Month: June 2012


Bullies abound everywhere.  I was bullied when I was a kid.  My Dad was a judge and there were two kids in my High School who bullied me and one who tried very hard to hurt me.  My daughter was savagely bullied at school.  Her wheelchair was tipped over and she was left in the hall, with her feet pointing toward the ceiling. And that was nothing compared to most of her daily ordeal. The school officials blamed her. I had to get the federal government civil rights division involved. The school officials and superintendent of schools were absolute *ssholes, at best, lying manipulators who deserved an *ss kicking at worst. My eldest granddaughter has been bullied at school – physically assaulted, once hit over the head by a sumo wrestler sized girl wielding a chair.  What’s that about?

Deaf people are bullied all the time.  When I went to Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho and could sign at least some and had connections with the Deaf community. I helped Deaf folks with hearing people who were intransigent in their dealings with them.  I got one guy at the campus post office in real hot water with the Post Master because he thought I was Deaf too. I heard him laughing and telling his co-worker about how he was going to “screw with those dummies.”  I went ballistic on him verbally and thought he was literally going to wet his pants.  The daughter of a judge knows about Postmasters and what they can do.  I was hell on wheels.

Every day there are kids who end up so bullied they kill themselves.  They might be gay, they might be deaf, they might be physically or emotionally or intellectually disabled. They might be like Phoebe Prince from Ireland who came to the US and was bullied mercilessly until she killed herself.

Why then, is there such an uproar over one 68-year-old woman who is a bus monitor who can’t take the heat? Yes, she was bullied. She also put up with it.  She didn’t do her job – which is to keep order on the bus.  I swear to Buddha that Mr. Bernie, a Native American man, who drove our little country school bus with a bunch of rowdy farm kids, would have put those kids in their places Right Now!  He was a wonderful man and we loved him, but he would have never taken that kind of guff off anyone.  I’ve seen him set kids right and he put more than one of them off the bus for behavior unbecoming a human being.  Their parents had to drive them to a country school for the rest of the year.

Where, pray tell, are the trust funds for the millions of kids and adults who are bullied every day?  Why are we not raising half a million dollars for every person we think is a victim of bullying?

I don’t resent this individual nor the money people are donating to someone who can’t do their job, I merely observe that she was a doormat who allowed these kids to run over the top of her. Now the kids are out of school a year (which is appropriate) and not able to be on a bus (which is also appropriate), but if she’d maintained control instead of sitting there and crying, those kids would be in school and on a bus. Plus, it does nothing to stop all the other bullying incidents going on. What it does do is teach us that being a doormat can be lucrative if someone puts it on youtube and you can be an appealing victim.

I admit it, I have heartburn with this individual getting rewarded for not doing her job.  It is not personal since I’d get heartburn over anyone who got rewarded not doing a difficult and thankless job, but their job, nonetheless.  I’ve represented school bus monitors during my time with the union and it is not an easy job, but countless thousands of other bus monitors do a great job and never go through incidents like this because they have self-respect, dignity, and the gumption to deal with difficult situations.  I applaud all school bus monitors who do an underpaid, thankless job and do it well.   Bless you for your service to our kids and grandkids!

I have heartburn with people treating her like a hero.  She’s not  I don’t want someone like that on a bus with my grandkids because if she can’t stand the heat then she can’t take care of the other kids.  I don’t want a doormat on a bus, I want Tony the Tiger on the bus.  As an example, when my kid was bullied (bruised) by a school bus driver in Fairbanks, Alaska (there was no bus monitor) because she walked too slow (she has a form of MD) she turned on him and said, “My Mom’s a child protection worker and you’re in big trouble!  She’s going to track you down and get you!”  Or words to that effect.  She must have scared the bejesus out of him because instead of injuring her more, he abandoned the bus full of kids (it was cold out), went home, packed his things, and left town.  I assume he was someone with a record.

She was right – I went gonzo.  After I told her to never say something like that again (because a whacko might seriously injure her) I went to the police. There was an arrest warrant issued. But even more, I found out where he lived and I went there. She was right – I tracked him down. He was already gone.   What would I have done?  I’m not sure, probably ranted and raved at him, for starters, as well as telling him I’d see him in jail and out of a job if it was the last thing I did.  However, if I was the monitor on the bus when the driver had abused a child, I’d have protected that child from him the same way I’d have protected that child from another child – or protected myself.  It is my job to be responsible for my conduct and my Momma never raised no doormats.  I’m only a few years younger than the woman who made the news.

