When Distance Saves a Life

Seriously, there are people who are alive solely because of the actual distance between myself and their face. OK, maybe that was a bit harsh, but certainly friendships have been saved because I can’t get in my car and show up at someone’s house to tell them EXACTLY how I feel. Today was a bad day and I swear, I felt like I was getting it from every side.

The internet is a wonderful invention. It allows us to learn about topics we wouldn’t have access to the past. We can meet people we never would have the opportunity to if we had to rely on a casual meeting or being the same area code. Through the internet we have expanded social networks in ways generations before us never dreamed. But as is always the case, with good also comes the bad. Today my internet friends, was a bad day in the interwebs.

I am part of a group on the internet that prides itself on working together for the greater good, not only for ourselves, but for the lives of many animals we help via rescue awareness and education. The platform we use is great,  we have grown our group many times over in the past year, but the suggestion was made to expand to other platforms to expand  awareness, especially with a fundraising opportunity we are working on to benefit our rescue of choice. As an admin of the group I know the “rules” and any big decisions about the group are discussed and voted on. Last week I brought this suggestion to the table, yes, I took the extra step of securing an account name closely tied to the existing group, but nothing more before the discussion. With minimal questions, I got a ‘thumbs up’, which I took to mean agreement, silly me. One admin was MIA so yes, she was not part of this, but I proceed with what I thought was buy-in from the others.

All seems happy on the internet, members from one platform were connecting on the new platform, everyone seemed excited and I was monitoring to make sure no internet drama (aka trolls) invaded our new space, as that is a big deal with the original group. This morning I was smacked with  accusations that I had gone behind the backs of my fellow admin, being compared to a horrid drama queen former admin that we had to ban from the group. Nothing I said seemed to matter, I accepted responsibility for the new platform, so no additional work be put on them. I did tell them, up front and again today, I was accepting the help of a group member who was a content expert in the new platform, but we could change passwords to restrict access if/when we felt we needed to. I also left it open if it became too much drama or negatively affected the original group, I would shut it down. I was made to feel I had hurt something I put a lot of heart and work into and felt attacked by people I truly feel are friends. Finally a truce of sorts was reached, I had fucked up, but it was done and it was on me to make sure it didn’t go south.

Here is the thing about the internet, be careful where and what you type. After the dust settled, one of the others mistakenly commented  in a group chat that “she” (i.e. ME) had run to the person who offered help and told them they were mad. Of course I  did, I was being honest and making sure this person knew that the others weren’t happy and we needed to proceed less aggressively as to make them feel comfortable with the this new phase. I’m not sure what hurt most, the original attacks and name calling or knowing my friends were talking behind my back among themselves and telling others an altered version of the facts to make them look better. We are all women of a certain age, well past high school and the petty cliques and name calling.

So now, something I was proud of has turned ugly and more than anything I just want a do-over. We don’t get do-overs in life, so the best I can hope for is the new platform is a huge success and my misdeeds will one day be forgiven. Wish me luck internet…I need it!

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New Year, same drama

It has been a while since I’ve given an update on Dick and Jane. Not much has changed with regards to Dick’s girls, Mary and Sue. The younger, Sue, still refused to spend any time with her father, with the exception of a Christmas dinner with him and her sister, but I maintain that was simply to get whatever gift he was giving, it was Christmas after all. Jane was sure there was more to it, as he always does. Just before the holidays Dick’s lawyer suggested that a “friend of the court” be appointed on the girls’ behalf. This would be someone who could advise the court as to the what is in the best interest of the girls, without an emotional attachment or financial bias. A motion was submitted in mid-December, with notice of the hearing date in early January received just before Christmas. Jane was sure that Medusa had told the girls and convinced Sue to see her father for Christmas as a way to prove that things were fine and no appointment by the court for the kids was needed. Personally, it think Jane gives Medusa way too much credit, this was a selfish act by a manipulative girl to get “stuff” after months of refusing to see or even speak to her father, going so far as to run and hide when she sees him.

At this point I truly feel that both parents have failed these girls. I can understand why Dick felt that living with their mother full time was best, given the emotional outbursts, threats of self harm, lack of communication from either child, that doesn’t mean you just stop being involved. Mary, the older daughter, had seemed to open up and engage with her father once she wasn’t made to stay in his home. She talked to him daily and spent more time with him than she had in months. Mary maintains that while life at mom’s house is not perfect, not having to go back and forth, with two very different sets of rules and expectations was much better and made her life easier. Because Mary was willing to spend time with Dick, he maintained responsibility for taking her to her weekly therapy sessions and any other appoints she had, in addition to weekly dinners and hanging out on most weekends However, while he has done well with Mary, Sue is a very different situation. Aside from sending texts that are not replied to or calls that are not answered, Dick has done little to keep involved in Sue’s life. She has a medical condition which she often uses as an excuse to miss school, therapy appointments, pretty much anything she doesn’t want to do. Mary would mention that Sue had missed school, yet he made no effort to check with school on her attendance or academic progress (its a small private school with no online reporting for parents) or check with the doctors as to her treatment plans.

