Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home from Skiing (And You'd Better Believe There are Videos!)

We just got back from skiing. I have to wake up at 5:30 to go back to work. Yeah, I think we'll let the videos speak for themselves (pretty much : )). Oh, and I sound like a LOSER on video ... I never realized that before.

Before we left ... we have Andy being disgusting (actually, the video was shot just after he was being disgusting)

And we have a bunch of kids VERY excited at the prospect of going skiing : )

And then the skiing begins ... Here are the little kids in their lesson.

And then, of course, there was our attempt to get the big girls getting off the bunny slope and onto some real trails with their snowboards. Epic fail, as Addie would say (but that's a story for another day).

And there are a hundred other cute kid videos (and even one of me videotaping while skiing, which is kind of cool), but I sound beyond ridiculous and I fall, so let's end with Andy being disgusting, just for consistency. (Disclaimer: all six kids were in a lesson when we imbibed the beverage depicted in this video).

So there's no philosophical insight on this one ... unless you count a great day of fun a philosophy of a sort. Yeah, I pretty much do :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tired Children

This picture, I assume, speaks a thousand words. Maybe a million. And we haven't even skiied yet : ) Yup, Andy and his son Thomas crashed hard ...

There are six children with us--my daughters Addie (15)and Belle (6), Andy's kids Dawn (6) and Thomas (3), plus Addie's best friend Mikayla (15) and Andy's neice Jessica (8). It's a pretty full house, to say the least.

The ride up was a nightmare. My car is horrible in snow, and it was going all over the road, eventually hitting a guard rail. At that point, I refused to go any faster than ten miles per hour. Andy being the gentleman that he is (or else he just really wanted to get away from the younger kids, who were all in his car) offered to drive my car and let me drive his (far more suited to snow driving) vehicle. We moved pretty quickly after that, although I was kind of annoyed that Andy could drive my car with barely a skid--I guess when you know cars thoroughly, you can even get around the crazy winter driving issues.

Anyway, we got to the condo and had to bring the luggage up ... and some kids raring to get into the pool. We finally made it out to the pool, which was so cool. You get into the pool from inside a building, then you swim out and it's an outdoor pool. We literally swam in the midst of a snowstorm ... and it wasn't even cold : )

After returning to the condo, we all got into our pajamas and had dinner, pizza for everyone but Addie, Mikayla, and Jessica, who opted for Ramen Noodles. The little girls played hide and seek after dinner while the big girls burped (don't ask), Thomas played a computer game on my laptop (we're stealing someone's wireless ... I feel kind of guilty), and Andy just sort of relaxed (he'd gotten up at five to go to work, so he was entitled). I did the dishes and then got the girls to settle in, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth. We'd brought the game Apples to Apples (my highest recommendation, if you've never played it) and I asked Andy when I went upstairs to read a story to Belle, Dawn, and Jessica if he'd be up for a game. He said he would, but when I got back downstairs, he and Thomas had crashed on the pull out couch.

On the one hand, what a fantastic day : ) When children are tired enough to sleep soundly (and everyone is but me, so it's all good : )), you've clearly done something right. However, today was just preparation for tomorrow, when the skiing and snowboarding will transpire here at good old Sunday River.

How far can you push tired children before they reach their breaking point?

Procrastination Problems

The girls and I (and Addie's best friend) are leaving in a few hours to go skiing with Andy, his daughter, and his neice. We're staying at his grandparents' condo right on the mountain, so tonight will be all going in the pool and just hanging out and tomorrow ... tomorrow will be lessons for the little girls and Addie (who's a pretty good skiier) learning how to snowboard and Andy and I ... well, either helping the little girls out with lessons or helping Addie and her buddy with snowboarding or maybe even getting to make a run or two of our own. I'm wicked excited (and I have to offer a giant shout out to my brother, Adam, who is VERY generously going to stay at the house with the dogs so we can go up tonight with everyone else).

