Friday, December 30, 2005

In Which The Blogger Is Rude

Tonight I took my daughter to a birthday party. It was a swell party, an hour and an half at the skating rink followed by pizza and cake at the birthday boy's house. A good time was had by all.

Well, almost all.

After the kids were done with their ice cream the grownups sat around the table, picking at leftover pizza and layer cake. The man to my left, an uncle (by marriage) of the b-boy, was a teacher in one of the city's nicer public schools. He complained about some things, most notably his class size (32, and no teacher's aide). I asked him what was going on in one of the wealthier (by a lot) suburban districts. "I saw a sign in the back of someones 'car," I said, "that said "another Edina teacher without a contract."

"That's right," he nodded glumly, "they dont' have one."

"The trouble was ," I went on, "it was in the back window of a brand new Volvo station wagon. What kind of PR is that?"

He turned on me. "What are you saying? That teachers should drive jalopies?"

"Ha ha," I went on in the spirirt of bonhomie that up until that moment I thought was prevailing, "they should have borrowed my car. It would've garnered more sympathy."

"Oh, I see. So teachers shouldn't drive nice cars." He stood up. "What you just said exemplifies everything that's wrong wth America!'

"Everything?" I asked. "Like, really, everything?" Jeez, I thought, this country's in better shape than I thought!

At this point another relative of the b-boy got into the act. "Think, Susan. You're handing your child over to the public schools for six hours a day. Dont' you want them to be taught by the best? Who are well paid?'

"God, no! I'd never dream of handing my child over to the government for six hours a day."

The silence was palpable.

Until it was broken by the aunt.


"You," she jabbed her finger at me, "are rude! Very, very rude!"

"I'm rude? "

"You just slammed a teacher!"

"I made a joke about Volvos!"

"You are rude! You expressed an opinion! One that people at this table didn't agree with!"

"Wait a second. I'm rude, because I expressed an opinion? That's really what you're saying?"

"That's right!"

I burst out laughing. "Oh God. I love the Left!"

The aunt stormed out of the party. Leaving, incidentally, her husband and two kids behind.

You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Sale You Can't Refuse

You always think you're done with the after-Christmas sales, and you always find out you're wrong.

KMart: the Martha Stewart leftovers. This year a burgundy-and-plaid tree, next year a Carribbean theme!

Bloomingdales: you''ll show those engraved Christmas card snobs a thing or two. "Season's Greetings" my a--.

Target: ok, here's where I came to my senses. Little girls' Christmas dresses on sale, red with fake fur trim. Your little Santa-ette would have looked pretty cute, even at full price. But buying one two sizes too large and stashing it in the linen closet til next December? I dont' think so. Imagine pulling it off the shelf when you're looking for sunblock in July. Eccch.

Even the toys didn't seem right. Only the oddball Barbie accessories left. A ten inch tall purple horse's head. Excuse me, Pegasus head. With a full mane your child can brush and curl. Talk about sick.

Maybe I'll buy it and lay it on the foot of someone's bed some morning. That'd show 'em who means business.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Three, Count 'Em,Three

My fabulous friend Maggie informed me today my last post repeated itself three times. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa..

I think it must have been my fault, anyway. Sorry if anyone was bored.

I spent Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day in Bethlehem, Pa. with my husband's family. Despite everyone's best efforts, the traditional Vigilante "Christmas fight" failed to materialize. Add that to how smoothly Christmas shopping with my nephew went.... Call it a blessing if you want. Me, I'm keeping a sharp eye out for four horsemen.

The kids were up until all hours, wild times in the hotel swimming pool being tossed back and forth by their uncles, fantastic pinot noir provided by my brother-in-law, and waaaaayyyyy too much lasagna all around, A good time was had by all.

I wonder how long it will take to lose the extra pounds and get back to a normal sleeping schedule.

Friday, December 23, 2005

December Thanksgiving

Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Whatever else there is to think about, I figure it's a good time to be think about what we have to be thankful for.

For my daughter, my husband, my family;

For health- nothing to be sneezed at, people,always remember that.

