Thursday, May 31, 2012

I've quit refined sugar, caffeine and anti-depressants! (5...4...3...2......)

After months of being on different anti-depressants and experiencing none of the beneficial anti-depressant effects, and having seemingly every single side effect, I decided to stop taking them for a while.  I've been off for a few weeks now and I feel okay.  Just normal; not great, not terrible.  Normal with none of the side effects of drugs, which is better than what I was experiencing on the drugs.  I was most recently on Wellbutrin but it made me angry and anxious and weepy.  You know what else makes me angry and anxious and weepy?  Depression.  I don't need a drug to exacerbate issues I can get naturally and for free.  So I stopped.  I haven't experienced any terrible withdrawal effects like I did with Effexor, but today it occurred to me that there must be some so I looked it up.  Here's the list:
aggression, anxiety, balance issues , blurred vision , brain zaps, concentration impairment, constipation, crying spells, depersonalization, diarrhea, dizziness. electric shock sensations, fatigue, flatulence, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, hostility, highly emotional, indigestion, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpy nerves, lack of coordination, lethargy, migraine headaches / increased headaches, nausea, nervousness, over-reacting to situations, paranoia, repetitive thoughts or songs, sensory; sleep disturbances, severe internal restlessness (akathasia), stomach cramps, tremors, tinnitus (ear ringing or buzzing), tingling sensations, troubling thoughts, visual hallucinations / illusions, vivid dreams, speech visual changes, worsened depression.

I highlighted some things I have concerns about. 

*Depersonalization:  That sounds scary.  Does that mean I can change from being a person to being something else?  A robot?  A tiger?  I have not had that (yet).  But would I even know if I had?  Maybe I'm a tiger right now.

*Flatulence:  I find flatulence to be a side effect of almost everything.

*Hallucinations:  Maybe this mid-life crisis is a hallucination?

*Highly emotional indigestion:  Is there any other kind?  ....
oh wait, I didn't see the comma.  It's actually "highly emotional, (comma) indigestion. Never mind. This withdrawal-symptom list needs a proof-reader.  Highly emotional....... what?  They are leaving me hanging.  That makes me anxious.

*Over-reacting to situations:  Does this mean that bawling through the entire last episode of the John Adams miniseries because of all the deaths, but especially when he said he thought a flower was the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, was a tad over-the-top?  Maybe.  Maybe a person prone to depression shouldn't watch sad movies.

I'm trying lately to eat healthy, exercise and I'm also trying my hand at being drug-free (prescription drugs, anyway) and I don't know how long I can stand it.  I've been told by my friend Pete who is a psychologist to try out therapy and see if it helps but I can't bring myself to go see a stranger and unload and get their opinions of how I could better live a life that I've been living for the better part of 40 years mostly pretty well, when they just met me an hour beforehand.  Doesn't seem very efficient. 

So instead I've been looking at books about cognitive behavior therapy for treating depression because that seems more efficient.  They are (probably) written by someone at the top of their field, who has thought about what they are going to tell you long enough to write it, proof it, edit it and submit it to a publisher, and hopefully they have gotten their ideas peer-reviewed.  Seems much better than a one on one therapy session if you ask me.  So I researched the best books on the topic. 

If you ever want a good laugh, read the reviews depressed people write for self-help books.  Just look at any self-help book for depression and read the one and two star reviews.  Hilarious.  I LOVE depressed people.  They (we?) are sooooooo skeptical about everything and utterly reject the idea that depression is something that you can behave your way out of, but feel so miserable that they will try any stupid thing that comes along.  (Oh, and "depressed" people "like" to use a lot of snarky "quotation marks," which "cracks me up.")  Here are some quotes from some of the reviews:
"I am guilty of "distorted" thinking. Oh, dear! Surely I should want to correct my "distortions"!"
"This is a BIG book full of unnecessary material that someone who is severely depressed is going to have a HARD time even holding up."
"Because the book got so many good reviews, I thought it must have been written by God himself. It wasn't."
"Does it pass the suicide test?"

"Literally, half of the book is saying 'My CBT is helpful!'. Well, I got this message from the first 50 pages, no need to repeat it on every 2nd page."

And on and on and on... There was another review that was kind of long but the gist was about a story in the book told by the author about the day his baby was born.  The baby came out looking kind of blue and the author said that he had all kinds of "stinkin' thinkin'" (snarky depression quotes) going through his head.  He worried that his new baby wasn't getting enough oxygen, he worried that he would be strapped with caring for a mentally retarded child because of these first few oxygen deprived moments, but then he stopped himself and employed his cognitive behavior techniques:  1)He can't predict the future and 2)he must have faith that other people know what they are doing.  The reviewer said exactly what I was thinking:  YOUR BABY IS BLUE.  GET HIM SOME AIR, FOR FUCK' SAKE.  Isn't that just common sense and totally non-depressed and normal?  It just seems like a pragmatic reaction to me.  Eyeore is (was? is he dead?) a pragmatist.

Depression/Pragmatist test:  If you saw this picture and thought,
"Watch out Eyeore, that bird is going to crap on you, right in your mouth" you are probably
a pragmatist.  And that bird probably did crap on him. 

Have any of you, my readers, been to therapy?  If so, how was it? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Would You Rather

I've really dropped the ball on the Would You Rather question lately, haven't I?  Well, that just sucks.  Okay, I'll remedy the problem right now with this post.  First of all, let's revisit our last question about the taxedermied vermin, and let's remember, it wasn't a Would You Rather question, I changed things up and got crazy and asked a What Would Be Worse question, remember?  Twice as many of you thought receiving the taxedermied, eyeless, upper body of a guinea pig attached to a hair comb would be worse than hollowed out prairie dogs that you could wrap around bottles of refreshment so it looks as though your champagne was being thrown up by a ground hog or squirrel.  I have to say I agree.  My results might be skewed because of the way the question was asked and you might have answered which you would rather have instead of which would be worse.  I think the right answer is that both are disgusting, but the eyeless half-guinea pig flailing its arms around from a pile of your hair is WORSE


Anyway, on to the new question.  I am sitting in a ninth grade health classroom right now and that is what has inspired me to ask you this:

Would You Rather...

