Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Politics: Call for Change

Midterm elections are a week away, and here in Ohio (state political motto: we have no idea what we're doing, but we're doing it dirty!), we are what's known as a bellwether state or a battleground state, depending upon how elegant your English is.

The good news is, even the Republican National Committee has given up on the Senate seat, but the Congressional races are tight. There is a Rove-ian stink in all the television ads as mud, garbage, slander, and carcasses of dead integrity are flung by candidates at each other. My mailbox is stuffed with as many as ten pieces of "campaign literature"--literature? oh, that it was!--per day. I am sick to death of what politics has become in the past 6 years, especially in this state with its nonstop diet of scandals, corruption, and governmental abuse. Sadly, it is nothing more than a candid mirror of its enablers in Washington.

Thankfully, there is a low, menacing rumble of true and angry discontent, even in the most pastoral reaches of the heartland. This red state is slowly and steadily, with fists raised, turning and embracing a new, blue ideology.

A few may be uneasy and need encouragement to commit. Not just in Ohio, but in other key states with pivotal seats. You can help.

MoveOn.org has devised a truly simple and effective method called Call for Change that only takes an hour or two of your time. A small price to pay for true change in direction, away from the crooked path this administration has forced our feet to tread. Please click the icon below to find out more. It's so important. Just get the information and decide if you can help us.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Breaking the Block

I have a confession. The gap between postings here at The Dept. isn't mainly a time issue. Yes, it's true that I'm a busy highschool English teacher with a load of over 120 students, of which 23 are Creative Writing I kids who write every other day. And that I am the adviser and editor of the literary magazine. And that I also teach honors-level classes. (please feel pity or suitably impressed here, your choice)

No, the larger reason for the drought between entries is much simpler and more embarrassing. The plain, unembroidered truth is that sometimes, I just don't have anything clever or worthy to share with you, so I wait until I do.

I am a victim of Blogger's Block.

When I first started up this enterprise, I promised myself that The Dept. wouldn't ever degenerate into rants about my husband/family, or pleas for sympathy about a health problem, or simply consist of endless boring memes, or merely be links to someone else's blog/articles on another site. I mean, this is the Dept. of Nance. Duh. I've always had a habit of making things harder on myself as it is. That's something my mother always told me; one of the few things of hers I actually tell my own children. Wait. Now there's a blogpost:

Things My Mother Told Me That I Also Tell My Own Children

1. Do you see how you are?

2. Don't eat that now; you'll spoil your dinner.

3. The skin of the potato is the best part.

4. Have an apple.

But really, that's all I can think of. I'm not really that much like my mother. I'm more like my father, actually, but not so much in the things that he said. More in a philosophical way. So, I guess a better list would be:

Things I Have Said To My Children That My Mother Would Never Have Said

1. Okay, go ahead and fight, but if the loser goes to the Emergency Room, then the winner goes to jail.

2. Honey, go make Mommy a nice Cosmopolitan, up.

3. Boys, I hope you both know that if either of you even thinks of marrying a Republican, you are so out of the will that your heads will spin.

4. Oh it's fine; a little dirt won't kill you.

5. Call Daddy on the cell and if he sounds funny, offer to go and pick him up. We can get his car in the morning.

6. Let's see if the top of the pepper grinder can fit up Sam's nostril.

Now before you all think that my family are a bunch of drunken, brawling Democrats who live in a mudhole, let me tell you that, aside from our political affiliation, nothing could be further from the truth. Honestly, and I'm sure that someone who knows us will vindicate me in the comments. We are just fun people. Who vote Democrat. And teach our children how to make martinis at an early age. For US. And who have fun at the dinner table. Sigh. Never mind. Which reminds me of another bloggable:

