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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!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Because She Made Me

Juanita hates me. How do I know this? She tagged me!

Four Jobs I've Had:

Foster care worker for DSS; veterinary technician; college professor; professional pet sitter (and MORE, but hell, only four were requested)

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over Again:

Star Wars
Bend It Like Beckham
Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Four Places I've Lived:

Tampa, Florida
Durham, North Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina

Four TV Shows I Love:

Guys, I don't have cable or satellite for my TV. I haven't watched TV in three years save for the NCAA March Madness and the occasional episode of House if I'm at my brother's or parent's houses. Um...maybe I should stretch back...

Iron Chef
Babylon 5
Star Trek: DS9

Four Places I've Vacationed:

England/Wales (I'm tryin' to upset the Brits by putting Wales on the same line!)

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now:

Columbia, SC in Alex's apartment
Australia (always wanted to go!)

And the ONLY person I'm tagging is Alex. I'm gonna force that boy to blog, ill or not!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Day in the Sol Household

So, we're at Alex's apartment in Columbia. Ariana had been finishing up her game on the PS2: Sly Cooper 3. In fact, with a bit of help from Alex, she managed the last scenario to win the game. Alex loves helping the kids achieve goals on the console games because he's a total geek and knows that since he's played them forever, he's pretty good at finishing up games. Both kids appreciate his help when he gives it.

So, here's how the conversation went:

Alex, proudly: So! Who's the man, eh?

Ariana stares at Alex.

Alex: I'm pretty good at Sly Cooper, right?

Ariana, eyeing Alex: You're ok, yeah.

Me: Ariana? Remember what I told you about men?

Ariana, sighing and rolling her eyes: Yes, Alex, you're just the greatest ever!

At that point, Alex and I started laughing pretty damn hard. She's a fast learner, that one!


I have Bionicle all over my floor. I think Juanita knows the feeling. My son wanted to use up the last part of his Christmas and birthday money on some huge ass Bionicle set that he's been slowly putting together for about two hours now. He's made some pretty good progress...way more than you'd expect for a five year old. I know he can put the little ones together on his own, but I'm cringing at this humongous set. So far he's in that mode of, "I WILL DO THIS MYSELF!" I've only been asked to push in a couple of ball joints since it requires more strength than his arms can provide. Meanwhile, there is no access to the living room. Oh well.


I am finishing up the grading on a seven week course. In fact, I should be doing it right now. I have to do about 13 more research papers. Good news is that when I finish up, tomorrow I give and then grade their exam, and then I'm done with it! Bad news is, on Wednesday I immediately start up another seven week course to take its place. Those seven weekers are a bitch.


And on the strange student front...we had peer grading in one class last week. The kids had to choose between writing in a descriptive writing style predominantly or an illustrative writing style. This one girl--and as God is my witness, I love this chick--decided to write a descriptive essay on her first experience giving a blow job. Now, they all know my rules with topics are that no topics are restricted...just as long as they use formal language. So, I scanned the paper and words such as "penis" and "ejaculation" lept out at me. Nope, nothing slang-like in that paper! During peer grading, she caused quite a stir with the students who were able to read her paper. They were full of comments, many of which were made out loud. The entire class then--predictably--wanted to read her paper.

One of the fellows (student C I mentioned previously? the guy with the stellar attitude despite the tragic background?) said, ok, I probably will regret this, but I'd like to see the paper too. Now mind you, student C is a devout Mormon. He's laid back about it and lives what he believes and lets others decide their beliefs on their own, but Mormon he is. I started laughing. I said, ok, C. You read that paper and let us know what you think!

He was wearing an orange shirt. His face flushed red as he continued, and I commented to him that the flame and scarlet reminded me of an autumn leaf pattern. Still, determined, he finished the three page paper. He was quite silent afterwards. One of the girls couldn't stand it and asked, "C? So? What'd ya think of it?"

His response, said with complete solemness: "I think I need to go home and pray."

We didn't stop laughing for quite a while!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Good and the Bad

Good news: tax refund was large! I already mapped it out so that I can survive the dry summer months once again AND have enough to take to Vegas, baby! Yay!

Bad news: Alex has some mysterious illness. He's exhausted all the time. He finally went into the doctor today, and the doctor had a hard time getting blood for some tests. Alex has to come back in after a week to discuss some other test results, but so far the doc is perplexed. Apparently Alex's lymph glands are swollen, and his spleen (?!) feels swollen too, so the doctor told Alex no work for the next two days. He doesn't want Alex riding his bike anywhere, either, and Alex implied that the doctor felt that it was best to minimize the risk of a spleen rupture. So then I worried myself into an ulcer. And then I realized there's not a damn thing I can do, so instead I resigned myself to Exploding Spleen Jokes to Alex which left us both laughing. I mean really, is there ANYTHING funnier than the idea of a Monty Python "One thin mint wafer" type of explosion while you're hugging your loved one?

