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As a substitute teacher, I often catch random bits of conversations between students.  This one made me laugh for the rest of the day.

Girl: Guys, did you see this [photo] on Facebook?

Friends tell her that it's been photoshopped.

Girl: But it's on the *internet*, it *has* to be real!!! 

I don't even know what it was a photo of because we were all too busy giving her grief for her comment.  She is actually a really bright girl, definitely bright enough to know that not everything on internet is real.  I am just glad she made the slip up because it totally made my day… and she will never live it down.

2012-12-15_15-13-31_94 It is strange to not have a family at Christmas.  I don’t miss *my* family at all, but I do miss having *a* family at times.  I have good friends, but Christmas is so family centered.  Perhaps I am partially to blame… never showing vulnerability.  I am always the tough one, the one who never cries, the one everyone else turns to for support, the one who never shows weakness.  Everyone assumes I will be fine because I never let it show that I am not fine. In my family, weaknesses were exploited and used to the advantage of others.  Confidences were kept only until they could be used as leverage in bizarre game of power and control.  The phrase, "If you don’t stop crying, I will give you something to cry about" was never an idle threat. When you are the smallest of the herd, you learn to act big and fearless.

Many years ago, I had a gun pointed at my face.  The bank robber said, "Get f*ck out my way."  I did just that.  I got out of his way so fast.  It was all over in a matter of seconds.  In and out, guns blazing, money taken, but no one was hurt.  I had no concern for my employer's deposit of several thousand dollars that I was in the middle of depositing when the gun was shoved in my face.  (The teller had already completed the transactions, so it was all good in that respect.)  The only thought that ran through my mind was, "Thank goodness my children are not with me right now."  

When people found out what happened, there wwere lots of "thank goodness you are okay," but that was quickly followed by "Well, if anyone ever pointed a gun at me, I would….."  Everyone had an opinion on how they would have handled the situation… better, more bravely, more boldly.  When the gunman told me to get out of the way, I quickly exited the bank, but hid in behind the bushes to get a description of the getaway car and note in what direction they fled.  No, I did not take the down the gunman with a kick to the groin, but I did give the police information that was helpful and I did not get myself shot.  I call that a pretty good day.  

As the stories come out of Newton, CT of what those brave and bold teachers did, I do not second guess their actions.  Their actions were indeed brave and bold.  Instead, I question, "What would I do?"  If a shooter was terrorizing my school, what would I do?  Would I stay calm and ease my students fears?  Would I take a bullet for my students?  

The school has lockdown drills.  I know the mechanics of locking the doors and moving the students to a closet or storage room, if possible.  We have actual lockdowns.  Thankfully, those usually involve an escaped criminal hiding out in the woods behind the school or a small (unarmed) fight on campus.  A couple years ago, a student "accidentally" discharged a gun as he was exiting the school bus to come into school.  The alarm sounded right before the first bell of the morning.  I knew this was not a typical lockdown.  I was in the counseling office with a handful of students, most of whom were Burmese refugees, brand new to our school.  Welcome to America!  I did my best to explain what was going on as we sat in the dark, listening for approaching footsteps and possibly gunfire.  At that point, we had no clue as to what was going on outside that wooden door.  I admit, my thoughts wandered to where my own children were.  Had they made it to class yet?  Were they safe in that part of campus?  Was any part of the campus safe?  I whispered reassurances to the students with me.  I don't know how much they understood.  I watched them carefully for signs of anxiety or panic.  There wasn't much else to be done as we sat and hoped for silence in the halls.  Finally we received word that we could turn on the lights, but everyone had to remain in place while security and the police made sure the buildings were secure.  I reassured the students that we do this to be safe, to be certain that they are protected from harm.  They shared bits of their life before coming to America, some good and some bad.  

