This last month has been incredibly difficult and everything just seemed to be happening at once. First, my grandfather died. He was diagnosed with lung cancer around 6 months ago while recovering from pneumonia, and the last two months things went down hill pretty quickly. The night that Hurricane Irene hit the Jersey Shore, where he made his home, he was in Coopersburg, sitting tight and safe with a big chunk of our large family. It was apparently a very difficult night and by morning they had called an ambulance to take him to the hospital because his breathing was so troubled and he was becoming more and more disoriented. He struggled on into the afternoon as more and more family poured into his hospital room. They moved him to a hospice just after noon and he held on for a few more hours. And then and there, surrounded by all of his children and many of his grandchildren playing his favorite songs and telling the stories of his life, he quietly took his last breath and passed on. He was 82 years old when he passed. He'd served in the U.S. Navy and was father to five and grandfather to eleven. He loved to fish and be on the ocean and he had many friends near his home in Long Beach Island, NJ. He touched many lives, including my own, and for that he will be remembered forever.
So that was the beginning of these unfortunate few weeks. At the same time that I was dealing with my grandfather dying, I was also dealing with negative bureaucracy coming from my school. Now back in February, when I filled out my student teaching application, I made sure to include in the comments section that I am a disabled student, who would require the accommodation of of a teaching placement in on of the suburban districts not far from my home. I made sure to do this because Temple has a very strong relationship with the Philadelphia School District and it's easiest for them to place students there. Living where I do, a PSD school would just be to far away from my home to make traveling back and forth on a daily basis feasible. When I asked my advisor when I should hear back about my placement she said they usually came back in May. So, when May came and went I tried calling and emailing the people responsible for student teaching placement, I got no response. I tried again at the beginning and end of July, no answers again. Finally, the third week of August I tried again, calling and leaving messages for all of the responsible parties several times over and emailing all of them as well. After waiting two days with no response, I emailed my faculty advisor, apprised her of the situation and asked for her help finding out where I was being placed. Within an hour I had an answer: I was being placed in a Technical and Arts High School in Northeast Philadelphia. With traffic: about 1.5 hours from my home. So I'd have to leave here at 5:30 each morning. With my various illnesses and disabilities, this would just be impossible, so I let the student teaching coordinator know that that Friday. He responded by saying that there was no way he could find another placement for me and that he didn't know anything about the disability accommodations I'd asked for. He also told me that I had to let him know by the following Monday as to whether or not I would be able to take the placement. I told him I couldn't let him know that soon because I needed to find out about the accommodations. Anyway, I immediately got back in touch with my faculty advisor, telling her what was going on, pouring my heart out about how abandoned I felt and how I would never be able to get certified with this man standing in my way. She sent my email along to several of the higher ups in the teacher education program and assured me that something would be done. That Wednesday (Aug. 31), I briefly met with the Assistant Dean of Teacher Education, who told me that that Friday he would be sitting down to talk about my case with the Placement Coordinator I'd been having trouble with.
I heard nothing on Friday, so that weekend I went down to my grandfather's house to spend the weekend remembering him with my whole family and the sending his ashes out to sea. Monday I didn't expect to hear anything because it was Labor Day. Tuesday, the Placement Coordinator called and left a message while I was in court (another facet of my own little personal hell that's been going on for the last few weeks, which I'll talk about later). I got back to him Wednesday and he asked me to come in on Friday so that we could talk about the accommodations recommendation he'd gotten about me from Disability Resource Services. So I went in to his office for a huge waste of gas and time. He had gone over the recommendations and was not willing to facilitate any of them. He said that I could have "rest breaks" during my cooperating teacher's lunch and prep breaks, but other wise I needed to be there and be teaching (same as every other student teacher). He said that recommendations were just that and that he didn't have to abide by them, that by certifying me the school would be verifying to the PDE that I could work full time as a classroom teacher and that shortening my day wouldn't fulfill that. I immediately got in touch with my Disability Resource Services rep, who said that she's do what she could to talk to him but she didn't know how far she could get before it was too late. You see, this was Friday and the following Monday was the last day to drop classes without losing money. So she talked to him and got nowhere. She suggested that we go over his head, but that we didn't have the time to do so this semester, so I dropped my classes and re-applied for student teaching in the Spring '12 semester. So now I have a whole four months to find someone who will say that I can have the accommodations I need or to find a pro bono ADA lawyer to sue them. Can you say stress?
