Monday, December 15, 2008

we interrupt this regularly scheduled program ...

to bring you the holidays,

whirlwind shopping panics,

frantic baking episodes,

loads of social events,

a new hockey season (times two boys!)

newsletters to print,

envelopes to address,

and Christmas presents yet to buy ...

*sigh*

I'll be back when things calm down a bit.

But then again, that may be naive wishful thinking!

Monday, December 1, 2008

ack! where have I been ...

Obviously not here!

Sorry folks, it's been a nutty couple of weeks. I've actually been avoiding my housework, my husband and my kids in favor of a silly little project I've currently got my head wrapped around. I somehow got this bee in my bonnet to create a Geography unit for one of the 8th grade teachers I support based on this amazing book I read last year -- Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Honestly, I'm not even sure he's going to go for it. Regardless, once I start something there's really no turning back for me.

So, if he chooses not to go for it, I've decided to torture you all with my most recent mental occupation -- reconfigured information from the book and its affiliated website. Enjoy!

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
  • The impact of traversable landmasses, domesticated animals and crops, germs and innovative technologies on the rise and dominance of certain civilizations

  • Yali’s questions: How is it that it took tens of thousands of years for my own ancestors to reach New Guinea and it has taken only 200 years for white Europeans to colonize New Guinea? Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo [consumable goods] and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people have so little cargo of our own? Why have different peoples ended up with disparate degrees of power and influence?

  • Commonplace things, such as wheat, cattle, and writing and the uneven distribution of these simple elements shaped the course of global history and played a vital part in the epic story of continental competition.

  • Domesticated animals and crops were essential for meeting humanity’s basic economic needs: carbohydrates, protein, fat, clothing, traction (for farming) and transport.

  • Continents which were easily traversable, such as Europe, encouraged trade among different people and stimulated development ultimately led to beneficial long-term outcomes

  • Physical geography of the world and natural impediments such as mountain ranges or bodies of water created isolated civilizations which adversely affected the development and influence of those civilizations

  • How these factors (e.g. geographic advantages) determined the rise or fall of civilizations depending on their access to guns, germs and steel. Why some areas prospered and others were left behind, victims of the hand of cards they had been dealt
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jared Diamond’s Theory: Factors Underlying the Broadest Pattern of History


I absolutely LOVE this stuff!! If I could afford it, I'd be back in school in a heartbeat! Can't you see it ... me, the long-term graduate student, plowing through dusty, musty tracts of history and anthropological research seeking out kernels of long-buried knowledge, waiting to be unearthed and brought to light.

I love it!

Later this week ... Cities and Civilizations: A Necessary Alliance

Saturday, November 15, 2008

retro is the new cool

My baby girl teenager has to dress up as a hippie for tonight's big sorority club social and we've been running around getting stuff to make this happen. Thinking that this was going to be a major pain and ultimately an exercise in futility, I was shocked to find so many 60's options in the regular retail world.

I had no idea that peace paraphernalia was still a happening thing! As well as flare cords. And love beads. I mean, it's crazy!

I grew up in the early seventies where we still wore remnants of the period (funky colors and patterns, exaggerated pant legs and ridiculous shirt collars) before an even more frightening period--disco--took the fashion world by storm.

Yikes!

I can't even bring myself to delve into the fashion atrocities associated with Valley Girl ... it makes me cringe to recall those venerable and vulnerable adolescent years. I can barely recall puffed up hair, flipped colors, and five hundred bangle accessories without dry heaving just a bit. I'm also sure I'm in a conveniently amnesiac state with regards to the power suit look of the Working Girl era--big hair, even bigger shoulder pads and horribly unflattering pencil skirts. Who ever thought that was attractive!

Well, today I got to revisit my Sesame Street youth ... and all was good. I found myself on the lookout for the kind of things that Maria, Gordon, Susan and Bob would have worn while having an engaging conversation with a large yellow bird or trying to teach me my ABC's.

















It was a good field trip and it felt successful on so many levels. And my baby girl is going to knock everyone's socks off!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

good things

Right now, instead of complaining (nice change, huh!) there are quite a few good things in my life that I feel compelled to list:
  • I have healthy, happy kids - grateful!
  • the Steelers beat the Redskins - incredible!
  • I have the bestest friends in the whole wide world - thankful!
  • the Phillies won the World Series - a miracle!
  • autumn in the Northeast - beautiful
  • I lived to see a black man become President - joyful!













And most important of all ...
  • I'm not irritated any more -peaceful.

Friday, October 31, 2008

irritation

You know what irritates me ...

getting blamed for something I have no control over, such as:
  • other people's expectations not getting met
  • other people's annoying actions
and especially
  • other people's own anxieties getting amplified because of my own
Yea, I know I am an exceedingly anxious person. Sorry to be the repeater of old news, but I am. I worry about money. I worry about making the right choices. I worry about making serious mistakes that could adversely effect other people. I worry about my kids and their happiness and how they'll turn out. I'm uber aware of my own insecurities and how they rear their ugly little heads when I try to prove my worth. And, yes, I'm annoyingly consistent with my constant refrain of "I'm not worthy!" "What's the point of me!" I get it; it gets real old. Fast.

I get it!

But guess what, that's me! Take it or leave it!

And you can stack those flaws right up there with my insanely strong capacity for empathy, my over-riding sense of charity, my willingness to extend myself for someone else and my characteristic in-the-moment, super-charged exuberance.

I'm the one who doesn't wait to be asked, but pitches in and helps out. -- no thanks or accolades needed. I'm someone people turn to when they want a sympathetic ear, to give them kind advice without judgment or censure -- when I can offer some. I'm the one driving OTHER people's kids here and there because they know they can count on me. My flaws and strengths are pretty much different sides of the same coin. And quite frankly, I can't imagine being any other way.

So when you have the misfortune of seeing me crab about, grousing "The sky is falling and I haven't a clean enough cave to hide in", by all means do not point your finger at me and say "YOU are the problem" and "YOU are the reason everything is so gloomy" ...

... be sure to point that finger right back at yourself and say, "Well, aren't those the exact same feelings I was having --- I just didn't want to hear them said aloud."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

new favorite artist

Judith Owen. On so many levels, she rocks!

Check out her awesome parody of good ole' Sarah ... she really nails it!














xxooxx

Friday, October 24, 2008

time for a good stiff drink ...

... or two.

At this point I refuse to keep count. It's Friday, it's been a very long week, my house is a mess, and I'm ready to have some friends over to crack open a bottle. Or two!

Damn, I'm glad it's Friday!

Cheers to you all!

xxooxx Mollygras

Friday, October 17, 2008

trekking north

It's that time again ... our semi-annual Ladies' weekend up at the lake.

yee-haw!!

I plan on eating lots of chocolate, wearing my fuzzy plaid jammy pants and drinking plenty of wine all weekend long! And I don't have to cart anyone else around for the next 48-72 hours!

Friday, October 10, 2008

moms with sticks

My newest obsession ... learning to play field hockey!

Yep, it allows me to run my rather ample behind around while chasing down other moms with their sticks (or dads -- it's a bit of a co-ed thing) while trying to take a very hard ball away. I wear pigtails, cleats, shin guards, a mouth guard, and carrying a rather swanky pink stick ...




And boy can I really pack a mean wallop with that bad boy!



But the problem with learning a new sport as an old lady is constantly experiencing frustration and/or cognitive dissonance between what your brain calculates and the timing of your physical moves.

For example, I would LOVE to look like this when I play on the field (that would be me, in the red):





Pretty fierce and amazing looking, huh?!










But alas, I end up looking more like this (again, that would be me--in red--on the ground!)...






The laws of gravity are harshest for those with ample girth!!





So I must continue with my current crusade to learn this game and get better at it because I absolutely LOVE whacking things with big sticks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

fitting

Instead of enduring more depressing news via NPR, the kids and I opted for iTunes instead.

Their pick: "Disturbia" by Rihanna.

Ummmm, to my mind, that's a little too apropos.

Next time, I'll suggest we try to fool ourselves; we should listen to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"!

