Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Things that are wrong with me

No, I'm not asking for suggestions, thanks.

I already have a few specifics in mind.

One, my hand! Owie! All the knitting has left my right hand and arm sore. Either an inflamed muscle or tendon or something, I'm thinking. The pain goes right from the base of my ring and pinky fingers to the underside of my elbow. Massage only makes it worse, but frozen cranberries (we're out of peas) feel really really good. In any case, I'm forcing myself to take a knitting hiatus until the pain stops. (Or mostly stops... whatever.)

Second, Farscape. People whose opinions I respect say this is a great show. We've just finished the 4th episode and are still waiting for the greatness to appear. Does the beginning just suck? Does it get better? Should I keep watching, or is this all there is?

Here's what underwhelms me:

It's a neat concept and the visual delivery is excellent.

But the writing! Ack! I mean, I've had beatings that were more subtle. If I want to be smacked around by moralizing lessons delivered with the finesse of a falling piano, I would go to church. Jay and I were both sitting there, rolling our eyes, yelling "We GET IT ALREADY" at the TV. Not a good sign. I don't know whether it's the writing, or the editing that's so poor, but we agreed that the episodes could be trimmed by about 20% without losing any meaning.

And LORD, I can tell the creators were muppeteers, because anything involving the muppet characters is extremely well done. Anything involving live actors clunks. Not that there aren't good lines, but they get lost in the dragging pace of delivery. It's as if they decided, if expressing an idea once is good, then expressing it four times would be even better.


Any fans out there have opinions on whether the series resolves these problems as it progresses, or should we give up now and move on?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

iPod Love

Jay got me a 2G nano for christmas and our neighbor filled it up for me - need to weed out some of it, but found a few new favorites. The Be Good Tanyas - love them love them love them. Something about the combination of their voices and the lyrics and everything. Makes me very happy.

Also got Hayseed Dixie's hillbilly tribute to AC/DC - hilarious. Ryan Adams - whom I'd never heard of, but who I'm really enjoying. Bunch of Gillian Welch and some Steve Earle. A few good Beck songs - a few I'm going to delete as soon as possible. (I tend to either love Beck's songs or hate them - not much middle ground.) Old 97's seem pretty good, as do the Jayhawks and Jim Miller & Buffalo Country. I'll have to keep listening... kind of got hung up on the Be Good Tanyas.

Good to have friends with connections.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Not so politely stolen from Devan

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished, and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

And, you know, a few more of them sound really familiar, but I can't remember if I've actually read them or not. Might have. Might not have. There's a few on the list that I haven't marked as read that I would like to get to at some point, but I just don't read a lot of science fiction these days... more into fantasy, mystery, history.

I think I loved a lot of these books - as I was reading them. Some I've read over and over because they gave me what I needed at the time. Some of them I now loathe ( :coughThomasCovenantcough: ) and some I would still pick up and read again if someone ( :coughbastardexcough: ) hadn't stolen my copy ( :coughEnder's Gamecough: ).

I suppose that's my way of saying that I read all of these before the time I decided that finishing books that suck wasn't a good use of my time, that if I had hated them, I wouldn't have read them in the first place, but that I can't remember which of them I loved enough to indicate that either.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holiday (or not) of Choice

Jay and I are celebrating this year by not going anywhere for the holidays. We're staying home, sleeping in, not driving or flying or waiting in lines. Yay! What a great xmas present to ourselves, I say.

I've been finishing up the holiday knitting - done 2 hats, 1 lace scarf, 1 pair gloves, three ski bands - just one more hat to finish up, one set of gloves that needs the bezillion ends woven in, and I will be ready to ship out the packages. What, you say? By the time I send them it will already be AFTER xmas? Well, of course, silly. I'm sending NEW YEARS presents. Duh. (They might get there by then...)

I also have to finish the tail end of a queen-sized afghan that I've been working on since September, but I've decided that we'll give that to the recipients when we see them Jan 5th or so...

But after THAT is done? No knitting for anyone outside the house (ie: anyone not me or Jay) until Spring. Yeah baby. 'Bout time I got to keep some of the fruits of my labor. (I have a few things, but I realized that most of the knitting I've done in the last year has made its way out the door. Usually before I remember to take a picture of it, too.)

First on the in-house list? Another hat for Jay - something warmer and washable than the one he has now. Second? 1 chunky scarf for me, 1 lacy scarf for me. Finish pair of socks started in November...

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend (even if that just means an extra day off work for you)!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Comment experiment

Trying to figure out the switch from Haloscan to the Blogger comment system...

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Tears Yet

I just finished the end of term reviews with my students. No one's started crying yet - at least not while in my office - so I'll count that as a minor triumph.

Today was hard for me - had to fail two students who just weren't demonstrating the skills they need to succeed in the college level course next term. I always feel bad because they're always in such denial about their abilities that the failure comes as a shock. Often they've already signed up for the next class in the spring, so failing this class means they have to rearrange everything.

Granted, I know that failing them now is actually kinder than sending them on to fail the next class over and over. (The class I teach has no effect on grad point average.) Also, it is their responsibility to make sure they do demonstrate the minimum skill level in order to pass. SO they don't have anyone to blame but themselves.

But I still feel like the bad guy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Season Seven

NO! Captain Tightpants cannot be a villain.

Whatever were you thinking, Joss?

I'm so disoriented.

(Watching the end of Season 7 of Buffy this week...)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hope this doesn't suck

I just switched over to the Googlized version of Blogger. I really hope I don't regret it.

Anyway... on to some actual content, eh?

Today is the last day my class will meet. Yay! The reason for the early end is that the remainder of the week will be taken up with individual portfolio reviews in which the student brings all the work they did over the semester, and we look to see if they've made actual progress. For some students, this will take maybe 5-10 minutes. For others? Half an hour.

For the best students, this is merely a confirmation that they're ready to move on to the college level courses - a brief review to remind them what they've accomplished during the term. For the students who will not be passing, it's a chance to see exactly what they need to improve in order to pass the next time.

For the students on the borderline, it's most important. Sometimes I'm not sure until the portfolio review if a particular student should pass the class. Generally, even if the student isn't quite performing to standard, if they've shown great improvement, thereby indicating an ability to learn from instruction, I'm likely to pass them.

It's the students who are clearly performing below standards, who haven't shown improvement, but who do not understand this, are the hardest to deal with in the reviews. They don't understand why they're not passing - and I can't understand whether it's because of the same dimness that renders their work substandard or whether it's the result of willful denial of reality. Either way, those are the conferences I dread the most.

Except perhaps the conferences with the students who are probably capable of passing the class, but who have decided that because of their obvious and superior talents, they don't actually need to DO all the work. Little shits. They knew the requirements from Day One, but somehow decided the rules didn't apply to them. These are the abusive types, who shovel attitude at me all term, who try to go over my head to the department chair to "test out" of the class without "actually having to pass". These are the ones I hate. Personally hate. I don't want to pass them, because they don't really deserve it unless I rely on psychic grading to know what they *could* have done. But I don't want to fail them, because then I'd have them in my class next term. I may have to meditate on the solution to those students... preferably with a large glass of wine in one hand.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Maybe because it's finally snowing

Or maybe because I'm in the home stretch on this fall's classes, or maybe it was that one of my favorite students brought me a sample bottle of his family's homemade Shiraz, but I'm feeling less bleh today than I have in a long while.

I've been seriously dreading coming to work lately. I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, that the students aren't even interested in learning, that another term of this will kill me, etcetera and so forth - bad mojo all around.

A couple things have helped me not want to get all AK-47 on this place.

I finally managed to drop by one of the staff people who teaches the same class I teach during a block of time when she wasn't crazy busy. One of the hardest things about teaching is that you're pretty much on your own - it's hard to know if you're "doing it right" until you get the students' work as proof of their understanding. What makes these remedial level courses harder, is that sometimes, no matter what we do, some of these students are never going to "get it", either from lack of interest, effort, or ability. I have to learn not to take that personally. One of the other things that my colleague told me, that I hadn't really thought about before is this: these students are not happy about having to take this class, even though it's more a gift than a punishment, and they've never learned to separate the class from the person teaching it. So all that angsty resentment they've been projecting at me is not about me. It's about the class.

Must remember that. Must remember that. Must try to remember that. Ommmmm...

The second thing is that I do have some really great students - students who put in the effort, who ask questions, who show huge leaps of improvement, who bring me bottles of wine... I just need to focus more on the great students and less on the cranky, resentful, unwilling-to-do-the-work students. I'm trying. But it ain't so easy as it sounds.

And in any case - 3 more class meetings, then individual portfolio reviews, and then DONE!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006


That's it. I am so not doing this again next year. Four is enough.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Still alive

That's about all I can say for now.

Holidays were good - more on those later.

Behind on NaNo (~34K done) but still pretty confident of finishing.

Mind turned to mush by huge wave of grading. Hate grading. Need new job.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Check In

26K and counting on NaNo... but now I'm getting really behind on critiques.

We have a houseguest this weekend, an old college buddy of Jay's. Usually our little place feels cozy, but plenty big enough. Add a third person... really start to feel the lack of doors. The only doors in our place that don't lead outside are the ones on the bathroom and the closet.

