Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Review

I actually worked on this post over a period of a few days, mostly because it occurred to me that I have been blogging for almost a year, and that the review was going to take some time and thought. It’s the only writing project that I’ve really had the discipline to work on [almost] every day, and it’s been a great deal of fun. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

One of the things that I have learned on this adventure is that unlike other kinds of writing, where I might be very protective of my intellectual property (okay, make fun of that word: intellectual), this world is very fluid. The whole point seems to be to share across the boundaries. Ideas get used, revised, reworked, and shared again. For example, the idea for this year in review came from this blogger.

I’ve just listed the first line of the first entry for that month here. I’ve also added some commentary and a picture from that month that may or may not relate to the first post. Hope you enjoy.

January—January 20, 2006: A little bit of chapstick and a re-release of Ramsey Lewis' greatest hits from the 1960's transported me to my childhood faster than I imagined possible. That was my first post ever, and got me started on this crazy roller coaster.

February--Mitvoch: I hate Wednesdays; they fall so inconveniently in the middle of the week. I guess some of my statements are a bit "out there." This is one of those posts about the recurring theme of time management (or lack of it).

March--Turn away from sin!:So it's another Ash Wednesday and Lent is upon us. The passage of time, or rather, the surprise with which I realize that another year has passed keeps cropping up. Who knew I could be so obsessed with mortality? All of this from a little bit of ashes.

April--Relaxation, or bust: It's gonna be bust. The dynamics of having three kids and a new job is that schedules are often conflicting. The end of the school year is always hectic, and this year it was moreso because of Vicky's graduation, Christy's confirmation, and I started working full-time after an almost 10 year hiatus.

May--Somebody is being a busy comment[er]:I'm watching you. Someone had commented on like 7 posts within a span of several minutes. I know who it is, dearest friend, a slacker blogger herself. We all love the feedback. Gotta have the feedback. So, feel free to post a comment, y'all.

June-- What? No update?:Am I the only one that ever keeps up with this? That snide comment was directed at Achi, who started a blog and lost interest...what else is new? Oh, sure, he has a family to support. I get it.

July--Pastelitos for me!:Check back later for a report on how absolutely delicious and tasty they are (were- I did say I was gonna eat 'em). A wild trip to Miami for food. Oh, and to say hi to the folks.

August-- a week of sadness, joy, and in Miami--elation:The week, and the school year started off with the tragic news that one of our football players died of heat stroke….In a different reaction to death, we also lost our beloved Fr. Charles, who died Tuesday morning….And of course...Who can deny the elation at Castro's apparent demise? Back to mortality. Funny how three different deaths can have such different responses. We're still waiting on that last one....

September-- Ga Tech will dominate (maybe):but all I'm interested in is the half-time show! We know how that ended, but ACC football is still exciting, and the Gator Bowl, while not the Orange Bowl, is still going to be exciting.

October-- Out of the mouths of fools:Some politicians (some?) just need to keep their mouths shut, like this idiot who advocates sterilizing bad parents. Sometimes the news is just amazing.

November-- NaNoWriMo: Day 1:Feverish writing: 2,433 words. I failed to finish the novel. Alas. No one takes me seriously except Rob. I did get 25,000 words, and the random urging to finish it. Maybe next year....

December-- My Computer Blew Up!!!!:OK, it was more like a less dramatic implosion. I've had my share of computer woes this year, but luckily my knight in shining armor has managed to fix them.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The nativity scene from St. Peter's Square

This lovely picture was sent to me by our man in Rome, Jaime. Beautiful!

Merry Christmas

from the Gospel of Luke

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born
this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve!

We are already in celebration mode, and Christy insisted upon a port wine cheese log. Celebrate today, constipate tomorrow is her motto.

Actually, there's great excitement of baking and cooking going on. John and Jonathan have put together the pork roast, with an obscene amount of mojo, but the kitchen smells awesome. Christy is a baking fiend, making a variety of cookies, and I'll dabble in some lemon bars later.

And Vick is doing what she does best, sampling the food. What a kid for not liking to cook. But she makes up for it in eating everything.

Christmas music is finally allowed, between strains of AC/DC and scandalous R & B, so I'm happy. Except, on that musical theme, I just heard that stupid Christmas song by the Beach Boys, the one that has the dumbest line in history: Christmas comes this time each year.


Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's Christmas Eve Eve!