Friday, September 26, 2008

critics review

**this was written in an attempt to entertain myself while on the job supporting 8th graders in Comp class; their assignment was to pretend to be a restaurant critic at home)

This Critic's Review

The first thing a patron notices upon entering Chez Crumhole is the chaotic energy emitting from the core of this dismal dining operation. The chef is rather frazzled and tense and can often be heard expressing many unpleasant comments during meal prep.

The decor is cluttered and terribly lacking in appreciable (albeit unrefined) ambiance. The kitchen is more than a little appalling, the service is provided by disgruntled and terribly wifty individuals and the dishes are bland and--not surprisingly--unappetizing.

For example, my most recent (and unfortunately not my last!) meal at Chez Crumhole consisted of pre-packaged, pre-cooked meatballs carelessly slung into a pot of pre-packaged, canned red sauce while a scary-looking pot of boiling water was filled with pre-packaged, pre-processed hardened penne noodles. As a consumer, I was filled with a peasant-like sense of dread knowing that this meager offering was not a scrumptious culinary experience but yet another disappointing caloric refueling obligation.

This critic takes away stars from Chez Crumhole for this restaurant dining experience and would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone else (unless of course your last name happens to be Crumhole ... and then that leaves you with no other options!!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ode to the start of school

driving, driving, driving
work and work and work
driving, driving, driving
tennis, soccer, and homework
driving, driving, driving
slam some laundry in
driving, driving, driving
off the grocery again
driving, driving, driving
what? where do we have to meet?
driving, driving, driving
*whew* I am definitely beat!

Friday, September 12, 2008

here they go again

It's the middle of September and the neices and nephews should be in full swing at school.

Except they're hunkering down for yet another hurricane -- Ike.

feeder bands ... this has become a blasphemous word to my Southern people.

And to top things off, my mom lovingly told me last night that gas prices are expected to shoot up another $1 a gallon. Damned refineries parked out there in the middle of the Gulf!

I really despise hurricane season.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

pesky fonts and reading dramas

Has anyone ever doubted to power of letters. I don't mean the ones written by hand and mailed with a stamp -- I'm talking individual l-e-t-t-e-r-s.

Take for instance the seemingly simple, at the very beginning, start it all off, first letter of the alphabet: A or a.

For most kids, that little guy belongs to 'apple' -- 'a', 'apple', 'ah' (except it's not meant to pronounced like you're having your tonsils checked; your supposed to pronounce it like a New Yorker or a Bostonian!)

This is kind of an important letter; it's seen in lots of important words like cat, map, waste, and academic annihilation!! Unfortunately, this booger can really lay a kid low if he or she can't manage to wrap their fuzzy little heads around this particular squiggle.

And to make matters worse, font masters have to go and fuck things up for these poor kids by providing so many letter shape varieties.

The problem with "a's" is that they often show up looking quite different in just about every kind of text a kid runs across. For instance, Times New Roman likes to use their funky "a's" (with its weird Buddha belly and strange swoop-y toupee at the top) and Comic Sans likes to employ what I call the primary or Kindergarten letter "a" (with its simple round "o" and straight-backed line). Which one is the real "a"? Well therein lies the rub. Kids are expected to write one type of "a" and be prepared to read/identify (with a hitch) several different other kinds.

And we won't even get into the issue of italicizing letters (as well as all those different "g's"and "q's")!

Learning to read --especially for kids who struggle with partially wired brains, brains that like to "flip" images, or brains that like to make images "float" around before identifying them-- can be a real special kind of hell. And for me, it's terribly frustrating to see them struggle so hard to make out those inane distinctions while trying to put all those arbitrary symbols together into a coherent whole. It's a wonder so many people manage to read at all.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

breakage

Wowzer! What a storm!! Here's an incredible clip of the damage that occurred in this quaint little town where I last had permanent roots in Louisiana.

And here are some great pictures of trees gone topsy-turvy on top of people's residences and all sorts of other amazing pics (be sure to hit the caption option to read where the pictures were taken and what they are). It's kind of freaky to easily recognize so many places in those photos.

On a more personal note: I have been in touch with the folks down there. Besides having a lot of limbs and trees down and some roof leakage (lil sis had a total of three trees come down on her driveway and take out a vent in her roof), most of my family fared rather well. The final verdict is still up in the air because my cell phone contact with them is sketchy at best. All of them are without electricity and aren't expected to get it back for days.

Hopefully, for their sakes, the debris clean-up and electric line repairs go fast and so that they can be back on their feet before the next LSU football game.

But--what with this being Louisiana and all--I doubt it!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

watching and waiting

My people down in Louisiana have battened down the hatches, gased up the vehicles, bought the TP, beer and milk and are bracing for the next "big one"!

I, on the other hand, am constantly checking my computer--weather.com and wbrz.com--for hourly updates, or I am on my cell phone keeping close tabs on my little huddled masses.

Gustav looks primed to affect my family more directly than either Katrina or Rita did three years ago.

And it's more than a little nerve-wracking not knowing how this thing is going to turn out.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

stalling for time and trying to thwart physics

I'm supposed to be doing a ton of severely neglected house chores: The laundry (par usual) has piled up to mountainous proportions, the bathrooms are disgustingly fuzzy and slimey (yuck!), every floor in my house is debris-strewn and crunchy and in serious need of a vacuuming, etc. etc. etc. ...

Oh, and did I mention ETC.!

And the source of my inactivity comes from my desire to just read blogs and drink coffee.

Physical Law (part 1):
A body at rest, tends to remain at rest.

*sigh* I am such slug -- an end-of-the-summer-school's-about-to-start slug.

And I still have loads of things to do.

Perhaps that's why I'm in this "idle" mode: Once I get moving, I won't be able to stop because there's absolutely no end in sight.

Physical Law (part 2):
A body in motion, tends to remain in motion.

*sigh* I'd just really rather remain resting a little while longer!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

reality check

OK. I know the last post was over the top. But I was emotionally feeling "over the top" ... or "under the bus" or "through the wringer" or whichever wretchedly appropriate prepositional phrase you (or I!) can come up with.

To make a short story long ...

I've been reading a lot of fluffy-plotted steamy romance novels this summer because, well, I guess for lack of a better reason, because I've been unwilling to literally experience anything deep or meaningful or unpleasant or life-altering or even uplifting. I simply haven't had it in me to want to do any real thinking.

So romance novels it is!

Well, I started to feel a smidge guilty over letting so many of my letter-decoding synapses go all catatonic and then rigor mortis on me so I decided I needed to jump into some "real" reading. So I grabbed Pos's copy of The Grapes of Wrath.

I thought, "Hey, Steinbeck, he's brilliant! He's all literary and poetic and acclaimed and stuff. Surely I'll be able to coax some of my brain cells back from the dead!!"

Boy was I wrong. I slipped from brain dead status to crippling depression overnight. I couldn't get past the horror of deprivation and misery and abject poverty and railing against forces bigger than you and all the kind of things that can keep a person up at night.

Pos did warn me. He did say it was a tough read -- said it wasn't a good book for me. And boy was he right. So I stopped reading
...

but unfortunately, what that man wrote managed into get lodged in my head anyway.

[Flash forward several nights later, pre-post rant]

Me: Pos, can you please put these receipts in Quicken?
Pos: Sure, I have a couple to put in myself.
Me: Hey, did you manage to log today's haircut expense?
Pos: [looking at his laptop screen; ominously silent] Uh, no!
Me: I told you about it on the phone this afternoon, just before going to pick up a few things for dinner tonight. You said you got it.
Pos: [voice taking on a particularly dreadful edge; his response, more of a snarl] I don't have our Quicken information on my work computer. What makes you think I would have any idea about our numbers?!
Me: [heat rising to my cheeks; begin to seethe] Well, what is the balance?
Pos: [pregnant, obscenely ample pause] Not enough!
Me: Fine!!

[All the while, I'm in a full blown panic!]

*Funny how money always has a way of doing that to me.*

“Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!!” I mentally moan to myself. “How am I going to scrape us along until payday? School is fastly approaching and there is SO much I have to get. Shoes are needed for the boys. The girl needs new bras. Everyone’s socks have holes in them; quite a desperate fleece situation, really. And the boys need bigger undies!” I can’t even bring myself to look in the frig and take a most dismal inventory of our sparse rations.

