Things With The Neighbours Have Become Heated

, , | Friendly | March 7, 2017

My mom had a black lab as a kid in the 1980s. This being the 1980s, people don’t know what we know now about pet care, so it is perfectly acceptable to leave a dog chained up in the yard unsupervised for long periods of time. My mom’s parents are no exception in spite of the dog being a master escape artist, and they find a moderately sized, sturdy tree to tie the dog to every afternoon that seems to keep the dog from escaping.

My mom’s neighbor is also no exception, with their purebred golden retriever. Since the neighbors like to participate in dog shows, they aren’t allowed to get the dog fixed and so have to contend with heat (which is essentially dog mating periods and very messy, painful, and loud). Not wanting a big mess in the house, they just chain the dog up outside until heat ends.

This catches the attention of pretty much every male dog in the neighborhood, but due to being kept chained up, they aren’t able to act on desire. That is, until my mom’s lab figures out how to use the friction from moving the chain up and down to saw down the tree and escape. He comes back home after a few hours.

And that’s the story of how the purebred show golden retriever gave birth to a litter of black puppies. The neighbors refuse to speak with my mom’s family after that, but apparently take a lesson and keep the dog indoors when she is in heat. So do my grandparents, who chain the dog to an anchor fit for a barge.

That’s not the end of it. A few months after the incident, my grandmother wakes up to find the outside door open and screen door torn to pieces. She initially assumes a robbery occurred and calls my grandfather in a panic. Upon realizing that nothing has been stolen, they figure out that the lab escaped. So, my grandfather goes out to search for the dog.

He eventually found the lab outside the neighbor’s house. It turns out the neighbor’s golden was once again in heat, and gave doggy encouragement throughout as the lab tried to claw through the wall shingle by shingle, in a manner that was slow but effective without injuring him or even damaging the shingles that much. Horrified, my grandfather grabbed him, took him home, and hastily tried to stick the lost shingles back on the house to the best of his ability. In all likelihood, though, the neighbors knew and any hope of reconciliation was lost.

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Today Doesn’t Work For Me

, , | Learning | March 7, 2017

I tend to be rather flexible on late work. I get the purpose of not taking late work to teach kids responsibility about deadlines and procrastination, but I also teach in a school where many of our kids are involved in several extracurricular activities, including jobs and church activities, so I’m willing to be flexible and work around their schedule as long as they’re willing to meet me halfway and make classwork a priority.

Unfortunately, that leads to abuse. Today is the last day of the grading period. I’ve had several students come up to me. “If I don’t turn anything in today, what will my grade be?” And when the answer comes back “68”, they’re not happy — 70 is the minimum to pass. “Well, that sucks. Now I actually have to do my work, and I only have today to do it!”

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Wouldn’t Survive A Spanish Inquisition

, , | Learning | March 1, 2017

I’m taking Spanish class. The teacher is retiring at the end of the year, so most of the students think this is an excuse to goof off, despite him making it very clear he had no intention of taking it easy, lesson-wise. I am not good at Spanish but am required to take it. As my parent raised me to be responsible, I attempt to get as much as I can out of the lessons, which causes the other kids to bully me.

One day, the teacher springs a pop quiz on us. Completely unprepared, I notice everyone else cheating in various ways. Succumbing to panic, I resort to cheating, too, hiding my notes in my desk. One of my classmates sees this, and starts loudly whispering about how I’m cheating. Everyone else starts doing it, too, until it stops being even close to subtle. I finish the quiz and walk up to the teacher’s desk, the loud whispering following me. I hand it to him and guiltily confess what I had done, running out of the room in tears.

When I got home, I found the teacher had called my mom. He had not been blind to all the bullying I was getting in class. He also saw how hard I was trying, and said he had never had a student confess to cheating before even handing a test in. So, he offered to take me out of the class and tutor me privately during his free period. I gladly accepted, and while I still never got the hang of Spanish, he was quite proud of my progress by the end of the year. As a retirement gift, my mom and I got him a very nice book on Spanish cuisine and recipes.

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A Project-ed Fail

, , | Learning | February 28, 2017

While at college I decide to take a graphic design class for an art credit. On the first day, the teacher makes it very clear that we will basically have one project to complete every class, and because of that, missing classes will cause us to fall drastically behind, as we will be expected to make them up, and the skills we gain from the previous project are utilized in the next one. She reminds us of this at least once per week, typically as she’s collecting the completed projects. However, she also lets us know that the computer lab is always available to us outside of class, and she’s happy to answer questions so we can catch up in our free time.

I’m seated next to a particularly obnoxious boy, who spends most of the class talking to his buddy and generally goofing off, no matter how many times I tell him to shut up and do his work. A month into the semester, he stops coming. I figure he must have dropped out once he realized the class actually involved work. I end up having a ton of fun in the class, and the teacher is really nice and helpful. I do miss a project once, causing me to fall behind for a bit, but true to her word I’m able to make it up outside of class and catch up.

A week before the semester’s end, the obnoxious kid comes back, plopping down right next to me. He asks me what he missed since he’d stopped coming. I stare at him like he’s insane, pointing out that he’s been gone for two months. He laughs it off, claiming he can catch up in his free time. I remind him that we had a project to finish each day, each taking over an hour and a half to finish, and we had the class three days a week. So, basically, he had one week to do over two dozen projects.

I get the pleasure of seeing his eyes widen in realization and horror before he sprints up to the teacher, freaking out over how he was going to make up that much work. The teacher, being nice, agrees to give him an extension to turn in all the projects, but given how I didn’t see him again after that, I’m guessing he decided to take the failing grade instead of attempt to cram in a semester’s worth of projects into two weeks.

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A Letter From A Reader

, , | Hopeless | February 26, 2017

I have disabling depression and anxiety. I have several self-care behaviors to help with them. I go for massages for my muscle knots and try to exercise as much as possible. I have pets I care for daily and my husband who is an angel of understanding.

Every day I have a routine that helps me keep moving and out from under the immobilizing storm clouds. I feed my birds, my dog, clean the kitchen up. I do my yoga, then sit at the computer with my coffee and go on the Internet.

Humor is an amazing antidepressant and so I always head over to Notalwayshopeless.com and the related sites of Not Always Working or Right, Related, Learning, or Friendly. The rich tapestry of human experience, both positive and negative, helps me stay balanced and in touch with others, even though I can’t speak to any of the narrators of their experiences.

I can only hope that the person(s) who run those sites understand that it is a great thing they do, and though it is anecdotal, what a great window into humanity this is for us all.

Thank you to those who do this, I hope they get to see this and receive my thanks. You keep me not always hopeless.

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