Where I’ve Been: The Good, the Bad, The Ugly

I’ve been in a terrible way for several weeks. I think my tolerance meter is broken. This is a very strange condition – I have two discs pressing against my spinal cord – it’s not a condition with the same symptoms every day, or pain in the same places every day. Some days I feel almost normal, for a little while, and then I take a long-enough ride in the car and suddenly I want to rip all four of my limbs off. Some days pain level is a 2, and then others we toy around with a 5 and then there’s the really fun 8.

So I’m pretty good about managing this at work. I had a day last week where the pain was really minimal. Then Friday was a bear. I’d like to think no one knew. Well, except for one of my coworkers who asked me twice how I was. So maybe not so convincing??

I’d say, outside of work my tolerance for people is at an all-time low. I went to the grocery store on Memorial Day, and YES I know that’s a bad idea under any circumstances, but someone had to go and Todd took the drive to pick up Veruca for me. I was so stabby by the time I left, it’s a miracle no one got hurt.

I’ve done a “cleanse” on Facebook – eliminating those I either don’t really know, have never met in person, have zero exchanges with, or whose point of view is raising my blood pressure. I gave it a modicum of thought. I eliminated about 25 people.

The nail in the coffin: one of them posting the Obama making out with another man meme. And this is not because I love Obama. It’s because there is absolutely no place for photoshopped BS like this anywhere, of anyone. What purpose does it serve? And especially coming from someone who regularly expresses Christian values on FB, someone who is my elder, who I’ve always had respect for. I was so very, VERY disappointed.

I’m feeling oversensitive too. Two different people made comments that sounded like flat out Judgements, and it pissed me off. They’re still friends, because I can’t overlook the fact that it might be me being silly.

Meanwhile, tolerance meter broke I think sometime after Neph returned a couple of weekends in a row. He does his laundry here. Except that he “forgets” to use “quick wash” and does his laundry on the longest setting he can find – the timer on the washer was an hour and 38 minutes. FOR ONE LOAD. He was here all day while my mom and I took V shopping on her birthday and when we got home nearly 7 hours later he had only started one load. Like a true mother, I looked at him and said, what the HELL have you been doing here all day??

Seriously, in two days he managed to drop the jug of iced tea on the counter where it exploded everywhere, stepped on a Tide Pod that fell out of his hoodie onto the kitchen floor (the floor was then slick with soapy film), clogged the downstairs toilet, and left his dirty laundry scattered from white trash bags next to his car in the driveway on the side facing the street.

Anyway, V turned 13 and promptly launched into a hormonal torrent that felt like a drive-by shooting. One, because she was literally loving on me one minute and snapping at me the next, and as you can see from above… I’m already hanging by a thread. Although I keep having flashbacks to my own teen years when my mom would just laugh at me… and wondering if that was the coping method she chose or if she was just high. Either way, I’m kind of keeping my distance when that look enters her eyes.

So mom and I took her birthday shopping, which was great fun and even I got some new stuff and we had lunch in the food court so that all three of us could have different things. We stopped at Wegmans for the cakes. (Yes, cakeS. Because one isn’t enough for the big 13.)

Oliver got his teeth cleaned and the vet kept him overnight. I was worried sick over him the entire time. He had one extraction and was on those liquid antibiotics that smell like lighter fluid and taste even worse (though I really have no idea what lighter fluid tastes like but one can only guess from the smell) and it was ugly every time I had to give it to him. There’d be this great dramatic gagging performance afterward.

So I turned 49. Todd and I went out to dinner to a lovely place on the water, where the food was good but the patio was infested with tiny spiders that were shooting webs from umbrella to umbrella and generally freaking all the ladies out. The music flowing from the bar was nice and I had two glasses of Evolution, an Oregon white blend that was lovely (highly recommended). We stopped at the casino for an hour or so and I lost 20 bucks. I’m not meant to gamble, so instead I went to the bar for a beer or two and sent a girlfriend a pic of one of my bad decisions.

Let’s see… what else? Both V and I had our annual routine blood work done, I scheduled my surgery for later this month, and turned down a full time job offer. Unfortunately for me, the job thing was an emotionally driven decision with some notes of practicality thrown in. It was, and continues to be thanks to the folks who want me there, a difficult thing to say no to.

My mom, God love her, asked me twice about getting a second opinion on my C5/6 and C6/7 discs impinging on my spinal cord and I curtly told her this last time that my condition has one of three options and offered to show her my MRI pics and that any other professional who sees them is not going to offer some other miracle because THERE ISN’T ONE. 1) Leave it alone and watch it progress until I’ve lost complete feeling in my arms and hands (and legs), translation: permanent nerve damage 2) anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) or 3) artificial disc replacement. I don’t post on Facebook about it because I don’t need any more well-meaning input. I’m already having borderline anxiety about surgery and everybody’s concern is NOT helping.

Todd has finished the semester and sweat his balls off at the college graduation, sending me selfies with sweat drops doodled on his face. We had a lovely dinner with friends last night where we were in the minority on politics but it was still a lively discussion and the food was delicious. Until I got a scallop lodged between my two back teeth (where I’m due to have a crown) and I’m sitting there at the table trying to discreetly pick it out until I finally gave up and asked the host if he had a toothpick. I disappeared into the bathroom and tried not to panic thinking what if it’s still stuck there tomorrow morning at the dentist and my mouth smells like low tide? Thankfully the toothpick did the job and I won’t have to be forever remembered for scallop mouth at the dentist. No one ever want to be “that” patient.

Miscellaneous:

I did write a post about April 21st, but I’m not happy with it so I will summarize by saying that April 21st is my mother-in-law’s birthday. She shares the day with Queen Elizabeth II, Tony Danza, Iggy Pop, and Robert Smith. It’s also the day Prince died, and – thanks to Facebook memories to remind me – the day Todd and I “became friends” on Facebook.

The other post I aspired to write was to be entitled Middle Schoolers Are Assholes, brought to you in part by conversations with Veruca. Because I do remember middle school, and the stupid crap we did and said, and we were no better than the kids she describes today that piss her off. Oy, she is her mother’s daughter, as you will now see:

She made me a birthday card with the most heartfelt words … Happy Birthday Mom. I love you very much even if I can be a bitch sometimes. You are 49 which is not old. I hope you have a great day. With so much love, V.

My heart swells with pride and love.

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The Scene of the Crime: Wilkes Barre, PA

This year’s PA State Bowling Tournament was held in another sparkling Pennsylvania metropolis: Wilkes Barre.

