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Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Monday, December 26, 2005

My Apologies

I usually like to answer back to comments, visit blogs and comment, answer emails, etc. better than I've been doing. I thought I'd be able to get it all straight when the grading was handed in, but then I lost my electricity...then came the holidays...and now, well, my daughter has pneumonia.

My daughter just does NOT complain about being sick. She's got a high pain tolerance, and she's not a whiner. She whimpered all last night while sleeping and woke up with a fever. We decided to take her to the local urgent care place right away. It took long enough to get seen. They seemed iffy about if it was something beyond a bad cold and cough. I stressed to the medical professionals that my daughter...does...not...complain.... Mothers always know best. So, the nurse practitioner suggested some blood tests and chest xrays if it would make me feel better.

Hah! Make me feel better! My daughter has fooking pneumonia...I hope it makes YOU feel better that you took me seriously when I said, keep hunting 'cause something's wrong here!

It's bacterial, not viral, so she's been given two shots (in addition to the blood being drawn, and she didn't moan, cry, or even blink when they did it...told ya that she has great pain tolerance). She is on antibiotics and has to have her inhaler every four hours, plus nebulizer treatments too because my daughter has asthma. It's a bit more awful for a child with asthma to have pneumonia than a child who does not have asthma.

My poor baby :( Anyway, I'll be back when I can, guys! Take care Blogworld!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Double Sniff

So here it is, Christmas, and I have to tell you what my daughter gave me today.

She was given some money to go to the Santa shop at school and pick out something for me, Alex, her dad, and Jared. Therefore, I thought the plaque she got me (World's Sharpest Teacher) and the ceramic container of candy was it. Then she hands me this awkwardly wrapped box (she did it herself).

Here's the background:

My master's is in medieval and renaissance lit. Ariana knows that I love that era to death. She has a very detailed, gorgeous looking medieval barbie. It was in a box originally, and her dad let her pull it out of the box when I moved out...thereby ruining its collector status value, but my daughter wanted to see it and play with it. She has a ton of barbies, but I guess the lure of a new barbie was too much. She loves this barbie.

My eight year old daughter wrapped up her barbie to give to me for Christmas. Yes, she loves this doll. She thinks it is gorgeous. But she decided her mommy would like it more since it's a medieval barbie...

My mom's eyes went wide and she started to cry when she saw what my daughter had done. I really believe my eight-year-old is the most giving and kind little girl anywhere.

I can't describe how much it meant to me. There's the true meaning of Christmas right there...and my daughter "got" it. I'm truly the luckiest mom in the world!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Everybody!

We're up here in Raleigh now at my brother's house. My dad, consumate Notre Dame fan that he is, has cornered Alex and forced him to watch RUDY. Children are all excited about tomorrow. I'm just worried that UPS is delivering packages to me and then shipping them back because I'm gone for two weeks....Sigh.

I almost was cornered into horridly inconveniencing Angie to take care of my cat during our trip. At first, I felt bad for asking but not TOO bad because what I was suggesting was that I bring my cat to their house so they could look out after him while we were gone, then I'd pick him up when I was back in town. Angie insisted to me that one of her cats would basically eat poor Chian, so she would drive over and take care of Chian at my apartment instead. You have to understand: it's far. This is not Angie offering to drive a few min to my place. Her vacation would have been taking care of my cat. The ex didn't want to take care of Chian because he decided that he didn't want the "restriction on my freedom". He had NO plans to go anywhere; he just wanted the opportunity to up and leave and not worry about the responsibility of the cat. Amanda can't take care of Chian because Riley thinks Cat is tasty, too. So, I panicked. Fortunately, I found an alternative! I used to be a professional pet sitter throughout graduate school (it's how I paid the bills), and I worked for a woman named Barbara. Barbara since sold the business, but we remained pretty good friends. She lives within minutes of Alex's place, so all I had to do was take Chian with us when we went to Columbia, and then she could sit for him at Alex's place. Yay! I had to pretty much take Chian with us anyway...can't let him stay in a place with no electricity. So, she's taking care of Chian now and I have no worries. He'll be spoiled rotten by Barbara...the woman chose to not have children and have pets instead.

In fact, when I went over to see Barbara, I had both my children carry in a bottle of Chardonnay (her favorite grape varietal wine) when they greeted her. She's one of those people who doesn't know what to do with children, so I figured this would help. As they each brought her the bottle, I remarked dryly, "I figured you'd find children bearing alcohol much more tolerable than children NOT bearing alcohol!" She laughed.

I'd better head back to the family now. I think Rudy is just about over!

