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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!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What NOT to do on the Net!

A comment I made a few weeks back on Lisa's site reminded me of this incident. I'm going to give a more elaborated version here.

In this age of instant communication, a split second decision made without double-checking can cause great embarrassment or far worse. One of the most common errors is confusing the foward/reply/reply all buttons. Another is to let one's temper take over, hit send, and then go...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! as one realizes the error of saying what was written. A lesser known issue is the "I sent the wrong file" quandrum. I have been on the receiving end of this particular problem.

One night, I had on my MSN instant messenger. I was talking to a couple of people at once, including a girlfriend who was also talking to several other people. In what seemed like a ramdom gesture, she sent a file over to me. This gal occasionally sent me interesting music files or pictures, so I shrugged and accepted. Sure, she usually introduced a file before she sent it over, but I just assumed whatever the contents were of the file it was something she knew I wanted. No problem.

So, there we are, chatting away, and I open the document. It's a picture of her crotch, pulled apart and shorn. I started laughing hysterically because I KNEW she did not intend on sending that to me.

Now, for the record, if you look in the dictionary under the phrase "anti-prude" you will see a reference to me. Very little embarrasses me or upsets me, and I'm one of those rare women who can stare down another woman's vagina like that and it never affect how I think of her or how I communicate with her. Bare bodies don't bother me. Sex is wonderful. With these two mantras I have, I suppose if she had to err this way, it might as well be with a woman who didn't give a rip and wasn't upset to receive it! I realized, however, that she was going to be VERY upset by her goof. I realized she was talking to her boyfriend at the time and the file was meant for him...and she needed to know why he wasn't responding to her picture. So, this is what I came up with to type back:

"So, that looks really smooth there! Did you use Nair or some other product?"

I think everybody heard her scream of mortification. If your area had a small tremor in September of 2001, that'd have been it. I had to reassure her that it was all ok, and after she calmed down she DID realize that if any person besides her boyfriend had to stare down her crotch, it might as well be somebody laid back enough to just not care (nor perverse enough to post it somewhere on the net!).

So, boys and girls, what is the lesson you can learn here? Remember to check the destination of all emails and files you send out while on the net! That is, unless you WANT your friends to stare at body parts you typically have covered by clothes...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Lesson About Men

I had a long conversation about gender issues with Doc-T not long ago. I actually let it slip that I understood a lot more about men than most women because I have two older brothers who taught me a fair bit. I rattled off all I knew about men, and Tim thought I pretty much had it spot on. Then he insisted I should share some of this information with the women of the world. So, I thought I’d go ahead and put up one of the most critical pieces of knowledge one must know about a man:


See, women speak in a much different language than men. Women like to use hints. They like to be subtle. They like to be non-direct in expressing their needs, wants, and desires, in part because we’ve received this message that having our own needs, wants, and desires are bad. I think in the South here in America, women are especially taught to be polite, gentle, sweet, and put other’s feelings in front of theirs. Because of this situation, we rarely outright state what is on our mind. Sometimes it’s not a conscious effort that makes us try to hint rather than say it outright; sometimes it IS conscious because we don’t want to hurt or upset somebody or for some other reason. Whatever the cause…it’s the number one communication issue that I know of between men and women.

Men don’t get subtlety. Men don’t get hints. Men don’t get anything that is not written clearly on a 2x4 and then smacked square into their skulls repeatedly.

I decided a long time ago that Man Speak makes a whole lot more sense than Woman Speak. I don’t get the idea of not saying it directly. Why NOT make it clear? Why do we play these games? Generally, I speak Man instead of Woman. However, I do an excellent job of translating man to woman/woman to man if need be! Let me give an example:

My ex, my friend Tess, and I were all in a car. My ex decided that maybe we’d all like to go to this store he knew Tess also liked to visit. When he asked, here is how it went:

Ex: So, do you guys want to go to this store?
Tess: (long pause) Um…if you really want to go, sure.
Ex: Ok, great! Let’s go!
Me: Honey, she said no, she doesn’t want to go.
Ex, confused: But…that’s not what she said!
Me: Tess said “if you really want to go”, which means, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or say no to you and be rude or upset you, but I really don’t want to go.
Ex: What??? You’re shitting me!
Me: No. Isn’t that what you meant, Tess?
Tess, flushing deeply, now mumbling from the back seat: Um…yes, actually.

This was very confusing to my ex because he was used to my Man Speak of “Yes. No. I don’t like that. Please do that more. Please never do that again.”

Women, the thing you have to remember about men is…remarkably!!!!...they don’t want to get you upset. They would LOVE to avoid getting you upset. Getting you upset means horrible things like burnt dinner, no sex, or snappishness/nagging. These items are all BAD in the Man Universe. Therefore, they are not often willfully pissing you off! If we just use their language and TELL THEM outright THE SECOND we know what we need or don’t need, life would be a lot easier.

Another example of man vs. woman speak:

My brother Ken was dating a gal the whole family loved. Deb seemed PERFECT for Ken, and she fit in with all the rest of us, too. My mom, my sister, and even Deb herself wondered…would Ken ever ask her to marry her? My mom in particular did all these hints and subtleties to Ken all the time about how Deb fit in, and she was so good to his kids, and he’d never find another gal like her…Ken just grunted at best in response. Everybody else who was female did similar non-direct approaches, trying to find out how he felt about Deb.

I found out instantly. Please watch these amazing Jedi Mind Tricks I used on him, too!

Me: Hey Ken…Deb’s great. You guys have been dating a long time. Do you think she’s the one? I mean, do you think you’re gonna ask her to marry you sometime?

