Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let's talk about something else for awhile.  Please.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I'll update you on school.  I have three classes this semester (as usual-- that's a full load for this program).  One of them-- History and Structure of the English Language-- is a Linguistics class.  I adore this class because there are no papers.  We have 3 tests (the first of which is next week), and homework assignments, and that's it.  No papers.  Did I say that already?

The only problem with it is that it involves memorizing things, and my memory is shot.  Peri-menopause will do that to you.  It actually scares me sometimes how bad my memory has become.  I've always been spacey, but this is absurd.  I made flashcards with the phoneme descriptions on them so I could study for the test.  Did you know that the long "ee" sound in "bead" is a "high front long unrounded" phoneme?  or that the "sh" sound in "shin" is an "unvoiced alveo-palatal fricative"?  that's OK, because I don't either.  but I have to know it by next Tuesday.

 Then there's Modernist Poetry.  We started this semester with Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman).  When I read Whitman as an undergrad lo these many years ago, I did not appreciate "Song of Myself" (the main poem in Leaves of Grace) at all.  It seemed self-aggrandizing and bombastic:
I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you....
But 30 years later, it's so exuberant that I find it hard to resist.  After all, he acknowledges his own bombast:
I know perfectly well my own egotism,
and know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any less,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
Here is part of his encouragement to the reader:
Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, and rise again and nod to me
and shout, and laughingly dash with your hair...
and a few more good lines:
I hear and behold God in every object, yet I understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God in each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.
And of course his most famous lines:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then....I contradict myself;
I am large....I contain multitudes.

Now we are doing Eliot, but I'll wait till we're done to pass on the good lines.

OK.  Poetry moment for the day is over. Unless you have some favorites you want to share in the comments.

The third class is a continuation of the independent study I did last Spring on Ulysses.  We're creating an online version of the text, which eventually will be annotated with explanatory notes, pictures, music clips, etc.  It's very cool.  But right now we're reading through the text.  For me it's the second time, but the other three students in the class have never read it before.  Fortunately, the second time through it is an entirely different experience (you may remember that last spring I wasn't all that excited about it).  I'm enjoying it much more this time, although I still regularly get lost.

And that's about it for now. 

if you didn't already think I was nuts...

The post that was here has been deleted.  I think I am going to re-write it and post it again sometime, though.  I learned a lot by writing it.

sign me
the Neurotic Obsessive One.

and p.s. thank you to those of you that commented.  Alex, someday we have to talk about that incident. :-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

the fairness thing, part IV

I seem to get obsessed with certain topics and find it difficult to let them go. I'm still thinking about the fairness thing. 

Once you become attuned to the issue, you see it everywhere.  Tea-partyers fuming that it's not fair that they should have to help fund benefits for people who don't make enough money to pay taxes.  Feminists fuming that it's not fair that women don't make as much as men.  Whatever.  I could make up a million examples.

How did we get so obsessed with fairness?  I don't know.  But I've been thinking about it.  I mean, in some ways it's built in to our culture-- that we each have rights, that they are unalienable, that things should be "fair."  Golf handicaps, Title IX, lawsuits-- they're all there to make things "fair," and some of those things are great.  Wonderful.   To suggest, at a national or legal level, that fairness is unimportant is absurd.  Of course fairness is important. But the obsession with fairness has gone so far that all we have is everybody feeling like a victim, that they are being taken advantage of, that their personal situation is unfair. 

Ack.  I'm not nearly smart enough to figure out what's wrong with the world today, it just makes my brain hurt.  So I will back up to the original story, the one where my friend told me I needed to stop worrying about life being fair.  So here is the explanation of why that pushed my buttons.  Really, although the word "fair" crops up in the story, it's only peripherally about fairness; it's more about my unresolved feelings toward my dad.

A couple of years ago, I screwed up my courage and sent an e-mail to my immediate family members (parents and siblings) telling them about my blog and giving them the link to it. What I say here is a pretty long ways from the way we were raised, and I was scared to death about how they would respond.  But you know, they are all busy people, and it got to be a week, and no one said anything.  Then two weeks, then three.  I ended up just laughing about how freaked out I had been about nothing.  I don't think my mom or my older sister have ever even looked at it.  (which is fine, not a problem.  at least now they know about it.)

