Saturday, May 31, 2008

Return of the Boy Wonder...

Trevor broke my toilet this morning. Yes, again.

When the water didn’t go down, he walked away from the situation – apparently thinking that if he “let it sit awhile, it would loosen up and go away”. Surprisingly, this didn’t happen.

I have a you-broke-it-you-fix-it policy when it comes to the toilets in my house. So, when the toilet didn’t miraculously heal itself after a few minutes, I told Trevor he needed to go in there and deal with it. He promised he would…after yoga.

After yoga and a quick lunch, we returned home. Shockingly the toilet was still stopped up. I reminded Trevor about it, and he said he’d get to it in a few minutes.

Except he didn’t. He sat on the deck outside while I watered my plants. Then, my sister arrived and the three of us left to run a series of animal-related errands.

We returned home around four, and – despite yet another my-toilet-is-STILL-broken reminder – Trevor decided to take a nap on couch while watching baseball instead. We are supposed to go to a house warming party tonight, so Trevor left to take a shower around six. If you are still keeping tabs: The toilet?…Yep, broken.

Trevor returned to my house around seven. I was in the process of getting dressed, but mentioned that the toilet was still clogged. I got some sort of man-grunt in acknowledgment from the couch in the living room. I would later discover that he’d found a rugby game on TV.

Cut to twenty minutes ago, I’m putting on my shoes in preparation for leaving the house. As I walk past the bathroom, I notice that the toilet is STILL broken, and ask Trevor if he ever plans on fixing it (I thought this was fair seeing as though the damn thing had now been clogged for 10+ hours). With an eye roll and an exasperated sigh, Trevor stomps into the bathroom and FLUSHES THE TOILET. Mystified, The Boy Wonder proceeds to WATCH the water in the toilet rise and begin to spill over the top of the bowl onto the floor. At no point does he reach for the plunger. He just watches…stupefied. And then he gets mad at me when I hand him the mop, bleach and paper towels.

I mean, seriously.

Trevor fascinates me to no end.

It's all about the sushi...

“I was in yoga the other day. I was in full lotus position. My chakras were all aligned. My mind is cleared of all clatter and I'm looking out of my third eye and everything that I'm supposed to be doing. It's amazing what comes up, when you sit in that silence. 'Mama keeps whites bright like the sunlight, Mama's got the magic of Clorox 2.'”

- Ellen DeGeneres, Here And Now, 2003

All last week, I had a sore, scratchy throat and a mild headache. Not sure if it was allergies or if I had a touch of a mild cold.

Anyway, I didn’t feel that bad, so I participated in all of my usual activities – including yoga on Wednesday night. Everything was fine for most of the class, but towards the end I started to get a little dizzy. I tried to push through it (sound familiar?!), but the vertigo only got worse. Finally, I made the decision to sit down and spent the remainder of the class in waterfall pose against the back wall.

After the class was over, my mom, Trevor and I were in the process of rolling up our mats when Janie, our yoga instructor, walked over and asked if I was okay. I told her I was fine, and had just gotten a little overheated and dizzy.

Janie: “Are you pregnant?”

Me: “No. Nothing like that. I just haven’t been feeling well this week and I think I got a little dehydrated.”

My Mom: “Darn!”

Janie: “It sounds like someone wants to be a grandma!”

Me: “Mom!”

My Mom: “What? I mean, can you blame me?”

I’m so glad to know that my mother has (apparently) lost all hope that Trevor and I will ever get married, and is now secretly hoping for an out of wedlock pregnancy.


In other news, yoga class this morning went much, much better. I even – briefly – made it into crow. That is, until I lost my balance and face planted into my mat.

I think I’m going to skip yoga next week…

Friday, May 30, 2008

Summing up my current mental state...

“I am an evil giraffe, and I shall eat more leaves from this tree then prehaps I should, so that other giraffes may die.”

- Eddie Izzard

Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Mr. Ed...

''I'm Eddie, I'm here to pick up Betty.
We're going for spaghetti, is she ready?''

