Monday, September 29, 2008


"Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society." - Thomas Szas

So I guess this guy had the attitude, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" I sometimes feel like that would be the easiest option - just give up trying and let the insanity take over. It would be very easy to do in my family.

I shit you not, I come from a family of freaking lunatics. Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning in all the chaos and drama, and quite often I have to take a step back to observe it all from a distance before I get sucked in and lost forever. I'm a very emotional person, and I've had my own bouts with depression and anxiety. I'm not perfect by any means - I spent many years over-reacting when my feelings were hurt or I got the slightest bit angry. As I've gotten older, though, I've made a conscious effort to think before I speak or react, and it's helped me a lot. It's helped me maintain my own sense of control, it's helped me to avoid arguments/fights with my friends and family, and it's helped me to be a better person. Everyone has a right to their feelings, their thoughts, their beliefs. However, they should also always think twice before lashing out at their loved ones as a result of those feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Just because you have a RIGHT to feel, think, or believe something - DOES NOT MAKE IT THE TRUTH. There, I said it! I don't HAVE TO agree with you, it doesn't diminish my love for you or my support of you to feel, think, or believe whatever it is you believe.

But let me tell you - it works both ways. You don't have to agree with what I think, feel, or believe. However, you do not have a right to treat me like a piece of shit just because you don't agree with me.

Families are supposed to be there for each other, support each other, help each other make it through the tough times. Sometimes the people you love tell you things that you don't want to hear, but you need to. My own sister has done this to me numerous times, and in the long run, I was always thankful to her for doing so. Because when you are in the middle of chaos and drama, everything is "fuzzy" - it's hard to think clearly and make good decisions. So even when I wasn't thrilled with her for saying something that might have been hard to hear, I knew I had to listen and I always knew that she was saying it because she loved me - even if I didn't necessarily agree with everything she was saying.

So anyway - between my mother and my sister, I cannot do anything right. They can say and do whatever they want, and I am supposed to accept it and deal with it and keep my mouth shut, cuz "it's not worth a fight". But I cannot say how I feel about something. I cannot tell my sister I am concerned for her because then she might have to talk about it and maybe even have to admit that her life is not perfect, and God forbid she do that. The hardest, worst part about it is that she is the closest person to me in my entire life besides my husband and children. She hasn't spoken to me in days, almost a week, and it's tearing me apart. We work together - she took off this entire week from work. And as far as I know, here's what I did wrong: I stuck up for Trevor at her son's birthday party, when my mother was screaming at him for throwing something at my annoying 7-year-old nephew who tries to get ALL the kids in trouble ALL THE TIME - AND MICHELLE'S IN-LAWS ASSURED ME THAT TREVOR COULD NOT HAVE THROWN ANYTHING BECAUSE HE WAS STANDING WITH THEM THE WHOLE TIME. But that's what I did. I had the nerve to get upset. After the awful f***ing week I had, after everything I'd been through with Trevor that week, after crying every day for about 10 days - I had the nerve to defend my son. What a bitch I am, huh? Oh - wait - then I also had the nerve to tell her that I was worried about her - and I won't divulge why here, because it's not something I'd ever blog about - but you can trust me when I say that if I was NOT worried about her, I wouldn't be a good sister at all. Or a good friend. And I'm both, whether she wants to admit it or not. I try, anyway, and that's all I can do. Like I said, I'm not perfect.

Then there's my mother. This particular situation at my sister's was awful - my mother had only been there for 10 minutes before I heard her yelling at Trevor. And I admit it, I yelled at her. I told her to cut the shit and stop blaming Trevor for everything, and that Christopher had been a brat the entire afternoon (he was - Michelle and I had both yelled at him several times). She didn't speak to me the rest of the day - she tried to call Trevor over to her about 15 minutes later to tell him about a dream she had, but he ignored her and I didn't blame him one bit. Instead of saying she was sorry, she tries to change the subject. Typical in my family. This was an especially bad day for her to lash out at Trevor after the week I had just gone through - I was feeling like no one cared about this poor kid except me and Jeremy.

I cannot talk to my mother about Trevor, I can't go to her when I'm upset or in the middle of a nervous breakdown because she just doesn't get it. And she really doesn't make any effort to. If anything, we have grown even more apart in the past couple of years. My brother Jimmy, who is 33 years old and on probation, lives with her. So does the annoying nephew I talked about earlier, Christopher, who is Jimmy's son. I love my nephew, don't get me wrong, but I also can hardly stand him. He is spoiled completely rotten and is pretty much a brat every time I see him. He whines, he throws temper tantrums, and he's just not a fun kid to be around. You can imagine how my children, who are 6 & 8 years older than him, feel about him. PLUS - he lives at my parent's house. If you've read my previous blog entries, you know where I'm going with this. He gets to see my parents, his grandparents, all the time. My kids NEVER see them. We live less than 2 miles away, but I would say we see them less than once each month. My kids have not slept at their grandparents house in years - I stopped asking, because my mother made me feel bad every single time I did. I don't think she even realized I stopped asking. I don't think she even realizes that they don't even want to anymore - she truly has missed out. They are teenagers now and she barely even has a relationship with them, it's actually quite sad. Trevor adores my father (my step-dad, but that doesn't matter - he's the only papa Trevor has ever known, my biological father died when I was pregnant with Trev) - so now and then, he'll ask if he can sleep over there with Papa. He asked "When will Christopher not be there?" Well - my mother made him feel like a piece of shit for asking that. She pretty much yelled at him, "Christopher LIVES here, he's ALWAYS here."

Well - poor Trevor, that kid was just crushed. He was so confused as to why Christopher gets nana and papa to himself all the time, and he was made to feel like a jerk for wanting them to himself for one freaking night. Just so you know, Christopher DOES have a mother and he DOES sleep at her house on certain nights. Why no one made an effort to coordinate a night when Christopher wouldn't be there for Trevor to sleep over, I'll never know. This past Summer, when my parents were on vacation, Trevor asked again if he could sleep over. Sure, they said - they'd let him know when. The whole week went by - no phone call. They went back to work the next week and never called him. And you know what? He makes excuses for them - he says "well, mom, they must have been busy - something must have come up." But I'll tell you, I'm crying just TYPING this damn entry, because I knew my son was hurt deeply. But he's a 15-year-old boy, so he shows it in different ways.

Now, this is my life. This is truly my LIFE - when it comes to family, it sometimes feels like one never-ending cycle of hurt after another. And then I wonder, "why do I even bother?" I mean, seriously - I watch enough Dr. Phil to know that unhealthy relationships are worse than no relationship at all! But we're talking about my MOTHER here, it's much easier to say "screw it, I give up" than to really do it. It's the most bizarre situation - I come from this huge family, but I feel so alone. I use that term "family" loosely, you know? To me, my family is my husband and kids - and they are my priority and my sanity. They are the ones who are there for me, who love me and treat me with love and kindness and respect. Again, isn't that what FAMILIES are for? If not, what is the goddamn point? I mean, I can surround myself with assholes anywhere and get treated like shit - but that would be stupid. So why is it any less stupid if the assholes happen to be related to you?

