A New Year Beckons

A year or so I wrote out my resolution for 2005, which was to make my house neater. Alas, I failed miserably at that resolution. I should have resolved to get an A in math, but last January I hadn't even worked up the courage to take the placement test, let alone sign up for the class. The class in which I got an A, in case you didn't know.

I still like making resolutions, though. I love the possibility of a fresh start, even if I don't always take advantage of it. So here are my resolutions for 2006.

I resolve to lose weight. It's a cliche resolution, but since 2003, I've lost 50 lbs or so, and in the past month, I've gained back 15. I must reverse that trend.

I resolve to get rid of things we don't use. I believe that I get so overwhelmed when I attempt to organize because I have so much crap that I don't need.

I resolve to spend more time with my kids. 2006 will be the last year we are all together, and I want to make it a special one.

Like many things in my life, I feel like my blog has lost focus. I have to think a little bit more about what direction I will go in. We still have 3 more years of Bush (unless saner heads prevail and we impeach the bastard and his bastardly administration), and I'm sure further outrages to withstand. I will come back to this item after more thought.

If I don't talk to you (here or elsewhere) before then, please have a happy and safe New Year's Eve. The maurinsky family will be poolside, with certain members possibly imbibing a few girly drinks to ease in that extra second.



Course: 30259 MAT* B075 H Prealgebra - Nmbr Sense, Geom
Campus: Main Student Body (CR & NonCR)
Grade: A

Yes, that's right, I got an A!!!!!!!!! I cannot believe it, I must have done well on the final exam.

I have never, in my entire life, gotten an A in a math class. Yes, it's remedial pre-Algebra, but I flunked pre-algebra when I took it in high school (that was the year I went to summer school...good times, actually.)

Okay, now I must celebrate.

Holiday: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Good:

my father hasn't had a drink since before Thanksgiving
the kids are thrilled with their presents
my mother accepted a gift!!!!
my brother seems to have taken to fatherhood like a fish to water
my new niece is a doll
*on the ride home from the midnight service, I laughed harder than I have in years

The Bad:

no sleep
Loki is depressed about working on Christmas
Loki's family was cranky because even though we told them not to wait for us, they did, and we didn't get there till 4pm.
Sio loved her gift, but we have to go get another part for it to work
Monkey got $80 of gift certificates to Libby Lu, a store that I loathe

The Ugly:

Me, after no sleep
my dining room after being used as the gift wrapping center
Loki's mood - he is wallowing in his negative feelings
this version of 'O Holy Night' - although it did provide me with *huge laughs.


Seven things

From Sis:

Seven Things To Do Before I Die:

1. visit every continent
2. learn another language
3. be in a movie
4. publish a novel
5. be a great-grandmother (I plan to be very old)
6. have sex with someone other than Loki (just to see what it's like)
7. pass math (my grades haven't been posted yet)

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

1. Sit cross legged
2. remember to charge my cell phone
3. jump into the pool feet first
4. run
5. have voluntary surgery (no such thing in my world)
6. get a tattoo
7. get a tan

Seven Things That Attract Me to...Blogging

1. writing
2. swearing in front of my children without them hearing
3. lots to read
4. makes me feel less lonely
5. makes me more aware of what's happening in the world
6. helps me sharpen my debating skills
7. gives me stuff to think about

Seven Things I Say Most Often

1. "Monkey!" (only with her real name)
2. "Sio!" (only with her real name)
3. "Cugel!" (the dog)
4. "well," (I'd like to get rid of that one)
5. "you know,"
6. "hey" (it's an all-purpose word)
7. "shit"

Seven Books That I Love

1. A Prayer for Owen Meaney
2. The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
3. Still Life With Woodpecker
4. Good Omens
5. Christopher Durang Explains It All For You
6. To Kill A Mockingbird
7. Edgar Allen Poe short stories

Seven Movies That I Watch Over and Over Again

1. Serenity
2. Galaxy Quest
3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
4. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
5. High Fidelity
6. Amelie
7. Toy Story

Seven People I Want To Join In Too

Anyone who wants to

17 years ago

(Before I start, have you ever written an entire, brilliant post, only to accidentally delete it? Remember how perfect the deleted post was? That happened to this one, so remember, this is an inferior copy.)

I woke up, ran to the bathroom, and threw up. Morning sickness. Except I had morning, noon, and night sickness. I went to J.C. Penney, which was the closest store, and I picked out an off-white dress from the clearance rack. I think I spent $24.

I got home, took a bath in the chilly bathroom (no shower), and got dressed. Loki got out of the twin bed we shared (we were in loooovvve! who needed more than a twin?) and got dressed in his best suit.

There was ice and snow on the ground from a a storm, so we drove as quickly as we could without risking our lives. We were late, of course.

The wedding was held at a bar in Durham, CT; Loki's hometown. Our guest list was small: Loki, me, the Justice of the Peace, Loki's father, aunt, grandmother, sister and brother-in-law. I had only met them that summer, and got the distinct impression that they all thought I was going to ruin Loki's life. And I loathed his BIL, who, upon hearing that we were getting married, asked us (loudly) when the baby was due.

We weren't planning to keep the baby at that point, so I had no intention of telling anyone other than Loki that I was pregnant.

I've been to a lot of weddings. The bride and groom always seem nervous, but touched with a giddy excitement as well; Loki and are nervous, but touched with abject terror as well. The one thought that keeps running through my head is not that I'll mess up the vows or faint, but that I am quite possibly making the worst mistake of my life.

I don't remember the particulars. We said our vows, and Loki's dad bought lunch for everyone. I had chicken, which I threw up before we even left the restaurant. Loki and I went back to our apartment to change clothes and pick up the cake. I worked at a restaurant, and the guy we bought cakes from had heard I was getting married and made me a beautiful, one tier hazelnut cake, which turned out to be delicious, which made the cake the best part of the wedding.

We went over to Loki's dad's house for Christmas Eve, and I just about fell over when I saw the presents under the tree - there were so many, we practically couldn't get in the living room. We watched a video of the wedding - yep, the terror in my eyes was captured on tape. Loki and I looked at other, our expressions saying "we'll be taping over this one as soon as possible."

That was our wedding. It had all the hallmarks of disaster - a teenage, pregnant bride (I was 19); neither bride nor groom had a college degree (although Loki now has a BA in English); we had very little money, and very few prospects.

And yet. Somehow, here we are, still mostly happy. He drives me crazy sometimes, because he's never on time for anything, he gets speeding tickets practically every other month, he sometimes starts talking and doesn't stop for literally hours (one time, I made the mistake of asking him what happened on an episode of Star Trek: TNG. It took him longer to tell me what happened than the episode lasted, nearly two hours). He works at night and doesn't get enough sleep, which makes him crabby.

And I'm no picnic. I'm a slob, I have a foul temper, and I'm the worst back-seat driver ever. I spend too much time on the computer, I watch too much TV, I don't always stay on top of everything that's going on.

And yet. We have two beautiful daughters, we have a nice home (even if it is a little sloppy). He makes me laugh, I make him laugh; we like the same movies, we share the same values and political leanings. I don't believe in any of that soulmate crap; I'm sure Loki is just one of the people I could have ended up with happily, but I'm glad that we found each other.

Happy anniversary, Loki.


Poor me

I probably shouldn't post anything today, because I'm feeling sorry for myself. Loki has to work Christmas Eve, which is also our 17th anniversary, so he won't be home. He has to work New Year's Eve, too. I've been feeling kind of lonely, just because the holiday makes me think about all the people who I haven't kept in touch with (because I suck), many of whom I miss terribly. My older sister and my younger sister are having competing brunches, and the older one is angry that the younger one is encroaching on her holiday tradition (the younger one is oblivious to said holiday tradition, because the older one never invited us to her brunch). So Christmas morning, we'll be driving all over the place to make an appearance at ever Christmas.

And I still have presents to wrap. And of course, all of these are trivial complaints compared to so many people, that I feel guilty for the self-pity. Loki won't be home, but he's not in Iraq. I have to drive all over the place, but I have lots of places to drive to, and there are plenty of people who don't have anyplace to go, including their own home.


Five things about me

Stolen from the Tart.

1. I learned how to read before I turned 3.
2. I am the shortest person in my family (5'2") and at size 9, I have the smallest feet in my family, too. (Not counting Monkey).
3. When I was seven or eight years old, I was at my father's Irish club (a bar), and I sat on a set of dentures that someone had lost in their bar seat; the guy was so happy to get them back, he paid me $80, but my father used it for beer money.
4. I've never lived by myself.
5. When I was a senior in high school, I declared myself a lesbian, because at the time, I was madly in love with a woman, but I knew Loki was the guy for me the first time I saw him.

Nobody puts Dubya in the corner!

