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the worst mix-tape ever

July 12th, 2009

Just spent about 3 hours gardening in the rain with Steve. Sheer bliss. Other than the music. It is so much easier to weed when it’s raining. Oh, dear Steve, who has constantly fought (and lost) to have musical domination over me since that first date, May 9th, 1997.

I believe his exact quote was: “Elvis? You really like Elvis? Jesus. You don’t.”

me: “What the hell? You don’t like Elvis? What’s wrong with you, son?”

So imagine his dismay today when he played the worst MP3s file he could possibly pick. Really, someone needs to organize her music around here. None of the songs are bad, per se, it’s just… not a good mix. We had to have drinks to get through it toward the end.

(This was via the office computer over the loudspeakers in the backyard, while we worked. It just starts out bad. It gets a little better toward the end, if you can last that long):

1) Ben Harper: “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now”

2) Emmylou Harris: “Ballad of a Runaway Horse” (Wacky Boy: “I was listening to it. It’s about a girl, and her horse dies, or runs off or something, and she’s sad.”)

3) Bruce Springsteen: “Dancing in the Dark” (prompting Steve to yell to our daughter, “Please! Honey, play the next song! Please!!!!!” Wacky Girl, casual: “Sorry, dad, didn’t hear you.” (puts on the next song…)

4) Bette Midler: “Miss Otis Regrets”

5) Adam Hood: “Play Something We Know”

6) The Beatles: “All You Need is Love” (I love this song. And they used it in one of my favorite scenes of one of my favorite movies. Lynden David Hall is the singer, so brilliant. Too short of a life. Ahhhh… Steve bought me ice skates for Christmas one year, we went skating at Lloyd Center, then for Thai food, then to see “Love Actually.” The best date ever. Besides the dates where he got me “in the family way.” Those were memorable, too. Yeah, who’s establishing domination over who, baby? Who knows.)

7) ZZ Top: Beer Drinkers & Hell-Raisers (“If you see me walkin down the line/With my favrite honky tonk in mind/Well, I’ll be here around suppertime/With my can of dinner and a bunch of fine/Beer drinkers and hell raisers, yeah/Uh-huh-huh, baby, don’t you wanna come with me?”)

8) Tom Waits: “Warm Beer & Cold Women” (apropos, after that last song)

9) Bruce Springsteen (again): “Thunder Road” (Steve: “His lyrics are… are… (sputters) vapid! How can you like him?”) (He needs to stop, doesn’t he? Nothing about the Boss is vapid.)

10) Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: “Tengoku Kara Kaminari (Thunder from Heaven)” (did I even remotely spell that correctly?)

11) Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: “I Am A Pilgrim” (he actually likes that one — and it was the disagreement over the Byrds that got us started, cuz that was his first pick and I said, No way. Really. Please don’t make me listen to “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” or anything by Joan Baez ever again cuz I will stab myself in the eyeballs, throw a screwdriver or hairbrush through the window, just make it stop)

12) The Band, with the Staples Singers: “The Load”

13) Thelonius Monk: “Trinkle, Trinkle” (we both love this one)

14) Temple of the Dog: “Hungerstrike”

15) Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Moment of silence for Marvin & Tammi, please. Two stories that just make me come undone.)

Speaking of Springsteen…

describing the day, so far, in book titles…

July 10th, 2009

“Because It Is Bitter And Because It Is My Coffee”

“Are You There, God? It’s Me, Wacky Mommy. Why Is There So Much Laundry?”

“Will You Take Me As I Am? Cuz This Is All I Got”

“I Feel Bad About My Weeds”

“The Absolutely True Diary Of One Wacky Mommy”

Thursday Thirteen: Best Study and Work Habits

July 9th, 2009

Happy Thursday 13, to all you usual suspects. I haven’t been over here for a long time, sorry! Bad blogger. Bad.

This morning, I am once again putting off studying. How am I ever going to make it through grad school if I can’t even get through this one little class? I am tormenting myself and the Internet. How am I going to teach my kids good study habits, for middle school, high school and college? I had a hard time my first two years at college (Portland State University, gooooo Vikings!) because before I could pass any classes I had to learn to study.

