Friday, October 29, 2010

Please come again

Several years ago Braden and I started a tradition fondly titled Doughnut Friday.  Doughnut Friday was born in celebration of Braden's first green week during Kindergarten.  (For those of you not immersed in elementary school behavioral strategies, students are monitored like a traffic signal in steps of green, yellow, and red.  Braden, who is a chatty, know-it-all, busy-body--traits that obviously don't come from his mother's DNA--lives on yellow.  In hopes of positively reinforcing green week behavior, we established Doughnut Friday.  As he has gotten older, Doughnut Friday has transitioned from a celebration dependent upon school behavior--primarily because Doughnut Friday would have been short-lived if based solely upon being green--to a mommy and son custom.)

When we lived in Georgia, we got our doughnuts at Publix.  Braden's order:  two doughnuts, usually covered in chocolate icing, occasionally with sprinkles, and a chocolate milk; mine: a Starbuck's mocha frappuccino (bottled).  Here in Missouri, the doughnut selection at Mosher's is not as appetizing so Doughnut Friday became McDonald's Friday.  (Yep, McDonald's trumped Mosher's doughnuts.  However, this week we discovered the doughnuts at Casey's General Store; Doughnut Friday returns in all of its splendor.)

Three weeks ago, when we drove through McDonald's for breakfast, we pulled to the window to learn that the credit card machine was down.  Upon learning that I had no cash--I never carry cash--the manager allowed us to leave with our breakfast, requesting that I return at a later date to settle the $14.00 tab.  (Yep, you read that correctly--$14.00.  Braden eats two sausage McGriddle meals by himself.  Food purchases are the only thing that make me long for a daughter.  Feeding a growing boy is expensive.)

Today I returned to McDonald's to take care of my much delinquent bill.  When I explained my situation to the manager, not the manager on duty that morning, she kindly and discretely slid my card back across the counter to me.  "Thank you for your honesty, but there's no need to worry about the bill.  Have a fabulous weekend."  I must have looked painfully perplexed for she nodded me toward the door with another, "Really.  You can leave."

Indeed I plan to have a fabulous weekend.  I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dear Mrs. (Bad) Manners:

At my previous school, teachers were assigned parking spots based primarily on seniority.  During my final year there, the administrative staff decided to assign teachers slots in a lot behind the building in hopes of keeping teacher automobiles safe from student vandalism and theft.  While I sincerely had no issue with these assignments, many of my colleagues felt gravely injusticed by this action, a complaint I understood even though I did not support it.  From this minor issue grew a grave rift between teachers and administrators.

At my current school, teachers park where they wish on a first-come, first-served basis.  This flex parking does raise the blood pressure a bit on days when one is running late for work, but it also assures that you never have to contact the office in complaint of someone violating parking assignments.  I can select my parking based on weather and attire, moving closer to the building on days when my feet hurt or further away on days that I need to beat the traffic out of the lot.  All-in-all, it's a positive situation.  My sole complaint with the free-for-all parking philosophy is directed at one teacher--Mrs. Blue Minivan.

Mrs. Blue Minivan parks on the left-hand curb each day.  Instead of pulling all the way forward, leaving room for Ms. Red Fusion and Mr. Brown VW Van to pull up behind her on the curb, Mrs. Minivan parks in the back slot of the curb space that should be able to hold three vehicles.  Most days, Mrs. Blue Minivan's rudeness is followed by that of Ms. Silver CRV who follows Minivan's lack of parking etiquette by pulling up to the curb two car lengths in front of the minivan.  These mirroring acts of selfishness leave one open spot against the curb--a spot sandwiched between them that requires left-hand parallel parking finesse, a skill that most drivers cannot perfect when rushed by a 7:30 contract start time and a line of parents in the student drop-off lane.

I do not understand why my colleagues lack the modicum of common sense and respect it takes to best utilize the parking for all teachers.  By simply pulling forward 10 feet, two other cars could enjoy the prime location afforded on this left-hand curb.  We have complete control over this situation; yet some never fail to ruin it for others with simple thoughtlessness.

So far, current ranting blog entry aside, I have been quite calm about this situation.  However, I'm starting to wonder if it would be rude to leave a note on Mrs. Blue Minivan's windshield? 


Mildly Irritated Saucy Wench

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trivial tidbits, week seven

Addiction.  Groups all over the globe devote themselves to aiding people through addiction.  Those who abuse alcohol, narcotics, crystal meth, and even sex can join 12-step programs dedicated to recovery.  And did you know that there is a special group dedicated to Pagans in recovery?  Yep, there's program for nearly every addiction you can name...except for penguins.

When I was a young girl, I went through a phase during which I was obsessed with penguins.  But given that it lasted for over a year (more like ten years to be exact), phase doesn't accurately describe my penguin love.  Thus:  addiction.  My room was adorned from floor to ceiling with the waddling wonders.  Penguin ornaments.  Penguin towels.  Penguin posters.  Penguin figurines.  Stuffed penguins.  Mechanical penguins.  Helium balloon penguins (deflated and preserved in a frame).  Sticker penguins.  Eraser penguins.  I wore penguins on my shirts, socks, and hair ribbons (and even a pair of penguin footy pajamas).  I visited penguins at both the St. Louis Zoo and a zoo in Germany.  One year for my birthday, I even had a penguin cake.

