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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Paging Darwin...Charles Darwin...

This from the waiting room of my latest visit to the orthopedic surgeon:

The woman in the completely unnecessarily big hat with the silver holly sprig affixed to its brim leaned over and said to the girl in the pajama bottoms:

I'm not sayin' your dad's dumb or anything. It's just when I look at his dog, I see so much of them in each other's eyes, it scares me. Him and George are so much alike, ya know?


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Give Me Your Tired...

To all of my readers who work in retail, I just want to say:

"Aww, come here and put up your feet! Here's a big fluffy comforter and a bottomless martini. Was it horrid out there yesterday? Were there big ole meanies returning things without receipts and acting vicious and bitchy? Was their "Christmas Spirit" so gone it was like Britney Spears' career? Poor babies!"

December 26th must be the worst day in the lives of all customer service cashiers and retail supervisors. (I have personally never worked in retail unless you count a three-week stint in the pet department at a Clarkins store one summer, which was heaven for me. Shortly after that, I got a job as a bank teller and that put me through college, and let me tell you, nothing is worse than people and their money, unless of course, it is people returning things the day after Christmas, but I digress--big surprise.)

My point--and I do have one--is to say that I salute my retail-working readers. I hope yesterday was not hellacious to the point of suicidal for you. Soon, the initial wave of crabby returns will be over and you can get back to normalcy. Which, I imagine, will mean marking down all the winter items to 75% off since it is time to put out bikinis, patio furniture, and sunblock. It is, after all, almost January.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Isn't It Ironic? Won't He Think?

Just can't let this one go...

Is it only me, or is this more than ironic? We've been beaten about the head with pat Christian slogans by crabby God Warriors: "He's the reason for the season" and "Don't take Christ out of Christmas!". They start a national flapdoodle by boycotting their darling Wal*Mart for saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas". They even have scores of de rigeur rubber wristbands made up for their cause (see my 12.11 post). Yet, the mega-evangelical churches are closed on Christmas! Oh, but it's true!

You'd think that this year would be the Bible-belters dream! Jesus's birthday on a Sunday! They sure could show the rest of the heathens how a real Christian Christmas is done! They could gather in their churches, sing some hymns real loud, wave their hands in the air, exalt and all that--really get their merry on. They could really bask in the glow of the reason for the season. They would definitely have Christ right there, smack dab in the middle of Christmas, for sure. But no. Instead, they are closing so that members can be at home, like the rest of the pagans, celebrating with their families.

Boy, that sure sounds like the way most of the rest of the non-evangelical Christian world will be celebrating Christmas, doesn't it? Kind of a letdown, I think.

Boy, those evangelicals. They sure made a big deal out of nothin'. Merry Xmas to them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Separated at Birth?

It took me the whole 13 weeks, but I finally figured out who Randal Pinkett on The Apprentice reminds me of:





Whaddya think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

When THINK Is a Four-Letter Word

Don't teenagers have opinions anymore? About anything? I know--I'm the high school teacher; I should know the answer to that one.

Based upon my observation in the classroom lately, I'd have to say no. They don't. They don't have any opinions about anything, and they don't think much about anything, either. (Besides themselves, which is to be expected at that age. Don't take it personally.)

No, I didn't have a bad day at school today. I had a good day, albeit a quiet one. That's what got me to thinking about this. Has standardized testing and garbage like No Child Left Behind turned our kids into automatons who just wait for the right answer to be given to them so that they can burp it back out to us on The Test? Consider: Students ask a question. I try to guide them into thinking toward possible answers. Know what they do? They sit there, waiting patiently and staring blankly until I just give up and give them the answer. Or tell them exactly where to find it in text. And I teach honors.

One hallmark of an honors English student is that they internalize literature: they find a commonality in the work and their own experience. That aspect can be a thematic one, a character trait, whatever. Now, they just read the story and pronounce it either "boring" or "gay" or "okay" and then submit to its being picked apart for theme, mood, tone, etc. When I attempt to draw them into discussion by being deliberately provocative or downright misleading, they silently ignore the bait. And when I finally pin them down to give an answer, they are afraid to be wrong. Can you imagine? Who cares if you're wrong? What could possibly happen? I ask them. In my class, I reward risk and thought, so if you are wrong, be gloriously wrong! Go down in a blaze of flaming wrongness! I will applaud you! Yet, it's like mental dentistry in there.

And it's not just with literature. It's everything. They just want to cut to the chase, get what's going to be on the test, and then with whatever time is left over, talk to their friends. Period. The Microwave Education for the Broadband Generation. I have no idea what they think about anything, and I wonder if they do, either. I wonder (A) if they know what they think , and (B) if they think about anything.

It's getting really difficult, and often painful, to get them to discover either one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Get off My Back.

I think if one more helpful newsperson tells me how many more shopping days there are until Christmas, I'm going to explode.

That's really all for now.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

DoN Extends Seasonal Wishes to the Majority

For being in the majority and having yourselves amply represented in the White House, you Christians sure are getting to be a big bunch of crabasses. Yeah, you heard me. CRAB-ASSES.

Every time I turn around, the Christians are griping about something. Some guy ripped up his Christmas card from the White House because it said "Happy Holidays" on it, not "Merry Christmas." This, despite the fact that right inside it quotes a psalm. A Catholic guy from some right-wing organization said it was a disappointment that the Angel of Death (Bush) was kowtowing to political correctness rather than stand up for his faith and acknowledge the base that put him into office.

Not very Merry.

And now, you spleen-venters can put it right out there and show everyone just how pissed off you really are. All you God Warriors can order a wristband to put the rest of the heathens in their place! How dare anyone offer the inclusive "Happy Holidays!" to a grocery shopper? The hell with that! Let that customer celebrate his or her so-called "festival of lights" in their own country; this is the United States of America, and here, we celebrate Christmas, by God. And don't get us started on those made-up holidays like Kwaanzaa or whatever.

Not very Christian.

To all of you so-called Christians who have such an attitude, I say this: it's time to take the Christ out of Christian for people like you. From now on, you are to be known as Xians. Because people like you, who exclude homosexuals; who exclude other people from a warm and kind greeting regardless of what they celebrate; who bomb and protest clinics rather than take care of unwanted babies who are already here; who exclude anyone and are intolerant and smug and act distinctly unlike Christ, are not Christians in any sense of His word.

So, to all you Xians: MERRY XMAS !!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Imagine There's No Lennon

Twenty-five years ago tonight, John Lennon was murdered in the street.

I was in college, a senior at Bowling Green State University, taking my last on-campus classes before going home to do my student teaching. I woke to the news the following Tuesday. I grew up with the Beatles (see my previous post), and I couldn't believe it. John Lennon! I thought of my sister, Patti. John Lennon, gone. It didn't seem possible. Or fair. An odd thought crossed my mind: I had always held out hope for a Beatles reunion. Not any more. I got ready for my Romantic Poetry class and, on the way there, I could hear people talking about the shocking news.

