Monday, December 31, 2007

And now for the most unsurprising news, ever

Thanks to somebody, (it might have been NYCWD, for linking me to this quiz.

You Communicate Like a Woman

You empathize, talk things out, and express your emotions freely.
You're a good listener, and you're non-judgmental with your advice.
Communication is how you connect with people.
You're always up for a long talk, no matter how difficult the subject matter is.

In some ways this is surprising news, as I don't really like to talk about my feelings. But as it turns out, I am mostly woman-like in my behavior, which shouldn't surprise me much.

In other unsurprising news, it turns out that the animal archetype quiz posted by Library Tavern Liz is unstunningly accurate. What, me? Solitary and domestic? No way!

Your Score: The Cat

You scored 60% domestic, 39% gregarious, 25% trickster, and 58% intellect!

Domestic, Solitary, Serious, Intelectual: you are the Cat!

Cat represents a balance of strength in both physical and spiritual, psychic and sensual powers, merging these two worlds into one. Curious, intelligent, and physically adept, cat people tend to live in a world all their own.

This test categorized you based on four different axes of personality, which were then associated with a different animal. The four axes, as well as all possible results are explained below.

Wild/Domestic: This first axis categorizes you based on how much you are drawn to the outdoors, versus how much you are drawn to civilized situations. Domesticity has many shapes and forms, and varies from the joy of dolphins leaping next to a ship to the steadfast loyalty of a family dog.

Gregarious/Solitary: This axis measures how solitary you are. If you scored high, it means that you enjoy the company of other people, while a low score indicates that you prefer a more solitary lifestyle.

Trickster/Serious: This axis measures how well you line up with conventional trickster archetypes. People who fall into this archetype have a sense of humor and an excitable, highly chaotic streak. Scoring low doesn't mean that you don't have a sense of humor; it just means that you probably don't think dynamite is very funny.

Intellectual/Emotional: This last axis determines whether you are more emotional -- acting based on feelings and instinct, or rational and intelectual -- acting more on thought than on your gut feelings.

WildGregariousTricksterIntellectualThe Hyena
WildGregariousTricksterEmotionalThe Otter
WildGregariousSeriousIntellectualThe Antelope
WildGregariousSeriousEmotionalThe Wolf
WildSolitaryTricksterIntellectualThe Weasel
WildSolitaryTricksterEmotionalThe Coyote
WildSolitarySeriousIntellectualThe Raven
WildSolitarySeriousEmotionalThe Frog
DomesticGregariousTricksterIntellectualThe Fox
DomesticGregariousTricksterEmotionalThe Dolphin
DomesticGregariousSeriousIntellectualThe Horse
DomesticGregariousSeriousEmotionalThe Dog
DomesticSolitaryTricksterIntellectualThe Rat
DomesticSolitaryTricksterEmotionalThe Ferret
DomesticSolitarySeriousIntellectualThe Cat
DomesticSolitarySeriousEmotionalThe Squirrel

Link: The Animal Archetype Test written by crumpetsfortea on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(crumpetsfortea)

And yet this test fails to account for my love of climbing and the embarrassment of riches is that is my friends. For a loner, I have a lot of good people in my life.

I'll write more later. It's the end of the year and I want to clear a lot of blog ideas out of the cache just to make sure that I start Blog365 completely bereft of posting ideas.

Have an excellent Monday.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sin of the week, 12/30/07 **updated**

The worst thing I did this week was take a xanax, down a glass of wine and about a half pound of peppermint bark, and then fall asleep sitting up on the couch in the middle of leaving a comment on someone's blog.

I probably did worse things, but that's the most amusing thing I did that qualifies and both wrong and disgusting, so that's what you get. Here, I will draw you a picture of it so you know how funny it was when I woke up not dead (yay!) with my computer on my lap and a handful of sticky peppermint bark.

** update: Mr. Fab suggested I might look flat chested and naked in my first drawing. Here is a new one.

I want to be extra clear: 1) that's a mini-skirt, 2) I have never been naked in my entire life unless there was a reason; I do not sit around the house naked; maybe someday I'll post about why but the reason has a lot to do with the fact that 3) I have not been flat chested or anything like it since I was 13 and finally 4) If you think it's difficult to draw a shirt over those circles (which I clearly did not even attempt to do), try finding bras and shirts to go over them in real life. (Hint: it's not easy, people). **

In other spiritual news, I scored an 80 out of a 100 on the Catholic Sex Quiz created by Father Joe.

Take a good look and see whose name is right there under Papa-ratzi's? See that? It's my name. Nina. I feel my score should be higher because I had no idea that impotent men could not marry. What idiot who knows anything about the Catholic Church would guess that erections were a requirement for marriage? Not this idiot. Father Joe conceded that the item on divorce is a trick question. Therefore I feel I deserve a 90. At least. Also, should I not also get 5 bonus points for NOT knowing all the precise technical rules about man-parts, considering I am a woman?

I certainly think so.

Happy New Year (almost). And thank you for reading.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Eve at Familia Leta, Bit Level

One thing about Familia Leta it takes a bit of time to realize is that while all appears to be well, all is not... well. They (we) have just as many problems as the next family, and in 2007, we might have broken a record for suck-ass luck. One of us found out she is infertile. Another of us filed for divorce. Still another suffered a pulmonary embolism, and yet another lost a pregnancy at nine weeks. And then there is me: I lost a very important career make-or-breaking job and, ugh, not that it matters but the whole Larry Debacle of 2007? I could have done without that, thanks. My dad being sent home to die was just more suck-ass to cram in our cram holes. We've friggin' had enough, thank you. But Hyancinth Level keeps us up and smiling in the face of abject horror. It's part of the contract. It's what we do. It's what everyone does, I think, especially if there are kids around.

But just because we are all smiling in the face of abject horror doesn't mean we don't like to talk about it. We do. Very much. However, three year old Liam and four year old Ana do not need to spend their Christmas learning vocabulary like " leukemia, blast cells, chemotherapy, dementia, embollism, spontaneous abortion, divorce, endometriosis, FSH level, and cram hole." It is possible to substitute the usual words. So they do.

What you mean: "So Pop hasn't died yet. It's quite surprising that he's still alive considering he has terminal cancer and was supposed to be dead as Elvis, oh, four months ago."

What you say: "So the patriarch is still a functioning carbon-based life form. We're vanquished of complacency by this, considering his expected level of rapidly dividing hostile cells is no longer measured by cytogenics. Also, he is really late for his reunification with spirit animal, forever ago, really."

Then some three year old, say, Liam, comes up and says, "Mommy, was is carbon-based?" And then some smart-ass can say that carbon is an important material that makes up our bodies, and Liam feels like a genius, and we have all just been clever and snide about my dad not dying. And the kids have no idea we've been talking about death and has no idea that his Pop might be going away forever. See how awesome that is?

But sometimes, Nina comes up says, "Vanquished?? Read a little Faulkner last night, did you? Are you trying to model irony, are you just an ass?" And then everyone shushes Nina for swearing, and asks Nina if she might be off-meds, which she most assuredly is. They then ignore her and try to think of synonyms for vanquished.

But sooner or later, Ana comes up and says, "Nina, what is irony?"

This is the moment when Nina scoops up Ana in one arm and Liam in the other and carries them to the Christmas tree. Because Familia Leta is awesome on at least five levels, we'll call this the Bit Level:

I point to the drill bits and I say "those bits are made of iron. So I call them iron-y." The fact that they are made of steel or a cheap decorative alloy is no issue. It's ok to lie to these kids, yes indeed. We decorate the Christmas tree with candles and drill bits because Ana likes the candles and Liam loves power tools, and for as long as possible, these kids will know nothing about a world that is not magical and beautiful and glowing with loveliness. And drill bits.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dish towels, Shady Lady Place, rabs, dinner

Remind me, when I have time to post, to explain my love of other people's old dish towels (I have been known to pay actual green money for them). Remind me also to tell you about the Shady Lady Place and the great fun of bowling for rabs (ie, stuffed rabbits).

