Monthly Archives: October 2008

F-F-and F-Friday

Fucking Floral and Foliage Friday; The “Tour Through Google Images” Edition. No “Frosty” or “Frigid” today; I’m trying to have a positive attitude…

These were the pictures that caught my attention when I typed “flowers” into Google:

Here are a couple of foliage pictures taken around the Local U. campus. Sorry about the quality; Mr. Chili had the camera in New Mexico so I had to take the pictures with my iPhone:

My funny little Christmas cactus is always confused; she thinks she’s a Thanksgiving cactus. She’ll be in glorious bloom in about two weeks:

Here’s a picture of my “window jungle.”  I’ve got a bunch of plants that are really happy right now, and I love every one of them.  Check out the spotted-leaf begonia!  Isn’t she GORGEOUS?!  No flowers – at least, she’s never given me any yet (does anyone know if they DO flower?) but who cares; the leaves are spectacular, and she’s really, really easygoing.

I teach an English class from 8-9 (they’re going to workshop their research paper drafts and get a quick lesson on embedding quotes into their work) and a yoga class from 10-11, then I’m going to hurry home for lunch – and the rest of the day – with my husband! Beyond that, I’ve got nothing planned; after the week I’ve had, it feels GREAT to be able to say that.

Happy Friday, Everyone!

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Filed under celebration, F-F-Friday, Home and Family, My husband rocks!

Holy Candy!

*Mrs. Chili’s note; this post was written collaboratively by Punkin’ Pie and Beanie – Punkin’ started and they traded off paragraphs from there (and I swear to God, I just typed what they dictated – all the words here are theirs).  They wanted to share their trick-or-treating adventures with you all.  I’m sorry about the lousy picture at the end – Mr. Chili took the camera with him to NM, so I had to use the iPhone*

HOLY CANDY!!  Skittles, Tootsie Rolls, Reese’s Cups; you name it- we have it.  Our Halloween adventure brought in BUCKETS of candy!  Beanie was a witch and I was a cat.

We went to a different neighborhood that trick-or-treaters call “Candy Farms” because they give out BUCKETS of candy.  We encountered some misbehavior on our journey; we came across a house where there was no one home, but they left three buckets of candy out.  A sign next to the buckets said “please take one.”  All the buckets were empty.  We suspect that some older kids took the buckets and poured them into their pillow cases*.

After we finished our candy hunting at Candy Farms, we went home and went to a small cul-de-sac near our house and trick-or-treated there for a while.  We ran into my friend Lauren and we trick-or-treated with her around the cul-de-sac.  When we got home, we emptied our candy bins…

Here’s what we got.

Happy Hallowe’en!

*Mrs. Chili says: what’s with the teenagers who show up without costumes?  I suspect that the girls are right – it probably was the teenagers who dumped the candy buckets; they were running in front of us for most of the trip.  I’m so sorry, but if you’re going to knock on my door and beg for candy, at least go through the effort of some semblance of a costume.  One boy, for example, was wandering the neighborhood with white feather wings and a quiver of heart-tipped arrows.  That was it, but I got “cupid” out of it and would have given the goods for him.  The kids running from house to house in their jeans and jackets?  Not so much.  I’m a cranky old lady, I guess*

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Filed under celebration, fun, general kid stuff, Home and Family, kid cuteness, Parenting, road trip!, strange but true

How Pathetic am I?

The part where Neil Patrick Harris said “I’m voting because I fell in love, and I want it to matter” actually made me well up. (Of course, I also busted a gut at “this doesn’t make any fucking sense,” “across… below… this,” and “is there time for me to make a small shit, please?”)

VOTE!

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Filed under GLBTQ/Ally issues, ideas and opinions, politics

Well, Waddaya Know…

Surely this comes as no surprise to some folks out there…

Your true political self:

You are a
Social Liberal
(88% permissive)

and an…

Economic Liberal
(20% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Socialist

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness. loc

II: (143, -113)
modscore: (12, 53)

At the end of your assessment, the site pulls up this image and puts a dot where you fall in the spectrum. I couldn’t get the image to translate, but the site put a little “YOU” button right over Obama’s face at the end of my quiz…

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Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, politics, social issues

Ten F*@king Things

I’m in a bit of a mood today.  It’s rainy and cold.  Mr. Chili is away.  I’ve been wicked busy and am running on far too little sleep.  Thus, I’m using today’s TTT to vent about things that have been pissing me off lately.  Sorry.  I’ll try to be more like myself tomorrow.