Eddie Three Socks
Fast Eddie

Eddie became my horse somewhere around my seventh birthday. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Eddie had been our foreman’s horse, and I had admired the bay gelding from afar – dreaming of the day I’d be allowed to ride a horse like him all by myself.

My dad being a cattle rancher meant that I got a Shetland pony (Peaches) for my fourth (fifth?) birthday. I know what you’re thinking: every little girl’s dream is to have a pony, right? And it was. I’ve always loved horses and ponies. Some of my earliest memories are of playing with Breyer Horses and My Little Ponies – what little girl wouldn’t want the real thing? But it was also a rather functional gift. When I was little, I got to ride along and help move the cattle from one pasture to another. Of course, I’m using the word “help” loosely, because being that little (and riding a pony, no less) meant that the cows were herding me around more than I was them. I FELT like a cowgirl, though, which was the important thing.

However, by the age of seven, I was quickly becoming too big for Peaches. The timing worked out perfectly because my little brother was ready to graduate from riding double with mom on Derico or Bessie Sue to riding solo. My graduating to a horse like Eddie would allow him to graduate to a pony – making way for Amy (who was pushing two at the time) to ride double with mom. Finally, we’d all be able to go on trail rides around the ranch together. It was an exciting time with so much possibility.

Eddie becoming my horse that day over twenty years ago was the start of a wonderful horse-rider friendship. He taught me a lot, and I will always cherish the memories I have of him: Endless trail rides, galloping on the top of the hill (which I’d always consider to be “Edward’s Plateau”), swimming in the tanks and stock ponds in the summer, the way Ed's back hooves rotated out and his front hooves in, playing hide-and-go-seek at night before the New Year, the times Eddie kept me from accidentally stepping on a rattlesnake, bathing and grooming him until he shone like a show horse, the times he fell asleep while being tacked, tickling his upper gum with my finger, cantering sideways, Eddie's booties and "special tack", pouring molasses over his grain for a special treat after a long day, night rides under the full moon, the way he’d always pass gas when I’d go to clean out his back hooves, the time Mimi rode him and he was just so gentle and calm, the funny “J” shaped brand on his left front shoulder, his high pitched whinny and close-coupled stance…the memories just keep coming and coming, wave after wave. Even the bad ones: falling off countless times, having Eddie step on my foot when I was wearing nothing more than flip-flops, not being able to ride one summer when Eddie was lame – even these memories are to be cherished and never forgotten.

On Monday – Memorial Day – Eddie had to be put down. He was old, and his teeth were bad. Despite all efforts, Eddie was losing weight and increasingly weak. It was his time to go.

The vet tranquilized him that morning before humanely putting him to sleep. He died on the ranch and was buried near the grove of trees near the bottom of Edward’s Plateau.

I wasn’t there, but was told he didn’t suffer. Just went to sleep peacefully and forever.

I will always miss and love you, dear friend...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back on my soapbox...

"To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime."

- Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915

Everyday on my way to work, I pass at least two stray animals. Some – like Haskell was – are hurt, others malnourished or starving.

Additionally, I see many more animals – especially dogs – with collars on that are allowed to roam the streets in their neighborhood freely. The males are clearly not neutered, and the females give birth regularly to a new litter of puppies.

In an effort to help, I’ve done all I can think of to do:

  • Called the SPCA – they do not have the resources to pick up stray animals and only have limited space (available by appointment only) to take in new dogs and cats every day/week.

  • Notified Dallas Animal Services - who promises to send an Animal Control Officer to the area in question sometime in a 28 day (four week) period. By then, many of the animals have moved on, died, been hit by cars, or have simply disappeared.

  • Picked up stray or abandoned animals and tried to foster and/or find permanent homes for them (i.e. Haskell, Carla, etc.). Or finding someone else who could (i.e. Toby, Bob, etc.).

  • Left food out for hungry or starving animals to ease their suffering.

  • Reported dead or dying animals to 311.

  • Donated money and resources (food, old towels/blankets, etc.) to the SPCA and other local animal groups and shelters.

  • Participated in walks to raise awareness about pet overpopulation, the benefits of spay/neuter, and to encourage the adoption of shelter and/or rescue animals.

