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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas From The Dept. Of Nance


It's time, Dept. readers, to take a Long Winter's Nap and spend that Quality Time with family and loved ones dear. I plan to rest, recharge, and make a Real Effort to think about What's Really Important.

As a very smart person who happened to be a minister said in the paper the other day, Christmas should be more about presence than presents. I hope to remember that.

Thank you for your presence here: your spirited comments, your emails, and your support at Stuff on Our List and at The Brian Williams Tie Report Archives.

The vast majority of you, I've never met--yet I feel like we're old friends. And that's so very nice.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Have a Very Nice Rest

from Nance, Rick, Jared & Sam at
Dept. of Nance

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just Because It's Christmas Doesn't Mean I Have To Be Jolly (Although I Am Trying)

Christmas shopping this year was brutal for--oh, so many reasons--and at one point, I just wanted to go buy one of those electronic bullhorns and stand in the middle of the mall and yell the old Susan Powter mantra Stop The Insanity, but I knew that while everyone would hear me, no one would listen.

The item that really sent me over the edge was this, the Digital Photo Watch. Holy crap, you're thinking, in an age of thong underwear in the little girls' department, this is what sent Nance over the edge?

Yes. And here is why.

I'm becoming increasingly irritated by the mania our society has for Multi-tasking Items. It's bordering on the insane. Just look at cell phones. It's not enough for you to be able to just place and receive telephone calls. Good heavens, how archaic! Cell phones must also have keyboards so that you can type inane messages like idk, cu l8r @ moms, k? . They must also be Internet browsers, email centers, messengers, mp3 players, high resolution digital cameras and video recorders, sound recorders, and GPS devices. For the record, I have had the same phone for 6 years; it does none of those things, and I am fine with that. Pretty soon, cell phones will devolve to the point where the advertisements will read: This technological breakthrough comes with an optional telephonic voicer that can plug into your cellular device so that you can both make and receive calls!

You read it here first.

The Digital Photo Watch is plain stupid. Really, what is it for? Who the hell is going to say, "Want to see some photos of my grandchildren? Here, look at my watch. The pictures are only an inch and a half square, and they have, of course, those annoying hour and minute markers and hands on them, but you'll get the idea. And there are 60 of them, so I'll hold my arm up here for about 4 minutes, no problem." How horrid. For everyone concerned. A watch is a portable time device. It can be a fashion accessory, sort of. But to think that you're going to use it to effectively haul around a stack of pictures of anything is just idiotic.

People need to stop making me think I have to be doing eleventy billion things at once. I am never going to watch a movie on my computer. (That, to me, is just silly. A big, epic film on my little tiny computer screen. Sometimes I don't even like watching them on my large-ish television at home. I feel like I'm missing the experience.) I'm never going to type on my phone. EVER. I'm never going to look at photos on my watch. I'm never going to show a movie in my automobile. I'm not even going to use my microwave to disinfect a sponge! I'm never going to do those things. Period. There's just a lot of really distracted, unfocused people wandering around doing half-assed stuff, and they think they're multi-tasking effectively. They're not.
They're inventing silly, random crap that other people are buying because they're too busy doing ten things at once, probably gabbing on their cell phones, to notice what goofy gifty they're loading into their shopping bags.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Theme For This Christmas: Focus On The Family (Whaddya Mean "That's Taken"?)

We finally got The Tree up at the Dept., and let me tell you--there is nothing that makes a bigger Scrooge out of me anymore than that job. I know, I know, how horrid does that make me sound as a Person and as a Mother and as a Woman and, by default therefore, The Holiday Bringer? But, holy crap, when it's just two grownups wrangling a seven-foot spruce and eleventy billion strings of mini-lights, the Jolly goes out of the task really fast.

(Interjection here by Rick: Whaddya mean "two grownups?" You are a lightweight and can't even stand near the door while I bring the damn thing in because you will get cold. The stand weighs more than you do. I do all the lights while you dress up the mantel. Now go ahead. )

Anyway.

After all the grunt work is done, the decorating begins, and that part is pretty okay. I mean, I try very hard not to be a real martinet about which ornaments hang where; it's just that some ornaments are front-of-the-tree ornaments, and some...well, they just don't make the cut. They're not First-Stringers, if you know what I mean. Now, ornaments I inherited from my dad's childhood tree? Front and center. Those have sentimental value. Plastic ornament I can't remember the origin of? Back of the tree. Handpainted likenesses of the dear departed TravisCat and EmilyCat? Hanging together in the front, right next to the sweater-head girl ornaments that Emily used to sneak off the tree while we were asleep or at work and we'd later find in her water dish. All the ornaments have a hierarchy, and almost all have a memory attached to them of some kind.

That's why I just don't get The Themed Christmas Tree. Really, what the heck is that all about? I mean, I understand them in stores, all decorated in a Circus Theme or a Teddy Bear Theme or a Color Theme, but that's to sell ornaments and lights. Why would you have that in your home at Christmas?

I look at the Family Christmas Tree as an eclectic celebration of the family. The ornaments are things that you've collected, things your kids or you have made, things that reflect your lives. Each year, Jared and Sam and I would take a day and go to breakfast and then go and look at all the decorated trees at the department stores. Each of them could pick out a special ornament of his own. To this day, each remembers which ornaments belong to whom. For a while there, they were stuck on foods: we have a kiwi, a pear, a pickle, a slice of watermelon. Then it was animals. Then sports. But the point is, those decorations personalize our tree. And when those boys leave my home to start one of their own, they can take those ornaments with them.

A theme tree doesn't have any of that. It matches a room. Or an idea. It could be anyone's tree. It could be in Pier One or Pottery Barn or Macy's just as well as in your home.

I think the absolute worst theme tree I ever saw was in a garden center in 1997. That was the year that Titanic hit the big screen. This garden center had a Titanic theme tree. I almost threw up. It had a continuous loop of the Celine Dion theme playing, and it actually had a few replicas of the ship stuck in it here and there. The ornaments were all rather Edwardian looking--lace, muslin, flowers, some baby's breath, all that crap, and some blue plastic gemstone hearts. But what a horrific idea. I leaned in to my husband and said, "Where are the life preservers and the bluish, lifeless bodies? How about a few chunks of polar ice?" Good heavens, how tasteless. And the Cleveland television station came to do a story on it! Why do I live here? Aaarrrrggghhh!

Every year there is a story about The War on Christmas. Every year I think that's a bunch of bullshit. What we really should be fighting against is The Theme Christmas Tree. It's destroying the very fiber of The American Family. So, right now--go get some pipecleaners and some Cheerios and make a wreath to hang on your Christmas tree! Make a Rudolph out of popsicle sticks and cotton balls! To paraphrase Charlie Brown: "It's not such a bad little tree. All it needs is a little love."

(Oh, and here's a Classic Dept. of Nance Post about Christmas Trees Past.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sex And Gay Marriage In The School Library


"Mrs. D., why is it that all everyone talks about is sex?"

I turned to face Alex, one of my juniors doing research in the library. I heard the scrape of chairs as half the kids at computers pushed back to see what my reaction would be. Patti, one of the librarians, smiled behind him. Quickly, I scanned Alex's expression: his face was open and inquisitive. He wasn't trying to start something.

"Well, are you referring to the research topics in class, Alex? Remember, everyone in here chose a controversial issue, so topics like gay marriage, whether or not homosexuality is genetic and things like that are issues that your colleagues chose to research. That's why they're being discussed," I said.

"No, I didn't mean in here," he said. "I mean, like, everywhere. On tv, in the news, in commercials. It's sex, sex, sex. There's just a lot of it being debated everyplace. Why is that?"

Allow me to state here, for the record, that for the first time in many days, I had everyone's full and undivided attention. And believe me, I paused and thought before I answered. A. Lot.

