Diapers and Dragons

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hail to the Victor (It's Not What You Think)

I've actually been wanting to sit down and write some posts the last couple of days but have had to Resist Temptation because once again I have been my Bad Bad Bad Procrastinating Self and put off grading things until the very last minute. TECHNICALLY grades aren't due until 10:00 tomorrow morning, but we were supposed to export them the first time at 10:00 yesterday morning and guess who was frantically entering grades and didn't check the clock until 10:06 when posting was closed?

You got it in one.

Since I STILL didn't have all the grades entered at that point, I simply sighed and moved on with classes. At the end of the day I righteously packed up the remainder of the papers that needed to be checked and took them with me in their cute little pink and green accordion folder. Where they stayed while I got my oil changed...
(I know I'm way overdue--please don't yell at me! I begged the nice people at the oil changing station I frequent. I am the Queen of Procrastination and have to pay for it--sometimes literally.

You're five thousand miles overdue, you know, he said gently. You see this gunk? This is your oil. We recommended a system flush last time, and I really think you need to get it this time.

Along with the overdue coolant flush I had already requested. I'm surprised my poor overworked vehicle still chugs along. Not to mention my overworked wallet.)

...and while I searched fruitlessly at JoAnn Fabrics for the precise shade of blue cross stitch fabric to replace the piece that I mutilated in my attempt to rip out the hundreds of stitches I had done in the wrong color, and while I did my five miles of aerobic walking, and while I watched NCIS (my latest TV addiction--did you know that the USA channel plays three episodes in a row every week day? My DVR is getting filled), and while I played World of Warcraft until it was time to crawl into bed.

It's not that I'm doing nothing with my time, or even that I'm always doing useless things, it's that I just don't always seem to remember that those papers are sitting there, mournful and lonely, until it's too late to actually do anything about them anymore.

But VICTORY IS MINE, for I have labored mightily today and conquered my foe!

Even though it meant I completely forgot to do my lesson planning for my last hour of the day and had to come up with a totally off-the-cuff Scavenger Hunt.
(Go get your lit books from your lockers, I told them, eliciting groans as they faced lugging the massive tomes through the hallways, and search for all the texts you can find that deal with discrimination, racism, and/or hatred. You can't use texts we've already used.

Thereby having THEM do MY work for me, since we're doing a quick overview of such texts before diving into A Raisin in the Sun and Night. We're a wily lot, we

So maybe, now that I've gotten all that pesky work stuff out of the way for the time being, I can get back to the far more important task of blogging.

Never let it be said that I don't have priorities.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I'm Going to be All Right

I have a few posts swimming around in my brain, and hopefully I'll eventually get them here in one form or another. Some are funny accounts of the antics of DramaBoy and The Widget (someone should turn them into a comic book--they already have the names!); others are more philosophical, literary, and/or religious in nature. So far I haven't been able to do more than sketch them out roughly in my mind.

It's been a rough few days emotionally. I'm finding it hard to write, as a result. Time was that emotional torment (or rather, angst, as this was when I was a teen) triggered production of countless poems and the occasional journal entry. In more recent years I've found that the words dry up instead. Perhaps a better term is bottle up. It's the verbal equivalent of one's throat knotting up behind a great lump of pain that won't allow weeping; that burning in one's eyes that sears tears to salt before they can spill over.

I've been playing Sara Groves' album Add to the Beauty daily. This CD is yet another in one of the God Tracks that I have been unable to ignore lately. I have a feeling there have been others along the way for years; I just haven't been willing to see them.

(I could write a whole post on the irony of this, comparing it to the irony in Oedipus Rex--that he who was lauded for solving a riddle none other could was blind to the riddle of his own life. Like I said, some of the posts I've been writing in my head are literary in nature. I'm a literature teacher. Comes with the territory.)

I travelled to Boston in February over Midwinter Break to visit my sister. My parents and I drove there--or rather, my father did, as any offers to take over the driving by me and my mother were gently dismissed with Oh, I'm fine. My mother handed me Add to the Beauty to play as we set off on the second day, part of the meditation she likes for early morning car trips to replace her regular devotional. Wary, as usual, of Christian music, I was set to read instead and put up with the same-old-same-old praise music and songs that all sound like every other Christian band out there.

And heard Sara instead.