While I feel as though I am making a difference in my own small way, I am more than aware that the problem is still spiraling out of control in many parts of Dallas. Pet overpopulation is on the rise, and thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters around the city every year. I believe that something needs to be done, or the issue will only continue to get worse.

Below is a letter that ran in the most recent issue of PAW PRESS (put out by the nonprofit organization PAWS IN THE CITY). Included is a link to an online petition in support of the recently proposed changes to the City of Dallas’ animal ordinances, which involves mandatory spaying/neutering of household pets and a formalized breeder registration. I believe it is a step in the right direction to help curb the high number of unwanted dogs and cats in the City.

Please take a second to read the letter below. I hope you will consider adding your name to the petition and/or passing this information along to others who may be interested in the subject.


According to the book "One at a Time: A Week in an American Animal Shelter", an animal is put down every 9 seconds in a US shelter. If the City of Dallas made changes to its animal ordinances that reduced the number of animals being killed at taxpayer expense in our shelters, and improved public health and safety on our streets, would you support those changes?

We need your help. If you do nothing else, take a minute to sign our petition now at ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED IS ON THIS SITE! To find out more before you sign, please read on.

The City of Dallas Animal Shelter Commission has recently proposed several changes to the City's animal ordinances, the most significant of which is Mandatory Spay/Neuter with Breeder Registration. Many people maintain that the decision to sterilize a pet should be left to the owner. Well, that approach has left Dallas facing a pet overpopulation crisis. Last year, 26,979 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens were put down in City of Dallas shelters, while another 13,000+ strays or abandoned animals were found dead in the streets. Our city shelters are overcrowded and unable to keep up with the flow of animals abandoned or surrendered to Dallas Animal Services every day.

We have tried to address this issue with voluntary programs. We've educated people about the benefits of spay/neuter; we've offered free spay/neuter services; we've even tried to pay people to spay or neuter their pets.

Clearly these measures have not been enough. The rampant breeding cycle continues and the City of Dallas is forced to use its limited resources dealing with growing numbers of excess pets every year.

The issue is bigger than the huge number of animals dying, though that is unacceptable. Sanitation, public health and even the environment are impacted. Large numbers of stray animals defecate freely in the streets and raid garbage dumpsters for food. They can spread diseases and - as a result of abuse or because they're simply starving - may be aggressive, increasing the risk of injury to the public. Animals that die in the street or are put down in the shelters require transportation by the City's sanitation department - to the local landfill, where they become food for scavengers. Animals that have been put down retain enough sodium pentobarbital in their bodies to kill the wildlife that feed on them.

This is a problem that needs to be fixed, however we need your help urgently. Please let the City Council know that you support these proposed changes - fewer unwanted animals on our street and in our shelters will reduce risk to the public and save lives.

Here are some ways you can have an impact on this important issue:

(1) Get educated about the proposed changes and why they should be passed. Metroplex Animal Coalition and Companions For Life have joined together to create Dallas Animal Advocates, an online resource for information, statistics, talking points, links, updates, and more.

(2) Sign the petition we will be sending to the Mayor and the City Council - our goal is 10,000 signatures by mid-June, so please ask your friends and family to sign the petition as well.

(3) Write a letter to the Editor of the Dallas Morning News expressing your outrage at the existing situation and calling for change.

(4) Call, email or write to the Mayor and other Council Members, supporting the new ordinances. Complete contact information is available at Dallas Animal Advocates.

(5) Speak at City Council meetings to really get your point across.

(6) Visit our Dallas Animal Advocates blog - leave comments or forward on to a friend; link to it from your blog or website.

This is not the time to stand by and watch as our City continues to be overwhelmed by a growing deluge of unwanted pets - anyone who lives or works in Dallas can be part of the solution. Think you don't have time to take action? We challenge you to take less than one minute to sign the petition - every signature counts!

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Dallas' animals!

Elaine Munch, President
Metroplex Animal Coalition

Lorrin Maughan
Companions for Life

Sunday, May 25, 2008

About nothing really...

