Sunday, November 30, 2008


The number of miles I logged in my car over the holiday weekend. I really should have taken an extra lap around the city to bump it up to an even 2000. Sigh. Back, all in one piece, and, for the sake of posting something, look! a meme. A one-word meme. If you know me at all, one-word answers are, shall we say, challenging?

Where is your cell phone? dunno

Where is your significant other? who?!

Your hair? frowzy

Your mother? here

Your father? awesome

Your favorite thing? sleep

Your dream last night? sex

Your goal? stability

The room you’re in? living

Your fear? rejection

Where do you want to be in 6 years? happy

Where were you last night? Missouri

What you’re not? fit

Muffins? blueberry

One of your wish list items? money :)

Where you grew up? Midwest

The last thing you did? bills

What are you wearing? jeans

Your TV? off

Your pet? Maggie

Your computer? dying

Your life? hectic

Your mood? jaded

Missing someone? yes

Your car? Hyundai

Something you’re not wearing? bra

Your summer? lovely

Love someone? kids

Your favorite color? green

When is the last time you laughed? today

Last time you cried? today

There you have it. Me in a nutshell. No, wait, this is me in a nutshell. ::mimes being trapped in giant nutshell, a la Austin Powers:: Had an awesome roadtrip with my kids (sounds crazy, but they were great). Mom bought me a new green sweater for a Christmas party I got invited to - amazing color. Survived our first Thanksgiving without Husband. Put hideous plastic snowman-shaped clingy-things on the window. Things are ok, I think. Cautiously optimistic, even...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Ok, let me just stop right here to say that if you haven't read the series, you should. Don't pull the "just for kids" crap - I know plenty of grown women who confess to liking them. Loads.

I'm sitting here, thinking about the premiere of the movie version of Twilight tomorrow night. Excitement has been rampant at school - it's a middle school, for pity's sake. All the girls have their copies with them, reading surreptitiously when they should be studying, holing up in corners of the playground, hiding from the bitter wind between the pages.

I've been rereading, too. I finished Twilight and New Moon again over the weekend, sans children. I was looking forward to doing the same this weekend with Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, but I (oh so selflessly) loaned them to our middle school counselor, a kindly fiftysomething woman who has taken an interest, too.

As I sat around after school today, talking Twilight with some of my eighth graders, they expressed surprise that *I* had read all the books and enjoyed them. They know I'm into a lot of the same things that they are, or at least conversant with a lot of the same things. One of them asked me if I was "attracted" to Edward, and that set me off thinking - why do I like this series so much?

It's certainly not the high-quality writing. As one of my more astute ladies pointed out, it's not exactly Shakespeare. It's teenage fluff in its purest incarnation. And yet, I am strangely attracted to the books, to the characters. I want to know more about them. I want to *be* them (you know, in that silly "wish I was a character in a book" way that we all get).

It's not the perfection. Of course, Meyer describes Edward as "perfect" at every turn, with enough similes to gag a maggot. That's not it. It's a combination of two things, for me.

1. The sexual tension. Sure, it's all fairly chaste, on the surface, but if you read the thirst that Edward feels for Bella's blood as a metaphor for the sexual tension between the two... I had to go take a cold shower after the third novel. It's incredible. I've felt that type of friction, the lure of the denied intimacy, many times, and on many different levels, over the last 15 years. But the desire, the longing, the basic animal need these two seem to feel? I am way envious. It's incredibly intense. I can only wish I had something like that, which leads me to...

2. Love. These two are so incredibly in love, and not just lust, but really, in love, that it defies all knowing. I've been in love once or twice or three times before, but what they have? It's an entirely different brand. I think, on some level, I'm really incredibly jealous of Bella, that she has someone who loves her so intensely, without pretense, condition, question, regard to anything else. Most of us* never feel that kind of love, and frankly, I am a little envious. He loves her in spite of the fact that it can never work out. She loves him more than she loves herself, more than life, more than breath. It's just all so - intense. I wish that someone loved me that way. I would totally face death and destruction and dismemberment and complete annihilation for the chance at a love like that.

And now, to reason out why I can't go see the movie with my students tomorrow night. After all, I'm a grown woman. I don't want to be the pathetic single lady in a theater full of kids so young they had to bring their moms to get in...