For indoor plumbing and central heating (also not to be sneezed at).

For the fact that Christmas shopping went relatively smoothly this year. (I keep thinking, What am I forgetting?)

For good books and good movies.

For above-freezing days when even a chillophobe like me can go out for a walk.

For labrador retrievers and their full-body wags.

For Jesus, always waiting for us, always patient, only asking us to trust Him.

For faith that He will always have a reason for whatever happens in our lives no matter how awful or how much we may hate it at the time.

For little kids in Christmas pageants and big kids slumped on the sofa with their iPods, for weddings and baptisms and friends breaking up with loser boyfriends, for friends who still email you no matter how far down the food chain you might slip, and for friends who don't even notice or care that you slipped.

For hope. Hope abundant.

We give thanks to Thee, O Lord. I certainly do, anyway.

December Thanksgiving

Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Whatever else there is to think about, I figure it's a good time to be think about what we have to be thankful for.

For my daughter, my husband, my family;

For health- nothing to be sneezed at, people,always remember that.

For indoor plumbing and central heating (also not to be sneezed at).

For the fact that Christmas shopping went relatively smoothly this year. (I keep thinking, What am I forgetting?)

For good books and good movies.

For above-freezing days when even a chillophobe like me can go out for a walk.

For labrador retrievers and their full-body wags.

For Jesus, always waiting for us, always patient, only asking us to trust Him.

For faith that He will always have a reason for whatever happens in our lives no matter how awful or how much we may hate it at the time.

For little kids in Christmas pageants and big kids slumped on the sofa with their iPods, for weddings and baptisms and friends breaking up with loser boyfriends, for friends who still email you no matter how far down the food chain you might slip, and for friends who don't even notice or care that you slipped.

For hope. Hope abundant.

We give thanks to Thee, O Lord. I certainly do, anyway.

December Thanksgiving

Well tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Whatever else there is to think about, I figure it's a good time to be think about what we have to be thankful for.

For my daughter, my husband, my family;

For health- nothing to be sneezed at, people,always remember that.

For indoor plumbing and central heating (also not to be sneezed at).

For the fact that Christmas shopping went relatively smoothly this year. (I keep thinking, What am I forgetting?)

For good books and good movies.

For above-freezing days when even a chillophobe like me can go out for a walk.

For labrador retrievers and their full-body wags.

For Jesus, always waiting for us, always patient, only asking us to trust Him.

For faith that He will always have a reason for whatever happens in our lives no matter how awful or how much we may hate it at the time.

For little kids in Christmas pageants and big kids slumped on the sofa with their iPods, for weddings and baptisms and friends breaking up with loser boyfriends, for friends who still email you no matter how far down the food chain you might slip, and for friends who don't even notice or care that you slipped.

For hope. Hope abundant.

We give thanks to Thee, O Lord. I certainly do, anyway.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Two Down...

I have just finished ploughing through Part II of the pile of stapled-tegether scraps of paper that comprise the book I'm writing. When I'm done with Part III I hope to have a fairly coherent next-to-final draft.

No one should ever decide to write books. No teacher should ever counsel a student to write one, and any parent that encourages the activity ought to be arrested for contributing to the destruction of a child's life.

I can't wait for it to be over. Other than that, I'm happy with how it's going. I was afraid I'd find one big mishmash of a manuscript, but it's actually a lot further along than I thought.

I was emboldened to embark on this cleanup by something I found in one of my Barnes and Noble expeditions. "First Draft In 30 Days" by Karen S. Wiesner is a clear and encouraging handbook for those of us who have been struggling to link our pages together.

The "30 Days" part is a little misleading, though.

"Days 1-3: Evaluate Your Previous Draft." By "evaluate" she means: Get out your scissors. Take the pages. Cut them up into individual scenes. Staple the bits together so you dont' lose parts of a scene. Evaluate each scene individually. Decide if it needs to be stronger, is fine as it is, or simply needs to go.

Three days? In Part II alone I came up with 129 scenes. Just doing the arts and crafts part of that took three days. Ms. Wiesner must be one fast woman with a stapler.

