Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's--Bah Humbug

It's early and I'm sitting here writing, to force myself not to crawl back in bed and hide from the world a while. Which is what I really want to do.

Today is valentines day. Over-hyped/consumerized/fake holiday it may be... but it would be nice to have one. I thought about sending Nene flowers but decided against it, mainly because I can't afford to, but mostly because while I do a lot of talking here about how I feel about him, to his face I mostly keep it under wraps. Except when he asks.

Also, it's 4 days away from my birthday, which is Monday. I'll be 43. I'm not really looking forward to it. I think I look damn good for a chick my age, and in this over-hyped/consumerized/fake society that's pretty useful. But inside things are changing, and I feel it.

Fucking unemployment sent me a letter saying they weren't going to give me benefits for those two weeks I didn't go to their "Profiling" meeting. I plan on appealing it. I can understand them not giving me benefits for the first week, because I did sort of blow off the appointment. The second time though, the Sun was vomiting every couple of hours, and there was no one who could come over. And, I called them to find out what to do.

To be fair... I didn't think it a big deal. I sent in paperwork online. And in truth... the "appointment" itself was a complete waste of time. It's just another example of the government making you jump through hoops.

But if you think unemployment is bad... you should try foodstamps or welfare. Which is why I refuse to do either. Besides, I don't think I qualify for either... my "income" is over their limits thanks to Child support. They don't care (Welfare/foodstamps) that my rent alone is $1200. The monthly income requirement for a family of two in New York, to qualify for foodstamps is $1,484. My "income" is twice that at this moment because of unemployment/child support... but as I said rent is $1200, Con Ed is $150 (I'm on a balanced monthly billing cycle.. I have two computers/two printers/several external drives which I USE and are part of the business of graphic design, plus, I have a washing machine. My bill would be lower in the winter, but I'd rather pay a steady amount all year, than pay much higher rates in the summer when we run the air conditioners), I need DSL/phone combo which is $70. In the past when things got tight I cut the cable (now we have satellite... the Sun would be devasated) and reduced my cellphone. But because of TF I maintain a cell for the Sun. And none of that includes food. Or the Sun's Karate classes/tournaments or violin. I live better than a lot of folk, so I can't complain. And the hole I'm in is of my own making. But shit... I paid into Unemployment and it pisses me off that I've got to fight for it.

I've thought about moving, thinking if I were closer to support I'd feel better. Out here, it's just me and ShoeFly. I'm so far away from everyone (or so they seem to think). I commute into the city everyday just about, and I'm used to it. But people bitch like crazy about having to come "all the way out there, *sigh*" so generally, I've stopped asking. The biggest beef about living out here is that you have to switch over to a bus when you get off the train, and the bus comes every 20 minutes, so it is kind of a pain. But I do it every day. But the plus to living where I do is that by New York standards, my apartment is HUGE. And now, cheap. I've got two bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen, a living room large enough to have all my equipment, a desk and a drawing table and STILL have a portion that looks like a living room, a decent sized bathroom (NYC bathrooms can literally be the size of a closet) but most importantly, a back deck. Large enough to hold a patio set, my old futon sofa, some flower pots and a barbecue grill. I would HATE to give all that up to pay the same rent (if I'm lucky) for a quarter of the space. Plus... the Sun refuses to even entertain the thought.

I don't have money to move anyway.

I should get a job. Or something. But right this second all I want to do is crawl back into bed. I think I'll go make some coffee.

But first I'll bitch some more.

Three years ago, when I was the VP of the Parents Association in the Sun's school, and the Fat Lady was Pres (which is how we got to be really tight) we came up with this idea to give a "grant" to the classroom teachers. There were various reasons... the school is in (well, is fast changing from, but still) East Harlem, a "poor" district. The NYC Dept of Education is cheap (in fact, they just ordered cutbacks in the budget), and we knew that the teachers needed things. Snacks... trips, equipment. We had offered to give them money for these things, but to keep track we asked them to submit a request. Some people asked for a lot... some people didn't and it wasn't necessarily for need... Some people are just better at asking for things than other people. So, we decided to come up with a "grant" to give teachers. I think we figured on $5 or $10 a kid, and then we came up with a number to give the Librarian, the art teacher, the music teacher. The first year, by the time we got everything settled, it just happened to fall on Valentine's Day. We didn't make a huge deal about it, just went around and gave out the gift cards.

Last year, we did it again, and Fat Lady had gone the extra mile of attaching a little chocolate. The teachers were thrilled. Apparently, some of the paraprofessionals weren't. Some of them seemed to feel they should have gotten something. I didn't really pay attention to the rumors because as far as I was concerned, the grant was to the class... which included the paras and whatever student teacher happens to be there.

This year, OneHalf is the President of the PA, poor thing. The Fat Lady has no position in the PA, and I took a "communications" role, but we both are there for our friend OneHalf so that she doesn't have to face idiots by herself. As Valentine's Day approached, the principal told OneHalf about the Paras grumbling, and OneHalf went to great lengths to prepare a letter explaining the original intent of the grant. And made sure to say that we supported ALL of the teaching staff.

