Diapers and Dragons

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Tummy, It Is Happy

Sometimes I'm a pretty good cook. I'm also capable of being a pretty good hostess. And in those moments I am even capable of being *gasp* organized.

I know.

It surprises me too.

Nevertheless, it happens. So when a few weeks ago my darling mentee S. suggested we have a lunch group Harvest Potluck today (as in the Friday before Halloween, in case you're clueless--check the calendar!), somehow I was nominated as the official organizer of said lunch.

So I wrote the emails and kept track of who was bringing what and sent out reminders, and yesterday I hauled myself through Walmart (while keeping myself amused by texting Joe) and bought all the ingredients to make my fabulous and very harvesty Pumpkin Turkey Chili.

Before you start gagging, please believe me that this chili is AWESOME. And today even the doubters in my lunch group had to agree. This chili is so GOOD, TeacherMommy! they exclaimed, and they went back for more. Well, they didn't exactly call me TeacherMommy, but I'm not giving away my identity that easily.

(Though I realized while going through some old posts that I did once mention my actual last name. Hmm...)

Anywho, here's some pictures of what we ate (and ate and ate and ate), because I enjoy torturing you with visions of gastronomic delights:

The chili. Best served with cheddar and sour cream.

One end of the spread...

...and the other.

And of course, dessert.

And in case you are now salivating and would like to know how to make this really, really yummy, healthful, and (best of all) easy chili, here's the recipe:

TeacherMommy's Pumpkin Turkey Chili

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 package McCormick’s chili seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash salt  

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onion, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and garlic until tender. Stir in the turkey and cook until evenly brown. Drain. Mix in chicken broth, tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, and corn. Season with seasoning packet, chili powder, pepper, and salt. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve topped with Cheddar cheese and sour cream.

I made twice this amount and served about 12 people with some left over. I cooked it the night before, kept it in the refrigerator overnight, and then heated it back up in a crockpot the next morning. FABULOUS!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

He Should Have Checked My Fine Print Before He Started Dating Me. I'm Fairly Sure There's Something About "May Make Head Explode" in There.

No, this isn't what he looks like. Move along.

(text: me to Joe) Guys keep looking at me because I'm smokin' hot. That or I have schmutz on my face.

(text: me to Joe) Judging from your silence you think it's the schmutz. Or you're really busy. Or you're ignoring me.

(text: me to Joe) And now you're probably thinking I'm fishing for compliments and the answer would be yes, and attention.

(text: me to Joe) And now you're saying to yourself doesn't this crazy girl have anything better to do with her time than harass me? The answer is no, not at the moment.

(phone rings)

Me: Why, whatever made you think to call me right now?

Joe: Were those multiple choice questions? Is this a quiz? Will there be a test?

I'm wondering--do those fancy schmancy i-phones have an app for electronic scantron quizzes? Cuz if they do, I might have to start saving up.

Yo and Ciao

I have very little free time today (I'm writing this at the very end of lunch), but did want to let you know that:

1. I have most of my voice back today and am now simply a sexy redhead with a low, sultry voice.

2. That picture of my hair yesterday REALLY did not do the red justice. I had kids singing Christmas songs at me because I was also wearing a green sweater.

3. The photo shoot yesterday with Claire went SO WELL and her photos of me with my boys were amazing. I'll be posting some (and totally advertising her photography skills, because she's available) as soon as she can get them to me.

4. I'm heading to the doctor this afternoon for some tests, not for my throat, but to see if my bruising issue might be more of an issue than I thought. The doctor muttered something about platelets in an ominous tone when we briefly discussed what's been going on and that I sometimes get bruises from, oh, scratching my leg if it gets itchy, and not just impacts. Sigh. I'll update you. Hopefully I'm just a wimp.

The kids are descending. Ciao.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Changing My Perspective

I apologize in advance for getting practically warm fuzzy in this post. I'm sure the snarkiness will return in due time. It's the whininess that needs to go.

This look? Not attractive. Another reason to knock it off.

I've been feeling quite whiny lately. Not that *ahem* you would have noticed that in my last few blog posts or anything. My juniors have been driving me nuts because they are horrified that *gasp* I'm actually requiring them to READ A BOOK (I know. The humanity.) My kidlets have been less than cooperative the last couple of days. The district is trying to destroy the honors English program AGAIN. I miss my peeps. I'll be filing divorce papers as soon as I get some time to actually finalize them. The holidays are looming and I don't know how they're going to go or be organized or anything. Almost every time I try to get together with a friend, something drastic happens or someone gets sick and plans fall through. And I sound like a frog.

And then I read about Stellan suddenly ending up in hospital again and Mom Zombie's encounter with a content counter man and Bored Mommy's very sad anniversary and heard some horror stories from other people about deaths and divorces and illnesses and whatnot and suddenly...

I had to put things in perspective.

I have a job. It pays well, I have excellent insurance, and because of my spot on the seniority list and the size of my district, I'm not in danger of being pink-slipped. And as an added bonus, it's a job I actually enjoy (for the most part), and one in which I have earned and receive a healthy measure of respect from students, coworkers, and administration. I am good at what I do.

Although my children still get the sniffles and have asthma flare-ups and whatnot, they no longer suffer from the more extreme illnesses that had DramaBoy in and out of the hospital and required special diets and required consultations with insane infectious disease specialists. Neither of them has ever been on the verge of death, even amidst all that drama. They are both bright, beautiful, (usually) adorable children.

Even though I am going through divorce, it is one marked by an absolutely mutual desire to keep things friendly and make things as peaceful and positive for the children as possible. Despite financial complications (like a house that is worth less than is owed), we do not have to argue over money issues or get lawyers involved. Neither of us hates the other. We are both good people going through a bad situation, and we are both attempting to do so with grace and patience.

I do not have to worry about having a place to put my head at night. If anything, I enjoy a plethora of options. I may live out of a suitcase much of the time, but I have clothing and fabulous shoes to put in that suitcase and a car to transport it and places to take it. I may need to be a little careful with my money, but I can afford to put gas in my car and pay my bills and even have a little fun now and then.

I have friends and family who love me and, even when they can't be with me, actually WANT to be with me. I may not know where I'll be these holidays coming up, but there is no lack of options.

I have children who adore me and want to give me hugs even when I have Lost It, who run to me with huge smiles on their faces when they see me. This afternoon I will be taking my children and meeting a wonderful friend and her children and we are going to take photo shoots in a park. And the sun has chosen to emerge from behind the clouds, so even this oft-gloomy season is deciding to cooperate.

Maybe I don't have a voice today, but I can still choose which words I will say both aloud and in my own head. I am blessed, and I'm choosing to focus on that.

After all, it's less than a month until Thanksgiving. Might as well start practicing! I don't want that Thanksgiving Turkey to decide I've been a Bad Girl and give my house a miss. That would be embarassing.

Oh wait...

Okay, so maybe I just got a little...confused, but the practicing is still a good idea. What are you thankful for?

Notes from the Overwhelmed

There are days when I should just crawl back under the covers and shut out the world.

Today would be one of those days.

But I have these pesky things called children and students and responsibilities that mean that I crawled OUT of bed this morning, showered, dressed, comforted a weepy Widget until his whininess and clinginess drove me out of my mind, somehow got two children dressed, got in the car (remembering a can of soup on the way out the door for a fabulous lunch), drove them to daycare, pried The Widget off my legs and into the arms of the caretaker, drove to school, and started work.

All with no real voice to speak of, ha ha ha. I have been struck down by the dreaded Laryngitis Lament, which means I'm croaking and squeaking my way through everything. It would be funny if it didn't Suck.

The Widget is also coughing and sneezing a bit, but seems fine otherwise (healthwise: Mama's Boy clinginess-wise he's off the charts) and insisted he was okay for school, and I wanted to believe him because I'm already halfway through my sick days this year because of him. And we haven't even finished the first marking period. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't get a call from daycare saying he has to go home.

