ff (on *gasp* Friday)

Laura -- the one with the green boogers -- wants to know:

Remind me, what are the five things that make it worthwhile to get up in the morning and go to work, no matter what the weather? (Aside from getting paid, of course.)

Um, well, my whole work thing is less than normal. Apart from teaching MWF afternoons, which I go do because a) I do (mostly) enjoy it and b) I signed a contract saying I would, I'm usually working from home. My "co-workers" are two cats, who spend the day sleeping, and, occasionally, the Hub, who will come home for lunch.

Which isn't to say that I don't have to get up in the morning. There is a 2.5 year old who needs to be dressed and taken to day care. Yes, it is a luxury and, yes, I know how lucky I am that a) we can afford it (barely) and b) she loves it. And there is structure to my day -- after I drop her off, I spend the morning writing and not thinking about how very close the deadline is. Afternoons are either for teaching or researching or grading or some combination thereof. This working life means that our finances are always tight, but the Hub has a "real" job with benefits, so I'm able to do this for now.

Of course, if the wee one gets sick or the weather gets just too sucky to leave the house, I am parent on-deck. And I do take care of a fair bit of the household stuff, like cooking and groceries and laundry. But these are all things that I can do while also doing work.

This only works, I think, because that whole Protestant work ethic thing has been so deeply ingrained that the guilt of not accomplishing things makes me batty. Right now, if I don't write at least 1000 words a day, I can't quite sleep or relax. It's a sickness. And the sad thing is, I don't especially like the process of writing. But man, o man, I love having written.

Anyway, top five reasons why I get out of bed:
1. Because I had a kid and kids don't have snooze buttons.
2. Because I usually have to pee.
3. Because there are Lucky Charms* waiting for me.
4. Because I want to see what happens next.
5. Because I have things to do, or all will be chaos.

*This used to be coffee. Once Kid #2 makes his/her arrival, make the substitution.

Other Fivers from the left list crawl out of bed to make their own lists...


Because he cruelly likes to make people think on a friday morning, marvin asks:

The Pan-Galactic Olympic Committee has drafted you to represent Earth. The rub is that we don't know anything about the games played in the galaxy-at-large, and they don't know anything about ours. Because you're a newbie you're allowed to pick the events -- five, as it happens -- in which you'll compete. You'll have to win at least three of the five in order to save Earth from being turned into a new MacSapients franchise. What do you pick and why?

1) Toddler-wrestling. Contestants will be given a 2 -3 year old that must be fed, dressed (including hat, mittens and coat), herded outside, packed in carseat, pried out of carseat, directed to the classroom and settled in. If the contestant resorts to bribes, brute force, pleading, cursing or crying, penalties will be assigned.

2) Grammar-nitpicking. Contestants will be asked to properly punctuate a entry-level college student's paper. Extra points will be given for not cursing or crying. Aspirin will not be provided.

3) Work-avoiding. Contestants will be given a set amount of work to complete and a cable modem with unlimited access. Those who can compile the worst work v. surf ratio will be winners.

4) Paint-waffling. Contestants will be provided with 4000 paint swatches, all of a variety of the color white. The competitor who can dot the ceiling with the most sample patches without coming to a conclusion will win. Extra points will be awarded if the competitor realizes that white is a stupid color anyway.

5) Extreme-napping. The contestant who can stay asleep the longest wins.

Other Fivers of the left list are giving the aliens what-for as well.

Friday Five

Because the debate is making me a little crabby, I instead chose to do the Friday Five. Maybe it'll save me from grinding my teeth to little tiny nubs. The Friday Five and Jessi Klein's blog on CNN may be the only thing that saves me from a trip to the dentist.

Dan asks:

In all your life's travels, what are your five favorite spots that you'd most like to visit again to be able to share the spot with friends/family? Was it the place itself or the experiences you had there?