Wilkes Barre is in the coal mining region of PA, and part of the fourth largest statistical metropolitan area: Scranton-Wilkes Barre-Hazelton. It’s out there in that area that used to give me intense, unexplained anxiety when driving near or through it… most likely because of its far-away-from-everything, not close enough to the city for me, feeling. (City girl, reporting for duty.)

I would like to point out at this time that I have seen more of Pennsylvania in the four years I’ve lived in Maryland than I did when I lived there. I’ve seen Scranton once for a tournament, and once was enough. I’ve been to Erie, where sightseeing was washed out by rain all weekend. I’ve been to Pittsburgh, which I wrote a post about, and where the only Falling Water we saw was the rain both days.

Anyway, I’m in charge of hotels so I booked us at the Holiday Inn Express again (The Pittsburgh one was very nice). We had a nice room at the end of the hall. Room appointments were modern and clean; the toilet paper roll was mounted under the sink such that you couldn’t see it, and I decided not to tell Todd where it was and wait to see if he’d figure it out.

We didn’t arrive until after 11 p.m. Todd googled places to eat and chose Bar Louie – Google Maps took us to a rundown-looking warehouse that was dark and clearly NOT a bar. We ended up going to the Mohegan Sun Casino around the corner: a really nice, albeit smoky, casino with a number of eating establishments inside. We each got a slice of pizza – which was really really good.

As I feared, Todd wanted to check out the casino. He only wanted to check it out. And that’s when we found Bar Louie – which is located inside the casino.

Saturday morning 6:30 a.m. came too early, but the bed was remarkably comfortable and I noted that my neck and back didn’t hurt when I woke up. We grabbed the complimentary breakfast downstairs with our bowling friends, and were soon off to the tournament. It was a gorgeous day on Saturday, and I had googled Wilkes Barre earlier in the week for “things to do in” and “places to eat.”

So. After the tournament we drove around a bit and discovered a Catholic church which seems to have risen out of the ashes of a working class neighborhood and closed down factories. Took some photos. The front doors were open and service was going, but I was too timid to walk up the steps. In Catholic churches I’m always afraid I’ll be discovered as a runaway Catholic.

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St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church, founded 1855

We did some shopping afterward… someone in a Facebook group had posted a pic of a metal chicken she found in Ross, so I was on a mission. Didn’t find one, but I did buy a galvanized tub and a smaller galvanized utensils holder that I plan to use for an herb garden on my deck.

After a quick lunch, we drove to Seven Tubs Recreational Park (my #1 Google find). Our bowling mates opted out so it was serendipitously ours alone. Well, ours … with about two dozen other people with way more appropriate footwear for the occasion. But I didn’t care. It was beautiful. Wheelbarrow Run is a stream that runs down through the landscape, having cut its way through bedrock and creating several potholes or “tubs” through which the water cascades down like a waterfall.

We took a ton of pictures, walked the trails a while, found some troll doors, and I collected miniature pine cones the size of a dime. We clocked close to 12,000 steps on our fitness trackers.

All photos copyright TKA and The Tara Chronicles, 2018

We returned to the hotel to clean up and made plans to go to a bar/restaurant on my list with our group. I had three in mind, but the winner (and truly was the winner) was Elmer Sudds… a small, corner neighborhood bar with a few tables along the wall and an L-shaped bar with plenty of seating for our crowd. The bartender, Dave, gave us a warm, enthusiastic welcome as we warned him there were going to be more than just the four of us who had just arrived.

The walls were lined with tap handles; however, what was on tap was limited to a handful, which was fine for us. The hot wings were killer. Todd and I bought t-shirts (Elmer Sudds – The Thirst Awakens) and finagled an Elmer Sudds pint glass for our collection for $15. It was worth it. We played darts, which I haven’t done in over 30 years and actually hit a bullseye which didn’t count because that’s not what I was supposed to do. I don’t understand scoring at all.

Photos copyright TKA & The Tara Chronicles, 2018

Our group split in two and the Holiday Inn crew went to the casino. I sat down next to Todd with the five dollar bill I’d found in my pocket, dropped it in the machine and two minutes later I had $11. I kissed my gambler and told him I was taking my winnings to the Bar Louie, which at this point was bursting at the seams.

Found two empty seats at the bar next to the service station and ordered a beer. I posted in our group text that “Tara is at Bar Louie” and my exact location. Stan was the only one who answered, saying that he “saw her on her way in” and that he would head over in a bit. I told him it was me, and that sometimes I refer to myself in the 3rd person, you know, just to keep things interesting.

I watched the 5 bartenders struggling to keep up with about 40 people around the bar, which seemed ridiculous to me, and flagged one for the guy behind me who couldn’t get anyone’s attention because I’m nice like that. There’s only so much drinking one can watch and so much trying-not-to-judge-service one who has grown up in the business (yet continues to avoid being a part of) can witness…. so I posted something on Facebook about being a middle-aged woman in a bar full of millennials. I was thisclose to starting up a conversation with the guy next to me when Todd suddenly, happily appeared. We left shortly after.

Sunday morning. Woke again with no pain initially, but feeling the effects of what was my last night of drinking for a long while. Chris was texting Todd about when we were coming down to breakfast and I was feeling like I was the holdup when we finally got there, and he had the audacity to tease me about it and then a half hour later WE were waiting for HIM so we could leave for the bowling alley.

The pain I’m currently in thanks to two levels of cervical discs pressing on my spinal cord started to kick in and I sat in the bowling alley by myself waiting for Brenda and Chris to show up and tried to ignore it.

Then Todd asked me if I could get him a cup of ice water. Simple enough request – he always gets a large cup of ice water at the bowling alleys. And here follows my meltdown over a cup of water at 9 a.m. on church day.

***OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE WARNING***

I walked up to the counter and asked for it, and was told that they can’t give me ice water. And I’m like, you’re kidding, right? And then this other woman walks up and says that “that’s why we have water fountains” and offers me a DIXIE CUP that my husband can fill up himself. Oh. My. GOD. He was SO not going to be happy about this, and I was SO not feeling up to Bullshit at 9 a.m. with radiating cervical spine pain and a wee bit of a hangover.

I told her this won’t work and I asked if there were water bottles/vending machines, but she didn’t bother to tell me where but I found them on my own, put my last two dollars in the machine and…. the fucking bottle got stuck in the machine. And now I’m literally swearing at myself in front of the vending machine and afraid to walk away from it and have someone else score my bottle, not to mention what I might say if I had to go back to that counter. Eventually it came out and I stalked back to Todd in a selfish tantrum and handed him the bottle, and told him it was the best he was going to get.