"Well, Alex, first of all, let me say that I think you're right," I told him. "There is a lot of yammering about sex on television and everywhere else. And I think part of the reason for that is the same reason every single one of you is listening to me right now--and way more than when I talk about commas or symbolism or how to do a citation. Because sex is very interesting to pretty much everyone. Right? Sex sells. So if a show is about sex, people will watch it and then advertisers will buy spots so products make money. Sex is now the lowest common denominator. It's like, not everyone will get a political joke, but a sex joke? Everyone gets that. It's sad, really. At least, I think so."

Another student, Brittany, chimed in. "I think it's sad that some people think that someone else's sexuality is their business. I mean, my topic is gay marriage. Who cares if gay people want to get married? It's not like someone is forcing someone to be gay and get married."

Alex said, "This is what I'm talking about. I'm uncomfortable with this discussion. I don't want to think about it."

"You brought it up, dude," said Tyler, amiably from his computer in the corner where he was researching whether or not minorities are unfairly represented in textbooks. "I'm all for live and let live. My people have been persecuted throughout history. I'm not about to do it to someone else just because they happen to want to marry someone who has the same plumbing."

"Exactly!" said Brittany. "My godfather is gay. I love him. If he wanted to get married, I'd be the first person at his wedding!"

"Hmmm," said Alex. "What did you wish for?"

"What in the hell are you talking about?" asked Brittany, looking at Alex as if he had just landed from another planet.

"I just figured, if you had a fairy godfather..."

please note, photo credit

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Santa's Not The Only One With An Interesting List Around Here

So I'm going through my "Blogbits" folder on my computer. This is the folder where I save all the things I read online and think, "Hey! This might make a good blogpost someday." Let me tell you, just reading the titles makes me more than a little concerned if, for some odd reason, someone had reason to confiscate my hard drive and poke around. "Yikes," he or she would say, "what the hell is wrong with this chick?"

Half of the articles lead to a 404 Error, or page not found, so I'm out of luck on those. And, I figure--just like the clothes closet rule--if I haven't used them in the past 6 months to a year, I should just toss them. But, before I do, I feel the need to at least get some use out of them. So, I'm offering up the best ones here, in a list. Here are:

The Best Headlines Of Real Stories I've Read On The Interwebs
1. Toadzilla Captured in Australia
2. Coyote Caught at Downtown Quizno's
3. Kids Take on Lunch Lady--and Win!
4. Police Boss Kills Workers Who Asked for Raise
5. California Carpenter Can Work in the Buff
6. Woman Has Yard Full of Snapping Turtles
7. Monkey Crackdown no Funny Business for City
8. Ton of Snakes Seized on Plane
9. Put Those Polar Bears on a Diet!
10. Urine Trouble--Whizzinator Makers Plead Guilty

(That last one has a great first paragraph that still makes me chuckle.)

And, actually, you can still read the Toadzilla story. Go ahead. You'll thank me for it, especially when you get to the quote that includes the phrase "rampant male." It's damn good. But I did just kill 10 possible blogposts in one fell swoop. Oh, well.

But, speaking of lists, I'll sneak in a plug for Stuff On Our List. I know readers here will remember Jared, who appears often in my posts here at the Dept. He and I have collaborated on this new blog, which we've just started for fun and a way to do something together even though he's away. Click over if you have the time and inclination.
But watch out for snakes. And toads. And really, really, fat polar bears.

Friday, November 28, 2008

In Which I Ask The Age-Old Question: Who Is Dumber, Sarah Palin or a Japanese Zookeeper?

Sorry for the stretch between posts. Things got a little...busy at the other place. I think I've got things well in hand over there now, so I can breathe again and get back to running the joint here. Onward.

And I must also beg your indulgence while I bring up yet another story provided by our friends at CNN.com, again involving our neighbors of the Asian Persuasion. And animals.

Because goshdarnit, as I said last week, "when there's a good Animal VS. Human tale, I'm all over it. That's my vow to you." And this one is especially dear to me because, as an American Public School Teacher, I'm really freaking tired of hearing just how goddam smart everyone else in the world is compared to us. How our schools are producing a nation of drooling, pantspooping idiots who are too stupid to know that "Africa" is not a country, but a continent. What? Sarah Palin thought that Africa was a country? Well...she is a pantspooping idiot. But I digress.

The story is this one, and the headline reads "Zoo Solves Mystery of Celibate Polar Bears." The dateline is Tokyo, Japan. Now we all know how smart the Japanese are. They can make an entire computer so small that it can fit onto the butt of a gnat. They have a rail system that runs entirely on human waste. They don't even use money over there anymore, just debit cards. (All of that is true. I got it from Wikipedia.) Anyway.
(the polar bear in question--look how dirty it is!)
It seems that three years ago, a zoo procured a polar bear cub, named it Tsuyoshi after a famous baseball player, raised it, and then in June, introduced it to its 11-year old resident female bear Kurumi and waited for a romance to develop. But, much to everyone's disappointment, nothing ever happened. Tsuyoshi never made any amorous advances at all, aggressive or otherwise, towards Kurumi. Finally, the zookeepers decided to find out if there was anything amiss.

"Earlier this month, zookeepers put Tsuyoshi under anesthesia to get to the bottom of the matter. That's when they made their discovery: Tsuyoshi is a female."

So! Let's review:
1. Japanese=way smarter than Americans, but
2. they raised this bear for three years
3. they thought the bear was male for three years plus
4. they had to anesthetize it to find out is was a female only after it would not mate with a female
5. they had the bear for three years when it was a baby (this, I think, bears repeating)

Yet, it gets better.

Tsuyoshi's "brother," who was adopted by another zoo, has also turned out to be female, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

Now! Let's recap:

1. Chinese college student breaks into panda enclosure because he wants a hug
2. Japanese zookeepers cannot tell the sex of polar bear they have raised for three years

Gosh, I feel smart!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stupid Human Tricks, The Chinese Version

You know, it's nice when it's not Americans making headlines for doing stupid things, for a change.

I'm talking about this story, but really, there's no need to go there. I'll be quoting from it extensively here because A) it's about pandas, and B) there's just so much great stuff in it that I can't resist it. It's right up there with the Pelican Story. And you know me--when there's a good Animal VS. Human tale, I'm all over it. That's my vow to you.

First of all, thank you CNN.com for this stellar headline: Panda Bites Student Seeking A Hug. There is no freaking way I'm not reading this story. Half of me is hoping that it's not a real panda, but some minimum wage-earner dressed in a fake fur suit doing on-site promo work for a Chinese restaurant who is being mauled by some drunken college frat boy on a bender. Okay.

But no. "A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug," says CNN.com's source. Further, "the student scaled the fence surrounding the panda, named Yang Yang," a park employee said. How many of you--right now--are saying "Why isn't this kid in class or in his dorm room studying? What was he doing at a zoo?"

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said. And this kid is in college? What is he majoring in, underwater basketweaving? The history of Hello Kitty? What the hell kind of logic is that? Is this kid from Oz? His parents better do him a big favor and keep him away from the pretty, pretty kitty-cats with the fluffy heads. Or the big, brown teddy bears!

And now, to the question that we all have been asking all along and that, if this were an American newsreport, would have already been cleared up: "The student was pale as he was taken away by medics but appeared clear-headed," a park employee said. Which is the Chinese equivalent of the American "alcohol did not appear to be a factor."

To which I reply, then what the hell is his excuse?

But here's one of my favorite parts: "Yang Yang, who was flown to Guilin last year from Sichuan province, was behaving normally on Saturday and did not seem to suffer any negative psychological effects, the park employee said." I'm telling you--the Chinese are all about their pandas! Remember, there are 1.3 billion Chinese, but only between 700-1000 pandas. Which do you think is more important, some idiotic 20-year old who thinks he can hug a freaking wild animal or a precious endangered symbol of an entire country and valuable link of an ecosystem already threatened by earthquakes, climate change, and habitat encroachment? Duh.

