Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No No No NO!!

It's happening again!
Grrr. When I came here last May, I started exploriing the politics of the area, to ensure that no idiots were going to change this place into the same avaricious and overrun,, mean and nasty, grasping and overordinanced sort of place I came from. Well, I met a guy who turned out to be the head of the Economic Development Board for the County. My age, forceful, intelligent, and frustrated. He knew what he wanted but didn't know how to go about it and couldn't convince any of the others - stuck in the same development mode of the 1980's - to see things in the right light. So I gave him all of my PowerPoints, everything I had used in the past, to show what and how things could be done. I attended three of their meetings. The last one - back in Spetember - I pretty muh let them have it. They were trying to figure out how to get some development into the area - with the same-oh same-oh, TIFs, let government (i.e., taxpayers) foot the bills, etc etc etc. I laid out for them exactly what it WOULD cost them and why they shouldn't do that. I gave them the basics of a plan. They offered me a job. I turned it down. No way did I want to drive 40 miles one way every day to work. I wanted to stay right where I was. I had stuff to do. I wasn't invited back.

Then last night I got an email from the Director. They are nominating me to be on the Board. My area needs to be represented, my input needs to be put into operation. The past few months they have reviewed everything I gave them, and they are anxious to put it into effect. Anxious - not whiny, not fighting, not protesting for the sake of protesting, or making stupid accusations out of their own self-enforced ignorance, as happened before, where this plan was first implemented. They are educated and intelligent and know a good plan when they see one. And now they are going to implement it and want my help.

Crap. I have things to DO here! Here, at my home, in my town. I don't have TIME for this!!

But you know I'll do it. Dammit. There are things that I want to do here that will require political involvement to ensure that I can continue to do them. I have to keep this place pristine with intelligent and directed development so it doesn't impact me and the folks around me who enjoy the same things that I do. Gotta keep the development thieves, the control freaks, and the slobbering liberal idiots, who want to give everyone else's prosperity away, out of here.

Dammit. Oh, well, at least this time I'll be dealing with people who have actual brain function; who don't see education as a curse or hard work as an anathema, who don't sit on their butts with their hands out, demanding that everyone else succor them. Sigh.

But I have stuff to DO!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Painful And Personal Thoughts

I've always described myself as a SLUF - Short Little Ugly Female. I didn't mind being unattractive - I was clean and 'had a great personality' and could think for myself. I liked pretty and comfortable clothes and could use makeup and jewelry - but my most outstanding feature, to me, was my forceful personality.

Six years ago I developed a sore on my face, right on my L cheek. It grew into a scar and really looked bad - but I didn't worry too much about it. It was just - there. My daughter, a biologist, didn't like the looks of it and sent me to a pathologist. He said it was a lupus lesion, a classic sign of lupus. It could be removed, but it would just come back - and eventually would spread all over my face, in what they call a "butterfly" pattern - both cheeks and across my nose. More research proved that I had systemic lupus - which explained a LOT; how and why I would get massive infections, even sepsis that forced parts to be removed so I could survive, the constant urinary tract problems, and what was causing them. My own body, my own immune system, revolting against itself. The female doctor I saw wanted to put me on steroids; but I HATE steroids. They damage the bone and don't really prevent anything, including the progression - they just make whatever is happening not strike so hard or last as long. So we agreed I would just take the antibiotics when I had a flareup, to help my immune system beat whatever infection was next on the list. At least antibiotics go away after awhile, and don't damage bone and connective tissue. I also had to change my lifestyle, drink different fluids, eat different foods, change everything about my intake, avoiding certain things. It's hard, but doable - especially now, when I live where food is so much fresher and the water is so much purer.

Well, this past couple of weeks, I have watched a couple of developing 'blisters' on my nose and on my R cheek. I can't wear makeup any more, of course - the lesion doesn't like it and starts to bleed and suppurate, the scar tissue underneath refuses to hold it, and any coverups just don't work. So I have been makeup-free for about a year. These 'blisters' are the exact same way the first lesion started. True to form, the disease is progressing.