But finally, after about a month, I did hear back from my younger sister.  She was intrigued, and glad to know about it, but after reading a dozen posts or so, decided that she didn't want to be involved.  Which I can understand.  She's a pastor's wife, and courting controversy is not high on her list (or mine, for that matter, which is why it took me so many years to tell them about it.  none of us is exactly brave about public controversy.)

I thought my dad hadn't looked at it, either.  But when I was visiting last summer, I found out that he had.  He read this post.  I'll summarize it here so you don't have to go back and read it.  When I was thinking through the religion of my childhood and deciding whether or not I still believed it, there were a zillion little things along the way that added up to my decision to branch out.  But there was an incident that sort of tipped the balance when I was in college. I prayed that I would come out of the housing lottery at my school with a place to live my senior year.  Not any particular place, just any place so I wouldn't have to worry about housing over the summer.  And the prayer wasn't answered--we didn't get a housing assignment at all.  Or as they say, the answer to that prayer was no

In the post, I was (I thought) very clear that what I was upset about wasn't that I didn't get a housing assignment, but that this one tiny incident suddenly illuminated all the logical inconsistencies in what I believed.  It wasn't about me feeling like I "should" have received a housing assignment, it was about me having a childlike understanding of what it meant to have faith.  It was a small event that turned into the beginning of the path that led me to leave behind the faith of my childhood three or four years later.  (note from AB, written a couple of weeks later:  this is probably not very clear, which is why I wrote the post about praying for parking places, which is a better example of that kind of thinking.)

But what my dad said to me last summer when he let on that he had read my blog was, "I just don't have any patience with people who think that life isn't fair." 

Which left me speechless.  It wasn't at all what I was talking about.  First of all I felt misunderstood.  I don't see how you could read that post and think, "Oh, she's just upset because she didn't get the answer she wanted to her prayer."  That wasn't even close to what I was saying.  And secondly, I was hurt.  Hurt that he would look at my honest attempt to explain what had led me away from Evangelicalism and dismiss it as a childish snit over not getting what I wanted.  That he could believe that I would have done something that serious over something so silly.  How could he not know me better than that?  How could he not take my struggles seriously?  If he really thought that was what the post said, why didn't he say, "I can't believe that experience was what triggered all this.  Explain it to me.  This doesn't make any sense to me."

I was.... well, I was about to say devastated, but I'd been through way too much therapy over him for him to be able to devastate me anymore.  I was hurt and angry and disappointed.

But-- not particularly surprised.  It immediately called to mind any number of similar incidents, but especially the time when I was in my late 20s, and the son of some family friends (who was a friend of mine) came to talk to my dad because he wasn't sure he believed in God anymore and he didn't know what to do.  His parents listened to him talk about his concerns and recommended that he go see my dad, whom they were sure would be able to give him good advice.

So Dad is telling me about this, and he stopped like that was the end of the story.  Like just the setup would tell me all I needed to know.  I had to ask: so how did you respond?  what did you say?  And he shook his head and said, "I don't have time for people who don't believe in God.  It's just a waste of time."  This was before I'd been through all that therapy, and I was shocked.  How could he be so callous about a young person's confusion and pain?  (and the snide part of me wants to add, in my most snide tone of voice, he wouldn't have sent him away if he'd been a cute, perky girl.  He would have set up weekly appointments.)

If I've explained this at all well, maybe now you will understand why I was instantly boiling over when my friend Lynne suggested that I was worrying too much about life being unfair. I was already primed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

riffday: TGIT

Thursdays are now my favorite day of the week.  I go to my classes, drive home (and drive and drive), and then I don't have school again until TUESDAY.  It's the most lovely feeling.  The thing is, it only lasts for about 6 hours.  It always takes me a few weeks to get back into the swing of school.  This past weekend, I let myself take off Thursday night and all day Friday-- and definitely regretted it later.  I just didn't get everything done this week.  So, this time I'm taking tonight off and starting up again tomorrow.

I was planning a brilliant post while I was driving-- actually about six of them, part 2 of the Legacy post, and the followup to the hornets' nest post, and the one on feminism that has been knocking around in my head since february, plus some others-- but at the moment, I'm so exhausted that I can't remember any of them.  So I will just riff.

