Wednesday, January 30, 2008

brain scramble

My head's scrambly this evening. I'm blaming the weather. And undergrads.

I opened my email inbox just now and scanned quickly, as I often do. This was the most recent email's subject:
perfectly crafted exclusive
watches rolex
And my brain filled in something about "crotches" and "wax". Exactly what is gone now, obliterated by a real actual reading of the subject line (a sort of literate double take).

I know my unconscious choice of top down to make intelligible the set of scrambled letters could indicate I'm a perv. In my defense, the subject lines in spam (which my inbox is full of courtesy of the university's hideous spam filter) do make those words contextually probable.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday Poetry

This Is Just to Say, by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

Say "aarrrrrhhhhggg!"

First class of the semester. It's my last first class. Wow. Do I feel sad? I thought about it and I've gotta say, I do not. I especially do not since within hours of my nearly hour long lecture on why the students need to start with primary source articles from peer reviewed journals for their research projects, I got an email asking me to re-explain why. The email ended with the question "So can't I use magazines or something?"

Can I get a "O. M. G."?

It took me way too long to write back to this person. It would have been less time but I was trying really hard not to sound sarcastic. This was not easy.

With my last first full week of classes and my last first lecture comes the first cold, or at least sore throat. Whether this is a function of the rooms being over-ventilated by a blast of icy cold air coming from somewhere in the ceiling in front of me but always somehow pointing directly at my chest, or whether I picked up a bug from being back on a student filled campus I don't know. Fortunately, I have little to do tomorrow but get blood drawn and make sure I'm registered to vote on "Super (duper) Tuesday". And that's an "ahhhhh" kind of thing.

Friday, January 25, 2008


The text below is from an email I got today from my department head. The first sentence has been changed minimally, the second not at all. I am so very amused by this.

The organizational meeting for the weekly research group series will be held
at _____ on ____ in rm ____. If you didn't get this message, let me know and we'll get you on the mailing list.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dear Paul [Saint]...

I love this bit.

I so dislike Paul and his letters. Not exactly sure where it came from. I mean, this is an implicit dislike at this point, an aspect of a long standing opinion I've held about Paul's writings and their place in Christianity since my childhood, when I spent a bit of time in Catholic school. I'm thinking perhaps as a wee 5-6 year old, I was told stories about Paul and his various letters which lead me to form this aversion. Hearing the same tired bit read at so many weddings doesn't help (you know, the part that goes: " is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. Love puts down the toilet seat, never makes you buy your own birthday cake, and always remembers the fabric softener..." or something like that).

Tuesday Poetry - better late than never version

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by Wallace Stevens
(who lived in Connecticut for many years it seems - I wonder if it was something better back then.)

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No floating

Today we had a three and a half hour mini-conference in my department. As with so many academic gatherings, we were cramped in a way which recalls that line Tom Hanks delivers so excellently in the Coen brothers' remake of The Ladykillers: "We academics are inordinately fond of wedging ourselves into confined spaces."
Gosh, it seems almost criminal to add to such a perfect summary, but I feel I must contribute a resounding HELL YES.

I admit, I've always been a bit prickly about my personal space. However I've come to regard big name talks, mandatory meetings, and other high turn out events with a nasty mix of trepidation, embarrassment, chagrin, and preemptive irritation since losing the totally taken for granted guarantee of a non-painful hip. It limits me in ways I wouldn't have even imagined. One of them is sitting. Another is accommodating and navigating the wedging in process.

While the rest of the academic world continues its love affair with wedging behavior, for me it poses a genuine physical threat these days. Today's gathering was, my god it was like we were going for a world record, like some crazy kids from back in the 50s or 60s or whenever it was kids crammed themselves into phone booths or swallowed goldfish. Today's gathering was so crowded that even senior, tenured faculty were seated in the far less desirable chairs lining the walls of the room rather than at the big table (the big table was all full up with the overly punctual bigwigs and presenters). Several junior grad students sat on the floor. A few stragglers ended up sitting in the hall, crowded around the open door like the proverbial hobos around a barrel fire. I saw our newest faculty hire (a youngish, terribly quiet man they lured here from somewhere in Europe) sitting in the hall, furthest from the door at one of those "desk-chair" monstrosities.

