Thursday, May 30, 2013

What fresh hell is this

I started my day by emailing the HR guy to tell him I wasn't interested in mediation.  He responded with, "Okay".  Informative.

Tonight I received an email from one of the teachers' union people who said she has been assigned to be my representative.  She said she wanted to meet with me to go over my complaint and explain that process that would follow.  She said this would take "several hours".

I found this startling because, a) I thought the union was opposed to what I was doing and was only interested in representing Crazy Sue, and b) I did not ask for anyone to represent me, and c) I thought this fucking thing was nearly over.

My spider senses are tingling.  What is this?  Why didn't I know the union was going to be representing me?  Do I have a choice?  I forwarded the strange email to my staff representative who said he would call on my behalf tomorrow and find out what the hell is going on now.  I wonder what would happen if I died of heart attack while waiting for an ending to this stupidity.  Who would be liable?  Who would be sued?  Would Crazy Sue find a new person to terrorize, and would the school board continue investigating my claims against her post mortem for eternity?

My dreams of having this finished by the end of the week are dashed.  My dreams of having this finished before the earth completes a full revolution around the sun are also looking unlikely to be fulfilled.


In first block this morning two very strange things happened:
1.  A girl made some death threats towards other students in my class.  When I sat down to talk with her, she told me her foster brother is trying to kill her in her sleep because she keeps waking up with bumps on her head.  She told me that she is going to kill him first, along with the girls she doesn't like in my Drama class, and then she is going to kill herself.  I took her to the office to chat with the principal.

2.  Another girl gave me a Christmas card (because, she said, Christmas cards are the best) and a bouquet of cloth daisies and roses made of... bacon.  Truly one of the strangest gifts I have ever received in my entire life.

  I am having a really weird day.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unbelievably, the HR guy who is assigned to investigate my harassment complaint called me in to meet with him again today.  He told me that Crazy Sue phoned him and told him she is interested in meeting with me and a mediator.  He asked if I was interested in pursuing this.  I struggled not to scream.

I told him I would consider it and respond to him tomorrow.

I am not considering it.

I am pretending to consider it.

Tomorrow I am saying no.  Calmly.

Is this ever going to end?


Monday, May 27, 2013

i don't care about clever

Next step.  On Wednesday, the HR guy is coming back to the school to interview my Department Head.  She has witnessed a lot of the Crazy Sue mayhem and the HR guy wants to hear her take on the situation.  I think she is going to lend a lot of credibility to my story and hopefully make it more clear that this is not just a common power struggle but something much bigger.  And I sincerely hope it means there will be a conclusion on Thursday or Friday.


I dreamed of my mother and sister last night, of holding onto both of them in fear.  I was aware of my sister being alive, but it did not seem strange.  And my mother was trying to help me feel less frightened by placing ice packs in the small of my back.  I asked her to stop, told her the cold was making me feel worse, but she wouldn't listen because she thought she was helping.


Sunday, May 26, 2013


When I belonged to a travelling theatre company, there was a comedy sketch we performed in which the punchline was, Meanwhile...  That is, we would enact one moment in time, followed by the entire cast saying "Meanwhile..." in deep, omininous voices, while I held up a hand drawn cardboard sign on which the word was written.  When the company arrived home after tour we were each responsible for storing a number of props and bringing them back when we reconvened.  And I was in charge of the Meanwhile.

Because I am the sort of person who procrastinates, the Meanwhile remained in my car for weeks, maybe even months, and I forgot about it.  This was in the days before there was a kid in the backseat of my car, so the backseat was just storage space which housed my gym bag, school books, shoes, Meanwhile, and any number of personal effects.

And because I am a person who frequently feels nauseated when trapped in a hot car in the winter, I was once driving down the highway with the heat on full blast and all the windows of the car open simultaneously.  And the combination of heater, highway speeds, and whipping winter wind outside, caused the Meanwhile to suddenly lift from its safe nest in my backseat and abruptly take flight out the nearest window and blow away never to be seen again.

I wondered about that Meanwhile, because it was large and colourful and difficult to ignore.  I wonder where it landed and whether it found a good home.  I would like to think it understood that I did not mean to leave it to fend for itself like that.



J and Shawn just spent the afternoon together making bacon chocolate chip cookies.  So gross.


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Today there was another step in the Crazy Sue Saga.  I met with the HR Manager who came out to interview me about my complaint.  I found the interview redundant in that I merely repeated all the things I had written in my complaint, but I suppose some people write short explanations and then extrapolate in the interview.  I, on the other hand, wrote a huge explanation and then didn't talk so much.

