It's Not Just Me, It's Also The Rest Of Us!

It's so nice to have validation concerning the Festivus pole in my teeney yard.

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Festivus pole, decorated, circa 2004

A River I Can Sail Away On

This will be the first Christmas my dad doesn't make Santa calls to families with young children. It will be the first Christmas that I'm not ordered to get rid of my father for a few hours so my mother can work at the house. I mostly don't think about it, but I still need to get the top off the Festivus Pole Dad decorated two years ago and it made me remember.

We're leaving tonight for Christmas. We're going to the Fatherland, a land flowing with lard and sorghum. We'll stay at a swank resort and allow ourselves to be transformed into veal (fed, massaged, soaked in hot swirling water...).

I'm starting to feast on the memories. Seeing the Festivus pole doesn't bring the stabbing pain to my solar plexus that it would have months ago. I won't dare pretend that I leave this year with more than I came in. I've lost a lot. But I've gained a better appreciation for my mother, I cherish friends a bit more, and when we hit the road tonight, we'll make all the restroom stops we want.

Merry Christmas, internets.

Help Me See There Is Good In The World

I had all these warm and cozy Christmas posts dancing in my head. I was ready to blog how I recently discovered that the woman who sings that annoying Hippopotamus song is actually a distant cousin and so I have stopped scowling quite so much when I pass it on the radio. I thought about sharing the story of the annual Christmas card that came today from my old principal and how much his handmade cards warm me every year.

Yep. I was all cozy and happy and ready to push through two more days of school.

I just got a phone call that changed it all.

Please, please, someone help me with reasons why this cannot happen. I'm forming my list, but it will come later. Right now, let's speak of reasons that Frank Keating cannot get his party's nomination.

Seriously, go. Now.

Giving Up On Comedic Perfection

I've got a lot of this stuff. There's a lot of stuff that should be blogged but needs more work, more context, less backstory, whatever.

In this first installment, I give up on this---

See, there's a joke here. Marionberry smoothie! Marion Berry!! I took this on a crazy road trip with my sister and laughed for miles after this place.
So, it's in your hands. Can this visual joke be saved?

Paris Hilton--Ethicist

Is there really such a thing as "partying ethics"? As both a teacher and student of English vocabulary, I yearn for an answer.

We Shall Overcome Someday

I just saw the most beautiful but haunting and depressing PBS special on Woody Guthrie.

There's a thousand things to discuss; the inherent darkness of creative genius, the pitfalls of art becoming commerce, the political nature of art and the audience response involved, the weaving of this music with US history--the stuff about people...but mostly I just heard the songs I listened to growing up with dad.

They're playing it back to back with a concert of Bruce Springsteen doing his Pete Seeger album, also full of dad music.

I bought the Springsteen album this spring while he was in the hospital. I listened to it in the waiting room and promised dad that I'd loan it to him someday, maybe burn him a copy. It didn't happen.

Sometime around the time of my father's death, a dear older woman told me in the middle of a comforting hug that I could "feast on my memories of him for years to come". I hope to. I really, really, hope I can do that. Tonight, I'm choking pretty hard as I try to get them down.

There's A Fine Line Between Charming And Irritating

I was on a tear today. State writing tests are tomorrow and with two days out for snow last week, we were eons behind where we should have been in regards to testing administration. The work should have been done months ago.

When the powers that govern testing promised last week to "get right on this", I was able to be zen about it. Maybe kids don't need to know all this information weeks ahead of time. Maybe I just worry too much.

With ten minutes left before my English class left the room, never to return until test day, however, the time for zen was gone. It was time for righteous anger.

I raged. I raged to the office in charge of testing, I raged to two principals. Things were handled, sort of, and my principal asked me to gather the thoughts of my department as to what went wrong in the process.

I was more than happy to oblige.

My afternoon classes were researching, so I was able to furiously compile my thoughts in between walk-arounds to check on my class's progress.

I warned them to tow the line today. No chatter, all efficiency. I was a bit of a loose cannon today.

With that, I sat down between my two silliest boys. I was ready to compose my screed.

This is to document the events leading up to Fall testing...

"Hey, Ms Educat? I have a question. You're going to think I'm being silly, but I'm serious."

"Hmm? What?"

"Is there any kind of chance that we could get William Shatner to visit our school?"

"No." I say, not looking up. "Can't see it. Not a chance."

"Oh. Hey--you know why Adam Smith is my favorite philosopher?"

"Mmm? Why?"

"Because! He was totally kidnapped by gypsies!!"

I snort, lay my head down in front of the computer, and shake with laughter a bit.

and try to compose myself and work up the rage again...

...the events leading up to Fall testing. We have some very real concerns...

"So if Shatner couldn't come, then we probably couldn't get Ricardo Montalbon
either, right?"

"Nope." (type-ity, type, type...)

It's silent for a few minutes while my Ritilin Ranger reads for a moment

"I don't get The Wealth of Nations. Can you help me read this? Please?"

"Yessss" with a sigh. Trying to be patient.

We read. Slowly. It takes about a page before he has a grip on the basic ideas, and with that, he goes back to read. He does so for a good while.

"Would it be ok if I walk for a while? Just to clear my head and think?"

How is it that this kid isn't making me crazy? How am I so amused at this moment by him?

"That's a great idea. I really appreciate that you want to walk this off instead
of irritating others. Thank you."

He takes a lap around the library, and returns to me with an observation.

"Hey, you know what? There's those "read" posters that show all the athletes
reading classic books?"
I looked at the poster later, and for the record, he considered, "The Purpose Driven Life" a classic
"...And, you know, Shaq is reading like,a sports book? Yeah, I bet he's the only
one who picked his own book. Hey, if I ever designed a philosopher video game,
would you play it?"

I finished my nasty letter draft, and with much lower blood pressure than when I began.

Thank you, Ritilin Ranger.