Since I know what to expect (hard rigid chairs with negative leg room if I don't see to matters in advance) I arrived a half an hour before the first talk, rolling in front of me one of the cushioned, adjustable chairs from my office. I set my chair up where it looked like I'd have some leg room if I needed to straighten my leg out a bit, which I often need to do when I sit for a long time. Unfortunately, due to the crowd, even before the time the talks started, I'd been hemmed in by chairs pulled in from the hallway.

As talk time approached, a young woman holding a chair approached me, or more properly, approached the space I was occupying. She walked up in front of me from my right and stood there holding her chair aloft, looking expectantly at the small slice of empty space I'd managed to keep in front of my left leg. I didn't move my legs to let her pass, hoping she'd quickly give up and look somewhere else. She saw me see her, saw me not move my legs, but she continued to hold the chair up the way a toddler might hold up a cup she wants refilled by her mommy. "Ok," I thought, "She thinks I'm being rude, which I arguably would be if I didn't have a really good reason to need this space. I'll explain." I addressed her: "I'm sorry, I need to keep this area a little open because..." and as I was saying "I have a hip problem" she huffed, sighed exasperatedly (over my words), then half turned (one of those taken for granted liberties of a pain free hip) and wedged her chair down into the slightly less open area a bit off to my right.

My god that pissed me off.

Not because this alone was such an offense. It's irritating but I wouldn't be blogging about it if it were just that. It got me because this is the second time in a week I've had an encounter like this.

The first was when I was walking across campus. That time, two men were walking two abreast toward me on a wide path. I was keeping to the right. They were keeping to the middle. To my further right was snow and ice packed up just beyond the long muddy, ice crusted puddle which bordered the edge of the path. The men advanced, and I adjusted my angle a bit to the right. The men continued to advance and by now it was clear there would be no passing them on the right without hitting the puddle but if I tried to cut over to the left of them, I would have to pivot on my left leg and move quickly to avoid colliding. So I stopped. At this point, the one to my left saw me and started, improbably to move to his left, bringing him further into my path and also straight into the shoulder of the man who he was walking with. They bounced off one another, then split, then we all came to a stop for a moment, during which time I made eye contact with them and shrugged. They veered off to my left and I resumed walking, now a bit past them when one of them said in a quite abrupt tone "well WE were taking our cues from YOU!" I didn't stop walking but looked over my shoulder. He was stopped and looking, well, pissed. His friend was a few steps ahead of him and looked apologetic. The pissed off guy nearer to me yelled"I GUESS SOMEONE'S HAVING A BAD DAY?!" I stopped and turned back and said "I have..." but got no further since he had by that time spun around (another hip maneuver) thrusting his hand down in a "oh just forget it!" gesture, and walked back to his companion muttering.

Not worth it, it being allowing myself the luxury, god...the JOY of engaging him in a massively hostile confrontation which would suck up half my energy for the day, but damn what a dick. I thought about the encounter for a while that day. Then I forgot about it. After the young woman with the chair, after seeing that she looked so annoyed, I thought about it again. Since it felt so shitty not to say anything further to those guys earlier this week, maybe I would feel better if I said something to chair-lady. I considered trying to explain to her at the break why I had asked her not to put a chair practically on my lap. But what do I accomplish by soldiering on and explaining? I am certainly not contrite, although I am somewhat embarrassed to even need this accommodation. But I don't feel bad for her, not exactly. Do I want to make these people feel bad, feel as bad as I felt? Not really. Do I want them to understand and not think ill of me? Paradoxical as that is given my irritation at this kind of behavior, I do think that is more the likely cause.