Ken, startled at the stupidity of the obviousness of my question: Well, yeah! Of course. She’s great. I’ll ask her after I figure out what she wants to do about the more kids issue.

Do you see how clever I was, all that manipulative language, all that attacking from the sides but never up front? NOT! All I had to do was ask: hey Ken, are you going to marry her?

The direct approach works.

Let me tell you the bonus of the direct approach too: we get what we want and need way more than if we don’t use the direct approach. I’m sorry if you are a female who has been raised to avoid conflict or to be very Southern and gentle and kind. I really am. This is a roadblock to Speaking Man. But at least now you know! Good luck!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Miracle Is About to Happen

...and by that, I mean, I am about to update my blogroll! I plan on doing it by the end of today. I think I make it a semi-annual occasion ;) I decided to go ahead and add on Terry's blog (High Druid) even though he posts very rarely. When he DOES post, the content is well-written (he's a published author and has done a fair bit of professional writing) and thoughtful, so I might as well put it up. However, please be warned: a) he doesn't post often at all and b) he's very happily pagan. If you go to his site to tell him he's going to hell because he's not Christian, I'd love to go and watch, so please let me know before you embark upon this laughable venture. We might even sell seats! There's nothing like Terry's ability to use logic and his verbal weaponry to dismember somebody who disagrees with his opinions.

My evil headache is now a regular headache and is responding to excedrin. You have no idea how happy that makes me. I am now contemplating that I should switch my birth control pills again. Eventually, they all give me headaches. I am limited in my birth control options because Alex and I will likely try and have a third and final baby for the brood. After we accomplish that task (and because of my age, we have a limited window there!), THEN we can talk about other options.

I think the whole reproductive thing is totally messed up. How is it possibly good for humanity to have ten, eleven, twelve year old girls having periods and able to get pregnant? It makes no sense to be ABLE to have children that young. And even though I know Angie is thrilled with her wonderful daughter, I'm sure she can back me up that being a young mom is much, much harder than being an older mom with a degree and financial resources. This is what I vote for: we don't get periods until we're 20 yrs old. At that point, we have an on/off switch. We can keep it on "off" as long as we don't want babies. We flip it to "on" when we are ready. That way, no guy can wonder if a girl is trying to trap her into marriage by saying, "oh dear, I WAS on the pill...I have no idea how that happened!" No pregnancy could be unplanned. There'd be no wondering about it. Please vote me to be divine ruler of planet Earth. I have so many suggestions, and this is just one of them! (aren't you scared now?)

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Great Music Award

So, I forgot to mention Ariana's surprise award at award day: the Music award for the second grade. What the hell? When she was awarded it, I was open-mouthed and stunned. Music? Who the hell has music abilities in my family? Well, ok, my brother Mark once played the violin on a concert violinist level, but that's really it for both sides. And Mark doesn't count. There's nothing Mark can't do. It's not fair to put him in the same category as the rest of the family (no, really...president of an oil company with 16 patents to his name...writes lovely poetry...can draw beautifully...plays the violin magnificently...coaches baseball in his free time as he was very good at baseball, football, and track anyway...yeah, he just does it all).

The music teacher made a cryptic comment when Ariana received the award. She said, "For such a happy and smiling girl, she sure can sing the blues!" What the hell?

So, later on, this is what I found out. They had a class one day wherein they were taught all about the blues and heard examples. Then the teacher wanted them to come up with their own. The other eight-year-olds didn't quite get the concept, but MY DAUGHTER did! For some reason, this amused the crap out of me. Let me give you the background on this one. I've had four cats in my life as pets. The first one, Shadow, died long before Ariana was ever born. Scruffy died in 2001, and Hecate died in 2003. We just have Chian, a big, rolly-polly tabby cat with a great personality. He knew I was pregnant before I knew it, and he's better with kids than any dog you can name. So! This was basically her spontaneous song, done to a bluesy rhythm she duplicated from the samples they were given--

We've had four cats
One I never got to even meet
Next one died
Then the other one followed
I only got one left
and I just don't know what I'd do if he went too
If Chian dies
I'm gonna cry!

You might not find this entertaining at all, but damn I laughed. I have no idea why she picked out this topic, but it seemed on target for the expected content!


Please, somebody tell me why I can't get this out of my head...

Ohhhh ohhhh ohhh ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie
They forever go together what a classic combination
When a dark delicious cookie meets an icey cold sensation
Like the one and only creamy crunchy chocolate O-R-E-O


I have a headache. Kids are running all over my house. I need liquor. Please send some ASAP. Thank you.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Good Friends

I am one of those lucky people who rarely, if ever, loses good friends. I have all my closest high school buddies still tight to my heart; same thing with my college buddies. The friends I made in-between I've kept too, save for two friends on the net I later realized were too nutty to be a part of my life safely. I've been on the net making friends since 2000, and about 90% of them have been great folks whom I visit and vice versa, or at least we exchange emails and talk on msn regularly. However, in this six year span I DID manage to encounter two gals who are certifiable. In BOTH cases I had people warning me that these gals had already made and lost friends many times over on the net, and therefore I should be wary. However, I'm one of those stubborn people who prefers to find out on my own, and well...yeah, they were right (Alex--I'm thinking of Liz and Marie, of course...you can back me up that they are certifiable!). Oh well. The net's been good to me for friends. Las Vegas was just the last occasion I've had the honor of meeting folks I conversed with online. I'd do it again in a heartbeat as there are at least six of you I talk to now online through blogger and emails whom I'd love to meet one day.