Magically go back to being 15 and in 9th grade all over again


Have one of your limbs amputated

Now, it might seem like an obvious answer at first, but think about it for five seconds:  Ninth grade = zits, out of control hormones, brain dormancy, high school, parents, etc. etc......  VS. Missing one measly leg or arm = cool prosthesis (and possible bionics); amputees have reputations for being sexual dynamos; take that prosthesis off and blamo, you just lost 20 pounds; AND you could arm wrestle in a more advantageous weight class and totally kick ass. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A few things...

I don't really have much to blog about lately.  Nothing to fill a whole post but I do have a couple funny stories:

I subbed for 8th grade band on Friday and because I don't know their music and what they've been up to, I asked one of the students to direct in my place.  This kid was so funny.  They had recently gotten music for the high school song and they were trying to learn it.  It was horrible.  They were all trying SO HARD to play it but no matter how hard they tried, it just sounded like they were tuning up.  Chris, the student-director stopped them and very dryly said, "I think it's important that we play more of the notes right."  Oh how I laughed.

The other little tidbit I have for you is that Maisy, my wonderful dog who communicates to my by whining only because she can't form words with her dog lips and doesn't have a voice box, whined the entire first verse of Camptown Races, leaving me with the "Do da, do da," part.  Wow.  Best duet ever.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Last night Mitch and I were lying in bed, listening to the thunder and talking about this and that, and I mentioned that I wish there was a foot lotion that really put its money where its mouth is and included some kind of acid in its ingredients to stop the disgusting build-up of callouses on my heels.  Mitch feigned being grossed-out and suggested a farrier.  I couldn't recall right away what a farrier is, but then it slowly dawned on me. He could see it dawning on me and clenched up tight in preparation for my wrath, and probably questioned the wisdom of suggesting his wife is horse-like while in the vulnerable position of being flat on his back with hardly any protective clothing on.

When I finally figured out what he was insinuating, I said, "WWWWHAT?!"  and he quickly petted my nose and whispered, "Easy girl.  You might be nervous at first, but he's a pro, he could calm you down."  I thrashed and tried not to laugh and he said, "Is the thunder making you jumpy, girl? ...shhhhhhh" and continued to pet my muzzle, - I mean nose, and said, "Mmmmm ... velvety."   I tried to attack him with everything I had but he is stronger than me and held me down and put a very flat hand up to my mouth as if he was feeding me carrots, and then petted my nose and continued to whisper, "Shhhhhh..... shhhhhhhhh...."

I hate to admit it, but it was quite calming.  I will ride this out, I guess, but if he introduces a bridle or a riding crop, I'm gonna bolt, and no amount of sugar cubes will lure me back, MITCH.

UPDATE:  When Mitch read this post he said, "Do you really think if you were a horse, you would look like the horse you put on this post?  Because you wouldn't."

WTF, Mitch...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kira in the Car

Sam:  Yearbooks come out this week.  They look pretty cool but I feel sorry for the seniors.

Me:  Why???

Sam:  They have their baby pictures in there!  And quotes!  Embarrassing.

Kira:  Yeah right, what do the quotes say; "Wa Wa"?

Sam:  Not quotes from when they were babies!

Me:  (dying from laughter) I can't believe you thought they were baby quotes!  Wouldn't they All be "wa wa?"  What would be the point?

Kira: (indignant) No, they wouldn't all have to be "wa wa."  Some could be "Goo goo ga ga."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kira's Art

I've posted about how ... unique(?) Kira's art is on this blog before.  It's either hilariously half-assed like this:

This piece is entitled "Three Blind Mice."  When asked why she said,  "You know, because
they don't have eyes."  When asked why there are only two of them she said, "Because you get the idea."

And this:

A balloon and some wings ripped off one of Sam's toys.
And this:

When asked why this shell only has one googly eye she said,
"It's young."
On the other hand, if she puts any effort into her art, it is utterly terrifying.  Like this:

This is the nutcracker she made in 2nd grade.  It even scares her.
And this:

Salt dough sculpture of Bill Clinton.  There was apparently not enough dough
to make eyelids.

This brings me to her latest, and I think, most terrifying art project.  In fairness, the assignment was to make an "ugly jug," but seriously, she went a little over the top.  As she would say, she "over-achieved."

I don't know what it is, exactly, that makes this so incredibly terrifying.  Is it the jagged shards of tile she used for teeth?

Or is it the long, crooked, broken nose that is reminiscent of Timer from the PTSD-inducing Time for Timer cartoon breaks in the 1970s?

Or is it her signature lack of eyelids?

I don't know if it is any one of those things alone, but all together it scares me.  She knows this too because when I told her to put her stuff away, she put this Ugly Jug right next to my pillow on my bed.  When I asked WHY she would do that, she said, "Because it's for you."

What is the statute of limitations on keeping your children's precious artwork?  When can I "accidentally" break this without seeming like a horrible mother?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Months ago I agreed to sub for three days in kindergarten this week because I like to screw over my future self.  It's over now and it wasn't so bad.  Of course, nothing could be as bad as what I had envisioned.  The kids are adorable, but part of what makes it so hard for me is that the girls are about a year and a half ahead of the boys maturity-wise.  So kindergarten girls are like second grade boys.  Second grade is fun.  Kindergarten sucks.