I enjoy having company. It's always nice to talk to different people, especially ones as charming and well-educated as our current guest. But it's a rare person who can fit into an already small space without making it seem tiny. Kind of like my mother's idea of high praise - "I didn't really notice him much."

Oh crap... does that mean I'm turning into my mother? Ha ha. There are many things I think are awesome about my mom, don't get me wrong. But you know that saying about "if you can't be a good example, at least you can serve as a horrible warning"? It applies.

Agh! Must. Write. More. Words. Back to NaNo.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

damn that grading thing

Losing valuable writing time to grading today... granted, this is theoretically why I get a paycheck from the college, but still. (And I "wasted" several hours knitting this week, too.)

I'm at 17000 words and counting. Don't have the exact count with me at the moment. Going pretty well - at least I'm not letting myself get massively behind this year. I learned my lesson writing 25K in three days at the end of the month in 2005. Not fun.

Writing at this speed reminds me of painting in my high school art class. First I block out the basic shape of a scene using dialogue (the underpainting), then I add character thought and movements and maybe a little detail here and there, and finish it with a gloss coat of description.

Back to the blank, white page...

Monday, November 06, 2006


That's what I say to Jay when I have nothing to really say. Kind of a substitute for "hello", I suppose. Though, come to think of it, I think that's what I set my email notification to back in college...


First meeting of the student women's group was interesting. A small turn out, but lots of good ideas. Our second meeting is Thursday, so hopefully we'll keep chugging along.

NaNo count is up to 8825 and I'm still working on it this afternoon. Day 6 should be at 10002 words to be on track, and I think I should be able to get there without too much effort. (Famous last words)

Back to work!

Friday, November 03, 2006


4371 words done.

45629 words to go.

Might be even quieter around here than it has been. (Is that possible? you ask.)

This will be my 4th year participating. Hoping that it's also my fourth time winning. Last year was a nailbiting finish and I loathed every minute of it. Hopefully, with a return to a familiar genre and cast of characters, this year won't suck quite as bad.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Last night I was in the college's fitness center - a rather small series of basement rooms, but at least they're out of the rain - when I had the privilege of overhearing a most appalling conversation.

One guy and two girls were hanging on the treadmill next to mine, chatting about the sort of random stuff college students talk about, when the subject turned to bodies. Not surprising, I suppose, considering that most of the people in the gym were there to work on their physiques.

First they started to trash one woman they know because of her powerful build - "she's super strong, but she looks like a dude."

Then one of the girls started bitching about the fact that this other young woman doesn't see anything wrong with being naked in front of other people. "Like, gross."

This, of course, segued into her ranting about how no one would ever see her naked, not even her boyfriend. "I'm a lights out girl. I mean, just LOOK at these thighs. I think not." Girl in question was probably 5 foot 3, 5 foot 4 maybe, and I'd guess her weight at about 125-130 lbs. In other words, not a large person by any stretch of the imagination. Actually, I don't think of myself as a particularly large person and I have a good 20-30 pounds on her.

Now, I've been seen naked in all different lighting conditions, and not once has a guy ever said, "WHOA - your thighs look huge!" In fact, the response is usually more along the lines of "You look so hot. C'mere. Now." But enough about my sex life...

By the guy's awkward pause, cough, and shuffling of feet when the girl made her "I'm so fat and ugly" comment, I'm pretty sure he was thinking that he wouldn't mind seeing her naked in whatever circumstance she wanted to offer. Why are women so hard on themselves about things that don't really matter to anyone?

I wanted to say something to this effect to her, but one, the circumstances were totally wrong (her trying to impress friends, me panting and running) and two, people with distorted body images will never believe suggestions that don't fit their warped views. Learned that from a friend with an eating disorder.

I suppose that's a topic we might eventually address in the OurCollegeName women's group if that ever gets off the ground.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sanity Check

My life up here in Vermont is still pretty isolated. Only slightly more so than it was in Salt Lake or at the Grand Canyon, but that slightly seems to make a big difference.

Part of the problem is that both Jay and everyone else we know seems to be extremely busy. Look at a college instructor's schedule, and you might see the 10-15 hours a week of class time, which seems like a light work load. But then you factor in prep time, and especially grading time, and the weekly hours jump up to 30-60. Add in the apparent faculty/staff shortages this term, which mean that many people are teaching "overload", or more than the usual 12 credits/term, and you end up with a definite lack of time for socializing.

Most of my recent conversations have been more snippets and sound bites, tossed out while running down the hall or past another faculty member's office. I can't remember the last time I had a sit down conversation with another adult with actual listening involved. (Though I did get a little fix of that while visiting K2 down in NYC.) So much for the slower pace of life in rural Vermont.

I've been so bogged down with grading my backlog of assignments for the midterm progress report deadline this week that I haven't had time for the outlets that keep me sane: this blog, my writing, my critique circle, good pleasure reading, and all the other little creative things that stretch my brain. The only thing I have kept up with (mostly) is my exercise schedule. The plan this term was to get a minimum of 6 1/2 hours of exercise each week. I've pretty much stuck to that - with nice results in terms of physical health and fitness - but that, too, takes away from my creative time. And for my mental health, that creative time is essential.

So what I've decided to do is this: I will schedule a certain number of hours on specific days to grade student work. I will not skip those times (procrastination is part of the problem) nor will I grade outside those times (must set boundaries). As for the balance of mental and physical exercise... I'm still trying to figure out how to strike a balance.

I've started mentoring at one of the local middle schools - I meet with a seventh grade girl once a week at lunch - and have volunteered to advise the second attempt at a Women at OurCollege group. (Last year, the advisor was a bit too... aggressive and scared away most of the interested women before the group could get off the ground. We're starting with a more social gathering type group, to branch out into specific discussion and action meetings as everyone gets more comfortable with the idea.) I'm hoping both of these actvities will help me feel more connected and not just stretched further.

(Oh - and it looks like I missed my 4 year blogoversary last week. Four years...)

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Drowning in midterm grading.


Must find a more efficient way to grade 35 mediocre to crap papers.


By this time in past semesters, I've been down to 20 students or less.


I think I got spoiled by small class sizes last year.


Not that I want the students to go away.


But the non-participators with attitude problems?


Them, I would not miss.

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle.

Friday, October 06, 2006


There are way too many damn people on this fricking island.

Spent yesterday on the train from Vermont down to New York City. Almost an eight hour trip. Someone who got on in Springfield, Massachusetts had evidently been... getting mellow for the ride, and until he/she got off the train in New Haven, Connecticut 2 hours later, we all enjoyed the contact high. Gag. I hate the smell of pot.

I had thought to spend the trip grading my students' journal entries (more reading reactions than diary type entries - at least they're supposed to be...), but the ride was kind of bumpy, the tray table was too small, and I just couldn't deal with lousy writing while moving backwards in a pot-scented compartment.

Instead, I alternated between reknitting the cuff of a pair of socks I knit too loosely back in June, and reading another crappy book. The book started off well, interesting premise, decent writing... but then. I don't like ANY of the characters. They all annoy me. The main character killed someone in the first part of the book, and he continues to make shitty choices as the story progresses... and progresses... and progresses. Damn thing is over 500 pages long, which usually, I appreciate, because I read pretty fast, and shorter books are done too quickly. BUT DAMN. I just want to know "whodunnit" and I have to spend time with people I can't stand (the characters) in order to find out. Irritating.

HOWEVER. Now I'm on the Upper East Side, chillin' with K2 in her tiny yet expensive apartment. And there's this thing. This thing I had forgotten all about. See, you can pick up the phone, tell people what you want to eat, and they BRING IT RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR. (Yes, I'm a bit overexcited by this fact... I live in the sticks, okay.) And you pay them, and they leave you the food and go away. Mmmmmm. Haven't had good Chinese food since I moved out west in 1999. It was kind of shocking.

Unfortunately, the Chinese is still shocking my system, so I'm going to have to continue my New York adventure tale later. Ugh. (But it was so tasty)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Ugh... They Got Me

Freshmen are the kindergartners of college. Germs galore. I've been fighting off the current plague for the last week, but this time, they got me good.

So welcome back phlegm, welcome back fever, welcome back headaches and sore throat.

All I can say is better this week than next. I'm heading to NYC next Thursday to see how the other half lives. Do not want to be sick while traveling. Been there, done that, no thanks.

I am a lame blogger.

But I am really pathetic right now. You should see my sad, swollen puppydog eyes. Oops. I left out "bloodshot".


Friday, September 22, 2006

Kayak Tips

Purposely tipping the kayak to practice wet exits is hard to do. Huge mental block about leaning over until you flip upside down in the cold water.

Accidentally tipping after you've chickened out and returned to the shallows to fool around with some J-leans and lean turns: remarkably easy.

Unfortunately, if you're leaning back when you flip, you will bash your face on the sand when you reach forward to pull the release on your spray skirt. And then, when you panic because you're under water and just bashed your nose so you kick upwards to push the kayak off, you'll end up with brilliant deep bruises on your legs.

Ask me how I know.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Back in high school when I used to have time to read a book a day, I noticed this a lot more. I would read The Firebrand and then the following week in English class, we'd be reading "Women of Troy". Or I'd pick up the book Jurassic Park and two days later, I'd see a trailer for the movie.