Finally, I love the common sense of the Chinese. No constant threat of litigation there. Witness the testimony of the park employee when asked if they would be adding yet more signage warning people not to climb in and try to hug the pandas: "We cannot make it like a prison. We already have signs up warning people not to climb in," he said. "There are no fences along roads but people know not to cross if there are cars. This is basic knowledge."

Well, maybe for most Chinese. For Americans...we still put warnings on our sleep aids that they "may cause drowsiness." Sigh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Cleaning: Also Known As Cheap Therapy


Let's play a little game. It's called Cheap Therapy. I get to dump a Whole Ton Of Mind Crap on you and toss my head junk out, and then in Comments/Brainstorms, you can clean out your Cranium Clutter. Doesn't that sound great? Here we go:

^*^My blog is currently blue to celebrate the Democratic Mandate Of November 4, 2008, AKA: The Day America Returned To Its Senses. I am not particularly fond of the color scheme, so I will return the Dept. to its regular appearance pretty soon. I just really needed to react on the Interwebs.

^*^Can I just start bitching RIGHT NOW about the onrush of The Holiday Season and how it is being shoved down my throat incessantly and how it started on...oh, like November 1st? Seriously, I get that the Economy sucks and that Consumer Confidence is at an all-time Low and that if I don't start spending my huge enormous monies that WE WILL ALL BE STANDING IN SOUP/BREAD/CHEESE LINES TOMORROW, but enough already! I am not yet ready to start You-know-what shopping, so back off my jock, everyone in retail! The fact that I ordered my Thanksgiving Turkey already is major. I usually talk about ordering it weeks before Thanksgiving but don't actually get around to doing it until about four days before. So, I'm all holidayed up, thanks.

^*^Did anyone else see Brian Williams on the cover of the Sunday (11-16) Parade newspaper supplement? Was that the dorkiest picture, or what? And the accompanying piece was terrible. Come on, BW. Do not tell me that you are so pedestrian about food. Food court food? Ugh.

^*^I found a CD on my desk at home by someone named "Missy Higgins." A couple weekends ago, Rick finally decided we should listen to it. After a few tracks, this was the conversation:
Me: This isn't too bad. It's sort of like Sarah McLachlan meets Anna Nalick.
Rick: And a little Sinead.
Me: Plus some Alanis Morrissette tossed in.
Rick: Wow.
Me: Really, then why do we need Missy Higgins?
Rick: Exactly. Time to thin the herd.

^*^It's been snowing here every day for three days. I repeat: snowing. And it's sticking. On the ground and stuff. Hideous. I can think of no good reason for it. I blame the republicans.

^*^Rick has a little crush on Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. I am so proud of him. He said, "I don't know. There's just something about her. She's so intelligent and capable and has such strength about her. I'm really attracted to strong, intelligent women like her." And yes, he knows she's a lesbian. He also told me after watching the interview with the Obamas on 60 Minutes, "Wow. If Michelle came in here interested, I'd follow her right out the door." Bless his heart. I would, too.

^*^I'm looking for the perfect pair of black dressy boots. I want a high heel, but not so high that I look like I'm into S&M. I want the boots to be up to my knees, but not covering any part of my knees. I want a little embellishment, but nothing flashy or whorey-looking. And I don't want to pay more than 75 bucks. Can someone please get on this for me and save me a lot of calisthenic malling? Size 8 1/2. Oh, and no patent leather. (See "whore" ref. above.)

^*^I'm giving up my short hair. Main reason: I. Am. Freezing. I never realized how warm my hair kept my neck and shoulders. Secondary reason: It consistently pisses me off. I cannot count on it. It is worky. My hair looks different every single day. Yesterday, Great Hair Day. Today, Okay Hair Day. Last week, several Total Failure Hair Days. Amount spent on new hair products: Enormous. Amount of satisfaction derived from success rate of new hair products: zero. Conclusion: might as well use Jell-O, Elmer's Glue-All, Minwax, or Vaseline. (Sidenote--Rick says, "I think your hair always looks nice." Sigh.) Okay. Maybe I have the order of Reasons switched.

^*^I keep thinking about getting a cat. I KNOW! Someone stop me. Now. And hurry. Jared says, "Mom, what is the big deal?" I say, "Jared, it's the hair. THE HAIR!" He says, "Mom, it's only an issue for you." Duh. Does he realize that statement speaks volumes?

Probably I should quit now and give all of you a chance. Vent away! Rid your brains of their burdens. OR--go ahead and psychoanalyze mine. Just be careful in there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wordsmithing


Words are my business and my passion. And I'm not going to lie: words are my favorite weapon, too. I teach my students that all the time. Nothing is more valuable to put in your personal arsenal than an impressive vocabulary. And they believe it, too. I never dummy down my vocabulary when I talk in my classroom, and I tell them to sing out when I use a word they don't know. Often, I have a Designated Dictionary Person in the room and that person knows to go get the dictionary, look up the word, and once he has it, raise his hand and read the meaning out. It doesn't happen as often as you'd think, though. One, they don't often care, and two, much of the time the word's meaning is apparent through context. (I feel like #1,however, is the biggest reason.)

Anyway, I try to instill an appreciation of words in my students. In honors, we look at diction and the way writers write. Even with my regular juniors, we take a look at that when we can, especially when I read aloud. They humor me when I fling around a few "big words" here and there at them; they retaliate by slinging slang at me.

I love to keep current with slang. I find it refreshing and encouraging. The English language is such a vibrant, living organism to me. It's constantly expanding and accepting; it morphs and grows as the world changes and moves forward.

My new favorite slang term was introduced to me on Monday. My student Taylor was tardy to class without a pass. She came charging in, breathless and apologetic. She's never tardy and kids in Creative Writing want to be there. I merely looked at her and waited while she gulped air and composed herself.

"Ms. D," she said, fanning herself and huffing and puffing, "I'm so sorry I was late, but me and Ms. Roberts was in the team office choppin' it up about colleges and we just lost track of time."

*choppin' it up--talking things over; chatting about a topic extensively

I love it. It's very evocative and somehow precise. Not too far off from "chewing the fat" but so much more...oh...direct and simple.

Yesterday, I thought I had invented a new word. Well, not an entirely new word, but a noun form of a word that would, I thought, be so nice and easy to say. I had never really heard it said, and I already had a snippy little snarky use for it. I rushed to a dictionary just to be sure and...crap. It was already a word. That word? Ubiquity. I love the word ubiquitous already. I use it often. It's even fun to type. (Go ahead and try it--ubiquitous--it's quite the workout getting that q in there.) Anyway. I never knew that there was a nice, short noun form already. I thought it would be fun to start putting some of Brian Williams' ties in a Fashion Den of Ubiquity--you know, the ones he wears all the time--and thought, wow, Nance, you invented a cool little word, there. Except, not. Sigh. Dammit.

Finally, I do want to invent a new use of an existing word and here it is. You know how some people just wear you out? (In the interest of fairness, I must admit that my Very Own Husband will immediately nod and say, "Yes, Nance, I do. You, for instance." ) How those people put you through an incredible amount of arduous and strenuous effort or mental distress? These individuals might be co-workers, children, family, or even friends. Here is the new word we can use to describe them: calisthenic. Heretofore, this word has been a noun only, meaning "exercises designed to develop physical health and vigor, usually performed with little or no special apparatus." Well, forget that. Now, we are going to start using it as an adjective, and it is going to describe people who just work us out until we are exhausted. Here is an example:

I am done with these hour-long phone calls with my mother; she is just too calisthenic.

My friend Leanne finds purse shopping with me to be calisthenic. I find my seventh period junior regular class of 16 boys and 4 girls to be highly calisthenic.


What fun! I just love choppin' it up about words.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Doing My Part For Consumer Confidence (And Somewhere In Here Is A Pun On Dogs)

Things have been so tense here at the Dept. lately. It's nonstop Politics--mainly because we're a Battleground State and we are inundated with ads from every media outlet, but also because it's all we talk about and our televisions are constantly tuned to CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC. It's also nonstop Economic Gloom and Doom for the same reason because those same channels watch the Dow forecast our Fiscal Armageddon even before our statements arrive in the mail. Rick and I just grind our jaws and madly press buttons on the remote, and when I can't take it anymore, I do two things: watch dog shows and go shopping!

