Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

I Voted For a Woman. For President. (And for The South & a lot of other things, too.)

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

I voted for a female for President today. Let me repeat that: I voted for a female for President today.

It is huge, absolutely huge, that I had the opportunity, with my daughter by my side, to vote for a woman for the highest office in the country and likely in the world. But that’s not why I voted for her.

There have been many times during this year that I wanted to write about my thoughts on the politics of this election. Every time I felt outrage or dismay, I would put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and dump it all out. But something kept me from clicking Publish. Partially, it was knowing I would probably change no minds. As the season dragged on an on, and the bar got lower and lower, I realized it was futile, because I had no idea the depths to which matters could possibly sink. I would have been writing something new every day and I am pretty sure I would have driven myself and everyone around me crazy.

Instead, I watched a bit, and read a lot. I watched friends and family tear each other apart online. There were times that I left discussions with my own parents in tears, anger, fear, or disbelief. People I loved called me a bigot and told me, publicly, that “I was not raised this way.” They way you are raised is important, and it is a powerful influence on a person. I know that I have tried hard to be true to the teachings that I received, but to weed out the ones that are outdated, deeply seated in fear, ignorance, and generations upon generations of resistance to change and a way of life that is no longer viable, realistic, kind or true.

The greatest gift (of many given to me by my parents) was the gift of education. My parents taught me to read. And once a girl can read, she learns to formulate her own ideas and think for herself. Yes, I read the Bible. I read the WHOLE bible. What a miraculous work of art it is. My parents gave me my bible. They gave my children bibles, with my blessing, despite the fact that I have left the church and will never return to Christianity. There is good in that book, despite it’s flaws, and those of its followers. And I took so many of those teachings deeply to heart. For hours during church, I ran the crocheted lace,  pink, blue, and white cross bookmark that came in my bible on confirmation day between my fingers and thought about Jesus Christ on the cross and what that meant for me, and how it could possibly save us.

But my parents also gave me The Little Engine that Could. And Go Dog, Go. (I took that one deeply to heart. I still love big dogs and little dogs and dogs of all shapes and colors, and dog parties.) And I read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. As a child, that book probably affected me as much or more than anything I had read up until that point. That book is my first recollection of thinking about race, and of wondering what my part of the story was.

My grandmother later gave me her original copy of Gone With the Wind. I think that book is a rite of passage for a little white girl whose family on both sides have lived on Southern soil since before we were a United States of America. I wonder if Grandma thought it would make me privy to some great inheritance of what it means to be Southern, or if she saw Scarlett as a woman, flawed, but strong. Or most likely, knowing my bourbon-drinking, chain-smoking, card-playing, Charleston-dancing Grandma Vivian, she just thought that it was a rollicking good read. Maybe for her it was just a cultural phenomenon, like Star Wars or Harry Potter or The Hunger Games.

She, by the way, was born in 1907; Her mother, Ida did not at the time have the right to vote. My grandmother, as a child in Louisiana, witnessed a lynching. Her grandmother, as a child after The Battle of the Wilderness, wandered around Ellwood Manor looking for blackberries and came across a dead soldier. Both my paternal and maternal lines consist of both slave owners and confederate soldiers. My point here is that sometimes fiction is not just fiction. Sometimes, to a little girl growing up in Atlanta, it is a link to the past. Sometimes it is like reading a story about the people you know. Sometimes it is like reading about yourself; when other little girls the world over read that book, they probably thought, “what an interesting story.” When I read it, I was completely mesmerized and fascinated by the fact that it was set right here where I was born in 1972, and it was based on things that really happened here.

I will never know what my grandmother really took from that book, and boy do i wish I could have an evening to discuss that and much more with her. But what I took from reading that book, was yes, a strong female protagonist, and an example of skillful storytelling, but also my first real feelings of conflict over my families’ parts in the American history of slavery. It spurred in me an interest in the Civil War. Here was this story, based on “truth,” that discussed a battle that was fought on the very soil that I lived on today. It has become for me a lifelong interest in both family and local history and southeastern history. I started asking questions of the older folks in my family. I got a lot of answers about how we were an “old colonial family” and had grand plantations and lost everything in the war. I heard a lot about “state’s rights” and property and the like.

As I got older, though, I continued reading. I read Huckleberry Finn. To Kill a Mockingbird. The Red Badge of Courage. Beloved. Invisible Man. The Bluest Eye. The Color Purple. Their Eyes Were Watching God. I have so many more to read. So many more.