Now, I realize that it’s summer, and for some people, school is the last thing on their minds. But I am hoping to be accepted into a graduate teaching program, and get a dual endorsement to be a media specialist (aka: Librarian), too. For educators, summer means time to take those extra classes and brush up on your skills. And for those of you who are parents… reading abilities tend to fall behind in the summer, but math skills really take a hit. Why bother, when there are all those good video games to play, right? Please do what you can to keep your kids’ heads in the game, so to speak.

Here are some tips, for yourself or anyone who might need them. These can also be tailored for work situations… Hope they help!

1) Focus. I try to work out every morning, even if it’s just a little deep breathing and yoga to stretch. A walk helps, or better yet a run. Once your head is clear you can make a plan.

2) Have a snack, make a cup of tea, grab a bottle of water, use the restroom — no excuses to get up once you’re studying.

3) Have everything ready — post-its, sharpened pencils, a notebook to take notes, index cards. I’ve been using index cards to scribble down definitions. My class is Psychology 311, Human Development, and my term paper — only five pages, not too bad! — is to write down my life story, with “explicit reference to the facts, principles, and theories presented in the text.” First of all, that’s crazy. Second of all, I’m a blogger! I can deal.

4) Find a spot where you won’t be tempted to take a nap.

5) Read. Read, read, read. Blink. Read, read, read. Blink. It takes me sometimes a half an hour to really get into my textbook.

6) I try to put myself into my kids’ shoes. (They are going into 2nd and 5th grade.) They truly have no incentives to do homework. They know they’re not going to flunk, even if they bail on their homework half the time. It’s boring. Worksheets are usually involved. It’s too easy. Or too hard. Or too, uh, boring? Yeah, that’s it, Mom! They are not being challenged! Now this one especially pertains to work. No one likes the drudge work. No one. But it has to be done. So I try to stress to my kids that they can’t just cherry-pick their assignments — sometimes it takes pages of drudge work before you get to the fun or interesting stuff.

7) Don’t complain, whine or have a fit. The work could be done in the time spent doing that.

8) Rewards are good. I know after I finish this class, my employer will reimburse me the $400+ I plunked down for the class. If I bail on the class, I don’t get reimbursed. That is a good incentive. For younger kids, it can be something as small as a sticker chart, a nice dinner out, a trip to the park, or maybe baking cookies. For bigger kids? I’m sorry, but you might have to be mean. No TV time, no techno toys, no sleepovers unless that homework is getting done.

9) Try not to let anything stand in your way — the phone, someone dropping by (your house or your desk at work), drama… keep it at bay. When you let others know how important your studying (or project) is to you, they will back off and (hopefully) the interruptions will dwindle. (Edited to say: I forgot the most important thing — unless you’re using the computer for research (my class, for instance, has cool flashcards I can access online. They helped so much with the two tests I’ve taken so far) — STAY OFF THE COMPUTER. NO blogs, Facebook, e-mail, nada.)

10) Pace yourself. Set aside chunks of time for various parts of the project, or schedule study blocks so you don’t have to pull any all-nighters. My kids had three or four big projects apiece this year. (First and fourth grade! Please. I thought that was a little too much pressure.) Dino reports, speeches, animal projects — it was crazy. So we charted it out: Diorama materials gathered up one night; diorama assembled the next night. Index cards compiled; speech outlined; speech written. I think they’re going to be ready for college in three years, at this rate.

11) Another thing — don’t pressure yourself or your kids too much. Relax. At the end of the year, I finally started drawing lines through my son’s homework. (Huge packets, weekly.) He’d finish a chunk of it, then another chunk. I would draw a line through whatever didn’t get finished, initial it, and write a note for the teacher saying, “This is as much as we were able to complete in the hour we spent on homework three nights this week.” It is insane the pressure that is put on kids now.

12) That being said, it has become necessary now more than ever to learn to get along/go along. (There are a lot of us out here who feel lucky to even have a job, or be able to go to school.) Life and work — what are you going to do, you know? The bills need to get paid, the classes need to be completed. Working as part of a small group? You can expect that at least one person will bail out and “let” the others do the work. Just do the work to the best of your ability and get on with things. It will be obvious to whoever is in charge (teacher, boss, supervisor) who was and wasn’t responsible.