Let me be clear--I do not own a dog, nor do I ever want to. Dogs are way worky: you have to train them, walk them, play with them, take them out even when it's cold and rainy and snowy. Forget all that. Plus, they are hairy/furry. I have finally rid my home of extraneous cat hair left by the Late Dept. Cats, Travis and Emily, and they've been gone since September '07 and July '08, respectively. In all reality, dogs are pretty much just furry toddlers who never quite grow up. Major style-crampers. Watching dog shows, however, gives me all the enjoyment of appreciating the really neat breeds without all the labor-intensive bullshit that goes along with Dog Ownership. As a result, I can identify the vast majority of AKC breeds by sight and know their proclivities and standards. And because I am a religious Dog Show Viewer, I even know some repeat entrants by name. I know, how sad.

So, I'm watching a dog show--I think it was a Eukanuba; which one it is never matters to me unless it is Cruft's or Westminster, which are the only two that really matter to anyone anyway--and I come to a few realizations about a few breeds that I just don't have any tolerance for anymore, and here they are:

*Brussels Griffon: Hideous bat-faced dog. The commentator says, "this breed is not suitable as an outdoor dog." No kidding! This dog is just too damn ugly to be taken out in public, really. I think that if the dog is in dog shows, it should at least be so ugly that it's cute, like a shar-pei. Not like this. Ugh.
*Chihuahua: I'm sorry, but these dogs are just spastic crack dogs. They're always shaky and always look like they're scared and/or hiding their stash from the cops.
*Shih-Tzu: This thing is not a dog, it's a hobby. For shut-ins. Please.

Finally, I was going to file a Viewer Protest because the winner of Best In Show was a pug named...Boo. Please. I wanted to throw up. What the hell kind of name is that for a dog? And a pug? I can think of eleventy billion better names... for any animal. IN THE WORLD.
Anyway.
On to shoes. Which was my shopping part.

On Sunday I decided I couldn't wait any longer to buy the Shoes I Had Been Coveting For Ages. And I really needed a Shopping Fix. I couldn't remember the last time I had bought shoes, but I think it was actually summer. So I zipped out and came back with The Shoes (on sale!), a second pair (half price!), and a purse (also half price!) in a Major Shopping Tour de Force. Allow me to share them with you now:


Holy crap, are these the cutest shoes or what? These are The Shoes I Had Been Coveting For Ages. I wore them on Wednesday with grey and black teeny-houndstooth pants and a long grey coat sweater, and it was major. The black is patent leather, including on the heel. Don't you just love styling details like that? Next up:


I got these because the second pair was automatically half off, and there was no way I was walking out of there and leaving a deal like that on the table. So I found these. I don't know if you can tell, but they are a gorgeous plum color. I have a knit dress that they will match, not to mention any number of grey and black things that these can accent nicely.

And, somehow, I was able to avoid the usual Purse Agony when, by a stroke of luck, I found the exact purse in black that I had bought in buttercup yellow for spring, thereby saving me at least six grueling hours of foraging through Handbag Hell and practicing the various moves I execute daily with my leather appendage: the one-handed wallet grab, the blind key-search, the strap-flip, the no-look lipstick rummage, etc.

Sweet victory. And at 50% off.

I really feel like I'm doing my part for the economy. My own little Stimulus Package for Ohio. When the economy gets tough, Nance goes shopping. Just not for a dog.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Say Skip It And Go Directly To The Next Real Holiday On The List

I hate Halloween. I just absolutely hate it. I've kvetched about it before here at the Dept., so I won't get all in a lather again, but really, when on Earth will this little holiday go back to being just that--a Little Holiday and stop being some bigass Extravaganza Of Retail, Adult Idiocy, And Overall Bad Taste?

Let me take those 3 areas one at a time:

1. Retail. Just browse through the Walgreens advertisement and you can meet up with some incredibly horrific items that defy not only basic sales logic but plain judgment. Only at Halloween time would anyone dare to market things called Hulk Cakes: chocolate cupcakes frosted in an alarming lime green. Those, however, pale in comparison to the Blood Tablecloth, Gory Wound Sleeve, and something called the Lighted Window Leecher. WTF is a "leecher?" Try looking it up in a dictionary. Lord help us if Walgreens made a typo and it was supposed to be "lecher." But those are just small potatoes compared to the animated guillotine you can get for your front yard! This festive decoration "features a talking prisoner with lighted eyes and a working guillotine!" Finally, for those Holiday Addicts, there is actually a Two-Season Lite Set: "Go from Halloween to Christmas with the press of a button!" In reality, in my Walgreens, all I have to do is walk 10 feet. The aisle directly in front of the Halloween aisle is already stocked with Christmas wrap, artificial wreaths, ribbon, tags, stockings, and all sorts of red-and-green crap. I almost wept.

2. Adult Idiocy. Remember when Halloween used to be all about little kids going out in costumes and trick-or-treating? And they had little parties and their parents helped them carve basic jack-o-lantern faces? Now, Halloween has turned into women wearing soft-porn costumes, "grownups" decorating their houses to look like the set of a bad B horror flick, and otherwise sane individuals thinking up ways to scare the hell out of kids who come up to their houses for a free Snickers bar. Specialty Halloween shops crop up in empty storefronts overnight, and pundits try to predict the outcome of the presidential race by which mask sells the most. I always get several parents at my house for trick-or-treat pushing strollers with children who are far too young to ingest any sort of candy. They're not trick-or-treating, they're begging. For themselves. How tacky.

3. Overall Bad Taste. Halloween has become such an over-the-top celebration of...what, now? Death? What is the explanation for the house on the corner (not far from my street) which has the inflatable hearse complete with coffin, the dead body hanging in the tree, the tombstones, and the gigantic black widow spider on the roof and all the webs? What--exactly--is being celebrated here? What parallel do we draw here between death and...what? I'm just wondering how it all got so...overblown and tasteless.

Or is it just me?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Don't Look At It As Wine; I Look At It As A Foreign Investment

So! How is it that we ended up with yet more wine? I'd like to quote the famous reason for scaling the peaks of Everest: because it's there! Or, to loosely paraphrase the iconic quote from Field of Dreams, "if I taste it, I will buy."

We took a drive up to The Bench area again to pick up some mead and some wine for my roomie Andrew, as well as to revisit Cornerstone Estates to try their port, which was not available in July. The port was lovely, tawny and warm--perfect for taking the chill off a cold afternoon or relaxing after a long day at The Rock. On our way back to the Q.E.W. (Queen Elizabeth Way highway), we stopped at a winery called Vineland Estates. As soon as we entered, I was a bit put off; it was very large and commercial. I prefer smaller wineries, and this one gave off a very corporate air. But, we were there, so we went up to the tasting bar and a young man named Hayden began to take care of us. He introduced us to the winery and then our tasting began. He was incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating, and at one point he said, "How much do you want to taste? Because I have an idea where I want to take you, but I need to know how to get you there." Oh, that was all I needed to hear! "Hayden," I said, "I'm good for several...oh, quite a few more varieties!"

Basically, I lost count. And it was all gorgeous. Here are the standouts:

Vineland 2007 Dry Riesling: Like biting into a snappy, cool Granny Smith apple. Very young, very drinkable, almost no mineral taste and a perfect acidity. If I had not already bought so much wine in July, I would have bought at least a case of this. A steal at $13.

Vineland 2006 Cabernet-Merlot: Smoky and cedary with just a hint of plum and berry jam in the back and in the bouquet. This is almost like a good Meritage in that it would be a terrific red meat wine. I'm serving it with steak. I was disappointed with all the Meritages I tried after I forgot to pick up another one at Rosewood. This one was a major bargain at $15.

