Monthly Archives: November 2010

Ten Things Tuesday

I know the question is coming.  In an effort to actually have an answer, here are ten things that will be on my Christmas list this year:

1.  A membership (or two) to audible.com. I’m thinking that having audio books of the novels I read with my students (so that I can share them with those students who may not be terrifically agile readers) would be a really good thing.

2.  Cruzan vanilla rum.

Seriously.  My local liquor store doesn’t carry this, so I have to special order it (which is a pain).  I’d welcome as many bottles of this as Santa wants to bring me; it’s YUMMY in Diet Coke.

3.  A new Mac.  I have a gorgeous MacBook Pro at home; I’d like to have one at work, too.  I do a huge amount of work on my computer at school, and I want to know for sure that the computer on which I’m working isn’t going to die anytime soon.

4.  I’m kicking around the idea of asking for an iPad.  This may work for the work computer, come to think of it, but I’m not sure how well I’d take to typing papers on a touch-pad keyboard…  *Edited to include* Never mind.  I played around a little with Mr. Chili’s iPad this weekend and discovered that there’s no way I could type on it without making myself insane.  I learned to type with a touch method; I rest my fingers on “home” keys between letters, and that doesn’t work with a touch pad.  Sigh…  I could still use the thing as a neat-o toy, though.

5.  If I do get an iPad, I’d like to get some way of downloading e-books.  For as much as I’m in love with paper books, I think that having e-copies, at least of the works I teach, might be a smart idea (especially if the e-reader in question lets me annotate!).

6.  This would make a rotten Christmas present, but I’m thinking ahead to spring when I’m going to be itching to get out on to the new back deck, and I’m going to want a nice, weather-resistant wooden dining table and chairs.  I found a lovely set at IKEA last year; if they still have them this coming spring, I may go and score one.

7.  Along these lines, I also would love to have some things to “furnish” the yard; specifically a bunch of plants (hydrangea and hostas, mostly, but some other things, too), a fire pit (for little fires and, you know, roasted marshmallows!), an umbrella stand (I already have the umbrella) and a stone Buddha.

8.  I’d like a number of DVDs.  I’m looking, specifically, for the Eyes on the Prize and Ken Burns’ Civil War series.  I also want a couple of feature films, namely Only the LonelyA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Truly, Madly, Deeply. I also have a couple of films on pre-order; the one I’m looking forward to most is Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth.

9.  Pens and sticky notes.  I’ll probably be asking my students for these things (because they’re the reason I always need them), but these particular pens and sticky notes are my must-haves for annotating paper books, so I try to always have them handy.

10.  I’m going to ask my husband to tell his parents that I want a college class. I’m seriously considering pursuing (albeit slowly) another degree.  I’ve been perusing the Local U. Communications Department catalog, and I’m thinking that I might try to take a classical rhetoric course next semester.  A helping hand with the course fees (or the books) would be awesome.

What’s on YOUR list?

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Filed under books, celebration, doing my duty, holiday, Little Bits of Nothingness

Monday Meme

1. If you could interview anyone on your blog (alive or dead) who would you chose and why? Hmmmm.  I would probably want to talk to Malcolm X.  Ask me again in a few days; I bet my answer would change.

2. What do you feel is your strength as a blogger? I post every day.  That schedule only stresses me out every once in a while; most of the time, it keeps me honest.  Next to that, I think that my strength is that I’m a pretty good writer.

3. Can you share a little bit about yourself that you have not already mentioned on your blog? My blog, and the interactions I have on it, is teaching me how to be more consistent with my boundaries.

4. If you were forced to change the name of your blog, what would you change it to? Why? Hmmm.  Maybe “Muse with Me” or something like “Thinking My Way Through It.”

5. What do you think is the most fulfilling part of being a blogger? If I didn’t write, I’d explode.  Also?  The connections I make with the people who read what I write.

6. What would you do with your last day if you found you had only one more day to live? I hate these questions.  I’d eat a lot of chocolate and spend time reminding the people that I love that I love them.

7. You’ve been doing medical research for decades and have finally found a cure. What was it that you found a cure for and why did you choose this particular ailment? I would want to cure autism.  So many families are ripped apart by this.

8. What is your most guilty pleasure? Blogging; reading blogs takes up a good part of my day.

9. Answer only one. What is your favorite book, movie or TV show? Just one?!  Ugh!  I’m still very fond of Sons of Anarchy, despite the fact that this season took a while to get to the level of good that the previous two seasons exhibited.

10. What do you think is the very best smell in the world? I’m very fond of a lot of smells.  I love the way my pillow smells of sleep.  I love the way my sleeping babies (who aren’t really babies anymore) smell.  I love the smell of vanilla and baking bread and roasted garlic.  I love the smell of a not-too-cool autumn day and of lilacs and of swimming pool.

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Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness, meme

Quick Hit: Comcast Sucks

Comcast Sucks.  That is all.

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Filed under Uncategorized

The Trouble With Boxes

The other day, I posted a quote from Thomas Jefferson in an effort to explain my opposition to what I (and a lot of others) consider overly intrusive tactics by the TSA.

Dudley left me a good-natured comment in which he accused me of “drinking the tea” (I know this wasn’t a jab because I know Dudley, and I know he loves me and he wouldn’t poke me like that in a mean spirit).   The underlying premise of his comment (at least, as I understand it) – that it is surprising that I, the lefty liberal, why-can’t-we-all-get-along Chili would have anything in common with people who identify as NOT those things – got me thinking.