1 and 2 and 3) The Edinburgh Castle and the rest of the city. Scott and I went there a few years ago and it was one of the most amazing places I've been. On its face, it's really just a big-ass castle in the middle of a city, but something about the place just felt resonant. Could have just been me. Not far from the Castle is Arthur's Seat, which we climbed, expecting to see something throne-like. While the absence of an actual seat (even a wee outhouse would have reassuring), the view is spectacular, the day was gorgeous and the heather was in bloom. Since we'd rented a car (and drove through the haunting Borders), we stayed outside of Edniburgh in Peebles, a tiny town that seems to consist mostly of sheep and churches. It was a magical trip through unforgettable country.

4) The Mission Walk in San Antonio. I've written about this before and shant go into it again, but, wow.

5) There are a lot of smaller trips that leap to mind. A drive through the Catskills is always nice, as is a weekend in Asheville, NC. Transcendant? No. But certainly pleasant. And good places to get away from Dubya's whining drone.

And now I must vent my ire. Grrrrr. Is it time to vote yet? Let's just cut to the vote, please.

Friday Fivers at left. They, like Iraq, are harboring no WMDs. That I know of, that is. That Lipscomb guy should probably have his pants checked, tho.


Synchronized swimming is just freakish, yet I can't turn away.

Classes have begun, which means that my life will tornado-like until the middle of September. We usually have the new routine under control by then. Now, however, it's a little wonky.

In the midst of the wonk, my Secret Pal struck again. Thanks Secret Pal! Pictures on the 'morrow.

This week's Friday Five left me scratching my head, simply because I can really only think of one item that wold be on my list. The question, via Mr Violent:

ou've been given the choice of having 5 memories removed from the world's collective memories. If you forget them, it will be as if they never happened. Which 5 do you choose?

While there have been plenty of things that, at the time, I wish I could wipe from the world's collective memories, in hindsight, they are really all things that we also "character-building," as cliched as that phrase is. There is one, tho.

When I was in high school, I did a lot of summer stock theatre. And, like clockwork, I developed a crush on one of the guys I worked with. My last summer it was Dave Brzozowski, who, I think, has now gone on to a brilliant career in graphic design. He was a few years older and in college. We kept in touch for a bit. I knew the crush was always only on my side, but he is a good guy and humored me.

Eventually, tho, entropy took over and we lost touch. It happens.

I did, however, have to chance to see him again about a year later. He came in to town to visit someone and a bunch of us summer stockers met up at a Dennys. During the intervening year, I'd gained *a lot* of weight, like 50-60 pounds on an already packed frame. (It wasn't a good year and my teen angst was soothed by chocolate and donuts.) So here I am, having coffee with this guy a still harbor a secret thing for, and I drop a spoon. When I bend over to get it, the inseams (note plural) of my pants split.

I am, logically, mortified. Now, of course, I could probably laugh it off and move on. Then, I tried to pretend it hadn't happened at all, blushing furiously and trying to figure out how to get out of the restaurant without standing up. Even thinking about it now, I want to just *die.*

I'd like to say that that moment was some great watershed, where I decided to develop my body to resemble that of Tyra Banks. I'd also like to say that I just solved cold fusion.

For the record, I can say that I've lost all that weight plus more besides. It had more to do with moving out of my mother's house than with the mortification of obesity, still, the end result should count, I think. It's also not something that I tend to think about anymore, for the most part. Life's too short to worry about those last 20 pounds.

That moment, tho, needs to be deleted.


Me this week -- and I should know better than to do these things to myself:

What are the five Friday Five questions that you hope no one ever asks?

1) What are the five things that you'll lie about, no matter how strenuously you deny that you're lying?

2) What are the five things you do when no one is looking that would most horrified to be observed doing?

3) What are the five mental images that keep you awake and breathless some nights? (Hint: the first one involves coming in to get Maddy in the morining and she's cold and blue.)

4) What are the five things you're going to do when the world finds out you're a talentless hack who really only has a few typing tricks to fall back on once the writerly chips are down and published?

5) What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Other fivers at left.


Mojave 66 asks:

What were your five favorite classes in College (or in the highest educational institution you completed), and why?

