Monday, November 29, 2004

Vampire smut?

Vampire smut? Do you all like vampire smut? Should I start my new Laurell K. Hamilton book early?

I am so freaked out that I actually put that last post on my blog that I am eating leftover pumpkin pie.

That I really don't need.


I can't do this-- I can't put that kind of stuff on my blog-- but if I don't, I really won't have anything to post right now.


cold feet

I couldn't think of any other title, so I decided on cold feet, because my feet are freezing, and I'm too lazy to go and get my slippers, and I'll probably get a cold.

Today at work they intimated that they might give us some time off for good grants behavior. Believe me, there are women in that office who deserve it more than I do, though I did give up a day and a half of my vacation to go in.

So, is this going to become the religion blog, all the time? I hope not.

But Dana issued a challenge: for every day of the Christmas season, she wants us to post one thing we are doing that is holiday-related.

Today at Hy-Vee, I picked up a long, purple candle (what are the long ones called? Tapers? The little ones are votives, and this is not a votive) and then I broke it. So I put white duct tape on it. I went up to the attic and got the plastic holly candle ring that I have never before use around a candle, for the wreath, and found a child's Advent prayer and printed that out, because it talks about lighting the way for Mary and Joseph, and I thought we should go with child friendly.

So, right before I am to put Tommy to bed, I start rounding up kids. Sam is doing homework: easy. Tommy runs to hide. I get Christian, who comes into the dining room, and then I run to get matches, and when I come back, Tommy is hovering over the candle on a chair, and Christian is... gone. I go find him, and bring him back, and then try to shoo Tommy, and at this point the dog is barking and won't stop.

But we manage to light the candle and say the prayer and talk just a little bit about Advent (which I know nothing about, having been raised heathen Mormon) and then the kids disperse again.

And you know what? It is like this every time I want to do something cool or reverent or ceremonial or important. I can't tell you how many Shabbats I had this summer when I was saying weekly prayers with murder in my heart, hissing the words out between clenched teeth.

Small children (though mine can hardly be called small any longer) simply are not conducive to anything reverent or ceremonial, but it's still important to try. And they do love candles, I'll give them that.

So, I taught Sam The Lord's Prayer tonight, because I figured it's something he ought to know, being eleven now.

We are going to light the Advent candle every night, so they'll get used to it.

I had told them in the car that we were going to do it, and Christian said, "What about Hanukah?"

I said, "Do you want to celebrate Hanukah?"

Christian: "NO."

Dereck and I washed dishes before dinner tonight (shhhh, don't tell anyone or we'll lose our reputation as complete slobs) and talked about Orthodoxy and he reminded me that it was actually he who turned me onto icons. It came up because he said he had some books in his office about iconography he'd bring home for me, and I said, "Really?" And he just looked at me and said, "I had the icons up first, Jen." Well, he said it more nicely than it translates onto the page.

'Tis true.

It's weird because generally speaking, Dereck is not a particular fan of organized religion and really not Catholicism, and Christianity-- well, we have both had our moments. Some Christians drive us nuts. But he likes Judaism, and well, he likes Orthodoxy, too.

It's so funny that there is this ancient religion around, older than Catholicism, and to the general outsider, members of both faiths will say that they are the same church (ahem), but the digger you deep, the more you learn that it is not. They are taking steps toward a reconciliation, but there are some pretty deep pockets people are going to have to jump over if that happens.

It's like Orthodoxy manages to marry everything I like about Catholicism while differing enough on the points I kind of bite my tongue about that I can feel my teeth unclenching. It's spooky church, it's mysterious, it's old, but it is loving above and under everything else.

And it's just there, kind of minding its own business, and I had no idea this was available to me as an option. No idea. Until recently. And yet, there it is. Hunh.

And so. Another post that nobody will respond to because what are you going to say, after all? That Jen has gone Jesus freaky on you?

Well, I retain my sense of humor in all of it, and one day recently at the coffeeshop, I couldn't help but just let it rip.

Liza was telling me about the altar and some of the things at Mary Immaculate (Catholic) and she said about this one cabinet, "That's where they keep Jesus." Meaning the wafers, of course. And I just couldn't help it.

Jen: "Maybe they should let him out of the closet."

Jen: "Do you think he was thin and neat?"

Liza: "Well, you know, he was 33 and lived with his mother."

Jen: "He never married, and he hung out with these twelve guys..."

So, you see, even in my earnestness and searching, I haven't lost my terrible sense of humor. I think God has a wicked sense of humor, so why shouldn't I?

Let it Snow

The sky is officially grey, as my friends in Ohio and Illinois can relate. And it will stay grey until sometime in late March. Hurray.

It is, as you can see by the title of this post, snowing. And whether or not there is school tomorrow is largely to be determined by how cold it gets: will it freeze? They tend to cancel school here if someone sneezes, which irritates and amuses Liza From Minnesota to no end, but pleases me greatly, as I "work from home" those days. Even though, I have to say, there were times when I worked for the school district when I was scraping inches of snow and ice from my car and swearing at the superintendent the entire time for not cancelling that day. You never really know until your alarm has gone off and you're already too awake to fully enjoy sleeping in that day. It's just the way it works out.

So, I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving (well, those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving-- I do have the occasional international reader, Hello! Bonjour!) and ate lots of good food, drank lots of good wine, and had food coma afterwards, like I did.

Last night my kiddos came home, so I feel like a real person again. My noisy, messy home returned to me, negotiations of computer/video time, baths, lost gloves!, changes of underwear, socks strewn on the bedroom floor-- ahhhh, yes, life is once more full. Not that I didn't enjoy my adult time when they were gone-- Oh, I DID, but it is always such a joy when they return. I just find myself staring at them, and how gorgeous they are, all chattering at once about playing Halo 2 in Cleveland and their updated Christmas lists (NO WAY), and their little desires for hot cocoa and please just let me stay up a little bit longer...

I worked on Friday until 4:30, and then Friday night, we went to a wine tasting and then out to the DuKum for a bit.

Saturday, I went out shopping in the downtown shops with Liza, and then for a late lunch at the coffeeshop, and then Dereck met me there and we went to see Ray. It was great! Too lazy to link it right now, will do that later.

We had a light supper at Il Spazio, and then I was tired, too tired to go to the grocery store (so I have to go today!) and so we just went home and read and went to bed early.

Yesterday, I got up early and got showered and dressed and drove Liza and Sonja down to the Orthodox church in Columbia. It was really cool. Talk about high church! It makes Catholic Mass seem pretty tame.

It was beautiful and intimate and very moving. I just got off the phone with my friend Carol, after describing the church with its icons, the altar, the crucifix, the incense censer, the people praying in four different languages, one at a time, so there is a ripple of prayer through the church, the cakes and prayers offered for grieving and thanksgiving afterward, the chanting of St. Luke and the homily, which let me look at the story of the rich man trying to get into heaven in a completely different way... And after I told Carol about all of this, she said, "Let's both convert!"

So, she is interested in coming down with me.

