Thursday, September 30, 2010


To all my readers:

Despite my severe "mathematical learning difference," ever since becoming Spydra, I've had the uncanny knack of instantly recognizing patterns divisible by 8.

It is, apparently, one of the minor spider super-powers.

I'll beg pardon of whomever happens to be waiting patiently for me, whilst I count out the pattern...whispering the numbers out-loud so as not to lose my place and have to start over.

"Aha! 32! I knew it! A quadruple spider!!!" Feeling very smart for knowing the right answer to the question: "What is four times eight?"

And having thus been counted and determined as belonging to the order of the spider...whatever the item becomes the object of my absolute arachnid admiration.

In the year that it's been up, Spydra's Web has received 8000 hits, rendering me a kilo-spider -- and I cannot adequately describe the honor.

Though often's the time I find myself the storied starving artist, I simply cinch my belt and press on...
trusting that God will see a way to keep a roof over my head,
thanking Him for the mighty pen He placed into my hand and grateful for the words He put into my mouth

for pondering the outpourings of my opal spider mind
I also thank you, whither be ye friend or foe --
you read my words and feed my soul

Sunday, September 26, 2010


You know…I missed all but the last 15 minutes of the Board Meeting on Wednesday. If it hadn’t been for reason and occasion of my TeeVee Land absence, I would have been pretty bummed out about it. But, it was a special night, and I had three large goblets of wine.

And I didn’t even say anything schtupid.

Alas, me, heigh ho – the Board, however, has all kinds of things to say; the dumbest things coming out of anyone’s mouth these days keeps coming from the direction of the left…I dunno, maybe it’s actually the physical right, but it’s that end over there where Jan and Luann play footsie and eat snacks and giggle and pass notes….it also comes from Gledich, because of his inane sloganeering.

He actually looked a bit sheepish when he started up this last time; sometimes, I swear, I feel like they feel like they feel like I’m looking at them.

OK, I’m gonna try to get this typed down and posted tonight…but in case I don’t, that will give me my third chance to take a listen to it.

Well, the the trivial and unimportant first: FASHION.

Bob Null was the best dressed man in the room, and he really looked nice. I liked his whole ensemble very much, he wore a nice tie…and when he started getting mad at Jan, he just looked a lot more in control than when he’s wearing some elementary school T-shirt.

Glenn has been wearing darker suits of late, which I really think is smart. I wonder if he shops at a men’s big and tall store…cuz with his dimensions, I just feel like he must have to resort to some custom tailoring…either that, or like a mismatched suit special on sale at the Men’s Warehouse. Nah…I’m leaning towards the on-site seamstress for Glenn. Hey – he’s got it like that. I KNOW HE DOES; KNOW HOW? Because. That. Fool. Is. So. Smart.

Charlie was wearing his grey suit. Loma – not there. Mann – not there. Tom – non-descript. Gledich – every so often, he reminds me of like a milkman or ice-cream man or something. I don’t know what Luann was wearing – something loose and comfortable, most likely. I really don’t take too much notice of what she’s wearing unless its fancy in some way, like with beads, or a pattern print of little smiling pizza wedges.

AND THEN THERE’S JAN. You guys…I mean, I don’t know what to make of it at all – either Jan is absolutely color-blind and clueless, or that’s just how everyone happens to dress on Planet Vomitblaus. I dunno – maybe she keeps doing it just to show me that my critiques don’t hurt or impact her…but all I’ve gotta say is that she has the ugliest wardrobe of anyone in the whole entire world. Yes – I AM saying that Luann dresses better than Jan…the school girls dress better than Jan…the K-9’s look better than Jan.

This is not my endorsement article…although I do have such a post in the works. But here is a slogan, or a maxim, or a truism – wtf you wanna call it: IT WOULD BE UNWISE TO CAST YOUR VOTE FOR SOMEONE WHO DRESSES SO BADLY, WITH SUCH CONSISTENCY, AND SO STUBBORNLY AND/OR CLUELESSLY.

Jan just needs to take my advice, and start all the way over again with all of her clothes; I’ll bet even her socks suck.

OK, with that out of the way…I’m just gonna riff on the sensitivities I got throughout the meeting.

So…in watching the meeting, I came to realize that I am just as stupid as all of them, because I follow them like they are the Young and the Restless; like Glenn is Victor Newman and I…well, of course I am Nikki Newman…or (less ideally) Ashley Newman. Aha!

But seriously, folks…I mean, I study these people…I listen to these people, and I have come to hear it…you know what I’m talking aobut…it’s that tone that your teenage kids get when they’re lying to you about sneaking out the night before. I mean, my kids don’t like to me like that…but I lied to my mom and dad like that…and I can hear Jan, Glenn and Luann lying.

I don’t know why Sandra wasn’t there…but I will say this: the meetings are not nearly as good without her as they are with her. I just have a whole new respect for Sandra after the way she so ruthlessly grilled Brenda LaBrasse a couple of weeks ago; I mean, she was a little like Lucy Liu in Kill Bill.

In this meeting, as well as the last meeting, I heard some kind of reference being made to a new “three questions” rule: guess Sandra’s gentle D.A. must have really been damaging somehow, because there’s now this thing I keep hearing about more than three questions is just TOO MUCH to ask.

WhatEVER, JAN, you flipping hypocrite and control freak. She’s always passing all of these rules that pertain only to everyone else, and only when it benefits her. “You may not say ‘Um’ more than 5 times per hour; Luann will be in charge of enforcement.” I guess I’d get a little nervous about opening my mouth if there was the risk of the fat lady sitting on me in seclusion as a “time-out technique.”

Anyway, the new rules all apply to everyone but Jan; Luann never breaks the “speaks too much” rule, because she’s always just saying, “Yeah, me too, Jan.” “Oh, good one, Jan.” “You guys better do what Jan says or else!”

But what I’m saying is that I have heard some kind of backhanded comments coming from Bob, Charlie, and yes, even Tom, referring to the three question limit.

