Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Exactly How Windy Are We Talkin'?

I'll be in Chicago (freezing my ass off) for the rest of the week. . .

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gifts I Received From Students

Most high school students do not give Christmas gifts to their teachers, and my students are no exception. There are, however, always a few kids (usually girls) who do. Yesterday I received some baked goods and a number cards with sweet little notes in them. One of the cards, from three girls I taught last year, came taped to an envelope that was too small for it and included this PS: "A riddle: How many blondes does it take to buy an envelope big enough for the card?" More than three, I guess. Anyway, two other girls from last year gave me a tote bag ("for carrying around those papers you never grade") they'd decorated with postcards from their travels ("hope it shows your Geo pride! The Amish and whatnot are cultural!").

In addition to that stuff, I also received this

and this

and my personal favorite. . .

a crazy cat lady action figure! Which, you'll note, comes with six cats, not including the cats hiding in her coat.

Have I mentioned I love my kids?

On The First Day Of Christmas Vacation. . .

I have a hangover, about a billion things to do before I leave to go visit my parents, a 3 to 4 hour drive, and a party to be at by 7:00. Shit.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Response To A Letter To The Editor, Vol. IX

To the Editor:

Personal trainers are the folks you pay to get you in shape, keep you on track and help prolong your life. They are in the service industry just like waitresses and bartenders, but we don't think to tip them at this time of year.

So in the spirit of giving this season, surprise your personal trainer with a tip (usually a week's pay) and make their day. I will.

--Cindy, Virginia Beach

To Cindy:

Thanks for the great idea!

I was going to suggest that in the spirit of giving this season, folks with extra cash -- you know, the kind of folks who can afford something as decadently asinine as a personal trainer-- donate to a worthy cause. I'm partial to America's Second Harvest and Heifer International, although if I spend too much time with my mom I'll also write an occasional check to the Alzheimer's Association out of sheer desperation. These organizations, along with many others, are working hard to alleviate all sorts of suffering.

But you know what they're not doing? Keeping my ass in shape.

That's why I'm glad you have a better handle on this whole "spirit of giving" thing than I do. While I would have urged people to celebrate Christmas by trying to eradicate hunger, you've reminded us of the spiritual benefits associated with tipping the guy who helps us lose weight.

I do have a question though: is one week's pay enough? Wouldn't two weeks' pay be more generous and therefore MUCH more Christmas-y? Think about it.

--Megan, Norfolk

Funny Things My Students Have Said Recently

"Uh, we took a group vote? And Chapter 10 is bogus." (to explain why he wasn't doing his work)

"America is for AmeriCANS, not AmeriCAN'Ts." (purely to annoy me, I think)

"Hey, you're a fan of the things that are weird. . ." (prefacing a question about karma)

"Are you EVER gonna get married?!" (completely out of the blue)

"Dude, the Christians OWNED the First Crusade!" (during a discussion about Islam)

All The Cool Kids* Are Doing It

Plus I don't have time to think up something substantive. . .

You are The Lovers

Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.

The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.

Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

*The cool kids being Flannery, Lulu, and Vikki. And maybe some others whose blogs I haven't checked lately.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I've Always Wondered What To Serve With Chicken Noodle Soup

At the beginning of every school year I have a conversation with my students about what kind of environment they learn best in and what they need from me in order to learn. Inevitably, the kids mention something about liking to listen to music while they work, which is good since I myself can barely function without music. So whenever the kids work on something in class -- like a map, for example -- we have music playing in the background. Sometimes we listen to my music (lately it's been last month's Paste CD sampler) and sometimes we listen to theirs. I reserve the right to veto anything I don't like.

Recently I vetoed one of their favorite songs: "Chicken Noodle Soup." If you work with teenagers or have a thing for horrible music, you've probably already heard the chicken noodle soup song. If not, you'll need to listen below before we continue.

Alrighty then. So you can see why I vetoed it.

"This is awful!" I said as I watched my kids dance in their seats. "It doesn't even make any sense." "Naw," one of my kids disagreed, "it's about when you're sick and you eat chicken noodle soup. With, like, a ginger ale. Makes you feel better." "Well, what's up with the crap about 'let it rain. . .and clear it out' then?" I asked, making rain motions with my hands. My kids just shrugged and kept on chicken noodle souping.

So now I guess I have to do a whole lesson about minstrel rap, which I guaran-damn-tee you will not be on the state exam at the end of the year. But still. It's my duty as an educator, right?

Right. So let it rain. And clear it out. And then maybe break out your old Tribe Called Quest records.

Bringing Righteous Indignation Back

Melissa, one of my favorite bloggers, disappointed her adoring fans when she closed up shop last June. However, I am happy to report that she is back. Melissa is intelligent, witty, tons of fun, and not at all shy. I've added her blog, This is it? Seriously?, to my blogroll and I'm sure you'll like her as much as I do. She'll probably kick your ass if you don't.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Here's a picture of tonight's sunset.

If I hadn't taken time out from working to watch the sunset from my classroom window, I might have actually been able to post something tonight. Or, better yet, get some sleep.

Monday, December 11, 2006

MySpace, Revisited

My students, as you may recall, like to make fun of me for A) having a cat, B) not having a MySpace, and C) thinking reading's cool. One class in particular makes daily jokes about my presumed status as a crazy cat lady, and has even gone so far as to decorate the class tissue box with cat-related grafitti.

This morning we had the following conversation while cramming for an impending quiz:

Kid 1: What'd you do this weekend? Read?

(collective laughter)

Me: Um, I read the newspaper. And some websites.

Kid 2: Like what?

Me: Oh, I was all UP in some MySpace this weekend!

Kid 1: You on MySpace now?

Me: No. I was kidding.

Kid 2: You need to get a MySpace!

Me: (for like the eighty-twelfth time) Why?

Kids 1, 3, 4, 5, & 6: So you can meet a man!

Kid 2: (quietly) Instead of a cat.

(collective laughter)

Me: Maybe I already met a man. Did you ever think of that?

Class: Whoa! DID you already meet a man?!

Me: I'm just sayin' it's a possibility.

Kid 1: See, if you were on MySpace everybody would KNOW you met a man.

Me: How would they know?

Kid 2: 'Cause you'd have pictures up there of you, like, kissin' him and stuff.
Actually, I wouldn't. Here, however, is a picture of me kissing my cat.

Admittedly, a man would probably be a bit more receptive to my kisses. But I'd have to feed him more often.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Crush Chronicles

Shortly before Thanksgiving, WonderTurtle tagged me to write about my childhood crushes, which I'm just now getting around to doing, having been fairly preoccupied with a certain adulthood crush.

Although WonderTurtle and Coaster Punchman both remember having crushes as early as the age of four, my first memorable crush was on Jon Black in the fifth grade. Jon Black was a short blonde boy who lived next door to me. We attended some sort of after-school recreation program together which, as I recall, mostly involved eating mentos, playing on the playground, and -- if you had a boyfriend -- kissing him behind the portables. As it turned out, Jon Black had a crush on me too, and he asked me if I wanted to go out with him. Of course I wanted to go out with him, but I was also the world's biggest goodie goodie so I told him I'd have to ask my mom first. "Where are you gonna go?" inquired my mom. "No, Mom, we're not gonna GO anywhere. He's just gonna, like, be my boyfriend" I tried to explain. "Your boyfriend?!" said my mom, "You're ten. You're not allowed to date until you're 16." Which is pretty much what I told Jon Black while my younger sister, to whom it never would have occurred to ask permission, looked on shaking her head and rolling her eyes at my stupidity. I've often wondered whether my mom's answer would have been different had the favorite pastime of Jon Black's four older brothers not been shooting our dog, but I have never repeated the mistake of sharing the details of my love life with her.

In the sixth grade there was David Kerr, who my friends called "chipmunk cheeks." I have no idea what I liked about David Kerr except, perhaps, that his name was David. (It became apparent later in life that I had a thing for Davids.) But in the sixth grade I liked David Kerr so much that I went to school on days I would have ordinarily faked sick. I often pretended to be sick so that I wouldn't have to go to school, not because I didn't like school but because I didn't like waking up. My mom's rule was that if you didn't go to school, you didn't get to do anything AFTER school -- a reasonably good way to determine whether you were faking or not. On one particular Friday that I'd decided to fake sick my mom reminded me of A) the rule and B) the 5th and 6th grade roller skating party that night. After considerable internal debate I decided to go to school so that I could go to the roller skating party where, for sure, David Kerr would ask me to skate with him. He didn't.

