Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If I retired

I have decided that it's in my best interests, and therefore the interests of my family, if I retire from working. You see, I can't get everything done that I want to get done, and it's mostly because work gets in the way. If I'm working, I'm not reading, writing, or photographing. If I'm working, I'm, well, working. And that isn't nearly as much fun as reading, writing, and photographing.

If I retired, I would purchase a subscription to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. It takes time to read these publications, which I can't do if I'm working. No more maxing out my 10 free articles per month on-line. I would enjoy catching up on the local, national, and international news every day over a cup (or two or five) of coffee. I'd have actual newsprint on my fingers, and hear the soothing rustle of the paper. I'd scowl at the New York Times crossword puzzle and consider myself a genius if I ever finished one on Friday. I'd probably save the New Yorker, that weekly magazine full of dense copy, for a couple of afternoons. You know, to avoid burn-out.

If I retired, I would buy a cute little Macbook computer to take with me to Starbucks to write, because everyone knows that J.K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book in a coffee shop. Since my handwriting is atrocious, I would need a computer. And nothing screams, "Hey! I'm creative, dammit!" like a Macbook. It's important that everyone else at the Starbucks know that I'm writing a bestselling novel. I'd probably need to get the one with the big screen, you know, to avoid eye strain. And the big hard drive to hold my giant novel and the fastest processor to allow me to open valuable researching apps like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Wikipedia all at the same time. I'd need to regularly load my Starbucks Gold card, too, because they're not just going to let me write there for free. At least not until I'm as famous as J.K. Rowling. And besides, who goes to a coffee shop and doesn't drink coffee? Not me.

If I retired, I would have so much time to research and procure new lenses for my camera. I'd have time to play with that macro, try out this super telephoto, have fun with the fisheye. I'd be able to test my primes against my zooms. Since I recently switched from crop-sensor to full-frame, I am in desperate need of lenses. Big lenses and little lenses. All the lovely lenses. Oh, and filters! So much fun with filters. Of course, I'd probably need to experiment with new bags, too, to hold all my gear. Backpacks and messenger bags and camera bags that look like cute purses and ones for streamlined shooting (body plus one or two lenses) and bags that also hold the cute Macbook mentioned above. I'd also need to travel, a lot, to find fresh places worthy of aiming a lens.

If I retired, it seems, I would have to find a job to fund my retirement. So it looks like retirement isn't going to happen any time soon. Ah, well. A girl can dream.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Miscellaneous Pets

Zoe's school is hosting a Pet Blessing this week for the 4th and 5th grade classes. Students and their parents bring in one family pet to be blessed in a ceremony held in the back yard of the youth house. She's been talking about this since Kindergarten, so it's a pretty big deal. Let me clarify the bringing part: students go to school and meet their parents, who have toted the family pet from home, at the youth house. The children do not take their pets to school that morning, which I think would be awesome. Especially since by 4th and 5th grade we're trying to instill personal responsibility.

She's been debating which pet to bring for four years now. Do we bring Hershey, the tiny but robust guinea pig, who is the newest and happiest member of our pet family? Do we bring Max, the sneezing furball who is missing a fang and who yowls sings the song of his people incessantly? He probably needs a blessing more than anyone, given the sorry state he's in. No, she decided on Tachikara, the fat cat. This means I get to cram Her Largeness into a pet taxi and lug her up to the youth house, while she peeks out the holes and cries about being transported more than two feet from her food bowl. She will sit on my lap as I lose feeling in my legs, meowing and crying through the entire event. Because she is out of her normal environment, she will shed like a mother and tufts of black and white fur will waft gently through the air. This is her default self-defense mechanism. Distraction and eventual suffocation by fur. The fur comes off her like a squid shoots ink, so, you know, I think it's pretty effective.

We filled out the reservation form last week and sent it in. Right after the section on "type of pet," we had to answer, "weight." Oh boy. Given that Tachi is a female creature, I know that she would be very unhappy should her true weight be disclosed. So, just as my drivers license has a bit of, ahem, creative license in regards to weight, so does Tachi's reservation form. We wrote 14 lbs, although I'm sure she's closer to 16. (Don't tell her I disclosed this here. She doesn't read this blog regularly so I think I'm okay.) I did laugh, though, because cats are cats. Even the fat ones aren't huge, at least not by horse and llama standards.

