Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm Feeling Guilty

Since I've returned from the conference, Shef has been calling me "Mama Chicago." It's cute, but it also makes my insides hurt a little. The Chicago absence was compounded because I had a paper due in my class tonight, so I needed babysitters yesterday and today.

When I got home tonight, Shef clung to Dan and looked at me warily. I guess he had a little meltdown at school today during which he cried hysterically and asked for me repeatedly.

Obviously I'm wracked with guilt.

It's especially hard to be away from him because he's gotten especially cute. He has likes to draw on his white board. "That's a V," he'll say, pointing at some scribble. "I'm drawing a dolphin!" He's also really into Little People. My mom gave him the pirate ship last week, so he says, "Mommy play with this present," and we make the pirates jump the plank and "eat the fish dinner." Of course we don't do any of this lately since I've practically abandoned him.

Lee sent some toy sea animals and dolphin stickers home with me for Shef. He's highly attached to them. This is the second night that he's had the stickers in his posession, and this is the second night he's sleeping with them in his crib. "Cuddle with the dolphin book," he told me, and I couldn't see any reason to argue.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Mao

The Chicago conference was a blast, although I must admit it was unfortunately punctuated by my idiotic dialogue.

The purpose of the study group, I explained to my esteemed professor, who also attended the conference, is so we can “discuss the readings first, and then discuss the readings again. You know. In class!” I even used my hands to show her what I meant, pantomiming a box on the left, followed by a box on the right to symbolize the study group and the class, respectively.

Luckily, my fearless pals led me away before complete humiliation set in. “She won’t even remember this,” Jessie generously reassured me, as I hastily procured another glass of wine.

When we weren’t conferencing, we stuffed ourselves at fancy restaurants and toured the art institute. I’m partial to the Thorne Miniature Room, even though it seems like the hoity-toity art critic people think it’s kind of the armpit of the place.

I’m hoping I can visit Chicago again soon, maybe with Shef and Dan, who would find lots of enjoyment in The Windy City for sure.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Caffeinated Teacher is a Happy Teacher

A couple of students have taken to bringing me Diet Coke after lunch. It’s just every once in awhile, and I view it as an apple for the teacher for the teacher who has a crippling caffeine addiction.

God, I love those kids.

I’m not teaching tomorrow because I’m going to learn about social justice and literacy education in Chicago, and as I left school this afternoon, I knew I would miss my students. I kind of wished I could teach them tomorrow. I called Dan to share this feeling I was having, and he brought me back to reality with his special brand of straight-talk:

“That’s ridiculous,” he spat.

And although that was kind of true, it still made me feel good about my job change.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"One Art"

Sometimes the fact that my life is held together by the most tenuous of threads weighs on me like a double layer of those x-ray-proof vests.

Today it was the podiatrist running and hour late and my mom forgetting to leave the door open for the babysitter that weighed me down; last week, it was the freezing rain and my accidental abscondsion of Dan’s car keys. In between there was a little of Shef’s ear pain and a pile of vanishing photocopies.

It’s days like this that Elizabeth Bishop echoes in my head: “Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.” None of those small things spell disaster.

“I don’t know how you do it,” a colleague of mine said last week, referring to my myriad identities and obligations.

“Oh,” I said, feeling a little uncomfortable, “the truth is I don’t, really.”

That truth was especially heavy today.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The First and Last Time Renee and Mike Spent a Weekend With Us

This weekend, we spent a couple of days at the cabin with Mike and Whoa-Nay, as Shef calls her.

Shef is so in love with Whoa-Nay that it’s a little scary. Upon waking at five each morning, he looked into my eyes and beseeched me to find Whoa-Nay and let him plaster her with kisses. Because I too have affection for Whoa-Nay, I kept him out of her bedroom until eight a.m., but precisely as the second-hand marked the arrival of that decent hour, I sicced him upon her.

“HI, WHOA-NAY!” he shrieked about a hundred and fifty times per day. For a full hour on Saturday afternoon, she engaged him in a frenzied game of peek-a-boo from behind the couch. He was so gleeful, he couldn’t really function.

After he went to bed, the rest of us grown-ups went about cabinly business: triple-fisting at dinner, trying desperately and vainly to finish a game of Trivial Pursuit Nineties Edition, and losing control of bodily functions.

Well, to be fair, the bodily function problem was really mine alone. It started innocently enough when I sipped some water just as Whoa-Nay was relating the punchline of a hilarious story. As a result of the laughing, I choked on the water and kind of spat up in my napkin.

“She’s totally throwing up,” Mike narrated calmly, as I tried my darndest to be discreet.

Then I had to excuse myself to the bathroom because I was in danger of wetting my pants from laughing so hard about vomitting at the table.

Even removed from the group, I couldn't stop the laughter. When I got back, the sheer force of my guffaws caused a third, truly unfortunate incident: a gaseous emission that packed just a few too many decibels.

