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How Swimming Lessons Went for Me When I Was a Child

July 29th, 2010

They had lessons at one of the neighborhood high schools, so my mom signed me up. They wouldn’t let the parents in the building. This aggravated her. They yelled at us a lot, then they made us all go off the diving board before we were ready.

“Sink or swim!” — credo of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s

I was terrified. So they stuck out a long metal pole and told me to hold onto it and jump. I don’t remember what happened after that. I might have drowned for all I know. Oh, wait… here I am. I might have sunk to the bottom like a stone and needed mouth-to-mouth. I might have swam like a fish and learned my side-breathing. Oh, wait… I still can’t stick my face into the water and do the side-breathing and swim laps, no, it freaks me out. I love water aerobics, cuz the ladies all wear funny swim caps and it’s good exercise. I can swim okay, but don’t try getting me near a diving board. Also my dad had a sad, horrible death that involved water and honestly? I am proud of myself for even being near water, alrighty? Alrighty!

I write this today because here is the thing you never find out about parenthood ’til it’s too late — you can really be traumatized by it. Seriously. Both of my kids are swimming great, doing their side-breathing, one of them is flinging her body off the diving board and from the end of the pool into 12-foot water with so much reckless abandon that it takes my breath away. She also got invited into Black Belt Club with taekwondo, which doesn’t mean she’s a black belt yet, but means they want her out there sparring cuz she has that certain je nais se quoi. (And yes I spelled that almost exactly right without even looking. See? Talents of my own.) My reaction to her invite was, Wow, okay, Mommy needs to have a nice stiff drink then we’ll talk about that, okay? (and I wrote out a check to the studio for her sparring gear.) (her teacher: “I’ll custom build it myself, it will rock, she’ll love it.”)

Meanwhile, I’m by the side of the pool, hyperventilating. And when they ask me, after each and every lesson, Mom, did you see that? I’m all, Yes! goodjobsweetieniceworkwhewwwww…

Seriously. Seriously!!! Everything I know about parenting you could stick on the head of a pin and still have room left over for the Pledge of Allegiance.


— wm

edited later to say: Just had a little chat with my girl.

me: “Black belt does not mean weapons, you know.” (I saw the note on the board at school last night that said, Black belts purchase your swords now!)

Wacky Girl, cheerful and full of glee: “No, but it means you can have weapons.”


RIP, John Callahan

July 25th, 2010

John was a big flirt and a funny, wicked talented artist. RIP, Big Guy.

these are all the parenting tips you’ll ever need

July 25th, 2010

love ya, Laura.


July 23rd, 2010

yeah, this is the kids’ new favoritest video. it is pretty funny, i’ll give em that. happy FRIDAY and happy WEEKEND!


Books: “Spooky Little Girl,” “Who Loves You Best?” and “Fly Away Home”

July 21st, 2010

Reading this week:


July 21st, 2010

“They are happy men whose natures sort with their vocations.” — Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626)

because i’m all about Pikachu

July 20th, 2010

You know how parents always sign their kids up for camps, then tell them about it later? “You’re going to zoo camp! It’ll be fun!” etc.? My son just signed all of us up for Pokemon Camp. He’s running it. It’ll be fun!!!

“…and we SHUT THEM DOWN because we CAN!”

July 18th, 2010

Ooooooh, that Rizzo. (wiping tears from eyes.) I find that pep talk highly… peppy, whether it’s Herb Brooks giving it or Rizzo. And now, an update on grad school:

I’ve been meaning to do my grad work for… 21 years. Since I finished my undergrad work, if you want to get specific. Which I don’t, so let’s move along. I still don’t know if I have a job for next year, but I love working with kids, I love my library work, turns out teaching is a good fit for me. I like the order of it, the volatility and unpredictability of it, the way the kids blossom and grow and it’s like time-lapse photography or something, watching it. It is breath-taking. I don’t like to get into the specifics of it here because you know — it’s my students’ lives we are talking about, I’m just a bit player in their production.