Yes, I am that parent. You may hate me now.

The Widget has always been a Mama's Boy, and there are times when it drives me absolutely around the bend. Of course it tends to manifest itself most strongly when I have Many Things To Do, such as get us all ready and out the door in the morning. I may have found my voice temporarily this morning when he nearly tripped me down the stairs with his compulsive grasp of my legs. I also was less than patient with DramaBoy's langorous approach to getting out of bed. I've been trying to encourage him to dress himself in the mornings, and he's been doing fairly well, but today...

It's a good thing we're not graded on our parenting based just on one day, or I'd be getting at most a D.

I am now getting Creative with Teaching because I can barely be heard by the students in the front rows, so discussion involving me is Out. Thankfully I don't have my juniors today, because they are the ones who need the most verbal squashing and/or encouragement. My sophomores are handling group discussions about The Scarlet Letter quite well, and my Myth students conveniently just finished reading the myth of Hercules, so I'm moving up my compare/contrast project: I'll show them Disney's version of Hercules and they will keep track of all the ways Disney Got It Wrong. Try it sometime. Just be ready for some writer's cramp.

Oh, and I am now a sexy redhead. My beloved stylist trimmed my overabundant hair last night and gave me my winter-time color, and my hair looks awesome. (I know, my modesty and humility astonishes even me at times.)


Even if I feel like a piece of warmed-over week-old fish.

Sometimes this whole Being An Adult gig blows.

*This gives you a vague idea of my new hair color. It's actually a little redder and more vivid, but this lighting is less than flattering. This is also the reason why I am not showing my face. Between the flourescents and my crappy cell phone camera, I LOOK like a piece of warmed-over week-old fish.

Monday, October 26, 2009


sometimes the distance between
stretches in endless rolling waves
miles of nothingness
crossed only by thin bridges
spun of gossamer and silicon
particles of light and sound
flung into the ether
bounced off titanium, aluminum, polycyanate
miracles of science
connecting us across the chasm

and yet

the years roll by without sight of face
touch of hand
warm embrace
i feel the absence in my soul
the gape of missing pieces
spread across the surface
of this far-flung world

my roots are deep in this soil
twined through Michigan's loam
i have made my choice
planted my seeds
and cling fast to this land of seasons
and lakes
and feeling of home

yet tendrils grope in endless search
for that which is missing
withheld in time and space
particles of heart tucked away
in pockets and purses
whisked away on man-made wings
soaring over continents and oceans
to land on other ground
where i once was or dream of being

and when you dig deep your roots
my heart is planted with them
and calls out
with endless siren songs
of other earth and skies

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Monsters That Lurk Within

Halloween brings visions of ghosts and goblins, witches and wizards, murderers and mayhem. We thrill in the terror, turn fear into fun, mix harvest with horror. This one time of year, we embrace the monsters. We paint them and plasticize them and plant them in our yards and parade them through the neighborhoods. Their very physical presence somehow lances the fear, allows us to shiver deliciously and then, on November 1st, tuck it all away in safe storage.

It's in daily life that the monsters remove their rubber masks and talons to expose an uglier truth. We see the real ones on television every day. We read their stories in the newspapers and online. And even then we know that we are only witnessing a fraction of the monstrosity this world has to bear.

I wish I could say that the monsters are easy to spot. Some are. Most aren't. They are our neighbors, our lovers, our family, our friends. And the reality that we are most unwilling to face is that there is a touch of the monster in just about every one of us. Every time we lose our tempers just a little too much, every time we feel the need to undermine someone we love in order to feel stronger ourselves, every time we stop considering what our actions may do to others, we loose the chains on that monster a little. When we fail to shut down the monster, when we loose or free the chains entirely, then the monster rages free.

A short while ago I posted about a student of mine who was abused by her boyfriend, another student of mine. I wish I could say this is the only experience I've had with the monster of abuse. I would be lying. I can't tell all the stories here, mostly because they aren't my stories to tell. I didn't tell the entirety of that story either. I told the parts that were fresh and raw and part of that day. I wish I could have done more, had done more, to keep that story from being one that ever even happened. I wish my one student had never suffered the horror of what she went through. I wish my other student had never warped into a violent abuser who will now face the legal ramifications for his crime. I wish I didn't have to fear that there will be more victims of his violence in the future. I wish I didn't know there are other stories just like theirs that go unknown, untold.

Abuse comes in many forms: child, adult, spousal, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual. There's molestation, rape, incest, pedophilia. There are so many forms that we classify them, categorize them, rate them by degree. The law contorts itself trying to determine what deserves which punishment and when. And such is the nature of abuse and how it damages its victims that many abusers go unpunished, unstopped, undealt-with, because the victims cannot speak.

You may have noticed I have a button for the Violence Unsilenced pledge on the left side of my site. I discovered this website a few months ago through some Twitter rabbit trail and was glued to my computer screen for hours. For some reason I did not add it until my blogroll until just this week. Instead, I would occasionally stumble back and catch up on entries, once again riveted by story after story of the pain we as humans inflict on each other. Again and again I am struck by how crucial the step is for all these victims and survivors to speak out, to share their stories and their pain and receive love, support, and healing in return.

Violence Unsilenced is all about breaking the silence about abuse in any and all of its forms. It's about giving people a safe place to tell their stories, however subtle, however horrific, however old, however new and ongoing. It's about providing support and sharing the pain so people don't have to bear it all by themselves. It's about giving people a forum to learn the reality of the monsters in our world.

And it's a reminder that when we look in the mirror and see something prowling behind our eyes, it's time to tighten the chains a little more; it's time to kneel and pray for the endurance to be stronger than the monster that lurks within.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Look, Ma! No Heels!

Today has been Crazy and I'm not going to go into all the reasons why because it mainly involves Other People doing and not doing things they shouldn't or should, as the case may be, and I don't feel like outing them here because they're not my students (who are almost always fair game) and at least one of them is no longer mentioned on this blog and the other would get hurt feelings and I'm trying not to be bitchy.

With only a small measure of success, but hey! You take your victories where you can get them.

With luck, I will be able to somehow both completely rearrange my plans for the day and still fit in what I need to do, including go to the doctor and get the boys' hair cut.  We'll see. I can hold off on the hair until tomorrow if I really must.

So in the spirit of Focusing on the Positive, here are my gorgeous new boots with the (faux) fur:

You're welcome. You may now return to your regularly scheduled lives. I'll be over here trying not to resent you for it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Think She Meant These to be Humorous, But This Is What She's Getting From Me. Maybe I'm a Little TOO Scary.

Jill over at Scary Mommy has challenged all of us mommies out in the blogosphere to confess our weaknesses dysfunction fabulous scariness for her fabulous Scary Mommy contest. I won't dare presume I'd win, but in the spirit of transparency and honesty and all that crap, I'll put myself out there. After all, we all know I have an iffy background at best with my parenting, what with all the PPD and crazies and depression and other Bad Mommying, not to mention my dangerous tendency to pretend I'm perfect.

I'm not, in case you were wondering.

(Right about now there are at least a dozen friends and family members snorting their assorted beverages through their noses at that idea.)

I debated even posting this, again because of the whole ack what if they know how screwed up i really am?!?!? thing, but since this is the last day to enter the contest, decided maybe I'd take the chance. So in advance, I'd like to make the disclaimer that I really do love my children and am not (I think) an unfit mother, so please forgive me for being so very, very Scary.