Friday night, Jay and I watched Cannibal: the Musical!. Saturday night we watched the season 5 finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which contains a scene that starts with Xander saying "Spedoinkle!" In case you're not familiar with the first movie, this is a catch phrase/word throughout the film. If we hadn't seen Cannibal first, we never would have caught the reference. Funny how things come together like that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Appalled doesn't cover it

So. My students.


I assigned a short essay about the author's reasons for not changing her name when she got married, and offers several reasons why women decide to either keep their last names, take their husband's last name, or find a solution in the middle (hyphenating, merging, etc.) (I'm not including author name or title because I don't want this to turn up in a search...)

The writing part of the assignment was to "state your opinion on whether women should take their husband's names, explain your opinion, and explain why you agree or disagree with the specific points the author makes". So, naturally, most of the students failed to answer the whole question, but that's not what sickened me.

Some examples (typos uncorrected):

"Women should not disrespeck men by refusing to change."

"...talking back to some one who calls you the wrong name is rood and disrespectfull"

"...if a women does not let her husband have the family name she must not be ready for marriage"

"In a way he did adopt her because after he asked for her hand in marriage he takes care of her and gives her a place to live and loves her.

"She is leaving one family and joining another family because your father does give the bride away to the husbands family at the wedding."

"If you correct people it can be rude and leave everyone feeling awkward."

"I think she makes some good points, but she sounds too much like a feminist."

:the sound of kate weeping:

So, according to my students, women should be seen and not heard, other people's comfort is more important than a woman's wishes or individuality, fathers own their daughters, husbands own their wives, women need someone to provide for them at all times, and feminist is a bad word. Brilliant.

In their defense, most of these students come from rural, low-income families, and most of their parents never attended college - in some cases, parents didn't even finish high school. So I'm not dealing with the most worldly people. And they're young - their opinions are more likely to be their parents' opinions than their own right now.

But still.

I actually gagged as I read these papers, and I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't grading on opinion - only on whether the questions were all answered with adequate support.

But still.

What century is this?


Sunday, September 10, 2006


Setting: a few years ago, on some hike or ski in the dark, in the rain, in the mud...

Jay: Wow, this really puts the "A" in Adventure!
Kate: No, it puts the "S" in Suck.

So... let's see... did I mention? No. Well, Labor Day weekend (Sept 1st, to be specific) Jay and I decided to break the bank and buy not just the one, but two kayaks. So I have the Manitou 14 in lime green, and Jay has the Chatham 17 in fire. Gorgeous boats, show up beautifully on the water, which is important when you have to share lakes and reservoirs with motorboats and jetskis.

We also went all out with the accessories, including lightweight Werner paddles - I got the Little Dipper with the small shaft, and Jay got the Camano, Astral lifevests for both of us, gloves for Jay, and coastal spray skirts, not to mention paddling shoes, sponges, dry bags, and a bilge pump.

To justify such extravegance, we've already taken the boats out 4 times - twice in the Adirondacks in New York (Long Lake and another lake I can't remember the name of... Harris, maybe?), and twice in VT/NH - Lake Willoughby and Moore Reservoir. Shortest paddle was about 7 miles, longest about 11. My poor hands! They haven't had this much abuse since I was a gymnast.

Yesterday we got caught in a front that brought not only rain, but thunder and lightning, so we got to spend nearly an hour sitting on shore, waiting for the lightning to GO AWAY. We did have rain gear, but not good rain gear... so it didn't quite put the "S" in Suck, but I wouldn't give it an "A" either. Maybe an "MF" for Mostly fun until it wasn't.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oops, you lost me

As usual, I've been doing a bit of reading lately. Not all of it good. But that's the problem with trying new authors, I suppose.

Just before we left on vacation, I picked up a book that I thought was by an author I'd read before. (Lisa Gardner - who I really enjoyed) Browsing the shelves in the mystery section, I noted only the "suspense" on the spine and missed the "romantic" part. But in truth, the suspense was pretty low and the romance was the worst kind. This Lisa just about killed me with the melodrama. The heroine ran through every emotion known to man in the first ten pages, sometimes hitting two or three in one paragraph. Gah. When the hero "arched a cynical eyebrow" on page 37, I knew it was only going to get worse. And it did.

I don't mind romantic suspense. I read it by choice fairly frequently. Some people do it well (Holly Lisle comes to mind) with plots that make sense rather than relying on soap opera plot devices, and characters who act like reasonable people instead of moronic stereotypes (the shy, nervous, emotional woman - the self-centered vamp - the trust-impaired man).

I recently read a book by Elizabeth Lowell that I would class as romantic suspense, though the cover just claimed "fiction". I enjoyed her book, as the characters were interesting and entertaining, despite their drift towards stereotype. I mean, wtf does "dangerously male", "extremely male", "so deliciously male" mean? Gag. Puh-lease. Either you got the bits or you don't, generally speaking. (Romantic suspence doesn't usually include transgendered men and women, so I'm not including that in this rant, 'kay?) Pretty much, I figure, if the author describes the characters as male and female, it means they're going to be using their tender bits in an interlocking fashion. And that's another rant entirely.

Moving away from the romantic suspense rant... my current read came from the horror shelf in my local bookstore (which doesn't mean much, as they're a bit confused about genre there). So far, so good, except for one thing that just booted me COMPLETELY out of the story. Lemme 'splain.

Book published in 2002. Main character 26 years old. No mention of special circumstances, so assume college graduation at age 22. Character comments about traveling in Europe post-graduation. I put that travel sometime between 1994-1998, with variance based on possible publication delay. Character makes a comment to this effect: "backpacking through Europe after graduation, and even with picnicking on cheese and bread for lunch, Italy was almost supernaturally expensive." To which I have to say "In what alternate universe?" When I traveled in Europe (8 trips between 1993-1998) Italy was about the only place I COULD afford. Cheap hotels ran between $25-$50/night, with the hostels being slightly cheaper. With a little bit of searching, you could find a four-course meal for $10-15. The open markets allowed for haggling, and some of my nicest and least expensive souvenirs came from Italy. So when this author claims that Italy was super pricy, my bullshit meter snaps on. Because the plot is so interesting and the characters likeable and, more importantly, believable, I'll definitely keep reading, but my suspension of disbelief has taken a hit. This is not a good thing.

Anyone else have this problem, or have any other pet peeves in books you've read? Or am I the only one here who's so picky?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vermont Color for the Weekend

Friday night Jay and I joined the ground crew for a couple who regularly go up in their hot air balloon. Jay, hvaing already tagged along with the chase car once, got to go up in the basket for the hour-long flight. Not quite as exciting from the ground, but a really interesting experience I never expected to have. We've both volunteered to be on their list of people to call when they need crew.

Saturday, we spent most of the afternoon and evening at a local family's end of summer extravaganza. Emphasis on the extravaganza. Their property is fairly large, and includes a seven hole golf course, a barn full of memorabilia from the satirical political campaigns of Danny Gore, and a garage full of other Vermont memorabilia, including a steam engine that can be stoked up to blow an old train whistle.

We played badminton, golf, disc golf, and listened to the bluegrass band who showed up around dinner time. We ate a truly random assortment of summer salads, fresh bread, and corn on the cob, not to mention tasty little squares of a dozen different desserts. And to top the night off, we watched the best fireworks show I've seen in years. This was no backyard special, no. The family knows people. Fun people. People with licenses to buy mortars and shoot them into the sky.

And Sunday? Well, today's been all rainy, so we're up at school playing on the computers. Hence the blog entry.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Last Saturday

This was just a very nice day. Very nice.

Don't remember exactly how it started. Or maybe I do and I'm just not telling, take your pick.

I dropped Jay off at work and drove into the booming metropolis (population 8000) to the south of us. Then I went for my appointment at the "pricy" salon for a new haircut. I say "pricy" because I've been talking to my sister in NYC, and "pricy" in VT is still 50% less than "dirt cheap" there. Wonderful experience, the stylist's deodorant failure notwithstanding. (And after many trips to Europe, body odor just doesn't gag me like it does some people.) First there was the intense hairbrushing scalp massage, followed by a neck and shoulder rub, leading to lovely hair washing... sigh. And then he actually gave me what I asked for without making me give detailed instructions.

So now my hair is shorter in the back than in the front, and the front part just reaches my chin. Hasn't been this short since that bowl cut back when I was four, but I totally love it. Left a huge tip because I thought they undercharged for what they were offering. I was expecting to spend ten or twenty dollars more.

Then back to the school to retrieve the boy.

And then. AND THEN. We drove over to Stowe to the Umiak Kayak shop and bought this boat. Woo hoo! Well, we didn't actually get to take it home with us yet, because we decided to get the one that's in the rental fleet this summer, and we can't have it until Labor Day weekend. (Sept 2nd) And, since Jay had a bit more left in his Utah account than remembered, we're considering a second boat as well. Especially since the rising oil prices are going to mean that next year's models are going to be significantly more expensive.

And THEN, we had a tasty dinner at Positive Pie2 in Montpelier. Yum yum, scallops and artichokes and white sauce over freshly made spaghetti.

And THEN we drove home and watched the Angel DVD that had come in the mail from Netflix.