I really don’t know what to make of all of the illness and absence up there on Board Row. But I’m telling you; I’ve watched movies about how witches will go and make other people sick…and it just seems like illness doesn’t ever affect Jan.

I know I don’t say anything nice about Jan…and if that seems mean, then oh well. I do not believe she has ever told the truth, ever in her whole life. I think she has been a bully ever since she was a kid. The only thing is that like, if Jan was just a soap-opera character, there’d be a chance that I might meet her in the store, and be like, “Oh, I see you on teevee all of the time; can I get your autograph??” And then Jan would look at me, and she’d be like: “Aren’t you Spydra? I have been trying SO hard to reach you; here’s that $16,000 I owe you…” THAT WOULD ROCK, FOOLS.

But this is what would happen if we ran into each other; like, if I saw her coming down an alleyway, I’d be afraid that she’d attack me and roll me, and then cut my head off and stick it on her coat of arms. Then, she’d just jog off, like a serial-killing jogger. THAT WOULD SERIOUSLY SUCK, PEOPLE.

Anyway, I have watched Jan’s hissy-fit over the course of the month; it’s about that legislative coalition that the District is no longer a part of…the one that enjoyed only negligible success in lobbying for the District’s needs and wants in Denver. And what would those be, exactly? Here’s truth and FACT: I have YET to hear anyone at the District say that something was unfair for kids…or fight for something for kids….oh, there’s all kinds of unfair for teachers, and I guess there’s some kind of change coming up that will impact teacher tenure.



Bob has brought up this subject as well, several times: it is a conflict of interest for Jan to sit on the Board of Directors of CASB and the D#11 Board at the same time – remember, Tami Hasling and the big deal she made about Al Loma being on the STAR Academy Board? WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP. I KNEW THAT CASB WAS FULL OF IT WHEN THEY SPENT THEIR BIG SOIREE AT THE BROADMOOR LAST DECEMBER, EVEN THOUGH SCHOOLS WERE BEING CLOSED AND BUDGETS WERE BEING SLASHED. AT THAT TIME, CASB HAD BEEN MAKING THE CLAIM OF HAVING BEEN IN EXISTENCE FOR MORE THAN 6O YEARS…EVEN THOUGH JOHN GUDVANGEN APPEARS TO HAVE INCORPORATED CASB, INC. IN 1978.

I don’t understand why you people don’t listen to me – if you had listened, and if you believed anything that I was saying, or if any of this stuff even bothered you at all, YOU WOULD ALREADY KNOW YOURSELF WHAT A FAKE AND CHARLATAN JAN REALLY, REALLY IS.


Listen: say that we were co-workers…and I came in three minutes late every day…I took long lunches, and then leave early. I mean, maybe at first you would let it go… but after a while, you would begin to resent it, and YOU’D START KEEPING TRACK OF MY COMINGS AND GOINGS AND PROVIDE IT TO THE BOSS…SO I COULD BE FIRED.


And this is the thing that totally worried me; I noticed it a couple of weeks ago, too.

Jan, when she starts to really lie, I mean, bold-faced lie…she starts talking really fast, and leaning into the dias like a man…she like rolls up her ugly blazer sleeves and starts saying “Um, um, um…”

But Glenn: I mean, yeah, it’s all funny that he’s my boyfriend and all…but even with the joke, I know that if I was in a place of financial difficulty, he could easily help me – if he wanted to. BUT HE WOULDN’T WANT TO. Glenn is SO. SMART. I’m not so sure about those rumored indiscretions with women some years back -- that fool is WAY TOO SMART than to let his “privacy” hold him back and get him in trouble with some woman – and I mean, I WOULD KEEP IT A SECRET, EVEN UNDER TORTURE. I don’t believe the stories I’ve heard about him anymore. GLENN IS SO SMART. He knows where to hide his money, and how…and I’ll tell you how I know: he’s the only one up there that I’ve never found anything questionable or weird about…well, I mean, I have, but following those leads literally takes me nowhere, at all….so he is SO CAREFUL.

And so, as Jan lies, she talks faster and faster and faster…but Glenn –- it was just like he flipped a switch somewhere…he went into some kind of Victor Newman Chill Down Mode…like he does when someone screws him over in business…all quiet and Welsh. He silently and almost imperceptibly shifted into some kind of slow cold mode. He moved a little slower, and he speech was SO measured, and he was not at all flustered; Jan KEEPS ON BRINGING IT UP, I swear, she is such a pushy, obvious woman, she has no tact and no taste and no grace whatsoever. But the same cannot be said about Glenn:

I don’t know what this whole legislative coalition is all about, but let’s face it: if being in this club was really that important to Glenn, he could just whip out his checkbook and pay for it. So why is it so important? What is the secret that Jan and Glenn share that has her drawing so much attention, and Glenn turning positively BEARISH?

I mentioned Gudvangen’s link to CASB…and I learned recently that Tami Hasling and John Gudvangen are like the President and the Vice President of the Board of the Foundation for School District 11; that’s one of the two entities that list Glenn as its registered agent…and I know it can be explained by virtue of his high-up position…but it’s got me thinking.


I’m not sure what it is, but I too became chilled, and actually became really worried when I saw the way he slowed himself down…it was like the way someone would act if they were trying to prepare to pass a polygraph or something…or psych themselves up to strangle a big spider – man…Glenn would just wash his hands afterward and straighten his tie.

Chilling behavior from Mom’s Evil District 11 Boyfriend.

I hope and pray that I never find out anything Pizza-ish about Glenn…though I suspect there’s something, somewhere. If I were ever to find something, I would struggle with that information…and so I just look at Jan.

But I will be taking a much closer look at this legislative coalition in the upcoming week, cuz sumpin’ up, y’all.