His raised eyebrow opened the door and … apparently they don’t give out fucking water here but it’s okay to sell people SODA in those fucking cups. WTF? They can’t give me fucking ice water! But – oh! There’s a fucking water fountain where you can get water if you want it. IN a DIXIE CUP!

At this point I looked around me and noticed three older ladies sitting right there staring at me, and suddenly I felt like a complete asshole. So I said, I’m so sorry for the language. I’m so sorry.

And Todd snapped back that he’s trying to concentrate on his game and this isn’t helping. I said, you’re right, and took my tantrum outside and sat in the car in a self-imposed timeout for over an hour. Texted my bestie about it and commiserated about women who piss us off, until I realized I had to pee something fierce. And then her telling me to damn, just go back in there, and me being obstinate about it.

Long story short, I went back in. I peed. Todd was tentatively happy to see me, in an are-you-safe-to-talk-to sort of way and then he told me how the cup of water story ended after I left. He went to the manager, who turned out to be the bitch who told me to use a water fountain, and told her this wasn’t leagues – this is a STATE TOURNAMENT – and they don’t have time to walk away to use a water fountain. She relented and there it was – that lovely large white Styrofoam cup filled with ice water and the blood of a tired wife who doesn’t need any early morning bullshit in a loud bowling alley – sitting on the table next to Todd.

Our original five decided to grab lunch before the drive home, and this time I had no suggestions and so we went with the others’ suggestion of Longhorn Steakhouse because they all wanted steak. NOT my first choice, but, I’d already bitched enough for the day and it was only 1:00 so I decided to just go with it. Todd and I ordered some apps and made do, but the food wasn’t going down right for me and the pain I was in amped up to a 7 or 8. We were soon homeward bound, a difficult ride, but we made it.

 

Betcha didn’t know:

There is an ongoing debate on the pronunciation of Wilkes Barre. Born and raised in PA, and having attending college for two years in central PA, we always referred to it as Wilkes “berry,” or “barry.” Others call it Wilkes “bar,” or Wilkes “bear.” I asked a local, who assured me they’re all acceptable.

A number of “famous” people hail from Wilkes Barre: Several NFL players … and most notably Michael Schoeffling, the actor who played Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, and David Evans, the Hollywood director known for The Sandlot.

It is said that Babe Ruth hit the longest home run in history at Artillery Park in Wilkes Barre – at an estimated 650 feet – on October 12, 1926.

Planters Peanut Company was founded here in 1906 by Italian immigrants Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi, where it maintained headquarters until 1961.

In 1972, 365 subscribers of the Service Electric Cable company were the first to receive HBO, making Wilkes Barre the birthplace of modern cable.

Hurricane Agnes, which pummeled eastern PA in 1972, caused the mighty Susquehanna river to rise to over 41 feet, flooding downtown Wilkes Barre with 9 feet of water. Nearly 400, 000 homes and structures were destroyed.

*source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilkes-Barre,_Pennsylvania

 

 

Where I’ve Been – April 2018

I haven’t written anything in while. No shortage of inspiration, but definitely a shortage of time and motivation.

I have been having terrible neck pain and, it having been three months since my last visit to the chiropractor, I returned two days a week and was set to begin PT again. The neck pain is NOT better. It’s getting worse and it’s radiating. I went back to the neurosurgeon after four years, and am going for an MRI this week. This is not good news, but it’s also not bad news.

Meanwhile, Veruca is knee-deep in sports again, in what could easily be the coldest April in history. Opening Day was 39 degrees and windy, walking the parade route to the fields and then standing out there listening to the yada yada about who worked hard at this and who worked hard at that and thank you very much and opening invocation and the first pitch. Blah. Blah. Blah. I froze my ass off. I took the day off from work for that. And V didn’t even have a game that day.

Her first game was three days later, and it was snowing. Flakes were landing on the blanket I had over my legs and melting on contact.

While we’re talking about V, I have to also mention how in awe I am of her. She joined a running club after school and ran [an estimated] 9.28 mile – faster than my PR at my most fit (117lbs and running three-four days a week) where I medaled in my second 5k. She is a great athlete. And she’s smart. She made honor roll again this 3rd quarter. And she’s beautiful. All I do lately is stare at her and admire her beauty, and her porcelain skin. She’s perfect. And she asks me if I think she’ll ever have a boyfriend. I tell her to enjoy her life and those things will come later. *

I already wrote about part of our Washington trip. After visiting the Holocaust museum, we went to the Museum of Natural History. We were going to grab lunch and there were some options outside, but we ended up going inside. I warned Ashley that you have to sell a kidney to eat in the “cafés,” and the cafeteria – which is the affordable option – was closed for renovation.

So I got a hoagie, a PB&J, and one water, for …. TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS. Ashley spent $39. I had to spot Maddie two dollars so she could buy a sandwich for $11. Somewhere inside the museum, I lost V’s medical bag with $600 worth of insulin in it.

Back at work, we had our annual mock code, which was both exciting and an anxiety-ridden learning moment. And, every year something real happens in the office within a week of this drill – and this year was no exception. No worries – everyone is fine.

While we’re on the subject of work, I picked up extra days at another location. It’s a longer drive to work, but to familiar territory, and it’s been fun meeting another whole staff of folks. It’s also lovely to go in and already know how to do the job, even if they do some things differently.

And, speaking of doing things differently, Neph returned to the homestead two weekends in a row. He bought a new car the first weekend, with Uncle Todd’s guidance, that was not a pickup truck and not without drama because that’s just how we roll. At this point Todd will insist that is not how HE rolls…but I can tell you that it follows us anyway no matter how hard we try to run from it.

The following weekend he returned for a package he had delivered here, did some laundry, and managed to empty my fridge and left an unmentionable surprise in the bathroom downstairs. I’m currently in the refusal-to-fix-it stage, which is akin to denial, but we all know this is just a pipe dream and I will have to face the truth sooner or later. And I’ve been really good – I haven’t even bitched to Todd about it. Yet.

Okay. What else have we done?

Todd and I attended a gallery exhibit of work by his former boss, a brain cancer survivor who is mindblowingly talented with a camera. We have earmarked two pieces for our personal collection after the exhibit ends.

I cleaned up and planted new flowers in the gardens out front, and it actually looks really nice. And I’m not done yet. Veruca got me a hydrangea for Easter that I have yet to plant, and had the audacity to tell me not to kill it. She’s even watered it a few times, “so it wouldn’t die.” AS IF. I did point out that my current basil plant is still going strong.

And speaking of plants, last week was Administrative professionals day and there were lots of presents for me when I came in Friday (!!!) … including a succulent (aren’t they hard to kill?) and a pack of dianthus plants.