Yesterday advent started in the Catholic Church, so they are lighting a purple candle, in a wreath, every night and saying an advent prayer. Well. You know I live for that kind of thing, so I'll stop by Mary Immaculate today and get a candle and a copy of the prayer. Woo hoo! And they have vespers on Sunday afternoons, and she wants to go.

I want to get back down to St. Luke's in Columbia, but this week, when I have the kids, I'll probably stay up here in Kirksville and go to church with Carol.

Yesterday, in a conciliatory gesture, the Catholic church in the Vatican returned important relics to the Orthodox Church after centuries...

These are interesting times we are living in...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I stole this, and I'm not going to give credit.

You Are the Helper

You always put on a happy face and try to help those around you.

You're incredibly empathetic and care about everyone you know.

Able to see the good in others, you're thoughtful, warm, and sincere.

You connect with people who are charming and charismatic.

What number are you?

Apply. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I only have one cigarette left. This not good, people (not that anybody is reading this but me, because nobody is commenting, but, hey, even though today is a day when I particularly need email and comments, and I ain't gettin' any, that's okay), because this is a day designed to make people crazy.

Our entire institution got out at noon today. Except my department. My boyfriend got home last night (see post below this) and he has the entire day off, so he is at home alone, without me. He is making split pea soup for dinner.

To make matters worse, everyone here has been sending around emails detailing their availability to work all weekend (except tomorrow, so wow, we get one day off).

It wouldn't be so bad if I was feverishly busy. But this has been the structure of my day:

check email. no email.

go and ask writing partner if there is anything i can do.

no. sit tight.

go downstairs and pee.

go to meeting with project director and freak her out.

go downstairs and pee.

sit and compare rationale and methodology section and decide which quotes support what we wrote.

go sit in office. check email. no email.

check ebay. look at orthodox crosses again. don't bid on or watch anything.

go ask writing partner if there is anything i can do.

no. sit tight.

writing partner brings me eight pages to go over with red pen.

go over eight pages with red pen.

give back to writing partner.

go downstairs and pee.

check email.

instant message karl and alienate him.

do a little online thinking about gifts for boyfriend.

check email.

check blog. no comments.

check other blogs. no new updates.

are we the only people who exist on the planet up here?

go down stairs and pee.

get eight more pages to go over with red pen.

decide that i need to do this electronically. seek and obtain permission to do it in a separate file.

make changes.

return changes to writing partner.

And you know what I am going to do now?

That's right.

Go downstairs and pee.

Top Ten Ways I Can Tell Dereck Is Home

10. His car is in the driveway.

9. The dog is in the house.

8. The toilet paper rolls that used to be on the floor by the People magazine are now on their designated toilet paper holders.

7. The mail that used to be on the coffee table is now on the floor.

6. The leftover ribs have been eaten.

5. The dishwasher has been unloaded.

4. There are three, gorgeous new crosses in the dining room, waiting to be hung.

3. I didn't have to walk the dog this morning.

2. Mmmhmmmhmmmm....

And the number one way I can tell that Dereck is home from San Antonio?

1. Mr. Kitty slept in the bed last night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Yesterday, it was explained to me that at a certain point in the grantwriting process in our office, the writing and editing can no longer be done by multiple individuals. Therefore, once I was finished with the section I was working on (which SUCKS apparently), I was to save and close out, and from that moment forward, I was no longer to work on the documents electronically, but instead, could make my revisions on hard copy.

"So, what do I do now."

"Well, you have to think of it as kind of like labor."

Which is like waiting while you are in extreme pain.

It was an apt analogy.

And you will probably think I am idiotic, but it actually took me about an hour to figure out that, in fact, eleven years ago yesterday, my waters broke and I began laboring with my first child.

For 24 hours.

I was waiting while I was in extreme pain.

And so, here I am, eleven years later, and once more, I am in labor.

But today, I would like to take the opportunity to remember that eleven years ago, a beautiful, smart, caring, and tender-hearted baby boy was surgically removed from my body at 6:58 p.m. He weighed 8 pounds, and was 19 or 20 inches long (horror! I can't remember!). When I first saw those chubby cheeks, the mirror of my own, I thought, "I know who that is." I recognized him.

Best thing I've ever ever done in my life. "Except for have my brothers," he corrected last night, when I told him on the phone that at that moment, that precise moment, eleven years ago, I had been standing in my kitchen when I thought I had wet my pants. While I was telling him this, I was at that moment, eleven years later, walking our sassy little big dog.

Hemingway wrote that you can pack all of the love of a lifetime into one night. How much more can you pack into eleven years?

I have discovered how much is possible to do in eleven years-- in that time, I have:

  • moved five times, with that baby boy,
  • given birth to two more children,
  • lost five cats,
  • left one church,
  • had four jobs in three years,
  • changed countless diapers,
  • made love more times than I could count,
  • bought two houses and two minivans,
  • adopted one obnoxious dog,
  • made countless friendships,
  • deliberately ended three of those,
  • had best friends move away,
  • and met the love of my life.

During that time:

  • one of my friends has had two children die,
  • many friends have had miscarriages,
  • one friend had a catastrophic stroke
  • my darling baby boy was hit by a hit and run driver and walked out of the hospital the next day,
  • he started his life in a NICU unit with group strep B,
  • his brother spent five days in the hospital at 5 weeks old with RSV, and
  • his other brother was in speech therapy for five years.
I can measure all of these things. These are all measurable benchmarks in my life, evidence to me that time has passed. I can record them and look at them and remember them and analyze them. It is as if my life began that day, with him. And I can tell you about the teeth he has lost, his first steps, first words, his first day of kindergarten, when he got onto the bus and I waved and smiled, and when it pulled out of sight, I burst into tears and turned to my then-husband, who smirked, and said, "Fuck you!"

I can tell you about all of these things. These are the tangibles, the concretes, the understandables.

But I cannot even begin to tell you about the love.

Worse than a Red Tent...

Wow, if I had had any choice about coming into work this week, I would have stayed far far away. The tension here is worse than the PMS in a Red Tent from ancient times.

It is a good thing my writing partner is a gentle soul-- but today she has the responsibility of assembling this huge nightmare into one seamless whole for our PI to read by 4:00 today. So, I am trying to find articles and quotes she needs to help her, and generally stay the hell out of the way.

Yesterday, I deliberately yanked the chain of one of my co-workers because I knew she was just hopping mad, and I am lucky I got out of here last night with my head still attached to my body.

I feel so bad for my writing partner, but she has the greater experience, and only one person can do what she is doing now. Sigh.

Dereck is coming back today. While he has been gone, and since the kids have been gone, I have been on full pet patrol, taking the dog for all of her walks, making sure the little spoiled kitties get their canned food at the appropriate whiny moments (and slicing my finger open in the process). And last night, I took out the garbage, and realized at 11:00 p.m. that I had to drag the 20 bags of yard waste from the side yard to the front curb.

As much as you try to take care of the things your partner usually handles, there is inevitably going to be one thing, one significant detail, that you overlook.

And I realized yesterday, to my horror, that in the time Dereck has been gone, I had not fed the fish... So, I flipped on the light to their tank, and there they all were, gasping at me with their little fishy faces, and so I fed them, and they seemed grateful.