Poor Alex left his cell phone inside the doctor's office too. It's his company's cell phone, so he's a bit stressed about getting it back tomorrow. I think he had the unluckiest day of the last year today. It was raining; he bikes to the doctor's in the rain, and a branch hits the chain and the chain falls off. He has to fix the bike and go on. Then when he gets to the doctor's, there's a hang up with his (French) insurance working over here. By the time he gets all that straightened out, there's ten people ahead of him. He stays way late. They are unable to find the cause of his misery, and so arrangements are made for another visit. He leaves, THEN after he can't return into the office as it is after hours and locked and all, he realizes he left his cell phone there so he can't call anybody to help him get home...in a rainstorm...with a broken bike...uphill. There I was, all set to bitch about how my ex had dropped the kids off at 8p tonight without a) them doing their homework b) them having dinner and c) Ari having her nightly nebulizer preventative treatment for her asthma, and he tells me all about his day. Ok, so now my day seems great! At least my day involved a nice tax refund!

Wait, another good part though...my day also involved distributing the chocolate cream cheese muffins to one class that I made last night. They were in heaven. I get a lot of joy out of feeding folks, so I grinned as they babbled about how delicious they were. Each of my classes gets fed once per term. I bring in brownies or cupcakes or cookies or something. Apparently the whole school knows this habit of mine because when the term starts, I always have a student ask, "So when do you bring the food?"

Last thought of the day...I was pondering Grant's comment to me in the last post for a long time. He's right. People seek me out for advice all the time, and sometimes they take it and sometimes they don't. People probably try to do so just like he gets sought out for money, beer, and rides because...people sense I actually care. And damnit, I do. I LIKE feeling helpful, and if somebody feels better bouncing ideas off of me, asking my advice, or just talking and me listening, I am quite content. Sure, sometimes I want to throttle a student who insists on telling me I'm wise for giving out great advice and then never takes it (see: student Z). But on the whole, I love helping...even if I'm not helping. And with Grant, well, he's like that deep inside too, I believe. Maybe I'm wrong. I've never met him in person, after all. But my spidey senses tell me that folks seek out Grant not because he's a sucker but that they realize on some level he gives a shit (Grant, I think this is the part wherein you tell me to Feck Off?).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lip Lip Lip Lip

In my house, my dad had the Look of Death. The Look of Death was given as an immediate warning that Death Would Occur should said child continue upon her wanton path of self destruction. Often, no further action needed to be taken. Dad's facial expression was enough to stop us in our tracks.

My dad was just not a force one challenges. Questioning dad's commands was NEVER an acceptable solution. I knew this. I always knew this. It just wasn't a bright thing to do.

However, I remember very clearly one day sitting at the table and getting fiesty...as per usual. My parents would be happy to testify that my biggest pain in the ass feature is a child was that I always questioned and ALWAYS had to know the reason why we were to do anything. If the reason didn't make sense, I protested. I didn't care if I got a swat (rare, but it happened) or sent to my room or the TV taken away for two weeks. If it didn't make sense, I didn't do it. I risked the wrath of dad that way more than any other child in the family because dad WANTED and NEEDED blind obedience out of his children on most occasions. And publically, I gave it to him out of my love for him. Privately, however, I jumped into hot water since I was able to speak. And there I was at the table, pointedly questioning yet another of dad's decrees. My dad was sick of it...despite his extreme fondness for his youngest child who had tremendous backbone.

"Young lady," I remember him growling out over the table, my two brothers and sisters freezing, my mom looking worried, "YOU WILL GIVE ME NO MORE LIP!"

It was one of those moments wherein my mouth flew open and my brain screamed NOOOO KIRA DON'T DO IT, DON'T DO IT!!!!! But it was too late. The words came out as clear as day:

"Lip Lip Lip Lip Lip Lip!"

I froze. The family froze. My dad looked startled. And then...instead of thrashing my ass, he burst out laughing. LOUD! Relieved, the whole family laughed too. I think I laughed the loudest. Damn. I told dad later on that I was glad I was saved by my cuteness because I saw my life flash before my eyes in that one brief moment!

And now, now what has happened to Ol' Lipper? Well, do you remember the mother's curse? May you have a child who is JUST LIKE YOU?


Ariana questions everything unless I give her the clear, cold logic and reason why we must do so. My parents saw her do this the last time they were around her, and they just laughed. My mom said, "Yay! The curse finally worked!"

Indeed. It did. And honestly? I wouldn't have her any other way, even if sometimes I want to throttle her just like my parents wanted to throttle me! Haha!


I told Angie's aunt/my former student, Rita, today all about the proposal Alex delivered to me in January. She got the full blown story, and I was touched that she actually cried when she heard all the details! I suppose it touched me because to me, it meant that she knew exactly how much it meant to me, and she was happy for me.

I also ran into a former student at Wal-Mart on the way home today. She needed an ear. This gal was SUCH a hard worker, but she's having a rough time of it now in the nursing program. I feel helpless because I can't tutor her in science stuff...just writing. And this woman needs some help, and she deserves to be a nurse. Sigh. I suppose just listening and being sympathetic was good enough for now because she gave me a big hug before she left...