OK - enough - I'm wiped out now just from typing this. I got a call today from a clinician at the school that we are considering for Trev, they have a program for kids/teens with Asperger's. So Trevor and I have an appointment on Wednesday afternoon to go meet them and Trevor will be interviewed. I'm looking forward to it - I'm optimistic, I try to always be optimistic. I still believe that everything happens for a reason - sometimes it is really hard to keep that attitude, though, I'll tell you. I am so thankful for my husband, my kids, and some of my very good friends who have helped me maintain my sense of humor and my positive attitude (my cousin Angela, my friends Linda and Missy, my online friends Candy, Mindy, Sherry, and Erica, etc.) - thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving me despite my imperfections. You have no idea how much I appreciate it, and how much it means to me.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Me again

OK so I'm back already. I wanted to fill you in on my meeting yesterday at Trevor's school. First, let me just tell you that I was a basket case for a good week and a half. I don't really know why - PMS maybe? Maybe a lot of things combined. I try to be strong, but I AM only human. Sometimes I just have to have a breakdown, but it does almost always help to get it out. And get it out I did - I think I cried every single day for about 10 days. My freaking cheeks were so swollen, I could SEE them, you know what I mean??

So yesterday was our re-evaluation meeting. Trevor got in trouble yesterday for poking another student - physical contact is not allowed, period. He apparently was taken into the office with the ASSistant principal (I'm so clever, ain't I? hee hee) and another guy, one who likes Trevor - and they asked him what his punishment should be and he said "Well, you cannot give me another out-of-school suspension" and ASSistant principal says "Why not?" and Trevor says "Because my mother and I don't think I can be learning anything if I'm not at school." So he is asked, "Then what should your punishment be?" and Trevor answered, "Inhouse suspension." A.P. says "You won't like that, it's worse than out-of-school-suspension." And Trevor said "That's not the point - I'm not learning anything, I'm being rewarded by being able to stay home and watch TV because my parents have to go to work. I should be in school where I can do my work and learn." I was so damn proud of him. So they gave him inhouse suspension and they gave him LOTS of work to do - which is good, cuz you know what they say about idle hands being the devil's tools or something. That definitely has some truth to it.

So what we talked about was what is the next step for Trevor, because it just seems like he's spent so many years being bullied, teased, and NOT HELPED that he's developed this way of being ready for a fight or a confrontation before it even exists.... he has a really, really hard time reading social cues and understanding when someone is being nice, mean, or funny. And he just isn't learning what he should be. There is apparently a school in a neighboring town that is run by the Worcester Public Schools that is geared to kids like Trevor, and the special ed. chairwoman told me that they have had several kids with Asperger's be successful there after not working out in the same program that Trev is in now. He is going to be interviewed by a clinician from there to see if he would be a good fit. If she thinks so, then Jeremy and I will get an opportunity to go visit the school and see what we think. If we decide it would be best, then he would get door-to-door transportation, which would take a huge load off of my shoulders (I currently usually have to take my lunch break to give him a ride home from school - we don't do public school buses, we learned early on that it wasn't worth it). If I do not want him to go there, then we have to go to mediation and try to come to a resolution. That's when I would bring up the private schools that I found - but that cost a LOT of money. And if that doesn't work, then we'd have to all go the route of going to court and hiring lawyers, etc. I'd rather not have to do that, of course, and I'm optimistic that things will all fall into place. I'll give anything a fair shot - I'll check out the place they want me to. As long as it's not a school for juvenile delinquents, then I'll give it a chance. I trust her, too, and I believe she has Trevor's best interests at heart, so I really don't think she'd even recommend it if it wasn't a good school and she didn't think Trevor would be a good fit.

So again - we wait. Trevor will be disappointed if he has to leave his school, because he will lose ROTC. But there is a chance that he could spend a year or two at this other school and then return to the one he's at now for his junior or senior year (he's a sophomore now). We'll just take it one day at a time for now, that's all we can do. I'm feeling a LOT better today, every day, just trying to keep myself thinking positive and remembering that I am no good to ANYONE if I am a blubbering, sobbing basket base. I certainly can't help Trevor in that state of mind! And it feels AWFUL, too, you know? The more you cry, the more you WANT to cry, right? Do you know what I mean? Then every little thing that happens makes you burst into tears - and it's actually comical when you think about it a few days later, but at the time - man, at the time you just feel like that burned piece of toast or the guy who just cut you off is the WORST thing ever, the straw that broke the camel's back, damn it! LOL

I'm hoping to share some more stamping and pictures with you this weekend. Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My contribution to the current economic crisis

Yeah, you can blame me. Well, at least partly. I was one of "those people" - I was one of those unfortunate idiots who lost their home due to the mortgage crisis, the adjustable-rate-mortgage fiasco, the very situation that seems to have led this country to the current economic failure that it is in! I read an article about this recently, and then I read the comments that folks had made. I gotta tell ya - I was shocked at how easy it is for some people to be truly, outright mean without even knowing people's individual situations. They outright blasted anyone who accepted an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) as complete morons who deserved what they got.

I beg to differ.

Let me tell you MY story. My husband and I were renters. We were pretty content being renters. We didn't have great credit, we had both gotten ourselves into trouble when we were younger with credit cards and such, and we were just trying to re-build our credit back up. But we rented a home, and we paid our rent, and we were fine. My husband's uncle, who he was very close to, called him one day and excitedly explained that him and his wife were selling their home - which they lived in with 3 other people - and that he wanted to give Jeremy the opportunity to buy the home. We went over and looked at it - it needed a lot of work, but he was offering us a pretty good price, for a 4-bedroom home in a nice neighborhood on a dead-end street, with a swimming pool. We told him we'd never get a mortgage, we had no down-payment and less-than-perfect credit. He "knew a guy" who could help - a lawyer who did mortgages on the side. He was a well-known lawyer in our area, actually. What he would do was "gift" the home to us, and then we would re-finance it through this person. We then would pay Jeremy's uncle the difference between what HE owed on the house, and what we financed. You following me here? All perfectly legal, that's the kicker.

So we meet with this guy and we're signing our lives away and I ask if I should read everything (there are HUNDREDS of pages!), the lawyer kind of laughs and makes a joke about how long THAT would take! Well, I try to read as much as I can, and I instantly get nervous when I see the words "adjustable rate mortgage" - now this was in 2004, so they were not on the news all the time like they are now! The lawyer says "No big deal - by the time the interest rate goes up, you can refinance again into a fixed rate." Welllll.... Okayyyyyyy...... I was a first-time home buyer, I had no idea what that meant, and by now, I was so excited to be buying a house, that I took his word for it. Idiotic mistake #1 that I will NEVER make again.

Jeremy's uncle also convinced us how silly it would be to pay for a home inspection. He's his UNCLE for God's sake, he would tell us if there were anything wrong with the house! We knew the bathroom floor was completely corroded in the master bathroom - you could actually see through the floor into the cellar. That was planned project #1 as soon as we decided to buy it. So we stupidly decided to forgo the home inspection. Idiotic mistake #2 that I will NEVER make again.

We move in. Jeremy's uncle and various roommates know that we are moving in on this certain date. We show up with a moving truck and they are all still in bed, sleeping off their drug-induced stupors. Oh, the things we found out that day. *shudder* THEY HAD NOT PACKED ONE THING. Not one. Their clothes were in their drawers, the cabinets full of food, the pantry full of pots, pans, dishes. MOLDY FOOD IN THE REFRIGERATOR. I burst into tears. Jeremy's grandmother patted me on the back and said "Well now, no use crying about it - we'll just have to get them packed up as we unpack you!" So that's what we did. We'd unpack a box of my stuff, and pack a box with theirs. It was a long-ass weekend, let me tell you that. I won't bore you with the entire horror story, but Jeremy and his uncle ended up getting into a fight. It was awful - and I can't tell you how many people have said to me "Well, there you go, you don't buy a home from a relative!" They were right, it's not a good idea.