I don't exactly recall when the penguin love dwindled.  Mostly likely it had something to do with the painful realization that high school was horrible enough without the added pressure of being a penguin freak.  Whatever the catalyst, the penguins eventually lost their thrones of adoration in my room.  But my love for penguins still remains in my heart.  I can't help it.  I find them cute and cuddly, just like the catch phrase spouted by Skipper during the title sequence of The Penguins of Madagascar.

One of my least favorite things about being a mom:  kid television.  I take an active role in what Braden can and can't watch on television which means I am way too familiar with the line-ups of Nickelodeon and Disney.  Most of what he is allowed to watch is just sheer annoying, but not questionably inappropriate for kids his age, thus he can watch.  It shames me to admit, however, that I anticipate new episodes of a few of the shows--some of which have been topics of trivial tidbits in previous weeks--just as much as he.

In The Penguins of Madagascar, my second-favorite kid show, I can laugh along as four adorable penguins muddle their way through the episode's conflict (which usually involves stupid lemur King Jullian) under the guise of being skilled spies.  It's just enough penguin to satisfy my craving without sending me off the wagon.  In effort to share a little penguin love with you, I bring you today's trivial tidbit:

What are the names of the four penguins who star in The Penguins of Madagascar?

The winner of today's question will get to see a picture of me taken during the awkward penguin phase, penguin sweatshirt and all!

Good luck! 

p.s.  I do not actually believe I had an addiction to penguins.  I understand that addictions are serious.  This blog is intended for entertainment purposes only.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Karma, please

Divine providence.  Kismet.  The way the cookie crumbles.  Destiny.  Luck.  The way it is written.  The roll of the dice.  Serendipity.  Moirai.  Predestination.  The way the stars align.  Fate.  Chance.  Happenstance.  The way the ball bounces.

Call it what you want.  But known with certainty that it exists.

In recent weeks I have experienced a number of small inconveniences.  Nothing serious or life threatening, thankfully, but the running string of irritating occurrences like broken dishes, unplanned car repairs, and nasty gashes inflicted by a rogue pug, to name a few, led me to contemplate how I had offended the universe and to rectify the wrongs.

Often intensifying the negative, I forget to live efficaciously.  And as a result, the negatives of life burden my soul. After silent reflection.  Supplication.  Entreaty.  Benevolence.  Prayer.  (Call it what you want, but know with certainty that it works.)  My conscious whispered gently to me:  be calm; be thankful; be gracious; be glad; be confident; be tenacious.

Be you.  And all will be right with your world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trivial tidbits, week six

I proceed with today's trivial tidbits with trepidation, especially since one of my followers is more loyal to Missouri than almost everything else in the world, but after attending Braden's first Boy Scout meeting, during which the Den leader inaccurately taught the Cub Scouts about Missouri history, I feel it's my duty to forge ahead.

A universally alarming experience of my encounters with residents of Georgia, and other Southern states, during my decade away from this Missouri life was their lack knowledge about their state--its history, its geography, its resources--everything.  Unless the fact related to football or the Confederacy, most Georgians seemed to know very little about their state's role in America's foundation.  And if something happened north of the Mason-Dixon line, it never actually happened.  This is not to imply that people in the South are unintelligent; in actuality, many of the smartest people I have the pleasure of knowing are Southerners.  However, on the whole, they lack depth in their knowledge of state and American history.  In light of this, I bring to you (Missourians, Georgians, and Americans alike), a bit of Missouri history trivia.

Was Missouri a member of the Confederacy or the Union during the Civil War?

The winner of today's trivia challenge wins a postcard of the St. Louis Arch.  Good luck!

Monday, October 11, 2010


One of my goals with this blog:  get published.  Given the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of blogs in the world, I know this goal is ambitious.  None-the-less, publication of my writing motivates these ramblings.

I do not know if being a guest blogger for my friend, C.B James counts as being published, but it works for me at this stage of the game.  C.B. and I met this summer at Yale where we both toiled over Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales.  During our six weeks together, C.B. and I became good friends  and I greatly respect his role as an educator.  (C.B. was also my tour guide through NYC on more than one occasion.  Aside from the unnerving modern art installations at The Whitney, I enjoyed each trip immensely and appreciate C.B.'s knowledge of The Big Apple.)

C.B. blogs about literature, reviewing books that he and his dog, Dakota, read and eat respectively.  A voracious reader, his reviews offer something for every interest.  You should check him out at Ready When You Are, C.B. not only because he asked me to share my experience with Cormier's The Chocolate War in recognition of Banned Books Week (thus making me a pseudo-published author), but mainly because he is an excellent blogger.

