Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas memories

My boys during a Christmas about 5 years ago. They are my little heartbeats and heart attacks. 

Christmas Memories:

As I sit with my children, husband at my in-laws and listen to their family memories, I am drawn back to the memories of my own Christmases on the south side of Chicago. So many of the holidays were spent crammed in tiny kitchens trying to avoid the inevitable pinches, kisses, squeezes and over strong hugs of my Great Aunts, Uncles and Grandmothers and Papa. Ours was a typical family filled with too many people jammed into one room filled with too many cooks and too much caffeine and alcohol. As was typical of the Chicago post WWII houses the kitchen was a bit of an after thought and the “front” room aka parlor was for guests so since this was family all the ladies crammed into the kitchen to put their mark on the jello mold, gravy or roasts all while balancing a wine glasses, cigarettes and shouting at the kids. The men would huddle around the TV in the basement near the bar with their beers and cigarettes talking politics, sports and shooing the children upstairs. I remember feeling a bit like the metal ball in a pinball machine being tossed about and shuttled between games with the younger kids and tasks assigned by the ladies. The cacophonous noises filled the house full of a mixture of English, Polish, Bohemian shouting, laughter, gossip, arguments, screams of injured knees, burnt fingers from ovens and joyful laughter of love and discordant harmony of my family. We were a dysfunctional mixture of Celtic and Slavic cultures that found harmony in the constant noise and over physical nature of affection. A hug was not a hug unless it was filled soon by a wet smooch and a plea for air from a small child. My Great Aunt Albe was the best at this. Her love was over generous like her spirit. Her hugs were long and hard. Her flesh like her heart was warm and soft. She was the quickest cheek pinch on the South Side and her lap was a favored spot for all the new babies. She was constantly taking items from her purse (Mass or Saint cards were a favorite. I still carry one with me to this day) or china cabinets with the line, “ You like it ?!? Well take it! It is just collecting dust.  Here! NO? Take it.” And you had to take it or the incessant urging of her generosity would never cease.
 The food was plentiful since Uncle Johnny was a butcher and brought the ton of flesh and a duck. The air was filled with artery clogging meats, dressings, najifka (Czech) and creamed veggies. Sour creamed cucumbers onions and beets are still a favorite comfort food. A series of 3 tables were set up for the feasts, an adult table, adolescent and child’s table. No buffets for this family you sat down and passed everything after a prayer then the devouring began. After the bellies were filled, presents were opened and dishes were expertly cleaned and stowed away for next year, the games began. Card games were the choice of all the adults. 66 was the favorite for the smokers and after the kids were bathed and collapsed in beds, the party would continue until the wee hours of the morning. It was mayhem and filled with love and chaos.
So as I sit with calm Presbyterian manners where people sit and take turns speaking and visit about their family history which is now part of mine I long for the chaos a bit and miss the excesses of love, liquor and meats.  Those wild wonderful exuberant women and men of my family are long dead and so is a bit of the magic that made me who I am but their fingerprints and voices echo in my soul. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Period Drama Men: All I Want for Christmas

What is it about those period dramas that draw me into them? I have found that since I was a young girl the lure of country estates, linen, accents, manners and corsets were like salve for all that ails me. The terrible misunderstandings and final reuniting of couples in the films just gave my heart hope. I wonder sometimes if period dramas are my older little girl fairytales. For me the escape of fairytales when I was very little held a claming effect on me every time I was read a story. Maybe so many of the fairytales we are told as little girls seem to out of this world, steeped in magic and mythical creatures for me. I find they have always connected with me on some level but never spoke to my obsessive-compulsive heart. Now Mister Rochester, Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth on the other hand spoke directly to me more than once. I guess what has always bothered me about the fairytale of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and even Snow White is that they all needed saving and were hopeless without the male. Part of the period drama that I love is that the ladies are active participants. Sure they needed saving but so did the men in question. The ladies had minds of their own and were not hapless victims but active participants and had free will. Sure their fate was somewhat sealed by their gender and society but they were not helpless slumbering princesses waiting for their true love’s kiss. They save the men a little too. These heroes need the fine heroines to make them feel more alive, be more whole or to soothe a broken heart. I want this; I relate to this; being part of the story not some helpless victim in the fairytale. It is appealing to be part of a simpler time where there are defined roles and you are the center of someone’s universe and an active participant in your happiness. It is a fine escape from the hectic working Mom of 2 struggling in this economy working to be heard, counted and valued. Maybe it is not just the handsome men in fine clothes with impeccable manners but maybe it was a time when our lives were simpler and more defined. Although the handsome men with manners cannot be all that bad and really I would not mind one bit if one of these fellows ended up with a red ribbon under the Christmas tree for me. Although my dear husband may take issue with that present; so I will keep my period drama men for my fine stories and dreams and hope a bit of the manners will rub off on my 2 boys and maybe the husband. Happy Holidays to you all.