My mind races with lists and lists of expenditures and comes completely short of indentifying enough income to match the need. I feel like I’m in a freakin’ Steinbeck novel and we’re about to load up the minivan with our meager, dusty possessions and head west for some seriously hard apple-picking times!

Yikes!

But then I remember, I’m not all that and we’re not all leaving and things really aren’t that bad. I just need to have more patience. And more resilience. And I especially need to have more faith in the overall choices we make for our family.

In the meantime, my dreams about winning it big with the Lottery take on an exceptionally intense luster and gleam in my furtive imagination. And I find myself drifting off into blissfully extravagant daydreams involving an unlimited expense account, a beautifully appointed flat in Paris and all the new underwear my children could ever want!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

hating now

tired, insolvent, frustrated, and angry ...

quite a deadly combination.

I have an irrational hostility towards the the here and now ...

especially towards myself.

I feel livid

and hopeless

and terribly, terribly sad.

I can't even begin to layer letters

structure words

orchestrate sentences

to describe how I feel

right now.

Wasted,

I feel like a waste.

An angry waste of space

with time to kill.

Monday, August 11, 2008

back in the saddle

Ugh! It's painfully early (for me!) and I'm up and stumbling out the door.

I start teaching summer school today -- 8:30 - 12:15; with two soon-to-be 3rd graders, two soon-to-be 1st graders and two soon-to-be 6th graders. My "fancy" repertoire will run the gamut from basic letter recognition and printing to double-digit adding and subtracting to pesky pre-writing practices and traditional grammar drills.

If these poor kids feel as brain dead as I do ... this is going to be a LONG three weeks!

Monday, August 4, 2008

edit request

OK, I need everybody to jump into your "way back machines" now and try to remember having to write when writing simply didn't come naturally to you or when you were really getting your pre-adolescent wordsmith wheels underneath ya.

I'm trying to come up with a writing checklist of sorts for a couple of summer school students of mine (boys; about to enter 6th grade, very reluctant writers) and I'd dearly love to give them some guidance without 1) forgetting something important, or 2) trying to over do it by including way too much information (which, unfortunately, is my tendency).

So please, please, please, tap into your 70's era schooldays memory banks and help me slodge through these nerve-wracking checklist tweaks.

************************
PROOFREADING CHECKLIST-INTERMEDIATE

Content how well did I write?
□ Did I remember to write only what I was told to write about?
□ Did I organize my ideas and information carefully … ?
• by listing the events from beginning to end [OR]
• by listing the facts from least important to most important [OR]
• by coming up with a set of questions then trying to answer those questions with good research [OR]
• by coming up with a main idea and then using good supporting details and descriptions to explain that idea
□ Did I select useful words that would help my readers understand what I’m trying to say, AND capture their interest AND hopefully create images in their minds?
□ Did I use plenty of well-researched information? [from other books, encyclopedias, magazines, the internet, etc.]
□ Did I check to make sure all my facts are correct?

Formathow does my writing look?
□ Did I choose a good title?
□ Did I include my name and the date?
□ Did I number each page?

Mechanicshow well did I follow the rules of writing?
□ Are all my paragraphs indented?
□ Did I capitalize words correctly?
□ Are all my words spelled correctly?
□ Did I make sure each sentence was complete and made sense?
□ Did I make sure every sentence had the same verb tense?
□ Did I use correct ending punctuation as well as all other punctuation?
□ Did I use quotation marks correctly when including someone else’s words?
□ Did I include a proper bibliography if I borrowed someone else’s work?

***********************
For any and all assistance, my appreciation knows no bounds!

attitude adjustment

I'm over my grouse ... thank goodness!

It's amazing what beautiful, no humidity, high 70's summer weather can do for one's disposition ...

plus a lovely long walk in said beautiful weather.

I just need to somehow get my head screwed on straight, start to buckle down and finally get ready for the next three weeks of teaching summer school.

I just hope the weather holds ...

it may be the only thing keeping me from going crazy!

ta-ta for now ;)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

bloggedy blog blog blah!

I have less than motivation, less than enthusiasm, less than gumption
to get up and go.

It must be the dog-days of summer now ...
so I'll simply say, "bow-wow-wow".

Regardless of my mental state,
I have summer school to plan and prep for --
call previous year's teachers; look over potential materials; make a sensible schedule,
etc.

but I don't want to.
I want to mope around
and feel lazy,
and feel useless,
and feel stupid
because that's how I feel right now.

but I want to be energized,
engaged,
creative,
productive,
successful ...

but right now,
I'm none of those things ...
and maybe
(I'm guessing here)
that my funk may stem from
knowing
that more than likely
I've never been one of those wonderful things
and most likely
never will ...

compost, man
I'm feeling like a pile of compost ...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

reading, riding, and relaxing ...

and obviously tons of recreating ... with no time for writing.

I've been terribly blog-lite as of late, but I hope that the upcoming grind of tutoring and teaching summer school will motivate me to start writing and conversing with you all again.

In the meantime, (if you can believe it!) I'm off to our special own nirvana--Lake Wallenpaupak--with the boys for the rest of the week ... Pos and eldest daughter are slated to join us over the weekend.

While there (and as long as I can manage it!), I plan to continue reading, relaxing and of course recreating!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

desperation over time ... or with a little wine [take your pick!]

And I quote ...

"Wow, is it possible! You're actually blogging!!"
[Pos verbally flings from the far corner of the living room]

"Yes, smartass! I'm actually taking cerebral synaptic functions and putting them into dedicated keystrokes ... and if they make absolutely no sense ... well, then you can blame the three glasses of red wine I had before sitting down and attempting to be coherent in front of computer!!"

Just know, that some of us can fold laundry inebriated ... can clean up after a dinner party inebriated ... can make love inebriated ... but only the biggest goonbas among us can fool themselves into believing that they can type [spell, use proper grammar, make literary sense, etc.!] while inebriated!!

It's really a damn shame what a little red can do to one's mind!

;)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

lessons learned

I'm finally back ... THANK GOD!

I've never been more overjoyed to get back to my own home, to my own family, and especially back to my own bed!

The delirious homecoming I received from my dog was a perfect representation of how I was feeling when I opened that front door and walked inside.

And because there is SO much to process and possibly blog about, I've decided to do my usual bullet statement summaries of the more salient and memorable moments of my return home:

  • To go home means to drink more (and I'm talking copious amounts of beer, wine, and frozen daiquiris!)
  • There is absolutely NO way to romanticize or minimize the shittier aspects of your culture and heritage ... they're still shitty!
  • I had to go into a smoke-filled, skanky bar to cash my mother's weekly work check: that's how the working poor do it down there.
  • I think I've filled my second-hand smoking quota for six years.
  • I've enlarged my carbon footprint times 25: where I'm from, you can't get from point A to point B in under 30 minutes, it just ain't possible.
  • The kindest and nicest black people there are still treated like dirt (or less than dirt, like they don't even exist at all)
  • Working poor rednecks are some obnoxious sons (and daughters) of bitches.
  • Dealing with crazy relatives (especially during a death in the family) makes you want to drink until you fall down
  • Never count on getting anything (and I mean ANYTHING) from said crazy relatives when it's time to divide up the dead relative's effects; those crazy people think all that miscellaneous shit is their due!
  • I never counted on crying so much (and crying for some of the most unforeseen and emotionally rending reasons)
  • The stupid adage "you can never go home" is bit too pertinent for me
  • I'm constantly astounded by how much control I have and don't have over others ... and it really freaks me out!
  • I'm never, ever more glad to have what I've got
  • I need to practice a more consistent mantra of "I have everything I could ever want; my life is good!"
Well, that's all I got right now. I'm still trying to reenter back into my real life and all the acceptable craziness that that entails.

But stay posted ... I'm sure to do more processing of my trip home in the days to come.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

home bound

It's already been a whirlwind summer ... and we are not even through June.

I drove 11 1/2 hours to Oak Island, North Carolina--without Pos: just me and the kids--to make a last minute vacation happen with family and friends.

