Thursday, July 29, 2010

This is How I Feel

* The anal-retentive cashier who could not understand why you gave him a quarter and wanted a dollar back when the total came to $19.25. Could.Not.Get.It.

* The well-lit restaurant.

* The well-lit woman at the well-lit restaurant.

* 53-59-59-65.

* The Droid X.

* The two hour pizza.

* Road head instead of breaking the window of a liquor store.

* Roadies.

* Dreams of sailing to Boston and fireworks on the Saco.

* An accidental $500.

* The miniature lobster.

* Gel sneakers.

* Haddock, 151, and pictures your mom should never have seen.

* Wine runs.

* Rolling Rock between ski runs.

* Schooling your ass in a Go-Cart race.

* The screen and the toilet.

* The princess and the fog machine.

* The best damn cheeseburgers ever.

* The museum.

* Funner.

* Come burn with us.

* Shit in a river.

* Peanut butter for the dogs.

* This is a five minute list.

* I had a wonderful night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Scared Puppy Punishing Herself :(

My thunderstorm phobia is fairly well-known. My dog Mollie's, however, is a new thing. We had a bad storm tonight, and she hid in the laundry room. I could go on (about how she peed on Addie's shoes and such), but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do Feminism and Christianity Have to be Mutually Exclusive?

I am obsessed with thinking. In general, it's a really good thing, but sometimes it makes you realize how complicated the world is and how varied the beliefs people hold.

I've boiled down my basic life philosophy thus--I want the world to be a better place because I was here. I don't want medals or great public accolades or anything other than the knowledge that I have made a positive difference. To me, this seems very simple.

I've learned recently how divided (and paradoxically intertwined) the concepts of feminism and Christianity are. This makes absolutely no sense to me, but I've taken some hits from quite a few Zelda Lily commenters over it. I don't take the criticism personally (I learned pretty quickly that I'd never write ANYTHING--and not just for Zelda Lily--if I did that), but it really makes me think.

To me, feminism is the idea that women are in control of their own choices and the decisions that guide their lives. There are many women--and a lot of men, too--that I don't agree with, but they are able to live a life that makes sense to them. I'm able to live a life that makes sense to me. Live and let live. Leave the world a better place than you found it. If a woman wants to be a CEO or a housewife (and, of course, anything in between and beyond), that is a choice she can and should be able to make. Simply put, that's my definition of feminism. It's not that hard.

Religion is a big part of my life. I've talked about it here before so I don't feel like I need to rehash, but suffice it to say that I have a very close and personal relationship with God. I'm very familiar with the Bible and try to fit my life into the teachings found therein.

The Bible is very open to interpretation if you read it closely. I did a book study on it (that sounds kind of heretic, I know, but it was extremely valuable to me as both a human being and a Christian), and one of the most important lessons I took away from it is the dichotomy (or trichotomy or quadchotomy or whatever) there is in the major sects of Christianity that all claim to follow the tenets of the Bible. For this reason (and through conversations I've had with God through prayer), I feel that my interpretation of the Bible--one that teaches of love and forgiving and sinning and repenting and, not to sound like a broken record, but living a life brimming over with good works for others--is not just appropriate but correct. I also think God's got a great sense of humor and would totally have loved this little story about one of my best friends and a mass-produced prayer rug she received in the mail.

I found a site called Ladies Against Feminism through my work at Zelda Lily, and it just scares the crap out of me. The message it seems to send is that a woman's place is at home and at church, basically serving the men in her life (husband, father, son, whatever). I find this idea completely contradictory to my interpretation of the Bible, but whatever floats your boat, you know? Live and let live.

However, the women writing on this site aren't content to let people develop their own religious philosophies, which I think is truly necessary if your relationship with God is to be any more than just lip service, dogma, and brainwashing. I went to church every Sunday of my childhood, yet I did not have a true relationship with God until I stopped going. They are defensive, and their tunnel vision makes me deeply scared for people that are looking for quick, easy answers.

There are no quick, easy answers to most of what happens to us. My beloved step-father, one of the finest human beings in the world, died of an extremely painful cancer at a fairly young age. Charles Manson is still alive, the swastika he carved into his forehead standing out. Is this fair? Heck, no. And I could ask why forever, but that's just the way it goes. God has a plan for each of us, but presuming to know it and to slap down people that disagree with you is just wrong.

I don't presume to know very much at all, but one thing I do know is that one-sided, rigid, my-way-or-the-highway people drive me crazy. It's very hard to articulate this, and there is not any sort of forum to do so, but I needed to get this out.

Most people that know me don't think I'm a religious person. I'm fine with that--what I believe is my business, and as far as I'm concerned, I can teach far more about God's lessons through living a helpful and productive life than sitting in church every day or writing down words that I've heard so much from my father and/or husband that I believe them to be true (and just to be very clear, neither my father nor my now-ex-husband were like this--both encouraged and challenged and supported to the best of their abilities any endeavor I wanted to take on and to be the person I am inside). In order for a true and genuine relationship with God, you get there on your own.

