Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hometown Girl

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Tonight was so cool. The City of Maitland had a big celebration for the Little League team--parade, fair, fireworks. I have never seen postal trucks in a parade before, but we had 'em--along with guys on stilts, cheerleaders, half the Little League players on bikes, a couple of bands, Girl Scouts, and Shriners on those teeny little motorcycles. Slice of Americana.

Then we had food and speeches and fireworks. It felt like a real town instead of a 'burb. Saw all kinds of neighbors, watched kids run back and forth playing frisbee, made new friends. Just the kind of thing you want in a hometown.

Baseball. Best. Sport. Ever.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Zoo Class

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After school today, my new office partner and another new teacher and I were discussing the peculiar psychology of the "zoo class." This is the one period of kids during the school day that can be counted on to act like marmosets on speed. Doesn't matter what you do to them or with them, they are--as the kids at my school say--"off the chain."

My zoo class is fourth period. It's not overly large, but it has one screwed-up dynamic; i.e. a sociology doctorate waiting to happen 55 minutes of every day. One side of the room is all boys, most of them jocks. Interesting répartée, to say the least, especially when the comic book/manga fiend speaks up. One gaggle of girls in the corner cannot. shut. up. Cannot. As in, couldn't hold it in at gunpoint. One of them taunts another girl across the room with badly-drawn pictures of Patrick Starfish, because Girl 1 swears that Girl 2 has Patrick's intellect (Girl 2, to her credit, thinks that Girl 1 is full of it and doesn't take the bait. Smart girl.) Two guys in another corner are quietquietquiet. You have to wonder if they're supremely introverted or just plain catatonic. Needless to say, it's a bizarro balancing act every day. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I plunge screaming into the net and go begging for chocolate.

The trouble with zoo class? Despite all the weirdness, you can't help liking them for their spontaneity and unpredictability. Zoo class will definitely wear you out and send you groaning for the Tylenol, but it can also unearth some profound comments.

Still, every once in a while you wish you had a Cone of Silence to lower, for no other reason than thirty seconds of absolute quiet...

Monday, August 29, 2005

You'd Think They, of All People...

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Not to get too involved in theological debate, but...

A group of folks at my church aren't happy with the direction the church is going in. You'd think they'd be forthright about their opinions and discuss them openly with the paster, right? That would be the Christian thing to do, I'm thinking. But is that how they handle it? Noooooooooooooooooo. Why be forthright and upstanding when you can start rumors and spread innuendo? I mean, that's what being a Christian is all about, isn't it?

Oh, wait. The charge is to "spread the good news." Hmm. You'd think people who claim to be so passionately interested in the church would get the point.

Maybe they need to spend more time listening on Sundays than they do talking.

*sigh*

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Laundry Confessions

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When the water heater went kaput, we had to move the washing machine out of the way. Washing machine stayed in the middle of the curling-vinyl laundry room floor for a week and half. Now that everything's turned back on, this weekend has been the Great Clean Clothes Marathon, aka tackling Mt. Washmore, as my friend Melynda calls it.

Things I have discovered while doing two weeks' worth of laundry:
  • Every woman deserves her own front-loader.
  • My husband has more clothes than I do, all protests to the contrary.
  • My daughter has more underwear than a lingerie model (she's six).
  • My husband has more underwear than a lingerie model. Yes, it's men's underwear.
  • My son cannot keep track of his socks. Either that, or sock-stealing aliens from planet Coldfeet have been making repeat visits to our house while we're not looking.
  • Some of my underwear is in really sad shape.
  • I really need to purge my children's clothes. My son has several pairs of floods that would see him through hurricane season for the next several years, at least.
  • Scariest of all, my family has enough clothes to get us through two weeks of no laundry.
Towels and sheets today, and then we rest. Finally. My mountaineering days are over!

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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The thinking woman's Bed/Dinner List:

BED LIST: JEREMY NORTHAM



The best thing about the movie adaptation of Emma (although I have to admit Gwenyth Paltrow did a great job as our erstwhile matchmaking heroine) was Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley. Jeremy Northam in anything is wonderful. He tends to choose roles in movies that require a brain, like Gosford Park, Amistad, Carrington and An Ideal Husband. But for full-on heavy breathing, put Possession at the top of your Netflix queue. It's not a great adaptation of A.S. Byatt's book, but those scenes between Northam's Randolph Ash and Jennifer Ehle's Christabel LaMotte could set their poems on fire. Love the eyes, love the smile, love the look, but especially love the brain. Isn't sex more about the organ between your ears than the one between your legs anyway?

