The Local Government and You

Growing up in school, we were told the biggest fairy tale of our lives: that the government works for the people. We are taught that the government cares about its citizens, making bills to protect us and listen to us. If they don’t, you go out and vote and make a difference. As an adult, you get hit with the crushing reality that the government doesn’t work for us: they work for whatever will get them the most money and re-elected. Yes, on a much grander scale this accurately describes the federal government but there is still the misconception at the local level that us citizens actually have a voice. Spoiler: we don’t. And the thing about voting? The citizens need to educate themselves and have actual choices to make the changes that are necessary. We don’t. The only politician that I follow in Chicopee that seems to genuinely be concerned with its citizens doesn’t even get a second glance from voters.

When you become a homeowner, you realize how terrible your local government can be. For instance, my mortgage went up as it seems my property taxes went up. What did I get in return for these taxes? Are my teachers getting anything that they are asking for so that they can better serve my children? Nope. In fact, they are still trying to negotiate terms of a contract that ended a year ago (Last I saw anyways, I could be wrong in which case feel free to correct me). Also in fact? They are shuffling around teachers/administration in a manner that may negatively impact the education of my children. They were even discussing getting rid of the Pre-AP program at my son’s high school, a move that actually upset my child. That tax money didn’t go to our schools.

Well, at least we kept our free trash pickup right? Except we really didn’t. We were given a trash barrel that fits 2 trash bags in it and then we have to pay $5-$10 for extra bags if we need to. I live in a house with 2 children and my recycling is so full that by the bi-weekly pickup, I have so much recycling accumulated that I can’t do anything with and it keeps building up. I’m certainly not the only family in the city with this issue. Does that matter? Nope. So where did our money go? Well, a conspiracy theorist may point out that the Mayor’s street is getting redone again…

My husband and I are reasonable people. We follow the rules. We donate more than our fair share of supplies to our elementary school because we can afford to and other parents may not be so lucky. We do it because it helps the teachers and by helping our teachers, we are giving our children the best chance to succeed. We don’t even complain about much to the city. Our only complaint has ever been: Can you fix the parking situation on our street?

A backstory. We live on a horseshoe type street. Our house is on one side of the curve, the Inkedparkingsituation_LIside where there is a sidewalk that leads up to the school and playground behind our house. A sidewalk that all the neighborhood kids need to access to get to school or their bus stops. A sidewalk that frequently gets blocked by cars. This curve has cars parked alongside it pretty much all the time, only allowing 1 car to make it around the curve, if they’re lucky (as you can see). Larger vehicles? Those aren’t so lucky. For instance, 3 times trucks have ended up on my property. They drive down the street, which they have no business being down anyways, and end up needing to back up. The problem is backing up with an 18 wheeler. This one incident is a truck that managed to come up several feet onto my property, nearly hitting my tree. In an incident that occurred yesterday, 3 pots and 2 lights were destroyed. Annoying, yes but they were close to the curb so I realize there’s nothing we can do. My neighbor? The tire tracks are further up his lawn than mine. 3 incidences where trucks ended up my property probably exceeds the reasonable limit. If I didn’t have a hill on my property, those trucks could have destroyed my home. There was also this really cool year when my son took a special needs bus to school. 3 times (at least) the bus couldn’t get him because they couldn’t get up the street. Reported it to the city, and got the response of: “Parking on this street is a known issue.” What is a known issue? Does it mean that it’s known and you don’t care to fix it? For the record, other times I just met the bus at a different stop to ensure he made it to school. One time the bus driver kept honking her horn at everyone until people started moving their cars so she could get by. I miss her.

See what also happens because of the parking situation on my street is that fire trucks and ambulances have some trouble getting around the street, sometimes even requiring one of them to get out to help the driver back up and move forward for 10 minutes while trying to get around this street. What happens in an emergency because of those 10 minutes? People could die. Does that matter? No, apparently not. What if my kid is having a medical emergency and the vehicles couldn’t get to him in time and he died? This is a valid concern that I have. There are other kids and elderly people on this street. This is a valid concern that they should have. (Side note: absolute props to the police and fire department. I don’t want to sound like I’ve insulted them because I have never had a negative experience with them. They were always kind, helpful, and they do a lot for our city.)