After we moved in, we did a LOT of work. I wish I had taken before and after pictures, but I didn't. The master bathroom was disgusting - the floor was rotted out completely and the shower... blech! Jeremy did it all over, he tiled the floor and the shower walls himself, it came out beautifully. We had water damage on our kitchen ceiling after a rain storm, and we ended up doing the entire kitchen over. Jeremy did it all himself. Our cellar flooded BADLY - there were 4 sump pumps down there and every stinkin' time it rained, those suckers would pump for days. They pumped the water out into the yard... where it would flow back into the cellar. We did every bedroom over and we turned the 4th bedroom into a stamping/computer room for me, it was my favorite room in the house!

We had never owned a home before. We had never realized that you don't just have a mortgage, you have other bills that renters don't have - such as home insurance, property taxes, and a water/sewer bill. We began to struggle.

And all of a sudden, our mortgage went up. Jeremy got laid off from work and we fell behind. Once we fell behind, it was hard to catch up. And our mortgage went up. And when you are behind on your mortgage, you cannot re-finance. And our mortgage went up. And before we knew it, we owed thousands of dollars and our mortgage was up to $3500.00 per month. Yes, THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS PER MONTH. How do you "catch up" when you don't even MAKE enough money to pay the mortgage every month? The furnace was completely shot - by the time we moved out, we couldn't even take showers at home because we had no hot water. We were out of money and couldn't afford to replace the furnace. Winter was coming. We have children - we HAD to get out of there.

So we gave it up. We filed for bankruptcy, what else could we do? It was awful and I was so embarrassed about it for a long time, but then the more I read and the more I talked to people, I realized that I was not alone. A lot of people got sucked in - some were like us and could only get an ARM, others were offered ARM's at a lower rate than a fixed with the promise of refinancing once the ARM went up - but then they got into situations such as mine and couldn't refinance. Everyone has a story and I will tell you this - I don't think ANYONE went into it expecting to have to give up their home and file for bankruptcy. It was the very last thing that I wanted, but I had to swallow my pride and do what was best for my family.

So we are back to renting a home that we love, and we are happy. I honestly don't know if I'll ever want to attempt to own a home again, certainly not any time in the near future. Because although we do the regular maintenance around here such as clearing snow and leaves, I like the security of knowing that if the furnace goes, the landlady has to fix it. I hope that the federal government makes such risky loans illegal, to tell you the truth. We probably never should have even been approved for a mortgage/refinance loan with the poor credit scores that we had. Of course I do take responsibility to some extent, because I am a smart girl and I guess that's what pisses me off so much about the whole situation. I hate that I let my eagerness to call myself a homeowner cloud my better judgement. Anyway, that's my story. I don't think I personally was the cause of the terrible financial state that the country is in - but take what happened to me and multiply it by a few hundred or even thousand and you're looking at a pretty serious default rate on a LOT of money. Those banks and lenders have to own some of that responsibility, too.

Well, that's all for now. Stay tuned for my update on Trevor and school tomorrow. Peace!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

TGIW (Thank God It's the Weekend!)

Sorry I haven't updated as to the outcome of my meeting, etc. In the midst of all the chaos and drama, I also came down with something which has contributed to wiping me out completely. I am sure that my immune system was completely shot with the stress, etc. By yesterday, my left ear was completely blocked - how annoying is that?!?! I could barely hear all day, and when I spoke, I could hear myself echoing. Thank God that was gone when I woke up this morning!

So anyway - the meeting on Wednesday went well - the special ed chairwoman who chairs the meetings pretty much called the assistant principal (the one who seems to have it out for Trevor) an asshole who violated Trevor's rights by suspending him for behavior that was a direct manifestation of his IEP not being met, which it was not. Part of Trevor's IEP says that he must be involved in ongoing social skills therapy, called Life Skills. Instead, they had him in a "Behavior Disorder Language Arts" class (which is an English class), AND English - he does not need 2 English classes. There was no reason for it. They all kind of sputtered and mumbled about it, as if there was a reason - ultimately, there was not.

What's "funny" is this - technically, the school can suspend him (or any child) for up to 10 days for any reasons they want, anything at all. They don't need proof, they don't need real reasons - they can say anything they want and call it whatever they want and suspend children for up to 10 days. Anything over 10 would be against the law due to Trevor's "disability" - which is Asperger's. So basically they can suspend him for up to 4 more days and there's not much I can do about it, EVEN THOUGH his behavior is a result of his Asperger's. Nice, huh? And it's funny, because I say "his behavior" and then I read that sentence and it sounds like he has a behavior problem. He truly does not. He was tormented for so many years, and when he would go to the people who were supposed to HELP him, they'd tell him "ignore it" or "get over it" or "he's smaller than you" etc. He learned not to bother. He learned to retaliate or fight back. He learned to have his guard up and expect the worst.

So - I cried a lot during the meeting. I was sick, I was tired, and I was just a basket case. I am so stinkin' SICK of starting EVERY year off like this. Both my sister Michelle and Trevor's counselor, Fran, came with me - they both said some good things that I was thinking but just couldn't say. I was so thankful to have them with me, usually it's just me surrounded by all these people who know what they are doing and they can just be so intimidating, especially if they don't agree with you or seem to understand the underlying issues! The outcome was that Trevor can go back to school next Tuesday. Obviously, everyone is concerned about his ability to stay out of trouble especially with the assumption that this assistant principal does not like Trevor and seems to really have it out for him. They seem a little nervous because they know they violated the law by not following his IEP, and technically I could file a lawsuit. But part of the TEAM's job is to make sure that TREVOR is safe and being provided what's called a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), and that other children are also safe.

It's all so weird - like everyone was so nice, and they seem to be in agreement with me that this school doesn't seem able to provide Trevor with the educational services and social skills and support that he needs - and the Worcester Public Schools must arrange for someone who can. This means a couple of things - the chairwoman said that we will meet again next Thursday after she has a chance to review everything and talk to a few other important people and try to figure out what would be best for Trevor. She doesn't think a school with 1200 students in it is necessarily best for him. See, she was wicked nice and so understanding and I agree! And his teachers - wonderful, I love them, wish they could follow him to someplace else! The head of special ed at the school - WONDERFUL man, called Trevor "big guy" and you could just tell he loved kids. But then there's the assistant principal and others whose main roles are as disciplinarians. And Fran, the therapist, she doesn't trust ANYONE, LOL - she was shocked that the chairwoman admitted they screwed up. She said to be careful, not to be too trusting - she is afraid that they are going to try to put Trevor into some behavior disorder school - and that they mask it by calling it a school for kids with "emotional disorders." And I admit, I can be naive - I am always so freaking optimistic and hopeful, it's why I get shattered so easily, unfortunately.

So the chairwoman asked all of us involved to put our thoughts and feelings about our concerns about Trevor into writing and to please get it to her that day. I wrote a long letter about everything he's been through, all the help we have tried to seek with no results or poor results - all the doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social skills groups, - all the letters I've written and phone calls I've made. I said it makes you feel helpless. And Trevor - he's learned that you're either picked ON, or you join in with the ones who do the picking on. How could he not? I said that it's not appropriate for someone who does not even understand Asperger's to be able to judge or discipline Trevor. And I said that people who don't understand Asperger's often think he is rude or disrespectful, and this can lead to a lot of problems for him. I said that I expect Trevor to be offered a placement that is appropriate for a student with Asperger's, NOT a student who is oppositional or a behavior problem. I made it quite clear that I will not accept anything less than that if they expect to move him out of his current school - and that they had already tried putting Trevor in a classroom with kids with emotional and behavior disorders before the class he's in now (which is for kids on the autism spectrum), and he failed miserably both academically and socially.

So - now we wait. Trev's teacher gave him a paper with a bunch of questions to work on while he's home. I am fortunate enough to be able to take time out to deal with these things without getting in trouble at work. I am so appreciative of that. Jeremy started a new job yesterday - not perfect timing because he's going to be gone for weeks at a time - he's helping to build a windmill farm up on a mountain in New Hampshire (he's a union iron worker) and he will only come home on Saturday nights and leave again Monday morning, so it's going to be weird. But he needs the work, we need the money, and it's a good opportunity for him.