In the eighth grade I fell for Jeff, whose wardrobe consisted entirely of Polo and who NEVER did his Latin homework. I was enamored of Jeff for all of eighth and ninth grade and into the beginning of tenth, until I learned that my best friend had gone to the mall with him -- even though she knew I liked him (!), at which point I (temporarily) stopped speaking to both of them. To be fair to her, my best friend only went to the mall with Jeff to make HIS best friend jealous and they (my best friend and Jeff's best friend) are now happily married.

Somewhere in here, although I'm not sure where, was a summer crush on Dave Kelley (see? another David). Dave was an out-of-town friend of my sister's boyfriend Ryan, and his family spent a couple weeks visiting Ryan's family at the beach. Dave was tall and goofy and nice. We sat around at bonfires and went for walks on the beach (ha!) and I think he might have even held my hand. His mom told my mom that he'd gotten some Garfield stationery so that he could write me letters when he went home. I don't think he ever did.

In the tenth grade there was Mike Elkins. *sigh* Mike had long black hair (not black like mine, which is actually dark brown, but black like "quoth the raven 'nevermore'"), painted black fingernails, and approximately three outfits: jeans and a Jane's Addiction t-shirt, jeans and a Danzig t-shirt, and jeans and a Screaming Trees t-shirt. He thought school was pointless and refused to dress out for PE, choosing instead to sit quietly on the gym floor reading Steinbeck or Hemingway or Sylvia Plath and talking to me about politics and religion. As much as it's possible to love someone when you're 15, I loved Mike Elkins.

My junior year in high school I moved from Virginia Beach to the suburbs of DC and developed a crush on Bryce (collective groan), who was also new to school. Bryce was bad. I say that now with a great deal of hindsight, but even then Bryce was bad. My eleventh grade crush on Bryce faded when he got arrested for grand larceny (because, really, a girl's gotta draw the line somewhere), but returned in the twelfth grade after we played Trivial Pursuit together and he asked me to marry him when I correctly answered a question about acetylsalicylic acid (ah, dork love). Bryce and I spent most of our senior year hanging out but not actually dating, due in no small part to a probably-true rumor that he'd bet his best friend he could sleep with me before graduation. A bet he lost, by the way -- I was 17 and saving myself for true love.

I have, like, three more Daves to go, but we're beyond a crushes now so I'm stopping. Anybody else wanna play? Meaghan? Lulu? Chris? Flannery? Big Orange? It's fun. You know, until you're 15 or so.

Overheard At J.Crew

Teenaged girl with hot pink ribbon around her ponytail: (petulantly) I wish I knew what my mom's getting me for Christmas so I'd know what not to buy myself.

Teenaged girl with light pink ribbon around her ponytail: I give my mom, like, a whole LIST and then she buys me, like, something ELSE.

Teenaged girl with hot pink ribbon: What a bitch. (in all seriousness)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This Just In: Pot Calls Kettle Black

I read last week about Jim Webb's unsuccessful attempt to avoid our current president at the White House reception for newly elected members of Congress. Aside from being grateful that we elected Webb instead of that jackass George Allen, I really didn't spend much time thinking about the event until I saw this piece by the perpetually-pompous George Will a few days later.

Although I think he's an intelligent man and an excellent writer, I try not to read George Will's columns, as they invariably piss me off. It's not that I disagree with him, though I often do, it's that I think he's a snooty elitist. But he's a snooty elitist who can usually put together a cogent argument.

Not so much with this column.

Let's start with paragraph two:

Wednesday's Post reported that at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress, Webb "tried to avoid President Bush," refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. When Bush asked Webb, whose son is a Marine in Iraq, "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "I'd like to get them [sic] out of Iraq." When the president again asked "How's your boy?" Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."
If you read Wednesday's WaPo, you know that Will's representation of the exchange between Webb and Bush is inaccurate at best, and deliberately misleading at worst. What Bush said in response to Webb's "I'd like to get them out of Iraq" was not a simple repetition of his initial question. Bush first said, "That's not what I asked you," and THEN repeated his question. Kinda changes the whole tone of the conversation, dontcha think?

Will goes on:
Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency.
(You know, I can't get too excited about this. It's not like Bush has treated his office with much respect.)
Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being -- one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another.
A civil and caring question, as one parent to another?! Give me a fuckin' break.

First of all, you don't get to send a bunch of kids to die in a war for which you manufactured justification and then ask their parents how they're doing. If you gave a shit about the troops you wouldn't have gotten them into this mess in the first place.

More importantly, "how's your boy fighting my war in Iraq?" is not a question the president can ask simply "as one parent to another." Bush, like most of the ruling class, does not have children on the front lines of this or any other war. Although Webb's son is truly a volunteer, he is an exception. The kids who enlist in the military tend to be the kids with limited options, as John Kerry so ineloquently attempted to point out. I'm sure parenting the sorority twins is not without its tribulations, but I doubt the Bush family lies awake at night worrying about the same things the families of our soldiers on the ground in Iraq do. Bush asked this question as a politician, not a parent.

George Will calls Webb "a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language," and advises him that "in a republic, people decline to be led by leaders who are insufferably full of themselves." Thankfully, we can also decline to read their snooty little columns.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Single And Lookin'?

Forget Match.com and eHarmony! Sean Hannity -- everyone's second-favorite Fox "News" personality -- offers an online dating service, Hannidate, the place where people of like conservative minds can come together to meet. Now certain bloggers who are always bitching about how hard it is to meet cool women really have no excuse.

I, however, doubt I'll meet anyone on Hannidate, as there are exactly zero men between the ages of 18 and 80 seeking women within a 100 mile radius of my zipcode.

And they say Virginia's a red state.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bah Humbug

I don't know about you, but I fucking hate Christmas. I actually LOVE the idea behind Christmas -- you know, that whole 'peace on earth, goodwill toward men' thing -- but, at the risk of sounding all Charlie Brown-ish, I hate the the commercial side of Christmas.

Every year I remind my family of the important Christmas lesson the Grinch learned:

"Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas. . .perhaps. . .means a little bit more!"

Every year I email them The Center for the New American Dream's guide to simplifying the holidays. Every year I threaten not to come home for Christmas unless they agree to dial down the crazy. Every year I go home for Christmas anyway and spend all day talking about how I'm never coming home for Christmas again.

Then I go to Anthropologie for the after-Christmas sale.

Anyway, I mention all this because my mom called me the other day to ask me for approximately the tenth time for my Christmas list (see?) and to tell me about an organization she'd recently heard about. "I know you hate Amazon.com," my mom said, "but I got a letter from them about some charity thing they're doing and that hunger group you like is part of it."

It turns out that the charity thing is GiveandShop.com, a website that earns commission for referring shoppers to various online retailers and then donates half of that commission to a charity of your choosing.

So if your Christmas comes from a store -- and let's face it, whose doesn't? -- at least you can save the world just a teensy bit while shopping.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Secret Word Of The Day

You know what word doesn't get used nearly often enough? Smitten.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You Could Cry Or Die Or Just Make Pies All Day

I'm supposed to be making pies right now. The trouble is I don't want to. Well, more specifically, I don't want to make the pie CRUST. I know what you're thinking: I don't HAVE to make the pie crust -- they sell that shit in the grocery now. But you're wrong, I do have to make the pie crust. Sometimes I even have to cut said crust out in the shape of little tiny leaves (don't worry, I have cookie cutters for this!) and arrange the leaves artfully on top of the pies. You know, instead of just covering the pies with some boring old crust.

What? Like this is the first time I've mentioned the OCD.

Another problem with Tuesday night pie-making is that all of my pies involve bourbon. It hardly seems fair that the pies get to have bourbon and I don't, but bourbon on a school night is a BAD idea. Plus, I'm not allowed to drink bourbon unsupervised. Trust me, it's a good rule. Most people who know me would prefer that I not drink bourbon at all.

But here are my options: A) spend the rest of the evening cutting dozens of one-inch leaves out of pie crust while drinking water or B) spend the rest of the evening cutting dozens of one-inch leaves out of pie crust while drinking BOURBON. Right. So let's just hope I have ginger ale.

Now I guess I should go make the pies. Oh, and PS, I stole the title of this post from Patty Griffin's "Making Pies," my appropriately-named pie-making theme song.

Update: This post was up for exactly 16 minutes before my phone rang and I heard my best friend's voice say, "Uh, you need to just drink wine."