Her sound is more my cup of tea (or at least, certainly has a strong showing in my eclectic mix of musical taste), and she may as well have written three out of the first four songs for me. Others have come to mean a great deal as well. At the time, feeling quite desolate as I travelled ever farther away from home on Valentine's Day, a physical reality of the distance in my marriage, I felt like someone had torn out a piece of my soul and put it to words.

So I stared out the window at the snow-dusted fields of New York and cried, avoiding any sound or movement that might betray me to my parents. I couldn't have borne their sympathy at the moment. And when the CD was over, I reached over and pressed the button to play it again.

I'll likely write about certain other songs some other time, but I thought I'd share at least one song with you today. So many people--friends, family, coworkers, even people I've never met but know online--have extended such love and grace to me in the last few months. I wrote about it earlier this month, and as I've waded through my sadness of the last few days, I have realized yet again how much a difference opening myself up to those around me has been. I may be sad; I may be struggling with my words; I may feel the tears welling within me. But I am not alone.

This is the fourth track on the album, and it not only means so much to me in terms of a message of hope, but also as a representation of how those friends and loved ones have come to me.

To hear the song (along with some art drawn by the person who posted it on YouTube) here's the link.
It's Going to be Alright* (Sara Groves)

It's going to be all right
It's going to be all right

I can tell by your eyes that you're not getting any sleep
And you try to rise above it, but feel you're sinking in too deep
Oh, oh I believe, I believe that

It's going to be all right
It's going to be all right

I believe you'll outlive this pain in your heart
And you'll gain such a strength from what is tearing you apart
Oh, oh I believe, I believe that

It's going to be all right
It's going to be all right

When some time has passed us, and the story is retold
It will mirror the strength and the courage in your soul
Oh, oh, I believe, I believe
I believe
I believe

I did not come here to offer you cliches
I will not pretend to know of all your pain
Just when you cannot, then I will hold out faith for you

It's going to be all right
It's going to be all right

Thank you.

*Apologies to Ms. Groves and her editors, if she had any: while I kept the title the same because, after all, it's the title, I couldn't resist making small grammatical and spelling corrections to the lyrics. It would have hurt me to leave it be. No offense meant!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Whoever Said Turnabout Is Fair Play Didn't Have a Three-Year-Old

So if you were a good blog-reader and read my post a couple posts down, you'll recall that I am starting to sound alarmingly like a (*gasp*) Christian mommy these days. The resistance, it is eroding. That post is for another day, though.

However, DramaBoy's increasing familiarity with the Bible and the Judeo-Christian ethos means that he, in his great intelligence and verbal acumen, is starting to apply the same methods to me. For his own purposes, and sometimes for manipulative reasons. I have NO idea where he might have gotten that from. *Ahem.* His application tends to be rather broad, since he still doesn't grasp the fine details of specific situations.

This morning I was talking sternly to The Widget about some misdemeanor or another that I don't recall. DramaBoy was sitting on my lap, and he turned to me and said firmly You're supposed to listen to God.

That's right, I replied.

But you're not listening to God! he insisted.

What do you mean? I asked.

You're yelling at The Widget! he said, a stern and forbidding look creasing his brow.

I held back a chuckle. I'm not really yelling at him, I said. Sometimes when he doesn't listen or obey me, I have to tell him "No." I'm allowed to do that. It's like when we don't listen to or obey God and he has to tell us "No."

He looked disappointed. So much for being able to get out of verbal discipline.

I'm in trouble when he's a teen, aren't I?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When Good Mothers Go Bad (A Whine)

There are times when I just feel like a Bad Mom. Not a Bad Mother in the sense of Her Bad Mother, but a Bad Mom--one who is too selfish, too impatient, too fed up with all the Stuff of motherhood.

Sometimes it feels like too much. I have to get up shortly after five in the morning if I'm going to get ready, pack up the kids in the car, and get out the door to daycare and work--and that's WITH my parents' help. I don't know what I'll do when they leave and I have to get two squirmy boys ready on top of it all. Then there's work, with the occasional meeting afterwards, doctor visits, therapist visits, shopping to be done and errands to run, and then get the kids and take them home. They're often cranky and clingy in the afternoon, so even with my parents' help, and with my gourmet chef of a father whipping up something luscious for dinner, there isn't a lot of Space or Time for myself. Then dinner, vitamins, teeth, maybe a bath, pjs, and bed.