A special thanks to tisreina who allowed me to use her video. Please check out her channel.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Senate Passes 'Don't Ask' Repeal, Heads to Obama for Signature | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Senate Passes 'Don't Ask' Repeal, Heads to Obama for Signature | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

As a mother, friend, niece and sister-in-law to gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals who have influenced and shaped my life, I say, finally a bit of sanity. So many of our loved ones and friends fear for their self when they profess their true self to their loved ones, what a sad reflection of our species. We should be ashamed that we allowed this for far too long. How could we as loving individuals allow this hatred, fear and loathing to exist? I remember back to the call I got from my beloved friend Todd who had something to tell me. I was filled with fear about the health of his Mom, his Dad and himself he said he wanted me to know he was gay. I was relieved; I thought he was confiding in me about one of his family members having cancer or someone we loved was dying or dead. It should not be a life or death issue. The people that are a part of our loves are who they are and gifts to each of us, unique in all things. We need to cherish this, celebrate this and accept. So finally accept and move on. Love one and other and accept our beauty and our diversity.

Friday, December 17, 2010

03 the frames - Pavement Tune

this indecision killing me, I want my life to make more sense... Sometimes music describes so much of how you feel...

Some days I hit my head against the wall and wish I had that damn do over button. When I was deciding between graduate school and medical school.  Teaching helped shape my decision. I found that I loved teaching more than anything and took the path to graduate school. Most days I am happy with my decisions but some days I think what in god’s name was I thinking?

The past semester has been an extraordinary long one. I am teaching again my chemistry and 2 of the AP Biology upper level class. For the most part teaching has been fine and again I struggle with motivation not just for my students but also for myself. It makes a difference when I get a group of young minds that are excited and I have that in both classes but lately I find many of the minds more difficult to reach. I am not sure if it is the burning of their young minds in technology or if I am too slow to comprehend it or if I am in dire need of a sabbatical and more motivation for myself.

So as I graded my last final and posted my grades and cleaned up the lab for break; I felt a little empty. I looked around my neat and empty room and thought to myself… “Whew another semester done. Thank god. Why do I do this? Am I making any difference? Why did I not go to med school? I just feel like a dirty dish rag.”  I ran my errands, paying bills and stumbling through a fog of thought and discouragement. As I headed to the gas station a bit out of the way I was thinking about revamping my resume and maybe looking for something else outside of teaching. Then it happened, the karmic kick in the head. I pulled into the gas station dizzy in my own thoughts and look over to the car pulled in the other side of the gas pump. Out of the little red car emerged a wonderfully warm familiar face. She was one of my old students from my last position. We worked hard and struggled together to make sure she got all her credits for her BS and worked in a laboratory. She took a little longer to finish but she finished with good grades and research projects. She applied to graduate school but needed a bit of assistance to get in so we found a PREP program for her and got her accepted into it. After 2 years of hard work, we helped her move to a graduate school program. Today I saw a student who blossomed and is now a bright warm sweet woman with a Master’s degree. My heart soared with pride and joy when she told me she was just in town and had got her degree this December. She said she could hardly believe she did it and it took all of her hard work and our support to help her find her path.