Last weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday, which I will always remember because it’s also the same day that Prince died. I also learned some other interesting coincidences about that particular day. **

I cleaned up the deck Saturday, finished one planter, and put out the new cushions and umbrella. And then Todd brought all the cushions inside when the rain moved in.

And then another bowling tournament an hour and a half away in PA. What should have been an easy ride and a nice dinner beforehand with friends turned in a roadway clusterfuck as we encountered three – THREE – emergency situations that made me wonder if the universe just wanted us to stay home. One head-on collision, one industrial fire, and another car wreck… all with detours and dinner plans turned into a quick in-and-out and boxes to go.

I guess everyone bowled well. I don’t bowl. I drink. Well, I was on the wagon in April, until Saturday night. So I had a great time getting lit for $20 at the firehouse that was hosting. Smoky as hell in there, which today makes me always want to hold my breath – knowing the dangers of secondhand smoke – though as a child whose grandparents smoked, I learned to love the smell.

*A forthcoming post about middle schoolers.

** A forthcoming post about April 21st.

Destination: Washington, DC

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Photo Copyright Taraka & The Tara Chronicles, 2018

Yesterday was the long-awaited seventh grade field trip to Washington, DC, to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Veruca was very excited, at least insofar as one can be excited to spend a day away from the classroom and visit a different city. I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to this trip. And not just because of the solemn nature of the lesson.

We had to arrive at school at 6:30 a.m., and would not be returning for… twelve hours. I was a chaperone and so again responsible for other children not my own. That alone induces anxiety, though I have to admit it’s far better with 12- and 13-year-olds than it is with 8-year-olds. We were going to Washington, DC, a place my apocalyptic mind is certain is North Korea’s prime target. (Nevermind that if this were to truly happen, we don’t live far enough away from DC to survive anyway.)

So we arrive at 6:35 and board one of four buses. I get the last adult seat next to a very nice, but large, man. We introduce ourselves. And then he buckles up his seatbelt (they have these on tour buses!) while remarking he doesn’t want “another Tracy Morgan situation.” Great. What the hell do you say to that?

I texted my mom friend, Ashley, who was on another bus. Our bus didn’t have enough seats, as it soon turned out when three more people tried to board, and one of the two teachers riding with us was outside on the sidewalk losing her shit. And I can hear the bus driver saying all the buses have 58 seats, they’ve always had 58 seats, blah blah blah. All this, before 7 o’clock in the morning. I sipped my coffee and watched them through the window with fascination.

Disaster was eventually diverted when some seats were discovered on the other buses and we were soon on our way. Spazzy loaded the Night at the Museum movie and, later, the second one. After the longest bus ride ever, we finally pulled up next to the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum.

Our ticket time was 11:30 and we had an hour and a half to kill. Ashley announced that she needed Starbucks NOW and so she plugged it into her GPS and we were off. The six of us loaded up on beverages (my girls went with “The Pink Drink” – seriously) and I went with a White Chocolate Mocha Tall. I was so proud of myself for not screwing up how to order at Starbucks.

There are A LOT of black SUVs with tinted windows in DC. It’s creepy, the way they’re parked, engines running, along the streets. Something about them gave me anxiety. Or, maybe it was the caffeine. Either way, I was grateful to get away from them.

It’s a very serious matter, entering museums today – like going through airport security – bags are put through x-ray machines and we walk through metal detectors. V cannot go through – because her insulin pump cannot go through x-ray machines – so at every entrance we have to announce this and she goes around the machine and is personally inspected. Oh, did she love that.

After, we’re handed “Identification Cards” we aren’t supposed to open until sometime later (though no one ever tells us when and we end up cheating, I suppose, because we look). Each card holds the name and photograph of a real person who lived during the Holocaust.

Our group was lined up on a staircase, four across on each step – or, were supposed to be – but it’s kind of hard to squish that many people together especially when many are full-sized adults. One of the chaperones or teachers (not sure who she was) ordered my three girls and me to step down, because every step had to have 4 people on it. I said, there’s no room to step down. (There was a dad directly in front of me who was easily 6 feet tall, twice my size and clearly need TWO steps – picture this scenario). She said, you have to… every step has to be filled. I’m not pressing my body against a stranger, I snapped. (Yeah, I know. Not good form in front of the kids.) For the record, I’m usually very agreeable. I don’t know what got into me.

And before you think I’m a total asshole, I GET IT. I know there was a point to that exercise as we waited for our whole group to get through security. The mom on the opposite end of that step in front of me sniggled. The dad behind me, equally as large, announced a few minutes into our wait that, I hope I don’t get lightheaded and fall down like that last time. And I burst out laughing. I told him at least he’d have a soft landing.

We were soon led to a more open area and three elevators designed to look like something industrial and that’s all I’m going to say about that because I was having the most uneasy feelings here and I couldn’t shake it. (Yeah, yeah, I GET IT.)

The guide asked our group some questions, including – How many people did Hitler kill?                  Do YOU know?

Anyway, the museum was very crowded. But quiet. People spoke in whispers. There was at least one other school there and we spent so much time reading the exhibits that I looked around at one point and didn’t recognize anyone. To say that there wasn’t enough time to spend here is the understatement of the year.

We were never taught much about the Holocaust in school. I didn’t read anything related to it until I was in college. I didn’t know who Elie Wiesel was until my Junior year. I don’t think I knew that some 25,000 books that were decidedly “un-German” were burned on this very day in 1933. I didn’t know that books were published and taught to German schoolchildren, intended to indoctrinate them to Nazism and prejudice against Jews. I don’t think I knew that the Nazis also exterminated people who were “incurably ill.” Veruca said, I would’ve been killed.

We left the museum roughly 2 hours later. We were all hungry and also wanted to visit another museum while there was still time. At least one of us wanted to shop.

 

Details….

Raizel Kisielnicki was a 44-year-old mother of three who lived near Warsaw. She and her husband owned a grocery, gas station, and restaurant. On September 25, 1942 she and more than 3000 other Jews in their town of Kaluszyn were deported to an extermination camp, where she died.

Attack on Intellectual Freedom. The 1933 Book Burnings were carried out by German students from universities around Germany. “Any book which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home, and the driving forces of our people” and/or written by authors considered enemies of National Socialism. These included Einstein, Mann, Freud, Kafka, Marx, H.G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, and Margaret Sanger.

Indoctrination of schoolchildren. The Nazi regime removed Jewish teachers and others who were considered “politically unreliable.” Hitler’s portrait hung in every classroom. New textbooks that taught obedience to state authority, racism, militarism, and antisemitism, and love for Hitler were utilized in classrooms. Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom) was an anti-Semitic children’s picture book metaphorically explaining how to recognize a Jew, in the form of “good” mushrooms vs. “bad” mushrooms.