Anyway! The reason why I'm pondering this right now is that my high school buddies have this way of getting all excited about some topic--usually a totally geek topic--and then mass emailing all of us to discuss it. Sometimes politics are thrown in, and our group goes from liberal to conservative, so the political discussions end up interesting and cool. Not only do we all keep in touch via email but we also get together every Christmas season in Tampa for an event we call "The Gathering." This week, the topics have been the Justice League, other worthy cartoons, anime, and then, of course, wiretapping. Haha! Do you see the natural flow there? These guys were the ones I hung out with a couple of times a week for my entire high school career. They have my back. Lee, undoubtably my best friend, has been the Primary Female in the group along with me since like I dunno, '84. Maya--the excellent addition to our group through dating and then marriage, starting in like '89--is wholly a part of the group as well and became another of the main females. The rest of the group, as large as it is, consists of males. What do you expect? It's a geek group, and more geeks are men :) The guys married a few other gals who come to The Gathering and get along with us, but they don't tend to participate in the mass email discussions we do. Anyway! I can't believe how lucky I am to have these guys. Any time I've needed them, they're there.

My college buddies are a little less organized in how they communicate, but we all still visit each other, email, and plan trips every couple of years. Since college, it's been harder to dig up folks I truly can love and adore along with the others, but I've found them! I love making new friends. I love learning about different people with different experiences and seeing the world from their eyes. Yes, I am certainly what one would call a people person.

When I look back upon my life, I realize that I seem to collect friends and never let go once I get somebody I can really place in that category. You know you're a real friend when I'm screening my calls and I pick up the phone for you....haha! I HATE the phone. HATE IT! If I talk to you on the phone, it means I love you (see, Cookie Monster, how loved you are?). I'm bad about making first contact...through phone or email or msn or whatnot. If you can put up with that, you'll have a very loyal friend who will do her best to make sure she's got your back. My mom always told me that classic line: In order to have friends, you must be a friend. My mom taught me that to be a friend was to always, ALWAYS be excited for another when he or she accomplishes something. My mom taught me that jealousy has no real place in friendship, and the friends who spent their lives being envious of you, sniping about you because you had what they wanted...were never real friends. I also believe in the girlfriend's rule: never, ever fight over men. These rules have served well as a friendship guide, and now I never truly feel alone. My kids are starting to make good friends, and I hope that they can have some who will mean as much to them as mine do to me. THAT is a real blessing.

I think Ariana's got it though. I remember in first grade, she came home and huffed, "Such and such told me and another girl that we weren't her friends because we wouldn't play the game she wanted to play. *I* told her that REAL FRIENDS don't threaten the friendship to get what they want, so she wasn't a friend to begin with!" Haha! Well said!

EDIT: I almost forgot...this may be a female only problem, but real friends don't end the friendship because the woman won't sleep with him. *snort*


Speaking of Ariana, I know you are all dying to hear how her award day turned out. Fake it for me...smile and nod yes. Haha! Anyway, she received all A's for four quarters this year, so they gave her a little trophy for it. They also give out an award for the best student in each of the four major areas (math, science, social studies, and writing), and she won the award for social studies. She gets that from her dad. Her dad can talk about anything in history and keep all the facts and dates straight.

My daughter suckered me at the beginning of the year. She told me that she would get all straight A's for SURE if I promised to buy her an American Girl doll...and then batted her eyelashes prettily. I can't afford an American Girl doll. That's why she's asked for one for three years and never gotten one. However, I know she's largely bored in school...and I decided that giving her some motivation by giving her this goal was all right. See, I can't use the argument one can use in high school: you need good grades if you want a scholarship to a good school! Um, no one cares about second grade. However, if she gets into the habit of focusing on school now, she'll keep it up. I hope. Aw, hell, I have no idea half the time what I'm doing with this parenting thing. I'm winging it. IT SOUNDED GOOD, ok folks???? So now, after dishing out a bit o' money fixing the car this week, I'm also slamming on the credit card an American Girl doll. Oh well!!! It's worth it. She's sooo excited and is now asking me every day, "Will it arrive today, mommy?"

She'd better love it. It's the only thing she's getting to play with all summer long :)

Oh, and no hats at award day, so we were safe. Whew!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

K-4 Graduation

I had to go to my son's K-4 graduation today. Apparently, they "graduate" so they can go on to kindergarten. My son attends a public school that has a selective K-4 program attached to it; approximately 20 K-4 kids are let into the program each year. They started this the year Ariana would have been eligible, but I didn't hear about it until she went to kindergarten. Oh well!

I expected the ceremony to be cute but boring. However, my son was determined to make it entertaining...uh oh....

So, 20 four and five year olds have made their own graduation caps. They took party hats, cut off the tops, split them and glued them to a large, blue cardboard piece. They then attached a yellow yarn tassel to it as well. The cap is then secured upon the child's head by a piece of elastic. My son's hat apparently caused him discomfort, and therefore it became a tool of impishness. Yes, he's my son all right.

The children all file up onto stage and find the seat with their name on it as they have all been labeled. We are told by the teacher that the class will say the pledge of allegiance for us "...just like we do every single day for class!"

The entire class then stands up for attention...except my son. Please don't think he was having an attack of shyness. Nope. He gives us all a devilish grin, and then he leans back in his chair as if he were lounging around on a divan and being fed grapes. I see the whole of his class give the pledge, and Jared just looks at the audience coolly and mumbles to himself.

My imagination kicks in at this point as my mind's eye inserts, "I do not approve of the current administration and therefore will not say the pledge until sanity returns. Thank you." It was hard for me not to giggle.

Then as they all sit down, Jared discovers that his hat just won't stay on. He pushes it this way, that way, HEY! GUESS WHAT! He can move it to the front like a unicorn horn and then the WHOLE piece of cardboard covers his face! I can hear faint giggling every time he does that rather deliberately.

