cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (scheming)
Thursday night we had a parent-teacher conference. As expected, Tweetie is doing well in school. Last year we were told she could be hard on her science lab partners if they had a disagreement. Which is to say, when her (male) partner wanted to try something Tweetie knew wasn't going to work. I felt kinda bad for the boy, because no one likes to feel stupid or ignored. But I also suspected it wouldn't have even been a thing if the roles were reversed. Science doesn't seem to be as contentious for her this year, but social studies...

The kids were arranged in small groups and told to imagine themselves as pilgrims on the Mayflower. They were supposed to decide on a form of government for themselves, and they were given several options: monarchy, a council of five wise men, voting by all adults, voting by all adult men, voting by all pilgrims age 10 and up. Tweetie thought everyone over the age of 10 should get a say. All the other children in her group insisted on replicating the historical sequence of events and chose voting by the men. Tweetie tried to explain that life expectancies were different back then and 10 yr olds had a lot of responsibilities and so they should get to vote, too. (Interestingly, she doesn't seem to have made the feminist argument. If she could just get them to let in the kids, the sexism would be moot.) Her group said, NOPE NOPE NOPE. Apparently, "debate" got pretty heated and the teacher had to intervene to explain that everyone's opinion was valid but majority ruled. (The irony!)

The next stage of the lesson was for two small groups to meet and negotiate on a common form of government, and there Tweetie found some other students who thought her way and she felt better. Because, I suspect, regardless of what the larger group decided, she and those other renegades were going to break off and do their own thing.

Listening to the teacher's account, I tried not to smile too broadly. My little anarchist... Once at home, we did discuss temporary truces and other negotiation tactics, but I'm not concerned. My daughter is strong-willed and principled, traits that would be lauded and rewarded if she were male. She already knows how to go along to get along. Withstanding peer pressure (and scorn) will be a more valuable skill in the years to come.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (I need coffee)
When we moved into Limoncello, one of the first neighbors we met was Nan, a woman in her seventies who still lived on her own, mowed her own lawn, and played golf. She was kind to me and Tweetie, always stopping her yardwork to chat when we strolled by. Once we were making our way to the bus stop in the snow, and she gave us a ride downtown. Another time, she gently noted how many steps Tweetie had to take to keep up with my longer stride, and rather than piss me off, it reminded me to slow down, take a breath.

Nan put her house up for sale earlier this summer, and we were sad. We'd been seeing her less and less. But it wasn't until Monday night, when we returned from the school's ice cream social, that I realized she was gone. Her house must've sold while we were in Niagara, because the sign was gone from her yard and a different car sat in the garage, new people tended the bushes. I was aghast to have missed Nan's departure, to not have gotten a chance to say goodbye.

When we moved into this neighborhood, it was an "older" neighborhood. Adults with no children or grown children; only a few had grandchildren, and they rarely visited. Now the population is getting younger. We inherited a plastic slide from our next-door neighbors soon after we'd moved in. Their grandkids were too big for it and were getting up to hijinks using it and the pool, so they passed it on to Tweetie. A few weeks ago I decided Tweetie was too big for it now, so we washed it and put it on the curb. A couple of days later, we spotted it in a yard down the street. Hopefully it's making the toddler at that house very happy.

It's bittersweet, watching these changes unfold. Especially since, given the recent birth of my second niece, I've realized Tweetie will remain a singleton and this house is much too big to keep for long after she leaves.

Dreams changing, realities shifting.


