Wednesday, November 30, 2005


. . . is the secret to good teaching, apparently. I wear it. Students listen. Students learn. Administrators nod and smile. Sheesh.

Maybe I'm being just a little facetious, but I've gotta admit that my mom is right about appearances. She may love me no matter who I am, but other people judge looks. Roll the scotch tape on the back of the posters, the nicest handwriting in the world looks shoddy next to something from a computer, and a little eyeliner won't kill you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

the love is gone

I don't love my job. I used to love teaching. I even like the students, most of the time. But right now, I'm too burned out and depressed and stressed and worried about losing my job to have much more than fear of it. This school is rough. I can handle that. The students are rough. I can handle that, too. The demands are high. Story of my life. But my motivation is nearing bottom.

Second day back at work and L comes down with a 103 temp. The husband takes off today to be with her and volunteers to take off tomorrow too since it's supposedly the day of my second big evaluation. Mind, he's already missing a day and a half at the end of the week because of some pesky little graduate degree he's been spending multiple years of his life on. Not to mention that his salary is better than mine, so his days off are that much more valuable.

(In Schwarzenagger-country, I better start shaping up by the third eval or I can kiss my job goodbye. According to the spiteful woman who is supposed to be mentoring me, I should worry about kissing my job goodbye by Christmas because she said the administration is "very concerned." Her exact words, "I don't think you can do this." Some mentor.)

I attend trainings on Saturdays. I attend staff meetings after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a special two-hour district training after that on Tuesdays. I spend all my prep periods observing other teachers. I signed up for a Thursday evening training. I'm taking off two days of school next week for in-class trainings in two different areas. I email people for help, print out the replies, and keep them all together in a nice little brown-nosing binder. I get to school every day at 6:30 in the fucking morning. It kills me that the predominant message I get is that this is expected, I should be doing more.

I think I'm going to cry. Is it so wrong to want a job that doesn't suck your life away?

I made a girl cry today. Some jerk was picking on her, and I came in at the wrong time, making her angry and defensive. Then she just lay her head down on her desk and cried. What can I do?

anticipating chaos

I'm back in the classroom again. I remember why I love teaching and why I never feel like I have enough time. The significant other is panicking about defending that great big Master's Thesis. I wish I could do something to help other than just cook the food and keep saying "You can do it." He flies out Thursday.

Monday, November 28, 2005

fairy godmother

Despite my rant about in-laws, I do love them both. Despite their madness.

We recently added another friend to the family. A lovely single mom I teach with--who has already helped me in countless ways--agreed to sponsor the little one at her baptism last weekend. My friend was thrilled to be asked, though she thinks "sponsor" sounds a little too much like AA and prefers the old-fashioned "godmother."

We hadn't decided whether or not to do a baptism at all until a recent burst of curiosity led us to start attending a church regularly. My gut instinct, which is terrible when it comes to things like whether someone is lying or what the gender of my own baby will be but is completely reliable in matters of spontaneous decision-making, tells me that we should give L the opportunity to reject religion or to follow it. Better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it? Ok, so I just turned theology into a boyscout quote; I know I'm not among the preterite elect. (Tangent: what a stupid idea is that--that heaven has a "maximum capacity" limit?)

Anyway, we asked two close friends of ours up in Minnesota to be L's godparents in spirit, if not in ceremony. I don't expect anyone to be granting wishes or whisking her off to fancy balls in pumpkin coaches, and I'm a bit uncomfortable about the idea of anyone pledging to continually proselytize to her throughout her life. But I do think it's good to recognize people our age (rather than grandparents) who care deeply for L as though she were their own--people who could look after her interests should anything happen to us. I don't even mean these are the people who would or should or could adopt L if it came to that, just people who could tell her that she's loved and has always been loved and make sure that she'll always continue to be loved.

I wanted a Sirius Black for our little Harriet Potter.

So now L has a formal godmother, too, which seems a bit beyond redundant. Then again, why should there be a limit to how many people love our little girl? Here's to multiple godparents in an era when no family is nuclear.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

If only we were a Filipino-Canadian Catholic/American Jewish couple

Holidays with divorced parents might be a bit easier.

Typing away furiously in the bedroom, my other half is finishing up his Master's project, to defend next weekend. This, I hope, will lead to his first graduation ceremony he's ever attended.

My husband has the most stubborn divorced set of parents I've ever heard of. Apart, they are charming. But any mention of the other's existence spells disaster. We're careful not to show them even pictures of the opposite parent, we don't mention when the other is coming for a visit, and we edit out any reference to them, such as "I forget who it was who told me ..."

