Monthly Archives: October 2009

Nearly Wordless Wednesday… Yeah, Not So Much With the Nearly Wordless Part… *EDITED*

Gird your loins; Chili’s in a mood…

•  I was going to put up a link to a rant that Glen Beck did on volunteerism, but I just can’t bring myself to do it (and no, I didn’t see the thing on Fox News; I got it from a link that my friend Half Irish Rover posted on her blog yesterday).  I am not willing to give this mouth-breathing imbecile any airtime.  Seriously; Beck and everyone like him should be drummed off the airwaves.  There is nothing of value in anything I’ve ever heard this man speak (and don’t even get me started on the fucktard take he’s got on vaccinations).  I’m all about free speech, but I can’t abide people who proudly abuse that right.

• I’ve just about had it with students who don’t do the work I assign.  This morning, I put together a quick pop quiz on the reading they’re supposed to have been doing.  When I looked up and saw that all but one of them was staring panic-stricken into space, I stopped the class and asked who among them had NO idea what was going on.  All but one hand went up.  Seriously.  There will be a post about this here tomorrow.

•  First – well, not first, but you  know what  I mean –  there was the asshole – who’s not a racist, of course – denying a marriage license to an inter-racial couple.  As if that weren’t enough, now we’ve got a videotape of a gay man being beaten almost to death (in what is being called an “apparent hate crime.”  Gee, ya THINK?!)  on a New York street (he’s in a medically-induced coma and no one is sure if he’ll survive).  Let’s have some more fun, shall we?  How about this, because we all know that the Jews are penny-pinching skinflints.

• Edited to include this from Wordlily;  Church decides to celebrate Halloween by burning books. Seriously; this isn’t a joke. Go here (if you dare) to read more.

Disgusted and exhausted?  I sure am.  People ask me, over and over again, why I keep bringing up things from the past; why I study the Holocaust, why I participate in events and activities aimed at ensuring GLBTQ rights, why I teach literature and speeches from the Civil Rights Movement and the era of Apartheid in South Africa, why I raise a fuss about Columbus Day.  THIS is why;  because there are still idiots out there – ignorant, sometimes dangerous idiots – who are willing to do others harm (or to incite their followers to do harm) because they don’t think or act or believe the same way they do.

The stupidity, willful ignorance, and carelessness are just about more than I can stand today.

Here’s hoping your Wednesday is better than mine is shaping up to be…


Filed under dumbassery, frustrations, General Bitching

Ten Things Tuesday

I’m too busy to blog today because:

1.  A bunch of students handed in some – but not much – work.  I have to grade the work handed in, address the assignments that haven’t been turned in, and get everything put in my grade book.

2.  I need a haircut.  That’s not going to happen in the near future because, you know, I’m too busy…

3.  I need to vacuum.  One of the downsides of all the pretty leaves is that bits of them get tracked into the house on the feet of people and the paws of kitties.  I’ve got leaf litter all over the place.

4.  Laundry.  ‘Nuff said.

5.  Lesson planning.  We’ve been out for a few days because there was no heat in the building (burr!) so all my lesson plans have been shifted.  I’m trying to figure out how to make that work.

6.  Someone said something about the holiday shopping season today.  I am not amused.

7.  Reading.  I’m getting ready to teach a book I’ve never read before, and I’ve got to get cracking so that I’m at least a few chapers ahead of the kids.

8.  I’d like to spend some time with my family at some point.

9.  I still haven’t executed Mom’s will.  I’ve got to set up a meeting with the attorney soon…

10.  It’s mandatory parent-teacher conferences today.  I’m trying to stay for as many as I can, but I’m going to have to leave soon to be home for the girls.

So, as you can see, I’m far too busy to blog today.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  Happy Tuesday!


Filed under my oh-so-exciting life, ten things Tuesday

Monday Meme

This one was boosted, more than a week ago, from Kwizgiver.  Thanks, Honey!
1. Is there anybody you just wish would fall off the planet? Now that you mention it, YES!  A couple of somebodies, actually….