We sat in the classroom in University Hall, waiting for Dr. Wolfe to come in, and some of us talked about John Lennon. A few got pretty dramatic about it. Some people didn't seem affected at all. After about ten minutes we noticed the time; it was unusual for Dr. Wolfe, a short, sweet, and "Underdog-as-Shoeshine-Boy" type man, to keep us waiting. Someone mentioned the Fifteen Minute Wait for a Full Professor Rule. We waited. Finally, in rushed Dr. Wolfe, pink-faced and disheveled. We were stunned. It was obvious that he had been crying. He stood at the front of the classroom and struggled to compose himself. "I cannot possibly conduct class today," he said, gulping for deep, jagged breaths. "They're shooting poets now."

And a sob broke free as he turned and left the room.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sister, Sister

My older sister doesn't read this blog, so this post isn't a shameless ploy to curry her favor. It won't land me a Christmas present from her, either. I was just thinking about the benefits of having a sister who is about a half-dozen years older than I am.

1. She was in her early teens for Beatlemania. I became a Beatle fan by osmosis. I know all the lyrics to all Beatle songs. John, Paul, George, and Ringo stared down at me from the walls and ceiling of the room I shared with Patti for years. I loved George; she worshipped John. We knew we were the coolest because we didn't fall into the trap of loving Paul like all the other girls.

2. She was an English major. I read books no one else my age ever heard of. I read A Streetcar Named Desire when I was 13. I read Nicholas and Alexandra when I was 14. I read Jane Eyre 4 times before I was even in high school and loved it. I became an English teacher because of her.

3. She wore cool bikini underwear. My mother consistently bought me ugly full-length cotton briefs that came in white, pale pink, and pale blue. Patti bought slippery nylon bikini panties with interesting prints like pandas, stripes, plaid, and the days of the week. One memorable set had big satin fruit appliques right on the fronts. I used to really piss her off by taking her underwear and wearing it, but I always felt so different in her panties.

4. She left all her college books at home. I read the poetry anthologies like it was my job. I read her notes and annotations. Sometimes, I stole her thoughts and ideas and made them mine until I developed my own.

5. She listened to some great music. I grew up with not just the Beatles, but Carly Simon, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel, Yes, Three Dog Night, Dusty Springfield, Neil Diamond, and The Hollies. I remember the Christmas she asked for and got a portable record player and that summer, she and my brother joined the Record Club of America. They got 13 albums for a penny and then had to buy just a certain amount more for a year. We were surrounded by music that year. We sang "Momma Told Me Not To Come" by Three Dog Night so loud that we got yelled at. "Want some whiskey in your water, sugar in your tea..."

6. She had her 4 kids well before I started my own family of 2. I could watch her parent and take it from there. She lived close enough so that I could drive over there with my own kids and let the cousins bounce off each other while she and I commiserated. During the heat wave and drought of '88 in NE Ohio, she had air conditioning and I didn't, so we spent a lot of time over there, me with a 3-month-old and three-year-old, and her kids ranging in age from about 6 to 2. We'd plop 'em in the wading pool, fry awhile ourselves, then everybody would go in and rest, snack, then repeat. I learned that kids will eat anything if you turn it into a dip.

7. She ages gracefully. She doesn't sweat the small stuff, and she says as she gets older, more stuff gets smaller. She really prioritizes. Almost ruthlessly, and I admire that. This woman cuts a lot of the shit loose. I continue to take a lesson.

Patti and I shared a room for about 15 years, I guess. For part of that time, we even shared a double bed. She put up with some snoring, and I put up with her incessant, illegal late-night reading. I was a slob most of the time, and she nagged at me about it all of the time. I wonder if she laughs about the irony of it now: she's very casual about her home, and I'm a neat freak about my house and classroom. Funny how things turn out. And what's more, ...you should see my panties.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Dick the Halls with Balls of Holly


I am all about the live Christmas tree, but this year really tested my resolve in that arena. It was 30 degrees Saturday, I was not feeling real chipper, and our usual tree place did not have large (8-9') blue spruce or Frasier firs and I am not a fan of the Scotch pine. So we went to a little stand in nearby Grafton and its sole proprietor, who happened to be the uncle of one of my students, said he'd unwrap, thaw out, and "get ready" a few big Frasiers for us if we came back in a few hours.

Well, we did, and basically bought a tree sight unseen as this guy's idea of getting a tree ready for us was to unwrap it and lay it on the pavement.

Big mistake.

We got the tree home, hoping it would "drop" and assume the traditional Christmas tree shape: graduated tiers of branches going from small to large as you look from top to bottom. Not this tree. This tree stubbornly held on to a more rounded, compact shape. I kept looking at it, wondering what it reminded me of. And finally, I had it.

It was a 9-foot evergreen phallus.

My husband and I kept trying to judiciously trim it and help it along, but it stubbornly refused to become the familiar Christmas tree shape. We both bitterly complained and tossed epithets its way. We begrudgingly strung lights and did our best to put a star at its...tip.

Our 20-year old son valiantly tried to jolly us along and in true Linus Van Pelt fashion (a la "A Charlie Brown's Christmas Special") tried to make the best of this ridiculous tree. Finally, though, he lost his patience. With us. "Stop being so fucking negative about this goddam Christmas tree!" he said. "Once we get our ornaments and tinsel on it, it will look great. Now shut the hell up."

Overcome with the sense of the absurd, we decided to run with it. The usual "back of the tree" ornaments (you know those! every family has them!) are now at the front. All handmade ornaments are in prominent places. Sam's Cheerio and pipecleaner wreath? Front and center! The tongue depressor Rudolph? Eye level, baby! The black Santa from the dollar store? Come on! Right under a light and in the front!

So, if you want to see a major pine erection, come to northeast Ohio for the holidays. It's in my living room, and it's illuminated.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The DoN Says, "You're Fired!"



"Now is the winter of our discontent..."

That line is, of course, Shakespeare's. It's from Richard III, but I think it should be the motto of Ohioans. According to Zogby, the poll people, we are an uhappy lot, and it's not just the lousy winter weather. Oh, hell. Let me just quote Zogby International verbatim here, because it's just too luscious:
A Zogby International online survey, conducted a week after the Nov. 8
election and released yesterday, shows just 6.5 percent of Ohio voters view the
embattled GOP governor very or somewhat favorably. Barely 3 percent rate his job
performance as "good" or "excellent."