I still want to know why! 

Why give someone $700,000 for crying and not being a good school bus monitor when we don’t do this for all the other bullied people in the world?  What makes her so special?  Why not my kid?  My grandkid? All the other people in the world?  Just youtube?  Really?

I’m sure this is not a popular stance.  I really don’t care.  I’ve thought about it a lot.  Reward people for the good they do, not for their inability to do their work or their ability to be a victim.  We honor the firemen who fell at 9/11, not the ones who were too afraid to go in the buildings.  If you want to feel sorry for people, I can develop a list of folks you can give money to.

Like a roller coaster

It has been quite the roller coaster ride at ASL immersion.  There are three teachers.  By all rights, there should be three classes.  One Beginner.  One Intermediate.  One Advanced.  Instead, all 40 students are rolled into one class.  Bad idea.

There must be 10 people who don’t sign (at all) or barely sign. For them, this has been largely a wasted week.  $400 worth of waste, not to mention housing and/or transportation costs. For the intermediate students such as myself the first day was deadly dull, the second day better, the third day showed real promise and today was either over everyone’s head or was like ASL 101 at Deaf Inc. in Allston. I finally refused to play the games.  Enough, already.

We do have one certified Signed English interpreter in our class so the range is incredible – from zero knowledge to 32 years of interpreting work. That being said, the terp can’t understand the rapid-fire ASL signing and almost nothing is explained.  I understand the concept – it is almost like shocking someone into focusing, which is great if you’ve got anything at all to hang your hat on.  If you don’t it is like being a Martian being air-dropped into Manhattan at rush hour.  It isn’t effective.  I’m too good a teacher to buy off on this. My students learn and pass high stakes tests. This is low stakes and what it may do is put the beginners off coming back and maybe even some of the intermediate folks.  I don’t know who thought this one up – apparently they had separate classes before – but they should give the “bath salts” back and get focused on reality again.

I am  not the least bit sure this immersion will do anything to enhance my ability to sign. Receptive skills will increase again, yes. Expressive skills, probably; not.  Hard to be expressive when you’re not signing.  And charades and pictionary games don’t do it.  I’ll be looking forward to classes with Ron starting soon.

I love relaxing into sign.  I love knowing that my ACoA meeting will be signed starting the 11th of July and then I will have 3 signed 12 step meetings.  With 1 meetup a week that makes 4 times a week – maybe 12 hours total of ASL.  But, mostly listening.   So I need to find out how to include more signing for me.  That’s the next challenge.

ASL Immersion

From boredom and near despair the first day to joy on the third day.  I’m so glad I took this ASL intensive!

Studying Non-Manual Markers in ASL such as “puff cheeks” which denotes a lot, huge number of, large, great magnitude, etc.  We have 20 markers to insert into our language to make it more effective.  Yea!

ASL Fingerspelling signs which are abbreviations, such as “jb” for job.  83 of them – mostly review for me, but good.

Memory training with the continuing, building story and more work on a story tomorrow.

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Thank God for small favors

Today was soooo much better it was almost indescribable.  We went to the Homes for the Deaf in Danvers and had both a wonderful education/tour and the opportunity to meet a number of the residents with whom we could practice our signing. In addition to the residents who are deaf or deaf/blind most of the staff is hard of hearing or deaf. The receptionist and the director seem to be the only exceptions and they both are fluent in sign as well.

I’ve now got a yen to learn the deaf/blind sign and have the packet to apply as a volunteer there.  When I was a young social worker I was associated with 4 nursing homes and I’ve always loved that environment.  These homes are independent living, assisted living, nursing and skilled nursing.

Looking forward to tomorrow – hopefully we will not be back to playing card games.

As to the food – well, the elves are still at it…

Northeastern ASL Immersion – Day One

I underestimated the comic relief and frustration value of attending ASL immersion at Northeastern. Go figure.

Delightfully,  one of my fav people from ASL meetup is there with me.  Of course, we were like flypaper with each other from there on out.

Initially we were in West Village. In the midst of a thunderstorm cum mini-hurricane we headed out to 400 Messinger Hall.  Elaine had no umbrella. I had a raincoat we used as a tarp. Me being smaller,  a sleeve hung down over my face so I ended up functionally Deaf and Blind. Elaine was high stepping though the huge ponds puddles We were laughing hysterically by the time we got to the other building, hugging each other with one arm to keep the tarp raincoat over us.