DINNER LIST: AUGUST WILSON



The sad news that August Wilson, probably the most influential African-American dramatist ever, has terminal liver cancer, hit me hard. I've been reading and enjoying Wilson's plays for years now. Wilson is renowned for his Twentieth-Century cycle, a series of ten plays that chronicle the African-American experience in each decade of the century. The best-known of these, The Piano Lesson and Fences, won the Pulitzer Prize (Fences also took the Tony for Best Drama). About half of them won New York Drama Critics Circle awards. Here's the spooky thing: Wilson is putting the finishing touches on the final play of the cycle, Radio Golf. Most likely, he will not live to see it produced on Broadway, nor will he ever write anything else. It's almost as if we were allowed to enjoy his gift in this particular way, and then it'll be gone.

I'd love to have dinner with August Wilson. I'd thank him profusely for helping me better understand a culture that's so closely entwined with my own (I did, after all, grow up in the South). Any white person who actually thinks that racism in this country is something of the past ought to be required to read August Wilson.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Namaste!

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Did yoga this morning for the first time in ages. Can you say, "Stiff and unresponsive?"

It is weird to do yoga with a Brittany sniffing in your ear the whole time.

Feel better, though. Gotta try that again soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

This is NOT Happening...

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Get home from church, lunch, and errands to find water all over the laundry room floor. Apparently, leak coming from A/C unit. Something's blocked (that's what happens when you have children and dogs and run the A/C all the time). DH now trying to blow out system block with hose.

If we spent $300 on a new water heater for no reason, I may implode.

Self-consolation: Old water heater was 12 years old, which is far beyond normal life for a water heater in mineral-rich Central Florida. Old water heater was making strange dripping noises with the valve shut all the way off. Much of water was pooled around heater.

Still, if we spent $300 on a new water heater for no reason...

Maitland Rocks!

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The Maitland boys cruised past Newton, PA last night in the Little League World Series--barring a series of spectacular occurrences, they'll make it into the semis. Woo hoo!

The cool thing is that the city is going baseball crazy--watch parties that even teenagers attend, signs and balloons everywhere, and people being nice (imagine that). Too bad every town can't get a dose of Little League fever!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

My Husband is a STUD

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DH has fulfilled my dearest wish. I will be taking a hot shower very, very soon.

The Movies in 15 Minutes version of the remainder of our Home Depot installation saga:

ACT I
I don't feel like synopsizing our earlier trauma again. Read this instead.

ACT II
Friday evening. Chez mimi is on Day Three of the Hot Water Watch.
HD Installer: I'm not touching that thing; it has an energy management box.
DH: But you can't just leave without...
(HD Installer leaves skid marks backing out of our driveway)
DH: (on phone with sap from HD Installation Services) Do I get a water heater tonight or not?
Sap from HD Installation Services: No. We're still getting out of the clown car.
DH: Refund all the money. Fix your screwed up system so some poor 80-year-old grandmother with a busted water heater doesn't have the same problems we have. (righteous phone receiver slamming)
mimi: (impressed by DH's care for helpless old ladies, but still miffed at the water situation) Crap. This means no hot shower tomorrow morning.

ACT III
Saturday dawns.
DH: Off to Lowe's to buy a water heater.
Lowe's Salesman: Don't spend that much money. I'm an ex-plumber. Buy this one and all this junk to put it in with.
(DH refrains from kissing salesman on mouth; saves $200 and brings home water heater in a box and junk to put it in with, like valves, hoses, and Teflon tape.)
mimi: How long till hot water?
DH: Hold your tongue, woman. (goes to driving range)
mimi: Argh!! (goes to paint hallway)
DH: (back from driving range) Screw, screw, tape, tape, fix, fix, open valve.
Angels: (singing) Hallelujah!!
DH: I am man. I have pipe wrench. I fix water heater. Feed me!
mimi: Hey, for hot water, you'll get a lot more than a steak.

THE END

Okay, off to live up to my innuendo...

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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It's a science fiction double feature!

BED LIST: MICHAEL BIEHN



Recognize this look? Maybe this will jog your memory: "I came through time for you, Sarah." My BF Kelly and I have been lusting after Michael Biehn since The Terminator. Aliens only added to our case. He's even hot as the psycho Special Forces guy in The Abyss. Plus, he's from Alabama. Sexy and Southern. Downright deadly!!

DINNER LIST: TIM CURRY



Versatile, funny, and charming; that's Tim Curry. I love him in everything he does, from The Hunt for Red October to Charlie's Angels to Spamalot, but the ultimate Tim Curry role is, of course, Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Remember this look?



Any guy who'll dress like this is aces in my book. Let's have dinner and do the Time Warp!!

Go Maitland!!

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The Little League team from Maitland, FL just won its first game in the Little League World Series. They beat the Midwest Regional Champions from Davenport, Iowa 7-3. Woo hoo!!

It's fun to watch this batch of kids, especially since I know some of them. We go to church with Tanner Stanley and his family, and I went to high school with Trent Richardi's dad.

