Saturday, September 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mate

This is Mate. I'd like to tell you all that he's not as good looking in real life just to scare off all the sweet young things I fear will besiege him, but I can't--he's just this cute.

It's our birthday--mine is today (and to that end, Bryar will be blogging for me tomorrow--she's written a very funny play about Sleeping Beauty--you'll laugh, I promise!) and Mate's is tomorrow. We are thirty-nine.

Twenty years ago, I was actively flirting with three guys--two of them born on Sept. 30, and one of them born on Oct. 1st. The other two didn't pan out, and the one on Oct. 1st had a terrible crush on another girl--I stalked I mean talked him out of that nonsense--Mate was it. I don't much like shopping around, and here I'd found a perfectly good Mate and I refused to let him off the hook--and all in all, he's worked out better than my best dreams.

He doesn't give me shit about my weight--although he does encourage me to eat healthy. He lets me buy yarn, as long as there is money in the bank. He plays with our children--in fact, the goofy goombah seems to think they're almost as interesting as I do--how can you beat that. He gives me super fancy toys, like my i-pod, that I think I don't need and then discover that I can't live without. Of course, he doesn't fall into that category--I'm pretty sure that the sun and moon would wither in my sky and blow away should there come a day when Mate is not by my side. (Of course, if I ever catch him with a sweet young thing, I'll be responsible for his departure. He knows this--we've been very clear on this matter.)

So, all this crunchy, chewy, sweet and meaty goodness in one tried and true Mate--and what did I get him for his birthday?

Not a blessed thing. He didn't want anything. Well, he did want something--a World of Warcraft addition, but they don't have it out yet, so we decided to wait. I figured I'd give him a card, letting him know he could have the toy of his choice, without guilt or looking back, when it became available, but I feel empty inside. I want something wonderful to give to my Mate--he's my one and only Mate, my stars and moon...shouldn't Mate have the best birthday wishes available on planet Earth?

Absolutely--so, unless I can sneak out tomorrow and have the perfect brainflash for the perfect gift for my perfect Mate, all I have to offer him is wishes. So here are my best wishes for Mate:

I wish a huge-ass plasma television bigger than our living room wall, and a house to put it in.

I wish him a skinnier wife. (Of course, this birthday wish would serve us both well.)

I wish him children who have inherited his housecleaning gene.

I wish him children who have passed my slobosaurus gene right up.

I wish him a next life with a supermodel who adores cleaning house wearing a French-maid's outfit and a smile.

I wish him me, in my next life, inside that supermodel.

I wish him a Mustang, hot and red, with a V-8 and a 389 engine and all the trimmings.

I wish to be next to him, skinny and with my hair blowing back, as he drives it.

I wish him enough magic powers to restore our bathroom to usability without too much work--Mate works too hard already.

I wish him cats that never crap on the floor, dogs that don't go through the trash, and weenie pigs that don't cost a hundred dollars.

And when some big publishing company buys my books and I turn into a corporation, I wish him a happy job as my houseboy...with all the 'duties' that implies.

But most of all (since it's my birthday too, and many of these wishes have aimed a mild benefit in my direction) I wish that he never in his life hears the following words from any of our adored children:

* Can the baby and I come and stay while Zaphod tours with the band?
* But a GED is almost as good as a diploma.
* But you know marijuana SHOULD be legal.
* Am I supposed to know who the father is?
* I know my old room's been converted--that's okay, we can sleep under the sewing machine.
* You didn't like that car anyway.
* Hey--we got the pets, the pictures and the laptops out.
* It's not my fault cops don't know how to drive!
* But my teacher is HOT!
* But college grading systems are really just prejudiced relics of a corrupt educational institution anyway.
* I'll pay back that bail money, I promise!

Seriously--Happy Birthday, Mate. I wish I knew what to get you--you've given me the best life I could have dreamed of, if I'd been smart enough to have that kind of dream.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Let's see if I can start a new computer acronym... what do you all think? Help me out with it--it could catch on... toh. That's it. toh--no--not tangent=opposite/hypotenuse-- instead, it stands for Typing One Handed... I mean, 'lol' took off and stuck--what about toh? It could help with so many things...typing while nursing the baby, typing while holding the baby, typing while petting the cat, signing the kids' homework, drinking the giant alcoholic beverage that I always talk about and never have...(still breastfeeding most of the time...) typing while eating ice cream, crocheting (I can crochet one and wrong handed...knitting needs two...), talking to the guy in Bangladesh who's trying to sell me credit card insurance right now--you know, whatever butters your biscuit. (Not that--I can't believe you thought of that... shame on you all...)

Anyway, the best part of this is that it's a forgiveness phrase--like (sic) which basically says 'I'm too damned lazy to look up the word and I'm pretty sure it's been mispelled but I've been reading high school papers for so damned long I can't even fathom what the original spelling might possibly be.' Except 'toh' would be, 'forgive the crappy stupid ass little freakin' typos and please just look at that really brilliant thing I was trying to say but the baby grabbed the gas bill and I thought that was more important than perfect typing'. And then it could spread--become indicative of any foul up we perpetrate while under the influence of too much to do and too little time. For example, if we crash the car because we were exhausted from being up with kittlins all night, we could write 'toh' on the insurance report, or if we slipped up and dropped the F-bomb in class because our big asses knocked over a stack of quizzes we'd been looking for all week we could apologize to the complaining parents and say 'so sorry--I was so toh!' or if we said totally the wrong thing and offended someone we worked with because our eyes glazed over as they were talking (poor Satan--I really didn't intend to be rude but I was standing right next to a conversation about breastfeeding and that was a lot more interesting than the fact that my sophomores have no room for humor in their itty-bitty brains) we could shrug and say 'toh' and all would be forgiven.

I think it's an awesome idea--but I'm not really a leader. Remember that scene when Keira Knightly says to the pirates 'Come on--who's with me!' and the next shot is her, in the rowboat, all alone? Yeah--that's me. So I can only come up with the idea--I need leaders, people, limelight specialists, professional trendsetters to take this shaft of light and run with it until my humble little phrase, generated during the first 10 sentences of this blog, becomes so well known it becomes immortalized in that big honkin' dictionary whose only purpose is to drop on the heads of bad men who are chasing college coeds through dark and scary libraries. So what do you say--toh--toh--toh--toh... can ya help a totally toh'd sister out here?

(Unless, of course, it's already someone else's idea...well done, whoever you are...GO TOH!!! )

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Thtucked Foose

One of the things that I always forget about when working on a new book is that sometimes, the revision process can delight the crap out of you. Seriously-- I was totally giggling over a new phrase I'd spat out in a fit of irritation (I do that, you know...) and when I ran it by Mate, he giggled too. This is big for him--he's not really a giggler. It's hard to charm Mate, or even to impress him with my rapier wit... of course, after eighteen years of cohabitation, it could be that even the sweetest dragon grows wit-proofed scales to fend off unwanted incursions of jagged intelligence, but we'll just leave it at the thought that he's hard to impress. And he liked it. He liked it so much, I thought I would share, but how to share? It would work good on the blog, but then, it was a small bit--sort of a one-trick pony, how to share? how to share how to share how to...oh, wait.

It sounded like something Cory would say.

Now Cory is the main character of my books--she's painfully young, terribly honest, and, at times, excruciatingly profane (as are even the best young people, at times--the awful weight of the spoken profanity has not yet descended upon their backs. Sort of like me.) Cory would spit this out in a second...but, where in the book would it fit? It dealt with blood, and she gets beat up a lot

And what followed was magic. I've put the bit here to work as a teaser--for those of you who follow the books, it has no spoilers and no plot points--you all know Cory gets the crap beat out of her, but that she always bounces back. For those of you who don't follow the books, remember that this totally (to you) pointless conversation was brought to you by the first day of my period, when I got tired of telling my husband that I was bleeding like a stuck pig, and decided, instead, to bleed like a moose:

by Amy Lane

“Oh gees…” I swore, feeling my nose starting to swell enough to bother my speech. “Is dere anyding we can do to top this goddabbed bweeding?”

