Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Going Away to College vs Staying Home and Attending College

Just to let you all know, and some of you will laugh and say NO WAY! I was such a baby when I first left home and went away to college. After I first thought of this topic, I reflected back on why I was so homesick. This was my first time away from home. This was my first time away from my parents and this was the first time away from my best friend. My best friend, Robyn, was a total nut. She wants to claim that all the things we did together were my idea. I would have to agree with her on some of them but not all of them. Maybe the one where we skipped school, went back to my house, smoked some stuff and then went to play a basketball game. I was fine but Robyn actually scored a lay-up for the OTHER TEAM.

I remember my RA Debbie coming into my room after about a week of totally crying because I missed everyone so much and tried to guide me on how to live away from home. I had a bunch of high school pictures up, my class picture, all 660 of us, and a bunch of pictures of my friends. Well we took those down, just for now, I was told. They never went back up though. That helped for about a day and then I called home and I remember the conversation I had with my dad as if it happened yesterday.

Here is how it went: Hi, honey, hi dad, What is wrong? I just miss everyone so much. Well, I know but softball will be starting soon and that will keep you busy. Yea but..... and that is when he became the man I had known all of my life. He then went on to say, if you want to come home and go to school at Prairie State Community School, I am sure we can arrange for that to happen. Well that stopped me fast in my tracks!!!!!
I did not want to go to Prairie State. I did not want to live at home and listen to my parent argue. I did not want to give up my scholarship that meant so much to me. I was finally proud of myself for getting into a college and being able to get a softball scholarship. Just to let you all know, my high school years were not the best, by any means. I struggled in school ALOT.
This also meant a lot to my parents. I was the last one to go to college and we were all very fortunate to be able to have some scholarship to help us pay for our schooling.

Back to topic, I ended up sucking it up, started practicing with the team and learning how to really study. Another amazing feat for me was to finish my first semester with a 3.8 out of 4.0. That was incredible!!!! I couldn't wait to get home for winter break and show EVERYONE how well I had done first semester. Let me give you a little back ground on this subject. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia when I was in the 5th grade. What did this mean to me? It showed me that I was not stupid. It showed me why I was struggling so much in school. It allowed me to understand why I was reading 3 grade levels behind my class. There is no wonder with that, if you skip whole paragraphs, it is a little hard to comprehend the material. So when I went back home for the first break, I went to my high school and thanked the special education teachers that took the time to teach me to believe in myself. Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of LONG days and even LONGER nights with my parents that helped me get back up to speed.

What was the turn around from high school to college? I truly believe it was because I was 8 hours away from home and I could not get in a car and drive home, whenever I felt like it. It made me study, work hard and enjoy the time away from home.

Playing college softball was a huge motivator for me, no doubt. I don't think I would of been able to handle 4 years of college without that as my outlet. Thanks Columbia College, you helped me be the person I am today.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Communication is the Key to EVERYTHING

Communication is the key to everything. That is something I have known for awhile but I was not practicing it in my relationship. We sometimes get too caught up in the daily routine to actually sit down and have a real conversation. I don't mean when we vent at each other because they have compassion for our situations. I mean when we actually talk about what is in our deepest parts of our hearts.

My partner and I finally had one of those conversations. We took the time to find out that we were not communicating with each other. We both knew that but a lot of what was happening the last few weeks was because we were not listening to each other. Miscommunication seem to be the downfall of many relationships. But at the same time, we were both able to express what we need from each other. It is not all peachy keen but it was a step in the right direction.

Have a great day... enjoy the sunshine while we have it.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Trials of being a step parent in the gay world

OK, this is a very personal issue for me. I have debated all day whether to put it out for the whole world to see. I finally came to the conclusion that who ever reads this might help me deal with my situation. And I am really wanting honest comments to this post.

Here goes.......

There is so much to write about on this topic because there is not much out there to read for guidance. Sure there are "Parenting" books but those books do not address many of the issues in the gay world. Now there are two different ways to look at this issue. 1 If you and your partner decide to bring a little one into this world, then you both have made the commitment necessary to travel down that road. That is not perspective I will be discussing in this posting.