Ways in Which I Am a Scary Mommy:
  1. I really, really, really do NOT enjoy children's games. That whole sitting around playing with trains and simple board games and blocks and all that bores me to tears after about ten minutes. There's a reason I made sure I got out of the house and met up with people over the summer. I'm much better at supervising the fun while chatting with a friend or reading a book.
  2. I let the TV babysit for me way more than I "should." Especially on a Saturday morning when I can barely open my eyes longer than it takes to shove cereal bars in the kidlets' hands and turn on Nick Jr. or the Disney channel. Or at the end of a long day when they have an hour or so before I can realistically put them to bed and all I want to do is collapse on the couch. 
  3. When I pick the kidlets up from daycare at the end of the day, we are far more likely to swing through the drive-through of the closest Old MacDonald's or Burger King than head home for a nice home-cooked meal. Last night I went all out and went through the drive-through at KFC. Where I bought the kidlets mac-n-cheese because making my own at home would just be too much trouble. Oh, and I was also hoping the genuine non-altered lactose-containing milk products might help The (lactose-intolerant) Widget with his *ahem* bowel issues. As in, you know, moving them.
  4. Bath time is NOT my favorite time. It's all fine until I have to actually wash them, upon which I have to contort my body into the proper positions for manipulating slippery little bodies in a low-lying tub. Yes, I know a little stool helps. But consider my back and knee issues (Lordy, I sound ancient, don't I?) and you'll realize a little stool only goes so far. I can hardly wait until my children get over the whole AHHHH! there's water running over my FACE and it might HURT me give me a TOWEL before I DIE! phase and can take showers. They might get fully clean a little more often then. I have been known to look at the latest deposit of paint/syrup/dairy product/who the heck knows in their hair, soak a washcloth, and scrub it out to the sound of vociferous complaints rather than go through the whole bathing rigamarole.
  5. If the kidlets get too whiny and annoying while in the car, I have been known to crank up the music enough to drown them out and sing along at the top of my voice and pretend their noise is just part of the backup singing. And the adverb "too" is very subjective here.
  6. I am constantly being caught off guard by events and fundraisers and whatnot at their school. Just this morning I saw the children had a special optional lunch for a $5 donation toward the Make A Wish Foundation. I had no clue. You think I actually LOOK at all the papers they send home? It's a good thing the teachers are willing to let me pay after the fact.
  7. I have never made a Halloween costume from scratch for my boys and am not sure I ever will. Unless they want to dress up in drag, in which case they can raid my closet for fabulous shoes.
  8. I lose my temper very easily. Even more easily with the boys, who somehow manage to not just push all my buttons, but jump up and down on them and smash them into pieces. I have had to apologize to them on more than one occasion for Completely Losing It.
  9. Sometimes when I've been in a major hurry to get the boys to bed, I have "forgotten" to have them brush their teeth.
  10. I have pinned The Widget on the floor with my legs and forced medication down his throat on multiple occasions because he's worse than a cat about taking meds. I only do this with urgent meds like antibiotics, however. And I never have to force him to eat his gummy vitamins, for some reason. (I do, however, have to keep them out of reach. I don't trust that childproof cap, because my children are far too intelligent for my peace of mind.)
  11. And maybe the hardest and scariest thing to admit? Here goes. I'll preface this by saying I LOVE MY CHILDREN and I love their hugs and cuddles and kisses and whatnot after I haven't seen them for a while (well, any time, but especially then.) However. While I do miss them when I don't have them and think about them and carry pictures of them around in my purse, I don't ache the entire time we're apart and feel like I cannot wait until I see them next. I think this would be different if I didn't know they're with their father who loves them dearly and is a good father and that they're having a great time with him (and at school, where they have a blast as well). If I was forced to share custody with a man whom I could not trust with my children, I would be a mess. But honestly? I value my Me time. It's the silver lining in all this separation/divorce Stuff. I can have a guilt-free social life with a built-in babysitting service.

And maybe that will mean some of you will judge me harshly, but the reality is I've never been the type of mother who needs or wants to spend every waking hour with her children. Perhaps part of this is due to having had PPD for so long. I think it's possible that I never achieved the same level of bonding with my children that other mothers do. I think it's also possible that they are caught up in my abandonment issues. A part of me knows that one day they will leave me, and so I never quite allow myself to connect fully. There's always a small distance between us, a piece of my heart I cannot seem to hand to them.

And part of it is that I am the person I am, The Cat Who Walks Alone (Part of the Time).

I spent three years pretending I was perfect, being told I was Super Mom. The reality is that I'm more Scary than Super.

The reality is this: motherhood is HARD. Scratch that. PARENTHOOD IS HARD. And true, there are some for whom it comes quite naturally and it really is more butterflies and buttercups for them than anything else, but some of us...Well, some of us struggle to look past the poopy Diapers and the terrifying Dragons that face us in our parenting journeys.

I have to content myself with the reminder that my children adore me. They truly love me, and while they may know that I am Scary when I've been pushed too far, they do not fear me.

(Sometimes I wish they feared me a little more, truth be told.)

And so while I may be a Scary Mommy, even a Bad Mommy, I am not a scary mother. Or a bad one.

That just might have to be enough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Know You're Out There!

For whatever reason, my recent posts have received very skimpy commenting.

My feelings are hurt.

(Though the faithful few who do leave comments are officially among my Favorite People, so that's good.)

(At least they love me.)

I would just pout in the corner, except yesterday was a good day and I'm working on making today a good day too, and pouting in corners isn't conducive to such things. What IS conducive to such things? Oh, I don't know. Let's see what I can find:

1. Former students (in droves--I've been running into them everywhere lately) telling me how much they miss me and that I Was Right About Everything (well, duh, but some people have to learn the hard way).

2. New shoes (yesterday's pair was new: keep an eye out for the other two pairs Coming Soon to a Blog Near You).

3. Old shoes that still make me happy because I can Strut My Stuff in them.

4. A man who respects me, loves to spend time with me, misses me when I'm not around, brings new and exciting adventures into my life, and tells me (frequently) that I'm beautiful inside and out.

5. The same man being someone I respect, love to spend time with, and miss when he's not around. Oh, and he's pretty hot, too.

6. Getting compliments and even mild (and fortunately respectful) come-ons from quite a few men in general lately. I must be sending out the vibe that I feel beautiful and confident.

7. Long phone calls and online chats with wonderful girlfriends, with whom I can laugh and cry and talk about both Silly and Deep Stuff.

8. The prospect of Skyping my mom tonight, something that can only happen when she's in an area with good Internet connections.

9. A recipe for espresso fudge from DraftQueen.

10. The news that DraftQueen is coming to Michigan to visit! (Even if I do have to wait for seven months.)

And last but most definitely not least, the prospect of seeing two little boys tonight whom I have not seen since Friday morning. I foresee lots of hugs and kisses and cuddles in my near future.

Life is Good.

(But I'm not above a little guilt trip.)

(Please leave a comment. Or I will cry bloggy tears.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sometimes You Wish You Were Wrong

The warning signs were there.

The arguments. The possessive gestures. The angry words. The demands that she separate herself from her friends, from her family, from her extracurricular activities. The cold shoulder when she didn't please him enough or talked to someone he didn't like.

They sat in my class and I watched them alternate between Antartic chill and get-a-room heat. I could almost see the chains glitter sullenly in the flourescent lights.

Her friends were worried. They came to me in ones and twos and threes. We don't know what to do, they said. She's changed so much. She won't listen to us and she's starting to avoid even talking to us any more.

Has he hit her? I asked.

We don't know. We don't think so. He might have pushed her a little, but she isn't talking and we haven't seen it, they said. We're just worried about what will happen. He's not good for her.

I pulled her into the hall one day when they'd had a particularly nasty argument that ended in tears, however tightly held back, glimmering in her eyes. He didn't want to leave her behind. I made him go to his next class. He went reluctantly, glancing back all the way down the hall.

I'm worried about you two, I told her. I talked to her about the warning signs, about her friends' concerns, about what I saw in class.

He's just a little jealous, she said. He doesn't hit me or anything. He just loves me so much and he has a hard time with me doing things without him.

I'm worried, I said. This kind of relationship isn't healthy. I'm worried about where it could go. Please think about it.