Driftglass slays me. True, his artistically enhanced Dubya is way more articulate that the real life version, but I'm all for artistic license when it's funny.


My head hurts

I think I popped a blood vessel in my brain, holding in my rage about the cowards who are defending George Bush's illegal domestic spying. And then I didn't help the situation any by reading about the strike in NYC. I know my friend The Fixer is against it, but I've gotta have solidarity, because anytime the worker is against the man, I'm going to side with the worker, who is invariably the one getting shafted. When other working class people take the side of the man, the man is one happy motherfucker, because there is nothing better than getting all the people you are screwing to fight against each other.

The workers in question get paid more than me, and get better benefits than me, and they can retire at 55. But I will defend them, because the amount of money the NYC economy is losing because of the strike can be correlated with the amount of value they get from these workers, who work in unpleasant and unhealthy conditions to keep the city moving.


Thanks, everyone

I finished my test early, went over it three times with the calculator, and now I'm home. I think I did okay. I started to panic when I wasn't sure how to figure out the first two questions, but I just skipped over them and went on to things I did know, and I figured out how to solve the first two after getting into the groove a little bit.

I think I can trace my mathphobia back to second grade. We had a subtraction worksheet, and I breezed through it. The teacher went around the room, having each student answer a question. I figured out which problem would be mine, so I would be sure to answer quickly (I was a huge dork in elementary school, major suck up teacher's pet type - although it was always sincere - I adored my teachers. You would have hated me, most likely).

So the teacher, Mrs. Johannsen, got to me, and I answered confidently. And she said "That's incorrect, Mr. Snider, can you answer the question?" And I stood up and told her that *she* must have the wrong answer, because it was not possible for *me* to be wrong. And then, the horrible, sinking, puking feeling that descended on me as I redid the problem and realized I was wrong. That was a horrible moment. Thus, my fear of math was born.

I've made a lot of progress on the subject of being wrong. I can say it with ease, which is good, because with the freaking brainiacs I live with, I have to say it more frequently than I would like.

Good vibes, good thoughts, prayers, sacrifice a goat...

If you could offer any of the above for me, I would appreciate it. Between 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. EST, I will be taking my math final exam. I did spend some time studying this weekend, but believe me, I need all the help I can get.


I'm a man, baby

You scored 53 masculinity and 46 femininity!
You scored high on masculinity and low on femininity. You have a traditionally masculine personality.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 28% on masculinity

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 13% on femininity
Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Other ways I'm like a man: I hate asking for directions, I have to hold the remote control, and I'd rather have a frontal lobotomy than watch Lifetime.

P.S. I apologize for the Austin Powers reference. It won't happen again.

Overdue addition to the blogroll

Adventures of the Smart Patrol

I don't know why that's taken me so long.


Cowards and Scoundrels

I've had a busy couple of days, but I just spent about an hour and a half tooling around the blogosphere, reading all about Bush's spying eyes.

What really got me feeling riled up was heading over to Pam's House Blend, where she somehow manages to survive Freeperland to dig up their response to the belated revelation made by the New York Times.

Is there anything more cowardly than being a Freeper? Everything they stand for grows out of their fear - fear of the other, fear of change, fear of loss, fear of pain, fear of looking bad, fear of embarassment - I'm amazed any of them leave their houses everyday. I'm not surprised they like guns, because when you're as scared as they are, every other person out there must seem like a threat. And I'm not surprised they support scoundrels like George W. Bush, because they'd rather have a strongman dictatorship than a democracy, and we know that Bush, who is both a scoundrel and a coward, loves the idea of a dictatorship. As long as he gets to be the dictator.

They don't even understand what makes America great, for all their flag waving. If they were standing in front of Solomon, they'd be the mother who would be okay with cutting the baby in half, as long as they get what's their's. "Break the laws, Mr. Bush?" they'd say, "rip that Constitution in half? Okay with us, as long as we feel safer!"

Cowards and scoundrels, the lot of them, as well as the politicians they support.


Our Sis is hitting the big time

Check it out:
OUT OF TOWN....I'll be on vacation for the next few days, but I've roped in a couple of wonderful guest bloggers to handle the site while I'm gone: Hilzoy from Obsidian Wings and Shakespeare's Sister from her eponymous blog.

That's from Kevin Drum. I can't wait to see how the trolls react to someone who isn't as moderate or accommodating as they are accustomed to at Political Animal.

A teenage rite of passage

Sio is not a typical teenager. She is friendly and smiles and says hello to everyone, she helps out around the house without being asked, she manages a serious academic workload while participating in tons of afterschool activities, and she never gives me the thing that some people describe as "lip" or "sass" (I say some people because those are not words I can use in the way they are supposed to be used - let's just say that she doesn't have a bad attitude or a rebellious nature.)

But now she's hit a teenage rite of passage. Not driving a car (because we can't afford to add a teenager, even an honor student, to our insurance). Not staying out after curfew, because she doesn't have a curfew (more inappropriate mothering, I'm sure, but she's a responsible kid and she's never stayed out as late as I did when I snuck out of the house as a teenager). Not smoking or drinking or having sex.

No, she is (along with several friends) starting a band. They have their first rehearsal after school tomorrow.


The inappropriate mother

When Sio was about 4 years old, (which made me a mere 23)I was cast in a production of Hair at the Hole In The Wall Theater in New Britain, CT. I had quite a few solos in the production, including the lead on both Aquarius and Black Boys. I practiced around the house, and that's why Sio went to pre-school and taught the other kids how to sing "Black boys are delicious, chocolate flavored love! Lips like licorice candy, keep my cocoa handy, I have such a sweet tooth when it comes to love."

I was definitely an inappropriate mother. I wasn't totally irresponsible - we never listened to Sodomy, and she couldn't keep track of all the letters in LBJ, so she never put together the L-S-D lyric. And although she came to rehearsal with me, she never saw the nude scene (although I did, in fact, participate in the nude scene, which is why I can say that nearly 2000 complete strangers have seen me buck naked.)

I was older and more mature when I had Monkey. I gave up the theater because Monkey was such a demanding baby - unlike Sio, who would sit and color for hours, Monkey demands that I devote all my attention to her!

But I have lapsed a little, just a smidge, into inappropriateness. For her bedtime story for the past few nights, I've been reading Monkey chapters of David Sedaris books. Tonight, we read Six To Eight Black Men from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, since it's Christmassy. Tomorrow, I'll probably pull out the Santaland Diaries, and maybe this will be our new family tradition.

Oh, yeah, that will help

No one is going to get peace in the Middle East for Hanukkah this year.


One down

I drank 36 oz. of water before 9am this morning, another 36 before noon, and another 36 by 5 p.m.

But the church was really dry tonight, so I planned to keep a bottle of water with me during the concert. Except that I left my water in the choir loft, and I sat in my seat, each song bringing me closer to my solo, each moment my mouth getting more and more dry.

I was not pleased with how my solo went. This self-loathing thing is hard to get over. We had a bunch of guest singers, and I felt like they were mocking me when they congratulated me on doing a good job...that can't be normal, can it?

Anyway, the audience ate it up with a spoon, and several people specifically came over to tell me how wonderful I was. One woman told me it was the highlight of the concert. That's nice to hear.

Tomorrow night I get to be in the audience, so that will be a nice change.


My week in music

Since I spent most of my day either singing or listening to music, I thought I would share another link, to a local band called Farewell to Arms. The keyboardist is a friend/acquaintance*, and they will be touring in January, so do check them out. I've only heard this one song thus far, but I keep coming back to it, and I am going to buy their CDs after the holiday season, when I cash all my choir checks. .

I spent most of my day at two Roundtable concerts, which means a concert performed by the Roundtable Singers of Manchester High School. They are an excellent ensemble, and Sio sings in the alto section. The first concert was at the Manchester Historical Society, which was not the greatest space for music, particularly with the very loud heating system that kept going on and off, and limited space.

The second space was divine - the 50 or so voice chorus sounded like 500 voices in the sanctuary of the First Congregational Church of Vernon.

Tomorrow night is the dress rehearsal for the South Church Christmas Concert. I met with the director and the bass player on Saturday to practice my solo. I was not terribly warmed up, the sanctuary was freezing cold, and I held back a little. The director was pleased with my pitch, but asked me if I could be "more black". I did not ask her to define what that means.

Tuesday night I have a dress rehearsal for my Madrigal choir concert, which I will be leaving early to head to the South Church concert. Fingers crossed that I am sufficiently black for my solo.

Wednesday night, Sio has another concert, this time with the Chorale, the school's female chorus, and several other vocal and instrumental ensembles. Thursday night is our regular choir night, but we'll probably be off, since next week's service is the children's Christmas pageant. That means that Saturday morning, I have to bring Monkey to church at 10am so she can practice her solo.