2. How do you flush the toilet in public? Either with my foot or with my hand and a wad of clean toilet paper.  I try VERY hard to not touch anything in bathrooms.  I LOVE the touch-less faucets and paper towel dispensers…

3. Do you wear your seat belt in the car? EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.

4. Do you have a crush on someone? Mr. Chili is my permanent crush.

5. Name one thing you worry about running out of. Milk.

6. What famous person do you (or other people) think you resemble? Someone took a picture of me once, and some friends think I look a little like Nicole Kidman in it (which is nice, given that Nicole is Mr. Chili’s celebrity crush).

7. What is your favourite pizza topping? Cheese.  I’m a bit boring (or a purist, depending on who’s judging).  I also like mushrooms and caramelized onions

8. Do you crack your knuckles? I try not to, but sometimes it happens.

9. What song do you hate the most? Oh, there are a number of songs I really wish I’d never hear again.

10. Did just mentioning that song make it get stuck in your head? I answered the last question vaguely just SO a song wouldn’t get stuck in there.

11. What are your super powers? I’m a great friend, a terrific cook, I can analyze books and films with the best of them, and I’m kind.  Oh, and I’m WICKED good at parallel parking.

12. Peppermint or spearmint? Spearmint.

13. Where are your car keys? My car keys get tossed in the console of my car when I park anywhere safe – my garage, many of my friends’ dooryards, that sort of thing.  Otherwise, they’re either in my purse or my pocket..

14. Last song you listened to? “Her Diamonds” from the new Rob Thomas CD.

15. What’s your most annoying habit? To ME?  Procrastination.  To anyone else?  I don’t know; you’d have to ask them…

16. Where did you last go on vacation? The lake was our last vacation.  Our last trip away from home was to see Dudley’s son be wed in Maryland.

17. What is your best physical feature? Probably my hair.

18. What CD is closest to you right now? The Works by Jonatha Brooke

19. What 3 things can always be found in your refrigerator? Milk, green tea, and butter.

20. What superstition do you believe/practice? I don’t think I have any…

21. What colour are your bed sheets? Dark blue and white.

22. Would you rather be a fish or a bird? A bird, I think.  That whole “going south for the winter” thing appeals to me.

23. Last thing you broke? A nail.

24. What are you having to eat tonight? Oh, GOD.  Don’t ask me; I have no idea.

25. What colour shirt are you wearing? Long sleeved and brown.

26. If you could be doing anything else today, what would you rather be doing? I hope I’m going back to work today (unless there’s no heat); I love my job!

27. Do security cameras make you nervous? If I think about them for too long, yeah, they do.  I am not crazy about too much surveillance.

28. If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be? Doing the Best That I Can.

29. Last time you went to a cemetery? I was in a cemetery a couple of weeks ago to bury Mom’s ashes.

30. Last concert you went to? Jonatha Brooks with my sister!

31. Favourite musician(s)/bands you’ve seen in concert? I’ve enjoyed pretty much every concert I’ve been to.  Let’s see – Shawn Colvin, Jonatha Brooke, The Indigo Girls, Matchbox Twenty, Sting… I think that’s everyone.

32. Next concert you’re planning to attend? We’re going to see Vertical Horizon at the end of the month.  I can’t wait!

33. Do you talk to yourself? Yes, actually, I do.

34. Have you ever adopted or purchased a pet? Yes, and no.  I’ve never bought a pet; I always adopt.

35. Have you ever been present when an animal is being born? I don’t think so, now that you ask.  I came home about a half hour after the kittens were born (under our bed), and I missed the delivery of a calf on my uncle’s farm by about the same amount of time when I was a kid.

Happy Monday, Everyone!


Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness, meme

Cold, Wet, and Dreary

That’s what the weather has to offer us today.  In fact, as I write this, I am listening to what sounds like little ice pellets hitting the window.  Blah.