Kindergarten boys are difficult for me.  If something CAN be thrown, it's thrown, if someone bugs a kindergarten boy, that poor someone gets pushed down, slapped or pinched.  If someone has a toy that boy wants, the toy will be ripped out of their hands. If that kindergarten boy gets confronted for throwing something that shouldn't be thrown, or hitting someone who bugged him, or taking something someone else was playing with, he cries.  If that boy has something to say and I am talking, he will scream whatever it is that pops into his head whenever it happens to pop into his head.  That, in a nutshell, is what makes kindergarten such a nightmare.

And the parents. One mom dropped off her boy every day and then lingered. Endlessly lingered. The first day I was there she complained that some of the other boys were bothering him at lunch and could I make sure they don't do it anymore? Turns out her sweet little angel was the biggest trouble maker in the class. The boys were messing with his lunch because he was first messing with their lunches, as a sort of game. I kept my eye on this kid all week and he was ALWAYS doing something he wasn't supposed to do. If the kids were gathered on the rug, he was by the cubbies, digging in people's stuff. At playtime, he was in the bathroom squirting liquid soap all over the place, etc. etc. etc. What a BRAT.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday so I took them outside for a while.  They were having a great time.  One of the little girls came up to me laughing and told me that she and a few other kids were playing the BEST game!  The boys were chasing the girls and putting them in jail.

Me:  Oh, you're criminals?

Girl: YES!

Me:  What crimes are you doing to get put into jail?

Girl:  Because we're so PRETTY!!!!

Me:  The boys are capturing you and putting you in jail for being pretty???

Girl: Yes! And we catch them and put them in jail too!

Me:  Because they are so pretty?

Girl:  No silly!  Because they are rich!

Me: Wow ............. That is Fucked Up.

Just kidding, I didn't say that's fucked up but I was thinking it.  A while later she came up to me and her hands were cuffed behind her back with a hair tie.  She thought that was brilliant.  Somewhere Betty Friedan was spinning in her grave.

There were, of course, some good things that happened during the week.  Working with five-year-olds always boosts my ego.  At playtime I went to the coloring station and drew pictures.  I am TERRIBLE at drawing, always have been.  They thought I was excellent, on par with the great masters.  They lined up for me to draw a picture for them.  If adults had their taste in art, I would be a rich and famous artist.  Also, they think I am gorgeous.  I was told how beautiful I am dozens of times.  I was hugged hundreds of times.  I was told I was the best sub they ever had every day.

And they are funny.  They made a "special person" poster about one of their classmates (apparently they do that for every kid) and I was to go around and get a quote about her from all the other kids.  Most said, "She's pretty" or "She's nice" but there were a few that were oddly specific like, "She draws good daisies on the Smartboard."  I asked one little boy, a rage-aholic, what he had to say about her, thinking he would refuse to say anything because he didn't string three words together all week unless he was having a tantrum.  Without skipping a beat he said, "She loves me."  I laughed and another kid said, "She really does," and I laughed some more.  Crazy kids.

One day I was getting impatient with the mama's-little-angel brat mentioned above when he was racing around tables when everyone else was sitting on the carpet waiting for a story.  I said, "Please go to the carpet.  I already told you that five times.  I shouldn't have to tell you to do things more than once," and a bunch of kids piped up and said, "Hey! My mom says that to me all the time!" and "Yeah, my dad says that to me every day!"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sam's Motive for Sororicide

Kira:  I got an award at school.  I think we should go out for ice cream.

Me:  An award! Good for you!  For what?

Kira: Academic over-achievement

Sam:  WHAT?!

Kira:  Academic Over-achievement.

Sam:  Kira, I HIGHLY doubt that they are giving out an award for OVER achieving in academics.

Me:  I think ice cream is a GREAT idea!

Kira:  What does "academic" mean?

Sam:  Seriously!?!  Oh my GOD!

Kira:  I'm serious.  What does it mean?

Me:  School work

Kira: I over-achieved on my school work???

Sam: Uuuuuuuuggggghhhhh!!!!

Me:  I think the award is probably for "academic achievement."  Schools don't really consider doing well on schoolwork "Over" achieving.  It would be like being "too pretty" or "too rich."  You can't really be too much of a good thing.

Kira:  I haven't taken a shower since Sunday.

Sam:  Is there another kid with her name at her school?  I think the award went to the wrong person.

Kira:  Jealous much?  Maybe you should start over-achieving a little more.


Kira:  Not for you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nicknames I've given to my body parts based on Kady calling her crotch, "Old Friend"

Kady wrote a hilarious story about how she was telling her crotch to toughen up because she isn't going to break down and buy fully padded bike shorts for a bike race she is going to be in and she told it (her crotch) to, "Toughen up, Old Friend," and I thought that was funny because 1) she nicknamed her crotch, and 2) she considers her crotch an old friend, and 3) a legless man on an arm-powered bike overheard the "Toughen up, Old Friend" part and now he thinks she was talking to him and probably thinks she's a totally insensitive leg-snob.  That made me think of what I might nickname some of my body parts after having lived with them for forty-odd years.  Here's the list:

Left hand - "Lefty"

Right hand - "Writey" (get it?)

Eyes - "Stevie" (Wonder) and "Ray" (Charles)

Nose - "Smell Smith"

Mouth - "disgusting bacteria hole"

Teeth - "Chalky buddies"

Boobs - The "Litchfield Two"

Nipples - The "Denver Three"

Legs - "Logs"

Bladder - "Impatient Bitch"

Crotch - "Old Faithful"

Uterus - "Bleedy"

Cervix - "The-organ-that-better-watch-its-back-because-if-I-have-to-endure-one-more-abnormal-pap-it's-total-hysterectomy/incinerator-time."

