The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

All Aboard!

I bought my ticket on the Emotional Rollercoaster this morning. Or maybe last night, I don't remember for sure. None of that really matters though. Because, this morning...this VERY morning...I became the mother of an eighteen year old, legally adult, woman. Well, technically, I was already her mother, she just turned into the blah, blah, blah. I'm pretty sure it was magic, or somethin'.

I'd very much say that I don't know how that happened. But it'd be a big fat one. I remember where I was when she was conceived. Every bizarre moment of my labor and her delivery. Every skinned knee and broken heart. Every birthday party. Every drama production (school and otherwise) and chorus concert. Every smile. Every laugh. The first time she took a step, or tied her shoes, or rode her bike, or went to a dance, or got a job.

I remember every second of it all.

She didn't hide any of it from me. But, boy howdy, it can't possibly be time to let go. Can it? I'm just not ready. Yeah, sure, she'll be fine. She's got a few bumps to live through yet, I'm sure. But, how in the HELL did eighteen years go by???

There will be no embarrassing photos posted today (though if you email me, I'll TOTALLY hook you up!). I'm keeping all the tears on this side of the interweb. Tears of wonder, I suppose. A mixture of sad and happy and surprise and pride. I can assure you I didn't see this reaction coming. It's like nothing I've felt before.

[Kid 1]'s off running around with friends today. Doing that teen thing. She's requested a birthday dinner out with the fam at one of her favorite restaurants, so that's on tap for later this evening.

It's really NOT about me being older, either. Maybe it's about missing her...before she's even gone. 'Cause believe you me, I'm gonna miss her something fierce. Lucky for me though, as I said in her birthday card, "It was 18 years ago, today, that I first held your tiny hand in mine. And while you may not still see it there, I'm still holding it now, and always will." Lucky, too, that she plans to stay home while she goes to college. What a blubbering mess I'd be if she weren't, huh?

Damn, I hate crying at work!!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Won't You Take Me To...Funkytown

Sorry I dissed you guys last Friday. I just got nuttin' in the creative juice department right now. Or, more accurately, everything I got there is getting channeled into real world stuff these days. (Friday may, or may not, see a Flashback this week.)

Still nothing worthy of a legitimate blog post, but a few snippets I thought worth sharing. Buckle up, it's old-school Superwife...

• [Kid 1] graduated from high school this past Saturday. A significant milestone for both of us, I guess. As the eldest of my girls, it's an honor I'd yet to enjoy. And, yeah, the proud mama thing, totally on overdrive. She graduated with honors (and got to wear the gold braids on her graduation gown to prove it) and was all smiley and excited the whole time. After the ceremony, we headed back to our place for final prep for a small party. Bunnyman and [Kid 1] made a banner to hang on the front porch, proclaiming that she had, indeed, graduated and was worthy of much congratulatory praise. Inside, the house was festooned with some “recycled” wedding decorations, which, (entirely) coincidentally matched her school colors. Silver star centerpieces were placed randomly and photos of [Kid 1] growing up were in each one. It was pretty sweet. I had ordered her a photo cake. The first one I’d ever gotten. But I had the MOST adorable picture of her on her first day of kindergarten. Standing on our front porch leaving for school. Wearing a little red plaid dress and black patent leather shoes and holding an apple for the teacher. Couldn’t have BEEN more Norman Rockwell. So I decided it would be a sweet thought to put that photo on the cake for her last day of school. It turned out very well. She got a few hundred bucks in cash (though we expect a little more when the announcements go out to the extended fam), a watch from her dad and a laptop from us. She seemed to be pleased with all of it, but especially delighted with the computer. I’m glad we were able to do it for her. Had I not found such a good deal on it, I’m not sure we could have pulled it off.

• While cleaning up around the anticipation of the graduation party...Bunnyman picked up the pink bunny ears (which had found their way under the treadmill) and, laughing, slipped them onto his head. [Kid 3], without a moment's hesitation, quipped "Where's your balloon?". Pretty hysterical. She's so incredibly sharp...and pretty quick with the comedy when she wants to be.