My goodness, can't we just eat the good food and open the presents? Please? Pretty Please?

I'm making lethal rumballs, and ate a package of frozen pizza rolls (ok, cooked), and then I was totally pnwed in a game of Risk.

I hate Risk. It takes longer to play than Monopoly. Still, after pwning everyone in Visual Eyes the other night, I guess it was only fair to offer up a loss for the good of the males in the family. I lost, even after cheating openly by putting out a random cannon.

If women ruled the world, there would be no war. Either because we wouldn't wage it, or because we'd lose in a matter of moments. After three rounds of the game, I was ready to surrender.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Done. Finished. Finis.

After tonight's Christmas party, caroling fest, and double feature at the movies, we'll be done. No more going anywhere. No more shopping. No more leaving the house except for church. I'm doing the Snoopy happy dance.

And then Vicky announces that she needs to buy a toilet seat.

What am I do make of that?

Unable to let this go

I actually went on-line and did some research.

How would you like to put this out with cookies and milk? Check out the little guy's Santa hat. I'll reserve comment on the turdlettes.

This one is for Pop [el caganer!]

Who else could possibly appreciate the disgusting and comical references in THIS ARTICLE?

Apparently, those wacky Spaniards (let me be specific, the Catalans, as I don't want to sully the reputation of those other Spaniards that comprise my heritage) have a Christmas celebration that includes, OMG of all things: a defecating peasant.

I read this with abject horror, thinking that perhaps it was somehow the epitome of bad taste and anti-Christianity, only the article explains that defecation is a sign of fertility and good health. Ok. Let me think about that a bit.

No. NOT!

Let me just state, for the record, that there will be no pooping peasant in my nativity, thankyouverymuch.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Star Wars character quiz, because I couldn't find the pimp names


I am so depressed. I want a do-over.

Try it here. I can't imagine things getting any worse than Palpatine.

One good turn deserves another

I got a quiz from Rob. Ha! After starting a spate of quiz after quiz! Here's mine. What a surprise. I think I knew when it asked me how I felt about Algebra.

You Are 15% Left Brained, 85% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

My robot vision wasn't so crazy, huh?

The Japanese government has hosted robot awards. See? Maybe thinking about robots, and my secret desire to have my very own, though not sarcastic, Rosie isn't in left field after all. Check out the article. The motivation is to take care of an aging population. I am particularly intrigued by their choice of seals as a petable object. Just sayin'.

Shame on me

It was a matter of time before my charitable mood ran out and I found something to mock. Our neighbors at the back entrance to our development kindly provided fodder for said mockery. These people have turned into the freaky eyesore that we once were with John's artificial reef in the yard (aka, a '44 Mercedes with suicide doors that had sentimental value, but really, it was a giant rust heap--it did serve a purpose, as a litter of cats was born in it, but that's another story).

I digress. These people, our neighbors, periodically do some kind of yardwork and clean up that usually results in weird items left on the curb. For example, the front screen door has fallen off the hinges. Granted, most people around here enter through the garage, so maybe they were unaware that the door was hanging askew. One wonders. Anyway, one day we drive by, and they have removed the old shutters from the front of the house, and replaced them with new, freshly painted shutters. Nice.

We look on the trash pile, and there are the offending shutters.

Where was the broken screen door? Still hanging from the doorframe by a screw, all bent and fallen over.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that yesterday, while driving through the neighborhood looking at the pretty lights, we should encounter their Christmas contribution to street's decor: A giant, rusted waterheater. I was foolish enough to think it could have been something festive. I mean, I saw a tall thing in the front yard, it was twilight--who knew? Some Santa Robot, or something? How silly of me.

and now I'll hide from Linda, who will gently remind me again that there's no forgiveness where there's no remorse

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More time wasters--I know you do them

So this particular quiz made me laugh because it says my match is a Mt. Dew. How funny is that? For those of you who know me well, there's a Mt. Dew fiend living in this house. I'd get up and take a picture of the fridge, but I'm just too cozy and comfy at the moment.

You Are Coke

A true original and classic, you represent the best of everything you can offer.
Just the right amount of sweet, just the right amount of energy... you're the life of the party.

Your best soda match: Mountain Dew

Stay away from:Dr Pepper

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


School's out today. Exams will be over by this afternoon. That means nobody is getting up at 6 am tomorrow!Yay. Or not. It depends on how you feel about having gigantic teenagers sulking around the house.