Between Bracken’s red-capped proximity and my broken nose (it must have been broken—with the hurt and the breathing and the goddamned blood there wasn’t another option) it turned out that there really wasn’t anything we could do about the bleeding. By the time we pulled up to Green’s hill, I had soaked through what was left of Bracken’s T-shirt as well as one of the sweatshirts Nicky had left in the SUV, and since those were the only extra clothes in the car, I was freezing my ass off as well. Somewhere between where we’d met by the stadium and the parking lot, my shoulder had good and well frozen up with agony, and the entire trip up the hill was one long misery of pain, blood, and cold.

Green was waiting for us as we pulled up, his yellow hair dark with rain and his lovely face clouded with worry. I had a sudden, horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach—I had done this to him, I thought miserably. I was the reason he was standing in the rain, pacing and afraid. Wonderful.

He greeted me with grim, flashing eyes, and a general pat down to check
my injuries. I yelped as he touched my arm and he practically had to fight my hand away from my nose, soaked through T-shirt and all.

"I'm thorry." I garbled, trying not to cringe away from his touch in guilt and shoving that pathetic wad of bandage back up against my face. "I'm bweeding like a thucking thtuck boose."

Mario sputtered as he got out of the car. "Are you sure that's not a stucking mucked foose?" He asked, putting a gentle hand on my shoulder and shooting Green a wary look.

"With Cory's mouth I think she meant a mucking fucked stoose." La Mark
shot back, aligning himself next to me and giving my 'gentle' beloved one of those super bright smiles that usually melts knees.

"I think," Green said deliberately, "That she is bleeding like a fucking stuck moose. And I also think that you two need to get out of the rain."

"We tried." Mario murmured, and then they deserted me like cucking fowards, leaving me face to face with one very unhappy beloved, while the other one parked the car.

It's hard to look sheepish when you can’t wrinkle your nose or show your mouth, and after a minute I found I was squinting uncomfortably against the rain as it fell. "Uhb...bewoved..." I said hesitantly, and he swore savagely and hauled me against him, mindful of the shoulder, but with the suppressed violence of a pulled bow-string.

"It would serve you right if I let you bleed." He said, and his voice was as close to sounding petulant as a two-millennium old being possibly could.

"I'b thorry." I said again, and all of my misery must have oozed through the rag in front of my face, because he heaved a giant sigh, and kissed my temple reluctantly, but the sweet weirdness that was his healing felt just as wonderful when the tingle of knit tissues and re-aligned bones had faded. Then he ushered me to the shower, and a half an hour later I was no longer bleeding, my nose and shoulder no longer hurt, and I was warm and dry on his couch. But that awful feeling in my stomach was still there. It wasn't helped by the fact that both he and Bracken insisted I eat as soon as I got out of the shower, and the stew that Grace left simmering on the stove sat like a rock.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hee hee hee...

(hee hee hee hee...) A monkey tamer...thanks Lady In Red--I'll be giggling over that during my first two periods tomorrow...

Other things that make me go hee hee right now?

That commercial where the Yahoo--recommended fertilizer brings the dog to life from under the garden. (hee hee hee hee...)

The new review for Vulnerable that has the audacity to suggest I'm better than Laurell K. Hamilton. Not true, but before I can tell my ego 'down sweetie...', it still has a psychotically giddy giggle... (hee hee hee hee)

Precious little sister had a poopzilla today and just giggled at me and ate her feet. (hee hee hee hee hee)

The idea of a scrap baby sweater made out of self-striping sock yarn. (hee hee hee hee)

The fact that my ob/gyn greeted me today with the words "So, you're husbands shooting clear now, right?" I mean, I'm the Queen of Bluntness, but I'd forgotten that just being an ob/gyn gives your doc an insta-pass into your personal life...she also commented on the fact that after nearly twenty years we still seem to be doing it like bunnies--I'm a year from forty with four children, but suddenly I was releasing my inner seventeen year old... it was all I could do not to giggle right there in the office. (hee hee hee hee hee)

And then she introduced the speculum teleported expressly from Antartica. (Hoh?)

A plan to call the parents of every kid who has pissed me off in the last two weeks and make their small lives miserable. (Buuuuwha ha ha ha ha ha)

A plan to write a nasty letter to the Roc publishing company for mangling the latest Harry Dresden book and rendering it FUBAR for reading purposes--I got the book in May and have been putting off reading it until I was at sort of a low point and needed a bit of a lift...imagin my dismay to get to page 121, discover that the next page was 59, and that pages 59 to 121 were totally repeated in the text. And that pages 121-189 were completely eliminated. And now I'm dying to read the rest, and very broke... ohhh the nasty letter I am planning for these people...(ha ha ha ha ha ha)

But mostly what makes me go hee hee right now is the thought of the cold medication I'm going to take before I go to bed. A cold, allergies, whatever, something is kicking my ass and I'm gonna get buzzed on sudafed and make it all go bye bye. (Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee...)

Goodnighe everybody!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Finishing the gamut...

I don't want to talk about work today. I had to write sub plans (they're fishing around my uterus with a pair of sharp tweezers tomorrow to find the IUD they conveniently lost and that has been giving me the world's longest freaking menstrual cycle...I have the feeling I'll go back next year and read all my blogs and wonder why Mate didn't shoot me for being on the rag for six freaking weeks...) but anyway, about my sub plans-- at the beginning of my sub-plans I put the the following note:

Warning--your first two classes are slit-your-wrists, slough-of-despond, put-your-head-in-the-oven awful. If you do not get them to shut the heck up before you speak they will drive you nuts-to-the-walls bonkers. Refer at will.

I hate them, they hate me, and if the administration didn't want this sort of adversarial relationship between me and my students they SHOULDN'T HAVE TRACKED ALL OF THE BELOW BASIC KIDS INTO MY TWO SOPHOMORE CLASSES AND THEN TOLD ME THAT REMEDIAL TEACHING WAS FOR PUSSIES. I can't remember a group of kids I was less thrilled about seeing every day, and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual. It doesn't help that our grammar book is as interesting as Ben Stein reading the phone book in a dead language--crap, that puppy confuses me and I'm the freaking teacher.

Anyway, while I'm on a piss-on-the-flat-iron-and-bitch-about-the-steam kind of roll, I may as well summon all of the reasons my children are less than precious today. It kind of finishes off the gamut, doesn't it? First there was the 'my children are so fragile and I'm not worthy' post, then there was the 'we're all a happy family don't we make you want to puke' post, and now you'll get 'all the reasons crazy people shouldn't procreate' post. It will be fun, really.

* The cave troll has this bizarre habit of saving his food for later. You will give him a bite of something--it can even be something he likes, like chocolate cake, which makes it especially disgusting--and he will save it in his mouth until you chase him down with a napkin and make him spit it out. Sometimes it's been in there for an hour--everybody say BLEAHCHH!

* During hide and seek in the dark on Saturday, Big T came running by the foot of our bed to hide in the bathroom. Bryar came by looking for him and I pointed her to the bathroom when Mate said 'Yeah, but don't go in there. He's using the toilet.'

* That same kid just hit me up for the 'Adopt a Soldier' campaign at school. For the 213thbillionth time. Now, even though I think it's a fine cause (regardless of what you think about the war, I keep thinking about these 19 year old kids so far from home and it breaks my heart) I opted out of this one because I'm at the stage where I can't hardly remember to buy diapers and toilet paper for my own family and I didn't want to let some stranger down halfway around the world. I lost it so hard he started to cry, then tried to give me his favorite teddy bear so I could hug it when I was frustrated. I hugged him instead, but the pressure they keep putting on kids to do this shit is starting to bug the crap out of me--only about 1/4-1/2 of the mothers at my kids' school work-- lucky them (and you all know I'm not being facetious about that--seriously, lucky them, I'm jealous as hell) but cut the rest of us a break, wouldja?