• Speaking of [Kid 3], we were looking at pictures in her yearbook (that’s right...her first grade yearbook), and chuckled at a photo of a little fella in the other of two first grade classes at her school. He had the funniest, forced smile. But, better yet, the hysteria overtook me (to the point of a wheezing, coughing fit) when [Kid 3] added that he had a brother and insisted on showing us his photo. OMG!! While there was some family resemblance, could it be possible to have the same pained smile? Maybe some mischievous pre-picture day plotting? Oh, the pride their mother must have felt when school pictures came home that day. Heh, it makes me snort just thinking about it.

• There’s a radio station here locally that I enjoy quite a bit. I hesitate to use the word “quaint”, but find it’s exactly the word I want to use. Sooooo. It’s run by a local high school and is primarily stocked with donated records. Consequently, they have some VERY eclectic stuff. I’m always hearing oldies that I haven’t heard in ages there. Today, it was Harper Valley PTA. Not that it’s a favorite. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s certainly one that takes you back. So, for nostalgia sake, it was a nice way to start my workday. (Wish it had stayed on that track, instead of careening into the chasm within an hour after I got in the door.)

• A couple of news stories have caught my eye in the last couple days. Yesterday, the tragic story of a 23-year old Texas woman, who hung herself and her four young daughters (the eldest of which was 5). Stories about mothers murdering their children really get to me. I can’t imagine how anyone could do it once…let alone 4 times. Beyond that. What are the logistics? I simply don’t want to even start down that road. The poor woman who went looking for them and opened that closet door to see the sight of her sister and four nieces all hanging within. How do you recover from something like that?

The second story, is the one about the new groom who is the first US citizen quarantined in over forty years. He knew he had TB and decided to fly to Europe. This despite his doctor telling him it was not advisable. His interpretation was that he “shouldn’t”, not that he “couldn’t”. Then, when it had been discovered that he had potentially infected so many others, and the CDC contacted him to instruct him to turn himself in to the authorities and that he’d been put on a “no-fly” list, what does he do? He circumvents that order, putting more people at risk, and flies to Canada and drives across the border. Is it because he didn’t know better? I hardly think so. He describes himself as “a well-educated, successful, intelligent person.” So, I suppose that just leaves arrogant and self-serving, huh? Knowing, certainly before the second flight...if not before the first, that he was a health risk to other passengers, he completely disregards the well-being of dozens of other human beings by deliberately putting himself in that situation. And he’s complaining that he doesn’t need an armed guard outside his hospital room. Clearly, he does. His own interests far outweigh any dangers to others. I say shoot him if he makes a move for the door!

Some recent turnover at work has made things there rather "interesting" in a Chinese sense of the word. VERY glad that the kids are on summer vacation, as I definitely need the break from school activities/pageants/etc. for a bit. I've been entirely remiss on email correspondence and hope you guys aren't totally hating me. Hoping, soon, to get back into a swing here as well.

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It's That Time Again!


I'm working on a rambly post that I'm hoping to have up here later today, or possibly tomorrow, but could not, under any circumstances, let fellow-blogger Mark Gibson's birthday go un-noted. As such, please join me in wishing him a very Happy Birthday!

Mark, that coulda been you, Buddy!

I love to give you crap, but I hope you know that I think you're a great guy and that you crack me up on a regular basis. Thanks for that!! And for taking such excellent care of your delightful family.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

You Oughta Be in Pictures!

I suppose, somewhere in here, there may be a Flashback Friday! But, from a Monday point of view, it’s just a Rambling Recollection of sorts.

The kids had their overnight weekend visit with their dad this past weekend. [Kid 1] got photos from the disposable camera she took with her to prom developed and was eager to show them to me when she got home. (Which is always pretty sweet!)

Not so much that it evoked memories of my own prom, but more the way I used to cut up with my friends. Seems so long ago, now. I could pull out my own pics and show her and I don’t think she’d be surprised. It’s something we both share.

Looking at the photos, I just smiled seeing pics of her and her friends "posing". A lifetime ago, I did the same things. Seeing how goofy or outrageous we could get. With or without the additional element of alcohol.

Somewhere, there are pics of me with really long hair and one of my girlfriends, on a whim, festooning my entire head with clothespins. They just happened to be lying around and she got started and it just got sillier and sillier. And then, of course, someone had a camera.

I recall one of me, in a group shot, with one of these on my 19 year old head. (In fact, I think I own that one.) Or the weird clothes (even for the 80's, I mean.) I was just “that kid”. Make ‘em laugh, you know.

One of several of us in our homemade togas, during homecoming week. Though why we are posed as Eqyptians escapes me.