Hope you guys all have a great holiday weekend! Take care!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The One Good Thing

I'm one of those annoying people who can look back on a horrible incident and find the one scrap of good to come out of it. I'm not a hopeless optimist; I have a strong dose of realism thrown in. However, I always like to find something good in everything/everybody...it just makes me happier as an end result to not think of life as a craphole :)


Was there anything good to come out of the two days of barfing and freezing and smelliness back at the apartment? Why yes, yes there was!

On Thursday night, faced with no heat in the freezing cold of darkness, I lit candles across the apartment, my children finding the various ones hidden here and there. I love candles, so I have a ton of them. The only problem is that if I light them, it's usually just one room. Each room has different scented candles...we had a little of the conflicting scents going off eventually...haha! The flickering flames dancing, shadows cast across the walls, harkened back to another era. We talked about how before mommy was even born, there was a time when we had no electricity, and so when night fell people used candles...but not for too long or else they'd waste the candles. Might as well go to bed!

Indeed, Jared was yawning and tired, and even though his usual bedtime on school nights is 830p, he was wanting to head to bed at 730p. We blew out all the candles outside of the bedroom and curled up under our fourteen blankets, Jared in the middle with Ariana and I on either end of him protectively. Our cat came out from under the bed at that point and, after some kneeding and purring, sprawled out on us too. We started talking about all sorts of things, beginning with how lucky we were to usually have food, heat, a TV, video games, and all the other stuff in our house. I tried to make the point that even though money was very tight for us and compared to most Americans, we're on the lower end of the income spectrum, we were still rich. We were wealthy in the most important things: each other, health, love, plenty of food to eat, and a nice, safe place to curl up in at night. Jared fell asleep in the middle of all that, which was fine since he's a little young to absorb that message. Ariana, however, nodded intently as if she saw clearly the truth of the matter.

With the three candles in my room darting and weaving, casting soft light into the room, Ariana and I then told each other ghost stories. We giggled while Jared slept on, branching out from ghost stories to funny moments we enjoyed in life...our dreams...our fears. There was nothing there to distract us from each other. I rather treasure that moment as one of the finer mother/daughter times I've ever had with her, and I hope she will too one day.

We slept so soundly that night despite the cold. Whatever body part stuck out from the blanket was always chilled, but the rest of us were so warm and cozy, what with the bodies underneath the 14 blankets and the cat heater on top. I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, and when I went back I just watched my little angels sleep, their thick, black lashes covering delicate and innocent eyes, eyes that had not yet seen too much to dull their enthusiasm for all that surrounded them. No electric heat source can duplicate the warmth cast from snuggling bodies and a heartened soul feeding off the beauty before her.

Yes, the two days were horridly crappy. Yes, I never want to go through that again. But yes...yes...I have a good life...and I am very grateful for it...and I will never forget the diamond stuck in the middle of the stone that was that Thursday night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jakob B

When I volunteered at Ariana's school last Wednesday, I was introduced to the charming Jakob B. This second grader from Ariana's class is the bad boy/class clown, and he had decided he needed to entertain me through various means. Anybody here ever see A Christmas Story? If you haven't, you should. It's a Christmas classic. "You'll shoot your eye out!" Ralphie...the chinese waiters singing fawr rawr rawr rawr rawr...oh man...good stuff. Anyway, one famous scene from the movie is when Ralphie's brother, a notoriously picky eater, is told by their mother to "eat like a piggie" as a means to encourage the boy to eat. He giggles, pushes his face into the plate fully, and scarfs away, leaving very little on the plate and most of the food on his face.

Yes, in the lunchroom, my daughter Ariana was on one side and Jakob was on the other. He did his eat like a piggie impression for me, and then he raised his head up with pieces of red jello all over his face, including one singluarly large piece dangling from his nose.

He is cute, and he is the bad boy in class. Typically, that means that the girls in class would swoon over him. Jakob, however, has the hots for my daughter. He crowed at me in the middle of the meal, "She LIIIIKES me! Ariana LIIIIIKES me!" Ariana snorted and said as a matter of fact, no I don't. Haha! Jakob then declared that he was Ari's boyfriend and she was his girlfriend. Ariana rolled her eyes again and repeated: no you're not. So, I turned to Jakob and grinned. "I know who she LIIIIIKES and I'm sorry, Jakob, it's not you!" My daughter has a crush on this little boy named Matthew. Matthew is super smart. Matthew is a sweet, shy, gentle boy who reads upper level books with ease. Ari's had a bad crush on him for over a year. They make an adorable couple, as apparently my daredevil girl gets Matthew out of his shell a lot. I was talking to Matthew's mom at the fall festival a few months back, and she was pointing out how Ari was dragging Matthew down this super slide. "My son would NEVER, EVER do anything like that, but Ariana gets him to do all sorts of things! He's so timid, but she makes him bold!" In return, according to Ariana, Matthew reads to her. Now mind you--my daughter is one of the very few children in her class who reads above level. She doesn't need to be read to. Matthew just does it because he likes her. Awwww...I love Matthew too! Apparently, Ariana's two closest girlfriends know she loves Matthew too because when I made my comment to Jakob, they cried out, "Yes! She loves Matthew!" haha!

