Friday, December 19, 2008


Yeah, no, screw that. I'm ruining my children's lives. Forever. They will be hideously warped and twisted individuals. They will hate me forever for ripping apart their family. My only consolation would be if they were as angry at their father as they will be at me.

Finding it

Well, I think I finally did it. I think I'm there.


I'm not upset. I'm not angry. I'm not hurt. I'm really kind of okay with it. Happy about it, even.

This is good.

I just dropped off the kids for a week of Christmas vacation with their dad. Nobody cried. I expected to feel worse. At the moment, I'm kind of numb. Not a good thing, but also, at the moment, not a bad thing. I feel shitty that I can't be with them on the holidays, but I realize that they need to spend time with their dad, too. So be it.

I've started to imagine the future, a future beyond this particular time. There are even days when I think it will probably be okay.

This was the only gift I needed this year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Strangest Feeling

So I was at work today, glibly teaching a batch of seventh graders the words to "O Come All Ye Faithful" in Spanish, staring out my window at the snow* falling, and I cracked a random joke (I have no idea - I make stupid teacher jokes all the time), and I felt this very odd sensation somewhere in my chest.

Later, I was chatting with a colleague - again by the window, watching the snow fall - and I felt it again.

I successfully made a particularly difficult phone call to a parent, and went to report to my boss about it. She looked shocked and pleased. She called me a miracle worker. We talked about my messy personal life, she said flattering things. There was that feeling again.

Helping my eighth graders, all decked out in Santa hats and Uggs, deliver boxes of food and baskets of wrapped gifts to needy families, I noticed it again. I was standing out in the snow this time, watching it land on the shiny wrapping paper and bows, on the shiny faces of the children we love to hate. Seriously, what was that damn feeling?

There I was, driving home in the snow.* Traffic is awful, moving at a crawl, cars skidding left and right. Excellent music on the radio. Am I stressed? No. Can't figure it out. Can I run the errand I needed to? No. Who cares? Still, not stressed. What the hell?

Kids, rolling in the snow. Rolling. No snow pants, no waterproof, well, anything except boots. That's so cute! Are you having fun? We'll dry off with hot chocolate and sweatpants! Who cares if you're soaked and bedraggled and caked with snow? Why am I not more upset about this?

I have it on good authority that, due to the driving conditions, my soon-to-be-ex-Husband is shacking up with his new girlfriend tonight. You know they're totally having sex. I am surprisingly unbothered. Huh. Who knew?

I asked my friend at work today, because I was suspicious. She confirmed my hunch.

It's the holiday spirit. Whatever the hell that really means, I think I have some. This is all very, very strange to me. I'm like, happy, and stuff. For no good reason. I can't quite understand where this is coming from. Frankly, it makes me kind of uncomfortable. Do normal people feel like this all the time? Is it that "special time of year" getting to me? What is going on with me?

*It was this really awesome snow. Light, fluffy, powdery, falling straight down like the fake snow in movies - perfect.

**Less awesome now, and may I just say, Richard M. Daley, that I don't give a damn how broke your city is, you pay for salt and plows. Period. It took me 2 hours to drive the five miles roundtrip that it takes me to pick up both girls and get home. And in those 2 hours, I saw not a single plow, and only one salt truck. Five miles of main thoroughfares, including the city's longest street. Are you kidding me, Dick? Seriously?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sounds coming from the bedroom

No, probably not the sounds you're thinking of, because, hi, it's just me and the cat. No, I'm sitting on the couch, working, the girls having been put to bed moments earlier and now talking in direct defiance of my directive to Just Go To Sleep Already. Then, from amongst the chatter, I pick out the following exchange.



No, no, Tank. It's Ba-Rock O-Bomb-A.

Ba-rack Oba-ma!

Tomorrow, Barack Obama is coming to my school to play with all the kids there. He's big and he's very nice. He will come in and have to take off his big old shoes! ::riotous laughter::

What, is he like a giant with big old feet? Are you scared of him?

No, he will play games with me and eat crackers.

I have no idea where they're getting this! I took them to vote and the Bear watched his acceptance speech with me, but we *never* talk about this. I never even told them his name - lest the kids at preschool get into a political fracas over it. But, apparently, they've heard it somewhere. At least they think he sounds like a nice man. May they never live to be disappointed in the ideals of their youth.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Odd, but you never really think about the sheer amount of crap that you have to do in a single day. For some people, it kind of seems like a "work 9-5, go home and relax" kind of scenario, even though I'm sure they have things to do, too. Today, for some reason, was really busy, or else it just seemed really busy.