2006 Syrah Reserve: Oh God. I don't drink red often, and when I do, I don't drink the trendy Syrah/Shiraz. But this wine is lovely. The bouquet is of berries and spice, and the wine is velvety but not heavy in the mouth. There is a brisk finish that is fruit-forward, reminiscent of bing cherries, and there is almost no tannic feel. If you're used to Napa or Australian Syrah/Shiraz wines, this one is not so leggy and chewy even though it is 12% alcohol. I cannot believe I spent $40 on it. But actually, Rick did. Holy crap. I know. I know!

(But those prices are in Canadian Money. And the exchange rate is favorable now. So, I'm good!)

The next day we confined ourselves to the NotL wineries: we visited our favorite ones to say hello to friends and finished our friends' (and a certain son's) shopping lists, and then we had to scope out the newest winery in town that had mystified and intrigued the locals and sparked a ton of gossip. That winery was Southbrook, also known as The Wall.

Southbrook looks pretty avant garde for NotL--it resides within a massive purple wall that stretches well past both ends of its building proper. No one can figure out if it has a real purpose, but as far as I can tell, it's basically there for "art." By the time we rolled up on Southbrook, Rick and I had both had plenty of wine, but we had to satisfy our curiosity. So, we decided to get a good look at The Wall and limit ourselves to their specialty, the fruit wines. Southbrook makes four of them, cassis (blackcurrant), blueberry, blackberry, and framboise (raspberry). These wines are so concentrated in flavor and so pungent that they are almost more like liqueurs, except that they are not syrupy or cloyingly sweet. Of the four, we bought the blackberry and the framboise, which I found to be the most flavorful and to have the most fruit at the finish. The cassis--and I love blackcurrant--was disappointing at the end. The flavor simply faded away after the swallow. No punch. I am no fan of blueberries, but that variety had the same failing. Each elegant looking bottle is $15.75.

Don't those wines all sound tempting and gorgeous? And with the U.S. dollar doing so much better now, really, I was smart to buy more wine at this time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oh Canada! Without You, We Would Have More Room In The Cellar For Non-Alcoholic Things


Que un weekend merveilleux!
For those of you who do not read The Tie Report, where I made mention of it, (really, how could you not? It is a fashion tour de force! But, I forgive.) you may not have known that I was away on a three-day jaunt with Rick and just arrived back at the Dept. We gave in to the siren call of Niagara-on-the-Lake yet again and had another relaxing time seeing terrific theater, meeting lovely people, and discovering yet more gorgeous and tempting wines to share with you here.

Give me a day or two for re-entry into my Real Life (sigh!), and I'll introduce you to a new Niagara-on-the-Lake winery known for its commanding structural oddity as well as its line of fruit wines, and I'll take you back out to The Bench for a taste of some rieslings and reds that almost melted the Dept.'s VISA card. How on earth did we end up, after bringing back almost five cases only three months ago, bringing back another case of wine? We're hopeless.

Be back soon. And don't judge!

Monday, October 13, 2008

...And Now, This Public Service Announcement


It's important to note that The Hostage Crisis That Is The Bush #43 Presidency entered an important phase today. No longer do triple digits mark the remaining days of The Worst Administration In History.


You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Things Currently Drawing My Ire That Are Not republicans (Although You Know I Can Link Each One Back To Them Very Easily)


*Warning: This post may contain strong language. I'm feeling snarky and I'm not in the mood to self-edit. I just might "go there." Okay.

I'm feeling real frustrated. (I'm not gonna lie; it is That Time, and that probably has a lot to do with it. Sorry if there are a few of you that feel I'm oversharing, but guess what. My blog, okay?) I've spent the entire school day giving a major test to my students that I totally prepared them for. I told them what was going to be on it. And as one class was taking it, I was grading the previous class's "efforts."

Whatever.

They are sucking big fat rocks on it and I am pissed. So I am now locked into a downward Snark Spiral that is, for now, boundless. Basically, I'm IRKED AT/ABOUT EVERYTHING.

Allow me:

1. My hair: I did not share with you that right before my Hideous Surgery, I had a Major Life-Altering Haircut. Three times. I had it cut. Then recut. Then re-recut. And recently, I had it cut again in a very short, choppy style that, apparently, my hair hates. Consequently, my hair looks different every single day. This is...difficult for a control maven such as myself. Do not attempt to recommend a Hair Product to me. It will work one day and not the next. Trust me. Today, I had a Good Hair Day. Yesterday, not. Tomorrow...who the hell knows?

2. Rick: The laundry is piling up. This is traditionally his job, which he cheerfully took on a few years ago and has, apparently without warning, decided to wantonly abandon every so often. There have been days when I am forced to wear my third-string underwear. You know what I mean: the stuff that is Emergency Level DefCon 1. One step above maternity underwear. Okay.

3. Mysterious Animal Inhabiting Garage: Why? There is no food in there. What is it? Raccoon? Skunk? Feral Cat? Something is in there and we cannot get rid of it. We are fastidious re: garage and garbage cans, yet Pig Pen People next door never put lids on garbage cans and have used grill utensils on their deck at all times, yet have no animal in garage. It is getting in because the door needs to be lowered. Rick is aware of this, yet has not yet done anything about it. See #2, and add this to it.

4. Right Foot: Intermittently, my right foot sprouts an almost-bunion for no reason, making some of my adorable shoes painful. Then, it will go away. WTF is up with this bullshit? Shoes are part of my Fashion Image. Come on!

5. Pen Theft: Pens on my desk in my flamingo coffee mug are disappearing. Roommate Andrew is NOT a suspect, but our aides and ill-prepared and lightfingered students are. This is unnecessary and unacceptable, especially since I keep a container of "rental" utensils at the ready in the room. I hate thieves.

6. Newspaper Delivery Guy: This a-hole has one mission in life and this it is: to take out my Boston fern. At least twice a week I find the Cleveland Plain Dealer lying amid the fronds and dirt of my now supine fern and fern stand on my porch because this moron has to launch the newspaper from his car window like he's up for the Cy Young award. Someday, I'm going to take the day off and lie in wait with my BB gun and take out this guy's windshield. Bet me.

7. House: As in the TV show. Which used to be excellent and now basically sucks. This show went totally downhill when House fired his team and then began the quest for the new team. Actually, come to think of it, it really started its downhill trend when they did that stupid show with the cop who got all over his case about the drugs and then went after Wilson and the hospital and tried to get House fired. At any rate, it's now become a very mediocre show that I watch for two reasons only: Hugh Laurie who I have a major crush on, and Jesse Spencer whom I have become almost unhealthily obsessed with lately. Yikes.

8. Project Runway: This season is terrible. I hate every single person on it. But I reserve a special hatred for Kenley, who really, really irritates me. She is socially autistic, rude, obnoxious, breathtakingly overconfident, untalented, and really, really needs to have her adenoids removed. Wow. I am such a bitch about someone I don't even know and will never meet. Okay.
But she was rude to Tim Gunn, and that, in my book, means war.

9. The Ongoing Dinner Drama at The Dept.: Oh My God, how much do I hate this? It was bad enough when other people lived here, but now that it's just Rick and I, it's even worse. He is just as ambivalent about dinner as I am half the time, and there is nothing Grown Up about eating potato chips or Nutella for dinner. And nothing ever "sounds good." It's just so fricking hideous and terrible. I'm sure we are both so vitamin and mineral deficient now at the age of 49 that we are going to have osteoporosis and die bent-over at the age of 55. The only good thing about that is that IT MEANS MANY MANY LESS YEARS OF FIGURING OUT A GODDAMN DINNER MENU.

10. Stupid Errors in Student Papers That Are, Apparently, Never Going To Stop Despite My Endless Efforts: High school students are completely unaware that there is a singular noun meaning "one adult female person." To them, "women" is both plural and singular. There is, and never has been, any such word as woman. The germane event in Massachusetts of 1692 was the Salem Witch Trails, which, I imagine, were the paths followed by the convicted spellcasters to the gallows. I could go on and on and on, but then I would have to shoot myself.

