Friday, July 24, 2009

Are You Smarter Than MY Fifth Grader?

I am a television grump: I can't stand most tv, and I'm always nagging my kids not to watch it. I say subtle things like, "Do you want to maintain ANY kind of visual imagination?" and I point to ditch diggers on 90+ degree days and say, "He used to watch hours of television and now..." The kids roll their eyes and say things like, "Right, mom,'cause it's not like he was dumb to start with." They are so sarcastic -- just like their father.

Anyway, I was on the couch recently, and I wanted to read, but I couldn't focus enough from the a) pain and b) the pain killers. So I watched tv, at least for a little while. And my kids showed me some of their favorite shows:

16 and Pregnant


South Park

Family Guy

I sort of liked the first two since the first was scary and the second was actually funny sometimes. The other shows just seemed mean and uninspired. They reminded me of jokes I heard when I used to supervise a time out room in a terrible high school.

Then Emma, a fifth grader, put on the show, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? I, thinking the obvious, said to her, "Are these questions you get asked in school?" She started laughing. "No, Mom, they're so easy. It's the adults who are dumb." I didn't believe her. Then I watched it. Is it possible to be given a drivers license and not know there are seven continents? I mean, could there be nine? Or did one melt? Good Lord.

Since I live with a fifth grader, here are Emma's two latest questions that she asked during a long car trip:

What shape is the universe?

She has not been able to accept Dad's answer that it has no shape. We are at a loss on this one.

The other is this:

Since I'm here now, where was I before I was born? Was I a spirit? Not after I die, but before I was born, what was I doing? And WHAT was I?

That's the show I want to see.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Losing Time

I haven't been around these past week or so due to dental surgery that I thought would be just annoying. I didn't realize it would be so extensive and that I would have to take pain pills that left me an insane person, living on the couch and jotting down outline notes like this:

birds, with the field, not within the scope, seven isotopes

At the time, I explained to anyone who stopped by my cushion how this was going to be an amazing novel, very similar to the writing of Bram Stoker.


He wrote Dracula which is the only horror book I ever read that I liked. I have absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

I had to spend more time on the couch than I liked (which is none; I am kind of the opposite of a couch potato), but the kids were great. They made tortellini dinners with Ragu and I am now not sure if I can ever eat a Lean Pocket again. Ever.

I alos made some great discoveries about American tv -- I now know -thanks to late night infomercials - that there is a new science termed YOUTHOLOGY. Seriously.

By now, I'm down to one pill a day and a sore lower jaw, and my writing notes make a bit more sense. We've had some fun, though. Baby Cat (aka Cara) the one who went to live in a basket after the arrival of the kittens -

They are so cute; here's just one more:

Anyway, Baby Cat decided she had had enough of not being the baby any more, and she decided to make a break for it when one of the kids' friends opened the door. We all ran after her, and ended up on the lawn of the Squids.

The Squids are our neighbors, the ones in the scary house that is always dark (hence, like a cave) and Emma claims the tree in their front yard is shaped exactly like a squid. We've never actually SEEN the Squids, but Baby Cat ran onto and then under their porch and we all followed. I stood right in their yard and yelled over to the kids, "The Baby is under the Squids' porch." This sentence must have sounded very strange to anyone who heard it, and I would not have hollered that right there in their yard had I not been a little assisted in my loss of inhibitions. Maybe it was thinking about Dracula, and standing there under the moonlight that made me howl that. That, plus the narcotics.

After hearing this, Emma backed away from me without bothering to turn around and Philip ran very, very fast away from all of us. But Christopher ventured under there, coming out with a dried spider attached to the shoulder of his t shirt (this discovery caused Emma to shriek when he came back inside the light), but he did have Baby Cat in his arms.

And I wonder why the neighbors think we are odd.