On the positive side, ignoring the other prevents rude yelling matches. On the negative side, they go to extreme lengths to stay thousands of miles apart.

As a result, my husband bailed on his own high school graduation ceremony, opted to skip his college commencement, too, because both parents refused to go if the other was present. In a room full of thousands of people! To his credit, he rose above the strife and didn't choose between them.

At our wedding, I twisted his arm to have a ceremony at all. With much convincing on all sides, he finally invited one to the reception and the other to the rehearsal dinner & wedding ceremony. We literally had two sets of invitations made. The wedding was held in a "neutral" state (my home state) which sadly ensured that most of his extended family would find excuses not to be there. The parents stayed in unidentified hotels at the opposite ends of the town, grudgingly. At least his half-sister was permitted by her mom to stay for the reception, too. That was the first time in fifteen years that his mother and father had even been in the same state simultaneously.

God forbid that L should ever get married. We'd rather encourage her to elope than to go through another such ordeal with grandparents.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Yesterday I passed by newstands with the following headlines:

The county paper--
Epoch air shift
About the staggering level of greenhouse gases in our environment

The local paper--
A puppy for a seventh birthday
About, well, a kid who gets a puppy for his birthday

Every once in a while it hits me what a small town I live in. Likewise, what strange decisions lead us to consider one story item more important than the next. It's humbling how easy it is to let the big picture slip away from us. Not that puppies aren't important ...

Friday, November 25, 2005

tennis in November

Beautiful gray day. Lots of tasty leftovers in the fridge. Little girl snoring peacefully in a red sweater. My best friend reading a book by my side. And it's only a Friday. God I love holidays.

flipping the bird

... Since the breast will not brown until eventually turned top side up, both methods require the cook to turn the turkey during roasting, a maneuver that sounds scary to the unitiated. --Joy of Cooking

Are they crazy?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

pregnancy envy

I didn't realize that this even existed until I became pregnant two years ago. I also didn't know how many women have trouble having children: 6.1 million people in the U.S., and those are just the couples who report it. COUPLES, this is a very real issue for men and women. I'm just writing about the XX side because that's all I know, that implied definition of what it means to be female. I can't imagine how intensely frustrating it must also be for men. (So don't stop reading. Educate me.)

Pregnant women are everywhere. Children are everywhere. You walk around the park--hell, you walk around the middle school where I teach--and it looks like getting pregnant is as easy as taking a sip from the water fountain. I spent enough time worrying about the 1% chance on the pill that I found myself intuitively thinking 99% must be your chances without it.

I look back at the 7 women who attended my baby shower. A week ago one of them gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Soren. Another is agonizing over a 5-11 page essay response she has to turn into the adoption agency in her multi-tiered quest for a child, hopefully arriving this summer. A third starts her first IVF treatment January. The fourth has had three miscarriages after IVF, each more painful than the last. The fifth isn't married. The sixth was my mom.

Even having a first child isn't a sure sign that you'll be able to get pregnant again. That's the seventh. She struggled for years to get pregnant again, lost a child days before her scheduled 21-week ultrasound, and somehow found the courage to keep trying. Her youngest daughter is just as beautiful as her six-year-old sister.

With the exception of those of us who've had children (that's a little hard to disguise), the others don't even know about each others' silent struggles. It's pretty obvious to be around a friend who wants to be a mom, but no one talks about it. We just say things like "maybe someday" or "one child at a time" or "who knows" and politely, enviously admire the little girl who's holding her mother's hand.

So many intelligent, good, lovely people try to make the smart decision to wait for a stable marriage, a reliable spot on the career ladder, or even just enough physical space to have a second bedroom before getting pregnant. These are the girls who were taught how to judiciously avoid getting pregnant but who weren't taught that fertility begins declining at age 20. Not 35, not 28, but 20.

The worst part is how many of my friends blame themselves for not being able to be mothers. "We know it's my fault," one told me without a trace of irony, as if she personally discouraged each and every sperm to please turn around and go somewhere else.

Where am I going with all this? Who knows. It's sad. It breaks my heart. It makes me nervous.

And I realize that I have so very much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Kosher Saurkraut

Saurkraut might or might not prevent breast cancer and cure the avian flu, but she's definitely worth a read.