Friday night is my madrigal choir concert. I'm not in love with anything we're singing, and we certainly have some weaknesses as an ensemble, but I love singing madrigals, so I'm planning to have a good time.

To recap: check out the link, buy the CD, and join me in wishing my voice holds out, that the frequent handwashing will keep me from getting sick, and that my freaking allergies go back into hiding.

*I'm a New Englander, it's hard to make friends.


The Big One

In addition to my constant musical companions Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright, another musical artist I love deeply is Nellie McKay. Her debut album, Get Away From Me, was incredibly inventive, with genre hopping songs (disco, torch song, rap, etc.) that were piano driven. I picked up her first CD after reading a review of a show, where mention was made of two things that piqued my interest: that she was very funny and politically progressive.

I was hooked after listening to the first three songs - I had the CD for about 2 months before I listened beyond that point. On the basis of the first three songs, I bought a copy of the CD for my older sister, who I knew would love it. She called me later that week and told me "I love her. She's a headcase, but I think that's why I love her."

Nellie's second CD is coming out in January, but you can preview one of her songs, The Big One, about a tenant's right activist, at Nellie's website. If you don't like it at first, give it a little time and listen again - it's unusual sounding, certainly, that Doris Day voice with a hip-hoppish accompaniment, but there's something good there.

I can live without Wal-Mart and Target

But lord help me if I can't get my medium regular at Dunkin' Donuts.


Yes, that's my head in the sand

There is so much crap going on right now, that I hardly know where to begin. The U.S. is torturing people. Ford Motor Company has decided to embrace the religious right. The military is lying to the families of dead soldiers*. A deal was reached to extend the Patriot Act. The most retarded "War On..." something reaches new levels of stupidity with each passing day.

So I'm going to talk about food and Project Runway.

We had two Thanksgivings this year, one with my FIL, where we had a 14 lb bird, and one with my sister, where we had an 18 lb. bird. Since there we didn't make a bird, we only got limited leftovers. So I went out and bought a turkey last weekend. The store only had 4 birds left, and they were all 25 lbs. So I bought a 25 lb. turkey for the 4 people in my family. That's 6.25 lbs of turkey for each of us. It's worked out brilliantly so far - I've made turkey quesadillas, turkey pot pie (instead of using a pie crust, I used a popover recipe - really enjoyable), and a casserole with mashed potatoes, peas and corn, turkey, gravy and stuffing. I think I'm going to make Turkey pie a la Shepherd's pie tonight. For lunch today, I had some of the leftover casserole, and the turkey just tastes better with each passing day.

Project Runway:
I don't know exactly how come I started watching this last season, but I got hooked, and it looks like Season 2 will be just as good. The designers I took a shine to after watching the audition videos (Emmett, Raymundo, Daniel Vosovic) haven't really shone very much - yet - and the judges get input from Bravo before they announce winners, which means sucky designers (like last year's Wendy Pepper) get to stay around simply for the drama, not because of talent; and so far, the best designer also happens to be a massive dick. Still, as someone who is fashion impaired, I am always amazed at the designs the people come up with. (I'm also grammatically impaired, apparently).

*hat tip Shakespeare's Sister


You've got to be fucking kidding me.

I accidentally turned on the radio on my way to school this evening, and I heard the most hilarious joke on NPR. Apparently, Al-Jazeera aired a video of an American who has been taken hostage. The comedian telling the story on NPR said that George Bush said we do not pay for hostages, and that we would use our intelligence gathering to determine the location where the hostage is being held.

Couldn't you die from laughing? I mean, after the whole WMD thing, surely it had to be a joke. Right? Right?


"We, of course, don't pay ransom for any hostages," Mr. Bush said.

"What we will do, of course, is use our intelligence-gathering to see if we can't help locate them," Mr. Bush said.

I'm sure the family of Ronald Schultz must be feeling very optimistic about the outcome of this situation.


More Math Success

Tonight in class, our teacher handed back all the homework assignments we handed in over the course of the semester.

My heart did backflips as I collected my assignments. 100%. 100%. 100%. 100%.

I'm really pleased, because I did all the math myself and only used the calculator to doublecheck my answers and help me figure out any mistakes I made.

I'm starting to feel a little bit of confidence, now. I did a practice exam this weekend and my main weakness is fractions, followed by ratios and percentages.

In addition, I am positively giddy because I have only one more math class before my exam. I'm supposed to have two more madrigal classes, but we're expecting snow tonight, so I'll have to wait and see if the snow falls and if school gets cancelled.


Jesus Joy!

Over in the comments thread for this post, and commenter rayceeya wrote:

I went to that way of th master site and found I'm directly guilty of breaking nine out of ten commandments. I guess I'm going to hell anyway.

which reminded me of a conversation Monkey and I had today. We had a candidate for Senior Minister preaching today, and he said that if you tell one lie, you're a liar. If you ever take something that doesn't belong to you, you're a thief; if you have ever taken the Lord's name in vain (and he told us he knew we did since we are in Red Sox territory), then you are a blasphemer.

At lunch, Monkey and I were joking around, and I told her she was a liar, a thief and a blasphemer. She replied "Hey, I'm not a thief!" Oh, she makes me laugh.

Monkey is a firm believer in Jesus Christ as her Savior, and in God in general, which makes her the only non-heretic(k) in the house. She hasn't been going to church, though, because of two unpleasant things happening at the same time: 1. They stopped funding the Children's Music program; and 2. She witnessed a minister from a different church that rents space from South Church slap a girl in the face. She reported the guy, and the group is no longer at the church, but I don't think he ever faced any criminal charges (he's a real smooth talker, this fellow. Slick as a willy).

Anyway, the Director of Children's Education kept calling and asking Monkey to come back, and they finally swayed her by reminding her that the Christmas pageant is coming up. The girl loves a pageant. So she came back to church this week, and she was welcomed like the prodigal son, and she even got a solo in the pageant (she is really a terrific singer).

At South Church, they do an Intergenerational message, where they call the kids forward and do a sermon just for them. Rev. Heretic used to open with a series of knock-knock jokes, one of the many reasons I miss him every Sunday. Today, the person who was supposed to do the sermon didn't make it to church, so this really annoying member who sticks her nose into absolutely everything wrote up a sermon for one of the choir members to read.

This was during our rehearsal, in the morning before the service starts. The choir member who was drafted to deliver the Intergenerational Message came up to the choir loft, and she relayed that annoying member wanted her to say the following:

You know that excited feeling you get when someone opens a special present you made for them? I like to call that "Jesus Joy!"

Oh. my. fucking. god. I had tears pouring out of my eyes I was laughing so hard. I could never be a Christian, because I could never believe myself if those words came out of my mouth. My inner cynic would be rolling her eyes, telling me I was full of shit.

Anyway, the phrase Jesus Joy has already, in less than 24 hours, become a catch phrase in our house. I made a nice dinner today, and John told me that eating it filled him with Jesus Joy. We rented Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sio declared that Johnny Depp must have been filled with Jesus Joy to pull off that performance.

I hope it goes away soon, because it's starting to lose the ability to make me laugh.


5 true stories and 1 explanation for why they will continue to be told

R. was 13 years old. Her father had abandoned her and her mother, so she would come home to the empty apartment after school. It was an older guy who lived in the apartment complex who did it. He was probably in his early 30's. She never reported him, because she felt like she had done something wrong, maybe even flirted with him a little bit. Since her virginity was gone, she decided she was going to have sex with whomever and whenever she wanted. She even worked in a brothel.

T. had an ideal upbringing - two parents who loved her and treated her with respect. She was innocent and naive, and a devout Catholic. It was her boyfriend who did it. She believed in waiting until marriage, and firmly but lovingly said no. But he did it anyway. She never reported him, because she was so ashamed that she would not enter into her marriage as a virgin. She felt tainted, and would not have another relationship until she was in her late 30s.

K. was a quiet child in a loud, boisterous family. She was painfully shy and would hardly talk to anyone. It was her father who did it. She never reported him, because who would believe her? How could she even say the words when she couldn't say simple ones, like "Hello". She got married in her early 20s, because that's what she was supposed to do, and she had children, but she could never hug her children or tell them she loved them.

K2 was kind of a wild kid. She liked going out drinking and having sex with her boyfriends, she even had a one night stands from time to time. It was a friend of her brothers who did it. She never reported him because she figured she shouldn't have had those drinks, so she just got what she deserved.

L. was 14 years old. Her father had passed away recently, and she was a mess. It was her boyfriend who did it. She never reported him, because she knew he had bragged about it at school, and she didn't want to lose him.


These are the stories of five of the women I know who were raped.

Here is a story that offers an explanation for why these stories will continue to be told, for why there will continue to be women and children who do not report it when someone violates their body.

I don't know what else to say. The way this poor woman has been treated by the so-called justice system is abominable. The entitlement of the dicks who did this to her is nauseating. The cruelty with which the judge has treated her is reprehensible.


