Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Microstories: Over

Our love was always precarious; dancing with elephants, you once laughed. Their ponderous footsteps shattered the very foundations of who we were, and...

Somewhere in the dust and falling plaster, the pachyderms fled, leaving you and me in this empty, demolished room.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How Not To Freak Out About Ebola

It is a stone cold fact that I am an anxious person.  If there is something out there to worry about, I'm losing sleep over it.  Anxieties keep a running commentary in the back of my head, every single "what if?"  ever created circling in a constant loop, kept only at bay by my sheer determination not to become dominated by my fears.  I know anxiety very well.

So when I say that this current Ebola hysteria is pure crazy?  Believe it. 

I've lived through all this insanity before, when the school district I worked for abruptly closed down for a week due to the minute possibility that someone in a hundred-mile radius might have had Swine flu. While I appreciated the tiny vacation, I came to despise the phrase "out of an abundance of caution".  And it is getting crazier, all in the name of that Caution.  There's even a discussion among some people that homeschooling is the way to go, so your children don't catch Ebola, which makes me want to create an Extra Special Crazy category for them.(Homeschool if that's your thing, just don't do it for a stupid reason like imaginary contagion.)   Even my husband has become a bit alarmed, because he read Stephen King's The Stand, and the idea of such a situation actually happening seems plausible enough to worry him. 

Even with all that, I'm not going to freak out.  There's not really anything to get hysterical about here.  The situation, which may have involved some stupidity on the part of certain hospital officials, has been addressed.  I'm more concerned about the fact that there are only four hospitals in the US equipped to deal with these sorts of infectious diseases than I am about the disease itself.  

Here's what you do instead of freaking out:

1. Get the facts.  Not wiki-facts, or random Internet facts from someone who knows a guy who knew a cousin who slept with a girl who was friends with a guy who died from Ebola.  No, for the serious diseases, a person in need of information goes to the CDC( or google the World Health Organization.  These people know their infectious diseases like some people can name every first baseman who ever played in a World Series. They have been studying Ebola for years, before anyone else even heard of it. What do they say? Ebola can only be spread certain ways, and those ways involve bodily fluids.  Ebola is not an airborne pathogen.  Nobody is going to breathe in someone's air and catch Ebola. Ebola doesn't survive for long on surfaces. So stop with the drama about closing the borders, or boycotting businesses where someone may have coughed/sneezed while they shopped. Take a deep breath, safe in the knowledge that you're not going to contract Ebola. 

2. Turn off the Television, stop reading articles.  Under the guise of helpfulness, the media has a tendency to sensationalize these sort of situations, in the name of getting you to tune in or click on their page.  Remember that these organizations are all about profit, even if their job is providing information.  It's in their best interest to keep you hysterical and glued to their channel. It's not in your best interest. So turn off the television, shut down the internet, and do something else. 

3. Wash your hands.  That's what you do to keep from getting the flu, colds, and just about every other virus out there.  I don't use hand sanitizer, which contains chemicals known to cause muscle weakness.  I use plain soap and water, and it is just as effective. After all these years, washing your hands makes the difference, and it doesn't cost a ton of cash. If it makes you feel better, you can also wear one of those masks they hand out for the flu.

4. Get out and live your life.  Instead of hiding in your house waiting for the Ebola zombies to show up, go outside.  Hit the stores.  Eat out.  Hang out with your friends. Go to a pool hall and gamble away your pension.  Do all those things that make you happy, and stop thinking about Ebola.  Unless it really makes you happy to think about Ebola.  But if thinking about Ebola makes you happy, you should probably be working for the CDC.   

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Creativity Only Goes So Far

Zane brought this letter home from school the other day.  Actually, he stuffed into his backpack, and I found it when I was attempting to pull out his lunchbox.  Because organizational skills are genetic.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The 1st grade students will have a nutrition parade on October 27th (Monday) at 10:00. Each student will need to dress up as a type of food. Please be creative!!!
*Grapes- use balloons attached to a shirt.
*Cereal Box- decorating a box and cut a hole out for their head.
*Sandwich- using poster board or foam.
~Students can dress up as any type of food.
The parade will take place in the church parking lot (weather permitting).
On October 27th the students will also need to bring a food from the food group to share with the class. (Store Bought Only)
Please have the students bring their food to class with them in the morning.

The students will receive a participation grade for the costume and food item.

Thank you,

The 1st Grade Teachers

I'd hoped we could avoid such events, especially after last year and the Egg Incident. My son and a few of his classmates were overheard making fun of one of the girls in the parade. The poor girl was dressed up as an egg, and the boys couldn't resist.  Everybody knows that eggs should never be unescorted; they should always be accompanied by bacon.  The principal disagreed, of course, and we got a note AND a phone call, unheard of in the world of private school discipline. You can bet that my son heard all about it.

Now it is Zane's turn.  Ever the vigilant mother, I leaped into action. Box of crackers for the grain group?  Check.  But then...I reread that part about the costume. 

Be creative?

My first reaction was to become defensive.  What the heck is that supposed to mean, "be creative"?  Are they insinuating that my child-decorating skills are lacking?  Be creative? Are they saying that I can't make a blankety-blank costume for my own child?  Is that what they're saying here?  Blankety-blank.

Yes, I went there, and I spent a good twenty minutes griping to myself about it.  Then I got a little depressed.

Be creative?  Really?

I can create worlds inside my head, kingdoms full of witches and fairies and knights in shining tin foil, and put those worlds on paper.  I can write a relatively decent song lyric.  I can do a passable watercolor, one that sort of looks like whatever I was going for.  I can make my own jewelry.  I can cross stitch, and crochet, and occasionally dance.

But my creativity only goes so far.

When it comes to making a stupid costume, I'm all thumbs, and I knew that.  I had to face reality:  I have difficulty using scissors without cutting myself at least once, and I cannot sew in a straight line.  I broke one too many needles on my mother's sewing machine and was banned for life, so that was out as an option.  Staples and duct tape, my usual clothing repair choices, are probably not going to work here.

I just am not a Macgyver Mom(if nobody else has coined that yet, dibs), who can whip something up out of leftover toilet paper rolls, paper clips, and wire hangers. It's not going to happen, either.  More than my lack of skill in costume making, however, I realized that I was panicking at the thought of trying to rush through creating a costume in the middle of working, soccer, housekeeping, and cancer.  I know myself.  I would spend more time freaking out about the costume in a fit of indecisiveness than actually working on the costume, which would likely be completed at 2am on Sunday, October 26th. Except that I have my lumpectomy scheduled for Friday, October 24th, and who knows how that's going to turn out?  I'm supposed to be outpatient, but at best, I'll be doing a lot of lying very still and not moving.   Not a good position from which to work on a costume. Something had to give in this situation. 

In the words of pop culture, "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!"

The extent of my creativity in this particular venture, after all of that angst?  Amazon is a mom's best friend! They actually have costumes of food! Zane is going to be a fried egg, because I have a quirky sense of humor, whether the principal appreciates it or not.  The boy is going to participate by making himself some bacon out of construction paper to carry with him for his little parade. 

He is better at using scissors than I am, anyway.