* Can my oldest daughter spare me one moment of minute and excruciating detail about her school-life? Seriously--I got a blow-by-blow of her thought process for why she opted to do one homework assignment over the other during her free period at school and then looked hurt when my eyes glazed over, and I know the minute I totally tune her out is the moment she says 'yeah, mom, I was doing X when this cute guy started looking totally hot and he ripped my clothes off and guess what, you're gonna be a grandma' so I have to force my eyes to focus and recycle those brain cells that have already been turned to mush in order that I may listen to one more justification on why this wierd little piece of plastic is better than another one.

* Even the baby is having her less than precious moment--her favorite thing to coo and chew on, people? (Or chew and coo, or coo coo ca chew...whatever butters your biscuit) Her favorite thing to chew and coo is her brother's plastic animals which totally busts his nut. Of course, that's probably only karma because since the moment he could walk he's been grabbing the older kids' stuff and haring off with it screaming MINE MINE MINE MINE like some sort of psychopathic bluejay, but, still--it would figure that her favorite toys aren't hers at all.

But then, that whole karma thing is probably in operation here--I'm just sure that everything from my students to my children is just some sort of whopping 'so there' from the Universe at, in that spirit, all I have to say is:


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Brought to you by...

And Friday's freaked-out-mama post was brought to you by...


This fits into my general theory, right, that it takes a good six weeks to acclimatize yourself to any change--having a new baby in the house, being on vacation, starting a new job... one of the exhausting parts about the new school year is spending six weeks breaking in a new batch of goobers, I mean stuberts, I mean students into a semi-civilized state--I think that's one of the reasons teachers burn out so badly. We have to do this every year. But I know week six is coming--I plan for it. This year I've scheduled a doctor's appointment during it, most years I just take a mental health day (can you tell I need one?) and show movies. But this year, being a little more intense than most years--remember, I just came off of a 5 1/2 month maternity leave preceded by part of a year working part time--I hit that six week crash on the Friday before the sixth week... sorry--if I'd seen it coming, I would have warned all of you.

So thanks for putting up with the blog-hysteria (blogstyria?) and let me tell you about my daughter's birthday, which kept us so busy I wasn't able to come any where near my computer yesterday.

It was fun--she turned twelve (isn't that insane? more children growing up in my house. I forbid it. Twelve is almost thirteen--gods, who needs another thirteen year old to deal with?) and she hangs out with kids who don't do make up or gossip about boys and who still like dolls and wearing clothes that don't show navels or cleavage (butt-cleavage included) and Bryar and her friends and my sons stayed up until ten o-clock playing hide and seek in the dark. They had a blast--and Kewyn fell asleep in the living room, happy and exhausted, and trust me, this never happens. (Usually it takes three bottles of milk, four stories and a song to get him to fall asleep, and that's if he's so tired he's falling down as he stands.) Mate grumbled about how much pizza we'd have leftover this morning, but I never underestimate how much the growing adolescent eats and for good reason--we barely have enough pizza to make the dog fart this morning and I think T is going to take care of it for lunch. We went to the Teddy Bear factory where they made matching stuffed elephants with ducky bathrobes and slippers and the cave troll got a tiger with the same outfit and Arwyn got a cheetah because mama liked it and we dressed it in pink because mama liked it, but it's still Arwyn's cheetah, don't let anyone tell you differently and the kids rode the carousel and shopped in the Disney store and ate rainbow sherbet and pizza on a dare. (And didn't puke up on the carpet on a prayer!)

All in all it was a good, if exhausting day, and the cherry topper was that I finished the second set of sockies/hat for the impending babies, and it came out so damn cute I can't hardly stand it.

My daughter is twelve today, Mate and I will be thirty-nine next week, our kids are spoiled beyond belief, and all in all it's a good life. If it would stop hurtling by at warp speed, I might be able to keep the panic-blogs to a minimum...

Oh...some other updates:

BOUND is still cooking and spicing quite nicely...I'll forget it's on simmer and then have a sudden scent of 'revise'--like, 'oh, yeah--fifty-years ago you had to drive down the canyons to cross from Forresthill to Auburn--I'll need to remember to change that part' and 'I don't think Nicky gets to still be whiny at the end--I think he's grown beyond that' or 'Yeah--Cory's mom really does need to completely lose it in that chapter--a few more lines of freaking out dialog and it will all be good...' (people who follow the books I'm totally teasing you--you have my permission to give me crap later:-)

The agent hunt and the drive to get my books on national distribution is still going on--I send out my packet (twice now to a sales clerk named Cory--I'm hoping that's a good sign) and spend my days in agonized apprehension--I'm literally hoping agents will send me back my packet to reject me so I can continue the hope of the hunt. I'm hoping to get rejected--how sick is that?

BITTER MOON--my young adult novel which will be romantic and adult but not, well, embarrassingly adult like my last three books and therefore suitable for my middle-schoolers--is starting to take over my brain when I'm in the shower or driving. That's good--when my characters are interacting with wit and passion outside the confines of the computer screen, their depth improves in the writing and the joy in my craft breeds prolifically. I'm starting to like BITTER MOON--it's all good.

And that's about it--I've got to bail to go sleep in the rubble (a time honored birthday tradition) or to continue the knit on sockies and hats so I can finish Arwyn's sweater in time for her to wear it a little bit large...

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Spongebob Backpack

Kewyn wandered into my room last night at 3 a.m., and Arwyn woke up at 4:30 for a feed (rendering my subsequent 5:30 am pumping smucking fuseless) and I was pretty trashed from last night anyway. Mate was late from work which meant that between soccer, karate, and picking Auntie Wendy up and dropping her off from getting her brakes done, I loaded and unloaded the car twice after getting home from work and between feeding the baby, and hauled people around to their established activities. Mate (and Mate is a good guy--he's living proof that if you get'em young and train 'em right, they can reach their full potential in all five of the Mate's Real Purposes For Being) didn't catch on to my full exhaustion last night until I'd bathed and changed and fed the two little ones and was into my full on bitch-extension of "I'm mad at you just because you have to ask why I'm mad at you" mode. He finally did catch on, gave me a good cuddle and spanked the children appropriately because I was just too rats-ass tired to give a crap if the cave troll was up AGAIN at 9:30 at night and if I didn't knit uninterupted for at least 1/2 an hour I was going to be wearing someone's ass for a hat.

I knit, showered, watched ER (excellent...I know I'm showing my age, but I still think that show rocks the troll cave) and got to bed at 11:30, with the subsequent interuptions, and was pretty happy at how well I was handling my morning after that. I may have counted how many pieces of luggage I had to bring out to the car more than twice and I couldn't figure out why the answer five kept coming from, but, hell, I could knit at the stoplights to stay awake, and the baby was babbling adorably the whole commute, so I must have been doing okay.

Except the correct answer for the question "How many pieces of luggage BESIDES the baby does a working mother have to haul into the car before work" is not five. It's six. You doubt me?

1. Purse
2. Knitting bag.
3. Small lunch bag with the baby's expressed milk in it.
4. Large lunch bag with my lunch in it.
5. Breast pump.
6. The Spongebob backpack.

This last is particularly important--it carries diapers, changes of clothes, and the occassional spare toy for both the cave troll and the adorable ladybug and is possibly (may the knitting goddess not strike me down dead for this) more important than the knitting bag. Just maybe.

I forgot the freaking Spongebob backpack. I did--it's big, it's yellow, and it's sitting in my hallway, even as I speak, where it cannot provide diapers and clean clothes for the adorable children who are ALL THE WAY CROSS TOWN FROM WHERE WE LIVE.

