Saturday, February 18, 2006


Chantel's excuse is a lack of brain-power... oh would that I had such an out! Today's blog is a meme (rhymes with "dream"), and it is being written because I'm feeling rather plageristic today.

* Being the "card chick" for American Greetings -- I spent a few high school summers working with my mother, the "card lady." We stocked the greeting cards at various Thrift Drugs. I was raking in the cash back then, earning about $5 an hour, which was WAY more then minimum wage at the time.

* Playing "gopher" at a local doctors' office summers during college. Imagine four doctors in what was once a four-bedroom house. Thanks to some creative remodeling, there was an x-ray lab in the basement, a phlebotomy lab under what was once the back porch, an accountant in the attic, and a front office that housed roughly eight women (who took care of patient reception, appointments, and insurance) and four gophers. Add 43,000 patients on file and you won't wonder why we nicknamed it the "mental group."

* Substitute teaching. Not much rivals the day that I subbed for a music teacher. Being the innocent that I was, I asked the students if they wanted to hear Beethoven or Mozart. I forgot that THE movie to see was Beethoven. Imagine, if you will, approximately thirty first grades so excited over the prospect of a movie that they swarm me, chanting "Beethoven! Beethoven!" Being unable to produce more then an old 9-inch of the dead deaf guy, I was persona non grata amongst the kids after that. We spent the class drawing pictures for their teacher.

* Brentwood, PA. Proposed slogan: We're a three-stoplight town now!

* Greensburg, PA. Ahhh, those unforgettable college years!

* Brentwood, PA. Moved back after college... this time bringing my husband.

* Law & Order: Special Victims Unit -- actual plots, ethical dilemmas, and too-human characters... not to mention Stabler's blue eyes. :)

* MASH reruns

* The Boondocks
-- the daily comic is actually better, but this has really grown on me.

* Yucababy blog -- a former classroom-sharing, carpooling buddy o' mine who's the inspiration behind this blog... not to mention the author of Love and Ghost Letters, a book you really ought to read. I'd lend mine out, but it's spoken for until next October.

* Sudoku -- my addiction

* For Better or for Worse -- I grew up on (with) this comic strip. It's a nice little kick-start in the morning.

* Scottsdale, AZ -- if I'm lucky, I'll be there this spring for an economic conference.

* Roma, Italy -- I've a pen pal over there who I miss more then anything. Haven't seen him in about twelve years, since he came to Pittsburgh with his high school. Seems my principal and his principal were friends (if I remember correctly), so the whole class visited little BHS and my AP World History classmates and I were designated tour guides for the day.

* Williamsburg, VA -- like this needs an explanation. It's Williamsburg!

* Spiderman 1 & 2

* Batman Begins

* The Mummy & The Mummy Returns

Okay, so that's technically five movies. The point is this: I'm going through a "hero" phase right now. As long as there's a good guy who saves the day, I'm happy. For depth and/or emotional cartharsis, replace the above with the following: To Kill a Mockingbird, American History X, and A Streetcar Named Desire.

* Blink -- It's all about "thin-slicing," or using your intuition.

* Freakonomics -- It's all about incentives and how they affect us.

* Until You -- It's all about strangers, love, and lust. (Hey, everyone needs a vice! Mine just happens to come in the form of cheap romance novels.)

So long as it's NOT leafy green and rabbit-oriented, I'm pretty happy. But for the sake of argument: pizza and a cold one.

Writing about topics that interest me and being paid for it. Yeah, like that's a shock, huh?

Soooo... there you go. A little verbal snapshot of moi. The meme site I linked you to is pretty interesting (thanks, Chanty!). I might just start visiting that when I need a topic. Then again, if life goes the way I'm hoping, you'll soon be reading about my finally receiving my MS in Leadership and Business Ethics and my quest for a Ph.D. program. Future topics also include: finishing Killing Julie and submitting it to a publisher, landscaping my property to remove that generic housing plan look, and getting my son to speak in complete sentences.