I woke up at 6, as always. Three people fed and dressed for the weather, ready to leave the door by 7.

Arrive school, 7:45. Morning duty at 8 - standing outside in the freezing cold for half an hour, yay. Straight from there to homeroom.

Class. Class. Class. Class. Class.

Lunch. Brought enough for me, but neighbor has none. Share - neither person really full. Doesn't matter, time for...

Mass! Sit, listen to priest selling stuff I totally don't buy. Police children for bad Mass Manners.

Finally, an hour to myself! Return emails, check grades, plan for tomorrow, run copies, hunt down students, bemoan the general lack of time before Christmas break... wait, did I say an hour to *myself*? Kidding.

4:00. Leave to pick up kids. First the Bear. It's snacktime. Wait til snack is over, chat with 4 year olds. They say "GRRR!" a lot. Wow. Then the Tank. Finally, a good day for her. About time! Home by 5.

Dinner. Cook, eat, clean kitchen. Take out trash. Help Bear finish homework, undone over the weekend at Dad's.

7:00. Charlie Brown Christmas Special! Hot chocolate all around. Can I grade papers with a Tank in my lap? Not really, though I try.

8:00. Bedtime. Over-tired - I should have gone for 7:30. Jammies, teeth, allergy meds, potty, story (a book of Christmas carols, sung!), bed. Up, potty, bed. Repeat with other child. Sleep triumphs eventually.

8:30. A glass of wine and approximately 600 papers to grade. Tonight, I'm content to sort into stacks by assignment and class, and put correct names and dates for each in the gradebook. Serious grading to begin tomorrow.

10:30. Self-indulgent blog post. Children coughing in the background. Time for bed. But first, a chapter of my new book.

And? And? It's sleeting. Yay for tomorrow's 7:30 meeting and snow boots for all. Plus the car scraping. You can never discount the car scraping. That shit takes way more time than you think!

You know, it never seems like a lot, because you just do it, otherwise it wouldn't get done. But really, now, seventeen hours after my alarm first rang, it seems like a whole shitload of stuff. And I'm pretty tired. Although, when you write it out like that, it really looks like you actually accomplished something in your day. I know I didn't really get that much done, compared to what I might have, but it sure looks like a lot! To bed

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Good Grief!

So, we put up our Christmas tree tonight, and I'm really trying to maintain a positive attitude about it, for the girls's sake, etc., but ugh. I hate it. It's such a stupid, paltry, chintzy looking little thing. It's a total Charlie Brown Christmas tree. When we moved, I took the smaller of our two artificial trees, because I don't have space for the big one. This one is short, and sparse, and fake-looking, and really really ugly.

And the ornaments! Where are my ornaments? Can't have breakables (Tank, cat) so we settled for a bag of wooden and plastic non-breakables. There are, not kidding, maybe twenty ornaments on the whole tree. And they're cheap and ugly (well, not the ones from my childhood, which are cheap and ugly but with sentimental value). In all my twenty-eight years, this is, without a doubt, the worst Christmas tree ever. And I let the girls hang the ornaments, which means they're all clustered around the bottom, which just chafes my soul.

And then they'll go to their dad's (grandma's) house, and they have two trees, and they're big and bright. And while everything on those two trees is undoubtedly cheaper and uglier and plastic-er than the things on my tree, when you're four, you only notice that it's big and shiny, not that it's decorated in poor taste. So they'll come home and see our pathetic little reject tree and be disappointed that ours isn't better.

But they haven't figured that out yet. Tonight, they are in awe. They love it. They think it's the most amazing thing ever. They have hung stockings and put out our few miserable decorations, and they think it is all perfectly lovely. The Bear, tonight, said "this house *is* Christmas," and they both wanted to turn out the lights and just stare at it. They can't tell how pathetic it is, and I'm grateful for that. All too soon, they'll realize how shoddy it is, compared to others'. My own childhood memories include a ten-foot tree that brushed the top of our ceiling, boxes and boxes of ornaments, each with a story attached, that we had to climb ladders to hang. Whatever. In the true spirit of things, I'm trying to teach the girls to appreciate the things they have, and to find beauty in the small, often overlooked things. But when I think of what they could be having, and what they're missing, it breaks my heart a little bit.