On The Warpath

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m very touchy about my reputation.  I guard my good name like a buried treasure, because in the end, it is far more valuable to me than money.

If one is traveling through life without a college education, in the circles I run, you’d better have a great reputation.

Of all of the pieces that make up my reputation, one of the most valuable to me is my credit rating.  I’ve spent a lifetime building it up. 

How good is it?  25+ years of on-time payments, without a blemish, make lenders and potential employers very excited when they see me approaching.

Like everyone else, I’m cutting back financially, and employing ways to ensure that every single bill is paid well ahead of time.  One of the things I did last month to accomodate this was signing up for my electric company’s automated bill paying system.

Well, today was my first payment.  It went through like a charm.

Twice.

Causing my account to have to draw on overdraft protection.

I’m so mad, I can’t even call them.  I’m leaving that for Lintilla.  All it would take is getting some snotty CS representative, trying to claim it was MY fault (I know it wasn”t by looking at the confirmation numbers on the payments), and I’m liable to say something that would truly damage my reputation.

Peh.

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Stay Classy, Pith

Today, the Scene’s Pith in The Wind has a couple of posts (so far) about the NAACP’s opposition to the school rezoning plan passed last year.  (NOTE: The NAACP’s arguments should be read, considered and debated in full.  This is an issue where they have gerat moral authority.)  The posts at Pith are informative, which makes this pullquote all the more distressing.  Writer Jeff Woods says:

Here’s the choice for superintendent Jesse Register and the school board: Kill the plan and unite the city behind the district’s new leadership, or wage a long, protracted fight to spare white kids in Hillwood the terrible trauma of going to school with inner-city blacks.

Jackass.

How dare you.

Obviously, Mr Woods, you know nothing about the facts on the ground.  Yet, you insult the entire population of one particular area of town.  How progressive.

I’ve got to say it again, because I don’t feel better yet…

Jackass.

Here are the facts.  The inner city kids you claim to be championing ALREADY do not go to school with “white kids from Hillwood” – at least not in any great numbers.  Did you not read the great article last May in the Tennessean?

The bulk of Hillwood students come from the poorest areas in the school’s 90-square-mile attendance zone. And because Hillwood is now an island populated by students from other places, the people living in the upscale neighborhood surrounding it have no stake in the school and don’t want one.

So, in effect, Hillwood IS at the current time an inner city school, sitting in the middle of one of Nashville’s wealthiest neighborhoods.  What do the kids bussed to Hillwood gain from the current system, except for a 45-minute bus ride per day?

But I don’t really want to discuss the merits of the rezoning plan with you.  I am not 100% sold on the idea myself.  Yet, you poison the waters by preemptively insulting me and my neighbors?

I would direct you to my Emily Evans’ (no Eric Crafton, she) wonderful research on the subject.  She actually spoke to her constiuents, and listed the major reasons why the vast majority of parents in her district send their children to private and magnet schools. 

The main reasons were Influence and Control, Plant and Equipment, Teachers,Safety, the Age Divisions of public schools (K-4, 5-8 and 9-12), School size, and Academic Excellence.  Read the whole thing.  Without it, you cannot possibly have the proper context to discuss Hillwood’s situation.

I’ll let you in on a secret, Mr. Woods.  If Hillwood were all lily white, and only had an enrollment from the neighborhood, yet still had the academic and safety record it has now, I would not send my kids (who are not white, BTW) there.  If Hillwood had an enrollment of only inner-city kids, yet had the academic excellence and other programs of my kids’ current private school, I WOULD send my kids there, saving myself A LOT of money in the process.

One final thing:  why is Hillwood always the negative example, when Hillsboro is in the exact same situation?  Hillsboro, which happens to sit in a more, er, progressive part of town, always seems to get a pass in these matters. 

I am no longer going to sit back and let others define my motives.  I’m sick and tired of it.  Educate yourself, Mr. Woods, and then we might could discuss the issue properly.

Nashville: Kam sa hap ni da !

And somewhere my friend Julie Lamb is saying to herself, “Are you happy now, Bellevue?”