In case anybody's wondering, this scares the hell out of me. Not because they can't live without the backpack--I may be hauling Arwyn home wearing nothing but a diaper (Lucia has spares) and her blankie, but babies love that so I think she'll live. What scares me is the lack of coherence I must have had to forget that big, butt-ugly, bright yellow bag. What will I forget next? Will I forget the baby on the curb next to the car? Will I back over the cave troll as he runs out to me because I forgot him? Will I leave the car-seat on the top of the car and take off? We hear these stories all the time--the parents who left the kids in the car overnight when it was cold, or when it was too hot, and just forgot about them. The parents who left their kids to play in the plastic bags when they ran out to talk to a neighbor. All of these tiny things you have to worry about--target bags, pennies, jump-ropes, stroller straps, angry pets, toilet cleaner, hot-dogs, carcinogens, bites that are too big, food that is too salty, brushing the toddler's teeth with the adolescent's orthodontist toothpaste, leaving vitamins on the counter, child-molesters in the neighborhood, bullies at school, bumpandgrind dances, birth control, draftboards,std's, smartbombs, stupid presidents and guns at friends houses and


And how am I supposed to remember all these things, all these dangerous, stupid, dumb, tiny and deadly things when I can't even remember one lousy loud and yellow necessary item like the goddamned Spongebob Backpack?

Parenting is the fucking end on the terror scale, people. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

STealing Time

My grading program has taken a craptastacular dump, so my kids are watching a movie so I can enter grades and, weehoo! I've got time to write. (Well, I'm sure I could do something more professional, but I don't wanna...) Anyway, what to write about...

I could write about the fact that, although we have been a dancing/gymnastics/soccer/karate family to date, and that we were hoping the cave troll would be keen in one of those already established areas, the little goombah has been able to hit a wiffle ball in mid-air since last Christmas when he was barely two, and this screams the T-ball/baseball route. I might try to fight this a little harder, but since he's the only one of the four kids who has shown any talent at physical activity whatsoever, I'm thinking we're sort of hosed by extra-curricular eclecticity...we might as well start looking into it now and ride the frantic wave...

I could write about the finished pair of sport-weight baby socks in my bag, soon to be followed by a matching's funny--I used to adore super thick novelty yarn, but after working on socks and fingering weight sock yarn for the last six months, sport weight baby socks almost feel like cheating. I chuckle evilly as I look at them, and plan to make more for the other six impending babies in my sphere.

I could write about my crazy friend Wendy...Wendy is 5'2--she used to be 5'3" before the back surgery--and lives alone on 10 acres of horseranch with too many two ton animals to count. Recently, Wendy has been doing home repairs, and the process has sucked like a portajohn vacuum--every small job she's planned has turned into a code-violating nightmare of sweaty amoral wage earners flogging her crumbling triple-mortgage with nail-guns and beer cans--the list of ways this process has been mangled is longer than my longest blog. The incompetence is inde-freaking-scribable, and Wendy's hair was starting to fall out. I took a page from the yarn-harlot's book and gave her socks to knit.

Now Wendy claimed to know basic knitting and purling, so I thought this would be okay--and it has been--she's been going around and around in k2-p2 rib very methodically, and I can tell that doing something productive that she can control is doing her some good. The problem isn't Wendy. The problem is me. I've always been a devout believer of the idea that there is no wrong way to knit. If you produce a stitch and a product, it can't be wrong. I believed this right until I saw my friend, my sister, my children's beloved Auntie Wendy, knit.

Wendy knits backwards. No, not continental backwards, not yarn throwing backwards, (although she does throw her yarn)--backwards backwards. Wendy throws her yarn to knit from right to left through the back loop. Yes. You heard me... the rest of the civilized world takes their loops from the left needle to the right needle, and Wendy goes the other way. Through the back loop. She throws her yarn to do it. My eyeballs hurt just thinking about it. And while my first instinct is to sit on her and show her how everybody else knits not because it's better but because it's EASIER--I crochet left handed, and believe me my first sweaters and mittens made my perspective run out my ears until I figured out to just reverse which sleeve/hand whatever I thought I was doing and I'd like to spare her that, at least--but I know that, of all things, that is the one thing I CAN NOT DO.

She's accomplishing something. She's having success. The whole reason I gave her the yarn and the pointy sticks in the first place was so she could have success at something, and it's working. I can not, for the love of wool, tell her that her success is wrong.

Yes. CSI is on tonight--that's our night. She comes over and watches it and we chat and she's going to bring her sock(s). And I'm going to have to watch her knit. And not. say. a. word. The best part of this is that we're going to spend the hour picking apart every nano-second Grissom and Sarah spend together to see if they drop any hints about how long they've been sleeping together. Good. Good...I can do that...I can work on the baby-hat to go with the socks...I can not watch Wendy knit.

My eyeballs hurt already.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


hmmm... in no particular order...

* My 2nd period class is so dumb that if I were to holler 'Everybody duck, it's a giant moron eating meteor!' When I emerged from my huddle under my desk, I would be the only one left alive. I LONG for that meteor to appear.

* After the meteor sweeps my room, I will happily lend it to Sweet Young Thing four doors down and the Lady In Red across campus... and maybe Satan will disappear in the backlash.

* Knitting little teeny baby socks out of that knit-picks sport weight parade sock yarn is worse than potato can't make just one pair...I'm suddenly so glad I'm up to my eyeballs in babies!!

* I'm so in love with those little baby socks, I'm going to make some for my baby... God her fat little feet are so cute...and in the words of the yarn harlot, they will eventually be good for 'a rollicking game of fetch!'

* I've invented rules for the trickster hero archetype that I've never found in a book. Damn... where's a freakin' masters class in English when you would look really good in one?

* I hate my grammar text so bad and am so disgusted with some of my classes that I'm two centimeters shy of embarking on the famous F-word sentence diagram, which entails putting the sentence "He f-ing f-ed the f-ing f-er that f-ed him." on the board and then identifying how the F-word is actually used as the four main parts of speech. (1. adverb 2. verb 3. adj. 4.noun 5. verb) Of course, I would be fired shortly thereafter, and you all would be hearing a lot about the unemployment line which is probably even less pleasant than my job, so I"ll be putting that idea on hold until the absolute last resort.

* The Yarn-Harlot is having pirate day-- fun patterns. However, the beanie with the skull and crossbones on it is the ult. I'd make it for my oldest son (age 13), but he just requested a pair of socks for his SIZE 13 EE WIDTH FEET. It's a good thing that I'm liking socks right now, because unless I double the yarn, I could be working on those puppies when he's in college.

* I get to watch the 13th Warrior with my 6th period today. If the back row stops talking, I may keep my will to live.

* The baby woke up this morning for a double-sided feed before I pumped...that's like making a picnic lunch at night to take the next morning, and having your kids wake up and eat it at 2 a.m. I could be wrong people, but I think she's ready for solid food...

* My friend who is reading my draft got to a scene I'm particularly proud of today while we were eating lunch. She flushed, shouted 'No' into a whole other conversation and wailed 'no, no no... oh,'ll be all right.' I'm carrying the glow from that moment in my pocket for the whole week. Maybe books don't need to match like socks after all.

See you next time, when we answer the age old question: Is there a right answer or a wrong answer when you're discussing literature?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Let's talk about sox...

See this? The shot on the right? It looks like a heartwarming picture of Bryar and the Cave troll winding yarn in our typically demolished living room. Isn't it cute? Isn't it sweet? Aren't they intent? How very wooly and productive of them--somewhere in that shot are two completed skeins, wound exactly the same way.

Thirty seconds after this picture was taken, my daughter dropped the winder and broke it. No more winder. A box of knit-picks, some Shaeffer and some Koigu, and no winder.

Now see the shot on the left? The very talented baby, contemplating the mystery of why we would cover such tasty feet with cotton footies? Notice those other socks? Aren't they pretty-- Meillenweit sportweight--so pretty in the sun. Did you notice the difference in sizes? Sadly, no, I did not make them for some oddly deformed person with two hugely different feet, I made them for Alexa, my mother (not Janis, whose picture is in a previous blog) and although Alexa will probably not notice the fact that one of those socks was apparently made for a different person (it was a gauge accident, I swear-- until I got them wet for blocking, both those socks appeared to be exactly the same size down to the last freakin' stitch) and although I lucked out because Janis (my stepmom, who asked if she could put rubber bottoms on some offline socks I made her this summer because she just didn't feet the gauge (7 1/2 stitches per inch!) was fine enough for her to wear them as anything besides slippers) would definitely have noticed the difference in sizes, I am still totally freaked out by this.