Of course Jakob B was undeterred. He insisted she was his regardless, or would be in the end. Ariana just rolled her eyes and continued to eat. I thought it was just hilarious.

It reminded me of my own days as a gradeschooler. I can remember the full names of all the little boys I had a crush on! For first grade, it was Keith Willet. For second grade, it was Lewis Carron. For third, fourth, and fifth grade, it was Michael Shepp. Oddly, all three of those boys I ran into in later years, and all three then hit on me, and by then I didn't want them. Such is the fickleness of women!

After the whole day, Ariana told me that Jakob reminded her of her dad. "Jakob should be daddy's son. Daddy is such a pig...he never cleans his house at ALL. And Jakob is just a piggy all the time too."

Oohhh...and then she proceeded to tell me how Matthew was much better because he was kind and nice like Alex...

Is it too much to hope for that she'll skip the "I like bad boys" phase most girls go through? I didn't, so I guess I never expected Ariana could...


On one side of me at the dinner table at Thanksgiving at my brother's house I had my sister-in-law's brother-in-law (a military man who is very conservative and a republican) and then my beloved French boyfriend, Alex, on the other side (he's more conservative than many Frenchmen because he's more of a liberal than a socialist, but hey, still the opposite end of the political spectrum). It was also a symbolic arrangement because I really am more of what you might call a centrist in my political orientation, and there I was smack in between them. Depends on the issue for me totally as far as how I will swing. Anyway! For some, this might have been a recipe for disaster. For us, it turned out to be the best part of Thanksgiving.

The French love great, delicious, long dinners and then avid intellectual discussion afterwards. Apparently, so did this fellow. He had just come back from Iraq (safely, thank goodness), and he had an interesting spin on a lot of things. Alex, having lived his entire life in Europe, had a completely different orientation towards the debates too. Wow! All of us were grinning, discussing avidly, talking about this point or that. Nobody had a closed mind. Everybody listened when the other spoke. Nobody jumped to conclusions, and we all listened to the points or evidence shown by the other for their point of view. It was a great brain exercise! I wish all people approached political conversations like this. There was no rolling of eyes, jeering, name calling, belittling, or any of the other childish behavior I see often in these types of discussion. There was just earnest discussion and debate of many different issues. I think the most interesting thing I learned that night that I didn't know was from our new friend: he told us that he had no idea why people complained about the French being ungrateful to the US as they were the ONLY country after WW II to pay off their war debt to the US. I had NO idea of that fact...and neither did Alex. Cool!

Anyway, I think we'll get to see him at a Christmas party when we head to my brother's house for Christmas. I hope he's able to be around for it! I have no idea when he has leave next since he's military.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Horror, The Horror

Yes, there has never been a title more fitting.

Where has Kira gone, you ask? Let me tell you!

Wednesday was Jared's birthday. The day passed nicely, and we all had cake. I tucked the kids into bed. At 10p, I heard Ariana retching in her room. She had vomited all over her bed. I cleaned it up and stripped the sheets, but determined I'd wash them the next day (note to self...always wash puke sheets immediately while you still have electricity). I threw her into my bed and, seeing as how I was exhausted too, I went to bed early.

At 3a on Thursday, I ran to the bathroom and puked my guts out too. Well, why should Ariana have all the fun?

At 6a, the electricity flickered...I remembered the predicted ice storm, and I went "Oh shit..." After peeking out the window and seeing tons of ice hanging from everything, I sighed. And then...snap! There went the electricity.

The irony to me is that I had JUST made a comment on Laura's blog not too long ago about how having no heat is a big deal to me. I have a circulation disorder called
Raynaud's disease in which my fingers, toes, and other extremities turn blue long before a normal person's would when exposed to colder weather. Also, I was raised in Florida. I have NO...stress NO...tolerance to cold. When I picked out colleges to go to in the US, I determined the BEST college in the SOUTH because I knew I couldn't leave the warmer areas of the country. One of my teachers pushed me towards Yale, and all I could do was respond, "But it's damn cold there!" And then I found out that Duke had the number two English program in the country that year anyway, so my fate was sealed. I knew I couldn't handle it at most good universities because of the climate. I'd never go to class in the winter. I FEAR the cold. It causes me great discomfort, and having the electricity go off in freezing weather was so horrific to me that I can't even describe it. Then there's the puke...and no way to wash it or ourselves. Two small children. Nowhere to go.