Props seem to feature prominently in many of these photos as well. A piece of rope that became a hangman’s noose and two of us seated (pictured paddling, btw) in a canoe that was on dry ground. Oh, what cards we were!

At some point, I became a grown up. Oh, that doesn’t mean that there are NEVER pics of me in such circumstances beyond my teen years. (Our wedding photographer has a ‘gem’ of me at the reception, last month, doing a finger gesture to suggest I’m shooting myself…the stress was a little overwhelming.) Just, you know, not as much. Like the leg warmers and parachute pants in the bottom drawer, these things just got cast aside.

Or, you know, the flirty ones, where you're draped suggestively all over some guy strictly for the purposes of making a provocative picture.

That girl is still in there...somewhere... Sometimes, I think she's buried pretty deeply. Other times, she makes an appearance (though not so much on film anymore...;) Nice to know the tradition will continue. Must be a dominant gene, huh?

I do appreciate my kid sharing a chuckle with me. And reminding me of a long ago past.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

No Ticket Friday!

It's a Flashback Friday!...

It's a No Ticket Concert...

It's two great tastes in one!

Other than true Monkees fans, who'd a thunk they had so many songs? Not I, I tell ya.

I must away now, as chaos abounds, careening headfirst into my weekend. [Kid 2] had her final orchesta concert of the year last night. It was rather enjoyable, as the entire group plays well and the pieces selected for the concert were (with one or two exceptions) familiar and/or a delight.

[Kid 1] had her final concert earlier this week. A much more low key affair, but she received several honors and awards before the evening was over, and also received a bouquet of flowers from her chorus teacher. Not bad, huh?

Tonight, [Kid 3] has a "Fiesta Night" at her school. A celebration of the end of the school year. (Tuesday is the last day of school.) Music, games and food. It should be a good time. I'm sure Highlander can hardly wait...;)

I hope all of you have a great weekend!!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Does This Ever Happen to You?

Okay, so after a very enjoyable lunch with my husband, I head back to the office. It's a GORGEOUS day out. Temps in the low 70' humidity...a nice breeze...sunny. I notice a repair truck parked in front of our building. Since I'm in charge of building maintenance, these things tend to stand out to me.

The truck was from the company that services the heating and cooling (and plumbing) for our building. As I hadn't called him, I was curious why they were at the building. But while Tom (our regular service guy) was sitting in his truck when I walked past, he was on his cellphone. So, I just waved and went inside...intending to catch up with him later. Oh, how I wish later had never come...

Tom, because he knew I'd be curious, came by my office to let me know what was going on. He's good about that. Our upstairs neighbor (who handles their own building maintenance) was having a minor cooling problem. Nothing for us to worry our little heads about. Fine.

But was that it?

Oh, no.

Tom is obligated to tell me that he'd had to run home and change his clothes earlier in the day. Not that I'd asked, mind you. I hadn't inquired as to how his day was going at all. Cross my heart. Further, when he offered that he'd gone home to change, I didn't ask why. (Mostly because it wasn't really my business.) But, of course, that didn't stop this story...

He, and a helper, had been working on a big job at one of the larger hotels here in town. They were just finishing up and his helper had tightened an oil line too tightly. As he was gathering up tools, the line burst and his was sprayed with oil. Primarily in the crotch area of his jeans. (Which he used hand gestures to demonstrate. Use your imagination, folks.) Oh, but it gets better.

He had planned to go home, shortly, and change out of the oily clothes. However, after a very few minutes, the oil began to irritate (burn) his skin. “In a most sensitive area”, as he put it. Then, according to his recounting of the events, he'd rushed home, stripped off and jumped into the shower. Lathering his man parts (my terminology, not his) with body wash and vigorously scrubbing the area with his wife's loofa. Which he reenacted (clothed) with great enthusiasm.

At some point, his wife must have wondered what in the hell he was doing, as she came into the bathroom, noticed the...activity...through the shower door, and demanded to know what he was using in there.

She was heartsick to know what had become of her loofa and discarded it in the trash as soon as he'd finished with it.

Now, I stood there, blinking, wordless, not having a clue how to respond to this conversation. And decided the only thing I knew to do was to blog it. Does this stuff happen to you guys? Do repair people tell you these kinds of stories? How do you respond?

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day!