Fat Cells - "The Irrepressible Billion"

Head Hair - "The Totally Repressible Five"

Unwanted Body Hair - "The Incredible Forest of Stumpy Insect Legs"

Left foot - "Fred" (Flinstone)

Right foot - "Barney" (Rubble)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hey, Future Me; UP YOURS

When I got on the scale this morning and saw that not only have I not lost any weight in the previous 16 days that I've been on a MILITANT diet regimen, but I GAINED half a pound, I realized that my mother was right when she told me (after I gained the freshman 15) (and after I had my kids in my late 20s/early 30s) "Lose that weight now, because if you wait until you get older, you will regret it!"  Back then if I even thought about going on a diet, I'd lose five pounds.  It was easy.  It was simple accounting back then: less calories = lost weight.  I thought my mother didn't know what she was talking about because 1) she was my mother, and 2) calories in/calories out, Mom.  Easy.

Holy shit, my mom was right.  Losing weight in your forties is damn near impossible.  So I was crabby about eating so many vegetables with no payback, and crabby because months and months ago I stupidly agreed to take three days of kindergarten this week, and it occurred to me:  I have always consistently screwed over Future Me.  I agreed to sub for this kindergarten class way back in December or January.  The teacher caught me in the hall and asked me and I thought about it.  May: WAY in the future, practically spring.  Sure, I'll do it.  If she would have said, "Can you sub for me three days next week I probably would have made up an excuse because I don't like to screw over Present Me or Short-Term-Future Me, but I have no qualms at all about giving the shaft to Future Me.  Fuck her, she can take it.  

If I wasn't so inconsiderate to Future Me I probably wouldn't have this extra 30 pounds on me either.  I see a donut and think, "I shouldn't eat that.  It's not good for me and it's packed with sugar and calories," but I also think, "Who cares!  I love chocolate frosting!  Diabetes?  A fat ass?  Who CARES?!?  It's not going to happen today!  Give me that donut!  Up yours, Future me!"

What does this all say about me?  It says that I would totally fail that stupid marshmallow/impulse test that some eggheads at Stanford gave to little kids.  (But, for the record, I could resist a marshmallow for 20 minutes.  Chocolate, no.  Marshmallows, yes.)

So what does THAT say about me?  It says I'm dim, that's what it says.  Well, that might be overstating (hey, what do you expect?), but the study showed that people who can't delay gratification have poorer academic success are less successful in adult life (oh hello, substitute teacher.)  

You know what I didn't need to learn about myself on a day I gained half a pound and had to endure a kindergarten job?  That I'm not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.  Being the sharpest tool is all I've got, and over the years I've learned my parents aren't anywhere near as dumb as I thought they were, and even my husband isn't a total idiot.

I have to start being nicer to future me.  I'm the only thing the chunky old moron has! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day! Poems!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  I got some homemade cards from my kids with poems in them. I love kid poems.  This is Kira's:

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I really love you
And the rest of the family does too.

And here is Sam's:

Roses are Red
Violets are unicorn,
This poem makes no sense

I sent my mom a lamo store-bought card.  I should probably write her a poem myself but I don't like writing poems even though I wrote her one for Mother's Day a few years ago.  Oh well, I'll try out a limerick this year:

There once was a woman named Nancy
Who liked to dress up really fancy (no she didn't)
She went to a ball
and felt really tall
And then realized she forgot to wear pants(y).

Happy Mother's Day!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Redemption for last Friday

What a fantastic day. I am subbing in one of the high school's for a music teacher. I tentatively took the job because I have shell shock from verging out of my comfort zone last week and getting totally screwed over by the Catholics, but I thought that nothing could be worse than that so I went ahead and took the music job.

I was tentative for a few reasons:

1) When I was in band in high school, whenever we had a sub we had a study hall, which was great when I was in high school, but probably not so great for the poor subs that had to babysit 60 kids in a study hall where nobody was studying.

2) Also, when I was in high school, in one of the aforementioned band study halls, my friends and I decided to play a hilarious joke on the sub. One of my friends was born without a right hand, (she played trumpet), and we thought it would be funny to have her stuff her stump in her mouth and tell the sub that we were having a contest to see who could stuff their fist the furthest into their mouths and she won, but now she couldn't get her fist out of her mouth! She's choking on her own fist! Oh my god! What are you going to do? The sub went into emergency mode and did everything she was supposed to do and when we saw that we laughed and laughed. Good times.

3) I can hardly read music anymore, much less a conductor copy of music I'm not familiar with, so I am hardly qualified to teach a music class; and why should they miss out on a day of practice because of my shortcomings?

I am so glad I took this job. For one thing, the kids are FANTASTIC. I really love kids sometimes. When they are focused and have a skill they want to show off, they are at their best. For another thing, the teacher must be pretty good too because things are going so smoothly. First hour was concert orchestra practice. Most of the kids are gone on a field trip, so there were only 12 kids, but they came in, got their instruments out and then a girl and a boy led the practice. They did great even though they were missing about 40 of their classmates.

The last class that was in here was symphony orchestra. They were so good. One of the senior boys took over the rehearsal, set an electric metronome, and they played through the list of the pieces the teacher wanted them to play through. They stopped at trouble spots, talked out the problems and tried again until they got it right. It was so great! I sat in the back and tried to keep from clapping like a doofus during every rest.

Now it is lunch time and a bunch of kids are eating in the room and visiting with each other, and a few others are playing piano and timpani together and it sounds wonderful. Again, I'm finding it hard to keep my cool and not run out there to clap every time they finish a song. This totally makes up for last Friday. I would have done today's job for free.

Yesterday was great too.  I taught a half day for an adult English as a Second Language class.  It was like a party.  We were talking about food. I'd hold up a picture of a food and say it and then they would all repeat it loudly in their crazy accents and then they would tell me about how whatever food it was is way better in their country (watermelons in Iraq are way sweeter, butter in Russia makes our butter taste like plastic, strawberries in Minnesota taste like you are chewing aspirin compared to the ones in Brazil).  And then I heard a lot about how fat Americans are (but not as fat as Egyptians!) and how we have no taste for good food.  We laughed and talked and had the best time.  Towards the end they were feeling comfortable enough with me that they started making fun of MY accent!  Hey!  I don't have an accent!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Would you rather

Last week's question was, "Would you rather have your picture on a store's thief board forever, or run naked through that store just one time?"