I would have thrown the kids in the car and headed down to Columbia by that evening if Alex had been there. He was not. He was on a business trip to Richmond with several members of his office, and he was not due back until Friday night. My ex had no electricity either. I think my ex's behavior freaked me out on Thursday and Friday because the Old Rob was there...the guy I married. He was concerned about us and the kids and he drove all the way to our apartment through fallen powerlines and trees just to check on us. He fed the kids cold food and made them wear their socks. He loaded up several blankets on me, and he even took my snappish behavior in stride. For instance, one of the blankets he put on me was a huge wild cat blanket that he recognized. He grinned and said, nice blanket! Somebody fantastic must have given it to you! Well, he had given that one to me for my birthday one year before the kids were born. Instead of being nice about it, I just looked up at him and snapped, "Yeah, that was back in the days when you were a great human being!" He was surprised, but then he just laughed. After tending to us for a few hours, he went back to his own freezing place. On Friday, he did the same: stopped by and then took the kids for a long drive in a heated car to a McDonald's that had electricity, letting them eat hot food, then bringing some back for me too. He had demanded I come too at first because he was worried about my blue fingers and pale skin, but I wouldn't do it. I had to pack up bags and throw out hundreds of dollars of food from the refrigerator before we took off to Columbia instead. Sigh. I should have just taken the damn food out and put it in my 45 degree living room...

Alex told us he'd be back by 7p on Friday, so at 710p there we were, sad, smelly, and cold. My ex was supposed to take the kids this weekend so Alex and I could go to this work party he had on Saturday night, but obviously we weren't going to let the kids stay in no electricity any longer. Hence, he was very gracious about the fact that he wouldn't get to see them for a while now since I was taking them earlier. I could tell he actually didn't LIKE missing them, but it was for their best. (Note: why was the ex so together and nice and all? I can tell you why. He had been very, very sick and he never drinks when sick. He's been stone cold sober for two weeks. I wish he'd stop drinking entirely...he'd be SUCH a good daddy and better off if he did....sigh).

On Saturday, I thought we'd have to miss the work party because we had the kids. Alex's boss hired out a family friend/teen to sit for the kids so we could go! What a nice guy. The kids had never been babysat by a babysitter before (just family), and they took it very well. They had a great time. But then Saturday we had to fight crowds so I could purchase a dress and shoes since I hadn't brought them with me...I mean, I didn't think I'd need them since I'd not be able to go to the party. I found an $80 dress reduced to $20 (and then Alex sneakily paid for it for me, the devil!), and a pair of shoes on sale. We had a nice time Saturday night.

The finale to it all? Jared now puked up last night in his sleep. Sigh. He puked and he didn't even wake up while puking, so he was really a mess when he woke up. I'm washing sheets now. Yay!

This must mean Christmas will be great. After all, we've gotten a hell of a lot of crap out of the way, right?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Bird

In honor of my son's fifth birthday, I will tell a tale from when he was just a year and a half old.

My now almost 14 yr old cat Chian is an indoor only cat now in his old age. He just sits around, eats, sleeps, poops, then sleeps some more. In his younger days out at the old house, he used to go in and out as he pleased. He was a fantastic hunter. He caught every rodent imaginable, and then he placed said rodent on the doorstep for me. Typically, the catch would be moles or mice. He could never get a bird, however.

Well, one day I was outside with the kids when we witnessed a bird fly into a window of our house. He landed, unconscious or dead, on the ground instantly as a result. Stunned, we then watched an overjoyed Chian scream out in cat meows, "Manna from heaven! Thank you Bast!" and leap on the bird's form, chomp on it, and run off. The instant and gleeful expression on the cat's face turned a sad moment of mourning for the bird into copious giggles from the children. I couldn't blame them.

Later on that evening, Jared stood about ten feet away from our front door. He seemed to be meditating on the door. He was not verbal much at all at a year and a half, so there was no commentary with it. Ariana stared at him, and she went, "OH NO! Don't DO IT, JARED!" Perplexed, I could not figure out why she panicked until my little son did a running leap for the door, smashed in it very loudly, and then collapsed in a dramatic pose onto the ground, very artistically. As he then sprawled out as if dead, Ari started laughing. "You're NOT the bird, Jared!" I could see the grin on his face. Yup, my son was pretending to be a bird crashing into the house and dying. There was the beginnings of my son's sense of humor.

(Note: my daughter wasn't much better at a year and a half. She WAS very verbal, and when my sister watched her in the high chair once eating raisins, she asked Ari with a smile what she was eating. Without missing a beat, Ariana grinned up at her and shouted out, BUGS!)


So my day was as such: 530a, son wakes up, declares it's his birthday and where are his presents?