Whether you've been the gifter or the giftee, here are a few visual reminders of Mother's Days past that may resonate with you as well...

I've had the most lovely start to my Mother's Day celebration. Breakfast and some Buffy season six with my girls. Cards and gifts (including a framed picture of the kids, some flowers, some very pretty bath soaps, a wind spinner, and a t-shirt which is emblazoned with a photo of my girls and the message "Raising kids is like nailing jello to a tree") and plans to go to the duck pond to feed the little fellas (it's a gorgeous day!) and plant some flowers in my pots and boxes on the front porch and a yummy dinner, too!!

I hope all of you have a great day, too! Take advantage of the time to tell your kids how much you appreciate them giving you the status, and/or the opportunity to appreciate your own mom for all she's done for you.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Damn, it’s Friday and I’m totally coming up short. Could be that I’m not quite back to my normal (albeit demented) self. I just got nuttin’ this week.

There is a good deal of prom and graduation stuff going on around my place, and that would seem to be a good segue way, but prom was mostly uneventful and graduation was, well, pretty standard.

Derby stories of old would work, too. Hey, the derby party stories would be enough. But I’m just not up for it.

I've even got an OJ Simpson-esque tie in, but it's just not coming.

No. No.

High and dry this week, gang.

So, you’re stuck with a photographic Flashback Friday!

Three weeks ago (that's about as far back as I can remember clearly right now), I married the sweetest man in the world. It was a most beautiful day filled with very much gladness. (Hence the smiles.)

Our photographer dropped off proofs this week and my beloved has taken countless hours scanning those we liked into the computer. (Thanks, Baby!)

So, I'm totally scamming you on a Flashback Friday!, but posting a wedding picture in hopes it'll count and you'll cut me some slack. HA! (But it's a nice Flashback and if you're interested in seeing more pics, let me know and I'll send ya a little something via email!)

Now, everybody get outta here! Have a great weekend and do something nice for a mom!


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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Call My Name, Call My Name

Twenty years ago, I took a man's name. Nearly three weeks ago, I did it again. I'd forgotten what a monumental pain in the ass it is to do that.

Or maybe, I've got more stuff to change now...than I did then...

The decision to change my name, when I married Highlander, was not a difficult one. I'd kept my ex's name after the split, because it was one more way to tie me to my girls. But, marrying Highlander and keeping my previous husband's name? It just seemed so unnecessarily cruel to him. The girls realize they are tied to my heart strings...not by a name, but by our bond.

It's only been a couple weeks with the new name, I realize. So far, I've changed my name on my employment paperwork, my cellphone messages, my voicemail messages at work, the main work voicemail directory, two bank accounts (including ordering new checks and bank cards), changed the health and dental insurance plans, notified the utility companies, my doctor and the pediatrician's, notified the child support division, all my correspondence templates at work, and set up a new personal email account (which apparently pleased my ex-husband to no end). I TRIED to go to Social Security the Friday before last and get that changed, but it was the last Friday of the month and it was a madhouse. I wasn't sticking around to see the how bad it got, either.

I still need to get a new driver's license (which I can't do until I change the Social Security Account), change a few credit cards, my car insurance, and who knows what else. Given that there are only about a dozen days of school left here, I'm not going to worry about changing those records. Come the first day of school next fall-mer (we start in August), there will be plenty of papers coming home that will afford me the opportunity to update those records.

It's simply amazing to me the volume of it all.

I know so many women who kept their own name (and avoided all this horseshit). I guess I'm just (more than a little) old-fashioned about some things. Or maybe I'm just not cool enough to pull it off.

So, when I couldn't talk Highlander into taking MY name (then we could have been Mr. and Mrs. ex-husband's name, wouldn't that have been a delight)...and we really did mull that option was well worth all the effort I'm expending now.

All I have to say is that there DAMNED WELL better not be a next time

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dysfunctional Mother's Day

I had to search this video out, because I think it's soooooo hysterical. (I hope their mom thought so, too.) I just HAD to share it with you guys.

Hoping that Mother's Day plans are already set. Cards mailed. Gifts bought. And when you're taking care of your mother, PLEASE (if applicable) don't forget the mother of YOUR children, too. (Ladies, turn about on Father's Day is appropriate.) Try not to have a Dysfunctional Mother's Day. M' Kay? Somewhere a mother will thank you.

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First Right of Refusal

The funny hats have been put back in the top of the closets.

