You can still do this in America, right?

Tomorrow morning, Sio will be heading to Washington D.C., along with the a capella singing group at her school, for a Superiors Music ajudication. That means that in order to participate, your singing group must have been judged superior at a previous festival.

Since I am being forced to spend my hard earned money in Washington D.C. (something I didn't want to do while the Republicans hold power, but essentially had to because Sio doesn't have a job), I told Sio that I would feel I got my money's worth if she would go past the White House, flip the bird* towards the occupant, and use her First Amendment rights to express her true feeling towards said occupant, using whatever words she felt appropriate, 4 letters or more.

You can still do that in America, right?

*Alternatively, she could offer the Sicilian Salute, now Supreme Court Justice Approved! Although apparently, it's not really obscene, and therefore, inappropriate.


Action Item

Shorter Firedoglake: enough talking, time for some action.

FDL is asking us to fax our Congresscritters about the illegal wiretapping program of the Executive Branch. Currently, the majority of our Democratic representatives in Congress are set on "dither" - it's time to push them into some action, and the very least they can do, almost literally, is to support Feingold's censure motion.


"The founding fathers didn't trust George Washington with unlimited power, so why would we trust George Bush?"

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Sean Patrick Maloney.

from Digby:

March, 23rd. New York City - Today Sean Patrick Maloney, former senior Clinton White House official and investigative attorney running for the Democratic nomination for New York Attorney General, revealed a fresh idea to "legalize" the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program using a complaint that can be filed in federal court.

The complaint would seek a federal court order requiring the Bush Administration to comply with the law. The plan does not stop, compromise or hamper ongoing operations but instead compels the Bush Administration to appear in federal court, in secret session, to show cause for wiretapping any citizens of New York.

It is against New York state law to monitor communications over the phone without consent of the parties or without a court order. The benefit to New Yorkers, who cannot sue on their own behalf because the wiretapping is secret, is to initiate judicial oversight of the Bush Administration's program.

Maloney said, "As a New Yorker, I am committed to stopping, capturing, punishing or killing the terrorists who target America for attack, but I am also committed to the rule of law in this country, or at least this state. George Bush is not above the law.

"My plan both fights terrorism and protects New Yorkers' privacy from unauthorized or unconstitutional government intrusion. It does not compromise or halt ongoing anti-terror operations. It legalizes them. It's clear the Bush Administration is operating outside of New York law without legal federal authority."

There is recent case law and precedent for state attorneys general to act against federal actors who break state law and are acting outside of congressional authority. The Oregon Attorney General successfully sued then-United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, stopping him from undermining that state's assisted suicide law (analogous to New York's wiretapping law) without Congressional authorization to do so (as with the NSA's actions here).

The Maloney campaign is supporting this idea with the first paid television ads of the campaign for Attorney General. Entitled "Good Question" the 30-second spot, which airs statewide starting today, makes the charge that the President is outside his authority in using warrantless wiretaps and is violating New York state law. In the ad, Sean Patrick Maloney asks, "The founding fathers didn't trust George Washington with unlimited power, so why would we trust George Bush?"

Makes me feel all proud to be an Irish-American.

Wild in the city

I love reading about wild animals in the heart of the city. I know they coyotes can be, at best, a nuisance, and at worst, a real danger, but there is something so viscerally pleasing about the idea of a wild animal roaming the streets of Manhattan.

When I worked for a certain oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States, I volunteered to work on Saturday mornings (old suck-ups die hard). I had to be in at 6am, and I really enjoyed coming into the quiet city, not fighting with any traffic. And since it was Hartford on the weekend, there were no people to be found, either.

One Saturday morning, I was near the train station, about to head towards Farmington Avenue, and a huge deer jumped out in front of me. It was a buck, and I wondered for a moment if The Hartford Insurance Co. was shooting a commercial. But they weren't, it was just me and the deer in downtown Hartford.

I need to get this off my chest

This is in response to some of the commenters to this post over The Chemist's - his comments aren't working:

However, the choice of when you reproduce is made BEFORE conception...not after.

Yeah, and sometimes the condom breaks, or the birth control doesn't work, and then you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant. Not you, AC, because you're not a woman, but I've been there, sir.

You might find it disgusting that a woman might choose to have an abortion just because she doesn't want to be pregnant. I mean, it's really unseemly that a woman would be able to have sex and not have to suffer some sort of consequence, isn't it? Only women who are already downtrodden and victims, of rape or incest, are permitted to decide whether they are ready to be a parent when they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant?

