Welcome to the world, Blaise!

I’m very excited to announce the birth of my youngest cousin, Blaise Hudson Parsons! He was born this afternoon, 19 inches long and 6 pounds. My cousin Ally, his mama, is doing great and Blaise is a tiny little fellow but he’s happy and healthy. I’m so excited that he’s finally here, I almost don’t know what to say. I have lots of cousins but it’s always amazing when a new baby is born. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried when I finally got to hold the little guy. I’m so jealous of Ally right now, ha ha, but at the same time, it’s awesome to be one of the people who gets to spoil him with candy and toys without having to do all of the hard work. Congratulations, Ally! You have a beautiful son, and I know you love him so much.

Blaise, I wanted to write a note specifically for you. You’re way too little to read it now but I hope that one day when you’re older, you will get to read it. I want to tell you how much you are loved. Your family will treasure you and spoil you and always, always love you. If you ever doubt that you are loved, we will always be there to tell you that you are wrong. If you ever need me, you have your cousin Rachel’s complete devotion. Grow up to be smart and kind and passionate. It will be your job one day to take care of the earth and your family.

I hope that by the time you’re my age, the world is a kinder place for you. And no matter what, know that you always will have people who accept you for who you are. I want you to grow up without being afraid to tell your family what you believe or who you love. You are perfect and you were born with your own special blueprints, and with your own gifts that will help you grow into the person you are meant to be one day. It will be an honor to watch you grow and learn and one day, I hope you will be a man who makes a difference in the world. But no matter what, you will always be the wonderful, tiny baby that I got to hold today. I love you, Blaise! You’re a Parsons, you’re a Moye, you’re an Appalachian, and you are amazing. You’re one of a kind. You’re all your own. One day, you’ll understand what this all means.

Here’s a song that’s just for you on this, your day of birth.

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Mountain Girl Woes #1

You would think that graduating college would give me some sense of peace. After all, there’s no homework due and nowhere I have to be. I’m taking a year off before I tackle grad school and I can stay with my parents as long as I need to. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as relaxed as I thought I would be. My anxiety is acting up again in a major way. It started out small, just this pervading sense that I am somehow wasting my time. Then, on Sunday, I had a panic attack while out to eat for Mother’s Day with my step-dad Steve’s extended family. The last two nights, I’ve had stressful dreams and panic attacks in my sleep.

To add to the craziness, I bought two pet rats a week ago. I’ve been wanting rats for a while now and I finally have time to take care of them. However, one of my babies has come down with an upper respiratory infection – which is fatal if it isn’t treated. It’s also highly contagious, which means that if Watson has it, my baby Sherlock probably has it too. I’m having a minor meltdown about having to take them to the vet and how much it’s going to cost. But I feel like it’s my responsibility to take them and have them treated, no matter how much it costs, because I did commit to them when I bought them and I knew then that I might have to take them to the vet at some point.

I’ve had a cry about it already, and I’ll probably cry about it again before the day is up. Mom is at work or I would be crying about it to her. Sometimes I just need somebody with me. They don’t really need to try and talk to me about it or anything, I just need company.

My room is full of junk. I want to clean it and get rid of everything I don’t want anymore but that stresses me out too. I separated my rats until their vet appointment tomorrow, just to try and minimally reduce the chances of Sherlock coming down with the same thing Watson has, and now they’re both stressed too. Sherlock is distraught and hiding in the corner with his blanket. I hate to do this to them but I don’t want things to get worse. I feel like a bad owner. I probably shouldn’t have gotten them at all.

And right now, looking at my room that’s a mess and packed with my junk, I feel like a rat. I feel like this weird little creature that no one knows what to do with. My upkeep is expensive and usually all I want to do is hide in my own little corner and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

Letter to the Editor, by Shey Dillon

To preface this post, let me say that I am posting a letter written by a very dear friend of mine on a topic that is very important to both of us. Shey has been my friend since we were preteens and she and I both identify as atheists. We both have younger siblings who are also atheists. Shey graduated from PikeView High School, and her little sister will be graduating this year. Both of my brothers attended PikeView High School for a time and another friend of ours graduated from PikeView, also an atheist. Unfortunately, PikeView has been ignoring our rights as U.S. citizens by holding the PikeView graduation ceremony in a church, complete with Christian prayers, completely ignoring that many of their students are of different faiths or do not have a faith. Shey wrote this letter to the Princeton Times addressing the matter. However, we are afraid that the letter will simply be ignored, so I am posting her letter here in hopes of getting a few more people to read it.

Update: Shey just received an email from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph telling her that they will be publishing her letter. I am hoping sincerely that this will result in a change being made.

Update 2: Looks like the Princeton Times is also publishing this! Hoorah! Shey, you are very brave for doing this and I am SO PROUD OF YOU.

Dear Editor,

I graduated from PikeView High School in 2009 as a member of the National Honor Society, Geography Quiz Bowl team, Model UN team, Environmental Club, as a first chair West Virginia All-State Band musician and Class of 2009 Homecoming Queen. As these achievements may suggest, I took my high school education very seriously and contributed all that I could to the PikeView High School community. So, it was with great displeasure that I discovered my high school graduation ceremony would be held at the Princeton Church of God. I am not a Christian, and had always been subject to ridicule (by faculty and students alike) in school for this. As a child in the second grade, for example, I was told by my teacher that my name wasn’t special because it wasn’t a Bible name; in the eighth grade, my health teacher told me in front of the entire class that I would “burn in hell.”

I decided, however, to bite my tongue and make no complaints about the graduation location. I did not want to be the victim of any more abuse, nor did I want to spoil what I hoped would be a pleasant and important day; I was wrong to think it could turn out this way.  If holding the ceremony in the church did not make me uncomfortable enough, there were also several “prayers” scheduled into the graduation program. I had to pretend to pray to a god I do not believe in, just to feel like I belonged at my own graduation—my own graduation from a public high school.

Several weeks ago, it was brought to my attention that not only is this practice still in effect, but also that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State have asked the Mercer County Board of Education to change the graduation location and remove the prayers from the ceremony, and the BOE has refused. I find this completely appalling. Other students like myself will be made to feel as bad as I did on their graduation, when this is something that could be so easily avoided.  I know that those students who are not Christians are certainly the minority at PikeView High School, and in Mercer County. But, in America, and especially in public schools, the rights of minorities are just as important as those of the majority, and all students, no matter what their faith, deserve to feel equally accomplished and celebrated at their high school graduation.

Use of the Princeton Church of God is not “free” as was presented by the BOE, as it has come to light that monetary gifts of an undisclosed amount have been made to the church.  There are other options available beyond the Princeton Church of God.  Many students in America graduate from high school on the football field, with a move to the gymnasium in the event of rain.  The limit of only one guest per student were the graduation to be held in the school gym seems to be an exaggeration given that the gym hosts well more than that number during important basketball games.   We have a public university with several venues located 3 miles from the school.  We have a beautiful state of the art performing arts center in Princeton.  All of these options are preferable to a public school graduation being held in a church in a country where separation of church and state is a founding principle.

Respectfully,

S. Dillon

Link to Shey’s letter on Facebook