Awards are being given out. By this time, his nice shirt is untucked. He has also realized that if he whips his head back and forth JUST SO...he can flay both boys sitting on either side of him! COOL!

They call him up for his diploma and an award just about the time he has this revelation. One of the little boys next to him solemnly helps Jared get his cap back on right so he can go get the paper. He's doing a little dance, skipping and jumping as he gets there. His award, by the way, was for "Most Intellectual." Apparently that's what you call the K-4 Valedictorian. After the ceremony, the teacher went on and on about how brilliant Jared was (of course he's brilliant! he's MY SON!), and how his pattern skills and memory put him so far ahead of the other kids that it was astounding. I was hoping desperately that this fact made up entirely for my son's continuous hat dance on stage earlier. She didn't mention it except to smile sweetly at Jared and say, "I saw you had some problems with your hat!" *Snort* Yeah. Let's just call it that. Please?

One of the little kids had a nervous breakdown on stage when his name was called for his diploma and started crying hysterically. The pressure of being four, five years old is tremendous. That will never be my children. They are what I call the most extroverted introverts you'll ever meet. They can be shy at first and stare at you, but put them on stage or let them warm up to you and they're wild little clowns. Right after Jared's performance (which included some extra words and dance steps to the songs they were supposed to sing on stage), he hid behind my legs. Go figure.

I felt bad for my ex, though. He took time off from work to come to see the graduation and Jared couldn't force himself to care. Jared waved to me on the way up the asile; on stage, he occasionally mouthed, "HI MOM!" and waved more. When the kids came off the stage, he ran for me and ignored the ex. Then when the ex had to go, he refused to say good bye, hug him, acknowledge him, or anything civil...he just hid behind my legs again. The ex took it well and left, but I know that couldn't have felt good. At least Ariana was glad to see her dad (her teacher let her out of class so she could see the graduation).

Next stop: award day for Ariana's class on Friday morning! Please let them not get hats to wear....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Rant

When Amanda was over at Chez Kira last night, after a couple of glasses of wine I decided to do a repeat performance of “The Rant” which I just started giving to my classes this semester. She enjoyed it so much that she said I had to blog about it! (Although Amanda wins with the line of the night…I believe it was something like, “He just makes you wonder how many toilets he was dunked in as a child!” Haha! I like that one. I’ll be stealing it in the future!)

Ok, before I start on the rant, let me remind all of you guys that my goal as a teacher has always been TO TEACH the kids the materials. In the long run, if I do that, then it hardly matters how they feel about me, personally. That’s how I conduct my classroom. Usually this particular rant starts before class gets going and one of them mentions another teacher who is an “easy A” and hence, the class should consider taking that teacher’s class. I once was a student, so I surely remember that all the kids discuss the pros and cons of the teachers they’ve had, and the ones who dished out easy A’s were popular for only that reason. I, however, have a different approach. Usually my rant contains a reference to an incident I had as a student, but I think I clipped that one out when I gave my patented speech to Amanda last night. Oh well. Here it goes!

You want to take that teacher’s class because it’s an easy A that’s good for your GPA? How sad. I mean, I understand the appeal…I was a student once too. But the easy A classes come back to bite you on the ass. How so, you ask? Well, I remember when I was at Duke, I had signed up for an English lit class of interest to me. All of my friends went, oh that’s Grover! He’s the only easy A you can get in the English department! Good job! And then I groaned.

Why did I groan? Well, it’s been my experience that an easy A means that all I have accomplished is wasting my time, my energy, and my life just to bolster my GPA. In those classes, I learn nothing. Sure enough, after the end of that term, I could recall nothing I knew from anything else anywhere. In fact, on the easy as hell exam, I mostly used the information that my AP English instructor gave me in high school to answer the questions present. Everybody seemed thrilled with their grade; I, on the other hand, felt disgust. From now on, if an employer looks at my transcript, he or she will assume I have that knowledge because not only did I take the class…but I received an A in it. It’s a lie. It’s a lie on my transcript.

Whenever you take classes because they are easy, you cheat yourself. Sure, you may graduate with a perfect 4.0 and the employers may go, wow, I need to hire him or her! But then you will arrive at the job, knowing nothing when the boss assumes you know everything, and you’re screwed. You won’t get promoted. You may not even get to hold onto your job because your education has been a waste. You have a degree, but no knowledge with the degree.

When I was at USC getting my master’s, I had to take an American Lit class because we were all required to take one class from the opposite field. If one focused on Brit Lit, then one took an American Lit class to graduate; if one focused on American Lit, then one took a Brit Lit class to graduate. After talking to the American Lit folks, I was labeled crazy because I decided to take my one class in that field from the hardest professor in the department. They told me that he failed half his students every term, even the ones who were getting their specialty in American lit, because he asked so much work and performance from the students. However, he was THE BEST USC had to offer. If I had to take one class in American Lit, wouldn’t I want that to be from the best? So, I worked my ass off. It WAS hard. I even drove up to the Duke library one weekend to access their better books for a better paper. I ALWAYS received A’s of some type on my papers, and I remember getting a B+ on that one. I was so proud of that B+ I could have died. My good friend in the class who never had received anything lower than an A and was a PhD candidate received a C—which in graduate school is a failing grade—on her paper. She was hysterical. I just clutched my paper and felt a surge of pride. I ended up with a B in that class, something that the rest of the students thought was a miracle of god, but holy hell, did I LEARN!!! And now, if a future employer wants to know if I know anything about the 20th century American novel, I can damn well say I do.

