Diapers and Dragons

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Camping We Will Go

I'm off quite shortly to go some way up north with MTL and four out of our five combined children to go camping over Memorial Weekend.

I anticipate many adventures involving beginner's attempts to use a dutch oven, small children eating campfire S'mores, and lashes of sand in various crevices.

The kidlets have been in a tizzy of excitement for days. We are going on a Camp Out! DramaBoy tells everyone he sees, and you can hear the capital letters in his voice. The Widget, in turn, was quite devastated to discover he would have to attend school today before heading out on the adventure.

I'm not quite sure how he'll feel about the four hour (with traffic) car journey that lies ahead before we reach the Promised Land.

So until Tuesday, I'll be out of touch, out of reach, and (quite possibly) out of my mind.

Have a lovely weekend, all of you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I've Got Them Under My Skin. Kind of Like Chiggers.

So Wanderlust tagged me for a meme about Seven Things That Get Under My Skin (but not in the Frank Sinatra sort of way) and it's honestly more about narrowing down the list than coming up with ideas. Especially today because OMG I was hanging on to my temper with a death grip at one point this afternoon, I kid you not. It was one of those moments where I had to shut my mouth and just breathe, then decide NOT to address the issue that was standing there in the room like the biggest frickin' pachyderm ever described by Rudyard Kipling (Oh Best Beloveds) and instead move on while talking in a very very very calm and soft voice. This served to send every student in the room into a stock-still nervous hush because they could tell the slightest slip might send me over the edge and they apparently wanted to survive the day.

Smartest thing they did all hour.

Anywho, here are my grumpy seven things that are currently getting under my skin (and I'm keeping a smallish scope here, people, because it could get ugly otherwise.)


Politicians. Pretty much all the time and everywhere, but especially (right now) the Michigan ones who have apparently decided that their budget woes can be solved by screwing all the public servants and state employees, especially the teachers, police officers, and firefighters. BECAUSE THEY CAN.


Lazy students. Like mine today. The ones who've had a week to work on a project WITH class time to do so and chose today--the Due Day--to come up and tell me they weren't done and needed more time. Or the ones who had a presentation but had obviously invested as little effort as possible. It's a good thing this year is almost over, both for my blood pressure and their continued existence.


The smokers whining about the changed law here in Michigan. Especially the ones who believe that second-hand smoke is a myth. I KID YOU NOT. Makes me want to grab their little cancer sticks and shove them in a different orifice so they can enjoy a special kind of smoking experience.


The legal system. Especially the way it's been designed to make it as difficult as possible, if not practically impossible, to do anything without resorting to lawyers. It's a self-propagating, parasitic process that sucks us "regular" people dry. As Arby commented to me last week, judges are just lawyers in a referee outfit. And as Shakespeare wisely humorously wrote in Henry VI: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.*


Bureaucratic nonsense--especially bureaucratic nonsense that costs money. The district hired a firm to run an audit of all the dependents carried on health insurance by district employees. You know, to make sure we're not lying bastards or whatever it is they think we are. I never received my audit in the mail, or it got misplaced (you know, what with the whole weird living situation thing), so here I get an email today about it, and I have to come up with all this paperwork proving the existence of my dependents. It needs to be postmarked by May 31st. WHICH IS MEMORIAL DAY. /headdesk

So I'm scrambling to get that together and mailed by Friday at the latest.

And how is this audit being funded? Oh, don't worry. It's not being paid for up front by the district. No, it will be paid out of the premium savings made through the audit.


Telling a certain someone that he needs to get a certain task accomplished for OVER A MONTH only to discover, yet again, that it was not accomplished. And knowing full well, all the time, that eventually I will have to give in and just do it my own damn self, give him the receipt, and have him pay for it this time because I paid for it last time. Just like almost every one of these kinds of tasks we share. Passive aggressive, much? Also see: insanity.


KIDS WHO WILL NOT GO TO SLEEP even though it's getting insanely late and they'll be super grouchy in the morning when I have to get them up to go to school. I mean, at least they're being quiet. But the morning's gonna be a bitch.

There you go. I think I may have used up my grump allotment for the day. But WHOO does it feel good to get it out!

I'm now tagging:

DraftQueen at The Drafts Folder
Beth at BurkinaMom in France
Aunt Becky at Mommy Wants Vodka
MaryMac at Pajamas and Coffee
Nicola at Some Mothers Do Ave Em
Melissa at Rock and Drool

And since the whining gets to even me, let's relax a bit and listen to something much nicer.

*For the sake of legal protection, I state for the record that I am not, in fact, promoting or condoning violence toward anyone, no matter how scum-sucking or sharklike he or she may be. Ahem.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This poem was originally written back on March 19th, but I didn't feel comfortable posting it here until now. Credit my love for e. e. cummings and the influence of a muscle relaxant (my back was BROKE, peoples) for the slightly unusual style.

i screamed openmouthed in terrorwise
link    ed to you despite sp ac e

strung like pearls on rope  made of
i am
not wondering where you are
closeor                          far
i sang my sorrowsong already and look over
is the note against the sky
a bird poised like music on linesofcommunication between
and me

i am exempt from your pain

tattooed my denial of despair on skinsmoothsilk
flash my hope at every
one who glances at my feet

theyve trod many a broken path and been worn down to
cracked and bleeding remnants of memory

been there before
been there again
wandering in circleslikestuck

and c   u   t the ties finally broke the chains
though bound by life we made
and now the screams have vanished and I sing
love like sweetness on the tongue after bitterhate
i am newtoo
and will not coat my heart in nacre to hide the wrong
with  in

i shine like diamonds

Monday, May 24, 2010

In Which I Have A Guest Blogger And Prove What An Awesome Hostess I Am. I Hardly Even Made Her Wipe Her Shoes Off Before She Came In.