The hangovers are at bay.

The celebrities have gone back to wherever it is from whence they came.

All that's left now is the cleanup. Well, that and...a few stories...

A local restaurateur is making national news because he refused service to a visiting celebrity last week. His conscious would not allow him to countenance O.J. Simpson's presence in his steakhouse.

Given O.J.'s celebrity, the incident likely would have garnered press anyway, but the controversy seems to stem from the restaurant owner's "right" to refuse service to anyone.

Just for a moment, let's put aside the fact that Simpson is black. Does a private businessman have a right to refuse his product, or services, to anyone? Not does it make good "business sense", but is it legal?

Is it the same as the black man trying to gain entrance to the all white country club? Or as the first woman enrolling at WestPoint? Because O.J.'s lawyer is insisting that he was refused service because of racial discrimination.

This strikes me as ludicrous.

First, I can't imagine this is the first time, since he murdered people, that O.J.'s been refused service. Second, black customers regularly patronize this restaurant. So, racial discrimination just doesn't seem, to me, to apply. Third, even our local "Al Sharpton", the Reverend Louis Coleman, isn't coming to the aid of the alleged victim. Leading me to believe that even men of color see him as a pariah.

This is not the utility company telling him that they won't give him power. This is not the mailman refusing to deliver his mail. There are PLENTY of restaurants in River City, and I have no doubt that O.J. found something to eat, elsewhere, that night. What if he didn't, though? What if every other eatery shunned him? Do restaurants have an obligation to feed a paying customer? EVERY paying customer? Regardless of how uncomfortable that makes the restaurant's owner, or even other clientele?

I'm reminded of the scene in THE BLUES BROTHERS, where Jake and Elwood occupy a table at an upscale restaurant and "threaten" to come there to eat every night. They're obviously harassing the staff and other patrons. Had they been refused service, could they have sued the restaurant owner?

I recognize that that particular analogy isn't precise. Jake and Elwood were actively causing a "scene". From all accounts of the incident, O.J. was not, at any time he was at the steakhouse, behaving in an untoward fashion. The owner simply had moral issues with his past behaviors, and how O.J. had worked the system, and society, to get away with murder.

Oh, believe you me, I've got no use for O.J. Simpson and find him completely reprehensible. The thought of him truly sickens me, and I don't blame the restaurant owner one bit for feeling the way he did...or even for refusing O.J. service.


Where does this lead? Can he also refuse service to his ex-wife, because she cheated on him? How about the basketball coach of our local team's rival? Or a corrupt politician? Can the produce vendor refuse delivery to the restaurant because of that? Maybe the answer is "yes". "Yes", as a business-owner you can serve, or not serve, anyone you please. But it seems, to me, to be a much stickier question than that.

Of course we all make moral judgments of the world around us, but are we entitled to act upon those personal judgments? Do pharmacists have the right to refuse to dispense medicines based on their moral issues with it? See, I don't think so. I think they've elected to work in a profession and the guidelines of that profession obligate them to dispense legal medications as prescribed by physicians.

Yes, you can go elsewhere if someone refuses you service, but should you have to? So, while I'm privately applauding our local restaurateur, I'm also a little concerned. And wondering how the ACLU would respond.

P.S. - I NEVER thought I'd be giving this much space to O.J. Simpson. Believe me. Never.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Quick & Dirty

Nothing noteworthy around these parts. (Which should not be a reflection on my husband's bedroom gymnastics, merely that life in general is just chugging along and that the kiddies are away, which greatly reduces the drama probability ratio.) In the interim, here are a few distractions for your perusal.

and, boy, are my flippers tired...

maybe just one more before I head back to the residence...

that's not as funny as it used to be...

"No, I swear. We'll just cuddle..."

we don't need no stinkin' badges...

yeah, sure...but what can one person do to make a difference?

swapping saliva with gila monsters...

isn't there one for Tony Collett?

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Reports of My Death Have Been Largely Exaggerated...

I've been sick.

If you could see the pile of used tissues all around my computer, you'd argue that I may still be sick.

I started to post an obituary, but Highlander rarely sees the humor in such things. (He's such a "no fun" sometimes...)

Bronchitis is not cool.

Especially for old people.

Tuesday night and Wednesday were the worst. I could barely breathe. My chest and back were both hurting and breathing, coughing, ANYTHING made me hurt.