When we arrived a teacher told us the elevator was small and suggested we take the stairs. Did I mention it was to the 4th floor? Then came the video-taping (a check in to see where we started from) and a directive to leave since it was a small place. We consulted our schedule, returned to the first building and waited for people to show up for the next event – about an hour away. An hour later we’re under the tarp raincoat, slogging back to Messinger to find out where everyone else was. Found out we were supposed to go to a different building.

Next came activities I had in ASL I –  a race to see how many signs you can think of using the “f” handform, the “x” handform, etc. I learned a couple of words. Back to the original building for lunch.

Surprise! An attack of New England food! Never heard of it? New England is the only area of the nation  I know of where they have elves assigned to extract all flavor from the food before serving it to unsuspecting people from other parts of the country. Today I had tasteless green salad with tasteless oil and vinegar dressing, a tasteless tomato, and tasteless chicken. I was going to throw it in the garbage but my friend took it home for her bird. Poor bird…  Now, I figure these were made by the best of the best of the institutional cooks trained in tasteless hospital food. Not eating their food again. That’s why God made protein bars, right?

Last part of immersion for the day – how to express emotions with your face. Surprise, anger, fear, sadness, etc. Actors guild 101.  And the Pièce de résistance …using decks of cards to learn 1-10, Ace, King, Queen and Jack along with Diamond, Spade, Heart, and Club. Be still my beating heart.   ASL I  taught me to add, subtract, multiply and divide in numeric sign language.

Tomorrow we are going to the nursing home for the Deaf and Deaf Blind in Danvers. I’m assuming this field trip is meant to expose us to native ASL speakers.  I’m hoping the immersion is both worth the money and the week off to be there.

Older than Dirt

Okay, now I am officially older than dirt.  Who the dickins gets arthritis of the big toe?

Me, that’s who!

One visit to the podiatrist, several x-rays and a cortisone shot later, I’m now a card-carrying member of the Arthritic Toe Club of America. Yeah, laugh if you like, but apparently you really can run your feet off.

A helpful friend tried to tell me I had gout if it was a toe, but I explained the doctor disagreed.  This isn’t a uremic acid sort of thing, it is that I’ve worn the cartilage right down to the nubbins and being inattentive and wearing Crocs on the treadmill for half an hour or so was more than my big toe could take. Note to self:  Never wear Crocs in the car on the way to the gym – wear your cross-trainers like a good exercise nut.

So after a few days of icing and waiting for the swelling to go down, I hope to go back to the gym and continue to gradually wear away the rest of the cartilage left in my big toe tomorrow. Do they have toe implants now?

Then I might not blog for a week or so.  No, not  because I wore the cartilage out in my fingers.  I swear the jumping to conclusions around here should get at least 5 pounds off…  🙂

I am going to a week long American Sign Language immersion program in Boston at Northeastern University.  Turn off voice, use hands, face, and body to communicate. It is going to be fabulous! My receptive sign is good, even excellent, but my expressive sign, let’s just say you could wait a long time for me to remember the sign for the word I want to communicate.

Undoubtedly I’ll be photo blogging  because I can’t seem to function at all without taking pictures, but maybe not writing as much.

How to cripple yourself in just two days

Usually, when grandma exercise nut/body builder here is at the gym I use my iPod Nano, a headset, and set of podcasts with techno-music with specific beat levels to keep me on track – not too fast, not too slow.  They range from 180 beats per minute to 130 beats per minute and I adjust my entire workout from cardio to weight lifting using them. But I let the Nano run out of juice so for the past two days I’ve been doing my own thing and at the same time moving up in the weight department – as in from 5 to 7.5 or from 7.5 to 10 … you get it.

Yesterday, not so bad, a little sore. I’m psyched that I’m working back into the heavier weights and doing well. I’m not where I used to be, but I’m getting there.  I feel lighter when I leave the gym, like I’m on a planet with a little less gravity than earth.  It means I’m getting stronger and that thrills me.

Today, well, let’s just say the options under consideration are: tylenol, advil,  holding up a pharmacy for oxycontin or spending the rest of the day in a hot shower. In reality, I’m going to hit the gym again before my 7 p.m. meeting tonight and I’m going to be doing cardio, lower body, and stretching only, while praying that in the next couple of days those micro-tears in my upper body muscles forgive me.  I do have that weight to lose, my tone to get back, and in general I do feel lots better (rather than half dead) if I work out strenuously 5 days a week.  My problem was that vacation of several months duration from the gym.