I started to figure out the right questions to ask. And i didn’t always get the right answers, or what i thought were true answers. Or I got whispered answers. When I got older, I knew to ply some of the older folks in the family with booze, and I would get more honest answers. That’s how I learned about my grandmother seeing a lynching. She had told my cousins about it when they were middle aged. She never told me a word about it.

It was the same way with reading about women. Scarlett was fascinating, because she was an agent in her own life. She was the actor, not the acted upon. (Yes, she was a white woman, a slave owner, and that is not to be excused, but she was a strong woman.) And again, i read books about strong women and interesting women. Catherine the Great. Amelia Earhart. Susan B. Anthony. Rosa Parks. The Awakening. “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” Some of the books I wrote about above were crossovers – Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Color Purple come to mind. Powerful books about feminism and race.

Growing up, i was taught to be ladylike (complete fail, obviously). And i was taught to learn to take care of myself: Change a tire, charge a battery, change a spark plug, tar a roof, etc. I was taught to respect my elders. I was expected to get an education. A college education. Looking back, i think that expectation was so that I could support myself.

But I also heard, “One day, when you have kids of your own. . . ” and that was not even seen as an expectation. It was just seen as fact. When I said, “I’m not good at math,” no one said, “You just need to work harder, that’s ridiculous. You are intelligent.” I was built up by having someone tell me, “You are a great writer.” And I think I am a good writer. But I wonder what else I could have been good at, or who else I would have been, if someone had said, “Get an education because it means ‘freedom,” or “you can be anything you want to be.” Or, “women don’t have to get married or have children.”

Those are things I never heard. I also never heard anything except, “No sex before marriage.”

This is not a criticism of the adults in my life. I understand they came to be who they are through a long line of people with strong beliefs and less access to books and diversity of thought than the one I found in my true church (the one whose chapels are libraries and whose cathedrals are lakes, trees, mountains, forests, and rivers). And i am thankful that they gave me the path to find those books and the time to think those thoughts.

Writing this post, I am not sure exactly where I am going with it, except that I have been overcome with emotion all day. I didn’t wear a pantsuit for Hillary when I voted, because . . . well, I’m me. I don’t own one, and that is the sort of thing I hope to never have to wear again. I didn’t wear white for the suffragists who went before me, because . . .it’s after Labor Day. I don’t own “winter whites.” I don’t even have a white tee. My wardrobe is all black, and the darkness of wine, forest, purple, plaid. And then I saw The Bitter Southerner* posted this on Instagram:

bitter

(You can get your own at http://bittersoutherner.com/election-day-2016-a-better-south.)

I was flooded with all sorts of emotion. I am a Southern woman, a descendant of slave owners. I had relatives in the generation previous to me tell me that during the civil rights movement, they hated Martin Luther King, Jr. One of them said he was happy that he was shot. (Try to wrap your head around that one.) I have struggled with issues of race my whole life. I have struggled with religion, and the bible and the hypocrisy of the church. And I have often felt, as a woman, and especially a southern woman, that what was truly expected of me, above all else, is for me to be a reflection of my family, the people that came before me, and in particular, that I was to be a positive reflection on the men who came before me. I should “do them proud.” When it comes down to it, I think there is still a huge belief in the South that a woman is simply an extension of the men in her life. Her greatest achievement is making those men proud, being a good wife, and raising good Southern children. It is difficult to say that out loud, but it is the truth.

I am proud to be southern. I am proud of my husband and my children, and of the people that came before me, even if I disagree with them in many ways. I am proud that in many ways, I have bucked the norm. I would wager that I am the first in a very long line of my family’s generations to openly and publicly reject Christianity. If you think on the long history of Christianity, that is actually quite a feat. I reject racism. I strive towards making my world better for everyone, not just the people who are not like me. And I am probably the first mother in a line of many women in my family that is actively telling my daughter, “Get an education, because it give you the options to be anything you want to be.” I have already talked to my daughter about birth control and sex and that her body is hers alone. That she can do anything a man can do, and if she wants to do it first, she should step up. No need to let the man go first. That if she wants things, she needs to state that she wants them. And if she doesn’t want them, she needs to learn to say no to those things, too. That she needs to speak up when she sees wrongs. That what I hope for her is that she will be kind, happy, and herself. Whether that means being a wife or a mom, or a teacher, or a scientist, or an artist, or a soldier. That she can be any combination of those, all or none of those, or something completely different that my mind cannot even imagine, but that she will see in her own mind’s eye. And that when she achieves those things she wants in life, (while she is achieving them, even) she will help others achieve their dreams, too.