You people really love to be naked.  90% of you chose to be naked instead of featured on the thief board, I suppose because you assume that a picture on a thief board is something that lasts forever as opposed to the few seconds it would take you to streak through the store in your birthday suit; but I think you are forgetting that this is the age of cell phones and if you ran through a store naked, I know I would take a picture; nay, a video, because I would want to capture all the inevitable "Woo HOOO!s" you would be yelling because who runs naked without some arm pumping and some woo hooing?  Nobody, that's who. It's the unwritten rule of amateur streaking.  I bet the pros can get in there and get it done quietly, but not an amateur. I am not really one to talk though because I also chose the naked option. Woo HOO!!!!

This week's question is a result of a google search to see if a human body can be taxidermied.  I was looking for that because I was avoiding writing my book because I'm stuck, and also because my sister sent me a depressing email telling me that if anything happens to her in Afghanistan I get to make her medical decisions.* So here's the question:

What would be worse:  If you met the love of your life, he/she seemed perfect in every way until one romantic evening he/she broke out some bottles to celebrate your first "I love you" and those bottles had these clever bottle covers:

Nothing says "I love you" like Bottle Dogs™ ! 
Taxedermied prairie dog bottle covers.  


If he gave you/she wore THIS after you were sure he/she was the love of your life:


Remember, I'm shaking things up and the questions isn't "Would You Rather," but "What would be worse."  Answer in the poll at the top of the sidebar.  No naked option this week!  Sorry!

*(As far as I can tell, the human body can be taxidermied but there is still some question as to how legal it is.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bloggin' Wednesday! : Inspiration Strikes. In The Kneecaps

This week's Bloggin' answers are brought to us from Andie at Inspiration Strikes. In the kneecaps.  Thanks Andie!  If you want to submit your answers, email them here.

1.  Does your blog fit into a "niche" and how do you choose what to write about?  Have you ever pulled a post after you published it because you regretted it or got some horrible feedback?

If there is one thing thing this blog has, it is a distinct lack of any sense of cohesion or unifying theme.  Maybe if there is a mommy/feminist/humor/music nerd/writing/movie nerd/social issues niche I might kind of be able to wedge myself in there.  When I started copying my old blog at MySpace over to Blogger, there were a few really personal posts that I had written during a time when I had control over the privacy of individual posts.   Blogger's all-or-nothing approach to privacy settings is one of the things that kind of irks me.

I don't think I've ever pulled a post, but I came close after writing about a district that wanted to ban Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for being racist and I was all "Blahblahblah, totally NOT racist!" and then a commenter came back with "Uh yeah. Definitely racist," complete with quotes from offending passages at which point I ended up looking like a complete tool, and a privileged one at that.

2.  Do you read a lot of other blogs?  How many? Have you had contact with the bloggers, or are you a lurker?

I wish I actively read all the blogs on my blog roll, since they are all well-written.  I used to read tons, but I got chastised at work (oops!) for the amount of blog reading I was doing. My roll has about 30 blogs on it, maybe 20 of which are fairly active.  I've cut back to just reading in the evening, which doesn't leave much time and leaves even less time to comment.  There are a couple writers that I am friends with on Facebook or follow on Twitter, but mostly I kind of lurk or stick to communicating through the comments.

3.  Do you comment on a lot of other blogs?

I try to comment as often as i can but after a while I feel silly repeatedly going "haha! Too funny!" or "Very interesting," so I end up not commenting unless I have something to contribute to the conversation.

4.  How important is it for you to get comments on a scale of 1-10?

Ha ha, what kind of comments? I don't know.  Maybe 5 or 6.  I like comments, even negative ones, that contribute to the discussion on the more serious posts.  There's also this weird aspect where I assume that my readership is pretty much limited to the people commenting and I continually end up surprised and a little self-conscious when I find out people are reading - people whom I had no idea; people at work, distant relatives, parents of my kids friends etc.  Most, when revealed, are pretty cool and have positive feedback, but a few have shaken their head at me.  I like people to comment once in a while just to let me know they are reading.

5.  Do you respond to your commentors?

I'm so terrible for this.  No, hardly ever.  Again, I will if I'm responding to a point that has been made, or if someone leaves a really nice comment I might say thank you.  Sometimes it's a time constraint whereas other times it's that thing where I feel I'm repeating myself and being disingenuous.

6.  How many followers do you have?  How did you get them?  

I'm sitting at 121 according to the Google friend connect.  As the old saying goes, "If you build it, they will come."

7.  How do you promote your blog?

I spam the shit out of my Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Oh, just kidding.  I have Networked Blogs, which posts to both of them automatically.  I usually post a second time straight to Facebook, since I'm never sure if people who don't have Networked Blogs installed can see them the first time.  Feministe has a feature called Shameless Self Promotion Sunday so anytime I have a relevant topic I will post there.  If I've written about a band or a movie or something to that effect I will also Tweet them or post to their Facebook wall.  Most times they don't respond, but other fans (or detractors) will have good feedback.  In some cases it gets quite hilarious. Back at Christmas I called out Christopher Titus (a comedian who had a short-lived sitcom back in the late 90s) about a rant against atheists on his Facebook page, and he came back and continued to rant in my blog comment section. It was rather funny and sad.

Lastly, if someone has CommentLuv installed I will leave comments because then they link back to your most recent post.  I've gotten many referrals from The Bloggess' site that way. I've also found many other good blogs that way.  It's a matter of having eye-catching and/or baffling titles for your posts that will have people curious to read more.