Today I am off to my nephew Josh's 11th birthday party, I'm looking forward to relaxing and having a good time. Tomorrow I am not leaving my house, I really need to rest so hopefully this damn cold will go away! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers and just hope for the best possible outcome for Trevor - I truly only want what is best for him, whether that means he stays at the school he's at with further accomodations, or we move him into a different school (I was looking at the Perkins School in Lancaster), I just want him to be happy, to be educated to the level he is capable of (he's quite bright), and to be able to enjoy his high school years!

Thank you, my friends. Peace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Update on life - and more cards!

OK - so do you want the GOOD stuff first, or the BAD stuff first? I think I'll just get the crappy part over with and tell you about my day. I got a phone call at work around 9:30 a.m. this morning that Trevor had been suspended. Yes, again. For four days, for fighting. I just brought him back to school YESTERDAY after a 2-day suspension, and I had woken up yesterday feeling hot and sick and icky, so I left work early and came home. So anyway, Trevor's teacher called me and said I had to go up to the school to get him right away and I started crying and said something about letting him quit school, that I can't take it any more and I cannot go through three more years of this. She said that probably wouldn't be in Trevor's best interests, God bless her. She hasn't known me long enough yet to know that I am a bit dramatic. But I won't lie, I truly felt that way at the time. What a shitty feeling.

So I was very upset and I started packing up my laptop and stuff, and Michelle came into my office and said "You are NOT driving like this, I'm coming and I'll drive." What in the world would I do without my sister? What in the name of GOD would I do if I did not work with her, and have her there to rescue me? Man, I hope I never have to find out. When I was offered a job at another school this past Summer, and I considered it, the first question my kids asked was, "What about auntie?" Michelle and I got a kick out of it - but now I realize my kids can be smarter than me sometimes - what they really meant was "what will you do without auntie?" And I don't ever want to find out the answer to that! LOL Anyway - she drove me up there, and she calmed me down on the way.

When I got there, Trevor came walking out and I said "What happened?" He said very calmly, "Some kid asked me what I was looking at, I said nothing. He pushed me, I pushed him back. He pushed me again, I pushed him back. He told me to hit him and I said no, I don't want to fight you. He started punching me, and I punched him back." So I looked at the principal and I said "So what was he SUPPOSED to do?" And he said "Find a teacher." I said something about how he was suspended last week for telling a smelly kid that he smells, after the smelly kid stuck his stinky armpit in Trev's face (and several other kids). And the principal said to me, "That was hazing." I said "If you really consider that hazing, can I ask you if there were a lot of other kids who were suspended for that, as well?" and he snidely said "No, we only single your kid out."

Are you f***ing kidding me? OH NO HE DIDN'T! I admit it, I used a curse word at him. I said, "Do NOT be a smart ass to me." He said "You are being disrespectful." By now, I'm crying and I said "No, YOU are being disrespectful by being sarcastic to a question I asked you." My sister then made me sit down and she tried to speak calmly to him. He was arrogant and condescending and uncaring and within minutes, SHE was crying and yelling, too. She said, "Can't you tell this poor girl that you CARE about her kid, that you CARE about everything she's been through and that you can HELP THEM?" All the while, Trevor's 2 teachers, who I adore, are consoling both Trevor and myself, reassuring us both that Trevor has been doing FANTASTIC in their classes and that they are not giving up on him.

Can you even believe it? My cousin Angela said that my life is like a movie and I had to laugh - sometimes it feels like that, and I will tell you something, SOME DAY this girl is going to write a book, I assure you. Maybe I'll sign a copy for you. Tomorrow I have the already-scheduled TEAM meeting for Trev - so he is coming with me to the school and we meet with the teachers and the special ed department, etc. One of my suggestions is going to be that he be moved out of Language Arts into Social Skills, which would keep him in the classroom for one more period. The less time in the halls for him, the better. My other suggestion is going to be for him to have an escort in between classes in the halls - maybe a student who is a trusted senior or something. I don't know. I'm also going to meet with a lawyer to discuss this whole situation, because quite frankly I have had it with having to fight just to get Trevor the education that he so desperately needs and that he deserves. He is so smart, and he's missing out on learning. School has not even been in for a month and he's got 6 absences because of suspensions. It's like they just don't want to deal with him, so they suspend him, and I won't have it. I'm an educated woman, and I know that I have rights, that TREVOR has rights. I have never liked the idea of lawsuits and having to force people to do what's right, it seems so ridiculous.

Anyway, I'll let you know what happens tomorrow. My sister (my Godsend) and Trevor's counselor (well, she's really the whole family's counselor!) are both coming with me. Jeremy has school full-time this week in Boston and I don't want him missing it. He'd come if I needed him to, and I'd need him to if I didn't have Michelle. But I do. So I don't. It'll be fine, I'm already feeling better tonight, and I am trying to stay positive and remember that everything happens for a reason and something good WILL end up coming of this. I just have to believe that.

So OK - now on to the good stuff - I have been stamping like a maniac lately and I wanted to share some of my latest creations.

Halloween stuff:

These are 2 cards that I made for a card contest in a magazine:

And these are just some more I made:

OK I'm tired and I need a good night's sleep. Later!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Boy, I'm chatty this week, eh? ;o) You lucky dogs.

So I was reading this article in the newspaper this morning about a guy who was turning 50 years old, and his wife wanted him to celebrate in a "big way". He didn't want a big party with everyone reminding him of how old he was - he wanted to feel young again. He wanted his high school band back. So his wife contacted the 7 other members of his high school band, and they all said "absolutely - we'll be there!" They contacted the family that owned the house that this man had grown up in, and they let them "borrow" their basement for the night. The guys got together and jammed and had a great time. They put on a little private mini-concert for their families and close friends - then they went out to a late-night diner for bad/good food (depending on how you look at it!) and he had the best birthday of his life.

So this got me reminiscing about my own band experiences. Yes, I had them. Not just as a groupie, either, although I will admit to hanging around outside concert halls once or twice in my teenage years, longing for a GLIMPSE of Bon Jovi or Vince Neil hours after the concert ended. hee hee Anyway, we didn't have an official band with a name or anything, but I did get together with friends in a basement to jam when I was a teenager. My friends Dave and Dana were identical twin brothers (well, they still are, actually - ha!) and played guitar and bass. Sean played drums. I sang. hee hee Isn't that funny? We had so much fun and the song I remember the most, that I had the most fun singing, was Poison's "Talk Dirty To Me." ROFL No, I really wasn't very good - but I had a blast.

This is me at 15 years old - the same age my son Trevor is now. Yes, that is a handcuff hanging from one of my earlobes. God help me. Dave was my boyfriend for a short time back when we were about 16, but he's remained my friend forever - to this day, he is still one of my best friends. It's funny how life works out, how some people you think you will be friends with forever end up fading into your memory. Back when I was 16, I was crazy about Dave - if someone had told me that we'd end up being the best of friends years later, I would have thought they were crazy. The 16-year-old me could not picture a relationship with someone that I "liked" if it wasn't going to be a romantic relationship. Boy breaks your heart = boy you never, ever, EVER speak to again - never mind become BFF's with! LOL

Being a teenager is so hard, I wouldn't want to go back to that again for anything. Don't get me wrong, I love and cherish my memories, and I really don't have too many regrets - mainly because as someone who lives her life with the philosophy that "everything happens for a reason" - it would be foolish and stupid to have regrets because, well, everything happens for a reason! Duh! Now that I have my very own teenagers (lucky me!), I am constantly reminded of how difficult it can be to go through adolescence. Which is even funnier because JUST when one of them is in the middle of some type of melt-down and I am thinking "poor kid - being a teenager is so hard" - that very kid will scream at me, "YOU JUST DON'T GET IT! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!" And how can I help but laugh? Which then infuriates said child even more, so that he/she usually stomps to his/her room, slams his/her door, and blasts music that is total crap and can barely even be called music, but that said child thinks is totally "chill." Oh snap, did I just say that? Cassidy would shake her head at me and mumble, "Never again, mom, never again."