13) Look on the bright side — it’s pretty cool to pull off something you didn’t want to deal with, or thought you couldn’t handle. That sense of completion is pretty satisfying.

OK, off to study now.


for my sis and the redheaded guy — best wishes, now and always

July 8th, 2009

hello, insomnia

July 7th, 2009

Cat fight outside (not ours, but you still wonder until you get up and go check), early newspaper delivery (thwack) and where am I? Oh, yeah. This is my room. In my house.

Insomnia. 4 a.m.

And I think we used up the last of the coffee at the beach. I’m askeered to go look. Ack.

We were at the beach! Staying at a beach house! For a few days, even. Isn’t that a thing of beauty? My mom and late, Dear Granny share(d? what do you say after they’re gone? It’s still her birthday, even though we can’t call her to tell her feliz cumpleanos) a birthday. Mine, as you may recall, was a week ago. It was always cool, having them together like that.

But this year is different.

Man. Is this year ever different.

When I called my mom to ask her what she wanted to do (thinking she’d say dinner out, maybe go for a hike…) she surprised me — “Take the kids to the beach!” Well, alrighty. So she rented us a beach house, and we covered the driving, groceries and meals out. It was so rawesome, as my son would say. Rawesome. We haven’t rented a beach house since I was a kid. (Pixie Kitchen, Pixieland, hours on the front porch reading, digging an entrenchment and castles in the sand, walking on the beach forever… fun.) (More pix of Pixieland? Okay, here you go. I’ve linked these before, I love ’em.)

I was convinced that the Dorchester House was the old Pixie Kitchen, until my mom reminded me that it burned down. Denial, denial. It is a beautiful place to go in your head. (I had completely forgotten that it burned down. I’ve also forgotten which motels and hotels we’ve stayed at, our favorites, the best routes to the beach, once you’re there. Our house was great, but the staircase to get beach access was not. Concrete, carved into the hillside, 132 steps from here to there.) And being the Oregon coast, and not say, Carlsbad, California, it was blustery, cold and gray. Fleeces, hats that won’t stay on, long pants…

“Perfect weather!” says Hockey God.

We didn’t do any of the touristy stuff (including, but not limited to: Depoe Bay and the Sea Hag (we did go to Mo’s twice, yay, Mo’s), Newport and the coast aquarium — Wacky Boy is fond of the Oddwater exhibit — Devil’s Punchbowl, agate beach, the outlet stores, the freakin’ casinos… so many options, so little enthusiasm for driving). Steve and I did take a walk one morning and went for coffee. The girl was confused by his double espresso order and wanted to put chocolate or ice in it.

We visited Connie Hansen’s garden, which was, as always, delectable and perfect. They built sand castles and entrenchments, I watched until I got too cold. The news about the tides was right — they have been way out and the tidepools were extraordinary. Steve took some cool photos and I’m hoping he’ll post some. We watched movies, ate like pigs, read, did a puzzle, played games — it was a great weekend.

I read Joyce Carol Oates’s “We Were the Mulvaneys” cover to cover like a madwoman — could not put it down, stayed up late, got up early to finish it. It is her masterpiece. She just got out of the way and let Judd tell his story. Oates, the writer, who is such a strong presence in her own work that you can almost hear her voice sometimes, moved out of the way. It was Judd’s story, and Marianne’s, and Patrick’s. And there was Corinne and her husband, Michael Mulvaney, and their eldest, Michael Jr., who, in that frustrating way of older brothers, was elusive, bigger than life, then just almost there — then gone.

Oates is reliably good, spooky, deep, Gothic, emotional and detached all at once. Her writing means a lot to me, as a writer and as a woman. “Black Water” for instance was so good — years later it is still tucked away in my mind. (This is why I can’t remember our phone number, the password for the voicemail, which buildings have burned and which haven’t — it’s all those books tucked away, taking up space.) Intense book.

Gotta work out, catch y’all later.

Hope everyone had a good Fourth (if you’re in the States and like to blow things up). We loved being away from the fireworks and howling dogs.



poem of the day: “The Low Road,” by Marge Piercy

July 2nd, 2009

“What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know you who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.”

-Marge Piercy

From “The Moon is Always Female”, published by
Alfred A. Knopf, Copyright 1980 by Marge Piercy

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