Now I know…. “instead of ranting on your blog that no one sees about this maybe you should contact the city”. After the first incident 2 years ago with the “Known issue response”, a second report about the sidewalk being blocked where we got a “Call dispatch next time.” (For the record, the car stayed there for another day without any recourse if memory serves me correctly.) I decided to email every official I could think to. Paper trails are a more effective approach I find. They can deny a phone call, but not electronic communications. It’s a safety concern and I worry for the day when something happens because of it. What if my kid was on the lawn when a truck did this? As of the writing of this a day later, I haven’t received any email back. Even a courtesy “we’ll look into this matter” would be less infuriating than no response.

The moral of this story: the government doesn’t care. And the only people that do seem to genuinely care never get the chance to help us. Chicopee needs a change in leadership, a shakeup. I hope it happens soon. Our schools deserve better. Our government employees deserve better. Our citizens deserve better. Most importantly, our children deserve better.

 

Advertisements

The Overwatch League Semi-Finals

Could anyone be more shocked at the outcome of these semi-final matches? The last seed Philadelphia Fusion faced off against the NYXL, the favorites to win it all since Stage 2. (Depending on who you asked, they said all along that XL would take the Grand Champion title.) The London Spitfire, the other favorite to win it all since the pre-season and their win at the first stage championships, slumped and people had little confidence that anything would come from this team. The Spitfire went against the favorites and hometown team the LA Valiant. Who won? What are my predictions for the Grand Finals? Let’s get to this.

To be clear, I was spiteful and went against my Boston roots to cheer on the NYXL against the Fusion. They beat my team, so naturally I wanted them gone. However, the only place they are going is the Grand Finals. Much to everyone’s surprise, NYXL lost 2-0 to the Fusion. If Jjonak (MVP!!!) was responsible for getting Zenyatta nerfed, then Eqo is going to be the reason Hanzo gets nerfed. Between Carpe’s Widow and Eqo’s Hanzo, Fusion was once again unstoppable. The second match in the semi-finals between these two teams was a nailbiter, but some questionable mistakes on the XL side cost them the game. Instead of full on aggression, someone should have been pushing the payload so there was progress made. That could’ve easily have given them the win that they needed to walk to the finals but it certainly wasn’t their only questionable move. They had weaknesses that Eqo and Carpe easily exploited and destroyed them with.

As for the Valiant and Spitfire, again full disclosure I was rooting for the Spitfire to win. They are my second favorite team and since the OWL is having a ridiculous sale on merch I finally scored myself a Spitfire shirt. (As well as 2 Uprising hoodies since everything was still cheaper than 1 hoodie would normally cost.) Unlike the Fusion, the Spitfire had seemingly no issue taking on the Valiant. Going 3-1 in the first match, they went for the full sweep in the second to get their ticket to the Grand Finals. They pulled out some interesting tricks that the Valiant just couldn’t seem to handle. Such as my 2nd favorite D.Va in the league Fury playing Soldier: 76 in a triple DPS comp on Oasis. Going super aggressive with a Reaper, Soldier, and Tracer combo was the right call and they did jaw-droppingly well. I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. Their performance in the semi-finals reminded everyone why they were the original team to beat going into the pre-season. The biggest criticism people had was that this was not an aggressive team. All that has changed now, when it counts the most.

What happens next? On Friday, the Grand Finals start with one match then Saturday there are 2 matches. Spitfire is considered the home team since they have the higher seed. The same playoff rules apply.

Now, who’s going to win it all? The way both of these teams played in the semi-finals, it really could go either way. I’m rooting for the Spitfire because I feel as though they are the more consistent team. Carpe and Eqo have the tendency of being a bit streaky and despite having a strong showing the playoffs so far, there is a chance that their streakiness will come back to bite them soon. As long as Spitfire plays flawlessly, they should be able to take this one home. I’m sure they have some more surprises up their sleeves as well, which could be very helpful against a team that may not be the best at adapting when they need to.

My Latest Project

I am so overwhelmed with how well my latest project was received. Last year, I wrote this blog. It was painful to have to write it. Immediately after I wrote this blog, I wrote down the words that I wanted to say to my son afterwards. I wrote the words I did get up the courage to say to him. He was oblivious to what happened; the harsh reality of what that moment really was and what would likely happen in his future especially since things don’t seem to be getting any better. I wrote down the words and thought “these are words that we all should say to our children”. Children are going to get bullied. And they need to know that they are bigger than those words.

The book itself took as long as it took to type the words out as I thought them. Maybe the process only took about 4 minutes. It was simple to write them. It was simple. It was driven by the incredible and special love that a mother has for her child. Illustrating the book, the was a different story. I had trouble finding a program that I felt comfortable using. I had trouble coming up with the pictures that I felt were worthy of these words. My biggest hurdle was myself. I can sculpt things. I’m pretty crafty. I can sew and knit. I’m confident in my artistic abilities except for drawing. I was told by some that my drawing skills are lacking. They are, I will certainly admit that. I was embarrassed about it and hesitated illustrating the book. I didn’t have the money to just hire someone to do it.