Because of how it looks, I went to my boss this week and told him that the lesions, even though they looked bad, were not contagious, not infectious, but simply a form of the disease. I felt that I had to do that - as the first person that anyone sees when they walk in the door of the school, I didn't want any parent to think that I was going to give their kids something.

This was awkward for me, because I hate whiners and complainers, and don't like to share my feelings or personal life with anyone - usually because (and I proved it last May) small-minded and vicious people use them to insult and lie about, and to try to hurt, me. But something had to be said, because I preferred the blunt open truth to whispers that build behind one's back.

I have never been a beauty, but this painful and really ugly outward development depresses me. It would be different if it was painless and didn't suppurate, but it isn't and it does, and makes me feel sore, and look as if I have a terrible contagious disease. ARRGGHH.

I'm just glad I'm not around those terrible nasty people that I was last year, who use what they perceive as others' weaknesses as a club to beat them down further, just so they can prove to themselves that they are superior. My "weakness" is my stupid body that can't keep up with me, that refuses to do everything I want it to do, that hangs off of me like a demanding child or gummint-dependent whiner, demanding attention just for existing. Here at least I am not on call 24-7, having to listen to everyone's constant complaints and whining, where I can rest this battered and weakened body, and not have to feel like I am under public scrutiny every single waking moment. Life is simple here, and is what I needed - especially as my stupid disease with its painful and miserable effects progresses.

Like my longtime friend Gina, who when I told her I had lupus, said "What scar?" - some people see what is within, ignoring what is on the outside. Unfortunately it is the common nature of the bestial-minded to stone the 'pink monkey' in their midst. Better to be upfront and rational, to forestall any such reactions - or to be prepared for them.

But it is really a nasty-looking progression... maybe if it didn't hurt so much, it wouldn't be so bad. Just another PITA to deal with... sigh. I'm just glad my friends can't see me now - their expressions of loving sympathy would be too much to bear. I don't want sympathy, I don't understand it, and I don't like it... I don't like being pitied. I like being normal. I hate being deformed - as if being short and ugly wasn't enough... arrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh.

Friday, January 9, 2009

"Everything Goes When the Whistle Blows"

That used to be one of my father's favorite sayings. In other words, when trouble happens, it happens all at once, slamming you from all quarters, like the parking lot of a factory when the end-of-shift whistle blows.

Last Friday I went in to work. I didn't have to; wasn't scheduled to come back until this Monday. But it was the 2nd - and I had some State filings to do that could only be done after the 1st of every month, and I wanted to get everything arranged and my computer ready for the following Monday and the re-start of school. I wanted to be prepared. Shawn was due in to put the new parts on the newer copier, and we were going to be prepared for the new start and new school year.

Well sure enough the main program I use had apparently lost its little mind over the holiday. I got on the phone with the programmers, and of course they had never heard of, much less seen, the problem with which I presented them. Being good folks, they got right on it, downloaded the info as well as my back up (TG for backups), cobbled it all together, and got it fixed within the hour.

Unbeknownst to me, they had also changed the information pathway, though. So Monday morning when I got in, the program - was frozen. That plus the copiers - both of them! - were immediately pounced on and immediately gave up the ghost. Then my boss the superintendent, got a call - his mom was very sick. Then my associate in the office, the bookkeeper, got a call - a bull had shoved into her husband's leg while he was a-horseback herding the bull into the chute, and broke her hubby's ankle.

By the end of the day, the principal and I were holed up in the boss' office, eating chocolate and trying to figure out what to do next. We laid out a plan for recovery, and implemented it Tuesday morning. By Thursday, all was back to semi-normal. Problems solved, kids taken care of, teachers put straight, machinery back in working order, program paths replaced and information recovered. Whew.