61% of respondents want Boob..er, Bob to resign. (Only!) And what's more, nearly 50% of those polled said that Taft ran a "purposely corrupt" administration. Those Buckeyes don't even think he's just stupid, ignorant, and inept. They think he's downright shifty!
That's where I part company with them. I know he's just dumb. See, Boob...er, Bob Taft came to my high school to speak a couple years ago to promote himself and some lame initiative that I can't even remember because it failed, like all of his initiatives inevitably do. He asked for one of our school leaders to introduce him. We chose a young man and he prepared a creative and well-written introduction. Which he shouldn't have, because Taft's lackeys gave him a card with a pre-written generic intro on it full of political crap. But the student read it like the decent kid he was. And Governor Taft got up there and spouted his empty rhetoric for a while and the students were polite and applauded in the right spot, and the local paper took a picture. Well, later, when the kid went back up to the podium after it was all over, he found a page of Taft's speech that had fallen out of the sheaf of papers and been left behind. Between two of the paragraphs was this typed notation: "pause and smile." THE GUY HAD TO BE CUED WHEN TO FREAKIN' SMILE.
 
Ohio has no legal mechanism for recalling its governor. He is too damn stupid and prideful--over what, I know not--to resign. The best we can hope for (the 90+% of us who aren't related to him, apparently) is that he'll just shut the hell up and not do any damage before he gets up off the chair in Columbus.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Little Learning yada yada yada

I have two college degrees, yet I cannot:

1. Program my cellphone.
2. Successfully tape the correct television program.
3. Drive anyplace beyond a 20 mile radius of my own home.
4. At any time tell where North is (or any other direction, for that matter).
5. Swim.
6. Play any adult card games at all.

I suppose the thing to do is ask if any of these half-dozen things really matter. Dangerous question, that. Opens up the field of whether the vast compendium of things I do know matter. Now I'm looking at the subject-verb agreement of the sentences. Should the verbs be "matters"? Sigh. Screw it. I know too damn much.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Virtue, Liberty, and Independence*

Pennsylvania is to be commended for having the smarts to go to the polls and pull the right levers or touch the right screens or hang the right chads or however they vote there. Not only did they go blue in the presidential election, but they put Rep. John Murtha (D) in his seat 16 times.

If you haven't been following the news the past 3 days--shame on you!--then you've missed quite something. This longtime hawk has stepped to the microphone and given voice to the American majority and has not backed down, no matter how harsh the vitriol from the backlashing Republicans. Among his snipers was, of course, Darth Vader Cheney, who accused this Vietnam vet of having no backbone. This from a man who sought and was granted five deferments and never did see military service. Disgusting.

I used to really dislike Pennsylvania; it was a long state that was in the way of where I wanted to go, which was New Jersey, where my then-fiance was living. It made my trip way longer than I wanted. People from the Pittsburgh area say things with a funny emphasis, like INsurance and UMbrella, rather than inSURance and umBRELla. But now, I think Pennsylvania is just goshdarn freaking brilliant.

*Pennsylvania's state motto, and that first one's a toughie for the Angel of Death's admin, no doubt!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Food for Thought...Literally

Lately and for a variety of reasons, I've developed almost a love-hate relationship with food, and I've had to think an inordinate amount about it. That's not too hard this time of year; the ad executives use the holiday season to bombard the consumer with commercials and print ads that encourage each one of us to eat, drink, and be merry, and the minute it becomes New Year's Day, they turn around and assail us with messages from Jenny Craig, Bowflex, Lean Cuisine, and TrimSpa.

Anyhow.

I've come to the conclusion that there are quite a few foods that are overrated:

1. Pizza. It's boring. Basically bread, cheese, spaghetti sauce. Food for teenagers whose tastes are suspect anyway. After all, they made Britney Spears and face glitter popular.

2. Crab Legs. Too worky. Crab is delicious, but crab legs or crab you have to crack forever is too much effort for what you end up with. Get a good crab cake--if you ever, ever can--or a pasta with a decent crab sauce, or best yet, a crab bisque.

3. Caviar. Are you kidding? Salty, fishy, and a gross texture all wrapped into one. It's like Nightmare Tapioca of the Devil.

4. Waffles. I'm not even sure we need this food. After all, we already have pancakes. Waffles are redundant. And those things from the freezer that you put in the toaster that are hard on the outside and defy syrup to penetrate them...not sure what those are.

5. Veal. Aside from the objectionable way in which this meat is produced, isn't veal really just sorta porky chicken? Or chickeny pork? Do we really need it? I'm thinkin' no.

6. All Melons Aside from Watermelon. Okay, Maybe Cantaloupe Can Stay. All the rest of them are boring and basically bland. Watermelon has personality and an identity. It IS summer. It's juicy and recreational; who in his life hasn't spent a summer afternoon spitting watermelon seeds? Cantaloupe is pleasant and sophisticated--I'll give you that. But all those casabas and honeydews and santa claus melons have gotta go. Admit it--you just bought one to try or to add color to a fruit salad. It tasted lousy and you've never bought it again.

There are more, but let's not get carried away. I was watching my favorite cooking show Paula's Home Cooking , and she was talking about being asked what her all time favorite food was. She said hers was the potato. I had to agree. I could live on potatoes for the rest of my life: french fries with ketchup, baked potatoes with butter and chives and lots of salt and pepper, garlic mashed potatoes...as long as I had a few light condiments, I could hang with potatoes for a good long while. Screw those half-dozen foods up there. And I could add so many more, as I bet some of you could, even as you detract from my list.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

DoN Gets a Little Bit Smug, Politically

Tough times for The Angel of Death (Dubya, for those of you who are still sporting kid gloves). The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll is a Democrat's dream. Click on the link to see the numbers for yourself, but the thing that I'm most excited about is the fact that 80% of Americans see the indictment of lil' Scooter Libby in the outing of Valerie Plame, CIA agent as a serious matter.

Remember doing analogies on the ACT or SAT college entrance exam? Those onerous word pairings where you had to determine the relationship between the first two words and then duplicate it?

Here's one for Bushie, then.

Monica Lewinski : Bill Clinton :: Valerie Plame : George W. Bush

At least Bill had a good time with the woman who brought down his presidency.

Monday, November 07, 2005

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

I advise and edit my high school's literary magazine. It comes with the territory of teaching our creative writing course, which I love. What I do not love is seeing students stride firmly over the same tired ground, year after year, committing the same egregious acts, using hideous and predictable snippets of writing.