And that’s why, when I painted my nails blue, and wondered what to wear to the polls this morning, I didn’t pick blue for the Dems (I am decidedly an independent), or white for the suffragists, or a pantsuit for Hillary. I decided to wear my Bitter Southerner sweatshirt**. It reads, simply “SOUTH.” I was weepy, trying to explain to my son and daughter about how momentous this day feels. I felt compelled to put down in words what I was unable to speak without seeming like a crazy, choked up, overly emotional woman. I wanted them to know all the reasons that it meant so much to me to cast my ballot today. I wanted them to know the thoughts behind my welling eyes.

You have probably heard by now about the “secret” pantsuit group on Facebook. I think I was first added to it when there were less than 200,000 members. The idea of it was, “wear a pantsuit, in honor of Hillary, when you go to vote.” As of this morning when I looked, it has now grown to more than 2 million members. All of them are not women. There are men, too. But they are all there because they are voting for Hillary Clinton. They are diverse, and smart, and their stories, which i have been reading for over a week now, are compelling, moving, inspiring, and life-affirming. They are from all over the world and all different walks of life. And many of them are posting the reasons that they are voting for Hillary.

There are many of them that feel she is the perfect person for the job. (I tend to be more of the Mark Twain school of thought on politicians – Not really a huge fan of any of them.) There are many of them that are voting because she is not Donald Trump. So many different reasons, from being an immigrant to race, to feminism, to . . . you name it. Their varied reasons for it all were staggering to me. They were definitive, and they were tentative. Some of them were voting for her despite never having voted for a democrat in their life. Some of them were voting for her, despite the train wreck that healthcare in our country has created for their families and their small businesses. Some of them were voting for her despite their devout religious beliefs about abortion. They ran the breadth and depth of the human condition – They are both specific to their own experience and yet they apply to so many of us. So, millions of them have posted their reasons for voting for her.

I have been thinking of my own reasons. I wish I could ask my grandparents about their thoughts on politics. Because I wish the women who are not bothering to vote in this election knew what it was like to not have a voice. Because I hope that one day my children (and maybe my grandchildren) will read it and know that I was a thoughtful person in the midst of history, that I gnashed my teeth over this one, and wept for the future of my country.

Here are some of the reasons I am voting voted for her (there are probably many more, but these are the things I can think of right now, or have been on my mind, and especially the ones that I feel deep down in my gut.)

  • First and foremost, I am voting for her because I think she is the most qualified candidate. Period.
  • I am voting for all of the women that couldn’t vote for so long. For women who had no voice for thousands of years.
  • For everyone who didn’t fit the white, male, protestant mold and was therefore not allowed to vote.
  • For the grandmother who was just dropped off by her husband at a hospital and labored for twenty four hours with a breech baby
  • For the one that went to work to support her family when her husband was gambling it all away
  • For the little girl who had to wear the white tights and black patent leather mary janes and a dress with a crinoline containing a bell.
  • For the little girl who drew a picture at church and they told her they thought little girls in pictures should wear dresses, not pants
  • For the only two little girls on the boys’ baseball team
  • For every girl who was told “boys don’t like loud girls”
  • For every one who was told “children should be seen and not heard.”
  • For my first friend, who always made her Barbies kiss each other, instead of Barbie and Ken kissing, but hid it from everyone but me.
  • For every little gay kid who had to play along while we played “smear the queer.”
  • For Graham, and every other gay or lesbian or bi person i have known since.
  • For the friend whose grandfather wouldn’t stop touching her
  • Because that guy in the neighborhood always whistled at us when we rode by on our bikes
  • For the girl who was pushed into a walk-in freezer, with a hand against her neck, and fought the boy who put his hand down her pants
  • For every jerk who ever groped or thrust his hips at me on a bus or a train.
  • For the boy who took advantage of a very intoxicated just-turned-fourteen-years old girl on a trampoline
  • For every friend one of his who started calling my house the very next day
  • For every person to whom I’ve had to say using the “N” word is not okay, and especially not in front of my kids.
  • That includes the jerk from two weeks ago at the bar who thought it was okay to say about football players on tv, and also the guy two seats down from him that whistled at me as I walked by him on the way back from the bathroom. It was 4 pm in the afternoon. In 2016.
  • For every woman who has been spoken over or interrupted in a meeting
  • For the same women who spoke up, and were called Bitch.
  • For the little Iraqi girl that was in my son’s class. She was 8. She spoke no English. She didn’t need to – The horrors she had seen were apparent in her eyes.
  • For my children and their friends who want to know if some of them will be sent back to the country they came from if Trump is elected.
  • For the amazing people from all over the world that came to this country, love it, and are living right in my backyard and teaching me so much
  • For all the sweet little African American boys that I have been watching grow up and who are in my heart and my prayers as they become teens.
  • For their mothers, who are strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family.
  • For my friends who had access to birth control; for the ones who had access to safe and legal abortions.
  • For my friends who choose to live their lives in non-traditional ways and are becoming more and more open about it.
  • For the things that are important to all of us, and help us achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: Love, forgiveness, charity, inclusion, independent thought, education, religious freedom, equality, art, music.

