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The High School Service Project

23 Mar

My daughter Abigail is a senior in high school and had to do a mandatory service project that involved researching a societal issue. Abigail and her partner chose to do their project on foster care, and the shortage of foster parents.

One of the requirements of the project is to have a written piece published and to try to garner some feedback from the public on the subject. So, I would greatly appreciate it if you could leave a comment at the bottom with your thoughts on foster care. Thank you.

Foster Care

by Abigail Zableny

Imagine being 17 years old and moving into your 30th foster home. This is the life that real children here in Rochester have to face. There are thousands of children that are put into foster care because their parents are not equipped to take care of them. These children are often unsafe at home, abused, or neglected. If they are not properly loved and cared for as a decent family would treat them, then once they age out at around 18 years old they have to live independently without any basic skills or a family to fall back on when life throws obstacles their way. It is our job as a community to seek out these children that need our help and guide them towards bright futures that any child deserves.

As a senior at Our Lady of Mercy High School for Young Women I have found one of our own community members, gym teacher Stephanie Barbero, who took on the generous experience of opening up her home to a foster child.  Upon interviewing Stephanie, she explained the process and somewhat strenuous tasks that she and her family had to experience. A 17 year old girl approached Stephanie and asked to be a part of her family. This request was one Stephanie could not refuse. Before bringing the young woman into her home, she held a meeting with her family to inform them on what was going to happen. She described the situation as being “in it to win it” with her entire family. The Barbero family was able to accept another member into their lives and thankfully not worry about finances being strained. However, mental and emotional life was a different story. Some of Stephanie’s children were the same age as their foster child so they had to learn to share with one another which is sometimes difficult for 17 year old girls to do.

Despite the emotional toll of taking in a child with a rough background and opening up her entire life to her, Stephanie states that she would do it all over again if she was presented with the opportunity. In the future however, Stephanie would be apprehensive in how she handles another foster child. She reports that her family actually gave the foster child too much which was hard for her to deal with since she had moved around so much. She wasn’t used to having her own bedroom or other personal items and the Barberos provided her with everything she could ever need as if she was one of their own children. This ended up being too hard for her which leads Stephanie to the conclusion that next time she would ease a foster child into this new life of loving care so that they feel more comfortable with having their own personal items for possibly the very first time in their life.

Stephanie’s final thoughts on the issue of foster care touched on what are called the Core Values of Mercy, which are held by our school Our Lady of Mercy. These are basic attitudes and behaviors that when fulfilled, live out a spirited life of Mercy. Two key values that relate to foster care are hospitality and compassionate service. Regarding hospitality Stephanie states, “You need to just open up your entire world to this one person”. She agrees that you must have compassion to open up and attend to whatever their needs are and try to understand their past but accept them and treat them like a human being no matter what struggles they have gone through.

Stephanie Barbero proves the point that being a foster parent is not an easy task, however it is definitely a rewarding one. From the very moment that 17 year old girl walked into the Barbero home, many lives were changed forever. Stephanie now knows what it is like to give to a young child that needs guidance and love but hasn’t received it until almost adulthood. Any child in foster care deserves to be treated with these qualities especially since that has been a vital missing part of their lives. The Barberos are just a normal Rochester family that did an extraordinary thing for someone else that they didn’t even know. As a community, we must be more accepting towards these children that so desperately just want to be reunited with their parents or just be with a family that will love them unconditionally. If we see someone struggling and we have the resources to help and provide for them, why not help them?

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Here it is! My Podcast!

6 Dec

Here it is gang! My podcast!

You’re Soaking in It with Madge

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Or Listen on SunCloud.com

Or Listen on iTunes

http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/124800

One Nation in Hypocrisy and Judgement We Stand!

6 Oct

madge-sunglasses

This presidential election is about to get on my last damn nerve…

It seems one thing it is rife with is hypocrisy and judgement. Oh and hate. And bullshit.

People throw around character assassinations like it’s candy and they’re on a float in a parade. Or like an Italian grandma with wedding cookies and she has visitors. Or like a new recruit in an MLM that just got business cards.  But I digress…

And every claim of a flaw of a candidate is met with “Yea, well what about your guy did this…?” I don’t even let my children do that, not even when they were small. It’s the “But Johnny did it too” or “But Johnny did something worse” defense. My answer has always been “I don’t care what Johnny did, we’re talking about you. We’re addressing what you did.”

But getting people to stick to one subject is damn near impossible. So why bother, right? I mean let’s leave the personal stuff out of it anyway, right? Also, that’s just being judgemental and hypocritical, right? I mean, let he who is without sin cast the first stone… or whatever the saying is.