Frankly, I find it abhorhent and repellent that you think you should have any right to consign a woman to giving birth whether she wants to or not - and to suffer the many risks inherent with pregnancy.

Take me, for example. With my first pregnancy (unexpected because of condom failure, but don't get too disgusted, AC - the guy and I got married, and despite our premarital fooling around, we are still happily married 17 years later) I had hyperemesis, i.e., I threw up several times a day, every day, for the entire pregnancy. I lost 60 lbs when I was pregnant with my first child.

That's actually not as major as some people I know - a friend of mine who was due around the time I was developed preeclampsia, and in order to keep her from dying, they delivered the baby at 24 weeks along. He was in NICU for several months, well after the time he would have been delivered if she had not developed preeclampsia, and to this day, he has trouble breathing and is a few years behind his age cohort in school.

Another friend due the same week as me had what they call an incompetent cervix. Her son was unexpectedly born at about 25 weeks. He is now 9 years old. He doesn't walk, he cannot talk, and he lost an eye because he was on oxygen for so long.

Both of those babies were very much wanted and were lucky enough to come into families that had the resources to care for them. And those are just two of many, many things that can go wrong during pregnancy.

Now, if I had either of those problems, I would have been in deep shit. We had no medical insurance and made about $14,000 a year, which was supposed to support a family of 3. I went a lot of days eating only a hard boiled egg. At Christmas, we splurged and bought a chicken. I breastfed because I couldn't afford formula, and I ended up losing a tooth because I couldn't afford to buy vitamins to supplement my diet and the calcium I was losing by nursing. (Never mind visiting the dentist - I thank my lucky stars that we had fluoridated water, because we couldn't afford a dentist visit until my daughter was 7 years old. You know why? Because we had no medical insurance and it took us 7 years to pay off the hospital bill for her birth.)

You every try to get a job when you're missing a tooth, AC?

So please don't get too disgusted, AC. Sometimes, when a woman has to make a difficult choice, she actually analyzes her current situation, and tries to make the best possible decision she can under the circumstances, and maybe that doesn't meet with your approval. But who the hell are you to tell her she shouldn't be allowed to assess her own life, her own situation, and make the best decision she can without useless, bloviating moralizing from people whose need to feel morally superior is so much more important to them then the lives of the people they are hurting.

to Ryan:

I rather think that the life has intrinsic value, wanted or otherwise.

but apparently, only the potential life has intrinsic value. The slut who had sex made her choice already, am I right?


Trip Day 2

February 17, 2006

As usual, I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom - it was about 3am, Paris time. And Loki was not back yet. He went out to visit a particular pub that we had passed on our walk back from Sacre Coeur. I don't know everything that happened while he was out, but he did share that the area around the Moulin Rouge gets really, really seedy after midnight.

Unfortunately for Loki, we had a 5:30 wake-up call, so we got up, rearranged our luggage, and set off for Porte Maillot. We took M2 to Charles de Gaulle Etoile, and a very nice custodian led us through the nice warm mall to the door that led to the parking lot where buses to the airports waited. It's the cane, it makes people want to help me.

We got on the bus, and a short time later, we were on our way to the Paris Beauvais airport, about a 50 minute ride from Central Paris. I was the only member of our party to stay awake, and I'm glad I did - we traveled through a lot of the residential areas of the city, and when we left the city, we motored by a lot of farmland.

The Beauvais airport is tiny - it's a hallway with a few canvas hangers attached to it. The announcements were all in French; although someone was attempting to make announcements in English, it really was unrecognizable. We quickly figured out that "Dooblah" was actually Dublin, and therefore we were able to get in the right line.

Loki got out of line to go to the bathroom and almost created an international incident when he tried to get back in line right behind me, right when I was about to go through security, without showing his passport at the gate. What a troublemaker!

We were ushered through to one of the canvas hangers, where the wind was sweeping down the plain - the noise of the wind against the canvas was so loud that I couldn't hear any of the announcements.

Sio, being her friendly self, met a family from Dublin and whiled away the next hour chatting with them. Monkey was surly and overtired, and she and I sat and split a bottle of water and a croissant. A couple sat across from us, and I immediately liked the man - his face expressed such humor and good nature, and he seemed to take to Monkey, offering her peanut M&Ms and doing silly magic tricks for her, which improved her mood. She shared that "nous ne soutenon pas le President Bush", and he laughed - a nice hearty laugh.