Then I volunteered at their school for the day. I was run ragged. I have NO idea how my daughter's teacher does it, honestly. Some of those kids need intensive one on one time in order to get where they need to be. They're not getting the help at home, and Ari's teacher has 20 kids so she can't give them what they need in the classroom. I wish that our public schools had a teacher child ratio of 12 to 1 instead of 20 or more to 1. I also realized that my daughter really IS brilliant. I always thought she was beyond genius, of course, but I never realized HOW ahead of the bunch she is until I saw her classmates. Her teacher talked as a matter of fact of "WHEN Ariana goes to the gifted and talented program...." I had no idea something like that existed here, and I have no idea what grade it starts. I guess I should look into it. The most amazing thing about Ariana vs. the rest of the students is that a new concept can be introduced to her ONCE, no matter what the subject, and she's got it, completed it, and moved on. Meanwhile, she waits for the rest of the class to figure it out or helps them. I love my daughter's kind heart.


And my last worry...Alex is supposed to be going into USC for his last year in the dual IMBA program in France and the US. He has the highest Test of English as a Foreign Language score in the school. He already had a 3.82 at USC (the US' number one IMBA school) the one term he was there. His GMAT scores (business exam) were 640, approximately 13 points HIGHER than the average USC student in the IMBA program. His class rank and grades from his school are very high. There's one slot open, and there is no doubt that Alex should get it from his school.

However, he was just informed by his stupid ass French school that there are seven kids wanting US schools, and so he needs to list off a second choice "just in case." Now mind you, one of his professors at USC even wrote one of his recommendations for this program. If USC chose, they'd choose Alex. The end. But we already learned when they placed two girls who had lower scores on EVERY SINGLE THING that Alex had from the French school as higher to go to USC on the one semester they did...that the French school sucks and can't figure out their head from their ass. So now I'm worried. VERY worried. As in, if the kids weren't here, I think Drunk would be in order. I can't stand the idea of him being away for a year...a year...oh god, two hours away has been bad enough. We've been separated regularly for two years already...oh WHY? I can't handle it. He finds out by January if they'll let him in. Honestly, all the stats say it should be Alex and no other that they put in that slot. But we know his school is irrational, and there is nothing we can do about it...

So I worry. Maybe I'll just eat more of Jared's birthday cake and that will calm me down...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Two Final Mistakes in Papers

And to celebrate this now Christmas/Yule/Holiday break, I present to you the two winners of the 2005 Exam Week student writing blunders!

The first winner was writing an essay on her boyfriend. In it, she described him as a sole mate. I always figured that a sole mate would be a real heel...badump bum! I like that way of putting it. I bet you anything that two, three years down the road she'll look at that freudian slip and realize the truth of it!

The second winner was writing about Queen Elizabeth I and some of the protestant/catholic issues that went off during her reign. She described it as the "Elizabethan Error". I'm pretty sure she meant Elizabethan Era, but hey, maybe she REALLY didn't like Elizabeth...

Ahhh it's so nice to not have to grade papers or get up for work! *scratches self in inappropriate places and grabs a beer* :)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oh Yeah Baby, I'm Done!

I just entered my last class' grades into the computer. Oh yeah! Now my Christmas break begins!

This semester had one week towards the end wherein I had no sleep because I was trying to furiously hand back papers to the kids before exams. That week, week and a half was rough. It also coincided around my daughter's 8th birthday, so that made it a bit worse. We did the Crap Mom technique of parenting the Sunday after her birthday: "here's your new game for the gamecube! have fun!" I think I let her and her brother play for like 6 hrs of gametime. Yikes. I never let them play that long, but honestly, I just needed them entertained so I could grade...and it really DID help. I tried to rationalize it as, "this is the post-birthday party fun of playing with new toys. It's ok." She didn't die, turn violent, or become a zombie as a result so I guess I'm in the clear.

After exams, however, I found that getting a grip on grading wasn't so bad. I had two classes (Eng 155) wherein the final is a group presentation that I practically grade entirely while they give it. I just need to check the works cited page, the computer printouts, and the individual evaluations afterwards, and then I am done! So, there were really just three classes to grade and get into the computer, then. Yay! It was not so stressful. And now it's done...

I had one puzzle to sort through. I usually try to not make exceptions to certain rules. One of these rules is that if you miss a group project or peer grading day, there is NO way to make up for it. Both of those events involve others, and there is only a certain time set aside for it. I have, in the past, allowed those students who can provide an actual medical note from their doctor or the hospital to make up exams they might have missed due to extreme illness, but that's it.