Who. Hitler only singled out Jews, who he saw as an inferior race, for complete annihilation. Germans were among the first to be persecuted for their political activities, for being mentally or physically handicapped, or homosexuals, criminals, or nonconformists. Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti (“Gypsies”) were also killed. The people of Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia were also considered inferior races.

How many? The question was, how many did Hitler kill? The answer is ONE. HE killed one person. Himself. Yet he was able to commandeer an army of Nazis to exterminate an estimated SIX MILLION Jews, and others…And an entire population of people was complicit in these killings.

Think about that.

 

 

 

No April Fools

Today’s post is brought to you by this:

Oh my God, Trix! We were talking about what we eat for breakfast – my friends and I were talking about it – like what kind of cereal we like and Hope said she loves Fruity Pebbles and I love Trix which is really just the same thing except they’re little balls, you know? Oh, and mom – you might not get to sit with [a mom friend] on the field trip because you have to choose your bus ahead of time and she may not be on our bus. And we have to get tickets to Mary Poppins because Reena is in it and I really want to see my bestie and be there to support her. And guess who’s playing Mary Poppins?  I don’t remember what part Reena plays… I have to text her and ask. And you have to buy the tickets TONIGHT.

And this:

Opac tried to hug Veruca and she yelled at him to stoooooooop! She didn’t want a hug. His response? You weren’t held enough as a child.

Meanwhile, back in Spring Break land….

Todd got the flu. It was ugly. And then it morphed into pneumonia. After work I drove him to urgent care where they can do everything under one roof, which they did, and I’m happy (well, not happy happy) to report he tested positive for flu and pneumonia, and is currently recovering.

He announced in the car on the way there that he did NOT want to spend his entire night in urgent care, and I told him to shut the hell up that it wasn’t going to be that long and that it’s better than spending the entire next day traveling to three different locations to accomplish the same goal. And he knows I’m right, because he left there already feeling better because he was ranting about the family doctor all the way home and he’s now a fan of Patient First.

So this week is spring break at the college and he’s got pneumonia. Todd is so not the right person to get long-term illness. It’s one of the few differences between us: he is not a sitting-still person. He needs to be doing something. All the time. It’s been a week and two days, and he has watched every episode of every car show and American Pickers and Pawn Stars and Forged in Fire, and he’s pissed off.

I took him out Monday to buy a new kitchen faucet – we had a cheap one he’d installed before the renters had moved in and it corroded at the top so that when you turned it on it shot water straight out at your face. It was great. I kept forgetting and I’d turn it on and … you can picture this, right? I decided not to mention it to the kids, to see who got hit first. It turned out to be Opac, who hilariously exclaimed WTF?! It’s the little things, people.

One of my coworkers suggested putting a paper towel over the hole, since it will cling when it gets wet. Great idea! I really wanted to tape it up with duct tape. And I would have too, if I could’ve found it. And that’s another story in this great house of ours. The mystery of Where-Is-It applies to just about anything you might be looking for.

Usually it’s tools. But here’s the thing – if you know where it was used last, that’s where you will find it. Seems legit, right? Except that WE can never remember where we last used it. I am fruitlessly trying to apply that place for everything, everything in its place rule… but unfortunately it only works with those willing to play.

Anyway, Grumpy Gills got to spend the day out again on Tuesday thanks to another trip to the car dealership. My car – I swear is a lemon – there, I said it – is acting wonky again. Engine light came back on, on Sunday on my way to pick up the kids for Easter.

(Todd stayed home because, sick, and I took the kids for an early dinner at a Japanese hibachi steakhouse with my mom… because why not? V was in heaven and O decided to sleep in the car while we ate. Teenagers. I ate sushi again and I think I’m good for a few months.

I also remembered what I don’t like about hibachi places – feeling obligated to watch the show and then sit with mouths gaping like seals while the chef tries to land pieces of broccoli in your mouth. Three times. Because one sailed past my head, one hit me on the nose, and the other landed in my hair. There is absolutely nothing dignified about this.)

So anyway, the car. We sat in the waiting area while they ran diagnostics on it. The music was classic 80s rock and it was so loud I thought I was in a fraternity house. At 9 o-clock in the morning. The place was like an ant hill. People everywhere, hustling about. The waiting area sits back behind the showroom, so we have a full view of one gorgeous $72, 000 blue Cobra that was polished so bright I could see my reflection in it, and a fully-loaded F250 white king cab that Todd spent the better part of 78 minutes trying to sell me.

Given the state of the Edge, which is only a year old and has spent more time in a garage than my ‘77 Audi Fox in high school, Todd is becoming increasingly keen on trading it in. I love my car. I’d be happy to trade it in on an identical one. Todd was still pitching the merits of pickup trucks when I suggested that a) I’ve already driven two, b) I am too short to be driving something that big, and c) he can trade in the California GT if he really wants that truck. He smiled at me and then suddenly remembered that it’s been an hour and a half and no word on WTF is going on with the car, so got up and wandered back to service. I went to the coffee machine and loaded up on cup #3, which – if you know me – was not going to end well.

Nearly two hours later the Enterprise guy comes to deliver us to our loaner – a f*cking PICK UP TRUCK – because the dealer needed to keep our car. The entire ride home Todd is all, how great is this… this truck runs so smooth… and I’m all, I will fall out of this thing every time I drive it. But not really, because I know it’s short term and I can enjoy the adventure of driving a pickup again because I know it aint ever gonna be mine.

Other miscellaneous stuff:

One of our neighbors saw our exterior motion-sensored light going on and off like an SOS signal and was worried we were signaling for help, so she got another neighbor involved who called to check on us.

I returned to the chiropractor for the first time in 3 months. He’s feeling around my neck making “oh” sounds and I’m like, am I dying? You know it’s bad when the doctor is admitting it’s bad.

Buying tampons at 48. This is bullshit. Eight bucks for a box. Tampax PEARL. WTF does that even MEAN? Why can’t they just call them tampons and be done with it? Gotta make them sound all fancy and shit. Like, what difference does it make, really? I know this all sounds trivial, but it occurred to me when I emptied the last box that why the hell do I need to keep buying these?

I’m embracing the aging process, sort of, but some of the details are just BS.