Fifteen Things I learned this weekend:

  1. The Red River is less like a river and more like a stream. It is red, though, so at least whoever named it was partially correct.

  2. There sure is a lot of red dirt in Oklahoma. This simple fact will fascinate Texans for hours. Entire conversations will be devoted to the subject.

  3. Trevor is fascinated with the SLOW button on revolving doors when entering/exiting a hotel.

  4. There aren’t a lot of eating establishments in Oklahoma, except Hooters.

  5. Hooters is a family friendly dining experience. Seriously. When we walked in, the waitresses were singing You Are My Sunshine to a bunch of eight year olds.

  6. Hooters is celebrating their silver anniversary. Who knew?! I got a moist towelette with the phrase, “If you can’t be kind be vague,” printed on the back. Never thought I’d get such practical advice from a restaurant famous for spicy chicken wings and scantily clad women.

  7. Strange women will walk up to Trevor and insist that he looks like a golfer.

  8. Pigs do fly in Oklahoma. At least in Hennessy during a tornado. Thank goodness no one was hurt (although I'm not so sure about the pigs).

  9. No one in Oklahoma City has any idea where Garfield County is…

  10. NO SMOKING is more like a suggestion – especially as it pertains to hotel rooms.

  11. Show Trevor a modern church, and he’ll tell you all about its potential as the set for the next Alamo movie.

  12. Weddings last 32 ½ minutes, and the preacher will tell everyone NOT to Google the word “Love”. Ever.

  13. Trevor’s favorite song is WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Nick Lachey. At least while driving in Oklahoma (among other places).

  14. Very little of interest exists between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Except for the red mud, of course.

  15. The first thing you see when crossing over the Red River back into Texas is an adult video store. Second? The Texas Visitors Center. After that, you’ll see another adult video store. Eventually, you’ll hit Denton.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Work" is a four letter word...

Got the following in an email from my mother earlier this week:


The Centers for Disease Control has issued a medical alert about a highly contagious, potentially dangerous virus that is transmitted orally, by hand, and even electronically.

This virus is called Weary Overload Recreational Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from your boss, any of your colleagues, or anyone else via any means whatsoever - DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your private life completely. If you should come into contact with WORK you should immediately leave the premises.

Take two good friends to the nearest grocery store and purchase one or both of the antidotes - Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (WINE) and Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

You should immediately forward this medical alert to five friends. If you do not have five friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.

Judging by how busy I’ve been for the past several weeks, I felt like I needed to post this.

At least I’ve got a nice four day weekend coming up…

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just remember: Haskell survived on the street for months before I found him...

Upon returning home this evening, I was surprised to find only Gypsy Kitty waiting for me behind the pet gate (I keep my dogs in the guest bedroom during the day). I didn’t think too much about it, though, because Trevor was off today and had been by my house to let the dogs out earlier in the afternoon. He’s been known to “borrow” one or both of my dogs from time to time for doggie play dates. So, when I didn’t see Haskell, I just assumed Trevor had taken him back to his apartment to play with Alley Cat.

So, completely unconcerned, I let Gypsy out and took her into the kitchen to feed her dinner. No sooner did the kibble hit the bowl, however, did I hear a distant squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek coming from the guest bedroom.


I quickly ran back to the guest room and turned back on the light...only to discover Haskell TRAPPED inside his box. The gate had closed three-fourths of the way, and my poor dog couldn’t figure out how to get out. Mind you: if Haskell had simply breathed on the gate or gently bumped it with his nose, it would have opened all the way. Instead, Haskell was held hostage by his three-walled wicker box.

The box in question...

God knows how long my poor dog had been stuck in there.

Sigh…Haskell definitely isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

The good news: I have a new Haskell story.

The bad news: It has only been three weeks since he fell off the deck while scratching his ear.

Poor Haskell...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Growing Pains...

On Monday night, Trevor and I returned to QUIKTRIP STADIUM for another evening of AIRHOGS baseball.

