Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Settle in, it's going to be a long one...

I've been thinking (too much, perhaps) about a blog that a friend of mine posted. It was essentially about using the time you have to ensure that those who are important to you know that they're important to you. It was about how, when not used consistently throughout life, certain actions or words that most people use to express affection can seem incredibly contrived and fail to achieve the desired effect. At the end of the blog, this question was posed:

"What are you going to do, within the next 24 hours, to communicate your feelings to the people who need to know them?"

After reading the blog and seeing myself being described, I felt like this question was a challenge to me. Alas, it is not a challenge I have risen to. Here it all is. Psychoanalyze away.

(*Note to those who have yet to pick up on this fact about my life, and also a definite future blog: I grew up with two moms. Yes, that means exactly what you think it does. Reason for future blog? The biological one went straight- after nearly 20 years of being, well... not straight- about 5 years ago. I'm all fucked up over that.)

Like the friend who's blog inspired this one, I grew up in a world void of affection. If I received affection, particularly from my mother, I don't recall it. As early as I can remember, the daily dose of affection came when I would go to her and give her a meaningless kiss goodnight before tucking myself into bed.

By the time Beth came on the scene (remember, this is all my best recollection), it may have been too late. Beth was affectionate. Beth treated us as though she was our mother. For almost 20 years, she was. She still is. Beth is a softie. There's part of my problem in that last sentence. I'm so closed off to affection toward my family that I feel the need to tease or be a smart ass when affection is given. She's a softie, quit being a sap, etc.

I have serious intimacy issues. I get very uncomfortable when it's time to give the "hello" hug when my best friend comes into town, when I have to kiss Beth goodbye. My brother knows this about me and really pushes the limit- trying to kiss or hug me, playing it off like a joke. But, really, he just loves me and is actually seeking out affection that I feel incapable of giving.

I can't even say "I love you" out loud to my family members. It feels contrived.

I know that, as a child, I was loved. But, I was never hugged for no reason, don't recall hearing any random "I love you's." Maybe this is why I am uncomfortable when people get in my space, I'm not sure.

Since I was about 19, when I first moved out on my own, my mother began to change. She started seeking out affection. It seemed (word of the day) contrived at first but, since it started, it has been consistent. Consistent mandatory hugs, kisses, the speaking of nice things. Yet, it has never been comfortable for me. I don't know why, after all of my formative years, she started needing affection from me, but I have never been able to genuinely give it. I just go through the motions.

The kicker is that I genuinely feel it. I love my mother, brother, sister, Beth, my in-laws, Todd (sometimes- though never romantically), and everyone else in my entire family. I love my family. But the only way I can show it in a way that feels genuine to me is by writing it down. I write letters to my mom, telling her how much I appreciate her, how lucky I am to have her.

They need more from me, though. Particularly my moms and my siblings. They know I can't genuinely express affection toward them verbally or physically. I think it bothers them. I wish I could.

This problem I have, with affection, carries over into romantic relationships as well. It's the reason I stayed with Todd for so long. He was comfortable. Sure, I was praying silently every night that he'd not touch me, but it was better than the alternative: starting over. The problem is that when I meet someone that I like, that I actually want to touch me, I shy away. I have great self-esteem, and yet I feel like if I want someone that bad, that I actually want them to touch me, than I must not be good enough for them. Otherwise... what dangerous, unchartered territory I would be entering! I'm straying, this is a different blog, back to the family.

The only exception to the "please don't touch me" rule applies to my children. I am naturally very affectionate with them. I don't think I'm over-affectionate, they sleep in their own beds and can comfortably spend nights out and all that good stuff, but there's no chance that they will ever look back at their childhood and not remember their mother as affectionate. No chance.

I could go on. But there it is. I love my family, more than anything. How do I give them what they need from me when they need it in a way that is unnatural to me?

What am I going to do, within the next 24 hours, to communicate my feelings to the people that need to know them?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tonight I Was an Idiot

Setting: Baker College. Where anyone and everyone can go to find a program to find a job. You can become a truck driver, a computer geek, a vet tech, a massage therapist, and, yes, even a teacher. We have all kinds at Baker College. Baker College boasts that a remarkable 99% of their graduates are employed. They don't even deny (if asked, mind you) that some of those graduates are employed as, say, crew members at McDonald's. The point I'm trying to make is that when Baker College is the backdrop, I generally like to think that my cohorts and I are smarter than the majority. I'm stuck up like that.

Except for tonight.

Might as well kick me out of the program and stamp my forhead with a "future truck driver" sign.