I also added a link to Polanco Consulting's blog. Despite my posting a bit of a rant there about force-feeding Jewish kids cheeseburgers, I like the way she thinks.

leaks and the White House

Terribly symbolic and indicative of so much else wrong with the current administration, leaks in New Orleans levee systems were a) covered up, b) ignored, c) ineptly handled.

Monday, November 21, 2005

one week

That is what separates me from my little bit of vacation and back to school. I'm getting the first-day jitters that kids get before they start the year. Today I'm heading in to work to do a little last minute preparation--figure out where the desks go and tack up some bulletin boards.

Should be a good, if busy, Thanksgiving. This has always been my favorite time of year. I have lots and lots to be thankful for.

Friday, November 18, 2005

happy day

Little pink lines bode well for the next nine months. Baby names here.

cell phone monster

A pink, plastic cell phone from a well-meaning grandmother has turned into L's favorite toy. It's a little disturbing to see my 1-year-old prancing around with her musical gizmo like an obnoxious patron in a coffee shop, but on the other hand I think it's developing her first brushes with imagination.

Here she is, answering the phone with "Da?":

Switching sides:

And, my favorite, the multi-tasking shoulder-hold (note the juice cup in other hand):

Thursday, November 17, 2005

the invisible world

L has discovered the hidden world of cabinets. She knew how to open the bottom drawer, take out all the potholders and bibs, and climb inside. Now she's on to the pots and pans. I'm grateful that she's more interested in opening and closing the doors than exploring what's inside them. It's only a matter of time, now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dumbledore's dead

I've finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Not bad. We took turns reading the chapters aloud, which is fun but takes weeks to finish.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

mouse trap

I set two, behind the refrigerator. I think I prefer wasps to rodents when it comes to vermin in the house, though I'm hoping this little furry fellow stays out of my bedsheets.


I have a confession. I think beer commercials are funny. Not all of them. Still, I'm as likely to laugh at a beer commercial as I am likely to be annoyed by an AOL ad. I like those with a base level of humor more than the snob appeal marketing tactics. Anything is better than those car ads that look like bad acid trips.

My husband complains that I pay too much attention to ads. He has perfected a Zen attitude of staring past the commercial. I envy him.

For two years, I watched only about 10 hours of television. I blame it on impatience and laziness more than any attempt at self-improvement. There were two major consequences: 1) I got all my information online, through NPR, and by word of mouth; 2) When I sat down to watch the Super Bowl, I was dizzy from the rapid pacing of images. If anything, it gave me more respect for the complexity of advertising.

Monday, November 14, 2005

preaching anti-war messages

An Episcopal church in Pasadena is being investigated by the IRS after an anti-war sermon.

Apparently, churches are allowed to take stands on issues but not individual candidates if they want to retain their tax-exempt status. This particular sermon in question happened on the eve of the 2004 election, so the government claims that it was anti-Bush.


I agree with the letter of the law. I'm glad that the IRS cracked down in 1995 on a church in Pierce Creek, NY that took out a full-page ad in USA TODAY claiming that voting for Bill Clinton was a sin. This case is different. It's in the best interests of ALL religious organizations and all nonprofits that anti-war messages are permitted.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

bomber on tv

The government of Jordan reportedly wants to put the surviving suicide bomber on television so that Jordanians know the attackers were Iraqis and so they would "have someone to direct their anger against," according to CNN. I have no mercy for any suicide bomber or bomber-wanna-be. That said, does this strike anyone else as a bit unethical or barbaric to put her on TV? What ever happened to the good ol' days of lynching in the public square?

Return to a Sunday

If ever there was a day to lounge around and get little accomplished, this is it. We're back from the reunion; all went well. Napa is a bizarre little town. Stunningly beautiful and full of odd people with fancy cars. I'm glad to be home. I think L is also. She's playing with the blinds and looking out the window fondly.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

car trip

We're waking up as early as possible tomorrow and driving out to the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a family reunion this weekend with my husband's grandmother, aunts and cousins just north of San Francisco in the Napa Valley. According to Google, it's an eight-hour trip. I just hope the little one can sleep for half of it.

It's been decades since I was in San Francisco as a kid. All I remember is my brother trying to give me a jalapeno flavored sucker and cigarette butts everywhere. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the more beautiful parts of San Fran on this trip, even if it is a quick drive-by.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

on brevity

My posts tend towards the short side. I think the main reason is that I have very little to say. I prefer reading blogs to writing them. That, and I blame it on teaching journalism. My favorite writing assignment to give comes at the end of a lengthy, feature story project. Now they have to boil down their six to seven page stories into 100 words. It's tough. In my own writing, I try to be merciless and cut out all this explanatory junk that bogs down the sentences.