So you know I've been all tongue-tied and whatnot over here, with the occasional exception, and I was whining a bit (no really, I whine sometimes) (I know, it's a shock) to DraftQueen and then begged her to rescue me with a guest post and LO AND BEHOLD here it is. 

Seriously, I big puffy heart that woman. Even though some silly little details like crazy and mysterious health issues (I mean really, who needs to breathe?) prevented her from coming here to Michigan this month. Le sigh. I forgive.

She has a companion piece going up over on her blog today, so feel free to go see what it says. I have a feeling it may be a little less PG-rated, though, mind you. Heehee.


I'm taking over this here blog.
I have permission, you see. TeacherMommy said I could invade her bloggy space and throw some content at you.
I didn't make any real promises as to what the content may be, however. Though I mentioned I'd try to keep it clean. If you have ever read my blog you know that it's a grammatically incorrect free-for-all onto which I spill whatever is on my mind.
My mind isn't G-rated.
Which isn't to say it's X rated.
You know, all the time. What I'm saying is I have a tendency to use "mature" language.
I'm trying to avoid X rated and mature language. Which is hard. Something I am completely capable of. I am, after all, a well educated woman.
If your definition of "well educated" is been in college since forever and still lacks a degree.
Sure, I have certificates in a few areas: birth and post partum doula; lactation consultant; phlebotomist, but I lack a "normal" degree.
I've been in college since January 1996. Yes, I know that was 14 years ago. I took some time off to do things like obtain those certificates and breed.
I think if they awarded degrees in switching majors, I'd have 2 with a minor in switching schools. I started as an early elementary education major; it lasted one semester. I had to do a practicum with actual kindergartners and I realized this was not a job I could do daily until I hit retirement age.
Or 25.
I can't remember the path I took to get to my current degree-in-progress but I can tell you the list of majors I have had is somewhat long. I think they include everything except math-based majors.
Math makes my head hurt.
Which was why I stopped being a business major. (Who knew there was all that math involved? Certainly not me.)
I was really good at the science related majors; better in the life sciences. I guess that's why I haven't ditched my dream of becoming a midwife, but please don't tell my fiance that. He is under the impression that once I finish my current plans I am going to stick with a job in the profession that corresponds with my current education.
I don't know why he would think that. My current job doesn't reflect my educational goals and it certainly could.
So what's my major?
I'm currently a US Government History major. And a Political Science Major. With a minor in life science and a minor in legal studies. My minors are finished, which is why they are tacked on there. (If you want to get all degree-technical, I'll be earning my Bachelors and my Masters in Political Science at the same time.
I jammed it all in there, baby. When I'm done with that, the plan is to get a JD.
I'm a masochist, that's why.
Currently, I work in a lab processing specialty genetic testing. You know, DNA. It's completely fascinating. (And for a few months minutes I considered switching my major. Which would mean I was at the wrong school. Because I do love my fiancé, I did not.)
I didn't say it made sense.
I never make sense.
I lost you, didn't I?

Friday, May 21, 2010

O Man! Who Knows Thee Well Must Quit Thee With Disgust*


Yesterday when I picked the kidlets up from school, DramaBoy discovered a fuzzy little caterpillar on the sidewalk. He pounced on it immediately like it was his long lost best friend and let it run all over his hands.

It took all my motherly fortitude to respond to his delight with a Oh wow! That's so very cool! rather than squealing like the girly girl I can occasionally be. I then informed him that he could NOT take it into the car as a pet and that it would be happier in the bushes.

Apparently he now plans to check on his little buddy every time we enter and exit the building.

If he becomes an entomologist, I'm going to have to make him bathe in sanitizer before he ever steps foot in my house.


This morning I was checking in homework with my first hour junior class. One student checked his in. About five minutes later another student walked up with a paper to check in. I looked at it and immediately recognized it as the identical paper (not even a copy--THE SAME PAPER) that the first student had shown me, just with the second student's name on it. They both received zeros--the second student for trying to pass it off as his work, the first for collaborating in the attempted deception.

What pisses me off the most? They thought I'm stupid enough not to notice. Now that's just insulting.


Today is the unofficial Senior Skip Day.

It makes me angry every year.

Seniors get out two weeks earlier than everyone else. They have final exams next week. Final projects are coming due as we speak. What on earth makes anyone think it's okay to simply not attend school at this point in the year?

What makes it worse is the parents who readily excuse the absence.

When I tell my students that my own children will not be allowed to do this, nor be allowed to run off to Mexico or Florida or other such hedonistic destinations for Spring Break during high school, I'm treated as though I am violating an essential human right.

Today during my Myth class, which has a heavy contingent of seniors, students will be doing a participation-based activity. Those without hospital notes or court papers will receive a zero. Want to challenge that? Check the attendance policy.

Being a Righteous Bitch Teacher: I'm doin' it right.


MTL and I keep overhearing people who are upset about the recently enacted law here in Michigan that bans smoking in most public places. These people keep complaining about how the state is violating their personal rights and that the government has no right to try to make them quit smoking.

They don't get it. The government isn't trying to get them to quit. Cigarettes are still legal. They can still smoke. Just not where MY personal rights (and lungs) will be violated by their cigarette smoke.

They keep saying it will hurt the economy, too.

Oddly enough, the neighborhood bar where I had pizza last night was just as full of people as it usually is on a Thursday night.

Go figure.