The emotions I felt this morning were more than just a woman voting for a woman. The woman voting this morning was a product of so many years of inequality and hypocrisy and misogyny, of pain and frustration, and watching others suffer. And while I am a proud American, I am an even prouder Southerner. And proudest to be a Georgian, who has had the privilege of seeing gay marriage legalized, and our first African American president, and hopefully our first female president: Three things I never thought I would see in my lifetime, much less in so few years. Three things I had the honor of sharing and discussing with my children.

I voted for her because she is the most qualified candidate. I voted against him, because of the rest of the list. Considering the political climate and the pain and division this election has caused, It was the easiest and most satisfying vote*** of my life. There was no question in my mind. This morning, at the polls, I was a Bitter Southerner voting for a bitter Better South.

 

My hand and four sympathetic kid hands, all in blue polish. 

img_1894

Me and my girl. We just voted together. (Sporting our blue polish, our peach stickers, and me in my South sweatshirt.) Yes, I let her cast the ballot. #rebel – Photos by Rollie, who didn’t want to be in the photo because he is 13 and that’s “like, so dumb.” [sigh]

img_1915

 

Hopefully she will never forget this. Or ever think that I regret having her and her brother. (“The” button.)

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*  You need to read Bitter Southerner, especially if you are from a long line of southerners. I am jealous I didn’t think of it first. It is amazing, like reading stories written by your own family and friends, but the smart and enlightened, funny and interesting ones. If you are born here, you will enjoy it. If you have deep roots here, you will feel it in your bones.

** Okay. I have to admit it. About the sweatshirt. I also wore it because it finally got cold here in Atlanta today, and damn it, that thing is so broken-in and well-loved, it is super comfortable.

*** Also satisfying: Voting for two local candidates I really, really believe in: Good luck to Scott Holcomb and George Chidi.

Rollie Looks Into a Wardrobe (with Lucy, of Course)

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Last night, Rollie chose a kids’ version of one of the Narnia Chronicles (the kids’ books are called “World of Narnia”) for Todd to read to him and Tiller. It is called Aslan, and Todd just said that it was “very abridged.”

After school, I let Rollie play some xBox, since it is friday, and he kept his four scoops, and he had no homework. I wanted him to go outside and play, since it is so nice outside, and we agreed that he would play 30 minutes of video games and then go outside.

Well, he got up and turned the tv off by himself. I did not know that kids were capable of this, but i did not show my alarm, but just rolled with it. He then turned to me and said, “Mama, do you care if I don’t play video games, but don’t go outside, and maybe read one of those wardrobe books?”

Um, does the pope wear a funny hat?!

“Of course,” i said, “where did you put your other ones?” I thought that he meant that he had another of the World of Narnia books and wanted to read it.

“No, I mean the ones with the numbers.”

Oh. He means he wants to read THE Narnia Chronicles.

(Side note: Yes, Todd and I are nerds. The series is on our bookshelves. Along with TLOTR, Harry Potter, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. You know, kids books for nerdy kids and their nerdy parents. Commence fun-making.)

Todd and I thought it was so cool he wanted to read the Aslan book last night, and we discussed whether he could read the real books and thought maybe they were too hard for him. But when he asked me i said, “Well, you can try one. Sure. It is a pretty big boy book, but I think you can try it and you let me know if you have questions about it, or don’t know a word, okay?”

