Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Fascinating My Ass

What the hell is wrong with Barbara Walters?

I wasted an hour on her “10 Most Fascinating People of the Year” nonsense last night. This was an only a very slightly better way to spend time than picking my toenails or grading the huge pile of essays I promised the tenth graders I’d have for them by Friday.

Barbara asked absolutely NO hard-hitting questions and instead sucked-up shamelessly to all of her “honorees.” She and Tom Cruise, for example, zoomed around in his Mission Impossible mobile laughing about Scientology and “silent birth.” I kept waiting for her to ask, “What methods of mind control are you using on your bride-to-be, you psychotic, egotistical whack-job?” but instead she asked him about his favorite color and how manly he feels while doing his own stunts.

But worse than Tom, and worse than Lance Armstrong not forced to mention “divorce” or “doping” while mugging with Sheryl on the couch, and even worse than the sycophantic Condi Rice tribute, was Barbara’s selection of the year’s MOST FASCINATING person. Realize I waited through like four commercial breaks for the big announcement, and do you know who it was?

Jennifer Aniston? Nope.
Saddam Hussein? Nope.
Jon Stewart or Michael Jackson? Uh-uh.

It was Camilla Parker Bowles. CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES.

Give me a break.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The First Step

Yesterday, our refridgerator was in our mudroom. It was an odd placement, yes, but we were used to it.

Today, there is no mudroom, and our fridge is in the dining room.

As Dan said this afternoon, there’s no turning back. In order to avoid the dust, the accidentally broken windows and the weird styrofoam particles that I insanely mistook for snow this afternoon (hence humiliating myself in front of Contractor Joe), we'll be moving to my mom's house. Tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

All Right, Already

It seems that when you’ve made your readers, however few, accustomed to daily or at least thrice-weekly blog entries, they start to complain about a less-than-prolific holiday weekend.

“I meant to write yesterday,” I explained to my mother-in-law over lunch this afternoon, “but I couldn’t think of a good topic.”

She looked skeptical and helpfully suggested that I return to the boobs entry from a few days ago and see if I could produce something else on breast-size.

While this is tempting, but especially since I count my father-in-law among my loyal readership, I think I’ll discuss my addiction to zit-picking instead:

A few days ago, I felt a big zit coming on in the vicinity of my chin. It was going to be a doozie, I could tell. Normally when I get a zit, I pick it and squeeze with all my might until I have a welt the size of Alaska where the tiny patch of redness used to be.

People try not to stare at the oozing lesion, and instead of using a little concealer and carrying on with my life, I end up blathering about the zit obsessively for days and days.

“This used to be a little zit,” I say to perfect strangers, while gesturing wildly at my face, “but I picked it!! I just don’t know why I DO that!!” And then I shake my head and look incredulous, and people back slowly away.

So, this time I decided it would be different. I would NOT pick. I would NOT blather. I would use concealer like a normal person. People would not notice the zit.

And so what happened? My resolve lasted all of sixteen hours. When I found myself in the bathroom of an upscale restaurant on Friday night, frantically poking my chin and making fingernail marks in the surrounding skin from the aggressive squeezing while fellow diners hurried out of the restroom to get away from me and my zit puss, I had to admit I have a very big problem.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

For Snack He Wanted Vegetables

If I hadn't labored for thirty-six hours in an attempt to deliver him, only to have him wrenched from my abdomen while I lay unconscious on the operating table, I'd think he wasn't my son.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Pluses and Minuses of Going Solo

This is the first year of my last four in teaching that I’ve conducted parent conferences without a buddy.

Usually, I chat up the ‘rents with my One True Teaching Love, Renee. I do love double-teaming the parents at conferences. They get a more complete picture of their kids’ performance, and I get company. Also, if a parent gets pissed, you don’t have to call for back-up – it’s already there.

One thing that I didn’t like about those team conferences, however, was that Renee would sometimes make fun of me in between appointments and also throw balls at me. She liked to do the ball-throwing so that I would feel compelled to throw back, and then she could laugh at my “girly” arm. The joke never got old. Oh, and the year I was pregnant, she burst into wild laughter on account of my fetus’s “tail” EVERY SINGLE TIME the parents left the room.

Still, I liked the team approach, even though the conferences were a little rough on my ego, since Renee is Everybody’s Favorite Teacher.

“Oh my gosh, MS. S.!” The parents would exclaim on seeing her. “Susie just LOVES you and your class. Really, she is sooooo happy, and we are so GRATEFUL!!”

And then usually they’d hug her or give her an expensive gift as a token of their hero-worship.

Finally, they’d see me out of the corners of their eyes, and say something polite and restrained like, “Oh, and Ms. W., Jenny likes you, too, but MS. S.! You’re really special.” And then they’d wink at her and you could just tell their hearts were still fluttering with the honor and pleasure of meeting this Teaching Goddess.

So, although I missed Renee and her companionship (“Don’t you wish you were Italian, too?” she asked me one year while we waited for our next victim) it was kind of nice to just accept the low-key compliments and feel satisfied.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What is, "Low Expectations"?

I’m oddly calm about the party we’re having tomorrow. We’ve invited seventyish people, so this feeling of zen I’m experiencing is really quite extraordinary.

I think the calm stems from a couple of philosophies that I’ve come upon since becoming a mother. First, I have a new vision of efficiency. If I have sixty uninterrupted minutes, my god! I can clean the entire house from top to bottom and still have time left over for a shower.