Fifteen years ago as a high school senior I dated a junior boy very casually for a couple of weeks. Then we broke up, but stayed friends. I received a letter from him a few months after I started college. It was six pages of explicit horror, describing things I'd never even imagined, much less (in my naivete of the time) heard of before. He ended up getting in big trouble with the school administration because of it. It took me three years to stop shaking when I talked about the incident.

Two years ago when I began using Facebook, he tried to friend me. I ignored him. This morning I found an email in my inbox notifying me that he had friend requested me again.

What on God's green earth makes him think I want to have anything to do with him? I don't care whether we have 92 Facebook friends in common or not!

Guess who's getting blocked on Facebook today?


I should be legally divorced by now. I should have been divorced as of ten o'clock yesterday. The idiotic judge decided to make us jump through one more (unnecessary and ridiculous) legal hoop and therefore adjourned the trial date to June 8th. If I wanted to jump through hoops, I'd take a gymnastics class.

On the silvery side of things, The Ex and I haven't been this united in a very long time. Both of us just want to be DONE already. We were positively friendly in the wake of our joint disgust over the situation.


My tenth graders are reading Elie Wiesel's Night right now. It's an amazing book, well worth the prizes it has earned, but it's very difficult to read. Not in language, but in detail.

I struggle with stories of the Holocaust. Whether in movies or books, there is something about that horror of human history that stabs me to the core. I've been struggling not to weep during our discussions.

This morning we talked about what happened to the children. The infants flung into the air as target practice for Nazi guns. The babies ripped from their mothers' arms and bashed against walls, then discarded like broken dolls. The tiny bodies tossed into the furnaces of Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz, Birkenau like so much cord wood.

My body revolts against the images in my mind. My lungs strain for air. My eyes well with tears. My voice hitches, halts, stumbles on.

My students are still, visages stone as they struggle to comprehend the inhumanity of Man.

My sorrows run pale and shallow in the face of the words I read.

*Lord Byron, from "Inscription"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

mea culpa

i find myself welling with anger
so easily
so quickly
the snap of a finger at a single word
no patience left
the well is dry

"i see stupid people"
he writes
and i can only agree
yet wonder if perhaps i see them
through a glass tinted darkly
my own shadows taint the light

the road has been long and weary
and although it draws to a close
uncertainty clouds the finish line
not in whether it was the right road to travel
but whether the end lies as close as it seems

so much could go wrong
concealed tripwires
unseen holes
camouflaged stones that may yet bruise my feet

i am worn
yet taut with strain
counting the hours
while knocking on wood
fearful still of Murphy and his thrice-cursed law

so find myself snapping
stretched thin and angry
throttling the words that threaten to erupt
from a throat raw with tension

forgive me
even though i know what i do
extend me grace
beyond what i have given you

and perhaps

Monday, May 17, 2010

If I Were...

I don't know where this meme began, but I love the poetry of it. I found it at Wanderlust, who is orange silk and rain. But of course.

If I were a month, I would be April, with budding shoots peeking through the melting crusts of snow.

If I were a day of the week, I would be Saturday, when errands must be run but the night brings play.

If I were a time of day, I would be the moment when all the craziness of the day is done and I can finally breathe.

If I were a planet, I would be Venus, whose thick mask conceals molten heat, who turns in opposition to her sister Earth.

If I were an animal, I would be a sleek jungle cat, resting in the shade of a tree one moment and racing in the hunt the next.

If I were a direction, I would be Around.

If I were a piece of furniture, I would be a smooth, lush suede armchair, perfect for a rainy day of reading and drinking hot chocolate.

If I were a liquid, I would be an Irish coffee.

If I were a gemstone, I would be an emerald, valued for its imperfections and rich with crystalline life.

If I were a tree, I would be a redbud, purple blossoms vivid against the darkness of their backdrop.

If I were a tool, I would be well-used and valuable.

If I were a flower, I would be a Bleeding Heart.

If I were a kind of weather, I would be a spring rainstorm.

If I were a musical instrument, I would be a flute played by master hands.

If I were a color, I would be the green of a mature tree brought to new life by spring rain.

If I were an emotion, I would be deeply felt.

If I were a fruit, I would be a dragonfruit.

If I were a sound, I would be unchecked laughter.

If I were an element, I would be Water in its many forms and faces.

If I were a car, I would be due for maintenance.

If I were a food, I would be dark chocolate and raspberries.

If I were a place, I would be a savannah springing to life after a long drought.

If I were a material, I would be raw silk and lace.

If I were a taste, I would be the sweet-tart burst with cinnamon edge of a grafted mango.

If I were a scent, I would be Moka Java.

If I were an object, I would be a well-thumbed book only half read.

If I were a body part, I would be the hollow between neck and collarbone.

If I were a pair of shoes, I would be slinky high heels with ankle straps.

If I were a facial expression, I would be newly discovered Joy.

What would you be?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Has a Bucket

Apparently the thing to do these days is to have a Bucket List. You know, the things you want to do/accomplish before you kick the bucket. Shuffle off the mortal coil. Run down the curtain. Sleep with the fishes. Pay Charon's fare. Buy the farm. Check out. Dance the last dance. Give up the ghost. DIE.

(You want some other euphemisms? Check out this list. Boy, we'll do just about anything not to say the actual word, won't we?)

I haven't thought about my Bucket List much. I mean, I've said there are things I want to do "someday," but my comment about riding a motorcycle a while back? That's the first time I can remember specifically thinking about doing something before I /whisper/ die.