The purpose of this post is to flagellate my procrastination tendencies a bit. And by the way, yes, I'm aware that blogging instead of doing the huge list of things I need to do is just perpetuating the procrastination. Okay, here's what I need to do ... and, yes, most of it could have been accomplished yesterday or the day before. I'm horrible!

1. Get dog food. There's no excuse on this one ... I mean, I've known that I had to get dog food for days. The situation is a bit complicated by the fact that my dogs eat a specialized dog food that's only available at one store, a store that doesn't open until nine.

2. Pack. Yup, haven't even started. Also not sure where my bathing suit is.

3. Take a shower. Oh, and give Belle a shower.

4. Go to the grocery store to get juice boxes and stuff for breakfast and so on.

5. Take Addie to get a top for her bathing suit. Or, if that's not possible, to get her a new bathing suit. The child has got to stop growing!

6. Clean the house up a bit. And try to remember to make coffee for Adam so he just has to press the button tomorrow morning.

7. Go get Addie's friend.

8. Drive to Andy's house, where he will also have procrastinated packing. Since he had to work today, he at least has an excuse.

Somebody told me once that making a list to prioritize is helpful. I'm just feeling even more overwhelmed now. Looking at it like that doesn't help at all ... I'm still not even sure where to begin. Shower then pack? Pack (because I know there will be lots of stuff I won't be able to find and I'll get all upset) then shower? Go get the dog food? Tidy up the house?

Is procrastination (and disorganization) an issue someone can overcome? I mean, I seriously disgust myself sometimes ...

Well, anyway, it will all get done eventually, and it's going to be a great weekend :) I'm bringing the video camera (and my computer, although I'm not sure whether or not there will be internet access), so you'll no doubt hear all about it over the next few days.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sharing the Love

The blogging community is a great treasure in my life, and I'd like to take a minute to show some love to some of my favorite blogs (and their amazing authors). Although it really stunk being sick right before school vacation, it was in a way a blessing in disguise, since being forced to take it easy has really allowed me to reconnect with some wonderful bloggers. I know that on Monday, when school is back in session, I'll probably go back to being a reader--finding the time to post my own stuff regularly and to write comments on other blogs is going to be difficult.

Emily's blog is about her sobriety and the hard journey she's been on to get there ... and to maintain it. My ex-husband's alcoholism came as a complete shock to me, and trying to understand his behavior and why he couldn't (and can't) seem to stop drinking no matter what support he had offered was extremely difficult for me. Emily's blog has been instrumental to my understanding of where he is coming from ... and to possibly reaching a degree of forgiveness at some point. She is an amazing lady with stories to share that will shock, sadden, and ... enlighten you.

I love Beth's blog because she is, like me, both a writer and a high school English teacher. Beth has the ultimate ear for picking up the humor that transpires in her classroom and carrying it over to her blog. I swear, the stories she has on her blog have me rolling over on the floor with tears running down my face. She's terrific : )

Elana Johnson has become perhaps the wise voice in the back of my head as I work hard to become a published writer. This lady is wise, witty, and full of questions relevant to all aspects of writing. She is a constant presence in the blogosphere, contributing to discussions that take place on her blog posts and commenting on the posts of others relating to all sorts of subjects. I think she is truly remarkable!

Roni has a great gift for gathering those of us passionate about writing together. She's even starting a lit crit event on her blog where you can submit pieces for public critiquing (yes, I've submitted mine ... it should be running at the end of March) and be part of the actual critiquing process. Very cool : )

The great Suldog is one of the funniest people I've ever met. Well, not MET met, but you know what I mean. This guy is a trip, and even when he's making fun of people, you kind of have to love him. Check his blog out ... you'll see what I mean : )

AbbyAnnis is another aspiring writer. She asks probing questions that makes one think on her blog, and I carry what I read with me as I write and as I live : ) She currently has a contest going on, so check it out if you're interested.

Brittany's blog is full of life and laughter. Her perspective on life's events is fresh, her voice is humorous and thought-provoking, and she is just an awesome person.