Things like these in short fiction writing:
1. ice blue eyes
2. raven hair
3. piercing eyes
4. a romantic dinner always being in candlelight and always having roses and always having wine and always being something actually unromantic to eat, like spaghetti or steak or lobster
5. auburn or chestnut hair, shoulder-length or midway down her back
6. the lovers always calling each other "babe" or "love" or "my angel" or some sappy combo of the three
7. the found note that wraps it all up at the end
8. vampires

Or things like these in poetry:
1. warm sun caressing skin, or pretty much anything
2. 1st person voice who "wears a mask"
3. breeze drifting lazily and/or caressing again
4. the phrase "in my mind"
5. the theme of "no one understands the real me", usually repeated ad nauseum
6. "the blade against my skin"
7. the simile of tears and rain
8. vampires

I could go on and on. I have already told my new crop of writers that they are forbidden to use the word "amazing", which certainly must be the single most overused word in the English language this century. Also, that no one's heart is allowed to be "pierced" , nor is it allowed to "melt" in their stories or poems. And that if I read one more creative piece in which a hero has "steel grey eyes" or the heroine has "lush lips", I will likely blow my brains out. I threatened to Google them for the rest of their lives, always on the lookout for these nasties. Such good sports, they laughed and took an oath to protect my sanity and blood pressure forever. Thank goodness. Deadline is November 11. In my mind, no one understands what it is like to be the real me, with tears falling like rain, waiting for some steel-eyed, lush-lipped writers to submit their work on time, all the while knowing that I'm just another raven-haired English teacher who wears a mask of toughness on the outside; all it would take to melt my heart is a good story that would satisfy me like warm sun caressing my skin.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

DoN Bosses the Final Frontier

It's not that I fear change; it's just that I truly believe with all my heart that some things should be left alone. They nibble at the edges of Big Things That Matter and they just mess around with Things That Should Not Be Messed With. Let me try to explain.

I live in Ohio, a state with not much to recommend it. Our weather sucks, the stars who get inducted into our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and Museum!) go to a ceremony IN NEW YORK, our governor was recently in court to face criminal charges and has an approval rating of 19%, and we are the state that blushed enough to put Dubya (aka The Angel of Death) in the White House last year. We have the river that actually caught fire, too. But we do have one thing, and that is Lake Erie, a Great Lake right smack on top of us. I was raised a couple of minutes away from that lake, so in elementary school when we had to memorize the Great Lakes, I could picture Erie lapping around my ankles. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, ERIE, Superior, I memorized; H-O-M-E-S, homes. How simple. Then, in 1998 Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont proposed new legislation declaring Lake Champlain a Great Lake. He was after federal moolah for colleges and almost sneaked this by, but it didn't pass. Could you have imagined if it did? Little schoolchildren everywhere denied the simple mnemonic of HOMES; what would they use then? CHOMES? HOCMES? HOMECS? And those of us who grew up on HOMES? I shudder. All Great Lakes Staters really got pissed off, and I can't say I blame us. After all, tradition and history should count for something.

Which brings me to the topic at hand...and yes, I still have one. And it is Pluto.

Not the Disney dog (who is mysteriously allowed to be doggishly naked whilst Goofy, also a dog, is clothed; that is for another post), but the planet. Which is the issue we must wrestle with.

Apparently, there has been some backdoor dealing amid the pointyheads in the science world to delist Pluto as a planet. How did I, average person, find this out? On Comedy Central! I immediately (and accusatorially) emailed my colleague Jeremy, physics teacher extraordinaire, who emailed back that he'd "been telling people Pluto wasn't a planet for so long that it had never occurred to [him] that it was news." Well, I am devastated. When I was in 3rd grade, I did my planet report on Pluto! It most certainly was a planet! I memorized the NINE planets--count 'em--9 by the mnemonic device everyone did: My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus (ha ha you said your anus), Neptune, PLUTO. Are we going to just toss yet another valuable learning tool on the scrap heap just because of a bunch of picky nerds who can't even agree what a planet IS? (Not to mention the fact that I got an 'A' on my report! And old Mrs. Fauver never gave A's in Science to anyone, believe you me!) Besides, now the Hubble telescope has found two new moons orbiting little old Pluto, who has one fine big moon already. It even has a name, Charon. This adds yet another facet to the debate. If Pluto is just a spaceberg, a big chunk of space ice, why name its moon? I really think you science types are just looking for trouble and things to argue about. I'd be glad to submit my Pluto report to any of you who cares to read it. I still have it, and it's even illustrated. In Venus brand colored pencils, no less. Venus: also a planet. SO FAR. So, leave Pluto alone. Or I'll put you all on MY list, and it's not a very nice one. So there.

The world is changing fast enough. Some of it can be...let be. If you're not sure which stuff, check with me. The Dept. of Nance stands ready to decide.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

DoN Says Pick Your Battles

I ran into my buddy and fellow teacher Teresa at Target last night. She told me this story about her son who is in 8th grade:

"It was Kyle's turn to bring home Baby-Think-It-Over this weekend for health class. All he heard from all his friends was 'support the head, support the head' because if you don't, the baby registers it and you flunk automatically. So, what does my wonderful son do? He straps a rubber band around the baby's one ear and hooks it around its opposite foot. And he shows me. And I say, 'After all these years as your mother, and this is what I've taught you?' And Kyle says, 'No, Mom. What you've taught me is how important school is and how important it is to get good grades. And that's what I'm doing. Making sure I get a good grade.' How do I answer that?"

Geez. By jumping up and down, cheering, and weeping openly about the fact that he heard and remembered and actually followed such an important piece of advice, maybe?!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

DoN Hits the Use By Date

When did I get this old?

1. Last night, I fell asleep with my glasses on. In bed. How did I know this? I woke up with them on.

2. I fall asleep sitting on the couch. Often. With my mouth open.

3. I seem to eat Tums a lot more often than I used to.

4. I keep turning the television sound up during programs and down during commercials.

5. I spend an inordinate amount of time in conversation with the cats. -- Wait, does that mean I'm old or just nuts?

6. When my husband says, "Wanna go to bed?" I get excited not because of the prospect of sex, but because of the prospect of actually going to sleep.

7. I actually contemplated incorporating prunes or prune juice into my diet. If I have to tell you why, it just makes me feel even older.

8. I have one of those weekly pill cases that have the days of the week on each little module, and even without my daily vitamins, there are more than 3 pills in each cell.

9. I don't ever listen to anything on the car radio, and the CD player in my car has been broken for months and I don't care.

10. I say things in the grocery store like, "If they think I'm going to pay $2.00 for a bunch of broccoli, they are sorely mistaken. That is just ridiculous. I'll go without." Loudly. As if the produce manager, if he is even within earshot, will immediately and shamefacedly run up and whip out his Sharpie and mark it down while admitting he is price-gouging due to Hurricane Katrina.

When did this happen to me? I pride myself on being somewhat with it, and thanks to my job as a high school teacher, I'm pretty much up on the latest trends and slang and whatnot whether I like it or not. And having a seventeen year-old and a twenty year-old at home helps, too. But, I fear it is the inexorable march of Time; I'm 46 and it was bound to start happening sooner or later. The sad fact is this: Youth has an Expiration Date. And mine is apparently up.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

DoN Skews the Nielsen Ratings

This morning I stumbled upon The Brini Maxwell Show on The Style Network; I was trying to get myself off the couch and into the shower in order to face my day before noon, honest I was.

My husband and eldest son wandered in, and soon we were all watching, transfixed by the oddness of this show, hosted by a man in drag dressed in vintage 50-60s June Cleaveresque couture espousing hints for living the gracious lifestyle. My son shook his head. "I can always tell when Mom has the remote. It's guys in drag, Brits, or costume dramas."