What if we did go back to the days of leaving personal stuff out? In reading about elections from the past couple centuries and the few I have witnessed in the past few decades of my lifetime, I don’t seem to recall much personal stuff being bandied about until maybe Nixon or Carter… 1972 or 1976 elections. It was still rather mild and not plastered all over, but then again we didn’t have the internet and 24 hour news stations with time to fill. You heard a little bit about Nixon being a crook (which ultimately became true) and that Jimmy Carter had a drunk, obnoxious brother (which ultimately had no bearing whatsoever).

But before that there were plenty of dudes elected to the office of President of the United States that had secrets come out that in this day and age would be scrutinized 24/7 non-stop. But some of those “shortcomings” turned out to have no effect on the ability to do a good job.  Hmmmm…

Yes, there are some people who I think are terrible people but do their job well. Which totally goes against my nature. I’m all for good people, all around. I believe in God and karma and all that stuff where I couldn’t possibly be good at my job then be a shithead in my personal life. However, I’ve never been at such a high level of power and money that my judgement could be impaired, either. Here are some presidents who probably would have been taken down had there been the interwebz…

  • FDR pulled us out of the Great Depression and helped us win WWII… he had mistresses right out in the open and hid his health problems, even the fact that he was unable to even stand on his own.
  • JFK made great strides in the Civil Rights Movement and stood up to Cuba in the ballsy Cuban Missile Crisis… had several mistresses paraded through the White House, and allegedly had lots of Mob ties which helped him win the election. Not to mention his father being a bootlegger and serial philanderer.
  • Ronald Reagan made the 80’s all bright and shiny with a new Camaro for everyone and single-handedly ended the Cold War (according to mythology)… started his descent into Alzheimer’s Disease before his second term was over.
  • Abraham Lincoln essentially ended slavery and was a great statesman among other things (we get the day off for his birthday, for God’s sake)… suffered from clinical depression, malaria, and smallpox, not to mention his wife was certifiable.

So… what does all this mean? Well it goes to show that journalists were a lot more polite and appropriate back in the day, for one. A public figure’s personal life wasn’t open season. They respected that and stuck to the facts and with politicians stuck to the task at hand… mostly. And people did mostly as well. But people will always dig something up on someone they don’t like, just because… And we didn’t have the internet to perpetuate it.

And oh it’s just not politicians! Look at Pete Rose, legendary baseball player, one of the all-time greats… so he did a little gambling, meh. I don’t think his gambling mattered in him being all-time leader in hits, at-bats, singles, etc.

What’s the answer?  I don’t know. I like to think a person’s character matters but ultimately if they do their job well, it’s no one’s business I guess. Maybe I just prefer the days when journalism wasn’t so seedy and personal. Just something to keep in mind though… you really shouldn’t judge others if you don’t have a clean slate, well actually at all, you shouldn’t judge at all. Don’t be the pot calling the kettle black…

Why Do I Care About You, I Don’t Even Know You?

10 Sep

Holy cow, it’s been a while eh? Well it’s been an action-packed six weeks or so for me.

Most of August was spent caring for my significant other as he had to undergo surgery for prostate cancer. Everything eventually turned out ok, and we are monitoring things over the next few months to make sure it isn’t anywhere else. He was in the hospital for almost a week as he had developed an infection, so it was a little stressful.

I also had to get my son home from working at camp in Massachusetts and then get him back to school at NYU. Then had to prepare my 2 daughters for back to high school. I’ve also been crazy busy with my new position as Associate Editor at Rochester Woman Magazine.

Soooo… how’ve you all been?

Other than that stuff, it’s been kind of and emotional week or two. A lot has happened that has little to nothing to do with me but I find it emotional… and I wonder what the hell is wrong with me?

For one, Robin Williams. Enough said. Then Joan Rivers died. I enjoyed watching Fashion Police every Friday night, and her shows after each award show were a must-see. I saw her in a whole new light after I saw a documentary on her about a year ago called “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”. That woman had been through everything, was educated and had to fight her way into show biz. She worked like a fiend and was a fantastic writer. She wrote every day. She was an entrepreneur who wasn’t happy unless her schedule was full from dusk ’til… dusk. She was a role model and idol to me. I was very sad. I was so sad this week after Martina Navratilova proposed to her girlfriend… Joan would have had a helluva’ joke. She had the best lesbian jokes.

Also a police officer was killed in the line of duty here in my city of Rochester, NY. A 32 year old young man, with 2 young children and a wife. Gunned down by some piece of shit parolee that he was chasing. All kinds of pomp and circumstance and rituals and traditions. Such dignity and honor, somber yet uplifting. Moving, really. But so sad. It really hit my heart hard.