The HR guy was pleasant enough, friendly and fairly easy to talk to.  Also very professional and noncommittal, which of course he must be.  (I wonder whether this kind of thing takes up most of his time as a Human Resources Manager, because if so it must be a terribly tedious job.)  He asked me if I was open to attending mediation, which sort of got my back up because I am really exhausted with people suggesting mediation to me without recognizing that you cannot have successful mediation with a crazy person.  But I told him if it was the best deal he could offer me, I'd take it.  But I hoped he could do better.  He made noncommittal sounds and wrote things in his notebook.

He promised he would get back to me soon with his findings and that was it.  Now my part is over and I wait for the verdict.


On another note, BB is finished her chemotherapy and is now in healing mode.  And miraculously feeling well enough that she has decided to get married this summer after all.  I am very happy for her, happy that she is doing so well, and sad for myself that I now foresee a summer of showers, stagettes, pre-parties, parties, after-parties, and so forth.  I do not like these kinds of social obligations and will obviously try to avoid as many of them as possible while trying to remain supportive and blah blah blah.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

chainsaw massacre

Every so often Shawn decides to take up snoring.  It blows my mind that a person who will wake up in the middle of the night because he can hear a tap dripping on another floor of the house is not awakened by the sound of his own snoring, which sounds like someone starting a chainsaw beside my head.  Last night I had a poor sleep in spite of being incredibly tired.

My sleep is also negatively impacted by this situation with Crazy Sue.  I have trouble sleeping when my brain in spinning with worst possible case scenarios, and trying to prepare for them.

Someone (finally) contacted me from Human Resources today.  He says he wants to meet with me on Thursday.  I hope I will be able to sleep again shortly after that, and I hope Shawn will cooperate with my plans.


Monday, May 20, 2013

we scratched our names all in a row into a tree in hopes it would grow

This morning we went hiking in a place we haven't been before.  It started out more like a walk than a hike, although it was a long walk.  We felt equipped to manage a 9km hike when it started out with pretty bridges and lovely views of the river

like this

and this.

But then we got up higher and the river beds ran dry and the nice mulchy path disappeared and we were forced to climb rocks instead.

See?  That's Shawn leaving me behind in the dirt.

Shawn and I hike together a lot.  His legs are longer than mine and he walks much faster than I do; sometimes he disappears from view, briefly giving me the sense of being alone in the wilderness, which is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.
See him up there?

When the hike got even steeper and more treacherous, he slowed down too.  Sometimes he walked ahead without looking back, and sometimes he would turn and check if I was okay.  I liked both, but mostly I liked his assumption that I would be fine.  Most of the time I am fine.

We climbed wayyy up there.

After the hike (which took about four hours) we came home and worked on the garden.  That is, Shawn helped me pull some giant rocks out of the outermost corner of the garden that plagues me every year by becoming overrun with vicious weeds.  We spread out one of those weird weed block nets and stapled it down.  (Did you know you can staple dirt?  I didn't.)  Next weekend we'll have mulch delivered to hold it down and give the illusion that someone has taken care of this part of the garden rather than just hid a bunch of stuff under some other stuff.  My hope is that this will mean I no longer have to spend significant portions of the summer holidays pulling weeds.

By the time that was done I was so tired I could barely move.  So tired that when I stretched out on the couch, although I was awake, I was too tired to reach out my hand to pick up the remote control to silence Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, who were on tv singing a duet in what must be the worst movie in the entire world.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

non-refillable closures for spirits

On Friday B showed up at 8:30am with a pot of flowers.  These kinds of gifts touch me the most, the kind where an 18-year-old boy thinks of flowers on his own without his mother's help, and buys them with his tip money knowing he needs that money for gas.  And gets out of bed during his spare to bring them to school instead of sleeping in.  And these gifts hurt me the most because I know how much they really cost; too much, way too much.

He trembled when I hugged him.  I could feel him breaking, six feet two becoming 7 years old.  We went to my office where he almost immediately started to cry.  Afraid of graduating, afraid of losing touch with friends.  Afraid of his sexual orientation.  Afraid of being apart from the groups, and the individuals, who have made him safe here.  And I understand all of that.  It hurts that I cannot make him safe outside this building, cannot protect him, and I know he will be hurt.  It is inevitable he will be hurt because he is sensitive like that, sensitive and numb, fragile and reckless.  I miss him and it would be so much easier not to if he was more confident that he was going to fine - or if I was.