Today is Tweetie's first day back at school. She's more than halfway through elementary now. O_O She still spends an impressive amount of time pretending to be a dog, cat, or wolf every day. Today I will spend time pretending to be an adult with a writing career.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sugar in my coffee)
I know it's grouchy of me and I'm not saying I'd do any better, but I swear these last two weeks of school are nothing but my kid being used for community focus groups. Yesterday, someone from ACT came by to beta test a writing exam on Tweetie's class. Earlier, there was an assembly so a spokesperson from the public library could tell them all about the summer reading programs. They are the captive audience for older students' end-of-year recitals, and their unit review of Levers and Pulleys was a video about the rides at Disneyworld. This is why I don't feel guilty at all about Tweetie missing the last (snow make-up) day of school so we can get to the Grand Canyon; she'll be a much more active participant in learning with us on the road than being used as a test subject.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (whiskey)
Yesterday, when I went to meet Tweetie after school, I walked some of the way with a neighbor and her little boy. This is the same boy that I royally pissed off in February. This time he had an acorn that he told me he would be putting in a hole. His mom explained that they have a chipmunk hole near their porch, and he likes to drop little things down there. But he informed me that it's a lizard dad and his lizard babies who live in the hole, and he gives them things they like to help them. "Gifts," I said, to which he agreed. Then he found two small plastic dinos in the grass and decided the lizards would need those, too. He chattered to me the whole way to school. His mom, surprised, said, "He must really like you!" I doubt his mood had anything to do with me, he hardly looked at me, but I was glad to be there when he wanted to talk. How often do we get a do-over like that?

This morning Tweetie and I had a mini-milestone. Rather than walking her all the way to her classroom door (the kids line up outside it), we agreed I'd walk her on to campus, then she'd make her own way to the line. So I walked her a little farther than she had suggested and a little less of the way than I secretly wanted, and I released her into the "wild." Or rather, I watched her walk all the way to her classroom line. She only looked back once. We waved at each other. She grew tiny with distance, blurred into the brightly colored crowds. I felt sad and a little worried but proud. She did it. We did it.

In a Mood

Feb. 24th, 2012 02:32 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (FML)

This morning as I tromped home through the snow, I encountered one of my neighbors, who was carting her toddler in a pull-wagon. Usually the child does his best to ignore me, but today he must've had a bee in his bonnet (or Luigi cap, as it happens), because he frowned at me and made an impatient gesture. Amused (Luigi cap, after all), I put my fists on my hips and gave him a cartoony "darn you" look, to which he gave a full-on glare and turned around in his cart so he didn't see me anymore. I laughed. Until I realized that was probably how my friend Joe (before he was my friend) felt when I glared at him in second grade, like, "Ho ho, aren't you cute with your little moods? I could crush you like a flea." You, ma'am, are a jackass, I thought and hied myself home. 

At home, oh so groggy, I did some busywork, then figured maybe I needed more sleep. So I went back to bed and had infuriating dreams. In one, I came home to find an armed, elderly couple had broken in, one of whom had this delusion that highly contagious "embryos" were floating around in people's bloodstreams; "You mean 'embolisms'?" I tried. Nope. Embryos. In another, my overbearing family was trying to tell me I couldn't take my child trick-or-treating because it was already dark. In yet another, a convenience store clerk grifted me, then accused me of theft. Man, I woke up pissed off.

I thought watching some Supernatural might cheer me up. I don't have Season 6 memorized, and I remembered some goofy episodes, so I dialed up Netflix instant streaming. Error message. Repeatedly.

If I'm this cranky going into a four-day weekend, I don't know how my family will survive. :P

cafenowhere: Dean from Supernatural scratching his head, text reads: Never knows what's going on (confused)
This afternoon, one of Tweetie's classmates ran by us after school, being sure to say goodbye to her by name. I recognize him now because (a) he's one on the few other Hispanic kids and (b) he's one of the even fewer children brave enough to start a conversation with me. He occasionally appeals to me as Responsible Grown-up ("Those kids are destroying the stick fort") or reports to me on Tweetie's day: "She hurt her finger during last recess" or "She's still putting on her coat."

Today, once he was gone, Tweetie said, "That was nice, but I really don't like him."

Why not? I asked.

"Because at recess today, he threw me on the ground and threatened to kiss me."