*Maybe it's just me? Maybe the rest of you have someone who loves you like that? Don't tell me, if you do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Come On, Feel the Negativity

Ok, I completely realize that this blog has become an exercise in negativity and bitterness. To be fair, that's kind of my life, but it must get really old to outsiders after a while.

So, rather than writing the post I'm inclined to write, about my three-day headache, my sudden incredible fatigue (holy shit so much worse than normal, and normal ain't so hot), my money woes, my kid worries, etc. etc., I'm going to write a post celebrating the good and positive things that are going on.

Today, I chatted with a new co-worker and helped her work through some issues she's having with other co-workers.

I pioneered a new technology we have at school - nobody else in the middle school has used it in their classroom yet. I win. And it was actually pretty cool.

I have all my plans ready to go for tomorrow.

I had a decent conversation with the Bear, for once. It took a few false starts, but I think I may have figured out what's going on with her at school. Or at least, I'm trying.

I cooked a healthy dinner.

So there. Something to tide you over til the doom and gloom express returns. Don't worry, I can't stay positive for long.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Second (Third, Fourth) Verse, Same as the First

I know I blog about this every winter, multiple times, but really, can I just state again for the record how much I loathe childhood asthma?

I can say that because, as the parent of a child with asthma, I had asthma myself as a child (I like to claim I've grown out of it now) and so I know how much it sucks from both ends - for her and for me.

The Bear, like many other tiny kids with asthma, doesn't necessarily have the same kind of asthma attacks that I remember from about 10 or so onward. In her case, it manifests with coughing. And coughing. And more coughing. After a while, it's all one big cough, she can't breathe, her face turns beet red, her eyes and nose start streaming, and eventually she pukes.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The worst part for her (obviously) is the coughing til you can't breathe and choke and puke. The worst part (for me) is having to sit here, watching her, helping her, knowing that there's really nothing I can do to help.

Things we've done tonight, in no particular order, to stave off the coughing so she can sleep:

the regular inhaler (controller, not rescue)
the nebulizer (yay albuterol)
Benadryl (to dry up the gah runny nose everywhere)
sips of water through a straw
steaming (in the bathroom, hot steam for a while, followed by a trip to the open window for cold dry air)
Vicks on the chest
a teaspoon of honey

She did puke eventually, which usually helps to clear the passages, somehow, but she's still laying over there on the couch, hacking away into her stuffed dog pillow.

And it's late and it's cold and I'm tired and I miss my husband.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


If you were adequately able to imagine my delight at yesterday's fill-up, then you will easily be able to imagine my dismay when, eight hours later, I drove past the same gas station and the price had dropped to $2.36. Five whole cents a gallon cheaper! How dare they!

The kids are gone to their dad's house, and I have the apartment to myself for the weekend. I know I bitch and moan when they're here, but god, this place is so *quiet* with them gone. I do like it, a little bit, the freedom, the peace. I came home early this morning after crashing on a friend's couch last night. I had breakfast, did some reading, took a nap, did some more reading, ate dinner, did some more reading. I'm watching a movie now. Contemplating a bubble bath. It sounds ideal, but truly, I'm lonely.

I don't think it would be as bad if there was another adult around to hang out with, even if only in companionable silence. Someone to *see,* to know that someone was there, to feel the presence of another person...

My goal has always been to put the girls first, and my own needs second, until they're grown. But I'm honestly not sure I can tough out being this lonely for the next sixteen years.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Nothing makes me happier than things that are cheap. I get an actual little thrill from saving even a little bit of money, and when I find I've spent more than I needed to, I get mad.

Imagine my delight when I filled up my entirely empty, running on fumes, coasting into the station gas tank today for UNDER $30! At the height of the oil price hikes, it cost $48 to fill an empty tank. Today - $28! I did a little dance in the front seat. $2.41 a gallon!