8.  Do you write for any other sites?

I do a weekly post at Different Paths, Same Destination, which is a weight-loss blog I writing with B at The Opposite of That, Mrs One Day at One Day I'm Gonna, JJ at Simple Musings and Bea Beautiful at Diary of a Fat Girl.  It's been an interesting experience as I think we're all coming at the weight loss thing from slightly different perspectives so it makes for a lot of unique topics.  They are great women to write with and I'm enjoying the experience.  I also did my first guest post a few weeks ago at Best Of Fates.  I love the way Megan interacts with her guest posters right in the post itself.  She's hilarious.

9.  What is your most favorite and least favorite thing about blogging?

I like that it's an outlet for my thoughts, creative processes etc.  I like that through blogging I've discovered that I actually am a pretty good writer.  I can entertain. I can make people think and question their previously held assumptions.  Through some of the blogs I have read I have had some of my own assumptions blown out of the water.  The whole thing is a learning process.  I can put thoughts out there and find that I am not the only one that sees the world this way.

On the flipside, the blogosphere can be, at times, one big game of ass-grab, a circle jerk of sorts.  It can be very cliquey.  I'm one that enjoys reading comments sections, but so many of them end up being the same group of people fawning all over the OP.  Positive feedback is great but it gets tiring to see 20-30 comments that are all "Ahahahaha you're so FUNNY!!" and "OMG I WANT TO BE YOUR INTERNET-PSUEDO-HETEROGIRLFRIEND!!1!1!!"

10. What advice would you give to potential bloggers?  What do you HATE when you see on a blog?  What do you like to see on a blog?

My first advice would be to find your own voice.  Don't try to copy or evoke other popular bloggers.   Proofread.  Always proofread.  If you aren't confident in your own proof-reading abilities, then get someone else to do it.  Shitty spelling and grammar (although I am not immune to this) can be irritating as all hell.  A typo here and there isn't horrible but if I am continually cringing when I read a blog, I will stop reading.

I'm not a big fan of give-aways and promotions.  I read blogs to read other people's perspectives, or for a laugh.  Also, keep your layout fairly simple.  I recently gave my blog an overhaul in order to lose the 15-year-old-goth-girl vibe.  Now it's a little more suitable to a 30-something year old.  I think.  I hope.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Show about Teeth

I heard Timothy Olyphant on Fresh Air one night so I decided to get his show, Justified, on Netflix and see if it was everything Terri Gross said it was.  I watched the first disk yesterday and I love it.  You know why?  Teeth.  You know how I love big teeth and the first episode of the show is full of big teeth.  Here's the star, Timothy Olyphant:

Nice teeth huh?  And the bad guy on that first episode had very interesting teeth too:

This guy is actually a little bit freaky looking and when he smiles real big he looks kind of scary, but isn't that what you want out of a bad guy?  Yes, it is.  

So because of that first episode of attractive teeth, I am now hooked on the show.  I like the cowboy hat and all the quick-drawing too. And I like Timothy Olyphant's Kentucky accent.  

p.s.  I think I might have fleas

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Anatomy of a date (married couple version)

Mitch and I went on a real-life date last night for the first time in months and months.  Maybe years.  It is hard to remember that our kids are old enough to leave alone.  Sam is 15 and Kira is 12.  They can take care of themselves for an evening, right?  Right.  We told them we were going out on a date (gross) and they were on their own for dinner and entertainment.  We suggested they make a pizza and that they go to bed around 9:30.  Right before we walked out the door we said, "Oh, btw, Kira is in charge!  Bye!" and we laughed at the look of horror on Sam's face.

First we went to dinner at Timberlodge Steak House.  It was alright.  We saw a little girl about 8 years old with a tiny top hat on her head, tilted at a jaunty angle, held on with a chin strap.  She was taking a picture of the Timberlodge sign with her iPod.  Weird.  

Then we went to see a movie.  We were going to go see Cirque Du Soleil but when I called for tickets, all they had were two seats on the upper decks, in the corner, on bar stools (???).  No thanks.  So instead we went to see The Five Year Engagement because we kind of like Jason Segal.  You know why they call it The Five Year Engagement?  Because the movie seems like it's five years long.  It was good but we both thought it was badly in need of an editor.  They could have easily cut about two and a half years out without hurting the story.  At about the four-and-a-half year mark of the movie, there is a scene where two sisters are talking about the give and take required in a successful long-term relationship, and one is speaking in a Cookie Monster voice, and the other is speaking in an Elmo voice.  And they both had English accents.  Mitch and I both agreed that maybe that scene would better serve the movie on the cutting room floor.  Also, Jason Segal spent some serious screen time without a shirt on, and Mitch and I both also agree that he should never be more than a five minute commute away from a dermatologist with good scalpel skills.  The man is about 75%  moles.  When the credits finally started rolling, Mitch asked me, "What time is it?" and I said, "I think it's tomorrow," but it was only 9:00.  We couldn't go home yet.  The kids were home alone for one of the first times in their lives and we wanted to give them time without us.  (We just didn't want to seem lame.)  So we went out for dessert.

Even with driving across town, having dessert and talking about things like Downton Abbey (I loved it, he doesn't know how anyone could watch it without falling asleep), and how Dick Cavet was an olympic gymnast (Mitch says he won a gold medal, I have my suspicions to the contrary), we got home at 10:00.  The kids were actually in bed, but I suspect they saw the headlights on the car and ran in their rooms and pretended they had been there for some time.  Kira wanted me to tell her every detail of what we did "without her," and to complain that Sam didn't cook their pizza long enough and it slid down her throat like clams (which is curious because she would never in a billion years eat a clam) but I told her I had to go because the most important part of the date was about to begin - the making out part.  She was disgusted.