Although the meeting had me audibly shouting “STFU, LuAnn” and even losing my patience with Charlie Bobbitt (listen, Charlie – do everyone a favor and stop trying to pick and choose your words carefully for these crappy people: just spit it out that they’re full of shit, and don’t hesitate about it; for me personally, it would do much for me and my support of you as a BAD ASS…go BUFORD PUSSER ON THOSE LIARS…I would love it so much more than listening to Jan and LuAnn whisper and titter and mutter about you as you.)


I will be writing more about my inferences from this meeting.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Get it?

Mark Barna has relied twice now upon the same cheap gimmick in less than a month:  [example: "What do Christian and porno movies have in common?"]

Question:  "What do Barry Noreen, Mike Jones, and Rich Tosches all have in common?"

-- Answer:  "That d__ck Barna sittin' next to them."

What.  I mean, it's not really funny so much...but it sorta makes awkward sense, right?  Well, it does, right?!?

*Shrug*  Don't blame me -- he's the professional.  They call me Spydra, not Groucho.

So, anyway...sistagirl needs a job, so I've been brushing up my Barnique.  Here's one I just made up: 

Question:  What do spiders and elephants have in common?

-- Answer:  They're both fabled of possessing incredible memories.

See?  It's not really funny either, and seems a little pointless; I made-up the spider fact altogether.  This is all a complex and clever writer's mechanism known as a Barnalanation.

That "incredible memories" part up there is just one of an infinite number of possible Barnalanations; here's another:

-- Answer:  Elephants store their memories in the ivory of their tusks, and spiders store theirs in their spinnarets. 

Get it (?)  I mean, it's just as plausible as the concept of storing their memories in their brains, right?  But then, what do I know

Besides, it's not called a spider's called a in, "When Spydra put on the scary mask and grass skirt, I eyed the spear nervously...wondering 'Has she gone and lost her plumb spider mind??'"

So, Barnal Theory says this would be a good place to use a diversion device, such as a disjointed statistic, blatant change of subject, digression, or I-wish-I-believed-in-God-but-I-don't-and-that-makes-me-mad-and-so-I-hate-you dribulum.  One of Tosches Tenets even allows for something called "poetic license"...which confers on its user the power to just go and make up words altogether.  I mean, this is all shop talk, ya know...and probably boring for you; but these literary genres are on today's cutting edge of' if I practice and git fluent in 'em, well, maybe ol' spydragurl here might can evengo and git her one of 'em jobbie things.

So...I digress:

I think it's amazing that elephants are capable of weeping...of crying actual tear drops; unlike crocodiles and Jan Tanner (see?).  I think it's amazing when I see a picture of a fish or a bird all caught in a spider's web...I mean, a li'l creepy, right? 

OK, a proper Barnacle always ends with a deft stroke and/or twist of irony. 

I think it's a shame how short some of our memories really are...and how gullible and complacent we all can sometimes be.  In such cases, a walk down memory lane can help clear the cobwebs.  But a good, long walk down memory lane is just too important and simply too enjoyable an activity to just go and diminish it hanging off some icky Barnacle.  

And so  with this, I bring to a close my Barnesque thesis;   JJJ awaits me anon, just a few short steps down Memorie Avenue...

ciao, babies

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Lake

So, I made my last Jungle Banana Spider Victory post from the Pikes Peak Workforce Center…which of course is just around the way from “the ‘hood”...and once I’m that near to it, I can’t resist the tug on my heartstrings.

And so I hoofed it, happily…walking on air, really.  What a day, what a beautiful day it turned out to be.

I stopped and asked a man if he had a light, and he did. We paused in that quiet, private smokers' ceremony, where strangers become familiars over a flick and a flame. I thanked him and offered him a cigarette; he had his own and thanked me, and we each went our way.

My step was light and quick, and as I passed by Tesla, I thought to myself, “Damn, Spydra…you sure do walk fast; and all that jungle boogie – no wonder you stay so trim.”

After the big fire station, I looked both ways before crossing Printers Parkway…and at the big Regional Building Department, I crossed Airport into the Adams Neighborhood.

Mmmm, I love to go there and walk the sidewalks I know so well. On my way to Friend A, I ran into Friend B and Friend C, and together we loudly admired and whistled at the mail carrier’s tanned and shapely manlegs. After a bit, I moved on to Friend D’s, and sat down for some spaghetti and salad…chatting about the day, and how worried and blue I’d been just hours earlier.

I looked out the sliding door and into the Adams school building parking lot, filled satisfyingly with cars; empty and abandoned no more, STAR Academy parents waited to pick up their kids…who flowed out at the end of the day like some special electricity, infusing the whole area with renewed vitality and purpose and meaning. The flag was lowered and put away properly…and -- wearing my Adams Elementary School “Reach for the Stars” t-shirt -- I felt so much pride to be an American, and Coloradan, and Springs native, and K-Landian adoptee.

I reached for the crossword puzzle; it was then that I first saw the front page, and first learned the sad news. Tears sprang to my eyes before I finished the headline.

Two young lives drowned in Prospect Lake.

A very strong swimmer, for me a drowning is always a special tragedy; a sort of betrayal from the water in which I feel so at home. I close my eyes…and the panic and fear and exhaustion and surrender suffocate and break me…and I cry and I cry and I wonder, “God, why…?”

My heart and my prayers go out to these two young men, and their families and friends, and to the witnesses and the would-be rescuers; I'm so, so, so very sorry.

