Diapers and Dragons

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanksgiving rain

i'll sit here a while
and breathe
patter of rain on sodden ground
window streaked
not yet chill enough for snow

i feel the miles tonight
between me and those for whom
i yearn
and still
cannot break through this barrier of silence
my words lie dormant
winter seeds untouched by autumn rain

holidays are mixed
joy and pain
love and loss
what is and what was and
what never shall be again

i would not go back
even to do childhood over again
i would not change
what led me to my now

and yet
and yet

i turn from the window
blink away my rain
and walk toward warmth
and love
and gratitude

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Updates: Because I Know You Were Wondering

1. Why yes, I am feeling better! And here's the absolutely AMAZING thing: all it took was for me to STOP TAKING THE MEDICINE. Oh yes. You have that right. After multiple trips to the doctor and an ultrasound for my bladder and kidneys, all I really had to do was stop taking the damn Macrobid, keep drinking lots of water, and do my back stretches just a little more thoroughly. And HEY PRESTO! I don't feel like I'm dragging my body across a desert wasteland, my back feels mostly okay (considering it's my back), and my nether regions feel a little less like they've been channeling a little piece of the netherworld.

I'm still going to the urologist next week, though. I'm also still chugging water (and running for the bathroom) on a regular basis. Lesson: learned (hopefully).

2. In case you were wondering, I DID in fact get both a hug (more than one, actually) and a Date Night with MTL last week. Although we may have been so tired that we settled for a visit to our favorite Mexican restaurant and then snuggling on the couch to watch a movie. WITH NO ONE ELSE AROUND. Just maybe. And really? That was good. Very good.

3. On Saturday we drove down to Detroit and hauled my brother and his things back up to my house. He's been having a bit of a rough time living down there lately, what with the loneliness and the lack of available jobs and transportation issues and whatnot, and when he crashed my parents' car...well, he need some TLC. So we brought him up to our place for not quite two weeks, and it worked very well and he fit in perfectly and when he left--well, we kind of wanted him back. So we invited him to come live with us at least until my parents come back in March, and he said yes, and now we are Eight. Since the Dark One has stayed only one night at our place since she left in September (because God forbid she be away from her troll boyfriend for any length of time), we moved my brother into that room instead.

For the sake of this blog, he shall henceforth be known as "DMB", which is short for "DorkMaster B". Trust me, it fits. And he approves.

4. Thursday is DramaBoy's fifth birthday. FIFTH. This is bizarre. It's also Thanksgiving, here in these American parts, so we're sort of combining them but also tentatively planning a separate party in a couple of weeks and once again I am reminded that holiday birthdays are kind of annoying. Even though they are easier to remember. Considering that seven out of the eight of us (I'm including DMB here) have birthdays either on or right around holidays, it's a family Thing now.

Me: Christmas Day
MTL: Valentine's Day
DMB: Just before Halloween
The Dark One: American Independence Day
KlutzGirl: Often around Easter (this year, it's on Good Friday)
DramaBoy: Right around (or, this year, on) American Thanksgiving
The Widget: Often around Easter (a little earlier than KlutzGirl)

So the only one who isn't is The Padawan. Poor boy. Or lucky one, considering he gets his very own day without a holiday mucking up the process.

5. On the side of Evil triumphing over Good, two very evil things have occurred this week: first, someone(s) broke into my parents' house on Monday (fortunately while the renter was out), smashing a window and breaking down some interior doors. My brother's things were gone, of course, and my parents' were packed away, so only the poor renter suffered loss. His laptop and some other things were stolen. It all makes me very angry: most likely someone saw us moving my brother out and figured there would be less monitoring of the house. At least the (very active) house alarm limited the time and damage. And yet: SIGH.