I will, she said, and she made her escape. She must have gone straight to him. He must have gotten her to tell him what happened.

He was angry. He emailed me, telling me I had no business telling her these things, that I was out of line, that he wanted to talk to me about it.

I emailed back. It is my business when you are my students and you are in my class and your relationship affects each other and my classroom, I wrote. I would be more than happy to talk to you face to face about this. Let's meet after class.

He never replied, never addressed it. He backed off a bit in class, tried to charm me a little.

They don't like strong women who call their bluffs.

Five months later, I had him in a new class in a new school year. Two weeks in, he disappeared from my classroom and my roster. I received an email saying he is not allowed within one hundred feet of her and I am to report any interactions whatsoever to the deputy.

I saw her today. How are you? I asked. What happened? Are you okay?

She told me the story, about the jealous rage that led to him throwing her across the parking lot, breaking her cell phone, punching her in the face, chasing her as she fled in her car after a good samaritan pulled him off her, only giving up when she swung wildly into the lot of a police station.

Should I go to the sentencing? she asked. The prosecutor thinks I should.

You need to go, I told her. Not just because he needs to be sentenced and the judge needs you there, but for yourself. You need to be able to face him and stand up and be strong.

You could have said 'I told you so,' she said. You were right.

I didn't want to be right. I never wanted to be right.

More About Me: Because I'm Just That Fascinating

What shall I write about today? I ask myself, and there's an alarming silence in response.

Not that there's a lack of topics on which I could write: it's whether or not I should or even want to write about them. Topics about which I could drone on for pages are too sensitive or infringe on other people's privacy or my privacy or are just too boring to inflict upon you, my masses.

I could write about how habits creep back in so easily. That's how I started this post initially, and then I was all, No, I don't feel like preaching today thankyouverymuch. (Which is probably your response too, now that I think about it.)

I've been struggling with a vague sense of ennui and gloom. It's touched over almost every area of my life in recent days, and wouldn't you know it, I was actually oblivious as to why. I may be highly intelligent in many ways, but sometimes I'm just dumb. Or at least blind to what's right in front of my face.

Hey, TeacherMommy! You have, you know, ISSUES and stuff you're trying to work through with various levels of success and failure, not to mention the whole lack-of-closure thing and the divorce thing and the new relationship thing and the stress of work thing and oh yeah, don't you have young children too?

Speaking of habits, have I mentioned that I have a nasty one of expecting myself to be perfect all the time? And hiding my head under the sand when it comes to facing my struggles? Throw in an inferiority complex and some abandonment issues and Hello Damage Girl!

I'll admit that yesterday was a very Mondayish sort of Monday and I indulged myself after work by going shoe shopping. Because I Really Needed Those Shoes, of course. I found some awesome flat-soled boots with (faux) fur at DSW. And I replaced my knee-high black boots at Famous Footwear, since the ones I've had for three or four years are cracking. And I may just have given in to a darling pair of black pumps that were calling my name from across the room. They'll replace the black pumps I've had for eight years that are getting a little nasty.

You see, I do indulge, but at least I buy them on sale and at decent prices and use them until they give out. It's not like my student who told me today that she LOVES this pair of black pumps with red heels by some fancy schmancy designer and she's asking her mom to get them for her birthday and they only cost $695!!!

(My wedding dress cost less than that.)

(In fact, the most I've EVER paid for shoes is $150, and that was for very sturdy and rugged waterproof insulated leather outdoor boots that should last me for years.)

(I may have ranted at her a little bit about such frivolous spending, especially when she tried to defend--defend!--herself by saying she wouldn't even wear them very often. Because that makes it so much better.)


I was chatting with Heidi online last night, discussing personalities and Myer Briggs and Enneagrams and all that good stuff as we often do, and we managed to figure out my Enneagram wing type--in other words, the way my main type combines with a neighboring type to create my own little category. I am a 4 wing 3 (main type 4 combining with the neighboring "wing" 3 type), which makes me "The Aristocrat."

Consider that I've been walking around calling myself a queen (and no, not in the drag sense) for years and you can't help but giggle.

The description we found is scarily accurate. Especially when you look at how I've been stuck in the Unhealthy mode for so long and am now working towards becoming the Healthy version of myself. I found the following description on a Very Useful Website (Check out the Famous 4w3s. Yay. I'm in GREAT company):

Four with a Three Wing: The Aristocrat

Healthy 4w3’s can be both successful and inspired. They leave a personal touch in all the works they do, while maintaining some connection with the larger world. They enjoy public attention but are also committed to private self-exploration.

Average 4w3’s can be provocative and attention-grabbing, whether through art or life. Their emotional turbulances [sic] are more on the surface than the more withdrawn 4w5’s, and it often translates to immediate and widespread interpersonal impact. They can have problems with vanity and self-indulgence, and can resemble sevens in their love of luxury and pleasure. But unlike sevens, sensations are not sought in themselves but as another accessory to their fantasy identity. They tend to “hide away” once the problems with self-image caught up with them. They can also be competitive, play emotional games, and cause “dramas” of various sorts.

When 4w3’s are unhealthy, they are prone to hysteria and shallow/melodramatic emotional displays. They can have pronounced issue with self-image and shame. They feel justified to act selfishly because of their suffering. Narcissism and jealousy is also common.

Famous 4w3’s
Prince, Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, “Blanche DuBois”, “Madame Bovary”, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust

(From www.enneagrambook.com regarding Type 4)

Don't I sound delightful?

But then, as Heidi would say, I'm letting myself focus on the Dark Side of my Self (so Star Wars), the Self into which I disentegrate if I allow myself to do so.

This discovery does, however, explain the shoes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

two days late

i know it was a year
two days ago
i started this thing called a blog
thought i'd be clever
thought i'd share a few words
thought i'd pretend to be well-put-together

it's amazing how when there's an audience
for your Self put into code
sent out on the silicon veins
shot out over satellite waves
the truth has a way of coming out
creeping through the lines of lies
and half-truths
and shallow observations

and when the world comes crashing down
it's there
real for once

so i took a break
didn't know if i'd return
or if the words would remain
silent in their wondering
what happened
and where did i go

and after three months
with a new attitude
time to be raw and real
and mix in a little humor
write what i know
write what i am
write what i would like to be

it's been a year
but a year of such change
such upheaval and pain
discovery and loss
stretching and learning
failing and growing
and still wondering
what will happen
and where will i go

it's hard not to plan
not to predict
not to jump a mile ahead
press fast-forward
take a short-cut through the woods
and forget the path
i'd rather skip the next few months
there's too much that's unknown

but that's not how it works
the process of time
is necessary and cannot be voided
a time machine would only land me
where i'd be unprepared for what has changed
experience is painful
but experience makes up Self

and so i'll write
and post
and learn
and grow
and fail
and grow some more

through pain and healing
sorrow and joy
evil and good

and even though i'm two days late
i'll send this out to you
my readers
who watch me in my journey
as witnesses to my words

and i'll say
wherever i go
wherever this next year takes me
thank you
and thank you
and thank you again
and may the words mean more
than a vacant babbling in the wind

Friday, October 16, 2009

Top Marks Award: Halloween #5

I've been following Beck over at Frog and Toad are Still Friends for ages. She is an excellent mommyblogger who brings humor and sentiment to her writing in turns.

Lately she's been writing very spooky versions of well-known children's books and TV shows in honor of Halloween. I love the first one, a take on Clifford the Big Red Dog, but it was today's story that officially wins a TeacherMommy's Top Marks Award for Fiction.

Go read it. It not only addresses the reaction EVERY parent has to the TV show "Max and Ruby" (Where the heck are the parents!?!?!), it will also make your skin crawl.

Congratulations, Beck! And keep 'em coming!