It was a blast! The weather was great, the kids had a great time and the gin and tonics were superb!!

Then five days later, I drove another 11 1/2 hours back home. I think if I never see I-95 (and that godawful loop around D.C.!!) I won't be sad.

And then I'm home barely 24 hours when I get the call.

My granddad is finally passing and my mom is absolutely distraught.

I'm torn: #1 I want to go and support her and my sister. #2 I've already said my goodbyes to the lovely old man last year: I don't want my last memory of him to be that of a unrecognizable shell. #3 I want to be here, with Pos and the kids: I don't want to experience the gamut of emotion that's sure to greet me when I get there.

But I'm going. Today. And I'll be gone for a whole week. Not knowing what to expect.

My granddad passed away last night. He quietly drifted off, in his own bed, with his eldest daughter at his side.

I'm going home to be with my family, but I just know that I'll be torn the whole time I'm there. Deep down, and true to my nature, I simply want to be in my own home with my own family grieving in my own way.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

two gears

I'm either in perpetual motion or in a dead stall (i.e., blog-reading or snoozing) and these extreme tendencies do not lend themselves very nicely to writing: Writing requires way more energy than I've got when I "stop".

So when the 15 y.o. comes up to me this morning and says, "Yo! Mom! I need another story. You need to post something new!" I just wanted to grab my cup of coffee and amble off to the deepest recesses of my house and take a mid-morning siesta. And the last thing I can wrap my head around (in my current state of torpor) is wrestling with word choice and the pithy placement of written ideas.

And to make matters worse, I do my best thinking when I'm doing something else ... like driving or gardening or running the vacuum ... and unfortunately, when I'm ready to type everything out, my brain goes idle.

My brain really has a mind of its own: It really frustrates the hell out of me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

what a difference a half an hour makes

I was running late--so typical of me--when I noticed the brooding, darkening of the early evening sky. I'm supposed to get to the pool early to drop off cash/son for teen activities night and stick around to help chaperon this youthful mayhem.

So's I says to myself, "Hmmm ... this looks a little like some nastiness is about to kick loose and I certainly don't think we're wanting to be poolside when nature unfurls her fury!"

Sure enough, as we arrive and to start setting up for the night's events, the wind starts blowing. At first it's rather pleasant--having been 90+ degrees for the past few days--when traveling from the north at a rapid clip are some pretty wicked clouds. And that's when the doo-doo hits the proverbial fan!

Along with the two other chaperoning adults and all the lifeguards, we start running around grabbing chairs and umbrellas that are getting flung in every direction and watch as one of the lifeguard stand umbrellas--still open--gets snatched by the wind and has its 3 i/2 inch pole snap in half! Kids are running around being dramatic, obnoxious and oh, so helpful (not!) while phone calls are being made to have parents turn around and retrieve their storm-watching charges.

I offer to give one of my daughter's friends a ride home--whereas I, without a sensible molecule in my brain, had let my own daughter walk a mile and a half to another friend's house--in order to avoid any damage due to the increasing high winds and the occurrence of some seriously scary lightening strikes.

Can you get electrocuted if you talk on your cell phone, outside, during a thunderstorm?

Well, at that moment I didn't give a crap about that potential consequence because I was on the phone every three minutes trying to find out if my kid made it to her friend's house safe and sound ~ and she did!

So we piled up--my middle son, my daughter's friend and myself--in my van and peeled out of the Swim Club parking lot and made fast tracks home. I dropped the friend off at her house, I even offered to wait oo that she could get changed and then deliver her to the other friend's house.

But I'm ever so glad she declined my offer ... because I was about to experience one of the most hair-raising drives of my life!

With no time to squander, I left town and cautiously made my way home with winds, lightening strikes and rain picking up in the most alarming manner: it was like driving through a hurricane!


And to top things off, one of the more unforseen things about my bucolic daily commute is that my route is absolutely littered with towering, branchy old trees looming over me as I skitter past in quiet terror.

So that's where the real fun began!

While my poor son was whimpering and white-knuckling next to me, I calmly drove around fallen tree branches, tree trunks and all sorts of natural debris. Before it started to pour, I had the windows down and every time there was a lightening strike--and just about every one of them flashed overhead!--we could feel an alarming sharp blast of heat prickle our skin right after each strike. It was more than a little freaky!! When the rain came down, it came down in buckets, in sheets followed by little pelting hail ... my poor windshield wipers were almost useless against the stuff!

As I was slowly and steadily making my way home--all the while soothingly reassuring myself AND my son that everything was going to be all right--several times we would have to slow to a stop in the middle of the road in order to make out the white line on the right side of the road. That white line was the only thing guiding me on along that winding road!

The one and probably only miracle about that scary ride was that I never once had to experience a tree branch falling into the road or onto a car or onto house ... I luckily came upon all the damage after it had occurred.

I received at least two phone calls--one from Pos and the other from my very worried daughter--while attempting to make it home alive; middle son was a very useful message taker during our ordeal.

As we pulled into our neighborhood, the wind and rain was finally dying down and the only thing remained were lightening flashes off in the distance. Three of my neighbors had huge trees come down onto their property and miracles of miracles, not one of their houses got demolished in the process!

My white-knuckle-drive-of-terror took approximately 24 minutes whereas that commute typically takes me 10 minutes.

I'm never going to look at those tree-lined roads the same ever again!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

a drop in the bucket

I don't care if it dropped $12 from an all-time high of $135 a barrel ...

I still had to pay $69 to fill up my van.

And to further rant ...

Instead of a quickly-consumed petroleum product, $69 bucks could have gotten me:

1) 12 pairs of nice and comfy faux suede flip flops from Target

2) a swanky pair of very nice summer sandals from DSW

3) a savory lunch out with hubby

4) 17 gelatis from Rita's

5) a knit skirt, a cute casual dress and a nicer ensemble from Old Navy

6) much needed underwear, socks and bras

7) 2 cases of constantly consumed doggie treats

8) bed linens, my bed desperately needs new king-sized bed linens

9) snacks, my children thrive on a constant supply of ever-depleting snacks

10) white porch paint and supplies for my dilapidated and paint-peeling front porch

Well, that's all I can think of for now.

But I'm sure I could come up with a tank full more!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

it's not payday YET!!

four days ... and counting ...

and it's really rather unfortunate that I have to fill my van with gas,

and buy groceries,

and buy the obligatory, end-of-the-school-year teachers' gifts,

and listen to my daughter's lament: "I don't have a bathing suit worth wearing!!"

We're also looking down the barrel of the one and only family vacation we're taking this summer ...

traveling down to Tennessee to attend lil' bro-in-law's wedding...

630 miles away.

Did I mention that I have to fill up my van?

and put my dog in the kennel

and pay the neighbor's kid to take care of our outdoor hutch bunnies

and buy enough pulled pork to feed 50+ people

and the fixins to make my mama's world famous potato salad ...

again, for 50+ people.

And can I even contemplate buying a wedding present?

after buying gallons of pulled pork

and filling up my van for the third,

no, make that the fourth time!



Four days and counting ...

until payday.

But alas, within seconds, all that moola will be gone

and I'll have to start counting again!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

not terribly coherent

I'd really like to post something thought-provoking ... perhaps something with a little panache.

But I can't.

I'm tired.

And my brain hurts.

And I have dishes to do.

And it's 9:08 p.m. and my dog wants me to go to bed.

Maybe I can deliver on some panache tomorrow ... probably not!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

jetlagged

We're back ... and I'm fully back into the swing of things.

Well, sort of.

I'm exhausted and my rather uninterpretable schedule--it's like I never left--has not provided an opportunity to recovery and relax.

For example, right after landing at the Newark International Airport, I'm on the phone with the kiddos ("Hey guys! We've arrived!! How are you all doing!)and we're being hit up with the "please drive me into town" requests! I can't even catch my breath--from the 12 hours of traveling--before starting to stress out about a myriad of timing and maneuverability issues associated with my kids! Luckily, my mom was at the house -- large and in charge!