What I realized, upon receiving the event seating chart today, is that the weight classification is really for the dogs. The overwhelming majority of pets being brought to the pet blessing are of the canine variety. We are seated with three other families in the Miscellaneous Pets section, which could, I suppose, also include hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, and the one crocodile that I know is owned by one of Zoe's classmates. Fingers crossed the crocodile doesn't make an appearance. Tachi will come unglued. The other 43 families are divided up into small dogs, medium dogs, and large dogs.

Is it just me, or does this sound like catastrophe waiting to happen? 43 dogs + 1 fat cat + 1 crocodile + 2 mystery pets. Yeah.

I may live tweet this event. I've never live tweeted anything in my entire life. To be honest, I think I've tweeted less than two dozen times ever. However, I think this event might be the perfect venue to start. I'll need hashtags, of course, so people around the world can follow what's going on, much like how they've been following the Pope. Because this is so on the same scale.

#petblessing2015 #miscellaneouspets #fatcat #crocodile #toomanydogs #meow

If I can keep fur from clouding the lens on my cell phone camera, I will report back post-event with photos. I'm not taking the Nikon, because I'm pretty sure my hands will be full with a 16-pound molting bag of meows.

I'm pretty disappointed in the ratio of dogs vs. cats. Even if all four Miscellaneous Pets are cats, that's pretty far out of whack from the ratio in the general population. The American Pet Products Association reports that 47% of households own at least one dog, and 46% of households own at least one cat. That's a pretty even split. The average household with cats has 2.11 cats, while the average household with dogs has 1.47 dogs. Clearly the crazy cat ladies are skewing the data. Still, I think the representation at this week's pet blessing is wrong, and I'm considering protesting. I just might haul two pet taxis up there, a cat in each one, to help boost the Miscellaneous Pets category. Because the only thing better than one miserable cat is two miserable cats.

I also protest the placement of cats into Miscellaneous Pets. Cats, being the preferred pet for nearly half the population, are clearly not miscellaneous. It appears that the Catholic Church is biased against cats, which is odd, since it's the CATholic Church. We learn everything from the CATechism. Something must have happened in the history of the CATholic Church. I bet there was some cat-hating pope who used DOGma against the felines. I don't think it was any of the popes named Leo, for obvious reasons. I bet it was Pope Severinus. That jerk.

I'll have to see how this goes. Perhaps for this first year it would be best for me to sit back and observe. I'll have one year left, 5th grade, to make my move. That's 365 days to campaign for cats. I'll kick it off with my live tweeting, if I'm not gagging on fur and if I can figure out how to surreptitiously tweet during a liturgical event.

Oh, meow.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A day of awesome, and it's not even noon yet

Today is The Best Day Ever. There are a bunch of reasons. Here are a few:

Before I left the house today I received a call from a colleague. He was going to Starbucks and offered to pick me up a drink. I texted him my order, and when I arrived at work there was my decaf grande non-fat no-whip extra-hot mocha sitting right on my desk, waiting for me. This is great on two different levels: a.) it's Starbucks, hello and b.) this is from the colleague with whom I had serious run-ins for quite a long time. Last year, we started repairing our professional relationship. There was a fair amount of forgiveness that had to happen, and it did, and we now work incredibly well together. In fact, he's one of my favorite people at work now. I never would have thought this would happen, but it's proof positive that one should give people second chances and that the power of forgiveness is astounding.

It's Thursday, which means free doughnuts at work. At a plenary faculty meeting last year, the admin who orders the doughnuts tried something new and included doughnut holes with the usual long-johns, cherry-filleds, cake, and glazed doughnuts. I am a total geek about doughnut holes, and  my obvious joy and geekery made an impression. The admin told me she made doughnut holes a Thursday regular because of me. A new faculty member commented positively about them this morning, and I felt the warm glow that comes with knowing I have effected real, lasting change.