Finally, I took my words to heart. People are probably going to laugh at the artwork. I came to peace with that. It’s a children’s book. I wrote it for children because they need encouragement. Okay. I wrote it for my child because he needed those words. But what kid doesn’t need to be reminded that they are special? That the world can be cruel but they doesn’t have to break them? Any self-consciousness I had about my skills had to stop holding me back. You could say that I needed those words too.

The problem with writing is you are putting yourself out there. You are letting people critique you and tear you down. It’s really scary to write and have everyone hate your work. I fear that with every book I release and every blog that I post. I promise to be better.

I want to thank everyone who has purchased this book. I’ve run into some technical difficulties in releasing the paperback version, but I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I can approve the proof and get a physical copy of the book out. I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey. Maybe I will start pursuing more children’s books in addition to writing novels. But this past week, I have discovered a level of confidence and pride in myself that let’s me know that maybe I’m doing the right thing staying this course. I look forward to sharing my projects with you all in the future. I have some exciting things planned out and I can’t wait to move forward with it.

The Internet is a Scary and Dangerous Place

The horrors that you find online are terrifying. They lurk in the shadows of anonymity. You don’t even know they are there until… that moment when.. you log into your social media account. That’s right, I’m talking about the keyboard warriors that feign outrage as the tides tell them to. The ones that you respect until you see their social media posts and you wonder, “Who is that monster?” I get it. I’m terrified also anytime I log onto social media. In fact, I would probably avoid the whole thing entirely if my livelihood didn’t exist in this scary, anonymous world.

See the thing is, I have never said anything on social media that I would say outside of it. My blogs, as boring as they may be to some, are me. They are genuine and authentic. Sure, sometimes they are so dripping with sarcasm and mockery of things that I find ridiculous. But I promise that I mean every word that gets typed up in this little box. I really don’t have any care if people hate me by the time I’m done saying something. That’s their problem; not mine. My mom always told me to never say something behind someone’s back that I couldn’t say to their face. Unfortunately for her, the lesson took too well. Because I do just say whatever the hell I want and I don’t care if I say it to someone’s face. Good thing I can defend myself if I need it because I’ve seen the look in other’s eyes when words just come right out of my mouth. Honestly, I wish I could say I felt bad afterwards. But, I usually don’t. I take it back. I just don’t feel bad afterwards. I’m pretty terrible.

Back to the original point. I see the way people talk to each other online. It’s sad. “deranged lib”? You can not be a deranged lib and still think Trump is terrible. I think Trump is terrible and I make no secrets that I thought Hillary was also a horrible idea for president. There is a middle road, just more people need to learn to take it. I didn’t even really like Johnson but by the time I went through my list, I decided to vote for the Vice President I’d rather deal with. No brainer: Weld all the way.

People hate each other. Hate. It’s not one sided. The so-called “deranged libs” are just as guilty as the other side… I’m not even sure what the Republican equivalent is… I only see the “deranged lib” or “libtard” on my social media. The minute you even correct someone for their blatant (or misguided) disregard of the truth or point out their hypocrisy on topics, you are automatically a villain. Sure, I’m a villain that’s a fan of facts. Yes, the Space Force is a waste of money when there is already NASA and the Air Force Space Command. Yes, the wall is a waste of money. What about people who tunnel in underground? What about the ones who manage to sneak by an underpaid border agent that really doesn’t care or the ones that get bribed to look the other way? How about the people that come by taking a boat? Walls won’t help any of these situations. I’m a realist.

If I correct you on social media because of any of these things, it’s not because I’m a deranged lib or an alt-righter. It’s because it’s about time people worry more about the actual facts of a situation without following blindly with an “it’s us or them mentality”. It’s because I believe in civil discourse. It’s because I believe name-calling is wrong on all levels, especially when it’s over who you voted for or what your personal beliefs are. I don’t hate you. I don’t even care about your political beliefs. I have some people who I wholly disagree with on so many levels on my social media. I don’t mock them for it. I add in a comment pointing out that they are factually incorrect on something and stand my ground and then leave it alone because apparently people hate reason. Friends are friends and they aren’t worth losing over a hopefully short-term trend of “if you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy”. I won’t stoop.