Because i didn’t want to tell him that he couldn’t read it, if he wanted to try, but i also didn’t want him to read it and find it hard and then never go back and try to read it again, because let’s be honest, if you never read The Narnia Chronicles, there is a fundamental gaping hole in your childhood reading and, very likely, your soul.

So, here i am, working on some editing, watching him on the couch with a down comforter pulled over his legs, and his head on a pillow, and he is reading the first chapter of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and I am about to die I am so nervous, but he appears to really be reading it, and . . . I think Todd and I could very likely explode at the dinner table tonight if we get to discuss Narnia with Rollie over dinner.
Rollie Reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Update: He just asked me what “inquisitive” and “jollification” meant. Love that he is reading stuff that isn’t dumbed down. Makes me feel like we might be doing something right.

At least for today.

Bossy and Stubborn

Friday, February 5th, 2010

This story will not surprise anyone who knows Rollie and me well. Rollie and I? We are just alike in so many ways. We can be a little intense. Focused to the point of obsession about things we enjoy doing. (God forbid you ask us a question while we are reading.) We don’t like to be told what to do. We are brilliant and attractive. (Okay, I just stuck in that last part.) What does this mean?

It means we fight like cats and dogs.

I know it sounds silly that I would argue with a six-year-old, but you haven’t argued until you have argued with Rollie. He really keeps me on my toes. Some days he gets the best of me. Some days he makes me cry. Some days I wonder whether he even loves me.

Last night, though, we got into an argument so absurd that it sent me into a fit of giggles. We were reading a book before bed. One of those Berenstain Bears books from Chick-fil-A. You can say whatever you want about Truett Cathy, but big props to him for not sticking another cheap, crappy plastic toy into the kids’ meals, and instead opting to give kids books. What a novel idea! Get it? Novel? I’ll be here all week, folks.

So, we are sitting on my bed like we do every night. Todd or I will sit in the middle, and Tiller and Rollie sit on either side. We still make a point to read to both of them, even though Rollie can read himself. We figure Tiller needs to get the same amount of reading that Rollie received in his first years. It is surprising how shafted the second child gets sometimes, and the way that the first child will complete tasks, sentences, and answers for the younger one, preventing the younger one from having to learn for themselves. After we read, Rollie will sometimes go into his room and read a chapter book on his own, until we make him turn out his light. (This also is absolutely nothing like me. I swear.) While we are reading with Tiller, though, Rollie will stop us if he doesn’t know a word, and we will define it for him, then continue reading.

So, last night, I was reading along, and came to the word “obstinate.” Rollie stopped me, but instead of asking what it meant, he said, “I already know what obstinate means. It means ‘bossy.'” (It’s always “I already know” with this kid – you can’t tell him anything.)

Me: “That’s great that you know this word, but it actually means ‘stubborn.'”

Rollie: “No, it means, ‘bossy.’ Mrs. Anderson told me so.”

Mrs. Anderson is his teacher, and she is awesome. She is also very smart and I figure that she knows the meaning of obstinate, and Rollie probably just heard her wrong.

Me: “Baby, you are really close to the meaning, but it means ‘stubborn.'”

Rollie: “No, it means ‘bossy’ and I know I am right.”

He got the unshakeable look to his face that he gets. It is a kind of “discussion over, I am not listening to you anymore, finger in my ears, singing loudly” set to his jaw. It kind of scares me. Meanwhile, Tiller is picking up the book that I had set down in my lap and is fingering through it, looking bored with the whole discussion. I realize we might be there all night.

Me: “Okay, well, it means ‘stubborn.’ You just look it up in your dictionary when you get to your room.” (Way to get the last word, Mom, I think to myself.)

Rollie: “I don’t have to look it up, because I know that it means “bossy.””

I am not sure whether the next part is due to my desire to help Rollie learn, or my desire to always be right. Not pretty, but it is probably the latter. I pick up my iPhone and google “obstinate definition.” I click on the Merriam-Webster link that comes up. I show it to Rollie. It reads:

ob·sti·nate
adj.
1. Stubbornly adhering to an attitude, opinion, or course of action; obdurate.
2. Difficult to manage, control, or subdue; refractory.
3. Difficult to alleviate or cure: an obstinate headache.

Rollie: “Well, that’s wrong. I know it means “bossy.”

Me: “Stubborn.”

Rollie: “Bossy.”

Tiller, wailing: “When are we going to finish the book?”