Life Outside the Paragraph

Tomorrow is my one-year bloggiversary, sort of. I did take that three month hiatus. Maybe I'll do a second bloggiversary marking my return and my transformation into a much more truthful and transparent blogger. Yeah. That's a good idea. I'll do that.

I'll schedule a post for tomorrow, since I may be up north or at the very least in a non-Internet access zone.

Today? Today you get some more rambling. And maybe some poetry, since there's something stirring about in there. I'm not sure what it is. That's how poetry is with me--it tends to erupt without much advance planning, if any. I do tweak and edit, though.

It's a little odd, I suppose, that I break rules with my writing here on my blog. I don't use quotation marks for speech; I use italics instead. I don't use capitalization or punctuation at all in my poetry. I make up words. I use cuz instead of because or 'cause. I use fragments and run-on sentences and all sorts of grammar violations.

And it works. Or at least I think it does. (Does it? Feel free to tell me how awesome I am. Or how horrible, though then I might have to block you.) We're talking about the difference between formal and informal writing; personal narrative versus literary analysis, poetry versus academic prose, style versus standardization. The key to being allowed to break the rules, I tell my students, is knowing the rules in the first place and then knowing how and when to break them.

One of my favorite poets is e. e. cummings, bless his uncapitalized heart. His poetry is a constant experiment with language, a game with words and sounds and meanings. Every time I read one of his poems, I feel like I'm entering a playground filled with the English language, and I feel like giggling and diving into the fun. Some of them are even visual puzzles, like one of my favorites:

(im) c-a-t(mo)
& & &
away wanders:exact
ly; as if
hing had, ever happ

Can you figure out what he's describing? You have to see the poem as a picture, as a description in its form of what is happening.

And others speak to my soul:

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
- the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

How beautiful is that? And how can I not adore a poet who compares Life in terms of grammar and punctuation and syntax?

Perhaps the poem stirring inside me will figure itself out later. For now, I'll leave you with cummings' wisdom.

Live outside the paragraph today; dare to change your syntax.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Schmursday. I'm Holding Out for the Weekend.

Today is blah.

Just blah and a little bah-humbug.

I'm not entirely sure why. Lack of sufficient sleep is probably a contributing factor. The emotional stress of the last couple of weeks is another. The glum weather doesn't help.

At least it hasn't snowed yet. As I drove in to work this morning, I listened to three different radio stations deliver their gloomy prediction of chilly temperatures with mixed rain and snow. The sun is gleaming sullenly through the clouds right now, and there is no evidence of precipitation on the ground, frozen or otherwise. It is, however, quite cold, and as the idiots people who are in charge of the building temperature are rumored to do so from a more southerly state (Yes, really, we don't control it locally. Don't ask me why. I prefer to do things with some form of logic), our rooms still have drafts of chilled air wafting through. This may also be part of the district's obsessive cuts in energy usage. Now that I think about it, that's probably the case.

Did you know that several years back they created a new district-level administrative position solely for the purpose of monitoring and reducing district energy usage? The Energy Nazi (as we call her, though if we were to follow government trends we should probably use the more PC *ha!* term Czar) seems to justify her generous wage through the frequent use of emails and notes reminding us to turn off our electronics and lights at the end of the day. Occasionally there are mysterious raids in afterhours that result in adorable color-printed reminders on our desks and tables that we really need to turn off that TV or unplug the DVD player or (before we switched to laptops) turn off the monitors. Then we get the email that goes to the full staff listing every room that had some electronic gadget or light left on, and we can, if we wish, figure out who the culprits are and arrange for some tar and feathers or a tasteful scarlet letter.

W is popular, for Wanton or Waster or Wastrel or Wimp or the ever-popular Wangdoodle, which can mean whatever you really want it to mean.

I am, of course, perfect and never ever get caught in my wattage wastage (ooh! more Ws! with alliteration!). Having a laptop does help, since I always take it home with me. I then become obsessive about making sure I know where it is, because I am essentially carrying around $1000 that is Not Mine. I can just picture the delightful conversation that would result from damaging or losing it.

And no, I'm not repeating it here because I think there might be some non-family-friendly words used. I'm not sure on which side. I'm sure your own imaginations can come up with something fitting.

Not that I'm fond of my laptop at the moment, as it has been less than cooperative for the last few days. Anything Windows related, particularly web access, has been slow and has crashed frequently. It isn't from leaving the computer on all the time either (So there, DraftQueen!) because I shut it down at the end of every day before I go home and, if I use it at home, again before putting it away for the early morning night.

Today it just flipped out and started swearing at me in the form of rapidly flashing windows and pop-ups from Windows Command, so I backed away slowly and called our tech woman, who is a living saint and a miracle worker. Though I suppose those two probably go hand-in-hand. She arrived promptly with her Tech Tot, as I think of the small-statured former student who is her aide. I suppose he gets paid, but I'm not sure in what, as I don't believe they budget for a tech assistant. She discovered that the district's anti-virus program was not on my computer *ahem* and that I most likely had a virus/trojan/STD running rampant through its silicon veins. She waved a few magic wands or whatever it is these geniuses do and within ten minutes I was good to go.

I hope.

There's still plenty of time left in this day for things to go Horribly Wrong.

I'm an optimist that way.

I am, however, wearing some kickin' boots because it's BOOT WEATHER, YO! and you don't seriously think my footwear fabulousness ends with sandals and pumps, do you?

You're welcome. (Wipe the drool off your faces, girls. It might fry the keyboard.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

To Whom It May Concern: Sucking Rocks Edition

Dear October 2009:

I'm starting to think you're seriously messing with my mind. Parts of you are rocking, and other parts are SERIOUSLY SUCKING. I keep getting jerked around from one extreme to the other, sometimes within the space of an hour.

Would you please make up your mind? And maybe be nicer to the people I love? Because it hurts to see them hurting.

Begging for Mercy,
An Avid Autumn Fan


Dear Mystery Coworker Who Placed a Platter of Dark Chocolate Cupcakes/Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Vanilla Custard Swirls on the Lunch Table:

You rock. You rock hardcore. How did you know I needed chocolate today? And that the cupcake/muffin maneuvre would be exactly right? If I knew who you were, I would contemplate kissing your feet. Or grading some papers for you. Or at least giving you a Really Big Hug.

Slavishly Yours,
A Chocoholic Coworker

P.S. I may or may not have eaten more than my fair share of the treats. Please don't count the wrappers in my trash can.


Dear Windows XP and Windows Explorer:

You suck. Hardcore. For the last three days I have been fighting you tooth and nail to let me do the stuff I need to do without you crawling along like a snail with serious ADD. Or crashing and closing me out of all my web-based applications, which just makes my day full of sunshine and champagne, let me tell you. You just told me that you needed to run updates, so I spent ten minutes staring at the screen as you crawled along in updating whatever it is you needed to update. Hell if I know, since you didn't inform me.

If this doesn't help, I may start looking at the Macs in the Apple store with a little more lust and less disdain.

Considering Throwing Rocks,
An (Almost) Formerly Faithful and Fantastically Frustrated End-User


Dear Arby:

So you want to challenge us to a contest, do you? One that requires us to be On Top of Things and read your blog as soon as you post and spot the wreathe in the pictures and be the first/second/third to email you so we can win the absolutely rockin' jewelry The Boss crafted?

I'm divided on whether you rock or suck. On the one hand, you're providing some entertainment and spicing up our lives. And the prize is actually awesome. So you rock. On the other hand, those of us who can't spend every hour of the day hovering over the computer or may be stuck in some location without Internet access at all are Screwed. So you suck.

We'll see what I think at the end of this competition. It totally depends on how I do, just so you know.

Yours in both Anticipation and Apprehension,


Dear Best Friend's Former Employer:

You suck. You suck so hard that I think your brain (could a corporation have one) would ooze out of your hypothetical nose from the vacuum pressure.

Don't you know that she poured herself into that job? Don't you remember all the accolades and praise you heaped onto her? Don't you know how much she genuinely CARED about what she did for you?