Well, I had two fantastic students in my English Literature I class. One of them missed only ONE class. He missed the day of the group project. He DID all the work for it...I know it because I saw him assembling it one day after class. He has no health insurance (like me) so he didn't go to the doctor. He couldn't even move as he was violently ill...with the very same illness I had a few days prior, and I KNOW that if he had my illness, he legitimately could not move. Guys, I never get knocked down by an illness. I'm used to being sick. This one sent me sprawling for two days, and without Alex's help I'm not sure how I could have taken care of the kids too. So...I KNOW he's not lying to me. I just know it. He's a great student and does ALL the reading. He had solid A's on ALL of the other assignments, further proving his knowledge on the topic. I told him after the exam day that I couldn't stand that he'd now end up with a B for class because he missed the group project day. He ended up reassuring ME that it was fine, he understood when he missed it that he would get his zero, and he was ok with that consequence.

I wavered the whole way this am before I entered in his grade. The B does not reflect the knowledge he has gleaned from this class. He did all the reading, participated avidly, and always, ALWAYS was enthusiastic about every class. I know life isn't fair. I know that shit happens. But it seemed just...wrong...to leave his grade at a B when I knew the level of knowledge and his level of skill he carried away was that of an A student.

So, I bent the rules. I just couldn't live with myself any other way. I did his final grades out of 900 points instead of 1000 points (that is, I just didn't count the group project into his final grades), and so he received his A. Will I ever bend the rules like this again? Only if I have an A student who has the same thing happen to him. I was told long ago that we MUST keep EVERYTHING equal as a teacher...what you do for one, you have to do for them all. Well, fine then. I will ALWAYS do this for A students in this exact same situation. It just...well, I feel better about this choice. I really do. So that's that.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Little glass bottles

When I was little, soda was a big treat. We were allowed to have a glass on special occasions or for straight A report cards. That was it.

I always remember the glass bottles. Generally, we bought the 1 ltr bigger glass bottles of soda, and sometimes we bought the smaller bottles as well. There was a certain freshness and flavor that coke and pepsi had out of glass bottles that it has never retained out of cans or plastic. I can drink my weight in soda if it is coming out of glass bottles.

Eventually, though, we went to plastic bottles for the most part, and plastic little bottles or cans for individual servings. You CAN get the glass bottles, but they are just way more expensive. Hence, they are not worth it for everyday use for a woman who has to watch every penny (teacher with two kids; ex is unemployed...do I need to say more?). Alex told me that in France, if one orders a coke at a bar, one always gets the glass bottle. He then stated that since here in bars, the bartender always hands you a can or a fountain coke, he never wants to get a coke. Same for restaurants. He said, "If I'm paying THAT much for a coke, I want it in glass!" The glass bottles are very prevalent over in France. They are a little pricier than the other ways of purchasing coke, but not as much more as here. When I was in France, he splurged on glass bottles for me the whole time I was there...and informed his siblings that if they touched "Kira's Cokes" they were to die...haha!

Am I the only one who misses those little glass bottles? I just wish they weren't between $4.50 and $5 for 6 tiny glass bottles now (and only in some stores...others don't carry the glass bottles). The taste is SO different! Sigh. Nostalgia...

What made me think of this whole issue? Well, after driving two hours to be in Columbia with Alex--poor guy has volunteered to help me finish up my grading--I came in to find a surprise. Now, usually Alex will purchase roses or some godiva chocolate for me as a surprise. Once in a while he gets something different, but it's a rare day I don't walk into his apartment and find candles burning, incense lit, a surprise, and a bottle of massage oil in his hands. God I love that man.

This time, he bought the little glass bottles of coke. I was very touched because he always keeps track of the minor things in life like what I really appreciate but don't get very often. I feel so damn spoiled! And you know what? I LOVE IT!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Student Z, Part Two

I don't know if you remember Student Z. Student Z is the girl I mentioned who had been raped by another boy at Premiere, and she came to little ol' 5'2" me to protect her and walk her from class to class instead of her other friends and acquaintences. She felt that if the attacker got anywhere near her when I was there, I'd surely be the one she most relied on to take care of him. I still think that was one of her smarter moves :) Beware the wrath of a redhead! We DID make sure to inform security (plus give them a copy of the restraining order on the fellow) and other authority folks on campus, but until the criminal charges settle down one way or the other, the ass is still allowed to take classes on campus. He just can't take classes at the same location and time Z is due to the restraining order.

Throughout the term, she just shows up outside of this one classroom when her other class lets out because she is particularly shaky about being around nobody in the afternoon except maybe her attacker. My English Lit I class knows Z by name and face now, and she's learned a lot about early English literature now as a result...haha!

Well, throughout her crappy experiences, she's been with her boyfriend, N. N at first reacted to Z's rape by telling her that she wanted it and she was a whore. Then when he calmed down, he was supportive for a while. She had taken the morning after pill, and the doctors apparently told her to double up on birth control afterwards because when using this pill, it often created a very fertile woman for a while afterwards. N didn't mind that. He just wanted sex out of Z even though she was NOT ready for it because...well, he's a self centered bastard and it was all about him at that point. He made it clear that if she didnt' have sex with him, she really preferred her attacker, etc. HE needed sex for reassurance. He also pressured her into doing several other things she was not ready to do. Z was hooked up with a therapist already, and Z told me that she was upset that her therapist implied that N was no good for her.