Monday, November 20, 2006

What Sucks Is That Y'all Have To Wait Until January To Read It

Despite the best of intentions, I had an incredibly unproductive weekend. I went down to my parents' beach house with two weeks worth of laundry and lots of schoolwork. I planned to get everything clean while grading papers and planning the next week's lessons.

What I didn't plan on was my friend Meaghan showing up to our Friday night dinner date with the advance copy of Chris Moore's next book, nor did I count on my complete inability to resist his charms after I decided to read the first couple pages just to see how it was -- my professional responsibility as a sometimes bookseller.

The book begins with Tommy's discovery that his vampire girlfriend Jody has turned him into a vampire while he was sleeping.

And really, I was just gonna read a few pages and then return to it at some point when I don't have a two-foot-high stack of papers to grade (you know, like maybe in June). But on page two there was this:

"Yeah, but you should have asked me before you did this, " Tommy said. "You shouldn't just kill a guy without asking. It's inconsiderate." Tommy was from Indiana, and his mother had raised him to have good manners and to be considerate of other people's feelings.

"You had sex with me while I was unconscious," Jody said.

"That's not the same," Tommy said. "I was just being friendly, like when you put a quarter in someone else's parking meter when they aren't there -- you know they appreciate it later, even if they don't thank you personally."
Come on. If your choices were that or a bunch of essays about whether or not New Orleans should be rebuilt, I bet you would have opted for the Chris Moore too, especially if you knew that the essay on the top of the stack made frequent reference to New Orleans as a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Chris Moore is laugh-out-loud funny, but BRAINY laugh-out-loud funny. All of his books (my favorite, of course, being Lamb) are both amusing and intelligent. The best part of You Suck is not the narrative (although it IS quite good) but the excerpts from the diary of the vampires' 16-year-old minion Abby Normal, a perky girl trying her damnedest to be a goth girl. So what if Moore stole her name from Young Frankenstein? Her diary is hilarious.
The Chronicles of Abby Normal
Dedicated Servant of the Vampyre Flood

I have been to the lair of the vampyre Flood. I am part of the coven! Okay, back up. So I like slept till eleven, because we're on Christmas break, only it's called winter break now because Jesus is AN OPPRESSIVE ZOMBIE BASTARD AND WE DO NOT BOW DOWN TO HIS BIRTHDAY! At least not at Alan Ginsberg High School, we don't. (Go, Fighting Beatniks!) But it's all good, 'cause I'm going to have to get used to getting up later if I'm going to be a creature of the night.

So, like first thing, I made some toast, and it burned, as black as my soul, and I was so bummed that my tears of despair fell like cold bits of crystal, to be destroyed on the unforgiving rocks of this miserable life. But then I saw that Mom had left a twenty on the counter with a note:

Allison (Allison is my day-slave name -- my mom named me after some song by some Elvis guy, so I totally refuse to accept it), here's your lunch money, and please stop at Walgreens and pick up some RID for Ronnie's head lice. (Veronica is my sister, who is twelve and a total tumor on the ass of my existence.)

So I was like, Sweet! Starbucks!
See? Funny. And don't worry, I haven't given away the best parts. Besides, the book doesn't even come out until January -- you'll have forgotten all about this by then. In the meantime, check out the Chris Moore oeuvre. You, too, can be part of his devoted cult following.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I rarely listen to the radio. I have XM in my car and plenty of CDs at home, which makes tuning in to my local radio stations fairly unnecessary. And the fact that there's really nothing local about most local stations -- who today are owned and controlled by megacorporations -- makes listening to the radio downright undesirable.

Except when I'm at my parents' beach house, where there's a great little independent radio station on which I heard an amazing song today. I was happily singing along to the Judybats' "Being Simple" and was about to flip back to XM when it ended and the next song began with a piano. But then a woman with a great voice started singing and I thought "Hey, this is pretty good," so I left it on, and by the time she got to the chorus I thought, "Wow, this chick is amazing!"

I came home and googled her and am now completely head over heels for Vienna Teng. I ordered her CD and I've been sitting by the radio all day waiting for them to play the song again. You may have heard of her already or she may not be your musical cup of tea, but I'll share her with you anyway just in case. . .

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Bad, I Thought I Was Supposed To Be Teaching

I got in trouble at school today. And I don't care.

My boss unexpectedly summoned me to her office where I was greeted by a big-wig from central administration. He handed me a report that indicated I'd made absolutely no use of a program I was directed two months ago to "utilize" in my classes (sidebar: why do people insist on saying "utilize" when a simple "use" will do? WHY?) and called upon me to explain myself.

The program in question is an online program based on the premise that students are customers of education and that the job of teachers is to prepare their customers to be competitive in the business world. According to their website, the program "utilizes the concepts of business management and applies those ideals to learning" by using (not utilizing? are you sure?) "performance charting to assess student learning."

Performance charting. Guess what that means, y'all. Data.

Mother. Fucking. Data.

Essentially, my kids enter data into the program

and the program graphs the data.

Then I'm supposed to check to make sure that each of my students is updating all nine of their "key performance indicators" (number of pages read in two hours, for example).

As I explained to the big-wigs today for perhaps the third time, the program has little (if any) instructional value, the kids find it as useless as I do, I have neither the time nor the technology to integrate the program into my daily classroom routine, and monitoring my students' use of the program is incredibly time-consuming.

"Every hour I spend checking to see if my kids have graphed their test scores is an hour I don't spend reaching them and teaching them," I told them angrily.

"I understand your frustration, Megan," my boss responded, "but I just want us to look good."

For the record, I like and respect my boss, and I recognize that she was in an awkward position. But you know what's not gonna look good? When all the quality teachers quit because they're so sick of fucking kids over in the name of data collection, and you're left with the teachers who can't do anything BUT collect data.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

WonderTurtle, who rocks, tagged me last week.

It's taken me a while to think of five things ya'll don't know about me that are interesting enough to share yet not so interesting they should only be shared with one's therapist. It's an important balance to strike. . .

  1. I do not like U2 or Coldplay. I know, I know, they're both supposed to be totally awesome bands, but I will change the station every fucking time. My friends and I were once at a Carbon Leaf St. Patty's Day show where you could register to win a free trip to NYC to see U2. I filled out the form along with my super-excited friends but then snuck it into my purse instead of turning it in -- I was afraid I might win and I didn't want to have to go to that shit (sorry, girls).

  2. Despite the fact that I am a grown-ass woman, I worry constantly about getting in trouble. Not "getting in trouble" as a euphemism for getting pregnant, but getting in trouble as in "I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record." I cannot STAND for people to be unhappy with me, even if they're people I don't like or respect.

  3. I am absolutely terrified of people wearing masks. When I was about three my sister and I were out trick-or-treating with my dad. We were walking up the steps to a house just as some big kids turned away from the door. The big kids were wearing what even my dad describes today as very scary masks. I completely freaked out and would not stop screaming until my dad took me home. I still can't deal with a masked person -- even a little Mardi Gras mask is enough to make me start shaking and feeling nauseated. That's how scared I am of masks.

  4. I secretly adore Adam Sandler. He cracks me up. I've seen Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and Big Daddy more times than I should admit and am overly fond of reciting lines from each ("you eat pieces of shit for breakfast?!" for example). I've even seen and laughed at Adam Sandler's BAD movies -- think Water Boy and Mr. Deeds. And, god help me, I saw Mr. Deeds in the THEATER. Does it make it better or worse that one of my students let me in for free?

  5. I hate not being good at things. I quit ballet class when I was a little girl because I wasn't twirling after the first class. I then quit ballet class TWICE in college after I finally came to terms with the fact that I'm clumsy and couldn't twirl gracefully if my life depended on it. I quit sailing in my 20s even though I LOVE being on the water because I suck at the steering the boat part of sailing and I could never remember the proper sailing lingo (seriously, you have to say things like "jibe ho!"). I'm quite good at the trimming the sails part of sailing, and I'm sure I could have eventually kicked ass at both ballet and sailing, but I didn't really have the time to devote to either and if I can't do something well I'm simply not gonna to do it at all.

There you go. Now I think I'm supposed to tag some people, so if you haven't done this already consider yourself tagged. That would be pretty much everyone except Coaster Punchman, Lulu, and WonderTurtle. Get to work!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Why I Don't Have Kids

I awoke this morning with a hangover. Plus I was cold. The temperature had dropped about 20 degrees since I'd gone to bed with the windows open, so I lay there half awake, shivering and trying to decide whether to get up and close the windows or just go back to sleep, while my kitty alternated between two of her favorite spots: my pillow and the nearest windowsill. Shortly after Luna hopped onto the windowsill and I rolled over and pulled the covers over my head, I heard the window come crashing closed.

