28 February 2011

In media res

I am behind. So very far behind.

(and she waits a beat. Breath held. What next. It's not a question.)

Touch wood. For luck, to appease the gods, to cancel out the possibility that our hope will be stolen from us.

I touch my knee. I wait a beat. Breath held. Do I feel?

I don't know anymore, of course. I'm a professional, a veteran of feeling what I tell myself to feel.

And I know full well that there is nothing there at all.

Go listen to some good music: "In Media Res" from the album Earth Spirit by R. Carlos Nakai. It's a bit of a joke, of course. We are in the middle of things (in so many ways), but I'm also half way through the four weeks...and it's not looking good.

23 February 2011

To give those moments back

Science fair.

No plants this year. Which is good. But other projects that I've judged year after year, no changes, interchangeable, tear-inducing (because I'm trying not to yawn).

I am a good judge, or so I am told. I am consistent and fair; I offer encouragement and suggestions. For this reason, I think, I get some of the best (suggestions) and some of the worst (encouragement) projects to judge.

Some kids are hopeless. They are disinterested and disengaged. I had one of those today. Some are terrified. One year, I had a boy who was so nervous that I told him, "I am going to leave now. You are going to take a deep breath. Then I will come back, and we will start over." And we did, down to me introducing myself a second time and offering him my hand. Things went ok after that. Sometimes, you get a do-over.

Some kids need direction. I had one of those today. Great project, original and interesting, but the student didn't know how to effectively present it. I offered some ideas for selling the project to county judges should it move forward, and then I went to the science teacher, and told him what I'd told the student. This one could go far, and I'd love to see that happen.

I've been doing this for a long time, and I've learned a few things from the experience. I take a proprietary interest in the projects I see that are done by the most motivated students, and occasionally I hear from those students (and sometimes their parents) that something I said really helped. I've been doing this for a long time, but I'm not so jaded by the plants and the hot dogs wearing sunscreen that I don't get a thrill from knowing that someone listened and that I made a tiny difference.

If nothing else, I want to see these kids learn something from the agony that is science fair. I talk to them about how their projects fit into the realm of experimentation, how their project fits into the scheme of Science. I want them to learn how to be good consumers of science, to see the larger picture and to understand how to ask the big questions.

I feel quite certain that those who are willing to question are less likely to fall for the glamour of the emperor's new clothes.

Go listen to some good music: "Moments of Pleasure" from the album The Red Shoes by Kate Bush.

19 February 2011

Another engine

I sing. I've always sung. I like to sing. I can't sing.

I sing anyway.

And god, I'm loud.

Marginally, I can carry a tune. I was in the choral group for three years, so I wasn't utterly hopeless. I just don't have a very nice voice.

(Possibly, I was in the choral group because I could carry off the boys' parts. Possibly also because I'm loud.)

Generally, I have the good grace to keep my singing to myself. I close the windows and the doors. I sing when I'm alone, usually when I'm cleaning or on the exercise bike. Occasionally, I've been known to belt out a chorus when I've been on a walk, but only if I'm pretty certain that there's no one in earshot.

Back in my last years of singledom, I had a really lovely second-floor apartment in Sherman Oaks. It was large and light, and I loved to sit in the middle of the living room floor on Sunday mornings in a bright patch of sun and read the papers while I had my morning coffee. It was such a nice apartment that it made my tatty belongings look nice, too. I was happy there.

One pretty day, I had all the windows open. The air was soft and warm, and I set to cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. I put my Walkman on because I wanted music, but I didn't want to disturb the various neighbors by turning on my stereo.

The street where I lived was mostly populated by apartment buildings similar to the one I was in: long and low, built in the 1960s and 70s, generally non-descript. The exception was the narrow condo building that overlooked my apartment. It was new and sparkly, very California 1980s, with little patio balconies, one of which looked directly into my kitchen window.

So there I was that fine and beautiful morning, scrubbing shower walls with gusto, and eventually I moved into the kitchen, polishing the counters and scouring the stove top. While I was shining up the kitchen sink, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye: a woman was sitting on the little balcony overlooking my (open) kitchen window, with a book in her lap, smiling a little as she looked over at me.

It was only then that I realized I was singing.

At the top of my lungs.

I gave her a small sheepish wave, and fled into the tiny hallway of my apartment, hands over mouth, huffing with laughter and embarrassment. When, after a little, I ventured timidly back into the kitchen, she had gone from the balcony, and I gently closed the window.