Don't you know she needs that salary and that insurance? Don't you know she has a three-year-old child, for pity's sake?

Don't you realize that when you suddenly fire someone, you should at least pay that person the courtesy of explaining WHY, even if you do have that stupid "At Will" policy allowing you to weasel out of doing so?

I hope you realize that you are the ones who are losing in the long run. She was one of the best and hardest workers you had in your arsenal, and you're tossing her away.

You suck. I hope it hurts.

With Disdain and Raw Anger,
A Seriously Pissed-Off Friend


Dear Former Student Who Drove Me Batty When You Were Here:

You rock. At least, you do now. You're living proof that my policy of kicking asses and taking names with punks and weasels is the right one. I gave you a hard time while you were here, in all three classes when I had you. I called you out on all your smooth-talking and privilege-abuse. I wouldn't cut you slack for not doing your work and living up to your potential.

And yesterday you walked into my classroom, visiting from college where you're pulling As and Bs, and told me you want to be a writer and it's all thanks to me.

Do you know how much it means to be told I inspired you to be more than you were, to write, to explore possibilities outside football alone?

Thank you for making my day that much brighter. I needed that.

With Pride in Who You Are Becoming,
Your English Teacher


Dear People in Tennessee or Wherever Who Control Our Building Temperature From Afar:

You suck. I know it's probably a balmy 70 or 80 degrees down where you are, but Autumn is heading treacherously into Winter up here, and it's all of 42 degrees outside. That's Fahrenheit, in case you're a Canadien or European transplant and are confused.

This means that your current idea that we need Air Conditioning instead of Heat is turning our classrooms into giant refrigerators. Here's a clue: when the tips of my fingers and nose are turning blue and numb, YOU NEED TO TURN UP THE HEAT.

If I die of hypothermia, I am so haunting you from beyond the grave. Let's see how you like it when I use my ectoplasmic being to suck all your heat energy from your environment.

In Need of an Electric Blanket,
An Irritated Building Inhabitant


Dear Silver Heels:

You rock.

That is all.

With Adoration,
The Person Who Wears You With Pride

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

little girl

For someone who knows too well what it means

little girl
sit quiet in your corner
veiled in plain sight
shield yourself from
who might see what's there inside
know what's inside

little girl
put on all that armor
fend off every look
protect yourself from
that might break through to your heart
might break your heart

it's pain that teaches you to hide
fear that teaches you to run
never reaching out
never reaching in
always in flight from the unknown
that which you can't control

little girl
who tore out your heart so long ago
and told you you'd never be enough
for this world
who made you crawl into
the walls of your own mind
the armor of your own skin
the shield of invisibility
for those without the will to see
and they never get to know

this little girl
little girl
with a heart full of possibilities

and now you're grown
and still hiding
still building walls
and donning armor
only allowing those you choose
to climb over
and behind
and into your world
little girl
with a heart full of pain

Monday, October 12, 2009

Because "A Friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm doing much better today, though I am a bit groggy. Some careful application of friends and TLC is gradually drawing me out of my funk.

I can't say I'm looking forward to looking in the mirror after my therapist appointment tomorrow, though. Note to self: go easy on the mascara.

As I am still in a holding pattern here (hope I don't run out of fuel), I will tend to a rather marvelous bit of business that has gone unhandled for five days. I received another blog award, and it's the kind I need just about now: it's all about friendship.

I've mentioned before that Kathleen over at Treasured Chapters is one of my earliest (I'm avoiding that nasty word "oldest") friends. We reconnected last year through Facebook and discovered that we still have a great deal in common. Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her all over again--and honestly, more in depth--through email and blogging. She is one of my most faithful commenters. I wish I could say I am as faithful with commenting on her blog (I am just as faithful a reader, rest assured). Unfortunately, I am better at reading blogs than commenting on them. I'm a champion lurker.

Anywho, the very lovely and talented Kathleen included me last week when she handed out some Bloggy Friends awards. I am so honored! I like this one.

Here are the rules of this award:- This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming.- These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.- They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.- Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.- Please give more attention to these writers.- Deliver this award to other bloggers who must choose others to pass it on to and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.- I will pass this award to some of my bloggy friends that I find exceedingly charming...
So here's the award (which seriously, looks yummy enough to eat. Of course, that could be because I didn't have much breakfast today): 

I could pick so very many people for this award. But I decided, especially with recent events, to focus on a few blogger friends who (with one exception) have become my friends through blogging, and whose recent love and support has been streaming my way over the Interwebs. And the phone line, in a few cases. The one exception was already a friend, but blogging has brought us back in closer contact, so she's included as well.  So here are my picks for the Bloggy Friends award (I should note that I would normally include Kathleen here, but no can do this time!):

Arby at Boarding in Bedlam: Arby is by turns hilarious, sarcastic (which is often also hilarious), and wise. We don't agree on everything, especially in the political arena, but we're able to carry on intelligent and often snarky virtual conversations that both stretch and tickle my mind. I always look forward to his posts. If you don't read him, you should. He has been particularly supportive this last week, and he even stayed up until midnight on Friday sending me side-splitting jokes and old posts over email in order to make sure I went to bed laughing rather than crying.

DraftQueen at The Drafts Folder: DraftQueen would prefer not too many people read her blog (she's odd that way, amongst many others), but I always love reading her posts. I think other people should too.  We have graduated from comments and emails to phone calls, and I actually know her real name. I know. It's awesome. I won't tell it to you, though. She is the girlfriend I call when I need to giggle over things. We're both crazy in our Own Special Ways. I am drawn to people like that. And I love her insane sense of humor. Oh, and her musical taste. She's educating me further in the indie ways, and I'm loving it. And I would never, ever mention her secret love for FOB. She has also been keeping me sane via email and phone lately.

Heidi at Hortus Deliciarum: Heidi is another of my earliest friends. We've known each other for years, and somehow even when months and years and decades pass between contact, we pick up the friendship as though no time has passed at all. She has been willing to let me talk her ear off for literally hours, and kept me company over Gmail chat the last couple days, bringing me back to a sense of balance when I was ready to fly off the handle. We have our key differences, but we speak the same language (not just literally English, duh. You know, the figurative and emotional sort.) She also writes brilliantly with a raw transparency that challenges me to do the same here.

GingerB at Gas-Food-Lodging: I've had less direct contact with Ginger than the other people in this list, but I feel she belongs here because of the frequent little messages of love she sends my way. I feel warm and fuzzy on a regular basis because of her comments and posts. And her little band of redheads is adorable, and I'm fond of redheads, and I'm very fond of her.

Mom Zombie at Mom Zombie: I didn't have the privilege of reading Mom Zombie's blog until after I met her in real life, but I'm making up for it now. We've had several playdates with our children, and playdates of our own. I find it so easy to hold a conversation with her, and we are able to go to deep topics at the snap of a finger. She's not a surface sort of person, and I adore that about her. She's also a talented and under-read blogger (she has a journalism background, and I love what she writes). We were supposed to meet up yesterday, but her adorable daughter became sick so we had to cancel. My kidlets were sad. Maybe we can have another playdate when she's done sicking! DramaBoy suggested.

Melissa at Rock and Drool: I don't see Melissa as much as I'd like, because our schedules never seem to mesh, but I've thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her when we have.  She's possibly the most straight-forward person I've ever met. What you see and hear is real and all Melissa. That's a good thing. Her blog is popular for good reason, and I'm still ticked at Dr. Phil for not giving her more time on his show. Her voice should have been heard a good bit more than it was. But that's his loss. The show would have been much better, that's for sure.

There you go. And because it's fitting, here's another song worth hearing, courtesy of Draft Queen. She said it's her tribute to me which made me completely verklempt.