It's not for everyone. What would happen to Garcia Marquez if he shortened magical-realism into just -ism? Examples closer to home: I love BP's vehement diatribes (hmm, do you mind me calling them diatribes?), Daniel's blog journeys on the way home from eating dinner with Marie and what happened on precisely this corner in precisely this place, Mallory's thorough explanations of engineering, Midwest Hick's timing up to the punchline, and of course Old Man Rich's fond musings about fish and fireworks. Please keep it coming.

let's go for a walk

While I'm off meandering with a stroller, check out the man I want to be neighbors with: the political genius/great dad/good friend/part-time pirate.

Monday, November 07, 2005


This is what peace looks like.

Are voters stupid?

No, but we do dumb things, like vote for people whose last names begin with A.

I looked up the ballot for tomorrow and was shocked to find that within the ballot is a description of each candidate and arguments for and against all the propositions. I'm impressed. That actually makes sense.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

a little behind the scenes

I confess that I went through the address book yesterday and twisted some arms into calling back & wishing the 32-year-old a happy birthday. This afternoon, he says, "Wow, it's so nice that so many people called." My work here is done.

p.s. Don't ever try to cook curried carrot soup at the same time as surreptitiously baking a chocolate cake. You might think it's a good cover, but the combination of aromas is just too powerful.

the anti-vote

Californians vote on everything. In fact, I'm nearly convinced to vote no on all the propositions Tuesday because I think the initiative process is a bad idea.

For example, there's a proposition to lower the price of prescription drugs. Sounds good, right? The drug companies sponsored their own initiative with plenty of loopholes, a smaller bill for the state, and it's conveniently placed directly ABOVE the legitimate drug proposition. Drug companies have spent 76.5 million dollars as of October 28th on the campaign. Equally sleazy is the move to put parental notifications for abortion on the ballot just to bring out a certain demographic of voters.

Why not take this democratic process to the next absurd level and put up our votes for sale on eBay? All the proceeds could go towards paying for the special election.

balloons + bubbles

The secret formula for pacifying toddlers.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

steak & eggs

Tomorrow is the birthday of my other half. Since he claims "I don't want anything," all the birthday festivities this weekend are edible.

Friday, November 04, 2005

random picture of baby

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I can get the flu shot at my local drug store, be in and out in 5 minutes. But my little girl? The pediatric clinic says only "high-risk" children may be approved to even be put on the WAITING LIST for flu. She probably has a better chance of contracting influenza in the time she sits in the clinic's waiting room than in getting a flu shot at all. What's an overly protective parent to do?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Freedom of what?

Two disparate stories that make me mad:

1) Students who blog face suspension according to a new policy from a principal at a private school in Sparta, New Jersey. As deplorable as this is, it doesn't even make sense. What better way to punish a student for posting her opinions online than to give her several days off from school to spend in the comforts of her own wired home?

2) Are Catholics really an oppressed minority? Maybe 50 years ago in the rural rivertowns of Missouri, but today??? Republicans seem to have discovered a fool-proof plan to nix the Roe v. Wade debate among Supreme Court justices: Appoint a Catholic and decry anyone who questions his conservative agenda a religious bigot.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Regrets - I've had a few

Guilt sucks. Here's a meme to answer BP.

1) Making my mom walk out of Madame Butterfly at intermission. Opera came to my hometown once in a blue moon, and I should've been honored to be my mother's date. Instead, I complained the whole time.

2) Shoplifting a candy bar from Westlake's Hardware. I returned it, but I still regret it.

3) All the chainletters I ever wrote as a kid. A waste of time and stamps. I remember copying those stupid letters by hand, what was it--seven times apiece?

4) Not sending my brother a birthday present last year.

5) Every time I sing along to the song "Jump, jump, jump" from my daughter's musical toy. The worst part is that I sing along without knowing all the words, and I still get it stuck in my head.

mood music

It's just getting dark on Halloween night, so I put in the DVD of Nosferatu complete with the haunting original organ soundtrack. I like the movie more each time I see it--the melodramatic young lovers, the werewolf frightening the horses, and the wagon quickly darting away from the creepy castle of Count Olaf. The vampire himself is about to make his first grand entrance when suddenly the organ music is drowned out by "I'm a little teapot."

Halloween is far more interesting as a parent--both less and infiinitely more frightening.