After comments Mary made about Medusa having no control over Sue to make her attended school and given the courts are now involved since the advocate for the girls was approved, Dick is looking into things. This school year there have been 86 school days, Sue has missed over 30 days. She also missed a shadow day/entrance exam, at the high school she is expected to attend next year.  The reason for all of the absences  is her health, however upon checking into that, her primary doctor has not seen in her in months and the new treatment she started just prior to the living arrangement was stopped with no explanation. By all accounts Medusa has no control over Sue, she tries to be her friend, not her parent and with Dick out of the picture, that leaves this troubled girl with no parents to look out for her.

Jane has been pushing Dick to check with Sue’s school and doctors, but Dick has once gain become resentful of anything Jane has to say about his kids. My thought is Dick never thought things would turn out like this. He likely thought the girls would find life with mom was not as ideal as they had hoped and they would be willing to discuss the issues that to got them to that place, resume family therapy and go back to the old visitation where he would be able to monitor things like school attendance and work as well as Sue’s medical issues. But that has not been the case and now I feel he blames Jane for the situation.

This morning Jane shared with me that she informed Dick that since Sue is part of their family plan for internet usage, she could tell that she had not been at school last Thursday, as she was logged in online for over 6 hours. She could also see her internet search history, given the parental controls they had put in place. Dick became angry, said that was an invasion of Sue’s privacy. Really? Your 14 refuses to speak to you unless you are giving her gift, she has missed over a month of school and is not following her treatment plan, yet you have no interest in using the tools available to you to get some insight into what might be going on with your kid? Sorry Dick, lame. For all of Jane’s faults, she’s is not to blame for any of this. Dick and Medusa have always been more focused on their hatred for each other than what is in the best interest for their kids. The girls know this, they have used it to manipulate their parents, now to the point that Sue is not made to attend school or take care of herself as the doctors have suggested.

This is a textbook example of how being a friend to your kids fails them. Kids need parents and structure. Without those things they are left to learn on their own, which many simply don’t. I have no idea what will end up happening. I can only hope the friend of the court will be able to help get both girls into a better place developmentally, as neither is prepared for the next phase of life.

Meaner than a junkyard dog

Having a chat with a work friend about the various types of office drama queens we have around us. What we noticed is the drama queens thrive when they can share their drama with someone and usually they have  their go to minion who is at the ready to listen and agree with whatever the drama queen’s issue of the day happens to be.

My friend asked if two of the most notable drama queens in the office were buddy-buddy at the moment, a tactic in the drama queen world is to keep your fellow queens closer in order to be the one to control the daily drama….it’s exhausting. My reply was the worst of the bunch, due to her negativity towards everything and everyone was like a junkyard dog. Your best bet was to toss her a few treats as you walk by otherwise she will lunge from her yard and attempt to take your arm off as you try to escape. I go out of my way to avoid her office, just because I don’t want to be sucked into her drama. We were friends at one time, are no longer and I truly have zero interest in her, her life or whatever is bothering her. I don’t even want to share about my life, even things that are public knowledge. But like everyone, once in a while you have to give her a treat (your precious time) and listen as if you give a damn in hopes of buying peace for a few weeks.

So, there is my Southern Belle witty observation of the day. Hope you can avoid the junkyard dogs in your world today!

Wow…. just WOW!

For those who have followed my blog, the endless drama with my friend Jane, her husband Dick and his daughters, Mary and Sue provide an endless supply of blog worthy material. When last we checked in on the family Mary’s journal had been left in plan sight and was filled with dark thoughts and talk of death. For the better part of the past year, all attention has been focused on Mary and her anxiety and depression, which does not seem to be getting better, so much so the girls’ mother, Medusa, reached out to Dick for a meeting with Mary’s psychiatrist. Medusa has gone out of her way to work against Dick when it comes to parenting and their children, so it’s a rare thing for her to suggest a united front. They met and very little came of it;  more therapy, encourage her to be more open (which to this point she has not been, at all) and a possible evaluation in a few months if that doesn’t help.