Reading Elliott's blog is always an adventure. Whether he's asking you to match up TV shows with their famous eating spots or giving a science lesson on why winter corn sucks, you will be entertained. And the cheese interludes are great : )

Speaking of entertained, Jinksy's blog is always a treat. She is a feisty retired lady who is just taking the computer age by storm, and her perspective is unique. She writes interesting thoughts and great poems, and her posts stay with me. She makes me laugh, she makes me think, and I just adore her blog : )

Claus always has a unique post on her blog. She's got a gift for graphics and also for making what's on her mind at any given moment relevant. Finding her blog was a real treat : )

Children of the '90s is a blog I ALWAYS read. While its audience is admittedly specific, I fit perfectly into its demographic with my knowledge of cheesy '90s movies and my love for board game jingles. This blog gets me in touch with childhood memories I thought long gone, so that's cool too : )

Little Ms. Blogger calls her blog "A Little Blog About Nothing". I would argue, however, that her blog is instead about EVERYTHING. Check it out ... you'll see what I mean.

There are many more blogs I can (and eventually will) recommend, but I'm out of time at the moment ... have to go make dinner for the kiddos. What I do want to ask is that you all consider showing your blog love. It doesn't take much time, and I've set up a linky-thing that will let you link to your blog so we can call go check out the blogs that YOU love : ) Thanks for sharing, and thank you sincerely for being a very important part of my life, strange as that sounds.

Prufrockin': To Shake the Status Quo or ...

T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" has always stood out to me, I'm not sure why. I think it's mostly because of the end, where Eliot writes, "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each/I do not think that they will sing to me"; ever since reading that, I have always listened for mermaids at the beach. Although I know it's kind of stupid and I know intellectually it's not possible, I believe in my heart and soul that there could be mermaids, a whole world down there in the depths of the ocean--that is the part of me that is a writer.

More academically--and more traditionally, I suppose--"Prufrock" has, to me, served as a warning to eschew mediocrity, to be brave enough to eat a peach and to never, ever be one of those women coming and going, talking of Michelangelo instead of creating their own magic. In other words, the status quo should never be good enough.

Perhaps this is the part of the poem that scares me most:
"No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous,
Almost, at times, the Fool."

The thing is, I had sworn my life over to mediocrity for a very long time. I had essentially surrendered myself into the role of an "attendant lord", going about my life in a mundane way, letting someone else call the shots and suppressing the part of myself that looks at stars and wonders why my dogs turn around three times before going to sleep and whether global warming is legit and if we all see the same shade of red when we look at an apple and ... well, you know, the part of myself that was ME.

And I have that part back now. With the help of destiny in the form of alcoholism that shattered my marriage and blew up my world, I have somehow found myself again. There is magic in my life now, tremendous magic, but I am so scared that it's an ephemeral thing, that I am just an attendant lord again, just not to a mentally ill alcoholic husband. The rational part of me says, "Nope, you can feel the magic, you are yourself again, just go with it," but the part of me that needs to know where things stand is yelling, "Be Prince Hamlet, damn it! Shake up the status quo. Live a little--if you don't make the conversation happen, you'll just exist in this vacuum until ..."

Until WHAT, Prince Hamlet part of my brain? Until what?

And then I read the last lines of Eliot's poem, about contemplating on taking that chance, of living a little, "until human voices wake us and we drown." Isn't what I have now better than that?

If you read this blog with any regularity, you can probably figure out what I'm talking about. If you don't, that's okay too ... it's a pretty universal concept, I think. So my question to you, wonderful readers, is this: is it better to just live your life, enjoying a status quo which is pretty decent, or do you shoot for the stars, take destiny into your own hands and put everything you currently have going for you at risk?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Hampshire Beach on a Rainy February Day

I've been hearing about many cases of the February blahs. The beach always cheers me up when I'm down, puts my life into perspective and such, and I feel like I've been saying that to a lot of people lately. Andy called a little while ago and said he'd heard on the radio that the high tide was supposed to be pretty amazing because of the recent rain and all the meltoff, so I figured it was a karmic sign hearing about the beach when it's been on my mind so much the last couple of days.