And now I have to make dinner. This is what I am making and I have to get started.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Eve at Familia Leta, Hyacinth Level

Familia Leta throws a great holiday party, and the party is great on more than on level. Today I'll explain level one, the Hyancinth Level.

Familia Leta does things right. The lawn is weeded and cut. The garaged is spacious and organized. The kitchen is clean, even when it is in full use. The turkey is stuffed and basted. The lemons are decoratively sliced and the stemware, delicate and unadorned, is spotless, up-ended next to the well-considered assortment of wines, which is, of course, adjacent to the ice bucket, liquor, and mixers. There are snacks, like baked brie and homemade hummus and Brazil nuts and shaved salmon and capers. If you wander into the bathroom, you'll find antique Irish linens and a floor so clean you'd let your baby eat off it. I myself would wouldn't hesitate to chew the toilet seat (for $5). It's that clean.

When you enter Familia Leta's house, you leave your shoes (because shoes transmit the urine and mucuus globs of vagrants into the house; everyone knows that) in the garage, make yourself a drink, and start talking, because the people to talk to are well worth the conversation.

Cast of Characters, Chez Leta:

Bev, matriarch, setter and maintainer of stratosphereic standards. Despite the neverending seige against imperfection, Bev's anxiety level never seems to rise above zero, even when a child of three comes in from the back yard wearing muddy sneakers - even if that child is also carrying a dead possum tail. She simply removed the offending sneakers and animal remains, subtly disinfects the child, secures the perimeter and offers some hanger on, someone like me, an refresher Dark and Stormy (tm).* Bev runs a tight ship. She does everything and she does it right. She is not even kidding.

Bill, patriarch, runs Huge Money Making Company, plays soccer in a local over-sixty league, and dotes on his grandchildren. I have watched him run back and forth across the yarn dodging water balloons or, uh, a plastic sling propelled chicken for an entire afternoon. He never seems to tire. If you mention the perfection of Bev, his wife, he will say "She does everything. I do nothing." Then he will drop an involuntary tear and say, " I am a lucky man."

Tiff, daugher one, is the CFO of Extra Fancy Money (so plentiful you have to stack it up the the ceilings in the corners they are so not kidding about being rich) Company, and she, swanlike beautiful wisp of a creature, spends the entirety of the holiday party tapping on her Blackberry, approving and declining things none of us understand. We do understand that her driver's name is Carl and her private jet, while not currently in operation, is the good one, not the one people buy on the cheap when they are trying to look cool. Tess knows a fundamental truth that none of us can really know until we have so much money that we are stacking it up to the ceilings to save space: be beautiful, run the world, and always buy the good one. Unless we are talking about children's clothing. Those things you can buy on Ebay.

Leta, daughter two, is married to my brother. She is exactly like her mother... plus she is a free-lance writer and garden designer. I once helped Leta bushwack through the woods bordering the train station to find a stump with moss on it. Not just any moss, mind you, but moss of a certain color. When we found the righ stump with the right moss, we dug it up and wheeled it back to the house in red wagon. It is now the focal point of a butterfly garden. It's perfecty-perfect. As is she.

Pearl, mother of Dustin and Pixie and sister of Bev. She knitted socks for the entire family this year, including the hangers on like me. If you don't think that's just incredible, you've never knitted socks before. She is delighted by everything and everyone, including me, even though I am not even remotely related to her. I do not understand this.

Dustin, son of Pearl, tall and handsome cousin of Leta, and our Santa Claus. He is a professional skeptic, ie, he runs an organization of skeptical people and gets paid to question everything. If you believe in it, he'll question it. He just ran a project to investigate the scripture of the Mormon church, and he is gearing up to investigate Scientology.

Pixie, daughter of Pearl, MFA poet and fiction writer, creative writing professor and honestly the thinnest person I have ever seen who is not afflicted with an eating disorder. She eats everyhing. She gains nothing. I'd hate her if she were not so smart and funny and perfect.

Ezra, husband of Pixie, Native American (or Indian, as you like) poet and enlisted Army man. That's right... a firearms expert and engineer in the miliary who also got an MFA in poetry.

Ana, four year old daughter of Tiff. Ava is painfully shy and delightfully sweet natured. She might take all day to warm up to you, but when she does, she'll give you one of her crackers and fashion you an apron out of yellow playdough. Because she loves you.

Liam, three year old son of Buzz and Leta. He specializes in plastic tool belts and fire hats, matchbox cars, and foam core carpentry. He loves soy milk and apple juice. He has never had a bite of meat in his entire life. Because we don't eat animals. They don't like that.

If one were to wander into Familia Leta's house accidentally, one would think the entire bunch were cut out of a catalog and pasted into a house out of Awesome Living magazine. But when I call it the Hyacinth Level, I am getting it all wrong, of course. They do not aim to impress. They behave the way they behave because they are who they are. Baked brie, tree stumps, piles of cash, skepticism, poetry, socks, playdough aprons, plastic construction equipment - these are the things they are passionate about and they don't care one farthing whether others approve or disapprove - or even notice. It takes an hour among Familia Leta to learn this. It takes about three hours to learn about the second Level, which I will write about tomorrow.**

*The Dark and Stormy (tm) is ginger beer and rum. (Please note: ginger beer, not ginger ale). The Dark and Stormy got its name because the first time we made it, there was a late day thunderstorm that was a real banger - hail, inky black clouds, rattling wind gusts... it was dark and stormy as we drank The Dark and Stormy.

**Skip these posts if you are bored. I feel like writing about my family, and for once, I am not being hateful. So thanks if you're planning on hanging in there for it. If not, see you January 1st.


Picture is reposted because I got nine emails saying "NO FAIR." I am going back outside to chink the rock wall (and launch the chicken) and after that I am going to finish knitting a pair of socks and go to the local yarn market. I'll write more later.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chicken catapult

Having three siblings plus their spouses, one aunt, one uncle, and one three year perfecty-perfect child in the house is... busy-making. We're going to spend most of the day outside playing with the chicken catapult, so I can't write a proper post today. I am sure if YOU got a chicken launcher for Christmas, you wouldn't spend the day inside writing blog entries and reading blog entries, either. But I'll be writing something soon and respond to comments soon, and I'll visit blogs soon. Soon, as in as soon as the chicken flinger malfunctions from over-use. Right about then.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

A few months ago, when my dad invited us all down to South Carolina for Christmas, we were all skeptical that he'd live that long. And we had reason to be. Untreated acute myelogenous leukemia type M0 typically kills people in 2-8 weeks. It has been almost 17 weeks since my dad was brought home in an ambulance and groomed for an autumn funeral. Yesterday he worked in the yard all day, went to church and did a little last minute Christmas shopping. In his cowboy hat:

All those months ago, I said I would post my picture if he lived until Christmas. If you see this and you realize you know me, don't tell me, especially if you are planning on criticizing me for foul language or meanness to my step mother or basically anything else. You know I am only doing it because my dad is a medical unicorn and you know, I think he wanted to shame me into doubting his will to live by living and then making me post my picture. On my blog. That he doesn't even know about. Huh. I have confused myself. So here, not like it matters, and not like anyone cares, I am:

*picture delete*

Preview of things to come:

The above picture is outta here by dusk today, so that you can look forward to. Also, I am writing a 5 post series on "Christmas Eve at Familia Leta" because it was ... just awesome. On a number a levels. Well, five, actually, and I'll tell you about the first tomorrow.

(Merry Christmas if Christmas is your thing. If it's not your thing, have a quiet and restful evening and the rest of us will get back to out after we've toasted to the baby Jesus, that is. after we've ingested enough chocolate and baked brie and cheerful-making drinks to make us feel like typing tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lampshade on my foot

I am overwhelmed. Ok, freaking out. I have forty-five minutes to get out the door to Penn Station so I can spend Christmas with Liam. But meantimes, my apartment is a disaster, I have not packed, my hair is unkempt, and I have not yet finished knitting the scarf. (There is a scarf I am knitting. We'll talk about it later).