Not a rotten moment the whole day. Love that.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Recap Plus

Okay, we're home. Actually, we came home a bit early, I just haven't felt like writing anything until now.

August 4th-7th: Hung out in Jersey with Jay's family. I actually got to spend some time with his sister without him around, and that was kind of nice. She and I are both extremely competitive when in comes to games. She kicked my ass in Scrabble, so I had to teach her a couple card games so I could beat her at something. Heh.

By a strange twist of circumstances, my mother was in the area that weekend (moving K2 into her Manhattan digs) and so we got the mothers together for the first time. Went pretty well, I think.

August 7th: Drove from northern New Jersey to just north of Portland, Maine. We camped out at the Bradbury Mountain State Park campground... next to the most annoying family from Massachusetts. (This was a common theme throughout the vacation.) Rained pretty hard that night - big thunder and lightning - but it was dry by morning, so not a big deal. Mosquitoes were kind of nasty - ate up our feet and ankles until we managed to get out of our Chacos and into socks and shoes.

August 8th-9th: Continued up Route 1 along the Maine coast. Stopped off for a picnic lunch at the Pemaquid lighthouse, played on the rocks, watched the loons. Camped that night just north of Camden, in the Camden Hills State Park. Good site, very nice facilities. The first day in, we hiked up Mt. Megunticook (great name) to get a better view of the region. Not a bad hike, but nothing special. Second day, we rented a tandem kayak and took it out on Megunticook Lake for a ten mile (16K) paddle around the nature preserve penninsula. Beautiful day - one of the best of the trip. Had to bully Jay into going into Camden for dinner that evening. Bought a few things at Stitchery Square (Britany Birch double point needles and some Louet Euroflax) and then hopped into the book store to refresh my reading supplies. Dinner was delicious - lobster, asparagus, garlic mashed, and chocolate truffle cake for me - tuna steak with ginger and seaweed salad and greens, shiraz, and blueberry pie for Jay. Yum.

August 10th-12th: On to Lamoine State Park near Acadia National Park. Nice facilities, but our campsite was rather lacking in level spots, and the slope of the tent started bugging me by night three. Not to mention the really obnoxious group of teenagers from... guess where... yep, Massatooshits. Anywho.

Hiked Cadillac Mountain by way of the Ladder Trail up and over Mt. Dorr (?). Very cool trail. The first half of the trail is a steep rock staircase, up and up and up, with a few metal ladders embedded in the boulders that were too big to blaze around. Truly impressive trailwork all throughout the park, really. Didn't even see that many people on the trail until we got to the top of Cadillac, which has an auto route to the top. Followed the south ridge trail down the other side of Cadillac and skirted back to the start of the Ladder Trail where we'd left the car. Only saw two other people on the trail after we left the ridge. So many people visit, but so few of them leave the beaten path. I suppose I should be grateful instead of astounded by that fact. All around, a 6 mile (10K) hike, and definitely in the top three days of the trip.

Next day, we rented a kayak again, an 18 foot Wilderness Systems Northstar that had seen better days. Wasn't terribly impressed with the counterguy's knowledge. Also, because he was kind of rushed to pick up the incoming tour, we managed to leave without getting spray skirts. Not the end of the world, but salt water really makes my skin itch. We paddled out from Pretty Marsh to try to go around Bartlett Island, but the waves were a bit much - starting to be all whitecappy - so we gave it up and paddled back down one of the smaller sounds. A fun day, but marred by the itchy rash the salt water spray brought up on my legs and butt. We ventured in to Bar Harbor for dinner: lobster taquitos (though not like any taquitos I've ever had before) for me, grilled stuffed portabella for Jay, and an ancho chile chocolate tart with cinnamon ice cream for dessert. I also picked up four nice prints at the Clair de Loon gallery. I'm a fan of art as souvenirs. Someday I will have a house to decorate.

August 13th: Drove down the Schoodic Penninsula to the less traveled part of Acadia and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the rocks. Then on to a private campground a little further up the coast. Can't recall the name right now. Mostly what I remember is the wicked wicked mosquitoes. By the time I had the tent set up, I had a dozen new bites behind my knees and around my ankles, and three bites ON MY FOREHEAD. What the hell kind of mosquito bites people on their foreheads. Evil, perverted mosquitos. So while this was a fairly nice campground, I didn't quite enjoy my time there.

August 14th: Last stop. Cobscook Bay State Park. On the way there, we stopped at the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse. Beautiful place - classic red and white striped tower, good views of Canada, decent and easy trails along the coast. We walked back to Green Point, watched a big freighter sailing in to Lubec (easternmost town in the US), saw a couple small planes circling overhead, ogled some tide pools. After setting up camp, we drove across the bridge onto Campobello Island (Canada) for dinner and also to check out the East Quoddy Head Lighthouse.

We had intended to stay two nights at Cobscook, but it rained most of that night and everything was soaked in the morning. Eight nights of tent sleeping had left me tired and a bit stiff, and coupled with the "everything is wet" factor, and the prospect of being damp most of the day in the fog, I convinced Jay that we should just head home. By the time we hit Bangor, the skies were clear and sunny, and we were home before 6pm. God bless my nice firm mattress.

Alrighty... that's all for now. Next time, I'll tell you what we did yesterday. Because I'm totoally psyched about it. Hee hee!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

On vacation

Not that you'll be able to tell the difference, what with all the not-posting I've been doing lately, but we're heading out until the 17th or so. We're leaving the apartment in the care of our landlady, her large dog, and our cadre of nosy neighbors, so don't try anything funny. (ha ha)

Jay's dad is getting remarried on Saturday down in Jersey, Sunday we'll be fulfilling the equal time clause for Jay's mom, Monday we head up, up, and away! to the Maine coast. Mostly camping (with an option to get a cheap motel room if it's really rainy), filling the days with hiking, kayaking, and aimless wandering up the shore. Should be good. I hope.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Because it's summer, that's why.

I've been off doing summery things instead of hanging around the office and the web. Until recently, it's been sticky and hot, and the offices are on the fourth floor of a non-air conditioned building.

So we've been playing at the swimming hole that's about a ten minute walk behind our house. Floated down the river on big rubber tubes last week. Spent some time at the nudie beach to the north of us (though neither of us did the naked thing - note to self: remember to not look down!). I love swimming in fresh water. Makes me very happy. Jay, not so much, but that's only because he doesn't have enough body fat to keep warm... he mostly stays on shore or on top of one of the tubes. I think it's because I'm a fish and he's a crab. Pisces and Cancer, dontcha know.

Done some hiking - Mt. Mooselauke, Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, Mt. Pisgah, and Mt. Mansfield. Mansfield we did yesterday - probably the most interesting climb I've done in a while. The top was more climb/scramble than hike. We abandoned our usual hiking poles well below the summit so we'd have free use of both hands. Going up was fun. Coming down was a might trickier. Thank goodness it didn't start raining until we'd gotten off the exposed rock. I did managed one good fall... glided down a patch of open rock on the trail when my poles skidded out in front of me. Fortunately, I caught myself on my shin and knee and not my face.

And even though I've been neglecting the blog, I've been writing quite a bit. Passed the 100K mark on Book 2 a few weeks ago. Also been keeping up with the crit circle on FM. I'm amazed at how much I do get out of critiquing other people's work. It helps me put a more critical eye to my own work and eliminate all the things from my writing that drive me crazy as a reader.

Other than that... well, knitting is going well. I have a solid start on xmas presents for this year. Family? Mom's still wishywashy, Dad's dosing me with guilt over my mom, but the siblings seem to be doing well. I think. Jay and I are working on plans for a trip up the Maine coast the 2nd week of August. We stopped in to ogle kayaks in Stowe yesterday on the way home. Pretty.

So... I'm alive, and mostly well. Boring, but not bored. I can live with that.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

One Year

I am happy to report that both Jay and I have mostly survived our first year of marriage. Mostly.

All I can say is the year went fast, damn fast. And we're going out tonight to my most favoritest restaurant that has the seasonal organic menu... tasty.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Holy Headbutt, Batman

Just finished watching the World Cup game, and all I can say is... WTF!?!? What the hell provokes that kind of reaction? I really can't even imagine.

But, great game, despite the American commentators who don't know how to do their job. I thought France should have won it... penalty kicks are such a crappy way to win or lose.

Anyway... just my two cents.

Still can't believe that headbutt. My god.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Question for the English Block

And for anyone else who might have opinions...

Starting to do the preliminary plans for a belated honeymoon. We're thinking England-Scotland-Wales for about 2 weeks next summer (2007).

Question is, weather and crowd-wise, would you recommend the last two weeks in May, or the first two weeks in August?

We're leaning towards August, but I know that in France, the whole country is on vacation then and it's not the greatest time to be there. Just wondering if the UK is similiar or no.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Knowing is half the battle?

Actually, in my case, knowing was all the battle. I lost.