It was fun – especially since the Airhogs took an early lead against the El Paso Diablo’s. However, the game had to be delayed after the third inning because…well, the lights went out and wouldn't come back on. For over an hour, Trevor and I watched the between-inning entertainment staff run through every single game, promotion and give away that they could think of. I felt so bad for them! At one point towards the end, I even heard someone suggest over the loud speaker that everyone should go and check out the stadium’s state of the art bathrooms. Yes, it was THAT kind of bad (although, to be fair, I think she was specifically drawing our attention to the bathroom hand dryers. Which are – admittedly – very cool. I think they are made by Dyson, the same company that made my vacuum, and promise to dry your hands in twelve seconds or less. In a word: AWESOME).

Anyway, after running out of ideas on how best to entertain the crowd, the movie ROOKIE OF THE YEAR was put on the big screen in the outfield. Trevor and I watched about thirty minutes of the baseball flick before finally giving up and heading home (it was getting late and a “school night”). Of course, the second we drove away, the stadium lights came back on. Trevor and I have always been super lucky that way.

At least the Airhogs went on to win the game that night - even if I wasn’t there to watch it.

Oh, and I also got popcorn at the game, too, which is always a big plus if you are me (I’m a popcorn fanatic). Even better: I got it for free because the waitress from our section remembered how disappointed I had been on opening night when I learned that all the stadium concession stands were completely sold out of popcorny goodness. My box on Monday evening was made especially for me, and it didn’t arrive until the third inning. Apparently, the reason behind the lack of popcorn at the stadium in the past week is a direct result of the popcorn popping machine blowing the fuses of the ENTIRE concession stand every time it is turned on. So, imagine my shock and concern when the stadium lights went out within minutes of my special box of popcorn being delivered. Yeah, nothing quite like spending hours convinced that a box of popcorn somehow caused a blackout.

After getting home on Monday, I texted my City COUNTY connection (who scored us the seats) and jokingly inquired whether or not the City of Grand Prairie had paid their electric bill. And – once I learned that my “IN” over at the City COUNTY would be attending tonight’s game – I couldn’t resisting texting another message asking if the lights were on at the ballpark. Turns out, the lights WERE on. But that didn’t stop the sprinkler system from coming on all of a sudden in the middle of an inning.

Sigh…I chalk it all up to growing pains. After all, they haven’t technically been open a week yet.

Anyway, here are two more of my favorite things about Airhogs baseball:

The players who take the time to sign autographs for any kid that asks...


...The absolutely adorable older couple that sits directly in front of us, comes to each and every game, and is always completely decked out from head to toe in Airhogs gear. How cute are they? I love them!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kids crack me up...

Almost twenty institutions around the metroplex are gearing up for the opening of QUILT MANIA this fall. Despite the fact that the whole thing is slowly driving me crazy, I have been attempting to "test" classroom activities in preparation for my museum's involvement in the project. And by “test” I really mean that I’ve asked several teacher friends to try my lesson plans in the classroom, and see if they are effective teaching tools.

In other words, all I really did was write an activity idea down on paper, pass it out to people I thought might be interested in implementing it and have been waiting patiently to see if anyone would come back to me with feedback. My involvement has been very limited (who am I kidding? Even “very limited” is a stretch), and I have been fully expecting to hear nothing back about the test activities. Teachers are busy, after all, and who has time for outside projects from the local history museum?

Well, apparently, someone DID have time, because I got to see one of my quilt activities realized just last week. And you know what? It's awesome!

Here it is:

The Texas History Quilt in it's entirety

But my FAVORITE part is...

...the way Davy Crockett is suspiciously eyeing Susanna Dickinson.

Kids are great. Now if only I had thought to photograph Stephen F. Austin's "fuzzy" eyeball up close as well...


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy 5th (re)Birthday, Whippy Woo!

I love you even though I couldn't throw you a doggie birthday party this year
(it was all Auntie Avia's fault, you know.)!
I'll make it up to you, though. Promise!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Opening Day...

Yesterday was opening day at the new AIRHOGS stadium in Grand Prairie. Since I have an "IN" with a city official over there, I scored AWESOME seats to the game. Like second row directly behind home plate. Definitely not too shabby.

And the question about whether or not the catcher has "crack" when squating down so low is finally answered...

Yes, we were THAT close...