I am going to be speaking from the perspective of meeting someone with kids and falling in love with them and thus having an instant family. I use the term, "family" very loosely here. I entered my partners life when 2 of her children were teenagers. Yes, TEENAGERS. Being a middle school teacher, I should of expected a lot of what happened the last 6 years.

Ok, picture it, Sicily, Golden Girls reference sorry, I met this person and we started to get to know each other and she was from the "straight world". So now you can really picture the situation. To get to the chase, her husband and her divorced and her kids were very hurt and pissed. They were pissed at their mom but mostly, totally pissed at me. They are not bad kids, nor have they ever been. They were teenagers when all of this transpired and of course they rebelled some.

Now, my background makes me try to be the disciplinarian and I did try that approach with them but of course it backed fired because I was not their mom and I had no say it what they did, so on and so on. So it was very tense for a while but it seemed to let up some. I am going to get to the chase of this posting. I was told many times by my partner that she did not want to be put in the middle between me and her kids and if I had problems with them, I should tell them. Well I did and I normally got the response that I stated earlier. They would listen, somewhat, and then go on about their business. I am a big follow up person. If I tell someone that I am going to check up on something that I have asked them to do, I do just that. I am also the type of person that when I have had enough, I blow. I have blown many times being the unwanted step parent. Sure, when they wanted something, they had no problem asking but when I wanted them to do something, how dare I.

That is where I am right now. I have convied my thoughts and feelings to my partner and it does not always sink in. She is the type of person that thinks things through and I am the type of person that wants something changed right away. That is how I was brought up.... that is one of my issues. How I was brought up is not the same way my partner has brought up her kids. Our two philosophies are conflicting. I am tired of watching her kids think everything must be handed to them. The two teenagers are growing up and are both in college.

I need advice here, both young ladies are being given an opportunity that not many single parents can give their children. They have been given the opportunity to go to college without the burden of student loans hanging over their heads when they graduate. My partner works two jobs to make that possible for them. But when something is asked of them, there is a roll of the eyes or sorry I can't because it would be too much gas money to do that for you mom. I don't know how many times, she has asked either one of them to do her a favor and they pretty much tell her no because of one thing or another. HOW DARE THEM. If my mom was working two jobs and she needed me to go to my grandmother's house to pick up something for her and deliever it to her, I would do it because I understand what my MOTHER is doing for me. I have put my two cents in on any and all issues that pertain to these two young ladies. I have had to put my foot down to my partner about something I see is going on and it needs to stop. I am tired of being the bad guy, I am tired to pointing out things I know their mom sees. I am tired of having 20 year olds being so disrespectful at times.

How do I get past being totally pissed when I see them manipulating their mother for their own benefit? I really am having a hard time having any conversation with the one that lives with us. We bought a new home last July and we both decided that as long as the two were in college, they would have a place to live. With that said about the new house, I no longer live in their house. This house is just as much mine as it is their moms and I will make my voice heard here.

We have talked about the one living here full time, helping out with some grocery money, she has a job so I am not totally off my rocker. We got $35 in September of 2007. That was it. I am putting my foot down again. She will be paying money starting in May. She has a tendency to open the refrig up to see what is in there to eat and not even bother to thank anyone for going to the store. I am tired of this shit. I have told my partner this and she agrees with me. My biggest bitch is WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO COME FROM ME.... why can't it be addressed without me saying something. Supposedly things like I have described are going to be addressed asap and I will be watching to see how things change or if they change at all.

It is very disheartening to be in a relationship with someone and have a wedge thrown into the relationship that you have no control over. I do not have control over how my partner deals with her children and I can not continue to allow any one of them to get my blood pressure up like it has the last two weeks or so. I feel taken advantage of on many fronts and that is going to stop as well. I need to focus on me and my career and hopefully all of what I have vented about today will be a distant memory soon.

I am serious when I said at the beginning of my post, I would like any and all honest comments.