Evidently, "the administrative assistant was supposed to send a letter a couple weeks ago". They filled the position. :insert really creative and emphatic cursing here:

However, just this afternoon I was offered two sections of English - same as I taught last year - so I'm not facing complete unemployment. Just the same soul-sucking demi-employment that I've had for the last two years.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tips on Becoming Invisible

The process is really much easier than you might think. Just try these easy steps:

1. Move across the country with your spouse or significant other.

2. Move for his or her job.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, obtain full time employment.

4. If you work part time, make sure it is in a place where you have little to no daily contact with other adults.

5. Do not play team sports.

6. Make sure that your neighbors or other acquaintances are all either older than your parents, or else are themselves the parents of young children.

7. Currently have no children of your own.

8. Do not enroll in any degree programs.

9. Do not be a member of any of the organizations known as churches. (On account of the flames...)

10. Have many hobbies that you enjoy doing by yourself. Reading, writing, painting, knitting, etc. all work well.

Following those simple ten methods to both eliminate opportunities for visibility and to remove your motivation for active change should allow you to drift into near total obscurity.

(No, I still haven't heard back from that school. But then again, neither has anyone else who's applied for any of the half dozen open positions there... so.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Still jobless. Too frustrated to blog.

And it's hot and humid.

Screw this, I'm goin' home.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Earlier Today

the setting: Jay's office at the college. Kate has learned that two of the schools have filled their openings. No word back on one query, and the place she thought she'd be working by now still hasn't contacted her and have evidently stopped answering their phones.

Kate: Aaaaaaggghh! I'm so frustrated. I feel like no one wants me, or is going to want me. Maybe I should just jump off a cliff.

Jay: Hey, c'mon.

Kate: Don't you "c'mon" me!

Jay: :wide eyed look, slaps hands over his mouth:

Kate: I mean it! Don't you come on me!

Kate pauses. Mentally replays what she has just said ever so loudly in her husband's office with the door open.

Kate: Um... oops. :collapses into helpless laughter:

Friday, June 09, 2006

Irony in Advertising

The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard an ad that was using the song "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell. Specifically repeating the phrase "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot". Yes, for a paving and concrete company. In Vermont. Now, paving paradise is an idea I find rather appalling, as do many of the Vermonters at whom this poorly thought out commercial was directed.

I mean, the whole point of the SONG is that this whole paving thing is NOT GOOD. So who the hell thought this would be a good theme song for a paving company?

Then there was the full page ad in one of those healthy living type magazines that Jay's always subscibing to... for a trend mill. Slogan? Live for the journey. Humsaywhat? On a tread mill, you are journeying NO WHERE. I mean, granted, it could be interpreted as a journey to fitness or better health or something. But still, I think the irony twinkles through.

And if those are examples of what's going into advertising in print and on radio, I can only imagine what must be on tv these days.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Got back yesterday from my week with the fam in Pittsburgh and Lexington. I'm still a bit sleep deprived - only managed eight hours of sleep one night out of six - but all in all a good visit.

Hung out with K3 the first few days, including a trip out to the nursing home to see Grandma and Sam. She's pretty much wasted away in the late stages of Alzheimers, doesn't talk any more, won't eat unless my mom or Sam or my sisters are there to feed her... don't think she'll make it much past her 82nd birthday this summer. I hope not, at any rate. She always said she didn't want to go on like this, and it's killing Sam. K3 and I also hit Pittsburgh Knit & Bead, which is going out of business, and got some rockin deals on yarn and beads. (Yarn for me, beads for her.) She does some really nice work with hemp and beads.

Dad still drinks too much, and Mom needs to up her thyroid meds, so they both lapsed into rather maudlin tears at several points over the week. I tried to run a little interference for K2 at her graduation, but being with both our parents at the same time is a little like babysitting five year old twins who can never let an opportunity to score points against each other. Major bitterness on my mom's part, clueless arrogance on my dad's. Fun fun.

K2 has accepted a fabulous sales job in NYC working for a publishing company - they do specialty business type magazines and journals. She starts in July - yay K2! I'm sure she will do an awesome job, hit all her bonuses, and look mahvelously stylin' while at it. Mwah - love you, babe.

I also got my hair fixed by my parents' 72 year old barber Regis. He's a scream - did a perfect imitation of my dad. They've been getting their hait cut there for 20 years, so Reeg knows all the family histories... pretty funny. And he said that he could see how the girl cut my hair crooked because, "you hang heavy on the right and have a flippy-doo on the left." But even he couldn't figure out why she left it so long in the back. It's an inch shorter and looks much cuter now.

Still haven't heard a gdamn thing from any of the places I applied to... Mr. Ron (first name Mo) is definitely dropping the ball on hiring up there. If I don't hear from them tomorrow I'll call and check in. Not that having time off isn't nice... but a paycheck and some job security wouldn't go amiss either.

Alrighty... brilliant update, totally boring, I know. I'll try to do better next time. Something interesting... hmmm. I'll have to think about it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I am sad to report that the -oldsmobile, a Cutlass Supreme, four door sedan, died yesterday at 4pm in the afternoon.

This passing came after a valient seven month struggle with a debilitating blown head gasket and various systems failures. Because of gauge failure, the overheating problem that finished her was not fully detected until too late.

She was born in 1995 and traveled several times across the continental United States during her 11 short years on earth, and had just passed the 125,000 mile mark. In her travels, she had the privilege of wearing license plates from four different states: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Utah, and finally Vermont. The Utah Centennial plates suited her dark green exterior the best, and I can't help but wonder if it was their removal that broke her spirit in the end.

She was faithful and courageous to the end. Long accustomed to hauling everything from mountain bikes, to bookshelves, to groceries, she put her final efforts into getting home safe from one last shopping run. However, it was not to be. At the turn into the driveway, she lost all power while crosswise in the street, and smoke began pouring from her hood. Two strangers pulled over and with our neighbor Tamara's help, managed to push her the last few feet to safety.

She now rests at the back of the driveway, awaiting her final trip to car heaven.

Rest in Peace. You will be missed.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Got a phone call back from one of those private school already. Don't know if anything will come of it, but it's nice to get a response.

Also, I finally uploaded more knitting pictures - everything from the end of February to last week. Oops. Well, except for a lace beanie I made. Forgot to take a picture of it. Note to self: document all efforts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Casting a wider net

Sent out two more applications to two different private schools in the area. Can't hurt.

Called the school on Monday to withdraw my application from the Admissions position. I think I confused my enthusiasm for the school and the people there for enthusiasm over the job. I asked to still be considered for the position I originally applied for. Haven't heard a word back.

So I'm tending to the other job applications I should have submitted. I have the bad habit of getting very excited about one opportunity and neglecting the rest... and then the op I wanted falls through.

This sucks.

And my hair is a quarter inch longer in the back on the right side. I am not amused.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Still haven't heard a thing about the job, so quit yer askin'. Trust me, if I get news, I'm not going to keep it to myself, m'kay?

Yesterday Jay and I made our quatrennial (is that how one expresses 4 times yearly?) voyage to Burlington. Now, for those of you who look at the map and think But Vermont is so SMALL! How long could it take to get from the eastern border to the western? I'd like you to take a closer look at the roads in the northern half of the state. Note that all those nice, fat, blue Interstate type roads run mostly north to south. Now look at the few roads that do run east to west. Note how narrow they look on the map. Note how not straight they are. I think maybe the term "voyage" is more understandable.

Anyway, it was all for the good, because not only did I get to visit my favorite yarn store and buy Koigu (color 117), Cherry Tree Hill (Peacock), and Kid Silk Haze (in a dark, smoky teal color that isn't online)... I also finally managed to meet up with the fabulous Ms. Nita.

Quickie visit in the basement food court of the downtown mall - Nita had some other obligations involving body paint and a camel... but that's not my story to tell. Jay was very disappointed to not meet the charming Miss Rio, but he soothed his misery by flirting with the small child one table beyond us. And then with all the small children and doggies at the Gear Exchange.

I married a babe magnet, what can I say? And by babe, I mean any human under the age of ten.

Also, I am now completely convinced that the secret ingredient in Red Bull is crack cocaine. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But between Jay and Ms. Nita, all my words were gotten in edge-wise. Fortunately, my brain moves much faster than my mouth. But it's a good thing I wasn't drinking anything or I probably would have sprayed it all over the table laughing.

And then.

And then I stopped in to get my hair cut. As I said, haven't done that since Karen's wedding back in January, and it was starting to show.

I don't have very many expectations when it comes to haircuts. I mean, I expect my hair to be shorter when I leave. I expect the ends to be even. That's pretty much it. Back when I used to work at the hotel in Salt Lake, the Westcoast Beauty Supply convention people used to stay with us (and with the other four hotels surrounding the convention center). Some guy was hawking his special scissors and was drumming up models among the staff, and after he said he wouldn't be coloring my hair I jumped on that with both feet - because I really don't care much about how my hair is cut, as long as it's not all split-endy, and a free haircut by someone who theoretically knows what they are doing is a good thing in my book.

So. I go in, they can take me almost right away, great. I sent Jay off to the Gear Exchange to scope out the options based on his list. (He makes lists.)

First warning sign: stylist takes me straight to shampoo sinks, doesn't really scope out how my hair hangs dry.

Second warning sign: she cannot shut up. I don't mind chattiness. I'm cool with it, even. As long as I need not respond. But do not chat at me while you are washing my hair because I CAN'T HEAR over the roar of water in the basin. m'kay?