I don’t think the baker refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding is the same as denying a Trump employee service. Following your morals, whether I agree with them or not, is respectable. I can just choose to not spend money in your business. Refusing to serve Sanders in a restaurant? Petty, but it’s the choice of the business. If you don’t like it, don’t spend your money there. Spoiler people: things really are just that simple. I don’t purchase things from Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A because my beliefs don’t align with theirs. I don’t make posters bragging about that. They have their rights and I have mine.

People say, “Well Obama started it..” blah blah blah. Guess what? You can stand on your adult feet and end it. Change only happens if you care to make it. If you’re not trying to create change, you are part of the problem and have no, and I mean absolutely no, right to call anyone else the problem. People are spending too much time stooping. You cannot call someone a “libtard” or “deranged lib” then get pissed if they return the jab. Be better. Everyone needs to be better. I’m actually really sick of writing about this. I’m sure I’ve written a very similar post at least 5 times already. It’s disgusting. I’m disgusted.

I hope I have successfully berated all of you, no matter who you voted for or who you follow. United we stand….

Amid the Parenting Struggles, It’s the Little Things

There are little things that parents who have had “normal” children take for granted. It’s ok. I get it. My oldest child has always been, and is still in a lot of ways, the “perfect” child. He’s so well-behaved that it feels like I have to pick at something small to make him seem worse than he is. Sure, he doesn’t help out around the house as much as I’d like but what teenager really does? He gets straight As, has a plan for college, and is pretty much loved by everyone who meets him. He won’t even pull out his phone in class without asking permission first. He is just too good. He crawled, walked, and spoke well before the milestones said he would. He could read at an early age and was reading at a college level before he went into middle school. He’s smart, athletic, and adorable. And most importantly, he’s kind and protective.

It’s a shock to go from that to a “abnormal” child. I use the quotes in both cases because I’m using society’s definition. No child is normal or abnormal. They just do things their own way. My youngest started following the same trends, hitting most of his motor skill milestones as early as his brother or in some cases earlier. I had no idea that there was going to be a problem. I knew at some point before his first birthday that he didn’t say his first word. By that time, my oldest had already started 2 word sentences. I didn’t think about it. Every kid is different. Milestones, blah blah. Except by 2, he was still practically non-verbal.

When I wrote “A Special Place for Noah”, I reiterated a simple point: every little thing matters. The joy I feel every time my youngest looks me in the eyes to have a conversation with me just can’t be described. He’s engaged. He makes eye contact. Even at 3 by the time he started preschool, he still barely spoke or looked anyone in the eyes. It’s tough knowing that you are doing everything that you are supposed to and still sucking at  your one job. He went from not speaking, to speaking at us, to now actively engaging in conversation. He reads visual cues from an expression on our faces. He’s empathetic, comforting his friends. He plays with kids now, not just next to them.

It seems silly to other parents that don’t understand. They don’t understand that every time a child makes eye contact with you, when they spent so much time avoiding it, is a huge moment. Any time that they don’t have a meltdown because their routine was messed up in some way is a huge moment. All of these little things matter. I don’t care if you think I’m ridiculous in celebrating these little things. Great, your child was potty trained by 2 and speaks exceedingly well for their age. Guess what? That perfect mom isn’t telling you all of the story, only the parts that makes her look like supermom. I used to look at my youngest after seeing posts like that and wondered how I screwed this all up. But I didn’t. I did everything I could. I’m doing everything that I can do. That’s enough for me to go to sleep fine at night.

Some kids just have a slower path but eventually they all get where they were meant to. Sometimes you just have to remember that everyone is different, some requiring a bit more time and patience.

The Power of Words

Today’s post was originally going to be a statement on parenting children with “difficulties”. As a result of recent events, I’ve decided to postpone that post for a treat on Thursday. Maybe this means I can get back to this more often? No guarantees, but I’m really trying to be more regular with this. Back to the point. I’ve decided to finally talk about something that I will probably get hate responses for. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve made it along just fine not really caring what people think and at 34, I don’t really see this changing anytime soon. I’m too old to change.

As a writer, I understand the power of words. I make a living off of this power. I try to use this power for good. In my books, I write about some issues that may be tougher to deal with but there’s something that you can relate to in them. It gives comfort to others reading something that resonates with them. For instance “A Special Place for Noah”, has a mother breaking down over her child’s issues. Even if you don’t have a child with developmental delays or other issues, every mom has been in that moment where they just locked themselves in a room and cried alone. Just saying this now, you may have nodded in agreement that you have been there. You just connected with those words. Those words had power.