...and then the final student story. I have a student in one class who opened up wide to me today about life events. Horrified, I listened attentively as I heard about his genuinely nutty mother. She was a cutter. I understand that one, but I've never heard of a cutter who then turned around and did it to her small five year old son. She told him, this helps me face the pain, and life is painful, so I'm helping you. Please don't tell daddy or he'll take you and leave me and you'll never see me again. Egads! He still has the scars across his back and on his upper arm. I know for sure because he told me...but also because I rested a hand on his shoulder at one point and I FELT them through the shirt. Woof. They're in a location that could only have been inflicted successfully by another person, too. Then one day his mom killed herself...but it is a spookier incident than that. He stated that God was good to him because for some reason, he was off doing something unexpected with his dad that morning. In his mom's journal, she had written that she was going to kill off her husband and son WITH her since she loved them so much, she didn't want them to be in pain and deal with life EITHER. He's such a happy, chipper, funny fellow, you know? I always am impressed to see a student bounce back from hell like that. Those people are the ones who impress me more: the ones who say "fuck you, life! is that all you can dish out?" and turn around and get to the task of making the world a better place. Yay, Student C! He's just a facinating, wonderful, nice person.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

For Hoss

I thought of Hoss when I heard this one, so here it is (with my luck, he put this on his blog before I started reading it!):

Toward the end of the service, the minister asked, how many of you have forgiven your enemies? About 80% of the congregation raised their hands.

The minister then repeated his question.

All of the congregation raised their hands then except one little old lady. So the minister asked, "Mrs. Jones? You're not willing to forgive your enemies?"

"I don't have any," she replied sweetly.

"Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?"

"I'm 98," she replied.

"Oh Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?"

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation and said:

"I outlived the bitches."

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Details Versus The Big Picture

How does one remain happy when misery abounds, both across the world and in his or her own personal life?

I suppose many people ponder that very issue throughout their lives. I learned the answer from my mom.

See, my mom is the type of person who can get excited over the smallest detail that comes across her desk. I remember telling Alex before he met my mom, "You think that *I* am high energy and excitable? Wait 'til you meet my mom!" He blew me off, figuring a woman over 60 couldn't possibly be as I described. A few days after meeting her, he told me I didn't even tell the half of it. My mom can be a pain in the ass sometimes (who can't be?), but on the whole she's a hell of a lot of fun. She's the one who taught me that when everything falls apart, savoring a Godiva dark chocolate rasberry truffle and watching a sunrise can make it all better. She's the one who taught me to jump up and down when I'm happy and to cry when I'm sad. In short, my mother made Auntie Mame's philosophy her own: "Life is a banquet, and some poor suckers are starving!"

Her lessons served me well. I watched my family nearly collapse in 1979, and I carefully monitored how my mom managed the whole situation. In that one year, I had stomach problems that put me in the hospital for a week...my dad had a stroke which paralyzed his left side, and doctors told my mom and dad that dad'd never walk again...a pipe broke in the house and flooded the entire bottom floor...the rain never stopped outside either, and the lake rose up so high that our dock went underwater and the property had plenty of damage...oh man, it was a total crap year. But I still saw my mom smile a lot.

Yes, yes, yes. There are those of you out there who are born pessimists (or "realists," as I've often noticed people try to clarify to me) who will try to state that my mom must be an idiot for being happy through all that. But see? She had warm rain, chocolate, a nice glass of wine, love from her children/husband/friends, sunrise over the lake, orange trees that produced succulent fruit, and a cozy bed. She had the details. If my mom had wallowed in the big picture of, my husband may never walk again! We have no income coming into the house! Half of our belongings are ruined! The doctors can't figure out what is wrong with Kira's stomach! well then, she'd be miserable just like you'd expect.

Being happy is not being stupid.

My mom did what she could to fix the bad parts of her situation. She told the doctors to fuck off when they stated that my dad wouldn't walk again, and she did a lot of physical therapy with dad herself. Pushing, pushing, pushing--literally sometimes as she pushed him to walk around the block from behind, then pushed him to RUN--she got my dad from a walker to a cane to nothing. He still was disabled from his orthodontics practice because he couldn't use his left hand at all, but hell, my mom's determination made my dad go way farther than the doctors ever predicted. When a doctor told my mom I was faking my stomach problems, she told HIM to fuck off too and took me to a specialist to get to the root of the problem. We replaced, slowly, that which was damaged and managed to swing new carpeting and flooring. The next year came, and it was a much better year. Did my mom cry? Of course. Did she laugh? HELL YES! Living life is experiencing it all from every angle. That's what she taught me. The smallest detail matters just as much as the big picture.

What I learned at my mom's knee has served me well. It hasn't mattered what bad problem I've gone through (being raped, being stalked, running out of food, collapse of marriage, etc), I've learned how to survive and focus on the little details so that I can get my most out of Planet Earth. After all, I'm only here for a little while. Sure, I've been pretty damned depressed due to some horrid situations, but it passes. I know it can pass. I know it because...I have warm rain, a nice glass of wine, people who love me, and Godiva chocolate.