Then, on to the gorgeous, expensive grocery store in my neighborhood for cat litter. The cheap-ass store is farther, so it's more practical to buy single items at the nice store. Name-brand cat litter? $10.99 a jug. Off-brand cat litter? $7.99 a jug. My selection? Only $6.99 with my Super-Saver-Thingie card. On which I get 10% off all purchases until mid-December (in Chicago, that's the equivalent of not having to pay tax). Plus, aforementioned jug of cat litter had a coupon attached for an extra $1 off! So, my $7.99 cat litter only cost me $5.99, including tax! Almost half of the fancy name-brand stuff.

In my life, I never thought saving $2 cat litter would make me as happy as it did today. But when you are scrimping and saving, having decided to suck it up and send your kid to fancy-pants private school, every $2 helps.

Incidentally, we used to live in a state that actually had a town called Tightwad. Also Peculiar. And a few other gems. But Tightwad was my favorite (duh).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Teacher's Lament

Tonight I received the following:

Ms. Teacher Jane -

Just checking in to see how Miffy did on the quiz. She said she did not get it. Please help her.


To which I responded:

Ms. Entitled Mom -

Traditionally, the time to seek help is *before* the quiz, rather than after you've already failed it. In addition to which, it is my JOB to help her. You are paying $14,000 a year for me to help her. I have two degrees and five years of experience helping people like her. However, my telepathic powers are a bit weak at the moment, and unless Miffy raises her hand to ask a question, or shows some other sign of life, it's very difficult to help her.

K thanks bye,

To which she will undoubtedly respond with:

Ms. Teacher Jane -

Whatever. I have a squash game and an appointment at the spa. Just make sure she gets an A on her report card, will you?


To which, with a certain vengeful glee, I would say:

Ms. Entitled Mom -

I'll be sure to do that, just as soon as you shove that gigantic squash racket up your ass. Sideways. Your kid is a C student. All your money can't make her any smarter than that. But have fun trying!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So help me sweet baby Jesus...

if these children don't go to sleep, and soon, I am going to LOSE. IT.

I don't know if my kids are good sleepers or bad sleepers when compared to all the other small people in the world. I would guess they're average to above-average. But I am below-average when it comes to dealing with them.

After 8 pm, I do. not. want. kids. I have no desire to be a parent after bedtime. I want an hour to sit on the couch and work, or catch up on emails, or veg out, or whatever, before I collapse. Just an hour. One quiet hour. After bedtime, I do not want to see or hear my kids again until sunrise. Period. I hate nighttime parenting, and I know I've devoted many a post to this before. I don't know if it's my temper, anger issues, general impatience with all things small, but I HATE being a mom at night. If you could feel the force with which I just typed those four capital letters - there needs to be a stronger word than hate. If a knife-wielding attacker came smashing though my window right this very minute, I would say to him "please please please slit my throat first so I don't have to listen to these goddamn children anymore!" I would volunteer for death and dismemberment before I would volunteer for nighttime parenting.

I am fairly certain that if my daily routine didn't involve fourteen hours of running in circles with barely time to pee, I wouldn't complain so much. I could catch my hour of quiet time at midnight - I wouldn't have to get up at ten til six every day. I could shower at naptime. Hell, I could NAP at naptime. But that's not it. My time is never my own. I run around after my own children while I'm home; I run around after 120 others while I'm at work. I stood in the open door of the bathroom for almost ten minutes today, having been waylaid by both a coworker and a student while on my way to pee on my way to stand out in the freezing cold for half an hour on afternoon duty. Seriously. An hour. That's all I want.

And instead, my children give me up, down, in bed, out of bed, need to pee, need to poop, drink of water, hungry, thirsty, tired, not tired, sad, laughing, one-more-story, move-the-cat, get-back-in-your-own-bed-now-young-lady bullshit. After 8 pm, I frequently pull parenting maneuvers that I'm not proud of. Why, just tonight, I've:

been generally bitchy

and that's just in the last two hours that we've been working on this. At this point, 9:23 pm CST, after a yelling (gar yaergh go back to bed now or else dammit), a threatening (no sticker on bedtime chart hence no ice cream at daddy's house this weekend), much grouchiness, and a cat-ectomy (why that accursed feline feels the need to sleep *on* the Tank's pillow, I'll never know), there is finally, maybe, quiet in there. I hesitate to get up and go check, for fear of disturbing whatever fragile balance may be in effect. I am tempted to sleep fully clothed, sitting up on the couch, so as not to walk on my squeaky hardwood floors and risk disturbing a child. Seriously. I am Hating This.