I have noticed that Mr. Kitty, who when Dereck is here plants himself nightly on my legs so I can't stretch out nor move, has not slept with me at all. Hmm.... So, it is not just that he loves MY legs, it is that he does not want to inconvenience Dereck. Well, I'm on to him now.

Saw Bridget Jones last night, and I didn't love it. It was a flat out, watered down imitation of the first movie, and excuse me, I don't care if the character is supposed to be overweight, do you have to make her hair and face look so awful? Renee Zellweger is an attractive woman-- and I suspect that Bridget, if she actually existed, would be pissed if she saw what they had done with her hair. Ugh.

And Hugh? Babe, you know I love you. But your face is collapsing.

Wow, being in this building has just made me catty as all hell.

Monday, November 22, 2004

For Karl...

You have to admit. It suits.


There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

Faster than a speeding bullet...

I cannot believe it is already 1:00 p.m. This is clearly a symptom of age, how quickly this weekend, flew by, and now I am back at work, and the day is more than halfway gone.

I tells ya, be careful what you wish for, because I was whining last spring about being bored at work, and now I am so busy, my head is spinning. So, why am I writing this, here, now? Well, because I decided not to take a lunch break today, and instead, ordered a sandwich, half of which will be my supper. So, this pathetic little five minutes of blogging will serve as my entire lunch hour.

We got an email telling us, essentially, that the president's edict giving us Wednesday afternoon off does not really apply to us.

It has not entirely escaped my notice, however, that the holidays are upon us. And this year, for the first time in four years, I would actually like to get some Christmas cards out, so I am planning to take my little stamps and papers to Pennsylvania and make some cards while I am there (so they might be late).

And because this is my first blogging holiday, I thought I would ask y'all what your holiday plans, traditions, wish lists, and hopes are. What will you do? Where will you do it? Do you make your gifts, buy them, or ignore that part of the season? What essential element do you have to have, or else the holidays are not complete? Which holiday are you celebrating?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Oh for crying out loud.

Well, thank you all for weighing in on what I should do this weekend. Obviously, I am still here, and not on retreat, though I think of this weekend as its own little retreat. And I am scheduled to go on retreat now in February.

So, last night, after getting my crying jag taken care of, I did the blogwalk thang, the email thang, and then crawled into bed with a glass of milk (to take care of the calcium thang) and re-read my journal from sophomore year of college (the journal and the year were both pathetic, in case you were wondering).

This morning, I got up at 7:10, showered, drank coffee, put on makeup, dried my hair, put on a skirt, walked my dog, and was ready to head down to see what this whole Greek Orthodox thang is all about in Columbia, MO.

Liza got here with her three kids in tow, and we headed out. She said the car seemed a little off to her, so we drove it, her engine light came on, I told her that can happen a lot with older cars. We went down the highway. She got nervous. We turned around. The van rode fine. We turned around and got on the highway again. We're talking and we're behind this white truck that is going irritatingly slowly, but we can't pass it, when suddenly she exclaims that the engine is HOT and notices steam coming out from under the hood. We pull over immediately, and so does the irritating truck-- which had noticed the steam long before we had, and was probably, in fact, going that slowly to keep an eye on us.

They recommended a tow. After getting her water pump replaced last week, it seems that somebody forgot to put the hose in correctly. No coolant.

Liza does not have a cell phone, but Jen does.

So, I called my insurance co. and got some numbers for weekend towing, and got the tow truck, and then we called our friend Dan and minivan to come and get us.

Dan is married to Barbara, my Jewish friend who does not read my blog and does not yet know about THE CHANGE. So, she spoke to Liza on the phone later and wanted to know why I was in the car with Liza going to church... I had take my cross off and put it in my wallet before Dan got there, and told Liza later, "I am hiding my light under a rock."

So, any good ideas, for when we all have coffee later, for what I should tell Barbara? She will not take this well at all, so I have been avoiding telling her.

I go home, then I go to Liza's, we have coffee (this is all this morning) and then we walk over to Mass with the kids. We go to Mass. I am sorry. I love Mass. It is the one thing I have returned to over and over during the years.

We go back to her house, and then I come home, have a cuppa soup (yes, again) and talk to my friend Rachel, who is Unitarian, and starts quizzing me: "Why would you go to church, when the ritual is so embedded with Jesus stuff, unless you liked the Jesus stuff too?"

I told her I would write to her because I couldn't talk to her about it because she would make fun of me for being a Jesus freak.

Oh boy.

And when I got home from Mass, I discovered that my silly dog had chewed her way through her harness, so I have to go to the store and get her a new collar, til I get back to the vet to get her old one, so I can take her for a walk later.

I put my cross on for Mass, but it is on my bathroom counter now, because I don't want to wear it around Barbara today.

I am no better than a dog in the yard, chewing through the very tethers that keep it safe.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

I'll sleep easier tonight...

Well, that's a relief.


I do not even care if it is a dreadful movie by a director I hate. It still makes me cry every time I catch it on cable, and that is exactly why I sat tonight and watched it.

It is now Saturday afternoon, and as usual for a Saturday, I am sitting here wondering how that happened. I feel like I have only been awake for five minutes, and though I did sleep in, I’ve been awake now for hours, talked on the phone several times, took the dog for an extra long walk, but I am still only on my second cup of coffee. I stayed over at Liza's last night until after 2:00 a.m., talking, after making her watch Before Sunrise AND Before Sunset. Sorry to miss Happy Ass, Robbie, but last night, I needed to stay in and watch the flicks.

I just put in the Garden State soundtrack, because I finally remembered to bring it home from the office, and I am still obsessed with it. One of the clocks in my house reads 12:45, another 12:39, and regardless of which one is correct, it is clearly getting time to think about lunch. Just now, when I got half and half out of the fridge, I saw that there are leftovers: pork chop; bbq ribs; Dereck’s taco from lunch the other day. None of these appeals, and I think about the cans of tomato soup I bought for my retreat, grated cheese, tortillas, and the semblances of a lunch start to come together.

I have been reading Karl’s blog and thinking about the religious conversations he has been having, and the ones that I have constantly, even when I am not talking to anyone at all. It does not seem odd to me that Karl and I, both in our thirties now, are engaging in conversations with other people about how to live this life, how to view the world. There seems to be some drive, some need for us to either find a community or to find some kind of soul-satisfying mysticism and spirituality, or possibly the drive to fulfill a duty, an obligation long felt.

In my case, and I suspect Karl’s (based on conversations I have had with him) the urge is mostly spiritual, and neither of us have much use for religious communities, having very satisfying secular ones. Karl said, “I don’t want the fellowship, thank you very much,” which echoed what I told Father Dean last Saturday: I just want to come to the liturgy and then leave, and I don’t want to shake anyone’s hand, nor have anyone tell me they are happy to see me. And Father Dean wondered about my resistance to community. And I am slowly coming to realize that if I want a close relationship with God, I cannot divorce myself from community. Helping other people brings me so much joy—I sit and fantasize about how I can help everyone with their problems. I am out walking my dog and thinking about friends who are trying to sell their house, and thinking, “Is there anyway I could buy it and then turn it into a rental?” Which is sheer madness, and I am not actually considering it, but these are how my thought patterns go.

