Saturday Night Serenade–Take Back the Power OR That Took A Dark Turn

It’s the second weekend of March, and we’re ‘springing forward’ tonight.  Don’t forget.  And if the Florida legislature has their way, this will be the last time Mr. R and I have to change our clocks.  They’ve voted to remain on Daylight Savings Time from now on.

Which, on the one hand, is great.  My feeling is, just pick one time and let me know.  On the other hand, however, when everyone else ‘falls back’, the entire state of Florida will be all jacked up.  The 6:30 national news will come on at 7:30.  The Times Square ball will drop at 1:00 am New Years Day.  Everything will be all wonky.

But who am I to complain?  Just a lowly taxpayer.  The state legislature also came up with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which Gov. Rick Scott signed, in response to the outcry following the horrific events of a few weeks ago.  While far from perfect, it’s a good start, particularly from a Republican governor to whom I usually refer as a dick with eyes.

The legislation limits gun sales to persons over the age of 21, among other things.  It also allocates serious fundage for mental health initiatives.  And it sets aside money to beef up school security.

Of course, there are those against the plan.  The NRA is even suing the state, citing 2nd Amendment violations.  I hesitate to wade into politics.  Everyone is so hateful.  But I’m for a little reform.

Some will call me a liberal.  Go ahead, if that makes you feel superior.  I’m neither Republican nor Democrat.  I’m a registered Independent voter.  I just look around for somebody who makes sense.  And I have guns in my home.  Nobody’s trying to take away your guns.  We’re just trying to keep kids safe.  I’d hope that, at least, is something we all have in common.

I’m feeling all punky tonight.  So this little song from The Interrupters speaks to my soul.  Wherever you fall on the issues, I hope you take a moment to see it from the other side.  And hugs your kids tight.  Because some parents in Parkland can’t do that tonight.

Happy Saturday night!


Saturday Night Serenade–Staying Woke

For the last week and a half, we’ve been mourning the loss of 17 in south Florida.  And we’ve been reminded of those we lost in Columbine, and Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas, and Texas, and Orlando, and countless other places.  Senseless losses that should capture our attention and strengthen our determination to solve the problems that led us there, to keep it from happening again.

But in the ‘short attention span theatre’ that is the 21st century news cycle, the cause just before Parkland was #MeToo and #TimesUp, the social movement that is calling out sexism and misogyny.    It’s been posited that every woman you know, along with many men, has her own Me Too story.  I know I do.  Maybe one day I’ll write about it.

It’s astounding, really, that for so long we’ve all excused sexual predation as ‘locker room talk’ and ‘boys being boys’.  Clue: It’s NOT okay.  It NEVER was.

I’m hopeful that now that the dialogue has begun, it will continue, that we’ll move forward more enlightened, treating EVERYONE with respect and compassion.  EVERYONE.  Now that we’re woke, let’s stay woke, amen?

I heard this song, Female by Keith Urban, the other day, and it touched my heart.  I’m including the official lyric version, too, because words are important.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to honor the women in your life, and hug the people you love.  Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #4: A 4th of July Two-fer

Happy July!  Here in the States, we’re celebrating the long Independence Day weekend.  It’s the ultimate summer holiday, with cookouts, picnics, trips to the beach, and fireworks.

There’s a lot that divides us Americans these days–politics, ideologies, and hateful, vile rhetoric, to name just a smattering.

But I’d rather focus on what unites us–good food, fun, pride as a nation, and good old rock ‘n roll.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous this weekend, rather than getting baited into some pointless social media debate, we put down our electronics, went outside, shared a hot dog and a cold beer with a neighbor, and enjoyed fireworks set to a soundtrack of great music?

Mr. R and I will be in lawn chairs on the driveway, watching all the neighborhood fireworks.  I hit the bargain bins, so we’ll be the dorks wearing the blinky jewelry.  Actually, I’ll be the dork wearing the blinky jewelry.  He’ll be sitting next to me, rolling his eyes.

But maybe that’s what it’s about.  Agreeing to disagree, embracing our differences, and appreciating that variety is, in fact, the spice of life.

I’m bringing you a two-fer for week #4 of Summer Songs.  I couldn’t pass up John (he’ll always be Cougar to me) Mellencamp, despite the fact that they’ve commercialized the crap out of this song lately.  And Phil Vassar’s American Child is a sentimental favorite.

Be careful out there.  No drinking and driving.  No holding a firework and blowing off your hand.  Haven’t you seen them do that on all the morning talk shows?

Enjoy your holiday, and hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Feeling Alright

Last week, I was feeling a little down, remembering a lot of those we lost over the last year.  I was determined to be more upbeat this week.

And then yesterday, a young man struggling with mental illness boarded a plane in Anchorage and flew to Ft. Lauderdale.  Upon arrival, he retrieved his belongings from Baggage Claim, removed a gun, and proceeded to shoot up the place.  Why?  Because the voices told him to.

And don’t even get me started about the four thugs in Chicago who held another mentally challenged young man against his will and tortured him, streaming it LIVE ON FACEBOOK.

It just leaves you shaking your head.  What the hell is going on with the world?  I have no idea, and I don’t have the solution to the problem.  I’m pretty sure our next Commander in Chief doesn’t either.

Here’s what I think.  If we want a kinder, gentler world, we need to be kinder and gentler in our circles of influence.  So, new rule for 2017: BE KIND.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  Yeah, I’m going to give that a whirl.  See what happens.