In medical news: excessive stapling can bring on bouts of motion sickness. Really.

Oh well. When I've diced and sliced Part III I'll be very happy. Will even blog about what the book's about then.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shovel It

Minneapolis is just emerging from its first major snowstorm of the season. I haven't checked official figures but it looks like there are somewhere bettween ten and twelve inches of snow in my yard.

I thought I handled it well. I got milk and bread and one or two other creature comforts the night before it started, and the first morning (it's been snowing for two days) I even shovelled the path between my back door and the garage. As an act of courtesy to the mailman I also shovelled the path across my front lawn that he usually takes.

I mean, I was A GOOD CITIZEN.

So imagine my consternation when I received a recorded phone call from the metroplitan powers that be, informing me that the city had declared a snow emergency and I had better get back out there and shovel the sidewalk in front of the house too.

Shovel the sidewalk? What, they can't walk in the street?

Then I remembered someone telling me the city fines folks who dont' do all the snow removal around their homes. So I shvelled the sidewalk. A lot of it. I cleared a path three feet wide and - oh, I don't know, but really, really long.

Later I told a friend about the phone call. "Oh, every household in the city got that call," she said, "even people living in condos. They do it all the time."

They never do that in New York. I lived in Queens during the Winter of the Thirteen Blizzards and I never once got a call.

I mean, come on. How would any self-respecting New Yorker respond?

"Hey shovel THIS, pal!"

Oh, I miss the East Coast.....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Narnia

Tomorrow we are going to see the Narnia movie.

The Narnia books are one of those things it's hard for me to be totally objective about. The stories were more than just stories to me when I was a child. They were an escape, a promise, a perfect haven.

I was introduced to them fairly late in my childhood. I was in sixth grade, in an all-girl class in an overstuffed parochial school on Long Island.

I was a bookish sort, and had few friends; I was the kid who was always reading on the playground. My teacher was an elderly nun who was well past her prime as an educator. She had two main interests that she drilled her class on: lives of the saints and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Day after day we heard the latest on canonizations and Syrian artillery postions.

(Like all the teachers in the school she was an ardent Zionist- her name in religious life was Sister Miriam Esther, and I always thought it must have gone to her head.)

One day she summoned me to her desk. I'll make you a deal, she said. You talk to two girls on the playground every lunch hour, and I'll let you go downstairs to the library. You can start tomorrow. And while you're there- she wrote a phrase on a slip of paper- try these..

I jumped at the deal. When I returned to my seat I looked at the paper. "The Chronicles of Narnia."

The rest is history. Needless to say, I am a little apprehensive about the film- what if they ruin my version?- but I'm excited about it as well.

I do wish, though, that the evangelicals would shut up about it. With all their talk of study guides and Christian messages I'm sure they're already putting people off the film. And no one should be deprived of the joy of Narnia.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

When Pants Attack

After the second sub-zero night in a row I decided no more screwing around: it was time to get myself some serious pj's. My daughter has a pair from Carters' that I found myself envying, and not for the "Cutie pie" picture on the shirt, either. They are made of the most delicious fleece I've ever touched: soft, dense, stretchy.... ahhh. And so warm she doesn't even need her bathrobe when she's wearing them.

That's for me, I decided.

So I went to KMart. And there they were, pajamas made of almost the same material. I bought a pair. I anticipated a night of cozy bliss.

Ha.

I knew when I pulled them on there would be trouble. The problem was the pants. They have one of those ridiculously low waistlines you see on aging ex-Disney stars.

Never mind the indecency of wearing pants that show off nearly one's entire pelvis. This waistline is the most miserably uncomfortable thing in fashion since the whalebone corset. I spent half the night trying to adjust my pajama bottoms. Either they were too high, tugging painfully you-know-where, or they were too low, leaving half my heinie exposed to the elements.

Who the hell thought of these pants? What fashionista thought a grown woman would even consider them? And I mean grown. These pajamas come in sizes up to 3X. Somewhere in America there are three-hundred-pound women flashing their butt cracks.

What is this country coming to?