29 May 2008

Take This Job and ....

Today is the last day that my mother-in-law will officially be a guidance counselor. She'll always be one, of course; it's too ingrained in her whole personality for her to ever not be a counselor at some level. But today, around 3 or so Eastern Time, after thirty-five years of counseling and teaching, and counseling, she will walk out of a school building and be free.

She's ready. For the entire year, she's had a countdown. Beginning with the shiny red Mustang she bought last July to kick off the year, this year has been all about endings and looking forward to new beginnings. She has plans on the horizon--a wonderful way to end one journey, with the next road up ahead. And, it's been a trying year, with food fights in the cafeteria, with administrators that took her for granted, with the countdown ticking away slowly, slowly.

But the countdown is over.

She has her mix CD we made her for the last week. She has her shiny red car to carry her away at the end of the day. And because she was ready to retire, finally and truly finished with this part of her journey, she has nothing but possibility to look forward to.

So good luck. And be sure to do a victory lap around the parking lot--windows down, stereo thumping. Heck, go over to the middle school and do a lap or two there as well.

On to the next road.

26 May 2008

Random Bullets

  • Every single BP in our small prairie town is now a Marathon. This would not be a problem if we hadn't just received a fairly large sum of BP gift cards from our credit card that we now have nowhere to use.
  • We're thinking about becoming a one-car family. We rarely use J's car and with gas prices being over $4 (apparently our state ranks only behind Alaska and NY in gas prices, go figure) and the town's bus system being super convenient, it just doesn't make sense to have two cars. If we sell his, we can pay off mine--that's two less payments a month (car and insurance.) And we were going to sell it next year when we move anyway. But the idea of being a one-car family seems odd to me. I've had my own car since I was 19. It makes a lot of sense financially, though.
  • We got to see the new Indiana Jones last night (thanks super-in-laws!) It's the first one I've ever seen in a theater. Even though it has kind of a strange premise, it's pretty good. Although there are a couple action scenes that are just ridiculous--surviving a bigger-than-Niagra waterfall with no one injured....right.
  • I've gotta start writing.
  • Something other than blogs.

24 May 2008

Rules for the Perfect Beach Vacation (with a toddler)

Always eat locally and in season. Stone Crab is taste-eee.

Make sure you're well protected from the sun. And that you look really cool.

Feel free to eat whatever you want- it's a vacation after all!

When encountering pirates, do not hesitate to join their ranks. Even if you don't quite know what to do with weaponry yet.

Restaurants are best at sunset. And if you must wait to eat, be sure to pick one with a nice waiting area, with plenty of room for the kids to play.

Be sure to get a little activity in each day. You are eating whatever you want, after all. And pure butter doesn't melt away as quickly as you'd think.

Sunsets are a must.

21 May 2008


And it's 68 degrees out there. What's up with that.

I want to go back to the beach. Possibly for good.

Vacations should be at least 10 days.

More later

20 May 2008


I’ve never smoked a cigarette or gotten a tattoo. I don’t even have my ears pierced. My closet sports no designer clothing or shoes. I’ve never even lived close enough to a major city to be in the know about the hottest nightspots or newest underground bands. My pregnancy, like most other things in my life, was thoroughly and meticulously planned--mapped out and carefully rationalized. On the surface, my life and my experience with motherhood has very little in common with that of Rebecca Woolf...

Read the rest of this on GNM Parents.

12 May 2008

Random Thoughts

  • One more day and I'll be on a beach. A beautiful, warm, sunny beach far far far away from any work at all. An entire week off with no books, no email, no papers to grade. No dissertation. It's all staying home. But until then...
  • When did grades turn into something negotiable? I would have never thought to ask a professor to give me a higher grade just because I didn't want the one I earned. How do you even respond to those requests? They're absurd. And somewhat insulting.
  • Little Man is totally psyched about the beach. He tells everyone he's going. And that he's going to find seashells and dolphees. And apparently there will also be baskeeball on the beach. (He may be disappointed with that last one.)
  • I went to a job market meeting today. It's official. I'm searching this year. But the whole big mumbo jumbo secret stuff that they wouldn't let anyone come to until they were ready to search?? Beats me. I didn't learn anything I haven't already known or read in the handy dandy book that my Mountain U friends recommended. So much for mystery.
  • I have no summer clothes. Literally. Ok, almost literally. I do have one tank top. And one pare of capris with a big black stain on the leg. I think I must have purged my closet last fall of all the worn out semi- post pregnancy stuff. But I don't really remember. Next time I need to write myself a note: "Dear L- You threw out all your clothes. Yeah, really. I don't know why you would do such a thing. Well you're the one that did it. I can't help it that you're going to the beach in two days. Best wishes, you.
  • Right now I only have 10 students in my summer class. yipppppeeeeee. Let's hope it stays that way.
  • Did I mention I'll be on a beach in a couple of days? So no more posts from your truly for a while- But check out my review of Rockabye next week on GNMParents.