Decrying the idea of feminism out of hand in the name of God is just flat out wrong, particularly when feminism is such a complex and individual concept and such a loaded word.

I am a feminist. I am also a Christian. I am proud to be both. They are not mutually exclusive for me, and I don't think they have to be for anyone ... provided they're willing to look at a big picture with an open mind and, more importantly, an open heart.

I am a sinner. I have done some horrible things in my life. I have been paid back for it (with interest), but even so, the sins are still there. I will never forget. All I can do is be the best person I can be and give only the best of myself to others. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I stumble, but that is my guiding focus ... and that's all that God can ask of me.

I apologize in advance if I've offended anyone here. Please know that the God I believe in has shown me that honesty and thought are two of the most important things a human being can share. He gave me a passion for writing that makes this the vehicle I have to disseminate my thoughts in an honest manner.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Gas Gauge Conundrum

I noticed something funny this morning on my lovely hour-long commute to work (where I'm spending my summer vacation because that line about teachers having all summer off is pure hogwash).

I filled my car up with gas last night because the little red light came on when I was going to the store to grab a dark chocolate Milky Way (for Addie, not for me ... I made do with Oreos out of the cupboard).

When I was maybe five minutes away from work, I looked at my gas gauge and noticed that it was still on F. It got me thinking about how there are a ton of little measurement lines on the gas gauge, yet for me, there are only four real gas status reports:

1. Full tank.
2. Half tank.
3. Almost on E.
4. Shit, the warning light's on.

I honestly don't think I notice when the little indicator is anywhere else other than those four places.

I'm kind of weird, aren't I ;-)?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rants and Raves: An Update

In trying to figure out what to write about tonight, I was reminded of a "rant and rave" post I'd done before. You know, you "rave" about all the great stuff going on and you "rant" about what sucks. Anyway, I went back and found it ... turns out it's for "Rant and Rave Wednesday", but I figured that Monday is an even better time.

So, here are my Rants and Raves for the past week.

RAVE: Pythagorus ended up in the hospital for the usual reason (although, as always, there's an interesting twist to it). Anyway, he's out of the hospital now and is recuperating with relatives. Also, he seems to have not been drinking since he got out of the hospital.

RANT: Somebody that I care deeply about told me today that I'm a lot like my mother. It was meant in most uncomplimentary terms.

RAVE: Had a great day at the Boston Museum of Science yesterday. I did not get electrified this time, but it was still a lot of fun.

RANT: My BlackBerry continues to need physical abuse in order to function properly. It's kind of embarrassing to be slapping my phone in public.

RAVE: My cousins are helping out with transporting Belle to and from camp since I'm on a crazy work schedule this summer. Yeah, whoever said teachers had summers easy is completely nuts ...

RANT: My dog is even more scared of thunderstorms than I am, and we had a bad one today. She was shaking all over and just scared to death--her heart was beating so fast I was afraid she was going to have a heart attack or something. It was horrible not being able to comfort her as well as I could have because I was so scared myself.

RAVE: My mother, who's in Italy for another week, left Addie a list of chores ... and Addie is actually doing them! She's also been making some amazing strides with her piano.

And I guess that's about it, in a nutshell. It's kind of a neat way to put things into perspective. Give it a try on your blog :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pet Peeve: Complaining (Hypocritically) About the Weather

Okay, so I hate summer. I really do. I hate being sweaty and uncomfortable all the time and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You take a cold shower and you're sweaty and uncomfortable five minutes later. You swim in the ocean, and ten minutes later you're sweaty and uncomfortable again. It's just a no-win situation (unless you like being sweaty and uncomfortable, of course), and it makes me insufferably grouchy.

And I do complain about the weather. I spend much of June, all of July and August, and a sliver of September complaining about how hot and sweaty and miserable I am. However ... you will not find me bitching and moaning about the weather any other time of year. Three feet of snow and the snowblower's broken? Okay, guess I'll be shoveling. No prob. Another rainy April day? Walking in the rain is refreshing! There is only one time of year when I'm grousing about the weather.

What drives me absolutely crazy is people who complain all winter about being cold and saying things like, "I wish summer would get here already. I'm so sick of being cold" and then, once the horribly humid days of July arrive, start going on and on about how miserably uncomfortable they are.

This probably sounds stupid, but I feel like I've earned the right to mope and whine and complain when it's ninety degrees outside and the dewpoint's in the seventies. I own that bitching ... for all the bitching I don't do when it's snowing or cold or rainy or whatever. If you're going to complain about the heat in the summer and how you wish winter would get here ... then spend all winter going on and on about wishing summer would come already ...