The whole town will probably be at the Mickey D's tomorrow for more "Maitland McFlurries" (vanilla ice cream with a pulverized hot apple pie--apple pie, baseball, get it?) to keep the boys in Williamsport.

This is so cool!!

Author's Nightmare

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I wake up from a dream about holding my first published book and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank goodness it was just a dream! My subconscious is completely weird. For one thing, I'm holding the book and making all kinds of edits to it--needed edits--then realize I'm screwed because this is the real thing, the published book. The cover gives me a co-author. Now, I co-authored a book with my critique partner years ago, but my CP has a normal, English-sounding name, not a name out of the Prague telephone book, all consonants and diacritical marks. To top it all off, my author bio was for someone else. So not only is the story bad and the book's parentage in question, no reader who likes it will have any idea what I'm actually like.

Please tell me real publishing is not at all like this...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What Bug Did I Kill in a Previous Life? or, Why I Still Don't Have Hot Water

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Today, DH and I get cranky with the Home Depot install crew that was supposed to install our new hot water heater "same day" yesterday. They claim they called yesterday before lunch to apprise us of some City code-upgrade requirements, blah blah blah. Whatever, doofuses. Explain to me how calling the manager of our local Home Depot store qualifies as contacting us?

So this morning I call and chew out the installers. They promise to call DH and have it in this evening. That is, they'll have it in this evening as long as we rip the utility sink or the storage cabinet off the wall, otherwise it'll cost us $70 more than the estimate (and that's on top of the surprise $70 it'll take to bring the sucker up to City code). Fine, I say, deal with the husband. Just don't act surprised when he excavates a new orifice in your body.

Call DH after my workshop ends, he says installers will be here this evening between 5 and 9. Hot water is apparently in my future! Huzzah!

Oh, how easily led I am. This evening shows up. So does an installer. Installer claims we have a bad valve letting water into the water heater. Won't go near it with the torch unless we can cut the water off to the house entirely. DH and installer go outside. Cannot cut off water. Cannot locate valve to cut off water, despite several whacks at various water-looking pieces of equipment. Installer says, "Sorry, Charlie, call the installers again. See ya!" Packs new water heater back onto truck, heads into sunset.

I now have the following:
  1. Busted water heater that's still leaking all over the floor
  2. Washing machine in the middle of my laundry room
  3. Utility sink in the middle of my garage
  4. No hot water
  5. A serious case of the red ass, as I must wash my hair tomorrow morning and despise cold showers
I take kids to have dinner with a friend of mine. When I get back, DH informs me that valve to turn off water to house is right where Installer Man was fiddling, claiming he couldn't find valve to turn off water to house. I would find this funny, except that I'm looking down the barrel of a freezing cold shower in the morning and no guarantee that the installer men will finally finish climbing out of their clown car and install the damned thing tomorrow.

I am repaying some bizarro karmic debt, I just know. I'd better get my behind to yoga class on Sunday, or something in my house might explode. Please, God, don't let it be the A/C...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Insult Added to Injury

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Day 2 of workshop. Same as Day 1, different presenter. I have now heard the same information FOUR TIMES. I think I get it. I do have a college degree. Two, in fact.

Grr.

Our hot water heater is peeing all over our laundry room floor. It's been like this for a while, and we can't do much about it, since teachers have NO money at the end of the summer. So we slog through wet, do lots of mopping, and forget to turn the hot water back on so we can shower with some temperature. It will cost in excess of $500 to put a new water heater in, what with installation and permitting. Permitting?! Yes. Apparently, a water heater requires a permit. Installation and permitting cost more than the freakin' heater itself.

Double grr.

I am so going to need Happy Hour on Friday.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I Suck Redux

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Today I spent yet another day out of the classroom at a State workshop on how to do my job better. According to the official line, if I don't have student achievement at 98% on our state test or higher for every kid in every class, I am ineffective.

I would rant about the overall injustice of such an approach--I am, after all, human, as are the children in my classroom--but doing so just makes me look bad. Therefore, I sucketh.

*sigh*

I'm ready to go back to my classroom. At least there I get the feeling I'm doing something right.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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One superhero and one spy. Of sorts.

BED LIST: CHRISTIAN BALE



If I knew how to type out a growling noise, I would type out a growling noise. Dang, that's pretty. It's also talented and the latest to fill out the Batsuit (and quite well, I might add). This guy's a real chameleon, going from Little Women to American Psycho to A Midsummer Night's Dream to The Machinist, and getting us to buy all of those roles. And he's hot. And check out that six pack! Unfortunately, scrunching down to the bottom of the picture won't show you anything else. I know. I tried.