I keep trying to think of the ultimate: something with all three.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ahhh...Youth

We finished up reading the play The Crucible. I wanted to impress upon the students, just sophomores of merely 15 and 16 years, the injustice of it all. I wanted them to realize that we owe something to the memory of these innocent people who died undeservedly back in Salem in 1692, that it is important to right wrongs, no matter how long it takes.

Me: Sadly, only one judge ever apologized for the part he played in the Trials, and only one
"afflicted girl" ever asked forgiveness for her role. And...guess when the last pardon
was issued by the governor of Massachusetts to a condemned Salem witch.

(students guess several years, including the 1700s, 1800s, etc. I gleefully shake my head.)

Me: Nope. It was Governor Swift in October of... 2001!

(students react suitably shocked, surprised, and dismayed, "that's horrible", "why did it take so long", etc, then above it all, like a sour note at a concert...)

Student: Oh my God! Was she still ALIVE?!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

DoN Regulates Holidays

Last night, it happened. I saw It. Brazen, bold, unconscionable, it flashed on my television screen as if the date weren't only October 18th. As if it weren't just, as Keats so aptly described it, the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness": still the time for pumpkins and little boo-ghosts who had yet to make way for turkey, cranberries, cornucopias and Pilgrims. Good heavens! My porch furniture is still out! My neighbors are still gathering ripe tomatoes!

"It" was the first Christmas commercial.

And the perpetrator of this crassness? Carnival Cruise Lines, hawking gift certificates for the holidays. The ad showed people in stocking hats and winter coats skipping around in a fluffy snow scene carrying miniature cruise ships bedecked in red velvet ribbons. Tastefully blurred in the background were lit evergreen trees adding a hint of Christmassy ambience. I sat on the couch, horrified and speechless. To be honest, I don't even recall if there were music, although I'm sure there must have been and that it must have been somewhat jingly.

This is madness, and it must be stopped. When I am in charge, no Christmas decorations or ads will be permitted to show themselves until the day after Thanksgiving. All holidays will wait their turn, get center stage, then be done and over.

And can someone tell me when Halloween got to be such a bigass holiday? Or why? Because that's next. Halloween, you're way overinflated as a holiday. ONE DAY, that's it. And kids only.
And do NOT get me started on yard decorations.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Saturday, October 15, 2005

It's a Perception Thing

On Thursday I decided to take a break from the intense drama of The Crucible and also take advantage of our shortened work week by putting the kids in teams and playing Trivia Challenge for extra credit points. I didn't tell them what the plan was at first...

Me: Okay, everyone. We've been working hard all quarter, and I've decided we've earned
a break. Let's do something fun!

(odd pause. silence in room. students look confused, trade glances.)

Me: What gives? (I knock on lectern for comic effect.) Hello, is this thing on?

Brave Student: Well, it's just that we don't really know what your idea of "fun" is. For all we
know, you might be having us write an essay or something.

Me: (disappointed sigh.) Oh. I see.

Brave Student: But I really love your belt. It's sooo cute! Where did you get it?

Monday, October 10, 2005

DoN Says Time for a Chuckle

Some stuff just always makes me laugh:

1. Wiener dogs. Especially if they're running. I love to watch a wiener dog take a corner at top
speed. Hell, even thinking about wiener dogs cracks me up.

2. The fact that my mother does not know the correct lyrics to any songs. She denies this, and
then I have to prove to her that she doesn't even know "Happy Birthday". She gets
frustrated, tries to sing it, then totally screws it up.

3. Any episode of Seinfeld. But the one with the old set of the Merv Griffin Show is really, really
funny.

4. Kids who jump off their bikes because they don't know how else to stop.

5. Dogs chasing their tails for a long time.

6. This joke: A blind guy goes into KMart with his guide dog. Suddenly, he starts swinging
the dog on its leash in a huge circle, high above his head. A clerk rushes over to him. "Sir!"
the clerk says in a panic, "may I please help you?" "No," the blind guy says. "I'm just
looking around."

7. Hearing really elderly people cuss.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sigh. It's a Burden...

Student--(after my explanation of the science behind John Proctor's cruel comment to his wife "Oh Elizabeth, your justice could freeze beer" in The Crucible)

"Geez, Mrs. D., English teachers know everything."

Yes. Yes, we do.

Monday, October 03, 2005

This-n-That

Not that it will affect many, but I had to add comment verification to my blog to stop the random comment spam generators that stopped by with alarming regularity. Sorry if it inconveniences you in any way, truly.

Secondly, I am really trying to post more often. I am. It's been a tough time.

Finally (and this will explain my lax posting), if there is anyone out there who has experience with a condition known as adhesive capsulitis (aka "frozen shoulder") please tell me. The shoulder malady that I have been struggling mightily with for the past several months is not a torn rotator cuff as thought previously, but this adhesive capsulitis. It's a chronic, horrible condition of mysterious origin that has me wacked out on oxycontin and in the grip of the worst pain of my life. Worse news: it takes, on the average, two years to run its course and leaves its sufferer with compromised mobility.

I'll take any helpful hints, miracle cures, and testimonials from partners in this test of endurance.

And that's the last you'll hear from me on this subject.

DoN Wants YOU

Everyone hates whiny English teachers who bitch about poor spellers and random apostrophe usage; I do both. I whine and hate the whiners amongst us. But I am enlisting DoN readers out there to help me, right this minute, with the following infractions that I just don't think I can stand any longer. Divide yourselves into teams if you must.

1. The saying is "intents and purposes" NOT "intensive purposes", as in "George Bush is, for all intents and purposes, a murderer."

2. The word is "sophomore" NOT "southmore" which is not a word.

3. The word is "pedestal" NOT "peddlestool", as in "For some inane reason, George Bush has put Karl Rove up on a pedestal of virtue and will not see his blame in the Plame case."

4. The word is "regardless" NOT "irregardless" which is not a word and is only mentioned in a modern dictionary or dictionary.com because it has lapsed into incorrect and nonstandard usage, as in "George Bush has nominated another of his buddies for an important office in government, regardless of the fact that she has absolutely no experience or qualifications."

5. The saying is "I couldn't care less" NOT "I could care less" which would mean that you could, in fact, care even a little bit less than you do now, which would then be in no way an insult.
DUH. The correct usage would be "I couldn't care less that George Bush and his wife are having marital problems; she is an idiot for marrying into that family in the first place."

Help me, DoN readers! Start small; resort to small weapons only as need dictates, and even then, rubber band snapping only.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

That Half-Empty Glass

We got behind the school bus taking elementary kids to St. Mary's again the other morning. The cute little boy, hardly bigger than his backpack, came scurrying off the bus at top speed and went scooting into the school in about 2 seconds, skipping lightly. My son, a senior at my high school this year, and I grinned at each other.