The second and more evil of the events is that one of my stepson's teachers was arrested on suspicion of child molestation--not at school and not one of the students, but OMG ANYWAYS. This sort of thing makes me so very angry on so many levels: that the evil of molestation happens, that child molesters exist at all, that it was one of my stepson's teachers (!!!!), and that once again it is one of these cases where the evil individual will cast a shadow over the entire educational system. I know it's all alleged right now, and that guilt and innocence must wait for the trial and all that....but still.

This week has not been strong for the side of Good.

6. Except for the case of my school's annual Canned Food Drive. We nearly missed our goal, but a flurry of last-minute cash donations edged us over, and as of this morning we have collected the equivalent of over 60,000 cans in food and cash donations for a local food bank. It's one of the reasons I love this school: the staff and students here regularly reach astonishing levels of generosity for a wide variety of charitable causes. The Food Drive is one; next week the annual Gift Drive for an impoverished elementary school in Detroit takes place; other drives occur frequently to help charities and individual students and families stricken by illness and accident. Last year alone my school raised over $84,000 in charitable donations. That's not the district; that's not the county; that was ONE SCHOOL ALONE. In one year. And while we do have wealthy students and families here, we also have the very, very poor. It's a very diverse school both ethnically and socio-economically.

So that? That makes me proud. And it gives me hope, a little light in the darkness, that sometimes, just perhaps, Good can in fact overcome the many forces of Evil.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Problem With Being Tagged Online Is That You Can't Really Run Away. Not That I'd Be Able To Run Very Quickly Right Now Anyway. Oh Well. At Least I'm Writing. Right?

I haven't done a meme in ever so long, but fellow Michigander (and yes, I am of that party--no Michiganians, okay??? Even Blogger spelling says that's the wrong one!) Katie over at No Missed Opportunities tagged me, and since I haven't been posting up a storm lately and the nagging and gradually increasing pain in my kidney region is interfering with my thought/posting processes lately, tally ho and all that.

(And yes, I am being good and looking into this kidney issue further. I'm scheduled for an ultrasound this afternoon. Also: drinking water nonstop. Also: running for the bathroom every half hour. These last two may be related.)

So. The Meme: A bit about me-me. I'm feeling a little lightheaded from, well, I'm not quite sure what. The blood dilution from drinking so much water? The poisonous little bastards bacteria partying in my body? Lack of restful sleep due to strange dreams I suspect are triggered by my top-level antibiotics? The sheer frustration from the whole stupid illness? The strangeness of actually posting something only a couple days after a previous post????

Anyhow, whatever it is, I'm lightheaded. So we'll see what kind of wackadoodle responses I come up with in response to the meme questions.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Paste these rules on your blog post.

3. Respond to the following prompts (in bold).

4. Add a prompt of your own and answer it.

5. Tag a few other bloggers at the bottom of the post.

6. Leave "Tagged You" notices on their blog/Facebook.

7. Let the person who tagged you know when you've written the post.

1) The best investment you ever made:
My health. Oh wait! That's the best investment I WISH I had ever made. Or perhaps at least buying stock in pharmaceuticals.

Um. No frickin' idea. My Tax Sheltered Annuities are doing pretty well, which is amazing in this economy, so maybe those.

And I suppose I could be all mommyblogger and say My kids! [insert rainbows and flowers and fairy dust here] but I have to say, so far it seems like there's a whole lot more investment and not a whole lot of return interest. I mean, sure, kisses and cuddles are nice, but where's my MONEY, yo??? You think those shoes and haircuts and snacks and clothing grow on trees? CUZ THEY DON'T!!!

Of course, I am stockpiling stories and pictures and whatnot with which to blackmail and embarrass them one day, so I suppose that's an investment. I'm just waiting for my returns, people.

2) If you could’ve written any book, directed any movie, and composed any song, which three would you pick:
Seriously? I have to pick something like this? Like I'm all, Hey, I could have done that! Or jealous or whatever? I'm changing it up, because y'all, I'm not those other people. So here's what I would pick to write/direct/compose:

The book that proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that sports are, in fact, overrated and unnecessary and that other things such as the arts should prevail. Readers would close it reverently, cancel their tickets to the Sunday game, and change the channel from ESPN to SyFy (which would stop showing wrestling, of course, even though that's more theatre than sport.) Athletes would demand a cut in pay. Huge quantities of money would suddenly divert from all things athletic to theaters and concert halls. The geeky kids would be picked first. For everything.