The view from across the stadium...

The home team (GO AIRHOGS!)...

The final batter...

So, yeah. The Airhogs lost their first home game. They made up for it by allowing the fans to run the bases (Weeeeeee!)...

If they hadn't run out of popcorn (and maybe won their stadium opener), it would have been the perfect evening. Here's to a summer of minor league baseball!

Friday, May 16, 2008

UNFair Park...

Part of my job is to schedule private bus tours for various companies or visiting conferences. Generally speaking, I like doing this because the tours make money for my department, there isn’t a ton of work involved (I have the planning down to a fine art form), and I get to meet interesting people along the way.

Of course, there are always noticeable exceptions to this rule.

Take the following conversation for example:

[Phone Rings…]

Me: “Education. This is [Deals].”

Person in Question (PIQ for short): “Hi, [Deals]! This is [PIQ] with [blank, blank] Realtors. We have the private tour scheduled for May 15th?”

Me: “Oh, hi! How can I help you?”

PIQ: “I know we discussed the tour picking up and dropping off at Fair Park because of the abundant parking down there.”

Me: “Yes, Ma’am…”

PIQ: “Well, I’ve been talking to a bunch of the people that are going to be on the tour, and everyone is concerned about leaving their cars unattended down there.”

Me: “I don’t think you have anything to be worried about.”

PIQ: “But it’s such a bad part of town!”

Me: “Yes, but very little – if any – crime takes place in the physical park. But crime that occurs NEAR the park is reported as happening ‘at Fair Park’. Fair Park is gated and actually very secure. The mounted police officers are based on campus, and you always see them out with the horses patrolling the grounds. And there are also security personnel that drive in little golf carts all the time. I’ve never felt unsafe here.”

PIQ: “Well, I think the problem is that many of the realtors have nice cars, and they are worried what will happen to them while we are on the bus tour.”

Me: “I’ve been parking down here every day for almost four years, and I’ve never had a problem.”

PIQ: “But what do you drive?”

Me: “An Envoy.”

PIQ: “Well, you see, we have nice cars.”

Me: “Oh.”

PIQ: “Yes. They are very expensive, and I’m afraid they will be targeted.”

Me: “Well, our Director of Development drives a Lexus and she’s never had a problem either.”

PIQ: “What year is it?”

Me: “Does it matter?”

PIQ: “I think so. The older a car is the less it is worth.”

Me: “Uhmmm, okay.”

Needless to say, we didn’t end up meeting at Fair Park. We had the bus pick up and drop off at the realtor office, instead. And just for the record, I felt less secure leaving my “crappy” Envoy in their congested (and noticeably unattended) parking lot, than I ever have at Fair Park.

I swear, the nerve of some people! I am always amazed…

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

And I laughed out loud...

From my quote of the day calendar:

"Just saying 'no' prevents teenage pregnancy the way 'Have a nice day' cures chronic depression."

- Faye Wattleton

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sprint Sucks...

More on this later. I promise.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

The List...

Does anyone know what is being listed in D MAGAZINE'S The List (i.e. page 28 of the current issue)?

How does one get on The List? And, more importantly, WHY, HOW, and WHAT FOR?

Am I the only one confused by this?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

And to think the number eight used to be my lucky number...

Thanks to the TODAY SHOW I am now counting down the days until my birthday.

Yep. My birthday. The same day the 2008 Summer Olympics officially kicks off in China.

I find knowing that there are EXACTLY 93 days left until my birthday extremely annoying. And this countdown has only been going on for one week so far.

Just ONE week.

This is going to drive me crazy.

Only 13 ½ weeks to go...


(Not cool)

At which time I almost lost my faith in the public school system...

Yesterday, a group of 374 DISD middle school students came for a field trip. Within moments of exiting the bus, a 14 year old 6th grader did something so bad that a police officer had to come and escort the student off the park premises until his parents could be located and come to pick him up. He wasn’t allowed to enter any of the institutions on campus or have any contact with his classmates or teachers.