A monk stopped by to discuss style guides, and informed me that he's using a mishmash of style guides he's collected over the years, including a NY Times stylebook from the 1950s. Egads. I pulled out my well-used and beloved AP Stylebook to show him, as I have implemented AP Style as our standard here, and realized that it's five years old. New stylebooks for all! I have ordered four, and this pleases me to no end.

I learned that today is National Punctuation Day. I can't even tell you how happy this makes me. I should have planned ahead and taken a vacation day to celebrate, because now I find it nearly impossible to concentrate. A whole day. Dedicated to punctuation. I mean, if it were up to me EVERY day would be National Punctuation Day.

I have the theme song to The Munsters stuck in my head. This is Zoe's new favorite show and we watch it almost nightly. I love the show, too, so it's not terrible to have the song stuck in my head, and in fact it makes me laugh and think of Zozo. Plus it's incredibly apt when applied as a soundtrack to work. I highly recommend.

Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County 2015 strip today made fun of the whole single-or-double-space-after-a-period thing that I get so amped up about. Love. it.

I have received multiple emails and text messages from friends today that made me laugh. And made me remember how lucky I am to have some amazing people in my life.

KSHE 95 played The Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go on the way in to work this morning. I may or may not have cranked up the volume and rocked out. Starting the day with The Clash is always a good sign.

And it's not even noon yet!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Zoe, Roy and the burrowing owls

Zoe has a book report due in a week, and she worked on it last Sunday. I took a look at it this morning and let her know that she has two options:
  1. Turn it in as-is and get whatever grade she has coming to her.
  2. Work on it some more, with my help, and make it better.
This immediately resulted in a huge melt-down. I explained that of the eight questions that were asked, she essentially answered about five of them with the same answer.

What was the story about?
Roy and his friends worked together to save some burrowing owls from being bulldozed.

Who were the main characters?
Roy, the burrowing owls, and the people who wanted to bulldoze them.

What didn't you like about the story?
I didn't like that there were people who wanted to bulldoze the burrowing owls.

What was your favorite part of the story?
I like that Roy and his friends saved the burrowing owls from being bulldozed.

How did the story end?
Roy and his friends saved the burrowing owls from being bulldozed.

I started asking her more questions. Didn't Roy just move to that community, and didn't he feel lonely? Did he make new friends through this endeavor to save the owls? Wasn't he being bullied by a kid named Dana? How was that resolved?

She asked, "How do you know all this?"

Well, I read the summary, and apparently I could write better book report from that than the kid who read the whole damn book.

I told her I would help her, and instead of erasing all the erasable ink she had laid down on the form (which never works well...erasable ink being a huge misnomer and the most stupid invention ever), I told her to ask her teacher for a fresh copy.

Tears. Tears and wailing and gnashing of teeth. You would have thought I told her she had to tattoo the book report on her face with the blood of a burrowing owl.

"If I ask my teacher for a new form she will yell at me!"
Why would she yell at you?
"Because she always yells at us!"
Does she yell at you specifically or all of you?
"She yells at all of us!"
Are you misbehaving?
"No! She just yells at us!"

Keep in mind that we are now several weeks into the school year and we have asked over and over how her teacher is and whether she likes her and we've always received positive feedback. This is the first time I've ever heard anything like this.

This also morphed into the blanket dejection, "Every day I wake up and I think this is going to be the best day ever and then it's ruined - RUINED - before it's even half over!"

We got her calmed down and told her that if she asked her teacher for a new form the day the report was due, or the day before, then yeah, her teacher might express a bit of frustration, but that being a whole week out, she was fine. And also that it's entirely her choice on whether today sucks or is great.

Then I called her out on her bullshit and said that what she's really upset about is that she feels she has to do more work on a project she thought was finished, which led to more tears, a collapse in my arms, and a semi-admission that yes, that was really what was wrong.

By the time I dropped her off at school, approximately 10 minutes later, she was smiling and happy, singing and dancing, and completely okay with asking her teacher for a new book report form.