You may have seen the unresponsive plane that went flying through Cuban airspace and then crashed off the coast of Jamaica? The two people in the plane that died were a lovely couple that belonged to our country club and pillars of the community. I was glued to the TV feeling dread while they followed the plane. She built a catalog company from the ground up, he was a millionaire real estate developer that was re-building downtown Rochester. Only in their late 60’s. Just nice decent folks.

Then all the stuff with Ray and Janay Rice. Geez, what do you say? You watch the video and you’re just… in disbelief. You wanna’ knock him out and you want to cry. Then she comes out with that “Why you gotta’ hurt my man and me?” statement and I just wanted to… take her away, or shake her, or tell her how that’s not how she deserves to be treated. I know how hard it is to leave. The batterer threatens the woman that if she leaves he’ll kill her or the kids or himself. Leaving is scary, whether it’s fear for your safety or fear of losing financial stability.  It brought back old memories that just turned my stomach in knots.

So, why do I get so emotional about stuff? I guess maybe because I was born with a caring heart, which sometimes makes me a big ole pushover and let’s others take advantage of me, it also makes me waste energy on caring about people that have no idea who I am. But I guess it’s good, it’s good to feel things, experience a full range of emotions, that’s living life to it’s fullest. It’s also made me a good parent.

Although sometimes I wish I didn’t care because I could probably be further in business. Sociopaths (people who don’t have empathy) are usually the most successful people. It’s true, I read it on the interwebz. I probably also wouldn’t spend more time than I wanted to on men I didn’t really want to date. ha I mean sorry but I’ve had more than my share of pity dates (I’m sure I’ve been the recipient of some too), I’ve also spent much much longer than I wanted to painfully listening to a guy in a bar telling me all about his love of Nickleback (Ack), just because I thought it was rude to walk away. In the meantime, Prince Charming who made a witty remark to me and was waiting for me to come back to the bar had already left. Sad face.

I guess it’s good to have a big heart but it can also be emotionally exhausting. I’ve learned how to curb it, I don’t let it consume me and I don’t bring it up to others (most of the time) because I don’t want to seem like I like to insert myself into emotional stuff just to get attention. Like some sort of Munchausen Syndrome. I bring it up today because well, I’m kind of curious if I’m a freak or not. I’ve always been this way. Tomorrow is 9/11, guaranteed I will have a bout of tears just like I have every 9/11 since 2001. Is that weird? Do I like humans too much? I wish I could give the whole world a hug… and maybe a reach-a-round if they’re lucky.

Maybe it’s just PMS. A lot.

Please take care of yourselves and each other. That is all.

 

Madge is So Short… How Short is She?!

17 Jul

I’m short. I’m 5’2″. That might seem average to some women, really short for some guys, pretty tall for small children.

All I know is I can’t reach or see shit most of the time.

I can’t reach the top shelf at the grocery store if something isn’t right up front. I’ve caught people looking on in amusement to see if I start climbing the shelf or fall on my ass or what. Yea, thanks for you help there, pal. Luckily a couple times I’ve caught someone out of the corner of my eye, I turn my head and it’s a male employee with a slight smirk coming toward me saying, “Can I help you reach something?”  I feel grateful, although embarrassed. To the ones that simply stand by, I say “I couldn’t afford a gym membership, that’s why I come to Wegmans and climb the shelves” and walk away.

gotta-hand-it-to-short-people

I also get snickers when I’m at the drive-thru bank teller and I have to open the door and step one foot out to grab the pneumatic tube. I half expect the teller to say, “You OK little fella?” Bastid…

I can’t reach the shelf in my daughters’ bedroom. I have to get the taller one to help me, my younger daughter is cursed with my height.

I can’t reach wall displays in retail stores. I have to go get an associate to reach the one in my size. And I love it when they loudly announce, “There isn’t a 34DD up here ma’am, maybe I can find you a 34DD over there. Wait here’s a 34D, do you want to try that?” Thank you so much for announcing my bra size to the world. I can just imagine everyone cringing as they visualize (because you know they do) this 49 year old woman in just a bra. I feel their eyes piercing me.

I can’t trim bushes that go higher than a window sill. Ladders and long handled clippers aren’t a great help because I usually have to trim blind then. Rather than nice even bushes, I end up with unintended topiaries.

Some sexual acts are more difficult. I won’t go into it but just think about a short girl or girl with short legs with an average to tall guy. And please don’t visualize me in this endeavor.

If something rolls under the couch or bed, forget it.