All the time I've wasted....

I was reading Pica's Dear John letter to the butternut squash, and I started thinking about my own food history.

As a child, I was beyond picky. I wouldn't eat cheese, mustard made me feel queasy, and I actually threw up when I accidentally ingested a pickle. And don't get me started on vegetables. The only veggie I would eat without a fight was the potato, and then only if it was in french fried form. When forced to eat peas, I would swallow them whole as quickly as I could, lest I accidentally catch a taste of the veggie. I cried when my mother put carrots on my plate. I wouldn't even taste corn. I think I went a whole year of my life (possibly longer) where the only thing I would eat was Cheerios and ham on white bread.

When I moved out of my parents house and started doing my own cooking, I suddenly realized that the reason I hated vegetables was because my mother is the worst cook in the history of the world. (Seriously - we ate boiled chicken in our house. Boiled. chicken.)

So I could never write a dear John letter like Pica. All of my letters to food would be passionate love letters. Dear Pineapple - I weep copious tears when I think of all the years I refused to taste your succulent sweetness. Dear green pepper, I ignored you for long, but finally my eyes have opened and I see your natural beauty.

But I will never eat a lima bean. Cause they are just gross.


I blew off work for the afternoon

An invitation

For anyone who will be in the Hartford area on Tuesday, December 13, 2005, around 7:30 p.m.

The choir I sing with will be presenting our Annual Christmas concert, called "What Sweeter Music", at South Congregational Church, 277 Main Street, Hartford, CT. The concert is free although donations are welcomed. We will be performing the following songs (composer listed where I can remember, this may not be a complete list):

What Sweeter Music (Rutter)
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (?)
Jingle Bells (? but it's very Whiffenpoofish sounding)
Sans Day Carol (Rutter)
Alleluia (not entirely sure, might be the Kirk arrangement)
O Magnum Mysterium (not sure, but it's goooorgeous)
Sound Over All Waters (Halley)

That last song is a gospel number, and yours truly is the soloist, the choir will be the Pips to my Gladys Knight. Come, if only to hear a white Irish girl attempt to channel her inner Aretha!


I am now 413 words away from reaching my 50,000 word count for National Novel Writing Month. By this time tomorrow, I will be able to say that I've written a novel. Not that I'm *going* to write a novel, but that I've *written* a novel.

Of course, a lot of work has to be done before it's fit for human consumption, but that's for January.


Thank you Pythagoras, Thank you Euclid

I'd like to thank these two demigods of geometry for being at the forefront of a kind of math I can actually understand.

I am pleased to report that on my last quiz, which caused me no small amount of stress, I got an 87. This may not seem like much to all the brilliant minds out there who read this blog, but if one thinks about grades proportionally, for me, an 87 is like a Disgruntled Chemist getting an A+++++++++++^3.

I want to go out for drinks to celebrate this momentous occasion! But I'm going to try to write 3000 words tonight, so the only thing I'll be drinking is my Starbucks Double Shot espresso. Maybe a Red Bull or two.

Can't blog, noveling

I am currently about 6000 words away from finishing my novel. Actually, I already wrote the ending, I just need to bump up my word count by the end of the day on Wednesday. I'm not entirely thrilled with it, but I do think there is some good stuff going on. I will likely put it aside completely until January, when I plan to print it out and edit it.

Aside from big errors, like forgetting the name of the town my character lives in, or forgetting the name of one of the characters, or screwing up the timeline by having two characters meet each other for the first time twice, I have one issue with the tone. It's not a very serious tone for most of the book, it's not entirely frothy, but it's fairly light-hearted. But I have a section where one of my characters reads the journal entries of an important but deceased character, and the journal entries are rather sexually explicit, and I find the change in tone jarring.

Also, I still don't have a title. My current working title is "My gay novel", but I don't think that will work for very long. And really, it's not gay enough, I just happen to have a gay character who I fell in love with, and I find my writing improves dramatically when I write in his POV.

Sidebar: I was exploring Google last night, looking up information about women who are really interested in gay men, and I discovered yaoi. I knew it wasn't entirely uncommon for women to find gay sex hot, but I had no idea about its role in the world of anime. Yaoi is essentially gay anime written expressly for women. I checked out some of the drawings, and I can only conclude that women are superfreaky. Straight men seem to be pretty easy to turn on and off - tits+ass+pussy=go time. But in yaoi, there are cross dressers, men with cat ears and tails, fur, men who are blue or green or alien-like, men who are pre-pubescent in appearance.

I am not making a judgement here, mind you. It's all part of life's rich tapestry.


Cold and Stuffed

We started our Thanksgiving, as we have for the past six years, by moving our car to the other side of East Center Street, in case we wanted to get out of town before the Manchester Road Race was over. As it turned out, we weren't ready to leave, so Monkey and I walked down to the end of our street to watch the race. (For more on the race, here's an interesting article about the first woman to run, and pictures, if you want to check out my town a little bit)

It was cold and snowing, which was fine for a little while, but my toes got numb after an hour or so, when the bulk of the runners had finished. We went back home and I shoveled the driveway for a bit, then Sio came out and took over for me.

We eventually got on the road, and headed down to Loki's dad's. We had a fantastic meal with him and Loki's aunt Barb, who is a terrific cook. We had a political discussion at dinner, and it turns out both FIL and AIL (father and aunt in law), both lifelong Republicans, are disgusted with George W. Bush. It was a great discussion because we all agreed with each other! Yay!

I fell asleep on the couch after that, and when I woke up, Barb was taking Loki and his dad's money in poker.

When we got home, I went through the fliers to see the sales for tomorrow, but there is no way in hell I'm getting out of bed at 5am to buy one of the 3 computers Best Buy has in stock for $150.00. Particularly since it's snowing again. Nope, the only buying I'm doing tomorrow is necessary stuff: duct tape, a new broom (because my dad left mine outside somewhere), and probably a great big coffee. And we have Thanksgiving part deux tomorrow, at my sister's house, because her husband had to work today. But somewhere in between all those things, I'm going to write more of my novel.


Rollin', rollin', rolling on the blogroll

Added to the blogroll: Two Glasses, authored by Toast.

Wednesday Novel Excerpt

Since I will likely be pounding away at my novel to increase my word count on Friday, I figured I'll get it out of the way now. Today's excerpt is a coming out story, because my novel is gay, somehow, even though I didn't plan it that way. Although I am a mostly straight woman*, I believe our world is richer for having gay people in it, and I am thankful that there is a full spectrum of sexuality in this world.

On to the excerpt:

When I was little girl growing up in Poland, I was always called CHLOPIECY**, like a boy. I have only brothers, so I like to play sports and climb trees, not playing with dolls or to braiding the hair. I have little girlfriends, of course, girls I carry books for and moon over, but I never think that I love only girls. But no one tell me that there are sometimes girls who like other girls, so when I am old enough, and a boy ask me to marry him, I accept.

He was a good boy, very smart and ambitious, and he wanted to come to America. So we get married, and we come to the United States. He work very hard in very hard jobs, and his bosses start to see how smart he is, so he work his way up the ladder, so as they say. He worked in the tool factory, yes, in New Britain? So he gets new job as boss, and we buy a small house, near to the factory so he can walk to work and come home for lunch, and then we have a baby boy, my Stanislaus. Only no one ever tell me about the play and the movie about the car named desire, no? So my baby is called Stanley Kowalski. Sometimes people would laugh when they hear his name and I don't know why, but now I know. He is nothing like the Stanley in the movie, though. My Stanley is a lamb, so gentle and sweet. He is a nurse in the Emergency Room at the hospital, now."

"So we live in the nice little house with our sweet little boy, and we have a nice marriage. I love my husband like a friend, and we are happy. We go to church and we have friends over and play cards and have some drinks, always a lot of fun. But one winter day, he was walking home from work, and a car slip on the ice and hit him, and he seem okay at first, but too much bleeding inside, and he died."

"I'm so sorry," Tina interjected. Rose smiled.

"I still miss him sometimes because he always knew how to make the right decision about everything. But if he was still alive, I would not have found the person I love more than life," and she squeezed Laura's hand, "so maybe God was just making things happen the way He does, in the mysterious way. Karol was a good man, and he take care of his family, so we have insurance money, and I pay off the little house and stay home with Stanley until he goes to school. But I don't like housekeeping, and I'm a strong woman, so I decide to go to work while Stanley is in school. This was in 1974, so there are now many woman working, many divorced woman, so it was not so hard to find a job. I go to work in a nursery, because I always like plants and I have a green thumb. And I work there all day, and come home at 3 for Stanley, and we have a very good life."