Upon arrival home, Pos quickly delivers middle son into town, I greet dog (who was absolutely beside himself with joy over our return!), hug younger son and embrace a really tired mom -- they are all delighted to see us again. Piles of travel debris begin filling up the living room; souvenirs, postcards, and travel guides are extracted from various pockets and holds of luggage to be shared and poured over. I wearily walk my dog for the first time in days and eventually I climb into a snugly pair of jammies with every intention of climbing into bed -- sooner, rather than later.

We had Burger King for dinner; it felt a bit ironic!

While I was gone, my mom did the most amazing things to my house. She scrubbed and organized my kitchen and mudroom into a new and better state of existence. She also cooked scrumptious meals -- the leftovers are currently sitting in my freezer waiting to reward my patience! For Mother Day's, I took her out to lunch and then to a fancy trombone concert (the Posaune Decouple) -- the music and the venue was amazing!

Sadly, yesterday, I had to take my mom to the airport for her return trip home. Even though I had an incredible time in France, I didn't get nearly enough of a visit with her. I'm absolutely committed to flying her back up next summer -- I'll get a longer visit; and I just know she'll help me tackle the basement and attic mess sufficiently!

Well, I'm at work (sort of) -- in body, but with a weary spirit. Luckily, my one-on-one charge is on a field trip today at Gettysburg and I'm at loose ends. I'm hoping to do more posting as my energy level reemerges, but more importantly, I'm hoping to get more writing done when my schedule lightens up due to the summer schedule.

Best to you all ... and most importantly, keep on posting!

Monday, May 5, 2008

bon jour mes amis

I'm finally here!!

We flew through Amsterdam (the airport -- way cool, really Bau-Haus looking; awesome lounge chairs that we were allowed to snooze in after our brutal 7 1/2 hour flight from the east coast).

An overnight in Bordeaux -- beautiful accomodations in the center of the old part of the city; breathtaking views of amazing architecture as we drove out of town.

Passed through a passel of bucolic French towns (so many houses and buildings built with tawny-colored stone and Spainish-looking red tile roofs); with names such as Baron (we stopped and checked out a funky, cool crypt), Branne, Castion da Battlion, Lamothe-Montravel, Velines, Gardonne, Lamonzie St. Martin, Bergerac (where we stopped and had a delightful, French-inspired picnic and saw the statue of ole' Cyrano de Bergerac), Cryesse (we had to "crawl" through the mother of all open air flea markets or more specifically, what we translated from the original French [vide-grenier] to mean, "empty out the attic"), Tulliers, St. Caprise de Lalinde, Le Buisson de Cadoin, Siorac de Perigord, St. Vincent de Cross, St. Cyprien, Beynac et Cazenac and finally we arrived in Sarlat!

In Sarlat: incredible, incredible, simply incredible!! The food is beautiful and delicious; the sights are just charming and amazing; our accomodations are so posh and delightful -- I can almost imagine being a real Frenchman!

Major downside: Have to struggle in order to communicate in my terribly limited way -- most common phrase used: Pardonez moi, Jeu ne parle pas le Francais, parlez vous l'Anglais? And I pantomine like a wild woman! It's incredible that anyone can figure out what I'm trying to say! But the French here are so helpful and friendly that they have been kind enough to overlook my limited language abilities.

Wine, cheese, and fresh bread with every meal ... I'm going to have to be rolled home at the end of this week! Upon our return, I truly promise to post pictures of our adventures!

Well, I must dash ... I have a lovely dinner to help prepare (grilled duck sausage, fresh green salads with Truffle oil (purchase at local closed air market), fresh strawberries and cream, noix aux chocolat (chocolate covered walnuts -- local speciality) and a lovely local red wine ... YUM!!

Until then ... au revoir!

Friday, April 25, 2008

when does writing ever become easy?

That's another million dollar question.

I work mostly with seventh grade boys (well, one in particular - he has moderate to significant physical limitations and my suspicion is he has a few cognitive issues as well) and occasionally my job is to keep my charges on task and producing.

Well, when my pal--we'll call him Dan--is expected to work with anything that's straight up black and white, fact-based and then asked to recall what he has just been exposed to, he nails it. Ask Dan to read and then process information (where he's expected to analyze, synthesize or connect it to previous knowledge), forget it. And the sad part about this last feature of learning is that very few of those seventh grade boys can do that either.

Which brings me to my writing conundrum.

Without a real, confident sense of 'how', I'm expected to guide, coach and conjole my young charges through the process of reading, thinking, organizing and finally writing relevant written responses. It's a painful process at best.

The getting of facts and then turning them into complete thoughts (i.e., complete sentences) without the temptation of plagairizing is not too terribly bad. Boys like to list facts--one after the other--with some (and sometimes not) sense of logical order. But it's the introduction and conclusion paragraphs that get my boys in a bind. For most of them, they intuitively don't get the purpose of introducing (and then ending) their papers.

It's like their brains can't grasp the idea of communicating "Hi! This is my subject and it's just so great and these are a few really amazing eye-catching reasons why my subject is so great (but I'll try not to repeat myself or write my entire paper in this first paragraph!)" and "Goodbye! Wasn't that a great paper and I bet you're glad you now know so many important, never-knew-it-before-but-it's-so-important-to-know stuff about my subject (and again I'll try not to repeat myself or rewrite my paper in this paragraph!)"

It's enough to make me want to gnash my teeth, pull out my hair and dread the lowering of intelligence and educational standards of our future society.

But then I must take a deep breath and remember my own junior high experience. Because honestly, I can't ever remember being taught how to do this nebulus writing thing -- I just sort of had to figure it out on my own (and as an adult, I got lots of help from Pos and from reading good writing).

So, I have alot of curiosity/anxiety/energy tied up into this whole writing thing. I want to know how to teach it effectively and successfully, I want to be able to do it myself easily and successfully, and I want to know what's happening in a kid's brain (through all the developmental stages) when they are thinking/planning/executing their writing.

I have so many questions. This whole written communication process simply facinates me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

trying to get it all done

and not quite making it!

OK, OK, I know, I've been pretty scarce lately. Well, the thing is I've got this trip coming up (to France, no less!) and it's taking up major space in my brain:

  1. What to pack?/what to wear?/what shoe selections make the most sense?
  2. To carry-on? Or not to carry-on?
  3. [That is the million dollar, too close to Heathrow for my comfort, question]
  4. Trying not to forget the passport,
  5. What kind of itinerary do I leave for my mom (AKA: the big dame to be in charge of kiddos and poochie),
  6. How do I write down all the inane things I do/handle/bombard me/manage to accomplish in a week?
  7. Morning routine: how is my mom going get my brood, out the door, on time, for an entire week?!
  8. Kids' schedules: drop-offs/pick-ups - never the same; after school sports - never the same; various social agendas - ditto; etc.
  9. Making piles/making lists: friends' and family phone numbers, school phone numbers - two sets, doctor's number, dentist number, orthodontist number, health insurance cards, car insurance cards, will information, important papers, etc.
  10. Talk to the neighbors - explain the presence of a solitary, strange lady while the couple is away
  11. The dog? How do I begin to address the issue of my co-dependent dog?
  12. Try not to forget the passport.
  13. Clean my house (one more good time) - my mother can not know the reality of my housekeeping skills; it would be embarrassing.
  14. Have I mentioned the just-barely-house-trained dog?
  15. Have I also mentioned that my mom and stairs don't really mix?
  16. Did I also mention that the only way to reach a grassy surface, you have to tread some stairs?
  17. A dog run - we have to install a dog run before we leave.

Ummm, I know I'm missing something ... But I'm confident that it'll come to me just as I'm drifting off to sleep.

Friday, April 18, 2008

dashed off excuses from an AWOL blogger

It's officially Spring ...

the flowers are finally blooming, the grass is tall and shaggy, lacrosse/softball/baseball are in full swing

and my house is a disaster.

I never have more than five minutes to sit in front of the computer

or read my favorite blogs

or do Facebook

much less compose a written-worthy thought.

I'm a Springtime slacker

and I know it.

Hedy, Pos, Mya,

thanks for your comments and kind words

and I desperately wish to reciprocate ...

but I must dash.