You see, kids, you may think you’re doing yourself a favor by striving to get that all-perfect GPA, but what you’re doing by taking the easy path is not getting the knowledge you need to succeed. Some teachers make it so easy for you to take this path. I know of several teachers who don’t get the attention they need or want at home or in their personal life, and so the classroom becomes a way for them to get what they want. These are the teachers that everybody knows that if you suck up to them or flirt with them, you’re getting an A. And what did you learn from that? Nothing.

See, I don’t need to be loved. I don’t need you to love me. I don’t need that attention. I have parents, two great kids, a fabulous fiancé, lots of friends, and a cat who all love me. I don’t need more. My goal in here is not to be loved or get great evaluations or be voted teacher of the century to feed my self-esteem. My goal here is….TO TEACH YOU. If you are a bad writer, I want you to make it up to average. If you are average, I want you to become good. If you are good, I want you to become great. If you are great already…well, then, I’m sorry you have to take this course! But my goal here is NOT to become popular. It’s to give you this knowledge and these skills so that you can SUCCEED. And you know what, guys? If you succeed in life, even if you curse my name with your dying breath, I won. I won because I achieved my goal. I can wake up in the morning, look at myself in the mirror, and pat myself on the back for a job well done. I’ve done my job…I’ve taught you. Now, if you come through all of that and you still manage to love me, all I can say is that you have great taste! Haha! But do I NEED that attention? Do I NEED you to run around and say that I’m the best teacher ever? No. I NEED you to learn the stuff and to not pass until you do so that you can get the jobs you want…get promoted…and get where you want to go in life. THAT is what I need. And THAT is why I will never, ever, EVER be the ‘easy A’ teacher. If you get an A in here, feel free to brag to the world because it ACTUALLY MEANS SOMETHING IN MY CLASS!

For the record, both classes I gave this speech to this term broke out into spontaneous applause when I finished my little rant. Haha! I really do have some kids who hate me because I make them work or make them hand in assignments on time or whatever. That’s their business. I know I’m doing what I have to…and sometimes it pays off. For instance, take this letter that I received yesterday in my school email box as an example. The student actually moved me to watery-eyed tears with these specific words:

At the beginning of the semester I
remember e-mailing you and telling you that you were my favorite
professor, and that still holds today and will always. You weren't just an
English teacher to me. You were a life and moral teacher. You taught me
about how to see the world and how to make my own judgment no
matter if other people saw my side. To be honest you have been the
first professor in my years of being in school that has let me make my
own choices, which was scary at first but I got used to it and I
appreciate that a lot. So I basically just wanted to say thanks for all
you have done, you have done more than you realize. Thank you

And that’s why I teach! I know the pay sucks…boy do I, especially in this state. But it’s moments like that when I realize it’s all worth it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Enjoy My Life!

The kids and I travel in the car together a lot. I have learned to filter out their discussions for the most part and just drive on in order to keep my sanity. However, sometimes I just can't help but listen...please keep in mind that Jared is five and Ari is eight. Do you see what kind of hell I'm in for during the teen years?

Jared: Knock knock!

Ari: Who's there?

Jared: Tick tock!

Ari: Tick tock who?

Jared: Ticky tocky tock tock tick tick tocky hoooo haaaa!


Ariana: Jared, that's not a knock knock joke.

Please keep in mind that this girl was the creator of the infamous orange knock knock joke...it goes like this...knock knock! who's there? orange! orange who? orange bonk you on the head!

Jared: YES IT IS!


Jared: It's a good joke and it's funny!

Ariana: It can't be a joke or else I'd laugh! That's not funny! You're silly!

(random tussling sounds in the back seat as I sigh)

Jared: How about this one? Knock knock!

Ariana, sighing: who's there?

Jared: Chicken!

Ariana, suspiciously: Chicken who?

Jared, said JUST LIKE Forrest Gump: Chick-en Butt-ocks!

(rampant giggling from the back seat)

(later, Ariana insists that FRIED chicken buttocks sounds better, then...)


Ariana, giggling: No I didn't!

Jared: Yes you did!

Ari: No, it doesn't STINK bad enough to be MINE!

Yeah. Pitty me. This is my life. Oh yeah, this is my life....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Smart Women

I had a "day at Clemson" yesterday which was entertaining to say the least. The most amusing part for me was to be at the senior day picnic while Amanda had to collect tickets because I could finally put names to faces of people Amanda had mentioned before. The easiest one to figure out? Well, that'd be the one she mentioned liked women's boobies. I was wearing a cleavage shirt, and his eyes immediately were talking to my nipples. It was hard not to laugh, really!

Anyway, Amanda and I had our usual conversations throughout the course of the day,and we had decided to write a book all about men for women. Unfortunately, there's one chapter we may have problems writing because it doesn't make sense to me.

See, my students in my English 101 class are required to keep a journal. Some of the topics I assign; some they pick out on their own. One of the topics is always, "Describe Your Ideal Mate." I stress to them that they can't describe their current boyfriend or girlfriend because NO ONE is ideal. If their significant other is reading over their shoulder and pouts that their lover is not writing about THEM, I instruct the kids to say, "Well, that bitch of a teacher won't LET me write about you, sweetheart, but you know you're my ideal!" haha! As I put it to the kids, "Even Alex snores. No one is perfect. This essay is all about your IDEAL mate, a person who could not exist because he or she IS perfect!" The responses from the girls are always vastly different from the boys. The boys nearly always concentrate on looks or attitude. With the exception of one girl who cracked me up by starting out with, "My ideal man would have a manhood of at least seven inches long and very thick too," the girls don't tend to concentrate so much on the physical stuff. Sure, we have the occasional woman who might mention that she loves dark hair (oh wait, that's me!) or something, but really, the women concentrate on the person underneath the skin for the most part. Just this last term, I congratulated one guy from this one class for being the first guy ever to not mention a single thing about the appearance of his perfect mate. I told him no guy had ever written on this topic and at least mentioned some small physical feature that he'd prefer. In that same class, however, I had two kids who specified something that was not looks at all...