I can't imagine how folks who dabble in pharmaceuticals get anything done. That sense of losing time makes me feel so defeated; how do you write under the influence of anything? But I'm back. I had a lot of help in recovering:

Philip's about 175 now. Guess I'm going to have to develop stronger leg muscles.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Bish was nice enough to nominate me for this award, and even though I am late, I will play. I am supposed to nominate other folks, but I think we are in something of a blogging clique here -- all female writers of children's literature. So we know pretty much the same people and I will be double tagging them. If you haven't been nominated, and you want to play along, send me an email and I will happily nominate you.

The other piece of this is to confess seven things about you that folks might find curious or that they didn't know. I have so much ample weirdness in my life that it was hard to narrow it down to seven. That's probably not good. Anyway, here goes:

1. I am constantly thinking about moving. We haven't exactly blended in the natives here who watch Nascar all day and carve decoys for the annual duck hunting decoy show. I look at real estate markets all over the East Coast. I am currently considering Virginia, Princeton and northern Manhattan. Of course, money plays no part in these fantasies.

2. I still haven't bought curtains for our windows. We have these sheets of linen tied at the bottom (I can't even cut fabric straight let alone sew). Every time I walk into one of those curtain shops and the domestic divas start discussing "window treatments" I get panicky and flee. Maybe installing window treatments would help imbue a greater sense of permanency to our house.

3. I think cats are connected to some kind of mystical energy that is invisible to humans. I won't say anything more about this belief or I will have to move to L.A. - or at least Oregon.

4. I write several pieces at once even though most other writers are baffled by this habit. I absolutely have to be in the mood for a certain character or I end up looking at seven bedroom homes in Alexandria. (Those virtual tours can be compelling)

5. I steam organic vegetables for dinner and when the kids are done, I sneak outside with half a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

6. I worry that I like to read blogs now more than talk to actual people. Bloggy people never ask me to bake or watch their kids, and I can think about what they wrote before writing anything back. They demand so little...

7. I can't decide whether I like or don't like the Internet. I really can't. It's probably the only area of my life where I don't lean a little more to the yes or no area. Sometimes I think it's wonderful and sometimes I feel lost when I'm online --like there's this big party that's been going on and I just arrived. It's exactly 50/50. In fact, the older I get, the less able I am to make decisions in general, but this one is the only one that's still completely yin/yang.

Those are the first seven that come to mind, but I'm sure if I dug a little, there's way deeper and stranger stuff. For now, I'll just let this stuff float out there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Return from the Zone of Non Presence

I have been swamped lately, and not with work which has been wonderfully part time. We had a lot of family stuff going on involving hospitals and a few other other huge life events.

I couldn't access the Internet at all for most of the time because we had, as the guy who just left my house termed, "intermittent connectivity" -- I love that phrase. I'm sure the cable guy didn't realize I was thinking that's pretty much a perfect phrase for describing how it is to raise teenagers.

I secretly like being unable to use the computer because it forces my kids to spend more time with me. I also got a lot of writing done because I can still access my WIPs without the Internet. I suffer from Internet-induced ADD: Wow! I can find out exactly how falcons communicate! Is THAT what Emily Dickinson's room looked like? Maybe I can figure out how to clean the bathtub without using get the idea.

Anyway,since I'm back now, I would like to first thank Bish for awarding me this very cool award:

It's probably too late to play along, but I appreciate it!

In other news, my kids found out about the cat colony that lives in and around the Atlantic City Boardwalk. We already have four animals, so I explained to them how, as much as we wanted to help, we are already so busy and the vet bills, how I still owe money for Mazy's Lyme disease and they really understood. So here is Coco, relaxing in our living room. (Her sister is under the sofa)

They are incredibly cute, but one of our older cats, Cara, has now taken up residence in a basket used to hold school papers. Good thing the school year is over.

I am really scared that I am going to be one of those old women living in a house impacted with books and cats. I am so headed in that direction. Here is another one of Coco. She has a weird eyelid (it's flipped out) and may eventually have to get her eye removed. We knew that before we adopted her. Anyone remember Poe's story, The Black Cat?

I just heard Christopher say to his father (who has a tendency to undercook meat), "Hey Dad, do you think my appendix still works?" Think it's time to see what's going on.