"But a lonely one, too," she continued. "As Stanley gets older, and doesn't need his mama so much, I take classes to get my English better, and I meet many men at church and at my class who want to take me out on a date, but I was not interested. I never ask myself why I was not interested, until I am reading about woman's liberation and read about lesbians, and I know that I am one of them, but I don't know what to do. I sometimes ask Karol, after I say my prayers and get into bed, Karol, what am I to do? But of course he cannot give me answer, so I try to imagine what he would do. And Karol was very honest man, and I think he would tell me that I have to always be honest, and not be ashamed of how God made me."

"So I look at my face in the mirror, and I say to myself I am lesbian, and that I want to love other woman, but I am not one to go to a bar for that purpose, for meeting woman. So I pray God will send someone to me."

"And then Laura came to work at the nursery, too. She was very quiet, but I like how she smiles, and I can make her laugh, like giggling, and I know she like me but I don't know how she like me, you know? So I know I have to be having courage, and I ask quiet Laura if she would like to come over for dinner, and she smile very shy and say yes. So I ask Stanley if he like to play over at his friend's house one night, and I make nice Polish dinner for Laura, and she come over and I maybe give her a few drinks to help her relax,"

"She was naughty, wasn't she, trying to take advantage of me like that?" Laura said, giggling.

"So we are having nice time together and laughing, but I am also getting nervous, because I'm not sure how to find out if she is also a lesbian. So as she is leaving, I walk her to the door, and I decide now I have to act like a man, like I am only taking what I deserve, and worry later if she likes to be with me, too. So she turns to say goodnight, and she is holding out her hand, like to shake, and I take her hand and pull her to me and I give her a kiss, first time I ever kiss a girl, and I know it is right thing for me, and I can tell Laura is liking me, too."

Tina smiled, "that is the sweetest story!" she said.
James had listened intently, and he nodded his head in agreement.

I make no claims about the quality of my writing, I'm just trying to tell a story in 50,000 words. But I would love feedback.

*I say mostly straight because the first time I fell in love, the first time I understood why they use the word "fall", it was with a woman.

**I used an online English to Polish translater and put in the word boyish, and this is what it came up with. I have no idea if it is accurate or not, but the character of Rose is very slightly based on a friend of my husband's, so I will ask her to translate it for me properly if I ever get around to editing.


How low can you go?

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Very Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

I would have thought I'd be in Dis with my fellow Heretics. But it's good to know one can masturbate often and still be a virtuous non-believer.

Hat tip to The Green Knight


I don't like to brag, but I'm going to anyway

Damn, my kids are talented.

Sio auditioned for the Eastern Region Chorus this weekend, and got the highest score of anyone at her school - and her school has an award winning vocal music program. I'm so proud of her. Like everything she does, it's not her natural talent and ability, but her hard work and effort that leads to her accomplishments. I'm a singer, and for the first 9 years of her life, I was sure Sio was tone deaf. But damned if she hasn't trained her ear.

When I was in high school, I made Eastern Regionals, but all I had to do was sing in a quartet - we sang something from Handel's Messiah. Now, they have to learn a solo, they have to sight read, they have to do scales, they have to know solfege...they can't just be singers, they have to be musicians. I'm so proud of her.

I'm also proud of Monkey for a music related thing. I have a young friend, he's about 20 years old, and I just got him hooked on Rufus Wainwright after lending him some of my CDs. In return, he lent me a CD of the East Village Opera Company. I wasn't too impressed on my first listen (although I did enjoy the mash up of the overture of The Marriage of Figaro with Baba O'Reilly), but Monkey was completely entranced. She has now learned, in about 3 hours of time spent on it, all the words and both parts of The Flower Duet, most of Nessun Dorma, and a good chunk of Habanera. Monkey *is* naturally gifted when it comes to music, and therefore she doesn't always work as hard as she could at developing her natural talents. Anytime I see her put effort into something, I have to reward her, because she is a child to whom things come easily, and having been one of those myself, I know that it's important to encourage her to work hard and to let herself be challenged.

(Otherwise she'll come home crying from math class, just like her mother does every week. My friend the physics professor has diagnosed me with Mathphobia, and has ordered me to find a tutor before I completely fall apart.)

Anyway - my kids rule.

When life hands you metaphors....

By now you've all seen the high-larious photo montage of George W. Bush being unable to find a way out. And the liberal blogosphere is having a lot of fun with it, which is totally fine, because really, how often does reality leave you with such a beautiful metaphor to work with?

Oddly enough, I found this to be the most charming Bush moment ever. In my world, that makes this the only charming Bush moment. I still believe that at heart, he's an asshole son of a bitch (literally, in his case).


New to blogroll

Rob the Dirty Liberal. I had to add him because of the Dick Cheney Random Facts Generator. (Full disclosure: I've made a few contributions to the fact list. If you can guess my contributions - and I've made six of them - you might* just win yourself a prize!)

*operative word

Friday Novel Excerpt

I'm having some serious trouble describing the setting in one section of the excerpt I'm posting today. If anyone reads this and has trouble understanding what the parking lot looks like, let me know, and if you can picture it but have suggestions for better phrasing, please let me know.

Caveat: National Novel Writing Month requires 50K words in 30 days, so the writing is done very quickly and I don't read it over more than once. It may kind of suck, but hopefully there is a germ of something interesting in there that I can develop.

"So what's shakin', bacon?" Tina asked. It was a phrase Peter had used sometimes, in his goofy yet charming way.

James looked at her again, and she was shocked as tears welled up in his eyes.

He covered his face with his hands and put his head down, and Tina wasn't sure what to do.

"What's wrong, sweetie?" she asked. "Oh, honey, did I say something wrong?" She opened the glove box and pulled out a few tissues.

"Oh, Tina, I'm sorry," he said, "I was thinking about Peter today, and that's partly why I'm so out of it. I miss him so much."

Tina felt herself getting choked up.

"I know," she said, sitting back in her seat, handing James a tissue and taking one for herself - she started to wipe away her tears and then she remembered that she was wearing makeup, so she dabbed at the corners of her eyes.

"I guess," James said, "I guess that as we get closer to the wedding, I'm just missing him more and more. He should be here." His voice shook and he said "he should be my best man."

"I miss him, too" Tina said. "But I kind of feel like he's always with me, and at least part of that is because you're with me." She took his hand and he turned towards her. "Sometimes I feel like he brought us together."

She thought back to the funeral. She tried to stay at the wake, but she kept losing it. Her brother, her buddy, her protector, her role model, gone. Gone forever, in the blink of an eye. Because of the accident, there was a closed casket, and she kept looking over at the coffin, disbelieving that the smooth wooden box could possibly contain Peter. He was uncontainable, she thought, too big for that small box. She couldn't speak to anyone, she couldn't look at anyone, she felt like she couldn't breathe. The room was filled with relatives, all talking in hushed tones, a contrast to the funerals of her grandmothers, who lived to be very old women - there, the wake was truly a celebration of the lives of the deceased. It was different, Tina thought, when the person wasn't supposed to die for a long time yet.

She stepped out of the room, and felt herself starting to sob loudly again as she walked outside to get a breath of air.

It was a beautiful evening, which made Tina angry. The world should stop spinning, she thought. It should be hailing or raining or snowing, there should be hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes, because everyone should have to suffer. No one should be enjoying a nice walk after dinner today, she thought. Peter was dead. She looked over the parking lot. It was a large lot, absolutely filled with cars, with more cars lining the street, a testament to how loved Peter was. In the lot, the rows were divided by guardrails, so cars would drive into a space and have a guardrail facing them, and the row of cars opposite would have the same, so the guardrails were back to back, and the funeral home owners, in an effort, Tina supposed, to distract the clientele from the ugly metal of the guardrails, had planted flowers in the space where each guardrail backed in the other. It makes sense, she thought. That's what they do to the bodies in this place. They take the body, and try to mak e it look alive, to distract people from the fact that their loved one is dead.

She began sobbing again, and she felt a hand on her shoulder, and she didn't even bother to look at who it was, she just threw herself into the chest that belonged to the arm, and sobbed. How could she still have tears, she thought. She felt the arms tighten around here, and then she felt that the person holding her was sobbing, too, and they stood there together, holding each other up, sobbing because Peter was dead.

When she stopped sobbing (for the moment), she suddenly felt embarassed by her display.

"I'm sorry," she said, and she looked up into James' face. Tina knew James well, of course, Peter had brought him over for dinner a hundred times, and when she went to visit him at his apartment, James was usually there. They had played a few hands of poker over verboten alcoholic beverages long before she turned 21.

She didn't think for a moment what she must look like - days of alternating between sobbing and catatonic disbelief had left her looking more than a little disheveled and unkempt. And she didn't really notice that James looked just as bad, his eyes were swollen and red from crying.

"Jim," she started to say, and he leaned down and kissed her, and then she put her arms around him and he draped his head over his shoulder and they just held onto each other, trying to will Peter back to existance.