1.  Kids who don’t do the reading.  Twice yesterday, I went in to teach classes where the majority of those in attendance failed to read the material assigned for the day and, as a consequence, I ended up doing far more work than I intended.  My evening comp. kids were supposed to read A Call to Unity and Letter from a Birmingham Jail and my lit kids were supposed to finish Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I know better than to build entire lesson plans around a reading assignment, but I did it anyway, and the fact that only a small percentage of either class actually did the reading meant that I had to carry far more of the workload than I planned.  Fucking kids – you’re in college!  If it’s on the syllabus, READ IT.

2. People who only scrape off a little peep hole out of the frost on their windshields.  Seriously?  You clearly have no appreciation for how dangerous your vehicle is, and carving out a six by eight-inch rectangle at your eye level is not going to offer you sufficient visual range.  You know that kids are on the roads waiting for buses, right?  You know that people are crossing the street, right?  You know that folks are out walking their dogs, right?  I hope you KNOW that, because you certainly can’t SEE that…

3.  Political advertisements. I went to the mail box last night, hopeful to see a delivery from Amazon.  What I got instead, though, was a cable and phone bill and nine – count ’em – NINE pieces of political advertising (interestingly, all but one of them were from republican organizations).  I’m sure that my reaction to this would have been moderated if my Amazon box had been in the pile too, but alas.

4.  In-office sniping.  Someone was more or less forced to leave a position at one of my jobs, and there’s been a whole lot of back-and-forth on mass emails about the situation.  I’m staying out of it (in fact, I haven’t even read the last three or so emails – I opened them to see if there was anything important (calls for meetings or requests for help), but I didn’t read them.  RIGHT into the trash they go.  That place is worse than a frickin’ high school.

5.  Speaking of jobs, I’m annoyed as hell at the president of TCC.  Every year, all the employees of the holding company that owns the school are forced to take a bullshit training course in “ethics.”  It’s an online thing; you log in and watch really TERRIBLE role-playing scenarios where a secretary or an instructor is asked to do something unethical by either a superior or a student, then you’re given a series of multiple-choice questions about what they should do.  It’s juvenile, it’s condescending, and it’s a waste of fucking time.  My annoyance with the pres. of TCC comes from the fact that I have not been able to log on to do this bullishit “training” (every time I try, my password gets rejected – when I submit to have my password reset, the new password gets rejected) and he’s so upset about that that he mentioned to Joe that he wants me fired for noncompliance.  SERIOUSLY?  I haven’t even MET this guy.  What.  Ever.

6.  I think I’m coming down with something.  Everyone in the neighborhood has laryngitis, and a good portion of my students are sick.  I’ve been religious about taking my vitamins and I’ve been addicted to Odwalla Strawberry C, but I’ve got a sore spot on my throat that is of concern to me.  My hope is that I’ll have the wherewithal to fight it off before it becomes more than a sore spot; I don’t have the time to be sick right now.

7.  Fucking Pledge Week.  Look, I understand the concept of Public Radio.  I even support it, for crying out loud – what kind of lefty-liberal would I be if I didn’t? – but I cannot STAND pledge week.  For one thing, it goes on for FAR longer than a week; it’s more like Pledge Ten Days.  What’s up with THAT?  One of the reasons I listen to Public Radio in the first place is so that I don’t have to listen to D.J.s nattering on about stuff that I don’t care about.  Pledge Week is a nightmare – they invite each other into the studio and talk endlessly about the same damned thing – for TEN DAYS.  I’d be MUCH more amenable to hearing a call for memberships or renewals once an hour with the sponsorship spots than I am to having to listen to another news correspondant tell me about how, for just ten dollars a month, I can support my favorite programming.  I’m lucky, though, in that I’m centrally located to two other states’ public radio signals.  They don’t come in great, but I’d rather listen to static-y All Things Considered than saccrine pledge drives.