Anyway, being a teenager was hard, but I didn't really know it at the time. My mom worked nights because my dad was gone - he took off early in my teen years to pursue his dream of snorting cocaine somewhere in California and left his father-of-the-year award behind - and, being a teenager, I took full advantage of the freedom that this afforded me. Looking back now, I feel bad for that little girl who thought she was so grown-up - she took a lot of risks and I'm lucky that she didn't get hurt or killed. Actually, you are all lucky - can you imagine not having ME in your lives? I know, gives you the chills, huh?

I turned out OK, anyway, despite my rebellious teenage years. And I wasn't always rebellious, either! I could be a little shit one minute and a complete angel the next. These are the pictures from the 2 junior proms that I went to. I stayed back in the 10th grade, but I wanted to go to the junior prom the next year, the year I was SUPPOSED to be in 11th grade (a junior) - so I begged my principal and he let me go. LOL I must not have been too awful, because most everyone always liked me. I have always been a smiler - I am happy 90% of the time, and that seems to make people like me. Which is good, cuz I like to be liked! Anyway, the pic on the left was me and my boyfriend at the time, Dennis, another boy I was in love with (yes, there were a LOT of those between 1985-1990) - it was probably April or May of 1988, so I would have been 16 years old. The one on the right is one year later, so I was 17 - and that handsome dude with me was my BFF at the time, Tim.

This is another year later - senior prom, May 1990. I was chosen to be in the "court" which shocked the shit out of me cuz I was always more of a deadhead, crazy chick - not the prom court type, if you KWIM - but I DID look amazing, didn't I? hee hee That's me on the left, I worked a lot as a teenager and saved my own money and I had that dress hand-made for me, I LOVED it.

Now this is another year later - Shell and I both graduated in 1990 and Shell found out she was pregnant with Eric on the day we had rehearsal for graduation. This adorable baby is Eric 17 1/2 years ago. I was 20, Shell was 19. (All big hair courtesy of LOTS and LOTS of Aqua Net in the silver/pink can! LOL)

And this is Eric and me this past year, which I blogged about earlier but am so happy to blog about again! hee hee When he was little, somehow he said I'd go to the prom with him. Being the crazy woman that I am, I never let him forget about it and it became a running joke over the years. He started getting nervous when he hit middle school and realized that his auntie really is crazy. :o) Eric had HIS junior prom this year, and I showed up ready for my date. Here we are posing, Eric's such a good sport:

I guess my trip down memory lane will have to resume another day, as I have laundry to do and cards to stamp and floors to vaccuum. I have LOTS more stories and memories to share, though, and I seem to be on a roll lately, so check back often so you don't miss anything! Peace!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My first Dirty Shank card!

OK I'm all proud of myself - this is my first attempt at a Dirty Shank card. If you are easily offended, do not click here to see the Dirty Shanks blog. She basically makes hysterically rude, offensive cards. It's all a joke, meant to be funny, blah blah blah - so don't go getting all righteous on me, OK? I like to laugh, period.

So anyway, I had the idea for this card because every time my friend Sheila at work calls me on the phone, I am happy - see, we have caller ID and I like Sheila! So when I know it's her, I put on my "happy voice" even if I'm not happy! So she always says to me, "Jenn, how do you stay so happy? Share the drugs!" and I laugh and say "Valium!" Now, I actually was prescribed Valium once in my life and I liked it so much that I knew I should never take it again. Ha! So again, all just a little joke. Yes, I know drug addiction is not funny - my own family has been affected by it, so just shut up and enjoy the joke, OK? I have a stamp that says "A smile a day keeps the grumpies away" so I just hand-wrote the word Valium and cut it out and pasted it where the word smile would have been. I sent this card to Sheila the other day, I hope it makes her smile, Valium or not.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Much Better!

I'm feeling MUCH better today, you'll be happy to know. I try to maintain a positive attitude all the time, I think that perspective colors your attitude, so I try to always look at things from the bright side. But hey, I'm only human and a girl's gotta be able to have a little mini-breakdown every now and then, or else she'll end up having a HUGE breakdown eventually.
Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend of mine who SHOULD have been my sister. *sigh* An and I have been friends for 20 years. God, that makes me sound old. Well, hell, if it walks like a duck and all that.... So anyway, An's brother John was my first "real" boyfriend. "Real" as in we planned to get married. We were 18, need I say more? LOL We dated for 2 years and I loved his family like my own. An and I became fast friends and we couldn't wait to be sisters. Then John and I broke up and I think I was more upset about losing the possibility of An being my sis than I was about losing my boyfriend. LOL Well, we didn't get to become sisters, but we have stayed lifelong friends and I love her like a sister. We don't get to see each other very often, but it doesn't matter. Whether it's days, months, or years that go by, we pick right up where we left off and it's like we were just with each other yesterday. I love friends like that, don't you? Those are your real, true friends, as far as I'm concerned.

It's like that with my friend Holly, too. We've been friends for even longer - since 9th grade. She lived close to me, and I spent more time at her house than at my own. My mom was always thin and she had a million pairs of jeans that Holly and I would steal and cram our bigger butts into - every few weeks or so, my mom would pull up in front of Holly's house and say "OK - I'm coming in to get my jeans!" LOL And sure enough, she'd find at least 3-4 pairs of her jeans there. Then we'd do it all over again. Holly was always taking care of me, she's one year older than me and she always had a boyfriend. I was always falling in love with the wrong guys, and Holly was always the one to pick me up when I fell apart heartbroken. She's still one of my best friends in the world, and I am thankful to have her in my life.

So anyway, one of the reasons for my psychotic outburst yesterday was also because Trevor got in trouble at school. When I'm upset about something, it magnifies EVERYTHING for me. For example, I may start crying about something that I had not even thought of in two years. hee hee Seriously, though, once I let myself get upset and all emotional and girly-like, I just can't stop myself! I find myself sobbing about 9/11 (that hit me hard and the anniversaries are never easy), people who don't like me (oh - boo hoo, get over it, right?), and Trev's problems - the next thing I know, I'm babbling about homeless people and abused children and the lack of world peace. Then I kick myself in the ass and take a deep breath and finish crying and dry my eyes and continue on with life. So here I am, baby, I'm back to being the happy me. The cry-baby psycho has left the building. She'll probably be back just in time for PMS next month, though, so be prepared.