I missed class last week. Many of you know why. Turns out that 2 of my cohorts, my buddies, missed class last week as well. As it happens, only 2 people showed up for class last week.

I'm behind in this class (Contemporary Lit), primarily because I seem to be incapable of doing the assigned reading from The Satanic Verses. I just can't get into this book. I like books that are different. But this book is beyond different. The prose is very awkward and I'm having a hard time making sense of it. I'm pretty sure that people who say this book is genius don't get it and are just trying to look smart.

Tonight, only 4 people showed up. My two cohorts, one of the guys who made it last week, and myself. We were off our game. None of us had completed the assigned reading. We were very open with our instructor about this.

He continued to force us into analyzing the reading anyway. I like him. I have a little crush on him, I think. He's a dork. It's distracting. Alas, he is married.

He was struggling to get us to participate. So much so that when it was break time, his words were, "I need to take a break."

He tried to engage us after the break by giving us a VERY simple group exercise. We talked about metaphor, simile, and hyperbole. Elementary, right? WRONG!

We, as a group, were merely to find an example of each of these in The Satanic Verses and to write, as a group, an example of each about the author of the book. It was torture. It took us something like 20 minutes.

Our teacher actually asked us if we were English majors.

I tried to engage myself in the lesson, but I couldn't even bullshit. I can always bullshit.

It can get very quiet in a class when there are only 4 people present and no one can remember what "alliteration" is. For god's sake, what the fuck was up with that?

Maybe we were all on drugs. Is there a drug that induces stupidity?

That was a superfluous question. See? I'm an idiot.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Annotated Bib. (I Am the Cheese)

Are you all excited that I'm posting another one of my assignments for school and passing it off as a blog? It's my cheap way of providing a book review, so get over it.

This week in Lit for Young Adults, we had to choose a book from one of the following genres: supernatural, adventure, mystery, or sports. I chose I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier- a mystery.

I really enjoyed it. I also really enjoy that I can actually read a book every week when selecting young adult books. It takes a total of 3 hours to read them. How great is that?! Because of this class and my Contemporary Lit class (where the books cannot be read in 3 hours), I will have read 10 novels in 10 weeks. As one of my favorite things to do is finish a book, you can all imagine how excited I am (and if you can't, then pretend).

Here's the annotated bib:

Cormier, Robert. I am the Cheese. New York: Random House. 1977.

In I am the Cheese, Cormier gives the reader an immediate glimpse into the psyche of Adam Farmer. Told from the first person, young adult readers will know from the title and early references to the song "The Farmer in the Dell" that Adam is a loner and does not fit in. As the book opens, Adam is setting out on a journey, via bicycle, to see his father. In preparing for this journey, Adam chooses not to take his unnamed medication and the reader can infer that Adam has some kind of problem, an emotional disturbance. Adam is immediately endeared to the reader.

I am the Cheese is the story of a young man whose family was placed in a witness protection program before he was old enough to understand. As an eighth grader, his suspicion becomes aroused that his parents have been hiding something and he begins attempting to discover his identity, both in the literal sense and in that of personal self-discovery. It is a page-turning mystery that will keep the reader captivated until the very end, wanting to learn Adam's secrets as he learns them.

Set up as parallel stories, the chapters alternate between Adam's journey to reach his father and Adam being interviewed by a man he perceives to be a psychiatrist to help him remember his past. Each chapter leaves something of the plot open so that, in order to get to this missing element, the reader must first read the next chapter, and so on. This type of format, coupled with a straight-forward plot, will entice the reluctant reader of any age to finish the book voluntarily. Additionally, several themes that are desirable for young adults are well-crafted in I am the Cheese: a love story, Adam's journey to self-discovery, and a unique, intimate bond with his parents. This novel will likely remain relevant to young adults for many years to come.

Conversations (You Would Love My Brother!)

I've been having conversations with people recently about my marital status and the fact that I'd like to begin dating, but I don't know how it all works, I don't know what I want to get out of the process, etc.

Today I had one such conversation. It marked the third such conversation where someone tries to set me up with their brother.

The first conversation I had was with a nurse at the doctor's office. I know her and, through a Q and A session about my divorce, it came out that I am keeping my eyes open to begin dating. "You would love my brother!" I'm sure.

While I am a little antsy to date, for fear that if I don't just do it, I never will, this does not mean that I'm so desparate that I need for people to start setting me up on dates with their brother, or anyone else for that matter. I'm relatively certain, that if I put my mind to it, and step outside of the comfort zone, I'm perfectly capable of landing my own date, thank you very much. But what if I'm not?