"Ohmygod, LUNA!" I screamed, bursting into tears as I realized that the reason her butt was dangling off the windowsill was because her left front paw was stuck under the now-closed window. Then Luna started screaming -- a sound I hope you never EVER hear coming out of someone you love -- and squirming while I opened the window to free her.

As soon as her little foot was free, she jumped down and dashed under the bed, leaving a sporadic trail of poop in her wake. I followed her and then sat on the bed crying while my sister and her boyfriend (who were visiting) tried to coax her out so we could assess the damage. Luna hissed at my sister and then darted out from under the bed, at which point I was able to scoop her up and cuddle her and say god only knows what sort of nonsense to her. And Luna, who is definitely not a lap kitty, sat cowering in my lap for a solid 15 minutes before taking up her usual position next to me (not ON me).

Careful examination of the window-smashed foot revealed exactly zero damage. She's not limping, she's not licking her foot excessively (well, she's not licking it any more than she's licking the rest of herself), and she doesn't wince when I touch her foot. If I hadn't seen it happen, I'd never know that an open window came crashing down on her.

If you think that's stopped me from worrying about her, you obviously don't know me very well. "Do you think she's okay?" I asked my sister and her boyfriend about 50 times this morning. "I think she's fine, Meg," they responded.

"Do you think I should take her to the vet?"
"I think she's fine, Meg."
"Do you think she's in shock and it only SEEMS like she's fine?"
"I think she's fine, Meg."
"Look at her pupils. Don't you think they're too dilated?"
"I think she's fine, Meg."
"But what if she has internal bleeding?"
"Internal bleeding?! In her FOOT?"

Apparently my hypochondria extends to those I love.

With the exception of an hour-long brunch, which I spent wondering aloud how my kitty was doing, and an evening break to see Borat, which I HATED and thought was reprehensible even though I was laughing the whole time (just in case anyone's keeping track of my karma), I've spent my day curled up next to Luna on the couch, petting her and asking her if she's okay and addressing her alternately as sweet kitty, sweetie, sweetheart, sweetpea, sweetness, honey, and sugar. If I'd been thinking more clearly I might have blessed her heart. But mostly I've been stroking her paw and glancing at the window and marveling at the fact that the little bones in her little foot are not completely shattered.

Cats are resilient. I know this because approximately twelve people, including the vet, have told me so today. It's the cats' moms, I guess, who need looking after. Luna herself stretched her window-smashed paw out and rested it in my open palm this afternoon, as if to assure me that she's okay.

And I KNOW she's okay because I just watched her hop down from a windowsill and land solidly on the paw that a mere twelve hours ago was trapped under a window. But still. I keep checking on her in case the trauma has finally caught up with her and the bones that weren't broken thirty minutes ago have completely fallen to pieces while I wasn't looking. I haven't entirely convinced myself I don't need to stay home from work tomorrow to keep an eye on her either.

Can you imagine how crazy I'd be if I had a HUMAN child?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Insufficient Funds

My friend Uncle J Bird has a great post up about how Dubya has squandered his political capital. Check it out.

In Response To A Letter To The Editor, Vol. VIII

From The Virginian Pilot, 11.10.06

To the Editor:

Al-Qaida and terrorists around the world must be dancing in the streets, celebrating their Democratic victory in this country.

--John, Norfolk

To John:

I'm not sure it was such a good idea to stop taking your medication. Please turn off The O'Reilly Factor -- as your inability to distinguish between fact and fabrication can only be contributing to your delusional state -- and contact your mental health professional before your condition worsens and you become completely certifiable.

--Megan, Norfolk

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Upon The Resignation of the Secretary of War Defense

This is a little late, but whatever. . .

Donald Rumsfeld resigned his position as Secretary of Defense yesterday. I, for one, am glad. This should give him plenty of time to focus on his existential poetry.

You're going to be told lots of things.
You get told things every day that don't happen.
It doesn't seem to bother people, they don't—
It's printed in the press.
The world thinks all these things happen.
They never happened.
Everyone's so eager to get the story
Before in fact the story's there
That the world is constantly being fed
Things that haven't happened.
All I can tell you is,
It hasn't happened.
It's going to happen.
—Feb. 28, 2003, Department of Defense briefing

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Now That's What I Call Gettin' Some Pi

This video has been occupying almost as much of my after-school time as the "Lazy Sunday" video did last winter. No backstory, just click play. . .

Straight But Not Narrow

By a margin of 57% to 43%, Virginia voters approved the Marshall/Newman Amendment, which not only defines marriage as something that may only exist between one man and one woman, but also forbids the state to legally recognize ANY marriage-like relationship that is not actually marriage.

There were about a million good reasons to vote against this amendment, all of which were heavily promoted by The Commonwealth Coalition.

  1. We already have a law on the books banning both same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions, so a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.
  2. The amendment goes too far in that it applies equally to straight and gay couples. (hey, there's a unique concept)
  3. The amendment discriminates against unmarried couples, both gay and straight.
  4. The amendment is an invasion of privacy that represents an unecessary government intrusion into our personal lives.
  5. The amendment would make it considerably more difficult for unmarried victims of domestic violence to seek legal recourse against their abusers.
  6. Opposition to same-sex marriage is primarily religious, and Virginia has recognized the wall of separation between church and state since we passed Jefferson's Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom in 1786.
  7. The amendment is bad for business. Passage of this amendment is likely to spark litigation against companies whose benefit plans offer coverage to life partners, and will drive highly-qualified professionals out of the state.

And that's all well and good, but here's why I voted against the Marshall/Newman amendment:

Gay people should be allowed to get married.

That's it. End of story. (I've covered this territory before.)

And so, as a straight Virginian, I'd like to apologize to the gay community of Virginia. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that 57% of Virginia voters are so fucking bigoted they rejected every reasonable argument above simply because the idea of gay sex kinda creeps them out, and I'm sorry that 57% of the voting public is too fucking stupid to read past the first sentence of the proposed amendment and vote no.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You're Doing A Heckuva Job, Hart InterCivic!

Voting machines in Alexandria, Falls Church, and Charlottesville did not display the full name or political party of Democratic challenger Jim Webb today. Instead, voters were asked to choose between James H. "Jim" or George F. Allen.

Guess how the residents of Alexandria, Falls Church, and Charlottesville typically vote.

Don't worry though, Hart InterCivic promises to fix this problem "before the next major election." 'Cause, you know, a mid-term election involving one of the mostly hotly-contested Senate seats in the country. . .no biggie.

If Hart InterCivic's unwavering devotion to future voting accuracy doesn't make you feel better, take heart: "This is not the kind of problem that has either shaken our confidence in the system overall or that of the vote," said Alexandria Registrar Tom Parkins. "There have been far worse problems around the country."

Buck up, lil' campers. You've got it pretty good here in the Old Dominion. There have been far worse problems around the country than not knowing which candidate you're voting for.

Fucking fake democracy.

And PS, they haven't called the race yet, and Webb is up at the moment anyway, so don't bother accusing me of being a sore loser.

Monday, November 06, 2006

On The Eve Of The Midterm Elections, A Few Friendly Reminders About Democracy

Much is being made of the importance of voting in tomorrow's elections, and although I believe voting is little more than a symbolic act at this point, I have plans not only to vote but to spend a couple hours working the polls for Jim Webb and the Democratic Party.

I would, however, like to state for the record that I have long considered voting to be the lamest and lowest form of political participation possible. Far more important to the preservation of our democratic system is an educated, informed electorate that's willing to monitor and question its leaders, for as John F. Kennedy pointed out, "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." His was not a revolutionary idea -- my beloved Jefferson noted the same nearly 150 years earlier: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Voting is nice, but paying attention and questioning authority are really what democracy is all about.

And while Jim Webb is certainly no JKF or TJ, he does seem to get this whole democracy thing:

In a democracy, we are the boss. And George Allen and George Bush work for us. And the more people they can scare away or turn away from politics, the fewer bosses they're having. They don't want participation. They want to just move along with the status quo, lining the pockets of their corporate friends, protecting their own, while your job goes overseas and your kid goes to Iraq.
So, sure, go vote tomorrow. And vote Democrat. But then give some thought to refreshing the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Or maybe just write some strongly-worded letters or something.