I'm off to my next unscheduled, chaotic time-wasting outdoors event.

Monday, April 7, 2008

scullery maid, seamstress and synaptic misfires

Whew! It's been a week!

Well for starters, I survived yet another high school dance event! For an almost 40 y.o. female, I sure have spent a LOT of time prepping for high school dances ...

I get to schlep, shop, seamstress and play hairdresser for the 15 y.o. without the lovely benefit of dinner and dancing myself! By the time the event arrives, I'm completely through doing the handmaiden duty and am ready to retire with a bottle of red and a good book. On seamstressing alone, I spent approximately five hours on the double hem of her dress and then last minute had to move strap buttons because, well, that wasn't working out either!

For shoes, hair and finally make-up, I was the Simon Cowle of advice-giving and appearance critique. And the real kicker is that by the end, I'm convinced I've never actually cinched my daughter's appreciation regarding most of my efforts.

Needless to say, I'm completely thrilled with the fact that the formal dance portion of her Freshman year has come to an end ... I was seriously concerned that we might have ended up in parent/child divorce court over the progressive increase in stress and monetary expenditures!

But overall, I have to admit, she did look smashing!

And regarding my scullery maid alternative personality -- it's about ready to revolt and start waging an all out war in this household. My only excuse is that it must be Spring and certain systematic and irrational features of my brain must be overwhelmed by all the accumulated clutter and overall state of shabbiness and disrepair. I'm bemoaning the state of my floors/baseboards/mudroom/attic/basement/garden beds/front porch/back yard/deck latticework damage/etc. etc. etc. etc. ...

Hey, I never claimed to be a rational person. Just possessed of a selectively anal compulsive disorder!

And another tax on my mental capacity can best be explained by the following MollyGras equation:

Synaptic misfires = looking:seeking:searching + access to print:internet information + random:not-so-random:[albeit loosely]connected preformed ideas + identifying:grabbing:holding:corralling ideas + mental webbing[organizing]/thinking & note taking ---> cranial bombardment

[translation: I'm in research mode for a story idea that's been plaguing me for years and refuses to vaporize from my overactive imagination, so I've recently relented and have been getting a little serious with my muse. This is going to be an interesting summer!]

Well ta-ta for now as I continue to suffer from a self-inflicted case of multi-tasking brain overload ... and I really see no end in sight. My only saving grace is knowing that it'll be Friday soon and with Friday comes lovely glasses of mind-numbing wine!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

eight year olds and long term projects

He excitedly called it his "Orbital Studies" project; where he wanted to create magnificence in the form of core board posters and paper maché. I called it long-term drudgery that would require every ounce of my patience and strength.

Now this particular child of mine has VERY definite opinions about what he wants and how he wants to do things (ergo he'll make a great movie director/CEO/dictator someday!). But in the meantime, he's a constant source of emotional terror in our household -- and as far as the family is concerned (and because I'm the weakest link) I always cave in to his strong personality. *Did I mention that I'm obviously fostering the next generation of hot-headed movie directors/egomaniac CEOs/hostile dictators!)

Anyhoo ...

So instead of surfing my favorite blogs, submitting comments to my favorite blogs or even posting to my own blog, I've submitted my time and mental/emotional/creative energies to the newly aroused enthusiasms of my second grader.

So without further ado, here's a Mollygras original, illustrating the experience I like to call "Primary Independent Studies Hell":

Get ready, set … go!
Build an ant -- a humongous ant.
I am labor: he is management.
“What,” I repeat, “WHAT do you want to make?”
That? And THAT? ALL of THAT?!
Alright, let’s get to it.
Cook sticky paste. Shred strips of paper. Blow up balloons.
Mess, mess and more mess.
Black -- paint everything black.
Not one, but two poster boards
affixed to one another like civil engineering construction.
Information, you need information.
Type. No, focus! Now type. Dude, FOCUS!
(Are we almost done yet?!)
Hot glue, packing tape, wire, paste –
we would have used the adhesive properties of spit if needed!
What about that spot?
OK, how about including this?
More glue.
Almost done.
Good - I have exactly 24 minutes of patience left.
Finally, the apparatus is trussed up and completed.
He is thrilled!
He can’t wait to show his classmates HIS project!
I secretly email the teacher:
I was labor. He was management.

Hmmm, analyzing my life, I’m seeing a trend here …

Thursday, March 20, 2008

desperately seeking ... something

OK, OK ... I know I've been on a major negative roll lately:

wah! wah! No money! wah! wah! Frustrated with life!

But the fact of the matter is that I'm about to turn 40 (in May!), I'm stumbling about trying to raise 3 kids, I don't give my husband nearly the amount of attention he truly deserves, and I'm stuck in a strange professional predicament.

I'm also having these middle of the night palpitations over "Is this what I want to DO for the rest of my life?" "What the hell is WRONG with me?!" "Where am I going to get the money for THAT?!" ... stuff like that.

I can't concentrate, I can't be happy and I'm stressed out of my gourd.

I hate where I am right now and am struggling mightily to figure things out.

Here's a Facebook comment I slammed out yesterday summarizing my current state:

Lately I've been freaking out because of where I'm at: emotionally and professionally speaking. Currently I'm sitting at a crossroads and the fastly approaching summer (i.e.: impoverished season!) is starting to invade my psyche.

I want work = make enough money + schedule flexible + be available to my kids

I want to feel useful + be proud of what I do = job satisfaction

I want to be involved in an occupation that challenges me + motivates me + taps into my creative strengths ...

making money vs. fulfilling personal passions ...

Currently none of these things are meshing! :(

I know, I know ... wah! wah!

So instead of whining and grousing, maybe I should do a better job of getting perspective:

healthy, mostly happy family (*check)
kids happy at school (*check)
house in good neighborhood (*check)
food when needed (*check)
clothes and shoes (*check)
transportation easily accessible (*check)
great friends who want to spend time with me (*check)

I really could go on and on ...

but I've done enough to remind myself of the important things.

Monday, March 17, 2008

bored ...

and not terribly inclined to do anything about it ...

just yet ...

but here's a silly video to occupy two minutes of your time ...

if you're so inclined.

:)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the perils of not communicating

You know you are being influenced by the Hells when …

you’d much rather nurse a toxic grudge,
you’d much rather feel really pathetic and sorry for yourself,
you get all mopey and despondent throughout much of the week
and make everyone feel bluesy and sad when you’re around

instead of …

taking a deep breath,
getting a grip,
counting your blessings,
trying to focus on the positives,

and communicating hurts and misunderstandings.

For me, it always, inevitably comes down to my emotional Achilles heel = money.
When I wrongly perceive an inequity of resources being allotted
or wrongly perceive a selfish prioritization of expenditures …

Then I turn into a snipping, snarling evil gremlin-like person
and in turn, I’m cold and uncharitable to the very person
I wrongly perceive as creating my unhappiness.

Lack of money – that’s what makes me unhappy,
Not Hubby.

Therefore, when I have a hissy fit,
and hurl accusations,
and hurt,
at the one person who ALWAYS gets it …

I certainly DO NOT deserve the beautiful vacuum cleaner
(that he had been researching and online price comparing for weeks and planning to buy THAT very night!)

right after I had my hissy fit
and hurled my accusations,
and poured out my hurt.

Because, honestly, I really need to do a better job of taking deep breaths, getting a grip, counting my blessings and focusing on the positives.

And communicating before things get that bad.

Because I really do love that guy,
and all that he does for me,
and how he wants me to always be happy
(when he and I both know that it’s me who sabotages my own happiness on a semi-regular basis)

And, in a silly, silly really rather shallow way
I really, really love my new vacuum!

Monday, March 10, 2008

simply waiting

I’ve always been a waiter – a person who acutely feels the passage of time ticking in between things.

I feel I spend about 85-95% of my time just waiting.

Waiting for big stuff and little stuff to happen: waiting for long-term and short-term stuff to hit my radar.

I feel like I’m always waiting on the dog to complete a bowel movement.

I wait on the kettle to boil.

I find myself waiting for one of my children to call and tell me they’re ready to be picked up.

I end up waiting for innumerable sporting events to begin. And then I wait on those blessed final minutes when they end.