This was the topic of discussion with a friend today. What if I can't find that first date? What if I'm too picky? Am I allowed to be choosy? Here's what she had to say about that: "I know you just said that you don't want to be set up... but you would love my brother." WTF? Did she just not hear me complaining about the other 2 people who claim that I would love their brothers? Does she really think it's possible that I'm going to love her brother the same way that I'm surely going to love the other 2 brothers?

I don't want to be "set up" and I don't want to be set up with any of my friend's brothers.

So, I begin my laundry list of criteria (secretly hoping that she either a) sees that her brother cannot possibly fill all of the criteria, or b) thinks I am too much of a high-maintenance bitch for her perfect brother). Guess what? Turns out that her brother meets all of those criteria! How did I get so lucky?!

Then, I decided to tell her that I'm not even really sure what I want. I'm too nice, you see, I'm not courageous enough to tell her to shut it and that I don't want to date her brother, so I had to continue planting seeds that would make her stop seeing me as a love match for her brother.

I tell her:

I don't even want to date seriously, I just want to practice date. I need to learn what dating is all about. I've never dated. It would probably be best if I just went out with a couple of men that I don't see real possibility with so I can figure this whole dating thing out.

Still, her brother would be cool with all of that. Of course, he would! He's perfect, you see. And he loves kids. Vomit.

It got worse. She brought up sex. Now she knows exactly what I need. Someone I can casually date with, you know, benefits (I'm not entirely sure I disagree, but shut up, please). She said this while trying to whore out her brother. Now I find myself liking her brother, whom I've never met, if only to shield the poor guy from her.


Luckily for me, a male friend of ours saved me. "You guys need to shut the fuck up." Thanks, male friend (who is too short to even consider asking out for "practice").

What I really hate about myself is that I'm spending so much of my time thinking about this shit. Really, am I in high school? Grow up, lady.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Stigmatized" Dialects

For my English senior seminar, I had to read a journal article about dialects and do a critique. I'm not going to paste the text here (of my critique), but I still want to discuss it.

Basically, this article made recommendations on how to reprogram society to view dialect as what it is (essentially a regionalized language variety) instead of it's current connotation (a language variety spoken by less cultured and intelligent people, what the article referred to as "stigmatized" dialect). In truth, these stigmatized dialects, such as African American Vernacular English (AAVE), are very systematic in their grammatical structure, where most people do cringe when they hear it and think it sounds lazy. This is what the article began with, and I concur. Prior to taking a Language and Culture class and studying AAVE (Ebonics), I, too, thought it was "less" of a language. I still cringe when I hear it because my prejudices toward the dialect remain despite the knowledge I posess to the contrary. In any case, I agree that most people don't know that dialects such as AAVE are actually quite structured and ARE NOT slang.

Then the article started arguing that it is up to teachers to change this view in society, as teachers are on the front lines dealing with the different dialects in their classrooms and have the power to influence what their students do or do not learn about dialects. The authors argued that Language and Culture classes (such as the one I took) are not typically required in teacher education programs. Thus, teachers (especially English teachers) go into their classrooms and have a tendency to belittle students who speak in dialect, not only impacting that student, but the opinions of the student's classmates. That all seems reasonable to me. The course I took where I studied AAVE opened my eyes on the subject and gave me empathy where I may have had none otherwise.

When good articles go bad.

The authors began to state that Standard English was really just a dialect itself. The dialect of the influential in the countries that speak it. Because the influential speak it, it must be right. I didn't really like hearing SE referred to as a dialect because I see dialect as being a variation of the official language. SE is the official language. This is when I began getting critical.

Details of how to change the social perception of stigmatized dialects evolved from simply teaching the teacher the truth about dialects to make them more sensitive to their diverse students to allowing it to be spoken and written in the classroom. Bringing the discussion back to SE being the only truly acceptable language in education and the professional world, the authors felt that teachers should be an agent of change for this, envisioning a future where all dialects will be equally accepted and respected.

It's a bit like behavior management in the classroom. We'd all like to just prevent misbehavior by focusing on the roots of misbehavior and ensuring that those elements are addressed before problems occur. But it won't always work that way. We need to have a plan B so that when misbehavior occurs, as it inevitably will, we can redirect it effectively.

As I see it, the same principle applies here. If all teachers are on the same page with addressing this problem of stigmatized dialect, it will still be decades before the Standard English speaking world comes to accept these dialects as the norm, if ever.

In the meantime, while we're waiting for the new attitudes that will result from our teaching to kick in, we are doing our students a huge disservice.