Mother's Day- or one that my mom can read all the way through

The first time my mom and dad had a date, he backed out because the weather was bad. She got into her little yellow Duster and went out with friends.

I love that story. As much as I love the fact that she was always a working mom. As much as I love that she went to Europe, Panama, and Hawaii in her twenties with friends. As much as I love that in her twenties she drove a little yellow Duster with the back end jacked up and a thick black stripe down the side.

Growing up, I never had the idea that I couldn't accomplish whatever I wanted. I never worried that I couldn't be both fabulously successful and be married and have children. And it's really because of her example.

In High School, a counselor told her that she wasn't cut out for being a teacher. Two and a half years after she graduated High School, she graduated from college and got her first teaching job. Thirty-some years later, she's still teaching. She could retire at any time, but she's not ready yet, because she still is what she does-- she's still a teacher and isn't ready to give that up.

I'm incredibly lucky that I had her example to grow up to. She taught me that traveling is important, that I should do all the things I wanted to do before worrying about settling down. She wasn't married until her late twenties, so I always felt like I had time. And that feeling--that getting married wasn't the top priority of your teens and early twenties--allowed me the freedom to do the things that I wanted and to find the person that was really right for me. She taught me that you can have a marriage and a career--that one doesn't need to replace the other. And she taught me that you make your own choices and your own path in life--even if that means driving a little Duster out into the snowy Ohio night.

The problem with all of this is that I took it all to heart-- probably in ways she never expected. I'm probably not the daughter she expected--I'm certainly not the daughter that she is for her parents. She taught me loyalty to family, how important it is, and I've taken that as one of my primary goals to teach my own children. But I've never been able to muster the selflessness that she has for her own parents. I have too big a mouth. I'm far too opinionated.

But I blame her for that.

And as much as I'm sure I've driven her crazy more times than she cares to remember, I thank her for that.

Recently, she told me that there are some posts on this blog that she doesn't read. That she doesn't like it when I talk about my childhood sometimes or how they were as parents. And I feel bad about that, because I never write anything that's meant to hurt her. Even if it does. Everything I write about my childhood and my parents comes after deep and heartfelt thought-- and I hope that eventually she can see that if I disagree or if I make other choices for my own child, it's not because I'm rejecting my childhood. It's because my childhood--her motherhood--has been such that it deserves deep and heartfelt thought. That it serves as a touchstone for everything I do, even if what I do is to do something different.

But my ability to do something different, or to keep things the same, comes from her-- even if she doesn't realize it. She should have been a little less independent if she didn't want a daughter like me. (Although, I realize, that even Frankenstein thought his monster was a good idea at the time.)

She wasn't. And I am who I am today because of that.

So thanks mom.

And happy Mother's Day.

09 May 2008

Hemingway's A$$



And yet, I'm kind of sorry to not still be in Boston. I told J over the phone, it's not that I wanted to be there on the prairie- I wanted them to move on out to me.

The truth is. I missed them both like crazy. Every time I walked through a park and some toddler crossed my path, my heart ached a bit for my own. I couldn't walk through the Public Gardens without picturing Little Man--a little smaller, perhaps, but chasing happily after ducklings.

The truth is, I loved being there. It really has underlined to me just how much I want to live in a city-- at least for a while. I never really took that chance. The first time I applied for MA programs, I applied only to big cities-- New York, DC, Philidelphia, Chicago. And I got accepted to schools in all of them, but the match at Mountain U was just a little too good. Their offer was too enticing. So I left behind cities to live in the middle of Appalachia--the only school I applied to that wasn't in a major metropolis. It was my choice, and I think now that it was a sound one. I think I'm probably better off because of it.