Anyway, I started out at my family's beach house on Plaice Cove in Hampton. I figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't anywhere close to high tide (I've spent every summer of my life on that beach and know it like the back of my hand ... there were landmarks visible that just aren't when it's high tide), but it was still pretty wild. High tide is around five (I checked lol), so I'll probably go back then. Still, for a fairly low tide, this was pretty intense. Oh, and ignore my voice cracking ... it's still all messed up from the stupid flu.

Then I went to North Beach in North Hampton, which made me want to go surfing : )

I will never feel about anything else the way I feel abut the beach. It is just the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Do you have any place like that? Are you a beach person? What do you think of my (decidedly amateurish) beach videos?

Poetry is not my Medium, but ...

During my daily blog-reading, I came across a post by the witty and wise Jinksy sharing a poem meant to shake a friend out of a glum mood. The piece really resonated with me and made me think about sharing a poem I wrote a few months ago when teaching villanelles to my Poetry class.

A word about poetry and me, by the way. I love poetry, read it for pleasure all the time. However, I struggle with writing it--as a writer, I am a novelist and a blogger; my ventures into other forays make me feel awkward. When I found out I would be teaching Poetry class this year, I kind of freaked. I was 100% comfortable with the reading and analyzing part, but I wasn't sure how I would do at teaching the writing process since it is something that I myself struggle with so much. I needn't have worried ... my students, to a child extremely gifted poets, taught me more about the writing of poetry than I could possibly have taught them. "Just do it," they said. "Don't you always tell us that you can make bad writing good but can't do anything with nothing?" Having my own words thrown back at me was the best thing that could have happened. I started writing poetry ... I operate under no illusions that it's GOOD poetry, but at least it is.

And here's the one I'm choosing to share with you ...

“Far More Mind Erasing Motor Booty”

I dream of you when winter’s here
And of one chivalrous New Years Eve.
I wish that you were always near.

Friend, please know I hold you dear;
My heart is no longer on my sleeve.
I dream of you when winter’s here.

I know that I’ve shed my last tear;
The past is gone, no reason to grieve.
I wish that you were always near.

It’s more important, with the changing of years,
To know that you will never leave.
I dream of you when winter’s here.

Can I possibly make it any more clear?
Strings of my life were made for you to weave.
I wish that you were always near.

When I’m with you, I have no fear,
No limit to what I might achieve.
I dream of you when winter’s near.
I wish that you were always here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rant and Rave Wednesday

Little Ms. Blogger does something called "Rant and Rave Wednesday". It sounds pretty interesting (and reminds me of when I have my students journal about the topic: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" in their Writer's Notebooks), so I'm giving it a try. LMB has a linky thing (her terminology, not mine, although it's what I'd probably call it too :)) on her blog if you want to use that.

Okay, here we go ... my RANTS and RAVES of the week.

RANT: I had the flu again this past week. I am never sick, but I have for some reason been so sick this year. I missed three days of work (yeah, that would be the three days before February vacation) and I feel like such a slacker, but I had a fever of 102 and just felt HORRIBLE : (

RAVE: Addie got her hair cut and is becoming a young woman I am unspeakably proud of, and Belle is a feisty and funny six-year-old--and an equal source of pride for me : )

RANT: It is very difficult to keep everybody happy all the time. Sometimes I wish that I could clone myself (that's scary as hell, isn't it ;)?) so that I could be everywhere I need to be to keep things running smoothly.

RAVE: I am loving my friendship with Andy and the thought-provoking places it takes us--philosophy, men's rooms, and Monster Truck shows, to name a few : )

RANT: Every time I turn around, there is one more financial snafu that Pythagorus has put me in the middle of. I'm not going into detail, but suffice it to say that he has used the excuse "This company lost the check I sent" and "That company lost the check I sent" a hundred times and I stupidly believed it ... but "The IRS lost the check I sent" is just not going to fly, particularly when I'm potentially on the hook for tax evasion (it's all straightened out now, by the way, and the IRS was actually just wonderful to me).