OK - so back to Trev. He got suspended from school for a couple of stupid things. Now before you roll your eyes and think that I am one of those mothers who thinks her child can do no wrong (and you obviously do not KNOW me if that was even a fleeting thought in your head), you have to hear this story. After I got the call that he had been suspended, I got a call from one of his teachers who left a message letting me know that Trevor has been a delight, a pleasure, extremely helpful, participating in class, etc. - and that she was so proud of him and she wanted us to know. See why my life feels like a roller-coaster sometimes? When I returned her call, I got her voicemail - I left a message wondering if she knew that her "delightful little pleasure" had been suspended?!? She called me back later that day and she was pretty much disgusted that Trevor had been suspended. She said that he had been doing so well, she didn't understand why they make such a big deal of such little things. I had to laugh, while I was crying, because she sounded just like me. She said that if they continue to do this to him, he will learn that no matter how hard he tries or how good he is, it doesn't matter - he'll get in trouble for something stupid anyway. She said she worries that eventually he'll give up. Let me tell you, I burst into tears and wanted to KISS this woman. Thank God she was on the phone, she would have thought I was really nuts if she had been in front of me, because I would have thrown myself on her showering her with hugs and kisses for being so understanding. Everything she said was exactly how I was feeling - and I had said all these things in the past, but no one seemed to listen. Trevor has 2 new teachers this year (she is one of them) and I can't tell you how good it feels to be able to feel confident about his teachers and know that they have his best interests at heart. I can honestly say I've never felt that way before. I met these 2 women just this past Monday, and I felt good about them the minute I met them. I truly think this could be a good year for Trevor if he gives it his best effort. He's thriving in ROTC and going on a "leadership camp" with them at the end of the month - it's 5 days long and there is a dance (co-ed, ROTC programs from all different schools in Massachusetts) on the last night. He is really looking forward to it.

So that's been my week - TGIF!!! Have a great weekend, my friends!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


OK I have just GOT to vent today, so if you don't feel like listening to me bitch, you may leave and come back another day when I'm back to my happy, bubbly self. Also - this is going to be really long, as I cannot tell the story without telling ALL of the story. You've been warned.
I wasn't going to blog about this because I kept thinking, "what if someone reads it?" Well, you know what? That's the point. I need to vent, this is my blog, and I really don't give a rat's ass if someone reads it - and do you know why? Because I am in the right, and I do believe that any rational person will agree with me.
Remember a few weeks ago I told you how I got a raise and a promotion from Manager to Director? Um - don't you read my blog? You better remember! Anyway, I didn't really tell the whole story for the reason above, I was afraid someone might read it and be offended. But now, as I also said, I do not give a rat's ass. So here's the story:
My prior boss, we'll call her Sally for blog purposes. Sally was my boss at a previous job I had worked at, and then she got a job here about a year after I did. Sally is a control freak and can be a very difficult person to get along with. I made every effort to be nice to her - I actually thought we were friends in a weird sort of way - let's put it this way, she is the type of person that wants to be my friend outside of work and hang out, but then when we're back at work, she's like "I'm not your friend, I'm your boss." As far as I'm concerned, you can't have it both ways. If you're my friend, you're my friend - period. I'm professional enough to know how to behave at work regardless of whether my boss is my friend or not. OK - so this went on for two years. The majority of people here hate this woman and I have spent 2 years defending her and trying to stick up for her, even with my sister, who cannot stand her. Students, parents, and other staff members here have all had a hard time with her - there have been numerous letters written to the President's office complaining about her and the way she treats people. Many of the staff members here in my building have gone to Human Resources to complain about her, as well.
Now I must back-track a bit, forgive me. When I started my job here, my boss was Annik (isn't that a beautiful name?), and Annik and I were good friends. I started as a Student Account Representative, but I learned quickly and Annik pushed for me to be promoted to Assistant Bursar within a year. I had taken on many additional responsibilities and she knew I should be compensated and given the appropriate title for that. However, she had given her notice and the "powers that be" wanted to see if her replacement felt the same way about me. Sally turned out to be her replacement.
OK - moving on now - a year went by with me doing the job but never getting the raise/promotion. After a year, Sally came to me and asked me to change my hours - I had always done 7:30-4, but she wanted me to work 8:30-5. Why? Because SHE didn't come in until 9 or 10 every day, and she worked until 6, 7, 8 at night - and she wanted a friend here with her. That's it. There was no real reason, and it was really quite ridiculous. She constantly complains about her family and hates to be home - I do not, I love my family and I'm anxious to go home every night. So I basically put my foot down and said no to my boss for the first time in my life. I told her that I was not willing to make any changes or take on any additional responsbilities until I had been given the raise and promotion that they had been dangling in front of me like a carrot for over a year. She said she'd see what she could do. A couple days later, she called me into her office and let me know that it had been approved. But my new title was "Billing & Collections Manager" and the raise was not what I had hoped for. Being an optimist, though, I was still happy and agreed to change my hours to 8:30-5.
OK - now it's been another year that's gone by. I have continued to take on additional responsibilities, but there are certain things that Sally would not teach me or let me know how it was handled. She'd say "Oh I have to teach you that" but then she never would. I was given a laptop with the promotion - I asked for the access that I needed in order to bring it home and work from home. I asked at least 5 times, and she kept blowing me off, I didn't understand it. About a month or so ago, she sent me an e-mail saying that she expected me to work "many extra hours" now that I'm salary! I replied to her e-mail and told her that I'm happy to put in some extra hours, but that I prefer to do it from home - and that I need the access on my laptop in order to be able to do that. She said "I'll see about getting you the access, but you still need to work late many nights." I was so pissed - I can't possibly put into words here all that we'd been through but this was like the straw that broke the camel's back. I had just had it - I went to Human Resources and explained the situation, and I asked her "If I have to work extra hours, do you have any problem with me doing so either by coming in earlier in the morning, or by bringing my laptop home to work from home?" And she said that was not a problem at all, and for me to just calmly explain that to Sally. I should mention that I am always willing to work late if I'm needed - if there are students lined up waiting for help, or 100 phone calls to return, etc. That is not a problem - I'm talking about turning it into a regular basis type thing. I won't do that - if I wanted a night job, I'd be working at a night job that paid a lot more money.
It's never really been about the money for me, but I have definitely learned that if you don't look out for yourself, NO ONE WILL. That took me a long time to learn - I've always just trusted people and assumed that they'd do the right thing! I foolishly thought that people cared about each other, that they would look out for each other. I mean, you spend the majority of the day with the people you work with. Unfortunately, I've learned that some people are just plain evil, mean, heartless, uncaring - it's been a tough lesson for me to learn. I know, I know, I'm PUSHING FORTY for Christ's sake, I should not be shocked by this revelation, huh? I don't care, I'd still rather be me, naive and all, than one of THEM.
So anyway - shortly after Sally had tried to tell me I had to work "late nights" and I pretty much told her "no", I saw a job opening at another local college for the Bursar/Director of Student Accounts position (that is Sally's position here). I decided on a whim to apply for it, it was a Friday afternoon. Sally was going away that weekend and had said that she was taking Monday off from work, but that she'd be back on Tuesday. This happened to be the start of the busiest season for us - and Sally did not come back that week. On Monday, I got a call from the HR Office where I had applied and they asked me to come in for an interview, which I did on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon, Sally called me to see how things were going and to let me know she would be back to the office on Friday. She asked me if I was job-searching. I was surprised that she asked, but I do not lie, I do not like to get caught in a lie, so I don't do it. So I said "I'm surprised you asked me that, I am not really job-searching, but I did go on an interview this morning" and I told her about it. She said "Well, I'd hate to lose you, but you need to do what's best for your family. Good luck." That's it. I was definitely a bit disappointed, as I thought we worked well together and that she valued me as an employee at the very least.
That afternoon, I received a phone call asking me to come back for a 2nd interview with the CFO of their college. I was flattered but started to get nervous - I wasn't sure if I was really ready to leave my job, I LOVE my job! But I had to do it - so I went back the next day. He liked me, he was an older man who said to me, "Well, you're certainly bubbly!" LOL I got a kick out of that. Long story short - they offered me the job that day.
Later on that day (Wednesday), we were called in to a meeting to inform us that our office was being "re-structured" and that Mindy (not her real name, either) was now going to be in charge of our department as well as Financial Aid. This meant that Sally would now report to Mindy, and I knew that Sally would not be happy with this at all. An e-mail was sent out to the entire college informing them all of this change. I felt bad that Sally had to find this out while she was away on vacation through an e-mail. Later on that day, I told Mindy that I was offered a job at another school. She asked what it would take to keep me here - and I told her they'd have to match what I was being offered for the other job. She came back shortly after and said "If you'd like to stay here, we'd like to offer you a change in title from Manager to Director, and you will be reporting directly to me. Your raise was approved, as well, effective immediately." She basically said that they could not afford to lose me, I'm a valued employee, etc. I was, of course, thrilled, and I accepted immediately.
In the meantime, Sally had been communicating with me and others in our office through e-mails. She stopped communicating at all and did not respond to anything we asked her. I wasn't sure what to do, should I call her to "make sure she knew" what I knew she would be upset about? Wouldn't that make me a jerk, almost like rubbing it in her face? That's what I thought, so I figured we'd talk on Friday when she got back - and I was actually eager to share my promotion with her - we would now in effect be co-directors of our department, and I thought we'd work well together. I won't lie, though, I was definitely happy to not have to report to her anymore. I do not need to be micro-managed, as I do my job and I do it well. So as much as I do respect her work ethic and I know she works hard, I'd rather work WITH her than FOR her. Anyway, she never showed up on Friday, so I had no idea what was going on with her.
Friday afternoon I leave work around 5:00 and go home - as I'm walking into my house at 5:15, my cell phone starts ringing and it's Sally. I looked at my husband and I said "You have got to be kidding me. This is MY time now! I don't want to have to deal with this now, when I'm home!" So I let it go to voicemail, she left me a message asking me to call her back. I then went and took a shower - when I got out of the shower, she had left me THREE more messages, on both my cell phone and home phone, and on the last one she actually said "If you don't return my call, I'll have to come stop over." ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Can you say "stalker"?
I went up to my bedroom and shut the door and called her back, knowing full well by now that she must be very upset to have called me so many times and to leave such a message.
She immediately began to interrogate me about what had happened while she was gone. She was not happy and kept insisting that “there will be shake-ups” and that she hopes I made the right decision, etc. She kept saying that no one has the right to make personnel changes without her. She accused me of avoiding her – I pointed out that it was after 5:00 on a Friday night, and that I had been available to discuss work matters all week – I didn’t see how I was avoiding her when I was at work, she was not. I told her that I fully intended to speak to her on Friday, but she never came in – I then expected to speak to her on Monday morning regarding all that had happened and I didn’t think it would have been appropriate for me to call her while she was on vacation to discuss everything. We finally hung up after about 15 minutes of this, but I knew it wasn't over just by the tone of the discussion.