So.  the eye thing.  The subconjunctival hemorrhage.  If you read the comments, I'll update you on what happened.  The arnica didn't work.  It got worse.  Considerably worse, which makes sense in hindsight because the way that arnica works to remove bruises is by increasing blood flow.  You should have seen it last night, the entire outside half of my eye was bright red.  I decided to spare you another picture.  But it is much better today, and although everyone is way too polite to actually mention it, you could see the surprise in their eyes when they looked at me.  It was hard to miss (my eye, not their surprise).  I made a joke or two about having been bitten by a vampire, or getting in the way of a tire iron, and when I would bring it up, you could see the relief in their faces.  Oh.  we can talk about this.  :-)  I hope it will be gone by tomorrow so no one else will have to worry that dh is beating me.

Speaking of dh.  I asked him to read the hornets' nest post (which had a discussion of parenting styles in it) to see if I'd been too negative (he thought not).  Then the next evening after we had spent about twenty minutes dealing with pet issues-- the cat had thrown up, the dog wanted to go out and then come in, and then go out again, they both needed treats, etc etc-- we ended up both standing by the back door watching the cat out on the deck.  He glanced at me, shook his head ruefully, and commented, "Pet-centered parenting."  (that story won't make sense if you haven't read the other post, which makes this a shameless plug for reading the other post.)

and as long as I'm plugging old posts, this one, the one about whether or not we have to be 100% dependable or only 98%, got considerably more interesting in the comments, so if you missed them, you should go back and read.

Linguistics fascinates me.  Here are our fun linguistics facts for the day.  /d/ and /t/ are the same sound (tongue against the ridge behind your teeth), but one is "voiced" (d) and one is "unvoiced" (t).  You can make a "t" sound without using your vocal cords, but you can't make a "d" sound without your vocal cords.  Try it.

But if you are listening to someone talk, if they speak as most Americans do, it is impossible to distinguish between "waiter" and "wader" except through context.  Or "latter" and "ladder."  This is called neutralization-- when the difference between two phonemes disappears in pronunciation.  At least, I think that's what it means.  If I have any linguists out there, chime in.  Also, the "t" in "Gatwick" is pronounced differently than usual:  your tongue never gets near that ridge behind your teeth (the alveolar ridge).  But we are all sure there's a "t" in Gatwick.  This kind of stuff fascinates me.  I have no idea why.

OK, twenty minute break to help MadMax with math homework.  The teacher gave them math puzzles to do, which he hates (this is dumb. why do I have to do this?) and I love.  Puzzles are fun.  As long as they're not too hard.  I made a spreadsheet to work one of them, which I thought was fascinating, and he thought was dumb.  I think at 14, 98% of the world seems dumb.

And finally, a couple of thoughts on the 4-letter word.  If you remember, my diet has become not a weight-loss diet but a cholesterol lowering diet.  It is amazing to me what difference this makes.  Weight loss involves all kinds of guilt and shame and outrage at societal expectations and rebellious thoughts about conforming and etc etc.  but watching my fat intake so I can lower my cholesterol just makes sense.  I didn't realize how much fat I was eating-- and I'm still not sure exactly what all of it was, but the first week I was hungry all the time.  Since I was letting my body adjust to the low-fat thing, I didn't starve myself.  If I was hungry, I ate.  I just ate low-fat foods.  And I ate a lot.  I think I am almost adjusted now, though.

The only advice the doctor gave me (other than handing me a list of foods to avoid) was 1) don't eat if you're not hungry (heard that before?) and 2) bump my exercise time from 30 minutes to 45.  I'm not sure how much difference 15 more minutes is going to make, but I'm doing it.  The hard thing is that I won't be able to see if it's working unless I go in and do a fasting blood draw to get my cholesterol checked.  She scheduled me to come back in six months, but I think I may do a 3-month check.  I'll have to see how much the test costs when the bill comes back from our insurance.

And that's all.  In fact, it's entirely possible that this is way too much. :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

a subconjunctival what?

So here is a picture of my flowers.  Usually I pick a color theme and they look a little more coordinated.  This year for some reason I went with random.

But really that is just a diversion, because the RSS feed only picks up the first picture, I think, and I didn't want this picture to be on everybody's feed:

Dh says this is a subconjunctival hemorrhage.  He is familiar enough with my spacey memory that he didn't even laugh very hard when half an hour later I said something about a subconjunctival hemmorrhoid.  I used to get them about once a year or so, but now that I am so elderly, I've been getting them much more frequently.  This is the second one in the past three weeks.  I look like I've been photoshopped for a vampire movie.  The last one, when it was almost healed, turned in to a thin ring of red around my pupil, which was really creepy looking.  The Cullens could adopt me.