 

 

Inclement Weather, 49 hours later

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Blogged while eating Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Orange Polo Shirt was located less than 10 minutes after I published that last post. I found it buried under a pile of clothing on top of the suitcase he’d taken to Nashville. Okay, I lifted exactly 4 articles of clothing – most likely the clothes he last wore – and there. it. was. I took a picture to send to him, asking if I got a reward. My reward is spending the rest of my life with him, which is a dream come true, even if I will be slowly losing my mind.

This is technically inbound day four for me, as V has been sick since Sunday and was home from school before this weather system clobbered us. I have to admit I love this weather – when everyone can be home and we don’t need to go to work. At least until last night when the brain weasels wanted me to think about what I would do if we had a real medical emergency. A small wave of anxiety washed over me, before I shut it down. It’s kind of like that same anxiety I feel in certain Italian-American chain restaurants – yes, we have – where they walk you back and back and back through this labyrinth of rooms until you feel like you’ve entered some alternate universe, Mediterranean garden-cave and there are no visible exits other than the front door –which, by the way, is so far away you’d never make it out – what if there’s a fire?

Anyway, we’ve kept busy watching Netflix, playing Fortnight (the new video game crack for teenaged boys), shopping Marketplace, and spending absolutely no time on the treadmill. Yesterday I made breakfast quinoa, bacon, and chocolate chip pancakes. I made homemade cole slaw. For dinner I made this delicious Orzo with Parmesan and Basil to go with broiled New York Strip steaks (grill was not only half-buried in snow, but out of propane).

During dinner, somehow the conversation turned dark. It all started when Todd said he smelled poop. This has been an ongoing theme in our house, between the cat and his infraction in the hall bathroom and the continuously clogged toilet. I suggested that the dog farted. There was a brief moment where we considered that she had a wayward piece of shit stuck to her ass. That’s when Opac said he doesn’t think he could ever have a dog, because he can’t stand the smell of poop and could never clean it up. Todd countered that no one likes the smell of poop; that’s why when something bad happens, we say, “shit!”

Segue into V informing O that she would take care of wiping my butt when I’m old, and he’d take care of wiping dad’s butt. Aint happening, he said. He might’ve used other words. She added dad’s wife to O’s list. No, he said. And, without missing a beat, looked squarely across the table at Todd and said, And I know what you’re thinking and you can forget it.

Anyway, the mystery of Oliver’s accident in the bathroom was solved when I went downstairs to start a load of laundry and found that somebody had closed the door to the bathroom where his box is. But nobody knows who. This is what I mean by slowly dissolving into madness. I’m headed there.

And then of course Oliver decided to add insult to injury and returned to the scene of the crime yesterday to urinate on the remaining rug. I don’t know WTF is wrong with him. He’s on a one-way highway to extinction, if he keeps this up.

And, because I love this kind of shit, you’re going to love what I got to do today. First off, V and I ventured out to run overdue errands and pick up some groceries – including toilet paper because we were down to our last two rolls in the house. Seriously people, forget milk and bread – in a real snowstorm, there is nothing, nothing, more important than TP. Being down to your last garbage bag has nothing on being down to your last roll of toilet paper in a family of four. Well, except maybe wine.

Anyhoo, we get back. We have lunch. We watch sheets of snow fall off the solar panels in front of the house. V goes to the bathroom. Twenty minutes later she comes out and tells me the toilet is clogged. No kidding, I said, what a surprise. What she said next requires a full shot of tequila to recover from. She said, what happened to all the toilet paper under my sink? I said, it’s gone, that’s why we bought more. She said, oh. Well, I thought we were out of it, so I used paper towels. PAPER TOWELS.

After I pointed to the package she was with me when I purchased not more than two hours ago, I spent the next 15 minutes fishing out seven paper towels with the toilet brush, and trying not to get any of the water on the newly washed floor (recall the urine rug of yesterday). She “didn’t know” you can’t flush anything but toilet paper in a septic system.

I won’t be redundant and mention the dog’s infractions, but I will say that we are now taking her outside from the rec room downstairs. Tuesday night I called her to follow me, and she went as far as the top step and turned and ran back to the living room where Todd was. I walked back and said firmly, Sabra, come. She moved closer to Todd. Frustrated, I walked into the living room, where Todd was sitting on the couch with one leg up on the ottoman and the other on the floor beside it. The closer I came to her, the closer she got to him, until she couldn’t get any closer. And then all of sudden she literally dove, head first, between the ottoman and the couch. It was by far the funniest thing she’s done yet.

Tomorrow life returns to normal, or as normal as it can be with us. But Spring is coming, and with it new adventures.

Due to Today’s Forecast For Inclement Weather…

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The only Snow I want to see.

It’s 10:27 a.m. and they’re calling for another Nor-easter. This one promises anywhere from three to 900 inches of snow, and should end sometime around next week. Or Thursday. I’m taking pics of my deck and maybe I’ll try to do a time lapse thing for shits and giggles.

My March 20th began with all-night blood sugar testing, cat shit, a middle-aged dog who needs discipline, and one lost orange polo shirt.

Veruca is having her annual round of The Sick and has been out of commission for 3 days. Nothing eventful to report here, though even if there was, I’d be forbidden to write about it.

Instead, I will tell you how Opac drug me out of bed at 6 a.m. to handle the pile of poo Oliver left on the bathroom rug in his bathroom. Because he’s an asshole. Not Opac – the cat. I have no idea what caused this serious infraction, but he then had the audacity to follow me around meowing for breakfast. Not Opac, the cat. And of course he got it – because, CAT.

So Opac didn’t actually wake me up. Todd did. He was looking for an orange polo shirt he’d brought home several days ago, and now he can’t find it. (Story of my life is such an overused statement, isn’t it?) I told him the last time I saw it, it was on the liquor cart. Well, is that what it’s called? It’s a table in our dining room that is part of the set, with two shelves below divided by one cabinet door. We keep our liquor in/on it. It has wheels. Cart? Okay.

Anyway. Orange polo shirt. It’s not there. He thinks he brought it into the bedroom and set it down on my dresser. Which, in my barely awake mind, sounds a bit accusatory, since it’s no longer there either. I told him it was never on my dresser, because I never saw it there. I lost sight of it on the liquor cart, nestled against the single malt collection… which, by the way, would be exactly where I would want to be, if I were an orange shirt.

He insisted that it was in the living room and that he’d carried it to the bedroom and set it down on my dresser, but he moved it and now he can’t find it anywhere. I said that I’d only seen it in the dining room, and he got mad because he meant the dining room, not the living room. It’s kinda the same as when he says Thursday and really means Tuesday, except that I’m a bit slow cause I’m not a mind reader and so I don’t know what he really means. Meanwhile, Orange Polo Shirt is MIA. How do you lose an ORANGE shirt in a sea of black? (He wears a lot of black.)