If I were to begin teaching the 9th grade next year (equipped with my new knowledge on dialect equity and accompanying pedagogy), what will happen to my students in 8 years when they are interviewing for jobs? In a scenario where we have a typical alpha-male (or female) interviewer who interviews 2 African American candidates, equally qualified, one speaks SE, the other AAVE, who's going to get the job?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Holes (annotated bib)

The book I had to read for Lit for Young Adults last week was Holes. It was alright, I didn't enjoy it even half as much as Ender's Game, but that's going to be a tough act to follow. I think it's (Holes) probably written for a younger audience than I expected. It took me a combined total of less than 3 hours to read. This week, I'm reading I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier (author of The Chocolate Wars) for our mystery genre discussion.

Here's the annotated bib I turned in for Holes:

Sachar, Louis. Holes. New York: Dell Laurel-Leaf. 1998

Beginning as a story about an unlucky boy who has never fit in, Holes becomes a story about which every child dreams: a quest to find treasure. The protagonist, Stanley (a.k.a. "Caveman") has his fair share of forces working against him: peers who bully him, adult authority figures who misunderstand him, nature, and the myth of a great-great-grandfather whose actions have cursed his family. When Stanley runs away from his problems, he symbolically lands himself atop a mountain where he gains insight to who he is and finally likes himself. With this new confidence, he hatches a plan to find his treasure and confront his problems. Of course, things can only go right for so long before he has to grapple with a whole new set of problems.

While the novel excels at following a very specific formula which sets the protagonist against circumstances that are nearly impossible to overcome, it will not always appeal to all young adult readers. It is very simply written and the character development is not as specific and emotional as would be required to captivate an older group of teens. It will, however, appeal to most middle-school students.

Blogging Heals (Update)

So (I hate starting sentences with "so"), I went to court today. Todd was waiting for me. We went into the office that the notice I received told me to go to. I showed the woman at the desk said notice, and was met with this:

"You're a week early."

Funny, right? I looked at the noticed and realized that the appointment is, indeed, next Tuesday. I think she sensed that I was in discomfort because she said, "But... we really like to reward prompt people. Let me see if we can fit you in."

Two minutes later, another woman came out into the waiting room with some papers and said we could take care of it right now. She said the purpose of this particular appointment was just to start the process and our court date probably won't be until March.

As she started handing me papers to sign, Todd asked her if there was anything he needed to sign. She explained that today, only I needed to sign anything. The custodial parent is the only one needed to initiate the action. (HA! I told 'ya so!) Don't worry, I didn't say it out loud.

The whole process took aprox. 5 minutes, after which we tensely walked downstairs. He made some comment about the way I was acting, so I pulled him into a quiet corner and, attempting to keep a hushed tone, let loose.

I told him that when someone tells you that they need for everything to be final for the sake of their sanity, it kind of hurts. I told him that it's extremely frustrating to try so hard to be open and honest in an attempt to maintain a friendship only to have him basically tell me that he doesn't trust me.

He said he had a right to come along to the court visit as he didn't understand what was going on. I agreed with this and reminded him that if I didn't agree, I wouldn't have invited him in the first place. Given this, he didn't understand why I got so angry on the phone yesterday. I repeated his words back to him (these ones "I guess I'm just going to have to show up tomorrow if you're not going to tell me what's going on) and reminded him that I had already told him what was going on.

When I questioned him on whether or not he was getting fed bullshit complaints about other people's experiences with their bitch ex-wives, he acknowledged that this was indeed the case. I said that I get that, and men do typically get screwed, but that he had to give me credit for going out of my way to try and make this work as painlessly as possible. I tried to get him to understand that I'm not like other ex-wives and it's hard for me to see that he's questioning that.

I also admitted that, as a female, I'm more sensitive to the things that he says than he may think and he has to be careful about how he words things if we are going to be able to maintain a friendship.

He didn't really acknowledge any of my points, or apologize (not that I felt like he should, but it would have been nice) but at least I got it out.

Then we got to the root of his problem. He told me that I keep acting like we're friends but I never call him just to see how he's doing. I thought about it and said that I call him at least once a week for no good reason or sometimes for a good reason and we end up bullshitting about nothing, just like friends do, for several minutes. He agreed with this, but...