Ryanair allows family to board first, so we got good seats at the front of the plane. Loki, Sio, and Monkey all had window seats - I took the aisle so I could keep my left leg straight. Loki tried to stay awake for the landing, but only Monkey and I saw the shoreline of Ireland as we landed at the Dublin airport.

(to be continued....)

Apparently, they had to add diamonds to meet American standards

Loki was so excited this morning when he came home from work. He held up the front page of the business section of USA Today (he works at a hotel) and pointed out the picture of his favorite tiny car, the SmartCar

Only now, after a three years of working to get the cars to meet U.S. safety and environmental regulations — and battling with giant DaimlerChrysler — is there a respectable batch of cars to dole out to dealers.

More than 100 cars have been shipped to sales lots. The remainder, about 250, fill a yard in an industrial area of this Orange County enclave. Here, the cars await their turn to be outfitted with myriad environmental and safety items — from stronger bumpers to better interior padding — to make them legal for sale in the USA.

So Loki thought he was going to try to get himself a SmartCar. And then came the bad news:

Prices start at $24,000, but some dealers say they are fetching as much as $30,000

I saw them advertised in the French paper for a little over 8000 euros! So now I'll start seeing asshole insurance executives driving around Hartford in their SmartCars - the ones they use for commuting, while their Lexus SUV is for weekend trips to the Vineyard.

Middle class and working poor people need fuel efficient cars, too!


There are Deadheads and Parrotheads

But you can call me a Sondhead.

I am a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim, and this weekend, I picked up a copy of Sondheim Sings: Vol. II for $3.00 at the Sam Goody in the mall, which is closing.

For all his brilliance as a composer and his staggering genius as a lyricist, Sondheim the singer is not a standout; in his own words,
"For those of you who have not had the pleasure of hearing my voice before, I tend to sing very loud, usually off-pitch and always write in keys that are just out of my range."

But I have to say I find a special poignance in hearing Sondheim sing his own music. Although it is not included on this recording, Sondheim's performance of Anyone Can Whistle from Sondheim Evening: A Musical Tribute (recorded in 1973) makes me a little weepy.

The opening song on this CD is a jaunty tune Sondheim wrote (at age 25) for his friend Jerry Beaty's 39th birthday. Since it's Sondheim, it's no sentimental mush:

You look flashy, you look sporty,
you look almost as dashing as Morty*
Well, you're only as old as you look - and you look 40.

You look blase, you look nifty
But when they ask you your age you look shifty
Well, you're only as old as you look.
Let me look again - 50

Of in-laws you have a clawful
and the favors they ask are inlawful
Well you're only as old as you look
and you look awful.

Happy birthday, Jerry Beaty
May your problems be few and unweighty
Well, you're only as old as you look
and you look eighty...five
You're practically alive

*Morty refers to Morton Gottlieb, a theatrical producer who was known for his slovenly physical appearance.


I love McSweeney's

Help, Mom! There's a right-wing asshole in the pulpit!

Just in brief, here are things that the new dick in charge at church mentioned in his sermon:

The war on Christmas
Marxism is an extremist religion
Christians should not be tolerant of people with other religious beliefs
all religious beliefs except for Christianity are lies
even some branches of Christianity are suspect (I'm looking at you, Catholics)
There is no such thing as evolution

I got up and left before my head exploded, but I'm still furious this morning.

Our soprano section leader left the same time as I did, and as we were hanging up our robes, I said "if I wanted to listen to right-wing political bullshit, I'd watch Fox news". She said she's actively looking for another church job, because she doesn't think she can take another week of this. She's hugely talented and a soprano, so I don't doubt she'll find a good job, but I might have some trouble - altos are a dime a dozen, and while I am a fairly skilled sightreader, and have loads of singing experience, I have more of a soulful/jazzy/blues kind of voice, where most choirs are your standard classical style.

I'm also contemplating writing an anonymous letter to the Prudential Board of the church to complain about the downright lies that the new Rev. is preaching.


Give me your poor, your tired, your hungry

But if only if they have papers. Otherwise, it's detention camps for them.

The Republican Party - destroying everything that is truly great about America.

Why didn't I know this?

I rarely read the Huffington Post, but I just found out that Christopher Durang blogs there. Christopher Durang, author of the play "Laughing Wild", a title I borrowed for my blog, a title Durang borrowed from a Samuel Beckett play, who in turn borrowed it from a Thomas Gray poem (which is quoted briefly under the title of the blog, bringing it all together into a lovely Moebius strip sort of shape).