It's just not the way I generally think. But I'm getting older, yo, and what with my bones creaking and popping and my body acting in general as though it's a goodish bit older than I actually am, I've started thinking about the kinds of things I'd like to do before Death gets in the way. Or even, really, General Physical Infirmity, because that may come sooner than I'd like. Let's be realistic, peoples.

And it turns out a slew of my students already have Bucket Lists, which makes me wonder if it's just the influence of media or if by some miracle more of them have a concept of mortality than generally is the case. Mind you, some of the items on their lists might make mortality more of a reality than a concept, but it's a step.

Anywho, I figured I might as well do my own Bucket List. So here you go--the list of things I'd like to do before I push up daisies*:

1. Ride a real motorcycle. Possibly even drive it. Because I'm a Total Badass like that.
2. Visit Australia and New Zealand. Lauren, I still have an open invitation to crash with you, right?
3. Tour the ancient monuments and places from mythology in Greece. I've only been obsessed since I was seven.
4. Publish some of my writing. And no, blogging doesn't count. Any agents out there?
5. Learn how to do some real ballroom dancing. This may need to be sooner rather than later, as I have a feeling artificial joints, walkers, and/or wheelchairs might make things difficult.
6. Win a teaching award. Because I'm modest like that, yo.
7. .....

Ack. This is where my mind goes blank. I mean, there are things I'd LIKE to do. Travel around Europe more. Visit all fifty states. Learn how to make a chocolate souffle. But they're not the sorts of things that make me feel like my life will have been incomplete if I die before they're accomplished, you know?

Does this mean I'm insufficiently ambitious? Does this mean I'm a loser?

Does this mean my bucket is undersized?!?

Cuz I hear that sometimes size DOES matter.


What about you? What's on YOUR bucket list?

*Except I've decided to be cremated instead** and have my ashes scattered because the idea of my preserved remains sticking around in a lead-lined box is just creepy, people, and I don't feel like going through the rigamarole of arranging for a burial au naturel, a la pine box. Plus apparently the level of preservatives present in our food is rendering postmortem preservation pretty much unnecessary these days, and that's even more icky. Just sayin'.

**And yes, I totally get the irony of my not having a Bucket List but knowing what I want done with my body after death. I also know which hymns*** and scripture verses**** I want read at my memorial. I said I'm a planner, people!!!

***"It Is Well With My Soul" and "Amazing Grace". And no, I don't care if that's totally predictable and cliche. They're still my favorites and the lyrics mean a lot to me. So there.

****Psalm 23 (King James Version) and Psalm 51 (New Living Translation). What I said.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Which I Am Both Cheap and Shiny. Kind of Like Your Uncle Bob's Suit. You Know, the One He's Worn For Years? Yeah. It Just Means I'm Worth Keeping Around, Right? Right?!?!

MTL: It's like I won the lottery with you, except I didn't have to enter.

TM: Well, you did kind of spend thirty dollars for a ticket.*

MTL: True. Best thirty bucks I ever spent. Now that I think about it, the ticket was kind of expensive when the prize is so cheap.


MTL: Um. That didn't come out right.

TM: Would you like to clarify that one for me?

MTL: What I meant was, you see, that you're so low-maintenance.

TM: Ah. Okay. I won't hit you then.

He's lucky he's so dang cute. And that I get him and knew it was just a brain-mouth disconnect. Besides, he's pretty much right. I am low-maintenance. I like it that way. For that matter, most men I know like it that way. In real women, at least.

My hair? I wash it in the mornings with Pantene. I towel-dry it vigorously. Then I run a brush through it and go. No blow dryer, no product, no hair irons.

My clothes? Yeah, I like to look good, but I tend to keep things pretty simple. Nothing too overwrought or complicated to grab and go.

My morning routine? I've been known to get showered, get dressed, get the boylets dressed, grab our stuff, and be out the door in twenty-five minutes. That's under pressure, granted, but still.

So yeah, I'm low-maintenance.

However, I'm very rarely seen out of the house without some makeup on.

It's nothing much, mind you. Powder, blusher, eyeliner, mascara. Perhaps a little eyeshadow. I can whip it on in a few minutes. But I wear it every day.

We all have our insecurities about our appearance. We all have our security blankets. Mine happens to sit around in a little pink bag. See, I'm as critical about myself as the next person. I scowl at my brownie muffin tops. I suck in my squishy belly. I peer at my complexion in the mirror, sighing over the scars and lines and certain other aspects that I'm not going to admit to in writing. Then I pull out my makeup bag and brush on a subtle veneer.

So when Jodie over at Mummy Mayhem challenged bloggers to post their naked faces on their blogs, sans makeup, sans primping, sans anything but woman au naturel, I was more than a little nervous. But her argument about how critical we women are about our bodies was a good one, and her challenge to bloggers to link up along with her has received a wonderful response. And then the amazing Wanderlust joined in with her own post, and when I whined in a comment about not having a good camera, she sent me a lovely and encouraging and totally guilt-trippy email more or less commanding me to Do It Anyway and so...

Here's the picture I just took of myself after my nightly ablutions, squeaky clean face and all (I swear it's fuzzy because of the crappy cell phone camera, not from any retouching):

And as proof that sometimes this happens without planning, this photo is from about three months ago on a day when I overslept my alarm, didn't even have time to shower (thus the hat for hair control purposes), and got nowhere near my little pink bag:

I've exposed a good bit of my heart and mind and soul on this blog. I suppose it only makes sense for me to expose my face as well.

Do you hide behind that sexy camera angle or PhotoShop magic or whatnot on your blog? Then head over and take the challenge too. I dare ya.