Then we watched SNL with Eli Manning (who was funny) and Rihanna (who is obviously trying to make her daddy mad with all the crotch patting she does. We get it, you have a vagina.  You don't have to keep pointing to it and patting it.  We know where it is.  Nobody is going to forget about it if you stop touching it for five seconds.)  Then we went both fell asleep in our chairs and decided to go to bed when Mitch started snoring.  (He says it was me who was snoring, but I don't snore! Geez!) 

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Well, I had my completely-brought-on-myself horrible day, thinking, of course, that it couldn't possibly be as bad as I thought it might be because how could it?  In case you didn't read yesterday's post, I stupidly took a job at the Catholic middle school.  It was stupid because A) they only pay about 2/3 what I could get anywhere else (believe it or not, my prime motivation for substitute teaching is the money.)  B) They told me about two days before the job that it wouldn't be a full day, it would be a half day, and paid for a half day.  C) The day before the job they told me there would only be two regular classes, the other THREE HOURS of the day would be an outdoor basketball tournament.  D) my job during the basketball tournament would be bathroom monitor.  By the time I got that email that told me all this, it was too late for me to cancel or else I would have.

It was worse than I could have ever imagined.  The first hour, however, wasn't bad at all.  I was subbing for a math teacher and she was very organized, although over-prepared which I think teachers think is a good thing, but I don't have time in the 15 minutes from when I get to school and when the kids come to read multiple three-ring binders about all the minutia of how the class is run.  I just need a list with times on it that tells me what you want me to do, seating charts, page numbers and worksheets.  That's it.  Oh, and maybe a post-it telling me if you have a crazy kid in your class and what to do with him when/if he loses his mind. Six inch thick binders I get; the thousand-times-more-helpful post-it, I never get.  Anyway.  The kids were very nice.  They were helpful and polite and as good as you can ask seventh graders to be.  The first hour was math class and we learned how to convert numbers of things to degrees to make a pie chart.  It was pretty fun.

Then it was time for the stupid tournament.  At first I thought the Catholics were kind of cute because I read the info I was supposed to read to the kids and it said, "Boys report to Mr. O's room, and girls report to Mrs. L's room to change into your costumes,"  and I thought there would be some kind of play or skit or something, but it was referring to the basketball costumes.  Gym clothes.  (lol you silly Catholics!)  The note to the teachers about the tournament logistics said,

9:00 - 9:15 - kids change into costumes
9:15 - 9:30 - give kids directions for tournament
9:30 - 12:00 - have 12 seven-minute games
12:00 - 12:30 - have lunch with the kids outside

I've never been to this school before so I was in no way going to point out what I thought were the obvious flaws in the schedule because apparently they do this four times a year, but this is what I was thinking:  No way does it take kids 15 minutes to change into gym clothes.  It takes them about 3 minutes to do that.  Then what do you do with the other 12 minutes?  I'll tell you what they did:  they all came back to my homeroom and hung out, which was fine, but I started having ominous thoughts right then about the schedule.  Next we went down to the courts for the fifteen minute giving-directions portion of the day.  It was 40 degrees outside.  That might be a warm winter day but it is a mother-effing cold spring day.  I didn't look how long it took to give the directions, but it felt like 15 minutes.

Then the first game started.  I was told to stand on the outside stairs and keep the kids from going in the building.  Basically it was my job to watch kids freeze to death and then deny them shelter.  It told them they could go in the building, in the little space between the outside doors and the inner doors.  I was then scolded by a teacher (who was inside the building) that the kids had to stay outside.  You should have seen their little hands.  Red, stiff, frozen solid.  They were forced to change into their "basketball costumes" so they were all in shorts and t-shirts, with a sweatshirt or jacket.  Not warm enough!  I looked at my watch, thinking it must be at least 10:00.  It was 9:30.  I couldn't believe it.  It felt like a punch in the stomach.  But being the bitch-they-never-met-that-is-making-them-stay-outside-on-a-stupidly-cold-day really takes a lot out of a girl and time was going torturously slow.

About six hours later, at 10:00, the teacher who told me I have to keep the kids outside said that the library was open for kids who wanted to warm up, but they had to be silent.  Yeah, that's realistic.  Was I supposed to enforce that too?  No, he stayed in the library with the warmth and the chairs.  I had HAD it with standing outside in the freezing cold and figured I could just as easily shoo kids out of the building from the inside as I could the outside so I stepped in the inner doors and watched out the window.  Then library-enforcer came out and told me I had to do my job from outside.  What the fuck is the difference?  He said I should try to keep them from running in and out.  Seriously?  Has anyone taken into account that these are KIDS we were dealing with?  Running in and out is WHAT THEY DO.  I felt like they were picking on the sub because none of the other teachers seemed to be doing the shitty shitty job of denying kids warmth and shelter so I was just trying to ignore it (and stay inside) and occupy my mind with something else.

I did a little quick math in my head:  12 seven-minute games = 12x7 = 84.  Allowing two minutes for transitioning between games makes that 12x9 = 108.  This tournament should take no more than an hour and 45 minutes.  They had allotted two and a half hours.  I asked a teacher walking by, one of the many who said, "Hee hee, It's not usually like this!!  You must hate us!!"  You're fucking right I did.  But I didn't say that.  I asked one of them:  What do the kids do after the tournament is over?  Surely they weren't going to make them stand outside with nothing to do for 45 minutes.  She said, "They have lunch.  But we decided to let them eat inside since it's so cold!"  Then I said, "But what about the time between when the tournament ends, and lunch begins at 12:00?"  She didn't know what I was talking about and looked at me like I was an idiot, (what did I know?) and walked back outside.  She was wearing a blanket.