The way I feel right now, I might anyway.

Friday, October 03, 2008

No Child Left Behind At My School

My colleague Dawn and I were busily working in the lounge the other morning, she at the computer and I at one of the round tables. She was fretting over her attendance, getting ready to make yet another parent phone call. She spun her chair around and fixed me with a frustrated grimace. "So my armed robbery suspect finally shows up after being out three weeks!" she says, aggravated. "I don't know where the hell he's been. Is he in jail? Has he even had his trial, or what? What? What!" she says to me, clearly annoyed now, because I'm laughing.

Yes, laughing. Because I lost it after "my armed robbery suspect." I mean, come on. She led with that. She teaches tenth grade. Quite the attention getter at 8 AM, right?

(Oh, I know. It is a tragedy; it is. But that's life at my school. We all have them: armed robbery suspects, petty thieves, drug dealers, grand theft autos, statutory rapists, B & E's, assault and batteries, gang-bangers, you name it. I've had kids taken out of my class in cuffs. We just don't dwell on it. It's part of our demographic; it goes with the territory. And it's not like they do it in our class. )

Dawn sighed. So did I. She said, "You know, it's like: what on earth are we doing with these kids? I'm teaching pronouns, for God's sake. And he's going to go to jail."

"Well," I said, "I know what you mean. Some of these kids are out there doing God-knows-what, and we're teaching theme and symbolism. It seems ridiculous. But I like to think that we're giving them a view on the world that they wouldn't get anywhere else. A glimpse at something better than just living and surviving. A bit of beauty and perspective. You know? They have such basic, narrow lives."

"You're not kidding, " she said. "Last Friday was sustained silent reading day, so I brought in a bunch of magazines. Some of them tore into them and left them all over the place. So I said, 'Hey! Get back here and clean these up. You're not animals! Do I need to get Cesar Millan in here, or what?' They all said Huh? Who's that? I had to explain who he was. No one had heard of him. NO ONE."

I nodded sympathetically. "They probably thought he was a fashion designer, salad dressing inventor, or at least the guy who got stabbed in Rome."

"Get serious," she said. "Maybe if we were reading Shakespeare's play at the time they would. They had NO IDEAS at all. I'm telling you. NONE."

Today, Dawn and I related this story to another friend of ours, Sue, who has a few years experience on me. "Oh, dear," she said to Dawn, "an armed robbery suspect is nothing. Talk to us when you've had a murderer."

"Oh yeah! That's right!" I said.

"Get out," Dawn said warily. "You guys have not both had a murderer."

Both Sue and I raised our hands. Sadly, we've both had more than one.

But guess who had to get fingerprinted and have an FBI background check--at their own expense--last year due to a new state law? All Ohio teachers. Gotta protect the kids.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Old Folks At Home


Rick and I were watching television this morning, waiting for Meet the Press to come on. Local news was doing some segment which featured a story showing a huge, opulent house.

Me: Good heavens. Look at that huge house. Can you imagine just the two of us rattling around in that enormous house?
Rick: No.
Me: I'd never be able to find you.
Rick: (looks off into space, grinning thoughtfully)
Me: (charitably ignoring that) You know how I hate to holler.
Rick: And I can't hear you half the time when you do.
Me: By the time I did find you--
Rick:--you'd forget what you wanted me for.
Me: How old are we?
Rick: Huh?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

John McCain Is A Big Fat Liar, But That's Not A News Flash Around These Parts

Somebody had better buy John McCain a dictionary. After his big grandstand play of announcing he was halting his campaign to zip back to Washington to focus on this latest national crisis, even going so far as to cancel Friday's debate, he "promised to suspend his campaign, cancelling all advertisements and events, after a speech in New York."

Erm...

Except that as I was sitting on my couch at home in Ohio last night, I was treated to no less than half a dozen McCain ads sleazing their way across my television, spreading their lies and pandering their campaign garbage right into my living room. I want everyone to know that.

He just never, ever stops.

Perhaps along with inventing the Blackberry, he's invented a new meaning of the word "cancel".

This creature reminds me of the kid everyone hates on the playground in first grade who, when you get in an argument with him, resorts to just repeating every single thing you say. That's McCain's strategy. "Hope," says Obama. "Hope," says McCain. "Change," says Obama. "Change," says McCain. "We have a woman running for our office," say the Dems. "I've got one now, too," says McCain.

He's been pandering for so long that it's just the way he does business. He's a Play-Doh Man: he just morphs into whatever he's looking at, into whomever he's talking to, into the very person he needs to be at the time in order to get what he wants. He's the politician's politician.

Now he pulls the big fast one--pretends that he's "putting the country first." Bullshit. Obama's poll numbers are up and Palin's news cycle is in the toilet. Everyone knows that McCain will blow into D.C. and try to act like he's the Seventh Cavalry and Jesus all in one and save his reputation as an Economy Dunce. Sadly, some Limbaugh-Louts will suck it down like the KoolAid it is.

Me, I'm onto it. And I've got to hope that there are plenty more like me who are, too.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In Which I Lament That, If It Is Not, In Fact, All About Me, Then Dammit, It Should Be

How is this happening? It is a gorgeous weekend here in northeastern Ohio. The sun is warm and the temperature is in the mid-seventies. There is no rain. Beyond the borders of my small, midwestern town, the world continues to move on and events occur, one tumbling after another. Even my mother is on a little vacation.

What is wrong with you people? Don't you know that I AM SICK?!

Geeze. Where is the love?

It's not bad enough that last weekend, when Jared came home for a brief visit, that I had the raging PMS. No. (And, hey, when can I expect all that bullshit to stop, anyway? I'm 49; I mean, come on, already.) Here is a brief snippet of the Quality Time I had with my son:

Me: Holy Crap! I have the dreaded PMS so bad, and it's in the Carbohydrate Loading stage. It's making me absolutely nuts.

Jared: Are you all, like, "I'm gonna eat this whole loaf of bread right now, and then get really, really crabby afterward", or what?

Me: More like, "If you don't give me that bag of Lay's Original, I'm blowing your effing head off."

Jared: Wow. Yikes.

But I digress.

So, last week the ice man cameth and naturally, so did the Practice Ohio Graduation Test, which I had to administer for four days to three of my classes who, throughout the duration, sounded like the Infectious Diseases Ward at the Cleveland Clinic. It was like a frikkin' symphony of coughs, sniffles, and snortles. I was horrified, in light of the fact that my shoulder condition has an auto-immune component, which means I'm walking around with a somewhat compromised immunity. (Oh, did you employ the Hand Sanitizer? you might ask. It is to laugh! I did everything short of wear a surgical mask and gloves and garlic necklace!)

To no avail. I have a beastly headcold. Damn them all. My nose is running like a car thief on "Cops." My temples are pounding. Sudafed? Ha! Might as well eat M&M's, except that I have zero appetite. My nose is chappy and sore, but at least it matches my lips! Now would be the time for me to eat some of my wonderful Curry Chicken Soup that I so wisely froze in small containers...but I gave the last of it away to Jared and my colleague Andrew, who shares my classroom and is...SICK WITH A HEADCOLD! A HA!!!!!




In the meantime--while I plot my revenge on them all--I wander about the house in misery.

How can everyone else in the entire world be well and happy and carefree? I AM SICK! IT'S SO UNFAIR!

I carry around a box of Kleenex anti-viral tissues and a plastic bag full of snotty wads.

It makes me feel like those dog-walkers who have to follow their canines with plastic sacks full of their doggy poop. How demeaning!


And why is it, that when you feel least able to deal with it, your body decides to manufacture eleventy hundred gallons of snot a day? Huh?

How come there isn't a shot for this? Why can't I just take a pill and have it go away in, say, a day or two? I suspect a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. I do.