Send chocolates laced with arsenic. Please.

Mental Giant

You know those times when you predicate your entire thought process around something that you *know* to be true, one of those pieces of knowledge that you feel, in the very core of your being, has to be true?

Say, the knowledge that Wednesday is payday?

Only to discover, of course, that you're an idiot, that Wednesday is only the 12th, and you still have to make it through the end of the week?

I have a calendar on my phone, a calendar on my computer, a calendar at work, a paper agenda, and a working knowledge that Tuesday was Veterans' Day. Given that, it still took me ten minutes of staring at my bank balance in dismay to figure out why I hadn't gotten paid yet - today is only the 12th.

Good grief.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pick your poison

On a night like tonight, when the kids have been crying, individually or together, since we got in the car after school, and asking for their daddy, asking why he doesn't live with us, doesn't he want us, doesn't he love us, I'm sad, I miss him, when can I see him, can't he just come here and live with us...

on a night like this, the question "how do I cope?" can only be answered with another question:

Zinfandel? or Thin Mint?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Just Kindergarten

Almost as tiring as nonstop cleaning? Sorting though a mountain of information on the local public schools. Some factoids:

We live in Chicago. The public schools here kind of suck.

I teach in a private school. They pay me so little, I can't afford to send my own kid there. I think we call that Irony.

There are approximately ten decent "selective/gifted/whatever" public schools we could conceivably send the Bear to.

The odds of her getting accepted via the random lottery at most, or through the smart-kid testing at others, are practically nil.

Even if she does miraculously get accepted somewhere, the time lapse between when my school starts and when hers would start make the feasibility of actually getting her there nearly impossible.

Not to mention that it will be another three years, minimum, before I can get both Bear and Tank at the same school at the same time. If I could make that my school, and make one stop for the three of us, I would be thrilled. The odds of that happening are about as good as the odds of me getting back into those size 6 jeans hanging in the back of my closet.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Phoning it in

Maybe the Tank is to blame, for waking up at six a.m.. On a Saturday. It was still dark!

Perhaps it's the seven loads of laundry (washed, dried, sorted, folded, and PUT AWAY!) that I did this afternoon.

Maybe it's the three loads of dishes and four meals I've cooked in the last 36 hours.

It could be the turbo-speed housecleaning I did this morning, which, clean! Yay!

Possibly also the whirlwind drop-in visit from Soon-to-be-Ex-Husband this afternoon, which kind of sucked, but left both girls in a reasonably pleasant mood.

But whatever the reason, I am tired tonight. Weekends are meant for R&R, for fun activities, for lounging around in your pajamas with a cup of tea. Weekends are for sleeping in. Weekends are supposed to be, you know, like, pleasant. No drudgery allowed.

Better luck tomorrow.

Friday, November 07, 2008

All that Glisters is not Gold

Truly. It is 8 pm on a Friday evening, and both of my children are sound asleep. I have treated myself to a glass of wine that is really more of a goblet. I am watching trashy television for company. Look around and you'd think, sure, she's got everything.

And yet. Tank managed to say something incredibly hurtful to me before she went to bed, and the sting of it still lingers. My mother always said that you can count on idiots and small children to tell the truth. I don't really think that she's at an age where she can make up hurtful things just to see if she can get to me, like a teenager would. I think that what she said came from what she was thinking at the moment, but the fact that it even registered to her was incredibly hurtful. I may move on to the bag of minty chocolates when the wine is no longer. And the jar of pickles after that.

So, on the outside, it's a perfect evening, but inside, it's been marred. By a two year old! The small people, they are very powerful. The things they say sometimes mean more than they realize. I wonder if she knows how much she's hurt me.

Btw, nothing irritates my English-teacher soul more than people who say "all that *glitters*. Led Zeppelin, I'm looking at you, boys.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Both sides

So, on the second day of a parent-teacher conference odyssey, between reassuring parents that, no, really, their little darling is fine and helping other parents explain to their kids that, no, you can't get into any decent high school with grades like that, I had a minute to check my email. Lo and behold, what do I find? An email from my own kid's teacher.