The year is winding down and I am preparing to say goodbye to a number of people who are very, very important to me.


Monday, May 13, 2013


The union sent someone out to see me today.  She pressured me to drop my complaint.  She told me it would turn out badly if I allowed the employer to handle the problem, and told me stories of other happy colleagues who have allowed the union to mediate with great success.  I told her no.  I had to say no three times before she finally accepted it and left.  I imagine this means the union will now mobilize to protect Crazy Sue from the employer.  This is scary.  But I'm going to see it through.


I finally spoke to the employer of the Crossing Guard who shouted at me.  This was a positive experience; he was receptive and agreed with me that the Crossing Guard doesn't get to scream at me.  This gave me hope.  I don't understand why we can't talk to the boss, why we can't rely on the boss to do the right thing.  Don't they usually?  Am I being naive?  Guess I will find out in short order.


I think I'm sick.  I feel weird, no appetite and so so so tired.  And I have a cold sore.  (I named it Sue.)  I keep trying to sleep but my adrenal system is in overdrive.  I can't sleep until this is resolved.


We had the Free Preview of the show this afternoon for a forgiving little audience of best friends and Drama geeks.  It went reasonably well, a typical first show with a few little glitches but pretty good for the most part.  I think we're as ready as we're going to be, and once production week is over I'm just coasting into summer.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

valley of ashes

Sad to see that white jeans are coming back.  White jeans are the worst.


J and I went to see Gatsby this afternoon.  Inevitably, the book is better.  My ability to analyse this story accurately has become all skewed.


time is on my side

It's happening for real now.  I filed the paperwork and have now heard back from the official who will be initiating the investigation.  He warned me that Crazy Sue will receive a full copy of my written statement.  I might be about to meet Extracrazy Sue and that thought is rather terrifying.  However, my Drama production goes up next week and I cannot take a single day off work to hide from her, which might otherwise be tempting.  According to the contract, this investigation has to take place within a ten day window (comparable to the time window supplied by Sears when I paid them to fix the lawn tractor), which means, at least, that even if it doesn't happen right, at least it will happen fast.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

departure gate

The bad news is that Crazy Sue went postal on me again today.  She loudly and falsely accused me of hoarding her "share" of the budget money (a whopping, life changing 88 dollars - she teaches one class) and not allowing her to buy things for her class; it was an awkward and embarrassing scene.

The good news is that she did it at a meeting in front of the entire Fine Arts Department, which finally gives me enough evidence to go forward with a formal complaint as opposed to this touchy-feely mediation crap, which she has been resisting all along, and of which she does not deserve the benefit-of-the-doubt anyway.

I am starting the paperwork.  Now let the system do its job, please.  (Please please please.)


The next trip (next March) will be to the Mediterranean Coast; the itinerary includes Milan, Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera, Monaco, French Riviera, Nice, Barcelona, and Madrid.  I am far less apprehensive this time since the last trip was so beautiful.  Now I want to go everywhere, really, everywhere.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

first responders

The Vancouver Canucks lost their game last night, taking them out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The only reason I didn't watch is that I don't care.

In 1989, the last time Winter Prairie won a Stanley Cup, I went to Florida on vacation.  When people asked me where I was from, none of them recognized the name Winter Prairie.  I tried to use the Stanley Cup as a marker, and someone asked me if that was an award for sailing.  I thought how much I would like to live in a place where no one knew about the Stanley Cup.

Every year the Stanley Cup playoffs are a problem for me as I try to schedule my Drama production around hockey games so people will attend the play and actually watch it.  I resent being forced to look at hockey schedules for any reason.

My play goes up next week and I would like to express my gratitude to the Vancouver Canucks for bowing out of the Stanley Cup playoffs this year and not interfering with my little production.  Amen.


Sunday, May 05, 2013


There is a crazy weed that grows in my garden (which apparently is called "shotweed").  It is aptly named because it shoots seeds.  When I lean in to grab this weed by its roots, it startles me over and over again by shooting, literally shooting, seeds up in my eyes.  I don't know how shotweed knows that it's about to be picked, but something brilliant in its design tells it that it is in danger, and it spreads its seeds all over the soil as a final orgasm before it dies, like a man with a terminal illness impregnating as many women as possible to ensure his genetic code lives on.

Shotweed is very annoying, mostly because it keeps on scaring me, but also because I know I'm fighting a losing battle with it and that irritates me.  But at the same time I cannot help but feel very impressed with its cleverness.  It makes me want to congratulate it, or congratulate evolution, itself directly, (or god?), for being so incredibly smart.  Well played, shotweed.  You are amazing.