"I was kind of hoping he'd come back just to tell me to keep my hands off his sister," James choked out. His voice was distorted and strange, and Tina knew that it was his grief - it was coming out however hard he tried to hold it back. She knew because she was sounding the same today. "I'm sorry if I was forward."

Tina looked up at James and kissed him back. This was so strange, she thought. She never thought of James as anything other than Peter's best friend - he had always seemed asexual, really. But now she felt like she wanted to be with him, to have him hold her and kiss her and make her feel something other than what she was feeling, because she was in hell.

Feedback is appreciated.

Deja vu

We had a conference with Monkey's teacher this morning, and I heard a phrase that my mother heard when she went to conferences with my teacher: not performing to her full potential.

Monkey views school as time to hang out with her friends, and she really is bothered by those pesky teachers and assignments who interrupt her socializing.

In addition, she would rather not master her basic math facts.

Yep, she's her mother's daughter.


I'm on the list

Dear Bill O'Reilly,

I am a little slow to get back to you about this, but I've heard you're making a "naughty list", much like Santa Claus, that fat, red-suited guy who delivers presents on a Happy Holiday that occurs sometime next month...hmmm, what is the name of that Holiay again? It's hard to remember since so many religions, practiced by Americans who came to this great land from around the globe, much like your ancestors came here from Ireland, a land rich with religious heritage, both Pagan and Christian, have religious celebrations at this time of year.

Anyway, I was making my Happy Holiday list, and I realized that the thing that I really wanted this year was to be counted as an enemy of a mouthpiece of the right wing. I want to stand in opposition to a delicate flower who is so thin-skinned, he gets offended when retail clerks who have to deal with the great unwashed public (no matter who they worship) don't single out his deity of choice when they are forced to speak to him. I mean, really, Bill, the clerks don't even want to talk to you, you're lucky they do anything more than grunt at you.

But mostly, Bill, I want to join your enemies list because there's nothing I hate more than a thick Mick, a blowhard, a bully, who can dish it out but can't take it. We all know your secret, Bill - you're a coward. You are so tender and sensitive that you just can't handle life's rich pageant, so you lash out at those who make you feel scared, which is...well, just about everyone who isn't just like you.

So please do add me to your enemies list (seriously Bill: are you a 13 year old girl, or what?).

Happy Holidays!



Interesting meeting

I go to a lot of meetings in the course of fulfilling my job duties. I sit in the corner, take note of when the meeting is called to order, who makes motions, and seconds them, how the vote goes, abstentions, etc., and take notes.

Some of these meetings are mind-numbingly dull. I used to go to Housing meetings, and they were dull and depressing because we were talking about issues that have been around for 30+ years but no real solutions ever seem to be found.

But I go to one meeting every month that I love, and that is the meeting of Town Managers. These are the unelected people who make things work for a lot of municipalities. They don't have to be schmoozy like elected people, and they tend to be a whole lot smarter, in my experience.

So today we had this meeting, and there was discussion of budgets and sharing services (which the town managers can talk about as shared services, but which they have to find another name for when dealing with elected officials, like "Shared Assets" or some such nonsense), and then one of the TMs checked his little electronic doodad and announced that the CT Conference of Municipalities, after testing out the new voting machines that HAVA required, has asked the Sec. of State to toss out all the vendors and write up a whole new Request for Proposals. That should be an interesting story.

The other interesting thing was from the CT Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, which is having a press conference next Tuesday to announce their lawsuit against the state, currently going under the name CCJEF (pronounced see-Jeff, because you can't do anything in govt. without silly acronyms)...where was I? Ah, CCJEF vs. Rell. They are pushing to shift the way education is currently funded in CT, via property taxes, which results in inequitable and inadequate school funding, particularly in areas with the most high need students. They've got a lot in front of them, as one of their goals is to revamp the way school funding happens. I wish them luck!


Rollin' rollin' rollin', keep that blogroll rollin'

New to the blogroll:

If I Ran The Zoo - Tom Hilton
Expostulation - Misty
Praxxus - Praxxus

Friday Novel Blogging

I thought I would put up an excerpt from my National Novel Writing Month novel, Untitled, by maurinsky. I would love some feedback from anyone who checks it out. Just be aware, it's NaNoWriMo writing, in which you are asked to write 50,000 words in 30 days - this is a very rough draft.

James Conroy, Esquire, was distracted and scared, two sensaTions that had become constant companions in the past few weeks. He still appeared to be the same to his paralegal, to his fiancĂ©e, to the other attorneys at the firm, to his clients. But inside, there was a constant, low level of terror swimming underneath every thought. He felt like he was acting a role, like he was being filmed and his every acTion was accompanied by a Hitchcock inspired soundtrack that only he could hear. It was a fear he could sublimate, amygdalize…he would put it to the back of his mind while he went about his day, and he could eat lunch and meet with clients and laugh and joke, but then he would get a call from home or he would look at the picture on his desk, and the fear would come to the surface, unbidden and unwanted, and he would remember why he was so scared.

The wedding. He was getting married in less than a month.

When he had proposed to Tina, he was absolutely sincere in his belief that he was ready to share the rest of his life with her. And when he started to feel apprehensive about his approaching nupZials, he iniZially blew it off as simple jitters. When the feelings started to rise, when he started to dread even looking at Tina’s face, let along talking about seating arrangements or gift registries, when he started feeling like a man approaching the gallows, he picked his mother up for lunch to talk to her.

“Mom, I don’t know if I can get married,” he said. “I’m beginning to think I’ve made a huge mistake.”

His mother tapped him on the arm, in mock outrage. “Bite your tongue, Jamie,” she said. “Tina is a lovely girl and you are so good together.”

“I know,” James said, “and it’s not that I don’t love her, because I do, but,” he paused, considering what he would say next. “Maybe I’m just not the marrying type.”

“Most men aren’t, honey, at least not before they get hitched,” she replied. “It’s scary. Men are told their whole lives to go out and conquer, and you get so many mixed messages about,” she lowered her voice and spelled out, “S-E-X.” She continued in her regular voice. “But marriage is a good thing, Jamie. You have someone to be your partner to help you through everything life can throw at it you, and believe me, life will throw things at you.” She sighed and examined her fork. James knew she was thinking of his father.

“But mom, I am not feeling normal scared. I’m feeling like this is the worst thing I’ve ever done scared. And maybe it isn’t fair to Tina to marry her when I feel like this.”

“Jamie, honey, your father, God rest his soul, got more and more scared as the day of our wedding came closer and closer”, she said, stopping to take a bite of her Cobb salad. “It’s cold feet, sweetie, and once you say ‘I do’ and go to the recepTion, you’ll see your beautiful bride, and see the beautiful life you’re going to have together, and realize that you did the right thing.”

“I don’t know, mom,” he said, “I feel like maybe I’m trying to tell myself to put the brakes on.”

“Jamie,” his mother said, looking at him tenderly, “I’m telling you, you are going through something completely normal.”

“Normal,” he thought to himself as he sat in his office. “This is definitely not normal.”

He picked up the picture on his desk. It was from a vacaTion Tina and James had taken last summer, a week spent in Cape Cod at her uncle’s summer cottage. They looked like the ideal couple – they were on the beach, and the warm orange light suggested that it was nearly sunset. Tina was wearing a white maillot style bathing suit, setting off her beautiful tan, and silky dark brown hair, and Jamie was standing behind her, holding her close to his bare chest, pale next to her skin. He looked good, strong and fit. He remembered that last summer, he was running with Tina every morning, and would go to the fitness center at the condo complex three or four times a week to lift weights. He didn’t have washer board abs, and he wasn’t overly bulky, but he looked strong and manly. His light brown hair was windblown, but looked deliberately designed. He was smiling into the camera, but he could see the expression in his eyes, the distance. He wasn’t ent irely there.

He loved this picture, he knew, not because of the happy memories of the vacaTion (although there were happy memories from the vacaTion), and not because he looked good in the picture (although he did, as he noted with a certain amount of pride), or because Tina looked good in the picture (although she looked stunning.) He loved the picture because of what he saw in Tina's face, in her expression, in the way she tilted her head, in the way she held her body. He saw Peter.


How Blue Was My Valley

I figured it would take a while to tally the votes from my local election, so I waited until lunchtime to check my local paper. Here is the quote that greeted me:

Every Democratic candidate for the boards of Directors and Education was elected Tuesday in a victory whose scale surprised members of both parties.

The news isn't good across the board - several of the exurban towns east of us have switched from Democrat to Republican, a changeover that seems to happen every 12-15 years or so (the town I grew up in was hugely Republican - I believe my parents were the only people in the entire town who had Jimmy Carter signs on their lawn in 1979 - but now it's strongly Democratic).