Mea Culpa

I had a strange dream the other night:

My sister was hanging out at my house (which wasn't my actual house, but was supposed to be my house in the dream) and she called me over to the computer to discuss what she did and did not like about my blog. "All this stuff about politics -- ugh -- so boring!" she admonished. "So I just got rid of it," she announced happily. "What do you mean you got rid of it?" I asked with a hint of panic. "I just clicked those little boxes next to the posts I don't wanna read so they won't show up when I come here," she explained.

And then, as I began to freak out, my brother appeared out of nowhere and explained to my sister that clicking those little boxes deletes the posts for everyone, not just for the person doing the clicking. (For the record, I have no idea what "those little boxes" are -- I just made 'em up.)

The rest of the dream kind of happened in a jumble. I started interrogating my sister to determine which posts she'd deleted while she apologized repeatedly and my brother tried to calm us both down. But the more missing posts I discovered, the more upset I became, until I realized my sister had deleted one of my all-time favorite posts, at which point I began to cry, prompting my sister to apologize yet again. "Oh my god I'm so sorry!" she said, trying to hug me. And instead of doing what any normal person would do and accepting both her hug and her apology, I grabbed a nearby aerosol can (of what I don't know) and sprayed my sister IN THE FACE while I screamed at her, "How could you be so stupid?!"


Obviously this raises a number of issues. First, that of the aerosol can. Doesn't my dream self know how bad that shit is for the planet? Second, the fact that I'm now dreaming about my friggin' BLOG indicates a certain level of blog obsession one might expect to find only among the clinically insane. But most importantly, my dream self is a BITCH!

Generally speaking, I do not A) scream at people, B) call them stupid, or C) spray them in the face with unknown substances. If I WERE to do any of those things, it certainly wouldn't be in response to an apology.

I have strict rules about apologies despite the fact that I come from a non-apologizing family. Oh, and we're Irish, which means we drink too much and we have bad tempers. But do we say we're sorry when we let our besotted tempers get the best of us? Hell no! Because that, my blogfriends, would mean we're not always right about everything. And being wrong is apparently something one should never admit. Sure, when we were kids, my parents TOLD us to apologize, but I don't think I ever saw them apologize to each other, and they rarely apologized to us.

In fact, my sister and I are the only members of our family who apologize, and that's a fairly recent (in the grand scheme of things) development. Apologies do not come easily to girls who were raised to believe that admitting you're wrong is a sign of weakness, but we're working on it. One thing we've got down is that when someone apologizes to you, you accept their apology. End of story.

Of course, if you're asleep and there's a spray can nearby, all bets are off.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And This Is Where I Live

It took me 30 minutes to find a parking space last night when I returned home from worshipping Satan.

Okay, fine. I wasn't worshipping Satan. I was sitting on my friends' front porch drinking wine and passing out candy. But it did take me 30 minutes to find a parking space.

And you know why? Fucking Rocky Horror people, that's why.

I live around the corner from an independent theater -- or cinema, as they call themselves -- that shows The Rocky Horror Picture Show every other Friday night. Parking, while scarce, is never much of a problem. But last night -- as you may know -- was Halloween, and Halloween -- as I should have known -- is kind of a big thing with the Rocky Horror folks.

A really big thing. I've never seen so many Rocky Horror people.

So I drove through my neighborhood mumbling, "fucking Rocky Horror people!" with increasing agitation as I searched in vain for a parking space. I have nothing against Rocky Horror people -- I was totally in love with one in the 10th grade and have known some very nice others since -- but couldn't they have carpooled or something? I mean, they're taking up all the parking spots. And I LIVE here.

Such were my thoughts as I circled my block repeatedly. And with every fishnetted, black eyelinered, crossdressed Rocky Horror person I passed, I grew more annoyed.

Until I saw the guy with the megaphone.

There he was, standing on the corner looking decidedly un-Rocky Horror-ish, shouting about salvation and urging the Rocky Horror Picture goers to abandon their freakish ways, repent of their sins, and accept Jesus as their lord and savior. My new friends the fucking Rocky Horror people, to their credit, merely chuckled as they passed by and then continued on to engage in all manner of sinful debauchery.

But my other new friends, the City of Norfolk police, sent Mr. Megaphone packing. Which is as it should be. I mean, the dude didn't even have a costume.

Monday, October 30, 2006


In the week leading up to Halloween I've broken two wine glasses (yes, the expensive ones), a bottle of perfume, a pasta bowl, and a dinner plate. Additionally, a black cat has crossed my path roughly 8012 times, mostly because she lives with me.

And don't bother to check in for the next few days -- I'm gonna be busy communing with the spirit world and/or worshipping Satan. It's what we Celts do on Samhain.

Didn't know I was into the pagan shit, did ya?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Oh, So That's What Desperation Sounds Like

With ten days to go before Election Day and the Virginia Senate race too close to call, George Allen noted that "this campaign ought to be about issues, ideas and a proven record." Shortly thereafter, the Allen campaign released the shocking results of its careful review of challenger Jim Webb's military fiction and accused Webb of "a pattern of disrespectful behavior toward women" based on eight sexually explicit paragraphs culled from his five novels.

Rather than leave it at that, the Allen campaign then wondered, "How can women trust him [Webb] to represent their views in the Senate when chauvinistic attitudes and sexually exploitive references run throughout his fiction and non-fiction writings?"

Right. Better to trust a guy whose chauvinistic attitudes have been shaping public policy for the past 25 years; who (as Congressman) voted against the Family and Medical Leave Act; who (as Governor) opposed women's admission to the state-funded Virginia Military Institute, advocated tougher welfare-to-work programs, and signed a parental notification abortion bill into law; and who (as Senator) opposed over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception and voted against funding for pregnancy prevention programs.

The guy I'm supposed to be concerned about is the one who writes steamy sex scenes?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jumping On The Bacon Bandwagon

Much has been made of the blogging phenomenon -- how it's opened up a whole new dimension of social discourse and how, as Andrew Sullivan writes in Wired, it's "changing the media world and could. . .foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture."

Which is all true. But what seems to be overlooked in these discussions is that an awful lot of the blogging that goes on is actually about bacon. Bloggers worldwide (or at least a handful of the bloggers I know) ADORE bacon, and they tell you so on a fairly regular basis. Whether it's a simple declaration of love, an odd homage to cats and bacon, or elaborate plans to combine bacon with things bacon should never be combined with, bacon gets a lot of press.

And as a vegetarian, I often feel left out of all the bacon-related fun. Until now.

buy it here!

Don't even tell me there's gelatin in there.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Things I Am Not Allowed To Discuss On A First Date

About a year ago I was preparing to go on a first date -- not just any first date but my FIRST first date since leaving my fiancé a year earlier. Sure, rebound boy DH and I had gone out drinking together a number of times after the big break-up, but we never had anything to eat so I don't think any of those encounters actually counts as a real date. Anyway, it was a first date, so naturally I was nervous, particularly because I suck at making small talk.

My friend Eileen is no stranger to first dates -- she rather enjoys them, in fact -- and the task of calming me down fell to her. It went a little something like this:

Eileen: What are you gonna wear?

Me: Um, jeans?

Eileen: That works. Do you have dressy jeans?

Me: Doesn't that sort of defeat the whole purpose of jeans?

Eileen: Okay, so just your regular jeans. With a cute top, like a going out top.

Me: Have you ever seen me in anything that even remotely resembles a going out top?

Eileen: You know what, just wear something red. You look good in red. Or pink.

Me: Oooh, I have cute brown mocassins with a pink bow on them.

Eileen: Perfect.

Me: Okay, but what are we gonna TALK about?

Eileen: Well, I can tell you what you're NOT gonna talk about.
And then she made me a list of things I am not allowed to discuss on a first date, presumably for my own good.

I mention all this because I just discovered that list still hanging on my fridge. It reads:

Things Megan is not Allowed to Discuss on a First Date
  • President Bush
  • J.Crew
  • logging
  • the Bill of Rights
  • the Supreme Court
  • the Bill of Rights as interpreted by the Supreme Court (and definitely do not mention the 5th grade Sandra Day O'Connor Halloween costume!)
  • sports (because you suck at that)
  • religion
  • the war in Iraq
  • TV
  • land use (see logging)
  • Wal-Mart

You know, all the things I like to talk about. Well, except for sports -- I definitely do suck at that.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

For The Record, I Don't Think God Cares Whether You Carry Anything Or Not

I recently found out that my neighborhood is an eruv. Everybody knows what an eruv is, right? Okay, fine. I didn't either until I learned that my neighborhood is one.

