes, I have seen the para-professionals abused, both physically and verbally, I've seen them change the diapers of an elementary-aged child, I've seen them keep calm while being screamed at, while one child chews his shirt to shreds, another tries to run away, and a third and fourth are about to come to blows.  I've seen them teach the most difficult kids and reach them in ways that most people wouldn't think possible.  In short, the para-professionals have really difficult jobs.  They go far above and well beyond what is written in their job description.  And according to this Washington Post article, they make about $5 less per hour than they need to in order to pay rent for a 1-bedroom apartment.  If you aren't sickened by that, please let me know.

Remember when the majority of my blog posts were about running?
Me & Rip Claw finishing a Christmas Eve 5k last year.

Lately, I've written more funeral/obituary recaps than I've written race recaps, and this is largely due to Thing I Hate #3.  Leg pain from Topamax.  Well, probably from Topamax.  Possibly.  Whatever the cause, (I blame the Topamax, which I was taking to prevent migraine headaches for a little over a month.) I have leg pain.  It has caused me to have many more rest days over the past couple of months than I would like, and I can't seem to get rid of it.  Noticing gradual improvement = Good.  Running 1 day every couple of weeks = I'M GOING SCREWING CRAZY!

What do you hate?  Just one thing, for now.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Three Weddings and a Funeral

A strange thing happened last week.  I learned that a dear woman passed away at the age of only 45, and then spent hours in a group chat message on Facebook, occasionally crying-- from laughter.    The next day, I attended her funeral service, and left with a light heart and a smile on my face.  Now, before you start calling me Chuckles Inappropriate or Jerky McAwfullyrude (both names you can save for this guy who, I'm so glad to say, was the guy I punched for giving me a wet willie years ago) please let me explain.

Deresha "Dee"
Dee was my manager for the 5 years that I worked at Hops Restaurant, Bar & Brewery starting in 2001.  She was a really good boss, but more than that, she was a caring, generous, kind, funny, direct, hard-working person.  I cannot recall a time when she was late to work or missed a shift.  She was a single mom of three daughters, and yet still managed to be utterly dependable as an employee, which is very rare, from my experience.  She was promoted to General Manager of the restaurant, and worked diligently to ensure quality food and service every single day until the bankrupt parent company closed our doors for good.  I remember her being really good at staying just enough involved in the personal lives of those of us who worked for her.  She always knew who was dating whom, who was mad and why, who was having problems at home, so nothing we did ever seemed to surprise her.  However, unlike every other almost every other restaurant manager I've known, she didn't cross the line.  Her relationships with her employees were always appropriate; she didn't hang out with us outside of work or blur the lines between boss & friend.  Dee was remarkably forgiving, except of laziness.  She had a fantastic sense of humor, a sharp wit, and was a true, rabid fan of wrestling.
This picture makes me wonder if there are things I enjoy that are as mind-boggling to others as wrestling is to me.  I just don't get it.
After a friend broke the news of her death to me, I sent a message on Facebook to a few other Hops friends with a link to her online obituary.  Within a few minutes, several of us on the group message contacted other former co-workers and added them to the conversation.  By the end of the day, there were more than 30 people chatting, reminiscing, sharing stories about Dee, and remembering all the time we spent together.  The activity sidebar on my page was filled with old friends becoming Facebook friends, having just found each other after years.  The Facebook conversation even included updates about former coworkers who don't have Facebook accounts, but who were thought of and phoned by friends who had been silent for months or years.  It was a truly happy, fun, LOL conversation, and one unlike any I've had before.

I was glad to be able to attend her funeral service, and saw there the Hops kitchen manager and his wife.  I have no idea what the average number of funerals attended is for someone my age, but I would venture to guess that the 6 or 7 services I've been to is pretty normal.  Every funeral is different, of course, but Dee's was different in new-to-me ways.  Her family and many other attendees wore all white, for one thing.  The change from dark attire was not mentioned, but I feel that they must have chosen to wear white in order to remember that they were celebrating her life and focusing not on grief, but on her peace and freedom from pain and sickness.  One of Dee's daughters sang a beautiful solo, unaccompanied by any music or fanfare.  I got goosebumps when she broke into tears in the middle of the song and the crowd picked up singing right where she had left off.  Her voice was passionate and rich and I could have listened to song after song.  A granddaughter of Dee's, about age 7, wrote and recited a short poem that was completely heartfelt and managed to be funny without being the least bit disrespectful.  Others stood and spoke about Dee, reflecting on her love for God and family, her stubbornness, wit, kindness, and strength.  More than one person remarked on how she never complained of pain or suffering, despite having been wheelchair bound or bedridden for 4 years before her death.  It was a beautiful service, and a loving remembrance of an influential woman.

By my count, Hops produced three weddings, six bridesmaids, six children, and hundreds of lasting, true friendships.  Working at Hops may have also been the catalyst for a few divorces and some criminal activity, but I chose not to count those.  I realize that Dee was not Hops in a literal sense, but for those of us that worked with her there, there's no talking about one without the other.

Former Hops employees have circled heads.  Just sometimes, though.
Met each other and her maid of honor at Hops.  Incidentally, Dee died owing me $100 for a bet I won about whether or not these two would stay together.
I realized something rather profound about Dee.  She changed the world.  She was born about 20 miles from where she lived and died, and her time was relatively short.  She worked in restaurants all her adult life.  She didn't earn a doctorate degree or run for political office or donate gobs of money to charities.  She didn't travel the world, invent new technologies, or cure disease.  Yet, she changed the lives of so many people who knew her, and she used the talents and gifts she had to make her world better.  Obviously, I can only speak of her life changing influence for myself, but I can attest that she challenged me, encouraged me, made me work hard, and ultimately helped make me who I am today.  She had the unique gift of being able to give someone advice in a roundabout way that made the person think they knew what they should do all along.  She could also seem mean and sharp tongued.  As one of my friends put it, "I always thought she was mad or hated me, but then she would secretly be doing something nice for me behind my back."  Dee didn't want credit for her kindness, and she was too good of a manager to be sweet all the time.  She did what needed to be done, and complaining about the hard things or applauding herself for the remarkable kindnesses were both a waste of time.

Speaking of wasting time, she would probably have stopped reading this post wayyyyy up there, and rolled her eyes about my going on and on for so long.  The thing is, it's hard to say good-bye when there's so much else to say.  I'll conclude with this:  Helen would have wanted random acts of kindness done in her memory.  I believe Dee would want us to get to work, and to work hard at everything, no matter how insignificant it might seem.  You might not realize whose world you're changing, just by being in it.