Obviously, that's not "appropriate" behavior, but is it typical for seven/eight-year-old boys to do that? It seems both too childish (the throwdown) and too mature (the crush).
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (jack skellington)
Today we have enlisted Tweetie's fairy godmother to babysit for three hours while we go shopping for Tweetie's gifts. One drawback to not playing at Santa is that Tweetie knows exactly what we're doing. But at least she doesn't know where we're going or what she might be getting. *I* don't even know what she's getting. We have a catalog and her wish list to work from, but I've been pleasantly surprised to find out what she's really interested in these days. She zeroed in on robotics and engineering stuff, rather than the cutesy fluffy animal toys. Given her recent purchase of Barbie dolls from a secondhand shop, I think she'd like some doll clothes, too, even if it's not on the list. You can't expect her to think of *everything*! 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)
To herself, at lunchtime: "Du...Du hast...Du hast mich..."

To herself, while getting ready for bed: "Honey Badger don't care, Honey Badger just take what he wants..."

Not exactly whispers, but non sequiturs. To herself, while biking, "This isn't Mexico!"

To me, while biking: "I am not taking you to the dog park."

I think the prednisone is having...effects. :D
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lennon cat)
1) This weekend, I took a mini-Internet vacation. My arms thanked me. And on Sunday, I skipped my morning coffee, because I felt dehydrated. My head did not thank me. She threw a third-eye tantrum.

2) I just printed out four poems. I hardly print anything anymore, much less poetry. But recently I wrote several poems with hardcore structural elements, so I needed paper copies on which to count syllables, judge line breaks, assess page appearance, and evaluate punctuation and format experiments.

3) Over dinner last week, Tweetie got fed up with her daddy's make-believe (this is not the uncommon occurrence) and said, "Magic ain't real!" I burst out laughing because (A) she said "ain't," which is all me and makes her daddy cringe, and (B) this is the child who regularly insists she is half-Husky and half-wolf. She later backed down from her anti-magic declaration, but this weekend she informed me that zombies aren't real. I told her I was disappointed to hear that.

4) Spiders were encroaching on my mailbox again. Usually I leave them to their business, unless they are alarmingly large or strangely ambitious. Last week, they were both, so I asked my husband if he had any bug spray or canned air I could use against them. Dear Reader, he rolled his eyes like I was a ninny! But he went in search of the spray and stomped over to deal with the spiders himself. He popped back inside.

"Those aren't spiders," he said, bug-eyed. "Those are small dogs! You don't need spray, you need a stick!"

"I told you," I said.

He went back out and I heard hammering. Eventually he returned and said he'd eradicated the spiders and their web, but he was leaving me citrus spray and if I caught sight of them again, I was to spray the hell out of the spiders.

"Thank you," I said. "And next time, don't you roll your eyes at me!"

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (i'm good)
1. My child loves to read and will happily do so for over an hour at a time. This week I took her to the school book fair, and she picked two chapter books and a joke book in less time than it takes me to flip-off an anti-choice billboard.

2. For lunch I had a chile relleno so hot it cleared my sinuses and so good it made me want to punch your mama.

3. The weather here in Iowa has been absolutely GORGEOUS all week long. Cool and bright and dry.

4. I have awesome first readers who are supportive in their comments and inspiring in their own work.

5. Tomorrow our family will go to Wilson's Orchard and pick apples and make PIE!

Anything you're looking forward to this weekend?


ETA: the motherfucking rainbow we saw outside of Hy-Vee. That shit was sick!

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sugar in my coffee)
This morning, I realized how much my current morning schedule replicates my high-school morning schedule.

Back then: I was the first person to wake up. I had a loud, obnoxious alarm clock, because otherwise I wouldn't get up. I trudged to the bathroom, knocking on my brother's door on the way. I washed up, banged on my brother's door again, woke my sister, started my mom's coffee. I went and got dressed. Came back out, made my mom a cup of coffee, took it to her bedroom. Made sure my brother was out of the shower, made sure my sister was clean and dressed. Toasted something for sister's breakfast. Drank water. Packed my satchel. Herded everyone to the car, to school.

Now: I'm the first person to wake up. I hate my loud, obnoxious alarm clock, but I keep it because it's sufficiently obnoxious I must wake up to kill it. Trudge to the bathroom, wash up. Pour myself coffee, have a sip, wake Tweetie. Make breakfast for Tweetie, sip coffee, make lunch for Tweetie. Sip coffee. Get Tweetie washed up. While she's dressing, I get dressed. Comb her hair. Comb my hair. Pack bags. Herd her out the door, to school.