During this time, Sue, the younger daughter, has become closer with Jane and expressed on numerous occasions that she is happier in her father’s home than at her mom’s. One reason is she feels that her mom let Mary get away with doing what she wants; no chores, be mean to Sue, not attend school if she is stressed. Sue has a medical condition that causes her great pain and other issues, so she too misses a great deal of school (over 30 days last year, so much so both parents were called in multiple times to discuss). Part of me felt that Mary was being over dramatic with her issues to gain some of the attention that Sue had been getting for years due to her medical condition, as it is normal for kids to compete for parents’ attention. Now the tables have turned, Mary is getting the bulk of the parental attention and concern, and it seems Sue is not happy.

The girls returned to Dick and Jane’s home on Sunday. Monday was Jane’s birthday and neither girl made mention of that fact until Sue came down just before bed to wish her a happy birthday. Sue said she had not forgotten, but had not been feeling well. My guess was she was laying the ground work to miss yet another day of school (she has already missed 4 days this year, this is her 3rd week of classes). Tuesday was the meeting with Mary’s team of therapists and Wednesday Sue had a meltdown at dinner. Out of the blue she got angry when discussing a school project that had been discussed multiple times. At first it appeared to be a typical hormonal teen outburst, but shortly after while in a full sobbing breakdown she told her father she had been pretending to be happy at his house, that she felt she had to be the perfect child to be loved because Mary was so messed up and only her mother understood her. Wow… just WOW. Literally the week before this same girl was texting Jane telling her how her mom and her were once again arguing and she really wanted to live with her father full-time. This has been going on for months , yet NOW she claims it was all lies? I am not buying it. To add to the WOW factor, she woke up this morning and told her father she needed a “mental health” day off from school. That she just couldn’t deal with it and she was stressed over her father trying to control her life. WHAT THE HELL?!?!!? Keep in mind, this kid has missed 4 days in less than 3 weeks and with the holiday she already has had an extra day off this week. She is 13, it not “controlling”, it’s called GOING TO SCHOOL!

Sadly, Dick let her stay home. WOW

There is so much about all  this that makes me go WOW. Personally, given that every member of this family has their own therapist, as well as a family therapist, they need have come real talk, together. Dick needs to take control back from his kids. I say call their bluffs. Tell them that they need to deal with the reality of life in his house. Go to school, treat the other members of the house with respect and civility and do the minimal household chores they have been asked to do (which is pretty much limited to cleaning up after themselves). If they are so unhappy and only mommy understands them, let them try living with her full-time. My guess is they will miss the nice home and all that comes along with it. But Dick will never do that, he parents out of fear and this will continue, sadly until Jane leaves most likely. So, WOW to a grown man being afraid to stand up to his kids.

Jane is now actively looking at job opportunities out-of-state. WOW. I really never thought it would come this, but I can’t say I blame her. Literally EVERYDAY it is something else, and not a small something, but big major shit. She’s not an evil stepmother. She has done her very best to be a positive influence in these girls’ lives, only to have it thrown in her face and be told any kindness showed her was faked. While I know Dick loves her, at what point do you see that your kids are jerks who are looking to ruin your life for no real reason, not like mom and dad will get back together if Jane were to be out of the picture. It’s all so sad, for everyone, but Dick is doing no one any favors by allowing this behavior to continue.

So, wow… just WOW.

Don’t like your teen’s mood, wait 5 minutes, it will change.

Actual texts with “The Girl”:

10:05 am: Girl: sends a picture of sleeping dog “Your cow is sleeping with her eyes open and dreaming”
Me: Sleepy cow
Girl: Yes. LOL

10:10am: Girl: I am literally crying rn (right now)
Me: Why? (fearing something is wrong with said dog/cow from texts minutes before)
Girl: Riley isn’t coming back next year
Me: I’m sorry,  why?
Girl: She is going to Barrett (another school). What am I going to do?

Me: That sucks, I’m sorry.

10:12am: Girl: sends another picture of sleeping dog “You do you moo” (yes, my dog’s name is Moo)
Me: Wow, she is sleepy
Girl: LOL. She’s under my comforter . Lol

Seven minutes. Seven minutes and we went from happy-go-lucky girl, in bed (from the photos) playing with the dog to a crying mess and back again. I have said it many times, I love my stepdaughter, but life with a 13-year-old girl is not for the faint of heart. At the same time I was receiving these play-by-play updates on her emotional well-being, I came across a video on Facebook by a blogger mom who showed what life with her teen son is like. The emotional roller-coaster that life with a teen is for those who live with them, but with the reminder that, however hard it is on us, it so much harder for them. I sent the video to my husband, just a digital reminder that we are by no means alone.