Anyway, I'm putting it here to see if any of you know of a remedy.  Dh says there's nothing you can do, it just heals on it's own.  But that takes days.  My mom, who also gets them (things I inherited from my mom?), says massive doses of Vitamin C, and that does seem to help, but what I really want is something that will make it go away right now.

And forgive the mascara that I've had on since 9 a.m. this morning.  It was quite the adventure taking this picture.  I'm not all that handy with a camera, I think I took about 20 before I figured out a way to do it.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I've been talking to Julie some about how difficult it is to let yourself grieve for someone with whom you had a complicated relationship.  (For those of you who haven't been around very long, my amazing, difficult, complicated father passed away in June.)  Like all complicated things, it's easier for me to just push it away than to let myself think about it.  So, this post is part of an attempt to correct that.  There may be a few more forthcoming.

What I inherited from my father:
  • if you put me down in a new town and leave me there for more than 48 hours, I will have figured out the main roads and many of the back roads.  Give me a week and I'll know the scenic routes, the fastest routes, and their alternates should traffic or boredom be a problem.  I can have endless conversations over maps about how to get from here to there.
  • a sometimes spasmodic, sometimes consistent, sometimes inconvenient spirit of generosity and a neurotic desire to help
  • blue eyes
  • a love of travel:  to the next town, the next county, the next state, or overseas.  Trips by plane, train, subway, boat, and above all: road trips.  Although planes and boats require dramamine for me, which dad didn't need.
  • an endless fascination with questions for which there are no answers:  why are we here?  what happens after we die? what/who is God?  what does it mean to be a moral person?  Dad's interest took a more orthodox route within the confines of his German baptist heritage while mine has moved far beyond the beliefs I was raised with-- but I still blame it on him because of his...
  • boundless curiosity about how people work and how the world works
  • if you find us at the lake, the car keys will be on the right front tire.  Just so you know.  Sometimes the left if the right seems a bit too exposed.
  • his fanatic interest in cars and all sports (especially baseball) is muted in me into a more general interest that is still well above average compared to most women.  However, I did not inherit his fascination with tractors.  One of the more miserable memories of my childhood is being dragged (wink, wink) to tractor pulls.  At one point, he owned 4 tractors.  Or maybe it was 5.  And this is when we lived in a normal house in normal neighborhood (albeit with a big back yard).
  • above average academic ability balanced with below average emotional intelligence and social skills
  •  a love of pie
  • a tendency toward irrational fears that don't respond well to reason, and yet a love of reason that makes it difficult to acknowledge that those fears even exist
  • a tendency to take what's going on inside my head more seriously than what's going on in the "real" world
  • a firm and abiding belief in prayer.  I've told you before I don't understand how it works, but I believe in it.  One of my dad's favorite ways to trip you up was to ask, when you had come to him with some seemingly insurmountable problem, "Have you prayed about it?"  And of course you hadn't, because if you had, it wouldn't feel so insurmountable.
  • we are night owls, creatures of the night.  People talk about how fresh and new things are in the morning, and it's like they're speaking Martian.  I don't think I've ever in my 50 years felt fresh and new in the morning.  It takes about an hour after I wake up before I can even be civil, and that's if I've had a good night's sleep. 
  • and we've got the insomnia that goes with that.  dangit.
  • road trips.  Have I mentioned road trips?
I had dh read over this to see if he could think of anything else, and he said, "Well, both of you married well."  :-)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

another quickie

A couple of months ago, in one of the riffday posts, I said this:

Cheery-o sent me a book a couple of years ago about forgiveness. Being a hyper-sensitive sort, it is easy for me to get offended or to get my feelings hurt over little things, and then I just don't know what to do with it. You can't make a big thing out of a little thing, it leaves you with no friends. The author of this book (Lewis Smedes) said (I think in the very first chapter), sometimes you don't have to forgive people. Sometimes you can just let it go. (silence) (insert pause here).... (insert another pause....) (light bulb goes on over my head) You CAN? REALLY? It was news to me, a true life changing moment. You can just let the little things go. Who knew?

I have a ton to do today, so I decided just to cut and paste it, which saves me thinking of how to paraphrase it, and you from having to check the link.  It has occurred to me, this morning, that this applies to me, too.  I don't have to feel wretched about the little things I get wrong.  Because I forget something once doesn't wipe out the 327 times I remembered.  If I am 98% dependable, then I am a dependable person.  The 2% I screwed up is forgivable, it doesn't make me undependable.