All in all, I'm sure everyone would have preferred the stereo.

Go listen to some good music: "Auctioneer (Another Engine)" from the album Fables of the Reconstruction by REM. I was singing something by REM that morning, probably off Life's Rich Pageant. That poor woman. I'm still embarrassed.

17 February 2011

Walking in your footsteps

I was 14 when I got my ears pierced. The first time, anyway.

I was an older child when we moved to Tucson, and of course, all the girls I knew already had their ears pierced, most of them as infants. It was a cultural thing. In my culture, such as it was, nice girls didn't have pierced ears. Even my mother didn't have pierced ears.

As it turned out, my friend SCK didn't have pierced ears, either. Because nice girls didn't have pierced ears. We both had late spring birthdays, about two weeks apart, and the year we graduated eighth grade, were confirmed and turned 14, our mothers agreed that we could get our ears pierced. My mother even bought me a very pretty pair of 14K stud earrings.

SCK's mother was a nurse, and she offered to do the piercing, having access to sterile needles and sterile supplies. Back in those days, it was usually someone's mother or sister or aunt who pierced everyone's ears, with varying degrees of success, a needle and thread and frequently, an ice cube.

The great weekend arrived, and I spent the night over at SCK's house. I don't remember why, but we decided it was of utmost importance that we make a batch of bagels while we waited for her mother to return from work. The entire time we were engaged in this pursuit, her father could be heard grumbling in the family room that "nice girls didn't have pierced ears."

We giggled and carried on.

"You might as well just put bones in your noses!" he hollered, which made us giggle louder. He was so disapproving.

I remember nothing about Mrs. K. running her gigantic needles through my ear lobes, except that it made my ear lobes feel huge and hot. No string to keep the holes open for us. She popped earrings directly into our ears. I do remember standing in the guest bathroom, looking at the gold glinting in my ears, feeling so grown up.

"Barbaric," Mr. K. grunted every time he looked at us for the rest of the day.

I had a second set of holes punched in my ears when I was in college. Multiple pairs of earrings were all the rage at that point, and I figured that I could always let them close up if it was just too outré for a future employer.

My mother, who had finally worked up the courage to have her own ears pierced, was outraged by my multiple earrings. A few months later when I came home with a single third hole punched into my right ear, she was beside herself.

"What does it mean?" she wailed suspiciously.

"It means that I have five holes in two ears," I replied breezily.

So yeah, I have multiple piercings. In the very tamest sense of the words.

The daughter has blown hot and cold over getting her own ears pierced. If I'd been smart, I'd have just done it when she was an infant. But I had this silly notion that it should be her choice rather than mine.

And at last, she's decided that for her 14th birthday, she'd like her ears pierced. She has no idea that I bought the earrings for her before her birth.

Go listen to some good music: "Walking In Your Footsteps" from the album Synchronicity by The Police.

15 February 2011

Good news first

A month ago, the vet and I both thought the cat wouldn't survive his health crisis. Today, he got a clean bill of health. He's still a bit thin, but gaining, and this morning, he tried to bite my toes through the quilt. Since the removal of the last of his stitches and bandages, he's been a purring machine.

As for me, I am still broken. And that's largely how I've felt: like a broken doll that's been tossed in the corner. But there's a light there, too. The spinal surgeon cleared up some misinformation today (which means that I now feel comfortable about bending over without fear of immediate paralysis), and there is still hope that the present damage will clear on its own. He offered me the option of immediate surgery (which I immediately declined. That's a surprise, isn't it?) or waiting another four weeks to see if the nerve compression starts to diminish. The bad news (you thought there'd be no bad news? Of course there's bad news), the bad news is that I may never regain sensation in my right leg, even with surgery. The neural damage may be permanent.

Of course, I've already accepted that as my new normal. I've figured out how to make the muscles my brain can talk to do the work of all of them. This is the upside of always being broken: adaptation. I don't have to like it. I just have to do it.

The other good news (yes, there is still good news) is that if surgery is necessary and desirable, then it will be minimally invasive. Just another Frankenstein scar to add to the collection. I'll have to start wearing backless shirts and dresses so I can show them off.

And even though I'm still technically in surgery limbo, today's consultation took a tremendous weight from me. Yeah, broken. What else is new? But at least I feel like I can start getting back to my regularly scheduled life.

Because there's stuff out there that needs to be done.