Me: “You’re right Tiller, let’s read.”

I begin to read, thinking about the argument with Rollie, and the fact that it was over the word ‘obstinate,’ and then i get the giggles. I can barely read the words in the book for the giggles, and the kids start giggling too, because how funny is it that Mama can’t stop giggling?

They ask why I am laughing. I tell them, “because it is funny that Mama and Rollie were arguing over whether the word obstinate means bossy or stubborn. Tiller, you can just call Rollie and me Miss Stubborn and Mr. Bossy.”

You can call us that, too. Miss Stubborn and Mr. Bossy.

Yo La Tengo, Beer, Me, Me, Me.

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

So, Todd is in NYC all week for work, and he gave me the afternoon off yesterday, so that I could have kid-free time before the week kicks into gear. I rode down to L5P with neighbor Scott and his friend Seth. Ah, the glamour of arriving anywhere in a minivan. Nothing like it.

We proceeded to Criminal Records for the 4 pm Yo La Tengo instore. Scott bought the new album and got it signed. He is a record nerd, which always cracks me up. He is v. knowledgeable about music and we like a lot of the same stuff, and I even like him despite the fact that he likes Phish. YLT played a short set (mostly new stuff, including the fun “Periodically Double or Triple,” and a Beatles cover – name? Cannot remember) bantered with the crowd in their usual witty and self-deprecating way, and sounded pretty good. A fun time, despite the fact that I am coming down with a cold, and it was hot as Hades in the damn place.

Speaking of, let’s take a moment to discuss my thoughts on dressing for Fall in the South, shall we? I automatically think that you are a complete idiot if the temperature is in the 70s and 80s and you wear any of the following:

  • Long sleeve shirts*
  • Wool caps or hats
  • Cardigan wrap sweaters
  • Wool plaid skirts
  • FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD, knitted or wool scarves?
    *These are merely questionable. Why not a short sleeve?

I then bought a couple of CDs (browsing without children! No hand-holding! Awesome!) and then went next door to The Porter. I had not been there before, and I LOVED it. Great beer list; knowledgeable, witty, friendly staff; comfortable bar stools; good pub food (at least what I had – the Porter Poppers – was excellent). I love the atmosphere and had a wonderful, three-beer afternoon to myself, sitting at the bar, reading for a couple hours, periodically looking up to watch the folks outside walking by in the rain.
I am my mother’s daughter, so I did chat up some fellow patrons and the bartender. Met a couple people who had driven all the way from Florida to see Yo La Tengo. I am always impressed by road-tripping music fans. (As long as they like good music, of course.) And then another guy sat down next to me. Turned out we had both grown up in Atlanta and knew some of the same people. Georgia and Ira from YLT came in, presumable for dinner, and walked to the back of the bar. Todd arrived, having pawned the kids off onto my dear sister. We had another beer and chatted with the Atlanta guy, nodding our heads as the conversation got weird, and involved his life and death experience, and how he saw levitating beers come up out of their glasses and float in the air. Nope, not kidding. He said all this with a straight face, and I love my husband, because we both just nodded like we were listening seriously to him, and never took our eyes off him. Nodding, nodding. But we know one another well enough that we were having an unspoken conversation that went something like this:

Todd: “Did he just say that he died and then came back to life?”
Me: “He just said that he and the chick from the band BabyShakes watched their beers leave the glasses and float up solid in the air and then splash back down on the bar. No one else there saw it.”
Todd: “Yep. Did he just say that she understood all this, and that he figured out the whole thing in numbers and did the math? Were there numbers after the decimal point?”
Me: “Yep. They had a connection. What the fuck is he talking about? Is there a mathematical formula for crazy?”
Todd: “Yes, evidently, there is, and he has solved it.”
Me: “I’m going to chug the last few sips of this beer, then excuse myself to go to the ladies’ room.”
Todd: “I’m gonna get the check and pay up.”
Me: “Tip the bartender well.”
Todd: “You know it.”
[Aloud] “It was so nice meeting you. You take care now, okay?”

After that, we paid up and met Scott and Seth at Vortex. Not my favorite place to eat, but Scott wanted it, because he can’t eat there with children. This is a common theme for parents. It is like when I don’t have kids with me, I choose where to sit based on it being where I wouldn’t usually sit with the kids. This is usually the bar.