Today is Friday, the last day of the week, and a welcome ending to an insane period. We went down to the local bar and grill last night, and there sat some of the same folks who were involved in the whole mess - and we ate and laughed and commiserated. The HS basketball team came in after practice, and we all sat and watched the first quarter of the Oklahoma/Florida game in the BCS championship, cheering on the Sooners. Life was good - again. In spite of the usually moronic, blithering announcers who had apparently decided to canonize the quarterback for the Gators - no matter how many of his passes were intercepted or how many times he was sacked in the backfield...

Yep, everything does go when the whistle blows - and recovery just takes stepping back, reassessing what one has, and rebuilding on it without wasting time panicking, worrying, finding fault or blame, pointing fingers or raising heck.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pieces of a Life

Today is the customary day to take down the tree and decorations. There is a blizzard blowing outside - 25-35 mph winds - , but the house is warm and peaceful. So we'll do the inside stuff now.

I heard something this week that made me laugh incredulously. Apparently some people think we are rich. Hmmmm? What are you smoking? The tree and decorations so lavishly displayed, the house with everything just so, the car and truck in the driveway, the fact that we aren't very social - are these the clues that we are rolling in it?

As I was taking down the tree I thought about this. Here is the red and gold tinsel, that I bought on sale after a Christmas 8 years ago because no one wanted it. Likewise the red-rose and gold wire ribbon. Every year they are used - I have several other color schemes too - they are taken out of their carefully folded wrappings of news paper and reused. Then every year they are laid out or rolled up respectively, and stored away in taped boxes until next time.

Here are the tiny plaster ornaments that the kids and I painted one year. We painted so very many; teddy bears and kitties in pajamas, Santas stuck in chimneys, toy boxes, Christmas trees, gingerbread houses, angels. There's only half of them left, though. Because a friend had her house burn down three weeks before Christmas, and I knew that she had had a huge collection of Christmas ornaments, gathered over the years. So we took some of what we had made to her. If one loses precious memories, it's time to make others.

Here are the glass ornaments with the intricate roses painted on them. My living room has always been done in red with roses. Here are the ornaments left over from my father's tree - barely faded now, with the black glass underneath, like dark water under brightly colored ice. Here are the porcelain ones, the handmade lace ones, the brilliant glass icicles - all bought on sale or given as gifts. And don't forget the 20 or so birds; the big blue jay and peacock, the tiny wrens and chickadees, bightly feathered and perched everywhere, discarded from this decoration or that. The ornaments that the kids have made over the years are here, too; their names printed in childlike hands. They all go into the ornament box; everything packed carefully and tightly so it doesn't shift and roll and crack, for next time.

On the wall is the huge Scarlett O'Hara print; she is in that vibrant red dress for Ashley's Birthday Party, one eyebrow cocked, waiting for the threated and usual resentment, vituperation and criticism, apprehensive, yet still defiant. She was on sale, too - a place going out of business, having to sell everything including their numbered prints. She is not only the representation of what I have striven to become and overcome - she is an investment. No, I "will never be hungry again", either.

The furniture is old but it was what I wanted, what I saved for, what I finally got. It is sturdy and quietly beautiful. Mike's car and my truck are what we needed, and what we wanted - things to last us many years, things we had to have, for his comfort and my work. Nothing fancy, nothing over the top, no frills and furbelows.

We don't eat at the latest advertised restaurant, or indulge very much in anything at all. Over the years we have seen good food descend into mediocre food, and from there descend into highly spiced and highly processed garbage, each new fad swiftly replacing the last, and most of it pretty foul - glazed horse poop with a piquant sauce. Tomorrow I might make a roast, and we'll dine on it all week - from slices to stews to soups, we'll make it last. And it will be nutritious and still taste good, too!

No we are definitely not rich. What we are is reasonable and practical... we see what might happen and what might come, and settle in, just as one closes the horses into the corral when the wind blows from the north and the storm clouds gather, seals the doors and windows, and lays a fire - just in case. We save what is valuable and discard what is not. From Christmas decorations, through our friendships, to the small things of our lives, the pieces we save and cherish are what make us whole.