My first thought upon realizing the similarities was, I've turned into my mother. But it's more like, I'm a mother again. No offense to my mom, who was working crazy hours to feed and clothe three kids on her own. Just...I've been here before.

It's better this time. :-)

"School's starting! Teachers, you can't hit the kids. But you can still hit the bottle."
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (I need coffee)

Which has become an eleven-day meme because I was broken (maybe even ded) yesterday.

Day 10: One Confession

Last night I dreamed that I was in school and I had Tweetie's teacher. I woke up drenched in sweat and ready to hurl. I have new sympathy for my daughter. I wouldn't last a day in her shoes.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (chevy)
from Gustavo Arellano's Ask a Mexican column in OC Weekly (the Q&A re Mexican airlines is pretty good too):

DEAR MEXICAN: Who puts the intense pressure on all adolescent Mexican boys to either shave or buzz their cranium hair, regardless of the number of scars, large ears or folds of ugly neck skin revealed?

Dirty White Boy


DEAR GABACHO: That suffocating menace known as "youth culture," with an assist from "prison culture" but not the "Mexican cultural expectations" your "pendejo ass culture" is insinuating. Simply put: Like any teen trend, shaved heads started with youngsters imitating their friends, who imitated their older brothers and cousins, who imitated their peers. The two great historical fashion trendsetters in Mexican-American youth culture, according to James Diego Vigil’s Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California, have been prisons and the military, and both subcultures prefer a close-cropped hairstyle for men for efficiency’s sake. But if you ever see a baby with a shaved head, it’s most likely a kiddie shorn by wabby parents in the belief that a thicker head of hair would emerge, a Mexican fable as laughable as the belief by children that the wrapped Xbox caja under the Christmas tree actually contains a gaming console and not underwear and socks.

FU, Dirty White Boy!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (abby)

pencil shavings
in my coffee--
back to school



Jul. 18th, 2010 09:14 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (silver teapots)

the summer-browned boy
         stalks the white egret
              down the sidewalk,
                   long legs flexing--
                        sundial needle
                             and shadow--
                                knobby knees
                                   creaking patience,
                                        wingspan still an


Time Out

Jul. 17th, 2010 07:40 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

playing tag
my girl, your boy pause to compare

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (drink me)


The house looks ready to take off
as suburb queasy as the kids
smoking around its empty hot tub.
Sunset glints off the solar panels
like its butterfly roof is flexing
and in its greenhouse foyer, a ficus
quivers from the bass of the highway.
Gone tomorrow, what will they leave behind?
An opalescent dust of discarded scales
and unrepentant apology, half a garden fence
for missing-kid fliers.
We'll miss them, anyway.
They'll try to forget us.


Based on photos of the RainShine House in Decatur, GA, which received the Grand Award for Custom Home (of less than 3,000 sq ft) from Custom Home magazine.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (happy pug tongue)


extra tree limbs flex
a brown tangle in the breeze
skinned knees instead of petals
keds instead of leaves


I "saw" this poem on Thursday, before the storms. Now I read it and remember that idyllic calm while half a pin oak sprawls across our backyard.

Friday morning, Tweetie and I were doing art at the kitchen table. The wind rattled down a bunch of acorns and I looked out our sliding glass doors. I'd never seen wind like that before. I mean, I could almost actually see it, not just the debris it was throwing around. I thought it might be a tornado, so I started herding Tweetie to the basement. And then the pin oak...broke, right in front of me. A wall of green and branches slow-motion collapsed.

Fortunately, the ash tree I've always worried about coming down and taking out the power lines caught the oak and kept it from demolishing the fence and power lines, despite the 60+ mph winds.

Now J is calling tree services and is bemused by how few use email or have websites. Duh, J.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

two rose petals
on dad's nightstand: love
and sweet dreams

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (drink me)

basketball ditched
in the darkling grass

At midnight, a pumpkin



cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

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