DINNER LIST: MIKE MYERS



Austin Powers is not my idea of a dream date, but I'd love to spend an evening with Mike Myers. He's goofy (Wayne's World, anyone?), very smart, does a wicked Scottish accent thanks to growing up with a Scottish father, and nice. He is, after all, Canadian. Yeah, baby!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

One Down, 179 to Go

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First day of school today. Took the traditional first day picture of my gorgeous kids in their first day outfits, packed them in the car at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am, trundled them (and dumped them) to the elementary school, then hightailed it to my school for the 7:20 bell.

Bad news--the air's not working. I cannot stress enough the vital importance of air conditioning at a Florida school in August. Hey, if I'd wanted a facial, I'd have made an appointment. My makeup was history by the end of second period. You should have heard the sigh when I got in the car and its A/C was working. Ran the sucker full blast all the way home.

Good news--lots of kids showed up. First day attendance was much better than last year's. Admin's taking a hard line on kids who have hardly any GPA and fewer credits--no matter how bad they want to graduate with our school's name on their diploma or certificate of completion (hey, don't pass FCAT in Florida, don't even think about a diploma), they won't be doing it with us. Especially if they're, say, 19 or 20. Good for admin!

Kids were nice. The usual first day "deer in the headlights" look, of course. I talked and talked and talked and talked. I usually run my mouth a lot during the first week. After that, things calm down and we can have a normal class.

Get home, kids had a good day. I have a splitting headache. My feet hurt. My head hurts. I get the kids in the bed at 9:30 and crash myself. I am so lame.

Then the dog wakes me up at 3:24 am, but that's another story...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Marianne's Fire Fund

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Marianne Mancusi, all-around fun gal and the author of A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court, came home from the RWA Conference to discover that the cottage where she was living was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Completely. As in, everything she owned that wasn't in her conference luggage is gone.

Some writers from the various chick lit loops are offering some great items on eBay to help Marianne. I'm donating a complete copyedit of a proposal, so check it out. Lots of fun stuff to bid on, including critiques from top agents and authors like Michelle Cunnah, Suzanne Brockmann, Jenny Crusie, Melissa Senate, Diedre Knight, Steve Axelrod, and more. Go ye forth and bid generously here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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Have you missed me? Couldn't post this from Reno last week, so no bed or dinner companions for me. Boo, hiss. I'm trying to get back in the groove this week, so bear with me here...

BED LIST: RICK ROSSOVICH



Some friends and I were dissecting Tom Cruise and his recent swerve to the weird side of the road during the RWA Conference, when someone mentioned Top Gun and we all went crazy. Ah, yes, Top Gun--especially the beach volleyball scene. The second I laid eyes on Rick Rossovich, aka "Slider," toothy Tom got kicked off the libido wagon. Rick played the buff boyfriend who took on the Terminator and lost, and also played Tag, the cute doctor Julianna Margulies ditched for Dr. Ross on ER all those years ago. My favorite role of Rick's, though, is the eye candy fireman in Roxanne, one of the best romantic comedies ever. "Because I was afraid of worms, Roxanne, worms!!" Get it from Netflix. You'll see.

DINNER LIST: PETER BOYLE



Four words: "Puttin' on da Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitz!!!"
If you've ever seen Young Frankenstein, you're laughing your butt off right now. Peter Boyle is a comic genius, not to mention a very smart man with hidden depths. Did you know he once planned to be a monk? Seems a bit of a shift to go from a vow of poverty and celibacy to playing Frank Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond, but there you have it. Peter Boyle, man of many faces. As Frank would say, "Holy crap!!"

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Priorities, Schmiorities

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Today I have a long talk with a parent who's concerned that Darling Dearest may have bitten off more than could be chewed with two AP courses and a spot on a varsity team. Is thinking of dropping AP. We talk, I pitch, parent agrees to keep kid in class. Good for kid. Good for parent.

I relate the saga to a colleague and she says, "So why wasn't parent in the coach's office saying 'Basketball may interfere with my kid's two AP courses'?"

Good point.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Back to School

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Back to school today. Totally different atmosphere from the RWA Conference. I'm feeling a tad schizophrenic right now. Am I writer? Teacher? Harried mom? Whatever the case, I'm busy as hell and realizing that my bad summer habit of staying up late and sleeping in is going to bite me in the ass for the next couple of weeks, especially considering that my school district has moved the start times for high school back 25 minutes. Kids need more time in class, dontcha know.

I'm starting the year with no roommate--my beloved Mel gave birth to twins over the summer and won't be coming back, sob!--and praying my new officemate is cool, or at least workable. I'm back to an AP/senior class schedule again, which is less stress on me (good, as I need to kick the writing into a higher gear). Lots of organizing and decorating this week.

I love the first week of school. The floors are so shiny. Everyone's energized. The year is perched on the lip of Plato's Cave, all perfect in its anticipatory state (I haven't had time to screw it up yet). This will be fun.
 

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