A few days later, Success Warrior wrote a pretty in-depth post about the TSA topic (it’s what we’re all talking about, after all).  I left him a comment on his site asking for a conversation about why some people were surprised that I would object to what’s going on in some airports.  His response was that he was not at all surprised, that he didn’t see it as a contradiction at all to how I have represented myself, my values, and my ethics, and that, in fact, he would have been surprised had I NOT been upset.

That led to a conversation about the limiting effects of labels and boxes.  While I understand that it is a human thing to label – we need to understand who we are by understanding who we are not – I contend, as I have loudly and in public many times before, that all the labeling has gotten way out of hand.  I am certain, just as sure as I’m breathing in and out, that there are a number of people who not only WERE surprised by my protest post, but who probably also gave themselves pause to doubt my sincerity.  I mean, really; how could Chili possibly have a conservative thought in her head?

Success Warrior made the very valid point that, as soon as some people decide who you are, they don’t bother really listening to you anymore; “they box you,” he said, “then dismiss your answers because they don’t like that box or anything that comes from it.”  Then, he said, “sometimes it seems they try to disagree even with common sense out of fear that someone might throw THEM in YOUR box.”

Really, this is what happens.  I have watched people do this to others, and I have seen it done to me.  I have had people actually come right out and ask me how I can continue to call people who hold different ideologies than I hold “friends.”

You want to know how I do it?  I think about the PERSON first.  I’m interested in the human being, not the politics.  There is nothing about the way we’ve been filing each other that promotes any thinking at all, nothing that fosters any kind of productive or ethical communication, and nothing that honors our common humanity, and I wish that people would just back off of it.  If we could figure out, even just a little, how to start seeing each other again – and how to really listen – I’m pretty sure that we’d find we’re a lot more alike than we are different.

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Filed under Blogroll, compassion and connection, concerns, doing my duty, duh!, dumbassery, Friends, frustrations, General Bitching, ideas and opinions, messages from the Universe, my oh-so-exciting life, politics, ruminating, social issues, strange but true, technical difficulties, this is NOT a drill, Worries and Anxieties, WTF?!

Quick Hit: Snow

It is, in fact, snowing outside the Chili house right now.

Bean has decided that this is her message from the Universe that it’s time to start her yearly paper snowflake project.  Pictures to follow.

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Filed under kid cuteness, my oh-so-exciting life, weather

Being Better

I had a conversation the other day –  with someone whose opinion about such things matters to me – about my recent frustration with my duties as the mother of a teenager.

Periodically, I get to feeling that, despite my very best efforts, what I’m doing just isn’t working.  Setting aside the incredible pressure I put on myself to get this mothering thing as right as I possibly can, it’s profoundly disheartening to put as much of myself into this desperately important work and have it feel as if it’s all coming apart, anyway.  All my mindfulness and compassion, my understanding of the world and what my children need to know and be able to do in order to function ethically and compassionately in it, and my awareness to teach in a way that honors who my children actually are, not who I imagine them to be feel dismissively ignored – if not outright rejected – and I sometimes feel as though the energy in our family is tending toward toxic.

I’m not okay with any of that.  Since I recognize that I can’t see things outside of my own perspective (and I recognize that I take all of this profoundly personally, and that’s my issue to work with), I seek the council of outside eyes to look in on my life and offer some insight and direction I might not be able to come to on my own.

The insight I got from this very valuable conversation the other day is that, to a pretty good degree, I am responsible for setting up this kind of negative feedback loop that my older daughter and I have been cycling through lately.  It was pointed out to me that while a not insignificant amount of the trouble comes from age-and-stage sorts of issues, a big part of our trouble may come from the fact that I (and my husband) have not been consistent with the boundaries that we establish and the expectations that we hold.  We set up conditions – this thing you want won’t happen until this thing you have to do gets sufficiently done – but we often don’t hold to them.  Miss Punkin’ Pie has been allowed to see movies and go to sleepovers and continue to have computer, t.v. and texting privileges without meeting the prerequisites of those things.  That has effectively taught her that she doesn’t HAVE to do the things we ask of her because she understands that we’re going to give her what she wants in the end, whether she does them or not, and that’s a very big part of what I’m seeing as a fundamental problem lately.

That’s not her fault, it’s ours, and it’s one that I intend to try to remedy effective immediately.

I’m also taking a compassionate but firm stand against any abuse happening in the household.  I understand that my daughter may not always be in control of her moods – that she may not know why she’s frustrated or sad or downright pissed off – and that’s okay.  What’s not okay is that she continues to be allowed to inflict those things on us (and especially on her sister).  I told her today that she has every right to her feelings – even if she can’t control or understand them – but that she has no right to subject the rest of the family to them.  If she can’t be, at minimum, polite and pleasant to the people sharing her house, then she needs to go somewhere where those people aren’t.  She’s welcome to her room or the guest room or a bathroom or even the car or the yard if she feels she needs that kind of space, but she may no longer steep the rest of us in her negative energy.

I know she doesn’t understand how desperately I love her, and how much care I’m taking in being her mom.  I can intellectualize that this is completely normal, that no teenage girl likes the limits and expectations her family – especially her mother – puts on her, but I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing; it’s clearly not working for any of us.

My goal, then, is to be a better mother than I’ve been.  I’m the grown-up in this scenario, and that means that the responsibility is on me to make sure that my children get what they need, even if they may not want it at the time.

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Filed under compassion and connection, concerns, doing my duty, family matters, Home and Family, messages from the Universe, Parenting, ruminating, teaching, technical difficulties, this is NOT a drill, Worries and Anxieties

Happy Thanksgiving

image credit

As I count my blessings today, I count you among them.

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Filed under celebration, compassion and connection