Many, many meds and a few days later, I'm feeling much better. I'll still be on the recovery roster for a few more days, but now I'm mostly dealing with expelling the 300 lbs. of mucus that has inhabited my body (sorry, it's gross, I know), and trying to get some strength back. I seem to only be able to work at something for a short period before needing a break. Also, bending down (ie: retrieving something from a lower cabinet) causes me to go rather dizzy. Well, more than normal anyway.

Highlander has been an excellent worry wart nurse and he's taken very good care of me.

Which is more than nice.

We ventured out to a bookstore yesterday and picked up a great lot of stuff. A $100 giftcard (which was a wedding present) netted Highlander 5 new paperbacks for his "in stack", a new Stephen King short story compilation (I've given up on him with novels, but maybe, just maybe, he can still pull off the short stories), a cookbook, a CD of the greatest hits of Kansas (which I've been enjoying thoroughly and Highlander's been tolerating well), and lastly...SEASON SIX OF BUFFY!!!!!

That's right. It's sitting in my living room, right now. But it'll be a bit before I've got time to watch it. Throughout the illness, there was much DEADWOOD. We're moving pretty swiftly through the third season now, though. And we've got some WESTWING DVD's on tap next. Soooo, I'm not sure when I'll actually get to see Buffy, but it's in our house. The house that HIGHLANDER and I share.

That's probably all the nose-rubbing I should do. After all, as I said, he's been a real sweetheart while I've been sick.

My teens are driving me batty and the little one is recovering from tonsilitis (did you know that they don't just yank the bad ones anymore?), but they are all at their dad's this week.

Gotta go do some planting at my mom's Saturday. (Subject to weather, of course. We're supposed to be getting a good deal of rain towards the end of the week.)

Every year, the girls and I plant all the pots on her porch and put some annuals in the little flower bed in front of her house. It's my Mother's Day gift to her. I suppose she'd like cut flowers, but I remember how much she loved having them in the yard when I was a girl (and she was a little younger).

In the past, I've considered just giving her flats of plants, but it's a big job to get all the planting done and I hate turning a gift into a job. Sooooo, for the past twenty years, I guess, I've planted her porch and yard for her. If she keeps up with the watering, it'll last her into September.

Sunday, I'm hoping to take it easy and spend some time with the kiddies.

If I make it that long, I should be in good enough shape to enjoy the weekend. Thanks for checking on me, Gang. I've been trying to keep up with all of you.

Even from the grave...;)

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Flashback Friday!

Due to the sudden onset of bronchitis in the super lungs of SuperWife (I suspect one of her arch enemies snuck some Kryptonite into a pile of shop drawings on her desk early this week, or something), this week’s Flashback Friday is brought to you by the letter H (for Highlander). That’s me. Now, let’s set the Wayback Machine for several years agone:

I was in Florida, working at a call center some few of you may remember me describing in hellish detail on previous incarnations of my blog. I was living in a tiny cinderblock shack divided down the middle into two tinier duplexes; I’d weathered the Autumn of Four Hurricanes, barely dodging when God threw the entire roof a nearby bar at me while I was sitting on my couch watching the storm reports on TV. (The duplex, my neighbor and I all survived; our power lines did not. But that’s another story.)

Life had been tolerable since moving out of my younger brother’s very small apartment as a concatenation of stressful developments there had made it necessary for me to get the fuck out or, y’know, just go insane. I’d gotten off the floor at the call center and onto the email team, a much coveted assignment, and gotten a schedule worked out where I went in for 10 hour shifts 1 pm to midnight Wednesdays through Saturdays, and had Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off every week. Things were as good as they were going to get in that place and time. I had absolutely no real friends living within 800 miles of me and rarely saw any of the family members who lived much closer, and nearly the entirety of my human contact outside work came through fiber optic cables, either online or over the phone. You cannot truly be happy without sharing your existence in real time with people who give a fuck about you, but you can be content (if you like yourself, and I did and mostly do) and I was indeed content.