Go listen to some good music: "Good News First" from the album Snakes & Arrows by Rush. The surgeon told me, "no heavy lifting." and I said, "I never lift anything heavy." And the spouse looked at me like I was out of my mind. Because I never heave fully-loaded carry ons into overhead bins on airlines. EVER.

14 February 2011

How do I get through to you?

I rerun posts infrequently, but thought this one deserved another look. First posted 25 January 2008.

Last week, all I was thinking about (and writing about) was war. This week, it seems to be communication and forms of language (and Norovirus. But I know you're as tired of hearing about that as I'm tired of living it...and yeah, still standing. But tired of the smell of bleach).

Having just finished rereading Possession for the hundredth time, where language is all, where what is not said is often as important as what is, where a look is as significant as a sentence, I am now deeply engrossed in Smilla's Sense of Snow again. Like Possession, language and languages figure deeply in the story, as does communication, verbal and nonverbal. In one scene, a linguist is decoding a tape recording, not only identifying the speaker on the tape by use of language, but the location where the tape was made and who is making the music playing in the background.

Our world is so noisy, so full of distraction, that it is easy to lose nuance and subtlety, to overlook the cadence, the rhythm of language. We've traded in the pleasure of conversation for gadgetry like texting, abandoned the structure and beauty of words for MySpace and message boards. We allow discourtesy in place of discourse. I have little patience for the massively multiplayer experience, whether it's as a social experiment or as entertainment, because I've watched anonymity foster contempt online for two decades now, and I'm just not having any of it. Which means, sure I play Halo and Rock Band (100% on "Don't Fear the Reaper" on Expert! 94% on "Tom Sawyer" on Hard! And I really can't sing!), but there's no Xbox Live in this house. I'm not in ur base killin ur doods. I'd rather be in my garden sharing a bottle of wine with you.

I love words but I frequently don't trust them. Not that I trust anything, really. I don't trust a glance, or my own instincts. I don't trust that the oncoming car will stop for the red light. Words can be chameleons because even when used well, they can be misunderstood. I tend to choose my words with care, so I type, stop, read, erase and retype. Do I overthink my intent? Usually. Do I trust that subconsciously I will convey the right meaning? Rarely. Do I believe that I will be understood? No.

When I studied literary criticism, I was captivated by structuralism, by the idea of words as building blocks or story as edifice. But to build a safe structure, one must build with good words, words that are strong, full of meaning and richness. A love letter is not hearts and flowers; it is the hope and fear in a beating heart, and the right words race the course of the ebb and flow of that living tide.

I am raising two children. When I use my normal voice, they rarely hear me or the words that I'm using. Once upon a time, I would say things twice in my normal voice, but by the time I had to say it a third time, I found that I was screaming. I am not naturally a screamer, and with a naturally low voice, I sound horrifyingly shrill when I begin shrieking with rage. And I just don't like it. I hit on a solution quite by accident: a very low, quiet and absolutely deadly voice. Everyone shakes in their shoes when I use my "low, quiet voice," including my children, my husband, my former employer ("Really, couldn't you just yell at me when you're mad?"), and the members of the local community advisory board. I choose my words carefully, but I've learned they're only heard when I choose my tone carefully as well.

Today, I met with the parents of the child the son has been asked to mentor. As our conversation progressed, the mother suddenly asked if she and I could meet for coffee. Before I tossed off a self-deprecating laugh, I caught the look in her eyes and was filled with deep compassion because I've been where she is, and also with terrible fear because she believes that I have something of value to tell her and I can't bear the idea that I might fail her. But I told her that yes, that would be fine, because maybe, just maybe, I have something to offer.

I don't know why you (yes, YOU!) are reading this. Curiosity or accident, boredom or intent, seeking something (aren't we all?), but you have arrived here. I have seen you before and perhaps I know you, or perhaps I am without a sense of who you are. But you have arrived here again.

So have I. And I see that I am trying to get through.

To you.

Go listen to some good music: "How Do I Get Through to You?" from the album Tripped into Divine by Dexter Freebish. For what it's worth, I'm actually reading Margot Livesey's The House on Fortune Street at the moment.