*That's a story for another time. It probably sounds worse than it is.** But that could just be my gutter brain working.

**which isn't bad, trust me on that one. Get your own brain out of the gutter! Arby, I'm looking at you.

There Are Things That Make Me Sad: These Are Not Some of Them*

What's been making TeacherMommy giggle this week? Glad you asked.

A "letter of appreciation" from a former student for Teacher Appreciation Week:
Dear Ms. TeacherMommy,

U made me learn how 2 right bettr. eye din't thenk u wood help me 2 right as good as eye do now!



Sincerely, Steve H. :)

A letter from daycare I found sitting on the dining room table when I returned to the house last night, obviously left there via the ex for my enjoyment information:
Dear Mr. or Mrs. TeacherMommy,

Today DramaBoy did not choose good choice at naptime, so we are sitting down and talking about what he chose to do instead. DramaBoy has told me that at naptime we are supposed to be quiet and stay on our cots. DramaBoy told me instead he was playing around and not listening to the teacher. I have asked DramaBoy if tomorrow he will make better choices and listen to the teacher when she tells him to be quieter and he says he will try but might need me to sit by him, to which I agreed. If he makes good choices tomorrow at the end of naptime we will draw nice pictures and write a good letter.

Thank you,
Ms. D-------
(The kicker? DramaBoy wrote his name at the bottom too. IT'S HIS FIRST BEHAVIORAL CONTRACT, PEOPLES.)


From the car on the way to school/work this morning:

DramaBoy: Mama, do you like Hannah Montana?

TeacherMommy: No, I don't really like Hannah Montana very much, baby.

DramaBoy: But why don't you like her? Girls LIKE Hannah Montana!


Gems gleaned from going over rough drafts of the paper affectionately known as The Bitch:
Harriet Beecher Stowe aroused many people through her very famous and controversial book, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

This theme was completely utilized towards the end of Uncle Tom's Cabin when the beloved hero, Uncle Tom, is brutally beaten to death by a viscous slave driver.

Through Twain's life, his experiences and wisdom seldom come, molded the modern author into the sculpture he is today.
(I can't help but wonder--did the first of those have anything to do with the slave driver's stickiness in the second? I know. Ewwwww.)

And the fourth thing that's made me giggle?

All the snarky, funny, wonderful comments and emails and texts and whatnot my friends and family have been sending. I big puffy heart you all.

*Inspired by the song "Things" from my favorite children's CD (it's #19 on the songlist)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Insert Snarky Joke Here (It'd Be Better Than What I've Been Coming Up With, Anyway)

So I'm stuck.

With words, I mean. I have been gaining a little weight lately, but no, I am not calling for help over the ether because I've somehow gotten jammed in the doorway and happen to be carrying my laptop.

Besides, you never are really alone around this place. There's no doubt whatsoever in my mind that should I ever be in an awkward and embarrassing situation in this building, the students who would be most likely to make fun of me and never let me live it down would be the very ones to round the corner in the next thirty seconds.

Speaking of which, I was out running errands with MTL last night at Walmart, prepping for our Memorial Weekend camping trip

(Yeah, we're both planners. This means we have both literal and mental checklists and are collecting the required items gradually as finances permit. He is My Kind of Person, yo.) 

(And yes, that would include a sizable dose of dork, thankyouverymuch.)

and who should be standing in the checkout lane next to ours but H., my own personal busybody student? Heh. She's the student I have to fend off every day because she would really like to know as many details about my Personal Life as possible. She's also the one student who has now managed to run into me twice, both times when I was in MTL's company. You should see the glee in her eyes. It's a good thing she's harmless.  Just sayin'.

Anywho. About being stuck. You may have noticed I haven't written many posts lately. That's where I'm stuck.

I've written nearly a dozen posts in the last two weeks that have either been scrapped entirely or left to languish in my draft list. Prose, poetry, humor, pathos: the topics and tones have ranged all over the place. Not a single one has been worth publishing. For Pete's sake

(By the way, who IS Pete? And why are we always doing things for his sake? I wonder about these things. Again, DORK. Yes. I know.)

the only reason I even published that Mother's Day poem is because I felt I really needed to post something, and that was the best I could do. It's okay. Just...not what I really wanted to get out there. Not what was in my mind before I started typing.

That's the issue, you know. The words echoing in my brain aren't making their way onto the screen very well. I've tried using topics and memes suggested by other bloggers. I've tried writing on paper first. I've tried asking for suggestions from friends and coworkers. The results? Pretty much linguistic scat.

Here's the other piece: the posts I've really wanted or needed to write don't have a place here, or are ill advised due to timing, or would hurt feelings. Or all three. So those words remain unwritten. I say them, mind you, to that special group of people who are my constant support. It's a bigger group than I always realize, you know. Certainly larger than it was this time last year. It fluctuates a little, depending on the topic, depending on the time. There is a consistent core.

I'm not alone. I'm not depressed. I'm not freaking out.

But I'm stuck. And it's damn frustrating.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"my prayer": a mother's day poem

my precious child
you grow so swiftly
so soon beyond what i have known
racing through each day
a brilliant flame of pure and vivid life

i stand
and watch
and since i cannot halt these fleeting moments
i bow my head
and pray

i pray for you strength
of spirit as well as body

i pray for you mercy
for self as well as others

i pray for you friendship
of soul as well as play

i pray for you success
in mind as well as pocket

i pray for you wisdom
in small as well as great

i pray for you joy
in hardship as well as ease

i pray for you faith
in God as well as humanity

i pray for you love
in friends, in family, in future beloved

i pray for you
all the blessings of this life
and eternity in the next

and that you should always know
the depth
the breadth
of my love for you

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Clearing the Air

MTL's uncle died this last weekend. He had terminal lung cancer, the result of a lifetime of smoking, and he died in his sister's arms, coughing up blood as his lungs hemorrhaged and his life drained away.