RAVE: I'm loving that I'm having a really hard time coming up with rants. It tells me that my usual positive mental attitude is back in full force, which makes me soooooooooo happy : )

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Absent Adolescent Angst

Addie spent the afternoon shopping with my mother. She texted me when they'd been gone for a couple of hours to ask permission to get her hair cut. I texted back that it was fine, and then she walked in a little while later looking like this:

I pretty much burst into tears. She is just so beautiful and smart and kind and ... well, amazing in every way. It occurred to me that she will be getting ready for high school graduation (and college ...) in just two years, that this child I have loved and nurtured and laughed with and cried with is going to be on her own in just a few short years. She will always be my baby, of course, but she will be making her own decisions and dealing with their consequences for herself.

It always scares me to put this into writing (it's sort of like asking for trouble), but Addie is such a blessing, the great gift of my life. The kids I teach now are in her age bracket, and I thank my lucky stars for the absence of adolescent angst that Addie has always epitomized. I know you can never know your child 100% (or even 85%, and that's if you're really lucky), but I trust that Addie hasn't been to those wild parties I experienced when I was her age and that she has never touched alcohol or drugs (in large part because she's seen firsthand how addiction can ruin lives).

She is starting to really come into her own, though, and her beauty is only part of it. She is brilliant, a musical prodigy, and most importantly a kind and thoughtful young lady. She has brought me such joy, and it kind of bothers me that this hit me like a tons of bricks when she walked in with her new haircut and her eyebrows done, looking like a young lady instead of an awkward teenager.

There's a bittersweet element to parenting that is new to me (like, only a few hours old). Why is it that my heart is swelling with love for Addie and pride for who she has become even as it is simultaneously breaking a little bit at the realization that Addie is becoming more of her own person--more of an adult, though it pains me a bit to say that--and will be slowly but surely severing her ties to me with each bit of growing up that she does?

It's the most beautiful, terrible paradox I've ever seen ...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kids Finding Fun in Random Ways : )

Belle and I are at Andy's for the night. Belle and his daughter, Dawn, played outside for a long time this afternoon, sledding and then some game of their own invention on the swing set.

It's so nice being here for a variety of reasons, not the least is which that Dawn is great at making up her own games. It's really good for Belle to be around someone her own age with the kind of imagination that Dawn has. Belle spends much of her time with adults (or with Addie, who treats Belle like a little princess), so having the opportunity to interact long-term with a child like Dawn is a real treat for her.

While dinner was cooking, Andy pulled the string on a party popper in the living room ... which definitely got the attention of Belle and Dawn. The girls took turns pulling party poppers, enjoying the noise (naturally) but having perhaps an even better time with the leftover debris.

I've learned a lot over the past few months about what makes children happy. You'd think, being a teacher, I'd know, but I guess that a) it's different when it's your own kids you're dealing with and b) my area of expertise is high school students. I never thought I'd see the day when my little Belle was content playing with scraps of ribboned paper forced out of a tiny tube.

The girls were even more amused, by the way, when Andy started chasing them with the vacuum cleaner as he was cleaning the mess off the carpet.

Do you think it's valuable for kids to learn to play driven by their imagination? Why is this such a novel concept? What are some memories from your childhood that didn't involve items bought from a store?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reservation Reservations

The girls and I just got back from a great brunch with my mother. The highlight, as usual, was the chocolate fountain, although the meal was in general the amazing experience that brunch at The Old Salt usually is.

Belle and I stayed at Andy's last night and planned to be at my mother's at 10:30 this morning to go to brunch at eleven. When we arrived, my mother sheepishly told us that she hadn't made reservations until this morning ... and that the earliest reservation they had available was for 12:30. My mom was very apologetic for not making reservations earlier, but I was thinking about something else.