723 pages, people. I just ran off and bound a 723 page book. I've gone back and read the reviews of the other two books--13 reviews for the first book. (11 if you count the fact that one was written by me ant the other was written by the king-dick-prickweenie of all prickweenies whose name I used for the bad-guy in the new book and who wrote the review to be smug and prickweenie-ish) Four and five stars for each review. Some of the nicest things I've seen in print about any book on, much less mine, with the crapload of typos and the independent publishing and the car that changed shape in the middle of the book when I wasn't noticing... but good reviews. The second book's reviews are even better.

What if I screw up? 723 pages. That's a lot of pages to disappoint people in. One of the things people liked about the first book was it's simplicity. What if I made it too complex? What if I introduced too many people? What if there's too much sex?

Oh, Goddess... what am I going to do if there's too much sex?

I'm a big fan of sexless sex know...guy kiss girl, tenderness, sweetness...fade camera out? The scene from Dirty Dancing? Love it. That part where John Cusack is shaking in Say Anything? Makes me tremble, just thinking about it. My favorite sex scene in print, bar none, is a scene from a book that is classified high fantasy/action romance called EXILE'S GATE. It was a nothing scene, really--two warriors who had had each other's back for 3 1/2 other books... and then he offered her a flower, and her face got soft, and about three paragraphs later, she's brushing his hair in the dawn. I love that scene--it's awesome, tender, understated, thunderous in importance.

Uhm...that's not really the kind of scene I write.

Maybe because I devoured dimestore paperback romances by the dozens at a really dark time in my life, but I write explicit sex scenes and I'm not bad at them.

There's a lot of them in this next book. Every damned one of them is important--I know, I've thought long and hard (eww...was that a bad pun?) about which ones to cut. The ones that didn't further plot or character development were the first ones on the cutting board. You can tell those scenes--they've been shortened to 'we made love' or 'afterwards' or something like that. I'm proud of those scenes--restraint is the mark of a good writer just like gauge (or measuring rows or whatever the hell went wrong) is the mark of a good knitter.

One of those socks is definitely bigger than the other. And I don't know how.

I've got a friend giving the first draft a reading for content right now. She doesn't know this (because I prefer not to make my friends nucking futs over my own rampant insecurities) but she is holding my vast and fragile ego in her hands. People loved the first two books--they really did--those are complete strangers on that site reviewing my books and there was something real, something naked and appealing in the prose besides the man-gods in the text that massaged the heart muscles in all the right places. Please, God, let my literary socks match...please please please please please...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Not a day for real poetry...

I barely blogged
I kind of knit
But mostly what I did
Was sit.

Took one to soccer
One to gym
Hauled the other
Around on whim.
(The first sat at home w/games & grins)

The wind blew
We sat in sun
And wished my daughter's
team had won.
(But I know she had some fun)

The postman brought a box of yarn
And I went out and bought some more,
Right now I think it's safe to say
We don't need to buy any more.
(Of course that's all been said before.)

We came back home
Let the housework rot
Ate the take-out
I had got...
(For dinner too...I got a lot...)

I held the baby.
She ate her feet.
I blew bubbles
On her cheeks...
We laughed away the frantic week.

We watched some shows
The toddler laughed
When eyeballs drooped
We took a nap...
(That part was way too short by half...)

We all woke up
The baby played
We frittered the rest
Of the day away...
Our week is so much better that way...

My friend came by
I've taught her socks
(I gave her acryllic
In case she balks
At finishing a thing that walks...
It's something to do while we two talk.)

Mate bought ice cream
And it was good.
We all ate more
Than we probably should...
(One more scoop, if you just could?)

So here's my blog...
I'm off to knit...
My family's gathered
Some more to sit...
The more to rest my sleepy wit...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Night Blindness

I've sworn to myself that I'm not going to pass out tonight...I will stay awake to knit, blog, and walk... I am not a x-hundred lb. fluffy spud, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not...

But I am tired... in fact, I'm so tired that I must be seeing things because I could swear that while I was watching AVATAR (good show, that!) with my middle-schoolers, I saw the following things:

A toy that talks...a middle-school looking girl with blonde hair (Do kids still have long blonde hair that itsn't dark hair with bright highlights? Not where I work and live...) that talks and says things like "Do you want to hang out?" It scared me spitless. And then when I thought I'd recovered, I saw four plastic Burger King puppets, doing water ballet as their counterparts did some headbanging in a crappy burgundy chevelle. I was drifting in an almost nap at the time and the sight was so disturbing that it segued me into a dream/fugue that featured a group of suit-wearing ad-execs snorting powdered sugar and drinking bong water while using money to line the cage of a crack addicted parrot who wrote their ad copy for them. That was when the baby giggled from the crook of my arm and woke me up. She was so proud--she has just learned to eat her feet.

Yeah... probably a good day for a short blog...I'll brag about my baby hat and socks tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Weasel hits...

Okay. A brief whine about work, then a story of triumph, maybe. It depends...right now all is well in sibling land, and we've cut after-school stuff short because, well, the air is hovering somewhere between crunchy and chewy and our lungs are so full of crap that driving sounds like a sin against nature--I love it when your morning news tells you not to breathe, don't you?

So...some more weasel hits:

A person who runs a program that is geared specifically for underperforming students looked at me at lunch today and said, "Oh, hey--did you know that two of your sophomore classes are more than 50% below basic or far below basic in skills? It looks like you've been tracked..." I looked at her in horror. "I only have two sophomore classes." I said stupidly. Then I burst into tears. After teaching part time last year, with two AP classes and one regular Senior class, I thought the simple fact of the matter was, I had forgotten how to teach. I mean--I've never taught the sophomore curriculum...for all I know, they speak another language or something. I couldn't figure out why instructions such as "copy down what's on the board" were responsible for ten minutes worth of angst and 'I don't understand what we're doing in this class..." So I was sort of laughing, because it means I'm not stupid, crazy, or incompetent, and sort of laughing because WHO IN GOD'S NAME IS RESPONSIBLE FOR LOADING A CLASS THAT BADLY AND NOT TELLING ME. Just asking. Score another one for the weasels.

An Advanced PLacement student asked me today if she could do a report on the same book that she was doing for her 10th grade class. "What are you doing in 10th grade English?" I asked stupidly--it was my day for feeling stupid! "I'm making up credits--I didn't pass it the first time." She replied. I didn't ask her what she was doing in my class-- I already knew. The head prickweenie himself has this idea that any student who wants to participate in the Advanced Placement courses should be able to, regardless of past grades in English. He seems to feel that they harm no one but themselves if they take a class above their heads. Considering the trouble I've been having getting this class to shut the #$% up, I think we've busted that myth--every day I finish that class (admittedly, my 6th period, after one of my sophomore classes after lunch) I cram sweets into my mouth with shaking hands and tell my diet to go to hell, if I don't chew some chocolate I'm going to effing kill someone. Score yet another one for the weasels, however, I just know that eventually one of them is going to bite that prickweenie clean off.

Oh... now for the heartwarming story of triumph.

It's actually about 9/11, but since I live so far away from Ground Zero and lost nothing but my peace of mind about the future of my children (like the rest of us) I thought it was a little self centered to put it out on the day itself, but it goes something like this.