I can't get the image my imagination has created out of my head.

Michigan went Smoke Free this last Saturday, ironically enough the same day MTL's uncle passed away. This means that (most) public buildings; including restaurants, hotels, and bars; are now entirely smoke free. No more smoking section, no more clouds of carcinogens floating through the supposedly non-smoking section, no more eyes burning nose dripping lungs aching foulness driving me out of establishments in search of fresh air.

I couldn't have been happier when I saw a hand-drawn sign saying "Now Smoke Free" on the door of the restaurant where I ate Saturday night.

I'll admit to having smoked occasionally in college. It was rare, it was always in social situations, and I'm not sure I ever finished an entire cigarette. Finally, when I realized that hey, I don't LIKE smoking and doing so just because someone else is smoking is, well, STUPID, I stopped doing even that much.

As for those who say the law takes away their personal rights? Well, what about my personal right not to breathe in the smoke they've chosen to inhale? Just because they're THEIR cigarettes doesn't mean the smoke magically knows not to enter MY lungs.

I have friends who smoke. I love my friends. I hate those cigarettes. I hate the smell. I hate the secondhand smoke. And while I have always been one of those annoying (to smokers) people who make snarky comments about cigarettes being bad for your health, now I'm not just snarky.

I'm angry.

I understand the addiction aspect. I do. But now I know, much more up close and personally, with enough of the graphic reality to make me shudder, what may very well lie in store for my loved ones who smoke.

And when I think that every time they light up one of those cancer sticks, they are willingly running the risk of one day lying on a bed, spewing life from their mouths and noses every time their shredded lungs convulse, leaving the nightmare memory of agony and blood and helplessness behind for those who loved them...

Yeah. I'm angry.

Because it's suicide. Slow suicide, but suicide nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Think It Should Be More Than One Week A Year, But At Least There's SOMETHING!

Photo courtesy of www.worldbuzznow.com

Have you thanked a teacher today?

I mean, you don't necessarily have to walk up to some random teachers and thank them, because while they may be somewhat pleased, they'll also be very confused. This is because they'll be sure you must have been their student/parent of a student at some point and they've forgotten your face and name and holy crap what do they do now?!?!?!

So be nice. Thank a teacher you know. Or, more to the point, knows you.

As for me, my not-so-little brats are driving me crazy today because they apparently did NOT get the memo. I'm trying very hard to not commit a felony stay professional.

WARNING: RANT POST MAY BE FORTHCOMING unless those kids who didn't show up for the presentation THEY SIGNED UP FOR were in the hospital and have the doctor's note to prove it, because they are DEAD MEAT otherwise, let me tell you grumblemumblegrumblegrrrrrrrrr......


Monday, May 3, 2010

It's My Gift To You. You May Thank Me With Brownies. OF EITHER SORT.

I've mentioned before that I'm lazy, yes? Considering I have a label for that, pretty sure I have. And while I have a couple posts brewing (which can mean anything from Coming Soon to a Blog Near You! to Will Never See the Frickin' Light of Day, depending on my level of togetherness and follow-through-edness during any given time period), I'm taking the easy way out AGAIN and posting a meme. Just because. I wasn't even properly tagged this time, because Fraught Mummy Pants with Names (girl, you not only had to change your blog, you had to change your name?!?!?) decided not to tag me. Well, directly, though she kindly says anyone can play along, since she wasn't exactly tagged for it either. This is quite possibly her passive-aggressive way of saying Screw You since I didn't tag her for Saturday's meme, though I was totally going to until I realized that if I was to tag her, then her second post on her new blog would be the first post from her first blog, and that's just odd.

Anywho, the meme involves posting Ten Things I Bet You [My Faithful Readers] Didn't Know About Me. Which at first sounded easy, and then I realized as I started brainstorming that there is far less to write than I thought. First of all, I tell you folks a lot about myself. I'm self-centered generous like that. Second of all, there are plenty of things most people don't know about me, but if I posted them here I'd have to start rating my blog Mature. Also, my parents, sister, grandparents, and various other readers would probably have to gouge out their eyes and scrub their brains, and that's just mean. Uh, DraftQueen? NO TELLING.

And now that you have all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts going through your heads and wish I had an even better filter, here's the PG list:

1. Back in college, I was the official copy editor for a small gaming and publishing company run by my then-boyfriend/now-ex and two of his high school buddies. The problem was that the main guy, a doofus by the name of Ryan, was so controlling and illogical and idiotic that we all Got The Hell Out after only a few things were published. We did put out an actual role-playing game system, though. My (maiden) name is on it as both copy editor and author of the short story in the back of the book. And no, I'm not gonna link it. Tough cookies.

(Also, this may give you further evidence of just how much of a geek/dork I really am. Heehee!)

2. I was temporarily non-geeky in high school with my one moment of Athletic Glory when I was the All Star floor hockey goalie in the high school intramural tournament. I was a lowly freshman, but I Rocked. My team won the Championship, and then I was chosen as one of the goalies for the All Star game--and my team won again!

And then my knees went kaput and any chance at fame and fortune via my athletic prowess went kaput along with them. Sigh. What might have been...