I hear tell that this will only get worse. I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On emails, solitude, and alarms

Some days it's easier to choose to be happy than other days. Some days the happiness just comes, and other days I have to fight for it. It's worth fighting for, I think.

I'm finding my happy this week by cleaning out my email inbox at work. I am determined to get it down to one page. I have it down to 285 emails, which is practically a record for me. It usually hovers closer to 1000. I need to be better about deleting things as they come in. I think part of the issue is that I'll hit reply, type my response, then hit send. The email swooshes off and I move on to the next one, leaving that original message lingering on my inbox. "Oh haaaaay. Ima just hang out here and move on down the line as more messages come in, so in three months you can read me again and ask yourself why in the hell you kept me." That's a lot of those. I wonder if there's a setting I can change in Outlook that gives me the option to delete or file messages immediately upon response. There has to be. I can't be the only person dealing with this.

Last night I decided that I'd try the second night in a row without the sleep aid. I've been on it for a year now and it definitely does the trick, and I have this nice little routine where I follow all the rules and don't stare at a backlit screen right before bed and I go to sleep when I'm tired and not fall asleep on the couch and no caffeine after 1 p.m. etc. Yeah, turns out all that is bullshit. I need meds to sleep. Once again I could not turn my brain off. I ended up wide awake at 10:45, so I read some more. I finished the spring Missouri Review, which was a stupid thing to read all at once because the whole issue's theme was Loners and it was depressing as hell. Every single character was alone and struggling and unhappy. Major downer. I kind of suspected that going in, since it was easy to see the theme on the cover in bold letters, but I plowed through anyway. I like to start and finish things uninterrupted. I don't want to read a story in this issue, and flip over to another issue or even another journal, but I should have known better.  I thought it was interesting that most of the main characters were women.

Not that I think being alone is bad. I think being alone is important to most people, and especially to me. And especially because I so rarely get alone time. Solitude is incredibly powerful. I know people who struggle with solitude, who can't stand the silence. To me, it's magical, and reformative, and healing. The people I know who struggle with solitude are all women. Is this innate? Are men better equipped to handle solitude? Or do I just know the women better who struggle with it?

The maintenance men are back in my office. The fire alarm system, conveniently located above my desk, has been going off randomly and regularly the past few weeks. It's been annoying, and pretty symbolic for what's going on in my head, actually. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weekend recap

Once I decided to let the Girl Scout Issue go, I immediately started doing much better. Spent the weekend laughing with friends and family, photographing three volleyball games and editing the images from those plus another from last weekend, puttering around the house, and just being. Throw in some good music and it was just about perfect. I thought I had it licked, these negative feelings, until I woke up yesterday morning at 6 in a panic about going to Mass. I thought, "How can I face him? How can I sit there in the pew and watch our pastor celebrate Mass knowing how I feel and what I think? How on earth can I take communion with the thoughts I have swirling in my head and in my heart? I'd be a huge hypocrite, and there's nothing I can't stand more than a hypocrite." I scrolled through messages on my phone, trying to distract myself and willing the panic to subside. M said, "Hey. I didn't know you were awake." and the flood gates opened. We decided it would be best for me to miss Mass this weekend, and so for the first time in many, many years, I didn't go. The only thing I regret is not being there for my family, but then again, I'd have had a hard time explaining to my kid why Mommy was crying through the entire Mass. I know I made the right choice, even though part of me is pissed that I allowed one priest to keep me away from something where I normally find so much comfort. I just need a bit of distance is all. M came home after Mass and said, "I'm glad you didn't go. It wouldn't have been good."

Overall I'm feeling much better about the whole thing. What will happen, will happen. The only thing I can do now is react, and I definitely have control over that. Usually. Sometimes. Occasionally. What helps is to focus on the things I love, and the things that make me happy. This girl, for instance:

And writing (which I haven't done enough of lately) and photography (which I've done a ton of lately) and walking.