In no particular order:

* Sonja Jones, who I had for two English classes, the names of which now escape me. She is the only Southern Lesbian Buddist Poet I have ever known and her classes were a hoot, full of great discussions and the occasional fit of yoga. Sonja is the first person who really encouraged me to write and mentioned that I seem to have some talent for it. She also was the first to make me realize that talent is no substitute for working your ass off. I'm not sure what where she is now. She doesn't seem to be at Allegheny anymore and there have been rumors that she is either a) living in Atlanta or b) living in India. Right now, the weather is probably the same in both places.
(In related news: The Book seems to have sold to a real publisher for enough money that I can take some time off and do nothing but write for two years. It doesn't quite seem real yet. I'm both thrilled and terrified. Woot!)

* Dr Lyons, who taught some history course about civil liberties and modes of thought. It was a tough class, frankly, even for Allegheny, which was an institution filled with tough classes. Lyons had us reading a book a week--but the variety of books was what worked so well. One week it was a weighty tome about Marxism, the next it was J.G. Ballard. The diversity helped illustrate how history isn't just dates and movements, but is the way of describing how people actually behave.

* My high school chemistry teacher, whose name I've forgotten, who informed me that "my ass is grass" if I cut another one of his classes. I still don't know what that means--but I did "apply" myself after that. In his class, at least.

* A University of Texas women's history prof, whose name I've also forgotten (sorry). Without her, I would not know who Boadicea is--and every woman should know who Boadicea is.

* Mrs Stohr and Ms Palfy, the fourth grade teachers from Hamilton Martin Elementary. Fourth grade sucked. These two women helped make it bearable by just letting me hang with them when I needed to. As a "graduation" gift, Ms Palfy gave me a copy of The Hobbit, which is by far the most engaging of Tolkien's books (imo) and is a perfect gift for a bookish 10 year old.

Other fivers on the left list. You know the drill.

Friday Five (on Monday)

Via the father o' Pip:

If you could travel forward in time and meet yourself for a drink or a coffee somewhere, what are the five things you'd ask yourself about how your life turned out?

A short list, mostly because I simply don't want to know about how most things turn out. I suspect I'd be disappointed or amazed or aghast, for the most part, and just wouldn't want the stress. Still, things I'd like to know, sort of:

1. Did the Diva ever climb a bell tower with a high-powered rifle, metaphorically? I mean, I fully believe that she won't, still, there's that tiny lingering doubt that you may do something so very, very wrong parenting-wise that your kids will be totally screwed up for the rest of their lives. This may not be something every parent feels--but msot will admit that it has crossed their minds every now and again.

2. Did I ever publish a damn book? And, if so, which one was it?

3. Did I ever get my student loans paid off? How about a mortgage?

4. Did Mooch ever stop being so very, very odd and irritating? Did I ever just snap and choke the ever-lovin' crap out of him?

5. Did I ever lose all of the baby weight or did I just resort to paying someone to nip and tuck it?

Profound, I know.

In keeping with my general profundity, Nine Naked Men (not work-safe, natch) via Making Light. Be sure to have the sound up.

friday five (on saturday)

From Mr. Spittle-flecked:

I was recently involved in an online discussion of Role Playing Games, and one participant began rhapsodizing about the latest Final Fantasy game for the Playstation 2. The rest of the participants in this discussion were old-school, pencil-and-paper gamers, and the sneer in response to that one guy's description of a video game as an RPG was similar to the reaction you'd get for bringing a bottle of "Night Train" to a wine tasting.

So here's what I want to know, my Sinful Little Monkeys: What are the Top 5 things you're snobbish about? What things make you curl your lip, look down your nose and say, "Really! We don't do that here!"

Things that I am all uppity about:

1) Yarn. Call me elite but if I'm going to put weeks of time an effort into some knitted project, I'm not using plastic yarn. Same goes for needles, frankly. If I can buy either at Wal-Mart, I'm not using 'em. (One caveat: if it's a Critter Knitters blankie or other object that will see hard use and lots of washing, acrylic yarns are perfect. But for everything else, make mine some natural fiber.)