Okay, I know that common sense isn't my strong suit and maybe I'm just seeing this wrong, but I find it hard to believe that, had we gone to the restaurant at quarter of eleven or so, we would have been waiting until 12:30 to be seated. I didn't want to point this out to my mother, who has even less common sense than I and was already feeling badly about our brunch being put off an hour and a half, but it seemed strange to me. I mean, I didn't mind waiting until 12:30; it was just the reaction that the restaurant had to a reservation request that gave me pause. In this day and age of call ahead seating and internet updates, has the concept of reservations become obsolete is, I guess, the big question here.

Am I confused for no good reason? Perhaps there's a really solid explanation for why the restaurant operates this way. Again, they offer a really amazing brunch and I didn't mind waiting, it just piqued my curiosity.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Of Barbies and Balls

I don't know if this is a common occurrence, but with my divorce has come a rising sense of feminism. Sometimes it comes up in ways that seem facetious (yeah, I'm referencing the urinal thing again), and sometimes it's more in-your-face. This would be one of the latter times ...

Belle and I were taking a shower the other day. Belle is six and never stops talking. I have H1N1 again (if that's even possible ... it's what the doctor said, but I have my doubts) and am on that happy cough medicine that loops you out, so I was just kind of nodding and smiling while my little princess was prattling along.

Then she said, "Wouldn't it be funny if a boy's favorite toy was a Barbie?" (I think this had been prefaced by, all in one breath, "IreallylikeBarbies.IlikeMyLittle Poniestoo.Yougettocombtheirhairandmakebraids.Wouldyouteachmehowtobraid,Mommy?Ithinkbraidsaresopretty.Likethegirlonthecocoabox.CouldIpleasehavesomecocoawhenIgetout
oftheshower?"). I interrupted her babbling to say, "What's wrong with a boy liking a Barbie?", and her response was, "Well, that would be like me playing with trucks." At least she didn't wrap that up with, "As if!", but the damage was done in my heart.

My children have been raised with a lot of encouragement in terms of doing what makes you happy. Addie gravitated toward music at a very young age, so we provided her with instruments, lessons, exposure to different types of music, and praise. When she was in sixth grade, her friends all decided to join the track team. Now, Addie is never going to be an athlete, but I didn't want to pop her bubble or tell her that she couldn't do something that she seemed really excited about doing. She stuck with track that year but never did it again. It just wasn't her thing. However, it was important to me that she come to that conclusion on her own, that she discover that her own strengths and passions would be different from her friends' ... and she did.

Belle is obviously not old enough to have any sort of in-depth conversation regarding that, though. Instead, I tried to explain to her that boys can play with Barbies if they want to ("Haven't you seen a boy hairdresser?" I asked her, to which she replied, "Yes, but they only cut boys' hair" ... this child is insanely observant, I tell you) just like girls can play with balls and trucks. There was still doubt in her eyes, though, and that makes me so darn sad ... and a bit angry as well.

Although her two activities are karate and gymnastics, Belle's toys are heavy on the dress up clothes, the Barbies, and the house drudgery (yeah, who invented toy kitchens anyway?). Since she shares a name with a Disney princess, she happens to get a lot of toys, clothes, games, and books connected with that particular story. Do you think things would be different if I'd named her Jamie? Terry?

What can parents do to address this very real problem? You would like to think that children in the year 2010 would be exempt from this sort of gender stereotyping, but clearly it's still an issue. Any thoughts? Or is there even anything wrong with a little girl thinking that Barbies are better suited to her needs than ball?

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Say Snowball to Me When you Get a Chance": Contemplation of the Concept of Fault

One morning last week, Andy and I started talking about conspiracy theories. After a little JFK assassination contemplation, we moved on to conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 which morphed into a conversation about blame and fault in general. I haven't been able to stop thinking about these things all week.

We were at a Chinese restaurant last night, eating among other things "fruity shrimp" and frog legs (tasted something like chicken but a bit ... fishier) and sharing a Volcano. I'd told Andy earlier, "Say 'snowball' to me when you get a chance" because that was the best way I could think of to segue into my thought process on fault, but he never got around to it. That's why I had to seize the teachable moment :)

ME: Pick up your spoon.