Can’t reach under a sneeze guard while keeping my head above it.

t rex sneeze guard

I can’t scratch my own back past my shoulder blades. It’s rubbing against the ole corner of the wall if I have an itch any further down my back.

I can’t pull the cord on a combo light/fan fixture on the ceiling, so everything runs whether I want it to or not.

I have to hem everything.

It’s not all terrible… being short enables me to sit reasonably comfortable in an airplane seat or the back seat of a compact car.

And… ummmm… that’s about it.

Whatter’ ya’ gonna’ do, ya’ know? I just deal with it.  Can’t change it. However you could cut me some slack and stop calling me, munchkin, shorty, peanut, and small fry. If you don’t I’ll just go with my new nickname for you… asshole. 🙂

You’d See The Business End of My Gun Rights if You Used the Term “Your Dead Kid” About My Child

29 May

Joe the Plumber (whom is neither a licensed plumber or actually named Joe) is an absolute piece of shit and everything that is wrong with America today… in my opinion.

Joe The Plumber: ‘Your Dead Kids Don’t Trump My Constitutional Rights’ To Have Guns

 

 

I have no designs on taking away anyone’s “rights” but “Joe the Plumber” is a selfish opportunistic nobody who cares nothing about his fellow man. We need to stop this “Because they’re mine” mentality. Meaning, anytime I’ve tried to have a logical rational conversation with a gun person and I ask “Why do you want/need your guns?” the answer is “Because they’re mine!” is usually the answer. Funny, that’s the same answer my son gave me when he was 3 years old when I asked why he wanted to carry around a used paper towel I had just wiped his face with. Or when my daughter was two at her birthday party and didn’t want to give out pieces of her cake, “It’s mine!”.

tommydilfight1

(This is what came up when I Googled “Mine!”)

Yes, a lot of gun owners feel they have the right to protect themselves and that’s why the 2nd Amendment was created, but a lot of others just use the whole “it’s my right” thing. It’s not gun laws, it’s the machismo gun culture and the growing trend of people not being able to cope because we’ve become a culture of entitlement (“because they’re mine!, it’s my right!”) and the minute things don’t go their way in life they want retribution… and it starts with you. Stop enabling our kids to feel entitled.

Did you see this kid Elliot Rodgers’ video that he made before he went on his killing spree? (I don’t want to post it and give him any more public exposure) To me, that video did not show a mentally ill young man, but an angry entitled selfish little douchebag with a Napoleon Complex. I stress, in my opinion. That is not mental illness that’s an anger management problem. There’s a difference. Issues that can be worked out in therapy are different from actual mental defects. I know, I have a mental defect. I take meds or else my brain would play an endless loop of some thought, like a skipping record, or spliced reel to reel tape loop. The meds thump the floor to make the record stop skipping and move along with the song in my brain.

However, I’m not a doctor, I didn’t know the kid, nor did I examine him.

The best thing that ever happened to me while raising kids was to be poor. It forced me to teach them, you can’t have everything. Not that I wouldn’t be that way if I were rich either, I don’t believe in entitlement, I believe in earning things. However, there are certain poor people that are angry because they feel slighted because they still feel entitled but ain’t gettin’ it. So being poor doesn’t exactly negate the entitlement problem.

I also teach my kids that there are things bigger than themselves in this world. There is a thing called “The greater good”. Just because it suits you doesn’t mean it will be best for all. Just like it’s your right to smoke a cigarette, but there are little kids around and your smoke can effect them adversely, they have little lungs that can be damaged easier. You still think it’s not selfish or a good idea to exercise your “right”? And believe me, I don’t want to take away anyone’s cigarettes, I believe people should have a right to smoke, drink, do whatever they want as long as they aren’t killing other people with either.

Here’s a question… say you own guns. You have a child who has mental issues. Obviously a disturbed child, a fragile child. You still think it’s your “God damn right” to keep your guns at the ready? If someone said, I advise you to lock them up far away or get rid of them or you might have another Sandy Hook/Columbine/UCSB/VA Tech/CO Theater – (take your pick)? Let’s forget gun laws, no one wants to take your sacred guns, I’m asking an ethical/moral question. Ask yourself that question. What would you do? I think this country would be a lot better if people weren’t so selfish and macho.

Just my 2 cents.

I Don’t Like Insensitive People, But I Defend Their Right to Look Stupid

22 May

Well it looks like I’m coming out of the closet.

Oh no honey not that, although you all know I frequent gay bars but it’s because I’m a hag not a participant. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to quote Jerry Seinfeld.

Ok anyway, I’m coming out as a proponent of free speech.