With that, dear reader, I prepare to leave you. But first:


Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public.
-Sir Winston Churchill

"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead."
-Gene Fowler

I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs.
-Stephen King

Friday, February 10, 2006

Anger Management

I think that -- if I could have -- I would have put my fist right through the computer screen today. Smashing something would have been nice. The absolute bottled up rage within me today was foreign, though once-upon-a-time... before mommy-hood and wife-dome and jobish-ness...

No, dear reader, I'm not sugar and spice and everything nice.

It doesn't pay much to be very nice. Really, it's rather expensive. Little girls who learn how to wear pink and bake cakes and rear their baby dolls are darling little things. Ornaments in training. Oh, don't worry. I'm not some ranting stereotypical feminist. I've no intention of burning a bra anytime soon.

My father is dead. I watched him die. I held my breath and wished it would end. It did, of course. It always does. But you know what? The obvious happened: I changed.

My childhood training to be a mother and wife is still with me, but several of the lessons on being nice somehow got lost along the way. I've decided that I don't have to be nice if it means biting my tongue and trying not to hurt feelings -- not when the price is my sense of self and selling my person to the lowest bidder.

While I'm nice enough to hide the details and protect privacy, I'll tell you this much: I no longer feel the need to be nice to people when they are wrong. If you are rude enough to answer your cell phone during a lecture, if while in public you behave in a way inappropriate for my son to witness, or if you find your personal conversations in the classroom more important then your fellow students' desire to learn, I don't have to be nice to you. I'm allowed to speak up for myself. I'm allowed to yell.

It's hard to remember sometimes.

I haven't yelled -- justly or unjustly -- in at least five years. Can you imagine? Standing up for myself was a challenge when the person was older and supposedly wiser. After all, I was trained to be nice. To respect my elders.

And what did it get me, anyway?

An ethics professor once talked to us about the differences between raising boys and girls. It was a fascinating class, because it articulated what I sensed but had never thought much about until then. We females are taught to live on this level playing field. We're supposed to get along, to play nice. Don't make others cry and all that jazz. Share your baby dolls and play house or shopping or make some little cakes in your Easy Bake Oven.

While we were inside pondering potholder kits and dressing Barbie up so that Ken would like her, our brothers were outside beating the hell out of each other so that they could win whatever versus game they were playing. Cowboys versus Indians. Cops versus Robbers. Good Guys versus Bad Guys. You name it, there was some sort of conflict.

It soon enough graduated to the courts and fields in the form of sports. More "versus" games while we learned how to shake our pom-poms and roll our skirts. We didn't talk to the girls we didn't like or who were mean to us. That would have caused waves. Someone might have cried and someone else would have been at fault. She would have been called mean.

So at what price comes nice? The world I grew up in taught me that females were valued for what we did to care for others -- but don't get me wrong, I'm not decrying that. I'm protesting the bookend lessons, the effects of those causes. My world did not teach me how to care for myself very well, if at all. I learned by accident, by watching my mother spend my youth being everything she wanted herself to be for us and nothing for herself. We had a few moments where she'd lose her temper and vow to quit being the mother she forced herself to be, but my brother and I never believed her. She never followed through anyway. That wasn't part of her training, I guess. On that gnarled family tree of ours, it was my generation of daughters that went to college. Not hers. Then again, my mother is someone who wanted nothing more then to be a wife and mother. Not me.

And thus the urge to break something. I didn't, of course. Not me. Instead I closed shop, logged off of the computer, and went home. The good girl.

Oh, reader, don't fear. I have my therapy like everyone one: I write.

Someone one remarked to me that being able to delete a blog entry is a pretty good perk. Other writers put their words onto paper, leaving them to last forever. So here's my question to that: if I put my soul into print, and then I delete it, am I denying that side of me exists? And should I? Is it better to edit for the world to think well of me, or is it better to be me?