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.