And I have been thinking a lot lately about my religious past, in Mormonism. Lately I have been back in touch with old friends from my BYU days, and we have had the inevitable conversation you have with someone if you are interested in honesty: I have left the church. I have rejected everything you have embraced. Sorry.

But at some point, you have to cast off the old. I have already changed my life in such significant ways: Divorce. That is huge. Custody battle. Huge. Making the change from stay-at-home Mommy for seven years to sole breadwinner (the child support I receive barely covers groceries). It was harder than hell, but now it is very liberating, because I see the world as full of possibilities, and so my spiritual journey is my own. I truly had to lose my life to find it.

To fully embrace a religion also means that you have to cast off one life and fully embrace another. And this can be as terrifying as a divorce, because it affects families, marriages, how children are raised, whether or not children are conceived, whether or not pregnancies are terminated—people’s entire lives can hinge upon membership in certain communities, and beliefs in certain theologies, and so to cast off the old is often not worth the trauma, the losses, the grief.

But I did try to make the best use of what I had: We are encouraged that it is important to honor our commitments, that duty is important, and that selfishness is wrong. I stayed in my marriage three years longer than I should have because it was more important to me to stay home with my children to leave an abusive relationship. I stayed in my church eight years longer than I should have because I did not want to disappoint friends, family, my mother in particular. So often it seems that we would rather go ahead with the wedding than disappoint the guests.

And it seems that I tried for so long and so hard to do something with the beliefs of my childhood, my youth. I tried in some way to be able to move forward in life with some of the old tenets of Mormonism, but it didn’t work, and they all had to fall away. We are taught that we shouldn’t reject old values, traditions, ways of life, because if we can do this, if we can give up our old religions, our old gods, our old beliefs, then somehow we will also be able to shed our marriages, turn our backs on our aging parents, neglect our children. And so in order to honor what we love, we sometimes forget that leaving a religion and getting a divorce do not necessarily mean that you are immoral or incapable of love, duty, responsibility, or a deep spiritualism.

Perhaps, instead, it means that at some point, you stand staring the refrigerator of your life and you think, “There is nothing more I can make with these leftovers.” This means not that you have decided not to eat, and not that you are leaving the table, but that you are going to throw away the old and stagnant food that is no longer good for you and start with something fresh.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Holding Things Up

Here is a picture of my kids that Karl had on his blog. Karl prefers me to link to his blog when he posts pictures, but these are MY kids, so I stole it.

The one on the very very left, and the two on the very right are mine. The one second from the next is Kaleb. The kids were entranced with holding up the St. Louis arch after Karl suggested it.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Would you take a class from this guy my ex-husband?

"So, about my ex-wife..."

An informative class, at times. But for the money, I am angry that I was forced to sit through HOURS of stray topics and his complaints and such about his ex wife, girlfriend, current girlfriend, etc. Ok, so he likes to brag about his investments, ok, so he is obviously sexist, ok, so he thinks he is cool. But he has no business wasting time on those things. He tries to make class fun, and at times it is, but he rarely acts professional or informative. The reviews about his egotism are true. My #1 beef? That he makes openly sexist remarks and encourages conversations about what's wrong with women and such. If arrogance or sexism bugs you, or if you find an older white man trying to be a black teenager insulting to your race/intellegence, take another class.

Avoid at All Costs

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Not for everyone, but a lot of fun

Mark made it clear right off what he expected. The tests are hard. Come to class if you want. This isn't his first priority and he doesn't expect it to be ours either. Some days he has multiple personalities, but our class had great discussion of all sorts of issues (always keep a copy of the Index on hand). He is by far my most entertaining professor, though that of course means some don't like his sense of humor. I like him and the class would be horribly boring without him.

what were they thinking when they gave him tenure?

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I wouldn't waste my time with him

While he does make class somewhat interesting, which is hard considering the topic, he is not a great teacher. He spends most of the time talking about stuff that has no relevance to the class. Most of his views can be very irritating. So, unless you are his favorite don't expect him to help you all that much. I was .4 points away from an A and he gives me a B because he said he couldn't find the extra points. It wouldn't make me that mad except that he curved for others, nevermind I was the only person that showed up to class everyday.

terrible teacher

Dr. H is very opinionated and he shares these views with everyone in the class. Then he tries to convince you of these points of view and/or beliefs and then doesn't lecture over anything important. What does he really talk about all day anyway? If you don't share these same views and/or beliefs, he makes comments that are intended to make you feel inferior. Besides physically stinking when he came to class, the non-important lectures and exams that covered material neither from the book nor lecture, the project that was assigned was really good. You just had to do a research project. He gave you feedback on that, which was helpful for the final draft. But no, nothing "experimental" about the class.

Hard to please

He makes lectures interesting although he often cuts down people in the class. His tests are extremely difficult. You can study for hours think you know it all, and still pull nothing higher than a C. On his essay portion if you do not have the exact terminology and everything he thinks is important contained within it you will not receive higher than a 3/10 on his essays. He is hard, but I wouldn't reccommend him for a student not willing to work, and even if they do work expect a high grade in the class.

Be Cafeful with the H-Bomb

Every teacher has his or her quirks. Mark H, or H-Bomb, definitely has his. I guarantee you'll like his dynamic personality after the first few weeks of class. His lectures are laid back and easy to participate in. After a while, his true arrogant nature comes out. I despise the guy, but that's just me -- he's one of those egocentric profs who thinks he can do whatever he wants because he has tenure (and he said that, too). Two words to do well in his class: suck up. There's no shame in it. His lectures are easy going but it gets serious when it comes to tests. Study the book, people. You didn't pay 68 dollars for it to sit in your bookshelf. Also, he has two projects, which seem easy, but you BETTER not procrastinate or you will be burned (meaning you'll stay up the night before), I guarantee it. In summary: supercilious prof, but don't procrastinate and you'll be fine.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Oh, what to do, what to do?

I have been extremely busy and important this morning, just like Bridget Jones, and I am waiting for Liza to get off the phone/internet so I can bug her about lunch. I have 57 minutes before my next meeting.

Well, with my grant deadlines, I will not make it out of here at noon like I had first supposed for Friday. And I wanted to. Now, I will not make it out of here before 5:00, putting me at the retreat after 8:00 p.m., at which time I will be tired and it will be dark.

So, then I have Saturday, and part of Sunday, and then a three-hour drive back.

Will it be restful there? Well, yes, but not if one part of me is stressed out about this grant and half stuck in Kirksville. Even if I stay here, and don't work on it, at least my office is a short walk from home and I could.

The impetus for going this particular weekend was that Dereck and kids will all be out of town-- seemed perfect! But I hadn't counted on this grant (we have an internal deadline of a complete draft due Friday. I have a two-hour meeting this afternoon, and meetings on Friday from 8:00 a.m. til 2:00 p.m. So, that leaves me with: two writing hours this afternoon, and maybe eight tomorrow. And do you think that all of that time will be non-stop writing? So leaving here by 5:00 on Friday is a generous estimate, but I have to tell the nuns what I am doing before then!).