What I wonder is what I did to my feet that the sides hurt.  That’s what I want to avoid again.  I have the feeling it was the strap pedals on the bike.  Note so self – take pedal straps off next time. Or stick to the arc trainer or elliptical or treadmill – or just go run the dog.  Ow. 



Maybe I am just a wee bit less energetic

I normally think I am up for just about anything. I go to the gym, walk the dog, work at starting a law business, run thither and yon. So taking the grandkids to visit Mom at Mass General Hospital was a walk in the park, right? (I hear parents laughing quietly up their sleeves.)

So, I grab the car and drive about an hour away to where the kids are. Run to the school to pick up the art project, realize the kids have to take the bus because the art project takes up too much room in my car. Stop by the local donut shop and get myself what amounts to a Caf-Pow and a dozen very large donut holes – three kids/four donut holes, right? (Stop laughing, parental people.)

Meet the eldest one at the house, get the project in, spill coffee on my car hood as I’m cleaning it out for the little ones. Get the booster seat, organize toileting, gathering drinks (after all, I have those 12 large donut holes) and then load the highschooler, gradeschooler and kindergartner into the car and head to Boston on Route 2 guided by the GPS. Did I mention, I don’t usually take Route 2?

Remember my math? 12 donut holes – 3 kids. When the teenager gets the donut bag back from the peanut gallery there are no donut holes. The gradeschooler ate 9. So I’m scouting around for a donut shop or something – fast food of some kind – to feed the starving teen (who is not pleased). Can’t find a blooming thing. Run into traffic jams. Bumper to bumper stuff. Isn’t everyone supposed to be heading OUT of Boston for the weekend? Two hours later we make it to Fresh Pond Mall, by which time the little guy is sitting in lemonade and all the kids want food. Stop at a Dunkin and get milk, bagels and another donut for the little guy. Why a donut for him? Because I’m too worn out to tell him no.

Finally make it to the hospital. By this time I’ve been on the road for 3 and a half hours since I left my office. The kids are bored, need to use the bathroom again and about this time I find out the teenager had a study date – has to do projects and her finals are next week. So she’s peeved at having to go. Meanwhile, the gradeschooler is supposed to be at a sleepover that we’re not going to make in time. I feel so used…

So we make a mad dash to Mom’s room and spend a little over an hour at which point I dash the kids to the car, and take off for their home. It’s been a long day, so of course, the tired kids in the back seat start biting, punching and yukking like the Three Stooges – alternately swinging between mayhem and hysteria. It is a darn good thing I am half deaf or I’d be entirely deafened by the noise level. Periodically the teenager and I attempt to restore order in the back seat. I ponder putting the big kid back there and the gradeschooler in front, but she’s not big enough for the front seat yet. We hear the sounds of ripping, which is the kindergartener turning his homework and projects into confetti. (Sounds of grandmother beating head on steering wheel.)

We actually make pretty good time to Woburn as I am NOT taking Rt. 2 again, where we stop at Wendy’s for dinner (this is not a low-cal day for me, it seems) and then cut through the back roads to Rt. 3 and off we go as fast as I can manage without getting a ticket. Meanwhile, the little kids have turned into little hooligans and are totally out of control. The teenager threatens to make them walk home. I think of the fact their father considered taking them to Montreal and realized he would not have one black hair left on his head if he did – or maybe any hair at all!

Drop the oldest off for her study date – sort of late, but she stays up late on the weekends. I take the little ones home. Dad is looking sort of fried. I know the feeling. He’s been shopping for Father’s day for his Dad and getting things for the kids as well. I tell him the kindergartener reeks of lemonade and spilled milk and offer to take the gradeschooler to her sleepover. First he says, no, no, you’ve done enough, it’s so late…then he realizes he is overwhelmed too. I take the gradeschooler so he can take care of the kindergartner.

On the way home I recognize that I still have the booster seat and the kindergardener’s toys. Small problem – ignore. Get to my abode about 9 hours after I left my office. Drag in and stagger over to the couch where I am greeted by the dog who desperately needs his own toileting. Take dog out, come back in, collapse.

Okay, I admit it – I can no longer keep up with three kids who are on overdrive on a Friday afternoon just days from the end of the school year. They need someone younger – much younger – with better hearing and more stamina. Holy moly. Beatles song about being 64… fade to black.


Control – how much do you think you’ve got?