3. You'd think that with my apparent willingness to face down (literally) a hard rubber ball rocketing towards me and my daily obsession with the Intarwebz and my sensation of panic/nakedness without my cell phone (ooh, did you like that segue? I rock transitions, yo!), I'd be all excited over fancy-schmancy phones like the I-phone and Droid and whatnot. You'd be wrong. I have fought the cell phone upgrade issue tooth and nail since, well, forever. I only agreed to GET a cell phone ten years ago when my POS car broke down on I-75 just after I'd driven through that lovely 25-mile section with all the signs saying Prison Area: Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers and then I had to walk into town to call a tow truck while thanking the God I wasn't even sure existed at the time* that the car had sputtered to a halt right by an exit to Podunkville**, Michigan. I got the most basic, barebones phone I could, and ever since then have been accepting technology upgrades with the greatest of reluctance. You have no idea what a big deal it is that my current phone has a camera. And when I tried to download some ringtones lately, my service informed me with the snottiest of possible text that my phone was simply too old for that application, thankyouverymuch you antediluvian weirdo you. I have no Intarwebz access, no *shudder* touch screen, no fancy apps. And as I watch with dismay the increasing signs that Wanda*** may not be surviving her multitudinous mishaps for much longer, I'm dreading the inevitable reality that they just don't make them like they used to. You know, CELL PHONES FOR DUMMIES.

4. So maybe I'm a technophobe in some weirdly specific way. It's not my only fear. I am afraid of heights, which I think is a very sensible fear, but not so sensible is my overwhelming terror of praying mantises (mantisi? mantisusses?). OVERWHELMING. We grow 'em BIG out in the wilds of West Africa, peoples, and many a time I would go outside at night to feed the dog, turn around, and realize that my way back in had been cut off by a monstrous alien being clinging to the screen door. IT WAS LIKE THEY KNEW. And I'd swallow a shriek (because that could have alerted it to my presence and then it could have ATTACKED OMG OMG OMG) and creep around the corner and run like hell to the front door. I remember one particularly horrible night when apparently two mantisussesses were IN A CONSPIRACY because when I got to the front door THERE WAS ANOTHER ONE OMG OMG OMG OMG. Upon which realization I threw caution to the wind and screamed for my daddy to come save me, which he did, because he's Awesome like that. He only chuckled a little bit, even.

SEE???? Terrifying!!!! And, um, I may never be able to read this post again. I couldn't even bear to make it bigger because OMG OMG and do you have ANY idea how much courage it took to LOOK for this damn photo?????

5. Now that my shuddering is subsiding--I am not all Fear and Trembling. I admit I enjoy a good adrenaline rush. Despite my fear of heights, I love rollercoasters. And I have a semi-secret lust for motorcycles. Not the monstrous practically-an-automobile-on-two-wheels types, but the FAST ones that are sleek and sexy and *swoon*. Don't get confused and think this translates to an automatic lust for bikers, mind you. It's the machine that catches my eye and makes me sigh (Ooh! poetry! Kind of. Meh. I'm not much for cheap rhymes.) I have yet to properly ride one, however. Maybe. Someday. It's a Bucket List item, that.

6. I think I have a secret desire to be a Badass. I mean, I'd totally be a Biker Chick. The hot kind who (wo)mans her own machine, mind you, not the Backseat Eye Candy or My Old Lady sort. It all goes along with my love of smartass snarkiness, I suppose. Which (ooh, another Look At Me Go segue!) translates into the classroom, too. You'd think that with my love for being the Queen and Goddess of the Classroom, I'd be all for the suck-ups and kiss-asses, but here's the truth: they annoy me. Really, they do. I just want to shake them and tell them to leave me alone, for Pete's sake! I mean, by all means bring me bribes tribute and whatnot, but do so with a bit of sly sarcasm. Learn to walk the line between Snark and Disrespect. Some of my favorite students are the ones who mouth off--but know how to do so with humor and without getting insolent. Good times.

7. I am afraid I may have, once upon a time, been the suck-up in my classes. I don't know. (Lauren? Was I?) I certainly was occasionally the Teacher's Pet. Sigh. These days, I'm the annoyingly snarky smart one who thinks she knows more (and occasionally does) than the teacher. The truth is I dislike taking most classes. I'm not like my mother or MTL, who adore learning. They're both the lifetime student sort--MTL even says that if he won the lottery, he'd quit working and just take classes full-time: not for a degree, but just to take classes that interest him. Now, it's possible there might be the occasional class that would intrigue me, but realistically I'd rather learn on my own from books. When it comes to the classroom, I'd rather teach than be taught. I'm depressingly stereotypical that way: you know, the saying Teachers make the worst students? Yeah. That's me.

8. Really, this probably just means I'm controlling. And being in front of my class, leading discussion, interacting with the students--those are my strong points as a teacher. My weakest point? PAPERWORK. Oh dear little gods and graces, I HATE PAPERWORK. And I'm very very very bad at keeping up with it. I'm almost always late getting it done. I know, the irony and hypocrisy of it all. I'm afraid I take the ostrich approach: hide my head and pretend it doesn't exist and perhaps it'll miraculously Go Away.

What I really need to do is locate some of those handy Brownies, only the kind that will do paperwork instead of housework. Anyone know where I could find some?

9. Despite this atrocious lack of paper-oriented organizational skills, I have a little bit of OCD. Just, you know, not in USEFUL areas. I can't be all OCD about getting paperwork done or cleaning the house or organizing my classroom or tidying my desk or lawnwork or anything like that. Oh no. I have to be OCD about things like at which number the radio volume is set, or whether written letters and numbers have the lines touching instead of leaving annoying little gaps OMG FINISH THEM OFF!!!!, or getting stuck cracking my shoulder/knuckles/neck/whatever until I feel like I've "completed" the process (whatever that means), or all sorts of annoying little things. Oy. And now I'm twitching all over the place because just mentioning that third one is making my various body parts need cracking and moving and ahhhhhhhhhhhh I'm such a weirdo.