My dear friend Colin--suicidal Colin who attempted to kill himself several times before resigning himself to just existing until his card came up--told me once that he was facinated by me because I COULD focus on the details. "I'm a big picture man," he told me. "I see children suffer and die, I see people being mean, I see war and famine, and I can't get happy about much else." He was amazed that I could be a social worker and have to help out children who had been sexually molested, physically abused, or severely neglected...and get mad about the agony those children had...and STILL jump up and down when I ate a particularly lovely bowl of ice cream. They seemed to be on opposite ends to him.

I have found that Colin sometimes lives vicariously through me. After all, this is my dear friend who will go shopping with me forever not because he enjoys it like Alex does...but because as he puts it, "Well, I can sit back at the apartment and contemplate how miserable life is, or I can go shopping with you and do the same thing. Location hardly matters" (and yes, I think of Colin as my personal Marvin the Paranoid Android! haha!). Colin helped me move out of the house and into my apartment, and during that week he watched me bounce and cry, bounce and cry as I settled into my new life. One day we went to the mall and he decided I should get a box of 24 pick your own truffles from the Godiva stand. I was SO DAMNED excited, and he just watched me, arms crossed, leaning up against the counter as I pointed and laughed, pointed and rocked on my heels, babbling happily about my choices. "It's just chocolate, Kira," he had murmured afterwards with a vague smile on his face, shaking his head as a part of him didn't understand but seemed to WANT to understand. How can I explain it? How can I? All I know is this: we can be REALISTIC and be aware of misery in this world and try to stop it...WHILE being happy and laughing and loving deeply. We can get badly, badly hurt in a relationship so that the heart is a pureed mush, and then we can STILL manage to love again one day, fully and deeply. It's all about your choices. It's all about the details.

As for me, I'm content to be a detail woman. Life is good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Star Wars for Valentine's Day

There's apparently a site that has these Valentine's day ecards with a Star Wars theme on them. Most of the cards are the sort that only a true geek can laugh at, really...like this one.

So, Alex sent the best ones to me via email because he knows I'm a total geek who would appreciate it. However, this one made me pause. I know I have a vulgar mind and all, but hey, does anybody ELSE see the innuendo here?


Ok, so I can't count. English professors can't do math. I confess.

My daughter, now, SHE actually gets A+'s in math. So, it was my daughter who pointed out to me today while staring at the roses Alex had delivered to the house, "Hey mommy! That's EIGHTEEN roses, not TWELVE!" Yeah. Woops. So, um, cough cough. That's 30 roses on my table, plus her carnations from Valentine's day. We eat in a florist's shop.

Good thing she's around. I'm going to train her to balance my checkbook by the time she's ten. It'll be more accurately done that way.

By George I Think She's Got It!

Yes, I'm bragging on my daughter again. Deal with it.

Yesterday morning, I woke up my children a few min early so they could see their piles of candy and their little present apiece. I had to explain to Alex a year or so ago that in America, even though Vday is still largely for lovers, it's also to show love in general. That's why our kids exchange cards at school, and that's why my mom always got me a little pile of candy for the day as well. In France it is ONLY for lovers, so he had a hard time adjusting to that concept...still, he came with me to pick out one of the little gifts given today, so he's had more exposure to the concept.

I told them they could each have two pieces of candy with their breakfast, and to enjoy said candy while I took a quick shower. When I came back, I found a small box on the table that had a note on it that said, to mommy, love ariana. "That's yours, mommy!" Ariana announced as I walked back in the room.

Inside I discovered two pretty rocks, a small flower with a mirror in it (hers that she loves), and about $2 or so in money (almost all she has left from her Christmas stash). I was very touched. I thanked her, and then I served them breakfast. As I was doing so, Ariana talked about Tori a bit. See, in first grade, Ariana loved a little boy named Matthew, and it seemed to be mutual. This year, she still loves Matthew but Matthew is in the OTHER second grade class, and he seems to be giving little gifts to Tori instead now. She doesn't seem hurt by it at all. See below post on her choice of back up men, in fact...haha! Still, my daughter on Valentine's Day was chipper and in great spirits. She babbled at me happily how Tori was her dear friend, and Tori was pretty, smart, funny, sweet, and an all around great person. "So, I can really see why Matthew likes her!" she tells me as she munches away at her breakfast. I stare at her curiously as she shows not even the smallest sign of jealousy or anger or irritation at this fact. "You're ok with that?" I ask her neutrally, wondering what she really felt. So then Ariana TOLD me what she really felt:

"Oh, Mommy, of course it's ok! Tori's great. I want her to be happy." And then she babbled at me happily about something else.

My daughter has absorbed the girlfriend's code at age eight! It doesn't matter WHAT your personal situation, don't EVER let interest in a guy or seeking that guy's attention come in between love of your girlfriends! I'm so proud! Sniff.