Since today's first talk was one I'd heard before, I had some time to consider these situations and my reaction to them in the space immediately after my encounter with the chair wielding woman. And here's what I decided. I don't really give a shit if someone that clueless thinks ill of me. Impatience or gross self importance, clearly it's a sign of a flawed character - someone who I probably would not like, or at least a side of someone I wouldn't like. Many, many years ago, before I had arthralgias and the various "moans and groans" which have changed the landscape of my day to day life, I decided that I needed to stop letting it eat me up if people I didn't like didn't like me. The situation which prompted the decision to at least liberate myself from wanting some kind of approval even from people I didn't care for was just one of those run of the mill workplace irritations. Probably this is something other people learned in 8th grade but I'm a late bloomer so it wasn't until my late twenties that I realized what the hell did it matter if someone I disliked thought ill of me, providing we could keep things professional and civil?

So today, I extended this to the people who can't manage to not avoid putting themselves on a collision course with me while I'm walking slowly and with a limp, to the people who won't take just a second to be decent about being asked to make a very minor accommodation, to the people who are slightly inconvenienced so I can be (just be) without hurting myself. I pissed her off. I can't casually glide out of the way of very important men. I'm stuck forcing them to notice that crowds do not simply part for them - which means that maybe, despite what their mommies and daddies raised them to believe, we don't all live to accommodate them. I can't float like a butterfly so I suppose what's left is to sting like a bee and learn to be ok with that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday Poetry

The Health-Food Diner, by Maya Angelou

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run


Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


There are dogs upstairs. Medium sized fluffy dogs with tails that curve all the way over so they are touching the fluffy backs of these dogs. That kind of dogs. They don't bark too much but they make noises. The strange thing about these noises are they are sounds I had forgotten. The sounds were immediately familiar but strangely unplaceable, at least when I first hear them. Like a bit of a song you haven't heard since you were a kid. The soft "ka-thunk" of paws hitting a floor. The "whap-whap-whap" sound of a wagging tail or of a leg belonging to a paw which is busily scratching at the fleas who are permanent tenants of this building. I hear them when it's quiet, often at night, like now. It catches me off guard.

Tuesday Poetry

A little Shel Silverstein (who, I just discovered, had the same birthday as me)

They've Put a Brassiere On a Camel
They've put a brassiere on a camel,
She wasn't dressed proper, you know.
They've put a brassiere on a camel,
So that her humps wouldn't show.
And they're making other respectable plans,
They're even even insisting the pigs should wear pants,
They'll dress up the ducks if we give them the chance
Since they've put a brassiere on a camel.

They've put a brassiere on a camel,
They claim she's more decent that way.
They've put a brassiere on a camel,
The camel had nothing to say.
They squeezed her into it, i'll never know how,
They say that she looks more respectable now,
Lord knows what they've got in mind for the cow,
Since they've put a brassiere on a camel.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


This was about a month ago now, but I was thinking about it since one of my aunts called recently. The polite one. I still haven't heard from the other one, my aunt Maria. She's told my sister she'll call me but I think perhaps she is putting this off.

Aunt Maria called me while I was walking to the parking garage on a December afternoon. As the crowded old buildings along my path opened onto the sweeping vista of the business school diag, I could see the entrance to the garage. It hadn't been a long day, not in hours at work, but I was wiped out. If I remember right, I had been meeting with students. The garage was like a beacon - nearly there! - in what looked like almost enough light to make it home before dark. My night vision sucks, and it sucks more in CT, a state where darkness apparently lends a rustic charm to the already deadly winding and narrow country roads. I calculated that I could make the haul down one such charming road and at least onto and off of the unlit highway, if not all the way home, before it got completely dark. I could make it if I didn't break my stride and if I wasn't tied up in campus area traffic for some esoteric sporting event.

That's when my father's sister Maria called.

Maria is the second youngest in the family and the one closest to us by virtue of youth and a strong relationship she and her not yet dead husband had fostered with my brother when we kids were little. Maria was widowed young, well young-ish. Certainly prematurely. When she calls, I can hear the ice tinkling in her glass. Probably a high ball. Maria is from a generation where is was important to masquerade one's vulgar habits with posh names. Highball, martini, gimlet - drinks just this side of a double boozey, neat. Or in layman's terms, a whole lot of booze with nothing between the drinker and it but a small amount of glass and the moment of inertia of the drinker's forearm.