Third warning: When she asked what I wanted, I told her to chop it back to about jaw length and then do some layers just around my face. Generic directions, they've served me well enough in the past. And seem pretty straightforward to me. But no.

She asked, "Well do you want a half bang?"

WTF is a half bang? "Um," said I, "I'd prefer that the layery bits at the front be no more than about an inch shorter than the rest. Less is generally better." We - me, K2, and K3 have a dread over mullets - someday I'll post some of their baby pictures and my fourth grade picture to explain why.

"Okay well, your hair's in really good condition. What about blah blah blah blah blah?" because I don't know the lingo, it all sounds like blah blah blah to me.

"Um, you know, I just don't really care. I just want it shorter by about an inch and half - two inches with some layers around my face so it's not totally blunt."

"Okay, but what about blah blah blah? Or I could blah blah blahblahblah?"

Sigh. "Look, if you think it will look good, go ahead. Whatever. I really don't care as long as it's not going to require any maintenance."

"So what do you usually do in the morning? Mousse? Blowdry?"

"Shampoo and conditioner. Haven't seen my blowdryer since we moved last summer. Really low maintenance." And maybe that's WHY my hair's in good shape. d'uh.

Finally she shuts up and gets started. I close my eyes. I've found that I like most haircuts much better about a week later, so I don't fuss until then. Practical? No. Do I care? Not much.

I didn't figure I was in trouble until she picked up the curling iron. If there needs to be curl to make the haircut look good, it's probably not the right cut for my hair. My hair's not stick straight. It has decent body for fine hair, waves slighty under right below my cheekbone, slightly out just below my chin, but curl it does not.

So anyway. The cut's not awful. It might even be really cute if the back was about half an inch shorter. Or if the layers (god... she gave me layers...) were a little longer. It will grow.

But I did make sure to buy a hat at the Gear Exchange. And I'm putting off my passport renewal until this grows out... too "not me" to live with the reminder of it for the next ten years.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Still Waiting

I don't expect to hear anything until tomorrow at the earliest.

And if the Director of Admissions thing doesn't work out, they might take me for the post I originally applied for... we shall see.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

round three, coming up

Yesterday afternoon, met with the current Admissions Director who will be moving into the HR position and the Headmistress. Loved the Headmistress. Loved her. Pretty sure it was mutual. Tomorrow morning I meet with HER boss in what I hope will be the final interview before they say, "Ms. Fabulous, come work with us immediately. We'd like to pay you lots of money."

I knew all those years in the hospitality industry would come in handy some day. New job kind of equals Education + Customer Service. The education aspect takes care of the frivolous nature of most customer concerns - I could never muster the appropriate sympathy for a person who wanted a view of the Great Salt Lake from downtown. (For those of you who aren't familiar with Salt Lake, this would be an impossibility.) The admissions bit (which I think of as admin level customer service) means that I still get to interact with students, but don't have to create lesson plans that fulfil every last flaming hoop requirement, or grade a hundred badly written papers.

So hopefully... best of both worlds.

Tomorrow, 9:30am EDT... think happy thoughts my way.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Interviewed this morning. They want me to apply for a Director of Admissions position instead. Still psyched. Should know by next week I think.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tentatively Good News

Ran into my favorite sauna owner in the halls just a few moments ago. He seemed excited by the idea of me working up at the school and explained a little more what the position was all about. Kind of what I was thinking - a communications officer of sorts - making sure that everyone: counseling staff, teaching staff, parents, admins, etc. are all on the same page for each student. Plus I'd get to report to Mr. Sauna. How cool would that be? Pretty cool.


My stress headache has dropped back a notch or two.

And that can only be a good thing.

On an unrelated note...

My hair is getting long again... just long enough to pull back into a stubby ponytail. But the ends are all raggedy and it's doing that weird flip out at the splitty ends thing that I hate. Do I (1) Leave it alone for the summer because ponytails are convenient when the weather is hot? or (2) Chop it back to its cute, jaw length bob and put my bandana collection to good use to keep it from blowing in my face when outdoors?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oh look! The deep end!

I see it. Pretty.

Hey wait!

Why am I in this barrel and what's that rumbling?

(Have I mentioned that my 5 months of unsuccessful job searching in 2003 was what put me over the edge from my normal, manageable level of depression into the tsunami of total instability? And no, I haven't heard anything yet. And yes, I realize that it's only been two days. And no, Jay, you can't talk to me about this. The more you push, the faster I end up drowning.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oh yeah

And Jay and I have pretty much decided not to have a wedding after all. We had been thinking about having a celebration in October this year, but then we stopped to think about it and...

1. Neither of us really care one way or the other.

2. We were going to do it for our families, but they haven't expressed much interest one way or the other, either. My mother, bless her heart, indicated that she didn't think anyone from the extended family except one or two people would even bother to come.

3. We were also going to do it for the sake of seeing friends and family, but how much time do you really get to spend with any one person at a wedding type thing? We'd rather host people for a weekend or something.

4. Everytime we travel for a wedding it costs us about $1000 or more. Why inflict that cost on friends and family?

5. If we have a wedding, people might think they need to give us presents and we have nowhere to put stuff.

6. Wouldn't it be more relevant and interesting to wait until we have a kid or a house or something?

Yeah, we're just romantic like that. So. Barring alien intervention, no wedding party for us. Crushing, I know.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Mumble Mumble Mumble Huh?

I simply cannot marshal my thoughts into any coherent patterns at the moment. I have been job hunting almost continuously for the last 3 years with only moderate (part time work) success. It is sapping my enthusiasm for the whole work thing.

This job that I applied for - obviously haven't heard anything yet - isn't a teaching job but is a sideways jump into my more recent interest in the counseling side of things. Some kind of program liason/coordinator job working with someone who used to work at the college and who is one of the coolest people I've met in a long time. (See the past post about the sauna experience.)

So until I either hear about jobs and/or stop caring about the outcome, I'm afraid the likelihood of interesting posts from me here is way low. Bah.

On the upside, my creative writing and my kniting are both going well. Just not this outlet. Not yet. Bah.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Applied for a very cool job at a private school in the area. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More Wretchedness

Sometimes it is clear that my mother and I deserve each other.

She called Sunday night while Jay and I were in the midst of watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Called to wish me a happy Easter.

I said, not really considering my words, "Oh, yeah, but all that really means to me is that the shops are closed."

Yes, I said this to my mother, the CCD teacher, who prays for all her heathen children to return to the Church... I did have the good grace to feel bad about it almost immediately, though.

Maybe if I could get over the feeling that all the holy Jesus days were just pagen celebrations remade by the misogynistic bastards who corrupted the good teachings of the man into a means of control over the masses... Oops... I feel myself slipping into a rant against the Catholic church... must resist.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Stories We Tell

I recently picked up one of my old handwritten journals. It's a thin hardcover blank book style journal that I kept from 1994 to 1999. A record of my college years plus the year before and after. Fascinating. Humiliating. Laughable. Upsetting.

I look at some of the words, stories, memories recorded in the book and I wonder who the hell that person was who wrote it all. Not me. Couldn't be. Because so much of it is too terribly WRONG. But then I look at my blog here, and I think the same thing about some of these entries, even the more recent ones. Oh, I fully believed everything I wrote as I was writing it. 100%, no doubts. But later I'll see an issue in a different light because of something else I read or see or experience, and I'll wonder how I could have ever thought my first thoughts were correct.

We define ourselves by the stories we tell. I'm not talking just about the stories we tell to other people, but the stories we tell ourselves about our own beliefs, ideals, experiences. Television and film has exploited this very curiosity of human nature countless times. Different people/characters experience the same event, and their own role in the event, in very different ways, and those changes in perspective are absolutely fascinating to me. As a writer, I can use this to alter a scene simply by choosing a different view point character to filter the information.

So what am I getting at here.... hmmm.

Sometimes I can't leave a certain subject alone because I haven't found a way to tell the story so that it really makes sense, so that the truth of it is revealed, not only to the people reading, but to myself. Sometimes I realize after posting something that I was so far from the truth of the subject that it's both painful and laughable to read my own words. I see what bullshit I've spewed, and I cringe. Yet I've never deleted a post. (I don't think...)

All the crap stories and flawed journal entries serve as a guidebook of where I've already looked for the story that is me. I think if I every really figured it out, I'd have no reason to keep writing. However, I don't anticipate ever finding that elusive truth, so I'll just have to keep hacking away word by word.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Day to End Sexual Violence

A little while ago I participated in an online survey regarding sexual violence in this country. The results have been posted here. My story is among the many the blogger posted, and is by no means one of the "worst" up there.

The women of the United States do have many more freedoms and protections than women in, say, many Middle Eastern countries, but we've got a long way to go. And we seem to be losing ground... just search the recent abortion debates to read more about that, or go to this blog for a quick run down.