11 February 2011

Torija (Elegia)

I've just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I'd watched the movie a week or so ago, and while I found myself growing impatient at times because of the slow pace, once the film ended, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Certainly, both book and film touch on the unbelievable cruelties humans will inflict on one another in the name of science, health, politics, whatever. Groups of outcasts, lower classes, form their own cliques and mistreat others within their own group. Children in particular can be very nasty to and about each other, even when faced with the sort of horror that the children in this story are ultimately expected to face. There was nothing in the narrative that was particularly ground breaking in this regard. And I found it unsurprising that the characters went so quietly to their slaughter; it is what they were bred for, what they were born to, told and not told, their fate. Don't our children largely do the same? They are raised to certain expectations, set on certain paths, good and bad, by their parents and their community, be those influences positive or negative. Even at the end of the day, Miss Emily, the head guardian, sounding so like a parent, points out all the advantages that were secured for those in her care: culture, education, a "good" life, whatever the outcome may be.

What struck me most about the story was the way in which it approached mortality, and perhaps that's because mortality and inevitability have been much on my mind.

One of the centerpieces of Never Let Me Go is that these characters can't expect to live even until middle age. None of us ever worry about that as children; like Scarlett O'Hara, we'll think about it tomorrow. And then too suddenly, there we are, children no more, young adults no more, marching inexorably to our ends, wondering how it all passed so quickly.

Lately, I've been reading the writings of a woman, a young woman, who has been diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer. She's only just realized that her doctors have stopped talking about a cure, and are now focused on buying her what time they can. Most of us don't tend to think about just how finite our lives are, and the truth is that no one of us--healthy or ill--knows if we will be here tomorrow. And at the end of the film version of Never Let Me Go, Kathy H., who is facing the end of her short life, muses on the fact that no matter how much or how little time we have, it's probably never enough.

Go listen to some good music: "Torija (Elegia)" by Federico Moreno Torroba, performed by Andres Segovia, from the album Essential Guitar. Sometimes, I'm accused of being too subtle, but the title here makes perfect sense to me..

10 February 2011

What's your name?

The daughter: "Did you ever know anyone named Bob?"

I frown at her over my forkful of salad: "I think half the boys I grew up with were named Bob."

The daughter: "People always say that..."

Me: "Well, there was Bob L., who I knew from first grade all through high school, and Bob D. and Bob, my friend AR's boyfriend, as well as Bob in our neighborhood."

The daughter, meditatively: "Oh...yeah. Well, what about Nancy? Was anyone named Nancy?"

Me: "Two girls in my grade school, one in high school. Look, why are you asking me this?"

The daughter: "What were other popular names?

Me: "Mmm. Mike, Scott, Rick, Andy. I knew tons of Andys. Chris..."

The daughter: "What about girls names?"

Me: "Susan or Suzanne. Mary. Liz. Debbie. Laura."

The daughter: "What do you think is the most popular name now?"

Me: "I don't know. Some of your friends have fairly...unusual... names."

The daughter: "M. said she was named after a magazine."

Me: "She...what? The magazine?"

The daughter: "Maybe she was kidding."

Me: "She's lucky she wasn't named 'Ladies Home Journal.' 'Redbook.' 'Cosmopolitan.'"

The daughter: "Mommy! Stop. Why did you give me my name?"

Ah. The daughter is known to be disturbed by the very old-fashioned quality of her name. Even more that it is impossible to obtain personalized souvenirs with her name on them.

Me: "You know it's a family name. We liked it."

The daughter, sighing: "I know."

Me: "Well, you can always change it."

She shoots me a look and replies sternly, "Mommy."

And she returns to her chicken sandwich without missing a beat.

Go listen to some good music: "Fame" from the album Best of Bowie by David Bowie. Someday, she will appreciate that her name is uncommon.

09 February 2011

Everybody wants to rule the world

The son, who celebrated his 17th birthday last Sunday, is going through a bit of a rebellion.

Mostly, it's good-natured.

His school has a fairly stringent dress code. The kids wear uniforms, which is fine with me, and I think it's largely fine with him. He doesn't have to think much about dressing in the morning. It's in the shower, throw on a school polo and a pair of black trousers, socks and shoes, and he's good to go. Until recently, hair wasn't an issue, but a year or so ago, the manual was rewritten: boys' hair had to be above the collar and ears. No facial hair.

The boy decided to grow a beard. Actually, it's a well-trimmed and fairly tasteful goatee. We're sort of amused because it's red and blonde and brown. Of course, the kid has grown up to be as hairy as a Viking, so this motley isn't all that surprising.

"You know that facial hair is disallowed?" I reminded him when he stopped shaving certain parts of his face.

"Yup," he grinned.

I shrugged. "Well, personally, I don't care. You know the rules and if you get detention for it, I expect you to serve it gracefully and without complaint."

"Okay," he said, perfectly pleased with this set up.

