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August 2008
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October 2008

September 2008

It's that Time Again

Fall is in the air and I've already had several people ask me about our Halloween plans this year. Yes, of course I already have a plan. And this year, it's out of this world. We're all going to be aliens.

I thought about being all mysterious and not giving up the details, but playing the tease was never really the way I rolled. I tend to be all in, or it at least laying out the playing rules before we get started. I like people to know where they stand, to have realistic expectations.

Trouble has been pretty seriously into Ben Ten. For those of you who are not the parents of seven-year-old boys, Ben Ten has a special watch, an Omnitrix, that allows him to change into different alien forms. It's a pretty cool cartoon, at least as cartoons go, in my opinion. I can sort of stand Ben Ten and also Scooby Doo and Tom and Jerry, if you get my drift. So not surprisingly, Trouble expressed an interest in being an alien this year, a Ben Ten alien specfically. And then I happened upon the most adorable Stitch costume in a second-hand shop. And hence my inspiration - we would all be aliens for Halloween. LT will be Stitch. Trouble will be Heat Blast, the only Ben Ten alien costume they seem to make. Then I started pondering alien costumes for Blackstone and myself. Blackstone took me no time at all. Cross my husband with an alien and what do you get? Why, Mork from Ork of course. What else? And so I've assembled a Mork costume for him. It involved lots of red, a wig and silver spray paint.

But then, what should I be? I considered Mork's counterpart, Mindy, but she didn't seem much fun. I considered Mystique from X-Men, that would be a totally cool costume, but not exactly easy to replicate, and she's not actually an alien but a mutant. Honestly, I was totally perplexed about a do-able woman's alien costume. I was planning some generic female alien with blue hair, was thinking maybe some antenna, until I let the women in my book club in on my Halloween costume concept. They hesitated not a moment before stating that I should of course be a Cone Head. What a novel idea! Truly. So just yesterday I purchased myself a Cone Head.

And there you have it - Heat Blast, Stitch, Mork and a Cone Head. Yeah, that seems about right.

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Work, Work, Work

I started my new job this week and I really haven't had a chance to think about much else. It's been all about balancing the new job and somehow finding a schedule that will work. It's a small company, about seventy people. That's still considerably larger than the company I've worked for for the past eight years. At times, it's just been two full timers, me being one and my boss being the other. I have to punch a time clock again. I haven't punched a clock in over a decade. Blackstone counters that when I was teaching, the bells were kind of like a clock. I guess they were, sort of. Difference was, if I wasn't there when the bell rang, everyone in the room was pretty happy about it and going to do their best to hide it. And that was still almost ten years ago now.

My immediate supervisor seems like he's alright, though. I think much of the corporate whoo-ha is more for the manufacturing workers than the office staff. I'll be able to work from home on Tuesday afternoons, an exception that they don't usually make. I can't make it in most mornings until 9:30, so that leaves me working after hours, most people are out at 4:30. I'm also going to be monitored much more closely than I'm used to. I'm not about to start blogging from my work computer. Before it was never much of an issue, even now, I think it shouldn't make much difference if that's what I want to do at lunch. But still, I'm not comfortable with it. Maybe I will be at some point, maybe not. Also have to work at separating my work and private email. That's never been much of an issue before either.

It's not all bad, though. The company's been one of our clients for over a year now, and I know and get along with some of my co-workers already. It's only a ten minute commute from my house, can't beat that. And I'm going to get some on the job training and build on my skill set, which I'm really looking forward to. And just to remind me what a small world this is, particularly what a small state this is, when I went in to fill out paper work in HR, the woman sitting across from me was one of my former students. Yes, unfortunately, I am that old. Just barely. I taught high school, remember?

So to answer the question you really want answered - will the new job interfere with the blogging? I can't make any promises. It's not going to be as easy when I'm barring myself from my work computer. On the other hand, here I am again. I'm obviously an addict. It's not a habit I think I could kick very easily even if I wanted to. It's like going through withdrawal not being able to at least peruse my favorite blogs and post an update during the day. Oh well, I'll have to find some way to adjust, and so will you, my dear readers. But I'll still be here . . . just not quite so often. Maybe a little distance, say eight or nine hours apart, will be good for us.

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My Son, the Sycophant

Trouble can be as sweet as pie when he when he feels like it, especially if there's some motivation to be sweet. Some of you may have been on the receiving end of his unbelievably endearing and considerate remarks. Sometimes, I think he's sincere. Other times, I know he's completely full of crap. He can sound like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He can also sound like he's seven going on fifteen. I blame myself. He's learning, at a very alarming rate, to dish my sarcasm back at me. How can I expect him to learn to control his tongue? The only way I've ever learned to control mine is to shut up completely. I told a group of men in a meeting the other day that I thought I'd left my little boys at home. Don't worry, they asked for it. It's good and bad because some people, like this group, encourage my sarcasm, find it amusing. That emboldens me and causes me to hold my tongue less. That can lead to trouble.