It's ok anyway. Half the damn class is chasing after her. She even got a carnation from a little boy named Andrew (also a second grader). I found out she was the only girl to get a flower from Andrew, so obviously that meant something to Andrew. Ariana blew it off and became redfaced when I questioned her about it later on. So cute! Hey, as long as it's not Jakob "Eat Like A Piggie" Bentley, I'm cool.


As long as we're on the Ariana theme, I would like to state that I watched intently my daughter's entire first soccer practice yesterday. Not a single person, boy or girl, paid more attention to the coach and tried harder than my daughter. She does not have the most athletic talent a girl can have, by far, but a girl would be hard pressed to have more motivation and killer instinct than my child in any sport. Therefore, even though it's yet another thing to transport a child to back and forth, I predict this season will be great fun to watch! I love to see her little eyes narrow and see her throw her entire body into her soccer exercises. Tremendous!


So even though we weren't SUPPOSED to celebrate Vday together until this weekend when we can actually be together, I now have 24 longstem red roses. 12 were delivered to the Writing Center and waiting for me when I got out of class. 12 more were delivered to the house. I swear I'm spoiled rotten!


And lastly, I'm cold. I realize the Canadians or Northerners are laughing their asses off at me right now, but I have a circulation disease that makes it so that cold weather knocks me over. My hands turn blue instantly when it's cold out. I will never be able to live more north than the Carolinas, I swear. I'm SO wanting spring to come here....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dumb Questions

As an instructor, it is difficult for me to balance out in my head the statement that was thrown out to me often as a child: "There is no such thing as a dumb question." See, I've learned that people say that to encourage individuals to open their mouths and ask rather than remain silent and confused. However, I think this approach often backfires. Yes, Virginia, there IS such a thing as a dumb question.

I can't tell you how many times I have to bite my tongue from dumb questions. Sometimes I just can't do it and something slides out. Typically, if I have gone over something like...the research paper should be six full pages long to eight pages long...and then a student asks seriously, "So, could you please tell us how long the research paper is?"...I usually just take in a deep breath and answer it. I feel like shouting, "Pay attention and you won't have to waste your breath."

Other times, though, I just can't help myself. The nature of the question is just so stupid that I can't...control...myself...

Student: Hey, Kira! I missed two days. Did you do anything while I was gone?

Me: (silence for a moment as I blink, then I answer) No. Not a damn thing. We did NOTHING at all because we were waiting for you. The class said, is he here yet, teacher, so we can learn? And sadly, sadly, I kept having to answer to them, no we cannot because he has not arrived, and all classes are futile and miserable without him. So, after milling about the room aimlessly for twenty minutes without you showing up, we started weeping, puting ash on our heads, and wearing sack cloth in mourning for you. Surely, we thought, NEXT class you would show up! But NO! No, we waited next time, and you never arrived then as well. "Class," I told them, "I am most sorry, but learning will never take place today either as he is not coming." "NO!" they wailed in response, "NO! NO!" But they looked around and discovered I told the truth, and lo there was much weeping.

If you are curious, yes, I actually DO regularly answer that question in the above fashion. It stuns him or her into silence.

Friday's dumb question had to do with the block quote format. A block quote is a direct quote from a work that is long enough that it needs to be set aside through indentation. Part of the format is that the quotes themselves are not used because the indentation and general presentation lets you KNOW it is a block quote. Only quotes can be set aside in this fashion. I explained to them all about it while we discussed their research papers. I also mentioned to them that as a general rule of thumb, no more than 10% of their papers should be direct quotes. More than that, somebody else really wrote the materials. I suggested that they summarize and paraphrase instead of using too many quotes. Then, I had the student (usually a student who keeps me royally entertained, by the way...I'm rather fond of him) ask the following.

Student: Well, ok, so block quotes won't count in that total 10%, right?

Me: Um, well, of course it would.

Student: But it doesn't have quotes around it!

Me: Um, but it's still a quote.

Student: Ah! But if there aren't any quotes around a block quote, it can't possibly count as a quote.

Me: (brief silence as I contemplate the sheer stupidity of the question) Um...dear, of COURSE it counts as a quote. It's not the "Block Chair Format." It's not the "Block Banana Format." It's not even the "Block Tree Format." Quaintly, it's the "Block Quote Format." Note the word quote? Guess what that means! It means it's a freaking QUOTE! Since it IS ACTUALLY A QUOTE regardless of the presence of quotation marks, it has to COUNT as a quote.

Student: Oh. Oh, I see. I'm sorry. For some reason I thought that was a reasonable question.

Me: Well, no. It's a pretty stupid question, actually, when you think about it.

Student: ok, you're right. It is.

I don't want to discourage them from asking questions, so I probably shouldn't be so, well, ME. I can't help it. It's ok. I warn them the first day of class if they can't handle sarcasm and are the sensitive sort, I'm not the teacher for them.