Um....honey? Guess what...

I've watched her and N all year long. They started dating in early fall of 2004. N will give her flowers and be nice and sweet. He'll focus on her for a few weeks. She'll feel loved and appreciated. Then he'll be a huge asshole for a week or two, she'll start to pull away...and then he does his nice routine again. Over, and over, and over again.

Well, here we go again! She gets raped; it ends up being all about him. They break up; I rejoice. He acts wonderful to her again, they get back together. THEN she finds out she's pregnant with N's baby. Oh god. I knew this now meant she'd never leave him. He'd have to leave HER. And why would he? She's drop dead gorgeous (no exaggeration there...she's the type of girl people stop and stare at), sweet, smart, and very caring. She often takes care of HIM financially while he blows his paycheck on...um, well, he's addicted to bowling. Yeah, that's a new one.

So, what has the rest of the semester consisted of? He treats her nicely, she's happy, she babbles at me about the baby; then they break up because he's screamed at her, treated her like shit, and ignored her when he wasn't treating her like shit. Then they got back together and he asked her to marry him. She was excited and came in to me babbling happily, showing me the ring, and I just stared at it with wide eyes, unsure how I would react. I wasn't happy about it and I wasn't going to fake it. I just looked up into her eyes and said, "Is this really what you want, Z? You know the drill: great guy, then asshole, then you are miserable, then you threaten to break up or do, then he comes back nice, and you are happy again for however many weeks. You are pleased with this pattern? You like it? You want to do this for the rest of your life?" I could see her smile waver, and I felt like a bitch for pointing it out. But she sighed and said in a quiet voice, "Well...no." So I ask, "Why then?" She averts her gaze and does not answer. But I am pretty sure I know. "Because he is the father of your baby? Because your family expects you to marry him rather than have a baby as a single mom. Because you want to say fuck you to your family who thought it would never last. Because you feel alone and lost. Because you don't feel that now that you're having a baby, you could possibly snag better...that's for women without children. Because you don't think that you deserve better. Have I hit most of them?"

She nodded yes, eyes welling with tears. I told her to discuss all of this with her therapist because she needed to sort through her emotions here before she ever got married.

Since then, N decided when they were driving somewhere to light up a cigarette. Z asked him not to smoke in the car since she was pregnant and she didn't want it to affect the baby. He reacted in a hostile manner and he ended up crashing the car as they fought about it while going around a curvy road. Oh yeah, she took him back after that one.

He had another weekend where he did all manner of things including stay out all night with friends and not let her know where he was or when he was coming back, just to upset her. She told me proudly that she broke things off entirely then, and even started to pack his bags for him to move out of HER MOTHER'S PLACE where they both live (Amanda, what's worse than a guy still living with his mother? How about a guy leeching off his gf's mother!). But of course, you know the drill.

I don't understand why some people enjoy being kicked in the teeth repeatedly. The pattern is set. He is nice; he is mean; he is nice; he is mean. Why do it to yourself over and over again too? I'm waiting for him to add in "cheats on Z" in the middle of a cycle too because he reminds me of this lame ass man I know of who does just that to his lovely wife, too.

I ran into Z this week and she told me she saved up her hard earned cash to buy N a four wheeler for Christmas. "Why the hell'd you do that?" I asked her. She told me, well, he's always wanted one...and I snapped back, "Well, you've always wanted him to consistently be a kind, loving boyfriend and good father to your future child without lapsing into being a selfish bastard who rips your heart out and stomps on it, but he's never going to give THAT to you, so why bother with the four wheeler?"

She was silent. Then she laughed, blushed, and shook her head. "You're right, of course," she whispered out. And I hugged her because, well, we both knew that the essential truths of life would not make her do what she knew she should do.

I always thought this disease was more of a female thing, but now I'm discovering with Mr. Hare that men do it to themselves too. Evil bitch, nice. Evil bitch, nice. Unless she's been struck by lightning or given a lobotomy, why feel she'll change that pattern, my friend?

I believe in the ability of people to change. I really do. But I also believe that very few people use this amazing skill.......

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's 3a and I'm Grading

I have a batch of research papers I want done by morning at a minimum, plus about 9 other 3 page papers I need graded. If I can do at least that, I'm ok.

Want to see what I get to read?

"Researchers are not sure what causes Alzheimer's disease, but they say the outcome is grime." You know, that must mean that my ex has Alzheimer's. If you saw his house, you'd understand what I meant.