There are reasons to stay. How often do I get my entire house to myself? Snatches of time. Not three entire nights. Actually longer than that-- Dereck and the kids will be gone longer than that. I forgot, they are not coming back on Sunday. If I go, I will have to board my dog. If I stay, I can hang out with Liza, whose husband will also be out of town (okay, so Dereck isn't my husband-- close enough), and go to St. Luke's with her on Sunday completely unencumbered by time restrictions, and then come home and take a nap.

Clearly, I am leaning towards sticking around this weekend.

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Pithy from my dad...

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and

more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day

the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the

White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Weekend It Was

I am home today. Sam is still sleeping, and his fever spiked 102.7 yesterday, so he is home today too. I am so happy is finally sleeping it off (hopefully). Last night, coughing kept him awake until after 11:00 p.m. when I finally found my codeine and dosed him with it. Phew! Need to get another supply of that for winter.

Wow, today was a grey day, and I don't feel like I accomplished much. Tomorrow: Sam hopefully will be well enough to go to school (we'll see if he spikes a fever again tonight and how well he sleeps), and I will return to work and my pressing deadlines. Not that I love deadlines, but I am feeling anxious to carry my weight, and get to it.

I met Liza for coffee and had a lovely chat and many laughs, and then Dereck and I went on a date to Il Spazio (where else?) and had a great conversation and a nice meal. We ran some errands and were on our way to go get the boys, when Mark called and said he would bring them to us, so we turned around and came home, and now I am typing in the kitchen and waiting for their noisy boisterousness. Here they come.

This weekend was great, but exhausting. Well, great considering that I cried many times: While watching the end of Homeward Bound (which I have seen how many times?), while watching Before Sunset (many times), and while burying our cat yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, the luncheon at Liza's house was a kick.

Now, what was this luncheon business all about? Well, her priest and godfather drove 90 miles from Columbia to talk to an eclectic group: a fundamentalist couple who have protestant roots (and yes, I do distinguish between fundamentalists and protestants. Fundamentalists are crazy); a young Catholic couple (still haven't figured out what they were doing there); a family who recently moved to Kirksvlle. He is Orthodox, and she is a seeker. Then, Liza, of course (her husband out of town), and then, there was me.

I didn't exactly know what the purpose of the luncheon was except that Fr. Dean wanted to come up, and I wanted to meet him. So, I called Liza and asked what I should wear (Jeans!), and then called my 14 year old boy babysitter and reminded him to come NOW, and told him there was pizza in the oven, which I don't know whether he heard or not (but when I got home, the kids had been fed, so I guess he figured it out).

When I got to Liza's, there were six kids there, and I met all the adults, some of whom I had met before. When the doorbell rang at noon, I got it and held out my hand to the first bearded man through the door, "You must be Father Dean," but nope, Father Dean was hidden behind him, and wearing a collar, so there you go.

We gathered in the kitchen and Fr. Dean said grace. Orthodox cross themselves right to left, and Catholics left to right, and I don't think any of the rest of us had that tradition, so I was a little confused by all the crossing in the kitchen, but I gamely did it anyway.

When I went into the dining room with my plate of food, Fr. Dean and Scott were at one end of the table and the other folks at the opposite end of the table, so I sat down next to Fr. Dean and said, "I will sit by you. I'm not afraid of you." And to the others at the table I said, "They are not contagious. They are just Greek."

Unfortunately for them, they all laughed, and that kind of set me off.

We went around and introduced ourselves and gave our backgrounds, and it turns out the both Fr. Dean and Scott had lived in Utah for 5-6 years each! I looked at Fr. Dean and said, "Oh no! You must have been the hairiest person there!"

It kind of went downhill from there-- I was playing to a full house and I knew it. I asked Fr. Dean whether he had had any friends in his neighborhood, and he said, "Oh, no, " and I said gleefully, "Of course not!" He said he talked with his Mormon neighbor, the one who would talk to him, and asked his neighbor when he was going to have seven kids so he could have his own planet. I said, "That isn't true. You don't have to have seven kids."

"Yes, you do, it's in the Doctrine and Covenants."

"No it isn't. I have one at my house-- do you want me to go check?"

Then we got into the funny underwear, and I realized that I can't have a memoir without including a chapter about the damn underwear. And he asked his neighbor whether he wears it all the time. Yes.

Fr. Dean: "What about when you have to go to the bathroom?"

Neighbor's reply:"There are flaps."

I said, "No, no no, they take them off. They're two piece. They don't wear them when they go to the bathroom anymore than they wear them when they have sex."

Fr. Dean: "No, he says his wife makes them. There are flaps."

"No, no!" I cried, "Those people are just STUPID."

Saying that Mormons have sex in the funny underwear (also known as "garments") is like saying that no Catholics EVER use birth control. It's a MYTH.

So anyway, we eventually gave everyone at the table a chance to introduce themselves, and then Fr. Dean asked whether we had any questions for him, and boy, I did.

1) Why is it so hard to get my kid baptized? You're a priest, you've got the holy water, just do it, and why do I have to join the community?

He had thought I was going to ask if we were going to hell if we weren't baptized and were to die, and simultaneously he and I said together, "Of course not."

Of course, the fact that I do not believe there is an actual place, a hell, with fire and brimstone, kind of helps me there. I think there is a hell, and I have definitely been there, but you don't have to die to get there, and you can come back from it.

I also said, "Okay, I'm living with a man, and we are not getting married, so what does that mean for someone like me joining your church?"

And he said, "I'm not going to answer that because I don't know you and your situation well enough. There is no set, established answer to that."

He also said later something about not kicking homosexuals out of the church, because God is bigger than that, and I said, "Oh, I love you."

Eventually, we all finished our dessert and coffee and let the poor man go home.

Then, it was time for me to go home and clean. I did the dishes and straightened and vacuumed, and then I called Liza to dish about the luncheon while I used my swiffer wet jet, which I loved so much, I just used it on the entire house. I didn't want to stop using it! It was awesome! You all must go out and get one.

Then, laundry. I folded a couple of baskets, and then just sort of lay back on the bed, watching Before Sunset, and needed simply to be horizontal for a bit.

Dereck got home from his philosophy and religion conference (ironic, huh?) and kind of conked out for a bit, and then we gathered the troops, let Sam stay home, and went out for booze and snacks[for Bob's 50th birthday party we were hosting] and KFC for dinner. After we got home, Sam was worn out, so he ate and the other kids ate and then I put all of them to bed. And by some miracle, they were all asleep by 9:00 when the party people got there. I lay down with the little ones because I was so exhausted, I just had to lie down for a bit, and then got up, felt Sam's forehead, he was hot, but I had given him Tylenol, and then went to greet people.

Jeri and Ernst came (had been at the luncheon-- he is Orthodox and she is seeking) and I talked to them all evening.

So, you may have figured out that after months of investigating Judaism, I have actually (and ironically, or maybe not) tipped scales back toward Christianity (or perhaps toward it for the first time, depending on your point of view). Now, this came as much as a surprise to me as it has come to those few around me with whom I have shared it. And I am not going to talk about it more here. I am simply acknowledging the obvious.