The movie that costs about $2000 to make and rakes in $900,000,000. Because I want the money, that's why.

The song that instantly makes anyone who hears it smile, even if it's the shittiest day of their lives. And never gets old.

In other words, the impossible.

3) Weirdest quirk:
Only one? But I have so many! I even asked MTL, who was astonishingly unhelpful. I would have thought this was right up his alley, but NO. He was all IDK and then Hair twirling? which is an obsession quirk I have, true, but isn't all that WEIRD really, especially since I do it to my hair rather than other people's which would be weirder, and so I told him he sucks and then he said You're just not weird to me and so I melted.

I do also wiggle my ears. Especially when I'm reading and very focused. So I guess I'm kind of weird when I read, since I'll sit there and twirl my hair with one hand while wiggling my ears (handsfree, of course) and also sometimes stick my tongue between my teeth, kind of like a cat. I only know these things because more than one person has observed and commented upon them.

My students say my obsession with written letters being completely closed is my weirdest quirk. When I or someone else writes on the board, for example, and doesn't completely connect the lines in, say, an "o" or an "a" or a "p", I CANNOT ignore it. I have to close it. I think it's perfectly logical, but they think it's hilarious and will sometimes NOT close things on purpose just to drive me crazy, the sadistic little buggers.

Is that weird enough?

4) One wish immediately granted:
HEALTH. Seriously. And maybe a hug to go along with it. And a date night.

Oh wait. One...okay. HEALTH. The others I probably don't need to wish for in order to get. Right, MTL? RIGHT????

5) Most expensive hobby:
Does reading count as a hobby? I think it's more of an essential part of life for me. So...cross stitching. Because the project I'm working on now cost me over $70 in supplies, will cost a ton to frame, and also "costs" increasing woman-hours of work. Especially considering all the mistakes I made at the beginning that required me to rip out literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of stitches. In one case, twice. I'M JUST THAT AWESOME.

6) An inexhaustible gift-card at which store:
Borders. DUH.

7) In another lifetime, you’d be:
A cat. A pampered indoor one, obviously. Seriously, have you seen what their lives are like? With all the sleeping and the eating and the sleeping and the playing and the sleeping and the cuddling and the sleeping and the purring and THE SLEEPING. AWESOME.

8) The most famous/interesting member of your family tree:
Good lord. Again, with the choosing. One of my Issues, actually, is trying to live up to the ridiculously Accomplished and Interesting Family in which I was raised. Extended family on my mother's side, really, where I have grandparents with medals of honor (not American, but still) framed on their wall; and a great-great-aunt who was the first woman to earn a degree in Architecture from the University of Michigan; and family members scattered hither and yon Doing Great Things For Other People; and a cousin who lived in Jerusalem for years and now teaches Hebrew to children in California and whose wife is studying to become a rabbi; and a father who is a Knight--yes really, an actually Knight knighted by the (oddly enough, non-monarchical) government of the country where I grew up and he still works.

Also on that side, I have an indirect ancestor (a many times great-uncle or cousin or whatever) in the American history books as the Founder of the American Industrial Revolution, because he memorized the blueprints to the industrial cotton mill and immigrated to the colonies and started things up, back when the British didn't allow that sort of thing to be taken to the colonies. So, you know, a smuggler and criminal. But on the winning side, which makes all the difference.

Gah. Now I'm feeling all small and insignificant again, thankyouverymuch.

9) What would you say to your teenage self?
GET THERAPY. Also, stop perming your damn hair.