The best part about this was that I got to see the first quarter of the Bulldogs playing Arkansas. The rest of the night, I received stellar and timely text updates from both Brett and Jason B. It was much appreciated, and Brett got extra points with Todd for his unsolicited Auburn updates, including the non-score-related “Auburn fans have a Brokeback Mountaineers sign.” Good job, boys. Will be watching the DVR-ed version this afternoon.

We headed over to the show. I ran into a guy i knew in Athens named Roger. We caught up for a while, and then I headed down to see the show up front. YLT were good, as always. Todd and I discussed the fact that Ira always seems to bring it full-tilt. I like the fact that he is aging, but still seems to rock out and have a blast just like a teenager. I have seen them quite a few times, and they always do a good show, but this was not one of their better ones, in my opinion. This probably owes more to the fact that they played mostly new stuff than to any deficiency on their parts. Highlights for me were still the more rockin’ older songs: Deeper into Movies, Autumn Sweater, etc. Autumn Sweater sounds different every time that I hear them play it and i loved this loungier version. Georgia did a few songs. I love her sweet voice, and that she is such an enduring rock chick. In the face of so many bombastic female voices in rock, her quiet modesty is refreshing.
Yo La Tengo, Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA. Sept. 19, 2009
Afterwards, we met friends Gretchen and Brownlee at The Porter for a last beer. (Feeling kinda ookie, I opted for a water.) And headed home! All in all, a great day despite the fact that I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent. Hopefully, the memory of my mostly kid-free day will get me through the week ahead.

Best Month EVER!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

If you read Dogwood Girl very often, you know my summer has sucked ass, pretty much from the end of May (Dad had heart surgery), into June (Pop went downhill fast and was in hospice), into a fucking awful July (Pop died), and then in August, I had a little cancer scare, which I haven’t talked about, but will now. Suspicious moles: Itchy and multiple colors. Fast-growing. Had them biopsied, and thankfully they were benign. Turning a new leaf, perhaps, on the luck front? I think so.

First i read that my fave series of forever is releasing the next book on Sept. 22nd. Then i found out that a good friend is expecting (Shhhh . . . it’s a secret!). Another friend had her baby boy Monday night. (Welcome, Miles!) And then this morning, I happened to come across a blog post from the author of the Gentleman Bastards series and he posted a REALLY LONG prologue excerpt to his next book!

And then there’s the fact that the kids are both in school from 9-12 three days a week. That is just enough of a break to keep me from selling them on the black market. And lots of time to play Bejeweled Blitz with my copilot sitting next to me.

quint

I am in heaven. And feeling DAMN lucky.

Book Review: My Antonia

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Although I admired scholarship so much in Cleric, I was not deceived about myself; I knew that I should never be a scholar. I could never lose myself for long among impersonal things. Mental excitement was apt to send me with a rush back to my own naked land and the figures scattered upon it. While I was in the very act of yearning toward the new forms that Cleric brought up before me, my mind plunged away from me, and I suddenly found myself thinking of the places and people of my infinitesimal past. They stood out strengthened and simplified now, like the image of the plough against the sun. They were all I had for an answer to the new appeal. I begrudged the room that Jake and Otto and Russian Peter took up in my memory, which I wanted to crowd with other things. But whenever my consciousness was quickened, all those early friends were quickened within it, and in some strange way they accompanied me through all my new experiences. They were so much alive in me that I scarcely stopped to wonder whether they were alive anywhere else, or how.

My Antonia My Antonia by Willa Cather

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. My Antonia captures the characters so perfectly that you feel as if you know them, that indeed you grew up with them, too. It is a nostalgic book, one about big themes like growing up, losing loved ones, making the big mistakes, the way that place shapes us, the ties that bind us so strongly to those who grew up the same way and in the same places.

Most of all, though it is a book written for a place in time, a love song to Nebraska and those who settled her, and an elegy for the innocence of childhood. This book was right up my alley. Highly recommended and an easy read.
View all my reviews.

Dear Teacher, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Everyone knows that i have some serious doubts about our public education system in Georgia. I just don’t have a lot of faith in it, but that is based mostly on my own experience as a Georgia student over. . . well, many years ago now. I definitely felt that I had to give it a try, and see how my kids would fare at the elementary school we have chosen. So far, i am mostly happy with the school – Parent involvement is high, there do not seem to be any discipline issues of note, and there has been zero violence at the school. That being said, when I do post my thoughts on Dogwood Girl, it will most likely be something negative, as the impetus for my posts is usually what i term Pissed-Off-edness.