Anyway, I talked with Jeri and Ernst about Orthodoxy all night, and Jeri left with a copy of my memoir. After they left, Sam woke up with a fever, so I dosed him with Tylenol and Sprite and hung out with him in his room til he wanted to read, and then gently coaxed him back to sleep. Afterward, I went and hung out in the living room with the rest of the party people until 2:2o or so, when I just had to go to bed.

When I got up yesterday, Christian said, "Why did I see that boy from the party here this morning?"

"What boy?"

Dereck called, "Karl slept on the couch!" But by the time I got up, he was gone.

Yesterday, we just hung out and Liza and Sonja came over for tea in the afternoon and the kids played, and then I went to Mass at 7:00 with Don and Ellie. We walked the two blocks over to the Newman Center. I like to go at night, and seeing as I know just about every Catholic in town, I wanted a little anonymity.

So, you can guess that I was just thrilled when Mark showed up with his new girlfriend (a woman I've been friendly with at work, who has been forewarned-- good luck).

I sat between Don and Joe, and there were students singing Christian rock-style hymns with amps and electric guitars, which I could have done without.

They brought up all the RCIA candidates, and sheesh, that right there is enough to make you never want to do it. It was kind of a cool ceremony except that I would never do that in front of a group of strangers. Which I suppose is the point.

Sam just brought me the thermometer: 100.5. Looks like we are home again tomorrow.

So, how are things with you?

Friday, November 12, 2004


Friday (written partially Friday, and finished Saturday morning)

This afternoon, much to my dread because of the time it would take out of a day I would spend in front of a computer just like any other day anyway, I found myself in a car driving along country roads to the funeral of a man I had never met.

Once in the funeral parlor, I saw the deceased, lying primly in the casket, arms folded, in brand-spanking-new overalls, which seemed to be what he had felt most at home in. A fitting send-off.

I sat in a pew, toward the back as my ride was going to have to leave early, so the only people I knew, my co-workers, were sitting in front, and I looked at the program. The funeral was to start at 2:00 p.m. My watch said 1:20 p.m. Forty minutes to go.

My Mormon co-worker -- and my ride-- came over to me, and she had been dreading the funeral as much as I had, so she came outside with me while I had a ciggie to pass the time, and she said those were the moments she missed smoking.

That took ten minutes off my life so we went back into the little funeral home chapel. She noticed one of our co-workers sitting alone in the back and invited her up, and then spent the entire next half hour talking to her, so I was just sitting there trying to meditate or something.

Then the preacher got up, and I knew I was in trouble when he said, "Baptist." Yup, we got to hear that while it was okay to grieve, really, this was a time of rejoicing as the dead was now with God, and that he knew that the dead would want us to know that if we didn't accept Jesus, we would go to hell on a greased pole. He almost said that verbatim.

The preacher did not even know the deceased. I sat and folded and unfolded my program into a fan over and over again to refrain from getting up and walking out. As soon as I got without of earshot of the funeral home, I said to my Mormon companion, "I fucking hate baptists!"

We talked about theology on the half hour ride back to the office, which is always interesting, the Mormon and the Ex-Mormon, and I'm trying to explain to her the protestant views of being saved by grace, and not works, even though she was raised Presbytarian and I was raised Mormon.

I then explained to her that the Presbytarians, Methodists, and Catholics all declared in 2001 that Mormon baptisms are not Christian and that Mormons are heretics-- mostly because of different understandings of the Trinity. Her response was the same as that of Mormon leaders at the time? "So? We re-baptize anyone because their baptisms don't mean anything."

She concluded that perhaps I should just re-join the Mormon Church, and I said, "I'm afraid that is not in the plans."

Then we parted, agreeing to talk more about theology later, and I went to my office and found the message light on on my phone.

The first message is from Dereck, who is crying: our neighbor found our most favoritest, and bestest Boonie cat ever dead in his yard. I had called every vet in the area and the humane society looking for him in the morning. We do not know what happened to him.

The next message is from Christian's teacher: Christian has said something that she wants to alert me to before the weekend, so could I please call her? It is 3:10, so school is already out. Dereck had to teach at 3:30. But I made an executive decision and chose to deal with the human child first, and called the teacher. We had a great conversation, as always-- I have known her for years, and I promised to observe his behavior this weekend and report back to her via email on Monday.

By the time I got off the phone with her, Dereck was in class. I decided that no more grant writing was going to be done by me that day, so I went and told my grant writing partner what was going on, and then I left. I called Liza and went, "Blaaaahhhhh!!" And then went over to her house for coffee, to delay telling the children about Boone, and went "Blaaaahhhhhhh!!!!" Some more.

I described the funeral wickedly at her table, showing no mercy for anyone, and was making inappropriate jokes at a frantic rate-- I did not cry about Boone until Midnight. I called my neighbor to see if one of her kids could sit for the boys Saturday morning while I return to Liza's because her Greek Orthodox priest is coming up for a luncheon, and I would like to meet him. While I was talking to my neighbor, she asked me if I knew that she and her husband had been separated for three years, and he has his own apartment. Well, that apartment must be attached to her house, because he is *there* all the time, and I don't think anybody knows they are separated. Believe me, there are no secrets in this town.

That news stunned me, for various reasons, and at one point I said loudly in Liza's kitchen, "If anything happened to MY marriage, I wouldn't..." I had been about to declare that I would not stay in Kirksville when suddenly my own words hit me full force: Um, something DID happen to my marriage, I DID stay in Kirksville, and I am NOT presently married! I just threw back my head and roared with laughter.

Clearly, I was hysterical.

I finally got hold of Dereck and we talked for a little bit, but then he had a meeting to go to, so we hung up. We had been planning to have Liza and the kids come for dinner, and she wanted to know if we wanted private family time, but I said NO because I didn't want us to just sit around and cry all night.

I finished my coffee, and went to get the kids. Sam was peaked and said he wanted to go home and go to bed, and when I told him about Boone, he burst into tears. After I paid for the After-School Program, I have $45 left until payday.

We go get the younger two, I tell them about Boone, and Tommy cries, and Christian declares that he is happy. I just gave him a withering look. He is clearly not happy about Boone's death and he is talking about it more than the other boys, but for whatever reasons, he chooses to react the way he does, and I am choosing to ignore him.

I came home and took Sam's temperature after he said he wanted me to turn up the heat in the house, and when it hit 101.4, I called Liza in the interest of full disclosure. She said in all likelihood her kids gave it to Sam, so she would still come.

I rolled out the dough I had made earlier in the day for pizza's and started adding toppings. Liza and kids came over, then she forgot ice cream on her kitchen table and went to the store for pepperoni for me, and Dereck came home and we were sad about our kitty.

Then Liza returned, the pizzas went into the oven, and we had a nice dinner/evening.

After Liza left and I got kids to bed, fairly quickly-- they were tired-- Dereck went and got Before Sunset for us to watch. Wow. It was a perfect follow-up to our much beloved Before Sunrise.