So maybe I'll have to add HuffPo to the blogroll. I would actually like to overhaul the whole appearance of my blog - after two years, I'm getting tired of the look of it, but I'm technically retarded, so that's not likely.


I wrote a day or so ago about getting in touch with an old friend of mine from my community theater days. He's directing the show Falsettos at the Southington Community Theater, and I said if he needed a Jason, I knew just the kid. Well, he already had a Jason, and, more sadly for me, he already had a Dr. Charlotte, which is a role I covet (although not as much as I covet the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, a role I am bound and determined to play before I die).

Today, I got an email from my friend saying his Jason dropped out, so he may need my Jason after all!

That's coincidence number one: getting in touch with someone right when they needed my help with something.

Coincidence number two: I've been feeling kind of lonely lately. I rarely hang out with anyone who isn't a family member, and I was feeling short on non-related friends, and yes, feeling a little sorry for myself. I was in the middle of writing a post about lonliness yesterday afternoon when my phone rang, and it was another old friend of mine, a woman I used to work with, and with whom I clicked immediately. So we made plans to get together for coffee and conversation, which is great, because she is truly one of the most original minds I know, and delightful to converse with.

I am going to take these coincidences as a reminder that I know a lot of people out there, and I need to take the initiative to keep in touch with them. My insecurity often gets the better of me when I think about calling people I haven't talked to in a long time - "oh, if they wanted to talk to me, they would have called by now," but I shall try to assume that they would be as pleased to hear from me as I would be to hear from them.

Tomato Head

Today is St. Patrick's Day, which means it is now the 29th anniversary of the day I acquired the unfortunate nickname Tomato Head.

I was in second grade, and Mrs. Johannson, in the spirit of the holiday, was offering a prize for the student who wore the most green. My mother decided it would be wrong if I didn't win, since I was the most Irish person in my class, and I was so competitive that I didn't even entertain the idea of losing.

I was green from head to toe. Green sneakers (oh, I loved those sneakers, kelly green with yellow stripes, although my father complained because green/yellow are Kerry's colors; he favored the maroon and white of Galway), green socks, green corduroy pants, green turtleneck, green Irish sweater, and the coup de'grace, a green ribbon in my bright red hair.

I handily won the contest, but on the playground, one of the boys in my class told me I looked like a tomato. I remember that sinking feeling of knowing he was right. My red hair on my large round head, with the little green ribbon as the stem. I was surrounded by a bunch of kids, yelling "Tomato Head, tomato head, tomato head!" at me.

I was not a sensitive child, so I didn't cry - I think I just went berzerker - screaming and kicking and throwing my fists out in fury. The teacher who was watching over the playground grabbed me firmly by the hand and took me to the nurse's office until I calmed down.


I just realized

My blog just had it's second birthday last week, and I completely forgot. I started blogging on 3/10/2004, as a result of a round of "where are the women bloggers". I'm not a great blogger - I don't post any scoops or get people motivated to action, I mostly complain and sometimes rant, and sometimes I just post out of sheer boredom, but most days, I enjoy having a place to express myself, even when no one is reading. (Then there are the other days, where I wonder at my own vapid inability to come up with anything witty, clever, entertaining or enlightening to write about. Like today, for example.)

Last year, on my blog's birthday, I promised more pictures and sex. I delivered on at least one of those things. This year, I have a feeling there will be more navel gazing, as I seem to be entering a time of existential angst. Please bear with me as I reexperience my adolescence - it probably won't last long.

Thanks to all my commenters for commenting, reminding me that I do in fact exist. Thanks especially to Shakespeare's Sister for letting me whore the blog at her site 3 days a week and just being generally supportive.


Just when I was feeling better, the entire admin staff of the office went out to lunch today and didn't invite me, even though I'm also on the admin staff. And because I'm the non-dramatic, non-hissy fit having member of the admin staff, I can't even make a big stink about it.

The universe can be pretty cool

I thought this was a pretty neat story:


Already feeling better

As usual, it is only by reaching out to others that I can pull myself out of my funk. I got an e-mail from my friend Leslie, who gave me a boost in the comments a couple of posts down, and then I was looking up auditions for choral groups, hoping to find a group to sing with over the summer, and I found the e-mail address of an old friend of mine, who is directing a show. I e-mailed him, he e-mailed me back, and now I feel really good.

It's a bad habit, retreating when you feel low, and one that I am inclined to do. I'm glad it worked out differently this time, before I got depressed.