8.  And another thing about NPR (you KNOW I’m on a tear when I’m ripping NPR); could they please STOP putting stupid people on the air in interview spots?  The other day, I was listening to Morning Edition and was yelling at my radio during Jim Zarroli’s report, “Earnings Reports Weigh Down Stock Market.” In this report, Jim interviewed some guy named Mike Holland, who proceeded to tell us that “the headlines have been so scarifying, you simply have people looking at their bank statements…they become less inclined to make whatever that expenditure is.”

Scarify is a verb that means to make incisions in the skin (such as for vaccination), to break up or loosen (as in agriculture), or to criticize mercilessly. I understood Mr. Holland to use the word to mean “frighten.”

Seriously?  Has Bush done so much damage to our language that people think that this is okay?  GAH!

9.  My daughters just don’t get it.  Bean completely blew off her homework last night.  Granted, our schedules are a little confused right now and, because of my classes, the girls had two different sitters last night, but she KNOWS that she has responsibilites and she knows what they are.  My daughters are totally bucking the study that says it takes 28 days to form a habit; we ask them to do the same fucking things every fucking day, but they can’t seem to manage it on their own.  “You’ve been brushing your own teeth every day for FIVE YEARS now; WHY do we still have to remind you?!”  I expressed calm disapproval when I discovered the undone worksheet, but I’m hoping that her teacher really dings her for it; Beanie knows better.

10.  Racism.  Seriously.  Please do not tell me that we’ve “moved beyond” the conversation of race in this country.  We’re so not there yet.

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Filed under dumbassery, frustrations, General Bitching, general kid stuff, my oh-so-exciting life, politics, social issues, technical difficulties, weather

Auntie’s Interview

My sister is working toward her degree (and I’m SO proud of her!!).  One of her assignments is to conduct an interview with someone and then give an oral presentation to her class about what she learned about that person.

Auntie decided to ask Mother Chili if she’d consent to be interviewed, so I forwarded the request and questions to my MIL last week.  As I read over the questions, I thought that they might make interesting blog fodder, so I’m writing about them here.  Please feel free to boost them (and to change the nouns in some questions to suit your gender if need be).  If you decide to use them, leave a link in the comments so that Auntie knows where to find your answers.

1. How would you describe yourself to yourself?

My answer to this question changes a lot more than I care to admit, actually.  I start out with something like “smart, capable, thoughtful, caring and compassionate,” but I always second-guess myself.  The voices in the closet remind me that I was raised to believe that I was a talented impostor and a good liar.  It’s not necessarily a good thing to have those insecurities, I think, but they do keep me constantly investigating whether or not the things I think about myself hold up under critical scrutiny.

2. Is the way you see yourself now different than the way you saw yourself in the past?

Oh, GODDESS, yes!  I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere in my middle twenties, something inside of me went “click!”  I started to “see beyond the plot,” which is a term I use with my students when I’m trying to get them to think critically and grasp what’s going on behind the obvious.  I started getting serious about my relationships, I started recognizing that I could only control me and the way I behaved, and I came to realize that I had a great deal of control over what happened to me.  I stopped allowing myself to live in the victim role.

3. What led to the changes?

There were a lot of things that contributed to these changes. I was finally able to gain enough critical distance from my youth to understand that I was not responsible for the way my parents treated me. I met someone who loved me for me and was willing to stick it out even when things were messy and difficult. I started thinking about what I really wanted to be and about what I needed to do to find that woman. One of the big ah-ha moments came in a writing class where I was asked to write my own obituary. What kind of legacy did I want to leave behind when I was gone? That exercise really helped me clarify my priorities. Marrying Mr. Chili and having the girls were both profound moments for me, too; I became responsible to people who transformed my picture of myself, and I wanted to behave in a way that made me worthy of those relationships.

4. Everyone has had the experience of being in situations where they had to make a decision but weren’t sure what was the right thing to do. Could you describe to me a situation where you weren’t sure what was the right thing to do? What was the situation? What was the conflict for you in the situation?

