Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I'd Love to Read To You Honey, But First Mommy's Got To Deal With Her Rage and Get Out of the Seventh Circle of Hell

I thought it was a simple idea: call the college advising office to make an appointment to meet with an adviser who would look at my particular circumstance and answer questions concerning the endeavor I am trying to undertake which involves payment of money to their institution in order that I have classes and papers and tests. In return, the college in question would present me with a square of paper certifying my obtained wisdom.

I have an Associate's Degree plus lots of credits from a community college from way long ago. I want to finish my Bachelor's Degree. According to the adviser at PSU that I met with back in 2002 I found out that, after a math class or two, I can enter as a Junior. I wondered if this would be the same with the local college, however, this would prove to be harder to find out that I originally thought.

The advising office of the college in question - OSU (Oregon State University) Cascades - does not want to meet with me until I apply. Apply for WHAT, is what I want to know. I need to talk and ask questions, why is this unable to occur before an application is submitted? Are there vast numbers of meeting-askers who don't end up going to the school, thereby consuming a corresponding vast number of advising time? Or what???

Two weeks ago I went to the college fair at the fairgrounds and obtained a brochure onto which an actual adviser printed her phone number. I called this adviser and left a voicemail. (This is the very same adviser for whom I had left a voicemail for in previous weeks and who hadn't returned my call. At this point, my optimism was dented, but not shattered.) She didn't call back that day. I called again the next day, and then she did call back. For this first returned call, I was on the phone with the veterinarian about my cat's continuing diarrhea. I would have answered the phone immediately because I knew that if I didn't, it would only end up to be more phone tag but, you know, DIARRHEA. tag....blah blah blah...the phone rang, it was her. I answered and stupidly thought I was on my way toward planning my triumphant return to college. Did I mention that it was a stupid assumption?

"No," she said, "It's better if you register and ONLY THEN will I bother with you, you worthless piece of sh#t."*

That was yesterday.

Today, I gathered my strength and called the main advising number and asked the receptionist for an appointment with an adviser. I told her I knew where I wanted to end up - Master of Arts in Teaching from George Fox - and that I had credits and an Associate's Degree, but I needed to find out about which Bachelor's Degree I should look into, as well as the minors offered by their partner colleges and where I should begin. I said I didn't need my transcripts gone over except informally, because I wnated to map out a course of action now, then apply and register for whatever math class I probably needed in the winter.

It's confusing because OSU Cascades is OSU in partnership with the UO and COCC (Central Oregon Community College) to offer classes to the communities in Central Oregon. It's nice, in theory. I wonder if people actually get to attend school? Judging from my own cursory experience and difficulty to begin to find out information and plan a course of action, my guess is, not many.

It turns out the receptionist, Snotty McSnottypants, earned her nickname after telling me I "wasn't giving her enough information to know who to transfer me to." This, after I spent several sentences detailing justification for facetime with the adviser.

You know, now that I can see more than just the color red I can see her point. Here I was calling the college's advising office and inconveniencing her with my inane insistence to meet with a qualified person to work out my COLLEGE PLAN, and yet? I don't remember her asking the right questions to elicit the right information. I don't remember it, because it never happened! I dumbly figured she could understand the degree-seeking, question-asking, action-plan-goal-making kinds of words I used but BARRING THAT FREAKISH OCCURRENCE, then she would be able to ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND DROP THE ATTITUDE ALREADY since she works in the advising office and does this every day, and I don't.

Guess who she transferred me to? You're going to get this right because this is how these things work. If you said, the adviser who doesn't want to meet with unapplied students? You'd be right. Because they are not really students until they've applied.

So I hung up. I just couldn't deal with her YET AGAIN telling me to f*&% off. One time per day is my limit, thanks.

P.S. George Fox MAT program advisers? Are happy to meet with you, even if you do not yet have your Bachelor's Degree. Raise your hand if this makes you want to move to Newberg and go to George Fox University.