Friday, April 18, 2008

St. Louis

This entry is going to be all about St. Louis today. It has been a weird 24 hours here. I will copy some news stories and then comment on each one. I am taking a lighter approach today. I am on vacation as of 3 pm today and it is so much needed.

5.2 Earthquake Shakes Parts of Midwest

WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) -- A 5.2 earthquake centered in southern Illinois rocked people awake throughout the Midwest this morning.
The earthquake surprised residents unaccustomed to such a large Midwest temblor.
It happened just before 4:37 a.m. and was centered near West Salem.Minor damage reports are coming in from around the region including Jefferson County, Soulard, Albion, IL. Kingshighway is closed between Vandeventer and Shaw while crews inspect an overpass.
The quake was clearly felt in Chicago, which is about 230 miles away. And residents in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky also reported feeling it.
West Salem is in Edwards County, and dispatcher Lucas Griswold says the county sheriff's department received several calls about the earthquake but only reports of minor damage.

An earthquake was not something I really expected in St. Louis. I know, I know; we are on a fault line and we should expect them. This is the first one I have ever felt. I woke up and said, what is that, the furniture in the bedroom was shaking. So we got everyone down on the main level and by then it was over. It was 4:30 in the morning. So much for rem sleep. It will be all over the news today and I am anxious to read or watch the news coverage of it. I know, I can be a dork sometimes.

Murder In The Downtown Loft District

St. Louis police are investigating a homicide in a luxury loft building on Washington Avenue downtown.
The victim was white male, who appeared to be in his 40's or 50's.
He knew one of the residents of the Ventanna Loft Building, which explains why he was inside, but it's still unclear who killed him and how they got in the building.
To get in to the structure, to activate the elevator or to get into the parking area you have to use a key.
A female resident found the victim's body around 5:30 pm Wednesday and called police.
Investigators have already conducted several interviews but say they will be back Friday reviewing surveillance video and talking to even more people.
Residents in the area were shocked to hear the news.
Police are not releasing any suspect information and they describe it as a possible shooting, but a local security guard claims he heard a single shot fired right around 5:30 while walking by the parking lot entrance.
Anyone with information about this shooting is urged to contact the St. Louis Police Department immediately.
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Ok, I got a call from a friend of mine that works right by where this happened last night. That is a little unnerving. I also work there a few times a week. Apparently, it was someone the person knew but that does not make it any better. You need to know about the loft district if you are not from St. Louis. This is a part of downtown that has made a huge transformation. The lofts used to be warehouses, and then abandoned warehouses and now high priced lofts. It has changed the whole area. It is amazing to see people walking, running, taking their dogs for a walk someplace that no one would go after dark two years ago. What will the reaction be to this incident? Who knows? I know I will be looking over my shoulder and making sure I am "aware of my surroundings" ( that is my dad's favorite comment to us kids) Just be careful out there everyone.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 3, 10 innings.

Prince Fielder hit his first home run of the season, a two-run drive off Brad Thompson in the 10th inning that gave the Milwaukee Brewers a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.
Fielder, who led the NL with 50 homers last year, needed 54 at-bats to connect for the first time this year. He also tied the score with a bloop RBI double that capped a three-run, eighth-inning rally against Kyle Lohse and two relievers.

I was not able to take the day off to go the game but I was able to see the 10th inning. I have to say, I used to play softball and coach softball. I am no Tony Larussa but DAMM! Why would you give Prince Fielder a chance to hit the ball out of the park. Why thrown him either a change up or curve ball inside. That is nuts!!!!! I have noticed that the Cardinals would rather pitch the inside pitch to a pull hitter then put the ball on the outside of the plate and make the hitter take a good swing to get on base. But why to you give the best hitter on the Brewers the opportunity to hit the ball out of the park in his wheel well?