Anyway my dad shows every indication of not dying before tomorrrow, so I just wanted to remind you (in case you are the sort of person who sits in front of the computer on Christmas day) that I promised, if my dad was still alive, to post a picture of myself on Christmas day. It'll go up at, like, say, 8am, and will remain until, like, say 5pm. Then I am deleting it and we'll all pretend that never happened. Etc.

So anyway, lampshade on my foot, no clean socks, hate my hair, can't find wallet, pants all wrong, where's my stocking... I gotta go. Like right now.

Merry Christmas. (Until tomorrow).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sin of the week, 12/23/07, in little pink tights

She's been popping into my head all the time, lately. Sometimes she says "Buy those shoes," or "Change your underwear" or "Get a man, already." Other times she says "She will never be married to him as long a he was married to me." And then she starts snickering, and I admit, I sometimes permit myself the smallest little wisp of a smile, too.

Should I post a picture of her? On my anono-blog?

She would threaten me with a swift kick in the ass and a one way ticket to the orphanage if I hesitated to do so. Then she would call me something colorful, just to drive the point hime. Something like lazy, ignorant slattern or batshit crazy bitch.

Without further delay, my beautiful, sassy, mother:

Someone once asked me what it's like to lose a parent. The best description I could think of was this: "It's like finding out that you don't need your lungs to breathe." Twelve years later, I think that still pretty much covers it. Since I deal with complicated feelings by simply not having them or pretending I don't, I have almost entirely forgotten my mother.

Some things about her, however, are easy to remember. My mother didn't just call it like she saw it. She'd also call it a seven-legged giraffe if, the, you know, emotional coloration of the subject felt seven-legged and giraffey to her. We were talking about a traffic jam? No matter. Don't you see how seven-legged giraffey that is? If you don't, well, I'm sorry (and so is she) that you haven't the emtional and intellectual refinement to "get" that. I'm sorry (and so is she) that you turned out to be a total RETARD.

I remember also that she was adamant that I marry before thirty and have a spring wedding and that I wear make up every day so as not to go about looking like "the preacher's daughter." Also, if I had sex before marriage, I would (obviously) get instantly pregnant with BASTARDS (plural) which wouldn't matter anyway because I was surely die in my sleep and then boil in the rolling oil of hell within the hour, if not from the Lord's disapproval, then certainly from hers.

When delivering these messages, she would add a special delimiter, so that I'd remember the gems of truth she had imparted to me. Bastards? No.... bastards "in little pink tights." Preacher's daughter? No... preacher's daughter "in little pink tights." Slattern=bad. Slattern in little pink tights = slattern to the 3rd power. What can I say? She was unique.

In little pink tights.

There are other things, though. The things I had forgotten that are suddenly coming back, and they hurt like hell. I am remembering the year she sewed a Christmas tree skirt by hand and used our drawings as patterns for the illustrations of Santa and reindeers sewn into the border. I remember her teaching me to knit, I remember her staying up all night watching movies with me, I remember her walking with me every night when we lived in Texas.

I remember how little she cared, ultimately, whether I wore the cute shoes or lipstick or found a man or shamed her by birthing bastards so long as I was happy.

And that, internet, is where I failed her. She and my dad gave me every opportunity of putting together a decent life and being happy, and I have resoundingly failed to do so. A perfectly good upbringing, one which my mother suffered a martyrdom to ensure, and well... I think you all know what I've done with it and... how I have turned out.

I am a middle aged woman with no family of her own, living in a one room apartment, working a dead end job plus two more to make ends meet - with no discernable talent except collecting friends and then alienating them by not returning their phone calls. I am barely functional, most days. I am happy? Sometimes, a little bit. When it snows. Or when there is extra cheese. I guess I do know how to crack jokes about it and make people like me a little bit. But then I am too busy thinking about myself to care about anyone else and, well, being this self-centered and raucously miserable up takes a lot of energy. If you are thinking "how much?" let me assure you... you have no idea.

So thanks, mom, for everything. And also, sorry. I wish I had done better by you, married and had kids, had a successful career, been prettier, been thinner, "nicer", and happier. It's not like I didn't have a chance. I just haven't taken it.

This is where this post should end. But it isn't going to end.

Becauase I made a picture of a giraffe for you.

When I reflect on this, my giraffe, that is to say, my failure to be happy, I like to make lists of excuses for having so skillfully avoided euphoria - I, who should have had no chance of anything but resounding bliss.

Internet, the last few years have SUCKED.

When in 2006 I racked up the loss of FB, the realization that I wouldn't be able to love anyone else after him, and my dad's diagnosis with leukemia, I ended the year by jumping into the ocean and attempting to scrub off the really bad year I had just had - and start over.

I really didn't think it was possible for 2007 to suck worse that 2006.

It sucked about fifteen times more. (See giraffe).

This year I lost a job that sounded the death knell of my career, I found out all my friends were dating the same guy, I lost Lola, I lost 70% of my savings to the IRS and the other 30% to endless leukemia related plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and phone bills, and my dad was told there was nothing more that medical intervention could do.*

As of today, it also shows every promise of being the year my cat dies. He has stopped eating and is behaving very... un Cat-head like. For the first time in years, he slept on the floor instead of next to my head on the pillow. If I try to pet him he puts out a paw and says, "Step off, slattern. Me no likey."

All this is a long way of saying that this year I have something resembling a new years resolution: to be happy, without reference to outside events, especially those not caused by me. At thirty-seven, soon to be thirty-eight, I owe it to the people who spent a lifetime thinking of my happiness first not to waste all that good parenting by nagging the giraffe and pointing at the tights and hating my life. Otherwise what good was all that decent parenting, anyway? I might as well have been reared in a third world orphanage and died a digging a ditch somewhere.

So there you have it, internet. In 2008, regardless of outside influence, I am determined to not be "like this" or "spacefuck crazy" and I won't be posing before the misery camera.** How I am going to do that, I don't know. Yet. But there are eight days left in this year, and I am going to try to work it out.

* I know there are other ways I could have punctuated that sentence. It would have involved a series of semi-colons to separate the items in a series which themselves include commas. But you see, the tone of the sentence would have been all wrong a series of semi-colons. I can't have the sexiness of the semi-colon interfering with a post as serious as all this.

**I have to give credit where credit is due: spacefuck crazy was first written on the internet by Julia at Here be Hippogriffs.

OK, I'll write about stuff that happens and be kind of spacefucky if it's funny. But that I'll do only for you. Because you are so beautfiful, and because I love you, and because love is all that matters. Also, did I say you're beautiful? Because you are. And I can't help myself.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh God, please let this be true

nina corrigan --

Tastes like fried chicken
'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Not just chicken, people. Fried chicken.

When I plugged my real name into engine, the result was:

(noun) - a person with a taste for acorns. (That's actually not too far out there, considering).

Thanks, Snickollet. I needed the laugh.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Midtown Treasure Hunt: A story in pictures

A week ago today, I got the following message from Persephone:

A gift under the
Christmas tree in Bryant Park -
Treasure in the trunk.

I was quite ready to take a break from my judicious grading and thoughtful commenting and go on a treasure hunt. I checked the weather: cold. Very. I decided that since this was a clandestine mission, (and also since it was cold) that I should wrap my head up like a Bedouin before I left:

I wrapped myself up in my most unflattering full length down coat (trust me: I look like a roll o' paper towels dipped in tar when I wear it) and off I went. I chose a southern approach so I could take this (blurry) picture of the lights at Lord & Taylor:

Then I turned the corner into Bryant Park and made my approach:

Then I approached some more:

Then I made my final approach:

By this time I was giddy. I was under the tree... in Bryant Park. With the lights all around me:

I walked around the base of the tree, peeking in among the boughs. And lo:

So I reached in:

I wsa giddy. Then I opened the package and I was really giddy. Because here is what I found inside:

Plus two CDs, arranged by Persephone, one titled Girls Against Boys and the other titled Boys Against Girls. I'd tell you what's on them but it's privileged information (except I can tell you my new favorite song is called "Brad and Suzy").