Maria has impeccable timing, in the inverse sense. She tends to call just as you're going out, as you put the rice into the pot of boiling water, or were thinking of turning in early. It's usually a lengthy call. I had called her the day before when I had a spare hour. I'd recently heard from my brother that another family member was ill. The ailing relative was our aunt Keiko, one of Maria and my dad's sisters in law. Keiko was the wife of Frank, one of my father and Maria's older brothers. Frank and Keiko lived in Nevada my whole life. I visited them once. They have no kids and I was engaged to a doctor at the time. Being with Keiko and Frank for a day was like having my own private pep squad. Everything I did or said was just awesome, great, excellent. My uncle seemed to approve that I had struck out on my own for Michigan. In his generation, which I think I am to assume is something like the average of Hemmingway and Kerouac, the striking out on one's own ungodly young and entering the workforce without a college degree in hand was something to be proud of. A sign of character, assuming of course you aren't lead away from the real work-a-day world and back into the academy for a decade of futile student-hood, and your too young marriage doesn't end in a whimpering divorce.

I remember my aunt less clearly and specifically from that trip than from the visit she and my uncle made back east years later. At that point, I had moved back to New England and was up visiting from CT. My dad's oldest brother Freddy had hosted "a time" (my family's word for any get together involving second cousins) and everyone was there. Everyone but my brother and possibly my mother. My sister and I were there. My dad and Maria. Keiko and Frank. Aunt Clara and her husband, still alive then. Clara was heard to remark numerous times "Oooh my whole family is here! All my family!" throughout the day, picking up in frequency as we gathered in the family room for a big group picture. Clara had hired a photographer. The thing is, the whole family wasn't there. Who wasn't there was my brother, the only boy in the generation in a family of Irish and Italian catholics. My brother who the Italian relations at least used to give money to simply for existing, who was named while my sister and I were universally referred to as "the girls" or more directly, "you girls". The only relative to mention my brother at "the time" was Aunt Maria, who did so surreptitiously over a back door cigarette and a gimlet.

To make matters worse, the hostess, Ilene (the Irish-American Freddy had married) had invited a good number of the Irish side of the family, most her relations and some relatives of Ilene's mother in law, the Irish American mother of the lot of them....Freddy, Frank, my dad and the three "Aunties" Clara, Maria, and Pauline. These people, the extended Irish side of the families, were not close family. These were people who had never been at "times" for this side of the family before and thus they were folks I didn't know. They acted like they owned the place - hogging the pool table and the television. They seemed to interact only with certain other people I knew by sight alone, if at all.

Aunt Keiko was among the people not spoken to. She spent the day cleaning up after everyone, and I spent a good amount of the day trying to talk her out of that. It seemed every time I saw her, she had a stack of paper plates in one hand and a pile of crumbs or bottle caps in another and was slowly making her way to a garbage pail.

When Maria called this December afternoon, she was returning my request for information on Keiko which I’d left on Maria’s answering machine. I'd heard Keiko was seriously ill and I wasn't sure when I'd get a chance to talk to any of the family if not now, so I took the call. I tried to walk fast and talk while the garage got darker.

Maria told me Keiko had multiple myeloma. I told Maria I had had no idea. Maria dug in with more details. I listened and felt sort of like a heel for not knowing. Keiko was now in the hospital for the second or third time in recent months and the verdict was that she was likely going to die soon. Maria filled me in on all this as I sat in the garage and watched my options for a not nerve wracking drive home dwindle. Maria mentioned that my aunt Clara was with her. Clara's husband had died a few months before, in August. Since then, Clara had kept herself quite busy with visits to out of state friends and nights with more local family.

The holidays were coming up. How was Clara going to handle this first Christmas without her husband? I remembered visiting Clara and her husband at christmas time. They lived downstairs from my grandparents, Clara's parents. They had a tree with candy on it. No kids, but candy on the tree. While I do recall the candy, I don't remember how it tasted. I mention this because what taste memory I retain from Aunt Clara's house was in fact the strangely bitter taste of the corner of one of her lacquered, inlay topped coffee tables. I assume this is a very old memory. But it is part of the package. Candy on a fake christmas tree and the taste of expensive, shiny wood.