"Look at that little guy," I said fondly. "He's so excited. He is so happy to go to school and see his teacher and all his little friends in his classroom!"
"Or," said my more laconic and less Pollyana-ish son, "he's just glad to get the hell off that bus."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Apologies and Explanations

Sorry for the long gaps between blog postings. The rotator cuff malady I mentioned in earlier posts is more severe than I thought; seems there is a nasty tear. The pain is getting progressively worse, and now that I'm back to work, managing it is more of an issue. I'm on stronger meds, facing more fatigue, and trying like hell to work through it all before I can even see a surgeon to find out what I'm facing in that department.

Which is to say, the blog is not always making onto the list of things I can get accomplished.

I'm trying. Thanks to those of you who keep checking in. I refuse to write about boring and depressing personal health issues, so until I can get past them, we're all better off. Believe me.

Hope to be back with something fun real soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

DoN Gets Her Inservice On

Today was a teacher inservice day; for those of you NOT in education, allow me: it's a day when all the teachers sit in big meetings and get additional training in something that their districts usually feel is vitally important, but that the teachers usually feel is a colossal waste of time and money.

This inservice day's topic was Using Data to Inform Instruction and Grading Practices in a Standards-Based Classroom. ( I KNOW! I was as blown away by it as you are!!) Anyway, again I was amused by observing that, not only are teachers the toughest crowd around, especially at 7:45 AM, but we also eventually begin exhibiting the classroom behaviors of our students.

Once the really boring stuff got underway, my buddy next to me hauled out her thank you notes from a recent bridal shower and got to work. Nearby, several men pulled out the Plain Dealer sports pages. Behind me, one woman started leafing through a Lands End catalog. The table behind me started chatting in earnest, sotto voce of course, about someone's haircut across the room. I was nudged a few times to pass a note. Many graded papers. Lest you should think me virtuous in any way, I started a long overdue letter to my friend in Orlando, doodled, chatted with my tablemates, and at one point went to hang out in the bathroom for awhile to see if anyone else was hanging out in the bathroom for awhile (no one was, darnit). I found out later that the really cool table of teachers, some young lions of the English, Social Studies, and Art departments had begun a comic book of sorts which I was privy to later.

None of these activities can take up an entire seminar, you understand. Pacing. That is the key.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

DoN Contemplates Astrology

Feelin' kinda bad right now.

I finally got around to reading the newspaper, which for me is The Cleveland Plain Dealer. And my horoscope for today said that I "put in a stellar performance"...and that I "[got] the job done." Furthermore, "others...step[ped] back and applaud[ed], or at least admire[d] [my] abilities." It also forecast that I would "work out" tonight.

Well, geeze. Today, my students worked quietly on independent vocabulary study. And the extent of my working out was to redesign and retype a sentence-combining worksheet. Although...I did make a real kick-ass mushroom and white wine fettucine for dinner. Do you think that counts for anything?

Monday, September 05, 2005

DoN Says Put Your Money Where Your Outrage Is

"This can't be my country."

Heaven knows I've said this more times than I care to count in the past 5 years.

But I can't seem to stop saying it in the shocking aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If you're as outraged as I am, as dismayed and outright disgusted as I am, then at least this is one thing we can do something about. Please go to The Red Cross Website and donate whatever you can.

I know from being in public education that some problems don't get better, no matter how much money you throw at them. But I also know that there has never been a single problem yet that has gotten better because of how much George W. Bush you threw at it.

"We, the people"...well, I guess it's up to us, then.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

DoN Practices Dime-Store Psychology on Herself

I used to think of myself as a pretty self-actualized person, regardless of whose interpretation you use, Rogers' or Maslow's. (You can find a pretty good definition of both of them here . )
Then I had that rare moment of clarity when it all came into perspective for me.

I still suck in my stomach around my husband.

After 24 years of marriage, 2 kids by natural childbirth, a knee surgery, and being ministered to after several hangovers (among other activitivies...), I still do it.

Diagnosis: nope, not self-actualized. Not yet.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

DoN-te's Inferno

I'm sitting in the waiting room at physical therapy, feeling exhausted after a busy day of teaching and feeling sorry for myself because I know that I've hit a wall in therapy and will not make any progress AGAIN. And I've sort of drifted into that danger zone of almost asleep sitting up but yet aware of my surroundings enough to not actually sleep and make noise or drool or anything.

And then the little girl next to me goes into full nutso-ballerina mode and starts pirouetting all over the teeny waiting room while her mother tries to be encouraging yet discouraging. In a foreign language (it sounded like Russian or Ukrainian). And very quietly. So the girl climbs into the chair next to me and begins to do barre exercises on the back of the chair and keeps hitting the venetian blinds behind us, causing a cascade of dust to fall on me. I look at my watch and think, "They'll call me in about 3 minutes. I can take it for 3 minutes."

And then the impossibly tall woman comes in and sits on the other side of me. She roots around in her tote bag and takes out some butterscotch hard candies and unwraps a few and puts them in her mouth. After she rattles them around in her mouth like dice in a Yahtzee cup for what seems like a geological epoch, she begins to crunch them up.

**Inside my head, I have rooted around in my pink Etienne Aigner bag for a hammer and a pair of pliers; I knock out the girl and the woman, then systematically remove all the woman's teeth.**

I look at my watch again. JK is late, I despair. I should have been called back already. At least, I console myself, it cannot get any worse. And then, I hear that the music being softly piped into the waiting area is now "The Pina Colada Song". I grit my teeth. Amazon Crunch Woman starts on some Werther's. Hyper Ballerina flings herself across the room again in a mad spin. I wait...because I know that if they don't call me in soon, the next song will be "Disco Duck" or "Ballroom Blitz." The door opens...it is Amazon Crunch Woman's turn. Why must I wait!? The music pauses demurely...and the next song is...oh. My. GOD. "Margaritaville."

AAAARRRGGGHHHH...............................

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Did You Know Life Isn't Fair?!

If you noticed that the wind picked up, it was just me over here in NE Ohio, sighing heavily. Summer is officially over; I go back to work tomorrow.

Oh, I can hear some of you year-round workerbees snarking pitilessly about how you don't have the least bit of sympathy for me. You, after all, don't get the summer off! You don't get to wake up, wander out onto your deck while still wearing your jammies, have coffee and read the paper and maybe get dressed by 11 a.m.!

Well, you could have chosen to be a teacher like me. Ah, there's the dark side! Need I say what I must do to earn my summer? (And let me just say this: my 100+ year-old school is not air-conditioned, nor do the steam radiators always work.)

Anyway, if you were going to leave behind such a summer life, wouldn't you sigh heavily as well? But leave it I must; sophomore honors English students and junior regular English students eagerly await American Literature, grammar, and composition, not to mention vocabulary. Okay, maybe not "eagerly." And, maybe a better verb choice would be "dread" rather than "await."

Hey, I'm a realist. And they haven't met me yet. I'll get that "eagerly" and "await" stuff in there, guaranteed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

DoN "Re-Images" the USPS

Certain things in the US government need tweaking; let's face it. (No! Really?) The obvious thing to do first would be to clean House (ahem!), but since we failed to do that in the last election, I am now resigned to starting small. Today, I am beginning with the United States Postal Service.