This is "One More Time" by Mike Pinto. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Something For Your Listening Pleasure (Blog Currently in Holding Pattern)

For those of you asking and/or wondering--I'll be okay. Rough few days. I'm processing. I might post about some of it soon, but there are people who need to be part of that decision, people with whom I need to speak at length before I know whether or not that story belongs on this blog. But thank you for caring. And a huge, huge thank you to all the many friends and family members who have been reaching out to me the last couple of days. DraftQueen, Heidi, and Arby in particular got me through a very rough afternoon and evening yesterday, and Heidi brought me a touch of balance today as well. I <3 you all! In the meantime, I'm sharing my latest obsession:

My darling DraftQueen, who has become a very good friend in practically no time at all even though we've never met in real life (though the phone calls are fun!), has been sending me some excellent alternative music with which to entertain myself. She has a ridiculous background with music and seems to know everyone (she even went on the road with--er, a famous band that she won't allow me to mention because she's all about flying incognito) and therefore has much to share.

This one song she sent me is called "Doll Faced Vulture" by EmptySelf, and I cannot stop listening to it. It's like being on crack, or how I imagine it might be if one was addicted to crack, as I have never actually tried the stuff. Or maybe meth. I don't know.

Which, now that I think about it, perhaps is not the best simile, since the song is not actually destructive and won't destroy my body and soul. Unless there's something DraftQueen isn't telling me.

I know this won't be everyone's cup of tea (Grandma, you can pretty much move on as if you never received this post), but you never know...maybe you'll become addicted too!

I found a nice clear version on YouTube for your listening pleasure. (I have to figure out how to get videos on here. No luck so far.)

Have fun!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


i wept in the shower this morning
huddled beneath
the cleansing beat of hot water
my tears washed down the drain
washed away
as i wept for the child i once was
and who she might have been
if not for

sometimes when a fracture has healed
when a septic wound has crusted over
still toxic within
there must be a rending
scars ripped open
bones rebroken
tissue cut away
poison lanced and leeched
to cleanse what remains

so i weep
and begin
with halting words
and catching breath
to tell my story
and hope
the tears will wash the pain away

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here Be Dragons

Today has been a good day. I got to sleep in, thanks to the absence of DramaBoy (staying with his grandma overnight) and The Widget's wise decision to sleep off his illness with a fourteen-hour night. The Widget is much better, thanks to modern medicine, and has been playful and cuddly and adorable all day. We even stopped at Sonic Burger on the way back from his follow-up doctor's visit, and he thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the front seat to eat his chicken and tater tots.

He told me he needed to be buckled in, even though we weren't going anywhere. I think he just wanted to try out the big people mechanism.

Today has been a good day.

And yet I'm sitting here feeling a slow bleed inside. My stomach is twisted up and my shoulders (so recently released from bondage by multiple visits to my brilliant chiropractor and the ministrations of my equally brilliant massage therapist) are tensed once again. A bitter taste lingers at the back of my throat.

The last few days have stirred up some deep-seated emotions, scraped at some crusted-over scars, sharpened some long-buried memories. I don't think I'm going to be able to tuck it all away again. I think I am going to have to face and deal with some dragons this time around.

I suppose it started with the story I wrote on Saturday. One person who read it gave me some incredibly insightful (and useful) feedback. Among other things, he noted that he sensed there were autobiographical aspects to my main character, which was only confirmed by my post about deciding to continue writing the story. He very sensibly advised me to use my demons and scars to my advantage.

In thinking further about where I want to take my character's story, I have started thinking about those demons--what I call dragons in my world--more in depth. Last night while talking with Joe, I ended up telling him some stories from my life, ones that I've mentioned to people before, but perhaps with an attitude of ca ne fait rien rather than with truth about how deeply I had been hurt.

It wasn't right, Joe said. You deserve better.

I'm starting to believe that, I replied.

I could hear both compassion and anger in his voice. It undoes me, and it helps me believe, just a little bit, that he's right.

Then today the same person who advised me on my story wrote a raw and utterly transparent post on his own blog about one of his demons. In my comment I linked him to a website that confronts these demons, and in the process ended up reading one of the latest entries there. That entry dealt quite directly with one of my dragons. Or maybe more than one; sometimes it's difficult to see where one ends and the other begins, since they've become so intertwined and tangled over the years.

I can't link to either site right now. I wish I could, because the posts are amazing, but if I do I will have to be transparent here about something I cannot talk about quite yet. I don't know if I ever will in this forum. There are people who read this blog who might be too hurt by what I have to say, even though it isn't about them directly. There are some wounds that are better off not seen.

The story I am writing is about a girl who must, ultimately, discover who she really is and who she wants to be, facing down deadly enemies both physical and mental in order to survive. She must save the world, but first she must save herself.

I'm beginning to realize that if I am to write that story, I must do the same for myself. I began the journey months ago. It's a new phase now.

So I sit here bleeding, but I have no intention of bleeding to death. I've had enough of sitting in silence, of convincing myself that I'm not hurt as badly as I think, of hiding from my pain. I don't know what all I must do in order to heal these wounds, but I have some places to start. There are friends and loved ones who are willing to listen. I will see my therapist on Tuesday and I know what I'll be talking about this time. And I'll be keeping my ears and eyes and heart open to the messages of love that I am blessed with on a daily basis.

If you hear a faint clanking coming from my direction, don't worry. I'm just suiting up for the fight.

Just Watch Them Come After Me Too: Mocking Mattel

Oh. My. Word.

My post this morning is brought to you courtesy of Barbie (TM), already queen of plastic and now apparently queen of hypocrisy. You've heard me rant mildly before about Barbie and the warped view of the female form she perpetuates, but this is about something else.

For those of you around and paying attention to mainstream music back in the mid-90s, you may remember the song "Barbie Girl" by Aqua that came out in 1997. And perhaps you remember the tantrum that Mattel threw about the song, saying that it was an unauthorized use of the product name for commercial use and that it portrayed women as sex objects (HA! Because Mattel never has been guilty of that). In fact, Mattel won the suit, which is why you  no longer hear that song played.

Well, that and because it's the kind of bubblegum pop song that doesn't last long on the airwaves as it is.

Anywho, this morning as I was hoping in vain for Nick (the kid's channel, not a person) to stop playing commercials and actually show "Max and Ruby" for The Widget's delight, I witnessed a commercial for Barbie that had my jaw dropping faster than Barbie's boobs would if she looked her age.

(She's 50, y'all. There's a reason we call boob jobs "plastic surgery." And I think I mentioned she's the queen of plastic.)

The commercial showed a teenish Barbie (who are they kidding?!?!) skating along to a tune that sounded AMAZINGLY like "Barbie Girl," with some slight tweaks to the lyrics. And without the male backups.

I did a quick search just to make sure I wasn't mistaken, and look: it's true! (You can even see the commercial over there--check it out and compare to the YouTube link of "Barbie Girl" above!)

Why am I writing this post? I'm not really sure, other than this is simple confirmation of what I've suspected about Mattel all along: they'll do and say anything as long as they think it will make them a buck. They've been quick to sue over perceived slights to the Barbie image, and just as quick to use the same slights to their advantage. Goodness knows they make sure we can't avoid their product in every store and on every remotely kiddish channel.

God forbid we don't fill our little girls' worlds with Pepto-Barbie fuschia.

I had other ideas for posts today, and maybe I still will, but I had to address this burning issue while it was hot pink.

You're welcome.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Don't Get Too Excited to See I Have a Post Up, Because...

I'm just stopping by to say Hi y'all! and hope you're having a lovely day. Mine has been somewhat off-kilter, since The Widget came down with a case of bronchitis with a side of asthma late last night. I spent most of the night wiping his nose and being tossed about upon, then had to rush home from work after a few hours because my beloved brother-cum-babysitter called to say The Widget's coughing was worse. Fortunately a visit to the doctor's office ruled out pertussis and garnered some Helpful Medicines. I am now typing this somewhat handicapped by a wee one newly woken from a very needed nap. He waited to wake, of course, until I decided to take out my laptop and accomplish something.