Thanks for the opportunity, C.B.!  I'm honored.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The moon over Missouri

For a fleeting moment this evening, somewhere along I-70 between St. Louis and Columbia, the moon over Missouri was reminiscent of a moon one fall night of 1992.  Tonight's moon, a sliver of a crescent, hung lower in the sky than the moon that night, which shone as an ever-fixed mark in full Harvest glory.  No, the moons' similarities don't lie in their silhouette on those two nights.  Instead, the reflection of light which displayed itself in bold hues of orange impress my memory to that fall long ago.  The events of that distant night have been long forgotten, but the impression of that moon has remained a compass to this Missouri life during my years away.  This luminosity is not solely limited to Missouri, but even when fully at home in Georgia, this moon made me think of the state of my youth.  So tonight, as I drove back to Ashland from a day of family celebration, the moon lighted the path of this wandering bark.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trivial tidbits, week five

My friend Hans started a crusade I would like to share with you.  His cause addresses the face of the nation as we know it.  Literally.

You see, Hans' work raises social awareness of the moustache.  Allow his public service announcement to explain:  
The Mo, slang for moustache, and November come together each year for Movember. Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st clean-shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month.
Do you want to: Grow luxurious facial hair? Be more sexually appealing? Not shave (as much)? Help raise money for an important issue? Sign up for McGeorge's Glorious Mostaccios and grow a Glorious mustache this November! Just go to to become a champion of this growing cause.

While we were in Connecticut this summer, the Mark Twain House in Hartford held its annual Mark Twain Moustache Party and Contest.  A few of us briefly considered attending, but felt ill-prepared for the soiree.  Donning a fake moustache for one short day in honor of Missouri's shining star was a feasible commitment to make; I am not as comfortable devoting thirty days to the accessory.  However, Hans' passion for this cause is infectious, making it impossible to sit idly by.  So in honor of mostaccios everywhere, I bring you this week's trivial tidbit:

To which Mexican artist does artist Trek Thunder Kelly allude in the above portrait?  Check out Trek Thunder Kelly here:

Today's winner gets a round of Huckleberry Vodka Lemonade, a Twain favorite.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lost and found, part two

I have never been lost between the moon and New York City.  (Though if not for my Yale traveling companions, I would definitely have gotten lost in New York City several times this summer.)  However, I recently realized that I did get lost between the Blue State and the Show-Me State on my journey to this Missouri life.

In the Blue State, I felt challenged and inspired--valued for my academic mettle and roused to go beyond my limitations and comfort merely for scholarly edification.  During the six-week seminar, surrounded by peers (who eventually became friends) of awe-inspiring intellectual giftedness, I wrote, read, researched, planned, and analyzed endlessly.  I absorbed every aesthetic I encountered--art, literature, history--and I thrived intellectually and spiritually.  I found myself in the Blue State.

And then it ended.  And I came home to the Show-Me State--the state of my youth--to begin this Missouri life.  And I got lost.  I have speculation how it happened, how I got lost, but really the story isn't about being lost--it's about being found--so I will leave the catalysts of my losing unnamed and instead focus on the finding. 

Oddly enough, I found myself again in the forward to Stephen King's Night Shift.  While I respect King's talent and voice, he's not an author I turn to for inspiration or beauty in language or character development.  Yet in the forward, his words about why and how he writes, something stirred in me, summoning the zealous spirit I lost when I left the Blue State.  And in those words about words, I found my own.  Some of them, primarily the ones about this Missouri life, will be shared with you here.  As for the rest--well the rest of them are for me.  For now.  But rest assured that they will be used to keep me from getting lost again.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lost and found, part one

I've never excelled at Name that Tune.  Ask my siblings; they'll shake their heads in a low, disappointed manner, indicating just how terrible I am at this game.  My standard answer for all songs from the 70s: CCR; all 80s rap: Run DMC (How could I not go with DMC?); all hair bands: Guns n Roses; all boy bands: *NSync.  Occasionally I surprise even myself and pull out a buried lyric or artist, but on the whole, I suck at this game.  Knowing this, it comes as no surprise that I also hum lyrics incorrectly.  I'm not so inept as to think "there's a bathroom on the right" or that Elton John pays tribute to Tony Danza, but for the past three days, I have been humming the unfathomably terrible lyrics to "Arthur's Song (Best That You Can Do)" incorrectly.  Why in the world does all of this matter?  First off, I'm humming a Christopher Cross song; I may not be a music savant like my siblings, but I know that, despite his multiple Grammy wins, Christopher Cross isn't exactly cool.  (No offense to Cross fans, or Cross himself for that matter.  80s adult contemporary just isn't my thing.)  Plus, my version of the lyrics, "if you get lost between the moon and New York city" served as my inspiration for today's blog; imagine my surprise when I learned that the song actually says "caught" and not "lost."  It's thrown me off my angle a bit, so I'm going to take a day to regroup.  I will be back tomorrow, but while I'm gone, try not to get lost.  Or caught.