ANDY: Are you on something?

ME: No, I'm trying to share my philosophic epiphany with you. I know you'll appreciate it.

ANDY: Philosophic epiphany?

ME: Just work with me here. Pick up your spoon. Please.

ANDY: (Picks up his spoon)

ME: Okay, now take an ice cube out of the bowl.

ANDY: (Takes an ice cube out of the Volcano bowl)

ME: Okay, now put it onto the napkin.

ANDY: (Puts the ice cube onto a napkin on the table) Are you sure you're not on something?

ME: I'm sure.

ANDY: Now what?

ME: Wait for a minute. (We watch the ice cube melt for a minute or so, then I push the napkin aside to show the dampness on the table) Man, the table's wet. Whose fault is that?

ANDY: It's your fault. You told me to put the ice cube there.

ME: My fault? Do you ALWAYS do everything I tell you to do without question?

ANDY: Well, then, I guess it's my fault. I shouldn't have listened to you, but you're a teacher and I thought you were going to be teaching me.

ME: I am teaching you. I'm sharing my philosophical epiphany.

ANDY: Oh, I thought you were going to show me how you can tie a cherry stem with your tongue.

ME: I've shown you that a hundred times. This is more important.

ANDY: I see.

ME: So whose fault is it that the table is wet?

ANDY: Well, it could be yours because you told me to put ice on a napkin. Or it could be mine because I just did what you told me to do without thinking about it.

ME: I blame you. For a different reason, though.

ANDY: I beg your pardon?

ME: Yup. It's your fault because I had this whole snowball analogy figured out to explain this to you, but you didn't remind me to tell you about it, so I had to wing it with this ice on a napkin thing.

ANDY: I see.

ME: When we were talking about where fault lies, I've been thinking a lot about that. It's a lot more complicated than I realized.

ANDY: Yeah?

ME: Yeah. You put the ice on a napkin because I told you to, and the table got wet as a result. It was your fault in that you carried out the actions, but it was my fault in that I told you to do it. But it could go a lot deeper. What would make me want to make the table wet? Did I want you to look like an idiot? And why did you listen to me? Why didn't you just say no? And might you now order someone else to take an ice cube out of a cup--

ANDY: That's a bowl.

ME: You get what I'm saying, though, don't you?

ANDY: I do. If we'd never talked about the Kennedy assassination last week, you'd never have made me put an ice cube on a napkin to illustrate your philosophical epiphany regarding the concept of fault.

ME: Exactly.

ANDY: Want another drink?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cracked Technology

Okay, I have to state for the record that I love my BlackBerry. I mean, my friends and family accurately refer to it as my "CrackBerry" (I know that terminology isn't unique, by the way, but it is apt), and there's even the occasional joke made about how I'm married to it.

That being said, though, there's a part of me that misses the simpler world. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to hit IMDB when the name of an actor is on the tip of my tongue or check the weather as needed or scroll through status updates on Facebook. It's just that I can't remember what it was like before the answers to the world's questions was at the tip of my fingertips. I'm even a welcome sight at times as in, "Oh, good, you're here. Can you Google how much it costs to make a penny?" (The answer, by the way, is 1.4 cents ... but that's a post for another day)

This realization has hit me hard the last few days as my beloved BlackBerry is having a nervous breakdown. I need to go to the Verizon Wireless store and get it straightened out, but suffice it to say that I'm having a hard time making calls (it starts chanting, "Enter a voice dialing command. Enter a voice dialing command. Did you say, 'Call MOM'?" It's really kind of funny, except of course that I also miss calls and don't receive texts until I take the battery out and reset the whole thing.

Technology is great when it works. Trust me, I enjoy it (revel in it is more accurate ;)) as much as anybody. However, when it flickers in dependability, it's a harsh (and frankly kind of frightening) reminder of a simpler time ... and that makes me sad, for some reason.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Inherent Misogyny of Urinals

I took Addie to the shoe store this afternoon to get new ballet slippers for her school musical. Since I'd been in the car for over an hour, I really had to pee. The friendly shoe story lady directed me to the public restroom, which is where the genesis for this post was born.