Mitteny happiness is nothing to this.

Thank you, Persephone. I love my CDs and the artwork and, well, the perfecty-perfectness of it.

Mitten Friday, volume III


Second avenue
Just east of Gramercy Park
At Epiphany

Around the corner
Red building open til six
and tomorrow, three

At reception desk
Tell her your name is Newsy
Your purple mittens


Leave graduate school
walking east on thirty fourth
look for a seven

Only a few blocks
Park Avenue apartments
again, a seven

In the south planter
behind the lights and holly
Your new green mittens

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Exams, emails, blogs, mittens... evaluations

My students are taking exams and turning in their portfolios this week. Because many of them care absolutely nothing about the our class until the end of the term, when the idea that they might get an "F" occurs to them, I am beset on all sides by students who attend class so rarely that I can't quite remember their names - but who are desperate to convince me that they should get a B in the class.

That might be one of the worst sentences I have ever written. Forgive me. No time to edit.


If you have emailed me and I haven't gotten back to you, be assured that I will. Sometime. Soon.


If I haven't visited your blog be assured that I will. Sometime. Soon.


I am making mittens. But I think you already knew that.


My students filled out evaluations for my classes today. For those of you unfamiliar with the world of academics: students fill out a form giving feedback to the instructor and the department about the course and the instructor's teaching methods. The rule is, you give the students this form and leave the room so they can fill it out without you seeing what they are doing. Preferably, you do this at the end of a class and ask a student to turn the forms in to the department for you, so that the forms are never in your possession until after grades are in.


Today my students told me that they were confused by why I was leaving the room while they filled out the forms. "Why are you leaving?" they asked. "Aren't you going to go over our answers with us?"

I told them no. I explained the procedure and asked where they got the idea that their responses were less than confidential. Mayalinda, one of my "A" students, replied, "All the teachers here do it. We fill them out and then if we don't give them a perfect mark they ask us why and then they can change it if they want to. That way they don't get into trouble with the school if they don't get good evaluations."

I'll just close by saying that no amount of money or fear of having to leave New York City would persuade me to work for Panic Hire University again next semester.

Real post tomorrow. Promise.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rules for teachers

1) Show up on time, even if it means having to wake up stupidly early (you will).

2) Don't cancel classes; even if you are half eat-up with the small pox, go to class.

3) Take attendance, even though it's a pain in the ass and waste of time.

4) Grade stuff, even when it means surreptitiously circling verb errors during important, relationship critical discussions with your significant other.

5) Teach the material, even if it means unorthodox methods (or explaining 4358 times that "frikkin'" is not an acceptable adjective).

6) Never, ever, ever, ever, ever even consider dating a student. EVER. (It goes without saying that you should not do it).

I think we all know what kind of trouble I ran into the other day, so I will just explain without expressing additional self-hatred that, much to my horror, I am (was) ... goddamit.... attracted to one of my students.*

Nothing happened except it was the last day of class and he was the last one to leave and he shook my hand and held onto it for just that tiniest little fraction of an amount of time that is too long. And I didn't hate it.

That's it. I'll never see this kid again, so it doesn't matter. No harm has been done to anyone's learning environment or anyone's professional integrity, but, people, in my entire eight year teaching career, I have never once so much as noticed a student in any way other than a professional one. When I look at students, I see nothing by letters, numbers, handwriting and badly conjugated verbs. I do not "see" anything other than a teaching target. I have never understood college professors who think this or that student is "hot" or "cute" or whatever, and I am such a self-critical and judgmental bitch that I won't have anything to do with professors who date students, because even on the college level, I think it's unfair to both the targeted student and the other students in the class, not to say the student's parents and the student's future spouse (because you know good and damn well that it isn't you).

I should have realized, of course, long before the last day of classes that this kid was flirting with me. I should have noticed it, but because of the"personal" invisibility of my students, I never noticed a thing. He cracked a lot of jokes and I made fun of him some because he seemed to take it as a sign of esteem (a lot of students do, oddly enough) but I didn't notice that he was noticing me. Duh.

And if you don't think that it's grotesque that I had a strange moment of heart fluttering (give me a moment to hate myself a little bit more and I'll finish my sentence... .... ....) you should definitely think it's gross that I had a student flirting with me in one of my classes for an entire 13 weeks AND I NEVER NOTICED BECAUSE OF MY PRINCIPLES.

Because isn't that also a little unfair to the student(s)? Doesn't that also harm the learning environment?

I think I'll go sharpen my knives now. Have a "nice" afternoon.

*He is of age, before anyone REALLY freaks out, here. He is 24 and though incredibly immature, legally grown up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tequila, Targets, Grossness

Just putting down my glass of tequila long enough to announce this week's mitten targets: Newsy and Susan.

Newsy is one of my oldest friends. She does not have a blog. She does run the frikkin' world (this is not formal writing... shut up! already) so that's ok. Susan is smart and funny and I like that she never called me out for referring to her blog as "Tractor Feed" rather than it's real name: Strictly Speaking. I needed my haiku to work. She never compained, because she is cool like that.

You might be wondering: Why am I sipping tequila?*

Because today, for the first time in my teaching career, I yelled at a student. I also found out I don't have funding for summer, so barring some kind of two-headed unicorn of a miracle, I am going to have to leave New York City in May. Just writing that makes me quake with... heartbreak. (But also something else... something a tiny bit like relief).

Another thing happened today that I am ashamed of, and it will take at least week for me to reveal it. This is not normal scale gross. Nothing but blog anonymity will permit me to write about it. So, uh, come for the mittens, stay for confessions of a batshit-crazy school teacher/rock climber on psyche meds. Or maybe the horror stories about cancer are what's really doing it for you. Whatever it is you want, we've got it.**

*Probably you are wondering why it isn't chardonnay. Let's just say it has been quite a day.

**Anyone else remember what movie that line is from?

This just in

Last night Nina read and graded and ran the calculator for sixty students. Twenty-four of them hate her this morning because they failed their English class. Right now Nina is in Soho reading portfolios for a class called "Effective Commnication." She cannot communicate (effectively) with anyone about anything else (that would include emails and phone calls, just to be clear) until she finishes reading these portfolios and running the calculator explaining to people why "frikkin'" is unacceptable* in college writing (even though it is a step up from "fucking.")

Nina will post again in the usual manner when this debauch of grading is over. Etc.

*When Nina's stress level is unacceptable she refers to herself in the third person because that way it seems like all the sleeplessness and sugar-eating and frikkin terrible essays are happening to someone else.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The strangest, really strong feeling

I just cleared out my voice mail, accumulated over a week of mitten making and grading, and got the following message from a guy we'll call Grip.

Hi Nina, this is Grip Spitzer. I know it's really strange that I am calling you, but I just woke up and I just had the strangest really strong feeling that should call you. Um, well, there is more to it than that, but I think there is something that we really seriously missed out on, um and, so, I guess what I am asking, if you are still single would you please, please have a cup of coffee with me? Because, um, I think that I was really really really not ready, and not who I am now in terms of what I want out of life when I met you, and um, I should have grabbed onto you and held on to you with all my might when I had the chance. So, um, if you could, give me a call, ---,---,----. Hope you are doing well. Bye.

There is a much longer post in the offing, but I have to do grades for Sweet Little Collge this morning and I can't possibly write said post until later.

So instead, I thought I would ask for your... reaction... to this message.

Before reacting, consider that I dated Grip five years ago for about six weeks. Since then, he has called an average of twice a year, saying stuff similar to what you see above - except that the content of this message is far less grovel-y than his past efforts. My favorite message was the one from three and a half years ago. It included the phrase "stamped in eternity."


I will tell the story later, but for now I will say no more.