10) What do you want to be when you grow up?
Just like the little old lady I spotted the other day. She was driving a smallish SUV with this stick-figure family decal on the back window:

She is officially the most awesome little old lady I've ever seen.

11) Proudest moment?
Um. I'm bad at remembering these ones. I'm better at remembering all the very many, many humiliating ones I've had.

I think I'll have to be sappy for a minute and say it would be a collage or montage or whatever of the various times students have told me I made a difference in their lives. Those are my proudest moments.

And if my sons tell me someday that I didn't mess them up TOO much, that will be my new one.

12) Best decision ever made?
To risk everything and fall head over heels in love with MTL. Haven't regretted it one bit.

All these years of forgetting to drink water all day, on the other hand....regret that. SO MUCH. Damn kidneys.

Oh, and I have to tag people? (grumble grumble) FINE. I'll tag other people who have been struggling with posting lately as well. Cuz I know how it feels, people.

I tag Kathleen over at Treasured Chapters, because routine can be a blog-killer;

and the lovely and FINALLY no longer preggers (wee Sam decided to stop hiding from his big brothers, that's why) Pants over at Pants With Names, because maybe this is a post she can handle with one hand;

and MomZombie over at Mom Zombie, because we're both struggling with silence and what happens within it;

and Angelique over at The Hyggelig In Me, not because she's struggling with posting (she's not), but because she's my real life friend and fellow Michigander who just started blogging a cozy little blog and I feel like tagging her.

So there! You're welcome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So Much To Do, So Much To Say...*

'Cos here we have been standing for a long, long time
Can't see the light
Treading trodden trails for a long, long time...*

I haven't been writing much of anything anywhere lately. It's not due to being silent; in some ways, actually, it's due to speaking a great deal elsewhere. I'm back in therapy, focusing on deep root issues that have spread their tendrils throughout almost every area of my mind and life. It's very much like after facing down depression and divorce and those dragons, others wormed their way up from the depths and waved. Hello, still here. Wanna play?

They don't play nicely.

I'm talking, yes. Talking and wringing hands and, apparently, digging my nails into my skin until the morass of red crescents becomes raw enough to realize what I'm doing. It's hard work, this therapy. Then when I leave the War Room of my therapist's office, I dive into processing and digging deeper in my own mind. And talking some more: with MTL and with my dear friends J and A and H, spread out from coast to coast of the country though they are. Thank God for email and g-chat and phones, I say.

Elsewhere, with other people, however, I find myself silent. There are ideas I have to process, issues I have to solve, emotions I have to face before I can open my mouth and speak. My therapist agrees, by the way, with this instinct. And I find myself thinking of the words of Solomon, who wrote in his time of struggle, facing dragons of his own:

1 For everything there is a season,
      a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
      A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
      A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
      A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
      A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
      A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
      A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
      A time for war and a time for peace. 
--Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New Living Translation, emphasis added)

For now, in some ways, it is a season to be quiet, to be silent, to be "mindful," as my therapist says.

But oh, Dear Readers, how tired I am!

Add to all this hard work of the mind the busy-ness of the end of the Marking Period, and Parent Teacher Conferences last week, and fighting off my fifth? sixth? seventh? urinary tract infection of the year...Oh yes, I know that's not a good thing at all. And I'm sorry if it's a bit TMI, but hello, I Have A Problem. I'm scheduled to see a urologist on December 1st, because when someone (aka ME) is averaging between six and ten UTIs per year for three years straight, something is going on.

Granted, I don't take care of myself terribly well. I've been working on that recently: drinking water much more throughout the day, even at work; heading to the bathroom much more often; avoiding an overabundance of sugary junk at work instead of real food. Hopefully that will also help.

But I seem to have reached the ceiling, so to speak, with the heavy-duty antibiotics. My body is building resistance. I've been on Cipro for almost a full week, with no missed doses, and I'm still developing fevers and experiencing discomfort--including, the last couple days, an ache in my lower back that makes me nervous about my kidneys.