Now, the USPS tried to upgrade its dismal image once before by sponsoring Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France. They probably said, "Hey! He will win for sure, and then by default, we will be winners! Yay!" Sigh. This did not work. We Americans still see the post office as a dubious "service" at best, whereby we drop our letters in the slot (with outrageously overpriced postage duly affixed) and pray that they arrive in oh, say a week or so, hopefully before the next postal rate increase. A dim, grey, grievous image indeed, USPS!

My idea is simple and here it is: start having the mail trucks play the happy tunes that ice cream trucks play. Think about it! Mail trucks are funny-looking anyway. They are boxy, little, and cute. They have the driver on the odd side. Most bounce when they drive along. Most people look forward to getting their mail and would like to be alerted when it is on its way. Perhaps it would lessen the negative impact of receiving the cell phone bill or the IRS forms.
How jolly! How fun!

Wouldn't you be happy to know that the next postal rate increase would be used to pay for this improvement? I wonder what the last one paid for.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Who Needs Soap Operas?

Conversation overheard while I'm waiting to book my follow-up appointment at the dr. today...

Slightly Pop-eyed
and Over-enthusiastic
Drug Rep: I've got gifties for everyone today! Little flashlights! From Ambien!

Frighteningly Icy
Receptionist: Really? From Ambien? Don't you find that sort of odd?

SPODR-(still smiling brightly, handing out flashlights) Odd? No, why should I?

FIR-Well, isn't Ambien a sleeping pill?

SPODR-It's the #1 prescribed sleep aid in America. It--

FIR-(cuts her off) Well, then, it seems to me, if the pill is working, you wouldn't need to be up
at night, having to use a flashlight.

SPODR-(blinks several times, smiles, opens and closes mouth).

Kinder, Gentler Appointment
Secretary on Rolling Chair-(rolls over, says in undertone) Just. Take. The flashlight. (To
SPODR now) Thanks. See you next Tuesday. (Rolls eyes at me;
sighs heavily.)





Saturday, August 13, 2005

Irony or Satiety?

We did it again.

Today, after postponing the inevitable to the point where we were going to have to eat ketchup on crackers for every meal, we finally went to both the grocery store and the warehouse club. We spent over $250 and at least 3 hours, not including the time spent putting all the stuff away.
We bought wonderful food, nutritious as well as delicious. We bought fun, snacky delights. As suppertime neared, our youngest said, "What's for dinner?" We said, "What would you like?" He said, "I don't care." My husband looked at me and said, "I really feel like Chinese. Let's order out."

So we did.

Friday, August 12, 2005

DoN Gets Happy

I am both a mom and a public high school teacher. It is therefore inherent in my nature that small things make me unreasonably happy. As proof, I offer this list of things that today made me so:

1. My hair looked really good.
2. I passed 2 cars that had Kerry-Edwards stickers on them.
3. I wanted to wear my khaki shorts today and they were clean.
4. My tan looks really good.
5. I have a jar of multicolored, flavored minimarshmallows on the kitchen counter.
6. My physical therapist is a Democrat.
7. I found out the above without having to find out.
8. My black fantail fish, Santana, has stayed out of the pond skimmer for over a week now.
9. Yesterday, my family was still talking about my Pasta Primavera that I made on Wednesday.
10.Today in physical therapy, I made major gains and did NOT have to take Vicodin when I
got home. (Although I considered taking it purely recreationally...j/k.)
11. I can hardly see the grey in my hair, even in my bangs.
12. I did not have to shave my legs today.

(For those of you who are stumped by #5, let me say this: try it. Go get a nice stout jar, preferably a plain one with a colorful lid. Mine has a bright red one. Fill it with an entire bag of colored minimarshmallows and set it in plain view, say on your kitchen table or counter, or in your computer room or den. I dare anyone to have that around and not smile. It's just a damned cheery thing. Now go do it.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

DoN Endorses Pharmaceuticals

There's no delicate way to put this, and I'm no shrinking violet: physical therapy was a real bitch today.

I made the mistake of telling my therapist JK that last night during my home exercises, I felt some adhesions give way along my shoulder blade; with that, he turned into Snidely Whiplash right before my eyes. (Good God, did I date myself with that reference--only those 40 and older will remember who ol' Snidely was!) Let's just say that my session could have been most appropriately conducted in a dungeon with racks and those big wooden gears and some little stoopy guy wearing a leather hat and studded vest. At one point, JK put a pillow on the table for my head, one midway down for my knees, patted the tabletop with his hand and said, "Okay, time for the pain."

He did not lie.

Move over, John Paul. I'm putting Vicodin on the fast track to sainthood.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

DoN 0, Wildlife 1

The epic battle for control over the territory known as my backyard is finally over and I have lost. I have ceded this key ground to the local wildlife: the squirrels, moles, chipmunks, and commoner birds that have invaded my feeders rather than the cardinals and bluejays that I have tried to attract. It's over and I'm glad.

It's been such a struggle. Oh, I can hear you...did I try sprinkling cayenne pepper on my birdfeed? Oh yes, I did. And I ended up attracting all the Cajun squirrels and chipmunks in the Northeastern Ohio area. You should have seen them in their little overalls with only one strap on, chattering "This here the bes' food in the area, I gar-on-teeeee!" Did I use a contraption known as a squirrel baffle? But of course! The little bastards leapt off the garage roof, off the trellis, off the shrubbery, off neighboring trees...those s.o.b's developed vertical leaps to make Michael Jordan weep. They bypassed said baffle and went straight to the source: the roof of the feeder by any means necessary. I developed super-acute hearing; I could hear the sound of squirrelpaws on the metal birdfeeder roof from anyplace in the house. I would rush to the backdoor of the house, grab my bb gun, poke the muzzle out the door with the stealth of the finest Delta Force sniper, and ping that bushytail right in the ass. (Oh stop it! It never did anything but sting it! It would leap off and run away!) But, did any of this stop any of them?
In a word, no.

The chipmunks...relentless burrowers, those. In my pots, in my mulch beds, in the centers of my bedding plants. They tear through my landscape beds and wreak havoc. They are cute, but they are destructive. They build nests in my gutters and cause them to overflow when it rains, which admittedly during the hot and dry summer we are having here this year has not been often, but it has happened. And they make full use of the mole holes and tunnels, making them even bigger and more unsightly, which leads me to those damnable pests...