I wait for more messes to be made so that I inevitably have to clean them up.

I wait for things to break, or get trashed or simply not turn up.

I wait around for friends to invite me over so that I have an excuse to drink.

I’m waiting for those last ten pounds to drop.

More times than I care to count I have to wait for other people to make decisions so that I can make my own.

I wait around for inspiration to strike so that I can do something other than waiting.

Frequently I can’t wait to read my favorite blogs. Then I have to wait for newer posts. But ultimately I have to wait for a spate of courage to invade my soul in order to leave a comment.

I usually can’t wait until after dinner so that I no longer have to wait to go to bed.

I’m waiting for that moment of clarity and understanding when the purpose for my existence reveals itself.

I’m waiting to discover what is “normal”.

I’m waiting for final confirmation – that I’m really full of shit.

I’m waiting for reassurances that my kids will grow up to be good people – that I didn’t mess them up.

I’m unconsciously waiting for the other shoe to drop – and find out that I’m not that resilient after all.

I’m waiting for people to stop being so mean. Or ultra-sensitive. Or insecure. Or unthinking.

Or maybe I’m waiting for the uncomfortable truth to be revealed that I’m all of those things – and then some.

And as existential as this sounds, maybe in spite of all the things we accomplish and manage to get done, we are all just waiting to disappear. Get turned back into dirt.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

powerball fever

I tell ya, when those numbers climb up over 100 million, my daydreaming capacity really kicks in!

Currently, the pot's sitting at $230 mil ~ the next drawing isn't until this coming Wednesday.

In the meantime, I'm completely, ridiculously obsessed with what I would do with that money if I were the BIG winner.

~ it's really rather pathetic how I've managed to let this mental addiction take hold ~

anyhoo ...

Suppose the final total were to be up over the current $230 million. And after numerous (and obscene amounts of) taxes have been accounted for, I would then be allowed to take home a humongous cardboard check which would essentially amount to about $100 million dollars, ...

what then?

Well, I'll tell you--because for the past two days this has been clogging my brain arteries and I somehow need to purge this mental demon by posting about it!--by giving you a list of ways I intend to deal with that mountain of cash!

[*ordered according to how each inspiration popped into my head!]

1) Establish trust funds for my three kids; I never, ever want my kids to ever have to worry about money ever, ever (is that enough ever's?!):
= $30 million/$10 mil each

2) Set aside two separate operating costs funds for the hubby and I; I don't want us to have to worry about money ever, ever, ever again (are you all seeing a trend here!):
= $10 million/$5 mil each

3) Preemptively provide for a family appeasement fund -- pay off siblings' cars, pay off siblings' mortgages/buy them houses, set up niece/nephew trust funds (right now there are 13 of them @ $250,000 each):
= $6 million/roughly $3 mil for each side of the family

4) Pay off existing and projected debts -- cars, mortgage, private school tuition for the next 11 years, future college/art school/film school tuition for my kids:
= $1 million

5) Build a new, more energy-efficient, not-so-big house:
= $1 million

6) Establish a family travel fund:
= $1 million

7) Donate to some very specific, personally relevant charities -- our church, our kids' schools, my college scholarship fund [Bread Upon the Waters], my old high school, specific medical organizations, the cancer association, plus a few others:
= $5 million/roughly $250,000-$500,000 each

8) Create The Foundation of Good Causes and the Place Where You Can Follow Your Dream; we shouldn't be the only ones to benefit from this mystical, magical monetary windfall!
= $35 million

9) Invest the rest in a highly diversified portfolio:
= $10 million

10) Lawyers' fees (*Dave, you interested?!)
= $1 million

Wow! I'm so glad I did that! It was rather therapeutic to make "real" that which is imagined.
And besides, you never know ... crazier things have been known to happen; and isn't it clever of me to be SO prepared!!

Now
all I need is that winning combination ....

;)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

spring break 2008

Lame ~

that's what my kids are saying about our week off so far.

No exotic locals; no beaches; no outrageously priced mice ~ nope, none of that.

Instead, we've signed up for the simplified vacation package:

(1) sleep in til 10:00 a.m. (or later, depending on your sleep preferences).
(2) all-day pajama wearing is encouraged.
(3) loads and loads of commercialized T.V. watching for the youngsters.
(4) loads and loads of blogging and Facebooking for the elder.
(5) housework/laundry/unfinished projects ~ conveniently relegated to mental "no man's land".
(6) the sucking-black-hole-of-canine-affection gets more undivided attention than he knows what to do with.
(7) a matinée may be scheduled ~ but don't get your hopes up kid!
(8) spend way too much money (of which we really don't have) on Rita's water ice and random dessert fixin's (because when a vacationer can't get going, at least they can consume some savory calories!)
(9) receive random emails/phone texts from other Spring Breakers (because they are feeling slightly bored!), whose vacation options have included touring the Grand Canyon, lounging on the beaches of Sanibel Island and fast passing it in the Magic Kingdom!
(10) getting to hang out with my kids just about every day while succeeding in fulfilling NO pressing obligations.

Hmmm, actually, our vacation plans don't sound so lame after all!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

miniature memoirs

This past Wednesday, my daughter comes home from school with a copy of her high school newspaper clutched in her overburdened hands. As she struggles to haul 60+ pounds of school cargo out of the van, she reads to me some of the more important and entertaining stories being reported.

One story I found rather intriguing was a writing contest, or challenge, that was being sponsored by the English Department: Write your life's memoir in six words or less! I thought "Wow!, what a great idea! I'm all over that!" To learn more, I did a little investigative reporting and managed to locate the first ever Six Word Memoir contest (thank you Google!). I was able to check out how the contest originators determined what a good memoir was and perhaps derive inspiration from some of the original entries.

So, without further adieu, here are a few of my potential mini-memoirs:

once, rather cute; now, terribly unattractive

when awake, perpetual motion; prefer sleep

words: evade, elude, taunt, torture me

when tough comes along, I flee

shit job: my name listed first

enviable, graceful, cultured, elite - I'm not

can't fathom inspiring; only manage surviving

still waiting for something to happen

Whew! I could go on and on ~ but I won't !! However, I challenge you, my lovely blog-reading pals, to come up with your own succinct brand of literary life summations and send them along to be shared!

Best of luck :)

Friday, February 29, 2008

significant shortcomings

I swear, I simply can not depend on my brain.

I’m constantly having to deal with such annoyances as getting in front of the computer, trying to write a blog entry, and then having my mind go completely blank -- no ideas, no recall, no words -- just blank. And all of that mental pre-writing I had going on while washing the dinner dishes – gone, null, void! This lacking/limited/defunct brain function frustrates the living hell outta me.

This particular synaptic penchant of mine also extends to my word recall abilities. I could be having a conversation--a really great and meaningful conversation—and in the middle of trying to construct a really complicated point--BAM!--words escape me, they fly right out of my head, they fail to be properly retrieved from their word-storing pigeonholes.

In addition to brain malfunctions and unreliable mental functions, I have several other deficits and shortcomings that have lately been plaguing me/ preventing me from making positive life changes/dragging me into the depths of personal despair. In order to encourage some sort of cathartic transformation, I feel compelled to share as many of my pesky traits as I can ~ so here’s a flawed inventory of some of my more “favorite” attributes for your post reading pleasure:

  • I’m convinced I have dyslexia/a learning disability/a slight mental retardation

However, I am very cognizant of these input/output difficulties, and work that much harder/have that much more empathy for others who suffer with the same difficulties

  • I’m am lazy/ADDish/have a marked tendency to lose focus and/or interest in many, many things

However, I have somehow managed to stick with some pretty important things ~ finished college, still married, still raising my (haven’t posted on Craig’s list) kids

  • I have numerous physical deficits: not so attractive/wear glasses/significant droopy, saggy, wrinkly parts/big butt/unfortunate propensity towards gassiness

However, I’ve somehow managed to snag a great-looking guy/most people are willing to hold a conversation with me and not hide when I turn up (just as long as I’ve managed to hit the loo prior to most encounters!)