Monday morning – I arrived at work at 8:05 a.m. and Sally was sitting in her car in the parking lot waiting for me (keep in mind she normally comes in between 9:00-10:00 a.m.). A co-worker confirmed for me that she had been sitting out there for a bit, so I am quite sure that she was waiting specifically for me. She followed me into the building and asked if she could talk to me. She said that she feels as if I betrayed her and she no longer trusts me – she didn’t understand why I would want Mindy to “go to bat for me” and that she wishes she had been given the opportunity to do that. I told her that I did give her the chance, and she basically told me "Hate to lose you, but do what you need to do." That certainly did not give me any indication that she had planned to "go to bat for me" - am I wrong??? She was very upset that she now has to report to Mindy and she actually started crying. I said I was sorry that she was so upset, but that she really couldn’t be angry at me for the changes that administration had made – she had to know that I did not have anything to do with it. Then she said that I should have called her and that I was in the middle – I told her I was very uncomfortable with being put in the middle and that she was really the only one doing that.

So then she became even more angry and said that she hopes I realize that whatever I was promised last week is pretty much no good and that I WILL be back "underneath her" (don't you love the terminology? I'm a psych major - I could have a FIELD DAY with that) within the week or two and that because she no longer trusts me, it will not be good for me. She said that I should have left, I should have taken the other job because I was not going to be happy once I was back “under her”. I just kept trying to be professional, not really saying much but nodding or shaking my head and saying “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I tried to point out the positive side and all the good things, about us working so well together and how it wasn't even a big deal, she was not losing her job, just getting me as a co-worker instead of her staff. She kept saying, “I’m happy for you but….” and then she’d say a bunch of mean/obnoxious things. She said "I hope they didn't promise you that I was leaving" and "I hope they didn't promise you my job, because I am NOT leaving." and I was like "WHAT? No! Of course not!" This went on for a good 15 minutes or so, and eventually she was starting to get very nasty and I just stopped responding, she finally left my office and went upstairs.
So - needless to say, she was wrong. There was even more that went on, but this was all that I need to vent about. She will not speak to me, and neither will one other woman in the building who she is friendly with. I don't understand it, I don't understand how they can be angry at me for wanting something good for myself. She is a liar, a control-freak and a bitch, and I'm OK with that now. She is who she is, and I feel bad for her because of that. She has to live with herself, the poor thing. She actually told a good friend of mine that when she was in my office, all she said to me was that she thought I was crazy for not accepting the other position, as it would have been the next step for me professionally. This is the 3rd time that I have heard her outright lie with a straight face, so I've just accepted that she is one of those people who is truly only out for herself - and that I have to watch my back.
So if you're still with me - PHEW! You'll be happy to know (well, I sure was happy!) that my NEW boss has approved my hours to go back to 7:30 - 4:00, AND she got me the access I needed to be able to work from home within 15 minutes of my asking her about it. I love my job and I am good at it - as far as I'm concerned, that should matter, you know? It annoys me to think that someone doesn't like me or is angry at me when I don't understand the reasoning, but I won't sink to that level and become a petty bitch like them - then they would be winning. There have been a few days during the past few weeks that I wanted so badly to say to one of them, "What is your freaking PROBLEM???" when they walked by me and I said "good morning" and they refused to answer, or when one of them walked by me and just gave me a dirty look. But - nope, nope, nope - I'll continue to be my happy, cheerful, BUBBLY self, and REALLY piss them off. hee hee Kill 'em with kindness, I say.
Peace, my friends. ;o)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cassidy's Nevus

Well it's Saturday and even though I have LOTS to say and every intention of blogging much more often than once a WEEK, such is the working woman's dilemma: I HAVE NO STINKIN' TIME! This is the busiest time of year for me at work - the students moved back onto campus last week and classes started on Thursday. By the time I get home from work, I have no energy left and no desire to go back on the computer, I just want to eat dinner and put my feet up. Hopefully things will start to settle back down over the next couple of weeks.

So today I'd like to tell you my story about Cassidy's nevus. You may have never even heard of a nevus, which is why I like to tell this story. Because when Cassidy was born, I had never heard of a nevus, and I was scared to death.

