Wednesday, April 26, 2017


I feel narcissistic writing this post. It may be because it's a whole lot of words that are almost all about me. Probably, I'm still feeling guilty for having this thought since not posting in over 2 years, "My newer friends don't even know what a good writer I am!" My motives for writing this are not all self-centered, though. I genuinely believe that it's important for me to explain the change I'm making. First, though, let me tell you what's happened since I last wrote on this site. No. There is too much. Let me sum up.

  • We moved to a wonderful new neighborhood that was just what we had in mind when we were house shopping. Now we have 4 times the number of bathrooms we used to. Other than having 4 times zero maids to help with the cleaning, it's all dreamy.
  • The kids got bigger and smarter. 

This little Cupcake just turned 5
  • Our Rip Claw is in double digits! (The bike only lasted a day)
  • We adopted a cat! Minerva is loved so dearly, we've even become the weirdos (I can say it because we're included) who walk their cats.

  • I've continued to work as a substitute teacher, and I'm pretty good at it. I know being the best substitute teacher is kinda like being the best fantasy football player- great! Nobody cares!- but it means I get to work whenever I want and the schedule flexibility is excellent. 

  • Running has continued with some ups and downs, some injuries, recoveries, a medal here or there, successes and failures. I still love pounding out the miles, even though I haven't achieved anything extraordinary...
    ...unlike these dear friends and family members who ran the Boston Marathon this year

    Of course, the past couple of years haven't been all sunshine and roses, but things are generally excellent 'round here. 
There, now that you're caught up and have fallen (back) in love with my blog, it's time for the reason that drove me to break out the rusty old typing fingers here: I'm going to school to become a paralegal. What's that? You're slightly taken aback but generally feel like that announcement was anticlimactic? Let me try to change your mind. See, it all started at book club. 

My (I can call it mine because I started it) book club began about 7 years ago. We take turns selecting books to read, and discuss them while stuffing ourselves with scrumptious snacks. We have a pretty amazing mix of ladies, and our book choices are diverse and (usually) excellent. "The Count of Monte Cristo" was my personal favorite novel and everyone (yes, you too) should read it. "The Omnivore's Dilemma" was my most recent choice, and reading it changed my eating habits for the better. 
If you've read "The Omnivore's Dilemma," the chocolate souffle/McDonald's fries combo makes sense.

The Count's quote made it onto my shelf of favorites.

It was this book, though, that changed not just my habits or the order of my favorite novels, but life as I live: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Yes, that link takes you to Amazon so you can go ahead and buy it right now. On the website for the foundation the author started years ago, the book is described as follows: "A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice..." (I linked the definition for that term because I couldn't have given it to you without looking it up myself.)

I don't usually consider myself to be super suggestible or gullible. I certainly can't remember any other time when a book changed the course of my life. When I watched Making a Murderer , for example, I understood that there was more to the story than viewers were shown. I know that the show was edited to be entertaining and provocative, so even though it made me lose some faith in our justice system, I made myself remember that I was really presented with just one side of the story. 
After reading "Just Mercy", though, I came to understand the brokenness of our justice system is not simply a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact that we can choose to see or remain blind to. The truth is, justice in our country is not blind. 

Somehow, she can still see color through that blindfold.
Criminals get away with it. Innocent people go to jail. People with dark skin are treated differently than those who are white. Poor people are taken advantage of. Children live in prisons for the rest of their lives after mistakes that they would almost certainly never make as adults. People with mental illness are abused and imprisoned instead of being treated or hospitalized. At the root of our justice system we don't find balance or impartiality; we find bias, greed, and sometimes mind-blowing unfairness.  

I don't expect to become The Paralegal who Fixes Everything (Although if that is what I become, I would like a cooler, superheroish name. Princess of Justice. The Everything Fixer [who is pretty besides]. Sup-arale-Gal. We can work on it.). I don't presume that I'll ever truly fix anything that has been so broken about our legal system since its inception. I know, though, that I cannot turn away from the horror. I cannot step over the screaming, seething, hideous mess of wrongness and go on as if it's not there. Even realizing that I cannot name a single paralegal who has ever done anything memorable, I know for sure that I have to be part of the solution. I have to do everything within my power to right the wrongs.

So, at the ripe old age of closer-to-40-than-30, holding my 13-year-old, unused Bachelor's degree, driving my newish car away from the dream home that I own with my dream man, leaving my sweet, talented children in the care of others, I will go to school. I mention my age, home, etc. because when I went on campus to purchase my books ($680! Ouch!) and get my ID card, I realized how very different I am from the typical state college student. It makes me nervous to think about being the oldest in class. Or the only mom. Or the only one who has no idea how to dress like an adult who is in college and will constantly feel the need to justify her clothing choices to random strangers. Because of my previous college experience, I have met a lot of the requirements for graduating with an A.S. degree in Legal Studies, and I should be finished by this time next year. After that, I would like to work for a non-profit law office, offering help to those who can't afford to buy their way out of legal trouble. I want to assure you that I'll let you know how it goes, but in all honesty, you may have to wait for news of the crowning of Queen Paralegal after I do my world changing stuff. Want to help the cause without going the career/life change route? Donate to the Equal Justice Initiative.  Or at least, wish me luck with writing WAY more often than once every 2.5 years.

Student discounts on ice cream and tacos? Yes, please!

Seriously, though. What do grown-ups who aren't the teacher wear to school?

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.