Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Mess In Town

If it's not one thing, it's another. This town needs to grow up already.

This time the coach of a very winning high school sports team has not had his contract renewed.

The big sport in our town is - well, it's the same sport as a particular team at a southern school that a few years ago had to deal with an untrue allegation of very bad behavior. Yes, the accusation was found to be untrue, but that the team was regularly acting in such a way that accusations couldn't be dismissed outright, that they could so easily have been construed as possibly being true based on other behaviors - well that kind of culture is what has developed with the high school team here playing the same sport. (And during that whole thing? Before it was ascertained as untrue? People here still 'proudly' wore team jerseys from that school. Ick.)

It really doesn't matter what the sport is. This is the kind of thing that tends to pop up around one sport or another if the team does well for a while. A totally unhealthy deification of teenagers. In fact, prior to 2001, I think it was another sport that had this issue in this town until that coach was removed for less then ethical behavior.

So anyway, this team sport. A number of state championships. Awesome. Except that the coach over the years has gotten cockier and cockier about that achievement and started acting as if he is above the rules. Lots of quid pro quo with parents. Throwing parties for the kids and supplying alcohol. Generally promoting the kind of behavior that contributed to the situation at the southern university. (I am NOT saying the team down there was to blame for the false accusation, but neither did any of the team have a track record of behaving in a dignified or respectful manner. Their mothers and grandmothers would blush at much of their behaviors, I am sure of it.) Generally speaking, when people mention that they know my town for this sports team, I grimace. Goodness knows what they have seen or heard. I do know some of the kids have been arrested but, gosh, never quite made the police log, never had charges actually filed.

Anyway, after a discipline issue with the coach a couple of years ago, the behavior only got more brazen. But the coach is a popular figure in town for all this winning, people like "heroes," and the superintendent has had her share of controversies in the last year. The superintendent, I'm certain, had enough reason to fire the guy for cause. She didn't. She gave him a gift by simply not renewing his contract, thus giving him his best opportunity to find a new job (else her reasons would have been public, and if they are the reasons I am rather certain they are, he'd never get a job coaching kids again). And given his relative popularity and those other controversies, do you think anyone in their right mind would invite this kind of additional scrutiny. Willingly? It just makes no sense. Anyway, I thought the local schools were supposed to put academics first. Silly me.

So people are up in arms. People who otherwise complain that the schools are awful and the administration is doing nothing to improve them suddenly are claiming how wonderful the schools are and the administration is ruining them, and this is a perfect example. People are throwing around words like "travesty of justice" and other ridiculousness.

But then I noticed something interesting. All the letters to the editor and other comments are either from 1) parents who don't have children in this sport at all, 2) players who graduated 4-6 years ago or 3) parents of graduated players. From what I can tell, no current players or parents are speaking up. Interesting. You think it might be because they know why the coaches contract wasn't renewed? Hmmm....

I don't envy the job of the superintendent and school committee over the next month as people bitch and moan. But I do know all of this will die down. The team may not win another championship next spring. Maybe it's time to turn the winning over to another sport in town. See you back here in 7-8 years for this issue all over again.

(Just hope the superintendent survives this and the other controversies. She's doing the right thing in every situation, but people around here are just so entitled. Sigh.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


M keeps asking to call and to see his friend P.

I keep putting him off. Making excuses.

Dead silence from A.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Scar Tissue

There's a piece in the New York Times today about scars. I read it early this morning and I've been thinking about it most of the day since, and mostly in context of C's scars from when he was sick. I love the bit in the piece about scars being "signposts of optimism."

As I've written, he's had some difficulty in accepting his scars in the past. For years he wouldn't talk about it, hid it, and the big scar had a name so he could talk about it in code. But in the last two years he's become more comfortable with his big scar and runs around at the beach and the pool shirtless regularly. I don't know if anyone has asked about it. I have noticed that - just as we told him it would - the scar has stayed the same size while he has grown (he'll be taller than me by Christmas, and I'm not short). The scar appears smaller now. Phew.

Anyway, I brought the article home for him to read. He did. He thought it was weird.

I don't know what I was expecting. He's thirteen, after all. I suspect it will hang with him a bit, and the line about optimism will percolate to the surface when he needs it. At least I hope so.