As I walked up the ramp to my classroom on the morning of 9/11/01, I saw my usually cocky senior AP students huddling, hollow eyed, under the eve of the portable. Like all of us, they were terribly shaken, and terribly afraid, and in particular, they were terribly certain that studying Beowulf (always Beowulf) on this day of all days was a complete and total waste of their time. This is what I told them:

Grendel starts attacking people in the meadhall--why do they take exception to that? I mean, these are petty kings, they kill each other all the time on the battlefield. Why is having this big guy stomping in and chewing on a couple-a soldiers a month such a bad thing? Well, let's go back a minute--what pissed Grendel off in the first place? Yeah--exactly. He was kicked off the island in the first place, wasn't he? He had the mark of Caine on him--he was born to be a monster, so Hrothgar's people weren't going to be his friends in the first place, and then, to rub salt in the hair wound, they go and sing songs praising a God that exiled him to his dank smelly cave. The comfort of the meadhall was not his to be had, right? So, what's so big about a meadhall? A big place where we gather to celebrate? Well, think about it--there's like less people on the planet back then than there probably are in the state of California (don't quote me on this) so if you put out your fire and quench your candle and stand outside, the starlight is bright enough to hurt your eyes it's so dark out there. There you are, standing under the great big dark, and your only comfort is your fire and your people--and when you gather these things together in the meadhall, you think you're safe. We treasure our meadhalls. Our meadhalls are holy places to us--they are places where we gather against the great big dark and the stars that cut like diamonds and huddle against the Universe and thank our God for the tiny fire and the breath of our companions. When someone crashes that meadhall--that's a desecration. That's an act of terrorism. You woke up this morning, and found out that someone we as a country has exiled from the meadhall just crashed the meadhall in fury, and you are stunned. We are all stunned. We are terrifed, because this was a big honkin meadhall and we thought, of any meadhall this one would keep us safe. No meadhall can keep us safe--we know that now. Hrothgar and the people of Heorot learned that twelve hundred eyars ago. Now we know the precoiusness of the meadhall and the wrath of the exiled. We've been welcomed, thunderously, into the reality of the human race.

I hope that doesn't offend anybody--the kids seem to think it helped.

Monday, September 11, 2006

All Bow to the Baby-god...

Okay... the weasels are still winning, and this year, of all things, the AP weasels hate my guts...I'm not used to having my guts's excessively discombobulating, but, I swear, if the 1/4 of the class that wouldn't shut up actually DID shut up and listen, I know I'd grown on them. Oh well, I got a TA today (after 3 weeks of begging for one over e-mail...) so there's a score for our side... later I will discuss the difference between a 'right answer' and a 'wrong answer' and a 'strong argument' versus a 'weak argument' (I'm a right and wrong kind of person, last years honors teacher was a 'strength of argument' person--it's kind of at the root of the incipient hatred being nursed in the bosoms of the chronically loquacious in my 6th period) but today, I'd like to focus on the most important thing in all worlds, right, wrong, free, opressed, one moon, three moons and twelve.

Yes, people, you guessed right--today I'd like to give the ALL HAIL to our resident deity--the baby-god.

In order to honor her royal cuteness, I'd like to spend a couple of minutes trying to get inside the head of our local baby-god...that way, when fellow worshippers get their time up at bat, they understand their humble place in the world. Are we ready? Let's intuit, shall we?

I'm awake and I'm smiling...why is no one smiling back at me? Anyone? Anyone? By boob, bath and the holy poop, you people KNOW that when I'm smiling at you it is your job to smile back. Let me remind you of your place in the world. (fuss, whimper, grizzle, guilt) Ah, yes, smiles. I'm so pleased. Smiles, smiles, smiles ENOUGH! Now feed me. NOW woman, did I mention your JOB is at stake? I haven't seen your lunch bar in at least fifteen! now! now!now!now!now!now! Very good. And now I shall fart. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh....excellent. They're laughing, and now I have new raiment--all is well; I am a good baby-god. Ooohhh..look, a thumb! Now honor me, for I have found the sacred thumb. Mmmmnnnnn....tasty thumb...also tasty fingers, tasty fist, tasty arm (look, arm hickies!) but that thumb...truly divine. Is everybody watching me chew on my thumb? WHY AREN'T YOU WATCHING ME CHEW ON MY THUMB!!! It's hard to find good supplicant these days...and now I shall chew on toys. These are fun...crinkly, brightly colored...I don't care if you were reading that--give it back! GIVE IT BACK I SAY OR I SHALL UNLEASH MY WRATH ON...oh, look, a rattle... what was I saying again? Ooooohhhh...I love these things...look...shake shake shake...shake shake shake...shake your booger thing...shake that booger thing... shake that booger thing...what is this? Hair. Ahh...I pull the hair, and the supplicant dances. What an amazing discovery...DANCE for me, DANCE for me! Whheeeeeehoooooo...who's your mama...wait...wait...woman, where is that boob!!! Now! I said NOOOOWWWWW...MMM.MMMmmmm...mmmm..mmmmmm...mmmmmm...what do you mean nap? Deities don't take naps. I SAID DEITIES DON'T that my thumb? Have I mentioned that it is tasty? Tasty thumb...Tast---eeee thuuuuuuuu---mmmmmbmmmbmmmmmmbmmmmmm.....zzzzzzzzzzz

Wow...I'd sleep a lot too, if I had that kind of a day.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Watch out....public milk duds pending,,,,

Ye gods, I'm tired of whining about school... I'll whine about something else today, and next week can go back to my regular scheduled whining, deal?

Let's see... can we sum up this hellific week in bullet points? We can but try...

* I fell asleep at six o'clock Friday night and, with the exception of nursing Arwyn, didn't wake up until seven thirty, Saturday, and I'm ready for another nap--this should tell you how badly the week went.

* I got into an unfortunate disagreement with Mate--and those who know us will tell you that this never happens. I won't give gory details, because it crushes him when I vent (for those of you who read my books, think Bracken--Mate was my inspiration for all of the men, but that thing that Bracken does with self-anger is a dead straight imitation of my beloved Mate) but we shall simply say it is nearly impossible for me to be angry at him when HE'S HOME!!!

* Back-to-school night was this week--Mate and I both have to go because our two older children attend the same school. Nothing like nursing your infant in front of your children's teachers to insure them a stellar year at school. (Yes. My milk-duds have had exposure or near misses in pretty much every learning institution in Nor-Cal. I sincerely apologize to the entire freaking world.)

* I finished a teeny-tiny pair of socks for a colleague and went to work on the matching hat. It is some measure of my hysteria that I greeted 4/5 classes on Friday wielding itty-bitty socks and singing 'Happy feet...I've got those happy feet...'

* My agent packet has still not returned, and I still haven't gotten my ass off the ground to print out a new one. Somebody kick my ass please--it would be lovely to sell a freakin' book and be read by more than six people on the planet.

* Okay, six people was sort of an understatement--two reviews have appeared in the last week and a half on Wounded's site--to L.A. Jennings and Holly from Australia, I love you both dearly even though we've never met. Bound will be out by February, Goddess willing, and I can only hope you enjoy it as much as you seem to have loved the other two!

* On a good note, many of my felons seem to have transferred out of my 3rd period just as effortlessly as they moved in.

* On another (good?) note, my special ed son's class schedule has changed three times, which means that my school is not the only one to completely shaft those who need stability and consistency the most. Okay, it's not a good note. It's a crappy note. But Trystan's such an awesome kid he's going to do fine, and I thought it interesting to note that this is a statewide problem. Could it have anything to do with the fact that we're like the only fricken state to start school two weeks before labor day? Maybe if we didn't equate exhausting students and teachers alike with better education, we could get our numbers stable... just a thought people, it's not like I don't have fourteen years of professional experience or anything... just saying... (will not whine about school...will not will not will not will not...)

* I'm missing the Yarn Harlot, even as I type. I was going to see her--Goddess, I'd planned on it for over four months, but that thirteen hour sleep was sort of a wake-up call (I love the smell of irony in the morning after a good nap...)... manic energy and a soda in the morning will only get you so far--my family needs a quiet weekend, and if that includes me doing the dishes while Mate works stoically on the bathroom when my beloved Harlotty Yarn Goddess spreads her magic three hours away, then so-be-it...the drive to Los Altos and back hauling protesting infants was not in the cards. Stephanie, I'm so sorry... meeting you would have put a glow in my year.