More cheerful posts to come. (Hopefully... just need to catch up with the grading... always with the grading...)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Beans, Beans

Off to Boston for a couple days. Will be catching up with old friends, French and otherwise. I'll be back before you even miss me.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

File Under: Hobbies>Reading

My reading list from the last six weeks (approximately and in no particular order):

A Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, and Keeping Watch
by Laurie R. King

A Monstrous Regiment and Men at Arms
by Terry Pratchett

Origin in Death
by JD Robb

The Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and I'm in the middle of A Storm of Swords
by George RR Martin

The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation
by Mark Kurlansky

The Black Jewels Trilogy
by Anne Bishop

Moon Called
by Patricia Briggs

Lover Eternal: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood
by JR Ward

Hmmm... I feel like I'm forgetting one or two more. (Can you tell I don't have children? Yeah, well, got to get in the reading while I can. I have a feeling that in five years, my six week reading list will look like this: )

Anyway, clearly, I like fantasy, urban or high, makes no difference. Also fond of humor, satire, a good mystery, and history. I'd recommend any of the above. The Martin books are slow reading though. Even though I always skim the battle scenes.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friendship and Anger

Interesting comments on the last post. I'm going to pick on Devan now. Fair warning.

If you value someone's friendship, accept it. They are who they are and their rudeness has nothing to do with their feelings for you. Accepting who someone is and the structure of a particular relationship is EXACTLY what it means to be someone's friend. Just because someone's a "flake" doesn't mean they're not a "friend." And just because you're not priority number one in their lives, doesn't mean that you're not an important part of their life. It's just a matter of perspective. ~ Devan, in comments below

See, this is what I mean by being able to explain away just about any treatment. This is a bunch of rationalizing bullshit that confuses "being a friend" with "being a doormat".

Friendship is a mutual system of support, affection, interests, and respect. Keyword: MUTUAL. I think I allowed that this friend's actions have nothing to do with her feelings for me. I'm pretty sure her actions have much more to do with the value she places on her personal time and other issues stemming from shyness and self-worth considerations. I don't believe I ever mentioned anything about needing to be a number one priority with a friend. HELL, I'm not even a number one priority with my husband. (Though I think I've made it into the top three now.)

Likewise, my admission about being pissed off at her actions has no bearing on my feelings for her as a person. I love her to pieces. She was there for me in a very real way throughout my college years. When she decides that she has time for friends and friendship in her life again, I'll still be here. But for me to be okay with ME, I can't keep holding out my hand only to have it be ignored over and over.

My saying that I'm pissed off has much more to do with me getting over that voice in my head that says "you don't have the right to be angry". Because, honestly, I AM angry, and if I deny that, it's only going to destroy, little-by-little, the friendship that I do feel for her. Simmering anger turns into resentment, and nothing sours a relationship faster than bubbling pools of resentment. If I own up to my anger, I can deal with it, get over it, and move on to something more productive and interesting.

Yes, opening yourself to other people can hurt. I can only assume that's why so many people are so crippled by social interactions. ~ Devan again

What the hell kind of high horse condescending bullshit statement is this? And what does it have to do with the subject at hand? I'm not talking about being unable to "open" myself to people. (And, my, doesn't that sound pornographic?) I'm as open to people as the next person, but I have a lot of interests and a lot of ways to entertain myself, so I see no reason to tolerate disrespectful treatment from others. Just not worth my time. Doesn't make me crippled, just makes me happier and saner.

Don't make me have to smack you. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fighting the Impulse to be "Reasonable"

So one of the reasons I love Jay, besides the fact that he is NOT a self-loathing alcoholic, is that I am able to be utterly irrational with him at times, and not really have to worry about the results of said irrationality. If you're still with me after that mess of a sentence, I'll try to make it more clear as I go here.

Growing up, I was always the reasonable one. I didn't throw fits, I ate regularly, went to school regularly, did most of my homework, checked in if I wasn't going to be home, stayed out of jail... that sort of thing. After "Kate can handle it", "We knew you wouldn't mind" was the thing I heard from family and friends most often. And, of course, I did mind, but I could make excuses for any kind of behavior.

Dad drinks too much? Well, everyone on that side of the family drinks, and Dad has a lot of stress at work/has a dying friend in the hospital/is celebrating a good football season right now. Mom eats twelve pounds of candy in one day? Well, she's stressed out about Dad's drinking/brother's arrests/taking care of everything around the house/Scouting/church stuff. Brother acting like a fool, treating me like crap, getting arrested? Well, he's not dealing well with our parents' problems/blames me for NOT rebelling/figures if people say he's trouble, he might as well BE trouble. Friends disappearing, not calling when they said they would, blah blah blah? Well, everyone is busy, somethings are more important, I'm sure there's a good reason.

I could go on, but I'll spare us both. Suffice it to say, I could explain away just about any sort of behavior.

I had plans to meet up with a friend this weekend. Made these plans at the beginning of the month. Made these plans to make up for plans that fell through in January AND February. But still, note the use of the past tense "had plans". I got an email yesterday that "gosh, my sister said she was coming with the kids the last week in March, but she goofed and meant the first weekend in April, so I have to cancel".

My reasonable impulse was to be disappointed because I was really looking forward to having a conversation with another woman and to shopping, eating out, and getting away from rural Vermont for the day, but I know that she doesn't get to see her nieces all that often, and that her sister IS a big flake, so I grumbled to myself a bit and shrugged it off. BUT THEN I started to think about it. Last weekend was the last weekend in March. Um, shouldn't she have realized sometime last week that her sister wasn't coming then? I only live about an hour away... couldn't she have called me then? Couldn't we have moved our plans back a week instead? Why, had she called me, then yes, we could have.

And I realize her problems have more to do with her issues than with her feelings toward me, but I'm not going to expend more energy on a "friend" who isn't. She knows where to find me and how to contact me. I think I shall not hold my breath, however, as I just move the hell on with my life. Hmmm? So screw "reasonable". I'm just going to own up to being PISSED OFF. RAHR.

(On a completely unrelated note: Da ALi G Show... painfully funny. Emphasis on the pain. Couldn't stop laughing, but at one point, Jay had the blanket over his head so he wouldn't have to actually SEE it happening.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Another post about alcoholics

When I was a senior in high school, I had to squeeze health class into my schedule. For most people, this meant giving up a semester elective, but I needed my art classes to stay sane, so I skipped AP European History and took a semester of anthropology opposite the semester of health. Fortunately, my friend Becca had likewise procrastinated, so I wasn't alone among the sophomores and juniors.

Now everything was easy, breezy, common sense type shite for me until we got to alcohol and drug use/abuse. I remember having to read a worksheet describing a bunch of different behaviors in regard to drinking and drugs, being required to decide which were "safe" or just "experimental" and which were signs of deeper problems or addiction. I failed on every count. I had no idea what was normal behavior and what wasn't. I wasn't used to not being able to figure out the answers in school. I remember being deeply puzzled by this failure, though I think this confusion about "normal" attitudes towards alcohol and drugs is fairly common among the children of alcoholics.

Our teacher had a recovering alcoholic come to class to talk about his experiences. Listening to him made me want to cry, so instead I squirmed through his talk, trying not to giggle. I'm a big fan of laughing as a substitute for tears, but I felt like a jerk, like he might have thought I was laughing at him. 12 years later, this still bugs me.

I think one of the smartest choices I accidentally made was to avoid contact with drinking and drugs until I did understand the difference between use and abuse. Other than an occasional glass of wine at a family dinner, I didn't touch alcohol until my sophomore year of college. Still under the legal drinking age here in the US, but not by much. Had a minor bout of overdrinking during my junior winter, but blacking out and puking in bushes got pretty old pretty fast. Was back to the mostly sober life during my last year of college.

But even then, after I had gotten my own issues under control, I still had to work out the relationship-with-alcoholics problems. Jay and I were watching Walk the Line the other night. Good movie, really enjoyed it, loved Reese Witherspoon's role. But there's a scene in the movie where Johnny Cash is all fucked up, in withdrawal, moaning about what an awful person he is. And I think this was maybe intended to evoke sympathy, but my reaction was: "Oh shut it. Yeah, you suck. I've seen this before, I know how it ends." But of course, this time, the ending was different... happy, instead of the same old thing all over again.

And the instant anger of my reaction surprised me. Watching the portrayal of a very talented individual fuck up his life with drugs and self-loathing just seemed a little too familiar. In 1996 - not coincidently just before I started smoking and drinking heavily - I met Dave. We worked together, we flirted, we hung out with some of the same people. Because of the "D" plan - the flexible "trimester" system at Dartmouth that allows for multiple terms abroad, internships, ski training, etc. we hadn't really been on campus at the same time before. When we met, I was dating someone else, and he was dating several someone elses. But something just clicked and by the end of the term, we were a couple. (I think that something was the unstoppable force called "charming alcoholic meets child-of-alcoholic with unresolved issues". Or "self-loathing male meets would-be-martyr female". Take your pick.)

We both loved to read, to go to movies, to travel - especially to travel... we always had things to talk about. But more and more often I was finding him at parties drunk off his ass, either groping some other chick or else quietly crying in the corner about how he should just walk off naked into the wilderness and let himself die. (Yeah, so maybe he read too much Literature.) And usually I would gather him up, escort him back to his place or mine, and take care of his sorry ass. We would break up, get back together, break up again. We decided to see other people. I didn't understand that meant "see other people naked", though I caught on pretty quickly. This led up to the Infamous Sugar Packet Conversation one night in West Lebanon, NH. Good god, I wish I could go back in time and smack myself. Hard. Repeatedly.