I told you so

Number of times Loki has referenced the Deal since we got back from vacation 15 days ago: 5

Out of Sorts

I'm feeling very out of sorts today. Not grumpy, but not happy. I'm surrounded by people all the time, but I'm feeling kind of lonely. Busy, but not doing much that is personally fulfilling. And I have a small feeling of dread because Monkey's teacher wants to have a real good sit-down to discuss Monkey's progress in school. Oy.

And I'm burnt out on politics. I need to refill my well of righteous anger and passion, because right now, it's dry, even as fresh outrages come forward.


Not in my job description, but....

Today, instead of working on the many projects I have going, many of which are behind schedule because of my vacation and yesterday's car accident, my boss asked me to babysit her son. He has impetigo, so he can't go to daycare, so she brought him to the office, because she has meetings today and the world would crumble if she wasn't there to make sure it didn't*.

So instead of working on my actual job, I spent the morning watching Arthur and Thomas the Tank Engine and drawing pictures of various animals and doing all my stupid human tricks (whistling with my hands, armpit farting, juggling, levitating). My charge was particularly impressed by the levitating, which surprised me, because usually, little boys in his age range are all about armpit farts.

*I badmouth my boss a bit, but I really have a like/dislike relationship with her. I dislike working for her - she's a perfectionist control freak. But I really like her - she's funny and smart and witty and a pleasure to talk to...as long as we aren't talking about work.


Best Laid Plans

I cannot report on the Ned Lamont event. Instead of going to my meeting and then heading back to work before going to the event, I had a car accident.

Well, it wasn't my accident, actually. My boss was making a U-turn (illegal, but she did signal) and the car behind us tried to go around her, but instead plowed into the driver's side of the car. She's 8 months pregnant, so she was seriously freaked out. We were in the middle of the road for about an hour, the police came, the ambulance took the people in the other car to the hospital, and we eventually got back on our way. She didn't want to take the ambulance, but she did go to the hospital, where they admitted her for observation.

By the time I got back to work, the event was in full swing and I had to leave to take Monkey to her music lessons, so I had to be satisfied with driving by the Old State House and honking my horn and giving the pro-Lamont demonstrators a thumbs up.

I was feeling fine, earlier - I think I've been in bumper cars that jostled me more - but now I'm starting to feel a few aches and pains, so I may be heading to the doctor myself.

Slow blogging ahead

My already diminished posting speed will decline further in the coming weeks. My boss, who is a very difficult person to work for in the best of times, is going on maternity leave in a few weeks, and she's not coming back, so we have amped up the schedule to finish a bunch of stuff before she leaves. My phone answering schedule (which is when I usually get online) has been cut entirely, so I will have little time to post anything during the day, and at night, it can be challenging to get any time on the one computer with internet access we have at our house.

However, I do plan to attend the Lamont rally today, and will report on it either tonight or sometime tomorrow.


Last night in church

I sang at a Lenten Scripture and Song service last night. The service was held in the small chapel, and I believe the choir outnumbered the congregation (and most of the people in the choir are heretics, like me).

Anyway, the new minister, who I don't like, gave a sermon about Jesus toning down the miracles because it was distracting from his message. In his sermon, he said how a friend of his went to see the very popular band (at the time) KISS, and was raving about the show.

"Oh, man, you should have seen the light show!" his friend said.
"Yes, but how was the band?" teenage minister asked.
"Their costumes were amazing! with the platform shoes and black leather and makeup!" his friend said.
"Yes, but how was the band?" teenage minister asked.
"Gene Simmons breathed fire!" his friend said.
"Yes, but how was the band?" teenage minister asked.

My favorite tenor (MFT) leaned over and said "Jesus was just like KISS."

I said "yeah, at first he was all big with the showy miracles. But then he took the makeup off, and then his album sales went way down."

MFT: "the worst thing was when Jesus released that song, "Beth". The magic was gone when that dreck came out."

Me: "Yeah, before that, Jesus was scary, but interesting, turning water into wine, bringing people back from the dead...but you can't be scared of someone who sings a song like "Beth".


Monday, March 13, 4pm, at the Old State House

Ned Lamont's going to make an announcement, and I'm going to be there.

A Modest Proposal

I've been thinking over the anti-choice movement, and to find a way for Democrats and Progressives to bring some of the anti-choice people over from the dark side. I proposed this over at Shakespeare's Sister, in the comments section, but I've been thinking about it and I think it deserves a greater airing.

Why don't we just remove the testicles of all men, when they hit puberty, to be returned when they are legally wed and therefore legally obligated to care for any sprog they help create.