See, I come from a long line of wildly rabid Kennedy Democrats. Yes, I am a bit left-leaning. In my youth I was much more so, now as I’ve gotten older I’m a little more moderate. Back in the day, I hated Ronald Reagan with a passion, nowadays… I still kind of hate him but with less fervor. 🙂

Anyway, today a local radio morning show team was fired because they went on a rant the other day about the new City of Rochester policy to cover essentially “sex change operations” and related services under the city employees health insurance. These two brain trusts went on a rant about how these people were nutjobs and they made dick jokes and such. Backlash ensued, at first they were suspended, now canned. Read about it here:

Kimberly and Beck fired for transgender comments

 

Now, I am ridiculously sensitive about letting people live and let live, I wish the world didn’t see color, religion, or sexual preference. Granted I trash talk some people now and again but I try not to demean their whole being. I will talk about what they do was stupid. But what they said was just insensitive and sophomoric. Especially talking about a local transgender high school kid on a softball team and his “extra bat”. Just dumb.

However… I fear our country has been venturing into dangerous territory. Every time I turn around there is some other public figure putting their foot in their mouth and people are demanding for their head on a platter. I just think it’s getting a little out of hand.

Now hear my out. I loathe racists and biggots. I used to hate on them back, which isn’t any better than what they do quite frankly. Well I feel, anyway.  Now I just shake my head and hope they see the light someday. If I am in the presence of someone making a biggoted remark, I try to fight for the cause by saying, “Well that’s not a very nice thing to say. Why would you say that?” Not to jump all over their shit but to let them know it’s not cool.

Take the whole Donald Sterling thing. You know, the Magic-Johnson-hating owner of the Clippers? Yes, he’s an asshole, no I’m not condoning him. And tell me you didn’t know about 5 Dads on your block when you were growing up who spoke just like him. No, it doesn’t make it right but don’t people have a right to be assholes in America? I mean… ok bad example, if he is jacking up people’s livelihoods by being racist then yea, he deserves to have his team taken away. Need to do more homework on that.

But like entertainers. The sportscaster that made the remark about the “chink” in the armor in the same paragraph as a story about Jeremy Lin the Asian basketball player who was on a hot streak a while ago. He got canned. Really? Poor taste, maybe. I personally think the remark was a stretch in being related. The network didn’t even think about it until the public started calling for his head.

See, that’s my problem. All these people in an uproar whenever they hear something they don’t like. It doesn’t make it right, but the world is filled with shit you don’t want to hear. It’s like that kid that runs around to all the adults “Jimmy said a bad word!” Many of these people are put on the air or become public figures because of their words and opinions. Let them use their words even if they attempt to make a tasteless joke. It might educate  us on what a tasteless joke is and how hurtful it can be… and how dumb you look when you say it. Now if people are calling for you to go kill or hurt somebody, that’s another thing.

I read this great article here:

The Oh-So-Fragile Class of 2014 Needs to STFU And Listen to Some New Ideas

It’s regarding the recent rash of schools cancelling commencement speakers because of pressure from the student body over something they didn’t like about the speaker. You know, I used to be one of these kids who would say “I don’t want that guy speaking at our school, he’s an asshole and he supported the war!” Now I agree, you might learn something new by listening to someone you don’t agree with. I mean, I’d still be probably sitting there stewing about how much the person irritates me but I’ll listen. Hey, just being honest. I just think we’re getting into a bad habit of trying to silence people we don’t agree with.

Yes, it’s a slippery slope. No, I don’t want to hear the leader of the KKK speak at a commencement. But ya’ know what… maybe I would. I would love to hear what the hell his problem is. I would be interested to see what makes him tick. Some would argue, “Don’t give him a platform!” I say, let’s see if maybe he’ll see the error of his ways. (naive, I know) I would love to see the Grand Wizard of the KKK forced to speak at the Howard University commencement. I would love for him to face a sea of successful and smart African Americans. I’m sure most people would want to jump up and rip him to pieces, literally. But, it’s an interesting thought.

I just hate this entitlement thing we’re headed toward. The “I don’t have to listen to anything I don’t want to” thing. It’s fine if you don’t want to, just don’t go, turn the channel, or don’t read. It’s not your God-given right to dictate what everyone else should hear, read, or watch. Will we get to the point where your co-workers go to your boss and tell him to fire you because you listen to Dave Matthews in your cubicle because they find it offensive? Personally I find DMB offensive to my ears, but I will defend your right to listen to annoying music.

I’ll probably get my Democrat card taken away, but I just believe that a democracy includes free speech. I’m not gonna’ go out and donate to the ACLU or anything. I just believe that assholes will get what’s coming to them, I don’t believe we need a public lynching for being rude, crass, or insensitive.

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