* The blogger keeps freezing on me, otherwise I'd go and take a picture of tiny sister, just to show you how much she's grown...and, true to family tradition, the little tyke just won't shut up...aren't their little talking sounds so cute? Anyway, she's also showing herself to be pretty damn smart--every day when I pick her up at day care, I hug Kewyn first, (Mama... big Guy!) and then I take tiny sister from Lucia (one of the best day care ladies EVER) and give her lots of bubble kisses before plopping her in the basket and securing her for day, and one day only, Lucia tried to secure her for take-off before those bubble kisses, and you can bet the whole neighborhood heard the 5 month version of "whoa, lady, back the truck one steals my bubble kisses!!!" I was very impressed... Kewyn has also learned to hold tiny sister's bottle while mama is driving... fun until they grow up and hack the school computer to alter grades...(yes, people, that was my high school that happened at... along with the world-wide footage of the graduate streaking with '00 painted on her ass...lots of fun things happen at can tell just by watching the evening news...)

* The kids have rediscovered the game cube--and the game that features the control box that's actually a set of bongo drums wired for sound...the CAVE TROLL IS GOING APESHIT AS WE SPEAK!!! Seriously people-- I'm so impressed with the Brave New World-esque drive to replace simple things like, say, bongo drums that cost ten bucks to manufacture with new and improved electronic bongo drums that cost a hundred dollars to manufacture and can break when you sneeze on them that I'm going to start checking my local movie theatres to see when the feelies are showing. (For those not familiar with Huxley's masterpiece, go ahead and read it, and then marvel that it was written in the 1920's...)

* My daughter's soccer team won, 3-0... go Lightning Bugs... the vainglorious prickweenies who cut her from her last team better watch out...wouldn't it be humiliating to lose to a team of kids that you rejected and humiliated because you weighed heart in pounds? Ah...if only life were a Bruckheimer movie....

Well....the blogger keeps threatening to freeze on me, so I should probably take a cosmic hint and bail.... I will be back, and may the Goddess smile upon you and the moths never discover your stash!!!!!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Recycling is good...

It's been an eventful week, and I swear I will do a real post tomorrow, but I was scouring my archives and I discovered this... only about 3 people have read it, but I think it's better than that, and, hey, the internet is to share...


Think of your teacher as a manager....

It just occurred to me…

That I supervise over 150 students in the course of a day. That’s the size of a small company. Wow—that should be easy enough, right?

After all, I have a degree in management… wait, no, that’s a degree in English.
Oh. Well…

I can fire them for being late, like a regular boss, right?
No—I can fill out scads of paperwork that will be ignored, and my employees will continue to be late. Oh. Well…

I can evaluate my employees on their performance, and that will affect their lives, right? No—I can evaluate my employees on their performance, and they can go to an easier, shorter job in the summer or somewhere else, where their performance will remain the same, but they will get better evaluations. Oh. Well…

I can fire them for insubordination, defiance, and cruelty to managers, right? No—I can send them out of my room, where they will be slapped on the wrist, commiserated with by their parents, and sent back to my room with their attitudes intact. Oh. Well…

If my employees perform well, I get some sort of bonus, reward, stipend, pat on the back, attagirl, right? No—but if they perform badly, I get the same, so I guess that’s okay…

If my management skills are superb, I get to increase my revenue, update my resume, and improve the status of my company, right? No—if my management skills are superb, that means I can manage without textbooks, materials, feedback from my own boss, or training to do the job I was paid for that has nothing to do with management and everything to do with that degree I almost forgot I had, and yet my employees are still unappreciative. If I do my job really well, my bosses will assume I don’t need any of these necessities to do my job, and I will never get them again. If I let my lack of support affect my performance, my “incompetence” is broadcast in every major newspaper in the state, along with headlines asking why people in my position can’t get our collective shit together.

Well (*sob*)… at least I get paid on a management scale, right? Ha ha hee hee ho ho ho ho ho ho ho… (*hiccup*) That’s a good one… oh, well..

So, why do I do this again?

I do this because employees who have moved on to other corporations have come to me and said “I wouldn’t be here if not for you. Thank you.”

Wow. Does my corporation suck. But my employees pay me very well, so I might just stick around...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Score: Acid-Dropping-Weasels: 6 Teachers in Trenches: 1

It was the quote that was probably responsible for all the writing to follow. It was the beginning of school, probably seven or so years ago, and our roll books had switched over in batches of 2 to 5 students a day, every day, for six weeks. This is not an understatement--papers collected in the first week might as well have been thrown in the trash--it's not like a student's grades go with them, according to our computer system, and it took us a while to figure out how to retrieve them... it was chaos. In the middle of this chaos, we were being told during a staff meeting that our grades were not legitimate--many teachers had only entered one or two items by the time progress reports were being printed, and, although my gradebook was covered, I still couldn't help bursting out, "Well, if the damned kids would stop ping-ponging through our roll books like acid-dropping-weasels through a maze, we might get some goddamned work done."

The administration was floored, stopped dead, and the staff applauded. That quote has followed me--for better or worse, for creative or flaky, for fat and funny or big and dumb, for my entire professional career. That phrase alone has made me want to write, because frankly I have enjoyed the infamy of being the person to say it, and I have wanted more--but even more, that phrase has become indicative of all the chaos that can evolve in a high school like mine from wierdness in the admin levels to downright absurdities for the teachers in the trenches.

Now, the best thing to happen is that my esteemed colleague who is now the vice principal has developed a very fun delivery dvd for our rules and regulations--an example of creative pedagogy at it's finest, this puppy has saved me from an extremely boring and exhausting day of blah-blah-blahing the repetetive and the inane into the ears of the indifferent, and instead, has been a rather refreshing moment of kids at play. That's the one good thing.

Would you like a play by play of some of the the worst things to happen in the last two weeks?

1. I broke up what was going to be a fight on Friday between one unwilling and one willing participant--the willing participant threatened me. He was back in my classroom this morning.

2. I've had no fewer than 8 kids transfer in and out of every class but one.

3. I have 36 kids in my AP class (the one nobody's transferred out of)--this class is usually around 25 kids because they generate about twice as much paperwork as any other class.

4. I've had two kids going blind in two different classes without large print materials or any sort of game plan as to how their disability is going to be addressed in the long term. We're starting the game plan for one of them. The other got transferred out of my class for no apparent reason.

5. A, well, sort of colleague that I unapologetically refer to as Satan because no one could be both that clueless and that sycophantically manipulative at the same time has been reported by several of her classes as saying "How many of you have green cards?" For the uninitiated, this is the equivalent of walking into a bar and saying "How many of you are having sex with real people, and how many of you are going home to appliances?"

6. The teacher across the way who taught Freshman last year watched the six new sophomores streaming into my classroom this morning and told me later "There goes your combined GPA--those are the kids who need mugshots and PO numbers next to their names in the gradebook. Yeah--all six of them... who did you piss off?"

For the record people? The Acid-Dropping Weasels are winning.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Sadistic Muse

For the record, here's another post at least started one-handed while nursung the baby...oops! TMI?