We have all been there, we were teens and we survived. Each generation has their own struggles, but some issues of the teenage years are universal. Hormones and emotions go hand-in-hand. I always assumed that girls were worse, one because of  my own experience, followed by living in the same house with my younger sister- I’m still shocked our house was still standing by the time she left for college. Some argue that today’s teens have it worse, that puberty starts earlier due in part to the food we eat (meat and dairy with added hormones). I don’t know, I think it sucked for us and it sucks for the girl and her friends.

When I was a teen my room was a mess, always. I hated to clean it and would always find a way around doing it until threatened with life and limb to clean it up. My stepdaughter is no different, daily chores are an ongoing battle. I know that the daily request via text to let her know when I leave work is so she can rush around getting everything done before we get home, never mind she has been home all day. Few teens make cleanliness a priority, but one thing I am very grateful for is the girl is not one that lets personal hygiene slip. My friend Jane’s oldest stepdaughter, Mary, will go days without showering and longer without washing her hair. It will get to the embarrassing point when her father will have to let her know she smells and teachers have reached out to them about this problem. Dick and Jane have money, so that is not an issue, yet Mary not only will not bathe, she will wear dirty clothes for an entire week. To me this is bizarre and something I only thought parent’s of teen boys dealt with, as we all know, boys are gross.

One thing I do think is harder for teens today is dealing with constant contact via electronics and social media. Yes, I spent hours on the phone with my friends at her age, but now they are doing face to face chats, often in groups- while she may be in her room alone, by stepdaughter has very little true “alone” time during her waking hours. This constant contact has made it so that she is dependent upon it. I can see the anxiety in her when a friend doesn’t reply instantly to a message or she is has the rare occasion of being disconnected from her peers. While it hasn’t been a major issue for us, cyber bullying is a real problem, with kids her age or younger committing suicide due to the pressures they face online, as well as in real life. They are unable to escape, the bullies at school literally come into their homes via social media. I know the girl has shared with me more than one instance of someone who she felt was as friend sending her nasty texts or excluding her from things- exclusion is one the most effective way teens bully each other.

My stepdaughter is  loving and gets  attached very quickly to her friends. I love this about her, but also see how these attachments cause her to be a target of mean girl behaviors from her “friends”. Teen girls can only have a pack that is so big, just one extra body and the balance is thrown completely off. Randomly girls will be cast out for whatever reason, when it is the girl, it crushes her and she struggles to rationalize it. Within day, if not sooner, she is back in the fold, happy to be there and quickly forgets the pain inflected upon her by her “friends”. I want to tell her to drop them like a bad habit, but while I may be old in her eyes, I still remember the delicate balance that is middle school. Recently I had an issue with a mean girl at work, I was able to share that with the girl, part to prove to that some mean girls never grow out of that bullying behavior and let her know that when I say I understand, I really do.

We, my husband and myself as well as Ursula (the girl’s mother), are very lucky that she is open to talk with all of us about what is going on in her world. I hope that continues and she knows that we are always there for her. She is 13, so I fully realize that however hard we feel it has been thus far, we have only just begun and the road is going to get far more bumpy before it smooths out. I fear what it is going to be like when boys become a real issue, not sure who that is going to be harder on, the girl or her father…stay tuned.

 

What the hell are some people thinking?

Seriously, there are times I just look at some people and wonder what makes them think their behavior is acceptable. I realize in today’s world, with the President of the United States being a frightening example of this, some feel they are now entitled to do and say whatever, whenever and no one is going to push back. Well, I’m here to say, we need to push!

Today something happened at work, nothing horribly major, but a breach of office etiquette. The behavior was called out, as it should be, and the offending party did as they typically do, became combative and unprofessional, to the point that the other party sunk down to the same level. The real problem came when the party in the wrong accused the other of bullying them. It is insane and pretty much out the Trump family handbook of creating a hostile situation then attempting to turn it around to play the victim. When did adults start thinking it is acceptable to avoid any and all responsibility for their own actions? It’s not ok to talk to people like you have no interest in their side in a professional setting or to raise your voice because you think louder means you are more important.

The person who created the drama is one of those negative people who blames others for everything. She complains to anyone who listen about how this person treated her poorly or that person talked to her in an unprofessional manner or another person isn’t doing their job and its her place to set them straight. It is always something with her and if anyone dare put her in her place, she will be the first to run to her boss, or worse, HR. We are grown ass folks, in a corporate setting, not working part-time at McD’s after school. At what point do people not see its THEM, not the rest of the world how is the issue. Self reflection is a lost art my friends.