I did what I was suppose to do.  I locked the door, turned off the lights, and kept the students and quiet and calm.  Every time I sub, I always assess the room for a potential lockdown.  Is there a closet or storage room large enough to hold all of the students?  Where is the emergency folder?  Where are the keys to the lock the door?  Do I have an accurate accounting of students in the room?  I know the mechanics.  Had that student been able to get that gun from the bus to the hallways, would I have been as brave and bold as those teachers in Newton?    

It saddens me that we live in a society where lockdown procedures are part of my morning routine.  It saddens me that students are all to familiar with lockdown drills and actual lockdowns.  When new teachers are being interviewed, do principals need to ask the question, "Would you take a bullet for your students?"  Would I take a bullet for my students?  I would like to be confident and say, "yes, of course I would!"  Until you are looking down the barrel of a gun, you just don't know.

The holiday edition of the pattern books is always my favorite of the year.  So much glitz and glam.  The last couple of years have been so disappointing.  Has fashion taken a wrong turn down the Retro Path?  Has the economy dampened the creative spirit?  Am I getting old and cranky,  no longer able to appreciate the changing trends?  

Most of the holiday collections are simply ho-hum.  There are very, very few patterns that I MUST.  BUY.  RIGHT.  NOW… like almost none.  Several make me believe someone is trying to sabotage the home sewing industry.  Seriously, with patterns like these, who would ever want to sew their own dresses.  (Not that the selection at the mall is any better… wow… so much ugly on the racks.)  

This monstrosity… where to begin…  

B5853

The giant floral background is such a distraction, but, considering the dress, perhaps that was intentional.  The fabric and lace look so cheap.  Budgets are tight, but when sewing samples to be photographed for the pattern catalog, the pattern companies should spend a few extra bucks and go for more luxe fabrics.  The necklace does not go with the dress.  It is so heavy and casual for the delicate lace.  The necklace is so heavy that the model cannot stand upright.  

Okay… the bow.  The. Bow.  What an awkward placement.  Without the bow, it would be a cute enough dress.  With better fabric, it could be a really cute dress.  If the bow were at the waist… maybe, just maybe it could be okay.  If the seam fell just below the bust/bow… maybe… possibly.  If anyone has a very large bust, please, please run away from this pattern.  

I have to stop writing.  I cannot look at this photo for another minute.  

It is another sleepless night.  Pain.  I pushed it and I knew it the whole time.  J is home for the first time since he left for college in the middle of August.  Maybe it is pride, maybe it is maternal martyrdom, but I did not want his first trip home be filled with worry about me.  Having my boy around is a great distraction during the day, but at night, when the house gets quiet it is harder to ignore the pain. 

When the house gets quiet is also when I attack the scar tissue.  PT Guy would be proud.  I am now attacking it so hard that I leave bruises on myself.  Bruises are good.  Bruises mean I am ripping chunks of scar tissue from the muscles.  It's not good that the adhesions keep coming back.  Adhesions are normal after an injury or trauma, like surgery.  They protect the injured area while it heals.  Sometimes, the healing process goes awry and the body won't stop producing scar tissue.  It appears that is the case with me. 

The only treatment is to continuously break it down manually.  I feel around the muscle for painful lumps, then press on them as hard as I can until I feel a pop.  I also roll a piece of PVC pipe along the muscle.  When I find a big adhesion, I press down as I roll the pipe down my leg in an effort to literally rip it off the muscle.  It is as barbaric as it sounds.  If I don't do it, the adhesions will just grow and spread, eventually overtaking the muscle tissue and rendering it useless. 

Inflicting bruises on yourself requires going to very bizarre part of the brain.  It takes a great deal of force and a great deal of self control to continue to apply that force when it hurts like hell.  In a twisted way, it is a release.  Adhesions hurt… a lot.  Getting rid of them feels good, even though I know they will be back.  Breaking them down is intense, but it also releases a lot of endorphins.  Endorphins are good. 