Now that I've been cleared by my podiatrist, I've started walking again. My walk last night was far too ambitious, though. I set the mileage based on the length of the podcast I wanted to hear. Turns out that This American Life was too long for me. I got 3.5 miles in before figuring out that I probably shouldn't walk the 1.5 miles left to return home. I had to call M and he came and rescued me (good man, M). It wasn't the foot. Both knees started aching, in different areas, I think because my gait still hasn't quite returned to normal. I could have made it home, but I really don't want knee problems coming on the heels (get it?!) of my foot issues. It is so nice to be moving again, though.

It is a new week. I have clambered out of the pool of self-pity and am ready to give again. And it feels good.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Finding my way back

I think it's time to throw in the towel on at least one front. This is a battle I have been waging (not alone, mind you) for over three years now. Three years is a long time to be in an emotional war, especially when there is no end in sight. We're in this weird sort of limbo, with times of relative peace punctuated by enormously emotional charges that result in a flurry of meetings, phone calls, texts and emails. Link after link after link. Reading sites and articles that piss me off and hearing rumors that make me sad. We never know when the next attack is going to come, so we're lulled into a sense of complacency. Then they hit again and I'm dragged back in, dragged back down. It is guerrilla warfare, right in my very own parish, and I have to pull my personal troops out.

I was going to dance around this and not disclose the issue, but that seems pretty stupid and vague, plus is probably infuriating to readers. So I'm just gonna put it out here.

Girl Scouts.

(Wow. That looks stupid even as I type it. What the hell could be so terrible about Girl Scouts, right?)

There are a handful of people in my parish who think that GS is bad, and that good Catholic families should not be involved. Here's what I think: GS is a secular organization that is trying hard to not piss off any one big segment of the population while providing an incredible amount of positive programming for girls. It will never make everyone happy, as I believe that no large organization can. Heck, the Catholic Church should know this, having lost millions of its own flock over the years, especially after having some particularly dirty laundry aired. Is the GS organization perfect? Nope. (Show me one organization that is.) But the only way to make it better is to stay in it, stay at the table, and speak up for what you think is right. And it has an awful lot right going on. GS gave me so much throughout my childhood. I am the person I am today because of GS programming. Summer camps shaped me and formed me and made me better. Earning badges made me realize that I could accomplish so much, and that education and self improvement don't ever stop. One of my first thoughts upon learning we were going to have a baby girl was, "She can be a Girl Scout!" I knew before she was born that I would be her troop leader. It is a great source of pride to me that I am.

None of this matters to the people who have made it their mission to hate GS and drive it from our parish. They have done terrible things, including spreading lies and misinformation. We have been in a defensive crouch for over three years, with support from our local council and even support from our archdiocese. Now our (newish) pastor seems close to deciding to tell our Girl Scouts that they can no longer be affiliated with our parish. He is fed up with the divisiveness and discord within the parish. So are we, especially because we aren't the ones causing it. This other group brought American Heritage Girls into our parish, to co-exist with Girl Scouts. Families had their choice of troops. And they chose. They predominantly chose Girl Scouts. This still wasn't enough to shut up the haters, and they have continued their quest, redoubling their efforts. We are teetering again...can we stay or will we be forced out? This is how bad that other side wants us gone: they did not renew their AHG charter, telling the pastor, "See? We got rid of ours, now they should get rid of theirs." There are smaller battles tied up in this. Scouts (boys and girls) are no longer allowed to wear their uniforms to school on meeting days (ending a tradition that began with the parish over 50 years ago). The Thanksgiving Mass is no longer the Scout Mass (ending a 30-year tradition). Things they are a-changing. I am normally not averse to change. In fact, throughout most of my career I have been in the position of change agent, sometimes guiding large teams through change they didn't want. I recognize the need for change, the need for growth, the need for improvement. But I can't wrap my head around how these changes are improving anything for anyone but this small group of unhappy, judgmental, and extremely vocal people.

And so I get sucked in with the other women who care so much about Girl Scouts. I debate and spin conjecture and gossip and feed my own anger and that of those around me. We feed on each other. I become the angry, hate-filled, judgmental person that I accuse those others of being.