Mostly because my primary human contact at that time was a wonderful woman in River City I’d met on the Internet. We’d started out emailing and that had evolved into nightly phone calls by that time; I’d call her every night when I got home from my shift, waking her up, but she was always happy to hear my voice. She’d seen me through losing a job in Tampa and moving in with my brother, and successive emotional stresses and traumas there, and I’d seen her through the deterioration and eventual dissolution of her marriage. At a time when she felt pretty much no appreciation for all the many, many wonderful contributions she made to everyone else in her life from any of them, she turned the high pressure fire hose of her innate generosity on me, deluging me [editor’s note: ‘deluge’ is most certainly an exaggeration] in enormously thoughtful gift packages, which, along with boxes of HeroClix from good buddy Mike Norton, were nearly all that got me through that extremely trying time in my life.

My life in Florida had pretty much exploded on me at the point I’m about to describe; things had been going south at work for several months by then, and when various crises at work finally collided in a cataclysmic blow up and I realized I simply could not continue working in that call center, having exhausted every other recourse I had, I called my wonderful woman friend on the phone and asked if she could help me.

We had, at that point, been talking about me visiting her in River City with an eye towards maybe moving up there if I liked the place, and seemed to get along well with her three daughters. Suddenly that plan was set aside; I needed to get out of that call center ASAP, and that meant I needed to get out of the rotten little small town I was living in, because the call center was by far the most tolerable place to work there, and if I was getting out of that rotten small town, well, I might as well (if I could swing it) get out of the hell on Earth that is Florida at the same time.

My wonderful woman friend, whom we now all know as SuperWife, said yes, of course she could help me. And she did. I quit my job and packed my stuff, and a few weeks later, as the last of my funds were trickling out of the severed arteries of my decapitated checking account, she showed up with a rented truck to rescue me.

And this isn’t about that, it’s about something that happened that night, the last night I would spend in Florida. SuperT, your Oral Reporter, showed up fairly early in the afternoon, we spent several hours getting all my crap (and it’s an impressive amount of crap, much of which is to this day still packed downstairs in the storage room) shoved into the back of the truck, and then, after a little rest in the cool of the AC watching and listening to absolutely nothing (because everything was packed), once the sun went down, I asked my friend to come on a walk with me so I could show her around the neighborhood I was hopefully never coming back to.

We crossed Main Street and headed up a block and a half to one of that small town’s ubiquitous alleys, a labyrinth of which comprised one of its only charming features. I took her up that alley, running behind the back yards of houses on either side that faced the alley’s bordering, parallel paved streets, pointing out various things of interest (assuming you’re interested in dumb little small town features that can be seen just after dusk from a back alley, anyway) and we finally wound up coming out in the parking lot of a buffet restaurant several blocks up Main Street. I led SuperT over to it, still gabbing a mile a minute to distract her from what I was doing, then held the door open for her.

“What are we doing?” she asked, looking somewhat befuddled (SuperT looks adorable when befuddled, but, then, she looks adorable the rest of the time, too).

“This is that buffet restaurant I told you about a few times,” I said. I’d mentioned it to her in emails and our nightly phone calls; it was one of the places I enjoyed eating at most during my time in that wretched, miserable small town. “I thought I’d take you to dinner.” I smiled. “I really wanted you to see it before we left forever.”

And she cried. Not sad tears, but happy ones, which was my first real experience with that. I’d read about people crying from happiness, but had never seen it before. SuperT, as it turned out, did it whenever she was really happy.

I’ve always remembered that night; it was the first time I’d ever made SuperT so happy she cried.

The second time I can remember doing so was months later. I’d moved to River City. I was living in a tiny studio apartment SuperT had secured for me in a wonderful section of the city, although that’s really not quite true; my stuff was over there, and I did spend many nights over there, but I probably spent more time in the small, cramped apartment SuperT shared half the time with her three daughters. This was during one of the two week periods when the girls were over at their bio-dad’s. I imagine it must have been a weekend, as SuperT and I were both there in the day. It was around lunch time, and SuperT was out in the kitchen making sandwiches for us while I leaned against the wall and kept her company. Her phone rang and she went into the living room to get on the cordless, where she sat down to chat with whomever it was… her mother, I think.

She’d finished making my sandwich but hadn’t started in with hers yet. I wanted to eat, but both instinct and upbringing do not allow me to eat in front of other people without at least offering them something as well, so without giving it much thought, I slapped together a turkey sandwich for her, put it on a plate with some chips and a pickle, and carried it in to where she was sitting in a chair, bringing mine along.

She gave me an utterly astonished look, as if she just couldn’t believe what she was seeing, then got off the phone with her mother. She put her hand on my shoulder and drew me down and kissed me very tenderly, and I realized when she finished that she had tears running down her cheeks.