By which time I just want to collapse and vegetate until bedtime. God help me if there's grading to do.

This afternoon I wanted to exercise. I haven't done so since Saturday, and I've been very erratic with it lately. The occasional few miles every several days is not sufficient--I can feel and see the flab creeping back. I'm at an age where my body takes work.

And the kids did NOT want to help me out with my goal. The Widget stood before me and wailed, huge tears rolling down his cheeks. Efforts to distract him were momentary in effect. DramaBoy bounced in and out, tempting fate, until at last he managed to get himself tangled with my legs, almost resulting in catastrophe. At which point I lost my strained temper, snatched up my hoodie, and marched out of the room, snarling How am I supposed to do ANY of this with THEM around?!

Now I feel equal parts guilty and frustrated. I don't want to revert to my flabby, saggy self of the last several years. Exercise helps with my depression, and looking good makes me feel self-confident and proud of my accomplishment. Because that's what it is: I am no longer the naturally skinny TeacherGirl of nearly two decades ago (who could eat endlessly and lose weight and who hardly ever exercised, the bitch); but the sleep-deprived, under-hydrated, over-snacking, insufficiently-exercising TeacherMommy who has to work for anything near a svelte figure.

Do I have to choose? Do I have to EITHER be a Good Mother or a Beautiful Woman? Do I have to do the unthinkable and wake up at 4 A.M. in order to get a workout in before my morning ablutions?

Do I have to stop whining?


But it's as hard to get up the motivation to do that as it is to start working out.

Time to go be a Mother. For Good or Bad. Or at least Better.

Jonah and the Shoe: a Whale of a Story

I am a shoe whore.

There. I said it. They say the first step is admitting one's addiction, but I'm afraid that while I do acknowledge my vice, I have no intention of trying to go through the other eleven steps.

It's a good thing that I don't have to have expensive shoes or I would have racked up such a huge credit card debt that I would have filed bankruptcy ages ago. Payless ShoeSource in particular is a good friend of mine. We're on a first name basis. However, our intimate relationship does result in an abundance of adorable additions to our household. My husband finally laid down the law about seven years ago: for every pair of shoes I brought into our little family, another would have to go. This way we could at least achieve stasis rather than find ourselves wading through mounds of leather uppers and kitten heels. I haven't counted lately, but I believe I'm hovering somewhere in the vicinity of forty or fifty pairs of shoes.

And yes, I need them all.

And no, I don't have enough.

In fact, I was just musing over the fact that really I need to see if I can find a pair of grey or silver heels, because there are outfits that need such a thing, but it's getting too warm (hope springs eternal, folks) for my grey heeled boots.

(Oh lordy. Payless is having a shoe sale. I might be doomed.)

It may be a good thing that I don't have a daughter. I'm into the whole gender equity thing, but equity doesn't mean "same," and while men certainly have the opportunity to have many, many shoes, most men don't seem to have quite the same propensity for shoe lust that many women do. If I had a daughter, I'm afraid my adoration of the adorably clad foot would most certainly be extended to her. While high heels would not be present in her closet, I'm sure there would be all manner of flats and boots and sandals and Keds and tennis shoes in varying colors and styles. Maybe even red or pink cowboy boots, which I couldn't get away with, but which a small girl could.

As it is, I have to resist the temptation to purchase more shoes than my little boys need. Last spring when we went shoe shopping for them, I was pulling shoes off the shelves left and right. Sneakers, dress shoes, sandals, swim shoes...ComputerDaddy looked at the collection and said How many shoes do you think they need? They're toddlers, for goodness sake! The Widget isn't even walking properly yet!

So we compromised. No dress shoes, since we didn't anticipate needing them in the imminent future (which is all one can consider when it comes to shodding boys who grow inches in moments). No new swim shoes, since I could get those used and they'd only be worn a handful of times. We walked out with a pair of sneakers and a pair of waterproof sandals for each child, along with a pair of leather sandals for DramaBoy.

(When will he wear those?! asked ComputerDaddy.

You never know! I insisted defensively. He can wear them to daycare on hot days and still be wearing nice shoes!

And get dirt and wood chips jammed inside them when he goes out to play? he asked, unconvinced.