I actually agonized quite a bit about going back to college for my Master’s degree when I did. To that point, I’d been a 100% stay-at-home mom. I never worked a day when Punkin’ Pie was growing up (well, outside of the home – you know what I mean), and I worried that, to a very real extent, I was going to short-change Beanie by going back to school before she was enrolled in first grade. My course load was such that I wasn’t as attentive in the evenings as I was before, and my pursuit of a degree meant that Mr. Chili was going to have to pick up a lot of the slack I was going to leave behind.

5. In thinking about what to do, what did you consider? Why?

There were a lot of things that entered into my thinking through this process. The first, and perhaps most important, was that Mr. Chili was 100% behind me. He knew that I would need a professional life to pick up once the girls got older, and he was completely and enthusiastically in favor of my continuing education. Second, I knew that I wanted my daughters to witness something that I never did; a mother who was both ambitious for herself and attentive to her family. My biological made a few half-hearted attempts at community college, but never stuck with it. She blamed my sister and me for that, too; I remember overhearing her complain to her friends that, if she didn’t have kids, she’d be able to “DO something” with her life. I don’t want my girls to EVER think that they held me back, and I don’t want them to grow up thinking that it has to be one or the other, either – one doesn’t have to have it all, but one can, with the right attitude and some good support, do an acceptable job at both professional and family obligations. Finally, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it; that I was really smart enough for an advanced degree. Oh, and I wanted to be able, at some point in the future, to contribute to the financial well being of our family.

6. Were there other things that you thought of in trying to decide what to do?

I think I answered this in question 5 though; if I’m being honest, I have to admit to wanting my parents to know I’d earned a Master’s degree. It’s a terrible motivation for wanting to do such a thing, but I was also interested in proving the naysayers in my life DEAD WRONG about me.

7. How did you weigh the alternative?

Once the suggestion was raised that I should go back to school, there really was no alternative. We did what we had to do to make sure that everyone was properly cared for, that I could still meet my commitments to my children and perform adequately in classes, and that we could stick it out to graduation. Mr. Chili comes from a family that absolutely treasures education, so I was encouraged and supported the whole time.

8. What did you decide to do? Why? What happened?

Clearly, I decided to go back to school. I managed to arrange my class schedule such that I was ALWAYS available to pick Beanie up from preschool – neither of my children ever spent a moment in day care. Mr. Chili did single-parenting duties during the night classes that I had to attend, and gave me plenty of time to do readings and homework (not to mention listening to EVERY paper I EVER wrote). I manipulated my graduation time so that I could do my teacher internship when Bean entered full-day first grade, and I made sure that my internship schools understood that I’d be leaving about half an hour before the final bell rang so that I could be home to meet the girls’ bus. It worked out extremely well; my schedule was tight, but perfectly timed.

9. Looking back on it now, did you make the best choice? Why or why not?

I absolutely made the best choice, and for a number of reasons. First, we were able to model for our girls what strong families do to support one another. They got to see me do what I had to do to make happen something that I thought was important, and they watched their dad do what he needed to do to help me get there. I got the training and the credentials I needed to do a job that I absolutely adore (and my girls get to see that, too!).

10. Thinking back over the whole thing, what did you learn from it?

Oh, man – what DIDN’T I learn? Beyond all the stuff I mentioned already about how important this was for my daughters to see, I learned that I really AM smart enough. I was reminded of how whole I feel when I’m actively thinking and investigating and talking and collaborating. I was able to confirm that teaching really is what I’m meant to do professionally in this life, and I gained a new-found appreciation for the kind of man my husband really is.

11. Looking back on your life, what relationships have been really important to you?

It’s interesting, but I think I find that my troubled relationships have been hugely instructional to me. Of course, my marriage is the defining relationship in my life, but I learned an awful lot about how to be in a good marriage by the experiences I had in the relationships that didn’t last. I’ve learned a lot from the friends who’ve not stayed. My relationships with my sister have been incredibly important to me (and yes, I left that noun plural for a reason; the relationship we have now is NOT the same one we started with); she is the only person I’ve known my whole life – she’s the only one who really knows my whole story. My relationship with my mother continues to be instructional to me; as the terms of our togetherness change with time and situation, I learn a lot more about who we are in relation to each other, and how I want to be in the world.