Thank you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Monkey One to Monkey Two

Maggie loves monkeys. Many times this weekend, I felt very monkey like, and I wished I had a walkie talkie connection to Maggie so I could say:

"Monkey one to Monkey two.... come in, Monkey."

and then hear Maggie say:

"Monkey two to Monkey one, did you really mean east, Monkey?"

and then I could say:

"Monkey two, probably not. I am bad with directions, Monkey."

and then Maggie could say:

"Monkey two to Monkey one, this is becoming a pain in my Monkey ass, Monkey one. Which way should I turn, Monkey?"

and then I could say:

"Monkey one to Monkey two, sorry about the ass-pain. As it turns out, I am more dim Monkey than I am fairy. But I digress, Monkey. Try south, Monkey."

amd then Maggie could say:

"Monkey one, there are a lot of books in here, Monkey one. Which books do you mean, Monkey?"

and then I could say:

"Monkey one to Monkey two, try to red one about twelve feet in front of you, just to the right there. They are heavy, Monkey. And not in English, Monkey. Look behind them, Monkey two."

and then Maggie could say:

"Monkey two to Monkey one, I am speechless. These mittens are very small and not symmetrical at all. Also, Monkey one, the card looks like it was written by a six year old, Monkey."

and then I could say:

"Money one to Monkey two, please stop noticing these things. Please measure your mitteny happines and report back, Monkey."


So Maggie and I tried to use Twitter for this purpose, but it so didn't work because we both Twitter from our computers, and frankly neither of us really understands the point of Twitter. It's sort of like tossing an update on your finger nail growth out into the universe. As if anyone cares.

I am sorry. Where was I?

Behold the comment left about ten minutes ago by Jodi, friend of Maggie. Jodi doubtless had to put up with every kind of inconvenience this weekend, all on account of a simple pair of gray mittens. And my insanity.

Jodi writes:

Update on the Mitten Maddness '07:I am here on Maggie's behalf to report that said mittens have been recovered! The weather held out long enough for us to return to the 'mitten drop', make the pick-up and (after a silent prayer to the train goddess) arrive at Penn Station with an actual five minutes to spare before Maggie's train departed for Beantown. All is well. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming...

Many thanks for stopping by and updating us, Jodi. Maggie, get home safely and try to forgive me for making you rush to make the train.

Tomorrow morning, I hide these mittens for target Rick:

Let's all hope he has an easier time getting to his than Maggie did hers.

Sin of the Week, 12/16/07

Buckle up. This is an ugly post. More fun posts to follow. Really.

There is a thing about stealing. It is a commandment, I believe.

I stole.

I managed to clear the air with my dad last weekend regarding how batshit-crazy making it is for me to be away from him and so on, and we cleared up why X number of bad things were happening and it was generally a good talk. An excellent one. My dad is excellent in every way, including the way where 14 weeks after being sent home in an ambulance and told to just go ahead and die already, he proceeded to go to Walmart to buy drill bits and two by fours so he could finish building the lower pavillion by Christmas. So you see? Excellent.

About a half an hour before I left, I tried to have a similar clearing conversation with my step mother. The result was unsatisfactory. Her desire is to make us all ONE FAMILY and for me, my brother, and my sister to call her mom - and for us to believe that she would go to bat for us just the same as she would for her own children. She is very hurt we have not all played along with this game, that we have been suspicious of her motives, that we have not wholly trusted her. Well, we don't.

If you've been reading this here internet diary for any length of time, you know there is no way I'd ever consider us ONE family, no way I'd ever call her mom, and no way I'd believe she would look after the interests of my brother, sister, and I just the same as she would her own children. History has proven that she does not treat us as she treats them. And you know what? We are fine with that. Her kids are her KIDS. She would never permit them to disrespect her in the manner she apparently expects us to disrespect our own mother. And no, our mother being dead and my step mother's wishes are not sufficient inducements for us to commit this crime against nature. No. Way.

But I digress.

The point is I stole. Want to know what I stole?


It is a picture of my mother's parents. I found it shoved under the workbench in the "guest" room (which is where I... stay when I am "invited" to my father's house). Just before I left, I decided I'd take it, since no one in the house was interested in, you know, my mother or her people anymore. At least here, someone, even if it's just me, will look upon my grandparents with some respect.

I took a few other things, too. I took this letter that my grandmother wrote to me at Christmas, 1994, when she gave me a doll that meant a lot to her as child.

I also took the doll:

I took one more thing that I won't post a picture of. It's a quilt my mother made for my father. I found it right next to the doll, next to the picture. Apparently the "guest" room workbench crawlspace is where everything that no one wants to remember in that household - goes.

No wonder that's the room I sleep in when I am "invited" down for a weekend. Let's keep all the detritus of that old relationship in one handy place, hmmm?

And yet I am expected to believe that she is as devoted to me as she is to her own children. And yet I am to believe that we are all one family (please note: keep debris related to family one shoved under a workbench... thanks!), and I am to call her mom.

It's not the fact that she wants that. I can understand why. Who wouldn't want the power associated with being the matriarch of the family? Who, in her position, wouldn't want the "mother" role to be the accepted postition when the will is read, the one that forces my father's children to rely on her to distribute his assetts fairly? You know.. those assetts that are going to be left entirely to... her... as if she really were our... mother?

I am sorry. Where was I? The issue is the hypocrisy and blindness. The sense of entitlement, the emotionalism and the manipulation.

He married a woman named Janet. She is my mother. She will always be my mother. She died. My father married Mamacita, and I love mamacita. She will always be my friend, but she will never be my mother. That seat, that mother seat, is taken, and it is taken forever. Mamacita has seat all her own; my brother, sister and I have welcomed her into the family and made her one of the gang. We think this is how it should be. But that's not what she wants. She wants the mother chair, to be the very center of our family. Anything less makes her feel "peripheral" and like an "outsider."

To that I say, what??? You live in my father's house with my father every single day. You never have to wonder how he is. You never have to get permission to see him. You never have to wonder whether your phone calls are interrupting his marriage. You never have to wonder why he would rather spend the rest of his life up your ass crack than with his own children.

And you feel... peripheral... because ass crack and all, you are hurt that we call you mamacita instead of mom.

There is a saying... I forget how it goes. Something about a monkey's uncle.

I don't know.

What's really really sad is that these things won't be missed, ever, by anybody. These objects have no meaning to anyone living in that house anymore. it is, forgive the histrionics, as if my mother has died all over again. I knew she would go away and we'd never see her again and I knew that we'd talk about her less and less and that lives would go on. What I didn't count on is th hiding of, the removal of, the obliteration of everything that reminds us of her. I understand perfectly the need to make a home with a new wife and I get not wanting to participate in two marriages at once. I don't blame my dad for any of this. He has to make peace in his own house. But the crawl space thing? Was that really necessary? I don't know. But I don't think so.

So there you have it, sin of the week: I stole, and worse, I am not sorry. When I go down for Christmas I'll tell my dad what I took and tell him why. He can speak up if he wants these things back, but I know he doesn't. Which is why I took them in the first place.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mittens don't help

If you look to the right and down, you'll see a column of thumbnails of important people in my life. One of those people is a little boy named Liam, my brother's son. The stuffed rabbit (named Bobby) was selected as Liam's thumbnail because for Liam, Bobby is the source of all rightness and joy in the world.

This is the part of the post where I get serious and weepy. Click away if you prefer me when I am not "like this."

I chose, in addition to identity obscuring photographs, psuedonyms for my important people. For my nephew, who is the light of my life, I chose the name "Liam." I did not do so thoughtlessly. My elder brother Buzz, who is as dear to me as his wife and son, has a very very best friend whose name is Liam.

There is a point. I am getting to it. Hang in there.

So Buzz called me today and said a bunch of stuff but he sounded all wrong. Finally, I asked him.

"What's wrong?" said I.

"Well things are not good here. I just heard from Lydia. Liam has a tumor on his pancreas."


"Yeah. He goes into surgery tomorrow morning. It looks really bad."