I put them in the cart anyhow. I think DramaBoy wore them twice. I HATE it when ComputerDaddy is right and I should have known better!)

This last week DramaBoy had been complaining that his sneakers--those formerly white shoes with the glorious heels that flashed red when he walked, which he insisted he had to have because his friend-cum-nemesis at school had a pair that flashed--were hurting his feet. In addition, The Widget had managed to lose one of his sneakers. (He's very good at this. He has a magical skill with vanishing one of a pair of objects, such as "Gampa"'s glove, which has remained invisible for nearly a month.) A search of the house proved fruitless, even though we KNOW it has to be in there somewhere. I think he's a gremlin in disguise, or at least has some friends among the Fae. I had a pair of bought-on-clearance canvas shoes for him to don, but they aren't terribly practical for daily wear, especially with Winter stubbornly hanging on in these parts.

Darn. Such a tragedy. We would have to go shoe shopping.

So yesterday after I picked them up from daycare we hied ourselves to Target. Target is very kid-friendly in the shoe department, having a large selection for a small price. They outrank Payless for children, in my experience (which of course is fairly vast by now). The last time I tried to go shoe shopping with two kidlets in tow was traumatic, and I was a little apprehensive, but they did remarkably well--for two stubborn, mulish, vociferous little boys, at least. "Good" is a relative concept.

Both boys needed to be measured, and they took great delight in stepping on the little footprints Target considerately placed on a nearby mat.

Look! The Widget is stepping on the BIG foot! He's so silly! crowed DramaBoy.

Foot! Soos! Soos! exclaimed the Widget.

Lo and behold, both boyos' feet had grown in the few months since our last shoe foray. The Widget was up half a size to 6, and DramaBoy had leapt a full size up to a 9--no wonder his tootsies were aching in those size 8s!

For a small child, his feet are on the larger side. Hmmm.

Both boys then made a beeline for the prominently displayed, easily accessible Spiderman sneakers that lined a full three levels of shelving. DramaBoy was momentarily sidetracked by some bright white and yellow Transformers sneakers, but I deterred him upon the discovery that the fastening was a very poor design that I know from sad experience causes the Velcro to wear out and fail in half the time it takes for the child to grow out of the shoe. (You got that, right? It does make sense. Break down the sentence piece by piece.)

Much to their joy, not only did these sneakers have Spiderman crawling all over the surface, the heels also..... (drumroll!):


Some shoe designers are brilliant. Also kid-savvy.

We then trailed over to the dress shoes, because my boys now attend Sunday school and I figured that while white sneakers with flashy heels might be marginally acceptable, Spiderman sneakers with flashy heels might be crossing the boundaries of respectability. This is when things began to fray at the edges. The Widget happily tried on his pair of brown loafers, then waddled about pulling other options out of the boxes, offering them cheerfully for my inspection (Soos! Soos! On?) The elastic string binding the pair together was apparently long enough to accommodate his steps, so he was effectively hobbled without risking disaster. DramaBoy, in the meantime, became obsessed with checking and rechecking the size of his feet and the shoes on the other side of the shelf and the pop-a-ball baby toy someone had abandoned on a bench. His hearing disappeared magically as I tried to summon him back into my presence to try on loafers while shoving shoes back on the shelf in the trail of the Widget.

Finally I pulled a protesting DramaBoy into my lap, whereupon I capitalized upon his earlier retelling of the Jonah story (presented for our enjoyment in the car on the way to the store).

Do you remember why God was upset with Jonah? I asked.

Because Jonah didn't listen to him, DramaBoy replied.

And what happened when Jonah didn't listen?

He was swallowed by a whale.

That's right. It makes God unhappy when we don't listen. It makes me unhappy when you don't listen, too. So what should you do?

I should listen, he muttered.

That's right, I said. I noticed a woman standing nearby, looking at girls' shoes, a small smile on her face. I quickly added, just in case she thought I was threatening my child with a fishy fate, Now I'm not saying you will be swallowed by a whale if you don't listen, but it's not good when you don't listen. If you keep being loud and not doing what I ask, I won't be getting you a snack after we buy the shoes. We'll just go straight home.

Okay, he sighed. And he tried on the shoes.

Gotta love Sunday school.