Ok that is all for now. I wanted to do something different today and if I have any creative thoughts of my own, I will post again later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Young Adults

It seems to me that young people today are so dependent on others for their daily living. What happened? How did this happen? The common sense of young adults just is not there. They don't want to think through their situations. They want everything given to them. What happened to the thought process? I see this in my classroom each day. If they need to write something they do not spend enough quality time brainstorming or if they do brainstorm they just focus on one area.
They seem to not want to take their"blinders" off. This seems to be a ME, ME, ME society. What can everyone do for me?

That is the problem with our society, we don't want to see anyone else in our path of life. We don't appreciate the differences that live in our cities. We don't even see our differences?

I am doing a lesson today on cultural differences and the students have to answer questions about themselves as it deals with cultural awareness. Here are the questions and you need to rate your self on a scale of 1-5. 1 being never and 5 being always.

Here goes:

How often do you:

1. Interrupt someone who is telling a racial or ethnic joke?
2. Read about the achievements of people or mental disabilities?
3. Challenge friends expressing a gender stereotype?
4. Send emails to TV or radio stations that broadcast "news" stories with cultural or racial biases?
5. Examine your own language for unconscious bias or stereotypes?
6. Ask exchange students or a person from another country questions about their countries of origin?
7. Volunteer your time for a cause you support?
8. Donate goods or money to shelters for battered women or homeless people?
9. Intervene when a person or group is verbally sexually harassing someone?
10. Truly appreciate a friend's differences from you?
11. Take the lead in welcoming people of a different race to your class, club, job site or friend's circle?
12. Protest unfair practices that you see?
13. Ask a member of an ethnic group different from yours how that person prefers to be referred to?
14. Examine your own level of comfort around issues of sexual orientation and sexual practices?
15. Celebrate your own uniqueness?

Then go back and look at your scores, if you have a majority of 1's or 2's you are not very open to different people or cultures. If you have a bunch of 5's you were not being honest with yourself.

It was interesting to do this with 8th graders. They were really being reflective. It was nice to see!!!!!

I challenge each of you to do something today that helps you know more about someone else or someone elses cultures or traditions.

I challenge each of you to not solve a problem for someone else today. We all know that people come to us and give us a scenario or problem and before we know it we solve the problem for them. Instead of solving the problem, help them think out their solutions. Be a teacher today and help guide someone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Day One continued

Well I went to the Cardinal baseball game last night. I can honestly say, I did not watch a lot of the game. I was doing what I normally do, socializing with friends. I love that about the atmosphere of the stadium. But at the end of the game, I soon had reality smack me in the face. Why are people hateful? Why are people so narrow minded that they can't be comfortable with other lifestyles? Last time I checked, this was 2008. A lot has transpired with our society when it comes to alternative life styles. Why are straight men so threatened by the thought of alternative life styles? Why can't we just get along on this earth?

I will say, I was very proud of myself because I could of gotten in a physical altercation with him and his stupid girlfriend but I chose to use my words instead. That is what I try to teach the children I come in contact with; use your words not your fists. But I must say, it was very tempting. Another part of me was very disappointed in myself. I should know by now to turn the other cheek and just shake my head and pity the fool because if you are that narrow minded then I can not change anything.

But at the same time, after we got back to the bar a person that was on the shuttle with us, told me that they were taking bets on me to level him. And someone also told me that they agreed with my argument and felt that the guy was being an asshole. Here is another thing about society, if two different people felt that way on the shuttle why didn't they stand up with me against this bigot? See what I mean about our society? We know what is right but we don't always do what is right.

I will continue to stand up for myself and others if I deem it necessary. Not just on this topic but in any situation. I have had the opportunity to post on someone else's blog before creating my own. I have been able to voice my opinion and also be able to get to know others that way as well. I have grown through that process. I welcome any comments and wish everyone a great day. It is finally a nice, spring day in St. Louis.

Day One

Ok this is my first entry in my blog. This should prove to be interesting. I know I have to open myself up for critisim and praise and those are both very hard for me. I will do my best to be open and honest in this blog. I encourage anyone that reads this and comments to it do the same. This is my first attempt to "going public" with my inner thoughts and feeling. I am scared but at the same time excited.