SO maybe I did not make a difference with this semester but I have made a difference and at least with one person I made a big life difference. So maybe I will wish for that lotto win instead of that do over button tonight. I am proud of you Becky and you filled this tired woman with a wee bit of hope that she needed. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The fringer

Well the dust has settled and it has taken most of the weekend and one hell of a shopping trip to Target to move beyond the uber-bitch that inhabited me all weekend.

This long settle in made me ponder why do we always carry the negatives with us longer than the positives? Let me elaborate… Okay so you see someone, they tell you your look nice today or thank you for assisting them with something. You return the smile and within an hour the sweetness that came with that moment is forgotten and daily life continues. Now someone criticizes you, makes you feel small and you incorporate this in your fabric of your being for days weeks even.
What is up with that? What kind of flaw do I have as a person that the negatives so often over power the positives and hearing a bash of myself is so much heavier that it out weighs any and all positives I have for that day? Why cannot I be like that dude with the self-inflated ego and narcissism that allows him to think that anyone who does not get him, as a next to a divine creature is absurd and a moron?
What flaw is in my fabric of this gene code that makes me less? Is there some form a recessive dufus gene I carry? Is a there doormat or low self esteem epistatic control over all brain function?
I have struggled for years to try to care less about what others see me as but in fact it is a total veil of lies. I care! I hate it when others see me as not good enough and not all I should be or should have been. I mean I still really care less about what others think I look like because I am pretty comfortable about my appearance even on my slug days but what people think of me as a person really matters.
Maybe it boils down to acceptance. To be accepted is one of the greatest drives in all of us and I guess this high school outcast and fringer is still in search of her in crowd. Maybe that is why the outsider shows ie Buffy, Angel, Firefly, The Office, Dresden and countless others have appealed to me and stuck with me so much.
I guess I will always be a dork and a fringer. Maybe the line  from Buffy is true… High School is never really over.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I am a stage Mom

Vicarious living is not beneath me. I somehow thought that being educated and watching all those parents hollering at sports and sitting in audiences doing the same dance moves, mouthing the words to songs sung or executing the notes of a song on a band instrument was something I was never ever going to do. I would allow my children to follow their passions without reliving my own glory or lack of said glory days. Since I am a Mom of only boys I thought I was somewhat insulated from this behavior. This was a great theory. My metal has been tested this year and I found I am not titanium but aluminum foil. My wonderful unique child Jack has once again wiped all my self-delusions away with one single swipe of his toe pick.  He first made me full puffed out chest proud by placing 3rd in his first figure skating competition. This was something I could only dream of when I was a figure skater. Then last night he took the ice with confidence and grace well beyond his 10 years and skated a Christmas program he nailed down in less than a month. He was and is more than I ever could be on the ice and all I wanted to be. I left the figure skating world at 17 after years of efforts and lessons at a level he will soon surpass in less than one year.  Every time he takes the ice my heart soars and my childhood dreams of being Dorothy Hamill or Peggy Fleming are now in the fabric of his dreams of being Johnny Weir or Evan Lysacek. I guess at some level we all have the lives we live, the lives we wish we lived and the live we are grateful we are not living. Jack is giving me a taste of wishful living again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Struggling faith.

Had an amazing day with my first period ladies of AP Biology. After we had a wrap up for a bacterial transformation from normal E. coli. to an ampicillin resistant strain of E. coli. Some of the ladies sat down with me and we started chatting about life and many things. Somehow the subject turned to how the students had trouble identifying me as a Catholic since I seemed more open minded than they had thought Catholics were. It got me thinking and It took me a moment to digest what they said. I said that I was more the norm of modern day American Catholic than they would really believe. I have told them so many stories they know quite a bit about me and may background and my kids. I figure an open book gets looked at more than a closed one so I tend to be an open person. 