This morning the boys gleefully modelled their new shoes for the staff at daycare (We don't wear Spiderman shoes to Sunday school! We only wear them for regular school, DramaBoy informed them. We have brown shoes for Sunday school!) They turned, they stomped, they demonstrated just how very cool their acquisitions are.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm training them up in the way they should go.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Not What I Intended

I checked an old classmate's blog this morning and received the news that she is expecting her fifth (5th!!!!!) child. Good lord. Now I'm not one of those people who goes around condemning others for having lots of kidlets (except MAYBE that crazy Octomom, though that's more about her craziness than the quantity of her childers). My mother is the oldest of six; my father is the youngest of six; my father-in-law is the fourth of six. I come in part from good German Mennonite farmer stock where children were churned out like the butter.

But it was a definite shock to my system. Part of this, of course, is the horror of thinking that I'm old enough to have a classmate who is old enough to have five children (who are NOT multiples, by the way) without having started all that early. I also can picture the insanity if I attempted to handle that many wee peoples running about creating havoc. It was all I could do to hold on to my patience last night with two sons who decided to remind me (like I can ever forget) that they have inherited my stubbornness and strong will.

I have another old classmate and dear friend who has three beautiful girlies and strongly desires a couple more. Her yearning for another child comes across as a soul cry. There are times when I look at my beloved boys and hold them close and feel their growing solidity and realize this could be the last time that...; there are times when I reminisce over photos from their baby days and remember the tiny sweetness of their helpless selves; there are times like Sunday when I cuddled another dear friend's wee six-month-old son and felt a faint tug in my womb. Perhaps it would not be a disaster to have a third child. But the likelihood is faint, even more so in the present uncertainty of my marriage.

Two is tidy. DramaBoy and the Widget are companions, friends, brothers: content in their twosome. A third child would throw chaos into our lives, make it difficult if not impossible to continue with both parents working, difficult if not impossible to cover our finances.

So why do I find myself in such confusion? I do not want five children. I do not want four children. I'm not at all convinced I would want a third. And yet while I began this post to comment on how this desire for large families is beyond my comprehension, I have drifted away into contemplation of What If.

Perhaps it's what that third child would represent: a new beginning, a joining of two lives to produce a third, a symbol of love made flesh. Regardless of past or present troubles and pain, our sons are products of love, vessels of joy.

I'm in confusion now. I've written and erased multiple sentences and paragraphs in the last ten minutes, uncertain of where to take these musings. I think I'll stop for now. I miss my boys.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Because I'm a Crazy Party Animal, Peoples

So I have an exciting weekend ahead of me--well, at least once I get past the annoyance of actually having to teach those teenage brats of mine today. Oedipus Rex, here I come! Though getting to discuss subjects like incest and murder and pagan god worship in class and totally getting away with it is kinda fun, gotta admit.

This afternoon I will hie me home and DO SOME EXERCISE, DAMMIT, because I haven't done so for nearly a week and didn't do so for another week before that and another week and a half before that and I can feel the fat cells gleefully burgeoning beneath my skin, sneaking in their cellulite friends and plotting a takeover of my thighs. I refuse to purchase my wonderful new size 8 clothes and have my mommy alter all my work pants only to plump out of them in a matter of weeks! Discipline, TeacherMommy, discipline.

And then I'll shower, because I am not pretty after I work out, peoples (I hate the movies where women are glowing gorgeously after working out, with sweat artistically highlighting their assets and causing men to want to make them sweat more in a different sort of workout, because HELLO, HOLLYWOOD, that's not the way it works!). And then I'll take a change of clothes and drive out to see a dear friend of mine who I rarely see because we have kids and live too far apart to just pop over for a visit. I don't have the kidlets this weekend and her husband is being very good and taking a turn with her kidlets, so we get to have a Girls' Night Out! Actually OUT, not pretending-to-be-out-but-really-have-to-stay-in-because-the-kids-need-some-supervision sort of Girls' Night.

We are being ever so adventurous and sexy by attending (wait for it):

The Twilight DVD release party at Border's Books!!!

I know. We are such party animals. But get this--the party doesn't start until TEN O'CLOCK! And that means we might actually be out PAST MIDNIGHT! Considering that we're ancient thirty-something mommies, this is astonishing. I consider it on par with those wild parties I didn't attend back in college. Shocking. Even if there's more chance of root beer being served than actual beer (which I wouldn't drink because I don't like beer, but a nice glass of wine wouldn't go amiss. Red wine goes so well with books. Wait. This is for a movie. So maybe it should be Coke and popcorn?)