*Diminished sex drive due to absense of testicles means the problem of premarital sex will go away!
*By the same token, the occurence of rape will diminish, which means no pesky exceptions for pure virgins who find themselves knocked up due to an unwilling sexual encounter. It insures moral coherence!
*If an unmarried woman gets pregnant, we'll know that she's an adulterer, so there is still the option to punish, or at least shame, women for having teh sex.
*Less invasive then ownership of uteri and ovaries, since they're just hanging there on the outside rather than tucked away on the inside.

True, some men will probably be opposed to this. There are a lot of good progressive men out there who probably don't deserve this kind of treatment. But women aren't the only Americans who can't be trusted to manage their own reproductive health. There are men out there who have fathered multiple children, only to abandon them to life with a single mother, which, as we know, is second only to a household parented by two loving people of the same gender in sending this country straight to hell.

I'm glad I could solve this dilemma in a way that is fair to both genders. I will be contacting my legislators shortly to ask them to put forward my modest proposal.

International Woman's Day

Today is International Woman's Day, and I will point you to this scorecard to give you an idea of how some places in America are celebrating. I swear, the news these days is making me feel like doing some castrating, starting with these guys:

See how they like having the government mess with their reproductive organs, however withered and tiny they may be.


Trip - day 1


I was going to post about all the pre-leaving the house brouhaha, but I can't remember all the specifics anymore, so I'll just briefly state that I did all the work and everyone else just got in the way (or got out of the way when I actually needed them) and so I was pissy and bitchy and cranky by the time we actually got in the car to drive to FIL's house.

My favorite moment, before we actually left, was when I went out to the car and packed all the dogs stuff - his food, bowls, treats, and a gate so FIL could cordon him off if he got troublesome. Then Loki got into the car and we started down the driveway. And then I realized that the dog was still in the house! Early onset Alzheimer's is not pretty, people. I keep asking the girls to reassure me that they will take care of me when I can't remember who they are anymore, but really, there's no way for me to ever know if they follow through, is there?

FIL was a little pissy and bitchy and cranky, too, because Loki told him we would be there two hours before we actually got there, and so FIL canceled a doctor's appointment. FIL should know by now to never trust Loki's assessment of when we will get anywhere.

We took the CT Limo bus from New Haven to LaGuardia. There was hardly anyone on the bus, so Loki sat behind me and stretched out to take a nap. But the ride was bumpy, so he woke up and started talking to the gentleman who was sitting across the aisle from him. This gentleman, Al, was a visiting professor who had just completed a brief stint at Quinnipiac College. He was going back home to Hungary, and he and Loki got started on all kinds of topics. Al spoke 5 languages, so he taught Loki some helpful French phrases and laughed when I told him we learned "nous ne soutenon pas le President Bush". Al said we should be careful anywhere in Europe because anti-American sentiment is very strong right now.

We said our adieu's when we got to the airport (Al was flying from JFK), and headed into the terminal. As we were sitting in the boarding area for our flight to Philly, the airline announced that the flight was oversold, and were looking for travelers with flexible travel plans - they offered a free round trip ticket anywhere in the continental US for travelers who were willing to give up their seat on this flight. The alternative flight would send you to JFK, and then to Philly, giving you 45 minutes to catch the flight to Paris. This will be heretofore known as "the deal". I said "No thanks," not just because of the too-brief layover, but because the thought adding one more airport (JFK) to our itinerary made me feel like puking. Loki pestered and pestered and tried to rally support from the offspring, but the girls chose to side with the practical parent instead, and I won the popular vote.

Our flight to Philly was lovely - it was dusk and flying over the NYC skyline is always kind of inspiring. The pilot told the passengers that we picked a beautiful night for a flight.

When we arrived in Philly, we found that the flight to Paris was delayed 2 hours. Cue the "I told you so" from Loki. "We should have taken the deal. We'd be no worse off than we are right now, and we'd have free round trip tickets to anywhere US Airways flights in the continental U.S. and Canada!" Except, of course, it took him longer to say all that and he repeated himself several times.

About an hour before the flight boarded, I took 2 Tylenol PM, so by the time we boarded, I was ready to sleep. The last time we flew overseas, I didn't sleep on the plane *at all*, and so I was seriously jet lagged for the first couple of days of our trip. I was not going to do that again. Monkey and I sat together towards the back of the plane, and Loki and Sio sat together towards the middle of the plane. I remember the crew announcing they were about to begin food service, but I was totally asleep by the time they arrived, so I never ate.