The kid has a lot of Caltech in his background, and it's been one of my goals to see to it that he doesn't embrace his inner geek externally. So, I've always insisted on proper hygiene, a good hair cut and at least few nice clothing items beyond his loved jeans and t-shirts. For Christmas, I bought him a really nice cotton cashmere half-zip with just enough military detailing to make it both stylish and teenager-worthy. He'd also started hinting around that he wanted some Converse sneakers (the daughter and I both have multiple pairs of Chucks), and I got him a pair of Jack Purcells to complete his transformation.

Right after winter break, he abandoned his uniform sweatshirt in favor of wearing the half-zip to school (as verboten as the facial hair). Then he tried out for two school theater productions and got big roles in both. So, he's enormously pleased with himself right now.

In my book, he's nearly an adult, and there are rules and then there are rules. One does not drive drunk or recklessly. One does not rob a bank. One does not harm someone else. Those are rules. Tasteful facial hair on an older teenager? A nice sweater over the school-sanctioned sweatshirt? Pfft. If this is the form his teenage rebellion is taking, fine with me. His grades are better than ever and he's happy when he gets up in the morning. His teachers seem largely amused, and evidently haven't turned him in for insubordination.

I did insist he get a haircut; his hair was nearly as long as mine.

"Did Mr. Y (the theater teacher) comment on your cleaned up look?" I asked the son this morning.

"No," he said cheerfully. "But yesterday when he called on me, my English teacher, Mr. H., said 'Take it away, Style Boy.'"

I laughed out loud. Mr. H. is known for his own very vivacious facial hair, a beard of such length that it might very well have a life of its own.

Go listen to some music: "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" from the album Songs From the Big Chair by Tears for Fears.

07 February 2011

What's the weight of the world worth

"How can you have so much damage?" my brother asked and I could hear his confusion. "That's like...combat trauma."

"No one has figured that out yet," I told him. There is a lot I tend not to say. Like mentioning that I'm a systemic disaster.

"Are you one of those people who travels to other dimensions while they're sleeping?" he asked whimsically. "You know, to fight crime or something?"

I laughed out loud.

"Just tell everyone it was a skydiving accident," the spouse quipped.

"Except everyone knows I won't get on a plane," I groused.

"You could tell people that it happened when you were running with the bulls at Pamplona," the woman who does my hair suggested Saturday.

"They'd believe that," I replied grimly.

"That's the best part!" she crowed.

The cat is slung across my lap, brave in his yellow bandage. He breathes quietly, paw quivering with a dream, and he shifts with a sigh. This morning, he jumped on the bed, and ran up to nestle himself under my arm, purring violently and kneading like a kitten.

He has decided not to leave quite yet.

He's thin, so terribly thin, but he's eating on his own, and I give him a boost with extra feedings through his tube. But today, the vet decided the tube could come out. He's regained 5 oz. since last Wednesday.

The final diagnosis: bowel obstruction with the added complications of fatty liver disease and pancreatitis. The fatty liver disease and pancreatitis were both spurred by the obstruction. What happened to him happens to 5-10% of cats with this problem. Like me, he is the exception rather than the rule. Briefly, the vet thought the complication was lymphoma. Had it been, that would have been the end. As it was the other two were almost the end, but with all our combined efforts, it looks like he will live to purr and bound and hack up hairballs another day.

Probably, I will live to kayak again in frigid waters, hike another mountain in another country, get on another airplane.

Even if I don't jump out of it.

Go listen to some good music: "Mutiny, I Promise You" from the album Challengers by The New P*rnographers. Yup, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

06 February 2011

See the lies right in front of you

It's not a secret. When I was 3, 4, 5 years old, I wanted nothing more in the world than a princess dress. I dreamed about that dress, asked for it for Christmas (and of course, never got one). In later years, when I learned to sew, I bought scraps of coat lining and fake satins, and sewed tiny little ball gowns for my dolls. I used lace trim to fashion bodices. I never cared much for drawing, but when I drew at all, it was to create frothy dresses for dancing and parties. A neighbor gave me some of her old costume jewelry, single earrings dripping with rhinestones, and I would take them outside at night to watch them sparkle in the floodlight that was rigged to illuminate the backyard.

The rest of the time, I was climbing trees, playing kickball and digging to China. I grew up to write about all sorts of things, with a strong emphasis on science, medicine and engineering.