That flash of considering Clara alone for the holiday made me think of my aunt Maria's recent wedding, which had happened sometime after the funeral of Clara's husband and before the most recent hospitalization of Keiko. I hadn't seen Maria since Clara's husband's funeral, and then not more than a few glimpses across the overwarm church during the Mass. However, I had spoken to Maria on the phone around the funeral. She had told me that she was getting remarried. Ice tinkled. "Can you believe it? Me at my time of life!" she'd said, laughing, giddy. Whether her upcoming wedding or her husband to be was the proper source of this moment of effervescence or if Aunt Maria's emotions were simply being jerked around by one of those relieved-to-be-talking-about-something-nice-and-not-a-funeral was hard to tell. It also was not my place to ask. She had been so in love with her first husband, I couldn't imagine her remarrying. I was happy for her though. I congratulated her then, intending to speak to her at the funeral and to meet the man who would be my new uncle, but by the time the Mass was over and family was gathering for coffee and snacks in the lunch room of the tiny saint something or another's school just behind the church, Maria had been engulfed in a crowd of family, unknown Irish and Italian relations, associates of Clara and her now dead husband, and worst of all, my parents. I made minimal appearances at the post funeral snack time, then left in what I hoped was a discreet if hurried exit.

I had felt a little bad about leaving without speaking to Maria so when our phone conversation about Keiko was wrapping up and the light was gone anyhow, I said "Hey, by the way, I didn't get a chance to say congratulations on your wedding." She said thank you haltingly, then explained in a rush that she was sorry she hadn't invited me and my sister but that she had wanted to. "It's ok," I said. I knew that this side of the family sometimes has a crude way of dealing with limited funds or space. Lines will be drawn along something more like political alliances than blood relation and my having been fixed in the minds of most of the family as a child since I had little to do with them as an adult made me expendable. I understood this. I had planned a small wedding myself and knew that sometimes awkward choices were made.

Maria went on. "It's just that your father said if I invited you girls, that if I invited you then your mother wouldn't be able to come. And that if she couldn't, then he wouldn't come." I didn't even try to hide the disgust in my voice when I told her how tacky I thought it was for my father to have put her in that position. She went on for a while, saying something about how my father had said my mother was so upset at Clara's husband's funeral, how my sister and I ("you girls") hadn't spoken to my mother and this had apparently made our mother even more upset. I clarified "Maria, I did speak to my mother. I saw her sitting at the table with (my cousins) and I said hi." Maria told me that my father hadn't mentioned that. This pissed me off because it was a pretty massive concession on my part to even speak to my mother. Had there been no family there, I would certainly not have bothered.

Why did it matter? It wasn't that I felt I'd done "the right thing" in saying hello to my mother. I had said hello to her because I had found myself at the same table as her. Looking up there seeing her a soft booze puffy tear streaked lump had made me feel ill. If I felt sick looking at her, I reasoned, my aunt Ilene and her kids (whose table my mother had improbably stuck herself at) must have felt overwhelmingly uncomfortable. They certainly looked that way. Ilene had glanced up at the end of the table while she and I were speaking and it was in following her gaze that I even noticed my mother in the first place.

Also, I'm pretty acutely aware of the social mores governing things like mother-daughter relations. They are codified in and informed by the hallmark movie of the week kind of reconciliation which people expect is always possible even in the most fractured family scenarios. I knew instinctively was that if I said nothing to my mother, as would have been my better personal judgment to do, it would have lead to poor assessments of not just me but my brother and sister as well by the entire family. I knew it would be communicated, Ilene and her daughter's less than charitable discomfort at hosting my quietly weepy mother at their table would have been channeled into some chastisement of all of us for having left her there for the rest of the family to deal with. Essentially, we would have suffered ill repute for the sobby mess of a show our mother was forcing her inlaws to put up with.