"When a person is drunk, they are more likely to lack inhabitation and care less about the consequences of their actions." This sentence displays one of the most common errors my students make...'a person' is singular, and 'they' is plural. Pick one, guys, and be consistent! Now, I can surely understand that a drunk person might lack a place to live, so on some level that makes sense even though I'm pretty sure he meant 'inhibitions'. The last part of the sentence reminds me of a pet peeve of mine. No, this writer doesn't commit the error, but I'd like to share with you my irritation anyway! Let me explain!

"I couldn't care less." This phrase is correct. You cannot possibly care less. Your caring is out the window. You don't give a shit.

"I could care less." Well, if you COULD care less, then buddy, let me tell you, this issue must concern you on some level.

Ok, so that's what I'm doing. Isn't that what YOU would love to be doing at 3a?


Other fun! Ariana had her 8th birthday party at Chuck E Cheese's on Saturday night. She had a lot of fun despite the fact that her daddy arrived late and intoxicated. Yes, that was joyful, for my ex to reek of rum and coke and obviously have his thought process muddled at his daughter's 8th birthday party. Who needs to hire a clown when I have my ex for free????

Thank you, divine powers, for giving me Alex. Thank you for my daughter realizing he's a better role model. I found a notebook the other day with scribblings on it by my daughter about a boy named Matthew she has a crush on. Matthew is a sweetheart. He's not attractive physically at all (not that I usually rate 8 yr olds, but you understand...), but internally the man is the second grade Orlando Bloom. He's just the nicest boy. She had written on this notebook, "I like Matthew! Matthew is like Alex! He is very nice! He reads to me when he doesn't have to because I can read! I love Matthew!" I should have saved that paper for Alex, actually, as he'd have gotten a kick out of it...

Last issue before I go grade:

When somebody invites your child to a DAMN PARTY, and somebody puts on the invitation PLEASE RSVP and gives you not only a phone number but an email address, well, you are a RUDE FUCKING BASTARD if you do not respond on some level. I couldn't figure out for the LIFE of me who was coming and who was not for Ariana's birthday party until half an hour into it. Bastards! Were you raised amongst farm animals? Where's your manners?

Friday, December 02, 2005

SC Was Right

SC made a comment once on a post about the one track mind of men. He stated that when a woman said something like, "Man, I'd love a burrito!" the man was thinking, "I've got your burrito right here..."

I now believe he is right, and that it starts at a very early age.

Jared received at school a little prize for good behavior. It's a car with a light on it, and if you flick the lever, the inside of the car glows. He has been very proud of it. He showed it to his sister, and then sat down with it, cradling it in his hand.

After a bit, I asked Jared a question. "Honey? Can I see its light?" I asked with a smile.

Jared smiled back.

He pulled down his pajama bottoms.

He grabbed onto his penis, waved it about, and grinned harder.

I've got your light right here...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Comfort Food

When I was little, I became sick a lot. I missed usually around 30 days of school. Per the laws of Florida's public school system, I should have automatically failed the year due to absences.

Thank God I went to a private school.

What were my problems? Well, I had ferocious allergies, but that was not the worst of it. Mostly I had breathing issues a fair bit. I had bronchitis frequently, plus I had pneumonia four times. Yeah, you read that correctly. I also had an incident involving a mysterious stomach ailment that turned out to be part of an allergic reaction to penicillin (because I had to take it due to strep throat only about ten times as a child).

The entire staff at my pediatrician's knew me by name. My mom had the "take care of Kira" thing down pat, too. We'd see the doctor; on the way home, she'd buy me soda (a forbidden item usually for children in my house) and a happy meal at McDonald's; then, when picking up whatever medicines she needed at the pharmacist, she'd buy me comic books or something else to read.

For the rest of the duration of the sick time, I wanted my comfort food: potatoes. I would love them either mashed with gravy or as a baked potato (what the Brits call a jacket potato), fully loaded. I generally didn't want to eat anything else until I felt all better. It was some sort of odd Pavlovian response: ring the sick bell! salavate for potato!

Sure, sometimes I'd do the soup thing...but soup was not what I craved. Yes, I loved getting the happy meal prize on the way back from the doctor's....but it wasn't a cheeseburger I needed. It was the almighty potato.

To this day, when I'm sick, I crave potatoes. Even when nothing else seems to stay down, a good mashed potato will do the trick. Alex knows this, so the other weekend when he took care of my sick ass, he made me mashed potatoes (after massaging me, fixing food for the kids, entertaining the kids, bringing me drinks, etc...that man is beyond wonderful). I can't imagine anything that would have brought me more comfort...

Do any of you have "comfort foods" that sustain you when you are feeling under the weather or blue? (Amanda, is your answer Dulce de leche? Hahaha!)