I added my tears and my sighs to the collective grieving of the people who live in the Memorial Park area; already so sad from the loss of Municipool and the loss of the Lake swimming to play host to the loss of two lives with all the world yet ahead of them, in the broad and bright sunlight of a September day –

Objection Sustained

Guess What: It's summertime, and the poor keep on living
Even though there are signs that may caution “No Swimming”
Shame on you fools who closed down those two pools
Just to save a few bucks; your decision-making sucks
The money you saved, spent on a worthless CodeBabe
When these two shining lights still burned ever so bright
You doused and drowned them in the height of their youth
A wound inflicted deeply, a theft absent of need
A tragedy averted were it not for your greed
And you know who you are; you know your own name
Though I know you not; gladly, strangers we remain
May your conscience second-guess you at third and fourth reckon
May a shudder remind you the next time your pool beckons
May you rethink all that you ruthlessly take
Each and every time you look upon Prospect Lake


Thank God

Today we weren’t evicted
Today the lights didn’t go out
Today the fight ended peacefully
That began with slam and shout
Today I didn’t have to ask him please
Work with my hands or get down on my knees
Or hear him refuse, and/or question my needs
Today I didn't have to sell my soul,
And at the end of the day, my belly was full
I can hardly believe in how great my good luck
Today I didn’t see a child struck by a truck
I didn’t let myself give in to the pain
And go out just to get hit by a train
Today I didn’t try to save my friend in vain
And end up drowning together, a damn crying shame
A new day; I pull taut my slingshot and take aim
For the cyclopean eyes of my giants again

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Have you heard....

And a little bird just told me some very, very good news:

Ms. Herbst is being allowed to retire. 

What, WHAT, fools, WHAT!??!  Do a DANCEShake that thang!!!!!!!

There is no message in the song I've embeded -- I've already told you before, I am famous for my wrong-word song-singing; I don't have a clue what Ice Cube is rapping about.  All I know is this song makes me get all Jungle about things, makes me wanna kick off my shoes and put on a grass skirt and scary mask and start dancing around a fire with a know:  makes me wanna get that way that makes Jungle Jan Tanner start trembling about the worrisome, restless natives.

It IS the way I feel, right now, as I think about shooting rubber-bands at the departing Ms. Herbst. 

See Ya!  Wouldn't Want To Be Ya!

And not to take full responsibility...or any, for that matter....but for what it's worth, I've just put another hashmark in Spydra's win column.

Turn it up, or turn it down...whatever your environment may be...but feel it...and say "yeah yeah" with me people.

Monday, September 20, 2010


On the last Regular Board Meeting:

All right, I know that I’ve been a bit slow with my meeting recaps…but comfort yourselves in the knowing that Spydra watches each meeting at least thrice; this is the real deal, y’all.

Brenda LaBrasse gave one of her looooooong presentations. Let me get the superfluous out of the way: Brenda is easily – easily -- the best dressed woman at District 11; girlfriend rocks it. But her droning verbatim delivery of the PowerPoint presentation her secretary put together for her is just like watching and listening to paint dry; positively somnambulistic.

And how many times are we all going to be subjected to the same sales pitch, anyway? First from Mike Poore, then from some yahoo subject-matter expert, then one more time from Brenda, and then the tag-team presentation, then the Q&A presentation…I mean WOW; we already bought it – enough! This presentation was 40 pages long…and went on for 90 minutes! ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Fortunately, Sandra and Bob were alert and listening – actively – and both had their BS detector on vibrate mode, their spines stiffening ever so slightly whenever it went off. Sandra went first, and I gotta say: she asked the right questions…and though they were hard questions, she asked them with grace; with a bit less grace but bunches of punch, Bob’s questions followed.

? “RtI is state mandated – after six years, and all of the money we’ve poured into it, why has it yet to be fully implemented throughout the District?

? Why after six years are teachers still being trained on implementation?

? Why hasn’t Positive Behavior Support been fully implemented at Keller?

? Is RtI also supposed to address disciplinary programs?

? What types of climates are conducive to learning?

? Why is so much wondering going on as to what principals and teachers must do to utilize the data more effectively?

? Why the constant moves from EASe, Tynet, Zangle…?

? Why isn’t it flexible enough to filter out individual schools?

? “What does ‘highly unsatisfactory mean?’”

? “What good are all of these statistics if the numbers don’t tell you anything?”

? Why are there still challenges? Are they additional or ongoing challenges?

? If the RtI program is the right answer, is it being wrongly implemented?

Here’s my own question, for what its worth: doesn’t it seem like RtI would stand for Retool…or RTL, as in Ready to learn….rather than RTI (Response to Intervention)? Maybe it’s just me, but somebody should have smelled trouble based on that alone.

Here’s another: What is the Office of Discipline, and how does it differ from the Dean’s Office? Maybe I’m still in Bedrock, but when I was in school, it was either the Principal, the Vice Principal, or the Dean who doled out the discipline – there wasn’t a whole office devoted to it; if there’s a whole office, who’s the Director of the Office of Discipline?

Too bad answering the questions was so clumsy and painful; ask Brenda an unscripted question, and her expression turns to granite…and she turned to stone again and again. She got a little wobbly and kinda looked like she needed a drink, and in the end, could only manage the following utterance:

“We still have a lot of work.”

And Gledich…geez…him and his slogans: “The D11 Way”; “Focus, fidelity and follow-through”; “Our core business is educating students.” Very reminiscent of the Tami-Hasling-Chatty-Cathy phenomenon. Scripted, pre-programmed and rehearsed, it’s hard to discern much sincerity in his words as he speaks them. Indeed, the search string “focus AND fidelity AND ‘follow through’ AND ‘response to intervention’” had 101 returns — few of them from D11.

At one point, Gledich said something brilliant to this effect: “I need the Board to expect me to expect the schools to implement RtI with fidelity…to expect me to expect schools to do their jobs.”

“Fidelity” is on my own banned words list, solely because of the D11 way it’s used.

1. Faithfulness to obligations, duties, or observances.

2. Exact correspondence with fact or with a given quality, condition, or event; accuracy.

3. The degree to which an electronic system accurately reproduces the sound or image of its input signal.

Once again, renaming schools that were only recently closed or changed was the subject of discussion. I agree with Charlie – what’s the big hurry? How do we know that the changes made yesterday will be considered wise tomorrow? Many of the schools have their names permanently placed on the building…but the District will not allow these permanent name plates to be altered or removed in any way. Well, why? Why are the names of these schools up for change at all? In looking at the CDE website, Adams is still listed as a District 11 elementary school; before we start running about willy-nilly coming up with new names for these established buildings…let’s make sure the rest of the State is aware the school has been closed.