Now, I realize that sounds sort of disgusting, but it also kind of reminded me of something important. Back before my life blew up and I became a cliche, this blog was supposed to be about everyday events in life that made me ponder and of sharing those thoughts with others and having scintillating conversation. Between the abusive alcoholic ex-husband and the pressures of trying to raise two children and work full-time, my ponderer has been on the fritz. I was pumped (heh heh heh) that what I saw in that bathroom today got me thinking in that philosophical way I love.

The public toilet was a one-room job, and it contained both a toilet and a urinal. Why, I thought to myself, do urinals exist? I mean, can't a guy take a leak in a toilet just as easily as in a urinal? It got me curious enough to do some research. Yes, I did in fact Google "urinals". I am truly pathetic.

Most interestingly, the urinal was patented in 1866 (!!!!) by a dude named Andrew Rankin (who is probably rolling over in his grave right now). By the way, I lied--the most interesting part was that Ernest Hemingway bought a cast-off urinal and used it as a drinking bowl for his cats. Anyway, according to that impeccable source Wikipedia, "Urinals are installed for efficiency: compared with urination in a general toilet, usage is faster because within the room there are no additional doors, no locks, and no seat to turn up; also a urinal takes less space, is simpler, and consumes less water per flush than a toilet. Urinals also come in different heights, which helps for those who might be very tall. Often times, there are barriers dividing the urinals, which adds to privacy".

To be fair, that little blurb from Wikipedia does bring up some valid points. When Belle and I were at the Verizon Center last weekend to see Disney Princesses on Ice, she had a sudden emergency urge to pee. The problem, of course, was that so did every other little girl at the show. We waited in a line going around corners for half an hour ... with a clear view of the wide open in-an-out men's room.

I don't know, though, I still can't wrap my mind around the idea that it is that much more trouble for a guy to use a freaking toilet. It surely can't be all that much cheaper to install and maintain a urinal over a latrine. And it just seems a bit ... dare I say sexist that a male can use a women's bathroom if push comes to shove but the same isn't true because of that big bulky thing patented by Andrew Rankin in the 1860s?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Victor or Victim?

I just won five bucks on a Super Bowl bet. I also just lost fifteen on a Super Bowl bet. I think I actually came out ahead, though ...

Let me explain.

Andy is the kind of person who wins at everything. The only game I've ever beaten him at with any regularity is Memory, and that's only because my visual memory is quasi-photographic, so it isn't exactly fair. He is also extremely lucky--he's going to win Power Ball one of these days, I swear.

Well, we played a football bracket pool thing for the Super Bowl. Basically, you pay ten bucks for ten squares. If you win, you get a hundred bucks. Not a bad deal, but sheer luck. I mean, you don't have to know jack about football to get it. Andy won. Naturally. He ALWAYS wins stuff like that.

However, there was another bet placed this fine evening. Just before the game started, prior to the chicken wings, I started shooting my mouth off about the Saints winning, and Andy started going all pro-Colt, even though he really couldn't have cared less. He was just trying to get a rise out of me.

He did. We made a five dollar bet--we even shook on it, quite solemnly ;). And, as you probably know, the Saints (I referred to them as "My Ain'ts" all night) came through!!!!

So even though I lost fifteen dollars (ten for me and five for Belle--she and Andy's daughter split a slot, each getting five squares) on a roll of the dice spreadsheet bet, I won five dollars on the bet that I made with my heart (I've got a soft spot for New Orleans because my great-uncle lived there ... And because they deserve it after Hurricane Katrina).

I'm out ten bucks, but I still feel like I won. So who was the victor, me or Andy?

What are Some Fascinating Blogs?

I'm explaining to a friend what a blog is and how it works. What are some really cool blogs you have seen? Links would be great :)

Are Minorities Discouraged from Taking Upper-Level Classes?: The Elephant in the Room

As a public school teacher for sixteen years, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Standards come and go (and despite the brou...