Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Arbitrary Dress Code in Kanawha County Schools And the Confederate Flag

Yesterday afternoon I heard Molly's bus pull up; her stop is directly in front of our house. The next thing I heard was loud honking and adult voices shouting. I leapt up to the window to see a car was trying to go around the schoolbus. Molly doesn't have to cross the street, but other little ones on her route do. So I was shaken up and angry. Because kids all over the country have been hurt by drivers ignoring the stop signs on buses.

Then Mollz came in and, visibly shaken, told me a high-schooler on her bus was wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt. She's extremely sensitive to that image since I explained to her why it had been in the news so often. And so I flew into an apoplectic rage. This is the same school board who sent home a letter last year before a swimming pool party that girls were not allowed to wear bikinis. Eight year old girls.

Just before the bus pulled in I'd been texting with a friend who is having a really upsetting crisis with her eldest and by the time I finished my rage about the t-shirt I was shaken so much I asked for alone time and took a Xanax and slowly returned to my normal, low-simmer anxiety. I waited to think about everything until this morning with a clear head. My head was a thrashing mess of worry and clarity was quite beyond me.

Then, calmer and with better perspective, I looked up the dress code in the student handbook. I found this:

Any clothing, jewelry or accessories with decorations, patches, lettering, advertisements, etc., that may be considered obscene or offensive are not to be worn to school. This includes any clothing, jewelry, accessories that may be used as weapons, which have drug emblems, contain obscenities, tobacco or alcohol, sex, sexual innuendo or which may be considered derogatory towards a race, culture or religion, or which may be considered sexual harassment. [Emphasis mine.]
I put on my professional unflappable voice and called the board.

And I was told that their legal counsel have stated already that there is nothing they can do to prevent students wearing the design. And I asked her, because the person with whom I spoke was not a board member, how I can go about addressing the fact that this decision is in explicit contradiction to the exact letter of the handbook and that other arbitrary rules have been implemented. She took my name and contact information and someone should get back with me.

Look. I've been all over Facebook defending peoples' right to wear or show that flag, but also to argue that yes you must be aware that it is irrevocably tied to racism. Regardless of the wearer's opinion, that image upsets people. It shook up my little girl and I can only imagine what it's like for minorities in that school area. Her school is 99% white. It's in a town where most people don't have to think about race and who see the rebel flag everywhere and it's ubiquitous and likely completely not noteworthy.

But it violates the dress code, and I am adamant about that.

I don't want to stir up a huge thing, and my blog readership consists of just a few locals. But if there needs to be a show of support and not just one pissed off mom, do contact me privately to discuss this if you agree with me and live in Kanawha County. I'm not talking a social media firestorm or picketing the building. I'm thinking a rational conversation to air the grievance. Message me on Facebook directly if you'd like to talk. If you disagree, rest secure that your point of view is already well-represented but I leave comments open and do not censor civil discourse.

And now the worry about instigating a conflict is making me a shaky mess. So it's back to Xanax and baking videos to rest my brain.

Be well, darling bl'eaders. Next post shall involve whimsy, upon my honor I do so vow.


I've spoken with the board official and this was hotly debated with their attorneys. The crux of their decision was that if clothing does not "cause a disturbance" it is permitted. A disturbance defined as interfering with education, and a teary eyed kid on a bus doesn't count. She suggested I discuss with my child the places where free speech and offensive imagery intersect (which obviously I've done thoroughly already).

She offered the option to speak with the School Improvement Council at Molly's school and the high school but very apologetically told me this has been to circuit court already so any disagreement on the point is moot. She was sympathetic and helpful, and told me she agreed with me 100% but that others have tackled this issue and the outcome is a solid decision.

I'm not emotionally equipped to drag this all the way through the channels when evidently it's been done and soundly defeated.

We can educate our own children about our concerns and I can resign myself once again to living on the periphery of Sissonville sorta-subculture. Not to hate on the 'Ville but it's the whitest white town I've ever experienced and far more typical of the state's culture than Charleston.

Oh, Appalachia. 

Sometimes I want to quit.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Summer Catch Up

I logged on here to look for an old post and was floored to see it's been two months since I posted. I've been thinking I should really get to writing because it must've been a month since I posted.


It's been easy to forget I have a blog this summer. I've been writing steamy things that won't see the light of day. Just playing with fiction, really. Getting my sea legs and all that.

It's not scary anymore. The process, that is. I am, of course, hoping the horror things I'm dreaming up actually have some disturbing qualities. 