(this is the part where I have to pause and catch my breath because my brother, though only 40, has lost friends before. One to sickle cell anemia, one to cocaine, another to heroin, and yet another to... heroin.* To say that he has already caught is limit of sucky-untimely-death-luck is a major frikkin understatement. Notice that I have not yet mentioned our mother, dead at 52 and our currently terminal with leukemia father, 67. There is no expletive for how unfair this is, so I'll just move on).

"Wow. That's bad."

"Yeah. So anyway Lydia and Liam are at St. Luke's and I am going to try to get over there before I go home."

(this is the part where he has to catch his breath. He is emotionally level, in general, but LIAM??? That would be, for me, sort of like Lola getting cancer. Attention universe: NO, THANK YOU).

I asked my brother what I could do. He said nothing. Yeah, nothing. He's pretty much right, and that hurts because damn, it would be nice if a pair of mittens or a nice hat would change anything.

Readers of the praying sort: please mention in your communications with your almighty that my brother needs Liam and that my brother is WAY down on the list of people who do. Mention also that Lydia needs Liam and that cancer is just not appreciated. But thanks for the spiritual challenge if... whatever... thy will be done. Etc.

Readers of all sorts: please call, email, look at the faces of the people you love and tell them you love them. Tell the people that make your life good about how wrong your life would be without them. It doesn't matter if you already do this all the time and you feel like a cheeser. I crack a lot of jokes about love being all that matters, but I am mostly not joking. It is, really, truly, actually, all that matters.

*** No word yet from Maggie, mitten target one. Will post the moment I hear from her.***

* My brother spent his twenties playing drums in a rock band. They did great until their singer died of a heroin overdose.

Message for Maggie

Maggie, I Twittered you the location of the mittens!

Everyone else, I took this picture out my window about ten minutes ago. It will have to serve as content until I post later today, hopefully after the mittens reach their target.

Good morning. Happy Saturday.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday... whatever.

So I thought I had this all figured out. Because I assumed my assumption that Maggie would be in town early today was valid, I popped over to the appointed hiding place early and hid the mittens - which is to say that I placed them in the care of a person who would give them to her if she said the magic password - and before he left work at 6pm.

I then set about doing my job for a little bit because I assumed the second mitten target, a person who lives around here, didn't really need me to perform the mitten drop on a schedule. Then in the middle of the part of the day where I was doing my job, I saw on my insta-scheduler that Panic Hire University would very much like for me to attend a staff meeting and that if I attended, I would not be making that second mitten drop in a timely fashion. At. All.

Then mitten target Maggie, of mitten drop one, Twittered that she was on the train arriving in NYC at 10pm. That meant I had to rehide the mittens for a Saturday mitten quest. About that same time, I realized there was no way I'd get to mitten drop two before mitten target Rick (of mitten drop two) left town for the weekend.

Also there is a tribal-mitten-reciprocal relations custom, and it's obviously very important or it would not be part of the code, but I violated it by not emailing inaugural mitten target Persephone back ALL DAY LONG.

**** insert here: sound of crickets chirping ****

I insert this photo of each right mitten here not to prove any real point - just because, well, I am having some anxiety about the size of the blue mittens. Target Rick said men's size large and that is what I knitted but gosh they look like hockey mitts. The guy down at the local bodega tried them on for me and pronounced them "excellent" but... don't they look a little crazy next to the women's size medium I made for Maggie?

Did you notice how I distracted you from the real issue? Namely that I am a sucky mitten fairy?

And did you notice how, in the blink of an eye, and for no apparent reason, this turned into a needlework blog?


If you hate all this yarn banter, I hope it's a comfort to you that I intend to confine mitten-mania to Fridays. Kind of like how we kept Larry-mania confined to Tuesdays until everyone demanded Larry Wednesdays.

Thank you for reading. (And have a good weekend).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friday Mitten Fairy

New to this game? Click here.


Because I heart you
Another online profile
Friday blue mittens

Take the subway, four
War brigadier general
busy underpass

walk up the hill
look right at the busy top
old aqueduct

graffiti, ugly
Old NYU on your right
look behind old building


You, Magdelena
have mittens in heather gray
west side train, horray

Crazy busy place,
made of marble, ugly, gray
exit, and get some air

linger east four treats
miracle on movie street
mitts with man I know

Enter Tractor Feed's
college of grad school learning
Tell man at the desk

Nina made gray mittens
They are for glorious me
hand them over, please

Prelude to a Mitten Heist

Magdalena Kennedy, Grand Duchess of Boston Internet Excellence, will be in New York City this weekend, prompting me to declare tomorrow double mitten fairy day. So there will be TWO sets of haiku clues tomorrow. Two sets of mittens. Two targets. One goal: mitteny happiness.*

Others who have expressed a desire for mittens: I have not forgotten you. If you are local (Fauxhawk, Ryan, Mayor Bloomberg, etc) please note that your time will come. Keep checking your blog and mine to see when your Friday comes. Non-locals, just send me an address and I send you some mittens.

* PS if you don't cick on that link, I will be most seriously displeased. Go now and click it. Click. It.

Wanted: Weaponry Info

Because of this handy test provided by Poppy, I now see that I would not survive a Zombie Apocalypse.


Looking for payday loan?


Not, as you might have guessed, because I don't have the heart to drive an ax through the skull of a zombie who just happens to be a former relative. And, not, as you might reasonably have surmised (reasonably! surmised!) because I don't stock enough dry goods to get me through three months (I do).

My score plummeted when I disclosed that I do not know how to shoot stuff. I know what a gun looks like and I know where the trigger is, but I don't really know anything else about guns. At all. Also guns, like motorcycles and circus clowns, scare me a little bit. (OK... a lot).

So I ask you, internet: what is there to know about guns except for don't point the barrel at yourself before you pull the trigger, don't keep a loaded one in your house, and don't piss off people who own more than one?

Unrelated: tomorrow is Mitten Friday, and my target is Rick. Tomorrow's post will be a five haiku chain of hints as to the location of his brand new mittens. If you are in the New York City area and you'd like to try to beat Rick to the mittens, you now know where to get the clues. If not, stop by his place and wish him luck, would you?

Have an excellent Thursday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Couples in trouble

I really wanted to make some artwork today featuring couples in trouble. Which I guess means I felt like drawing pictures of me and FB fighting.

Please note: those bits of blue confetti coming off of me are tears. They were probably caused by

a) a pretty leaf floating down the river
b) something unfreakingbelievably stupid said by FB
c) realizing I am not as thin as gorgous as ________________ (choose celebrity hottie of your choice).
d) a sudden surge in progesterone

When I didn't like FB for any of the above reasons, here is how I handled it:

That's right, reader. I sidled over nudged him in any convenient region of his torso. Sometimes it was knuckle nudge and other times I flat out poked him in the belly. The entire geography of our discontent, you see right here.

The result was uniformly bad:

FB did nothing. He might look at me as if I were a zoo animal, but he would do and say nothing.

FB hated my behavior (well, duh) not because I was causing him bodily harm, but because he knew only that I was displeased and that the cause of the displeasure was 100% likely to be him (or progesterone) (which, same thing) and he did not know what to do. Except break up with me, which to his credit, he left to me.

After many many many many months of dating, grew weary of poking him (... stop that.... don't be so gross). I decided that since I was already half brimming over with hatred for him on a regular basis, I'd just explain myself. So one day for no reason in particular, I popped him in the belly and said, "Do you know what that means?"

FB, visibily nervous, said, "No."

"It means I am not feeling appreciated or some similar emotion. When I knuckle you in the chest, or poke your belly, or elbow your liver, I would like some attention. And appreciation. Actually, gratuitous, unearned obsequious sucking up is what I require. If you would like to improve the quality of our relationship by at least 9.323443%, you will remember what I have said the next time I headbutt you in the spleen. All clear?"

Long, long pause.

"Can't we just break up?"

Poke repeated.