When I picked up my second grader from school yesterday, she had her best friend with her for a playdate. Allie is a sweet child, and I like her mom. Allie is welcome here whenever she wants to come. I love to hear Ariana talk to her friends and see what she decides to say, do, or suggest. It facinates me to see her little brain work.

Allie told me nonchalantly on Friday that she gets a "Whoopin'" for every F she receives on her report card, and last quarter she had an F. I just sort of blinked, unable to respond. Although I know she has parents who love her, all I could think was, don't you think tutoring and helping her would be more effective? This is not a child who WANTS to fail or just isn't doing her homework. What the hell is spanking her going to do to prevent an F in the future? Oh well. I'm aware that I'm rather spoiled with having Ariana and Jared be so bright.

So, Ariana tells Allie all about Alex. "Here are the flowers Alex gave mommy! There's two sets because he gave her flowers twice in one day." Later on: "See mommy's engagement ring? It's bigger and more expensive than the one my daddy gave my mom a long time ago." (NOTE: OUCH! I did NOT point out anything of the sort nor imply anything of that nature...all I did was show her the engagement ring her daddy gave me and show her the box I'm keeping it in to give to her on her sixteenth birthday...). "We like Alex because he treats us like we're his too and he always does what we need him to do and he never fusses about it." Alex, Alex, Alex...she mentioned him a lot to Allie while they chattered away. I guess that's another sign that I made a good choice here for my family unit.

The last thing I noted as they talked was that my daughter has a back up man. She's eight years old, and my daughter has a BACK UP MAN. At dinner, she told Allie and me that she still loved Matthew a lot, but seeing as Matthew gave presents to Tori, maybe Matthew wouldn't work out in the end. "So, if Matthew continues to like Tori, I'll just go for Mark. I like Mark too." HAHA! Poor Mark. I wonder if he'd knock off Matthew if he knew? Mark's the geeky bookworm of the class, and he's a total sweetheart. He has glasses and a nice smile, and he absolutely worships the ground my daughter walks upon. Mark apparently only likes smart girls who can follow his train of thought, and Ari's the only girl in second grade he's deemed can do it.

Man, I love this age. Eight is fun. I don't want thirteen. No teenage years. We're going to skip to "Away at College" rather than deal with teen years. I've officially decided it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


...so, is it wrong of me to pick out what Alex should have as a dessert at a restaurant so that I can try two desserts then? Haha! Just asking!

I told Alex that he is to order this:

Double Chocolate Flourless Grand Marnier Cake with Homemade Toffee, Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Berries

That way I can pick something else. He just laughed. I think he believes I'm joking. Should I wait until later to inform him that I am not?

It reminds me of eating out with the whole family when I was younger. My brother Mark would turn to my sister Rose and say, "Ok, Rose, what on this dessert menu would you NOT eat?" That way he prevented the fork from sneaking half his dessert and he was a happier man.

I guess that what I'm looking for is a tapas DESSERT concept, you know? Little dishes of desserts you can order in smaller portions to try more than one food? Hmmm, there we go, Hoss can use that one to help make his pile...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bite Me, Blogger!

Blogger ate my post that I made on Saturday or Sunday. I can't remember which day. Anyway! Joe had a backup of it (thanks, Joe!), so I'll reprint it.


Hey, I went out to eat with my good friend from school, Chuck. We had a great time munching down on sushi and chatting for a couple of hours. I had told the ex that he needed to keep the kids tonight so I could go out with Chuck. His immediate response? Well, he basically started cackling gleefully, telling me I should cheat on Alex with Chuck, and he wholeheartedly approved of that idea. SHEESH! So, anybody keeping track here? First, he stated to me that he couldn't wait until Alex left me for a younger woman. Now, he wants me to cheat on Alex. I don't think that Terry's murmurings that my ex wants me to be happy are really in the cards.


Oh, and just so you can keep track of the birthday bliss...Saturday, the cutest thing that Alex did for me was take me to the build-a-bear workshop and purchased for me a matching cat (that is, my kids each have an orange tabby from there, and now I do too!). We picked out a Duke Blue Devils t-shirt for my tabby to wear to tell him apart from the other two, and he has a blue ribbon on his tail. After two seconds, we decided to name him after Scruffy, my cat who died in August of 2001. Scruffy was a cat-dog of the finest order. I could take him in the car with me and be'd travel like a dog would. I took him on leash hiking with me, to the pet store, and around the block. He was an amazing cat.

And the Melting Pot was wonderful! As if three longstem red roses wasn't enough in the morning, he also had a half dozen waiting for me at the table at the restaurant. Any doubts as to why I love this man? It feels great to be spoiled!

Ok, so now the post:


I like to think of myself as a practical woman. I try to use my brains
rather than my heart to make critical decisions, although often that
is difficult. I used my heart when I married the first time, and my
heart chose to ignore what I knew were warning signs that there could
be problems down the road. My ex and I are NOT compatible in a lot of
ways, but somewhere I thought that love would conquer all. Whoever
came up with that saying should be shot. Love can't fix everything.