I think there are a couple of reasons why some of these towns have gone red, none of them having anything to do with the national Republican party except as it applies to their fanatacism for tax cuts. These were towns that had very low taxes as recently as 10 years ago, and then the wealthy folks started buying land and building their $800,000 dream homes, and demanding that they build new schools, and, you know, we love the country and all, but where is the public sewer? Can't we widen that road? What do you mean we have to take our garbage to the dump ourselves?

Anyway, as the rich people turn their country retreat into the annoying suburb they escaped from, the taxes go up. And up. And up and up and up. My parents have seen their taxes increase almost 60% in just the last 5 years. So the Republicans brush off the old canard: lower taxes, cut spending! (even though many of the people who have demanded all the new services are Republicans who make enough money to benefit from the Bush tax cuts.)

Anyway, I'm hoping that with the way the taxes have been going up, we will soon have a state-wide referendum on having the state government provide education funding. Property taxes fund municipal governments (with aid, of course, from the state and the federal government), and the disparity between urban, suburban and rural/exurban towns educational quality is largely fueled by the disparity in the tax base. We still have Sheff vs. O'Neill to deal with, as well - there are a great many schools that are 99% white, and those tend to be the higher performing schools in the more expensive towns, towns where the median home price is over $300,000.00.

I am feeling slightly optimistic about the future, though. I guess it could be more accurately termed as feeling less pessimistic, but that's something, anyway.

A question

Do you think it says something about me that the character I am most relating to in my National Novel Writing Month novel is the closeted gay male who is about to get married? My story just gets awesome every time I write him. Otherwise, it kind of sucks.

I think what it says about me is this: as happily married as I am most of the time, and as grateful I am for how my choices led me to where I am now most of the time, I have a certain amount of regret for the road not traveled: for giving up my time to grow and become my own person to that adorable little baby who applied for a job today and to the guy who still makes my heart pound when I see him.


Credit cards and cable channels

I just read this post over at Kevin Drum's. Unlike some lefties, I like Kevin Drum, although he has the most toxic comments section left of Freeperville (which is why I won't read his comments section unless I'm looking for a fight.) He's slightly clueless about the way other people live, I think, safely ensconced in the OC as he is (although Tart and Chemist don't seem at all clueless, so maybe I'm just giving Drum a break.)

But credit cards and cable channels as the foundation of a new push for the Democratic party? When how many millions of Americans don't have health insurance? Maybe it's just because I'm a member of the Working Poor Class, but the ideas Kevin is so enthusiastic about seem irrelevant at best. I mean, credit card debt is a problem, and I would like to see the usurial practices of credit card companies ended post-haste, but when you're having trouble putting food on your table, I think credit card debt takes a back seat. And if you think about it, credit card debt is, at least in part, a *symptom* of the economic difficulties of living life as working poor or lower on the economic ladder.

Things I've put on a credit card during times of severe economic stress (such as winter, when we had a $400+ gas heating bill every month): Monkey's lunch money; Sio's test fees for SAT IIs; oil change for our one car; bus pass (which does get reimbursed by my employer, but I didn't have the cash to pay for it). I don't see any big screen TVs or fabulous vacations* in there. I don't like putting things on the card, because I don't like to buy things unless I have the money to pay for it now.

Between John and I, we have one credit card. We pay it off every month.

As far as cable channels go, I don't think it's even worth discussing. Talk about a low priority.

Voting Day

Here in Connecticut, our children, who are largely too young to vote, have the day off, while us working stiffs, who would like to vote, have to go to work. I guess they really do like to discourage the act of voting.

I haven't voted yet, and I briefly was dismayed that I would have to vote after work, but then it hit me - this is a local election, where the choices will have the most impact on our day to day lives, so no one will be voting. I will report back if I have to wait in a line...if I can recover from the shock, that is.


Awww. My sister loves me.

Her tribute to me, with pictures!

Picture 1: Mom, dad, and Uncle Jack
Picture 2: big sister and me with my giant head
Picture 3: Aunt Maureen, Aunt Theresa and me
Picture 4: Me and big sis on the living room steps
Picture 5: Cousins Kevin, Brian, me, Aunt Bernadette, big sister, and I think that's my uncle John in the background, but I'm not sure.
Picture 6: 2 kids I don't remember, but I can guarantee you they are Irish-American, me hiking up my skirt, cousin Brian, cousin Kevin, and my favorite big sister. I think we were at an AOH Hall somewhere on Long Island.


A long time ago, on this very day

A carpenter and a very pious woman had a child.

People came to see the child, and exclaim: "look at the size of that head!" and "She looks just like her grandfather!" and "What a cute little boy...oh, that's a girl?"

And the child grew, and turned into a precocious, know-it-all, teacher's pet. People noticed the child and called her Holy (generally in the following context: "she's a holy terror, isn't she?" and "Holy shit, does she ever stop talking?")

I am part of a family where no one likes to acknowledge their birthdays. My mother likes to pretend she can't remember when her birthday is, let alone how old she is. But when it comes to birthdays, I'm like a 5 year old. I like to tell people it's my birthday*, I like them to acknowledge it, and I love getting presents, too. I think it's because I'm generally insecure, so I like to give people the opportunity to let me know they care about me and remember that I exist.

*When I was a child, I was notorious for telling people that it was my birthday, even on days that were not my birthday, just to get attention and possibly, gifties. Apparently, I have not entirely outgrown that inclination, although I only admit to one birthday a year now.


Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in

Senate Democrats show a spine.

Let the baby have his bottle

Now that we know who the next SCOTUS nominee is, there has been an argument cropping up at various points on the blogosphere, an argument Digby noticed in his comments, and this argument was picked up by Dark Syde in a recommended diary over at Daily Kos.

I suggest that anyone who thinks this is a viable, winning strategy should take a look at the party in power, and how they got there. The Republican party does not cede any issues to the Democrats. Ever. The motherfuckers on the right stand up and fight for everything they believe in, no matter how ridiculous, misguided and dangerous it is for the country.

I suspect that there are those on the left who simply don't want to suffer the pain of another loss, and let's face it, without the support of that nearly extinct species, the moderate Republican elected official, we are going to lose this - Alito will be confirmed. But all this strategy would do is push this fight onto another generation, who will have to once again gain ground we currently hold.

It won't happen overnight, the theft of women's rights to own their own bodies. We're already seeing the incremental losses: the pharmacists who are being allowed to not do their jobs just so they can feel morally superior; the rape victim who has a prescription for emergency contraception but can't get it filled; the young women in Oklahoma who not only do not have access to an abortion nearby, but who cannot get assistance from any adult without having that adult risk jail time for helping.

I keep hearing this phrase "keep our powder dry". What the fuck are we keeping it dry for? What issue will motivate the Democrats to stand up for the people who reliably vote for them?

Giving in is not an option. I think Dark Syde and Tom Joad are living in a fantasyland if they think that overturning Roe v. Wade will finally motivate moderate Republicans to action. These people stand up for themselves so infrequently they might as well be Democrats.



I'm thinking that pro-choice women should take heed of our Greek sistren, and start denying men our bodies until our right to have autonomy over them is written in diamond. Of course, it wouldn't work, because the right-wing assholes would still be getting their biannual procreative ejaculation with their submissive wives, or maybe they would just buy Kass's theory that some women are meant to be wives and mothers, others are meant to be playthings for men, who are apparently able to be both fathers and sluts.

Gah, I'm really pissed off tonight.


Just like Christmas

You may have noticed that I have not been posting anything about what some bloggers are calling "Fitzmas", i.e., the possible indictments of one or more members of the Bush administration for their role in outing Valerie Plame.

I'm actually surprised by how excited many bloggers are about this story. I mean, I get the excitement about someone from the administration finally being made accountable for something. But the level of anticipation is so high, the denouement can only and inevitably be disappointment. Just like real Christmas.


She works hard for the money

I was reading a post over at Half Changed World that was in response to this post at Bumblebee Sweet Potato regarding waitressing.