Deb sent me a link to a story on NPR, Saving Our Daughters from an Army of Princesses. I think more correctly it should have been called Saving Our Daughters from Themselves. It pushes a new book by a woman who contends our daughters are in danger of being eaten by a "new girly girl culture."

As the mother of a daughter, please allow me a single comment:


Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and to write a book about it if s/he chooses. But honestly. What crap. Sure, every parent should be vigilant about what's being marketed to his/her kids. Parents do have the ability to limit some of the influences that they don't want their children to be exposed to. Parents have the responsibility to talk to their offspring about how advertising works, and why it is bad...and sometimes positive. But positing that something that a child finds appealing (pink, princesses, army men, whatever) is going to cause some sort of long term damage is just nonsense. Unless, of course, the parent in question is wholly ineffectual.

To this argument, I offer as proof my own children: the son, 17 today, who is currently playing a game on the Xbox (as a female character, I might add. His choice, I might add. Because it's roleplaying. He is a PRINCESS in this game. And as straight a testosterone-laden male as there is. So there.) and the daughter, soon to be 14, who has been exposed to Disney princesses her entire life, and who eschews pink by choice, who plays basketball, who sews tiny clothes for the GI Joes that she puts in her little movies about subversion and resistance TO THE "NORMS" BEING SHOVED DOWN EVERYONE'S THROATS, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

My children are who they are. I have allowed them the gift of being themselves though I have imposed upon them the desire to demonstrate good manners, respect and humanity. This doesn't make me special or wonderous, but maybe a little smarter than the parents who try remake their children in their own images or shove them down whatever road their own culture dictates is correct. Children want fences and boundaries. I've provided that and necessary discipline, but I've allowed them down time to explore the world and their place in it as well as the interests that call to them. I've been rewarded with a valedictorian who just presented me with a near perfect PSAT score (no swotting required. Take that, Tiger Fool), and another one in the running for valedictorian who finishes what she starts and isn't afraid of the hard work required to reach her goals.

My children aren't perfect and they occasionally need redirecting. I'm far from perfect, and I often feel like I'm fumbling in the dark because I'm not doing what everyone else is, but following a path that makes more sense to me. And yeah, I wonder if I'm doing it right.

My reward? My reward is two kids who are showing every sign of their own successes. My reward is two kids who thank me for being firm but very loving, for allowing them to be who they are rather than who I want them to be. And anyway, what I want them to be is goal-oriented. I want them to be content in themselves, kind to others, determined to make a better world in whatever way they can. It's meaningless to me whether they become doctors, filmmakers, or farmers. It's everything that they find their own happiness, and can take care of themselves and those around them.

"You're such a good mom," my daughter says with a tiny wail.

"You don't know any better," I chide her. "You have Stockholm Syndrome."

"I see other parents," she tells me reprovingly. "I see how they treat their own kids."

I'm NOT making a case for my style of parenting here. What I am making a case for is listening to your own kids. If you've got a kid, you know John Locke was wrong. There is no tabula rasa; children are born with a personality. And whether you like it or not, that personality may love pink and princesses, whether Disney gets a toe hold in there or not.

Go listen to some good music: "Open Your Eyes" from the album Killer Lords by Lords of the New Church. Since my children were born, I have seen so much parenting garbage and absolutely none of it has any basis in common sense. I (and my kids) have friends who span a multitude of cultures, so we've seen some amazing (and frequently not in a good way) methods of "motivating" kids. So many children are not allowed to BE children. They are little automatons, self-esteem machines who have no reason to feel good about themselves, and many of them seem to know deep down inside that they are real losers. And my experience is that if you raise your kids to be doormats, they'll cave to peer pressure. If you teach them how to make choices and you allow them to make their own mistakes, they'll do ok.

01 February 2011

...life spins into a frenzy

Just when I'd established a quiet and calm routine with feeding the cat through his tube every three hours in between everything else I need to do throughout the day, he suddenly decided he needed to rip the thing out of his neck. As it was 8:30 pm, this required a trip to the animal emergency room. An infection (surprise!).

When we got him home, he got very mouthy and yelled, "GAO!" So I gave him gao (it's his wet cat food). Nope. Didn't want that (surprise! He's eaten about 20 kibbles voluntarily in the last three weeks). So I put some tuna down for him.

And he ate it. SURPRISE.

At least some of it. It's a start.

How the hell did it get to be February?

Go listen to some good music: "Twilight Zone" from the album Cut by Golden Earring. Why am I writing about this? Because this is my life at present! Also I don't have time to write. Also, too tired.