As Joe pointed out on a previous comment, I'm one of the few who had a
good, healthy, loving relationship modeled at home. I always wanted
the type of marriage my mom and dad have. They treat each other with
respect, they listen, they care, and they love with all they have. In
June, they will have been married for 46 years. My dad still gets my
mom off the phone by pinching her ass. I hear the "MEEP!" sound my mom
makes, and a giggle, and then she tells me it's time to go. They hold
hands. In my 36 years on this planet, I heard them fight ONCE. It's
not that they don't disagree; they are both strong-willed people with
set opinions on a variety of topics. It's just that they've always
disagreed with earnest debate rather than shouting, name calling,
cursing, or excessive pouting.

I know it can be done. All I have to do is look to my parents. And
that's what I want, and nothing less. For some reason, I felt that I
didn't need that type of relationship. Now I know I'll settle for
nothing less.

I wouldn't give another thought to being with another man again if I
hadn't found one whom I know can give me this type of relationship. I
don't need men. I have my man in a box--that's a stepstool, jar
opener, and a vibrator. Good enough. I also have children, so it's not
like I'd have to have a man to fulfill biological urges to procreate.
The only way I'd try again is if I KNEW it would be EXACTLY the way I
wanted it.

Innana had posted on Foilwoman's blog that all engaged people should
consider a pre-nup. People change, and life is uncertain. I see her
point. Although I ignored a few warning signs and married my ex, I
NEVER could have predicted the collapse of the marriage in the way it
went. He absolutely had a life crisis, and it was not within my
capability to fix it. In fact, with my ornery, stubborn, strong-willed
temperment, a lot of my actions made it worse. Now, in our case there
was nothing to divide really in the end, and I got everything I
wanted. I lucked out. When I see what poor FW is going through now, I
practically have an anxiety attack for worry. I know she's got help
and support, but what woman likes to feel lack of security in any

However, a pre-nup (although a very practical idea for couples wherein
one has everything and the other has nothing, just in case) to me
states, I acknowledge this relationship may fail. I don't think I'd
marry again if I felt that there was even a chance this would fail.
Period. Besides, we both have nothing, and Alex is the one who could
get potentially screwed over because he'll actually have a great
salary one day versus me and my teaching salary which will never be
much. I don't want one. If I felt I needed one, I would not get
married again and instead would shoot for dates and sex.

After I became engaged, my mom told me on the phone one night that she
felt so comfortable with the idea of Alex and I getting married for a
variety of reasons, not the least of which was...she saw that Alex and
I communicate like she does with dad. We debate earnestly, and we
resolve. Then we move on. Nobody yells, curses, manipulates, pouts
excessively (minor pouting is ok though...haha!), or gets childish. We
agree on priorities for spending money and childcare. Our world
philosophies are very similar. He's more liberal than I am
politically, but we still are very well matched in that arena too. We
like a hell of a lot of the same activities, and he might as well be
the biological father of my children as far as how he treats them.

I'm never taken for granted. I never take him for granted.

What does the future hold? I can't say. I DO know that Alex's ability
to see things clearly through a woman's eyes has led him to mumble
quite a few funny things under his breath ("Men are assholes...that's
why I'm a lesbian," and "Men are stupid and women are crazy, but the
reason why women are crazy is that men are stupid," etc). He won't sit
down unless I sit down because if I'm doing work, he should be
working. He will see chick flicks with me and treats me with respect.
I can't say what the future holds...except that it'll hold Alex.

Today is the day he has set aside to celebrate my birthday since I was
back home on Tuesday. The ex has the kids. How has the day gone so
far? I woke up and had a head rub. He then left to fetch hot chocolate
and a chocolate cream cheese muffin for me from Starbucks, and also he
fetched three beautiful longstemed red roses in a vase from a flower
shop for me as well. They're next to the computer as I type. He told
me that the rule is: birthday girl gets to do whatever the hell she
wants. Birthday girl has an idea of what she'll want after she gets
off the computer, but I probably shouldn't detail that one...haha!
Eventually, though, we'll head off to The Melting Pot for dinner, and
he'll give me an hour or so of massage before bed (something that he
does just about every night anyway unless he's sick or extremely
tired). This day is not an abnormal day for me. Alex gets an insane
amount of happiness seeing me happy, and that seems to motivate him to
do all sorts of things.

I can't predict the future. Well, ok, so I occasionally have dreams
that come true, but that's another issue. TYPICALLY I can't predict
the future. However, I just know it will all be fine. I've finally got
the relationship my parents had and have. I'm going to keep it, too.
And that's that.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Picture for Hoss

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My Sister

Note to Joe: you're the only person who wants a Kira clone, so I'm sorry but production cannot begin on that model. The agency needs an order for at least five (5) clones to start work on duplication. The Alex model is up to twelve (12) orders now, maybe 13 if you count Grant's secret desires...sure you don't just wanna get an Alex model? Haha!