12. Why were those relationships important?

Ooops; I answered this in #11. Maybe I should start reading ahead on these questions, huh?

13. Have you had a relationship with someone who helped you shape the person you have become?

I don’t think I’ve had a relationship that’s NOT helped shape who I am right now, and I’m convinced that, as long as I maintain a certain level of self-awareness and inquisitiveness, every relationship I ever have will be formative. Every person in my life has something to offer me in terms of growth and learning – I just have to be aware enough to recognize it.

14. What does being a woman mean to you?

This is SUCH a loaded question, and it’s one that I think about a lot now that I have pre-teen girls who are looking to me as an example of womanhood. For me, being a woman means being at the same time strong and compassionate. I try to exemplify womanhood as being a combination – a yin/yang sort of thing – that combines no-nonsense practicality with a little bit of squishy sentimentalism. I treasure my marriage, but I’m not entirely defined by it. I make my own choices, but I consult the opinions and concerns of others when considering what to do. I can be a full-time, stay-at-home mom, or I can go into the workplace but, more to the point, I can do both. Can I do everything? No; but I can decide what’s most important to me and order my life so that I can give my best to those things.

15. Do you think there are any important differences between girls/boys, women/men? What are they?

I do think that there are important differences between male and female, and I think that a lot of it has to do with perspective. Never having seen as my husband sees, I can tell you that I’ve noticed that, even though our priorities are almost exactly the same, he and I have a slightly different take on a lot of things; he picks up where I leave off and vice-versa. I don’t know whether the differences between men and women are cultural or biological, but my observation shows me that men are more concerned – or, at least, more in tune – with big-picture things, while women tend to be more immediate and detail-oriented. Mr. Chili is able to strike a nice balance, but he thinks about long-term, big-picture things more than I do – is he adequately supporting his family, is there enough attention being paid to college and retirement funds, that sort of thing. I tend to look at the right-now; is everything clean and orderly, is the oil changed, are appointments being made and kept, that sort of thing. The short answer is yes; I think there’s a difference between men and women, but I think that difference is necessary and important and, if good communication is happening, those differences needn’t be problematic.

16. Has you sense of yourself as a woman been changing? In what ways?

My sense of myself as a woman has been pretty consistent, really. My role as a mother is constantly changing, and I’m finding lately that I’m doing a lot less direct instruction than I am modeling behavior, so I’m hyper-aware of the things that I’m doing and saying and thinking because I KNOW that little women-in-training are watching my every move. As my marriage grows and matures, I see myself as less dependent on Mr. Chili (I was very dependent at the beginning of our marriage) and far more of an equal partner. With my age comes more confidence; every experience that I am able to incorporate into my knowledge base brings me closer to my fullest expression of myself. Professionally, I’m able to use both academic and real-life experiences to improve my practice as a teacher, and my experiences as a parent only add to my ability to be an effective model for my students. It just keeps getting better.

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Filed under admiration, Home and Family, ideas and opinions, learning, My husband rocks!, my oh-so-exciting life, Parenting, Questions, ruminating, teaching

Elton John Got it All Wrong

Sorry is easy; it’s goodbye that’s the hardest word.

Mr. Chili left this afternoon for a week-long stint in the deserts of New Mexico (and it turns out he’s going to be closer to El Paso than to Albuquerque, but that’s really inconsequential to the fact that he’s still two time zones away from us). He’s hoping to return on Thursday and to stay home through the following Wednesday, when he’ll leave again for pretty much the rest of November.

I’m kind of in shock right now. I know that it’s only a business trip and he’ll be home in four days. I know that I’m perfectly capable of running household and family without him for four days. I know, intellectually, that this is nothing, but that doesn’t keep me from having a kind of gasping, clutching kind of feeling right around my center.

Going to bed alone tonight is going to suck.  I’m betting that’s when it’s really going to sink in.

I have a suspicion that I’m going to be hyper-productive this week.  If I keep busy, I won’t miss him so much (at least, that’s what I’m telling myself now).  He’s not even left the state yet, and I’m already stealing furtive glances at the calendar.

Sometimes, loving someone so much isn’t such a good thing.

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Filed under Home and Family, love notes, road trip!, strange but true, technical difficulties, Worries and Anxieties