I’m trying very hard to get some lesson planning done.  I’d also planned on baking cupcakes for one of my college students (who took his citizenship oath on Thursday), baking bread (because we’re out, and I’ve not made bread from scratch since last winter) and vacuuming.  Oh, and laundry – there’s always laundry.

I’m not sure how many of these things I’ll actually DO, though.  Sigh.  What I really want to do is crawl into bed with a book…


Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, weather

Protected: So. Not. Cool. *Edited*

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Filed under dumbassery, frustrations, General Bitching, ruminating, strange but true, the jobs, yoga - theory and practice

Finding the Balance

Disclaimer; this is a “Dead Mother” post and may or may not be coherent.  I feel like I have a point, but I can’t make you any promises.  You have been warned.

On the night my mother died, I was sitting in her room in the nursing facility after everyone else had left.  All afternoon, I was struggling with the question of whether or not I should stay the night.  I’d stayed what felt like too many nights already; by this time, I was exhausted both emotionally and physically, I was hyper-conscious of the strain I was putting on my husband, children, and friends, and I wasn’t sure that I could spend another night in immediate contact with the very unpleasant feelings of wishing my mother would die and feeling that it was incredibly wrong to wish my mother would die (but wishing it, anyway).

As I sat there, listening to her moan with every breath (she’d been unresponsive and moaning for about 36 hours by this point) and going back and forth between “I’m going to go home now” and “I don’t think I should leave her,” a doctor came in to the room.

Have you ever met someone who, from the first moment you encounter them, seems to put you at ease?  It could be a confidence they radiate, or a calm or peacefulness, it doesn’t really matter what the energy is; you just know that this person is good and, somehow, right.  This was that man.

I’d never met him before, and he’d never treated Mom.  He was the respiratory specialist for the facility, and he was, at that moment, the only MD in the place; since I’d asked the nurses to find a doctor for me to answer some of my trickier questions, he got the call.

What I asked this doctor – this kind, calm, gentle doctor – was whether or not I should go home.  I explained to him that I’d made a promise to Mom that I would be there when she passed over.  Had she already gone, and was what was lying in the bed moaning just the leavings of an already departed soul?  How much could a body withstand?  How long can someone go without food or water or sustenance of any kind?  (How much more of this was *I* expected to endure?)  Was the moaning an indicator that she was in pain, or was the it some sort of mindless response, something to do because she couldn’t do anything else?  Could it have been a way to keep herself here; as long as she could hear herself breathing, she knew she was still alive, even if she couldn’t interact with us anymore?

This man knealt on the floor next to my chair, and I thought for a moment he would reach out to touch my arm.  Instead, he held me gently in his eyes and said exactly the right thing to me, and it’s something I’ve been carrying with me ever since.

“Medicine,” he said, “is finding the balance between what we don’t know and what we can’t live with.”  He let that sink in for a minute, but he needn’t have; I knew exactly where he was going because I’d been thinking about it myself for about 36 hours by that point.  “Do I know she’s in pain?  No.  Can we with live with the idea that she might be?  No.  I came here to adjust her medication, and to let you know that doing that may hasten her death.  I would say that, if you want to be here when she passes, you should stay.”

Mom died a few hours later.  I felt compelled to get up at about 12:30 and noticed that her moaning had stopped.  I got up, wrapped my blanket around me, and sat in the chair I’d left by her bed.  I laid my hand gently on her chest and felt her breathing slow, then stop.  Then her heart did the same thing, getting slower and slower until it finally stopped altogether.

The first emotion I was aware of was relief, both that her struggle was finally over and that I’d been able to keep my promise to be with her when she passed over.  I found, a few weeks later, a note she’d written to me when I told her that I couldn’t keep up the pace of care I’d been doing.  It was an angry, disappointed letter, in which she said she was hurt that I wouldn’t be with her when she drew her last breath.

I was.  I kept that promise.

I’m finding that I keep going back to that doctor’s words.  It’s not just medicine, I think, but life that is a balance between what we don’t know and what we can’t live with.  I find that many of my choices – in how I raise my children, in how I conduct my professional life, in how I love my friends and family – come from a place of not knowing, but of making sure that I hold fast against what I can’t live with.