But I love cities. I love the musicians on the streetcorners. I love the families playing in the parks and the teenagers laying around on large, mismatched blankets. I love the subways and busses. I love the shopping and eating. I probably wouldn't love the rent, but I'd like to think I'd manage.

And I've decided that, even being completely alone and missing my boys terribly, I love Boston. Almost as much as I love DC. I love that everyone talks like a Kennedy and looks vaguely like Conan O'Brien. I love the history there--the cemetaries established in 1753. I love love love the North End--the little old men speaking Italian, their aloras ringing out through the streets, and the bakeries that make the italian bakeries of my childhood look like nothing in comparison.

And I love the people at the Kennedy Library. Never have I worked in so pleasant a library with such helpful people-- and that's saying a lot because, in general, rare books librarians are extraordinarily helpful. (Perhaps they're just lonley and are happy to see anyone) They took me down to the audiovisual area and let me look through Hemingway's actual family photos. Then they handed me a folder of photo-quality copies that people had requested but returned and said I could have any that I wanted. So I took a bunch- Hemingway as a 19 year old ambulance driver, the nurse he was in love with, Heminway in the Bull Ring, Hemingway in Paris with Hadley and Duff Twysden and HArold Loem--straight out of The Sun Also Rises--Hemingway skinnydipping off a boat in the Atlantic. yup- naked Hemingway. And how could I not take that one? Because who else has a picture of Hemingway's naked rear end, I ask you? Me. That's who.

06 May 2008

Books on Potty Training

I'm going to be doing reviews of parenting books over at GNM Parents every other week from now on. I'll be posting links to them on this site as well.

Click to Read

05 May 2008

If you have to be in a library...

Right now I'm sitting with the Boston Harbor out the window to my left, a lion carcass owned by Hemingway to my right, an impala head and paintings by Waldo Pierce in front of me, and piece of shrapnel from Hemingway's war wound in a cabinet across the room.

Did I mention that the window to my left is the Boston harbor and Atlantic Ocean, as far as the eye can see?

04 May 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Last night, the three of us snuggled in the big bed after Little Man's nightly bath. I had been feeling run down and sore, the effects of a stupid tetanus booster, but all the frustration of feeling so cruddy melted away with the smell of his wet hair and his lankly body snuggled against me to read our nightly books.

"Pretty soon mama's going on an airplane, but I'll come back soon."

"Little Man airpain too."

"No, honey. Mama's gotta go by herself, but you and Papa will have fun together."

I know it's stupid. That hundreds and thousands of women leave their children for business--or for pleasure. I just never have, and this is hard for me. Rationally, I know this is the last big piece of the dissertation puzzle--working in the Hemingway archive. Emotionally, I want to take them both with me, even though I'll be unavailable from 8:30 until 4:30 every day I'm gone.

I'm not sure he understands I'm going tomorrow. I'm leaving too early in the morning to really say goodbye to him, and I'm afraid he'll be angry at me when I get back. We're buddies, he and I.

"But after I get home, then we all are going on an airplane. We're going to the beach."

"Beach. Oshee"

"Yep, the ocean. We're all going to go together and be together for a whole week. What will we see at the ocean?"

"Fishies. Dolphies. Ducky," he tells me, the tone of his voice raising for each word, almost question-like.

"Ducky? Oh honey, there aren't duckies in the ocean."

"Duckie oshee," he insists, shaking his head in the affirmative.

"But Duckies don't live in the ocean. Maybe sea gulls or pelicans."

He gets out his Spot Goes to the Beach book, and sure enough, there is a ducky--the blue and pink spotted inner tube that Spot wears. He's so smart that I can hardly stand it sometimes.

"You're right. Duckies. Maybe we'll get a ducky for you to have at the beach."

He grins in excitement.

"Just the three of us. One. Two. Three," I say pointing to each of us in turn. "Because we're a family."

"One, two, pee," he repeats again and again, pointing to each one of us in turn. Proud of his accomplishment. Seemingly, understanding.

Because we're in it together. We're a family.

02 May 2008

Feeling Poetic as a Give an Exam

a three hour final
why oh why oh why oh why
did i drink that Coke?