How about some more stress? Alright, I think I've got a bit more to vent still.
We (BF & I) and his Ex were having trouble deciding where the Little Man was going to go to school for first grade. None of us were happy with where he went to Kindergarten, but we live more than a half hour from one another and both of us wanted LM to go to school in our district. BF tried to talk this through with the Ex, but she solidly stuck to one scenario where LM would go to school in her district and BF and I would to all of the drives back and forth between her district and ours. While BF presented several possible scenarios, she was stuck to her one and that was that. They tried discussing it several times, but she wasn't willing to give an inch, so they both got lawyers and we all got to court. It was decided between the two parties before we actually got to court that the custody arrangement wouldn't change, that the judge would just be ruling on where LM would go to school. The main point of her argument was that LM would get to go to school with her BF's daughter, whom LM has lived with for three years. One of the other things the Ex presented for her case was this schedule, I'm guessing to make her case look better and to make it look like she wanted to make things more fair. The schedule said that she would come to our house on Tuesday morning and take LM back to school in her school district, after school she would pick up LM at school and then drive him to our house. She was questioned about this schedule for about an hour by our lawyer, her lawyer and the judge. They talked the hell out of that damned schedule. The judge felt that the case was extremely close, but that her case had only slightly more merits and that LM would go to school in her district. We were disappointed, but ready to deal with it; we really only want what is best for LM and if that's going to school in his mom's school district, we'll just have to drive more. I'm still planning to volunteer to help out in his classroom and for events and trips and BF and I both plan on attending PTO meetings.
Once outside the courtroom BF and the Ex went into a conference room to finalize the transportation schedule and just iron out anything was left for ironing. When he tried to talk to her about the driving schedule, she said that what she had proposed in court was unrealistic and she had never planned on following that plan, also that she'd like to change the custody schedule so that she'd get LM Tuesday night rather than Wednesday night. BF was irate to say the least. He agreed to nothing, told her there was no way he was modifying the schedule and let her take LM home with her so that he and I could talk about what had happened.
We spent the ride home simply astounded at how she could just sit in front of the judge and lie to his face about the proposed schedule and how she could be crazy enough to think that BF was going to let her change the custody schedule. He wrote his lawyer an email about what had gone on as soon as we got home. His lawyer was appalled as well. He tried to get in touch with her lawyer several times, but only got a reply when he threatened to send a letter to the judge. Her lawyer immediately had her call BF and let him know that she would go along with the driving schedule. And that was that, until she actually had to do it.
After she dropped LM off at our house on Tuesday after she picked him up from school she complained to BF via text that the commute was making her life "hellish" and that she couldn't do it and would lose her job if she continued. BF took a couple days before he responded to her, basically trying to find the best way to say "you made your bed, now lie in it" and when he said it things did not go so well. She started out by saying that if there situations were reversed that she wouldn't do anything to help him out. Really? That's how you start off asking someone to go out of their way to do something because you fucked up. Things only got more ridiculous from there. As she saw that BF was not giving in she got more and more personal. BF's a terrific father, but a bad human being. She has no respect for me and my time has no value because I don't work. It's actually really pathetic how off the handle she gets when she doesn't get her way. Even when she had gotten exactly her way by convincing the judge to send LM to her school district. What it comes down to is that she thinks that she's the mom and she calls the shots, so she shouldn't have to compromise. So when she does everyone has to pay. It's aggravation none of us needs and when it comes down to what she thinks of me, well for years I've held my tongue to keep the peace, but now she's declared that there won't be anything more than civility between us, so to put it bluntly, she can go fuck herself, civilly.
My last little bit of hell for the last three weeks was yesterday at my little sister and brother's birthday party. It was anything unusual. I just was subjected to a bunch of mom's and their little one's who came running and pressed themselves near when feeling shy or sad or just plain cuddly. I want that and it makes my heart ache to not have it. LM was already solidly entrenched with his mom and dad when I showed up. He loves me, he can't remember a time without me, I'm his parent, but I'm not his mom or dad. He doesn't look to me as protection from the world, he doesn't curl up in my lap for comfort.
So that's it, I'm just feeling low. I need all of the drama to end. I need to stop having big gaps in my life where I have nothing to do. I need a child of my own. And all of it will happen in its own time I guess, I just hate the waiting.