It’s not that my choices are all difficult – in fact, I find that most of my options are pretty clear to me, and the “right” answer comes with relative ease – it’s just that I can see with far more clarity that which is behind me than that which is yet to come.  I think it’s about learning from that past and thinking critically about the possible outcomes of the future that I’m getting at here.

It’s served me well thus far.


Filed under admiration, compassion and connection, family matters, ideas and opinions, memorials, messages from the Universe, on death and dying, remembering, ruminating


Post-racial, my ass.  Have you seen this?

What the fuck is wrong with people?!


Filed under duh!, dumbassery, General Bitching, politics, social issues, strange but true, technical difficulties

Happy Birthday, Dear Bowyer!

It’s my friend’s birthday today.  I don’t think he reads here, but I know his beloved does (Hi, Tonks!), so even if I can’t reach him by phone today, he’ll know that I’m loving him from afar.

I adore this man.  I met him almost 15 years ago (YIKES!  It was almost fifteen years ago!) during a summer graduate program in education – a bullshit, go-out-in-the-woods, community building, experiential education program that I still contend, to this day, was only good for a shitload of credits and for bringing me together with Bowyer and JRH, but that’s another story.  Anyway, my first real contact with him came on the night we had to choose teaching partners.  He walked right up to me and said, “I think this is bullshit, and I can tell that you do, too.  I think we can work together.  What do you say?” (more or less; it was 15 years ago, I don’t remember the exact words he used).  It was all downhill from there.

We did work together, and exceedingly well. Our way of doing things is similar enough that we mesh, but different enough that we are able to pick up where the other leaves off.  We nailed that summer program professionally, and were left with a friendship that more closely resembles family.  He belongs to me, and I to him, in a way that defies our typical definition of “friend.”

Bowyer is a screaming riot.  He has a sense of humor that delights me, and I’m often left damp-eyed and sore from laughing when I’m with him.  I wouldn’t call his sense of humor ironic, though he does see the wry ridiculousness in just about any serious situation; he has this habit of making the most appropriately inappropriate comments under his breath in public, and then watching me out of the corner of his eye to see if I can hold my shit together.

He is passionate about what he does, though, like me, his students often drive him to wonder what the hell he was thinking when he decided to become a teacher.  That he cares is never in question, though; if he didn’t, the kids wouldn’t make him as crazy as they do.  I love having him around to bounce ideas off of, to gripe to, and to celebrate with when one of our kids finally gets it.

He’s a teriffic father.  I wasn’t sure he would be, to be honest with you; when his first wife got pregnant after his proclaiming, loudly and to anyone who would listen, that he didn’t want kids, I pretty much got up in his face and told him that he was never, EVER to tell his son that he wasn’t wanted.  To his credit, Bowyer stepped up.  He has two sons – my beloved nephews – and was never particularly comfortable when the boys were little-little.  Now that they’ve grown into young men, though, I am proud of my friend’s capacity for affectionate, disciplined father-love.

Oh, and he plays a mean pirate.  Arrrrugh!


image credit

I don’t get to see Bowyer nearly as often as I’d like, but I’m not sure that really matters.  We can go for months without seeing one another, but then fall right back into our relationship as if no time at all has passed.  I think that’s what love does for you.

Happy birthday, Honey.  I love you very, very much.


Filed under admiration, celebration, compassion and connection, family matters, Friends, fun, funniness, Home and Family, love notes

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

It may well be a lame superpower, but I know far too many people who have it…



Filed under General Bitching, Little Bits of Nothingness

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things I’ve been thinking about lately:

1.  I miss my mother, but not in the way I was expecting to.  Rather than being occasional pangs of “I wish I could call her,” it’s more of a low-level, dull ache.  I’m constantly aware of her not-here-ness.  It’s not acute, by any means, and it’s not distracting or bothersome, it’s just there… which is strange, because she’s not

2.  I think that I need to do some reconnecting to my core values and beliefs.  I was so thrown off my center this summer that I feel as though I’ve lost my sense of place in the Universe.  Working with Holocaust literature with my high school kids has helped a fair bit – I’m talking to people about human dignity and responsibility –  but I think I need to do more to get me back to that feeling of belonging and agency and connectedness that I used to live in.