* Loose interpretation of actual comments, however, extremely accurate as an overtly implied sentiment.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Playing Catch-Up

I've gotten behind on the things in life that really matter: email, blogging, responding to email, reading other blogs, absorbing People magazine.

But, my kitchen floors have never looked better! *phhhhhhht. BFD.

Balance is needed so that soon, there will be equal time for both work and play which will mean I can go back to uploading pictures of my cats who ostensibly remark wittily about my existence.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mr. Sedaris and I

Last night in Bend, David Sedaris read a selection of essays. His own, I should say. Myself and 1,199 other people listened, laughed and clapped and then later made an unruly line to have our books signed. Honestly, the NPR-listening crowd really gets pushy when it comes to getting an autograph from an NPR-contributing author. But I was third in line, possibly due to the use of an illegal elbow on a skinny vegan.* Hey, this is a BOOK SIGNING we're talking about.

I had put some thought into what I might say when I met David. I wanted to come up with something different, something other than, "I really like your books, you're so funny, the stories are so wonderful, blah blah blah...." Because he's never heard THOSE THINGS before.

In between reading essays, he talked about a couple of books that he liked. An author he recommended was Richard Yates, now deceased, whose first novel, Revolutionary Road was a finalist for a National Book Award (1961).

'Aha!' I thought, as I sat in the auditorium, overthinking as usual. 'I could recommend a book to him! That would be different.'

Here's what I said:

"Here is my favorite bookmark (to sign) because I lent my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day to my mom. I have a book to recommend to you! Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. It's historical fiction and beautifully written. (Set in London, since he just moved there and became a citizen, I thought it appropos. And, a little clever. Oh, how the mighty do fall.) She also has a book of fable-like stories, sort of like your animal fables! (Ass-kissing is always in vogue! Except when it's not.)"

What I didn't say:

"I like your books. You're writing is funny and I enjoy it very much. One of my favorite essays was from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and it was about an uncomfortable visit you had with your sister and how you end up cleaning her apartment and washing her dishes because it's your way of saving her life. It's relatable and funny! Thank you for coming to Bend. I am so glad you came!"

Perhaps I should have given it more thought and said the latter, but, too late now.

Newly-signed bookmark:

As for the next time Mr. Sedaris and I meet, and I hope we do, I will give more credence to plain old "I like your writing" kinds of comments. Because standing out from the crowd and being unique is one thing, but being remembered for having talked about OTHER BOOKS to an author who is there to talk about his books is a whole other ball of nerd-wax.

* No vegans were hurt by me at this book signing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tripping the Light Fantastic

We were driving to soccer practice the other night when from the backseat a six-year old voice pipes up, "Uh-oh mama, there's Super Wal-Mart."

"Yes," I said.

"It's more like, un-super Wal-Mart, huh?"



To preface this story, it was recently our anniversary. (Two years!) I bought my husband the Pink Martini cd, "Sympathique" (It's not their new one - I like to wait for music to "ripen" before I purchase) and we had listened to it several times on a recent trip over the mountains. (A trip which requires it's own post.) Now we all know the lyrics through to the end of "Que Sera Sera".

Just this week OC and I were talking about her daycare days and I wondered if she remembered the girl who, for a brief time, bullied her. It was relatively minor stuff, relative to what it could have been, but nonetheless traumatic for me as a parent to see kids so young being mean to another kid. Especially my kid! For no reason. The kid's mom worked there, so it was a weird situation. Luckily, the girl went off to school after not too long. I'm thinking it was reform school. I don't know why I was trying to remember her name, except maybe because the voodoo chant requires specifics, but I wasn't coming up with it. I asked OC, " Do you remember Cedar Street Children Running Amok Center**?"

My daughter met my eyes with her gaze, nodded solemnly, yes, then began singing, "Que Sera Sera".

Such is life.

I'm not so old that finally, I did remember the name of that gremlin of Mephistopheles: Elika***.

* Now, if you like Wal-Mart and shop at Wal-Mart, fine. I don't have a problem with that - or you - and I don't want to argue. It's a choice and this is ours, to not shop there.