The goddamn moles. The bane of my yard. MY SWORN ENEMY FOR LIFE. I have a gorgeous backyard which is no yard at all, but actually a fully landscaped garden including a fishpond and waterfall. (I will have Computer Guru Husband* post a picture soon.) What does one see when one is viewing my waterfall? A goddamn mole hole. Right to the right of the waterfall. I keep plugging it up and trying to artistically arrange the creeping phlox over it, and every night the frikkin' mole does his Urban Renewal Thing. So, CGH* and I decide to do a little research and see what we can do to fight the moles without hurting the garden and/or especially the fish. We come up with the Ultrasonic Mole Chaser. We order one and when it comes, he opens the box and approaches me with this long, metal, cylindrical object that looks like...well, he says, "Hon, did you order something...special for yourself????" Yeah, it looks like one of those.
However, let's just say it's been way less satisfying than one of those. In short, it hasn't done the job. There is a mole tunnel RIGHT PAST THE DAMN THING. (Insert heavy sigh here.)

So, yesterday, after I got home from my physical therapy appointment (I am trying to "thaw" a frozen shoulder...rotator cuff injury, the pain is...well, yikes!) and popped my Vicodin like a good girl, I sat out on my deck waiting for the train to Narcoticville. A particularly sassy squirrel sauntered (yes, yes it did! remember, I was not yet IN Narcoticville!) into my yard. It was being very nonchalant. I could tell it was casing the joint. The feeder was mobbed already by what I call "WalMart birds", i.e. sparrows, which are nothing special. The squirrel wandered casually over toward the shepherd's hook near the feeder, then glanced at me over its shoulder and shimmied up the hook, flung itself onto the trellis, and jumped into the seedcatcher tray on the feeder pole. At this precise moment the black mole chose to scurry from under the boxwood near the pond and I am not kidding.

Luckily, I was within sight of Narcoticville and, like Vegas, it is the city that never sleeps. (Or is that New York? Doesn't matter.) I watched while the squirrel calmly ate seed from the tray; soon, the sparrows it had scared away by its rather unorthodox landing returned to the feeder to resume snacking. Hazy with Vicodin, I came to realize that I just didn't care anymore. I'm tired of fighting the varmints. They win. I'm hanging up my gun (for the record, Moms everywhere, I never shot my eye out!), and I'm going to get my money back for the Ultrasonic Molechaser/Satanic Vibrator Device.

Sometimes, we CAN all just get along.

Monday, August 08, 2005

DoN Says R.I.P

Today, I am an in-studio guest on my son's college radio show. Usually, I'm a more shadowy presence; I contribute via Instant Messenger and comment freely on the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the NBA in general. He and his fellow hosts of The Final Score stopped being floored by my knowledge of sports a long time ago (after all, I'm a MOM, fer godsakes!), and invited me into the studio. I accepted because I'm so damn flattered, in the first place, and because I've never ever been in a radio station studio in the second. So, today is the day.

And via email, I get the news that Peter Jennings has died from lung cancer at the age of 67. One of the greatest names in broadcasting and one of television's most trusted newsmen, who publicly admitted that he "was weak" and turned again to smoking due to September 11, had succumbed to a particularly aggressive lung cancer that ravaged his body and ended an exemplary career. Another result of September 11 for Jennings was that he quietly and without fanfare became an American citizen; Jennings was born in Toronto.

Being on-mike and chatting about the Cavs, Cubs, and Indians in a college radio studio is not akin to the contribution of a Peter Jennings...yeah, I know. Nowhere near. But I'll be thinking about him.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

DoN Passes Judgment on the Democrats

Last week, 19 of the 1833 American casualties in Iraq were Ohio boys, and 13 of them were from the 3rd Batallion headquartered in Brook Park, a little place in northeastern Ohio not far from where I live. The Cleveland area media coverage was, understandably, relentless. I decided to read one column in my bible: The Cleveland Plain Dealer. In it, the father of one of the fallen soldiers said, "I hold the Bush administration responsible, from the president through the secretaries of state and defense and all those who have had a hand in starting this war. I also hold every Democrat in Congress who voted to authorize this misadventure as accomplices....To honor [my son] I can no longer sit still, just keeping quiet and being politically correct."

The sentence I put in bold is the one we have to focus on, especially in light of any coming election, be it city, state, and eventually, national. And the sentence after it makes it all the more poignant.

The Democrats, in a nutshell, are the equivalent of the watery part of a softboiled egg. We are amorphous, bland, weak, and watery. We are so busy trying to stand for everything that we stand for nothing. Christians? Sure! We love 'em! Especially now. Let us pray. In school, if we must. Abortions? Ummm...no!....yes?...wait...! Them gay folks? Are y'all one? Then we love ya! No? Then, we think they oughta move to whatever state'll have 'em. Oh, and we're all for kids and families...if Republicans are! The war? It's bad, but we love the troops and think we should stay and finish the job, as bad as it is, dadgum it.

So far, what have the Democrats done since The Angel of Death and Darth Vader resumed their Reign of Terror in D.C.? Begged to keep the filibuster. Said "hmmm...we'll see about THIS guy" about Nominee Roberts. Harry Reid has wagged his finger and tsked a few times. Thank God for Howard Dean who continues to lambaste the Republicans at every turn with reckless abandon, at times professing out and out hatred just to keep things interesting.

Here in Ohio (State Motto: "We're the New Florida!"), we've turned red and enacted enough anti-gay and pro-gun legislation to make even Texas blush. Our governor is involved in so much office-abusing graft that U.S. Grant looks like a Quaker, and what is the state Democratic Party's answer? Oh no, you can't possibly even guess who was exploring a political career to serve our piece of the heartland.

Jerry Springer.

Are we serious? Is this how we can best honor the sacrifice of the more than 80 fallen soldiers who have, so far, represented Ohio in this administration's misadventure that was, as Paul Schroeder so heartwrenchingly reminds us, fully authorized by Democrats, too?

The Democrats should stop trying to pander. Period. BE SOMETHING. Have a vision. It's painfully obvious that, right now, we don't. We cannot simply be The Party that Is Fussy. Start bullying. Toss around Osama bin Laden's name. Remember him? So it's not nice, so what? Start saying, "Hey...I thought the MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED...?!" Ask "When do we start SMOKING OSAMA OUT OF HIS HOLE?" Be, as Mr. Schroeder said, politically incorrect. Create a news cycle for a change. TAKE OFF THE F****ING GLOVES AND BE THE PARTY THAT DOESN'T FORGET.

I mean, it's not hard.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

DoN Weighs in on Infidelity

Leanne and I are in the checkout line at the grocery store. We load the items onto the conveyor belt and wait while the cashier makes a career out of the customer ahead of us. Naturally, we scan the tabloid rags and magazines in the racks along the aisle.
"What about Jude Law?" she says. "Would you take him back?
"No way." I shake my head. "I mean, the nanny, for godsakes. How cliche."
"Yeah, right." Leanne chucks the August 8 issue of People onto the counter.
I audibly gasp. Those blue eyes...rakish brows...gold-shot hair...is that the hint of a dimple on his cheek? I can almost feel the skin under my fingertips as I imagine...I...somehow exhale. I look up.
Leanne rolls her eyes. "Thought so."

Damn her.
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