There are surely more important things to get worked up about, but this is where I'm at right now ;-)

Friday, July 9, 2010


So I'm at VIP (a different location than the one where I evidently knew more about cars than the employee I spoke with). I'm getting new tires, and I'm kind of excited that there's free WiFi here. Still, it's kind of tiresome having to do stuff like this. It's kind of like waiting in a ridiculously long line at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru when you're desperate for coffee, or buying toilet paper en masse so you don't run out without realizing it. Kind of a pain in the ass, but a necessary evil.

Anyway ...

I had to go to work today. I've had to work virtually every day of my, ahem, summer vacation. Part of me would rather be reading a book on the beach or sailing or going mini-golfing with Addie and Belle, but I've actually really enjoyed the work I've done this summer.

First, there's summer school. Even if I wasn't enjoying it, I really can't complain about teaching summer school since I agreed to it and have a contract and am actually very well-compensated. The kids are all going-to-be-seniors, so they're pretty invested in doing well. They're also really nice kids, which is a treat. As always, I am amazed at the depth of the conversations we've had--kids are so much more astute than we give them credit for, and I seem to realize this even more during summer school. Kind of weird.

Then, there's professional development stuff. The first week was a three-day workshop on Project-Based Learning (we call it PBL in the education world), which is basically using a large long-term project to assess students instead of the more traditional paper and pencil test. I came up with a really cool project on connecting Romeo and Juliet to contemporary films. Kids would have to put together a five minute movie created via the lovely advanced technology opportunities, and I have a SmartBoard in my classroom now, so it will be really fantastic ... assuming I have my act together enough to actually do it.

Ideas are never my problem, nor is the actual instruction of students. I have never felt like my students get short-changed in their education. What does bother me, though, is following the great plans I come up with. Ultimately, they always end up being too much and too big, so I revert back to what I usually do because the prospect of having to be ... gasp ... organized is just so far beyond me. Maybe this year I'll be better about it. Haha, maybe pigs will fly out of my computer case, too.

The other workshop is actually a college course done in conjunction with Plymouth State University on Intentional Teaching and Differentiated Instruction, which is basically teaching in a way that is effective for every single student. It's a lot harder than it sounds, and the course has been a really great learning experience. We had the choice of receiving either four graduate credits or financial compensation and, since I already have my Master's Degree, I said, "Show me the money". It's very cool to focus on the idea of designing curriculum with a bottom line of student understanding. Instead of planning in terms of content, we're being taught to plan in terms of anticipated (and expected) student understanding of the content. It's kind of a dicey distinction, but it's really changed a lot of my educational philosophies.

Between my real job, my amazing experience writing for Zelda Lily (we have a new layout that is just so cool!), hanging out with Addie and Belle, helping my mother get ready for her trip to Italy (she's in the air right now), trying to find a spare minute to work on the novel, rediscovering pleasure reading, and trying to keep things as calm as possible with Pythagorus (and thank you so much for all the support people have given me ... especially MTM and Kathy P), I'm very busy.

It's not tiresome, though. And my tires are just about done, so this evening will no longer be tiresome, either :-)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book Endings Can Really Tick You Off ...

Please remind me to go through my finished novel and my almost-finished novel and make sure that there is no ambiguity in the ending. There is nothing that makes me more unnerved than an ending that offers no real ... denouement. It's sort of like, when is the sequel coming? Gaaaaaaaaaaah. And then you remember that the author died right after the books were published, and ...

Okay. Deep breath.

Yes, I just finished what's evidently known as The Millennium Trilogy but which seems more identifiable as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the second one, and the last one. If you haven't read them, get the heck off the computer and run, don't walk, to the bookstore or library.

Loved these books. LOVED them. The first one was a little slow at first, but once I was into it I couldn't put it down. I was so damn invested in these characters, and then ...

But I don't want to spoil it. Suffice it to say that I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS. And please don't tell me to use my imagination or that leaving it up in air allows people to draw their own conclusions or end it as they see fit.

Have you read these books? If so, what did you think? I mean, they were like crack to me ... is this typical? And, without spoilers, did the ending seem ... A LITTLE TOO FREAKING AMBIGUOUS?

PS. What ever happened to Camilla Salander? (and that's really not a spoiler ... just one of those loose threads that are never even picked up ... drives me CRAZY ... why create a character if--well, anyway ;-))

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gotta Love a Six-Year-Old

Belle started summer camp this week, and she absolutely loves it. It's been kind of hard as it's really hitting me how grown up my little baby is getting. Part of getting grown up is really getting a mind of her own. Belle has always known what she wants and how to get it (we make a lot of pink-hair-and-a-nose-ring-at-twelve comments about her), but the scope is getting much bigger.

They took a trip to a lake a few towns over today. She wore her bathing suit underneath her camp t-shirt and shorts, and then she went to pack her beach towel. She was dismayed that I had packed a sweatshirt as well as underwear and an extra shirt (I guess the kids wear their camp t-shirts into the water). She was furious ... she admonished me, "Mommy, I am not a baby."

Of course, when I picked her up, she was wearing the extra clothes I'd packed ;-)

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...