But I will say this — when you can get an entire class of 7th grade boys reading, that is more than just a beautiful thing. That is exquisite, and it makes me feel like a superhero. Like a librarian superhero. And I can say, yes, this is why I’m here.

But I have been working as a classified employee (clerk) and that’s what I’ve done my whole life, pretty much. Gotten paid half as much as everyone else (except the other clerks, and man have we grumbled about it together) for doing the same work. Or sometimes for doing more work, when you run into people who want to lord it over you.

How clever, to wiggle out of work and dump it on someone who makes half as much money as you. What a smart, smart person you are to figure that one out. Yuck.

I finished my grad school application last week and mailed it Monday. Went to an information night at my institution of higher learning (as RSG, my little academic all-star friend, calls it) on Wednesday. Yesterday I took the first of many tests I will have to take on the road to becoming a certified language arts (English) teacher (for middle school/high school), a reading specialist (or English Language Learners specialist) and a media specialist (librarian). It will take me about three years to finish all of that, and I’ll be… (I don’t want to say how old) when I finish. (It’s like Dear Abby used to ask, How old are you going to be if you don’t do it?)

I passed my test. It made me feel like a huge success. This week I have my final interview, and the powers-that-be will decide if this cohort is a good fit for me, if they want me, basically. I think we’re all good, but it’s still a little nerve-wracking. Especially when I think of working part- or full-time, taking care of my own kids and my students, paying some attention to my husband (which I’m sure he would appreciate, occasionally, although he’s not a demanding type of guy), cleaning, cooking… oh, wait. I don’t do much of those last two things, anyway. I think it will be fine, but it does seem a little daunting.

But if I don’t do it? I know right now that I would regret it.

No regrets, they get in the way.

Wish me luck.

— wm

“i need a photo opportunity/i want a shot at redemption…”

July 16th, 2010

happy weekend, everyone!

— wm

ps — I’m making this Chocolate Rice Pudding, Giada’s recipe. Tres bien. Even though I completely messed up the proportions. It’s still turning out good — I keep sampling it. So, for future reference — 2/3 cup arborio rice, 5 cups whole milk (not 2 cups rice, 4 cups milk, add some water in later because WTH?), etc. Vanilla bean, orange zest, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup chocolate chips, a scoop of unsweetened cocoa and you’re… off to the races.

Same show, she did a roasted tomato thing with gorgonzola, parmesan, herbs, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and garlic. She marinated them in olive oil, with the garlic/salt/pepper, topped with more olive oil and then baked. Oh, if only we’d planted romas instead of pumpkins, eh?


i would like to know…

July 15th, 2010

…what happened to my copy of “Joshua Judges Ruth” (Lyle Lovett)? Because even though it’s a cassette for the love of God, not even a CD, and even though it’s been missing for years, I still look for it. And while we’re at it, I’d also like to know how “I Love Everybody” ended up in its case? I do like “I Love Everybody,” especially “Hello, Grandma,” but dammit I want Joshua-Judges-Ruth, especially “She Makes Me Feel Good.”

Ms. New Orleans, who is from Texas, doesn’t care for Lyle all that much. She’s all, flatly, “Robert Earl Keen” and that is that.

Yes, I realize I could just “break down and buy another copy,” but that isn’t the point, is it?

We’re having some animal trauma here today, and some animal bliss. First of all, one of the hamsters apparently had a bitch fight with the other one, and now she can’t open her left eye. It’s sad. I hope she heals up. On a brighter note, the cats seem to have adjusted to no longer being allowed outdoor privileges and are fat and happy. And by fat I mean fat. That’s how it goes when you’re avoiding the coyotes.

This afternoon I was out on the deck with the kids. They wanted to practice their mad taekwondo forms while I watered the pumpkins. Here comes a hawk, twirling down, wheeling around over us, so low I could see the white feathers and brown markings on his belly. That was cool. Then my little bright green hummingbird flew by to drink from her favorite orange flowers.

Really nice afternoon.

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