I digress. At any rate, I plan to crash at my Twilighter friend's house because I don't want to get pulled over by the cops for a suspected DUI because of fatigue-driven erratic weaving. This means I might get waffles or pancakes in the morning WITHOUT HAVING TO MAKE THEM because my friend and her husband are AWESOME hosts. I <3 them.

Then hopefully I'll work out again when I get back to the house. And then I plan some quality time with the taxes. Woohoo!

Hopefully another dear friend of mine will be available for some fun that evening, since we never get to hang out other than in the same pew at church these days. And Sunday I'll go to church and then go help a THIRD dear friend of mine face the horror of Swimsuit Shopping.

I don't know how to handle the social whirlwind that faces me! I haven't had the chance to see my girls like this in ages. I would have gotten to see my bestest of best friends this weekend if a nasty bacterium hadn't decided to assault her eyes and sinuses in a particularly horrific way. She's not much in a socializing mood and I don't dare catch what she has. I miss her.

And I also miss my kidlets. Hopefully the company of good friends will keep my mind off just how much.

The brats approach. Fare thee well!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Son, He is Brilliant. Oh, and Just Like Me.

DramaBoy (keep in mind he's not quite 3 1/2) just informed me, upon inspecting the no-longer-secret ziploc baggy of candy wrappers on my nightstand: Oh, it's just heartbreaking that you ate all your candy!

I am choosing to believe that he is commiserating rather than judging.

Oh, and I'm Lazy Too

So rather than blogging I've been dribbling out a meme or four and the occasional status over at Facebook, and thought I'd repost my favorite Note here for your further edification. If you already read it over on Facebook, thou favored readers who knoweth me and have been befriended thereupon (remember, I'm mysterious here and only go by my nom de plume, so don't give me away, people, or I'll be forced to delete your comments!), either suck it up/move on or just enjoy it all over again! Because I'm nothing if not lazy and self-obsessed. Remember, you can't spell "meme" without "me" and "me"!

25 (Maybe Kinda Interesting if I'm Very Very Lucky) Random Things About Me

After having been tagged like three hundred gazillion frickin' times for this meme, I guess it's time to do it for myself. My life, it is an open book to you. Of course, it may not be a particularly well written one and you may find yourself asking why the publisher thought it was worth the paper, but surely it can at least surpass the literary merit of, say, James Fenimore Cooper or Barbara Cartland.

1. When I was a little girl, I often pretended I was a woman named Diana who had many, many children. Like, 20. The favorite children were played by dolls. The others were apparently neither seen nor heard, but they did have names. Probably.

2. Diana was always patient and kind and saintlike as a mother. This was most definitely a product of my overactive imagination.

3. As a freshman in high school I decided that were I ever to have twin daughters, they would be named Lorenne Renee and Marisa Anne.

4. For most of my young life I had no intention of ever having children. Of course, this was in direct conflict with #1 and #3, which casts doubt on my sanity.

5. This all changed when I fell in love with a tiny girl named T. DeG. the summer after my 10th grade year, during a four hour period in which I walked her in endless circles singing lullabies in the barren waiting room of a Senegalese airport in the wee hours of the morning. Why this experience would be so life changing in a POSITIVE way may also cast doubt on my sanity.

6. I currently am on Zoloft for depression and have been diagnosed as having had post partum depression for three years. That's on top of almost lifelong depression, mind you. So those aforementioned doubts may be somewhat valid.

7. I'm doing much better, thank you.

8. Part of my new outlook on life includes a renewed connection with and love for a favorite poem by Emily Dickinson:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

9. I'm thinking seriously of getting a tattoo on my ankle that in some way depicts an aspect of this poem.

10. I am very scared of needles.

11. I'm also terrified of heights. Even more so than needles.

12. I love rollercoasters.

13. The last time I went to Cedar Point, the Power Tower was one of the newest attractions. Somehow I ended up on that instrument of torture not one, but THREE times, dragged on by friends who apparently thought that my heart-stopping fear of free fall should be tested. Twice we went on the one where they drag you slowly up to the very top where you dangle in abject horror and wait for an interminable, randomly selected time for them to decide to drop you hundreds of feet, only to bounce back up and then back down and then back up and then back down while your stomach tries to usurp your head and your bladder would let loose if every muscle in your body wasn't completely caught up in the rigor of screaming your throat raw and bloody.