I feel like I go through most days working very hard to control my mouth and my facial expressions. At any given time people will do or say things that they should be embarrassed and ashamed of, yet they feel justified and entitled. I am going to need to muster all my strength later this evening while helping a friend who is a wedding planner. The mother the groom is nothing short of crazy. I realize weddings can be stressful, especially for the close family, but that is no reason to make unreasonable demands and not be willing to discuss things like an adult. Also, paying someone for services does NOT give you the right to talk down to them or treat them like they should do anything you demand of them.

The rule of do unto others, treating others the way you would like to be treated, that needs to make a comeback in our society. “Telling it like it is” for the sake of being spiteful or bullying others to get your way needs to stop. Talk to others with respect, have the patience to listen to the other person before you attack or do not look to attack at all. You do get more flies with honey as the Southern saying goes- try it and you just may find it much easier to get your way.

Office politics…the southern belle way

I work for a Fortune 500 company in a large corporate setting. Anyone who has ever worked in such an environment knows of the politics one much manage on a daily basis and the little tricks one learns to endure each day without becoming unemployed. One way we southern belles deal with such an office is with good ol’ fashioned gossip.

This morning my day was started with a fellow co-worker and friend coming into my office to offer up a nice little nugget of gossip, delivered as sweet as her morning coffee. Nothing horrible or damning, just some internal speculations. She had no idea how perfectly timed this was, as the subject of today’s tale was on my “list” just yesterday. This person fancies herself the Queen Bee of the office and as such feels basic rules civility need not apply to her. The bitch is RUDE…there, it has been said. And trust me when I say, I am not the only one that feels this way, it’s a known fact around the office.

What I have learned about Queen Bees, be it in the work place, social circles or even school (even as young as middle school, as I’m learning from my stepdaughter), is they have very little they control outside of the setting you are in, so they go overboard to control that environment. Some, like our work Queen Bee, are getting a bit past their prime and are no longer needed by their children, who are adults with lives of their own, they have been married forever in some cases and I’m sure the routine of that has snuffed out the spark. They feel overwhelmed in the work place with the newer technologies and gadgets. Being bitchy and controlling is the only power they have or perceive they have. The sad thing is they have no idea that everyone knows the truth and they are often the topic of the office gossip as the rest of us must vent to make it through the day. Queen Bees  have often been a round a long time (too long in some) and are protected by higher-ups who don’t have the heart to put them out to pasture and hope with each anniversary  a retirement will be announced. But these Queens have nothing else, so they are not going anywhere and with each passing year they become more difficult to deal with.

Then you have the Wannabees. These are woman who will never be the Queen Bees, but they control what little piece of the office they have as if they are the next in line. These women are often more bitter and have less of an outside life than the Queen Bees.  They follow the rules to the letter and take delight in pointing out when others don’t and will turn someone in at the drop of the hat. They think this behavior is viewed as loyalty by those in charge, but the reality is these woman are viewed in a negative light, to be avoided. These women also never let anything go, no matter how much time has passed, old situations will be brought up to downgrade others. They are petty and mean and it shows in the lines on their faces;  when you frown all the time it takes a toll on your face that no lotion or potion can fix.

The Ladies in Waiting is one of the larger segments in the office environment.  This group is made up of seasoned professionals waiting for their turn to move up the ladder. They have managed to find a way to work with the Queen Bee and avoid the wrath of the Wannabees. This group works together, supports each other and really do delight in the advancement of one of their own.  This is a good place to be and most of the best office gossip comes from these ranks. They see all and know all. They know who best to share information with and who to avoid. They are friendly and smile, learning long ago you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Look for the person with the candy on the their desk or who brings in the best homemade goodies for no reason…that is the person you want to get closest to.

The last group exists everywhere, not just the office, the Pretty Princesses. They are young, attractive  and often have few if any real skills. They dress inappropriately for the work place for attention, which works. The men can’t help but notice, but not as much as the other women do. They have skated though life on their looks and are looking to land a husband before their looks fade. They seek jobs in field where the husband hunting is best and are often noticed right away by the Ladies in Waiting as those to avoid. Often a Queen Bee will take a Pretty Princess under her wing, in hopes that their youth will rub off the aging mentor. Wannabee loath the Pretty Princess,  think of the classic wicked witch who hates the beautiful princess for no real reason. Wannabees love having prey to toy with and the office princesses are perfect.

The funniest part for the work world is, all of this takes place without the men knowing. No matter the level, from corner office to mailroom, the men come in, do their assigned job with little outside engagement. The women are the glue that hold it all together, much like the mothers hold the family together, in the work world the woman, no matter their position, give the office that “lived in” feel. We may not make as much as our male counterparts, but we certainly no our value.