So, due to the forecast for inclement weather today, which – by the way – has already begun to be inclement weather… schools are dismissing early. Opac actually texted me around 8, asking me to come pick him up at 11 because the initial report was they were going to try to keep them in school all day and he thought that was bullshit. And I’m like, pick you up in WHAT? The GT? Because Todd had to go to work today and I told him to take my car. I can’t drive the beater because I can’t move the seat up far enough.

There’s another story. Todd is like, you can move the seat up so you can better reach the pedals. And I’m like, no I can’t. Because I’ve tried. He said he’d show me how. And I’m like, I know how. But that damn box you built to hold your iPad (to play Sirius XM) is in the way. You can move that. I KNOW that. But I don’t want to. Okay. It’s a choice. Famous last words: It’s a choice.

Just like it’s a choice to let the dog out first thing in the morning, and hope she leaves the deck this time to relieve herself. Yeah. Since Moses was here last, she’s still breaking all the rules and peeing on the deck. Almost 11 years old and she’s decided to feign stupidity and go on the deck? So now we have to go out with her and make sure she goes down the steps to the yard. It’s madness around here, sometimes. Todd reminded me that Pi used to do this. But she was OLD. And SENILE. She also used to open bedside table drawers and steal my chocolate stash. And lived to do it again.

Sabra thinks I’m stupid. Just like Oliver thinks I’m stupid. And how sometimes the kids think I’m stupid. Everyone except Todd – who gets irritated when I actually am stupid. Ah well – balance.

So, today’s forecast looks like laundry (a certain rug), arts and crafts (because I’m Supermomwoman), cooking Asian soup with dumplings, shitakes, and edamame, and locating a certain shirt. I can’t wait to find that shirt. I can’t even tell you how much I can’t wait to find that shirt.

 

 

 

That Stench Is My Foul Mood

The Tara Chronicles

There are days like this.  They don’t happen very often, at least not anymore.  Everyone has them.  A mood so foul the day itself screams – for the love of God, woman shut the hellup!  It was all going so well, too. 

While everyone complained loudly about the impending snow storm last week, I did a remarkable 360 and was actually happy about it, because for once it happened at the best possible time for us.  It started late after we returned home from our routine Wednesday night trip to PA, and we had nowhere to go Thursday or Friday – no appointments, no obligations – and it was my weekend, so the kids were home with me anyway.  Perfect.  I worked Saturday night for a few hours, because the restaurant is short staffed, again.  Really, how’s about I just stop reporting that?  It should be the…

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While You Were Away

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Dear Mom:

It may not be as exciting as shaking scorpions out of your suitcase, or having howler monkeys next to your patio, or being laid over for 12 hours in a biker bar, but you missed some good times back here in the Northeast.

I know the news about threats of school violence worried you. The child who was making the threats on social media was a middle-school-aged girl who doesn’t even attend our schools. Nevertheless, there were many students who didn’t go to school the next day. I don’t know what happened with the 8th grader in V’s school who made threats, other than that the authorities were brought in and it was handled. Everything is pretty much back to normal. Still – it worries me that our children have to worry about this stuff. And that we, the parents, have to worry about this stuff.

We had some weather. We had some crazy winds. 60 mph wind gusts on Friday that brought an early dismissal, out of fear of fallen trees and power outages. At lunchtime I texted Todd to suggest he stay home. The three main arteries going south were all closed, thanks to the high winds on bridges and two overturned tractor trailers on Tydings bridge on 95. Thankfully, he stayed home and skyped his meeting.

BUT, he still thought he was going bowling an hour away. I texted him back that I wasn’t going. My nerves can’t take it. After that nailbiting hour and a half ride home in dense fog last month, I promised myself never again. He was climbing the walls by the time I got home from work, as you might expect, and he was insisting that the roads were clear and he would be fine. I told him he was nuts. He reluctantly agreed to stay home.

The power went out in my building 5 minutes before we closed, for about 10 seconds. I looked over at Kathleen sitting next to me, and I couldn’t see her. There was this audible sigh throughout the office that felt like the building breathing. I was in the middle of a triage call, and our entire system – with phones – went down. Thankfully the generator kicked on and lights started popping back on.

I remote-started my car before I left my building… the workers in the lobby all said good night and told me to be careful. I took a deep breath just inside the glass doors and braced myself for winds I haven’t experienced since I lived in New York. I kept my head down and walked quickly to the car, put my hand on the handle and … nothing. It didn’t unlock, and then I noticed that it wasn’t running. I cursed it, and then realized It Wasn’t My Car. My car was 3 spaces away, engine running. Fiddlesticks!

Back at home…  the animals. With Moses’ arrival comes Oliver’s seclusion; however, this time Mo took to our bedroom at night and so Oliver couldn’t even sleep there. Mo likes to move around a lot. He slept in the hall, in the living room, on our floor, and one night in Veruca’s room. He also, as you know, has a particular penchant for the top of the stairs – which has got to piss Oliver off.

After a few days of this nonsense Oliver must’ve decided, fuck it, and often wandered into the main living areas with enough distance between them to allow for escape. It takes exactly 3.4 seconds for Oliver to bolt from any room, and exactly a minute and a half for Moses to get into a standing position. I’d say the odds are stacked in Oliver’s favor.

Sabra returned to her buffoonery, skittering through open doorways like some invisible force slapped her backside, and refusing to go outside with Moses. I took to letting them out separately, for the sheer purpose of saving my sanity, and still she would go out the door and turn immediately back and stare through the glass waiting to come back in.

One time she actually went out and stood just around the corner where I couldn’t see her – well, all but her tail wagging – and waited a minute or two before running back to the door and wanting to come back in. And THEN she stood staring at me waiting for her cookie. She really thinks I’m stupid.

She has turned me into a criminal investigator – between checking her paws to see if they’re wet (which they would be if she’d left the deck) and trying to catch her pooping on the deck around the corner where no one can see her. There are currently 4 piles of petrified poop on that corner of the deck, and I know it’s all hers.

One night, though, she went out alone and came back all wound up like a rabid squirrel, bouncing around the living room and pushing at Mo to get up. She wanted him to go out there with her, and it’s dark and all I can think is – oh God, please don’t let them come back smelling like skunk. This is a legitimate worry, mom.

The animals are all crazy. Mo knows the cookie drill – so as soon as he comes in, he’s ready. Except that Sabra goes out next… and, depending on whether she actually leaves the deck, then she gets her cookie. Mo seems to think it’s handout time again, and so he comes over and expects another cookie. And then Oliver comes and stands by the cabinet waiting for his kitty treats.