Maybe it would help to clear up confusion if we just started hyphenating the school names, like Dr. Demi-Smith or Linda Hunt-Stone: how about Adams-Star-Elementary-K-8-Charter, or Irving-Junior-High-Middle-School-Online-Vocational-Hodge-Podge?

Bob will update his disclosure form for conflict of interest related to his recertification as a substitute teacher; too bad Jan still refuses to do the same with her pizza contract; thanks for taking the high road, Bob.

Bob mentioned how the kids at one school all bragged that there’s no bullying there, and even shared their LEGOs; wow! Too bad the Board can’t model that anti-bullying concept for the rest of us. You know – don’t even teach my kids about bullying until you can better practice what you preach…because if Jan “The Man” Tanner isn’t actively bullying various members of the Board, I don’t know what it’s called. Maybe she’s just making friends.

And what about Jan's BUTTUGLY shark skin jacket?!?  In a word, EwwYuck!

In talking about Patriots Day, Jan looked so happy about Mann Middle School’s salute to the Star Spangled Banner, you’d almost think her middle name was Obama.

Jan wants to bring up the ballot initiatives ad infinitum et nauseum – and does. Tanner is obviously excited about the whole “Evil Trio” issue…pressing the board members to speak publicly against them, and plainly coaching board members on acceptable things to say at the end of meetings. Jan even flashed cards that “they” printed out for her in English and in Spanish; the Spanish ones were not ready, “they” are not printing them up but are allowing “them” to print it up. At the risk of sounding Ebonic, I’d like to know just who “they” and “them” is.

Because the Board took a formal stance on the matter, it appears that the end of each board meeting is going to end with a crappy advertisement against the ballot initiatives.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I have spent the last several days feverish and delirious...tossing and turning, moaning and suffering from a dreadful kidney infection.

Lucky for Mike Poore...who, were it not for my illness, would have been lambasted for the tie and shirt combination he wore to last week's work session.  The man used to be a pretty dapper dresser...but lately...I dunno.  Mayhaps he's taken to letting Jan Tanner help him get dressed before meetings -- TRULY the blind leading the blind.

I've already written all about it, but can't seem to sit up straight enough to edit, if you haven't already seen it, make sure you turn on that television at 6:00 pm tonight. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The omen

I had a strange, surreal dream the night before 9/11/2001. 

Yesterday -- nine years later --  was strange and surreal as well; I remain deeply shaken after the brush with tragedy.

The weirdest thing about it was that I had just asked my sixty-ish friend -- just moments before the accident -- if she had a deck of tarot cards.  "No," she answered, "but I wish I did."  I asked if she had a regular deck of playing cards...and again the answer was no.

I forgot about that detail until this morning, and a chill ran down my body; I realize now that it pertains to a one-sided, one-card tarot reading I did years ago for a loved one...against my better judgement, and much to my regret.

It pains me to say so, but that was no coincidence yesterday; the problem with premonition is that you never realize the accuracy until after the fact.

Two years from now -- September 11, 2012 -- will be eleven years later.

District 11.  I was born on the 22nd; it's my lucky number, eleven twice.  I know it sounds crazy, but I'm spooked as hell. 

It's all an omen...and not a good one, I'm afraid.

Watch the movie and feel your mouth drop...about 3/4ths of the way into it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Look both ways

Life has gone on since moving away from the Adams neighborhood, but parts of my heart linger there.  Driving past the area causes a lump to form in my throat...and I feel the loss of everything so keenly.

When I return for my rare visits, it is a noteworthy event; I sit and visit with this friend and that, catching up and LAFFING about our men, and our families...I mean, LAFFING.  And so it was today...the weather lovely and the conversation sublime and hilarious; my grown up friends and I actually determined to share a few libations extremely rare event for me. 

The weather, and the sky, and the moment and the laughter was all so beautiful; I, too, was lovely, like the day...and gazing out over the lower Adams field...taking in the view that had always brought me such happiness and had filled me with such purpose...I felt supremely happy. 

A stop to find the dropped cigarettes, and then another exasperated search for the keys.  I went to the front door and looked out to see a small pickup truck applying its brakes hard...smoke rising from the asphalt and the tires screeching.  My eyes traveled to see what the driver was seeing:  my friend's three year old grand-daughter in the middle of the street, looking questioningly into the face of a child that stood on the opposite sidewalk. 

I heard the thud of the impact and the thud of her fall.  "Oh my God," I screamed and covered my eyes.

The baby's mother looked at me and said, "What...?"  Then, the dawning; she screamed in crescendo "oh my Baby," and ran from the house into the street, cradling her bruised and bleeding daughter in her arms.  Shock and fear coursed through the little girl, and she began to scream...terrified of the firemen who examined her...

My friend and I looked at each other across the road...right before she jumped in her vehicle to follow her granddaughter, "la Merde," our eyes sighed when they met, "all changed in the blink of an eye."

At last word, the little girl is ok. 

I was the only one who saw it happen.  It was so weird to look out of the front door and watch it happen;  I was the only one who saw the accident happen, and  for a strange moment, I felt that I'd somehow caused the accident...punishment for being naughty the day before.

No, said a friend, you didn't cause it; but you were meant to witness it.

Sometimes, all we can do is watch...and try always to look both ways.

And that was my 2010 September 11th eve.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


You know...we've all been young and experimented with this and that.  I guess it's part of what helped me to know that I was heterosexual.  I can't say I was "born" feeling sexual at all...but I've never doubted my sexuality, and have never entertained any kind of attraction to another woman.

Until this psycho bitch.  WoW - talk about hot.

Dare I say it? 

Perhaps we are all just a little bit,

I'm going to hell now, aren't I.


One time, a teacher called me "dummy," because no matter how much time he gave me, I just couldn't add things up. 

Maybe he was right. I feel like a dummy for still believing in the basic goodness of man, and the love for my hometown, and the hope for our nation.