I told them that being Catholic for me at this point is more like being Irish or from Chicago it is part of my personal history and who I am. It has shaped my life and thoughts and for the most part provided a good guide for my life. I just happened to be raised by educated parents who believed in a good education and allowed questioning and debate. Many of my instructors were Jesuits, Franciscan and Benedictine monks and Dominican sisters. They are the thinkers, scientists and teachers of the Catholics. These people helped shaped me more as a person than indoctrinated me into a cult. My teachers always told me to question meant growth in faith and your being. Normal periods of disbelief can lead to deeper understanding and devotion. I was allowed in my 16 years of Catholic education to take classes on Judaism, “The anthropological beginnings of God.”,  the Philosophy of atheism and Historical and cultural implications of Religion.  Maybe I had a unique education but I was taught to value all faiths as a way to being a good person.

 Sure I had my exposure to fire and brimstone and the thought of limbo and purgatory scared the crap out of me but lately that nice old man in Rome in the robes and tall hat decided we did not need limbo anymore and babies who died before they were baptized did go to heaven. That last statement also typifies how I feel about the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Okay so he is supposed to be the spiritual leader that gets his messages inspired by God blah blah blah… Really? or was that just something Constantine or some other historical figure whose names evades me at the moment, made up so the uneducated would follow and have a leader?

I guess what I am trying to get at for this still sometimes practicing Catholic, is that I am struggling. I have an uncle, brother-in-law, numerous friends and son who is gay, the man I know and studied named Jesus was more about embracing and loving and accepting than condemnation. So I continue to struggle to try to fit the Church into my life and accept the good and not throw the baby out with the bath water. I try to forgive as the stories about that wonderful man told to me about forgiveness and turning the other cheek when I read about the abuse of children under their protection. I try to reconcile my hatred for the priest who told me that losing my babies was the will of God and I should pray to be healed. I find that I always go back to the fact that what bothers me most about the Church is the human nature of it not the deity.  Wasn’t that there whole passage about ... judge not least you be judged thing? Didn’t Jesus have trouble with the hierarchy as well?

I struggle with finding the right balance of love of the ritual and voodoo (rosary beads, saints and candles FYI) for comfort and the sometimes-harsh mixed messages I get from the hierarchy. Sure I wish there was a magic wand of God I could pray for and get my 3 wishes but that kind of child like faith is long gone. So I have gotten lucky, I found a church run by Franciscans who are warm caring devoted men who serve from the heart and soul. They meet the needs of all people with kindness and compassion and open their hearts like that guy Jesus we all seem to come back to and I have found a home. Faith is like a family we have disagreements, arguments, periods where we do not speak but at the base of it there is love. For this cafeteria Catholic I put more love on my tray than the rule book of hate and narrowness. I struggle and question and just like I cannot deny my Irishness I cannot deny my Catholicism and belief .  There is a great quote from most likely a poster I had on my wall in college. “You can turn from me but I will never leave your side.” I sure hope there is some truth in this. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boy I need a joke!

Okay so after the somewhat more serious notes I have written lately I am feeling the need for a joke. I feel like the grandfather in the movie "Moonstruck" when he is sitting at the table and everyone is gathered waiting for the return of Johnny Cammareri and says, "Someone tell a joke." 

So in true Irish form,  let's have a drink and tell a joke about it... here goes with a Joke story. (I don't as you will find, do jokes but stories. Hey I'm Irish and a bit of a black hearted poet. )

When I was graduating from college in 1985 my Mom threw a massive party for family and friends in our basement. In true form of a Chicago basement, we had a bar area and a game area. My Grandma Bernice was a real character. She was until her death a true believer that if she came to this earth with dark brown hair she was aiming to keep it no matter who it looks on an 85 year old. She believed in her classic red lips and red nails. She was a tough woman who buried three husbands, smoked for 60 years and liked her drink like her men strong and with not a whole lot of fuss. She did however love her manhattans. So as she was known to do she parked herself with one of the other Grandmas at the bar and settled in for a long evening of drink, cigarettes and chat. My friend Todd was our bartender for the evening and was making the drinks fast and furious for all the guests including Gram and Mrs. O'Brien. My Dad came over to the bar area and pulled Todd aside under the guise of getting more wine and informed him Gram was meeting her limit of 5 manhattans and maybe he should try to quietly and cautiously cut her drinks with a little cherry juice. Now Todd was and is a marvelous bartender with skills, so when he cut her manhattans we had all thought she had not noticed  since she did not immediately send it back. After she polished off the altered drink,  she put the empty glass back toward Todd who walked back to her and she placed her arthritic hand on his and said, "Well sweetie that was a great drink but next time a little less cherry juice and more whiskey." His mouth dropped and quickly made her next drink to order. 