That’s the thing with bullying, isn’t it? People use those words, that power, to hurt others. They use those words to control or harm. And those words do sting. Sometimes those words sting for decades later. I can remember every word a bully said to me back when I was younger. It’s the reality that words are more painful than a lot of physical harm that someone could do to you. Back then, I’d rather someone punch me in the face than use their hurtful words against me. I had no voice then. But I did have one powerful left hook and strong kicks.

I take freedom of speech very seriously. I understand there is a line that you don’t cross. I understand toeing that line of offensive and not. I understand that racial epithets are never okay. Most decent human beings do. I understand that other words take on different meanings to other people and they may find it offensive even if I find it ridiculous that it offends them. It’s not my place to judge. I spend too much time judging as it is, I don’t need more to add to the list.

I understand that there is a big difference between using the word “ape” against an African-American person and the “C” against any woman, though both carry an offensive nature to them. I don’t care to get into debates about which word is more offensive and whether or not celebrities on either side of the aisle get unfair treatment over words. Both sides push their own agenda. For instance, Roseanne was just practicing freedom of speech and it wasn’t racist at all so ABC was just pushing a liberal agenda firing her just like they did with “Last Man Standing”. It’s just another way the liberal media is taking down conservatives. No. Facts matter, people. Don’t just listen to mouthpieces pushing whatever agenda they are paid to push.

However, you cannot say that she was expressing freedom of speech using a term synonymous with racism while demanding that Robert De Niro should be boycotted for saying “F- Trump”. You can’t place freedom of speech wherever you want to make it fit your agenda. If racism gets a “freedom of speech” pass, so does saying “F- (insert a president’s name here)”. I don’t remember seeing those people voicing such disdain when people kept saying “F- Obama”. If saying “F- Obama” is perfectly fine, so is saying “F- Trump”. You can’t have it both ways. It’s either wrong for anyone to do or right for everyone. Me? I say that it’s a perfectly acceptable way to express your opinions. Also, I have been called the “C” word many times in my life and it never even bothered me. They’re probably right. I know who I am. And I can be kinda a “C” word.

Words are powerful. We should be teaching our children to use them wisely. In fact, we need to be better about how we use our words. Our kids are watching us. How are you going to use your words today?

Mom Confessions: The Sad Truth

We’re not perfect as moms. If we were, we wouldn’t need to judge other moms so much. Talking to that mom who looked at me as if I were abusing my child for not babywearing. Those things are way to expensive and the ones that aren’t, I just didn’t have the patience to deal with. It’s ok. My children turned out just fine despite my poor decisions of formula feeding/bottle feeding breast milk and putting ketchup on everything even if it disgusts me because sometimes that’s the only way to get a kid to eat something.

We all have those dirty little secrets as parents/spouses. I’m here to admit mine.

  • Sometimes I lock myself into the bathroom or my bedroom. I don’t do it to cry. I do it because I secretly bought myself a treat and boys are ravenous beasts that sense you enjoying food and just magically appear. No, those Lindt chocolates are just for me and I do not feel guilty sitting on my bathroom floor to enjoy them in peace.
  • I bring my youngest to school early on rainy days. He’s only been late once, due to a doctor’s appointment. But on rainy days, I make sure I get there as soon as possible. Not for any other reason then to get rid of him quicker, especially on his more difficult days. I’m sorry to his teachers, but you spend enough time with him to get it.
  • I don’t cry in front of the kids. Not to teach them a lesson about holding your emotions in, because I think that’s unhealthy. It’s because they can sense that weakness to destroy you. It is my job to destroy them not the other way around.
  • I promise things to my kids as a reward for their good behavior. The thing is… they are already going to get it but this way I can make them do chores without complaining. You’d be surprised how well this works.
  • I sneak their PopTarts and then when they complain about someone else eating them, I point out how much they mindlessly eat food all day long and eventually they remember eating them. I don’t like PopTarts, but sometimes  you need something sweet with your morning coffee.
  • I let my husband win the rare fights that we have. Not because I think I’m supposed to be submissive. Not because I’m the better person, because I’m definitely not. But because I know that I can hold it over him in the long run when I really need it. A successful marriage is about the long game.
  • I don’t negotiate with terrorists. You want to throw a tantrum to get what you want, call grandma. It isn’t happening here.
  • I am the God of the house. By that I mean, I can and will steal the router and make them suffer.
  • I view parenting as a very minor case of psychological warfare. I know their weaknesses and I’m not afraid to use them. That’s right, it goes both ways.

Remember, it’s fine. Don’t let other people tell you how to live your life. You’re not perfect and that’s perfectly ok.