Personally, as the Adult Child of an Alcoholic/Dysfunctional family I am a control freak by nature. If I could figure out how to do it, I would have ultimate control over everything that happened in my life.  Only half-kiddingly have I commented that in an ideal world I’d own a small home atop a hill surrounded by razor wire with armed guards at the gate.  Of course, that is an exaggeration, but it does give a glimpse into my need for security.

Security – we crave it. We try to achieved it.  We save money that has largely been lost in the Great Recession (which I consider the Great Depression, Part II).  We want totally stable martial situations when the majority of marriages now end in divorce.  We want our kids healthy, happy, and to grow up to do better than we did – in a time when kids are incredibly adversely impacted by designer drugs, bullying in schools and in cyberspace, and a society that is so high stress, complex, and changing so fast that neither they nor we can keep up with it.  These kids don’t even know if they will be able to move out – ever – from the family home because the economy is so bad. And sometimes Mom and Dad are moving home with their little kids to the grandparents home because they are unemployed. Yikes!

When we are little we find two things we have control over:  eating and pooping.  Kids can refuse to eat, eat only hot dogs, or want to eat everything in sight. They can refuse to use the potty, end up refusing to go at all and develop swollen bellies (yes, folks, it happens) and other various permutations.  Why do we think their favorite word is “No” when they are tiny kids.  It is an issue of control over a situation in which they have virtually no control.

Personally, I like the ACoA adaption of The Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the Serenity to accept the People I cannot change, the Courage to change the One I can, and the Wisdom to know that One is Me.”  I have virtually no control over what others do or do not do.  The only control I can exercise is my reaction to those actions.  There are times I feel totally helpless, tossed hither and yon by the vagaries of life.  And while I am powerless over the actions of others and while my life may be unmanageable as long as I attempt to control those actions of others, I do have the power to manage my own responses.

I’m Hard of Hearing and functionally Deaf in noisy situations. Talk about out of control! I can only do what I can do to make others aware, to position myself so I can hear, to ask for help, to ask for an ASL “terp” or CART in work situations where understanding is critical and to manage my responses as a way to take care of my needs. I can’t make anyone else understand, necessarily, although I can force some compliance in some situations through application of law.

As long as I keep the focus on me instead of them, as long as I take “the next right step” and hit my knees every morning and evening to ask for help from my Higher Power and thank my HP for all the blessings I have – my life, the new day, the home of a friend where I live, her darling dog whom I love so much, my daughter and grandkids, the fact my old car still works, and so on and so forth then I don’t have to control persons, places and things that are out of my control.  Rather than worrying about control – or my lack of the ability to control everything – I do my best to develop an Attitude of Gratitude.  Some days are better than others. And I’m grateful for every day – every day above ground is a good day.


I want control of my life again

I was told that this morning by a 30-something fellow of my acquaintance who is single parenting and divorcing.  I want control of my life again.

I laughed like a hyena and told him that when the first child arrived that assured him that he was never going to be in total control of his life again.  At least not until they were grown and gone and even then he should not count his as yet unhatched chickens.

Despite the vagaries of ex-spouses the reality is that life happens.  Kids get sick, former spouses get sick, run over by trucks or whatever.  Life is what happens while we are making plans for exactly how ordered and perfect it is going to be.  There are broken bones, skinned knees, sports accidents, car accidents, car failures, unexpected late work days, baby sitters who quit, older siblings who refuse to watch the little kids, school schedules that change unexpectedly, snow days, problems on field trips, and kids who have accidents at school with no change of clothes handy.  There are bullies, and sometimes your kid can be the victim while at other times the bully, problems with grades, planning for college, wondering what to do when they start dating and what to do when they want to drive.  There are a million and one things going on with kids.  Kids get sick, have tantrums, play parents against each other, want pets, grieve over pets that died, want more pets and want all the attention they can get except when they want Mom and Dad to leave them alone.  More than one child is exponentially more, not arithmetically more.  Former spouse?  Good luck, unless you can become a team you will drive each other nuts for years.

Of course, there are work problems, dating issues, house care and the feeding of plants, small children, the lawn and various other critters in the home.  There is washing, ironing, folding, realizing the clothing no longer fit, shopping, and more work problems.  There are issues with cooking, cleaning, trying to sleep, animals pooping in the house when they get out, missing gerbils in the walls and confetti in the carpets.

If you want to have total control over your life consider the following:  Get survivalist training, find a remote area in Canada or Alaska and go hide.  Or get into a 12 step program and learn how to let go and enjoy life without blame and shame and anger and control.  Your choice.  But do not have relationships and do not have kids.  That way lies madness for the person who wants control.