This is one of my many weaknesses. When I am passionate about something, I internalize everything. I can't look at things objectively, and I lose the ability to rationalize and consider options dispassionately. It weighs on me, and it affects my faith, my health, my marriage, my ability to parent well, and even my job. I am now angry and bitter and sad, all the time. I do not like who I have become. After another meeting last night that left me drained and even more upset than when it began, M asked me a very simple question. "Do you know anything new?" No, I did not. I had just spent hours with other women, talking and discussing and being disgusted. There were a few laughs, but not nearly enough to make the evening worth it. I wasted a whole night of my life being unhappy and upset, and I came out at the end in exactly the same place, if not in a worse place. His one question put everything in perspective. What am I doing? Is this really worth it?

Is the fight worth it? Absolutely. But I think it's time for the people stronger than I to carry on without me. I promise to be there for "the big stuff," but I have to remove myself from the chatter. I have to avoid getting dragged down into the trenches. I have to stop spending more time on this crap than on leading my girls. I am a Girl Scout troop leader, and they count on me to lead. I can't lead if I'm angry and bitter. That's not the legacy I want to pass on to them.

So the parish kicks us out. Okay. I can host my troop meetings at my home, and aren't I lucky to have that option? I am not standing on the border of a foreign country, my child in my arms and all my possessions on my back, facing a wall of barbed wire and wondering where to go and how I'm going to eat. It's time to get out of this stupid swamp of haters and start being myself again. It's a time for reclamation, joy, and the ability to find beauty everywhere again. It's time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rantings (Mostly because I just feel like writing something. Anything.)

I'm fighting small battles on several fronts, and while none of them are particularly bloody (well, one of them might be) the communion of them is really starting to wear on me. Mostly I just have this underlying feeling of being weary all the time. Weary and wary. Trust no one. Be pissed at all. Adopt "I hate people" as a mantra, a scowl as an amulet against anyone who might venture too close.

I pride myself, foolishly sometimes, on being the person who can always find the silver lining. Laugh when you feel like crying. God never closes a door without opening another. It may not feel like it now, but you'll realize in time it's for the best. Bullshit. Things suck.

I wear the dinged, singed, holey (and holy) mantel of the feminist. I want to scream when I hear people misdefine the word "feminist." I want to howl when people lie to suit their own purpose, when opinions are issued as facts, when reasoned debate is replaced by ad hominem attacks. "You suck." "No, YOU suck." I am depressed by the labels we fling at each other as if we're petulant children on a playground fighting over a ball. Libtards. Rethuglicans. Sticks and stones instead of the issues that really matter. We look like idiots to the rest of the world, because, in fact, that's how we are behaving.

I see this on both a macro and a micro level. This is what has me so tired right now. Which reminds me, I listened to an interview on NPR on my drive to work this morning with the chancellor of my alma mater, who has an accent and a manner of speaking that doesn't instill the greatest confidence. I found myself focused on the fact that he said "tard" instead of "tired," and "hard" instead of "hired." The story was about rape on campus. And all I could think was, "Who is this yahoo?" That was minutes after I gunned the engine to purposely not let someone merge into my lane because dammit she should wait in that hella line like the rest of us. I am having trouble finding the good today. Internationally things suck. Nationally things suck. Locally things suck. What's smaller than local? The space around me that includes the air I breathe and the work I do? Whatever it is, that sucks, too.

This is not who I am. Or maybe this is who I am but not who I want to be. Well, now, that's a thought that's going to fester.

Addendum: this is an indication of the type of stuff that's pissing me off right now.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Waiting for the Train x10

On Zoe's first birthday, we took her to the St. Louis Zoo. We had no idea then that this would become an annual tradition. We had even less of an idea that we would recreate the same photo each and every year. I took many photos that first year, and I can't for the life of me remember why we chose this particular one to recreate. We snapped it while waiting for the train to arrive at Red Rocks Station, right there near Big Cat Country. The bench we sat on is long gone, I've upgraded my camera twice, and M would be hard pressed to hold Zoe up the way he did that first year, but the feelings are the same. We are just happy to be together, celebrating another year of the best gift we've ever received.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Offended? Well, jump on the bandwagon.