10. Along with the touch of OCD comes a slight superstitious tendency. I don't like stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. When I say that I hope something doesn't happen, I knock on wood (I use my head if nothing else is available). And I carry a lucky rock. Well, when I say rock, I mean lovely rose quartz crystal, a sort of faceted cylinder with a pointed top. When I'm anxious, I'll clutch it in my fist and rub my thumb and fingers over the sharp ridges and feel it warm in my grasp. It's very soothing.

As for the lucky part...well, that would be telling. YOU DON'T DISCUSS LUCK.

I know. It's silly. But there you go.

Betcha didn't know all of that, did ya? Whew. So much for being lazy.

And since I'm curious, and I didn't tag them last time, I want to hear from

DraftQueen (Ha! Tagged you back!)
Stone Fox

Although, in line with Pants with Names, any of y'all who want to join in, please feel free! Because obviously, you don't HAVE to be tagged to play along.

*Time of quasi-belief, not time of God's existence, OBVIOUSLY, people.
**Not its real name. Come on, people, keep up with the snark!
***That's my phone's name. No, really. She's lovely and red.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First of Something

Oh DraftQueen my DraftQueen. Thank you for giving me something to post, because dude, I gots nothing. I have this former student who promised me a written account of a highly entertaining dream he had in which I was a star player (and, um, no, not in THAT way, you dirty-minded people you. SHAME.), but the pesky business of doing Top Secret Stuff on computers over in Iraq got in the way, so I'm having to come up with my own blog fodder.


But you, my darling, have tagged me. I'm It. Apparently I am to repost my first ever blog post and then tag some others to do the same. I'm sure, if I tried hard enough, I could tie this meme in to the fact that today is International Worker's Day as well as Beltene, but today is Saturday and I don't have a maypole handy, so I'll just be lazy and post the damn post already. You're welcome.
As a relatively new addict to the world of mommyblogs, I have had my concepts of blogging seriously challenged. My exposure to blogs was limited to the travesties of MySpace and the more personal ones of a few friends and family members--you know, the kinds that really only their friends and family are meant to see and enjoy? But a short while ago, on a day when I really had MANY other things I needed to do but really didn't feel like doing, I followed a series of links that led me to, of all things, a MommyBlog. (I won't say which at the moment, as I do believe in asking permission before linking and don't have the courage to go ask this High Lady of Humor for permission to link to my sorry little starter blog.) This Mommy was Funny. And Smart. And Funny some more.

As I became addicted to her blog and then (perhaps unwisely for the sake of the stack of papers that is teetering precariously on the corner of my desk) to several others that she herself linked, I realized that (1) blogging mommies Rock, (2) the ones worth reading have actually improved their writing skills through blogging, and (3) apparently blogging can satisfy something in women who are mommies but like to think too.

Now you have to understand that I am the type of person who writes really well when it comes to academic sorts of things, and I know it. However, that confidence falls short when it comes to the Personal. I am much like Adrian Plass, Aged 37 3/4, who starts a diary with the entry:
Feel led to keep a diary. A sort of spiritual log for the benefit of others in the future. Each new divine insight and experience will shine like a beacon in the darkness!

Can’t think of anything to put in today.
This is Me. I have started a half dozen diaries (or, rather, "Journals," very much in the tradition of Great Contributers to Literature) with the rather pompous and idealistic vision of sharing Great Thoughts with Humankind. I buy the pretty ones, the appealing ones, the Journals with lovely clean pages just aching to be written upon with a proper pen (I feel strongly in this matter, as does Anne Shirley, that only the right pen* will do). They generally lasted for a scattering of entries, and then they lay forgotten and dusty on various shelves. I find them later, mourn over another waste of money, laugh at myself and those silly entries, and then try to find something more useful to do with all that lovely paper. Such as jot down important notes about items to find and gems to get cut and quests to fulfill in another addiction of mine, World of Warcraft. But that's another post.

Similarly, the only blogging I have ever done was one exasperated post (about the frustrations of dealing with hormonal teenagers, as I recall) on the otherwise silent MySpace account I created solely to be able to read my sister's blogs. She doesn't blog there anymore, so that account lies quiet and dusty, but definitely unmourned, on some shelf the Webgods have tucked away in a back corner.

We shall see if this blog goes that way. I hope not. Mainly I need to remind myself that the best MommyBloggers are those who edit themselves and yet remain true to themselves. That way they avoid the pomposity and short-lived interest in what they write. From what I have read, at any rate.

So, here begins my account of life with Diapers and Dragons.

* So do you find it curious, as do I, that upon reading over this entry I realized I had initially written "write pen" rather than "right pen"? A slip of the pen, or keys, or whatever, but amusingly apt.

I'm struck by the irony in one of those last lines I wrote: "...the best MommyBloggers are those who edit themselves and yet remain true to themselves." If you've been following my journey at all, you know that I was frantically lying to myself for years, and the first few months of my blog were the last few months I spent doing that. Go back and read last post of 2008 and then read through my journey of 2009...Good Lord. I feel like I'm looking back at the words of a completely different person.

And thank God, I'm not her any longer. 

So where were you and how far have you come since you first started blogging? I'm tagging MomZombie at MomZombie, Monica at And I'll Raise You Five, Arby at Boarding in Bedlam, and Nicola at Some Mothers Do Ave Em. Happy First of May!
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