My sister is nine years older than me. In fact, all three of my siblings are noticably older than me because my very Catholic parents had no idea where babies came from and poof! Suddenly the newlywed couple, five years down the road, had three children. Mark, the third child, was the product of Natural Family Planning, so my parents made the decision to violate church teachings and use birth control for a bit after that one. My dad was still in orthodontics school then, and they figured a two bedroom apartment with three children sharing one room was enough, church or no church.

In all actuality, my parents wanted five children. That was the plan. However, after a three year turn on birth control, my mom found that suddenly she had difficulties bearing children. She had three miscarriages in a row, all of which were very hard on her. I still wonder if it had something to do with the insanely high levels of hormones in the birth control pill in the 60's.

My sister had wanted a baby sister something fierce. She was too little to request one or another with Ken, but when mom was pregnant with Mark, she flat out told her: don't bother unless it's a girl. She was very displeased to find out that Mark was a boy, and when they brought him home from the hospital she circled his bassinette critically. After some silence, she finally said, "Ok, he's cute so we can keep him, but I still need that sister!"

My dad then promised my sister she'd get her request the second they moved down to Florida. Mom almost killed him. I think you can understand the myriad of reasons why.

Years passed. After the miscarriages, my mom was beyond consolation. The last one was so bad she had to have blood transfusions and everything, and the doctor told her she should make only one more attempt at a baby. Whether or not a baby resulted, she should close up shop at that point. I was the last ditch effort.

My sister spent the entire pregnancy just knowing that I'd be coming. Surely God would not be so cruel as to give her another brother! She was right: there I was, nine years after her own birth, fat and bruised. I was a large baby for a 4'10" woman to carry at 7 lbs, 10 oz, so I was squished a bit more than typical on the way out. My brothers lovingly called me Moose for years after that since I looked so hideous after being forced out of an opening way too small for my big ass self.

Oh, how thrilled my sister was to have me! She had waited nine years for me, and there I finally was. The age difference meant that she took on a more maternal role with me. I remember that no matter how busy she was, she always made time for me. I'd have friends over and she'd play teacher for us, being our teacher and writing on the chalkboard. Rose would have a bad day with my mom (they've always sparred) and run into my room, crying into my neck as I awkwardly patted her and told her it would be ok. When she started dating, all her boyfriends knew: we have to take Kira along with us on occasion on our dates. That's right. You heard me. I went with my sister on a lot of her dates. She was so busy with cheerleading and ballet and school (she was the valdictorian of our school, after all) that the only free time she had was on her dates...and she wasn't about to waste that time on JUST her boyfriend, you know? With her ex Roy, we'd go to the skating rink with his little cousin around my age, or we'd go to his family's house and swim in their pool. With Judd, we'd go to the movies to see such classics as Herbie the Lovebug or Sg. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with the Bee Gees. I knew she loved me. How could I fail to know it? She showed it every day.

For instance, there were two girls down the road whom I played with all the time, but they were frequently snots. One of them really adored my sister to death as she was the oldest and had always wanted an older sister too. My sister was aware of this hero worship, and so when Andrea had treated me poorly one day, there was Rose bitching Andrea out over it instantly. You don't mess with Rose's sister!

I was nine years old when she went off to college. Crushed, I waited eagerly for every holiday and summer break for her to come home. Imagine my surprise years later when I went off to college myself and started to visit her out in Texas with her husband...and realized we were more like peers and friends now than we were in the days when she basically became like my second mother. When she was pregnant with her first daughter, I clearly remember her saying that I had set the bar with babies, and so she was hoping her daughter would look like me. Poor Rose received more than she bargained for. Allegra was not only a gorgeous baby but she also has my temperment in a lot of ways. Imagine a more subdued version of me with less of an interest in fantasy/sci fi (still there...just she'll read a lot of other stuff too). We tease in the family that Allegra is my mini-me.

Big sisters are the bomb. As I talked to Rose for three hours on the phone last night, I realized how lucky I was to have her. Many kids are only children or are the oldest themselves. Many girls don't have sisters. I had one, and she gave me such love and support--still does--that even when we can't talk for a few months due to busy lives, I know she's got my back. I know she's thinking of me. I know she'll be there even in ghost form if she gets hit by a car right now. Big sisters do that. Everybody always talks about how big brothers get protective and all, but what about big sisters? People had more to fear with angering my 5' tall slender-boned sister than they did my bigger brothers! And she always made me feel so special because Rose just doesn't let that many people in to her "inner circle." Unlike me who can be friends with anybody and joke with jackasses, my sister will tell people to feck off (thanks, Grant!) in a heartbeat if she feels the need. Ok, so I'll do that too, I just end up remaining friends with the person anyway. There are only two people beyond Rose's kids who can get away with murder in her eyes: me and our Maw Maw (my grandmother). My big sister is the best big sister I can imagine. I really DO understand why Ariana wants Alex and I to get crackin' on a chance for her to have a little sister...ask Foilkid and Gaaahgirl. There's something about that bond sisters have that just cannot be duplicated elsewhere!