This is mind-blowing to me. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a quickie. Really.

I know I've said before that I was going to post a quickie and then it turned into a long-y.  But this one really will be quick.

Can somebody that uses RSS fill me in on how it works?  There are typos in each of my last two posts, which drives me crazy.  (the perfectionist strikes again).  If I fix them, does it pop them back up to the top of your RSS feed?  Does that bother you?

And secondly.  I was complaining about how there weren't enough hours in the day to do all the reading have to do (which is true), and DH kindly pointed out how much time I've spent in the last 3-4 days writing posts and reading my friends' blogs.  dangit.  I hate it when he's right.  I don't know why it takes me so long to write a blog post-- usually a couple of hours for each one.  and I also have one in the wings that hasn't been posted yet (which adds up to 6-7 hours i spent writing blog posts in the last few days).  So I'm signing off for a week or so.  Last spring I made it six weeks into the semester before things got this busy.

Later gators.

Monday, September 12, 2011

the dog whisperer (ha, just kidding)

You might remember our dog Jazz, aka Dingbat, from a previous post.  but I don't think I've told you about our cat Cinder, aka Miss Priss.  Cinder gets cat treats morning and evening, and has since time began.  We can't remember how the tradition got started, but it is now one of the unalterable rules of our existence.  She is quite an expert at getting multiple treats, too.  Dh comes down first in the morning, and usually she gets some from him.  Then I'll give her 4-5 more when I come down (because she's winding around my legs and meowing as if she might possibly just curl up and die if she doesn't get her treats in the next 30 seconds).  And when Nell is home, she can usually manage to wrangle some out of her, too.

She doesn't even try with MadMax, though, because she still isn't speaking to him after an unfortunate series of tail-pulling incidents that occurred before he reached the age of reason. I think he must have been under two at the time.  I suppose you could say that at 14, he still hasn't reached the age of reason, but at least he doesn't pull the cat's tail anymore. 

Cinder is 16 or 17 years old-- none of us can quite remember which.  Jazz is 9.  Which means Cinder was fully adult when Jazz was a puppy, and fully capable of puppy terrorization.  So Jazz isn't always reasonable when it comes to Cinder.  She (Jazz) is terrified of her, even though now she is about 40 pounds bigger and could take care of her in one or two snaps if she were so inclined.  But she's not, because in her foggy, doggy brain, Cinder is still the all-knowing, fearful Cat of Aged Craftiness Who Must Not Be Disturbed. 

Given that they are both female, it was hard to work out the pronouns in that sentence.  I hope you could figure out who was terrorized (Jazz) and who was the Perpetrator of Terror (Cinder).

Was there a point to this story?  Yes.  So recently--within the last 3-4 months-- it finally occurred to Jazz that if Cinder was getting treats, she should, too.  Jazz is not a morning person (morning dog?), though, so she misses the early round.  But somewhere around 9 p.m., maybe 9:30, Jazz starts dancing around.  She makes these funny half-growl, half-whine noises in her throat and dances around my chair while I'm sitting at the computer until I get tired of listening to her and get up and get her a treat. 

The dancing and noise-making are almost precisely the same thing that she does when she wants to go outside, though, so when this first started, it was hard to tell what she wanted.  So I would reach back from my chair (which is just barely within reach of one of the doors to the deck, which has stairs down to the yard so she can do her thing), and open the door so she could go out.  At which point she would flop down on the floor, hang her head, and stare morosely at me.  No, Mom, that's not what I meant.  I don't want to go outside.  Please don't make me. I just want a treat. 

Honestly, I had this figured out after about the first two times.  If it's 9:30, she doesn't want to go out, she wants a treat.  But I'm mean.  I enjoy messing with her head.  So every night, I reach back and open the door to the deck so she can go out, and say helpfully, "C'mon Jazz, time to go out!"  And she practically groans as she drops down to the floor and gazes at me soulfully.  No, really, Mom, that's not what I meant.  I don't want to go outside.

After a minute or two, I relent and get her a treat.  It amuses me vastly.

I'm not sure exactly why I thought you needed to know that.  Maybe so you can correctly gauge how to read my more serious posts, since after all, they are the work of a known dog tormentor.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

the blue devils

I was a very melodramatic 23-year-old.  And 27-year-old. (I skipped mentioning that I was a melodramatic teenager because what teenager isn't?)  I used to spend a lot of time obsessing about why I'm alive.  Why in the world would someone like me exist?  I'm just difficult.  It makes no sense for there to be someone like me on this planet. Then I turned 29 and had Nell and had to quit being so eternally obsessed with myself and grow up.  It became apparent exactly why I was alive:  so I could change Nell's diaper.