It also, I think, arose out of a guilty need for a kind of restitution, not to my mother but to the extended family - Aunts Ilene and Clara especially since on the day of the "time" many years ago, when Keiko was playing Geisha and the Irish relatives were busily snubbing the rest of us, when everyone pretended my brother didn't exist, I had been a rotten kid. I had gotten mouthy, loudly referred to one of Ilene's daughters as ugly, and had intentionally rammed my pool cue into the guts and groins of distant relatives who couldn't be bothered to move away from my hard won shot. I topped it all off by flipping off the camera in one of the "whole" family portraits. This wouldn't have been a big deal except that it turned out the one photo where I had discretely rearranged my hands (which I had been instructed to fold demurely on my husband's shoulder as I stood behind him) was the only picture where no one was closing their eyes. In the context of my aunt Clara's excitement and subsequent severe disappointment (which was conveyed to me in a late night tinkling phone call from Aunt Maria), and with Clara's current grief as the backdrop to my mess of a mother peering soggily at me from the end of Ilene's table, I felt snubbing my mother would have been a little bit of discord which they deserved not to witness. I'd never stage a reconciliation for the Aunts' benefit, but it seemed I could at least muster up a little polite appearance for their sake.

And still, this. "And then that turned out to be the weekend your brother was in the hospital and your mother didn't end up coming anyhow!" Aunt Maria had concluded with a shorter version of her characteristic whiskey voiced laugh. I apologized for my father's thoughtlessness again, then spoke briefly with my aunt Clara. She was her usual proper self. Sympathetic to her brother as his wife was dying. Recalling her husband's long battle with cancer and time in hospice. The topic turned to the issue of the culture of medicine in general, which touched too close to politics and drove the always polite Clara from the phone with sweetly said "Good bye, dear." I thought of saying "I love you" but it always feels wrong. I said it one time while talking to Clara the week after her husband had died and she seemed very thrown by it. Northern Italians, they are not warm people.

As I was getting off the phone as unawkwardly as possible with Aunt Clara, I imagined Maria waving in the background. I heard some talking and thought for a moment that I could hear the tinkling of ice in her hands as she returned her attention to the nonspecified old man she had married, who was probably watching golf on TV and feeling thankful that he hadn't yet been exposed to this fucked up side of his new bride's family.

It was very dark by the time I left the garage. It's just as well as it kept my mind more or less on the road instead of indulging the thoughts of my father's voice in the familiar clipped meter it takes on when he imagines he's righteously laying down the law. Dirty Harry Dad saying to his older sister things like "The girls...they didn't talk to their mother. She was upset. They're selfish." I wondered if he used the phrase he had often called us at home, "selfish little shits" Trying to pick out the road from the ditches helped me drive off the thought of my father saying smugly "She doesn't need that. Their mother and I have more than paid..." It helped me not dwell on wondering if he'd add "...for what we did" or if he'd leave it hanging, agency unstated.

By the time I got home that night, I had nearly put it out of my conscious mind. I remembered a while later and mentioned it to my sister when we talked. She was horrified. She told our brother, who then railed against our mother for it. I've since learned that our mother wrote some one of her soppy letters to Aunt Maria. That our mother had told my brother she was "shamed in front of my god and my family!" Her family? They never even fucking liked her. Her god? Well, catholic church isn't exactly the fare she was raised on but in her magical world any judeo-christian god will fit the bill for the big male cheerleader in the sky she has fabricated for herself out of popular religion.

My sense is that this is a good thing, or at least a just thing, her shame and all. That she wrote to Aunt Maria is, well, that's questionable. That my aunt mentioned it to my sister, closing the topic with what I imagine was a huskily spoken plea "Can't you just put your anger behind you?" is cause for my great annoyance. This certainly isn't shit any of us need. I plan on sharing that sentiment with my aunt Maria the next time she calls. She's gonna need a lot of ice for that call.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


"Oh no! Space monkeys are attacking!"

mad skills

Hey guess what? I type fast. I was looking at jobs I am qualified to do and happened to undertake a quick search for online typing tests. While many of them annoyingly put little floating underscores on the text you're supposed to be typing and confound you by not counting errors even if you deleted and retyped properly, I managed to consistently get in the 70 wpm with some errors (which I had fixed even in the time frame of the test) and 59 wpm with no errors. Woo-hoo.
So nearly 9 years of grad school and I'm thinking that my typing skills will probably be the thing most likely to get me a paying job.

Yeah. I feel so like it was all worth it.