We landed at about 11:30 local time, and made our way through immigration, where Loki received applause from the clerk for his French. If you've never been to Charles de Gaulle, there are two terminals. We were in terminal one, which is a circular building that could have been in the movie A Clockwork Orange, a resemblence that conjures a sinister feeling in my mind, at least. Loki and the girls napped while I exchanged some traveler's checks - which took forever, because there were two windows open but only one clerk. He kept going back and forth between the two windows.

I had directions to the hotel, and we found it relatively easy to get around. We took the RER A to Gare du Nord. We had a little bit of a struggle figuring out how to get to the Metro from there, but Sio's French was quite good, and the young man behind the desk gave us a marked up map of the Metro system, so we took the Metro to Place de Clichy.

The place was hopping, and reminded me of Times Square, although on a smaller scale. We figured out where our hotel was and checked in. We stayed at the Hotel Beausejour Montmartre (which I can recommend heartily - inexpensive, clean, very helpful staff, free internet in the lobby). I took a much needed shower, and then napped for the hour Loki was in the bathroom. (Loki has ezcema, so he needed to moisturize). We got ourselves all spiffied up and headed towards the Sacre Coeur.

It was chilly and cloudy, but not unpleasant as we walked. We passed by the Moulin Rouge (or at least the road on which the Moulin Rouge lives) and the Montmartre Cemetary. As we headed upwards, Loki kept stopping to ogle the tiny cars.

It started to rain as we got close to the Sacre Coeur. Loki and Monkey dipped into a creperie to get some food (Loki had a panini and a Kronenbourg; Monkey had a chocolate crepe.) Sio and I went into a tourist shop and picked out postcards, and I bought a cheap plastic raincoat. I put the raincoat on, and an old, toothless French man started to talk to me:

"Vous regardez très joli. Le bleu regarde assez à côté de vos cheveux rouges."

Umm...je non parle pas francais?

"Vous regardez très joli. Le bleu regarde assez à côté de vos cheveux rouges!" At this point, he actually reached out and touched my hair.

Sio, can you help me here?

"Vous regardez très joli. Le bleu regarde assez à côté de vos cheveux rouges."

Mom, he's trying to tell you that you are pretty and blue looks nice with your hair.

Oh. Merci

I then skedaddled up the hill. It's international - old toothless men love me.

Sio and I checked out all the artists at the square at the top of the hill, right around the corner from the Sacre Coeur. Sio attracted a lot of attention from the men, who were clamoring to paint her, but we just checked out the menus at the restaurants around the edge of the square.

Loki and Monkey caught up with us and we went around to the Sacre Coeur. The building is recognizable to anyone who's seen the movie Amelie, and there is a spectacular view of Paris from the steps of the basilica.

We went inside the sanctuary, and I'm disappointed that pictures weren't allowed, because there was an impressive organ inside. I would have liked to share that with our organist, who lived in Paris for a year but never visited the Sacre Coeur.

It was evening now, and we took some pics from the hilltop in front of the basilica, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. I will add one of those pics later.

This is also where we encountered our first impressive set of stairs, which, in a way, defined the city of Paris for me. I'm disabled, as I may have mentioned, and I walk with a cane. Paris will always be a Cite d'escalier in my mind - it's not a very handicapped friendly city, at least not by design, although the people I encountered went out of their way to be helpful.

We ate at Chez Eugene, near the Espace de Salvador Dali. The food was predictably good, including my vegetable salad of carrots, beets, and this delicious white vegetable that turned out to be a kind of radish. We had a bottle of wine with dinner. I'm not normally a wine drinker - I don't have the palate; to me, all wine tastes like bad grape juice. But it wasn't too bad. I had a lemon tarte for dessert, but it was way too sweet for my taste, so Loki ended up eating it.

We walked back down the hill to the hotel. Montmartre is charming and romantic in exactly the way I imagined Paris to be. Cobblestone streets, cozy streetlights, incredible views. We stopped at the Moulin Rouge on our way back, just for Sio, who adores the movie Moulin Rouge. It was pretty seedy. We went back to the hotel where Sio, Monkey and I crashed. Loki went back out to one of the Irish pubs we passed where he had a chance to talk to some people while enjoying a few beers. I was asleep when he came back, but he said it was 3am when he got back in. Apparently, the Moulin Rouge area gets a whole lot seedier as the night goes on - he said there were a lot of prostitutes in the area as he walked back to the hotel.

Next update: Ireland.


Come back, Rev. Heretic, come back!