Todd had mad bartender skills but Gram had mad drinking skills. She was to say the least a true character. They do not make them like Bernice anymore. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Heavy Heart


My heart is heavy tonight. After a long day before an even busier evening back at school with the band/jazz concert on my horizon, I opened the computer to find that Elizabeth Edwards had passed on after her struggle with cancer. I feel for her family and friends and their profound loss and applaud her courageous struggle against a horrible disease that steals far too many loved ones every year. I carry a dear best friend in my heart and live a little extra for her everyday since she is no longer with me. My best friend Meredith lost her battle with cancer May 2, 2007. She struggled but her lung cancer had spread to more than her body and strength could fight off. Meredith made my life richer and fuller. She was part of a family that I had made in Lawrence. Her absence makes my days a bit lonelier but her fingerprint on my life and heart will remain forever
I carry so many memories of her with me on a daily basis. Her great love of beauty, kindness and passionate nature helped form a great deep bond between the two of us. She got me when others thought I was nuts. I could confide in her without worry of judgment. It was great comfort and fun to have her as my friend. We shared our obsessive natures over many things together Period dramas, romance novels, music, love and our families. I believe that somehow we all ended up on our street by some great guiding hand. It was a comfort to hear their house full of noises and know that when similar noises came from my own open windows, I was not the only one who had a wild and passionate home. After we laid her to rest our block became a little more quiet and sadder. I am sure after the rains clear and the summer sun warms our streets our hearts will again be full. We will begin to smell the BBQ grills, play flashlight tag, ride bikes and mourn her loss because our communal suppers will have just a little less flair and class.
My dear Mere we are lonelier but richer for having you! We are keeping our promises to you and watching your children.
I miss you. 

Zen life moment in a sea of Choas

I wrote this 3 years ago after I attended my first "band concert"for my son Tom. My day today was very similar to this same day 3 years ago. Tonight he is performing in the Jazz band and concert band after a terrible bout of the stomach flu over the last 2 days. The show must go on. So here is to my wonderful 15 year old developing musician. Break a leg.

Okay so I survived the 7th grade band concert. There are times in your life that are true Zen in the moment kind of episodes. Last night was one of them.
Typical rat race kind of day, whiny kids in the am, sick coughing hacking spouse, work stress  and then…
the end of the day shuffle begins…
(Tap to any square dance music.)
Pack up the office
make the calls
pick up the kids
pacify the kids
make the supper
check on the kids and homework
(refrain: )
gather the spawn
pacify the spawn
pacify the husband
run circles around the mommy.
Feed the dog
Feed the spawn
Feed the Hubby
Clean up the dishes
Start a load of laundry
Ready the troops for outing. (repeat refrain)
gather the spawn
pacify the spawn
pacify the husband
run circles around the mommy.

Okay so the Zen moment after the running of the day. I sat for the first time in the evening. There I sat in a school auditorium and saw my 12 year old enter the stage right sit down and play the cornet. His adolescent long fingers moved seamless over the instrument. The music was like millions of other band concerts around the world uneven but filled with pride and earnest abilities. He was focused and looked good and more importantly sounded good. I had a self-realization. This was my kid. My spawn. If I had done anything I did this good thing. I was there. I was tired Mom watching her child perform in his first real band concert, I was in the moment. Nothing else mattered: the other spawn fidgeting next to me, the coughing hacking anxiety riddled spouse, the job, the dirty house, the bills, the bad choices in my life and the good ones. It was all here, all now focused on my curly haired little man who is now my curly haired bigger little man. To me this boy will forever be the little naked baby running through the house with his cowboy boots and Stetson. Tonight though he was my star, my reason for being and my joy and my true life Zen moment.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Value and Meaning of Education:

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
 Wiliam Butler Yeats

As a teacher I spend quite a bit of my day working with young minds trying to inspire children to discover material and open up to new concepts.  I guess I am trying to understand where the joy of discovery has been beaten out of the students. Now this next statement is going to make me sound very ancient, but I remember a time when back in my day, when the process of working through a problem and getting the right answer was somewhat exhilarating. There was pride in doing it by myself and not having someone spoon-feed me the answer like I was an infant. It was a sign of maturity and self-sufficiency to be able to problem solve and do it myself. Many times when I am struggling with a student who wants material spoon-fed, I tell them they are regressing backward.  It seems like sometime my toddler nieces and nephews have more drive than many of the general students I have in class.

It disheartens me to see young minds full of promise want only immediate feed back. Their favorite line when I ask them to look it up is, "but you know the answer". I normally reply that if I tell you, you will only write it down and promptly forget it but if you work for it you will remember it and if you teach it to someone else you will know it forever. (They hate this and now by the end of the semester often quote this to other students who ask.)  They find no joy in the this electronic age of immediacy to go about researching something and discover it on their own or work through a problem set. I miss seeing the glint in their eyes when they see something unique and novel in the laboratory. I also want to say I hate the sentence, “I AM BORED.” coming from my own children. I always repeat what my Grandmother would say to us, “Nothing is boring but boring people with no imagination.” Then she would promptly put us to work.

I have to say part of the problem we educators create is the belief in the almighty work sheet and vocabulary lists. The lack of vigor in elementary and junior high school science is appalling.  I have AP Biology students who have never ever done a single laboratory. It horrifies me that my students have been denied the joy of watching seeds sprout, terrariums flourish, cells breathe and chemicals react until I get them at 14 or 15 years of age. My Mom was amazing! We were constantly sent outside to discover, catch turtles, frogs and fireflies. Even in the city streets of Chicago we were allowed to have a small garden and watched the fruits of our labor make it to our table. We wandered the neighborhood cemeteries of Chicago on adventures read grave stones and came back with dozens of questions for my Grandmother and Mother. May times she would talk about the great famine in Ireland and the flu epidemic. The discovery of antibiotics and how when my Mom was a little girl almost died because all they had were sulfa drugs and she has rheumatic fever as a child. It was an amazing adventure in story time not just family history but in science and culture and society. Everything and everyone had a story and it involved all subjects we were taught in school. It was magical to my young mind. 

I really believe it is not just the electronic age that is the blame but it is the lack of challenge and discovery we offer to and demand of our children. We have over scheduled and over organized our child’s lives and limited their playtime and discovery opportunities. I know I am guilty of this. We need to make an effort to at times to, un-schedule, turn off and go out. Don’t be that parent I see all too often with their children in a restaurant, at the movies, in a park and on their phone. Turn it off!!! Engage children and yourself and it will have a more profound effect on your child’s imagination and your fulfillment of time with your children.  Make not just learning but the discovery of knowledge an important part of your parenting, intelligence and the drive to discover is the real gift you give to a child. This world with all it’s troubles needs creative thinkers who can problem solve. We need individuals who not only are knowledgeable but are able to search and discover new ideas. It is not only amazing to see your child succeed but it is more amazing and powerful to see them struggle, discover and succeed beyond not only your wildest dreams but theirs.

"It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time -- for we are bound by that -- but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.
" T.S. Eliot

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Hobbies inspired by fandom.

A sweet friend asked me to write a "guest blog" for her site (I gave her the best one.) and I got carried away and wrote 3 blogs about Richard Armitage the English actor from so many series I love. So I figured mustn't let them go to waste so here is one of the back up blogs...