This got me thinking about all the jobs I've held over the years. Here's the list:

Babysitter - from the time I was 11 until I was 16, and occasionally beyond that.
Meat Wrapper - my first real job. This was at Stop & Shop, in the room behind the meat cases. The meat cutters would place the cuts of meat on the styrofoam trays, I would wrap them in cellophane. I got paid slightly more than the average starting employee because I was in a dangerous environment (all those saws). I loved the job during the summer - the room was about 35 degrees all year.
Sales Associate - at a factory outlet store. I arranged clothes in size order, buttoned coats in the coat room, helped people with shoes...truly, the most boring job I've ever had. The boss loved me, though, and was really pissed when I quit just before Christmas.
Video Store Clerk - I confess, I loved this job even though there were several negative things about it. The store had 4 owners - 2 silent partners who I never even met, one guy who did not have the risk taking temperament that one needs when one owns a small business; and one who put his money up just so he could preview the porn movies. The nervous nellie boss hired his nephew, who stole money and accused me of being the thief, so I got fired...but I made a big scene first, which felt great.
Camp Counselor - I always wanted to go to camp when I was a kid, so when my friend Julie asked me if I wanted to work at her camp, I jumped at the chance. This was really a life changing job for me, since I was away from my family and for the first time ever, living with some structure. I loved working there.
Waitress/Sandwich Maker - In a little deli/restaurant. The guy who hired me was fun to work with - during slow times, we would sit and do crossword puzzles together. But he sold the business to a bitch on wheels, who fired me after I told her I was pregnant.
Certified Nurse's Aide - I kind of regret this one. I loved the job, and the residents at the nursing home loved me, but I was so sick when I was pregnant with Sio that I couldn't take the smells of the place - as soon as I walked in the door I would start puking. And after I worked so hard to get the certification, it was a disappointment.
Silk Screener - for a printing company. I lasted about a month at this job. A combination of morning sickness (aka progesterone poisoning) and sexual harassment drove me from this job. The bosses younger brother was looking for a green card, and he was constantly pushing me to go out with him - even though I was already married. Jerk.
Cashier - I did this for the remainder of my pregnancy with Sio. I worked during the day, with a bunch of nice older women. The job was easy, and everyone was nice, so I liked it.
Classified Ad Rep - my first job after Sio was born, which I started when she was about a year old. I learned how to type in high school, so when I saw an ad looking for someone with typing skills, I brushed up on them and applied. I got the job and I did great there. I almost immediately became the top salesperson, I got along great with all the people working there, and I enjoyed the work. I did it at one paper for two years, then I moved to a much bigger paper (and much bigger paycheck) doing the same thing. The second paper sucked - I had a horrible boss, and I ended up losing the job after two years there because I had to take a bunch of time off for Sio - she kept having asthma attacks and I kept getting called to pick her up from school.

I was then out of work for about a year, utterly depressed. I did take a few small jobs - stocking shelves at night at a pharmacy, waitressing, delivering the paper - but I quit all of them in short order.

Then a friend of mine from the second paper called and said they were hiring Customer Service Reps at her company. I got a job and started working for the cable company. After working there two months, I won a skills challenge and they sent me to Disneyworld for the semi-finals. The following year, I won the semi-finals and went to Las Vegas. I was promoted to a supervisory position. I got pregnant with Monkey. I stayed home with Monkey for 4 months, then went back. I got promoted again, to a new position (Broadband Coordinator) in a new department. It was stressful, and I worked my ass off, but so rewarding. Got the greatest boss in the history of the world, who I love more than I love my own father. Got my second job, as alto section leader for a church choir somewhere during this time. Of course, life working the way that it does, my job was relocated out of state, and despite the {sarcasm} generous {/sarcasm} relocation allowance of $300, I didn't follow the job.

Because our wonderful boss insisted upon it, we were given a year's notice that our jobs were going out of state, which is why I had time to find another job as a secretary, which is where I am now. I don't love my job, but I have a better attitude now than I did the first two years I worked here. It helps that my perfect boss and I had a confrontation over the fact that she was holding me to impossible standards that no one else in the office had to meet (essentially, she expected me to always be perfect) and since then, she's been mindful that I am a mere human being and cannot always do everything perfectly.

So how about you? What jobs have you held?

If they can't be Red, at least they're Sox

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox for beating the Astros in the World Series. I love any team that beats the crap out of any team from Texas.


Watch it jiggle

I just can't help but wonder how Jello San Francisco would survive a major earthquake. I bet the jiggling would be hypnotic.

That takes some of the edge off my worries for the future

A young environmentalist is on a mission to make sure people's tires are at the correct pressure, for maximum fuel efficiency.


I think he's moved beyond disgruntled

The Chemist has a post that borders on revolutionary this morning. Lots of food for thought there.


The joys of parenting

Up until Sio was born, I was pretty sure I didn't want to ever have children. I have a younger brother and two younger sisters, and I remembered their infancies as being an uninterrupted stretch of screaming, puking, and stinky diapers. I remembered their toddler years as those years where I had to make sure the little buggers didn't fall down the stairs, and couldn't leave anything I owned out in the open or within 4 feet of the floor, and even stinkier diapers. The rest of the years blended together into whining, uncompensated babysitting, not being allowed to do things that would cause the next one down the line to have a temper tantrum, having to give things to the "baby", etc. I just didn't really like kids that much.

Then I got knocked up, and luckily, I discovered that when a child comes from my uterus, they are inherently superior to all other children, at least from my perspective. Parenting can be hard - I hate punishing my kids, for example, because my parents were always so harsh, and I don't know if my natural punishment inclinations are recalibrated at a harsher level because of that.

But there are some special joys in being a parent. I experienced two of them this weekend.

1. Sio discovered Edgar Allen Poe. Poe and I had a mad love affair when I was 12 years old. I read every word the man published, including all his literary criticism. When your kids find something on their own that you love...you know how you feel an instant camaraderie towards someone who likes the same band as you? You know your kid is cool when they fall in love with something that you fell in love with, without any intervention or introduction from you.

She keeps reading me sections aloud, entranced by the poetic perfection of Poe's language.

2. Monkey sent some Republican candidates packing. Some of the local Dumbos who are running for the Board of Directors were canvassing in our neighborhood. Monkey answered the door, and told them that we don't vote for Republicans because Republicans care more about money than they care about people. Then she told them she doesn't like George Bush, and she doesn't trust people who support George Bush. That might be something she heard from me.

Sadly, this is more than I make in real life

My blog is worth $39,517.80.
How much is your blog worth?



I went for a long walk at lunch today. As I was walking near the Hartford Civic Center (or, more accurately, what remains of the Hartford Civic Center), a guy made an attempt to pick me up. He was several steps up the ladder from the last guy who tried to pick me up, who was a heroin addict - this guy was a construction worker on his lunch, and he made no effort to hide his wedding ring as he chatted me up. Still, it was almost flattering to have a man who appeared to have his own teeth make the attempt.


I have tickets to see the Coast Guard Band Masters of Swing tonight. I kind of don't want to go, though. I think I'm just feeling generally anti-social.


I have nearly enough credits to get an Associate's Degree, so I was invited to a Transfer Meeting for students with GPAs of 3.5 and above. The meeting was with the President of my community college and several faculty members, and they were pushing us to reach for the stars when it comes to transferring. One young woman in the meeting was skeptical that any community college students ever transfer into Ivy League schools, but the Pres and the faculty insisted that it happens every year. I made an appointment with an advisor to talk about what I should do next. I may end up changing my major to just a general Liberal Arts, because some of the required classes for music majors are only offered during the day, and I have to work so I can pay for school (and the house, and the car, and food, and for healthcare, etc.)


Damn, I'm a great parent

I just got a call from Sio's gym teacher. Sio is no athlete - in addition to having asthma, she is sort of generally undercoordinated. She's not a klutz or anything, but she doesn't pick up physical activities easily, and she's not inherently physically graceful. She's your classic bookworm, albeit without the glasses. (She's more an ultra-feminine, hourglass figured, stunningly beautiful bookworm.)

Anyway, her gym teacher called for the express purpose of telling me what a delightful child Sio is. Mrs. M. said even though Sio has asthma, she never uses that as an excuse to get out of class, that she always works as hard as she can in class, and that she is just a lovely human being. Mrs. M. said she doesn't get to make these calls very often, and she wanted to thank me for raising such a lovely child.

This wouldn't surprise anyone who knows Sio. I know she is special to me, she's my firstborn child. But she is special to lots of people. She walks down the hallway at school and smiles and says hello to everyone. She is kind to everyone. She is generous with her time, always offering to help people. And she never brags about it, or does it for self-aggrandizement - it's just how she's always been.

So even though I feel chest-burstingly proud of her, I can't really claim the full credit. Sio was born a sparkling ray of sunshine, and I don't think she'll ever change.


Separated at birth part deux

Larry C. Johnson at No Quarter has reported the following:

Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House.

emphasis mine.

Whenever I see Stephen Hadley, I can't help but think of his twin, Nathan Thurm:

Indicted? I knew that. Did you think I didn't know that?

Now they're just playing with us

File this under "too good to possibly be true."

I aim to misbehave

You scored as Capt. Mal Reynolds. The Captain. You are the captain of the ship, so the crew are your responsibility. You just want to do the job, get paid and keep flying. Why is that always so hard?

Capt. Mal Reynolds


Zoe Alleyne Washburne


Hoban 'Wash' Washburne


Kaylee Frye


Simon Tam


River Tam


Shepherd Derrial Book


Jayne Cobb


The Operative


Inara Serra


Which Serenity character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Hat tip to The Green Knight