** Not the real name, of course.

*** Totally her real name.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I spent the evening at the library. It felt good to be out of the house and in a quiet environment where I could think. I wrote a little, and stayed until closing.

I think what bothers me the most about the last few days is how angry I've been after getting stressed out. I've forgetten things, I've dropped things, I've shaken with tension as I hurry at absolutely everything I have done.

My cat is sick, and has been inappropriately soiling and I am sick of cleaning it up. Twice a day! Then the whole kid-not-listening-not-to-mention-arguing thing, with my volunteer work not leaving me time to write or do anything of my own, and the struggle to keep up with daily tasks and watching, feeling helpless, while the day passes all too quickly and I have to stop what I'm doing yet again to move on to the next thing.

What I want - what I need - is more than a thirty minute block of time to put toward one activity. I need an hour or more to concentrate, to be absorbed. Whether it is sorting papers in the room that will be my work/craft/retreat area if I ever make room enough to spend time there. Whatever it is, I long for that feeling of getting lost in a project.

My daughter is not to blame. She's wonderful. I'm the one that needs to learn how to cope, be the adult, control the anger, to figure out a better way to get her on schedule without acting like our house is basic training and I am the drill sergeant.

Although, to my credit I haven't reached the point of calling anyone a maggot. Which is something!

Suddenly, She's a C and E Kind of Blogger

I've been writing this week, but I haven't had time to finish and then post. I am behind on responding to emails. Today's post is off the cuff and without edits. It's like being naked, showing all my flawed glory. Enjoy.

I'm frustrated and have blown my stack a few times, luckily, in private. I think part of it is due to burnout at being the only parent a lot lately. My husband's been officiating football games and while it doesn't take much extra time - especially compared to coaching did - it means he has been gone all day on Sunday. I'm glad he did it but I'm so ready for it to be over. I'm tired of being the disciplinarian, struggling to get my child to do what she knows she is supposed to do. Every day, it's the same thing. She acts like a soap star and develops amnesia when it comes to what she should do after school (chores, homework, THEN free time), then suddenly recovers her memory in time to ask to watch "The Simpson's" and oh yeah, what's for dessert?

Also, maybe I've been volunteering too much. I'm at the school three days per week for the mornings. That's really not a lot. Maybe I'm not coping well. I've been annoyed at the kids when they're loud and don't listen, which is all the time.

I haven't talked about what it's like at school yet. I have plenty to say, now. The teacher, who I think is mostly pretty good, does a few things that drive me up a wall and which aren't working well. Today, for example, she made them sit through 20 minutes of instruction. I know, I watched the clock and listened in disbelief as she droned on and on. By instruction, I mean that she told them how to do their assignment, one after the other. I think it would be better at the FIRST GRADE LEVEL to go through things step by step. At the very least, give the kids (six-and-seven year olds!) two or three steps to do and then LET THEM DO IT OR THEY'LL FORGET.


The teacher is a talker. She talks and talks and talks, and the kids wiggle, and talk to one another, and completely lose track of what they're supposed to do. This is evident when they FINALLY are allowed off the carpet to their desks and immediately ask, "What do we do?" Yeah, I feel for you guys because I have trouble knowing what they're supposed to do, too!

Anyway, now to my daughter. She is doing normal, growing up stuff that is driving me batty. She argues with me, doesn't do what I've asked her to do after three or four requests. At that point, I'm so mad I could spit. I have to remember a lot of things, and I take care of people in this family to keep them on schedule, and I really need to be listened to and for her to do what I say when I say it because there's a good reason why I say it! It sounds like I want a robot, but in this case yeah, maybe I do! Here's what you need to do, now do it. End of story. AGH!!! That's what I need to happen. So often when I remind her of what to do she complains and argues and sighs, and it makes me mad because I think of all that I do to make life good for her and.........oh, I need a vacation. Or a drug habit.

Anyway. Nobody's getting beaten or yelled at (except me, yelling at myself) so it's going to be okay. Eventually. After I run away.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Weekend in Pictures

We had a busy weekend, and I'm just now getting the photos together to prove it.