So I'm headed back to the doctor this afternoon, and I'm dragging myself somehow through the day and trying not to think too longingly of my bed (oh lovely bed with your soft pillows and fluffy comforter) when I'm supposed to be teaching kids about sonnet forms and the consequences of overweening ambition as shown in Macbeth and the abuse of authority as demonstrated in Oedipus Rex and dramatic irony and the emptiness of the American Dream when lacking solid foundations as shown in The Great Gatsby and oh yes, the historical context for all of those texts and let's not forget vocabulary and grammar and dear God what was I thinking when I said I'd take on three preps this year? Oh right, helping out the department because we were losing teachers.

Also, I'm trying very hard to be grateful for having a job when so many others do not, trying hard not to be bitterly cynical about politics (and losing that battle rapidly, may I say), and trying exceedingly hard not to panic about the upcoming contract negotiations which, hey, may become moot anyhow if The Powers That Newly Be in this state have anything to say about it.

I will say this, though: I'm deeply--bone deeply, really--grateful for having friends with whom I can talk so rawly and honestly; for a partner who is my best friend, and who loves me even when I'm dragged down by it all and being infuriating, and who loves me more because of than in spite of my moments of batshit crazy; for the strength to even face this all in the first place. Even when, on days like this, I feel like doing nothing more than crawling into my very own padded room and staying there for a while.

Or taking a holiday from my Self. Just for a little while.

I find sometimes it's easy to be myself
Sometimes I find it's better to be someone else...*

*From Dave Matthews Band "So Much To Say":

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Is Why I Should Probably Just Go Back To Bed. And Perhaps Organize My Shoes.

You may have picked up a hint or two that I am overtired and overstressed lately. Just a smidge. I hadn't realized just how much my mental processes have been affected, however, until I was standing up from giving the kidlets hugs at daycare this morning and spotted this:

Oh yes. Those are, indeed, shoes from two different sets of black boots. Please note that they fit my feet quite differently. What you can't spot from this angle is that the right boot's heel is about half an inch higher than the left, which means that I had been limping--yes, LIMPING--around for the previous half hour and hadn't even noticed. This is, as you can imagine, SO VERY GOOD for my back.

So here's what I'm wearing now:

It's a very good thing that I've become so comfortable with my not-so-inner Dork.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Today I'm discouraged. Deeply, deeply discouraged. As much as I try to focus on the positives of my career, as much as I try to focus on the great kids and the joy of those wonderful discussions and discoveries and moments in teaching that make my day, as much as I try to listen to the messages I get from former students saying I made a difference in their lives: today I just want to quit.

I just want to be done. Walk away, leave behind all the crap, all the heartache, all the apathy. I just want to leave behind the parents who don't understand the importance of their children's educations and who think that teachers are the Enemy rather than their allies. I just want to leave behind the political red tape and bullshit. I just want to leave behind the pervasive attitude that somehow my education and professionalism and experience mean nothing, just like that of all my many, many, many dedicated and amazing colleagues. I even want to walk away from all the students, former and current, who Need so much from me, above and beyond the parameters of academic education.

I definitely want to walk away from the pile of papers to grade and the overwhelming list of things I have to do, which grows every day.

I feel drained. It's as though I've been plugged in, but in reverse, so all the energy is being drained away from me rather than into me. I'm tired. Deeply bone-tired. I could barely move this weekend to do the bare minimum of what the weekend required, much less do much of anything productive or useful. And of course that means I have even more to do this week because I've procrastinated.

I just want to crawl into bed and sleep for twelve hours, then get up and read or work on my cross stitch project or actually exercise for once or do one of the many other things that are infinitely more attractive to me than what I actually have to do. Preferably in the company of MTL.

But I can't. I have to finish grading all these papers and quizzes and tests, and make tests, and prepare for the onslaught of project presentations, and finish grades, and somewhere in there I should probably work on cleaning a house that became absolutely trashed over Halloween weekend.

I feel like crying.
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