There are so many reasons to find new hobbies and outlets for your energy but as I get older I find I need a spark to get some of my creative juices flowing to inspire this old broad to reach new heights. Many things have in the past sparked that flow in my old bones, an art exhibit in a local gallery, a free art lesson, my child’s face in the perfect photograph, a perfect cd or even a professional conference (Okay maybe not so much on that last one…). Once in a blue moon something extra ordinary enters my life and I am enamored, some say obsessed. The glorious Richard Armitage has been that spark in a transformation for me. I mean just look at these eyes. and his glorious brooding moments.

Just the thought of his chin, tones of his chocolate voice or even his cocked head eyebrow raise makes me feel 18 again. So dear Richard let me count the ways you have inspired me to face new challenges and conquer some old ones… You have…
  1. introduced me to a whole new profession. Hacking VCR/DVD codes to play all region DVDs.       Since many of your earliest work does not make it to my shores it was a skill I found necessary.
  2. honing my google skills to near precise perfection so I can see your latest works and share them with my friends.
  3. inspiring me to read more than I ever thought possible about the legend of Robin Hood.
  4. opening my eyes to so many creative outlets, adobe photoshop and i-movie to name a couple.
  5. allowing me to hear music on a whole new level. Can I make the perfect Richard i-movie with this or this would be a perfect soundtrack to my fan fiction story about Guy.
  6. inspiring me to get this flabby old lady booty on the treadmill. Thanks goodness so much of his works are miniseries. I can do 45 minute sessions smiling all the way up and down 7% grades now.
  7. inspiring me to dust off my old fiction essays and start some new fan fiction and finish them…
  8. gotten me through a rather rough health patch with the North and South  and Robin Hood season 1&2 DVD collections. It just takes forever and it is beyond boring with nothing to do or watch while you get transfusions. “I am just sayin’ ”.
  9. made me wiser about the debate of character loyalties and inspired me to take up arms in defense of my friends. and lastly
  10. introduced me to a whole new set of friends all over the world, fan boards and underground cyber community.

 So Thank You Richard, even though you will never know who I am, you have taught me some fun and interesting life lessons. May your career be long and eventful. So cheers Richard, may your body of work provide many more beautiful stories and images to inspire and entertain others and me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An old Jack focused post...

Just felt like posting this one after my day with Jack... He is an amazing gift to my life. He spoke to me in 2008 about this conversation and was a WOW moment. He is a truly unique being.

The flowers are weeping.

I was making things tidy letting the millions of useless and careless thoughts run through my head, did I go too light with the hair color, should I watch any more moonlight (gosh those vampire phases) on you tube or will my eyes burn, why does this cleaner smell like this, will I ever get enough energy up to actually put a bra on, shower and venture out for the day? I was tossing the remnants of the valentines day into the trash: old flowers, the last of the candy (dark filled crèmes mostly) and the rogue card from Grammy. Jack, my youngest, entered the room to find his flower vase empty and was really saddened by their absence. I told him, "Honey they were old and I threw them out". He informed me, "Mom they were not old they were weeping". His words made my breath stop and my heart pause.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of kid comes up with this stuff?