3.  I find it strange that I can well up at the most unexpected things.  I was watching the season premiere of Private Practice on TiVo the other day, and the scene where Addison lets Naomi have it for “leaving her” really got to me.  I guess I’m still sorting through a lot of abandonment issues around the demise of a particular friendship.  Because it’s not a constant feature in my consciousness, I’m surprised when it hits me like that.

4.  I’m really looking forward to getting our online book club started, and to attending a couple of upcoming workshops at Local U.  I really feel like I need some in-depth, focused intellectual conversation.  I need to know that I can still run with the academic big dogs.

5.  Speaking of big dogs, Carson is coming to visit me!  At least, I THINK he’s coming to visit me; when we spoke last week, he was waiting for approval for his trip from his administration.  I’m really, REALLY looking forward to having this man sitting across from me.  Wine, chocolate, and non-stop conversation!  (I’m sorry, Honey, but I don’t think it’s still going to be pretty by the time you get here; the leaves, they are a-fallin’ FAST).

6.  I am sick, nearly unto death, of the babyish squabbling going on over politics.  Don’t bother leaving me a comment about how it was just as bad – if not worse – when Bush was in office, either; that’s not my point.  I’m not saying ‘woe is us; The right is picking on us:’ I’m saying that I wish that the people we entrust with making our decisions – ALL of them – would just grow the fuck up and do their goddamned jobs so there wouldn’t be anything to complain about.  Never going to happen, I know, but that’s what I wish.

7.  The problem of the check-engine light might finally be fixed!


I dropped the car with Ed after having it for weeks with the check-engine light on.  I finally decided that it might be best if I actually get the thing fixed because I didn’t want for there to be something actually wrong with the car that I’d ignore because I’m so used to the light being on.  I called Ed last night – after having left the car with him all day – and he says that it’s likely the problem is that a replacement (non Volkswagen) thermostat isn’t talking to the computer.  He’s going to switch out the generic one for the brand-name one, and we’ll see what happens.

8.  I want very, very much to be offered a full-time gig at CHS.  I fantasize about it, even, to the point that I’m looking into how to get qualified to teach AP English classes (right now, they have no one who can teach them) and am dreaming up a list of electives that I can add to the roster.  I had no idea that I would love this job as much as I do, and I’m looking forward to being a full-time, permanent member of the faculty.

9.  I’ve been circling around the idea that language is the “lowest” form of communication.  Lately, I’ve been having trouble adequately expressing some of the things I think and feel; I’m finding that the language that I have available to me, beautiful and expressive though it is, is woefully insufficient to the tasks I set to it.  I can get the idea across, certainly, but I’m never quite satisfied that it’s as rich and full and, well, flavorful as what’s in my head.  As someone who works  with language all the time, I find this vaguely distressing.   As someone who believes that we, as beings, are so much more than what we “are,” I find this exhilerating.

10.  We have turned a corner, weather-wise.  I can feel it.  My arthritis is grumbling, the forecast says no temperatures above 60° for the foreseeable future and, as I mentioned earlier, the landscape is changing rapidly.  The tree outside of Chez Chili is a glorious yellow-brown right now – with the sun streaming through its branches, it’s quite a sight – but there are at least as many leaves on the ground underneath it as there are still clinging to the limbs.  Another good windy-rainy day, and the tree will be bare.  I’m bundling into sweaters and cords and woobie-socks, and my thoughts are again returning to home-baked bread and evenings under the feather blankets.  Here we go again.

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!


Filed under backyard wildlife, Blogroll, celebration, compassion and connection, family matters, Friends, Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, love notes, messages from the Universe, my oh-so-exciting life, on death and dying, ruminating, ten things Tuesday