I haven't felt that feeling in years, but it snuck up on me todayI think it has probably been-- oh, at least a dozen years.  I remember getting stuck in a cycle of migraines way back when and on about day 10, when my head was unendingly, relentlessly pounding, thinking, Why am I even alive?

But that was a long time ago, and my headaches are much better now, and thank the lord the way I think these days doesn't even really allow for that.  It wouldn't even occur to me to think that way, because if you go too far with it, why the hell is anybody alive?  There's just no point in going there. You do what you can to be who you are and occupy your space; and who you are--all of you, good, bad, indifferent and all of the above-- affects the web of people around you, the people you've been given.  And that's about the best any of us can do.

Is this depressing?  It doesn't feel depressing, but maybe it is coming across that way.  And no, I have not had one drop of alcohol tonight.  Anyway. 

For some reason out of the blue tonight, I got nailed with it again.  But you know, I have strategies now.  A therapist told me years ago, just keep breathing.  The context was different, but it's one of the most useful things anyone's ever said to me.  It often pops into my head when things get rough, when I'm stuck in a situation that I don't want to be in-- for example, right before I had to give my first graduate presentation last year.  If you keep breathing, time passes, and you're still there, and things get better.  (And it's not like you have any choice, you're going to breathe anyway so you might as well notice it.)

And if you're noticing that you're breathing, it anchors you in your body, and you can start to notice other things, like the feeling of the air going in and out of your lungs, and then maybe you notice that there's a bit of a breeze, and then you notice the light is really lovely slanting through that tree, and then maybe you see a color-- the purple of your toenail polish-- and before you know it, you're out the other side of whatever was trying to sink you. 

So I thought of that tonight, and I walked out on the deck, and kept breathing. I saw the practically full moon and listened to distant sounds (which I wish were something cool and natural, but were really the sounds of the droning race cars at the raceway park about a mile away), and pretty soon I felt better.  It's great to be 50.  Because when this happened in my 20s, it would result in days of navel-gazing and self-obsession and pointless wool-gathering.  But now I know that feelings are not permanent; you feel them and you let them go.  The bad ones come and go, and the good ones come and go.

The Buddhists call this equanimity-- accepting whatever life sends you, good or bad, with an open heart, and maintaining your equilibrium.  I am who I am no matter what is going on around me.  (Well, a Buddhist wouldn't say it like that because of the whole no-self thing, but that's how it comes out in my head.)  And then there's St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians:  "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry..."  He's talking specifically about his financial status, but it's the same idea.

(and p.s., this was not meant to imply that other people in their 20s obsess, just that I did when I was that age.)

What do you do when the blue devils visit? 

Thursday, September 08, 2011


For those of you who don't have blogs, or maybe you do and you don't use blogger, I will tell you a little bit about the stats page.  Every blog owner has one, and it shows you how many people have looked at your blog by the day, week, month, or "all-time."  It shows you which page(s) people looked at and how often.  And although there's no identifying information to tell you who they are, there is a list of "sources"-- which tells you where your readers clicked from.  Ouch, that is scarily bad grammar but I can't think of another way to say it.

A few of my regular readers use blind sites-- in other words, it's some fake site that shows up in the list of sources, used by someone who wants to surf the web anonymously.  I think you can get software to do this for you.  I don't mind this at all, of course-- I'm just grateful when anybody gets here.  But since they seem to get here pretty regularly, I think of them as friends.  Oh, it's the PHDonline.com guy.  Or my teethwhitening.com buddy. 

And then there are those of you who click when I tweet that I have a new post, or who come from one of my friends who have me listed on their blogroll.  And a few get here through Google searches.  All of those  never add up to the total number of pageviews, though, so my hypothesis is that if you click from a bookmark, it doesn't register as a source. 

Anyway.  I lost one of my regular readers several months ago.  I don't know for sure who it was, of course, just that the clicks came from one of my favorite blogs.  I'm pretty sure it was over the gay ordination issue.  I am entirely in favor of gay ordination; since I am a regular reader of this source blog, I suspect this particular reader is far more conservative than I am. I probably finally got a little to far out there for her (him).  