The incident occurred in the two minutes it took the students to get off the bus and walk to the museum’s front door. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Of course, since the student never actually made it into the museum, my involvement in the situation was extremely limited. I’m not even 100% sure I know what actually did (or did not) happen. Although, I heard several accounts from teachers about the event in question, so I have a pretty good idea of what transpired (think: weapons and/or drugs).

To make matters worse, the coordinating teacher had a near nervous breakdown immediately following the incident. Luckily, the other kids were in a performance by this point, and weren’t exposed to the hysterics taking place just outside the auditorium. On the verge of tears, the teacher told me that she, “Just can’t do this anymore.” Apparently, she’s been teaching for the district for years now, but no longer thinks she is making a difference in the lives of the students. According to her, a lot of the kids at her school already have substantial juvenile records. Some of the girls have had reputations since elementary school. Drugs, alcohol and gang violence are everywhere. She’s tried and tried again and again to get through to some of her most at-risk students (including the one who was being escorted around by a cop just outside the building), only to watch them arrested and convicted of a major crime before their 18th birthday and enter the Texas Penitentiary System.

Talk about depressing.

Of course, not all the students at her school are considered to be at-risk. In fact, some of the best elementary schools in DISD feed into this particular middle school, along with some of the most troubled. So the students are – literately – all over the place. Some function way above grade level while others are barely literate. It is an interesting mix. And I cannot imagine being responsible for teaching a group of students that represent both ends of the educational spectrum like that. What a daunting (not to mention near-impossible) task!

According to the teacher, she had excluded around seventy students from the field trip for failing grades, disciplinary issues or overall behavioral problems. However, 24 hours before the field trip was scheduled to take place, the principle announced that the teacher could not exclude students based on things like failing grades or behavioral misconduct. As a result, students (like the one who was being escorted around by the cop outside) were allowed to come along at the last minute. And what happened?...A major incident took place just outside the museum within moments of the bus arriving that morning.

It just isn’t fair to anyone involved. Not the teachers who have to deal with situations like these. Not the kids who have to witness their classmate being forcibly removed from the group by a police officer. Not even to the student who got in trouble and had to be separated. His past behavior strongly suggested that he lacked the skills and maturity to go on the field trip in the first place. I can appreciate the principal’s belief that no one should be excluded, but putting a kid into a situation like that is almost setting him up to fail. Plus, you have to have some system in place where kids learn that there are consequences for their actions. If you misbehave, if you get suspended from school, if you fail a class – all these things effect whether or not you will be able to go on the end of the year field trip (not to mention advance to the next grade). Saying you are going to enforce consequences and then not following through is teaching the wrong lesson and not benefiting anyone in the long run.

Sorry to go on and on. I was just deeply troubled by what I saw yesterday. I know these problems exist everywhere in schools across the country, but it is still hard to digest when confronted with situations like this head on. After all, they are just kids. Only in the sixth grade – most not even old enough to be considered “official teenagers”. And yet, here they are dealing with issues with no easy solution. No quick fix. Plus, this particular middle school happens to be the one in my neighborhood. It is a mere two blocks from my house. I pass these kids on my way to work everyday. If I had kids, this is the school they would attend.

It really makes you stop and think.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

At which point Haskell decided we had been evicted...

You want me to sleep where?  You're kidding, right?
Judging by this weekend, camping isn't Haskell's thing.

I have a big head and little arms...

“The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone.”

- Stella Reading

Unfortunately, that means This Blog.

The Good News: My internet is FINALLY working again at home.

The Bad News: May is shaping up to be a very (very, very) busy month. I have stories to tell, just no time to dedicate to writing them down.

So, don’t be surprised if you see a lot of back posting (if posting at all). I did some of this last week (i.e. writing what I could when I could, and then posting the stories “around” the time I should have posted them in the first place).

I swear: I’m not doing it to confuse anyone (really!). I’m just trying to make it through the next several weeks without losing my mind completely, which is (of course) much easier said then done. Don’t believe me? Ask Melissa. I’ve been incredibly grumpy recently. I’m really just exhausted, but…well, you know. Sometimes acting like a six year old is all the maturity I can muster at the end of the day.

Sigh. I need a nap.