(His eyes began to tear, it was good because it was the first time he didn't come accross as a prick) and he told me that he just misses his kids. It's still hard for him to adjust to me having them 80% of the time. He says he feels like he can't even call to see how they are. (As my own editorial, I'd like to add that not once since he moved out the very end of August has he called to talk to the kids or see how they're doing.) But I was soft and told him that he can call anytime he wants and that I wish he would call more and that it would make Jenna's day to get a call from him for no reason at all. I also told him that if he needs to see them in addition to his scheduled days, he can see him whenever he wants- as long as I don't have anything planned specifically. At this point, he needed to leave. He doesn't like to cry in front of me.

Hopefully, this helps. But for some reason, I still don't think he trusts me. Something got lost. But, I won't give up, I promise. It's not about me, it's about the babies

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blogging Heals

Last Thursday, Todd called asking when exactly we would be filing for divorce. I told him I didn't have money to file for divorce. In truth, I have forms, but I haven't looked at them yet, at all, and didn't want to look like I was plotting against him by admitting that I picked up forms a couple of weeks ago.

He said that we can sit down and do it together online for about $250 out the door. I told him that seems excessive and that we could just buy a book with forms included for 24.95 (wink, wink) and the only difference would be that we would have to fill them out by hand.

He said he didn't care what we did, and he would pay for it, but we need to do something. People are starting to make comments to him wondering why we haven't filed. This irritated me as he has always cared too much about what other people think. I said so. "Who cares what other people think? We're not together. There's no chance of getting back together. Why do people need to know more than that?"

Then he said, "I need us to get divorced for my own sanity."

Ouch. I don't love him, I also want a divorce- it's one of my New Year's Resolutions. But it's not like there's not been closure. We've been apart for a long time- long before we actually separated. As much as I pride myself on my nerves of steel, it's quite painful to hear someone tell you that they need to get rid of you to be sane.

I tried to mask my horror at his words and told him I would look into buying one of those books.

That was that.

On to today's issue.

When we separated, we agreed that it would be best if child support was "legal." In other words, he pays the State, they pay me. This saves any future bickering over money, how much, etc. The court date to determine child support is tomorrow. Last week, I called him to tell him this.

I told him when and where and what time. I explained that only the custodial parent, me, had to be there. There are formulas for these things and he isn't going to have to pay more or less because of whether or not he shows up for the hearing. Unfortunately for him, the law doesn't much care about him. He said that it wasn't a big deal and he wouldn't be coming because he would have to leave work early- then go back (he commutes one hour).

Today, he called and said (as soon as I said "hello"- he didn't even offer a greeting), "What's with this court thing tomorrow?"

I immediately begin fuming. He never has listened to me, about anything and clearly he never will. With much control on my part, I managed to calmly tell him that we talked about this less than a week ago.

He said a child support hearing didn't make any sense because we're not divorced. I asked him if I could call him about this later because I wasn't having a great day and have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and now I was getting angry and I didn't want to be bitchy on the phone.

I know how to push his buttons, and he knows how to push mine.

Demonstrating this, he informed me that if I wasn't willing to tell him why I was going to court tomorrow then he would just have to rearrange his whole day so he could go, too.

No longer disguising my annoyance, I started from the beginning.

The part where we agreed to go through the State to deal with child support. He remembered that.

The part when I called him on the phone (a couple of months ago) and told him that I had filed the necessary paperwork. He remembered that.

The part where I had already explained to him that the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent, regardless of marital status. This is why in cases where couples never get married, child support still must be paid. He didn't seem to agree here.

The part where I tell him that he's been giving me money every month since he moved out anyway and, after this, he'll probably be paying me less. He agrees on this point.

The part where I tell him that if I was trying to screw him in some way, why would I have called him to inform him- and INVITE him, to a court appointment that he's not even required to attend.

Somehow, we still end the conversation with him attempting to make me feel bad that he has to leave work early to come to court because I'm not telling him the whole story.

Now I'm left feeling utterly female. Normally, I love being female, it's great, it's usually a powerful position to be in. But females get emotional and females cry. And, even though I hate it, I cry. I wish I knew how to not cry.

An hour and a half before I was to leave for school, I turn into a female. I can't control it and now I'm skipping class. I cannot stand missing class.

Here's the thing. I thought that out of sheer willpower, Todd and I could prevent this whole thing from turning ugly. I figured that since we both wanted equally to separate, and we both love our children so much, and we generally like one another, we would be different. So naive.

I've communicated to him better since the split than I ever have. I keep him in the loop on everything. Yet, he doesn't trust me. After all of these years, I should at least get that.

But, it is now clear, that in divorce, there are no givens. We aren't going to be different. We're going to be the same as everyone else.