If I had 50 or 100 readers, I wouldn't even have noticed.  but I think of you guys as my merry little band, and I have to admit that this one has bothered me.  She's (he's) gone now, so I don't suppose it makes much difference at this point, but it has spooked me a little about posting on controversial issues.  Hence, my concern about being too flippant yesterday.  I can't plan my posts around pleasing everybody, of course-- and since I've got the full range of liberal-to-conservative readers, there's no way I could please you all with every single post anyway.  But I do think about this, sometimes quite a bit.  Sometimes too much.  There was a time when I would only let myself check the stats page once a month, so I wouldn't obsess about it.  But now Blogger has basic stats built into the home page, so there's no avoiding it.

I guess I don't have a point today, this is just what I was thinking about when I sat down.  If any of you are more tech savvy than I am, and can explain how anonymous surfing, or bots, or anything else about the sources works, please chime in.

I believe this would be one of the boring ones. ha.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

the unseen hornets' nest

Years ago I was at a public park watching MadMax on the playground.  I struck up a conversation with another mom I'd never met before.  We (of course) talked about our kids, because that's what parents do in that situation.  After we'd exchanged a few stories, I said something about how we'd had to change our parenting style for MadMax, because he is so entirely different than Nell.  It was immediately apparent that I had pushed some kind of hot button with her.  She practically bristled.  She muttered something about parents being in charge and moved away.  I was mystified.

I discovered not long afterwards that the huge (well, huge for our town) Evangelical church on the hill had sponsored a parenting class, the general theme of which was that Child-Centered Parenting=BAD, Parent-Centered Parenting=GOOD.  In their view, child-centered parenting means the kids are in charge, and the parents are chasing after the elusive goal of making them "happy"; parent-centered parenting is about stability and respect for authority.

In spite of the my initial suspicion, I don't necessarily disagree (although it's a bit too much about control for my taste).  But I had no clue what was going on when I launched blindly into what I thought was just a friendly conversation at the park. The whole issue sort of took over in our town for awhile.  For about a year, I kept running into it in the most innocuous, unsuspecting conversations.  For example:

Other Mom: mentions something about her kids being in bed by 8 the night before
Me (not really wanting my kids in bed by 8, but impressed nonetheless and trying to make friendly conversation):  How in the world do you get your kids to go to bed by 8 o'clock?
Other Mom (staring at me as if I were 15 and had just uttered profanity in her presence):  The parents are in charge.  Our kids go to bed when we tell them to.

and so on.  I even had a conversation where a young woman, single and childless, lectured me on the parents being in charge.  I will admit to being slightly evil and actually baiting people after awhile to see if I could get them started on the topic.  It was great entertainment. 

But this isn't about parenting styles, although if one of them was here, they would want it to be.  My point is how easy it is to step on someone's pet ideas without the faintest idea that you're doing it.  Or to walk blindly into a situation where you are innocently using words in a general way, only to discover that the words have a coded meaning to the other person.

In that first conversation at the playground, I wasn't even talking about our overall style of parenting.  I was talking about my two kids and how different they are, and how the same approach doesn't work for both of them.  You could send Nell to her room and she would be devastated; send MadMax to his room and he will happily entertain himself for an hour.  Turn off MadMax's electronics and he goes through withdrawal (and don't worry, we make him do it on a  regular basis), take away Nell's electronics, and she doesn't care.  Well, she would now because she lives for her phone, but this was when she was in grade school (and long before the era when kids in grade school had phones).  Even if we were devotees of the parent-centered parenting thing, we would still have to adjust our style for the differences.

Well, this was going to be the first of this semester's posts about what I'm learning at grad school, but it's already long enough.  I'll save that for another day.  Have you ever walked blind into someone else's pet peeve?  Or had someone walk into yours?

Monday, September 05, 2011

262 (that's two hundred sixty-two)

Well, we just got the car unloaded and rinsed off (18 miles on a dirt road results in an amazing load of dust).  Took a shower and scrubbed.  Oh, my, was I dirty.  And here I am:  clean from running hot water and sitting in front of things plugged into outlets that run on electricity, and within range of a wireless network.  I love camping, but I also love my creature comforts.  Sigh.  It is nice to be home.