  • I deeply care about what people think of me/am horrified when I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings

As a result, I feel very dedicated to the Golden Rule ~ sometimes at great personal sacrifice

  • I need my sleep way too much/my waking:sleeping ratio is frightfully uneven

However, when push comes to shove, I am able to forgo my favorite state of consciousness in order to make important things happen ~ it’s just not very pretty afterwards!

  • I’m not sophisticated: I’m uncultured/unrefined/ loud/

As a result, no air of pretense surrounds me ~ what you see is what you get!

  • Occupationally speaking: I am an unrealistic professional idealist/a bit wishy washy in the decision-making department/an overall self pessimist

However, every job I have ever had, I’ve worked hard/did what I was expected to do/and most times did even more

  • I’m not terribly ambition/not motivated by wealth/uninterested in achieving personal fame

As a result, I don’t necessarily covet other people’s success/lives/stuff they possess

  • I’m a rather fearful individual/a big coward/incapacitated when having to face big changes

However, I have always been willing to step in/take over/help out when a situation demands it

So there it is folks, bumpy warts and all. And for some reason I have it stuck in my defective brain that if I were to win the Powerball millions that somehow so many of the above mentioned flaws could be eliminated/smoothed over/made better through enormous financial resources. I could sleep as much as I needed ~ no need for a job/could hire a very entertaining Au Pair/get twice-a-week housekeeping with laundry service. I could go back to school ~ help “rewire” my mental circuitry with better modes of information. And best of all, I wouldn’t have to make ANY career choices that could potentially, and drastically, affect my family

~ me with loads of money = a free agent + greater availability + child resources provided + future plans could be made!

So in summary, I’m going crazy because I find myself at another annoying mental/financial crossroads and am stuck in this highly unrealistic and idealistic skullcap of indecision and angst. More than anything, I’d love to spend my $5, accumulate those winning numbers and be able to buy my way out of this conundrum!

Monday, February 25, 2008

sitting sideways from the soundboard

Last Friday was an extremely rare, typical blue-moon, date night for me and the hubby. Several weeks before, he scored some fancy tickets to a Friday night Jazz concert at the Kimmel Center with a delicious dinner option preceding it. It was certainly a step-up from Panera and Starbucks!

The food was fantastic, the music was fabulous and the weather managed to behave itself in spite of dire predictions.

One of the funkier, cooler aspects of going to this event was that we had seats behind the soundboard and got to see the soundboard guy do his thing. That set-up was quite a sight to behold: I mean a big venue soundboard (really, probably ANY concert soundboard) is HUGE! And the whole time I'm listening to groovin' tunes, this guy is sliding back and forth doing rather fiddly things ~ hands splayed, pinky always extended, fingers twisting, twitching, hovering over minuscule dials. And one of the more humorous observations I had about his doings was that he seemed to only concentrate his attention on 20 out of the roughly 479 dials at his disposal! It seemed rather bizarre and bewildering that he chose to mess with just those ~ the volume or tone or even the lights never really changed after his twitchy machinations. But then again, I'm not a soundboard-trained professional. I continued to puzzle over his actions throughout most of the concert.

However, regardless of the added distraction, watching this guy tweak and twiddle somehow enhanced my overall listening experience ~ maybe, I liked having a "show" to go along with the music. Perhaps I'm just insanely curious about what other people do. More than likely, I enjoyed pretending that I was somehow in on the action!

Either way, it was loads of fun and can't wait to go out on another "exceptionally rare/blue moon" date event with the hubby! Maybe next time, I'll be able to lean over and quietly ask my incessant, unanswerable questions to the soundboard guy in real time.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

snared

I have been caught up and flung into another web of addiction ...

Facebook!

My sister-in-law emailed me an invite (I said "Yes!") and before I knew it ...

I had 30 friends, 15 FB toys, 11 entries on my Wall, 28 FB emails and 3 invitations to take random quizzes.

I mean this kind of stuff can take over your life. I blew off the dinner dishes, practically threw the 12 yo off the computer chair (when he had every right to finish typing his 6th grade History paper - "But dammit, you're typing TOO SLOW!!," I yowl at him). Snapped at the 8 yo to read his bedtime story to himself. Blatantly ignored the 14 yo's "deathbed wish" for more cups of soothing tea.

It has been Facebook or nothing for the past two days.

And I'm afraid I see no end to everyone's suffer anytime soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

sleepless in slumberville

Last night sucked.

I went to bed late enough -- had to work hard to keep my eyes peeled open and my brain engaged -- reading my latest book. [I'm a terribly slow and easily distracted reader: the dog kept chewing at my toes through the blanket].

Lights off and me snugged up warm and cozy -- sans the wiggly dog. He was retrieved by Pos early on (thank goodness!).

Then I began to twist ..., scrunch ..., curl ..., stretch, roll over ..., grab second pillow, curl ...

I just couldn't settle down.

It was like my brain was good and ready to shut down but my body was waging the "wiggle wars"!

And then the itching and scratching began.

I have no idea why this particular physical annoyance seems to drive me bat shit, but it does.

I try to ignore it: try to imagine it's all psychosomatic.

But my imagination gets the better of me:

Dammit! The dog has fleas!

Bedbugs! OMG! I have a rabid infestation of bedbugs!

Lice! When was the last time there was an outbreak at school. OMG! I'm the next victim!

I have a terminal skin disease--like leprosy--only more subtle and nocturnal in nature!

If I have to scratch ONE MORE TIME I'm going to go flipping crazy!!

And then I proceed to twist ..., scrunch ..., curl ..., stretch, roll over ..., grab second pillow, curl ...,

all over again.

I think I was even doing all of this in what little sleep I managed to get.

Therefore, I woke this morning, feeling like I had a hangover (without the benefit of the fun beforehand!)

I had to carry my weary carcass into work

and I had to pretend to be alert, bright, attentive, and ready for academic action!

Yeah, right!

There wasn't enough caffeine to get me through a day like today ...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

slower still

Yep, that's me. Again.

I forgot to express some deeply felt appreciation for another blogger buddy of mine - a lady who's helping to spread blogging love--around the world!--one person at a time, the Energizer Bunny Granma of blogs, Jeni! This gal has a well-attended blog-roll of which she faithful comments to almost daily and she is the keystone of sanity and support for her own little PA family.

I'd love to grab a cup of coffee, sample some of her delicious baked goods and flip through her well-researched genealogy work to better appreciate this great gal. With her level of written enthusiasm and energy, this lady can run circles around me.

Thanks so much for all your wonderful support and comments -- you've been an absolute dear!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

slow

yes -- on the uptake. That's me.

I'm often slow in recognizing an opportunity (social, professional or otherwise).

I'm generally slow in making well-thought-out plans -- I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of gal.

And most importantly, I'm terribly slow at properly accepting awards and accolades and acknowledgments. I don't normally receive them, so I'm a bit dense when it comes to doing something about them.

I was ecstatic to receive the oh-so-sexy "Mwah!" award from Omega Mum! She's this incredibly pithy, bright and witty babe from across the Pond whose currently contemplating the downside to owning car insurance, the (de)merits of recorder instruction, and has to have been coming to grips with her numerous virtual "cocktail parties" as of late. I'm a big fan and it was a huge honor to be awarded by her.

I was doubly thrilled to receive the yowza! swankified "E is for Excellence" award from my groovy, living-in-the-wilds-of-France pal Mya! She's currently enjoying a post-Valentine's, pre-Spring body polish high and is due to rejoin us after her martial moment of obvious back-rendering bliss has run its course. Some of us are more than a tad bit jealous!

And lastly, but certainly not leastly, I was quoted, linked and overall given a virtual pat on the back by my Chicago-living blog buddy Hedy. She--to misquote myself--"rocks balls!" This chick should be doing (what she manages to do during a coffee break) for a living -- her running dialogue of living life in the working hell trenches is really incredible stuff. I feel humbled that she even bothers to read my rambling dribble.

So, I may be slow to cognate/type out/produce this running stream of gratitude, but my best intentions--thank goodness--have finally overcome my mental inertia to help prod me along.

Thank you ladies -- and thanks to all my blog-reading pals.

Cheers :)