I'm still reataining some of my identity and not giving in to the rage. At the end of the conversation, when he was informing me that he would be there tomorrow, I so badly wanted to pull the "spousal support" card. Just to threaten it. I've never said those two words in all of this. I've never said that, if I were the person that he makes me feel like I am, it would be very easy for me to prove that he's been supporting me through the last two years of my schooling.

But, I'm just not that kind of girl. I never will threaten that, even though it would give me a temporary sense of power over a situation I can't control.

Ultimately the real power will be in hindsight, when I can see that I maintained my integrity.

In the meantime, I will be sobbing on and off through the night because I've learned that I'm making Todd insane, he doesn't trust me, and divorce is always messy in some form.

This whole thing looks utterly... stupid... to read. I appear to be overreacting. Maybe I am.

Friday, January 19, 2007

History and All of the Sh!t I Don't Know

I have my history senior seminar in the morning and I'm finishing up my homework as I type this. It is exactly 9:23 p.m. and I'm exhausted. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I actually slept last night. I teased my body with sleep and now it wants more.

I'm mad at myself. I hated history in grade school. I "learned" what I needed to pass. As a bookworm, I began getting frustrated as I got older with how little I knew. Literature (good literature) and history have a very intimate relationship. I fail to recognize the simplest of allusions.

When it came time to switch my major when I decided that I wanted to teach English, I chose history as my minor (as opposed to math, which I'm also good at) because, as an adult, I have finally developed a great interest in history. I don't want to read a book and not know what the fuck an author is talking about when stumbling upon a historical reference.

As I've begun learning my history, I have been very excited at the side effects. I'm a better conversationalist, especially when the subject is politics. I catch some of the historical references in books. The world makes more sense.

My homework for tomorrow was to print off the MTTC history study guide from the MTTC website and be prepared to discuss it in class. (Also to come up with a thesis for my research paper, which I haven't done, but I have a topic: the WTO.) As I go through the study guide, I'm becoming overwhelmed.

I don't know shit. It's frustrating.

This is the code I have to crack: as a future teacher, what can I do to get my students to want to learn? I didn't want to learn this stuff, so I didn't and, as a person who fancies herself the occasional thinker, I feel very inadequate.

I have a lot to learn by April when I sit for my certification exam. Or, I'm going to fail.

I'm not prepared for failure.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ender's Game

I haven't been very good about reviewing the books I read like I did over the summer. I'm not going to start now.

In my Lit for Young Adults class, we had to read a book of our choosing and prepare an annotated bibliography entry for it. The purpose of the assignment was to get us familiar with the annotated bibliography as we have to prepare one for a paper we will be writing. She gave us requirements to follow, and follow I did, but bear in mind this isn't what a true annotated bib would look like. It would contain explanations of several sources related to a topic.

That said, I chose to read something new, Ender's Game, instead of copping out and using something I had already read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, despite my general disinterest in sci-fi. Here's a cut and paste of my assignment:

Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game. New York: Starscape, 1991.

Ender's Game provides a different insight to the lives of child soldiers, maintaining the negative connotation the term "child solider" evokes. The narrative is the first of a series by Card that follows the life of Andrew (Ender) Wiggin from age six when he begins his training as a soldier. In an unidentified future time, Ender is believed by military personnel to be Earth's only hope to defeat the "buggers" that are terrifying the world. Originally written as a story in 1977, Orson Scott Card's foresight created a setting which includes technology that is uncanny in its similarity to today's technology, therefore providing a credible backdrop to the story.

This novel is incredibly well written, containing a theme that has appealed and will continue to appeal to young adults for a very long time. From the beginning of the book, the reader senses that Ender is special. A connection with the reader is formed as a result of Card's skill at depicting Ender as the underdog- an underdog the reader is immediately rooting for and will continue to root for.

Originally, Ender's Game was written for adults. There is no doubt that the material is compound enough to appeal to the adult reader. Ultimately, the decision to market the book to young adults was the right one. Young adult readers will not only escape into Ender's Game, but will likely find some answers in Ender and will never suspect that they are feeding their brains while doing it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Snow Day

In inclement weather, I only check the news/ radio for school closings if, when I go out to warm up the car, I determine that said weather is indeed inclement enough to have school cancelled. Not the case today.

Yet, it was the case, as Jenna's school was mysteriously deserted this morning. The poor girl almost cried. She loves school. Like mother, like daughter.

My mom called to see if I would have school tonight, as she is the Monday night babysitter. It hadn't occured to me that I would not have school; but, upon calling, I do not. As my homework is done through tomorrow night's class, I'm blogging. The kids are singing along with Kidz Bop. It's torture.