At the end of the movie, I put my face into my hands and wept for my kitty, and Dereck held me.

And then, we walked the dog a little, and he showed me where he had found Boone at the neighbor's, and we wondered again what could have happened-- no signs of trauma, but he was lying in an odd position.

And then, exhausted, we went to sleep, and thanfully, last night Mr. Kitty took pity on us and didn't wake us up at 5:oo a.m.


This morning, I got up with Dereck's alarm at 8:00 a.m. and went to Hy-Vee for stuff to make salad to take to Liza's, and for wrapping paper for Sam's birthday presents. His birthday is on the 23rd, but he will be in Cleveland with Mark, and gone next weekend as well. He asked for a huge Star Wars Lego set, so I decided to give him his presents this morning so he could have the weekend with them and this week before he leaves for Cleveland-- it makes no sense to wait until tomorrow night.

So, came home, wrapped the presents, gave him his presents, which he loved, and also gave him cough drops and vitamin C drops, and so he is playing on the living room floor (building, I should say) and coughing, and Dereck has left for his philosophy and religion conference, and I have to make salad, unload the dishwasher, load it again (we are hosting a 50th birthday party this evening for Bob Mielke), take a shower, and go to Liza's, and then this afternoon, finish cleaning the house (read: watch Before Sunset again while folding many baskets of laundry), go shopping for booze and appetizers, have a nice dinner with the kids, get them to bed before people start coming for the party.

Just a nice, relaxing weekend.

No plans tomorrow, though I told Carol I would go to Mass with her, either at 5:30 p.m. today or tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Though, the Newman Center, two blocks from my house, also has Mass tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., and that might just be the way to go.

What are your weekend plans?

For All of My Friends...

Are you tired of all those sissy "friendship" poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that really speaks to true friendship:

1. When you are sad - I will help get you drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue - I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile - I will know you finally got laid.

4. When you are scared - I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried - I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be and to quit whining.

6. When you are confused - I will use little words.

7. When you are sick - Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall - I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.

This is my oath...I pledge it till the end. Why, you may ask. Because you are my friend.

Send this to 10 of your closest friends, then get depressed because you can onlythink of two and one of them isn't speaking to you right now anyway.

Remember: A good friend will help you move. A really good friend will help you move a body. Let me know if I ever need to bring a shovel.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Blog It Forward

Because I found out about Blog It Forward from Kathy, I thought I would pick her first. I first discovered Kathy Howe, who boldly puts forth her first and last name wherever she goes, when reading Philip's blog. And then one day, after seeing her name in the comments forever, I just impulsively clicked on it, and have been reading her ever since.

Even though I write really long posts, I like Kathy's blog because her posts are really short! I know, I'm a hypocrite (I like blogs with long posts too). And she is no-nonsense, and funny, but most importantly, she is just a caring human being and if we lived in the same city, I would want to be her best friend.

Next in the blog roll... I am going to pick the Highland Farm blog tonight, because it's Dereck's father's blog, and I'm really proud of him for maintaining a blog for so long. Dereck's folks retired to a working farm in Pennsylvania, and raise long-haired cows. I should remember their real name (oh! Highland cattle). And Tom write a whimsical blog about life on the farm, life in their small community, the neighbors, helping others, calves who won't latch on, cows who eat too much nightshade and die, etc. It is an eloquent blog, remniscent of a simpler time-- which is actually occurring, right now.

That is my blog it forward. I have to go look at Kathy's blog to see how much longer we play.


I have come to the conclusion that in order to be a successful grant writer, you need to be able to write for a long time about topics that you know nothing about and have no interest in, without losing your mind.

I can only do this for about three hours a day and then I want to go and scream.

I have been doing this for about two and a half hours now.

If I could write for eight hours a day and not lose my ability to think, the damn thing would be done now. I sat during planning meetings wondering why everybody was so worried about getting these things done in a six-week period, and now I know. Right now the crap I'm spewing on the page is pre-writing, which just kind of orients us on what we are doing. Then I have to figure out how to incorporate this and that into whosits and which. And THEN I have to go and read articles to find evidential support for what I just said I want to do. And you would not believe how long it takes to tinker with these tables.

Bitch bitch bitch.

But all of this serves as a distraction from my persistent worry about Christian, who used to be such a sunny little guy, who is now addled with anxiety and whose possible Aspberger's is now starting to threaten that happiness and create problems for how he adapts to making friends, school work, changes in his routine, etc.

And today when Dereck and I were looking at the inventory I have to fill out that identifies certain characteristics of Aspberger's, we found more that apply to Sam than to Christian! I think I need to point that little inventory at my own self.

And so we need to call a specialist and have him evaluated and try to help him because his teen years are going to be tough.

I would rather write a grant.

I am going to go get a Dr. Pepper and see if that doesn't make me feel better.

Yeah, this about sums it up.

Stolen shamelessly from Shawn:

I suppose I fall in the category of wanting some time to grieve over the elections, and also just wanting to stick my head in the sand and make it go away.

In between raging about every new report about possible voter fraud (I am convinced that this election was stolen, but that and $.85 will get you a cup of coffee at Java Co.).

But I have to say that I do not understand my friends in blogland who claim to have no political interest (you know who you are). It has been too ingrained into me. Everything is political. Everything is political. My decision to get out of bed has political implications, along with my decision to shower, put on professional clothes, and come to work. Not political implications in the sense of who is running the country, but political in the sense that there are consequences for what I do, and I do not live in a vacuum. None of my choices are without consequence, and I choose to live a consciously chosen life. When I do things unconsciously, it makes me mad, because that means I am getting lazy and complacent.

My friend Robin emailed me this morning. She can't read the blogs of people who voted for Bush anymore. I know how she feels-- it just changes things for me. Yes, people can do what they want, and they don't have to explain it. But in turn, we are entitled to our disappointments and our reactions.

One of the things that has really surprised me this Fall is the number of people who want the freedom to behave any way they want, but they also want unconditional support for doing it.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. You just can't.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

A Mental Health Day

Yesterday I was sitting in my office and I got a call from Christian's teacher. He had had a bad day, and she wanted to know if I could shed any light.

He has been having a bad couple of weeks. I explained some things I had observed, and left work to go get him, and told his teachers that he would be staying home with me today. Christian needed a mental health day.

And I think he has enjoyed it immensely.

He is very hard on himself, and he has had his share of 8-year-old stressors lately: all of the ants in his ant farm died. He has had French tutoring once a week, and he does not like it. And his father told the kids that he loves Jesus more than anything-- even them.

The last one was, of course, my personal favorite.

So, I explained to Christian that the ONLY way his father CAN love Jesus is to love the boys more than anything. And that that was what his lead-tongued, lame-brained, self-centered, pious-assed father meant.

So, today we walked up to campus to get a nine-minute video about ants. We filled out a new order form for more ants. We went to Ponderosa for lunch (his idea! I haven't been there in years).

And in the middle of all of this, I reviewed a grant and then an essay and sent off my corrections.

Words words words! Gah! How sick I am of words!

Dereck is going to a conference the weekend of the 19th. Mark is taking the kids to Cleveland for Thanksgiving that weekend as well. So, what's a girl on her own to do?