I am also handicapped by the ideas racing through my head for the second chapter in what I hope may become a Real Live Book. Who knows?

So tomorrow I will also be home with the Widget while my students take many vocabulary quizzes and curse me from afar. Maybe I'll get some real writing done while the Wonder Pets and Backyardigans and Imagination Movers frolic through my living room. And perhaps I'll even get an idea for a real blog post somewhere in there.

Until then...Good health to you all!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Top Marks Award: Rabbit Food and the Power of Words

Yesterday I posted about the power of words to heal and hurt. You may have picked up from all the very subtle hints that I had a few traumatic encounters with people along the way who hurt my heart with their words.

I want to let you know right now that my parents were never those people. I know many adults and students alike who have been damaged, sometimes irreparably, by their parents' actions and words. I am not one of them, thank God above. My parents were and are incredible people, and I consider myself richly blessed to be their daughter

But there were others whose impact on my life was anything but a blessing. The scarring was and is very real. Some are dragons I have already faced; others still loom.

Today I read a post by Mike Adamick over at Cry It Out: memoirs of a stay-at-home dad that struck a chord in its topic and timing. Mike's writing makes me shiver and even cry on a frequent basis, because he's brilliant and raw and incredibly transparent. Today I want to give his post Rabbit food is the best! a TeacherMommy's Top Marks Award for Personal Essay. Go read it. But fair warning: have a tissue on hand.

Congratulations, Mike! And keep them coming. Your writing means something real in a world too often filled with empty prattle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To Whom It May Concern: I Need a Painkiller! Edition

Dear Darling Much-Beloved DramaBoy and Widget,

Seriously? You haven't seen me in four days and you're choosing to push every button I own and drive me up the nearest wall? What are you, cats? You have to punish me for being away? And you had to choose a day when my back feels like it's been walked on by elephants and then nailed to five-inch-thick boards and there's no frickin' way I'm going to be able to grab you both in my muscled mama arms and hoist you both where we need to go?

Because I love you, but, as good old Bill Cosby said, I brought you into this world: I can take you out.

Love and kisses (and get back in bed! I see you there! Who do you think you're kidding, "hiding" behind the trash can?!?)
Your Highly Exasperated Mother


Dear Dog Who Really Needs to Go to a Better Home but We Can't Seem to Get Off Our Butts and Make It Happen:

If you could develop the ability to open the back door and let yourself out, that would be lovely. I know you have hip displasia, but the prospect of dragging your fifty-pound wiggling weight on your mat over to the door and hoisting you outside into the rain is making me break out in hives. Also, my back just screamed.

Your Very Apologetic But Seriously DONE Wants-to-be-a-Former Owner


Dear Wonderful Bloggers Who Inhabit My Blogroll:

Hey, you think you could all take a hiatus from blogging for, say, a week? Because life is pretty chaotic right now and every time I look at all the posts that I haven't been able to read in four days and realize I don't have the time and/or energy to read them for who knows how many more days, a little bit of my blogger me dies. You really don't want me to end up in the foetal position rocking back and forth and moaning The posts! The posts! They just keep coming and things are happening and words are being written and I CAN'T KEEP UP!!!!

With deep and guilty appreciation for your wordy wizardry,
A Blogging Addict Who's Jonesing Hard


Dear Neck, Shoulders, and Back:

If you torture me much longer with this pain, I will seriously consider trading you in for a better model. I watched Surrogates last week and I'm starting to think maybe that's a good idea. Despite the, you know, downfall of the human race and all that.

Trying not to scream,
The Person Attached to You

Words to Bind or Make Us Free

Is that a double chin I see?

You really aren't very good at that, are you?

Boy, breastfeeding really does a number on your breasts, doesn't it?

I think you should stick to non-fiction writing. Your fiction just isn't very good.

Sometimes you're just so stupid. You may be smart, but you're so lacking in common sense.

It's not fair to you for us to keep dating. I just don't see you as a top priority.

I just can't love you any more. I need to find something better.
Words. That's all they are. Vowels and consonants formed on the tongue, breath pushed through vibrating vocal cords, a few simple sounds projected into the waiting ear.

Sticks and stones, they say, will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

That's a lie. Sticks and stones may bruise and break the physical body, but words can tear gaping wounds in the soul. Usually they heal, but scars remain indelibly etched, ready to break open and bleed anew. Sometimes the wounds keep bleeding, draining the soul and withering the spirit and destroying the mind until the body has no choice but to follow.

They also say, The pen is mightier than the sword.

And they're referring to words. Words that have the strength to destroy, to heal, to divide, to unite. Words that cause action. Words of power.

I do not remember where I get every bruise on my body, every cut or scrape or physical scar. I do remember words that have been spoken to me as far back as my memory will take me. The wounding words stay with me the most, the words that tore me up and broke me down and drained away my confidence, my self-respect, my sense of worth. Over the years my reaction changed. I grew accustomed to hearing them, and I no longer had a sense of affront or negation. They must be right. They said these things so often, in so many forms.

By the time the boy I dated my junior year told me that he was breaking up with me because he realized a pick-up game of soccer was more important than spending time with me, I was so accustomed to the concept of insignificance that I accepted his statement without prejudice. Well, of course he felt that way. I was, pitifully enough, grateful that at least he was being "kind" enough to be honest with me.

When another significant person continually commented on my lack of common sense and my physical flaws, always in a subtle I'm just concerned about you way, I began to believe that I simply wasn't very bright in non-academic areas; I also began to consider whether I really should look into some basic plastic surgery. Nothing major, of course. A breast lift. Perhaps a subtle face lift. Maybe some minor tummy work. Exercise and diet only go so far, you know.

When, in high school, an English teacher told me that I really should just stick to writing essays and non-fiction because I wasn't very good at creative writing, I stopped writing stories. She must be right. I knew my academic papers were almost always excellent, but I lost all confidence in my ability to craft fiction. To this day, even my poetry is founded in reality.

I'm learning to say No to the lies, and Yes to the truth.

Yes. I am worth taking time to know. I am worth more than a pick-up game of soccer. I am significant. I am lovable.

Yes. I do have common sense. I mix intuition and reason to make leaps of logic. I can take care of myself, of  my children. I am intelligent in multiple areas of life. I do not need another person to guide me through reality.

Yes. I am beautiful. Lack of physical flaws means lack of living, an absence of reality. My body reflects my experiences. I do not need to grace the cover of a magazine to know that I am lovely. It's all in the eyes that see me.

And now--Yes. I can write fiction.

When the idea for a story popped into my head on Saturday and begged me to write it, at first I recoiled.

I can't write fiction, I told the Muse.

Who says? Some teacher who didn't know how to build up instead of tear down? Who didn't know how to offer constructive criticism instead of dismissing all possibilities? It isn't that you can't. It's that you DON'T, she replied.

I should have known better than to argue with a personified supernatural concept.

So I wrote. And when I was stuck, not knowing what should happen next, I took a chance and read what I had to Joe. And he listened, and he asked simply, What happens next?

So I wrote some more. And when I was done, I typed my story and I took another chance and I emailed it to some coworkers and family and friends.

Be gentle, I begged. Please be honest, but be gentle.

And they were. And they said, What happens next?

Yes. I can write. I will keep writing. Because this story, it keeps asking me to write some more. It has not ended.

Words are powerful. They can hurt, and they can heal. And because of that power, I must use my own words wisely. I hope I never am the teacher, the mother, or the friend who tears down instead of building up, who wields words to wound rather than restore.

You are so beautiful.

I really respect what you do.

You seem to be struggling a bit. How about trying this?

You have such enormous potential.

I love you.
“If the word has the potency to revive and make us free,
it has also the power to blind, imprison, and destroy."
--Ralph Ellison
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