Dammit. I hate being sick.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Turns Out That I've Had What It Takes All Along!


Sorry for the hiatus, but I've been in a sort of self-imposed Cone Of Silence here at the Dept. I'm shying away from The Media Circus as of late. Why? Well, holy crap! It turns out that I'm super-qualified to be Vice President, that's why! Let me run down my case for you:

1. Foreign Relations: My roommate in college was Jewish. I've had foreign exchange students in my classes from Finland, Germany, and Switzerland. I am half Croatian and my best friend all through school was Serbian, which shows that I have excellent skills in negotiating beyond age-old nationalistic Balkan grudges.

2. Foreign Policy: I have travelled in Canada often, including the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. In 6th grade, my foreign country report was on Norway, and I received an "A." I have seen all of Daniel Day-Lewis's movies set in Ireland and feel pretty well-versed in the whole IRA thing. Also, since my concentration in college was in English literature, I'm pretty up on England.

3. Lipstick: I wear it daily--Revlon Rum Raisin. Once in a while, Revlon Cappucino.

4. Domestic Issues: I've travelled to 27 of the United States. I've flown over more, but I don't think it's fair to count those. My husband is a terrific handyman and my two sons aren't oddly-named or prematurely parents, but I am a MOM and a WIFE, nonetheless. I chose to have both my children...oh, wait. Wrong script.

5. Fiscal Responsibility: I worked at City Bank as a teller across from U.S. Steel and Lake Terminal Railroad during summers to put myself through college. On the Fridays those two places got paid, the lines were out the doors nonstop. I would run hundreds of thousands of dollars through my window alone, and at the end of the day, I would still balance to the penny. As newlyweds, Rick and I had the two worst careers in 1981 in NE Ohio: teacher and carpenter. Neither of us could find a job. I worked at the bank and he sold shoes. We balanced our checkbook to the last cent and that summer, we rolled change to see A MOVIE. And my prowess at shoe bargains goes without saying. Come ON. Well-documented. A given at this point. Duh.

6. Executive Experience: I have been the advisor for the school's literary magazine for 20 years. I have one year of experience as a junior high student activities advisor. I have been in charge of a high-school classroom five times a day for 182 days a year for 28 years. And for 8 memorable years, I was Third Floor Tornado Spotter, a weighty responsibility that stays with me still.

7. Technology: I don't have to put up some crap on Ebay. This blog. 'Nuff said. Please. I'm boring you right now. Do I even have to href a bunch of baloney? No. I can html and snipurl rings around...oh, nevermind.

8. Wardrobe: I was wearing pencil skirts way before Certain People were even thinking about stacked heels and cropped jackets. Spare me. Let me just say that I have moved on to several other Fashion Planes already, people. Oh. My. If I posted my Burberry plaid pumps right now, there would be Bedlam. I'm just saying.

9. Bridge to Nowhere: I've been to Ketchikan, one of the proposed terminii of the Bridge. It is "Alaska's first city and the salmon capital of the world." There are more salmon there than people. There are more jewelry shops there than people. It's way tiny. Very scenic, but it would be like connecting your front and back yards with the Golden Gate Bridge. I vote No before, during, and after. Period. I'm not a fan of bridges anyway, except for Jeff Bridges, who I think is a pretty good actor and sorta underrated.

Okay.

Personally, I want my Vice President to be Someone Who Is Way Smart and NOT YOUR AVERAGE PERSON OFF THE STOOL AT STARBUCKS. Who cares whether or not you can "identify with" your President or Vice President? People, give me a big freaking break. Isn't it time to have someone sitting in The Big Chairs who is so damned smart that it takes your breath away? Someone who is dignified and together and brilliant and inspirational? And wouldn't it be great if other leaders and other people met them and said, "Wow! What incredible individuals!"

And if those people then, by association, thought that about ALL OF US?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Crying Game

At times I worry about my lack of sentimentality. I don't take pictures, save baby things, remember lots of "firsts", or even have the faintest idea where my one highschool yearbook is. I do, however, have the Crying Gene intact, and it is ever ready to respond, sometimes at the oddest thing. Oh sure, it springs to life at the Standards like weddings (even those at which I barely know the bride or groom), really sad movies (Terms of Endearment, Life Is Beautiful), and incredibly happy news (it's not cancer after all; you're having a baby!).

My Crying Gene can also be roused by the following, in no particular order:

1. The scene in the film To Kill a Mockingbird when the verdict is delivered and Rev. Sykes says to Scout, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'." All around her in the "Colored Balcony," all the spectators are slowly rising to show their respect. I have seen this film eleventy thousand times, and even in a room full of sophomores, my eyes fill with tears.

2. The lobster bisque at Cabin Club restaurant.

3. The lobster risotto at Brio, which, for a chain restaurant, is darn good.

4. The mussels in pernod butter sauce at Carrabba's, another chain restaurant that does good food.


5. Pretty much 2/3 of Chapter 31 of To Kill a Mockingbird. I had to stop reading it aloud to my classes. The part where Scout turns around and starts to narrate how things look through Boo's eyes on his porch..."and Boo's children needed him"...I just can't get through it.

6. The wordless scene in the 1996 film The Crucible when the camera pans the crowd during the hanging of Rebecca Nurse. It shows her elderly husband in agony, clasping his hands prayerfully among the other self-righteous Puritans. Again, I've watched this movie countless times, over and over again in the same day with classes, and it never fails to move me.

7. Visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. I once had a guard in the Dutch Cupboard approach me as I stood, tears streaming down my face, in front of the Vermeers. "Are you all right, Miss?" he asked me as he touched me gently on the arm. I was completely embarrassed. I had no idea I was crying. I was overwhelmed. I could see the brushstrokes. On one, I could see an actual hair from his brush! Do you know there is a DaVinci there? I almost threw up.


8. The song "One Thing" by Finger Eleven. There's an association with it that I can't explain here, but hearing it prompts an involuntary tearful response.

So...what about your Teary Tendency? What sort of odd things get your waterworks working?

Monday, September 01, 2008

I Know Hillary Clinton, I Supported Hillary Clinton, And You, Sarah Palin, Are No Hillary Clinton.




Forgive me if I'm a little late to the party on this one. And, you know, I wasn't even going to say anything at first, but I find that I just cannot let this go. It's too much.

The vice presidential selection of republican John McCain is an insult to women everywhere. Giving Alaska governor Sarah Palin the nod was an obvious play for disgruntled Hillary supporters, the number of whom has been grossly overstated by the media since Barack Obama snagged the nomination.

How ridiculous.

Let me just say this: I supported Hillary Clinton. Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton, and women Democrats everywhere will not be fooled.

Women, Mr. McCain, are not interchangeable. When Sarah Palin, your designee, stood beside you, she invoked the name of two other women--political pioneers--and who were they? Elizabeth Dole? No. Condoleezza Rice? No. Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, both Democrats. How will that play to your Conservative Christian NeoCon base? What was Mrs. Palin trying to say, Mr. McCain? Just exactly what party is she representing? How will that speech play at the RNC fundraisers or at the Convention? It won't. And the Family Values Voters are already cringing at the news that her unmarried 17-year old daughter is pregnant. (Let's all remember Governor Palin's vociferous denial of support for anything beyond abstinence-only programs in schools.)

Mr. McCain, I live in Ohio and I voted for Hillary Clinton. She stands for what I value and she has the fighting spirit I admire. Sarah Palin is in direct contrast with everything Hillary Clinton stands for, and therefore me as well: Sarah Palin would take away a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and the health of the mother; she is against stem cell research, she opposes the use of birth control pills and condoms, even among married couples; she supports the teaching of creationism in the classroom--already declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court...oops; she supports drilling in the ANWR and is against the polar bear being on the endangered species list, despite the fact that the government has already done it...oops; she supports No Child Left Behind. I'm not sure what else she stands for, and I'm not sure she does, either. Her speech was...well, let's say...'scant.' We do know that her husband is a super snowmobiler and that she fought to cut property taxes. Yay.