Here's the deal with eruvim (the plural of "eruv"), as I understand it. Under Jewish law, one may carry or push things only in private, not in public, on Shabbat. But that's a real pain in the ass, so the Talmud describes a procedure by which a public domain can be transformed into a private domain through the creation of an eruv.

I find this whole eruv thing very interesting. I'm not a religious person and I'm not a person who accepts rules simply because they're rules, but I do consider myself to be both a tolerant and a curious person. I'm not sure I even understand the no-carrrying-things rule in the first place, but what I really don't understand is the ease with which this rule can be circumvented. If you truly believe it's sinful to carry things on Shabbat, shouldn't you just not carry things on Shabbat? If you create a loophole to excuse you from practicing whatever it is you profess to believe, how deeply-held are those beliefs?

I think these questions are at the heart of my distaste for organized religion, and why I feel much more religious pursuing my own unique brand of nature-worshipping spirituality than I did as a young Catholic following rules that seem to have so little to do with the divine.

Although I'm quite happy with my own spiritual beliefs, I'm also interested in those of others. Well, unless their spiritual beliefs include one that says I'm going to hell for mine. Then we probably don't have much to talk about.

I think Shabbat is a beautiful tradition, but I admit I find the whole eruv thing extremely odd. Am I missing something?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Your Internet Or Mine?

This afternoon I came home early from school -- well, earlier than normal for me. I walked into my building and found my downstairs neighbor sitting on his couch watching TV with his door wide open. “Uh, hey,” I said, passing by as if this sort of thing were perfectly normal. And maybe it is. I mean, I’m rarely there in the middle of the day, maybe this is just how shit goes down. I already know the dude has issues with doors.

Anyway, I managed to unlock my apartment while juggling bags of groceries and had just greeted the kitty when I heard my neighbor’s voice behind me. “Would you mind if I used your internet?” he asked frantically. And despite the fact that I’d just walked in the fucking door, despite the fact that I have dial-up and using “my internet” is a chore even for me, despite the fact that I often see him hanging out at the coffee shop around the corner where there’s complimentary high-speed internet access, despite the fact that this guy occasionally knocks on my door to frantically ask if he can use my phone and then proceeds to sit around my apartment for 20 minutes at a time casually chatting with his friends and making plans to meet up with them later, I figured this must be some sort of internet emergency, so in he came.

“I signed up for match.com,” he explained with his characteristic sense of urgency, pulling up the website on my internet. “I’ve been emailing with this guy. Look, he’s really cute,” he said, calling me over. The guy didn’t strike me as particularly cute or un-cute, but I did note that he’s 47 whereas my neighbor is a twenties-ish college student.

Plus match.com?! THIS is the fucking internet emergency? I mean, I guess I can sort of get that. There’s a strong possibility that I’d go out of my mind if I couldn’t check my email every few hours, but I don’t know that I’d go so far as to stalk my neighbors in the hopes of sustaining a budding internet romance.

As almost anyone will tell you, the internet is a sketchy place to meet men. You're supposed to meet them at places like the grocery or the laundromat, which is why I was home from work early in the first place. (To do laundry, not to meet men.) Although my parents have a friend who met his wife at the very laundromat I patronize, there is about a 0% chance that I will meet the love of my life while doing laundry. My laundromat is frequented almost exclusively by men who are either A) gay or B) in the Navy, neither of which are really my type.

Today’s crowd was no exception. In fact, today’s laundry outing was fairly uneventful save the brief but terrifying moment of panic I experienced when I removed my long-time favorite pants -- pants I wore last week and wondered what the hell I was thinking when I decided not to buy them in every color they came in -- from the dryer and noticed that the care instructions directed me not to tumble dry them.

Don’t worry. They’re fine. And it's a good thing, too. I guaran-damn-tee you it'd be a lot easier to find a man than it would be to replace those pants.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

T-Shirts I've Recently Seen On Students

My personal favorite. . .

(This seems to have replaced last year's ubiquitous "stop snitching" t-shirt. Same basic sentiment.)

Also seen and noted. . .

"Hotter than your girlfriend"
(And chances are she wasn't.)

"Kiss my bocce balls"
(His teacher came over to ask me, "Does that mean what I think it means?" Answer: yes.)

"Norfolk is for hustlers"
(I see this one a lot. On fluffy-haired white boys. And I'd really like to know what it is that hustlers find so appealing about Norfolk.)

"Don't you wish your girlfriend was smart like me?"
(I might need this one.)

And a bonus booty sighting. . .

You know those shorts and track pants that say something across the ass? The other day I was walking up the stairs behind a young lady wearing a pair of those (with a matching hoodie, of course). On one cheek it said "heav" and on the other cheek it said "enly." For an overall impression of "heavenly." And, just to be clear, it said this on her ass.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In Response To A Letter To The Editor, Vol. VII

From The Virginian Pilot, 10.12.06

To the editor:

Why do school administrators and legislators cry out for a solution to school shootings when the obvious and ready answer is ignored? Arm teachers and parents. It has a proven track record in Israel, where the threat of violence against students dropped to near zero after its implementation.

The Second Amendment is America's orginal homeland security.

--Alan, Franklin

To Alan:

Why do people who neither work in nor attend schools always seem to think they have the obvious answers to the problems that exist therein? Arm teachers? Are you fucking kidding me?!

I mean, I can see why the idea would appeal to some people, but I'm just not sure I understand the theory behind it. Most likely the argument is that if would-be shooters know that teachers are armed (and will shoot them if what?), this will act as a deterrent. I have trouble convincing my kids I really mean it about detention. I can't imagine trying to make them believe that A) I have a gun that B) I would actually use to shoot them.

Even if I COULD convince them of this, and even if that did prevent school shootings, would we have really solved the problem? Those kids probably still WANT to shoot somebody. Unless we address that, we haven't done jack shit about the problem.

Try implementing a bullying prevention program, try treating the freaks and geeks the same way you treat the jocks, try improving race relations, try listening to kids for a fucking change, try any proactive thing you can think of to address the root of the problem before you decide that the "obvious and ready answer" is putting a gun in my hand in the hopes of preventing your unaddressed problem from manifesting itself.

Because the last time I checked it was difficult to bring about peace through a mere show of force. (Case in point: Israel.)

And the Second Amendment, just for the record, is America's original homeland security against a tyrannical government. Not against emotionally disturbed teenagers.

--Megan, Norfolk

Monday, October 16, 2006

Forget My Heart, It's My Boobs That Need Blessing

Note to my real-life guy friends: You might want to skip this one. Or not. I don't care. But no talking shit if you decide to read it.

I went bra shopping this afternoon. At Nordstrom, a place I typically do not frequent. I rarely wear a bra and I can't remember the last time I actually bought one, as I pretty much gave bras up at the height of my second hippie phase (hippie phase number one began my sophomore year in high school, but then I went through an inexplicable preppie phase in college, even going so far as to A) match things and B) tuck my shirts in. I don't really like to talk about this period of my life, but I'd recovered by my early twenties).

Every now and then I TRY to wear a bra, but I always end up sneaking into a bathroom to take it off within a few hours. Bras are uncomfortable. Plus, I teach high school -- sexy is not exactly the look I'm going for.

But then Lulu started posting pictures of her boobs (for a good cause) and when I mentioned that I had boob envy, she assured me the secret lies in the right bra. Which is exactly what my friend Kate who runs a chic-chic lingerie shop in Charlotte lectures me about almost every time I see her. So I emailed Kate and she sent me to Nordstrom.

And that is where my heart got blessed by the bra lady. After she measured me (because did you know that 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra? the horror!), brought me some bras to try on, and checked them out to discover that none of them were working for me, the bra lady said, "Well bless your heart!" as she rushed off to find ten or twelve more bras for me to try on.

"Bless your heart," for my readers in The North, is what Southern women say to indicate that they feel sorry for you. Most of the time, they really do feel sorry for you and "bless your heart" is a genuine expression of sympathy. Some women, however, use "bless your heart" to disguise bitchiness. As in, "You look like you've gained about 50 pounds, bless your heart."

I think the bra lady meant it nice. But still. "Bless your heart" is not exactly what you want to hear when you're trying on bras. It kinda makes you feel like your boobs might be, well, fucked up.

As it turns out, my boobs are not fucked up (or at least that's what I'm gonna keep telling myself). It's just that on those rare occasions when I do wear a bra. . .get this. . .I've been wearing the wrong size. Like by a lot.

So I bought a bra. A LACY bra, for the love of god. And I think I might even like it.