At any rate, in the accompanying Well blog piece linked to the article, there's a comment:

"I tell my children (and myself?) that if you die without any scars you haven’t really lived."

I don't know about you, but I have lots of scars.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So Wrong

Hubby and I were out to dinner last night, and decided to walk around the small town a little afterward, peering into the windows of the closed shops.

In the window of a children's shop was prominently displayed a baby onesie printed or appliqued to look like a zebra-print bikini. I kid you not.

It was so utterly tasteless and so wrong on so many levels. We became more and more disturbed the more we thought about it, even as we tried to joke around about it.

Objectification of women and s*xualization of little girls is such a problem in our culture, and that onesie took it to a new low level. Euw, a million times over. Once home, I did a Web search and found it here. The woman's other stuff looks cute, but those onesies are just beyond tacky. I'm really tempted to get in touch with that shop and say so.

I guess the only good thing I can say is that I have a renewed resolve not to put my daughter in inappropriate clothing. Not that I ever did. But still.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Maybe Not

So as of this afternoon, I'd say that this book thing may not happen after all. That's okay.

They contacted me in early June about this, and I put together an outline. They came back with some edits and wanting more detail. I gave that to them. Today they sent me an outline that they want me to fill out that is completely different in tone from what they first said they were looking for.

I wrote back stating some concerns. There are a million and one books on pregnancy and babies and toddlers out there. Another book with topics on "nutrition and vitamins during pregnancy" - and from a non-medical professional at that - is not what any bookstore needs. I wouldn't buy such a book.

Given what they said they were looking for, I gave them an outline of the kind of book I'd want to buy (or receive). A bit more about the emotional side of things, something reassuring, slightly humorous, letting me know that while I have to go through much of parenting alone, have to do it myself, I'm not alone. That others have had these crazy, hard, wonderful, scary, intense, beautiful moments, too. How every mother reinvents the wheel every time, with every child - and how it all changes you in ways you never thought possible. Encouraging women to trust themselves and ignore the well-intended free advice they receive in abundance. Not overly sentimental, not overly snarky and rude, either.

Ambitious, I know, but broken out into tidy 2000 word essays relating to specific ages and milestones.

Anyway, I don't know if they want that after all. I don't want to write a book that says, "Make sure you take your prenatal vitamins everyday! Some women may feel slightly nauseous when they take their vitamins, so try taking them with a small meal or a piece of fruit." Gag.

I've pretty much prepared myself for the response to be "thanks, but no thanks, we'll find someone else." Or at least I think I have. It was fun (and daunting) to think about for a while there.

(For a "communication" company, the communication has been lacking - and especially for their tight writing schedule. I can go a week between hearing from them, even as they say they are rushed. And the editors and production people I've been in contact with? All in their early 20s. Seriously.)

Oh well.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

If you are going to go to the school committee meeting and start screaming about lack of ethics and threaten legal action, you'd better be sure that your name can't be tied to leaving behind several partial cadavers (in a freezer, thankfully) in an office when the company you led went bankrupt.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Day I Was Dreading

My sister has requested my friendship on Facebook.

God help me.

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

I had another phone meeting with a publishing house today. We're tweaking my outline and probably going to contract stage next week. 55,000 words by mid-October. In addition to my regular job, and a few other things I have going on.

I am utterly terrified.

I was approached about a month ago about writing a book about parenting. Kind of a "what the regular parenting books won't tell you" first five years kind of thing. I got into this due to some other writing I have been doing for about a year and a half now - I didn't dream it up on my own and never entertained the thought of a book on any topic (no Great American Novel in the bottom drawer). I think it's rather laughable that I have been asked to consider writing such a book as I have no freaking clue what I am doing on the parenting thing. I have screwed up so much! Yet the kids are still alive. Go figure.

Have I mentioned that I am terrified? So terrified I can barely talk about it. My family and a couple people know about it, but I am having such a hard time actually talking to them about it.

What if I am laughed at? What if I embarrass my family? What happens if the book is panned as the WORST. BOOK. RELATED. TO. MOTHERING. EVER? Will I ever be able to show my face again? Anywhere?