I live in one of Nashville’s slightly conservative enclaves (and isn’t it cool to have a major metropolitan city that actually has a few?).  I knew English Only was going to fail, based on observations of the opinions of my neighbors. 

I voted against the measure, because (if you can’t tell) I’ve had a long-standing animosity toward Mr Crafton (going back to the whole Charlotte Pike WalMart fiasco), and also because I kept waiting for a decent argument to vote for the amendment, which never came.

On the flip side, the people of Nashville have once again shown their good sense.  Could the liberal bloggers and columnists of our town please refrain now from lecturing us like stupid, ignorant children? 

And Nashville conservatives (yes, we exist):  let’s find a more sensible cause as our banner issue, how ’bout it?  For instance, I think it’s high time we get rid of the whole urban/general services district divisions from the Metro charter.  It just feels like a leftover from segregation, and many times it causes those of us in the outlying areas to feel like we don’t get services proportionate to our share in taxes we pay.

But, we’ll talk about that later.   For now, this is good.

Feel Good Friday: Lay Down

This past Tuesday, when I saw that humongous throng standing shoulder to shoulder in Washington DC waiting to see Barack Obama’s inauguration, this song kept popping into my head:

One could not help but be moved by such a site,all those people celebrating a moment.  Even if they were a little rude at times (for my southern sensibilities, there are few sins more grievous than rudeness), nevertheless, it was a beautiful thing altogether.

And I love these words:

We were so close, there was no room, we bled inside each other’s wounds.  We had all caught the same disease.  And we all sang the songs of peace.

Some came to sing.  Some came to pray.  Some came to keep the dark away.

I celebrate the new spirit of service that Obama is ushering in.  Let’s hope it lasts.

Dear Lord, I’ve Gone Insane

After 3 years straight of having the TV show on in my house for multiple hours a day, thanks to having a tween girl in the house combined with Disney Channel’s excellent demographic targeting skills, I can’t believe I’m going to say this…

I actually am looking forward to seeing this movie.

Not with my daughter.  She’s pretty much outgrown Hannah Montana.  No, I want to see this for me.

After all those years of having the show on as background noise in the house, somehow I learned to care about these characters.  Weird.

I can tell myself it’s because they filmed it in Tennessee, or because an Ugly Betty star (Vanessa Williams) is in the movie.

But no, it’s weirder than that.  I, 44 year old man, truly want to know if Miley is going to drop her Hannah persona.  (Probably so.  This movie is probably a good way for Cyrus to part with Disney amicably).  I don’t know why I care, but I do. 

Darn you, Disney!

To Trillian, On The Eve Of Her Eleventh Birthday

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Tomorrow, you will turn 11.  I can’t believe it’s been eleven years since you were born.  Eleven years ago, most people were concerned with a huge presidential scandal that put the country on the road to impeachment, or with two baseball players who were on a collision course with home run history. 

But, those things, in my mind, were only distractions.  For on September 11th of that year, after the craziest 3 days I have EVER lived through, you came off a plane and into my life.  You’ve heard the story countless times: the surprise call from your brother’s social worker, the frantic scramble made on both sides of the Pacific to get you home, the Northwest strike, the unexpected road trip to Detroit,  your brother’s prescient reaction to meeting you for the first time (he was supposed to give you a toy – a photo op for the grandparents – but he instead threw it at you and walked away).

I know that sometimes you delight in these stories.  Sometimes you roll your eyes.  I understand both reactions.

What I haven’t told you is that I was scared to death that night.  Excited, but scared nonetheless.  Having only brothers when I was growing up, I knew nothing of girls, and knew I’d be winging it for the next 18 or so years. 

For your part, you were afraid of me, as well.  You took to your mother right away, but when I tried to hold you the first time, you pushed me away.  I remember being disappointed – I had heard so much about the father-daughter bond, and at that moment, it looked like I’d never experience it.

That’s The Place we were when we first met: a little afraid of each other.  It was the first of many Places we’d find ourselves  through the years. 

There was the Place where we had discovered each other’s imaginations.  I would tell you Chicken Stories every Thursday night at bedtime, and you would take in every word, until you fell asleep.  The next Thursday, you would retell to me all that you remembered, and I’d have to pick up the story where your memory left off and complete the previous week’s story before you’d let me move onto the next one.