14. I am capable of screams that make grown men blanch and think twice about doing whatever it is that's making that crazy woman create such a noise.

15. I am addicted to cute shoes. Fortunately, I am very good at finding inexpensive shoes that won't bankrupt me. Payless and DSW are good friends to me, in that enabling sort of way.

16. At Fall Parent Teacher Conferences I had a number of parents check to see what I had on my feet because their children had come home with tales about Ms. TeacherMommy's wonderful and extensive shoe collection. They were delighted to see I was wearing my adorable 1940s-style black and white check high heels with the open toe and ankle strap.

17. I insist on being called Ms. TeacherMommy at work. I have always been Ms., never "Miss" or "Mrs.," in the workplace. After all, men don't change their honorifics based on their marital status, do they?

18. I am a feminist, but not in a femiNazi sort of way. I believe in gender equality, not gender homogeneity.

19. I like pink.

20. I'm wearing pink slipper socks.

21. My hands and feet get cold easily. I have the same circulation problems that my mother has in this regard.

22. I might have to get my wedding ring resized because I've lost a little weight even in my fingers. But I need to wait for warmer weather to see what heat will do.

23. My ring has a gorgeous emerald that was found on a sunken Spanish galleon off the coast of Florida. My husband bought it and had it set in a ring for me, because emeralds are my favorite gem.

24. I like emeralds not only for their color, but also BECAUSE they always have flaws. Any emerald that is flawless is lab-produced, not natural. I once read a story that called the flaws at the center of an emerald the Emerald's Garden. I love the idea of a jewel that is considered beautiful and valuable and rare, not because it is flawless, but because it has delicate filaments running throughout its core.

25. I am learning that I'm also beautiful and valuable and rare, not because I am flawless, but because I am me.

Call Me Betsy Ross and I'll Stitch Your Lips Shut

Nope, I haven't reneged on my promise to start blogging again! The days are passing swiftly and are full of chaos at the moment, since DramaBoy and The Widget are sick (still) and Stuff keeps getting in the way of what I'd rather be doing--blogging, reading on my Kindle 2 (which is my new inorganic best friend), and doing cross stitch.

Yeah, you read me right. My students and coworkers were ridiculing me for being such an Old Lady by sitting peacefully as I passed needle and floss in and out the perforated cloth*. Oh, my grandma did that! exclaimed one student. How old ARE you? queried another impertinent youth. Glares and meaningful glances at the pottery jar labeled "Ashes of Obnoxious Teenagers" that sits on my filing cabinet did nothing to abate the snickering.

Until they saw what initially appeared to be random stitches in various colors transforming into a charming and vivid piece of art. I'm not linking the image because it's a gift for a loved one who sometimes reads this blog--maybe I'll do so once it's been framed and gifted. The snickers turned to exclaimations of delight, the disdain into appreciation. They also agreed that I had been far less snarky and cranky on the occasions I had pulled out my craft. (This is always to the good, in their opinion. They love me dearly, of course, but it's rather like adoring a snarly and imperious great cat who might just take a swipe with a verbal paw if you rub her fur the wrong way.)

One senior boy in my Creative Writing class even started asking if I would make something for him. Gradually his requests turned into wondering if perhaps this was something he could do himself. My comment that I have an uncle who has done cross stitch wasn't even needed--this is a boy secure in his identity and masculinity, so much so that his buddies didn't even leap on this prime opportunity for ridicule (which is unfair, because hey, they'd been the ringleaders in ridiculing me just days before!) So he spent some time on Joann.com checking out the cross stitching kits and asking my advice on levels of difficulty. I can just picture him in college, sitting contentedly on his dorm bed after a long day of classes and football practice and studying, watching TV while he stitches away at a pattern of wolves or footballs or rubber duckies!

So there's my good deed in the name of gender egalitarianism.

Oh, and humor? In short supply at the moment. I used it up tickling and teasing my young sons into fits of shrieking laughter last night. And it's too early in the morning. The coffee is still working its way through my bloodstream. Sorry, Lauren dear, if this didn't meet your high standards. Sort of along the lines of wimpy sunlight struggling to get over the horizon because Daylight Savings Time makes everyone Too Damn Tired.