On Wednesdays, the school has a "community meeting", and so in the hope of making everyone feel included, OneHalf and her VP agreed to give out the money (again in the form of gift cards) at the meeting, in front of the kids. I went in to be there. The presentation went off OK... no biggie... the VP had everyone cheer for all the staff. The teachers, the paras, the student teachers, and then the cards were given out to the teachers, mainly cuz they are head-decision-makers in the class. Cool, right?

Nope.

On the way up the stairs after Community meeting, with kids in tow, the PA, myself and Fat Lady overhear one Para in particular griping rather loudly that she was "embarrassed" to be called up there, when she didn't get anything. I answered her loudly, as did Fat Lady that it was to THE CLASS, not one person or staff member specifically. But she kept bitching. And long story short, when we got to the top of the stairs (4 flights) the loud discussion turned into a flat-out argument, with OneHalf breaking fool. For one, she was deeply hurt because she had put a lot of time and thought into making everyone feel included. For two, the para had no right to be so rude and for three... when you give someone money, how dare they bitch about it! Another para stepped in to try to be reasonable, and OneHalf was explaining how we came up with the formula, how we tried to enusre that everyone understood that the money was for the classroom and everyone in the classroom, but then the first para comes back and loudly tells the other para "You don't have to talk to them. We need to talk to [the principal]". I was amazed. Pissed off. I could see kids hovering, trying to see who was arguing and why and I sent them back to class. OneHalf went to find the Librarian to give her her giftcard, and then went to work.

Fat Lady and I stayed around, and about an hour later got called into a meeting with the principal, the para (who I had ratted out to the principal) and the Librarian, who turns out is the UFT leader for the school.

The principal... who has a REALLY annoying habit of talking to all people as if they are 9 or 10 (but for real... that's who she talks to all day) proceeded to lay into the para (who's had a chip on her shoulder for years... MoodmagicBarbie couldn't stand her when she was in her class). The para denied yelling... denied their were children present. But most importantly, she refused to concede or acknowledge that the grant was to the CLASSROOM. I finally laid out--again--how we came to give the money in the first place, that this was NOT "Staff Appreciation Day" when we actually give gifts to each staff member and cater a lunch, and that it wasn't directed to any one person. I told her traditionally, while there were one or two constant teams of Teacher/Paras, most of the paras could be put in any class, based on whether or not there was a kid in the class who needed a para. So we didn't want to address each para by name, but that didn't mean they weren't included. I told her personally, I was insulted that she would take the gift that way, and I asked her "aren't you part of the class?"
"Well no" she said snottily "I don't feel like I'm part of the class."
"Well, that sounds like a personal problem, " I said, "between you and the school, and something you should address. But it's not my problem... our gift was SPECIFICALLY 'to the class' and not directed at any one person".

She still refused to acknowledge anything, still refused to understand any other point of view but her own. Finally, the principal kicked us out of the meeting... but she stayed with librarian for some time, bitching. Poor librarian.

For most of yesterday I was "amped." I love a good fight, especially when I'm right. And the para is a little psycho... and I'm a pro at arguing with psychos, thanks to TF. The trick is to stay focused on the main point, repeating your position (they'll never concede to it, but it prevents them from "leading you down the garden path" into an endless argument). But it was draining.

And I was really mad... and got madder even, once I got home. I hate people who carry a chip on their shoulder and think they are entitled to something. Those are usually the very ones to say "That's not my job!" and refuse to go the extra mile for anyone or anything, unless it directly benefits them. Yet, they want to be acknowledged for every little thing they do. And they tend to bully their way through life, intimidating people to give them what they want. And sometimes they just need their asses kicked (figuratively speaking). I was glad to kick her ass yesterday. But it made me really tired...

5 comments:

Ros said...

I dare you to go get her a gift card for $1.50.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

i agree, i asked myself to be my valentince, but i can wish u a hapy napy valentines day as well

The Bear Maiden said...

You all both made me LOL. Thank you. Ros that would be so freaking funny. The word "apoplectic" comes to mind to describe what she'd do.

Mr. Stephens, thank you, and to you as well. Kiss your babies, if you can. (I did give the Sun chocolate Kissables this morning. Made both of our day.)

professor said...

today I have on red and black...red for valentines and black for feeling bad that I have no one to share it with...but what if I did...he'd probably get on my last nerve...and why can't we just get flowers once a week? and I really don't need chocolate as me and my two co-workers single handedly went through 52 candy bars to "support" our school and help out with the candy sale...I think it's better to not have a partner on valentines than to have a partner and not get the love you want or deserve...however, crawling back in bed for extra hours of uninterrupted sleep beats candy and flowers ANY DAY!!!!!!!!!!
and MMB got sneakers...choclahontas got on my nerves so she got coal...LOL...I still love her...

Nina said...

I hear ya re: not wanting to work for the dhs=foodstamps etc. That just seems like too much effort. Sorry about the unemployment wait.

So, you had some excitement for an early Valentine's, lol. This situation, with someone trying to hijack the attention and intention of an organisation sounds like something I saw recently in our spiritual center, of all places. So much energy wasted. You are so right: keeping focused and repeating your clear point is all you can do to come out ahead and keep them at bay, if only barely.