So, the latest installment: Valentine’s Day is coming up. Remember Valentine’s Day? Yep, it was pretty horrible back in school. All those people, making it very clear who is popular and who isn’t, all in glaring red, pink, white and lacy detail. But go back farther. Yep, to Pre-K and Kindergarten. Even first grade. Before cliques. Before Mean Girls and Queen Bees. Before Dumb Boys who always like the same predictable bubbly blonde. . . Yeah, you are right. That last part never existed. They always like the blonde. Even my own traitorous man cub likes the predictable blonde chick.

I digress and make this about me. This is not about me, this is about Valentine’s Day and public school education.

I asked the teacher how the children could prepare for Valentine’s Day at school. Would they need to make their own Valentine’s day box? No. But she did request that they not address their Valentines to their friends. They should just sign their name to the cards. It would make it easier that way.

Huh? So, basically, they (the teachers?) don’t want to deal with the hassle of making sure that the right Valentine gets to the right kid. Is it just me, or is that dumb as Paula Abdul? (It is probably me. I did get my period for Groundhog Day, which can make one a little pissy.)

How does it make sense to dissuade the kids from writing their friends’ names on the Valentine’s Day cards? Seems to me that 20 four-and-five year olds spending an evening sitting with their parents and learning to write out the letters in each of their friends’ names might be a good exercise: In penmanship, in letter recognition, in spelling, in spending time with their parents in one-on-one instruction, in thoughtfulness, and in good manners!

I can see that it could be a little time-consuming to go through all the cards and make sure they get to the correct student when most of the kids can’t read. But mightn’t that be a decent teaching exercise? And not to make this all about my kid, because I realize different kids are at different levels, but my kid can read, write, and spell. This is an awesome activity for my kid’s reading and writing level. Should my kid be brought down to the level of other kids who can’t, just because it might be a little extra work for the educators? (Which it wouldn’t, because my kid could totally match up his friend’s name on the card with the same name on their little mailbox.)

Yeah, you guessed it. We are addressing our Valentine’s Day cards. I’m not going to dumb down an everyday task, something that will teach my child, just because it will make his teacher’s life easier at the expense of common sense and etiquette.

Signed,

Bitch Mother

Required Reading List

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

So, a friend asked what I was reading lately, and i couldn’t really think of anything that blew me away.

So, what are you reading right now? What have you read lately that blew you away?

!Outlander Graphic Novel!

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

So anyone who knows me or reads Dogwood Girl knows that I seriously heart Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series of books. You know the Twilight series? I was pretty addicted. I am ten times more addicted to Outlander than Twilight, and these are actually smart and well-written!

Well, it seems that Gabaldon is doing an Outlander graphic novel, loosely following events in the first book, Outlander, but from Murtagh’s point of view. Love me some Murtagh! First of all, holy crap. Second of all, this guy is doing the illustrations, and he looks like a great artist. It comes out next year, and so does the next Outlander series book, An Echo In The Bone. Not only that, but Echo won’t be the last. Praise sweet Jesus on a pogo stick!

I just can’t wait to see what his interpretation of Jamie will be. Or Black Jack for that matter. It’s like a train wreck. I want so badly for it to be good, but I’m scared to look, but I can’t not look. You can see some early Claire illustrations here.

Disaster

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Kind of. . .

My IBook just doesn’t seem to want to turn on. I am posting from Todd’s today. Not sure when I will be back online, but I have an appointment at the Apple store later to check out the problem.

Me: “Can we afford that?”
Todd: “It’s cheaper than therapy for you.”

Good point.

In case you’re wondering, I’d rather chop off my own hand that spend an hour with MacGeeks who call themselves “Genius.” The whole Mac persona really annoys me. So hoity toity.

I am sure this is bad karma and my laptop will never be fixed now, but i am really not in a good mood. On the positive side, while I am there, i am finally going to pick up Breaking Dawn, and i will have plenty of reading time, with no pesky internets to divert me. Oh, yeah, i never went to get the book Friday night.

I wanted to finish the other one I was reading, On Agate Hill. I loved it, and would highly recommend it to others. A great story that reminded me a little bit of Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Alice Walker’s The Color Purple in style, with an imperfect heroine, a bittersweet love story, a smidge of magical realism, a cast of memorable characters, a great display of late 19th century southern culture, and a soaring ending, the kind that makes you feel kind of high as you are reading it.