I hope this evening finds you feeling alright.  A little Joe Cocker can’t hurt, anyway.  Be sure to hug the ones you love, I know I’ll be doing that.

In this new year, I wish you peace, love, and kindness.  Happy Saturday night!

This Should Be Interesting

We have an issue at work these days.  For anyone who doesn’t know, for the time being, I’m a teacher at a high-poverty, low-performing public school.  According to last year’s high-stakes testing, we are actually the lowest-performing elementary school in the entire district.  That’s not good.

Because of the poor test results, the Principal of the past six years was removed in the middle of the summer.  He was replaced by a woman who has quite the reputation in the district.  When people out in the community find out who our Principal is, they generally make the sign of the cross.  And, no, that’s not an exaggeration.

This woman is vile.  She makes Kevin Spacey look like Mr. Rogers.  Staff members have been dropping like flies.  The Assistant Principal, the confidential secretary, the data processor, the attendance clerk, two different IT guys, and about twenty custodians have been replaced.  People have been escorted out by police, only to have this woman tell us in a staff meeting how she clung to their ankles and begged them not to leave.

Teachers have been singled out and bullied, called on their mobile phones after hours and told that they’re not being “team players.”  While I’ve had one documented observation, some of my colleagues have them nearly every week, and they’re told that they’re not working hard enough, that their skills are inferior.

Paranoia reigns, and it’s not uncommon for folks to look over their shoulder before they talk to their friends and co-workers.  Stories abound of Admin listening in to conversations, of loyalists who report back on things that people say.

That’s not all, either.  There is evidence that the Administration has tampered with the recent standardized diagnostic testing, the tests that predict how students will do on the formal tests in the spring.  There is also evidence that Administration is playing fast and loose with finances, failing to comply with district-mandated procedures regarding money students pay for special events.

All of which is why, very quietly, a small group of us is working with the union to see that these things are investigated.  It’s not unheard of for a Principal to be removed from a school if it is deemed that that Administrator is creating a hostile work environment.

Morale is in the sewer, to say the least.  Unlike every year since I started working at this school, there is no formal holiday party planned.  Which is why a few trusted friends and I thought it would be nice to get a group together for an informal holiday happy hour at a local watering hole.   Just a little spirit-booster to say, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.’

But then…

A little spazz we like to refer to as Hurricane (who wasn’t included on the invite list, by the way) got wind of our plan and decided EVERYONE needed to be invited.  I’ve seen her running around the school, babbling like a slot machine that hasn’t stopped spinning, telling everyone about where and when.  She even marched herself into the office and invited Administration.

So.  A handful of people, including some of those who have been removed, are meeting in a very different location from the original plan.  It’s not what I’d intended it to be.  I wanted to give some folks a bit of hope right here before Christmas.

What about me?  Like I said, knock wood, by and large they seem to be leaving me alone.  But when you hear about groups of teachers being called in and berated about ridiculous things, you know it’s only a matter of time.

I’m quietly planning on this being my last year in education.  The industry sucks anyway, and this situation only exacerbates that fact.  Luckily, because of ignorant choices I made early on, I can actually retire any time I like, taking with me a nice nest egg of a retirement, plus they’ll buy out my banked sick hours at 100%.

Next fall, when every is dragging themselves back to the grind, I’ll be writing full-time.  But I might as well raise a little hell before I go.   😉

Saturday Night Serenade–Need Some Healing

Hallelujah, friends and neighbors, it’s been one hell of a week.  I’m feeling the need to vent and since it’s my blog, that’s what I’m going to do.  Some folks may be offended by what I have to say, but I’d challenge you to read to the end.  Everything’s not as black and white as people would like to think.  Black and white would be easy.  This situation is anything but easy.

On Tuesday, America elected itself a racist, fascist, misogynist, megalomaniac narcissist as our new leader.  I could not have been more stunned.  I knew we the people were smarter than that, we’d evolved beyond believing that Mexicans are rapists, all Muslims are bad, and women are sub-humans to be objectified.  How could this happen?

Before you go getting all defensive, understand that I can’t stand Hilary.  For years, I swore up and down that I’d never vote for her.  I think she’s the very definition of greed and avarice, of selfish ambition and ‘win at any cost’.  Enter Donald J. Trump, with his message of hate and intolerance.  The man bragged about sexually assaulting women.  Billy Bush got fired.  Trump got elected President.  What the ever-loving fuck?

So, shortly before Election Day, I took myself to one of the early voting sites, choked back the vomit, and voted for Hilary Clinton.  Because I knew that whatever she was selling, it wasn’t the hate and vitriol that Trump has been spewing for the last year and a half.

I still can’t wrap my head around the results.  Can’t imagine anyone I have less respect for than Trump.  And there’s that nagging fear–Holy shit, what if he makes good on his promises about reversing gay marriage, about deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims, about all the other bat-shit things he said?


There’s a movement afoot, a peaceful protest aimed at sending a message to those folks Trump would marginalize.  Like-minded people are wearing a safety pin indicating support for those at whom Trump has aimed his special brand of hate.  If you see me around, I’ll be wearing the biggest safety pin I can find, and I’ll do it until everyone is safe.

So tonight’s serenade…  We lost Leonard Cohen this week.  Maybe his heart just couldn’t take it, I don’t know.  But we need a little healing up in here.

Hug those you love.  Remind them that hate and prejudice are never okay.  Maybe reach out to someone in Trump’s cross-hairs.  Hallelujah.  Happy Saturday night!