When I was pregnant with Cassidy, we had an ultrasound and wanted to know if she was a boy or a girl. We had a little boy already and my sister also had a little boy - we were all hoping for the first baby girl in the family. I was absolutely thrilled when the technician said "Looks like it's a girl!" But her next words made me laugh, "She's got a lot of hair" is what she said. My sister, brother, husband, and I were all born completely bald. Trevor and Eric - born bald. So it was surprising to hear that this baby had a head-full of hair - but I wasn't too worried, I mean come on - it's just hair, right? *sigh* Keep reading.My due date was April 12. April 12 came and went. I should have known - Trevor didn't want to be born, either, and I was induced 2 weeks after his due date. Sure enough, Cassidy proved to be just as stubborn. On April 22 I was induced in the morning and was ready to give birth by around 2:30 that afternoon. My labors tend to be long and tortuous (I don't care what you've read about "forgetting the pain" - if you forgot, you're brain damaged), but my deliveries quick and easy - so quick, as a matter of fact, that the nurses did not believe me that I was ready to start pushing this baby out. Let's just say they believed me when they pulled the sheets back and took a peek. After about 20 minutes, they yelled at me to stop pushing - the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, just as it had been with Trevor. Talk about deja-vu - it was actually kind of weird how similar my two childbirth experiences were!This one proved to be different, though - when she was finally born, the nurses and midwife (I had midwives instead of doctors) got kind of quiet. I was so out of it, I barely noticed. Jeremy was with me and we were so thrilled to have our baby girl - I instantly said "Her name is Cassidy Rae" - she even LOOKED like a Cassidy. They said "She's 9 pounds, a big one! And she's 20 1/2 inches long." She was beautiful - all red in the face from screaming and this big shock of hair on her head. They wheeled me into a room to recover and kept Cassidy to do whatever it is that they do - then a doctor with a heavy accent came into my room and said "Don't worry, we'll schedule an appointment with a dermatologist and specialist, but we think she'll be fine - take her home and love her" - or something VERY similar to that. My heart almost stopped - EXCUSE ME? What the hell do you mean,you THINK she'll be fine??? What is wrong with her???? I thought I misunderstood his accent, or he must be in the wrong room - my baby is perfect! Of course she'll be fine, this is my baby girl!!!

When they brought Cassidy to me shortly after, we began inspecting her. That's when we realized that shock of dark hair on her head was not just hair. The skin underneath it was black - it looked like she was wearing one of those Jewish beanie-caps (yamulke?) on her head, it was almost perfectly round and only in that spot, towards the back of her scalp. But it was big - a good 4-5 inches round and covered in black hair, almost like a halo. The rest of her head was bald as can be. This is the best picture that I have that shows the nevus:

See how it's only on the top/back of her head? This is another good picture, I think she was about 3-4 months old in these:

So anyway - once we got her home, we made an appointment with her pediatrician, who immediately referred us to Dr. Seth Kates, the head of dermatology who turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. You see, this nevus is a "hairy congenital nevus", which means it would have hair growing out of it no matter what part of her body it was on. She was lucky that it was on her head, but we weren't sure if "normal" hair would grow, or if the nevus itself would get bigger, etc.

Dr. Kates took one look at Cassidy and I believe he fell in love. He was just starting his family, too, and he had young children at home. He knew I was terrified, all I did was cry. I had done research on this "nevus" and discovered that medical journals were filled with worst-case scenarios. Children who were born with this could develop these nevus cells on their spinal cord, a disease called "Neurocutaneous Melanosis" - NCM for short - and these children often died before they reached their 6th birthday - it is a fatal disease, no treatment and no cure. The first thing Dr. Kates told me was to stop reading medical journals. I took his advice.

I discovered a couple of support groups - Nevus Network was one of them, and they were very helpful and supportive. I had realized that an awful lot of parents worry most about the cosmetic impact of this birthmark and they opt to have the nevus removed. This is not as easy as it sounds - the child must have "tissue expanders" inserted into the "healthy skin" and filled with saline, so that the skin stretches up like a water balloon. Then, when they've got enough healthy skin, they cut out the nevus skin and stretch the healthy skin over it. It's not pretty, it causes scarring and if it's on the child's head, it's not a guarantee that their hair will grow in correctly, etc. If you go to the Nevus Network Photo Album page, you can see pictures of what the skin expanders look like and some of the finished results. WARNING - these pictures can be disturbing, please don't go look at them if you can't handle it.

Dr. Kates encouraged us to leave the nevus alone - his words were, "I will do whatever you choose, she is your child. But if she was my child, I would leave it alone and monitor it closely." Removing the nevus itself does not remove the risks that are associated with it - an increased risk of cancer, NCM, etc. If those nevus cells are scattered and in her brain/spinal cord, you cannot remove them. We trusted his expert opinion, and we've never been sorry. Cassidy had a couple of biopsies done on "suspicious spots" within the nevus - basically a mole within a mole - and all was clean. Dr. Kates convinced us not to have Cassidy tested for NCM - there is no cure, no treatment, and we knew that if she tested positive, we'd die of heartbreak. We decided to enjoy her instead and if the symptoms started to appear, we'd deal with it then. I will tell you, though, that those birthdays when she was 5, 6, 7 - they were milestones for us. We didn't talk about it, it would have been like jinxing ourselves. But I know I breathed a sigh of relief every year when we reached another birthday. By the time she turned 10, I finally started to relax and I actually started to forget about it - wait, "forget" is not the right word, because I could never forget. I guess I let it drift to that back part of your mind where you keep stuff that you can't bear to think about every day, but you know better than to forget - I put it all back there and let it rest.

There was one point when Cassidy was a pre-schooler and we had no health insurance. We were worried about a spot on her head, and we called Dr. Kates to ask his advice. He told us to come right in and not to worry about the insurance - he saw us free of charge and I will never forget that. We stay in contact, he sends us pictures of his family and I send him pictures of mine every year at Christmas. Cassidy has many birthmarks all over her body - they call them "satellite birthmarks" as if they are extensions of the nevus. She has them on her back, her arms, her legs, her stomach, etc. Last year she had a funny bump on her neck that I instantly called Dr. Kates about - it turned out to be a normal thing unrelated to the nevus, and he froze it off like you would do a wart. He was amazed at how big/old she has gotten - this is her now:
My baby is now 13 1/2 years old and has grown up so much. Her hair grew in thick and beautiful, with no indication of what lies beneath. It's got every color you can think of - her "normal" hair is light brown and blonde, the nevus hair is darker and coarser, but it all blends together and just looks like she has natural highlights. The nevus faded remarkably over the years, and you would never know it's there unless I told you. She's got the most adorable freckle-face you've ever seen (yeah, I'm a bit biased). I have volunteered my name and contact info to Nevus Network so they can give it out to any parents who need someone to talk to. Every now and then, I'll get an e-mail from a parent whose child was just born with a similar nevus - and their words are reminiscent of how I felt back when my baby was born and I was so scared and confused. I tell them my story, I tell them that it's a personal decision and no matter what, you HAVE to be willing to live with your decision. This is your baby and he/she can't make that decision - as shitty as it is, you have to take responsibility and then stand by it. If you choose to leave it alone, you cannot beat yourself up later if complications arise. By the same token, if you choose to remove it you cannot change your mind later - what's done is done. You did what you thought was best at the time, like so many other decisions we have to make as parents, and you can only move forward and make the best of each decision. Some parents have chastised me for not removing Cassidy's nevus, some have thanked me to the ends of the earth and back for sharing my story in time before they DID remove it - some doctors are aggressive and push the surgery - not all are as wonderful as Dr. Kates and willing to work WITH the family on what decision to make.

Dr. Kates has always been fascinated by the fact that Cassidy's nevus faded so much - I guess the majority of them do not. I happen to also have a cousin whose son has a hairy nevus on his thigh, and an aunt who has the same thing. We do know that genetics play a part in why some people are born with a nevus, and Cassidy is me 100%, so it's not surprising to think that my genetics had something to do with her nevus. A couple of months ago, I got an envelope in the mail from Dr. Kates. It was an article ripped out of a medical journal that discussed the spontaneous fading of congenital nevi. He had put a note on it "Interesting, huh? Hope all is well!" and I was flattered that he thought enough of me to share this article and also thrilled to see in writing, in a medical journal, what I knew all along - that Cassidy's nevus had faded.

So if you've read my previous blog entries, you know that I consider myself an odds-breaker. This is just one more example - nevi themselves are extremely rare, for one to fade and practically disappear is almost unheard of. So I guess my girl is an odds-breaker, too. All I care about is that she continues to grow up happy and healthy - so far, so good!

Have a great weekend! Peace!