"Fuck you"

FB sighed. I never quite got to where I could read his mind, but he was probably saying the second half of some prayer in Latin about how Jesus understands how very reasonable and just it would be to beat the crap out of your unbearable girlfriend but that with continual spiritual refinement and the help of all the angels and saints, pure violence can be avoided. Plus forbearance gets you extra shiney shoes in heaven.

FB said, "Noted. On all counts. Will you stop talking now?"

I said, "Yes. I love you a very tiny little bit. So little that I am not sure it even counts."

FB, said, "Back atcha, bitch."

And then we joined hands, pleased with each other and the conversation, and dashed off to wherever it was we were going, and all was well.

Until it wasn't. I am sure some weeks elapsed. It might have been a beautiful snowflake or a dip in estrogen. It might have been him rhapsodizing about Ann Coulter and then criticizing me for not being as hateful and grotesque as he thinks any girlfriend of a person of his narrow-minded, narcissistic, hypocrisy rightly should be. I don't remember.

But I poked him.

Because I had explained myself so clearly on this subject, FB reacted instantly.

He stepped off the sidewalk and directly into the bakery and presented me with a cupcake and said, "I am APPRECIATING YOU. This cupcake is evidence of my esteem and gratitude for your perfecty-perfectness."

FB and I did not make it, for excellent reasons. However, me telling him what I wanted improved our relationship at least 49.253453% - not because what I wanted was reasonable or rational but because he was willing to give me what I asked for just because I asked for it.*

I am reminded of the day of the appreciation cupcake because two blogger girls** I know (in the computer kind of know) are suffering mild to moderate or even severe distress, some part of which is man-distress.

Britt, you could always draw him some pictures. FB always liked mine. (He was crazy. Sort of like... me).

* plus I never asked him for a pony or a tennis bracelet. I wanted stuff that was easy to produce. (Cupcake or a simple "I appreciate you" worked really well for me).

**Other blogger girl, I'll leave you alone with the links for now. You are re-organizing. When you are ready, I'll link you like it's 1999.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You had me at the hugeness

I made a flight attendant laugh so hard the Redbull squirted out her nose.

My second flight as delayed last night, so I shoved my bags under a bar and behaved like a harlot by having a beer in an airport. It was... ok... except that the people sitting next to me were exceedingly friendly and wanted to have long exchanges regarding Michael Vick's sentencing and did I, personally, think he'd ever recover his reputation?

When I said Michael Vick was not such an impressive human being, in my humble, white school teacher opinion, they got all animated and accusatory and, well, just kind of mean. Then the gentlemen in the ball hat and ski glasses and hoodie and fashionably unlaced work boots got downright ugly. He pointed out that my neoprene computer case was made out of SEAL HIDE - that innocent SEALS had to die so my computer could be protected... and didn't I feel just a little bit bad about that?? HMM??

Well, duh. I lose.

I lovingly stroked the neoprene computer case, cried a little bit - just so make sure he knew he'd won the argument, namely the one that I AM NOT SUCH AN IMPRESSIVE HUMAN BEING AND SHOULD BE THE ONE IN JAIL FOR HUNTING SEALS (and also, apparently, for slandering Michael Vick). Then I gathered my things and went to wait by the gate. (Not before stopping to buy a half pound of veal jerky...* MMM delicious).

These good people presently arrived at the gate good and riotously drunk. Thankfully, all four fo them were so engrossed in NFL banter that they cared not for further repartee with... me.

After the third flight delay, the dispatcher announced that a problem had arisen due to the weight limit for the aircraft: apparently if all passengers show up and all are carrying the maximum number of bags, the plane is in danger of falling out of the sky in a firey crash.

This was the moment for me when the whole night turned dark and sinister. Clearly, someone in ground control had gotten a good look at my thighs and decided that at least ten bags would have to be removed from the manifest to compensate for the enormity of... me.

I put down the veal jerky.* I cleaned out my back pack to reduce load. Four grocery receipts, an broken pencil and two battered magazines later, we still had a weight problem. We boarded the plane and then sat there on the runway for an hour.

During this funfilled hour in the crowded, overheated metal tube, I watched the following scene outside my window: four baggage handlers, two pilots, a TSA agent and an eighty five pound flight attendant (who was alternately clutching her head in her hands and shoving the manifest under the noses of anyone standing still) screaming at each other over how to handle the weight limit issue. Twice, the flight attendant huffed back onto the plane to make an announcement regarding the status. What she said the first time was "We are still trying to load the bags. We'll be right with you." What she said the second time was "The plane is too heavy, and it will not fly safely. We'll be right with you."

Then she took a moment to let the Michael Vick lovers know that no, we wouldn't be serving alcohol on the flight and no, she didn't think the plane would crash. On her way back up to the galley, I saw her roll her eyes so far back into her head I feared they would get stuck that way.

Then the TSA agent got on the plane and said, "I need to remove at least four passengers and their bags to make this flight happen. If you volunteer, you'll receive a meal voucher, hotel accomodation, and a free roundtrip ticket good for a year. If we don't get enough volunteers, we will start to pull people. Anyone?"

Guess who was interested in this deal?

The Michael Vick lovers were so excited about prospect of free booze, food, and hotel rooms that they practically dove into the aisle and crawled off the plane with their (leather) carry on luggage in their teeth.

After the Vickers were safely removed from the plane and the flight attendant's equanimity had been restored, I moved up to the front of the plane, where the flight attendant was sipping a Red Bull and adjusting her flight safety merit badge.

"Excuse me?" said I.

"Yes?" she said.

"Are we, uh, going to make it?" I asked.

"Of course," she said. "We are now under weight limit."

I gestured down to my thighs. She looked confused.

"But what about this hugeness?" I jiggled a thigh for emphasis.

Pixie of an eighty pound fairy of a flight attendant. Bless her.

She snorted, and Red Bull sprayed out of her nose, and gosh, it was just awesome. When the hilarity subsided, I said, "Also, I have a baby seal in my carry on. Just saying. Have a nice flight."

And then I went back to my seat, rather pleased with my baby seal computer case, my hugeness, and the excitement of reaching, finally, my last day of work at Panic Hire University, that I promptly fell asleep.

Happy Tuesday.

* Gummy bears

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hold the green stuff

Here's what we did last night while watching movies:

We demolished that stash of weapons grade chocolate only two hours after we ate spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner. There might have been a green vegetable in there somewhere this weekend but I can't remember.* What did we eat for lunch? Oh, let's see... buttered toast and butterscotch candy. Because, well, that sounded good.

We don't eat breakfast around here unless you count coffee and frosted flakes - for me, minus the frosted flakes. We eat those again if it's midnight and we can't sleep. Everyone knows that carbs are a soporific.

When I get back to New York tonight, I have to prepare for the onslaught that will be tomorrow - last day of classes at Panic Hire University. Please note: this would be a fun day if I had graded everything I have to give back to them and had I given them their student evaluation forms last week. It's going to be NUTS.

Then I will be free from that place, hopefully forever, and I can work out the salvation of my ever-widening love handles. I am serious, people. I have even thought about getting on a scale and posting my actual weight. The only reason I am not going to do that is that I have the teensiest little infinitesimal over-interest in numbers, and one good way to land me in Charter Hospitals next to Mary Kate Olsen would be to start weighing myself. The way this sort of thing is handled by borderline obsessive people who don't want an eating disorder is the use a tape measure or an old pair of jeans and eat the hell out of some arugula.

So today, I am going to bake christmas cookies and eat candy and bagels and weapons grade chocolate all day, and then tomorrow, arugula, and by Christmas I will be able to reel my ass back into my jeans with no trouble. I hope.

Will post pictures of the cookies later. If you are in the commenting spirit but are horrified by the diet I have just described, tell me that most nutritionally disgusting thing you have ever eaten - you know, in place of actual food.

Have an excellent day.

* Yes, I can. It was the battered sliver of green pepper right next to that glob of pepperoni on the pizza the other night.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I picked this purple flower for you.

Sin of the Week, 12/09/07

Reader, internet, I made my dad cry yesterday because I needed to talk about my feelings.