Sure enough the tournament ended about 40 minutes early.  The kids ran upstairs back to their homerooms.  I was so happy to be back in a room with heat and chairs I could have cried.  Then another teacher came into my room and started barking orders at the kids in my class.  Apparently we were all going to be sitting there for 40 minutes until the cafeteria was free.  She wanted ideas for what the kids wanted to do.  One kid said he wanted to watch a Magic Schoolbus episode and this teacher told him it would take him about ten minutes to run to the library to get one so it probably wouldn't be worth it.  First of all, a seventh grade boy can retrieve a dvd from a room two floors down in about 90 seconds (what is with these teachers and their total lack of knowledge about how long things take?) and for another thing, they had a smartboard and Youtube.  No need to run anywhere.  I found a full-length episode of Magic Schoolbus and started it up.  I thought that teacher would leave my room and go back to her own, but she didn't.  She sat down.  (WTF?)  Was I done?  Why was there another teacher with me? Who is watching her class? Is it because I let the kids in the stairwell when they were hypothermic against "orders?"  She sat down in the chair next to the computer and bumped the keyboard.  The movie paused.  She got all flustered and tried to fix it by turning the volume all the way down.  When she saw that didn't fix the problem, she came to the conclusion that the "internet was probably broken."  I pushed play and it started again to her utter amazement.

One of the most frustrating things about the day was that people thought I was so stupid. I know I'm not exactly a genius, but when stupid people think I'm stupid, that's discouraging.  Needless to say I will never go back there again.  Oh, and another thing:  I was told I would be paid for a half day: four hours.  I was there from 7:15 to 12:00 and I was supposed to stay until 12:30 to eat with the kids but I ducked out.  That is 4 hours and 45 minutes.  If I don't get paid for that 45 minutes I'm going to raise a stink.  I normally wouldn't, I'd just make a note not to do the half-day for them again because it isn't really a half-day, but this time I'm going to make a big deal about it because the day was so incredibly shitty.  I've already gotten the bit about how the Catholics don't pay as much because they just don't have the money:

To which I say, "Bullshit."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kira in the Car

Kira got her first pair of glasses today.  Doesn't she look adorable?  Things must have been blurry for a while because when we came outside she said, "Oh my god!  I can see each individual leaf on that tree way over there!"  Anyway, in the car on the way home, right out of the blue she said, 

"Do you think there is such thing as gecko abuse?"

Which I thought was a little weird and now I'm worried that even if there wasn't gecko abuse before, if she ever gets in the proximity of a gecko, there will surely be some gecko abuse.

In other news, I stupidly took a job subbing for middle school math at the Catholic school.  Ugh.  I was curious what it was like over there, but I've already grown to regret it.  First I learned that the kids come at about 7:30 which means I have to be there by about 7:00.  Then I learned that it is a half day, so I will be getting paid for a half day, which will be about 25 bucks because the Catholics pay their teachers WAY less than the public school does, which means that they pay their subs about 2/3 what I could get anywhere else.  So 2/3 divided by 1/2 of what are below poverty wages in the first place = A humongous waste of my precious precious time, and finally, I learned that they will be having an outdoor basketball tournament all morning and my job will be bathroom monitor.  For three hours.  Then I can come out and eat lunch with the kids.  Ugh.  If it rains the basketball tournament will be postponed.  I want everyone who reads this before tomorrow morning to wish and pray and do rain dances to beg the powers-that-be for rain.  Okay? Because I would rather teach math to middle school students than sit in a bathroom all morning.  And that is really saying something, because I'd rather kick a puppy in the face than teach math to middle schoolers; ergo I'd rather kick a baker's dozen of puppies in the face than sit in a middle school bathroom all morning for $25.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bloggin' Wednesday! : Life Is Good

Today is my last Bloggin' Wednesday unless someone sends me some more answers.  Send them here.  It's never too late to send them in to me though.  Email me!  Today's Bloggin' answers come from Anne at Life Is Good.  Thanks Anne!

1. Does your blog fit into a "niche" and how do you chose what to write about?  Have you ever pulled a post after you published it because you regretted it?

I'd say my blog would fit into the humor genre.  I try to write about personal experiences, family life, what makes me happy or not so happy.   For me, most of the time it's easier for me to write it rather than say it out loud.  I think I have retracted a post once or twice, just because I maybe went a little too far.  (Usually re: my MIL).  I have removed my link to my blog off of my facebook profile page because I sorta want to "control" who reads my posts. 

2. Do you read a lot of other blogs? How many? Have you had contact with the bloggers, or are you a lurker?

I follow about 20 blogs.  Not all of them everyday, and some I never miss.  I prefer humor blogs because as a SAHM, I need all the laughter I can get my hands on.  I have contacted probably half of them and have always had great responses.   I suppose sometimes I am a lurker, but only to blogs that I accidentally stumble upon. 

3. Do you comment on a lot of other blogs?

Yes, I just can't help myself!

4. How important is it for you to get comments on a scale of 1-10?

I'd give it a 5.  I love getting comments, but that's not really why I blog.   It's just something that I do for myself, if others want to chime in, fine.

5.  Do you respond to your commentors?

I try to!  But sometimes there isn't enough time in the day for a response, and I sorta feel like there's a statute of limitations there....  after a few weeks, it's past time to respond.

6.  How many followers do you have?  How did you get them?

There are 8 followers on my blog listed, but there are a few others that don't follow publicly.  (Is that a word?)  I emailed my link to friends and family.

7.  How do you promote your blog?

Um, I don't.  (refer to answer to question #4)

8. Do you write for any other site?

The Chunkersons.

9.  What is your favorite and least favorite thing about blogging?

Favorite thing:  venting. 
Least favorite thing:  typing!!

10.  What advice would you give to potential bloggers?  What do you HATE to see on a blog?  What do you like?

My advice would be to write what you want, when you want.  I hate when things seem forced.  I like when bloggers are very real and give great detail about their personal lives, because sometimes I feel like I'm the only person going thru all this life's nice to know I'm not alone.