Yesterday was the first service I attended with the new minister. Between his whining about Christian prosecution (We can't have religious displays at the town hall! We can't have the 10 Commandments in a courtroom! We're not allowed to pray in school!*), and his assertion that The Passion of The Christ is the greatest movie ever made, I just about got up and walked out in the middle of the service.

I knew Rev. Heretic was special when we had him. Damn retirement! Come back, Rev. Heretic!

*I don't know about the courtroom one, but I know for a fact that the first and the last whine are complete lies. The beautiful thing about our country is that the state cannot compel anyone to pray to a particular God. That's one of those things that makes America great. And that's how we know right-wingers actually hate America.


Sorry about the lack of posting - I've basically only used my home for sleeping purposes this weekend, between birthday parties and church and visiting my parents.


Time Warp

I don't know what is happening today, but I got to work at 8:30 a.m., I've been at work for approximately 18 hours (according to my internal clock), yet it's actually only 3pm. Is anyone else having a ridiculously long day?

Remedial Math education works

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

I was perhaps a little too excited that I knew how to figure out the answers to all the questions.


Home at last, home at last - a brief overview

The family pisses me off just as we leave, but then we're on our way. We all piss off our FIL who is watching our dog and driving us to the bus. Yay, we're at the airport! Boo, flight is delayed. Finally, we're in Paris. Charles de Gaulle looks unsettlingly like it belongs in the movie A Clockwork Orange. We figure out the train system as we go, lugging 38 kg of luggage around. We found our hotel! The room is clean and we all take a nap while Loki is in the bathroom for an hour and a half...maybe he took a nap, too?

Montmartre is the picture next to the word charming in the dictionary. Climb the hill to Sacre Coeur - oh, my, what a view! Back down the hill to the hotel.

Pre-dawn hours, head for the other side of Paris, catch the bus to Beauvais. Although no one at the airport speaks English and our French sucks, we make it to the right place and board a plane to Dublin.

Rent the car, drive to Dublin. The first locals we encounter scare us. We are accosted by a man who wants to talk about Bush with us. Nous ne soutenon pas le President Bush! Guinness factory...I think Loki actually cries.

Drive out of Dublin halfway to Galway. I need a bathroom and a phone, and miraculously, all the bathrooms and phones between Dublin and Galway are out of order. Loki meets a fellow who saves Ireland's reputation, and finds us a very cheap and very nice B&B for the night.

Morning, en route to Galway. The roads are ridiculously narrow, but oh, man, is it beautiful. Athenry, the mirror incident, and then we're in Tuam. We make our way to my ancestral home, built by my great-grandfather on land that's been in the family since forever. Meet cousins. Not hungry? Doesn't matter, because you can't say no.

My kids decide they want to live on a farm. Meet more relatives, eat more food, drink more of whatever they won't let me refuse.

Connemara, unbelieveably beautiful, and the best Chinese food I've ever had in the westernmost point of Ireland.

Spend the day with the family - Loki rides in my cousin-in-law's sports car and lives to tell about it. Monkey has joined one cousin's family, and Sio has joined another.

Galway City - shopping, shopping, shopping. Again, great food in Ireland. Worst traffic I have ever seen - I commend the forces of evil for designing the Bodkin Roundabout.

Sadly, we leave Ireland and go back to France. Yay, Paris! Our apartment is divine, the location is amazing, and we explore.


stairs, stairs, stairs

Tour Eiffel!

stairs, stairs, stairs

Musee D'Orsay!

stairs, stairs, stairs - yay! an escalator! Oh, it's out of order

Arc de Triomphe!

stairs, stairs, stairs

Notre Dame!

stairs, stairs, stairs

Sadly, we leave Paris and go to the airport. Uh, oh - they sent us to the wrong terminal. Uh, oh, everyone seems to be leaving the counter as we approach. Uh, oh, even though they can see I am clearly a person of reduced mobility, they aren't willing to extend themselves to let us on the flight, even though it's not boarding for THREE FUCKING HOURS!!!!! No flight for you!

Back to Montmartre, great Chinese food, and Sio gets the e-mail address of cute French/Chinese waiter.

Back to airport, we get on the flight that lasts for what felt like 43 hours. Yay! Philadelphia! Boo! US Airways SUCKS and we bounce from gate to gate on standby, each time our hopes dashed. We finally get confirmed on a flight at 8:05, 1/2 hour flight becomes an hour and a half, we get our luggage, get our bus home, and hug the relatives who are waiting to pick us up.

Yeah, that's the short version.