Go on a retreat, of course. Yesterday Liza and I called Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey to see if they had any availability that weekend, and today Sister Carol left me a message that they did.

So, I'm goin' on a retreat.

A silent retreat.

Okay, stop laughing right now. I can do it.

In the meantime, our sitter cancelled for tonight. I worked out and peeked at General Hospital today for the first time since I was pregnant with Tommy (seven years ago) (and nothing has changed). My roots are growing in with a vengeance, so I am thinking of coloring my greasy hair. And Before Sunset is out on video, so I'm gonna see if I can have me a date. There is potroast in the crock pot, and it was a warm, beautiful day.

Thank you again so much for your cheers for Devon-- I told his mother (my ex-sister-in-law, technically, but she and my brother are living together again and now have three kids, but my dad wants me to be accurate about who I call sister-in-law), Heather, and she was moved to tears.

Monday, November 8, 2004


And da winner is....

the grants.

I am just so sick of words. I never thought this would happen. But after writing pretty much all day, I just come home and don't want to do it.

I will blog again-- and I'm still reading and commenting. But right now I just can't write anymore. Ick.

Friday, November 5, 2004

You will be happy, Dear Reader, to know that my nephew Devon made it through his surgery with flying colors and his prognosis is excellent. He is a strong, muscular little guy (with his father, how could he not be? My brother is 6'7"-- and no, I'm not kidding).

You will be happy also, Dear Reader, to know that I think the Christmas shopping is almost done. Except for the Daschke men. That, I'm puzzling over. But the shopping for Dereck's mom is *almost* done, and the shopping for the little Hatala boys is done, except maybe for one more thing for Christian, probably bug or dinosaur related. The other two can be made content with Star Wars and legos (oh THANK you, E-bay!), but not Christian. He is persnickety.

You will also be happy, Dear Reader, to know that this weekend there is no soccer to go to, so I can sleep in* tomorrow, unfettered (except for the inevitable early morning weekend phone call that always befalls us, for some reason).

You may or may not be happy to know that I am sleeping this week. Almost every morning, I wake up and Dereck's side of the bed is empty, because he is not sleeping. And that makes me feel bad, helpless, shallow, etc. I wish I could help him sleep, or at least be awake with him. And yet, there I sleep. I am angry and frustrated about the election, too, but like Karl, I seem to be able to sleep in most circumstances.

And I am sure you are all as happy as I am that it is Friday.

This weekend my plans go like this:

Friday: make challah on my lunch hour. Write grants in between blogging today. Have a nice Shabbat dinner. Go out to hear a band our friend is bringing in tonight.

Saturday: sleep in* (see above), have coffee and breakfast with Dereck, walk dog, sit around, go to the gym with Liza, shower, go to office and work on consulting, work on memoir, possibly go to Mass with Carol at 5:30, have Allison over for brisket, maybe go see Alfie tomorrow night.

Sunday: sleep in*, have coffee and breakfast with Dereck, walk dog, sit around, listen to NPR, shower, work on memoir, take a nap, have dinner, watch TV (Arrested Development!), sit around, read a little, go to bed.

Doesn't that sound exciting?

I imagine that more sitting around and less working will occur than I have noted, and that one or more trips to the coffee shop will also occur.

And I don't even mind.

What does your weekend look like?

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Election Results

I thought you'd appreciate the realignment that occurred this week:


Yesterday, I made a bold pronouncement on my memoir blog that I was finished with my first draft. Pfffft. Not hardly.

I was talking to Liza about it yesterday and she pointed out something it needed and she was absolutely right: it needs a heart and a soul. It has a skeleton and some guts.

And thankfully, I had a flash of inspiration about how to get those two important elements in there-- but now I have thirty more pages with chapter headings waiting to be written-- and it will no doubt end up being more than thirty pages that is eventually written.

And I am actually excited about writing it.

But I have no time to write it til this weekend. And that is driving me nuts.

But it is so exciting to be engaged in a fulfilling writing project. When I was trying to hide, ostrich-like, from the horrors of the election this week, the memoir was truly a godsend.

Today my thoughts and heart are in Denver with my wee nephew.

God protect you, Devon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

I don't often do this at work...

but I think I need a cigarette...

4:00 p.m.

I cannot concentrate. I have concentrated enough. I need a break. And I need to know what is happening with this country, I need to know what is happening with the voters. I need to know if we are going to have a new President, as I want more than I have wanted anything for awhile. I don't even know if I knew I wanted it this desperately.

I have an invitation to a book club I would like to join-- but I am not going to be able to go today because our freaking guidelines finally came out, and I have to stay and sit here and read them.

And to make matters worse, my memoir keeps poking its head out and looking at me, so I will be reading an article for work, and using my red pen to scribble notes in my notebook, and all I want is a couple of uninterrupted hours to work on that.

Tonight we are going to a memorial service for the woman we knew, who died on the plane crash two weeks ago. Before that, I have to pick up kids and scrape together order dinner for us because Dereck teaches until 6:00 p.m. and then we have an hour and a half to hang out, get the dog walked, supervise homework, sit, etc., until the memorial service.

After that, we have our karaoke sitter, so we can either go to karaoke and sing (ha, right!) or go find someplace warm and cheery to watch the election results with friends. I am rather inclined just to go home except that I want to be with others to yell at the screen, and sneer at the commentators. We will watch Jon Stewart, of course, but he will only be on for an hour, and if we have our election results by 10:00 p.m., I'll eat my hat.

I look like a telephone operator right now. I have headphones with a microphone attached to it in my office for this NetMeeting training I am doing, and I figured out that rather than crawling under my desk every day to unplug them and plug in my speakers, which I have to keep turned down, if I keep the headphones on, I can listen to my music at a decent volume.

I am sure everyone is laughing at me in my switchboard operator costume (think Lily Tomlin on Sesame Street), but I'm happy-- except for the times my ears start to hurt.

Happy Birthday, DAD!

Today is my father's birthday (I'll call you later, Daddy), and all he wants for his birthday is a new president.

Well, Dad, I'm doing my best.

This morning, I realized that I have a meeting (well, it's training for a NetMeeting program, that I have for two hours a morning every day this week! Argh-- I hope I can get other stuff done during it, because that cuts into my time a little too much) this morning from 10-12, putting a damper on the whole voting/lunch plans.

So, we got the kids dressed and went and voted and then took them to breakfast at Hardees. They let me take the kids into my little booth for me, and each kid got to actually push the pin through for a candidate.

Don't worry: I handled the presidential vote myself.

Before we went, I gathered them in the living room for just a wee mini talk about how important this is and how lucky we are to live in a country where we have the right to vote.

Christian grew obstinate this morning and loudly declared his support for Bush as we left the voting place. Thanks, Chris.

Liza was right-- there were lines this morning! And the best part about that was that the majority of people there this morning were college students. So, the lines didn't bother me a bit.

My children, ah bless them. They were noisily declaring as we voted, "Now, you voted for Kerry, right?"

Good thing we don't live in Ohio, or I might have gotten thrown out.