But I digress.

My point is this: if the McSame campaign thinks for one moment that Doing The Math is this:

1 WOMAN = 1 WOMAN

THEN THEY ARE WRONG.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Three Plus Some Other Stuff That Just Won't Sit Still And Behave



Hey, everyone! The Dept. is Three! And according to this article, now my blog is "full of energy and enthusiastic about living!" It is also "very curious about everything that goes on around" it. This third year is a year that will be filled with changes for my blog, say these experts. About halfway through the year, my blog "may suddenly become strong-willed and disagreeable. It may become emotionally insecure and anxious. It may also become very picky and hard-to-please. "

Wow.

Sounds like both my blog and I will be going through menopause, people! This is not going to be pretty. Holy crap.

In the meantime, I wanted to just get a few things off my mind since it's been such a long time since my last post. I'm way overdue, and so much is happening all over the place that I have to say something!

1. Physical therapy: Tedious, boring, horrid, silly-looking. Some days I cry and it's embarrassing. Some days I look around at what we all are doing and I think "This is what insane asylums back in 1934 looked like."

2. Joe Biden: How much do I love him? He's a good pick for Barack's VP, and he is just terrific. You just know that he'll come out gangbusters with that mouth and start firing off some great ones at McSame while the press chuckles and the republicans cringe. He is a pit bull and the Obama campaign needed someone with that earthy gravitas.

3. Olympics: Why did I have to see eleventy billion hours of beach volleyball and NO cool stuff like javelin, shotput, decathlon, shooting, hammer throw, or THE MEN'S BASKETBALL GOLD MEDAL GAME? Why is beach volleyball even an Olympic sport? And, does anyone really want to watch PEOPLE RUNNING A DISTANCE RACE? AT ALL? No.

4. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: I do not read fiction, as a rule. I read this book as the last book of my summer. It was gorgeous and moving. It was the author's first novel and if it is his only, it will either be a tragedy or it will be his one book a la To Kill a Mockingbird for Harper Lee. Go get it and read it. The writing is superb without being "writerly" in that it doesn't take away from the power and readability of the narrative. Beautiful, heartachingly sublime writing.

5. McSame's Bullshit: Hey, John, "my friend". Two things. Only a Rove-ian protege can commandeer your campaign and turn it into the disgusting crapfest it has become: painting the first black candidate as a high-class elitist country-club snob who wants to burden the middle class with higher taxes. Excuse me? You cannot remember the fact that you own seven homes. And when Jay Leno asked you about it in a joking manner, you fell back on being a POW and said, “I spent five-and-a-half years in a prison cell. I didn’t have a house. I didn’t have a kitchen table. I didn’t have a table. I didn’t have a chair." We get it already. You WERE a POW. WERE. And this is relevant now....because...how...? SHUT UP.

6. Gas Prices: Hey, the price of oil keeps dropping. Last time I checked, WE WEREN'T DOING ANY OFFSHORE DRILLING IN THE U.S. Is anyone noticing that? Do you think we're...oh, I don't know...finally catching on to this Conservation Thing? Sigh.

7. Meet the Press: Okay, I like Tom Brokaw, but he's not doing it for me here. He's just not. He's got a whole Sean Connery Mouth Full of Oatmeal thing going on there that I just don't like for the long haul, and I don't find him all that riveting. My heart is still searching. Rick says that Chuck Todd (aka The Professor from MSNBC) is The One, and that may be a possibility, but I have a major thing for David Gregory. But he's already got a full dance card at MSNBC and I don't see it happening.

8. Hillary: I love you, girl, but you gotta let go. It's time. The Party is paramount. We need to beat the republicans hard, and until you just stand up and say "It's time", some people just cannot let the last dog loose. Let it go. Just let it go.

9. School: Sigh. Where did summer go? Oh, I know. Doctor offices and therapy rooms. And I'm resentful and not Over It yet. I'm back, and it will be Okay. I am getting stronger each day, but it has been a meat grinder for me. But you know me: THEY will never ever know it.

All done. Joust away in Comments. I've missed everyone. I will try hard to get to your spots soon. But, remember, I'm three now, and I am "naturally self-centered." I believe "the world revolves around" me. But I am "beginning to understand that others have feelings and needs too." I'm trying hard to find energy and time for everything. Please be patient with me.

I'm only three!

Monday, August 18, 2008


...But just barely. Holy crap, what a ridiculous, screwy, confusing almost-week it's been. You know I won't get into a bunch of Medical Details, but I want to let you know what the deal is so that those of you who have been so kind and concerned are all squared away on Things. Plus, "My Condition", such as it is, will be informing my life for a bit of time to come here, and that will affect my posts here at the Dept.

Anyway.

Surgery did not quite go as planned. Once the doctor got the instruments into the four portals in my shoulder, he found that there was NOT a bigass tear in the rotator cuff. The MRI had provided a false read. It was, as I had known all along, my second case of adhesive capsulitis--this time in my other shoulder. The adhesions were horrible, and he birsed them all away and cleaned up the area. It was only after he did so that he was able to finally fully raise and rotate my arm. My "rise" from the anaesthesia and return home later that day was largely unremarkable--those of you who have had surgery know all about the labors of trying to sleep and the post-op discomforts, etc. That is nothing out of the ordinary. I had to keep my arm in a sling for two days.

After those two days, I went to physical therapy and the doctor and got all the tape and packing and the four small stitches taken off/out. The sling was taken away, and I was given the first round of physical therapy, and the doctor's blithe philosophy, which is: "It's going to be hell for the next 4-8 weeks. Intense. And I don't believe in pain meds. It's pretty much Aleve and suck it up."

Okay.

So let me tell you this: I don't "believe in pain meds" either. I had adhesive capsulitis before. And the pain is excruciating. I cannot describe it except to tell you that it is like knives at one time, then like insistent throbbing the next, then like someone taking a rope and wrenching your arm out of the socket when you least expect it. And this could all occur in the space of, say, two minutes. Over and over again twenty-four hours a day for months and months. Aleve does not even begin to do it. So, doc, don't give me your bullshit, okay? How about this instead: "I know you'll be in a lot of pain, and believe me, I'm sorry. But pain meds bring along a whole other set of problems and I'd rather not set you down that road. Let's be realistic together and agree that therapy will be painful, but it will be worth it."

Yikes.

Sorry. I'm being a bit negative. Sigh. Here's the thing. I'm not real sure the surgery was entirely necessary at this point. As I said, I've had this before, and I got through it without the surgery; it merely ran its course, and I had therapy at the end when it "thawed", when I was not in as much horrible pain. Now, I'm still in the terrible pain I was in before surgery, and I'm in pain from post-op, and I have the soreness and stiffness of working the joint and muscles that are slack from not being used. I don't get it.

I am very grateful that I didn't have the torn rotator cuff. That surgery is nasty to come back from. I'm grateful to be able to start school on time, but I feel so weak and tired and not 100%. I start in just a few days! It feels impossible. And I wonder how they (both my family doctor and the surgeon) could have been so wrong with the MRI. Last time, the other surgeon (this guy's brother, ironically!) looked at the MRI that had been read as a tear and immediately diagnosed adhesive capsulitis and that it was a false tear. No one really answered my questions adequately, and it's really just too late now. "It is what it is" and the best I can do is just do my therapy and get over this hump.

I want very much to be well. And soon.

This is sounding un-Nance-like. But we all have our Off Times. I am a firm believer in Wallowing When Necessary. I know many of you will want to suggest Drinking Overmuch as my Home Therapy. I have considered it and discarded it for now as Dangerous. I like Drinking as an Indulgence, as a Happy Thing or as a Rewarding Experience. Drinking now would seem like a Desperate Thing. Not good.

Ah, well. There it all is. But, I am back. And soon, the Rest of Me shall be as well. I don't often wallow long. But I do think I have reason.
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