It wasn't entirely unexpected. When I went to pick her up, her cot was over by the cubbies, away from everyone else. Normally, she sleeps right in the middle of the room with all the other kids. On the way out the door, she told me, "Mrs. Teacher is going to have to call some parents, but not my parents."

I kind of expected a call.

The gist of the email was "not being nice to friends, yelling at them, goofing off at naptime," etc.

After last night, I wasn't too thrilled about this, although I'm kind of expecting a rash of button-pushing behavior right now as she works to sort out the ways her life is changing. On top of that, she's spent two nights hanging out with the "big kids" at my school, and the three of us haven't had much family time because of these nighttime parent-teacher conferences. So we came home and had a big bowl of ice cream on the kitchen floor, and talked about feelings, and friends, and how to deal with both.

It's hard to sit on both sides of the table at the same time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On Purpose

I had an interesting evening with the Bear this evening. It was a long night for the whole family, and by the time we got home at 7, we were pretty beat. But she was sassing me, being obnoxious to her little sister, grouchy, etc. She is Little Miss Sunshine when she's sleepy. I have about zero tolerance for this kind of crap, especially after a day spent with Other People's kids, and a night spent talking to Other People about their kids. Hell no.

So, after their bath, I tell her to lay down on her towel for the ceremonial lotion ritual. Always the same, every time. We've been doing this the same way since she was born. She likes it. I like it. Anyway, she rolls over and curls up in a ball. I say, Bear, get ready for lotion. She sticks out an arm. I say no. She sticks out her face. I say no. She sticks out her butt. I say no. Lotion always starts at the legs and feet. No other way, ever. I say, fine, if you can't be bothered to do as I ask, go to bed with no lotion on.

Oh, the crying. Full-on sobbing. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. BUT I'LL GET DRY SKIN! she wails. MY SKIN WILL HURT IF IT GETS DRY! she cries. I say, tough. You don't do as I ask, you don't get what you want. The End.

More screaming. More crying. I say, fine. If you can't stop screaming and crying, you can't have a bedtime story with us. You'll have to go to bed with no story.

Well, no lotion and no story? I am Cruella DeVil herself.

So, she gets no story, and her sister does, but she stops crying when I floss her teeth and then let her play with the floss. As we're getting into bed, she starts to cry again.

Mommy, I was doing it on purpose.

Doing what on purpose?

I knew what you wanted, and I didn't do it, on purpose. I was not-doing it on purpose.

Well, Bear, I'm glad you told me that. I forgive you. I'm sorry I yelled at you. Will you forgive me?

::tears, hugs::

Still crying. Bear, what's going on? Why still crying?

I love you. I like to tell you the truth.

I love you too, baby. And I hope you'll always want to tell me the truth. It makes me feel very happy when you tell me the truth about things. And I'll try to always tell you the truth.

::more tears::

But I did it on purpose!

I know, but I forgive you. All done. No biggie. We're family. That's what family does.

This is not a family! We have no Daddy! It can't be a family without a Daddy!

Whoa, back up there, kid. We are indeed a family. Daddy is your family, too. Family means lots of different things.

On and on, round and round we went - truth, forgiveness, doing things on purpose, loving each other, being a family. This kind of stuff is just so exhausting. Some day I'm going to invent a kid that brings itself up.

In my head, this was a very important conversation. Here, it looks ridiculously mundane and kind of pointless. I don't know. My kid acts out on purpose, but then wants to tell me the truth about it and be forgiven. Does anybody care about this shit but me? I don't know, but now at least I have today's post done.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Holy Shit!

We did it.


I failed my U.S. geography test

Hi. That was Wyoming. Colorado is the one underneath. Wyoming is on top. I am an idiot, and I freely admit that. I take back all the things I said, Colorado. You can say bad things about me now, if you'd like.


Good people of Ohio, from your long lines and shitty voting practices you have spoken and redeemed yourselves (and possibly the rest of us). You cancel out the shitty disappointment that was Colorado. Bless you.