Uber-Geek is a Dominant Gene

I have always suspected that I was but I had confirmation last night that Uber-geek is the correct label for me and is Dominant over cool. I have always been a good student and was a member of all the pocket protector clubs at my High School in the 70’s and 80’s. Card caring member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Honor Roll, Dean’s list and the mission club to name a few.
“Back in the day” geek was not something that was in fashion. It was something to struggle against and vehemently deny. Of course I pre-date the days of geek sheik thanks to likes of Justin Long, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. I had during my prime the delusional belief that I might escape the label because I am somewhat athletic; had actual dates and boyfriends and was for the most part talked to in the halls of my high school. I have an outgoing personality that was not especially offensive (unless you made me mad).
I was however as I later learned feared due to a sharp wit and a killer right hook something a classmate confided to my sibling at a Christmas party. (Although that party is another blog all together).
So getting back to the whole point of this blog… Last night I watched the Daily Show with John Stewart and his guest was a bright woman, named Stacy Schiff, who had written a book on Cleopatra entitled “Cleopatra: a Life”. While she took the stage, I was stuck with a thought, “She looks familiar.” And then it came to me… She looks like a Romulan! and without a thought I said to my family, “Oh My God! She is a Romulan. Look, she looks like the Romulan commander." My husband immediately said back to me that he had agreed and was also trying to fit where he had seen her before. My eldest ever so cool musician and popular high school 15 year old turned to his parents as if we were speaking Greek (or more accurately Geek) and said, “What is a Romualn? ”. Millions of thoughts flashed into my mind. What have I done wrong if my own child does not know what a Romulan is? How large is the gap in his sci fi knowledge? How can this child be mine? Did I grab the wrong baby? I love my husband, he speaks Ann. Maybe I did marry the right man. And mostly Holy Smokes I am an uber-geek and so is my husband BUT my child is NOT. I had sadly assumed marriage and procreation with another geek would produce the same but Geek must be dominant and my child carries the recessives. UGH! I am not only a constant embarrassment to my musician son but had to google Romulan to explain this to my kid. I have got to get him watching more sci fi or BBC America when Star Trek the next Gen is on so he will have some clue what his parents are talking about.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I am the Axis and it is killing my back.

Atlas Farnase: Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, Italy

So I have been meaning to do this for sometime now and have to say I have taken advantage of staying home with a sick son to begin my what I hope is a daily activity.

So my ramblings for the day ... mom spotlight.
Much of my days I realize I am not the center of the universe but I am an integral part of my universe. I found this out this week in 2 major ways.
Example 1:
Background givens: I am the time keeper and the gatekeeper of all that happens in this house for the most part. I have sadly enabled my husband 2 boys and my students.

I have always been under the assumption (some say delusion) that if I am hit by a truck some how the males in my house and my students could cope and get the basic daily things accomplished. WRONG! This Tuesday I had to be in the classroom to prep a huge lab I was teaching so off I went after I tried to wake the sleeping family before 7am. I fed the dog, laid out clothes for the youngest and went to school with a sinking feeling something was going to go wrong and no one would get out of bed without the Motherly nagging. Well I was 1/2 right. Somehow my youngest got up; bless his sweet little Jackie heart and got his dad to take him to school. Sadly the 15 year old was not so lucky. While I finally sat down after prepping the lab in the classroom at 9 am I decided to call the 15 year old to make sure he was walking to school for the late arrival day. His voice told the whole story. His groggy stunned, "Hello" instantly clued me into this was not his are you walking to school call but his wake up call. Nice! Apparently his dad just thought the lump of covers in his bed were just a lump and he was already at school so while he blissfully read his papers on the sofa drinking his coffee he was unaware of the slumbering teen who will either have to use light speed to make it on time to school or be late and end up with a detention. Happy end ... the 15 year old has superpower light speed and made his stunned father drive him at warp speed to school.

example 2: My sweet Jackie greeted my on Thursday morning before 6 am with the dreaded phrase that sends chills into a mother's soul, "I don't feel good, Mom, my stomach feels weird..." As I rush him into the bathroom removing the thermometer with the speed of a Ninja the stomach acid bile reverse mechanism we all know and dread kicks into gear. After cleaning up (I'll save the details to your imagination) I had to kick into super speed. Not only do I have to call in sick to work but since I am a teacher I have to make sure my 125 students have something to do so they are not wandering the halls of the high school causing chaos without my supervision. I hand the mantle and lysol to my second in command the hubby and drive to school before 6:30am. I make plans and set up for the substitute in record time and make it back home in time to help Jack one more time.

So lesson learned from the last week just in case I do get hit by the Mack Truck/Bus or Lightening. I better make back up lesson plans for the classroom and have it on my desk in an in case of emergency break glass case and buy the boys their own alarm clocks and show them how to program it. Also and most importantly maybe for short periods my little universe does revolve around me but I am the axis on which it pivots.