There was the Place where you were hurting, after losing your grandmother and home and all your toys within the span of a couple of months. For the first time in your life, you started acting out.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do as a father, so I just loved you twice as much as before.

There was the Place where you discovered that I was wrapped around your finger, and learned to bypass Mom and ask Daddy first.  And I gladly obliged, much to the chagrin of your mother.

There was the Place when we discovered just how alike we are.  I remember so well, there was a particular day when your Mom and I were upset about something.  You proceeded, without any prompting at all,  to clean the kitchen.  I was floored seeing this; I thought that particular behavior (cleaning when people in the house are upset) was my own strange behavior.  I never taught you this.  Let me tell you, to see yourself reflected in such a way is startling, and at that moment, I am certain I could not have loved you more.

So many of the Places are just blurs.  I was so foolish, always rushing you on to the next stage of your life, never appreciating the Places we were, while we were there.  Please forgive me.

I am trying so hard to appreciate the Place we are at right now.  The fact that we sometimes seem like kindred souls – a mutual whimsical nature, being better at logic than we’d like to be (we both are drawn to the artistic side of life), the emotional sensitivity, even our taste in food.

I love your sense of humor.  Never lose that.   I love that you still have a sense of wonder, that something as simple as an icicle can bring squeals of delight from you.  I love how you are smarter than me, but I am still Daddy.  I love how we can have these incredibly deep conversations, and I learn as much from you as you learn from me.

The Place we are allows us to get into a water hose fight on a hot July evening, and not even need towels.  We just sit on the front porch as the sun sets, and we feel the cool caress as the warm summer breeze dries us, and the fireflies begin to light, and we talk about nature, and you place your head on my shoulder – and I feel as if my body cannot contain the love and joy and beauty.

I do not want to leave this Place.

And yet, I can feel the tug of Time.  I know the next Place is not far away.  I can see it in the changes in your mood, the changes in your body, and to be honest, the changes in mine.  You are so smart, and so kind – I truly can’t wait to see the things you are going to do with your life.  But, for the first time, I am in no hurry to see those things.  They can wait.

So, Trillian, before we move on, before every “I hate you!” and “I forbid you”, before boys, and clothes, and whatever causes you are going to dive into, before cars and tassels and fights and tears…

Can we not linger in this Place for a while?  Let’s just breathe the air and sit side by side here, just being.  I know your life is calling, and you’ll have to go…one day.  I do not want to hold you back, but I would love to have just one moment more.  Right here and now.  We will never be in this Place again.  Believe it or not, one day you will miss this place, too.

Can we not linger here, for just a little while longer?

Happy birthday, Trillian.  I love you.

The Other Parents Are Just Happy It’s Happening at MY House

I wish I could tell you what’s happening at my house this weekend.  In fact, I had a whole post written about it, when I realized that the key words in the post would draw all kinds of hits from people  who are looking for something entirely different than a dad talking about his daughter’s 11th birthday.

Let’s just say that Trillian is having a bunch of friends over for a sleepover, and they’ll be, in effect, reenacting a Three Stooges pie fight. 

Trillian works hard all year.  She gets straight A-s and is a Duke Tip Scholar.  She does her chores without hesitating or whining.  She helps out at church without being asked half the time.

If she wants to cut loose and have a pie fight with her friends, well, she shall have one.   Do they sell cases of Redi-Whip at Costco?

Yes, the other parents know this is going to happen.  No, I have no idea how long it’ll take me to clean it all up.

Trillian ALWAYS asks for the unexpected on birthdays or Christmas.  No skate party or iPod for her.  Instead, my house is going to be hosting a little messy mayhem.

I’m not crazy – if it’s 45 degrees or above, they’ll do it outside.  If it’s below: in the garage.  But still, we have the spectre of 5 wet and sticky girls waiting their turn to get cleaned up.  No, I’m not going to hose them down outside, it’s too cold.

Zaphod is hoping I’ll just take him out of the house during all of this.  I told him that if this were occurring 3 or 4 years from now, his perspective would be totally different.  😉

Regardless, I might need prayer 🙂  I’ll let you know how it all goes.