Second, I feel strongly the party needn’t be perfect. In fact (and this is kind of a shock), I think I might have given up on “perfect” altogether. This party, I realize, doesn’t have to be the best, most fabulous party anyone has ever been to. It must only be a good way to spend an hour on a Saturday afternoon -- it must only be good enough.

And that seems pretty stinkin’ manageable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Toward a More Meditative Existence

I went to yoga tonight. The only other time I’ve taken yoga was during my last trimester of pregnancy, when I weighed 200 pounds and had a face the size of Texas. I did the yoga then because I thought I should be mindful of my growing self and my correspondingly gigantic baby.

Overall, the prenatal yoga was a good idea, even though my obsession with my potential foot odor and my concentrated attention to my hideously stretch-marked hips and thighs sometimes got in the way of “my practice.”

Tonight was good, too. If possible, I’d like to do more yoga; but I don’t think I have enough time.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Have Missed The Entire New Season of Making the Band

This new “part-time” job I have is really cramping my tv-watching style.

No longer can I languish on the couch each evening, ingesting mediocre offering after mediocre offering while feeling mildly guilty for not doing my grad school work.

Instead, I have to half-watch only the most important things – that means absolutely no more Super Nanny or Bachelorette -- while simultaneously grading papers, researching lesson plan ideas, or skimming studies about reader response.

This situation is really a drag, and frankly, I’m not sure the sacrifice is worth it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blast from the Past

I was surprised to find that I got a little pain in my chest thinking about the fact that almost a year ago, my baby was just this big.

I staved off the pangs of missing the littler guy by remembering that this picture was taken at the height of the nipple-biting phase. And also by remininding myself that back then, he wasn't nearly as enamored of The Electronic Babysitter.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Classic Backhand

The other day Frau Miller was consoling an awkward sophomore after German class, which is conducted in my room while I’m on prep. This poor, forlorn kid had gotten his iPod stolen by some brutish upperclassmen, and Frau was giving him a little pep talk.

“Don’t worry, Lars,” she said reassuringly, using his German name. “I think I’ve told you before that high school just sucks sometimes.” She looked at me for confirmation. “It gets a lot better, doesn’t it Ms. W.?”

“Oh, yes,” I gushed, wanting to be supportive, especially since Frau and I have had some rough moments this fall. “Some people say high school is the best four years of your life, but I find that’s really not true.”

“Yeah,” continued Frau, “I mean, the people who say that it’s the best time are really just the jocks and the beauty queen-types.”

I nodded enthusiastically. “There’s a lot more to life than high school,” I agreed.

Lars was smiling tentatively. Despite the total lameness of this talking-to, he was actually feeling better.

Frau recognized progress and ran with it. “Plus, Lars” she said definitively, “Ms. W. and I made it, and I think you can see, that neither of us was a beauty queen.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Big News

Pronto Pup. He's back.

Also, Shef's begun singing super cutely. This afternoon, he did many more-or-less complete versions of "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" together with hand motions and dancing. And he's memorized a few skits from "Elmo Street," often leaping out of his chair to proclaim the arrival of The Count. Also, his teachers tell me he says, "What about Mr. Sheffield?" when his they a don't give him seconds quickly enough.

And, of course, he still resists sleeping. Tonight, he told me he was feeling very lonely and grabbed desperately for my neck when I tried to leave him in his crib.

So, of course I picked him up because what the hell was I supposed to do when he put up that kind of ingenius offensive?

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


I’m not generally a picky teacher.

I’m cheerful in the face of tardiness, quick to sign the pass to the nurse’s office, and tolerant of the incessant construction noise at my new school.

“What was THAT?” a student wondered as the roof shook and clattered alarmingly last week.

“Hmmm,” I said, pausing for a moment, “I’m not sure!” And then I frowned briefly at the ceiling, and brought the class right back to the gerund in the sentence of the week. I was the model of unflappability.

I was less than impenetrable, however, on Monday because that’s the day the rodents decided to show themselves.

I had heard rumors about the infestation, but I hadn’t had a sighting myself. Lucky for my first hour, we were treated to five-minute mouse interlude featuring rodents frolicking on the wall above the blackboard just after the bell.

It was nothing less than terrifying, and I was forced to restrain students who ran at the mice wielding textbooks and pencil cases. I made an emergency call to the custodian, who promptly deployed the traps and reassured me that this will make the mouse threat diminish.

Let’s hope.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Construction Report

Contractor Joe has been paid a hefty deposit, and now he says the digging might start at the end of next week. This is great. Let’s get the show on the road, we say.

Of course, we didn’t realize that the digging would require the tearing off of this little mudroomish structure we have off our kitchen. We thought our new and potentially kick-ass family room would be completely constructed before they made any holes in the current house.

Plus, the mudroom currently contains our refrigerator. This odd placement is just one example of many “charming quirks” of our home. Another is our antiquated electrical service, which makes it almost certain that moving the refrige to another location would permanently blow a fuse, or break the circuits, or whatever.

We're not do-it-yourselfers, obviously, so that's a plus.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Magic Might Be Gone

You can tell you’re having a romantic Friday night when you politely ask your husband to rewind the Tivoed Alias a few seconds, and he looks at you incredulously and says, “Maybe if you’d stop farting so loud we could actually hear the show.”