My children swear that, at one point, I threw a baked potato at the dinner table at one of them. I have no memory of this incident. None. This Potato Incident, as it will be called, supposedly occurred as a lark, a fun thing, not a retributive act. I maintain that this is yet one more entry for my Journal of Wrongs--a small book I keep at home of all the bad things my family have done to me--in the chapter entitled "Taking Advantage of Mom's Bad Memory", or "Gaslighting Mommy." You see, for about two years, I had a slight memory deficiency--an actual medical condition--which was troublesome for me but entertaining for everyone else. I would have to take the boys to the mall with me to help me find my car at the end of shopping, etc. Well, eventually, they'd use it against me. Rick, craving macaroni salad, convinced me that I had promised to make it for dinner one evening--had I forgotten? Apologetically, I made it. Come on, Mom, we have to go! Where? I asked. You promised to take me to the mall, remember? No, but okay, I would say, ruefully. They scammed me unmercifully until I finally caught on. To this day when one of them threatens to loft something at someone during dinner, one of them invariably says, "Remember when Mom threw the baked potato?!" I draw myself up in my dignity and say haughtily, "I never threw a potato at anyone. You are a bunch of filthy liars." (Hmmm. I should make that #7 on the above list.)

Oh. Macaroni salad. Here's my last blogbit. Once, I was invited to a bridal shower for an in-law, now an ex-in-law, and I was supposed to bring a dish. I didn't like this woman, I didn't want to go to the shower, and I didn't want to actually make anything. So, I literally put a big dish in my car, a few cherry tomatoes, and a knife. On the way to the shower I stopped at a convenience store and bought a couple pounds of macaroni salad. I sat in the car and dumped it into the big dish, cut the cherry tomatoes into little flower thingys, garnished it, and drove to the shower. A few women actually got really excited about the macaroni salad I brought. They asked me for the recipe. SO I MADE ONE UP AND GAVE IT TO THEM! So there.

Does that mean I can't go to heaven now?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Dumping the Contents of My Head

From time to time, I have to drain off some of the more inexplicable thought nerfuls that keep rattling around in my head. I have no idea why these things keep occurring to me; they stick around like little velcro brain hamsters. Now they can take up residence in your mental Habitrails.

1. Every single Brandon I know is a screw-up or a brat on his way to being a screw-up. I've been keeping tabs on this for about 4 years now, and I've yet to meet a Brandon or have one in class that is the exception to this rule. If there are any Moms out there who are contemplating this name for a future son, I'm telling you right now, don't do it. Don't saddle your kid with this name. He will turn out to be a major pain in the ass. Or worse.

2. Every Crystal I know is ditsy. All adult Crystals I know are involved in the cosmetology field in one way or the other as well. Not that there is anything wrong with that. ( My stylist is not named Crystal, and she is not ditsy, for the record. Her name is Nancy.) And that includes all the ridiculous variant spellings of this name, too: Krystle, Chrystal, Christal, Krysstle, Khristall, etc. When I think of the name Crystal, I automatically know she will have stripey highlights, fake fingernails, and call people (including her mother) "hon."

3. I went to Old Navy with my son to shop for jeans. On the door it said "Join the fun. We're hiring!" No one at Old Navy looks like they are having fun. I don't blame them. They spend their whole shift folding clothes, hanging up clothes, organizing things, sorting things, and telling people where to find things or helping people to find things. In short, they spend their whole shift being someone's MOM. But hey, at least they're getting paid for it.

4. If Halloween is such a bigass holiday, then why no Halloween songs? Personally, I hate this holiday. When I was a kid, I loved it. I loved dressing up and going trick-or-treating and getting a ton of candy. But now, it's out of control. Houses around me take this holiday to a new level. A full-fledged graveyard is in the front of one house on the corner as a body hangs from the tree and a witch greets visitors to the front door. Another house is totally covered (both stories!) with enormous spiders whose webs drape over the eaves and bushes. Skeletons, hanging corpses, bloodied bodies, tombstones--are these really "decorations?" I bet these people are a real hoot at funerals. I am seriously confused as to what we are "celebrating". What, really, are these people doing? I find the whole thing distasteful. Why can't this just be a kid holiday? Do adults have to co-opt it because they can't grow up just yet? Geeze!

5. No time for Halloween grousing, though. Christmas stuff is already in the stores! There will be no Thanksgiving this year! Sorry, but we just can't fit it in. No marketing value.