I’m sorry that I had to close the door to all pets after a couple of nights listening to Moses licking his paws for the better part of two hours. You know how much I love that sound. He does it during the day, too, just a few feet away from where I’m sitting, you know, so I can enjoy it too. Have you noticed that yelling stop it! doesn’t really work with him?

For what it’s worth, however, he is by far the happiest animal in the house to see me when I get home. Even if I’ve only gone as far as the bus stop to drop the kids. That’s refreshing. We just have to do something about his body slamming “hugs” and leg-bruising head butts.

You may notice that I brushed him a little. I used the furminator that you included in his overnight bag, and let me tell you I think a vacuum cleaner would be far more effective. I brushed one side of him while he was lying down, and could’ve knitted a rug with the excess that the brush couldn’t contain. Obviously I thought better of completing this endeavor indoors, but the winds were still high and so outside wasn’t an option.

The kids are well. Opac is complaining about needing the driver’s ed class so he can get his license, but when I offer to let him drive home from workouts he says it’s leg day and his legs really hurt. I don’t know how he’s going to get his hours in, if there’s always a reason not to practice, but hey – I’m in no hurry.

V is already planning her birthday party, and asking when and where we’re going to the beach this summer. I told her to talk to you.

Hope your trip home is less eventful than the one out. You’ll be pleased to know that Mother Nature has conjured a winter event to commemorate your return from the tropics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Bullies

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Warning: Far-stretching, rambling rant ahead, and real life bullies exposed.

Veruca got a cell phone in 5th grade, in order to attend a birthday party. If it weren’t for diabetes, she still wouldn’t have one. It was an enormous leap of faith and I made sure she knew it. Two years later she still doesn’t use any social media apps and the only people she talks to, or texts, are family members. Mostly.

In September, there was a new girl. She latched onto V and called her her best friend, dominating her time at school, poking her to get her attention when she was talking to other friends during lunch, and the most concerning part – calling and texting her all day and night (once calling at 2 a.m.). She would text her and ask her why she wasn’t answering her, please call me back, can you call me, call me NOW, where are you? what are you doing?

At first, V was annoyed and would come to me and complain. We suggested she establish boundaries and tell her friend to stop calling/texting so much. The girl ignored her wishes. We told V to block her, but she was afraid to because then this girl would be “mad at” her.

When it got to the point where the girl texted her, “I guess I should just kill myself, then,” I called the assistant principal and let him know we had a problem. But mostly because no child should say that to another and have it go unreported. She may have been saying it for attention, but what if she wasn’t? Not on my watch.

The whole thing culminated in meetings with the guidance counselor, moving lockers (their lockers were right next to each other), seat changes in the classrooms they shared, and V completely cutting her off. And then this girl was telling people it was because of V that she “got beat” by her parents.

This girl later physically “handled” another girl, which didn’t last long because – as the victim told me herself – the next time she came around “I gave her a look and she walked away.” That look, let me tell you, even coming from a 4’10 little pistol, made me uncomfortable.

Worse stuff is circulating around middle schools everywhere, like social media posts with pictures of the victims, telling them they’re fat and should just “kill” themselves. This is happening right here in our school.

I was a victim of bullying in school, and I can’t begin to imagine how much worse it could’ve been were there cell phones and social media. Three girls in 7th grade – Laurie, Farrah, and Jean – decided one day that I was their mortal enemy, or at least a worthy butt of all their jokes. Laurie, the ringleader, would make fun of me in class, make fun of my small breasts (because really, WHO has small breasts when they’re 12?), and – on one occasion, one of them followed me down the hall poking me with a pin.

When I was in 9th grade, a 10th grade girl on my bus loudly announced me as Tarabitch every time I got on, and threw a sandwich at my head once. Lori, and her friend Julie, must’ve had a lot of fun at my expense. I had exactly zero interaction with either of them before this, and roughly zero after the fact. I never quite understood what I’d done to garner her attention.

Later on in 9th grade, on a class field trip, I was walking with a group of friends when I was confronted by a pair of twins – whom I had known and never had any trouble with before. Apparently I had offended one twin in some way (probably by just existing) and the other, loudmouthed twin Denise confronted me and warned me to “watch [my] step or [I] wouldn’t have a step to watch.” Kinda funny now, but really, WTF?

Hey – I survived. But today kids are mocking and bullying others on social media – posting pictures of them and calling them “fat,” and “ugly,” and “why don’t you just kill yourself?” (This was reported at my daughter’s school, but we know it happens everywhere.) Before the internet, social media, and cell phones, your bullying ended when you left the school. At least until the next day.

Well, here’s a question: Why in hell do these children have cell phones and social media access? These are 11/12 year olds doing this. If our children have unlimited and unsupervised access, then the problem lies with US.

Some of them have had cell phones since elementary school. WHY? What reason is justified in giving your 4th grader a cell phone?? Why aren’t parents monitoring how these phones are used?

Parents need to step up and take the responsibility back. The bullies are able to reach their victims in a wider spectrum because they have access to social media. The victims are being further victimized because they have access to social media. And before I’m misunderstood – I am in no way suggesting that the victims are in any way responsible – because, in truth, they don’t need to have social media to feel the burn. Because if everyone else in school can see what’s being posted about them, even if they can’t, they will surely hear about it.

Parents also need to take responsibility for their ROLE in bullying. Because you know what? Even grownups are guilty of this BS. Case in point: A night out with friends from high school revealed ill-feelings expressed toward them by other people – even NOW – 30 YEARS after we graduated high school. What the actual f*ck??!

Are we really so petty that we are still shunning people we disliked in high school? And, for the record the woman who experienced this was not a friend in high school but I came to know her in these later years and she is one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. I’m proud to know her today and call her a friend. I also realized, through our conversation that night, that those persons who still “dislike” her actually “unfriended” me, presumably because of my friendship with her?

I say again, WT actual F? 40+ years old and still acting like a juvenile? I guess this is a great illustration of how some folks have not matured, and why the bullying issue has to be addressed at the parents’ level, don’t you think?

Full disclosure: I wouldn’t talk to any of those aforementioned girls/women if my life depended on it. I’m not bitter. Forgiveness is not mine to withhold. But self-preservation IS. And I hold absolutely no ill-will when I say I’d be happy to tell them where to go, if we were ever face to face. They owe me an apology, which I’m sure I’ll never get. However, I sincerely hope that their children aren’t bullies, or worse – children who have been bullied.

Yet – where does bullying begin and end? How do we as parents address it? How do we as adults set the right examples for being good humans who accept all people?