Do you know the real reason I pray for my Evil District #11 Boyfriend? This is why: because during a Board meeting once, he almost said "Thank God", and caught himself -- saying "Thank Gosh" instead; anyone who has come to know the Lord recognizes this as the sign of a new believer who is teaching himself not to take His name in vain...and a tendril of forgiveness sprang forth and took root in my heart.

It is dumb of me.

He's the one who's on the City's Sustainable Funding Committee. He's the reason why I can't catch a bus after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends. He's the one who closed the pools. He's the one who holds the purse strings. He's the one who shut down Adams. He's the one who approved the District's advertising arrangement with Small Smiles. He's the one who brought Jan Tanner on board. He's the one who still rubs elbows and scratches backs with Hasling and Gudvangen. He's the one who artificially controls the perfect "climate" at Doherty. He's the one beholden to the teacher's union that enables Herbst to skate after years of being mean to this and that child. He's the one who really knows what's up with the restraint and seclusion practices in place at the District. He's the one who colludes with DHS to take children from their families. He's the one who's really in charge at the District.  His is the face of the shooter calling all the shots against the poor and the meek...and he's the one who couldn't care less about me and mine.

I imagine that he regularly reads what I write, and has had occasion to muse upon my backhanded coquette; that it might one day move him to be my own personal Schindler...making a decision to help me without benefit to himself.

But it's all unrequited; it's all just imaginary.

Let's face it; he closed down his own middle school.  Who knows what kind of tool he really is.  He was probably a member of the America the Beautiful Park design charrette's airborne division.

He's part of it all.  Like a fool, I continue to give him the benefit of the doubt...and like a dipshit, I won't recognize his true nature until I see him riding off into the sunset eating pizza after having thrown me and mine under the bus.

Gosh darn it, some people never learn.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The ending of the end

My friends. how do you feel inside after watching this?  What can be the meaning of this? 
And the horror of realizing that the question mostly likely is not "Does the District have and use such 'seclusion rooms?'" but rather, "How many are there and how often are they used?"  I mean, did Herbst resort to the rubber-band method because the waiting list for the "time-out room" was too long??

Were these the "closets" that came up again and again during capacity discussions?

Physical Restraints:  teachers are trained how to rush and tackle our children if necessary. 
My friends, take a good look at the Restraint and Seclusion policy; there but for the grace of God go our own children! 

Mechanical Restraints:  children can be strapped down electric-chair style; I imagine they can even be tazed -- wtf.

Chemical Restraints:  Remember the mace "blindfold" utilized by that transexual on the subway train.

Whatever happened to staying after school!?  How about writing, "I will not fidget during class" a hundred times?  Study hall? 

I heard the other day of a situation at the District about ten years ago; a teacher determined that a little boy was not wearing suitably snug pants, and used a rope as a belt to cinch the pants tighter. Well, the little boy couldn't undo the knot that had been tied into the pants, and the teacher refused to help him...causing him to wet himself. No one helped him that cold day; he had to walk home that way...and when he got home, his jeans wet with pee were literally frozen to his little legs.

Nothing happened to the teacher involved.

COME ON PEOPLE:  If we as parents did such things to our own children, WE WOULD BE JAILED, AND OUR KIDS WOULD BE TAKEN AWAY FROM US.  We parents must be wary merely for spanking our children if we see fit; but it's ok for our children's teachers to restrain and confine our children for perceived misbehavior in school???

I am sad...SO sad...becoming verklempt again and again as I put myself in the shoes of the boy walking home with the frozen pants, and the boy bound with rubber bands standing in line with his class outside during a fire drill, and the boy given a rope and left to get his mind right in the seclusion room...and the broken-hearted parents of these children. 

My husband went from kindergarten through sixth grade at Bates; my kids spent a combined total of eight years at Bates; Ms. Herbst "taught" my daughter at Bates.  News of the incident at Bates has shaken me -- I mean, it has grabbed me by the shoulders and shaken me until my teeth rattled -- reminding yet again of our lives gone haywire and horribly awry.

My trust in the District, and in mankind, is broken...and I grieve for myself, and for the world. 

What's happening to our kids?  What's happening at our schools?  What's happening in our country?  My God, what's happening to us?

I'll tell you what. 

You know the expression, "it was the beginning of the end?"

we must be at the ending of the end

* * * * * * * *

hold your children close
pray for our deliverance

Read all about it

seclusion and restraints at public and private schools

Guide to Protecting Your Child From Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion

Barsotti, Priscilla Principal 328-5402 barsop
Herbst, Dolores Third Grade 328-5448 herbsd

Mr. Jail

I will be adding to these videos, and will post the actual audio recording of the District's conversation with the subject child ASAP. 

Let me remind everyone that Ms. Herbst is a regular third grade teacher; she is not a special education teacher.  The class was not a special needs class, and the child is not a special needs student. 

It is my understanding that the child was wearing shorts during the incident, which involved several #84 rubber bands -- google them, they are a standard office supply.

Mrs. Herbst taught kindergarten at Bates about ten years ago.

I came across the following videos while searching for information about "public school seclusion and restraint"...check it out for yourself.  Apparently special needs children (including ADHD) are at risk of routine exposure to these "aversive discipline" practices and have been for at least a decade. More and more incidences are occuring in healthy children, sometimes resulting in death.

It's sometimes called a "time out room"...and as the first child calls it, "Mr. Jail."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mr. Wasden

A natural nerd, I typically enjoyed and excelled at school...and most of my teachers loved me.  But I had a tendency to be quiet and shy.  Often the only black kid in my grade, I became acutely self-conscious after my mother suddenly cut my waist-length braids into an afro...from which my hair never really outgrew.

Making new friends was never easy for me -- a situation exacerbated by my family's frequent moves -- and I attended six different elementary schools alone.I was seven years old when I left Penrose Elementary for Pennsylvania, and we moved twice while there.  I'd finally found a niche amongst the sixth-grade brains and flautists of South Brandywine Junior High when my parents announced we were moving back to the Springs.  I was 11 when I said goodbye to my east-coast friends...and our mid-year move was especially hard on me.