And it just gets worse. One night I had gone to a party at one of the frats to meet up with him - because he asked me to - and he showed up with SkankyHo (I can't remember her real name). He was drunk off his ass. As was she. Probably a bit high as well. He stopped to give me a kiss, almost knocked me over he was so out of it. Told me that he really wanted to stop seeing SkankyHo, but he couldn't do that to her tonight because it was her birthday, so he'd probably have to fuck her, too.

Oh yeah. I couldn't make this shite up.

God, I'm still pissed off about that. And why? Not because of what he did, but because I still talked to him after that. And because I still did more than just talk to him after that.

We went on to torment each other for another four years, off and on, but distance helped keep the idiocy to a minimum. He moved to Italy for a while, I visited briefly. He was in Massachusetts while I was finishing at Dartmouth. There was talk of engagement. I said no. He moved to Oregon. I visited on a road trip. I TA'd in Lyon. We met up in Paris for a week. I dated a few other people; he fucked a lot of other people. I moved to Arizona. He visited me at the Grand Canyon. Then nothing. I moved to Salt Lake and he vanished. I needed a friend to talk to, and he never returned my calls or my emails. I threw away the stuff he left behind. When he did get in touch, I told him I had thrown away his stuff. Never heard from him again. Hallelujah, praise god.

I still sometimes wonder what happened to him. But somewhere down the line, I realized that it doesn't matter. I'm pretty sure he's still alive. I think he's back on the east coast. Maybe he's gotten over the self-loathing routine. Maybe not. The important thing is that I've gotten over the self-loathing thing.

I look back on that relationship now and just shake my head. Because like that long ago health class worksheet, it was another classic example of my not understanding the differences between "normal" and abusive behavior. I wonder if alcoholics have any understanding of the far-reaching effects their drinking has on their children. I wonder if most children of alcoholics do. Somehow I doubt it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

bleh bleh bleh

Yeah, I know, I never update anymore. Thing is, I've been making an effort to spend less time in the cement box that is my office, and more time writing, reading, knitting, editing, critting, and all that. And we still haven't caved to the outrageous price demands of the local Internet providers. So the only time I'm on here is when I'm at work. (No, I'm not paid by the hour, so I'm only wasting my free time.)

I swear that I have brilliant ideas for blog entries at night, at home, as I'm trying ever unsuccessfully to fall asleep... but I wake up in the morning, putz around for an hour or so, come to work, and the mediocrity that pervades this place just sucks away my will to write. Well, that and reading two dozen freshman English papers... Good God.

This week I've been trying to be a bit more conscientious about lesson plans and whatnot - my semester observation and evaluation is this afternoon. About 45 minutes from now, actually. Yippee. Thank god my second class has their library tour and introduction after that. I don't think I could deal with them (troublemakers, every last one) after the icky adrenaline rush of being watched wears off. Bleh.

Perhaps a last run through my notes would be wise...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nouvelles Hyper Bonnes!

Fred is coming to visit! Yay!

Fred is my French younger brother - I lived with his family in Blois in the Spring of 1996, and I've been back to visit 4 or 5 times since, though not since 2002. He's way too smart for his own good, and last time I visited, he was off being brilliant in Chile or something like that. But since then, he's graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique (aka: X, aka: place for super smart people who end up running the world) and is off working in London. And he'll be in New York during my spring break vacation! Yay!

I'm so psyched. Either he'll figure out how to get up here, or I'll go down there (though I hate NYC) and I'm so excited to see him again.


(And now I feel the need to get my ass in gear, dust off the French, and write the Cognys a long overdue letter.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Signs accepted, signs ignored

I've been trying to make a hat from a skein of Manos Del Uruguay color: bramble. I say "trying" because I've now knitted it up three different ways (and frogged it back three different times). Only explanation I can figure: this yarn does not want to be a hat.

So while I figure out what exactly it does want to be, I'm knitting up a nice, cabled hat in my still currently favorite yarn: Malabrigo in a leftover skein of burgundy.

But while I'm willing to accept the occasional message from the universe regarding knitting projects, there are others I steadfastly ignore.

For example, I might believe that the fact that only one of my readers acknowledged my birthday last week means that I am unloved. Instead, I choose to believe that people are either sick or busy or otherwise away from their computers, and therefore, from this blog.

I might believe that the reason my former college roommate hasn't followed through on any of our plans for monthly visits since November is because I am way low on her list of priorities. Instead, I choose to believe that she is mired in her martyrdom and requires extra harassment from me to remember that life isn't all about what she can do for everyone else. Why do so many people have trouble taking care of themselves? Holy Jebus.

I might believe that this atrocious weather is merely a result of the coming spring, warming temperatures, gentle rains, melting snow. Instead, I choose to believe that it's a personal insult from the weather gods, who my husband clearly needs to worship with more intensity so that we get some crisp, clear days and another few weeks of xcountry skiing. (I miss the intermountain west. sigh.)

As a final thought... Mud season: cruel joke, or necessary evil?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Finally uploaded pictures to the Flickr account - should have more transferred there soon. Click on the "badge" at the left to see some of my recent knitting projects.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I am on a massive high today. Not sure why, but I'm happy to ride it out. I've been slack about updating, but you are required to forgive me because today is my birthday. Three Zero. And I have to say I am really looking forward to my thirties, because my twenties were an improvement over my teens, and things are still looking up.

Things that I am looking forward to in the coming decade? Little Jay-Kate Hybrids, publication, a return to peak fitness levels, more creative endeavors, books to be discovered, yarn to be knit up, people to meet, places to go...

This past week, as I mentioned, we got over to Newcomb, NY to hang out with Fred and Morrie (Fred's fiance). Skied the 9 hole golf course the first afternoon - lots of fluffy powder and some fun hills. Next day did a ten mile (16 km) ski up an old road... in 8 degree Fahrenheit (-13 C) weather. Fun, but crazy cold. Day after that, Morrie and I hung out at the cabin and sent the boys out to play. Chatted, knitted, cooked up a big ol' turkey dinner. Good times.

Spent a few days in town after that, catching up on grading and work stuff (though I mostly just surfed the web while Jay was all responsible - slacker is spelled K-A-T-E). Skied about 15 K (didn't have the GPS, so just an estimated distance) at Burke xcountry Saturday afternoon. Great snow. About time.

For Saturday night, we got a fabulous invitation to a colleague's house for dinner and sauna-ing. Great food - every summer the dad and 13 yr old daughter go hunting/fishing in Alaska (where they lived for 5 years), so the salmon was amazing. Jay had fun playing with the younger daughter, who has Down's Syndrome, and he might have gotten her just a bit riled up. Then we got to experience the sauna that they built this past year on their property. Amazing. I miss the dry heat of the desert climes, and this was just wonderful. And funny - naked men going out to rub snow on themselves is inherently funny somehow. And I'm glad to hear via Jay that they enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed them.

Sunday we drove over into New Hampshire to see friends who recently left Salt Lake to return to the Wrong Side of the Mississippi. Skied another 15 K on crappy snow at one of the resorts, but had a great time with the friends. I confess that I was pretty destroyed by two 15K skis in 2 days. Feel great today though. Except for the bright blue bruises around my left knee from when I fell testing out my skate skiing skills (which are decent, but still very beginner-esque).

And now back to grading... Ugh.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Disclaimers and "Just Being Honest"

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone utters the words "No offense, but..." or "Nothing against you, but..." the most rude, tactless, arrogant, offensive, hurtful things follow? Why do people think that the weak, and often insincere, statement that their words aren't intended to hurt makes this behavior acceptable? And why, oh why, is it always followed with the excuse "I'm just trying to be honest"?

I have a student in one of my classes who does this repeatedly. Makes me nuts, because I have an immediate, emotional reaction to her words, even though I know they are intended to be manipulative - giving her the illusion of power and control. I've severed ties with (former) friends because of this kind of behavior. Hate it. Hate it.

And yet... I've been guilty of the same behavior. Of course, that was in HIGH SCHOOL, when I was fantastically unhappy and pretty much oozing that misery wherever I went. So, I've been thinking about why people act this way - why they shield their abusive talk behind the words "just being honest". For me, I think it was a reaction to all the things that were never talked about in my house growing up (like my father's alcoholism and denial about it), and my reaction to the way my mother handled it (very passive-agressive). Being brutally honest was a way to distance myself from that mess - I wasn't going to pretend things weren't what they were. I wasn't going to say one thing when I meant another.

And so, knowing this about myself, I wonder what's going on with people who couch their harsh comments with pillows of "No offense, but" and "Nothing against, you personally". What pain are they in to stab other people with tactless barbs? What relief do they get from seeing their listener flush with embarrassment and/or defensiveness? I don't know. With friends or acquaintances, I can either probe for details, or run for the hills. With students... I'm stuck. The ones who say stuff like this are usually the ones who aren't interested in conversing outside of class oriented information. I can't get rid of them - often they're among the brighter students in the class - so I don't necessarily want to get rid of them. But.


Heading out tomorrow morning for a long weekend in New York state at Jay's dad's "cabin". "Cabin" because the so-called cabin is at least twice as big as our apartment. Next week is winter break, so I won't be in the office late next week. Yay!