...basically, these guys specified that they wanted a dumb girl.

I've had now six guys write in their essays about how their ideal mate would be stupid. They want to be the smart one in the relationship. None of them were kidding. I know they aren't kidding because I have had the experience in my life of guys I had met basically tell me later on that they prefer me when I'm flirting to when I am outthinking them. Sigh. I just would like to state for the record that I have never, ever, EVER had a girlfriend tell me, "Well, I want a dumb man so I can feel superior!" I've never even heard, "I would like a dumb man!"

I couldn't stand to date or be with a dumb man. I couldn't even realistically date a man who is of average intellect. In order to keep me sexually aroused, a man has to be very smart and capable of a wide variety of topics. He has to be able to disagree with me and fight for what he believes in, but do so without being an asshole. I've never dated a dumb man, and I never will...no matter how hot he may be.

Last night, I was talking to Alex and his good friend Frank online. Frank, like Alex, is French. We were avidly discussing politics, the English language, food...you name it, a fluid conversation going from one issue to the next. I worried briefly for a moment that I was boring them with details, and then I remembered: I'm talking to French people. They live for this shit. It's ok.

Now, guys who read my blog here...don't get all defensive on me. I realize that most guys who are smart enough to blog and like to discuss life aren't the type to want a dumb girl. I'm not saying YOU OVER THERE! WHY DO YOU LIKE DUMB GIRLS? I'm just saying that, on the whole, in my redneck area of the country, there are a lot of guys who don't want brains in their woman.

It confuses me, though. No matter how hot a woman is, eventually gravity takes over. Childbirth leaves silvery stretch marks and/or a c-section scar; wrinkles form; the boobs start sagging down to the kneecaps. When time takes over and the bimbo these guys married is no longer physically attractive, what is LEFT? When the looks fade, where's the attraction? Does he then divorce her and look for a new, younger bimbo? How can the bimbo make you laugh with quick wit when she has no brain? Do you just want to laugh AT her and not WITH her?

I guess I don't understand, and I guess I never will. Give me the smart, geeky guys who want long conversations about everything and nothing! Now THAT is sexy.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Well, we all have dreams, right? Alex and I were looking at wedding options. He found the most gorgeous chateau in France ever to host our wedding...except we can't afford it. So, I'm putting it on the "must win the lotto" list. Or maybe it's the "I can really try out prostitution the next time I'm in Las Vegas" list...?

Here, check this gorgeous place out!

And this is the offer:

Saturday lunchtime:

Aperitif served on a terrace, lunch and coffee at their cottage swimming pool

Price: 135 euros per person, including a glass of champagne, our selection from their menu (entree (appetizer) + two dishes), selection of wines that will fit the dishes according to their sommelier and us, coffee, mineral water

We can use their cottage swimming pool (whatever that is?)during the coffee

Extra champagne: 65 euros per bottle

Wow...see, I'd love to have enough money to "reward" those who came out to see our marriage all the way to France with such a wonderful wedding reception! I always used to dream of a medieval wedding (remember, my master's is in medieval and renaissance literature). That means my dress would look like this, too (except I think it's like $3k, so, um, not happening):

I love this dress

So, I have a year to earn the money by prostitution or by lotto. The wedding should be June of 2007. Or I could steal one of Hoss' Make My Pile suggestions....he MIGHT let me do that because he loves me so much. I think. I hope :)


My daughter wrote an essay for school and asked me to type it up on her blog. It's short. Go look at it and admire it. She needs encouragement in her writing because she thinks she can only do math and science well...even though she reads at a 5th grade level as a second grader. Yes, she can't spell (it's ironic that I corrected her spelling for her essay), but otherwise I think she did a great job!

Go look!

Ariana's Blog

Ok, now that was enough links. I never put up links. I just had three. I feel exhausted!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Second Grade

Since I'm out of school and my kids are not, I tend to do volunteer work for the classes as needed. This week, I helped out with the second grade today (Ari's class), and on Friday I help out with the K-4 crowd (Jared). I had promised to come in today last week...before I knew that my daughter would be facing a cold, asthma, and a migraine. Yes, at 5a last night my daughter simultaneously had a migraine and asthma going off. I gave her her medicine, a hot cloth for her forehead, and her asthma inhaler. I put her in my bed, but then I did the wise thing and crawled far away from her. When she has her migraines, she has touch sensitivity so I know better than to lay a hand on her. In fact, I worried that the cloth might be a bad idea. However, she wanted it. At least she didn't throw up this time, although I saw her clutch her stomach a lot. By this morning I asked her several times if she could handle school, and she said yes. We have three weeks left before school is out, and she can miss ONE more day. Period. If she misses two, we get to explain ourselves in front of a Family Court judge. SC laws are insanely stupid. My daughter can't miss more than ten days of school for any reason, even though she gets sick and has straight A's. Somehow it's our fault she has a weak immunity system. Well, I guess genetically it is, but still! She's GETTING STRAIGHT A'S!!!! Does it matter if she misses 11 days of school?

The kids crawl all over me when I'm there. It's flattering, actually. Today the overwhelmed teacher had me help them with their writing assignments. Their writing is awful, but hey, they're in second grade. I felt rather useful, and they seemed to appreciate my sense of humor.