First there was OC's soccer game:

She's the player in red. Notice the ball is nowhere to be seen, because 1) my camera is slow and 2) feet of fury.

Then it was off to the pumpkin patch for the corn maize which was the shape of a ship, and then a hay-bale pirate ship where kids could walk the plank.

And jump from it onto some old mattresses and hay bales. Well, they hay bales were new.

A pony ride on an extremely bored miniature pony on his last go-round before his break.

GI Joe and Jane preparing to launch their pumpkins. He aimed, she fired.

The air-compressed-powered "cannon" made an impressive puff! as it lobbed each pumpkin hundreds of feet away. Very satisfying, I am told.

There was also a caramel apple and pumpkins. Ahhhh, fall.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


My daughter is funny. You may not enjoy it as much as I do, mostly because you have to hear it delivered from her serious, small face, but it's still mildly amusing even if it's read. She offered up this gem not too long ago:

"I want to give this rubber band to Dakota. I don't think he's experienced one yet."

Great! Because what cat shouldn't miss the experience (???) of a rubber band?

We were in a Chinese restaurant the other day and some people came in that we knew. (I know, I can count on one hand how many times that has happened since we moved here.) Anyway, after they left OC said, "Well, THAT was a pleasant surprise!"

I'm sorry, 'pleasant'?

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's using words like pleasant, I just don't know where she heard it. Not from me. When I see people I know I'm more likely to use words like: no! Don't go! No! Stay! Please!

So, you know, mystery.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In My Day Kids Spent Their Free Time Being Quiet and Sat With Their Hands Folded

I volunteer at OC's school three days a week for about two and a half hours a day. It's not going too badly. That amount of time gives me a chance to get to know the kids in her class and to help them with things that are hard for first graders, like writing.

It also means I listen to a lot of stories. I know which kids have dogs, cats, and or fish, I know which kid's dad is in jail because she keeps mentioning it. Most of the time, I love it. There have been a few days where I come home with a headache. Twenty short people with so much energy! So many things to say! Their teacher does a pretty good job of getting them to focus and then reminds them to be quiet and focus and focus quietly and then remember to be quiet. I appreciate her efforts. Her futile, futile efforts.

Her efforts are for not for naught (ha ha), only that it must be done repetitively which is a good thing. It gives the kids a sense of what's expected. Over time, they learn that they really, really can't get away with acting like wild monkeys let loose from the lab because someone's going to make them stop. Eventually, they'll not bother to start and resign themselves to working quietly at their desks learning Euclid's geometry. This is my theory, anyway, and I like to think it with my fingers firmly planted in my ears as the classroom noise exceeds that of an F-14 jet engine.

I want them to learn as much as possible. I hate to hear statistics about how many kids aren't learning to read, and that after a certain point it's basically a lost cause. I don't believe that, although I have nothing upon which to base my belief except hope. There is no reason why every one of those kids shouldn't know the alphabet, letter sounds, how to write, basic math, and to love reading as much as I do.

At the end of my day at school - which is when they go to lunch - they all say "Thank you, Mrs. Tourist!" Some of them want a hug, a lot of them smile and wave goodbye. That's when I melt. How sweet they are! How happy they are at having spent the morning with a grouchy rule-follower like me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Piano Girl

I spent some time cleaning the upstairs bedrooms in anticipation of my mom coming for a quick visit. I want her to believe I clean it regularly, so it's taking a lot of time. And then I notice that I'm up against a mess I had not anticipated.

OC has an interesting sorting method best described with words like random and haphazard. Of special note is the way she takes and places one of her 271 plastic necklaces into each of her 98 purses. The leftover necklaces she puts in various other places, but never in the SAME CONTAINER. It makes my whole face twitch to think about it. I don't get it, I really don't. That, and the way she hangs onto things because EVERYTHING IS SPECIAL. Things like, wrappers and packaging. I want to tell her nothing is special when everything is special, but I'm afraid that would be too much reality for a six-year old's world, so I refrain. And then I twitch.