6. Whatever happened to Mallow-Cups? They used to be sold right next to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. They were wonderful. The marshmallow was sticky and there was just a teensy bit of crunchy coconut on the top. Mmmmmm. I love those and they are NOWHERE. And I find that marshmallows, in general, are vastly underused in the confectionery world. And that the word marshmallow is vastly misspelled I'd say a good 85-90% of the time. Oh, and that "Reese's" is vastly mispronounced a good 60% of the time. It is to be pronounced to rhyme with "pieces" not "pee-sees". Sigh.

7. I worry because I do not take photos. Everyone I know takes photos; some of them do it almost every day! They have photos of every single birthday for all of their children, even past elementary school. They have photos of every first day of school for comparison. They document every vacation, every pet, every first of every event. All new cars are photographed, as are gardens, so favorite plants can be placed in the same plots. They have cute candids, family portraits that they did themselves, and photos of astonishing scenery or ironic signs because they carry their cameras in their cars! I am lucky to have my umbrella in my car. Or a CD that I like. And do not get me started about scrapbookers.

8. I have given up on the show "Heroes." Too many characters. Too many places where the script had to do gymnastics with the normal plot events. I wanted to like it. Oh well.

9. Last weekend, a gay guy could not take his eyes off my husband. It was blatant and it was unabashed. (And well-deserved. Rick was nicely dressed and looked lovely.) I could tell that he was flattered and proud that he still "had it" whether it was appreciated by a member of the opposite sex or the same. The guy was only about 25.

10. I had no overtly educational kid tv when I was growing up; at least, nothing like Sesame Street, Barney, or Reading Rainbow. The shows I remember best are Captain Kangaroo, The Jonathan Winters Show, and Lost in Space.

Okay, so! I feel better! Must mean I'm done.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Regardless of What He Thinks It Is, He Sucks at His Job

His handlers should remind The Angel of Death that this is the oath he took:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Men Are from Mars and Women Are...Jealous

There was a box of filled doughnuts on the table in the lounge today. Every guy who walked in said, "Hey, allright! Doughnuts!" Every woman who walked in said, "Oh no! Who put that in here?!" or something rueful like that. The women walked up, peeked in, and then began with the Great Debate.

Should I be good or should I be bad? Can I "afford" a doughnut today? If I eat this now, I'll have to do an extra two laps at the gym; is it worth it? Should I eat my healthy snack I brought or should I just say what the hell and have a doughnut?

As one of the female teachers was debating, a guy swooped in and grabbed a cream-filled doughnut with great relish and took a huge cream-gushing bite. She looked at him enviously.
"Why can't I just be a guy?" she said, almost hatefully. "They don't even have to worry about it. If I was a guy, I would never have to even think about it. I don't think guys even have to worry about gaining or losing weight. If I was a guy, I sure wouldn't. I mean, why would I? It doesn't matter."

"Curt can lose 10 pounds just by laying off the beer," I said, unhelpfully, relating a true story about a male colleague in the math department. "That's why he wins the Lose-A-Thon every year. He signs up to lose 10 pounds, and he does it, just by cutting off the beer."

"That just sucks," Dawn replied, digging into the fridge for her pear. "This had better be one helluva pear is all I'm gonna say."

As I put the lid on the doughnut box, I recalled a moment with my husband a few years back. He had just quit construction and become a "desk jockey" due to severe back problems. As a result, he had started to gain some weight. We were standing in front of his dresser as he struggled a bit with the button on his jeans.

"Wow! I'm gaining weight! I'm getting fat!" he said, grasping his stomach with both hands and pretending to jiggle it. "You know what that means!"

I stood there, wondering which tack to take. Did this call for a wifely disavowal: Oh no, honey, you're not, really...? Or perhaps tough love: You sure are! Now drop and give me twenty! Or how about sympathy: You're not fat so much as you are just a little overweight. But it's okay.
My head was filled with what IT meant if IT were my problem: dieting, deprivation, sucking in my stomach, hitting the treadmill every night, drinking water constantly...that's it! I'd offer my expert advice! If anyone knew how to lose weight, which had been my principal activity for the first 43 years of my life, it was ME!

"I sure do, " I said. "I---"

"Time to buy bigger pants!!!" he said heartily.
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