It's always nice to have snow for Christmas, but it's not the best predictor of whether it will snow. Silver Stick Finals is the best predictor, hands down.

I have always had to shovel during Silver Stick Finals. I can't remember ever not doing it. Seven months pregnant... baby in the house... 2 babies in the house. It never fails to snow during Silver Stick Finals.

I love to shovel snow (seriously), but during SSF, it has been a huge source of resentment. That would be, of course, because of the perpetually absent husband. Two weekends out of every January, Thurs-Sun, he would disappear. Gone.

Sometimes he would come home at night. Mostly not. I was outwardly supportive, inwardly not so much. SSF is part of his family's culture. They practically run the whole thing. As a family, they live at the rink during the two weekends of SSF. They get a hotel room, even though it only takes 5 minutes to drive home. When the night is over and the last game is played, they migrate to the Brass Rail and get drunk, then get up at the crack of dawn and do it all over again.

He had been a part of it since he was born. So, in the sense that I didn't nag him for rarely coming home, soaked in the smell of alcohol and cigarettes when he did, I supported him. But, in the sense that I could have scheduled a babysitter for one night so I could go socialize with them, I did not support him.

I'm okay with this. He'll meet someone who actually loves him enough to share that with him. It wasn't me.

Now, when I shovel snow in January, I won't be experiencing the unnamed feelings of resentment that I have a husband who can't even drive 5 minutes to come home for a half hour so his pregnant wife won't have to shovel snow.

I haven't been pregnant in four years, and when I was, it was the best time of my life. I am one of the lucky women who thrives being pregnant, and I gained little weight- bonus! To me, there is nothing like it in the world to make a woman feel confident, sexy, and just plain feminine. I think I just wished that I had a husband who wanted to treat me the way I felt. Does that make sense?

Anyway, two things I have loved: being pregnant and shoveling snow. Just not concurrently.

Yesterday, I shoveled snow on the last day of SSF. Only this time, I got to do it with less weight. Emotionally. I had fun. I threw snow balls at the kids and tried to run just a little bit closer to make sure that the snowballs they threw would reach me. I watched them pull each other around in the sled. And I shoveled.

Despite the whole "broken home" thing, I finally feel like I have a real, working family. It's beautiful.

Monday, January 8, 2007

I Feel Kind of Guilty For Eating Her Apple

Back to school today, yipee!  It is amazing how being unemployed and out of school for four weeks can play mind games with one's self esteem.  How do people just sit home and collect unemployment or live off of welfare?  I need to be productive.  Cleaning house can only get you through the first week.  In cleaning my house, I make myself feel calm, but I don't make myself feel accomplished.  I need to feel like I've accomplished something or I feel... tiny.

Anywho, I was so looking forward to school today.  Jenna suggested I take an apple for my teacher (see below).  I told her that was a great idea!  I didn't tell her that I had no intention of bestowing such a time-honored symbol on the Ice Queen, but Jenna thinks Mom is a nice person- and I'd like to keep it that way.

In truth, class wasn't that bad.  I'm cautiously optimistic that I will be able to tolerate her (the Ice Queen) without forcing myself.  She's really not that bad.  She did do/say some things that annoyed me, but perhaps that is because I'm predispositioned to disliking her. 

In the end, I feel kind of guilty for eating her apple.  Or, maybe I just feel guilty because I got caught eating the apple on the way out the door.

Don't worry, I grabbed another apple to fool Jenna into thinking I was going to be nice to my teacher.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Standard English

I'm just getting home from studying for my certification exam and while I was studying, I came across a passage that was very true and just might challenge something that has been taught to me at school- something I agree with.

At school, we're taught that we must adhere to teaching strict Standard English. There is obviously alot of jargon, vernacular, etc. that is spoken in everyday linguistics but, to be successful, the students need to have an excellent command of SE; thus necessitating extreme vigilance by the teacher in this area. This is particularly important for the English teacher at the high-school level.

I tend to agree with this. After all, the ultimate goal of public school is to provide the student with the tools he/she needs to be successful in college or whatever else they decide to do after the twelfth grade. They can't go to an interview and answer the question, "What would you do in situation x" with, "I would, like,..." That's not going to get them hired.

I used the above example because when I start my student teaching in the fall, one of my goals is to make my students cognizant of this oft committed deviation from SE: the use of "like" extragrammatically. It is a bad habit that even I have to check myself for. Adolescents use the word "like" incorrectly in nearly every sentence they utter and once it starts, it is a very hard habit to break. It's the same with the word "um" used too frequently when students- of all ages- give speeches. They don't even realize they're doing it. It sounds horrible.