**** I'll give you a moment to go throw up now. If you want to come back and learn how I achieved this, I'll keep typing. *****

Summary of the situation with my dad, so you won't have to read the archives:

My dad has always been my best pal. In my twenties, when my mom died, our relationship became even more close because, well, he's awesome but also because we were trying to make life without her work. Many years later I met someone I liked and I thought he would like her and the other way round, too. He did, she did, they got married, drinks and high fives all around.

Except then he got leukemia (suckage, treatment, horror, terminal, dammit) and he is now dying (or maybe not). For the past few months I have been operating under the assumption that my dad simply doesn't not love his "old family" as much as he loves his "new family." I assumed this because he has been spending all his time with them and almost none with us.

I have been managing this information (which I like to house in the "fact" category since I am so given to black and white thinking) very badly. A few weeks ago I had a minor breakdown when I realized that I have not talked to my Dad in eight entire days.* My brother decided it was time to tell my dad, who might be dying any minute (or not) that I am up a tree and need to get things straightened out so I don't end up in Bellevue.

So my dad, who is dying (or maybe not) calls me up and says, "come down and spend a few weeks so we can get things all figured out." Have I said yet that the life expectancy of a person with AML is 2-8 weeks? And that yesterday marks 13 entire alive and feeling pretty damned good weeks for him?

Well, ok, says I. I go. I got here yesterday. We immediately head out to the rockwall-deck project, and he says, "So tell me what all this crap about a headologist is about."

I thought I was so clever because I had distilled the entire issue down into five sentences and it seemed to me like I could just say my five sentences and he would say, "You are full of shit and you know it. Now hand me that there band-saw and let's see if we can get another floor joist nailed into the deck before dark."

So I say my five sentences, which I will not repeat here because even though this is my internet diary there are some things that not even you** should know.

And then the sky cracks open, Jesus steps down out of the cloud in his Juicy track suit and his Reeboks and says "In case you are having trouble reading your itchy feelings and ambivalence about what you just said, let me make sure, at the risk of violating my endorsement deal with Hilfiger by showing up dressed in Juicy, that YOU SUCK. YOU SUCK THE SUCKAGE OF THE SUCKWALLERY OF SUCK. GOT THAT? HMMM? More on this in your afterlife. Dumbass. Peace-out." Then Jesus steps back up into the heavens to discuss how much I suck with all his friends (these would include my mother).

And at about the same time my dad sits down on the steps and starts to cry. Yes, my 67 year old dad, yes, toughest man on planet earth and at least nine other planets, cries. Yes, most unselfish and sweetest person who ever built a wall out of rocks in his spare time while dying of cancer, cries.


Shortly after the visitation of Christ (and his tracksuit) and my dad's brief storm of emotion he said about fifty things I had never thought of about why things were going the way they were going and formed a list of things he would do so that my brother, sister and I would not feel like slimy Janetic*** residue anymore.

And then he said, "Now hand me that there band-saw and let's see if we can get another floor joist nailed into the deck before dark."

We got a lot done:

So we worked the rest of the day, split a beer, and ordered a pizza. My step mother came home from her afternoon out shopping with three bottles of wine and eight varieties of medicinal grade chocolate and we all watched movies together until midnight. With the pizza, the wine, and the chocolate****

And we all went to bed fairly happy. Today, more joists. More pizza, more chocolate. And definitely more wine.

* When it's possible that your dad might die at any moment, this seems like eighty years. Just saying.

** Even though you are so beautiful.

*** My mom's name was Janet. My dad was married to her for thirty years and my step mother is insanely jealous of her. My step mother thinks my dad is sort of like Elvis and Paul McCartney and 007 all at the same time.

**** Don't judge. Pepperoni, chablis and Ghirardelli is an underrated combination.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Regarding the Mitten Situation

Official notice regarding to current location of the red mittens:

No one but Persephone can find the mittens. The reason is there is an actual live person holding the mittens and waiting for Persephone to come and get them AT HER LEISURE.

Other mittens will be made and stashed on Fridays until the weather turns warm. And yes, I am taking long distance mitten requests. Mudflappers may be available based on current yarn supply and size requirements.

In other news, I got on a plane at 6am today and flew to SC to see my Dad. He picked me up from the airport and we went out for coffee. Later, we are going to work on the rock wall (which is essentially finished) and start constructing the floor joists for the pergola.

What is a pergola?

Anyway, we'll be working together all weekend. I got 3 hours of sleep last night, so I can't write much more. Suffice it to say I am very happy to be here and to see my dad looking so well.

Comment, please, if you would like mittens. And state your size, por favor.

Hasta la... anyway, have a good weekend.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mitten Fairy

A few weeks ago, I read a post on Persephone's blog that delighted me so completely that I decided I would knit her some mittens. If you think this a strange gesture, please note that I have redoubled my needlework efforts to take advantage of the hypnotic effect working with yarn and thread produces. If I find a willing or even remotely reasonable target, I knit. And since Persephone lives in a cold place where mittens are misplaced all the time, I decided I would make the mittens.* And then figure out later how to preserve her blog anonymity and mine -- and still give them to her.

Behold the comments on yesterday's post at WhatPossessedMe, Persephone's beacon of inernet excellence:


Manhattan sidewalk
A safe place, I have hidden
Your new red mittens


I want me some gloves
or mittens with mud flap girls.
Do their boobs get cold?

Am I really getting mittens? Really?


Snow flurries, lovely
aloft like mudflapper boobs
Of course, red mittens


Oh, where can they be?
Porny mitts amid the drifts –
Sluts in virgin snow.


Seven train and up
past sephora and soupman
midown mittens park

(I could keep this up forever, or I could tell you where I hid them. They are in no danger of being randomly discovered, if you are in the mood for a work-distracting treasure-hunt).


Very intriguing. I know the train and park and Sephora of which you speak - but which way "past"...

I have not written Persephone, who doubtless spent the afternoon diving into the planters at Bryant Park (ok, probably not), another haiku. Her mittens are in safe hands (and in the location I specified) but you see, all this talk of mittens and the exchange of haiku - and something I saw on the street last night - has given me pause.

I was walking home across 42ns street, and it was bitter cold. There 104 bus, which I sometimes take to 2nd Avenue if I am lazy (or just freezing my face off), was pulling up. I got on the bus and noticed, under one of the seats, a single pink glove, perfectly clean and obviously just dropped there by its owner. I rode the bus four blocks. When I disembarked at 42nd and 2nd, I waited on the corner for a moment, waiting for a message from my innermost being, regardind whether I should stop for a bottle of cheap hooch and drink myself into oblivion. The answer, as my innermost being reported, was, sadly, no. I wanted a bowl of steamed kale and a half gallon of spring water and perhaps half a sleeping pill, all of which could be had at home. I turned left and headed up the stairs into my neighborhood and saw, right there on step four, another pink glove, very like the one I had seen on the bus. Its fingers were all smashed together, as it had been trodden upon all evening.

Losing your gloves, mittens, hat, scarf, nose cozy, whatever, sucks. It's cold here in wintertime. We don't have cars. We need these items.

The sight of these gloves and the haiku I had been trying to construct in answer to Persephone made me wonder if I might be able to knit and give away more mittens.

I think I might. I love making mittens. I wish to make more of them. Porny or no.

So until the official end of winter, that is to say whenever it stops being cold, I will knit and stash one pair of mittens in New York City and post clues as to the whereabouts of said mittens here, on Nina is ridiculous dot org.*

Keep in mind this will amuse me greatly and also prevent me from grading papers, which means I definitely deserve some kind of an award for something. Perhaps illogic and career sabotage?

Will post again later. (I think). If I don't see you, have a good weekend.

* Please note: these are not the real mittens. I simply forgot to photograph the mittens before I stashed them, so I stole this photo from KnitDad. I love KnitDad's blog, so perhaps since I have said "l love you" and linked to him he won't be mad that I stole his photo. *ducking*