Anyway... Mate is engaged in a manly house-fixing ritual....we're down to one bathroom, with the other reduced to house-bones...I've been largely useless in the whole process--partly extended exhaustion from the 2 weeks finishing the book/starting school, partly from being the one to wake with the cave troll after staying awake with the house-ogre, and partly because
I don't care if the order of the day is total destruction, I'm one of those pansy-assed females who is terrified of dirt, wet particle board and breaking stuff that's supposedly already broken. (For the record, when we first discussed this undertaking, I was all for hiring someone who knew what they were doing.) So Mate is engaged in house fixing, and I am working on house cleaning--I can see wide acreage on my kitchen table--for the record, I changed the tablecloth. yippee!!! The only problem is, I'll be done in...well, as much as the kitchen ever IS clean, I am done, and Mate? Mate will be wandering around the house for two weeks, minimum, (I'd put money on this but all our money is in the pile of new bathroom fixtures out in the garage) cursing the work he didn't get done, angry about the quality of work he did get done and pissy because I make him stop banging on the house at 8:30 when the small children go to bed. All of our conversation will be about whether or not he should call my dad to help him drywall or call a plumber or try to do that arc weld himself (No. The answer to that last one is a resounding NO!) and what the time frame is for me to go in and paint. (Painting is the one thing I do. It's colors and decorating--we pansy-assed wimins do good at colors and decorating.) For two weeks he will be a driven man--and when this bathroom is done, we'll wait a year to do the next one.

The muse of the manly house-fixing ritual is as cruel as sandpaper on a burn-blister from an arc-welder.

We all know what cruelty feels like. There are twatsticular prickweenies out there who will make our life miserable for the joy of cruelty, and the fates are just waiting for our lives to take the wrong quickstep into the sinkhole of despair. There are a thousand people, things, and animals that are willing to be cruel, but those are not the things that an artist (of any stamp) fears the most. It is, perhaps, the biggest irony of the arts that the element we love most about our world wields the biggest, highest amped, pointiest most sadistic mental cattle-prod on our tender-bits of any other force in the cosmos.

Take my husband's house-fixing ritual. The only reason the family simply ducks when he stamps through the house ripping the floorboards a new one for daring to squeak under his sneakers when he's fixing the house is that we all know that he's got two speeds on this matter: Full bore, balls out, I'm gonna tear that mother down, turn'er inside out and nail 'er back up and getter done mode, or fetal on the bed watching re-runs of bad '80's movies and pretending our floor isn't rotting mode. When he launches into the project, it becomes as all consuming as the bags under his eyes and his four-letter word vocabulary. I recognize the signs of the muse-monkey on his back--I'm pretty sure I've had them myself for the last month.

When we undertake anything creative, it is not the doing that haunts us--the doing is the joy, the fiery soother that courses our veins, the opiate that puts to rest the demons of tentativeness in our project launch. We love what we do. It rocks. We could do it forever.

But the finishing? Oooooohhh... (Is everybody reading this--all four people--making that face? I know I am...)

The knitting world even has an acronym for it... TOAD. It stands for 'TOtally Abandoned in Disgust'. And most artists fears TOADs.

The fear of TOADs is what keeps the knitter up to dark-thirty a.m. when there is no IT deadline to pursue. The fear of TOADs is what keeps the guy working on his car out drinking beer and tinkering until his wife storms out in her housecoat and screeches at him to get his ass inside. The fear of TOADs is what keeps the (real) housewife up past everyone else's bedtime, folding that last load of laundry. It is this fear that keeps the teacher at school for just 'ten more minutes' correcting papers, and it is this fear that kept me awake, drifting through my life for two weeks, only coherent, only engaged, only truly alert when my creation was looking me in the eyes and speaking our private language that I have taken it upon myself to translate for the world. It is this fear, in fact, that not two minutes ago had me shrieking at my eleven year old daughter who just served as my 6th interuption from the time I resumed this post.

God and Goddess, our vision is so perfect, so pure, and so important to the sinews of our hearts--we must finish it. It must be complete.

And this terrifies me. Because I become completely disengaged during the writing process. I feed the children, bathe the cave-troll, nurse the adorable tiny-sister all in a daze, a disconnected fuzz in which my creation is speaking to me and all other real people are only static noise. This terrifies me. It does not make me a good human being. I know too many people who have not married (not that not marrying is a bad thing--but this is a totally different point) and who spend too many moments of the day listening to nothing but the whispering of their own muse-monkey, screaming obscenities and riding rough and ready from behind (and all that that implies.) They do not recognize that the voices of other people are often as real and as true as their own muse-monkeys, and the don't understand why they are not a part of the human race.

I love the human race--that's why I'm a breeder, a lover, a teacher. It scares me to be disconnected from my heart's blood in order to feed my muse.

Stephen King once wisely said that art is a support system for life, not the other way around. I remember that quote every time I finish a book and swim slowly to the surface of the thick broth that is my inner life to engage in my real life. I'm so glad my real life waited for me. I'm glad that, until my muse-monkey takes his viagra and jumps back on for the wild ride, I'm back in the human saddle again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The brain-chemical buzz of sleep deprivation

Okay...I'm tired. I'm more than tired, I'm EXHAUSTED. Could it be because we're two weeks into school? Maybe. Could it be because my husband left me alone to tend the kids for three nights running while he went off and lost 15 lbs. (because it only takes a man three softball games to do that, while it takes women three years of therapy, special food, and a giant lock on the refrigerator to have the same effect). Might be that. Could it be because the cave troll woke up several times last night until he finally had the poopzilla that took over Citrus Heights and was done with it and fell asleep? There's a good reason right there. Could it be because I've finished (sort of--kind of--2 months of editing at the very least w/some proofreading and some begging some friends w/a case of beer and a free ticket to our dvd library to read the 730 pg. manuscript and proofread & critique kind of) BOUND? That could be a big reason--I mean, I WAS dreaming the end of the story, and back looping it in my brain even as I dreamt it so that the last 15 pages played back and forth on Tuesday and then the last 10 on Wednesday until I had to finally FINISH THE DAMN MANUSCRIPT in order to just stop my characters from having the same conversation in my head until it was molecule perfect.

Yeah--it could be all of those things, but, added to the fact that The Fifth Element was at our local movie theatre for a 10 pm showing, I think it's safe to say I'm stoned off of lack of sleep. I'm incoherent with lack of sleep. I'm nusty cukoo with sleep deprivation, and still, I'm haunted by the following things:

A. I sent out an agent packet two months ago and the frickin' packet hasn't returned--I don't mind that they don't want to rep my books, but, gees, people, have pity on the little guy and give us back our 50 printed pages of crap because we're frickin broke paying for school supplies and need a bleepin' break here!

B. I'm posting from school and I can't show you my little knitted sock--the second one is in progress. They are yakably cute--and since Bound is in the tinkering stage now, I can spend some time knitting more of them and hats to match--this is important, since I am now surrounded by mommies and it's my pledge to make as many of the teaching mommies I know either sockies and hats (which was the consensus among three of the four mommies polled) or blankets (of which I've made over fifty for school employees and students alone). It's a good and honorable, if a wierd calling, but I'm pretty committed to it. You get no breaks in this profession as a mommy--none. They can't lessen your workload. Your maternity leave is fraught with guilt for abandoning your students. Your return is just as fraught with guilt for leaving your babies because you know what happens to children who don't get enough attention in their childhood--you see it firsthand every day. We don't do this job for enough money to make us feel like 'I'm doing it for my family, man!' and the toll it takes on us is, often, agonizing. I want the other teacher mommies to know that they are not alone.

C. My 2nd book lost it's standing-- this means no one's bought it in a week, and I'm depressed because, hey, I just finished the 3rd book, and it would be swell if someone, like, read it...

D. How am I going to face my parents after they read the (ahem) climactic sex scene in BOUND. It sort of makes the others pale in comparison, but it's the, uhm, most crowded? scene in the series, and, (my watermark for writing these scenes) it's ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL TO PLOT DEVELOPMENT AND CHARACTER. If it wasn't for this element, I'd cut it in a heartbeat.

E. It's a staff development day, and the only thing I'm developing at this moment is my unadulterated contempt for the standardized test processes in California schools. If I go get lunch now, I can come back, correct some papers, and pick up the babies and then my daughter. I'll get my daughter early (without the 1 hour wait she usually has) and WE CAN GO TO BABETTA'S my lys!)--it could, very well, be our last trip for a couple of months and we have to make it count!!!

Yeah-- E's a deal breaker...I'm off for food, back to palliate my fractured professional conscience and then it's out to get me some yarn...