My doctor said diligence is the key.  If left unchecked, these chronic adhesions will grow back bigger and badder in less than 24 hours.  So twice a day, I work myself over with my PVC pipe.  When I get busy and skip a session, the adhesions get aggressive.  That's when I go to PT Guy, tell him I've been a naughty girl and ask him to hurt me. 

In ten days, I will meet with the hip surgeon.  We are all a little terrified of this appointment.  Surgery would fix the torn tendon and bone impingement.  But more trauma means more scar tissue.  Being laid up would mean the adhesions would have free run of my leg for weeks.  Not doing surgery means no relief from the hip pain.  Unless this guy has a magic wand, I am kind of screwed either way. 

For now, I will enjoy having J home for a few days.  He is a great distraction.  I am already counting down the days until he comes home for winter break. 

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The webcomic Homestuck has a nearly cult like following at the high school.  I don't read it for fear that I will get sucked into the cult too.  A: I belong to enough cults (ie. Project Runway, ANTM) and don't have time for anymore.  B: I already listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows, and sometimes dress like the teenagers I am surrounded by all day.  I need some boundaries.  Anyway, I don't really know that much about it except my son gets very excited when a new episode is published and is sometimes exasperated when the story line goes in a weird direction.  I don't know.  It's weird.  To borrow a phrase from the Bloggess, I've learned to "lean into the weird."  

C found a tutorial on line for making scalemates, which are cute little characters from Homestuck.  The boy dug through my scrap bin for fleece, set up his laptop on the cutting table and went to town.  I have made small critters with fleece.  Not an easy task.  The boy totally rocked it.  No, it does not have arms.  I don't know why but the character in the webcomic is without arms. Perhaps it is integral to the story line or perhaps the guy who draws the comic doesn't like to draw arms.  Given the level of precision with which C sewed that spiky little head, the boy could absolutely do arms if this weird little thing had arms.  So, C made one and posted a photo on Facebook.  The crowds went wild.  People are asking C to make scalemate plushies, offering quite a bit of cash in return.  Being the impeccably honest person that he is, C doesn't feel right profiting from the work of others, both the character and the tutorial.  Instead, he is asking only for enough money to cover fabric and supplies.  The boy will never be rich, but he will sleep well at night knowing he always does the right thing.  

J's first college concert was two days before his birthday.  It seemed like a good excuse to visit him for the weekend.  I lavished him with a bag full of gifts.  What was he most excited about?  His very own scalemate made by his little brother in his favorite color.  He actually smiled.  Apparently, it has been quite a hit with the college crowd too… at least the geeky part of the college crowd… which is pretty much everyone at J's college.  (more about his college experience soon…)

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I am now 16 hours into chaperoning a 24 gaming marathon at the high school.  It is kind of like a dance marathon for nerds.  Instead of dancing for 24 hours, the students are playing Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and lots of other nerdy games. They are raising money for a local children's hospital.  Right now, I am hiding out in a stair well because they are playing Zombies vs Humans, complete with full zombie make up and a huge arsenal of Nerf guns.  With my orthopaedic issues, I don't need to be running around the auditorium in dark while dodging Nerf missiles.  The students are having a blast.  No one looks even a tiny bit tired. 

I love that our high school is nerdy enough to pull this off.  There is a rather large club that meets on a regular basis to play these games.  Instead of sleeping late on teacher workdays, they get up early, go to school, and play Dungeons and Dragons.  That is dedication.  There are even girls in this club.  There are teachers who give up their free time to play games with these students.  Tonight, a teacher had his wife drop him off at school on their way back from an out of state wedding.  Dedication. 

When they came up with this idea for a 24 hour marathon, the school district said two adults would need to be present the whole time.  The teacher in charge sent a letter to the participants' parents requesting volunteers.  No one responded.  No one was willing to come in for even an hour.  I couldn't let lack of a chaperone stop these students.  So, for 24 hours, I am locked in the auditorium with this great group of nerdy students. 


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