*Yeah, yeah, I know. What am I doing cross stitching at school/work? Procrastinating, for one. Passing time while observing students doing group work in Lit 10 and 11 and writing stuff in Creative Writing, for another. Keeping my hands busy so that I didn't inadvertently strangle a teen or two, for sure. Don't judge me!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Wisdom of Dogs or There for the Grace of God Go I

So there's a coincidence for ya. I just noticed that my little Quote of the the Day over at the side is one by Agatha Christie: "Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more. "

This made me think. In a sense, at least the blogging sense, this is exactly what I've been doing the last three months. I've been in my corner, licking my wounds, hoping to be whole.

And yet...the wisdom of dogs only goes so far. I understand that moaning and complaining about one's wounds to the world at large may worsen one's situation. Being prone to drama myself (I know, you're shocked at this revelation), I am deeply tempted to draw attention to myself in times of agony. Very much a Hello! Look at me! See how much I'm hurting? Don't you want to slather attention all over me? sort of thing. However, this tends to be true about the more minor drama in my life--the sort of thing that doesn't make me look weak or, God forbid, cause people to pity me. Sympathy is one thing. Pity is another.

So for the last three years, as I was struggling with depression and emotional turmoil of a different kind than I've (not) dealt (well) with for, oh, say three decades, I lamented publicly about the surface drama. Oh look, my son is sick all the time! I would moan. Woe is me--witness the torment of dealing with food sensitivities! I would sigh. You would not believe the unending pressure and stress of my career! See what the idiot politicians and administrators are doing NOW? I would whine. Because then my audience could groan in sympathy and whisper She's so amazing. I don't know how she deals with it all! She's practically SuperWoman! and I could feel smug and content.

And underneath I was wasting away emotionally, mentally. My relationships--with friends, with family, with my own husband and children--were suffering as I withdrew more and more. I could not admit, to myself or anyone else, that I was in deep trouble. And as I sunk deeper into that pit, I made choice after choice that damaged me, my marriage, and my family.

Licking one's wounds in a quiet corner does not always lead to healing. If those wounds are festering, if they are slowly poisoning one's system, no amount of attention to the surface will suffice. There are times when one must be vocal, saying out loud I am in trouble. I am sick. I cannot do this by myself.

When I could no longer stay in my corner, when my illness was already betrayed to those around me, I finally began talking honestly with myself and others about what had been going on inside for years. And here's the amazing thing: I thought honesty would be met with disgust, weakness with scorn, failure with abandonment. Instead, I was flooded with love, support, and acceptance. People who had sensed that something was wrong but did not know how to approach me were so relieved that they could finally be let in. I expected the worst and received the best.

Dogs retreat because they live in a world where only the strong survive. Weakness leads to persecution and even death. We as humans are capable of rising above the hierarchy of the pack. We are capable of reaching out and helping those in need, succoring them rather than tormenting them. And so survival of the fittest, in its brutal practicality, gives way to the generosity of the human spirit. I have learned an amazing and illogical truth: admitting weakness IS strength.

I'm glad I'm not a dog.


So...I'm thinking maybe I'll start blogging again. I had started a different angst-ridden blogsite all about the torment of my life this days, but torment gets old. I think I lasted a week.

Those of you few peoples who read this--some of you know what's been going on in my life and inspired the pain-filled posts of lo, many months ago. Some of you don't. I don't know how much of that info I'll be posting here, if any, but I will be honest about things and not cover up with Oh, life is fabulous posts unless that becomes true.

That being said, life is better. I did hit rock bottom a few months ago--truly rock bottom, as in Hello God, what do I now?--and that was AFTER the worst of it. Because I wasn't even talking to God there for a while, since I figured I wasn't worth it. The silver lining in it all is that I finally admitted how very broken I've been for a long, long time, and I've been getting the help that I should have sought out years ago. So although life is still filled with uncertainty and a good bit of pain, I am personally in a better place than I have been...gracious, I don't since when. Not that I don't have my bad days.

And now I'm blathering. So anyhow, hi. Maybe, if you haven't given up on this blog entirely, you could drop in and say hello back from time to time...
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