The weekend before my first day at Audubon Elementary that sad January, my mother had taken me to the Americana Beauty College for a cheapie trim.   The girl who got stuck with me had no idea how to work with "ebony" hair, and botched and butchered it unevenly; a more self-sure stylist did what he could to repair the damage that she'd done...but the fact of the matter was that my hair was so short; I wept each time I glimpsed my reflection in the mirror.

Dreading Monday's inexorable arrival, I know that I never hated my clothes, my hair, my face, and myself more than I did when that bitter cold day finally dawned.  Waiting for the bus on the corner of Ranch Circle and Ranch Drive, I hid myself beneath the slightly matted faux-fur trimmed hood of my lame, pea-green winter coat. 

Arriving at our destination before the first bell, we passengers disembarked, and diffused onto the asphalt playground.  Standing alone, my mind chock full of thoughts, I was an island unto myself.  BAM from out of nowhere came an unexpected leather tether-ball hit to the face and eyes stinging with startled surprise.  A boy came rushing up towards me.  "Sorry," he began, and then stopped; I saw the stupid expression on his face as his eyes took me in.  "Whoa," he said after a moment, before traipsing off casually, "I thought you were the new black dude."  

The bell rang and I felt the butterflies in my stomach turn to albatross.  We filed into the room; one desk sat empty, and I perceived that it was mine, in alphabetic order after A, B, and C.  As the teacher began to read off the attendance, I could not bring myself to take off my coat...clinging to its shaky shelter.  He stepped measuredly down the first row, calling out names one by one.  As he came up the second row, I shrank a bit in anticipation of my name being called, psyching myself up as the teacher approached from behind. 

With a woosh that felt like falling, Mr. Wasden yanked the hood from my head, and my heart stopped from shock; not skipping a beat, he blandly called out my name.  "Here," I said hoarsely, my face burning like fire under the cool stares of my new classmates as my teacher continued his metronome walk up and down the aisles.

Afterward, Mr. Wasden introduced me to the class, quipping that it appeared as though I'd gotten into a fight with a lawnmower and lost.  Ha. ha.

* * * * * * * *

At lunch, the clique invited me to take a seat, and I did...doing my best to summon up small, polite conversation in between bites of my sandwich.  I returned home that painful first day, my heart somewhat uplifted; but the one-time fluke was revealed to me the following fickle friends from the day before mutely shaking their heads "no" at me when I attempted to sit down.  Two tall and overly-developed misfit girls hesitated briefly before inviting me to sit beside them, and I quietly joined them to make it a lonely trio.

Over the course of the next several months, I endured a daily variety of diverse slights and cruelties, all tolerated and tacitly encouraged by Mr. Wasden.  The day class clown Scott Mounce wore a multi-colored afro wig to school and spent the day speaking in a heavily-affected Ebonic drawl.  The day a boy named Steve mockingly pantomimed at the five stripes of my Sears-brand sneakers. The day a visiting art teacher chose me to sit as a model for the class to draw; he drew a lovely picture of me...the rest of the class, not so much. 

That one awful day we were shown our first sex education film strip; Mr. Wasden stopped at the frame with a cross-section illustration of the penis, and asked, "Can you think of any slang words that are used in place of the proper word 'penis?'" A flurry of hands belonging to pre-pubescent boys with the right answer rose to attention.  He acknowledged Scott Mounce first:  "Dick," said Scott proudly, beaming with amusement.  "Good," said Mr. Wasden encouragingly before acknowledging another:  "Prick," came the answer...and then "Cock," from a third.  I sank down in my seat, flushed with embarrassment...the scene replaying itself vividly at the frame showing the vagina cross-section.

As I recall, Mr. Wasden had at least four children...and he described the miscarriage his wife suffered during her fifth pregnancy as something to this effect:  "My wife thought she had to take a BM, and sat down on the toilet; when she stood up, she looked down to see a dead baby floating in the water."  Came the shocked and hushed question from a curious classmate..."What did she do with it?"  Mr. Wasden answered matter-of-factly:  "She flushed it down."  Scarred for life by the visual he had etched on my mind, it was some time before I discerned that "BM" was short for "bowel movement"...a term I'd never before heard but was loathe to have him define.

* * * * * * * *

Mr. Wasden was a teacher who liked keeping pets, upon whom he would lavish affection; I was not one.  I remember watching him walk at recess, flocked by a small gaggle of blonde and giggling girls led by one Diane Grant.  I'll always remember the stupid feathered flip of her yellow hair, and her big fishy blue eyes as they criss-crossed the expanse of brown gravel together, she leaning into his side with a quiet conspiratory confidence. 

I hated them all for who they were, and hated myself more for who I could never be.

After the hell of lunch and recess came math in the afternoon.  Mr. Wasden was a terrible teacher in general, but especially lousy at teaching the math-lousy me.  He seemed especially fond of calling a handful of students at a time to the chalkboard, and having them solve math problems in a sort of race in front of the class. 

I guess it's relatively common to dream you're standing in front of a group, and then suddenly realize you're clad only in your underwear; well, my participation in this exercise was the dreadful waking equivalent of that particular bad dream.  Closing my eyes, I would hold my breath and wish myself invisible, hoping he'd overlook me; very often he would (especially if I had my hand raised with the right answer), but not always....and not on this day.

He called my name along with several others, and I reluctantly made my way to the head of the class, standing next to the effortlessly fluffy Sherrie Cippoletti.  Chalk held nervously in hand, I wrote down the problem as he read it, hoping I might actually solve it.

But I couldn't.  One by one, those around me solved their problems and returned to their seats, until I was the only one left standing.  I felt each pair of eyes keenly in the thickening silence, punctuated occasionally with sighs of boredom and yawns of impatience.  Usually, Mr. Wasden dispatched with me quickly, but not on this day...granting me instead a generous allotment of time; the seconds ticked by loudly in my mind, and a cold sweat broke out on my brow as I stood there, too stumped and stupid to even pretend to work the problem.