And we've had such a sweet and relaxing summer. We here means Molly and me—Shane's had a great summer, but it's been the 'work your ass until you flop down exhausted and happy after spotting rock climbers, guiding rafts down the rapids, and catching people hurtling toward you high up in the tree canopy' sort of great. There are bruises.

Molly and I have spent a lot of the time Shane's getting battered by whitewater and building rappelling muscles lounging at the lake playing mermaid sisters and the like.

One such day we were role playing in the How to Train Your Dragon 'verse. (The books, because they're fanfuckingtastic.)

So we're there on a floating jungle-gym, acting out a scene from How to Speak Dragonese. We invoke this nano-dragon, the tiny, self-styled Emporer of the Universe called Ziggurastica. And I swear by all that is holy and magical, an actual tiny little dragonfly immediately alights on Molly's knee. 

Our jaws dropped. 

When he flew away, we squealed like we were both nine year old girls who'd just seen an honest-to-Odin bloody dragon.

It was glorious.


Independence Day weekend my darling friend Marie visited, and Souster and I brought our families to Marie's beloved aunts' house for a potluck. (I pleased myself immensely by making mini-pavlovas that were actually a dessert called Bird's Nests because they turned out crunchier. But they were sinfully good.) 

Any day I spend in the company of these two women is a day my face will hurt from smiling and laughing. Now that we've matured just enough to act a bit like adults, I can proudly announce that these gatherings no longer involve anyone holding another's hair to horf up tequila.

Once, when it was the two wildlings who tended to make the... well, just the worst fucking decisions, it was tequila and champagne. Yes, we did that. And yes, obviously I was one of the two geniuses. 

But this visit was wonderful and there was no hangover. It was pretty cool, that absence of hell in the morning.

And just look at these gorgeous creatures' smiles! Best visit in years, Marie:D

like, what is Megan holding? I was there and she does not have a handful of Marie's boob. Does she? Did I miss groping? What is happening?!


So I have just under a week of summer vacation before Bird goes back to school, and we're spending most of it camping at ACE with Shane. I will make a valiant effort to be a blogger again upon our return, or at least when I'm a free mommy again.

I may have to pick up a bottle of good whiskey to celebrate the Return of the School Year.

I hope your summer has been as playful and lovely as ours. Sunny happy wishes and big, warm love to you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Life Keeps Keepin' On

Hello, my bl'eaders. I've my writing (various other small projects but the blog hasn't been anything like a priority) terribly little, but life has thrown a staggering amount of distractions, worry, wonderment, and general chaos my way lately.

My dad-in-law has had a recurrence of his cancer but is recovering, astonishingly. He's a private guy and wouldn't be well-pleased for me to share details, so I haven't written much about it. He was hospitalized on April 16th, my mom's birthday, and I was certain we'd lose him within the week. And then within the month. But he started improving at last and is steadily gaining strength and feeling less and less pain.

During the scarier weeks, my aunt(mom) had a minor heart attack, and though she was released fairly quickly, the timing and the fact that this was a second attack was rattling as hell. She's been home for weeks and is very well looked after by my brother, who's an incredible caretaker. He's so thorough in his research and diligence he should be an M.D. at this point.

And as all this is happening, Shane made the stunning, life-changing decision to leave his office job and return to work at ACE Adventure Resort, where he was a white water raft guide for ten years. He's now helping run the paintball field and doing rock climbing and zip line tours. 

He's glowing with more than a sunny tan. The outdoors is his element, and seeing him so happy has me falling in love with him as if he's a new man, though it's more the case that he's his truest primal self again. 

Yesterday afternoon, Bird and I went up into the mountains to frolic at the lake at ACE and meet him after his climbing session. I'd only ever been to ACE in the winter. Souster, lovely Marie, and our dudes used to spend New Years there, sipping (read: chugging) champagne in the hot tub surrounded by snow.

The lake was fantastic, and the day merits its own post after I compile and edit photos. I foresee many, many ACE days this summer. 

I have much to do the next couple of days. My Bu has a birthday tomorrow and we're hoping to do Birdy a room makeover. Little Bit has a new single bed of her own and is mad stoked to get it installed. We'll see how much excitement remains when we see how she handles a few nights in her own. 

She turned nine during these months of crazy. I'm as proud of the cake I made as I've been of sculptures before. 

Behold the Minecraft wonderment:

It was a five-layer monster. She was ecstatic.

Away with me now—more life needs living.