Just for shits and giggles, I posted my "funny" story on Facebook. Facebook, which is the online manifestation of Satan himself for all the crap it causes. Because it turns out that what I thought was an amusing, lighthearted anecdote from the 4th grade playground was hugely offensive to a group of boys' moms. And instead of calling me and talking to me about it (which would have elicited a heartfelt apology and groveling on my part as I absolutely did not mean to upset anyone), they instead spun themselves up to the point where another mom (who is rational not offended) felt the need to call me just to let me know what was going on. There are, apparently, screen caps of my post and miles of angry text messages. Over a four-square tussle between 10-year-olds. That I - and many, many others - thought was funny.

If we want to get offended, okay, I can get offended. Let's get offended, shall we?

Things that offend me:

I'm offended that there are children in this day and age, in my daughter's school, who clearly aren't being taught to be respectful to others (boy or girl).

I'm offended that we are sending our kids to a Catholic school when we ourselves can't behave like Christians.

I'm offended that humor appears to be extinct in our country.

I'm offended that people don't have the cajones to pick up the phone and have a conversation, choosing instead to spread ill will and make assumptions about someone's intent.

I'm offended that with the Syrian refugee crisis and tomorrow being the anniversary of one of the most horrific acts of violence by the hand of man and continued terrorism by militant religious extremists and the millions of other truly appalling things going on in the world, this is what people choose to be upset about.

I have gone through the stages of lunacy. I started with embarrassment which quickly turned to mortification. I slogged through regret and remorse. Now I'm just raging. I may stay here for awhile. I kind of like it.

And she shall be king

M picked up Zoe from after care and took her to piano lessons last night, so I could go meet the new J-School dean. So he got all the stories of the day that I normally have the pleasure of hearing. I did get home in time to read for a bit with her, and tuck her into bed. After, M shared this gem:

Zoe decided, on her own, to part from the huge group of girls playing four square at recess and join the boys' group. She wanted to see if they played differently. She tried to round up girls, but only Stella would go. She and Stella headed over to the four square boys and were told resoundingly by Josh, "No! You are not playing with the boys. Go away!" They returned to the girls group, and apparently Zoe took up a campaign for recruits. She eventually got a small band of girls together and they headed back over to the boys. They were told no, again, so she simply got in line, her posse behind her, and waited to play. When it was her turn, she played. She told M, "Well, I was the first to go, and I got out on my first time. They play differently than we do. But the next time I played, I became KING."

I am so damn proud right now.

Go, sister.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The eye has it

Well, I've been writing a lot lately, but for work. This is not a bad thing. Writing in any form is good.

I've also had lots of bumps in my road. Nothing serious, and mostly (okay, all) first-world problems that don't merit a true rant given everything else going on in the world. Syrian refugees, I'm looking at you.

I'm reading a book right now about writing creative nonfiction. Apparently this is what I've been writing for all these years, but I didn't really know it had it's own genre name. I've called it personal essay, mostly. Creative nonfiction encompasses personal essay and includes a lot more, like what I write at work when I interview people and then tell their story. This is one of my most favorite parts of my job. Because when I do it well, my subjects come back to me and say things like, "You made me sound interesting." and "You made me sound fun." And I'm always a little shocked by this, because they really are interesting and fun. There's a creative nonfiction magazine there (entitled, rather uncreatively, "Creative Nonfiction") and the slogan is "true stories well told." Or maybe it's "true stories told well." I'm too lazy to google it. Anyway, that's what I want to do. I want to tell true stories really well. Or maybe, I should say, this is who I want to be. I want to be a storyteller.

So here's my little attempt at a story today.