I can count on one of them sleeping through the whole day trying to catch up on what scientists tell us is impossible: lost sleep.

One will no doubt be playing music that I don't like, or...watching scary, gross, frightening movies all day.

And the third one will be on a constant mission for food.

And what about me? I should be finishing Darknet. Instead, I think I'll clean out the refrigerator.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I need something to do

Attention cynics and people who like to waste time

My friend Laura posted some quizzes over at her fabulous little bloghome, and so I posted them here (scroll down). Just another silly quiz you say? Even if you habitually skip the quizzes give this one a shot--it has surprised a bunch of people already.

Oh, and I really do love the number 13.

Can you tell I'm on vacation and avoiding laundry like the plague? This is like post # 4 in an hour. Maybe I should go do something productive.

Seasonal Silliness

Okay! The pink candle went up yesterday! That means Christmas is a week away. Oh, the anticipation, the waiting...the anxiety about shopping.

This is the week that we'll jump in the car and ride around town looking for the ubiquitous home that mixes and matches all things Walmart in an effort to create the perfect lawn display.

We give awards for the most tasteful displays, even though there's a great deal of debate within the family about the appropriate choice for lights. Some of us like the simple white lights, understanding that less is more and there is great beauty in being understated and classy. Others, who shall remain nameless, have the philosophy that more is more, the gaudier the better, and prefer to not only have a vomitosis of multiple colors, but must also have the epilepsy attack inducing blinking and chasing lights--mixed up! so that some parts are merely blinking, and others are chasing, and some are chasing AND blinking. We love said family member all the same, but we really need an intervention.

We reserve all of our sarcasm and wit for the folks who so sweetly abandon theme altogether, and have the juxtaposition of Santa Claus and Baby Jesus together, not just in the same part of the yard, but side-by-side.

Who knew Santa Claus was one of the wisemen? I love the cheesy Santa kneeling at the Baby's manger, bringing milk and cookies. I am always astounded by the vision of camels and palm trees surrounded by Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and a candycane field--or, could those be the shepherds staffs?

We laugh and point our fingers, and engage in all kinds of mockery, but there must be some redeeming aspect of our outing, doncha think?

Indeed, it is in the joy of family and friends being together and having fun. We can understand that the true meaning of Christmas, Christ's Mass, the birth of our Savior, is what this is about. Christmas is the biggest birthday party of the year; it's a lot of fun to celebrate. But the camaraderie, the fun, the JOY must center around the birth of our Lord. Even plastic Santa gets it, when he kneels before the Baby. Remember that this joyous celebration carries with it a great deal of sobering Truth, that this babe in swaddling cloths has come to save us.

And another one

You're Catch-22!

by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you
see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense
of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an
ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You
could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Oh my, more quizzes

You're Colgate University!

With a background of wealth and privilege, you have perhaps
a bit more notoriety than you truly deserve. You have benefited richly from
a case of mistaken identity, perhaps on more than one occasion. You yourself
are out there... way out there, but you find your isolation to be comforting
and prefer scenery to people. You frequently watch "60 Minutes" and most
enjoy the humorous segments at the end. You love the number 13.

Take the University Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I want to thank Mom and Dad. And God.

Time publishes it's Person of the Year tomorrow, and I won!

Um, so did you. Actually, it's anyone using the World Wide Web. How 'bout that for a cop-out, I mean, a cool thing. Actually, the Time people suggested if they had gone with an individual, it would have been that scumbag from Iran. Good choice, Time. I like me.

You can read one of the articles about it here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

coming up for air

So, sorry for my prolonged absence. I haven't figured out how to bilocate, and it seems that when final exams approach that everybody wants a piece of me. Even with my skillful use of the word, "No," I still find myself in a position of saying "yes."

To be fair, my "yesses" tend to mean something, and while they are far and in-between (what is the correct American idiom---can I claim a cultural void here?), they are still time-consuming (in a good way).

Since my last post, I attended a beautiful performance of the Messiah, administered final exams to five classes, graded 103 final exams, 68 research papers, 37 grammar tests, and attended three faculty meetings, two commitee meetings (one on-line!), answered 42 email requests to give extra credit, and fielded uncounted text messages from the offspring, and attended a frightening and eye-opening presentation by a homeland security agent. There was also a cross country banquest, and of course, the college Christmas party. Kudos to them for calling it a Christmas party and having Christmas trees, and a creche. A creche! With the baby Jesus. Intriguing. It was at a baptist church with a banquet facility (beautiful). It had the obligatory dried chicken, but everything else was exquisite.