There you go. One small step for Wacoal, one giant leap for patriarchy.

Weddings And Crabs And Horses, Oh My!

Once again, I spent the weekend at my parents' beach house, this time with my sister and her boyfriend Mark. I mentioned last weekend how beautiful October on the Outer Banks is, and this weekend was particularly beautiful. The weather was great -- sunny and in the mid-60s with a brisk west wind. AND the olive bushes are in bloom, which means the whole island smells like heaven, or at least like heaven SHOULD smell.

It was a great weekend for a wedding, which was why we were there. Our friend MC, who my sister and I have been friends with since the early 90s when we all worked at a bathing suit shop together, finally got hitched to the great guy she's been dating for years.

The wedding was about 42 miles from our house, all but 15 miles of which were down 45 mph two-lane rural roads. We left the house at 1:23. For a wedding that started at 2:00. You do the math.

I was driving and I'm proud to say we rolled up to the wedding at 2:15, in time to catch almost all of the ceremony. I am, however, sorry that I scared Mark by passing three cars at once, although if he'd gotten in the shower sometime before 12:50 such maniacal driving might have been avoidable.

Anyway, the ceremony was awesome -- a small casual affair right on the beach, with bare feet all around.

Everyone slipped back into their flip-flops for the reception, which was on the Sound (west side of the island), and which, with the west wind, was fucking freezing. We spent most of our time chatting with our former bathing suit store employers about the evils of chain stores and then left right after cake, which was not too long after my sister looked at me and said, "Um, your nose is running" and I said, "Oh crap. I can't even FEEL my nose."

We snuck out the back to say goodbye to the caterer, who I used to work for and who was still cooking. "Damn, ya'll are still steamin' crabs?" I asked as I watched the poor little bastards scrambling around in a cardboard box. "Shit, we have about a bushel left, and there's still a bunch inside," the guy said. "What are you gonna do with them all?" I laughed. "Do you wanna take some home with you?" he asked.

And so we did. Two dozen of them, in fact. Then we went home and I made some hushpuppies (30 of them, in fact) and we sat around and picked crabs for the rest of the night. Yum.

Yesterday morning we got up and drove up North to what everyone calls four-wheel drive country because, well, the only way to get to it is by driving on the beach, and you need a four-wheel-drive for that. I had some reservations about this, what with it being completely environmentally irresponsible, but I'd never been up there before and I kinda wanted to check it out. This is one of the least developed parts of the Outer Banks, and it's also where the wild horses, who used to roam freely throughout the area, now live.

When I was a kid, it was not uncommon to walk outside and find a horse in your front yard, but as Corolla got more and more built up, life for the horses became more and more dangerous. Tourists fed the horses from their cars and perched their children on top of them for photos, and oh! ran over them, until the herd was finally rounded up and moved north away from civilization.

I miss seeing the horses, but it's merely one of the many things I miss about the Corolla of 20 years ago. And moving them was probably the best possible compromise between "progress" (I mean "rampant development") and conservation. It's been a good thing for the horses. When they moved the herd in 1994 I think there were about 20 horses. Today the herd is about 75 strong. And we saw five of those 75 yesterday. You're not supposed to go near them, but there's no law against them coming near you.

Anyway, some pictures. . .

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Live For Days Like This

I think my students liked the field trip.

They don't know it yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion they might have even learned something too.

And at the end of the day one kid said to me, "We had fun today. Thanks." It doesn't get much better than that in the world of teaching.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Why I Love Living In Norfolk, Parts 8013 & 8014

This afternoon I walked from school to Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church in preparation for tomorrow's field trip -- we're exploring how and what architecture contributes to the cultural landscape. I tried to time the walk so I'd know how long it would take my students (twice as long as it takes me, because god forbid they appear to be in a hurry to get somewhere), but I kept stopping to admire churches and buildings and other people's houses.

I adore my neighborhood. I may have mentioned this once or twice before. I love that there are a variety of different architectural styles, but that almost nobody (except me and my lame-ass fire escape) is without a wide front porch. I love that there are coffee shops and bars and restaurants and the indie cinema interspersed with schools and churches and temples and houses. I love that I can walk to pretty much anything I need to get to, including the river.

But more importantly, I love that the graffiti in the unisex bathrooms at my favorite local dive bar is geared toward politics rather than who one should call for a good time. My favorite example: "class war not oil war," a new one I noticed this evening.

Really, drunk people who take the time to make political statements while they're peeing? My kinda people.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So When You Say "Study," You Mean. . .?

I gave my first test of the year last Thursday. The test was what I refer to as a big-ass test. Not a quiz, not a test, but a BIG-ASS test. You know, the kind you should study for. We spent most of the preceding week preparing for the big-ass test. We talked about study techniques and test-taking strategies until I was bored out of my mind and the kids assured me they were golden on the whole big-ass test thing.

Then we made a collage.

The tests scores were decent, but not great. I gave the tests back today and had the kids do a reflection on their approach to the big-ass test. I'm big on reflection. In fact, inability to reflect on and learn from experience is on my list of dealbreakers. It's right up there with dishonesty, bigotry, and living in some cold-ass state like, I don't know, maybe Michigan.

Anyway, this little reflection activity revealed a shocking truth: Most kids did not study!

I know, I know, it's hard to believe. I mean, I TOLD them to study, right? I even told them HOW they should study and devoted three or four class periods to helping them do said studying. But kids these days have their own ideas about test preparation.

Check it out:

Describe in detail what you did to prepare yourself for the big-ass test.

On Wednesday night I was semi-aware of the test. I downloaded a few songs and listened to them. I then looked at a videogame I wanted. I then talked on AIM for a little while. (grade = 82%)

There is no "detail" in describing how I "prepared" for the test, because technically I didn't. (grade = 67%)

I came to class with a pencil. (grade = 82%)

I did Zen meditation. I lit scented candles in my room. Then I turned my room into a geography shrine. I had to do 500 push ups for every time I answered a question wrong. (grade = 95%. Little bastard.)

To be fair, many of my kids did what passes for studying in some circles.

I read over my notes and read over the vocabulary sheet. Like you TOLD us NOT TO.

I opened my notebook and looked through all the papers that had terms on them.

I looked over all my reading quizzes.

I made little notecards of all the vocab but I spent more time making them than studying them.

Went to sleep early, woke up and ate a good breakfast.
And then there's this guy.

I don't remember. (grade = 62%)
And speaking of not remembering, I also had a kid who stared blankly at the reflection assignment and finally announced, "I honestly don't remember a thing about this test." "That's because you didn't take it," I said drily while standing under my National Sarcasm Society poster. " Oh shit," he said.

And my classroom may be free of hats, caps, do-rags, coats, cell phones, iPods and all other electronic devices, but I draw the line at profanity. Really. Because you can't give a big-ass test and not allow kids to say "oh shit" when they realize they missed it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Birthday Present That Sucks

I returned a call from my mom yesterday afternoon. I debated whether I even should, because I figured she probably wanted me to measure something to assist her in her never-ending mission to redo the beach house. She is currently occupied with making her "white vision" a reality.

The white vision in its original incarnation involved, as you might imagine, varying shades of white. Then my mom decided that was a little too boring so now blue is allowed. But only light blue. Nothing too crazy. You still get an overall white impression, unless you go into my room where you will find both *gasp* yellow and *double gasp* paisley (which I know is not a color, but which is also totally not in keeping with the overall cabana stripes theme).

Anyway, I don't mind measuring things, but inevitably my mom wants me to measure something that A) I've already measured 14 times before or B) is impossible to measure by myself. But I called her back anyway because, well, I was raised Catholic and I figured there was a strong possibility that I'd go to hell if I spent the weekend in my mom's beach house but couldn't so much as measure something for her.

"What up dawg?" I said when my mom answered the phone, mostly because she often responds to that greeting with "what up dog yourself?" and I find it amusing. Yesterday, though, she responded with another favorite, "who is this?" "It's your daughter," I answered. "Which one?" she asked. "The good one," I said jokingly. "Oh hi, Laura," my mom said happily. And I laughed even though I'm not entirely convinced she was kidding. I USED to be the good daughter, but then I started voting Democrat and liking colors and stuff.

Mom: Are you still at the beach?

Me: (hesitantly) Yes.

Mom: Oh good.

Me: Why? Do you want me to measure something for you?

Mom: (indignant) No. I want to give you something. A birthday present that I have there for you.

Me: Oh cool. Thanks.

Mom: You know how you said you like that little vacuum that I have there?