The story they had to read was called "Abuela." Abuela, as a lot of you I'm sure know, means grandmother in Spanish. The story had a lot of phrases and words in it that were Spanish. Although I am glad they are having this exposure to the language, I wish they'd TEACH IT in the school instead of referencing it. The older these kids get, the harder it'll be for them to learn any language. Then why do we start teaching kids foreign languages in high school? Yes, yes, I know of some schools that start language classes earlier, but the majority of them still wait too late for the foreign language exposure.

It made me sad to see the Spanish words because...well, I don't speak Spanish, but I should. My mom made me take Latin, but Spanish is my heritage. My mom spoke Spanish before she spoke English, you see, and her mother was straight from Mexico. However, she never bothered to teach any of us how to speak her language. I'm 25% Mexican and nobody would ever know because I'm So White I Glow and I can't speak Spanish. Sigh. I KNOW I could learn Spanish because I heard my mom sing Spanish songs around the house, plus I heard it spoken a lot in Florida (where I grew up). I can reproduce Spanish sounds easily. It's really too bad I fell in love with a Frenchman instead of a Spaniard! I could do this language easier than French. Anyway, I mentioned this information to Ariana's teacher, and a little girl named Anna perked up, listening intently.

Anna amazes me. She was born in Equador, I found out, and she started the school year not speaking a word of English. By October, she was passable. It's May and she speaks and writes better than a native. She's EIGHT and she was sitting down and reading Huckleberry Finn during reading time. This child is bright. In fact, the teacher pointed out that Anna, my daughter, and my daughter's boyfriend (yes, she has his picture and everything...his name is Mark)are the really smart ones in the classroom. Anna's eyes went wide when she heard me talking about my mom, and she whispered to me, "I only spoke Spanish once, but now it's becoming harder for me to use it because I use English so much!" I told her that happened to my mom, too, and now in her older years she reads a lot of Spanish just to get back what she once had. And then Anna stuck to me for the rest of the day. This gorgeous little girl with her dusky skin and her wavy pulled back raven hair decided we had something in common, and that made her happy. Later on, I delighted her even further by telling her that my best friend was half Ecuadorian. I told her that my friend's mom was from Quito, and she said, "Oh! I've BEEN to Quito!" I'm not surprised since it's the capital.

Meanwhile, my own daughter was obviously exhausted and found it hard to stay alert in school. I had to give her two inhaler treatments (usually she has to go to the nurse for it). My poor daughter also had one of those "gosh it sucks to have my mom here" moments because they were working on a story, and I made her go back and do some prewriting. She tried to freewrite it like her mom does, and it was fast becoming unwieldy and disorganized. Still, it was really cool to be in the classroom and see what happens there. I am beginning to understand more and more why the students come to me on the college level with no skills, too. It's either that the teachers are constantly having to shift their focus to meet whatever random "standards" the state has that year for that grade level, or the parents are assholes.

What do I mean by the parents are assholes? Take child A, for example, who was passed through Kindergarten and first grade when he shouldn't have been. He won't work. He won't do anything. Somehow, though, when the teacher wants him to fail second grade because HE NEEDS TO since he has NOT LEARNED THE MATERIAL, the parent has a fit and says no way. It's the school's fault. It's the teacher's fault. It's not her child, and her child WILL be passed. Whew! You gonna wipe his ass for him when he graduates from college too, woman? Why not let your child learn some responsibility! Try that for a while and see what it does!

I feel badly for Ari's teacher, though. She tries SO HARD but there are just too many kids in that classroom. I was desperately needed for help. They got a lot accomplished today, and that's because she had the assistance she needs on a regular basis. Who says more funding couldn't help? Get these teachers of the younger ones HELP, and these kids will GET the individual attention they need. Oh well.

Poor Ari has passed out on the sofa since we came home and is snoring away. I hope she feels better by tomorrow...after all, we can't have Big Brother Government dragging me to family court because my daughter's sick too much, eh? Bleh.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


When I arrived home on Wednesday (well, I was back at Alex's on Monday night, but then I drove back to my house on Wednesday), all sorts of crappy things hit me in the face. The oddness, I suppose, is that...well, I'm completely at peace. I'm calm. I am not phased. This is strange. I think "normalacy" would be to be upset and frantic. But, somehow, I just feel that it'll all be ok.

I think that my reaction is hormone based. MOST weeks/days out of the month, I am blessed with a very settled outlook on life. However, I've noticed that there are a couple of days during the month wherein NOTHING...absolutely NOTHING...can go wrong and I'll be fretting, worrying, and having an anxiety attack. Thankfully, yesterday was not such a day.

I came home around noon and the electricity was off in the apartment. Nobody else had their electricity off in my building. I had paid my bill. So, what happened? I opened up the refrigerator and freezer and discovered that the electricity had been off for days. DAYS. No more food. That's it.

I called up the electricity company. They insisted that they did NOT turn off my electricity by accident, something I suspected because my neighbor is being evicted. They said they'd come out and see what was wrong. I waited around an hour or so, and nothing happened. I left to pick up the kids. When I came back, the electricity was back on. I called up the electricity company. They said they didn't know how it was off or how it came back on. They did NOTHING. Must be an internal problem. Well, maintenence came out to the apartment and checked it out. The guy is super nice and showed me to my satisfaction that it wasn't a problem with my wiring. He told me he suspected that the electricity company didn't want to admit their error, nor would. He said, it's more than coincidence that the electricity is off for days but then comes back on within two hours of you calling them. Yeah, I agree. Regardless, I now have lost all the food in my refrigerator...AGAIN. I lost it all in December during the ice storm that had my electricity off for days too. Sigh. So, I thought, well, that's $200 worth of food gone...I like to stockpile food when it's on sale, you see. My freezer always has lots of meat options. I used to do what Foilwoman does and buy the meat on the last day for a discount, but I did that through Harris Teeter...and HT was bought out by Bi-Lo around here. I don't know of another grocery store that does the discounted meats thing. Therefore, if it's on sale for a good price, I buy three and stuff it in my freezer.