After fighting for a year to get into The World's Finest School of Journalism, after taking stupid pre-reqs (German, ja, das ist gut, nein!) and knocking on doors and begging and pleading for The Powers That Be to let a former engineering student in, I was about to start my first real honest-to-goodness journalism classes. This was it. Go time. This was when I would finally take courses that would determine my career, the rest of my life. I was on the precipice. It was momentous. This is where I would learn to write, and earn a degree that would tell people in two letters that I can write. I was beyond scared. I was beyond excited. I was also alone, as I didn't know hardly anybody at Mizzou since I transferred in, and no one in my pre-reqs were pre-journalism. That first week of classes, all the scaredness and all the excitedness and all the aloneness manifested itself in a giant, oozing, ugly cold sore. On my eye. Gross, right? Plus the first week of school always meant huge allergy attacks, and since I was too poor to buy actual tissues (even the cheap, near-cardboard kind), I carted around a roll of toilet paper. So there I was, eager and ready and oozing from multiple orifices and holding a roll of TP and wearing sunglasses inside dark lecture halls. I didn't let it stop me, but man, was I self-conscious. First impressions being what they are and all. I got through that week with lots of over-explaining and apologies and sniffles, and no one ever said anything about it ever again nor did I pick up any unfortunate nicknames. I think there's a certain amount of maturity that comes with being accepted to and taking classes at The World's Finest School of Journalism. Or everyone else was so wrapped up in their own stuff they didn't notice. That's probably way more likely.

Fast-forward 21 years. (Jeez, has it been 21 years?!) Several months ago the J-School announced that with Dean Dean Mills retiring (yes, Dean Dean, that's not a typo or sobriquet...the man's name and title were the same, although the class of '96 did call him Dean Dean with some affection), it had searched for and found a replacement. And then a few weeks ago I received an email invitation to meet the new Dean on September 9 at an alumni reception in St. Louis. I signed up. I made the guy who works for me, who is also a J-School alum, sign up. I pestered the woman who works in Development who is also a J-School alum to sign up. "Let's meet the new Dean," I rallied. "Let's go mark up the program with proper editing symbols and split infinitives with wanton abandon and throw Oxford commas around like confetti!" They didn't exactly share my enthusiasm, but since I did get one of them to register I called it a success and gamely waited for today.

Yesterday, after I pestered them incessantly, IT started the OS upgrade on my laptop. I didn't exactly want them to start it at 10:45 a.m., but there it was, and I lost the rest of the day to a machine that slowly and haltingly rewrote itself before locking up entirely at 1:30 and refusing to budge. "Leave it be," counseled the wise IT sages. "You don't want to do a hard reboot in the middle of an update, it could wreck the hard drive and you'd lose everything." I let it be. I let it be all the way until this morning when I returned to work and discovered that the little status bar hadn't budged one pixel. I know this because I stuck a post-it note on the screen where it had stopped, to prove that it wasn't advancing. I can be like this. There be proof in post-its. So I went to IT and they said we'd probably have to do a full restore and that it would take all morning just to get my programs loaded back on. I cringed as I heard the whizzing sound of deadline after deadline flying past. This, in my little world, is stressful. And guess how stress likes to manifest itself at inopportune times? Yeah, my poor eyelid swelled nearly shut last night, as a cluster of little bumps formed and half my face started to hurt. Dammit. It's even the same eye. What are the odds, really? I feel like a first year j-student all over again. And I've forgotten nearly all the German.

My guy has bailed on the event tonight, because he's sick and feverish or some bullshit, so it's just me and my gunky eye. Just like that first day at the J-School.

Ah, memories.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


I posted this on Facebook last night and thought maybe I should put it here, too, for my non-Facebook readers:

We're at the game tonight and I'm 6.something weeks out of foot surgery so M drops me off and then meets me in the party suite. Cool. We have a great time. Amy drinks too much beer. The game ends. M heads to the car and I head to the prearranged rendezvous point. When I get there, I realize that the street is totally blocked. We re-plan via phone and I start gimping to the east side of the stadium. I run into five women and Superman, and they ask me to take their photo. YES I WILL OF COURSE. It's Superman, yo. After the photos, they're all concerned. "Ohmygosh are you alone?!" No, my hubby is coming to pick me up. Superman launches into some homeopathic remedy for bunions which is ridiculous because hello I have had both feet fixed already and one of the girls says, "Wait. Is that, like, Kryptonite?" and we die laughing while Superman looks offended. True story.