Finally, Mr. Wasden harumphed.  "Sherrie, show this dummy how it's done," he barked; then, addressing me, he said "And when she's finished, I want you to go sit in the hallway and think about it."  My cheeks blazed -- I wasn't blushing , people can't blush, my classmates had pointed out to me time and again.  Tears stung my eyes as I watched Sherrie solve the problem one, two, three; a lump in my throat and my vison a blur, I tripped over my own feet in my haste to retreat to the hallway and escape the bullets of all those eyes full of mocking.

I sat down in the hallway crossed-legged -- "Indian-style" -- and covered my face with my hands, weeping with anger and shame.  The intensity of the moment did not subside, however, and I felt a wild hair sprout between the cheeks of my sorely chapped ass.  For the first time in my life, the good and studious girl that I had always been said "fuck you" to Mr. Wasden and my classmates and that school; my feet moving two steps before my brain, I was alreaedy crossing under the threshold of the exit sign when I decided to leave. 

I hid under some shrubbery near the place where the buses would park at the end of the day, and waited for the final bell to ring.  I estimate that I waited for at least two hours; during that time, I saw Mr. Wasden and several other staff members wamder to and fro, looking for me.  I sat quietly, at once terrified and emboldened by my sudden disobedience.  When the final bell rang, I crawled out from under the bush and got on my bus unobserved by the driver, who wasn't there -- possibly having a BM break in the teacher's lounge.  I made my way to the back of the bus and hid myself on the floor behind the heater...hoping for the best, and bracing for the worst. 

Other children began to board the bus, and for once they didn't question me loudly and for show; no one gave away my presence, not even when Mr. Wasden got on the bus and walked halfway down the aisle looking for me.  Finally, he gave up and got off of the bus; the driver, now returned, started up the engine, and then we were making our way out of there and heading toward home.  A few of the riders had witnessed my classroom humilation and stealthy rebellion; they regarded me though I were some kind of bad ass.  I got off at my stop without a glance at the driver, and walked home to my house and my mother.

* * * * * * * *

Of course Mr. Wasden had alerted her that I'd gone AWOL, and she demanded an explanation.  I told her what had happened, and as usual, she found a way to blame me -- for my own good, of course.  My mom and I met with Mr. Wasden before the start of school the next day to discuss the incident.  Her heavy Dutch accent and her trust in authority figures often led her to be hoodwinked, and on that morning she was.  I spoke up quietly...but with only her doubtful support behind me, Mr. Wasden easily discounted our concerns and countered them with exaggerated stories of my bad behavior, feeble effort, and of all the things I'd done and would do to deserve his maltreatment of me. 

My parents grounded me for a week, and I promised that I'd do better...but a silent turning of the tables had occurred on that day; Mr. Wasden and I both knew that a line had been crossed and there was no going back. 

About a month later, for the sixth grade goodbye prank, we all trudged up the small hill and stood looking down at the school.  The ringleaders started to sing, with the rest of the group joining in:

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher leave those kids alone
HEY TEACHER, leave those kids alone
All in all we're all just another brick in the wall.

It was 1979 -- my mother didn't really let me listen to KILO, and I was pretty unfamiliar with the song...but as I mouthed along, I was struck by the words. 

School let out for summer vacation, and I walked away from Audubon with a heart that was heavier in some ways, and lighter in others.  I never saw Mr. Wasden again -- and gladly so.

* * * * * * * *

I tell you this story now because it still bothers and still hurts me; for many years, passing by the Audubon building was like an unwanted encounter with the terrifying Ghost of School Days Past. 

Bullying is wrong...and can take on a variety of guises.  A target can be ganged up on and beaten without leaving a single mark to show for it.  Wounds of the soul and of the heart are often slow to heal, and the scar left behind can be thick and ugly.  Sad but true:  sometimes it's those in a position of trust who are the leaders of the pack.

I don't know what caused Ms. Herbst at Bates Elementary to recently go all Wasden on that child...but I hope that if she reads this, she might now understand better how the memory of her might linger much longer than she'd like...and that the ghost of the Rubber Band Boy could come back to haunt her unexpectedly and very publicly decades later as she's basking in the luxury of her District pension.  Maybe that's how the nuns at St. Mary's handled things when Ms. Herbst was in pigtails...but this is a secular, liberal public school we're talking about, and teachers are expected to spare the rod.  And especially during a fire drill?  I mean, come on...this is a sure sign of passive agressive sadism if ever I saw one.  If she has even a modicum of respectibility as an educator about her, she'll step down off of her high horse, accept responsibility for behaving irrationally, and offer an open apology to this child, his family and his school mates for the bizarre and unmerited disciplinary measures she unleashed on this third grade student. 

If you've not already done so, I encourage you to listen the District's interview with the child; the link can be found in the comments section of my post All tied up at Bates.  Kudos to the whomever had the wherewithal to record and upload that unpleasant conversation.

Shame on the Gazette for not even reporting this story.

Should they wish to discuss this matter with me further, let it be known that I welcome contact from any member of the Clifton Morgan family with open arms. 

Thank you God for allowing my inner sixth-grader to finally wash this painful memory from her 'fro.

Coming up next, I'll discuss the hypocrisy of the the District's complicit relationship with the El Paso County Department of Human Services, and how everyday parents would literally lose custody of their child(ren) for much less than the unsafe, humiliating and harsh meaures Ms. Herbst inflicted upon this poor youngster.

Don't give up, young one...brighter days and better teachers await you.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

All tied up at Bates

Well, getting the kids up and ready for school in the morning is HECTIC, but there are some benefits.

Was anyone awake this morning at 6:50 a.m. and listening to KOAA channels 5 and 30 when a story was broadcast about an incident at a District 11 school...wherein a Bates Elementary School teacher was placed on paid administrative leave yesterday for binding a 3rd grade student's legs together?


I haven't seen or heard a word about it in the paper or on the news since, but I repeat: