November 29, 2009

It is most assuredly NOT beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Around this time of year, many people assume (wrongly) that I don't like Christmas. I groan and cover my ears when I hear Christmas music playing and I make disparaging comments about people who already have their Christmas trees up/Christmas shopping done/houses decorated. This often gets me the "bah-humbugger" label, applied by people who haven't actually picked my brain on the subject.

Let me assure you, nothing could be farther from the truth.

In actual fact, Christmas is one of the precious few holidays that I care about at all (the other three being Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Halloween... though my love for the latter is diminishing a bit). I never liked Valentine's Day, I'm not even remotely Irish (despite the fantastic American melting pot that is my DNA) and I don't drink hardly ever, so I don't give a whooping funt about St. Patrick's Day. Easter is sort of a throwaway holiday to me... it's when the rest of the world finally gets around to celebrating something that I, as a Christian, try to celebrate every day - the resurrection of Christ. And I still don't get what rabbits and eggs are supposed to have to do with that, especially since rabbits don't lay eggs (with the notable exception of the Cadbury Bunny). I only care about New Year's in the sense that I have a legitimate excuse to stay up ridiculously late and hang out with my friends... which is another thing that I would do at any time of the year. Otherwise, hey, a brand new year... just like the last one. Big fat hairy deal.

No, I like Christmas. What I object to is the overcommercialization of Christmas. I object to the fact that Christmas has become 99% about buying stuff and 1% about being with your loved ones (and forget Christ, because we have taken him out of Xmas). I object to having Christmas goods on display as early as late September (August in Cuernavaca, which I think is funny since it doesn't even snow there). In fact, I object to the general retail practice of having your holiday goods in stock at least two months in advance of the actual holiday. Because I assure you, the day after Christmas they will start putting out stuff for Valentine's Day. And once that one is over it'll be Easter merchandise. I object to the fact that the overcommercialization has, for many people, made the holiday season more stressful than enjoyable. I object to the fact that every year my own mother stresses out because she feels like there's not enough money available for us to have a "good" Christmas. At Christmas of 2006 (right after she almost died) I told her that I thought we would all be content this year with the fact that we still have a mom. I don't think she believed me then, and I don't think she believes me still. Don't get me wrong, gifts are nice, but I won't feel Christmas was a failure if there is not a sufficient quantity of gifts under the tree or if the gifts do not add up to great enough of a cash value. I object hugely to that... if you've let your kid get the idea that Christmas sucked this year because he didn't get the $300 gift he wanted (or even the $100 gift he wanted), you and your kid both need a sound beating.

Let me repeat: Christmas is NOT ABOUT STUFF.

Christmas is about being with your loved ones, showing them you care (be that with presents or presence), getting the whole gang together and letting hilarity ensue. Christmas of 2008 in my family will forever be remembered as the Christmas that Dad tried to melt the ice in the driveway with a crab burner so Grandma and Grandpa could get their car out of the driveway. Thanksgiving of 2009 has officially been labeled "the Thanksgiving of the Coiled Crap Hound". I can't wait to see what Christmas 2009 will do... but it's not bloody Christmas yet! I mean, come on people... you just wore yourself out over one holiday! Give yourself a little down time before launching into the next one, why don't you?

I propose a two-week non-holiday period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also that'll give me time to get my son's birthday celebrated and not have him have to deal with Christmas getting all over a day that is supposed to be about him.

So in closing, yes, I do wish you a Merry Christmas... but not for another couple of weeks, all right?

November 28, 2009

Much too young to feel this old...

That red-headed chick was working the self-checkout at Safeway again today. The Chamaco and I were going through the line, he was buying something with the $2 I had just given him for helping me return cans, and I was teaching him how to use the self-checkout machine thingie. And that girl came up to me again (she has spoken to me before) and this time she asked, "Is he your kid?"

"Yep." The Chamaco replied for me. Which I guess gives me some credibility.

The look of surprise on her face was one I have seen before, and she said in awe, "You don't look old enough to have a kid!"

Shrugging and going about my checkout, I said, "I'm twenty-seven and he'll be eight in a bit over a week."

"But you don't look twenty-seven!" she protested. "And I think I've told you that before."

"Yes you have, lady, but you telling me that doesn't magically make me the nineteen you think I look," I thought but did not say.

There are two times of year when I get a little cranky about my age. One of them is when my birthday is approaching. The other is when the Chamaco's birthday is approaching. Unfortunately the two events are only about three months apart, so just when I get over feeling old because of my birthday, it's time for his.

If you want to be technical, no, I'm not old enough to have a kid who is eight. Because that would mean I had him when I was 19, and that would just be... oh, wait a minute. I did have him when I was 19. And technically I could have had him much sooner... I mean, a friend of mine in high school gave birth when she'd been 15 for a week or two. So really, speaking in the strictest of biological senses, I am more than old enough to have a child who is on the verge of turning eight. But every time I have to add a year to his age in my head, I feel about two years older myself.

It doesn't help that he's now old enough to be capable of reminding me verbally how young I'm not. One day while we were driving in the car, a Seether song came on the radio and the Chamaco asked me, "How old is this band?"

"Well, they started in 1999, so about ten years old," I said. Because this is the sort of trivia I know about Seether.

"How about Nirvana? How old is that band?"

I thought a moment. "I'm not sure when they started, but I think they ended in 1993 when Kurt Cobain died. So at least 16 years." (And boy did that make me feel old.)

With an air of frustration, the Chamaco asked, "Do you know any bands that I'm older than?" Having to admit that I couldn't think of one off the top of my head (that both of us would know) was kind of sad for me. I felt ancient.

That being said, I know I don't look my age. People I meet and ask to guess my age usually guess somewhere around 19. The good folks down at Bi-Mart card me to buy fireworks every July (for my non-Oregon friends, you have to be 16 to buy fireworks here). And most people, upon meeting me and my sister together, assume she is older (she is eight years younger). Still, sometimes I feel like a real dinosaur. I'm sure it's something psychological. But the good news is that I'll be 37 when the Chamaco graduates high school. If I avoid having any more children maybe I'll get to have another go at that being a teenager thing that I never really did the first time around.

In unrelated news, I talked to Smiley Dick today, which is something I try to avoid. I couldn't help but notice two things... he has shaved off all his hair, and he was smoking a cigarette. I was surprised by both, because he is fond of his hair and he had led me to believe that he quit smoking. So I asked him, "When did you start that up again?"

"This?" he asked me, waving the cigarette about. "You're presuming that I actually stopped."

"Well, yes, because you told me you had quit," I pointed out.

"No more so than you'd quit eating chocolate," he said.

I refrained from pointing out how retarded of a statement that was for a few reasons. First, I didn't want to continue the conversation. Second, I don't actually eat chocolate hardly at all. And third, most people aren't addicted to chocolate, thus they don't need to "quit" chocolate, and nobody notices if they don't have chocolate for a month or two and then they start back up again... and as excited as he was when he "quit" smoking, you could tell it was a big deal to him. I don't expect to get a text from him telling me that he's "quit" eating chocolate. Also nobody thinks it odd if a kid starts eating chocolate when he's 11 (other than maybe it's weird he didn't do it sooner). But one of the things I'm getting really good at with Smiley Dick is learning when to just smile and walk away so I don't have to have these arguments which will make him shake his head at me in that despairing fashion of his, as though I am just so unbelievably stupid because I cannot grasp his higher-level wisdom.

There's a reason we're divorced.

Song o' the Day: "Bitter Taste" by Three Days Grace. (In honor of S.D. Go look up the lyrics.)

Quote o' the Day: "Something awkward just happened in my kitchen!"
"Just so you know, Damian and Mindy are in bed. He's showing her how to use the force."

Really I should have switched those two around, because the latter quote was what led to the former. :-)

November 27, 2009

Creation appreciation...

And a big thanks to "Barney" for reminding me of this hilarious term that I haven't heard in quite some time.

I read an article once about how Church of Christ lingo sounds odd to non-members (I wish I could remember where I read that and what terms it said were odd). And I am just imagining to myself a conversation in which I try to explain to Wong the meaning of the term "creation appreciation" and how ridiculous he will think it is. I'm giggling now just thinking of it (but then, this often happens to me when thinking about Wong, because he happens to be one of my favorite creations to appreciate).

So anyway, following up on the spirit of Thanksgiving, I've decided to provide an illustrated list of my favorite creations to appreciate... with the exclusion of Wong, because he doesn't like to give me pictures of himself. (If you're reading this, cariño, know that you're only left off the list because you like to torment me by not giving me pictures. So there, butt-head.)

Creation #1: Shaun Morgan
Now here is a creation I could appreciate all day.... This particular creation is appreciated quite a bit on my bedroom walls. And then there's the green guitar, the voice, the sense of humor.... it's not all about looks, you know!

Creation #2: Perttu Kivilaakso
Because cellos are sexy, cellists are sexy, and cellists who play metal music and beat on their cello with the bow and run about the stage holding aloft an instrument with a 2 foot spike on it are triply sexy. Also Perttu can rock the top hat, which is one of those difficult hats to rock. You must be a real man to wear the top hat, otherwise the top hat wears you.

Creation #3: Cristiano Migliore
Sense a pattern developing? Long haired foreign musician types seem to do it for me. Anyway, this one's Italian (the previous two were South African and Finnish, if you're wondering), he's a guitarist, and I really don't care that his nose is that big. (Sister-sibling and I were discussing this subject in the car earlier. She is opposed to Italian noses.) Note, that's a seven-string guitar he's holding. The guitar is also quite sexy.

Creation #4: Brandon Lee
Sadly, this is the only creation on my list who is actually dead now. Still, The Crow is high on my list of favorite movies, mostly because this guy here plays the part well.

Creation #5: Batman (the Terry McGinnis incarnation)
This is mostly a bonus creation, but I love this character. He's not bad looking for a cartoon guy, but the sense of humor is the clincher. I like the way the guy thinks. Also the new batsuit is way cool. The Chamaco and I have been watching a ton of Batman Beyond lately (someone needs to get me the second season for Christmas... hint hint!).

Creation #6: The CTG
Yes, he has a name. No, I won't mention it here. No, I do not have a picture (more's the pity). But he's married anyway. Still, he's often the highlight of my Wednesday mornings. Nothing wrong with appreciating God's creation a little, right? :-)

Song o' the Day: "Breath" by  Breaking Benjamin. Yes, I'm on a Breaking Benjamin kick.

Video 'o the Day: Today you get a two-fer. Look here and here. Both of these make me ridiculously happy.

November 26, 2009


I think that must be British for "Happy Thanksgiving", but it's hard to tell some days. ;-)

(Note: "Hiohhhhhh!" should be read as sort of a ninja yell. I have a sound file but I don't know how to add it to the blog.)

So, Thanskgiving... commence the obligatory blog on stuff I'm thankful for.

1. Wong, in all his "hiohhhhhh"-ing British silliness.
2. My large, crazy, extended functional/dysfunctional family.
3. My larger, crazier, even more extended functional/dysfunctional church family.
4. The spiders, for staying out of my bathtub until after I'd showered today.
5. Having a house with heat this winter. I'm loving it.
6. Humans with deranged minds... I'm thinking mostly of the guys who made "Monty Python" and the guys who made "Eating Raoul" here.
7. My coworkers (especially Lorena, who always makes me laugh) and my "other 17 kids", for helping me not take life too seriously. ("Soy un tiger! Rawr!")
8. Seether, Nirvana, Lacuna Coil, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin, and all the other purveyors of the loud stuff that keeps me going from day to day.
9. The makers of Diet Coke.
10. The CTG, for making my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays a bit more bearable.
11. Eleanore, for the best turkey I've ever had at lunch yesterday. You rock.

November 24, 2009

Blog not moving after all!

It didn't take me real long to figure out that I don't like WordPress that much at all. So I shut that one down, and now I am back here and plan to stay. :-)

Had the Chamaco's conference today. Academically he's fine. Behaviorally... he's seven. His teacher and I discussed our plans to secure his coat to his body with a staple gun. No, just kidding, but I got the impression that his teacher was about to consider something drastic. She suggested sending him to school without it and letting him freeze, in that sort of "I'm joking but I wish I were serious" way. Who knew a kid could be so obnoxious with a coat?

Most shocking to me was the fact that he had perfect attendance this trimester... 54 out of 54 days, he was in class like a good little monkey. I don't think that's ever happened before.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get to have a nice chat with the CTG tomorrow morning since I haven't hardly seen him in a couple of weeks... sad! This having a life thing does not leave much time in my schedule for stalking gas station attendants.

And for those of you who missed the announcement over on the other, short-lived blog, I am back on Facebook in a limited sort of way. No games, no silly time-wasting survey things (unless someone is in the hospital and I'm killing time in the waiting room or something, maybe)... just I post a status message, read yours, then I go buh-bye. Don't invite me to join your mafia, 'cause I won't. Nor will I tend your farm.

Song o' the Day: "So Cold" by Breaking Benjamin. I highly recommend seeing the video for this song here if you missed it because you didn't read the other blog. I do love a good music video, and this is one of those cool ones that sort of tells a story but leaves a lot of unanswered questions. (Like, what did that dude do to get into this situation?)

Bonus Song o' the Day: You get an extra today since the other is actually yesterday's and was posted on the other blog. Today's song is actually "Without You" by Three Days Grace. It's from their new album that came out in September called Life Starts Now, and it's actually a very good album. And I like the cover art.

November 22, 2009

Blog Moving...

So, the whole colorful cast of characters (Wong, the CTG, Caveman Fred, Emo Steve, etc.) and I are moving to a new blog site I'm trying out for a while to see if I like it better. If I don't, I'll be back. You can follow our adventures on the new blog at:

Go there. There's a good link to a music video. And there'll be more good stuff later when I'm awake, I promise. Oh, also a news bulletin of interest to at least four of you will be posted shortly.

November 19, 2009

Teenagers need soccer!

(Note: Those of you whose eyes glaze over when I talk about languages - I'm looking at you, Wong/Muffinhead - should skip down to where you see the asterisks. There's cool stuff after that point and I'd hate for you to miss it because your eyes have glazed over.)

So today I was down in the basement of the SR center and I saw a pair of posters on the wall... the English version proclaiming, "Teenagers need calcium!" (why we have this in a preschool, I'm not sure) and its Spanish twin, "Los adolescentes necesitan calcio!" And I burst into hysterical giggles, because I'm a language nerd.

Perhaps I should explain.

"Calcio", which means "calcium" in Spanish, also happens to mean "soccer" in Italian (though it does mean "calcium" as well... I'm sure that would be confusing if we made an Italian poster to go with the other two).

For those of you who are curious (probably none of you, but oh well), the Italian name for soccer, "calcio", comes from the verb "calciare", which means "to kick". "Calcio" in Italian is also a noun in the sense of "a kick", as in "I gave him a swift calcio in the rear." I find this a bit less sensible than Spanish, which calls soccer "futbol" (foot + ball... not that complicated).

Really the ones who don't make sense are us Americans. (And that sentence.) Where do we get off calling it "soccer" when the entire rest of the world is pretty much calling it "football" (or at least nouning a verb related to kicking)? I mean, even in German - one of the weirder languages I've been exposed to - the game is called "Fußbol". (That weird B thingie sounds like an S, for those of you who don't speak German.)

And now for an end to the lingustic maundering and a beginning to me saying something slightly meaningful.


This afternoon I spent some time under an umbrella with a three year old girl that I don't particularly like. Sure, she can be sweet when she wants to be, but usually if I come home from work wanting to shake a child, she's the one.

It bears mentioning that we were indoors. Sitting on the floor. Under an umbrella.

"It's raining really fast!" she said to me. And she looked up at the umbrella, the and in the light filtering down through the ladybug pattern I could see that she had that look in her eyes... the one that adults don't get anymore unless they've been doing hallucinogenics. It's that look little kids get when they're seeing something you can't see. For her, it really was raining fast in that room.

"Wow, looks like it's raining pretty hard," I commented. "Is it making lots of puddles?"

"Yes," she said. "And mud. You better get on the chair so your butt doesn't get wet."

I got in the chair. Her hugely pregnant mother scowled at me for the ease with which I got off the floor. And the little girl climbed in my lap and held the umbrella over our heads, and together we watched the rain.

November 18, 2009

Stuff you learn from three year olds....

Probably I've made mention of Yeymi before. She's one of my favorite small people. She does not speak English, per se, though she is learning rather rapidly. This being the case, she tends to stick pretty close to me as I am our center's designated speaker of español. She is also hugely introverted... when we go to play outside her first impulse is to sit down at a table and watch everyone else with those big brown eyes of hers. We're supposed to try to get them to interact with others, so usually it falls to me to get her away from that table, which is fine. First I taught her to go down slides... the first several times I had to hold on to her all the way down. (Good thing the slides are short, 'cause tall I ain't.) Then I had to promise to catch her at the bottom, and even then she would hesitate a good long while at the top, deciding whether or not she really trusted me to catch her. Then she started doing it by herself. Then she wanted to climb up the slide, but she kept slipping and many, many times exclaimed, "Me voy a caer!" (I'm going to fall!) So I had to teach her to use the soles of her shoes rather than her knees. And now she climbs slides. And now we're working on the monkey bars. And that is all well and good, but I taught her something way cooler today.

All our kids  have a journal, and their name is printed across the top of every page. The instructions we give them every day are, "Write your name any way you want, and then draw a picture." Some of them don't actually write their names, but some of them are three so that's okay. Yeymi is a very young three, and usually she just draws pictures. Then yesterday at journal time I was sitting next to her and I asked her if she wanted to write her name and she said she didn't know how. So I held her little hand in mine, she held the marker, and I guided her hand to make the letters. And it dawned on me... She's been sitting there all these weeks staring at those letters, and no one has showed her how to form them. As adults, we take writing the letter Y for granted, but when you're three that's kind of a daunting letter, getting all those lines to connect up right, and she's got two of those suckers in her name! And then what about the lower case "e"? And the "m"? (She was all over the "i", though... that one was easy.) It never occured to me that she might just be sitting there waiting for someone to come along and guide her... "Okay, this is how you do Y..."

So today we get out the journals and the very first thing Yeymi does is look at me and go, "Ayúdame!" (Help me!) So I sat down by her and held her little hand in mine again (she is so tiny!) and we did one page with me guiding her hand to make the letters in her name. Then she said she wanted to do another one, so we turned to a clean page and this time I held her hand but I didn't guide her. I was just reassuringly there. And she made the Ys by herself. I had to help her a little with the "e" and the "m", and she did the "i". And she said, "Quiero hacer otro!" (I want to do another one!) So we got a new page, and I held her hand but didn't guide her. And she did the whole thing. The "m" and "e" were a little funky, but not at all bad for being three years and five months old. I could recognize them. And she wanted to do it again. And the next time I didn't even hold her hand and she wrote her name. And she ran off to play (because by that time everyone else was done), and I'm sitting there looking at her little book thinking to myself, "I just taught a kid to write her name."

And so I put the date on the pages she did and put the book away and wondered where she went. Usually she likes to do puzzles (she's a pretty smart little kid), and I expected her to be there, but no... today she was at the writing table, marker in hand, busily writing away. I'd never seen her at the writing table before... usually those four chairs are pretty coveted and she's not pushy enough or big enough to fight for one. I asked her what she was doing and she said, "Estoy haciendo una carta para mi mamá, porque ahora sé escribir." (I'm making a letter for my mom, because I know how to write now.) So I left her to it and moved on to make a train with Angel, and pretty soon Yeymi was there tugging on the hem of my shirt. She just wanted to inform me that she had finished the letter and put it in her cubby to take home, and I said okay and she started playing with trains.

So later I went and peeked at the letter in her cubby because I'm nosy. She had put a few scribbles and a drawing on her "letter", and without looking at anything had done a pretty good approximation of her name at the bottom. And I was thinking to myself, "Man, what is her mom going to say when she sees this? The kid's been in preschool for all of two months and today she brings home a 'letter' with her name written at the bottom. Her mom's gonna cry." And I almost wanted to cry, because my little baby (all 17 of them are my babies) had gone in one afternoon from thinking she couldn't write her name to believing she could write a whole letter to her mom.

It makes me wonder... how many doors would open up to reveal whole new worlds for us, even as adults, if rather than just putting a task in front of us and saying "do this", someone would take the time to sit down and guide us once or twice before letting us fly solo.  Would we also go from thinking we'd been given an impossible task to believing we could do above and beyond the task before us?

And I wonder how often we get impatient with people who are struggling to do something they've never been properly shown how to do. Maybe that chick who can't get your order down right at McDonald's is struggling because she was never given a proper tutorial on that touchscreen thing... I used to hate those. Especially since the management kept moving things around. You'd learn where something was and then one day it wouldn't be there anymore, and nobody would have told you where it had gone to. Or you're a dinner hour worker normally, and then they ask you to come in and work breakfast and they get annoyed with you because you don't know where anything is on the stupid touchscreen. (Have some pity on your fast food workers, people... the job is beyond sucky, especially at McDonald's.) And I know a lot of the parents at our center were baffled at first by the sign in/sign out book. There'd be a line of increasingly impatient parents forming behind the one mom who was hesitating, trying to figure out where she needed to write what, and finally I'd go over and ask if she needed help and she'd nod, and I'd show her, and then try not to smile as the two parents behind her watching over her shoulder realize that they've been doing it wrong (quickly, yes, but still wrong).

Since I started working here, I've started seeing the world through the eyes of a three or four year old in little glimpses. I'm taking field trips back to the time when you could just decide that you were going to be Ariel for the rest of the day, when a red wagon could be a bus, and when a climbing structure was a pirate ship... when learning to spell your four-letter name was a HUGE accomplishment (I'm thinking of another one of my three year olds there... Cloe was forgetting the L for a while). And suddenly I'm remembering back to a time when I used to spend entire days making myself Ninja Turtle costumes out of crepe paper and scotch tape and probably driving my mom bonkers. I remember when a windstorm knocked over our apple tree in that nice, pulling-half-the-roots-out-of-the-ground fashion, and once the tree had been cut away and only the tilted over stump remained, the stump became the "turtle van" and the hole where the roots had formerly been was "the sewers".

I miss those days big time. But now for the confessional section....

I suffer from chronic overactive imagination. I played those "let's pretend" games well into my teens. Then I went from acting everything out to just playing out the scenes in my head. That nearly drove me nuts, though, so now I write it down. I have scores of half-written epics on my hard drive... characters I invented, played with for a while, and then got bored with and abandoned. There is always a story going on in my head during any moment of the day in which nobody is actually speaking to me or demanding that I do something, and it usually gets written down in the evenings. Even now, as an adult, I suffer from a very shaky grasp on "reality" and sometimes for me the fantasy/reality line is a very blurry thing. This is why I don't like to watch movies. I don't need someone else's fantasy... I've got plenty of my own. In some ways I'm a three year old functioning as an adult (at least I think I'm functioning as an adult, but due to that fantasy/reality problem, I'm never completely sure). And now I throw song lyrics at you:

Don't bother pretending I seem fine
I like that I'm a mess
I can't stand much longer in my head
But it's not time for a bullet yet...
("So-So Suicide" by Finger Eleven)

November 17, 2009

Bragging on my kid....

Tonight was "Family Math Night" at the Chamaco's school, which I wrangled to get out of having to go to work tonight so we could go to. Turned out to be a very positive thing.

Aside from getting free pizza for dinner, the Chamaco played a lot of math games and won raffle tickets. Then he participated in the second grade math competition and kicked serious butt!

Okay, yeah, I know... they're kids, it's all in fun. But let me say this: Given a sheet with 100 addition facts to do in 3 minutes or less, my kid can do them all in about a minute and a half and only missed one problem (probably carelessness from going so fast). He was pretty excited, though, and he won a $5 gift card to Blockbuster. And then later one of his raffle tickets got drawn and he was given a $5 gift card to Safeway as well. So he had a fantastically thrilling night and he's already plotting what he's going to buy.

As for me, I had agreed about a month ago over email to participate in something called a "Quiz of the Obvious", which I was told was something where they asked you questions that seemed like the answers were obvious but they really weren't. Among the other adults competing were the school principal, a few teachers, and a handful of parents. There were 10 questions. I got 9 of them right, and that was enough to win. Second place got 8 (go you, Bjorn!). So I'm supposed to be getting some sort of prize too (probably a gift card) but silly math specialist guy sort of forgot and gave my prize away as a raffle prize, so he said he'd get it to me later. Fortunately the school knows where to find me. The questions were things like, "Which of these sentences is correct: 'The yolk of an egg is white' or 'The yolk of an egg are white'." The answer of course being "neither, egg yolks are yellow." Stuff like that. Two of the parents accused me of being "a teacher or something", and after the quiz kept calling me over to explain to them the correct answers of the questions. It was fabulously Molalla.

So anyway, thank you Lisa for letting me wriggle out of doing childcare at Sandy Ridge/Estacada's Family Night tonight and go do something meaningful with my kid instead. :-)

November 16, 2009


Just a short thought this morning.... has anyone else noticed how we are "anti-" everything anymore?

I mean, start with your hand soap, which I'm pretty sure is anti-bacterial if you live in the United States (and probably other parts of the world too). Speaking of things that are anti-bacterial, likely your dish soap is, your toilet/bathroom cleanser is, and any sort of spray cleaner you use to wipe down surfaces in your kitchen is likely to be anti-bacterial as well. Because heaven forbid that our spoiled American immune systems should have to work by having to cope with any of those harmless bacteria (and do they really think you're going to be down there licking the inside of your toilet bowl or what?).

I got some new soap for use in the shower the other day that is not only anti-bacterial, but also claims to be loaded with anti-oxidants which will "help protect my skin against damaging free-radicals that have been shown to be a cause of cancer". I sort of missed the sixties, but I thought the worst the free-radicals were going to do was get you stoned/pregnant. Nice to know they've apparently progressed on to causing cancer... I'd hate to see them unemployed like everyone else. Fortunately, they apparently hate the scent of cranberries. Speaking of which, I got two bars of that soap out in the shower... one lower down for the Chamaco, and one higher up for me. Our entire bathroom smells like anti-oxidant cranberries, and it's the first thing you smell when you come up the stairs. I guess there are worse things.

And then there's that word, "anti-oxidant". "Anti-" is a standard prefix in English generally accepted to mean "against" or "preventing". "Oxidant", however, looks more akin to "oxide" and "oxidization", which are fancy words for "rust". So following that logic, an "oxidant" would be something that causes rust. Therefore, I fully trust that my anti-oxidant soap will prevent my skin from rusting. Thanks, Dial! I was really worried about that skin rust. (Cancer is not a bad thing to avoid either.)

Then there's all those cool drugs you can take nowadays... anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-acids, anti-histamines, anti-podeans... (I just threw that last one in there to see if you were paying attention. An "antipodean" is someone who lives on the opposite side of the earth, and I've heard the term applied to Australians.) But really, what are all our depressants, psychotics, inflammatories, histamines and acids going to do with themselves now that we're all so violently in contro and throwing pills at them right and left? I know a few psychotics, at least, who are going to be standing in the unemployment line.

Have a heart... don't be an anti-psychotic. Lots of psychotics are merely misunderstood and are in dire need of loving homes. But be sure to have your psychotic spayed or neutered, because you wouldn't want that thing breeding!

November 15, 2009

Public apology...

Hey, so yeah, turns out Barney's an A.D.D. kid too and saw a shiny thing and just sort of left the conversation hanging at an awkward point. Sorry Barney. :-) I love you, you love me, right?

The brand new stupidest thing anyone has ever said to me....

This must be a red-letter day! You guys get a new alias to guess at, and I got to marvel once more at how dumb my fellow humans can be sometimes. Aren't we lucky? :-)

Meet Barney, so named because he is often in the company of many children (but without the creepiness of having a giant purple dinosaur head). Barney came up to me this afternoon and said, "So we were going to invite the Chamaco to (other kid's) birthday party, but you're not on Facebook anymore." (Naturally I have left out Other Kid's name, because that would make Barney readily identifiable.)

I wasn't sure I had heard him correctly. Of all the stupid reasons! Okay, first off, that sounded kind of like a diss. "You're not on Facebook anymore, therefore your kid isn't cool enough to have at our kid's party." Or maybe, "Since you're not on Facebook anymore, it was too inconvenient to contact you to ask if your child could come to our child's birthday party, because phone-dialing/emailing would have been required." And probably it's more a case of the latter, which is equally retarded and here's why: I know Barney has a cell phone. He's always carrying the thing around. Phones call people, and I do believe that Barney's particular phone does internet as well. His phone likely emails people. Secondly, my phone number/email address are readily available in the church's phone directory, of which everyone received a copy at the beginning of the year. I pointed out to Barney that they have these things with buttons on them called phones, which can be used to contact other human beings, and of course he pulled his out to show me that it in fact does not have buttons. It has a touchscreen. So does mine. I can still call people. Nice try though, Barney.

I remarked upon this before in my now-defunct MySpace blog (that blog in fact was the beginning of my withdrawing from MySpace/Facebook), but I want to know when humans (in particular Americans) got so afraid of not being in constant contact with the rest of the world 24/7. I'm only 27 years old, not old by any stretch of the imagination, and I can remember a time when all phones had buttons. Furthermore, all phones were stationary objects attached to the walls in your house. Al Gore hadn't invented the internet yet (ha ha!), email didn't exist (for that matter, neither did Facebook and MySpace), we listened to music on these rectangular pieces of plastic called "cassette tapes" that we shoved inside a large box called a "cassette player" or a smaller, portable box called a "Walkman", and if someone called your house and you weren't home, the phone would just ring there by itself until they got bored and hung up. And they called back later if they still wanted whatever they wanted the first time they called. And surprsingly, the planet kept chugging along in its path around the sun, spinning merrily away on its axis with a 35 degree tilt, and we actually found ways to keep in touch with the people we cared about. Sometimes we sent letters. On paper. Via a system called "the United States Postal Service". (Speaking of them, I bet those guys really wish you still remembered how to do that, because they're hurting for business.)

But back to my original point, there is absolutely no reason on earth that Barney couldn't have gotten a hold of me if he'd actually wanted to. Be real here.

And then someone else came up to me asking if I'd add her again as a friend on Facebook because her Facebook crashed and she lost a bunch of her friends and I told her I wasn't on Facebook anymore and the look of shock on her face was priceless. And then I had to explain to her why. *sigh* Kids these days... So I'm going to send out some emails here in a bit to people who seem to have found it fantastically hard to contact me without Facebook, and if you're reading this because you got one of those... congratulations! You remembered how we used to do stuff prior to Facebook!

Probably I'm too young to be this nostalgic, but I kind of miss the 80s, and even the early 90s. My family got internet in 1996, and it ate Caveman Fred not too long thereafter. I still remember that fateful afternoon when Caveman Fred came home, tossed me an envelope and said, "Here, I got this from the phone company. It's called internet. Install it and make it work." (Like most kids born after 1980, I heard things like that a lot from my parents.)

Seriously, though... if Facebook and MySpace are what is representative of society today, I withdraw my membership. There's more to life than Mafia Wars and FarmTown, people! (Hey Wong! Does that statement earn me a spot under your rock?)

November 13, 2009

Brokeneck Baby....

So today I got to spend 7 1/4 hours in various trainings for my place of employment. I put trainings right on the same level as meetings.... horrid. A few interesting things did come out of it, though.

The CORE trainer for the CDL classes is a former bus driver of mine. She was telling about her experiences driving a route in the MRSD fondly known as the "route from hell", and I asked, "Hey, was that my route?"

"Route 11?" she asked.

I nodded. "Sawtell Road?"

"Yep," she said. And as we discussed the years in which she drove the route, which corresponded roughly to my sixth and seventh grade years, I realized I did in fact remember her, but she looked much younger in my memory. Which I suppose is understandable, since it was 16 years ago. I probably looked younger then too. I told her, "This is how you would remember me." I then proceeded to put my headphones on, cover my head with my hood, and hunch down in my seat, making myself appear to be nothing more than a black blob. I told her I usually would sit as close to the front as possible. She said she didn't remember me. I told her that was the idea. I vividly remember trying very hard to be invisible on that bus. It's good to know it worked at least some of the time.

Later in the afternoon I got to go to a first aid class, which was pretty much exactly the same as every other first aid class I've taken except for two things: The trainer and the Brokeneck Baby.

The trainer was a man who in this blog I shall call Busdriver Bob. Busdriver Bob has a mullet. But not just any mullet, mind you. His is business in front and a drunken party in back. What I mean by that is that the back is long and pulled back into a ponytail, except for this little halo circle of hair around the base of the ponytail that is short and curly. I'm not sure what look he was going for, but he missed. By a lot.

And then there was the Brokeneck Baby. Since there were eight students in class today, we were divided into four pairs and each pair was given an "adult" CPR dummy and a "baby" CPR dummy. I was paired with Robyn, and Robyn and I got the Brokeneck Baby. All the CPR dummies have the heads that you can tilt back and lift the chin so as to practice opening the airway. Our baby, however, had a head that lolled oddly to the side and had a black piece of metal sticking out through its rubbery flesh. It also had a bit of black metal sticking out of the side of its left leg, but that was covered up by the little red pair of shorts it wore and not nearly as disturbing as the broken neck. Robyn and I tried valiantly, but we decided that the Brokeneck Baby could not be revived. The adult dummy, however, went on to make a full recovery and will no doubt be used in other classes in the future.

Oh, and the other fun thing about the baby dummy was that we got to tear its face off. Because each of us had our own personal, sterilized rubber face to put on the baby dummy. First you had to shove the plastic "lung" back in its skull cavity through the little hole, then you had to fit the "face" on top of it, and then practice breathing while covering both the mouth and nostrils and no doubt if this were not a drill you'd be getting baby boogers in your mouth. 'Cause babies gots mucho boogers... even the unresponsive, non-breathing ones. The adult dummies just had a nose and mouth that came off and the rest of the face was hard molded plastic.

Speaking of which, one of the dummies revenged me... no doubt for cracking its sternum during the chest compressions. But we were supposed to be practicing the Heimlich, which was difficult since the dummies weren't made for that and were actually quite solidly plastic about the abdomen. While I was holding the dummy close and trying to save it from choking my jamming my fist into its diaphragm, it got its vengeance by flipping its heavy plastic head back (remember the open airway thing?) and clocking me right on the bridge of the nose. I may actually have a black eye tomorrow... it was a pretty solid hit. Still a little tender. Nobody noticed that event, though, and I didn't say anything.

Last detail - it was flippin' cold in that room. The thermostat was set at 66 and it was locked, so we got to freeze in there for 3 1/4 hours.

November 11, 2009

Situational updates...

I haven't had anything happen to me recently that would cause me to say anything profound, and I've been busy with mind-numbingly boring things not conducive to creative thought, so I figured I'd just hit the highlights of the last couple of days lest someone should wonder if I died. (This goes double for those of you who attend the same church as me and might have noticed that I rather stealthily did not attend this evening.)

FACTOID #1 - My dad (hereafter referred to in this blog as Caveman Fred, due to his tendency to joke about how he misses brontosaurus steaks) had surgery today to correct achalasia, which as I understand it is when your esophagus is not straight like it's supposed to be, but is instead all twisty and baggy and it makes it difficult to swallow things. Like food. So anyway, he had the surgery, so far as I know he's doing okay and he'll be out of the hospital Friday, but he's on a pureé diet for I think four weeks... he gon' be skinny!

FACTOID #2 - I've been told I'm teaching my own English class Saturday. Ugh. Five weeks... Next term if I teach, I want something other than beginners. I am still not real pleased with the situation there, but I'm now thinking it has more to do with certain people who can't make up their minds than it does with the class itself.

FACTOID #3 - Speaking of classes, I'm head teacher again tomorrow. Nancy's going to a funeral which doesn't start until 1. I wanna know who the heck has a funeral on Thursday afternoon anyway? So it should be a long and very tiring day, which will followed by Friday, a day that promises to be even longer and more tiring. Friday, you see, I have a 4 hour training from 8-12 as part of getting my CDL, then I have another 4 hour training from 1-5 (first aid). So if I drive real quick, I might get back in time for Damian's bus, which generally drops him off here at 5:45-ish. Yay.

FACTOID #4 - Working all the time kinda sucks... it is taking me ridiculously long to finish Guitar Hero 5. Still not even half done. But with parent/teacher conference season upon us, I am translating an increasing amount and will be interpreting next Monday and Tuesday after work. And my primary employer has been kind enough to supply me with lots of things I can do at home and/or on Fridays... I want my freakin' Fridays back, people!

FACTOID #5 - 3 plants repotted... so far none have died. Freaky!

FACTOID #6 - I'm feeling very warm and fuzzy toward Wong lately... bless his little English Muffin heart. ;-) Less so toward Emo Steve. Haven't had time lately to chat much with the CTG, which saddens me greatly, and have been mostly managing to avoid Smiley Dick... score! I think that covers all my aliases for the day.

FACTOID #7 - I have been blessed/cursed with a child who doesn't believe me when I announce that for my next trick I shall need music and dirt. Then he acts all surprised when I walk in with a bag of dirt. Silly Chamaco.

FACTOID #8 - Killed an organism that was growing in the floor in the backseat of my car today. I think it started life as mold, but it was mutating horribly while feeding on Cheese Nip crumbs and Capri Sun.

FACTOID #9 - I was hoping not to have to resort to this, but I'm now moderating comments after somebody tried to use my blog to sell Nikes. If your comment is, you know, a real comment, I'll leave it alone. I'm very opposed to spam advertising, however.

FACTOID #10 - I'm taking out the music player. Instead, I'll just put down on every blog a song I think you ought to run off and listen to if you get a chance. Today's pick is "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse, which I loved a lot more before the lunch lady called it "that song from Twilight" and told me it's the song playing when the vampires are playing baseball. That kind of ruins it for me, so I'll probably have to wait a while before listening to it again. You might like it, however.

November 10, 2009

3's and 9's...

(Smile if you got the obscure musical reference there. Getting it would probably require either too much time spent playing Guitar Hero III or an extensive knowledge of Queens of the Stone Age. Either way, pat yourself on the back.)

Anyhow, as I made mention of yesterday (or two days ago, if you want to cruelly point out that it's 1 a.m. and I'm not asleep yet) I went through Damian's room and cleaned it out yesterday (or the day before. Whatever). What I did not mention is that under the table in his room I found one lone domino, nine dots on one end and three on the other.

What, you ask, is at all significant about a stupid domino? Well, in and of itself, nothing. I left the domino on the bathroom counter because I was in a hurry to leave for church, and the bathroom counter is my usual transfer point between upstairs and downstairs. Mindful of my grandma's admonition to "make your head save your feet", I generally stockpile things that need to go up/downstairs in central locations, and take the whole pile whenever I think of it. The "to go downstairs" pile is on the bathroom counter, because that is a place I'm likely to visit during the day.

This morning I was in the bathroom brushing my hair and the Chamaco was in there brushing his teeth, and the domino was still on the counter. He glances at it and goes, "Hey, twelve!" And it just blew my mind. Here's why: I look at that same domino and I see 3 and 9.... the parts that make up the whole, not the whole itself. And yes, I am a detail person... can't see the forest for the trees and all that. I am most assuredly not a big picture person, I live almost entirely in the here and now, and future planning of any kind - even what I'm doing tomorrow night - is a stretch for me. And I look at the domino and I see 3 and 9. The Chamaco, on the other hand, looks at that same domino and the first thing out of his mouth is "twelve". Not only does he add pretty good for being seven-nearly-eight, but he immediately latched on to the big picture (as it pertains to a rather small domino). He doesn't see the parts, he sees the whole. And now that I think about it, he is generally more date-aware than I am... he's more likely to know what day it is and how many days it is until a major event of some sort.

I thought this would make an interesting psychological test, so I stuck the domino in my pocket and took it to work with me. I told Nancy I was going to show her something and that she should say the first word that popped into her head after "domino", assuming that would be the first one. Then I showed her the domino. She said, "dots". This possibly means she is even less math-oriented than me, though I don't see how that could even be possible really. So later I altered the test and told the subject to say the first number that came into her head, then showed her the domino. She said, "three", and then later confessed she said three because she couldn't remember as quickly how many dots were in that particular configuration on the other end. Someone needs to play more Mexican Train. Or drink fewer energy drinks. ;-)

So, readers, here's my first participation survey of the blog... If I were to show you a domino (not necessarily a 3/9, but just any domino) would you notice first how many dots were on one or both ends, or would you notice first the cumulative total of dots? Go ahead and leave your answers in the comments. Could be interesting. :-)

November 8, 2009

An absence of profundity...

Yeah, that's right... I've nothing at all meaningful to say today. Woo hoo! So here is a brief summary of my accomplishments today.

1.) Was not late for church. Either time.

2.) Ran into my high school principal/English teacher at O.C. McDonald's. Invited her to eat with me and Damian. Damian lost interest quickly, finished his food and went to play in the PlayPlace while she and I spent a long time catching up. She has 3 kids now, who are actually her step-kids. I find that ironic, since she was very militantly single 10 years ago. (And she was the one who taught me that if a guy is attractive, that means he's either gay, married, or too old/young. I reminded her of that, and she laughed. She is also the one who taught me the proper way to kill someone with scissors.)

3.) Found purple flowerpots at Bi-Mart for my polka-dot plants that not only survived in my care, but bloomed like crazy all summer long and have outgrown their original containers. I shall see if I can kill them by attempting to re-pot them. That usually works.

4.) Bought a 2010 calendar. Before January. Usually I buy them after January 5th when they go on sale, but I found one I liked and it was only $6.99 anyway.

5.) Made good on my bad-cop-parent threat (I've told him repeatedly that if he didn't clean the room, I was going to do it and stuff was going to disappear) and gutted Damian's room while he wasn't home. Got rid of many toys that have been lurking in the bottom of his toybox since he was two that he's probably never even seen and will never miss, and rearranged his furniture. I thought he was going to be upset ('cause I would be if someone went through my stuff and threw a bunch of it away), but he seemed rather pleased, came into my room and hugged me and told me I did a good job. Strange child. But that clears the way for new stuff from his birthday and Christmas, both of which are next month. (groan!) (Note to relatives: Buy him small things. Or give him money or something.)

6.) Played Aztec Tribe for a while. That game reminds me very much of the original Warcraft game (back before it was World of...) with the little orcs or trolls or whatever they were that would enthusiastically reply, "Zug zug!" to any command you gave them and then work industriously to build... whatever it was they built. Pig farms or something. Wow, that was a long time ago.

November 7, 2009


Why oh why does the CTG not work on Saturdays? Because if there was a day I needed him to brighten my mood, today was it.

I was doing really good before I left the house. Even my hair was good today. But then of course I stepped outside, the wind/rain ruined my hair before I got to the car, and I just accepted that the messy look is "in" and went about my business.

Without knowing exactly who is reading this (since either nobody is reading it, nobody has anything to say about it, or people simply don't know how the comment button works), I am reluctant to go into specifics about where the morning went wrong. I'll just say that I suppose I should be used to being replaced by younger, prettier, more air-headed women by now and leave it at that. But it put me in a pretty foul mood for the rest of the day, and griping with Paula about the over-commercialization of the holidays was good, but not as good as the CTG would have been.

And so my family had "Thanksgiving" today. My dad is having surgery Wednesday and won't be able to eat solid food for probably at least 6 weeks afterward, so we decided to go ahead and have it so he wouldn't have to miss out. So after English class and my little rant session with Paula, I went up to my parents' house. I was there for close to six hours, which is way beyond my tolerances anymore, apparently. Not only is it really boring, but my dad won't turn on the heat so I was bored and frozen and cranky. Yay.

Finally got home about 8:30 p.m., turned on my own heat so it will get toasty warm in here. Curled up for a conversation with Wong, which would be way better if it wasn't for the pesky North American Continent/Atlantic Ocean separating us, talked to Tyha, and now I think I'm going to go to bed so today will be done, and maybe tomorrow will be better.

Also I'm having a go at growing my own ornamental pepper plant from seeds. I just planted it tonight. If anything actually sprouts, I'll post pics.

November 6, 2009

Aporkalypse (n): The end of the world brought about by swine.

So now I'd like you all to remember back with me a few months to April of this year, when nobody had heard of H1N1 (a.k.a. "swine flu") yet and we were living in blissful ignorance. Yeah, them were the days.

Since then, the human population seems to have gotten collectively stupider. All the world around me is freaking out... "H1N1" this and "swine flu" that and "vaccine shortage" the other. And it seems like I am one of the few left standing who recognizes the wussification of America.

I mean, let's be real here, folks. Pretty much the only thing separating this flu from the flus we've gotten every other year since the dawn of time is that we're aware that this one came from pigs. Is that why everyone's freaking out, I wonder? Some residual Jewish abhorrence of the unclean swine?

It has gone far enough that they are offering a free H1N1 vaccination clinic in my son's school. I think this is retarded. Here's why:

The only people in any real danger from this flu are people who are already medically fragile. Asthmatics, diabetics, people with chronic respiratory diseases/conditions, and pregnant women. The rest of us are going to feel like crap for a week or so, but then this really cool thing happens... you get better. No vaccine required. So if there is, as I am so often hearing, a lack of supply of this H1N1 vaccine, why are we wasting time giving it to healthy children? Why not give it to people who actually medically need to not get the flu first, then maybe the big wussy chickens who are afraid of pig flu can have some of the new, untested vaccine that might have side effects we are not yet aware of. I mean, for crying out loud, people... you act like you've never had the flu before! No, it's not fun, but unless you fall into one of the previously mentioned groups it's not going to kill you.

It's no wonder other countries now believe they can come over here and bomb us. We've been so pansified now that the general population is scared to get the flu. Other nations know that we are now too wussy to cope with a week of feeling icky. Way to be, America.

The Chamaco asked me the other night if I was going to sign that paper so he had to get the vaccine at school. I told him no, not unless he really wanted me to, and explained to him that if he didn't get it he might get sick, but he'd just get better afterward. He said he thought he didn't need the vaccine. That's my boy. A perfectly healthy seven-almost-eight-year-old is exactly the sort of person we need to not be giving the vaccine to. Give his dose to my neighbor, who has emphysema and COPD and is on the waiting list to get a shot at her doctor's office. How dumb is that?

So anyway, I guess my point is that before you go line up to get your Aporkalypse shot, consider for a moment whether you really need it or whether you're just standing in line ahead of someone who actually does. If you've got one of those conditions, yes, go get your shot with my blessing. Otherwise, grow a pair and prepare to cope with some temporary discomfort... it's flu season in America. Just like every other year.

November 5, 2009

An open letter to spiders....

Dear Spiders,

     It must be confessed... I don't like you at all. Although over the years I have made friends with certain individual spiders such as Christina (my virtual tarantula, who scored huge points with me for not being actually a real spider) and Hugo (the "spidermouse" I captured last summer with the intention of shaking the jar violently, but later released into the wild), in general I still pretty much hate your entire "arachnida" class.

     The reasons for which I do not like you mostly start with your legs. First off, there are eight of them. That surely can't be natural. It is even less natural that you can coordinate your eight legs and walk without tangling them up and falling over. But what is really disturbing is the peculiar, wavelike motion you use to accomplish this feat... it is not entirely dissimilar to the billowing, rippling cloak of a levitating dark mage about to unleash a mighty and evil spell in one of the fantasy type RPGs so much enjoyed by Wong. The longer the legs, the more I hate you... among my most hated members of your "class" are what my grandma used to call "lady spiders" (members of the pholcidae family) who have legs many, many times longer than their own bodies and tiny, creepy little pinheads. I have always found the pholcidae to be very creepy.

     Then there's your eyes... you have anywhere between two and eight of those as well, depending on family and species. Not only do you have creepy, beady black eyes (generally speaking, though I have also seen green), but you also can't even all agree upon a suitable number of creepy, beady black eyes to have - or even a suitable arrangement for said not-agreed-upon number of creepy, beady black eyes upon your creepy little pinheads. I do not like the concept of four pairs of creepy, beady little black eyes watching me while I shower, thank you very much.

     Speaking of my shower, that brings me to another reason I hate you... your disturbing tendency to show up at times/places when I am naked. What are you all, a bunch of voyeurs? I mean, I understand your reluctance to mate, guys - being devoured and killed afterward would probably take some of the romance out of it for me too - but sheesh! I'm not even your species/genus/family/order/class/phylum! That's quite a stretch, I'd say.

    I also find disturbing your keen grasp of irony. This was demonstrated to me just this evening, in fact. This is a completely true story. As I was getting in the shower tonight, I was musing to myself how glad I am that I now live in an apartment where everything in the bathroom is bright and white, rather than at the old place where everything was brown and spiders could very easily hide in my shower where I would not notice them. Especially when I have my contacts out, because I have to be pretty much on top of the spider to see it with my contacts out (unless it is a spidermouse). Just as I was musing this to myself (and not wearing my contacts) as I got in the shower and stepped into the water, I notced what I presumed to be sock fuzz floating in the shallow water near my foot. And then the sock fuzz turned around and ran at me, and I jumped out of the shower. Sure enough, it was one of your smaller brethren demonstrating to me his keen sense of irony. I demonstrated to him my keen sense of stay-the-heck-out-of-my-shower-you-beady-eyed-peeping-tom by pouring scalding hot water on him and then washing him down the drain. Serves him right, I say.

     Speaking of spidermice, I have a few words on that topic. Anything with an exoskeleton is bound to be pretty creepy. Anything with an exoskeleton running across my linoleum is worse. And anything with an exoskeleton running across my linoleum that is big enough to make noise when it does it should definitely not be running across my linoleum! Such size-enhanced exoskeletal creatures should also consider staying out of my shower, lest I should pour scalding hot water on their creepy little pinheads.

     Last but not least, I am not at all fond of the art of camouflage as practiced by your kind. And I'm not just talking about brown spiders in brown showers here... I'm talking about the ones of you that actively change color to hide in places I might want to put my hands. Several times over the course of my childhood and adult life I have picked a beautiful flower, lifted it to my nose to inhale the fragrance, and realized that a rather large yellow/orange/purple crab spider is sitting smack dab in the middle of the flower. That's an evil trick, y'all. Snorting crab spiders is not nearly as fun as snorting Pixy Stix (that isn't fun either, though purple snot is interesting). And I shall always remember the time when, as a youth, I was attempting to climb a tree and very nearly put my hand on top of a wolf spider who was at that moment busily engaged in looking like tree bark. The impudent little jerk actually reared up on his rearmost four legs (even typing that is wrong) and hissed at me. I did not actually fall out of the tree, I am happy to report, but I did withdraw rather quickly. If I were still in the tree-climbing business I would find him and pour scalnding hot water on his creepy little pinhead. Oh, and then there was your friend in the shower today disguising himself as sock fuzz. You see how well that worked out for him...

     However, o thou arachnids, it seems that God has put both of us here on the same planet (though I often wonder why Noah didn't just have the elephants get all stomp-happy back when there were only two of you). Therefore, I propose a peace treaty. This is how it works: You stay away from me, my shower, and my house, and in return I shall refrain from throwing books/rocks on you, hitting you with flyswatters, and otherwise pouring scalding hot water on your creepy little pinheads. Sound like a deal?



Here in Oregon, we prefer our gas-station attendants to be highly educated...

Another day, another interesting tidbit learned about the CTG. Apparently he has a bachelor's degree. In production. (Whatever that means.) And he's working at a gas station for minimum wage. I felt kinda bad for him... I've only got an associate's, and I'm making more than him. Also I'm doing it indoors without the "sideways rain and angry customers". Yet he's always so darned cheerful when I talk to him. The eternal optimist, despite the fact that I already know he was unemployed for a year to the day before getting his gas station job. Yet not so cheerful that it makes me want to vomit. I know someone who's like that too. We'll call him Smiley Dick. (Yes, this is a new alias. He might crop up again occasionally.) Smiley also works at a gas station and is perennially optimistic, but he's like sunshine and rainbows and hearts and flowers until it makes you want to puke. The CTG is optimistic, but without being a hazard to the blood-sugar levels of diabetics. Much more tolerable.

Once again I say, send me one like that but less married.

Anyhow, I got to spend six lovely hours in meetings today. The first hour was a guy talking about something about development of children. I'm not sure exactly what, because the printout of the powerpoint was lousy and also we couldn't hear him in the back. The next 2 hours were about sensory development, which was actually kind of interesting. Then we had one hour of a mandatory class about harassment in the workplace and the company's harassment policy (summed up as: don't do it) and then the last two hour class was about positive discipline and basically learning how to make anything you say sound positive even if what you mean is "knock that off right now, young lady!"

I hate meetings...

Had a long and reasonably productive discussion (read: not entirely about muffins or American/British superiority) with Wong this evening. I love that guy to bits, and I do wish he'd get his punk-ass to America already. I do respect his thought that he ought to spend his first Christmas in a decade or so with his mother, but still... sigh. Four freaking years and what for? Reaching the point of desperation/exasperation on this one.

A nice old guy came knocking on my door tonight to invite me to church at Grand View. He asked me if he could ask me a question and I said sure. He said, "If you were to die right now, are you sure that you'd go to heaven?" I said, "Yes, absolutely." He looked surprised and said, "Not many people say yes so definitely. So you believe that we are sinners and Jesus died for us and we're saved by grace alone?" I said, "Yes indeed. That's exactly what I believe." And he wished me a good evening and left.

If only the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses went away so easily...

November 4, 2009

A strange, girly night...

"Being attractive... it's the most important thing there is.
If you want to catch the biggest fish in your pond, you have to make yourself as attractive as possible.
Be sure to keep your hair spotlessly clean.
Wash it at least once every two weeks... ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS!
And if you see Johnny Football Hero in the hallway, tell him he played a great game.
Tell him you liked his article in the newspaper."
- "Popular" by Nada Surf

I'm not sure what got into me tonight. Maybe it was the fact that on two separate occasions today, coworkers told me I should get on eHarmony.  But by the time I got out of church, I was feeling like maybe it was time to work on my outward appearance a bit. I've been wanting to darken my hair for a while now... seems to be an urge I always get as soon as it starts being dark when I get home from work (stupid Daylight Saving Time). It seems like during the summer I get gradually lighter, usually arriving at some shade of red, and then as soon as the days get ridiculously short I go right back into the darkness. I resisted the urge to go directly back to black, though, and instead went with "Chocolate Velvet" or "Velvet Brown" or some stupid color name like that. It was the next shade up from "Black Stiletto", that much I can tell you. On top of the red I already had going, I think it has turned out rather well, though I'll have to wait for it to dry to be sure.

Men may want to skip this paragraph, lest they be put off brunettes forever. I'll wait for you to leave.... okay, you'd better be gone now. If not, don't say I didn't warn you. So one day I was having a conversation with the blonde twit who was cutting my hair that day, and she was coveting my insanely thick, dark hair and whining about how hers was all fine and blonde and straight, blah blah blah. I said, "Sure, the thick dark hair is great on your head, but you gotta remember that people have hair other places too." She thought about that a moment, and I could hear gears grinding... or maybe it was just the pea rattling around in that big empty head of hers. But after a few moments the rusty generator finally flickered to life and she said, "Oh!" and agreed that maybe she was glad her hair was blonde and baby-fine after all. I love traumatizing my haircutter people. But anyway, I have never been bothered particuarly by my thick, dark hair except for in one place... my face. I don't think I have any more hair in my facial areas than any other woman does, really. Mine is just thick and black is all, not all blonde and fuzzy. But I've long been slightly insecure about it, especially after a 5 year old Mexican kid told me I had a beard. (Stupid Victor.) So I decided to be all girly tonight and do something about it. Also I shaved my legs.

Earlier today I went by Toad's and wished the CTG a happy Wednesday (very sarcastically, of course). He did his big flirty grin at me and said, "If you didn't come here, nothing good would happen to me today." Sigh. I would love to have somebody who wasn't married (and preferably also of an equal degree of attractiveness to the CTG) flirt with me like that. Wonder if he has a brother... lol.

Anyhow, tomorrow I get to spend 6 hours in meetings. Meetings, in my opinion, are something Dante would have seen on his journey through one of the lower circles of hell. I remain convinced that if, by some unfortunate turn of circumstance, I go to hell, there will be meetings there. Lots of them. Lasting about 1,000 years each, with a 5 minute bathroom break in between, during which the line to the ladies' restroom will be backed up clear back to the edge of the lava pit. Tomorrow, I'm pretty sure, will suck. So I've decided I might as well look good while the world goes on with its sucking. :-) 'Cause after all, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fly off.

It smells like Wednesday in here....

Of the people likely to read this blog, one - maybe two - actually understood the joke in the blog title and laughed. Or at least grinned a little. Inwardly. I don't know.

If I were more insecure, I'd think my jokes weren't funny.... nah.

But for the rest of you underprivileged souls, here's the joke. You know how sometimes when English-speaking adults are about to say 's---' and they stop themselves halfway through and say something lame to cover it up like 'shiitake mushrooms'. (Which was actually one of the only funny things in the movie Madagascar, by the way. That and 'Hoover Dam!') Well, they're not alone in that... their Spanish-speaking brethren do it too. The Spanish equivalent naughty word is 'miérda'.

If you giggled right there, incidentally, you're too young to read my blog. Go away. I can use that word, because it doesn't sound bad to me because I didn't grow up speaking Spanish. My Spanish professor had a similar problem... he could swear in English and it didn't faze him one bit, but let someone drop a Spanish F-bomb (which in Mexico starts with C, in case you wondered, though he was from Venezuela by way of Spain and they have all kids of crazy F and C and P and other consonants too words in those places) and he would blush bright red. I miss that guy. I oughta go visit him sometime.

Anyway, getting back to my original point, when Spanish-speaking adults get halfway through 'miér-' and stop and then add something lame to finish, they finish by saying '-coles'. Which makes the word 'miércoles', which means Wednesday. Which means a Spanish speaker could conceivably say something like "Aquí huele a mier... coles." Or, "It smells like.... Wednesday in here."

But the reason I was on about Wednesday... I don't like Wednesdays. Neither does the CTG. Though for me, Wednesday signifies that I am officially past the halfway point in my four-day Head Start workweek, I work enough on the other days that it means little. What it does mean is that I will be home for roughly 45 minutes after church, then I will leave again and not be home until after 9. CTG's reasons for hating Wednesday have more to do with being obliged to take classes where he's the least scary guy in the room. At least this is what I gather. So usually I wish him a happy Wednesday when I see him Wednesday mornings, and he laughs and says "Yeah, right," because he knows that neither of us is particularly fond of Wednesday.

Because is it any wonder, really, that 'miércoles' and 'miérda' are such similar words?

And really where I go on Wednesday night is to church, and overall I like that, but with Emo Steve being all pissy lately it hasn't been quite as fun. Also loads and loads of people have been out sick. Also I probably won't have time tonight to translate any more report cards, so grades 4 and 5 are going to be on hold until domani. (Which is 'mañana', to you English speakers.)

Domani... e per sempre domani
Domani... e per sempre domani
Ti prego toccami le mani, toccami le mani, toccami le mani, tocca mi le mani
Vai via... via le mani dagli occhi...

Sorry. Had a little Negramaro lapse there. (That was me singing in text form.)

Oh, spent some fabulous time on the floor with Ivan last night. Not only is the A7 chord pretty easy, but also I think I'm starting to suck at guitar less despite the fact that I never have time to play, much less build up finger strength. Good thing I'm just naturally tough. I'm thinking I'm going to make a special study of the songs "Sympathetic" and "Driven Under" by Seether (both of which I can already mostly play, 'cause they're cake, I just need to work on that playing and singing at the same time thing)  and "Rain" by Breaking Benjamin, which is much harder than those first two. But hey, a girl's gotta have a goal.

November 3, 2009

Un elefante se balanceaba sobre la tela de una araña...

One elephant went out to play
Upon a spider's web one day
He had such enormous fun
He asked another elephant to come...

We sing this song with the kiddos all the time. It's a bright and shiny English translation of an old Spanish children's song. The Spanish was a little less playful, a little more grim. Less playing and fun, more balancing and testing of limits. Spanish lyrics with my very literate English translation follows:

Un elefante se balanceaba (One elephant balanced himself)
Sobre la tela de una araña (On a spider's web)
Cuando veía que resistía (When he saw that it held up)
Fue a llamar a otro elefante (He went and called another elephant)

It's a counting song, really. Nancy had me make a big spiderweb on posterboard and little dancing elephants to velcro onto it and we sing the song, adding another elephant in each verse. Enormous fun. We can get 10 elephants on that spiderweb.

Really, though, I think the Spanish version is more true to life. In a way, we're all elephants balancing on spiderwebs... big, blundering, oafish creatures precariously balancing ourselves on skinny little spiderwebs that we like to call "lives". And we bounce and bobble around for a little while, checking things out, and if the spiderweb doesn't break we call in another elephant. Then we usually breed with that elephant, producing smaller elephants who grow up to be big elephants, all straining on that poor spiderweb...

Good thing that spiderweb has a higher tensile strength than steel (supposing steel could be extruded to that same diameter), huh?

But where the heck is the spider who made that web in the first place? And how does she feel about all those elephants dancing around on her web? (I say "her web" because in most species only the female spiders spin webs. It is not intended to be a commentary on the gender of God or anything... don't go reading too much into this, people!)

But here again we have an example of the English language taking a children's song that is a little dodgy at best and cleaning it up and making it happy... disgusting, I say. Kind of like how American children have no idea that at the end of the original version of Snow White, the wicked queen is forced to wear shoes made of red-hot iron and dance in them until she falls down dead. (I think the idea of such punishment might deter crime a little better than our current "justice" system, but that's another blog for another time.) Plenty of those happy "fairy tales" (whether or not they involved fairies, they still seem to get called that) were actually a lot more gruesome in their original tongues until English came along and cleaned them up all sparkly-like.

Stupid English.

Anyway, I've had that silly song in my head most of the day because right around the time I woke up this morning (not the time I got out of bed, but the time I woke up) I was discussing the song with Lorena and Nancy, because I couldn't remember how the Spanish one went since it's been well over a year since I taught first grade reading at MES. On the plus side, I think I can probably play the thing on guitar provided that the A7 chord is not too difficult. Because the only other chord in the song is D, and I'm all over D.

Speaking of Ivan, I think I'm off to have a little bonding session with him.

November 2, 2009

20 little things that make me smile...

Okay, some of these are actually big things, but others of them are pretty trivial. But lest some reader should start to think that there is no joy in my life and I do naught but whine and complain about stuff that bothers me, here is a list of some of my favorite things. (No, I will not sing the song from The Sound of Music and I certainly will not invent my own song for my list. There will be no kitten whiskers in this list.) This list is in completely random order, so I hope Wong is not offended that he didn't wind up first on the list... though he did wind up second just by happy accident.

1. The squishy gel handle on my new hairbrush. At first I thought it was weird and I didn't like it, now it makes me smile. Also it's purple, and purple is freakin' awesome.
2. Wong... What can I say? Four years and I'm still smiling almost as stupidly as I was on October 8th of 2005 when I met him. ¡Te quiero, cariño! :-)
3. Ivan. Ivan being the name I have finally surrendered and given to my guitar. It was the first thing that popped into my head when I bought him, and I was like, "No, that's retarded!" but the name seems to have stuck. Ivan the Ibanez it is. I just wish Ivan and I had more time to spend together, is all.
4. When my son argues with me about events surrounding pictures taken when he was mere days old like he remembers the incident in great detail.
5. When the demonic hellion child (not my son, one of the ones I work with) forgets she hates me for a few minutes and decides to snuggle instead.
6. When Yeymi insists that I need to sit by her at lunch, then she talks my ear off the whole time. Also when she says, "Ay yi yi!" with more feeling and drama than someone who is barely three should possess.
7. Quando non ricordo what language I'm speaking y me sale así. :-)
8. Shaun Morgan. Come on... you knew he had to be on the list here somewhere! The hair, the eyes, the voice, the GREEN GUITAR OF INCREDIBLE SEXINESS!!!
9. Speaking of incredibly sexy guitars, that 7-string ESP that Cristiano Migliore carries around with him is pretty darn sexy too. I'll take one of those and one of the green ones, please and thank you. (And you can throw in a Shaun Morgan and a Cristiano Migliore while you're at it, hold the Maus.)
10. Headbanging and singing at the top of my lungs in the car while driving, with the full knowledge that my boss is driving the green van behind me. I do this nearly every day.
11. Hugging people who are wearing leather jackets. Double points for suede.
12. When Nancy says "shtuff" and I think to myself that "stuff" is probably not the word she really means to say.
13. Anytime I'm talking to Lorena and I manage to get in a reference to "tagging". Good times... (Lorena still won't let me tag her butt. She's such a party-pooper.)
14. The Cute Toad's Guy... oh my word, HOW did I make it this far down the list without mentioning the Cute Toad's Guy?!?! The in-jokes, the flirtationship, the fact that he's usually the best thing that happens to me on a Tuesday/Wednesday morning (and often Thursday and Friday afternoons too)... I don't give a whooping funt if he's married and has two children (I know his kids and I don't particularly like them)... I like the guy, even if he probably flirts with everyone. He brightens my day, anyway. I may have to give him his own blog entry just to catch up the newbies.
15. Language conversations with Emo Steve on his less emo days.
16. Okay, language conversations with pretty much anyone. I'm a nerd. Deal.
17. Playing drums on Rock Band. There is just something very therapeutic about rhythmically thwacking a plastic circle with a wooden drumstick, and the sound it makes is quite satisfying. The music ain't half bad either.
18. Just the fact that there exists an Italian rock band called "Finley".
19. The concept of punk drow makes me happy.
20. Doing whatever the kids do just to watch them freak out. Today I climbed the slide and hung upside-down off the swings. Yeymi ay-yi-yi'd at me. She thinks I'm nuts. :-)

November 1, 2009

Cade la pioggia (blog in English - Hakuna matata)...