2) Books. TV/movie franchise tie-in books, like the endless Star Trek series, shan't be purchased with my money. Same goes for fantasy involving talking cats. How droll.

3) Cheese. Velveeta is the tool of the devil. I'm not saying that my hard dairy of choice needs to be the finest French unpasteurized, but it does need to not be a cheese food product.

4) Tomato Sauce. When I buy the jarred stuff--I can hear my grandmother clutching her bosom in horror even as I type that--I can spend vast amounts of time reading the label. There can be no high-fructose corn syrup (also true for juice, frankly) or MSG. Only ingredients that can be readily I.D.'d in the produce section. Tomatoes. Onions. Garlic. Olive Oil. Nothing else shall grace my pasta.

5) Grammar. Sure, we all screw up. I am neither Strunk nor White. Seriously--I don't insist that the average Joe and Jane use "that" and "which" correctly or know when "fewer" is more appropriate than "less." But--come on--get the basics right at least. "Its" and "it's." "They're," "their" and "there." It's not hard--and screwing it up is a sure sign that you just don't care. And if you don't care, why should anyone else bother reading it? (Can you tell I've been reading a lot of student papers lately? Oy.)

You know where the other Fivers are.

friday five (on tuesday)

Marvin this week (or, more accurately, last week.):

What does it really mean to be a citizen of the world? How do you understand the concept, and who are the five people who best exemplify your understanding(s)? They can be living or dead, fictional or non-fictional.

Even after reading a few of the responses, which you can do too if you check out the list on the left of other Friday Fivers, I'm still not sure how to define "citizen of the world." For me, a global good person is one who works to make their local world better. I don't think you can start fixing the world at large until you can clean up your own crap, you know? That said, here's a couple of folks who seem to be making a difference in small ways, which ultimately reverberate into bigger things, imo.

1) Jimmy Carter. Not the greatest president, granted, but has redeemed himself in spades since leaving the White House. Would that all presidents could do the same.

2) Almost anyone who volunteers at a non-profit, especially one that tries to make the lot of older folks, kids or animals a little bit easier to deal with. You can tell a lot about a place by how it deals with those less able to fight for their own rights.

3) Yoga instructors who teach with both enthusiasm and integrity. At the risk of sounding like a New Age flake (which I'm really, really, really not), almost everyone could benefit from a little bit of yoga every day. And I have little idea why--but feel we'd all be much better able to deal with the day-to-day-ness of life a bit better, then, in turn, handle each other a little bit better, then, in turn, deal with the world a little bit better. You can see where I'm going with this.

4) My feminist foremothers like Margaret Sanger who pushed for safe and effective contraception. I find it interesting that most of the other Friday Five lists contain mostly men. Maybe more women will make the same list when compiled 50 years from now, simply because they don't have to spend their lives chained to kinder and kuchen. Unless they want to, of course.

5) My friends Shelley and Ola. Can't quite explain why. I think it's because he's Swedish. The Swedes seem to have a better handle on this global thing.

friday five (on saturday)

Me this week:

If time and money were infinite, what are the five things you'd love to learn how to do? Which of these do you think you'll do anyway, no matter what the economic and temporal restraints are?

My choices would be simple.

1. Learn how buildings work--architecture and interior design, more than carpentry. I already know which of a hammer to smash where. What I to know is design.

2. Learn enough yoga and gain enough confidence with same that I could teach it.

3. Learn how a small-scale industrial spinning mills work and run my own. No, really.

4. Learn how to play the piano or guitar with ease, verve and aplomb.

5. Learn how to snowshoe or ski. Looks like fun--and we have so much snow most of the time that it'd be wise to take advantage of it.

Which will I learn? I plan to figure out snowshoe-ing this coming winter. I'm plugging away at the yoga (which, if you know anything about yoga, is probably too goal oriented to be uttered) but will probably never teach it. I'd love to learn the mill thing and think it would be a fine investment, simply because there is currently a shortage of them (why I know this is a long story). Realistically, tho, it most likely won't happen. I don't even know where I'd start, frankly.

Other fivers on the left list...