"Are you sure you don't need to go back to the bathroom?" Mike inquired as I doubled over in a fit of laughter and humiliation.

Whoa-Nay howled and pointed. "I'll never forget this!" she yelled. "You hit the TRIPLE!"

It was really kind of the highlight of the weekend, humor-wise, and even so you might be wondering why I'd confess this to the internet. The reason is simply that it will make Whoa-Nay very happy, and after spending thirty-six hours with Shef attached to her leg, I'm willing to grant her just this much.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Rare Foray into Crafts

The sophs made masks, devising symbols for the Much Ado characters’ dreams, fears, and intentions, and conflicts. The idea was that the masks would fit right into the dance scene in Act II, scene I, the one where Kate Beckinsale gets wooed by Denzel.

I was more or less pleased with the products, despite certain limitations. For instance, one snarky fellow had this to say during his presentation:

“This is the mask that I think Don John would wear… I mean, if he were forced to wear a paper plate to a masquerade ball.”

Indeed. Just one more reminder that this is tenth grade English and not Project Runway.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Difficult Day

Last night, I went to bed before nine because I couldn’t see the book I was trying to read. Shef, never a good sleeper, has been in full-effect lately with then night-wakings and the wailing, and it seems that sleep-deprivation has finally begun to affect my vision.

“You’re going to have to sleep in your crib,” I tell him.
“Sleep with Mommy,” he relplies, breathing sweetly into my neck and holding on tight.
No flies on him, I suppose.

Anyway, I decided it would be best to simply go to sleep, get up early, and do the reading before my curriculum planning meeting this morning. Sadly, several circumstances made this plan unfeasible:

1. Dan was up with Shef from 10-12, and I was up with him from 2-5.
2. There was freezing rain, so my 15-minute commute was doubled.
3. When I arrived at school, I reached into my pocket and discovered I was in possession of Dan’s car keys.

I made it home and back to work with five minutes to spare before the bell, but I never recovered from the discombobulation, really.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Vacuum Diaries

Shef will be two in a month. I think he has kind of a long attention span for a two-year-old because throughout his life, his obsession with the vacuum cleaner has not waned.

Here he is with the vacuum cleaner a year ago:

And here he is last week:

There is a little stick at my mom’s house that he pretends is also a vacuum cleaner. In fact, his pretending has gotten quite good – we pretend to eat plastic food, we pretend with finger puppets, and he pretends that he wants to use the toilet.

He knows that if he pretends this last thing, there’s a good chance I’ll let him flush, which is totally worth the trouble of getting naked and pretending to push.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Wart, The Sequel

Today, I finally made the call to Dr. L., famed podiatrist. On Tuesday, the 21st, he will begin the process of bringing me to a wart-free existence. This professional help is something my friend Molly, who has had warty feet herself, has been urging for months. I was reluctant because of the nightmare which was my first wart treatment. You might not remember, but I do – it was ghastly and black and oozy, and really quite painful.

“I’m tryiiing the Dr. Scholl’s treatment,” I explain defensively, over and over again, trying not to think about the pedicures and public swimming pools I might be missing out on.

Molly purses her lips and shakes her head. “If you’re going to do anything on your own with this mess, you’re going to need to get in there with something sharp and just dig it out.” Then she squints her eyes and pantomimes a series of short, violent stabs.

Sadly, experience tells me that self-surgery is easier said than done, so I'm surrendering myself to Dr. L. Let's hope he can eradicate the colony because I'm really tired of those damn warts.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

A Furious Bout of Exercise

Yesterday, I headed downtown St. Paul to participate in the "Frozen Half Marathon," which was true to its name, as it was
frigid -- the windchill was -1. In addition to the inclement conditions, I faced another barrier, in that I'm not really in shape for this kind of running. I've only run once in the last three weeks, and my last run of more than four miles (a leisurely ten-mile tour of the lakes with inspiring pal, Sheila, who finished 2nd in this race) was about five weeks ago. Any sane person in my situation would have bowed out, but not me. I like to finish what I sign up for, dammit.

The first ten miles were nice -- fun, even. I maintained a solid nine-minute pace, and then predictably, pretty much exactly at the ten mile mark, I fell apart. I urged myself minute-by-minute toward the finish line, and ended up posting a 2:02, a mere 32-minutes behind Sheila.

Despite the discomfort, I'm really happy I did it. Even the relatively acute gastrointestinal distress I experienced as a result of my effort was more-or-less worth it. I needed a kick-start in my training, and I think this has done the trick.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Dinner is Frozen

Tonight, I went to Sociale with my new pal from work. She’s Texan and republican, but remarkably cool in spite of these bad facts.

Here’s the thing: Sociale kicks ass. Let me add a disclaimer that it is not so good for vegetarians. However, for those of us who partake of the succulent bovine, Sake to Me Beef Stir Fry is really going to hit the spot.