Ok, so it's gone. I already had to buy replacement food.


I called up my ex to make sure he remembered I'd be picking the kids up from school. He sheepishly told me that while the kids were at his father's farm last weekend, a horse rolled onto Ari's leg.

No shit. ROLLED onto her leg. Now, for the record, my ex used to break horses. He's very, very skilled with them. I would have let Ariana ride a horse WITH him, so that's not my objection here. What I am ticked about is that it's Star she rode...the very same horse that bucked and threw me years ago, and who is well known to like to buck. What the hell? Why put your child on a horse like that one? Why not a more mellow horse? Sigh.

So, then my ex decides to drive Ari to the best hospital in the area. That means he drove her to a hospital where she's not covered by her insurance (yes, I have no health insurance, but the kids have it, so...). I understand why he did it, but still! Basically, his family lives in rural nowhere and the hospital that would be covered is considered not good enough for even the local livestock to go to. Therefore, it's pay in full. Half is mine. Sigh. The Xrays show no break or fracture. However, she was a bit swollen and bruised due to a HORSE falling ON HER, so she was on crutches for a few days.

I kept waiting on Wednesday night for an anxiety attack or sobbing or a fear of "where will I get the money for the hospital bill?" It never came. Instead, I realized I just felt that it was great that Ariana did NOT break her leg nor become more injured. The kids are back with me, and they are happy and in good spirits. My electricity IS back on, we DO have food, and we WILL get to see Alex this weekend. In all actuality...it's ok. The money? Well, it always works out. Hell, my whole life has always worked out. Sure, there's been shit and crap here and there, but eventually I reach that sandbar so I'm not drowning anymore, and the water is cool, and the sun is warm, and it just feels good.

Let's just say I'm glad this is a GOOD hormone day!

Monday, May 01, 2006

1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor!

Alex and I just got back from Vegas. Wow, we had a great time! It was wonderful meeting a bunch of bloggers, eating good food, drinking too much, seeing a show, etc.

We arrived Friday night after some weather issues at Dallas/Ft Worth (our connecting flight airport). Tired, we managed to eat and then head to bed. The time difference of three hours kicked our asses. Saturday at lunch, we got to meet WordWhiz and Paul...Old Horsetailsnake and Vicki...and Bornfool. The food at Emeril's was wonderful, and it was an enjoyable meal. My favorite line came from WW when Hoss and Vicki were talking about their room at the Bellagio. See, WW stayed at the Flamingo and so we ended up there too. The place is HUGE, and it has a lot of nice amenities. However, after WW heard about the Bellagio, she said, "Well, at first I was so happy with the Flamingo! I thought it was the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in. But now! Now after hearing all that, all I can think is...I'm staying in a SLUM!" haha! That really cracked me up.

Later on, we met up with the same folks plus more. I met Paige, McG, Mrs. McG, Andy, more importantly than Andy...DANE!, Andy's wife Renee, Jarett (gees did I even spell it right?) and his girlfriend. First of all, Dane is cuter than the pictures will ever show. Secondly, Renee is the most beautiful pregnant woman I've ever seen. I always looked bloated and miserable, plus I bitched like a harpy both times I was pregnant. She, however, was in a great mood and happy. I was impressed! McG and Jarett cracked me up continuously. They had great stories to tell.

But, see, then somebody suggested tequila shots.... Yes, I am stupid. After two other drinks, I was just happy enough to think tequila sounded great. The bartender kept giving us what would be double or triple shots, however. Quickly I became incoherent and happy. Mrs. McG became my new best friend, as is the way of the drunk. I vaguely remember a conga line back from the bathroom with Jarett and Mrs. McG...hmmmm...I also remember always throwing my arms on her. I hope I didn't ever grab something I shouldn't have...haha! Damn. Sometimes I think I'm too old for this shit, but then again, since I always have the kids, I just don't GET to cut loose like this very often. I consider it several times' worth of cutting loose that I have to make up for in one night. The kids were not there; therefore, I went nuts. Believe me, I don't want anybody to show me alcohol for a while. I couldn't even look at the bars afterwards without feeling my tummy gurgle unhappily on Sunday.

I think I bit Alex too. Well, in the good way. He wasn't complaining. Still, I don't usually do that in public. It was LV, so it's ok, right?

Apparently, I also gave Alex my shoes and then ran down the hallway at the Flamingo. He was quite good to me. Once back in the hotel room, he took good care of me...giving me excedrin, a nice warm bath, and all sorts of perks to get through my after-drunk effect.

On Sunday, we got to see the Bellagio water show, more of the Paris hotel (and we ate there), the pool at the Flamingo, and the Blue Man show. We LOVED the Blue Man show. I was concerned that Alex might find the program really odd, but then I remembered I'm engaged to a Frenchman: he gets the concept of conceptual art or abstract wierdness. This is the man who played the duck in a theatre production in France that had an all-bird cast for the main characters. Blue Man was nothin'!

I'm easily entertained, and I have to say that LV entertained me royally. I was content just to wander around and see the sights. We only saw two Elvis impersonators, but the rest of the neon displays made up for it. Star Wars slot machines! Who would have ever thought it? I'd love to go back one day. Hoss and Vicki sure made the Cirque show "O" sound facinating, so I think that's what we'll need to hit up next time.

Remember guys: next year, Bloggercon is in FRANCE and y'all have to go to our wedding, you hear? Haha!

Here's to new friends and great times! Wow, that was a BLAST!