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked.

“No,” she said, looking down at the sandwich, then back up at me with that same wondering look. “But nobody has ever made me a sandwich before. Nobody has ever… ever… been that… thoughtf…”

She had to stop there as she choked on a little sob, and then took a bite out of her sandwich.

Now it was my turn to be astonished. I had no doubt, and have none at this point, either, that SuperT had created thousands of sandwiches in her time for other people – parents, friends, her kids, her ex husband. Certainly she’d made a few for me by that time, and has made hundreds more since then. And in all that time, nobody had ever made her a sandwich?

I couldn’t doubt it. The evidence was trickling down her face.

So I’ve always remembered those two occasions, when I made my future wife cry tears of joy, by doing nothing much that seemed particularly out of the ordinary to me. But those minor, trivial little gestures on my part meant an enormous amount to her, so the memories of them mean an enormous amount to me.

As it turns out, I didn’t put enough salt on her sandwich. But I’ve gotten better at it since then. ;)

[Special thanks to Highlander for filling in for me. And to all of you who have sent along well wishes. I hope to be better very soon!]


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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Techno Tuesday


Thanks to Andy Rementer for that gem. More Techno Tuesday fun can be found here.

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Taking Candy From Babies

A conversation with a coworker this morning has me feeling the need to blog. In reality, it wasn't just the singular conversation that did it. For the previous two weeks, he and I have had several discussions about the making of 'rock candy'.

Yeah, I said 'rock candy'.

The sugary crystals are not today's topic, however. This particular fellow is the father of a fourth grader and a fifth grader. And he's an involved parent. So, when his sons' school Science Fair was announced, he began scrambling for a project for each of them.

Now, I've been there. I've researched projects for my kids to complete in these types of situations. The difference, however, is that he makes no bones about the fact that he's doing the projects for them. Oh sure, they can watch as he runs the appropriate tests, builds the apparatus, constructs and decorates the displays, but at the end of the day, he's done the work...and they get the credit.


It's tough. I know. To let your young children do their own work in these situations. Many times it would have been far easier for me to have done it myself and let my child put her name on it. Done more quickly and with far less aggravation and fighting. Excuse me, let me grab my soapbox momentarily...

I don't do it, because it's wrong.

This particular fellow was regaling me, this morning, with his sons' success and how the competition was pitiful with hand-lettered display boards and poorly constructed projects. These are, in most cases, nine and ten year olds. In some cases, as young as six year olds. And let me add this, though it seems entirely obvious to me, THESE YOUNG CHILDREN ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SUBMITTING THESE PROJECTS AS THEIR OWN WORK. i'd hardly expect it to look professionally done. In fact, it looks a little suspicious when it is. D'Uh!

And now, because you've been patient and let me rant a little, here's The Speech...

You do not do your children any favors when you do their schoolwork for them. Your children's education will, in fact, suffer as a result of your well-intentioned actions. Your children do not learn when you do their work for them. Even if you let them watch as you do it. The goal here is to help them understand and be able to function as independent and productive members of society. Please see how you are hindering them from accomplishing that goal.

Certainly, you can help them. You can toss ideas back and forth. You can guide them as to the reality of a proposition. You can help assemble materials. You can help transport the completed project. The rest should be the child's to manage.

If he can't, he's not ready for the Science Fair. Perhaps, that should be something to ponder. Or, perhaps, you plan to quit your well-paying architectural position and go do his damned work for him when he joins corporate America. You can get a little desk right next to his and when his boss comes in, you can prop him up on your knee and move his mouth.

Okay, that last may have been going a little far. But, really, it just reeks to me of someone who failed at their own elementary school science fair and is trying to relive the moment (with better results) at the expense of their child. And though it's someone else's child and they are certainly well within their rights to raise them however they see fit, it sickens me when he's doing his victory dance around the office.

For the last couple weeks, I've had no less than four conversations with this man about this project. The candy wasn't crystalizing and he wasn't sure what he'd done wrong. Not they. He.

He (solo) had mixed up batch after batch, using varied methods and recipes, and all had failed to produce Science Fair quality results. Luckily, the last attempt, just 24 hours before the Science Fair, was successful.

Woo. Hoo. You're forty years old and your rock candy science fair project beat out all the ten year olds. You are The Man.

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