The other thing going on is that OC is learning to play the piano. Before she takes formal lessons, her father is teaching her the basics so we don't have to pay $70 an hour for her to learn simple things like which notes are which.

I so love this haircut, mostly for the extra bits of neck I can see and therefore attack with my face, by which I mean kissing, because look at that neck!

One day, she'll be too old for outward displays of affection but until then - and as long as I have to sort necklaces every few weeks back into their separate containers like I'm pretty sure the Bible says they must - I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Party Like You Did in Highschool

Friday night, I headed to my hometown to watch the high school football game and to go see some friends who were getting together.

My graduating class was 75 people, four of whom I talk to regularly. In fact, we go to the beach together one weekend a year. I think I stayed up until 3 am, laughing and talking and having a great time.

We're a little older, a lot wiser:

I'm the gaping, open-mouthed dork on the left.

The game was exciting, with lots of interceptions and long, expertly thrown passes. Awesome! I've always loved high school football games although it was not that long ago when I finally learned what sayings like "first and ten" meant. That may explain why many years later I was attracted to and then married a high school football coach? Anyway. I think my love for the game comes from living in the country in a house that was five miles from town (population 640) and unable to get together with friends unless some event, like a football game, was going on.

There's a lot I could say about high school. For now I'll just say that it felt good to be in town again and great to talk to old friends. Especially now, when I live in a place that is new and unfamiliar and where I haven't a close friend. I stayed up so late because it felt good to be surrounded by people who've known me for years.

High school is an odd time, full of insecurities and self-doubt. But it was a long time ago.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Glamourous Way to Start the Day

This morning as I walked home after dropping off OC at school I thought about what I needed to do today. What I really wanted, I decided, was a pastry to go with my coffee. Something like a really good cinnamon roll or muffin.

Then I thought about what I really didn't want to do: clean the litterbox. Not scoop....clean. I thought about the most pressing thing that needed to be done which was also? Clean the litterbox. The cats have spoken, and their language of choice wasn't pretty. Preciouses need a clean box and new litter for precious furry selves.

About once a month, I empty the litterbox and wash it with soap and water, clean the floor under the box, and wash the scooper. Not something to look forward to, but it only takes about 10 minutes. The thing about me is, I'm pretty good at finding other things to do when something like cleaning the litterbox awaits doing. Is there anyone else who would want to do it? No? Is there anything else to do? Anything?? Sorting through junk mail and stacks of papers starts to look like fun - even if they'll take HOURS - compared to cleaning a dirty litterbox which takes ten minutes. This is the scary way my mind works.

Not today. Today, I cleaned the litterbox, scooper, and the floor.

I'm looking forward to that cinnamon roll, and feeling pretty good about it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A New Week

It's Monday and I've managed to keep track of my child all weekend. It's a miracle.

Everyone is getting sick, it seems, and they're spreading it around. In our house we are on the verge of full-blown colds...but not quite. OC got up - twice - to tell us she sort of, kind of, isn't feeling well. I think it was more that she was bored and lonely and as long as she was up, hey, we all might as well be up, too. Except, no; you are not a baby anymore and nighttime is sleeptime or else daytime will be angrytime.

This morning I spent an hour with a Spanish-speaking Mary Kay representative. I do not speak Spanish as a first language, and if you're wondering how that all happened let me say that for one, I have learned that it is not in the cards for my life to be simple; and two, it is a long story.

There I was, being told or when that didn't work, pantomimed as to what to do with the lotions being placed on my person. I was so tired after being awakened by my nearly-sick child - twice! - last night that I just. wanted. to. go. but she kept TESTING things on my hand while I smiled and nodded and opened my checkbook because I figured an open checkbook was an internationally recognized sign of wanting to stop the show and pay the money. She's a lovely woman but ohmyfreakinghell I am tired and now, NOW I am too awake to sleep.

Looking tired, but smelling good.Could that be my new personal motto? Well, that and, Don't Lose The Girl (again).