Me: Uh, yeah. . .

Mom: Well, I hate that vacuum so why don't you just take it with you when you leave?

Me: (laughing) Happy birthday, here's an old vacuum I don't want anymore?!

Mom: Well, you might as well have it.

Me: Okay cool, thanks. But when Laura gets a new car for her birthday you are definitely gonna hear about this.

Mom: (laughing) Oh, I'm sure I will.

She won't, actually.

I'm pretty stoked about my birthday vacuum. It's small, it's quiet, it's light, it doesn't freak the cat out, it gets things clean. . .what more can you ask of a vacuum?

"What are you going to do with your old vacuum?" my mom asked. "Give it to poor people," I answered immediately. "Why don't you keep it as a back-up vacuum?" my mom suggested. "Who the hell has a back-up vacuum?!" I ranted, working up to a full-on tirade about decadence. But then I remembered I was talking to a woman who finds it necessary to have both an upstairs vacuum AND a downstairs vacuum, so I just said thank you for the vacuum and explained that I didn't have the space for a back-up.

Plug One, Plug Two

I've added two new links to my blogroll.

  1. Clipped Wings in Kitty Hawk. My friend Meaghan, who runs the bookstore I work at during the summers, recently started a blog of book reviews and the occasional derogatory remark about Yankees. If you like books, I bet you'll like this blog. Even if you're a Yankee.

  2. What's the Story? My colleague and friend Ronin, who likes to make fun of me by quoting back lines from my own blog, finally broke down and started a blog of his own. Not much to make fun of yet, but I have high hopes. He's a big sportsfan, so I imagine I won't understand half of what he blogs about. For instance, in just two posts he's already mentioned both the NFL and the Dodgers. He also mentioned Congress though, so I guess it all evens out.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

On Solitude

Yesterday morning I got up and drove down to my parents' empty beach house, mostly because I needed my hair done and we've already established that A) my hairdresser is cool and B) I don't care enough about the planet to find a less cool hairdresser in Norfolk.

Aside from that, though, it's been a while since I spent some quality alone-time at the beach. I mean, sure, I was at the beach in Jacksonville with my best friend just last weekend, and she was totally cool with the fact that I spent most of our beach time wandering around on my own picking up shells and wading in tide pools. "I love the beach," she said as we were leaving, "but I don't have the same spiritual connection with it that you and Trey (her husband) do."

I do have a spiritual connection with the beach, but I also find a great deal of comfort in solitude. When I was a kid we had a forsythia bush growing against the side of our house like a mini weeping willow tree. I used to crawl under the branches and just sit there until my sister discovered me and said something like, "What are you DOING in there? Aren't you BORED?" As a teenager, I can remember being thrilled on Saturday mornings when the rest of my family went off to soccer games and I had the house to myself. In college, when solitude is nearly impossible to come by, I started spending occasional weekends alone at the beach just to maintain my sanity.

It's not that I'm antisocial, it's that sometimes I just need to be by myself. And yes, obviously I live by myself (well, aside from all those cats), but there's a big difference between not having anyone else around and actively experiencing solitude. For whatever reason, the beach has always been where I feel most alone and most at peace.

So last night I poured myself a glass of wine (okay, fine, I poured myself several glasses of wine in succession) and I sat on the deck under the full moon listening to the waves crash onshore and breathing in the scent of pine as the wind rustled through the trees. Not a particularly hip way to spend a Saturday night, but I loved every minute of it and today I feel completely relaxed and rejuvenated (plus my hair looks good).

The MS Word thesaurus lists "loneliness" as the closest synonym for "solitude," but it is precisely because I am NOT lonely that I so enjoy being alone. I don't know. This certainly helps to explain why I'm single: I imagine it's somewhat difficult to connect with a girl who often prefers pine trees to people. But does taking such pleasure in solitude make me a weirdo? I mean, I'm not the only one who enjoys sitting around on a Saturday night with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company, right?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Living Sort Of Deliberately

I finally figured out why I've been grumpy for the past few days: I'm not in Florida anymore. I had a great time visiting my best friend, but it's always hard to leave her. Maybe I'll just move to Jacksonville.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post and if I tried to tell you about the weekend A) you'd probably be bored and B) I'd probably start to cry.


Although I've been feeling grumpy since I returned to school yesterday, the depth of my grumpiness didn't really register with me until this afternoon at our Young Greens meeting. (In retrospect, it probably should have registered yesterday afternoon when I told my friend Steve I was about to punch him in the face over something as trivial as a flyer.) Steve and I co-sponsor both the Young Democrats and the Young Greens. Neither organization did much last year -- the Greens got together fairly frequently to watch movies (Outfoxed, Fahrenheit 9-11, The Corporation, The End of Suburbia, etc.) and the Dems held a lot of meetings about getting t-shirts.

This year though, the kids at least have a lot of ideas about what they want to do. The Greens, in addition to wanting to get t-shirts, want to start their own Food not Bombs chapter, which is incredibly ambitious and admirable and impressive. But as I sat there listening to them talk about it, I found myself whispering to Steve about how crazy they were. "How 'bout volunteering with organizations who are already feeding the hungry, like the Union Mission or the Food Bank, so you can get a sense of what that's like before you take on something as time-consuming and complicated as Food not Bombs?" I suggested. "That's a good idea," the kids said. By which I'm pretty sure they meant, "Way to rain on our idealism parade, you naysaying bitch."

And I'm usually not a naysaying bitch. I'm usually pretty idealistic myself. Food not Bombs is, in fact, right up my fucking alley. So I tried to rally my old idealistic self for the inevitable t-shirt discussion.

"What did we decide about t-shirts?" some kid asked. "We're gonna get white t-shirts and tie-dye them green," the Vice President answered. "With eco-friendly dye!" the President added happily. "Are you gonna get sweatshop-free t-shirts?" my idealistic, non-naysaying self asked, mostly because I am madly in love with a little sweatshop-free t-shirt company in LA and will take advantage of any opportunity to plug them (see? I just did it again.). "Yes! We are not going to be selective liberals," the President announced proudly.

And good for them. But shit. Unless you are prepared to get all Thoreau on everbody's asses,* selective liberalism is where it's at. You can't go to work every day in sweatshop-free eco-friendly clothes made entirely of organic hemp. Believe me, I've tried. So, for the sake of practicality, we compromise some values while holding fast to others. I won't set foot in a Wal-Mart, but I'm no stranger to J. Crew and Anthropologie, neither of which are particulary ethical (nor particularly UNethical). However, you will not find a single cleaning product in my house that's not completely biodegradable, phosphate-free, and therefore eco-friendly. I may be a selective liberal, but I'm a prioritizing liberal. What else can you do really, aside from selling all your worldy possessions and moving to the woods to tend your bean patch?

*This is what teachers do, by the way. We start saying certain things to make fun of how our students talk and before you know it those things have crept into our vernacular.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I'm headed to Jacksonville, Florida tomorrow morning to visit my best friend and to celebrate our 31st birthdays. The fact that A) I'm getting on a plane and that B) my flight leaves at 6:55 on a Saturday morning should indicate just how much I love her.

Nisha and I have been friends since the 8th grade, when we each suddenly found ourselves mysteriously befriended by the same band of cheerleader types and shortly thereafter (in the grand scheme of things) decided that wasn't our scene.

When you've been friends with the same chick since you were 13, it's hard to sit around drinking very expensive gin out of even more expensive glasses while holding her children in your lap and not experience just a teensy bit of cognitive dissonance. In my mind we're still 19, sitting around a bonfire drinking Boone's Farm out of paper cups and talking about boys.

There's really nothing quite like a friend who's known you and loved you since your big hair days, a friend who sometimes knows you better than you know yourself, a friend who simply pours you a glass of wine and curls up next to you on the couch when you show up on her doorstep unannounced in tears carrying a bag large enough to suggest you might be staying for a while, a friend who will ditch her husband and kids to pick you up from the airport at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, a friend who reminds you every damn year that you are three days older than she is.

And so, in honor of our birthday celebration, I offer a photographic history of our friendship. Fortunately, I have no record of the early years (1988-1989), although I bet Nisha does. Additionally, we had a bit of a falling out in 1994 -- I don't remember why, I think maybe she hated my boyfriend -- so I don't have a picture from that year. Lastly, for some reason, I couldn't find a photo from 1996. Other than that, here you go.

Happy Birthday to us.

Oh! I forgot to mention that there are exactly zero good pictures of us in existence. We don't know why.