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Corn Rows and Crossing Guards

This afternoon, as thirty 17-year-olds stared at me in rapture, revelling in the wisdom I was bestowing upon them, suddenly a stranger burst into the classroom.  Not a stranger as in "stranger danger" because  she was a familiar sort of stranger, not a complete stranger.  But a stranger in the sense that she wasn't someone I knew beyond recognizing that she works in the building, wasn't someone who was meant to be in my classroom, wasn't someone who normally appears in my classroom unannounced.

She was wearing a Vancouver Cannucks jersey that was enormous on her, so big it looked more like a dress and her hair was in corn rows, Bo Derek style, circa 1980.  She brought the smell of cigarettes in the room with her, so strongly that she must have just finished smoking right before she entered the room.  She looked to be in her early fifties, and she was out of breath.  She barged in and then seemed to enjoy the silence as all of us turned to stare at her while she tried to get enough air.

She said, "I was in Drama yesterday."  I waited.  She breathed some more.  She started again, "I was in Drama, but this isn't my class I don't think."  She looked around the room for confirmation, and we all nodded patiently.  We weren't her class, we all agreed.  I asked her what grade the students were in that she was looking for.  Eighth, she told me.  My twelfth graders nodded some more.  "Right," I said, "This is grade twelve.  Which teacher were you working with yesterday?"  She didn't know.  I figured she probably was working with Crazy Sue's Drama class yesterday since she's the only other person in the building who teaches Drama.  Corn Rows nodded and wheezed, yes, that she was looking for Crazy Sue's class.

I gave Corn Rows directions to get to Crazy Sue's classroom and she staggered off.  The grade twelves, who had been very polite to this point started to lose it and began giggling.  They stopped abruptly when Corn Rows reappeared and told me she couldn't find the room.

I showed her the faster, easier way to get there, by cutting through my classroom.  I didn't go with her because I didn't want Crazy Sue to come out and eat me, but I ushered her into the adjoining hallway between our rooms and pointed at Crazy Sue's door.  Then I went back into my room and tried to regain control of the grade twelves who were thrilled with this nonsense.

No sooner had I gotten them settled than Corn Rows appeared a third time and told me she couldn't find Crazy Sue's door.  This seemed impossible, given that the place I had taken her consisted of a small corridor and ONE door, but this time I walked with her right to the outside of the door, holding my breath to avoid inhaling her cigarette perfume.  Once I showed her the door, I bolted.  No way I wanted to witness what would happen when Crazy Sue and Corn Rows came face to face.

We all waited for Corn Rows to come back again but she didn't.  It was almost disappointing.  It was difficult to get the grade twelves to stop laughing and pay attention to me after that.  Part of me really wanted to see what happened behind that door.


Right after that block I drove to the vet's office to pick up some medication for Emory who needs a tooth pulled.  As I drove through the school zone attached to the elementary school next door to my school, the school crossing guard pointed her finger at me and shouted in my open window, "This is a thirty zone!  Thirty, do you hear me?!  A thirty zone!!"  I was going thirty.  I gave her the I don't know what you want from me shrug and carried on.  I picked up the medication and headed back to my school for afternoon play rehearsal.  And that same crossing guard did exactly the same thing to me as I drove past her on the other side of the road.  Still not speeding.  Finger wagging, voice high pitched and obnoxious.

I pulled over and got out of my vehicle and went over to her where she was having a friendly conversation with a parent who was probably commending her on the wonderful job she was doing preventing people from speeding in her neighbourhood.  When the parent walked away, I asked Crossing Guard why she keeps shouting at me when I am absolutely not speeding.  She said I'm sorry but it looked like you were going faster than thirty.   I told her I am perfectly aware of my speed and do not appreciate her shouting at me.  She looked rattled and mumbled something under her breath.


I don't normally handle things the way I handled Crossing Guard today.  More often I slink away and feel resentful.  Telling Crossing Guard to leave me alone was satisfying.  It wasn't that she was particularly pleasant about it, or willing to admit that she was acting like a dingbat.  It's more that I feel like she probably won't shout at me anymore because she doesn't want me pulling over to talk to her again.  And I like that.  If I had done that with Crazy Sue the first time she snarled, she probably wouldn't have turned into a werewolf.

As for Corn Rows, well, I don't think I will ever be able to practice how to deal with the kind of chaos that she brought into my classroom today.  At least I hope not.