Trouble brought home a paper he wrote at school the other day. It read something to the effect of: "The thing I like best is my family. And the thing I like as much as my family is the teacher." His teacher had responded, "You're so sweet." He's got her completely snowed, at least so far. The kid's going to go far in life, he's got skills. Maybe he'll learn to ooze sweetness off his tongue instead of constantly stinging with it. He could go either way.

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Musical Beds

I wonder sometimes, when so many things seem to be made of a much cheaper quality than they were decades ago, how much cheaper the quality can possibly get in the decades to come. You know you're getting old when issues like this concern you, when you're the type of person that laments for cars, furniture, and houses from days long passed. Not that you can't still buy quality, but you'd better be willing to shell out the money to get it. What I've learned about furniture is, unless you're ready to pay top dollar, you're way better off shopping old and/or used than off-the-shelf cheap.

When Trouble was about two-and-a-half, we bought him a set of bunk beds. We figured with two kids, they'd come in handy, and we could set them up separately if we wanted, so it should give us some options. And they have been set up as bunk beds and as separate beds. We've had them about four years now and they've moved around several times and to say they have not held up well is a serious understatement. They're not exactly the greatest quality of furniture, but when I bought them I expected a little more. They are a pain to take apart and put back together, all the nuts, bolts and screws. If you don't put it together exactly right, then you're screwed. In my mind, it really shouldn't matter which side of the bed the runners go on, they're identical, or one would think, but not so much. The damn things have splintered more each time they've been put back together. It's almost impossible to keep track of all the little pieces and remember where everything goes.

I've known for a while now that these beds were on their last legs, so when my mother started cleaning out her garage this summer and asked if I wanted some old beds, I took them. Good thing to, because Trouble sat down hard on his bed the other night and landed on the floor. So we moved in what used to be mother's bed when she was little. That bed went together so easily it seemed like a crime. We did screw in the slats, but you don't even really need to do that. Just pop the runners into the headboard and footboard, pop the slats in, drop the box spring and mattress on top and your done. No worrying about whether you're putting the runner in on the right side, doesn't matter. No keeping track of countless screws and bolts. No damn splintering because the bolts won't go back in without cracking the wood. It couldn't be easier, is infinitely sturdier than the one we'd bought, and gives Trouble a little piece of family history.

Now, my mother had given us two beds, and seeing it was obvious that LT was going to crash his to floor in the very near future, we figured we'd chuck that one while we were at it. The other bed was my grandfather's when he was a boy. It has a metal headboard and footboard and was a bit rusted. So yesterday, I sanded and spray painted it. Now, this bed should go together just as simply, but after removing the cheap, dilapidated bed, we realized that we don't have the right pieces for this one. It has this large spring base that we expected to just pop into the headboard and footboard, but doesn't. We're missing runners I think and it may be that this spring thing, not even sure what to call it, it takes the place of a box spring I think, doesn't go to the bed at all.

Today, my nails are blue from painting, and we've spent much of the weekend playing musical beds, but LT is sleeping on his combo mattress/box spring on the floor. Blackstone killed the other one taking it down. I'm thinking we may just need to buy a frame and see if we can screw the headboard and footboard into it. That may be tricky seeing they're metal. But at this point, the last thing I want to do is go buy a new bed. Especially after the sanding and painting.

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Go to Hell

I just finished The Tenth Circle, and I have to say, I can see why Jodi Picoult decided to juxtapose a book about the stresses of adolescence with Dante's Inferno. If there were a tenth circle of hell, it would certainly be high school. Now, that's not exactly the point that Ms. Picoult is trying to get across, but it isn't exactly all that far from it either. And while  I can easily see the inclination to pair adolescence with a trip through hell, to then wind it together with a comic book that's being written/drawn by one of the characters, well that was pure genius.

What I love about Jodi Picoult is the way she can take an issue that you've already made a decision about, and then cause you to question yourself. At the center of the plot is a rape, and not just a date rape, but a complicated incident that causes you to question when exactly a rape is in fact a rape. I never really thought that was a question for me. When a girl says no, that's rape right? Well, maybe it's not quite as simple as that. And what if the girl didn't say no? And what if she was drugged and had trouble saying no? And what if the so-called rapist didn't even know she was drugged? Is that rape? I'm not sure. By the end of the novel, it's hard not to pity all of the characters. They all have their own demons, which is the theme. And they all suffer more from their own thoughts and actions than they do from anything anyone else has done to them.

I also love that hell in the novel is very much like Alaska. It's cold, freezing cold, and barren. I think cold says hell to me even more than heat. It's supposed to be all fire and brimstone in most descriptions, and not that burning alive for all eternity would be pleasant or anything. But something about freezing to death forever says hell to me. I think when you live in NE, the cold is just more real, instills much more fear.

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