Man, am I disappointed in the people of Colorado. I was there for five days last week, and on every corner, I saw people waving Obama signs. The honking they got, the cheers, the applause. My colleague and I debated it, after buying a milkshake for a lone teenage boy waving a homemade sign in the unseasonable Indian summer heat. We thought that Colorado had a good chance of going blue this year. Granted, we only witnessed this phenomenon in Denver and Boulder. I'm sure the small-town people are more conservative than the big-city liberals.* But still. We were excited to get out of Illinois and see what the rest of the country was thinking. And we liked what we saw. But no. They just called Colorado for McCain. Dammit.

*I'm going to throw out some more stereotypes tonight. Just wait.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Word problems

Since I'm bad with numbers and spreadsheets, I turned my financial woes into a word problem to find out how much money I need to steal to break even this week. If a train leaves Chicago at 9 pm going 45 miles an hour, how quickly can I get over there and lay down on the third rail? Wait, no, same problem, different answer.

This section of the post originally had the full word problem, which I took down because it just made me too uncomfortable. I mean, sure, you don't know me. I don't know you. But really, you do. You know more about me than just about anyone else, and I just don't feel comfortable letting you know exactly how poor I am. It would seem like asking for pity, and I don't want that. Besides, Soon-to-be-Ex-Husband sometimes reads this blog, and he's already made it very clear that he's not going to bail me out, so I don't feel like I need or ought to be telling him that I just don't have enough money.

Although I did have the following conversation today:

Fat Bitchy Director of Student Life: The babysitting service during parent-teacher conferences will cost $5.
Me: I'm sorry. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? I thought I just heard you say *I* had to pay *you* for the privilege of working two 14-hour days in a row.
FBDoSL: Yeah, and they better be potty-trained.
Me: Bitch, you can bite me.

Later, to my classroom neighbor/friend:

Her: Are you going to take advantage of the babysitting?
Me: I can't. It costs $5.
Her: I know. What a deal, right?
Me: ...I don't have $5.

So, I don't have $5 for babysitting services. You can probably extrapolate from that how much money I don't have for other things, too. God. I hate whining posts about money.

My boss, whom I adore and would eat fire for, likes to have "celebrations" of the things that are going well in our lives. So, in her honor, tonight I would like to celebrate the fact that my nonexistent kitchen sink water pressure has doubled in force to a really reasonable trickle. I can't tell you how happy that tiny fact made me. My finances are in dire straits and the world is in a shambles, but by golly, I filled a pot of water in under 10 minutes, and that makes it all better.*

Tomorrow, my worries about the effect the divorce is having on the children. And... and... isn't there something else going on tomorrow? Something I'm supposed to be doing? Dammit...

*I'm not even joking. Sometimes it's the little things that make you feel better.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I Blame the Altitude

So, this post may go up after midnight Central Time, but I'm out West, where it's still November 1st. Plus, we already set the clocks back! So there...
Conference, good. It finished early this afternoon, and we took off in our rented vehicle, up into the Rockies. Highlights included happening across the hotel where they filmed The Shining, encounters with deer, elk, fox, and a magpie, a trip up above 13,000 feet, sunset in the mountains, randomly running into someone from my alma mater (1000 miles from here), and some very nice times with my friend/co-worker.
Going to fly home tomorrow afternoon. Am very ready to see my small people again. I miss them. I bought them pens with giant bobble heads on top. I will be a hit.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I miss being married. I miss having someone else in the bed at night. I miss saying "my husband" in conversation. I miss the heavy feeling of my engagement ring on my finger. I miss knowing that there's someone else coming home, eventually. I miss being part of the crowd.
This is not to say that my marriage was perfect. My version of having someone else in the bed at night was to have him creep in, hours after I was asleep, and be there, snoring, when I woke up. My version of knowing there was someone else coming home was never knowing when he would get there, how much longer I would have to hold out with the kids by myself, whether he would pay any attention to me when he got home, wondering if we would fight tonight or not.
I'm at this conference, and I'm surrounded by married women. They call their husbands between sessions to say "I love you." They all wear wedding rings. In conversation, things always revert back to marriage, to husbands and wives, to the communal life that so many people lead.
And I miss that. I'm lonely. I hate admitting that. It sounds like a failure. But I'm lonely. There you have it.