So, this is one example of why I'm a big advocate for strict adherence to SE in the high school English class.

Then, I read the following paragraph in my study guide in the section addressing the roots of the English language and how it has evolved since the 5th century:

"It is important to stress to students that language, like customs, morals, and other social factors, is constantly subject to change. Immigration, inventions, and cataclysmic events change language as much as any other facet of life affected by these changes... American English today is somewhat different in pronunciation and sometimes vocabulary from British English."

So, given the truth of the above paragraph, how will further contemplation and investigation change my above stated philosophy? Hmmm....

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Arrest

Yesterday, I had a rare moment of calm. Jenna was outside playing tennis, Alex was in his room playing which is a rarity. I had just made some chicken (a beautifully simple recipe requiring nothing more than a microwave and low-fat vinegar-based salad dressing) for an extremely late lunch in between loads of laundry.

I had just started writing in my journal, while eating my chicken because I'm just that talented, when Treasure walked in.

To set this up, you must visualize the positioning of my house. The front of my house is, well, on the street it's on, but I actually enter from the alley behind my house, where my garage is. Directly accross the alley from my garage is my Aunt Vickie's house- the front of her house sits on the alley. When I look out the windows in my kitchen, into the backyard, my garage blocks the view of my aunt's house, but I can see her garage and driveway. There you have it.

Back to Treasure coming in the back door. She asked me what was going on at (our) Aunt Vickie's house. To which I responded that I, in fact, had no idea what she was talking about.

Prior to Treasure's entrance, while eating my chicken and writing in my journal, I had been wondering why my aunt hadn't called me yet. We mall walk (a sure sign that I'm getting old) together 3-4 nights a week. We were to walk yesterday, after Todd got out of work and came to get the kids. She usually calls right when she gets home from work to finalize our plans. Her call was about 30 mins. late.

In the brief moments between Treasure asking me what was going on and then actually telling me, I worried greatly. Vickie always calls when she gets home from work.

But Vickie was okay. Treasure was referring to the two policemen that were at my aunt's house talking to my 20-year-old cousin and his friend. Like we didn't see that coming.

My cousin, dear, sweet boy that he is, is a pothead. Big time. It's probably genetic, maybe a little bit environmental.

My mom comes from the epitome of a white trash family. One of 13 siblings (some half, some step), she was only one of two to graduate high school, and the only one to go to college.

I hate to say that there was a lack of intelligence among my aunts and uncles, because I truly view them all as intelligent. They just chose the wrong paths, collectively almost, and those paths did not include education. They're all alcoholics and addicts, some recovering. Except for my mom. I'm lucky.

Let me just say that this is the reason I get so uncomfortable around people who are drinking when I'm not. Flashbacks of my childhood. I do enjoy having a couple of drinks and very occasionally having a couple too many. But, for the most part, I try to exclude myself from plans involving alcohol. It's as if I'm afraid of what will happen if I drink more than my typical 5 times per year.

Addiction is in my blood. It just is.

Again, back to the story.

I love my family. I've become generally numb to the bull shit, I don't cry when my favorite uncle gets hauled off to prison anymore. This most recent time, he's been out of prison for a year- but I don't let him in anymore, so I won't cry when he lapses. I always hope I'm wrong. Maybe this time...

When Treasure left, against my will, I was fixated on the driveway visible from my kitchen window. I saw them put my cousin into the back of the car. I saw them take him back out and try talking to him. I saw the cop reach into his coat pocket. He found something. Mike went back into the car.

I have feelings of sadness when this happens to some members of my family, and happen it does, but not for others. I don't know why. Truly, I love them all.

But, yesterday, I was sad. He's a good kid. He's just a pothead. One of the neighbors called because they were sure he was dealing. He doesn't. He just smokes. All of the time. And all of his friends who come in and out smoke with him. They sit in the shed in the back yard, they play cards, they smoke weed. That's what they do. But this time, he was a few brain cells short and was actually smoking in his friend's car in the driveway when the cops pulled up.

I believe that when you fuck up, and you get caught, that's it- there's no one to blame. You take the consequences. And still I feel animosity toward the neighbor. I don't believe she was in the wrong, but I feel it. This pisses me off- at myself. I wish I could feel all the time what my brain tells me to. It would be better.

All I see is the poor kid's face. He was so red. He was upset and belittled and busted. I just wanted to mother him and I hate that after all the shit that I've been around with my family that I would still have that instinct to protect them.