It was a practically perfect weekend.  The campground, in spite of its complete and entire lack of services of any kind, was idyllic.  About ten yards from the river where we held a fishing derby (which included everyone except me, who had to study, of course)(well, and I can't fish, either, but it sounds better to say I had to study).  Although there were some other sites up and down the river, none were within sight of us, so we felt like we were truly out there.  It was so peaceful. The weather was perfect (although it got down below freezing at night), the food was yummy, the company was great. All holiday weekends should be so nice.

I feel like I should have other interesting and significant things to say, but nothing is coming to mind, so I'll just skip ahead to the number in the title: 262.  Can you guess what it is?  Is it the number of times I've posted so far this year?  my number of Facebook friends?  The number of miles I drive round-trip on Tuesday and Thursday?  The number of times I woke up this weekend desperately needing to pee but unwilling to get out of my toasty warm sleeping bag? 

Why, no, 262 would be my total cholesterol.  The horror.  I had a fasting blood draw Friday a.m., then had my annual appointment with my internist Friday afternoon right before leaving town.  She was so kind about my weight gain (maybe partly because it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be -- only nine pounds on their scale).  The nurse was even making excuses for me.  But she was most unhappy about that cholesterol number.  (Since I know at least one of you is a medical type, I'll add my bad (LDL) cholesterol was 178, also way too high.)

She didn't want to let me out of there without a prescription for cholesterol-lowering drugs, and I truly do not want to take them.  The compromise is that she is giving me six months to get it down to a more reasonable number.  Which, of course, means diet and exercise.  Which means I really do have to get my act in gear about eating healthily.  Dadgumit.

Which-- maybe unfortunately to some of my gentle readers-- will probably mean more posts on the topic.  I try not to post often about diet and exercise because I don't want to participate in our society's obsession with thin-ness and weight-loss.  But now that this is for sure not about weight, but about lowering my cholesterol, it seems a bit different.  I will try not to bore you to death. 

Happy Labor Day to all of my stateside readers, and a belated Happy Birthday to Julie, who is not nearly old enough to be as old as I am. 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Riffday: first week of class is over THANK GOD

Hi, y'all.  I wrote half a post last Monday that was so incredibly boring that I never published it, but for some reason it then stuck in my head that I had posted this week.  I realized last night that I hadn't, but since I HAD TO STUDY, I couldn't do it last night.

Dang.  In three months I had already forgotten what it's like to have to study.

So.  The first day of my second year was more intimidating than I was expecting, because even though now I know where things are, and I knew at least a student or two in each of my classes, there were also several dozen students I hadn't met who were surprised to see me there.  Which in turn surprised me.  In spite of all the teasing about my older student status that I do here in my blog, when I'm on campus, I generally forget how much older I am until someone else notices it.

But I lived through it, and by the end of next week, it will be a non-issue again.  The three classes I'm taking--a James Joyce class, a linguistics class on the history/structure of the English language, and Modern Poetry-- all look like they will be fascinating.  The only downside is that they are back-to-back:  9:40 to 11:00, 11:10 to 12:30, 12:40 to 2:00.  And since none of them are in the same building, that means I have to... um....manage my time wisely to even go to the bathroom, let alone eat.

I'm sure I'll get better at it as the semester goes on, but this week has been a bit chaotic.  I have been living on granola bars.  Which is perhaps not a bad thing, considering that (due to cooler temps*) I pulled on my one pair of jeans that fit this morning and they... didn't fit.  Damn

In past semesters, my earliest class has been 11:10, so it is also new to have to leave so early in the morning.  I rolled out of the driveway at 7:02 a.m. on Tuesday and walked into class just as it was starting (the drive is two hours and fifteen minutes, then there's a twenty minute walk).  Due to a couple of snafus this morning, I didn't leave until 7:10, and even though I might have tried to make up time by pushing the speed limit a little (promise, it was just a little), I was still about five minutes late to class.  I guess I have to work on my routine.

So here in the States it is a holiday weekend, and we are going on our annual camping trip with three other families.  We've been doing this for at least six or seven years now.   It will be fun, but the place where we are going this year is not only far outside of internet range, it doesn't even have pit potties.  Yikes.  Usually we at least have pit potties.  It's a good thing it's only for a couple of days.

* I apologize for mentioning the cooler temps to those of you who are living through the drought and heat wave down South.  I was there for the last one in 1980-- in fact, I spent that summer as a camp counselor in an un-airconditioned cabin, so I feel your pain.  Archery.  Oh. my. god.  The archery range was like a furnace.

and p.s.  London Mabel is working on her Star Wars posts-- check them out