Interesting thing... depression seems so widespread recently. And yes, I understand, the economy sucks, nobody has any money except for a few elite scumbags, the politicians are corrupt, yadda yadda... it's a bad, ugly world out there. Or is it?

Ron (who I don't think needs an alias, but if he would like one he should let me know and I'll come up with something cute and edit this post) asked me today how things were going for me lately. I had to admit they've been going pretty good. I mean, lets face it... I've got a job (or three), I've got an apartment, we have food, I am keeping up with my bills... despite the fact that I'm still living below the federal poverty line, I'm actually doing better for myself than I have since my ex-husband left me about six years ago. The budget is tight but doable, we're not going without anything we actually need and we've got some of the stuff we just want. That's doing pretty darn good for the here and now! And as the air gets a bit of bite to it, I'm looking forward to spending my first winter of about the last 8 in a home with both a heating system and insulation. I do not anticipate going into the bathroom this January to find my shampoo has frozen, and I'm looking forward to that not happening. So aside from the fact that I still sleep by myself, pretty much everything is the happiest it has been in Meagan-land in recent memory.

Not so everywhere, however. I know a lot of people are suffering, and the case to hit closest to where I live is a friend of mine... for the purposes of this blog, we shall call him "Emo Steve" (which, incidentally, was also the name we gave to a dinosaur at Prehistoric Gardens this summer... I think it was the ankylosaurus). Despite the fact that I have dubbed him "Emo Steve", I actually do like the guy most of the time... he's one of the few people I know that can hold up his end of a language-based conversation. He does, however, tend to be angsty and agonize a bit more than is strictly necessary and lately he's been more morose than ever... enough to make my defunct emotional antennae start sending out feeble squawks of warning. So I sent him a text asking if he was okay, he sent back what I thought was a rather curt reply (though it's hard to tell over text) thanking me for caring and ending with "Have a good night!" which, besides being rather faux-cheerful, is EmoSteve-ese for "quit talking to me"... I think. "Have a good night!" is his usual text-conversation-ender phrase. (But I usually have to send one more text back just because I am that sort of person.) So I quit talking to him. Some days I curse my social ineptitude. And some days I am just very grateful for Wong, who is less emo and easier to read since I've known him about three years longer. And some days I'm just really glad that I still sleep alone, even though I find that troublesome on some nights. :-) Sleeping alone sucks, but sometimes I think not sleeping alone and then having an extra whiny person around during the day would suck more.

Earlier on I was thinking about el Día de los Muertos, which is a rant/brain dump I visited once many many moons ago on my MySpace blog. For those of you who might be monolingual English speakers or otherwise not in the know, Día de los Muertos means "Day of the Dead", and it's a pretty common celebration in several Latino/Hispanic cultures, though mostly in Mexico. It dates back to an Aztec festival a few thousand years ago dedicated to their goddess Mictecacihuatl (Say that three times fast... or even once!), who was known as "the Lady of the Dead". "Day of the Dead" is a bit of a misnomer, though, because the festival actually lasts two days. November 1st is called  Día de los Inocentes or Día de los Ángelitos,  and November 2nd is the actual Día de los Muertos (or in some places,  Día de los Difuntos, which pretty much means the same thing).

Really I think that the Latin-American cultures in general have a much healthier view of death than we Americans do. Death is seen as the natural endpoint of the life cycle... you're born, you live a while, then you die. No getting around it, no tiptoeing around the subject, no cute euphemisms... death is just part of life. You know... the last part. But they also believe that one night a year, the souls of their departed loved ones come back to visit. On November 1st, the souls of children and babies who have died return, and the souls of deceased adults return on November 2nd. And they celebrate this. I think it's a cool idea, really. (For a cool Día de los Muertos tie in, hop on YouTube and look up Seether's music video for "The Gift". It's set in  Oaxaca, Mexico and has a Día de los Muertos theme, complete with a little ghost girl. It also has Shaun Morgan, who is the hotness.) In America, on the other hand, death is scary and we don't like to talk about it. When someone dies, we invent cute little euphemisms like "passed away", "departed this life", "kicked the bucket", "bought the farm", "shuffled off this mortal coil", etc. Really when people do that I'd like to shuffle them off this mortal coil. Making up cute phrases does not change the reality... dead is dead, and if we'd collectively come to grips with that it might make our lives a bit easier. But then, many Americans don't believe in any sort of afterlife either, so I guess death is scary when this is all you've got. I say if this is all we've got, just kill me now, TYVM.

And mindful of the fact that tomorrow I won't have a Facebook, I started the weaning process today and did other stuff. For my 26th birthday (which was the one that happened in 2008, for those of you who don't know), I was given one of those big picture frames with lots of little holes for you to put snapshots in. My grandma has one of those that she's had for YEARS and she's never put her own pictures in and it still has the pictures of the pretend families that are in there when you buy it. We won't let her change it now... those guys are part of the family. We've named a few of them. Lest I should arrive at that point, though, I decided I'd better put pictures in mine. So this afternoon in my Facebook-free time, I got down my box of snapshots, sorted through and found the ones that I would most like to put in the frame. I was about 9 pictures short of filling it, so I found one of my old abstract pastel drawings and stuck it back there to fill space until I have more pictures that I like. Because really... I'm only 27. My life story is still being written, and no doubt many fascinating photos will be taken sometime between now and my death (which I will happily embrace when it comes, by the way... no tiptoeing for me!). So I'll fill that space when I come to it, and until then there is cheerful abstract art and a piece of blue construction paper. But here's a picture of the frame:

That was quicker than I thought...

I'm done saving my pics off of Facebook. Upon reflection, most of the pictures I had on Facebook were stuff I probably don't need anyway. I did save the ones I took of the moving-in process here at the apartment (we've been here almost eight months now... crazy!) because that was an important and momentous life process thingie, but aside from a few special pictures most of it was fluff.

Which brings to mind something else I hate about social-networking sites - comment whores. You know exactly who I'm talking about... those people who post a bunch of pictures, then in either a status message or a bulletin board post say, "I just put up a bunch of pics... go comment on them!" or something to that effect. Like comments enhance your worth as a person. I don't know.

"Wong" told me this morning that I have now joined a special group of elitist @$$holes (clever, no?) who shun all social-networking sites... yes, he is a member of this group. I asked him if that meant I get to hide with him under his rock now and he said maybe. ;)

So anyway, back to the original subject, my Facebook account closes at bedtime tonight. I'm leaving it up long enough for a few people to find the messages I sent them telling them where I'm disappearing to, and then off into the ether I go. I'm hoping I'm going to ultimately save myself a lot of time by not being on Facebook, and I think it'll probably work because I've spent less time typing this blog than I spend on the average Facebook session (and yes, I do type very quickly, thank you). I realize this is probably my own failing, but given a host of tiny applications to toy with, I will toy with them, and therefore I need to get off Facebook. Sorry to anyone who might feel I don't love them anymore.

Happy November!

I like the first of the month. You know why? Because I put in a new pair of contact lenses and all the world looks fresh and moist for a while. :)

So just to get the morning started with the proper dose of trivialities, I'm considering wearing lipstick to church today (not sparkly red like yesterday, though), I'm also considering wearing my chain wallet one more day instead of just Halloween, and I'm already upset that Wong* won't take a picture of himself running and flailing his arms about, because I think it sounds cute though he disagrees with me.

I have a hard time letting go of Halloween the day after. Probably because on Halloween I can dress like I want to dress anyway and nobody looks at me sideways, but you try dressing all goth/punk the day after Halloween and suddenly people have issues with it. Halloween is a great festival of liberation, and there's a letdown afterward, I think. This is why I think we should all go with el Día de los Muertos instead... more on that later, maybe (this is an old rant, visited once in my previous MySpace blog-life).

*"Wong" is not this person's real name, naturally. 'Tis but an alias for someone of my acquaintance who lives quite far away and has cute sentence structure... true friends already know who I'm talking about, the rest of you will have to accept that "Wong" will probably be a recurring character in this blog. And if you're reading this, "Wong"... deal. At least I made some effort to protect the "guilty" party, no? And you DO have cute sentence structure, much as you like to say that's horse-radish.