And now, I am sitting in my office blogging, because there is nothing else to do around here. We "Meetinged" through lunch, so two rum balls, a piece of fudge, and a big candycane are all I have in my system.

I am starved.

The good news is that I'm off until next year! Sounds nice.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

a goofy pun, cuz I'm an English teacher

What do you call Santa's helpers?
subordinate Clauses

Today's the 12th!

Time to finish the year with the last 12 of 12 of 2006. I am woefully behind already, since John has my camera, so in the meantime, here's a "rendition" of my route to work, taken from an earlier 12 of 12.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out Chad Darnell's site, he of the brilliant idea to document our human experience across timezones, language, and culture.

Do it--it's not too late, and you'll have fun. Unless you are on blogger, then it's going to be hit or miss with the pictures (oh, I'm just bitter about another blogger-related incident--how could I really complain about a freee service?).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

600 Stories

But I can only share mine.

I joined a group of youth from our parish to feed the hungry and homeless at a soup kitchen.

A soup kitchen! It all sounded so bizarrely Cannery Row, or something.

We arrived sometime after 7 am at a beautiful church in downtown Atlanta, The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The church basement was already a busy beehive of activity, with people cooking, and setting up the makeshift parish hall (not what the new churches have--this is really a basement, painted in a gaudy green, but incredibly functional). Old pews line one of the walls, and well-used and battle-weary tables were set out in what later proved to be efficient and manageable dining sections.

The guy directing all that human traffic, Ted, is a delightful retired Government employee--let's call him an engineer because if he isn't I'm pretty surprised--this guy seemed to be disorganized and thinking as he was moving, but to my amazement, the day went off without a hitch. He is a phenomenal people-person, a cartoon, a stereotype, a gigantic heart in a regular man, and very very funny.

He spoke great truths in little bursts, and was in a perpetual state of catechesis, the kind my dear friend calls backdoor catechesis. We went there feeling magnanimous about our time and sacrifice to do something for the poor. He helped us understand that the poor were gracing us with the opportunity to serve them and learn something. That lesson was not lost on me at all.

He began by letting us know that we would see things that would surprise us, or confuse us...perhaps make us uncomfortable. He warned that there might be instances of rudeness and hostility. He told us to forgive and always be respectful--to address these folks as "Sir" and "Ma'am." In short, to give these people a meal, and more importantly, human dignity. I never saw so many kids smile and genuinely serve. It was beautiful.

After the set up period, we were dismissed to attend Mass in the beautiful historic church. Father Henry delivered a similar message to us, as my new friend Ted. He spoke at length about how the poor are harrassed, not in the ways that we are harrassed, but by things we don't experience. The cold. Hunger. Fear. They seemed to be preparing us for something that we couldn't yet comprehend.

They estimated that about 600 people were served today. The vast majority, and I do mean the vast majority, 99+% were happy to be served, happy to be there, and if not happy, certainly grateful for the warmth of the hall, and the warmth of the food. They had good table manners (why would one think that being poor equals being a rude pig? I've seen greater slobs at fine restaurants), and cordial behavior. They asked for what they needed without shame (and some--burning with shame), and we were happy to provide it. Truly, in over 200 people served in my section, we only had one person that seemed out of place with his behavior. I suspect that he was slick, not poor, yet we served him with the same respect.

A number of things stand out in my day, as snapshots, little mental polaroids because I can't yet process the whole experience.

* a man, dressed in his finest clothes, terribly outdated and in stark contrast to others, but he was clean and pressed and behaving as if he was attending the finest meal in the finest company. For him, it certainly was.

* a toothless, disheveled man in dirty clothes, shivering, shivering, and asking for anything hot. He drank his coffee and ate his soup, and stayed at his seat for a long time. No one asked him to move.

* a prostitute. She had to be a prostitute. And she sat with the group, and she was served with a smile.

* a mother and her two children, Anna and Daniel's ages. I wept at that one. Enough said there.

* a young couple with a lot of bags, clearly out of place, and yet, a part of the group.

* a woman wearing all kinds of mismatched clothes for warmth ate two bowls of soup and the sandwich that was also provided, and asked me, very humbly, if she might have another one to take with her. I came back with three, and she was so grateful that I had to excuse myself for the second time to compose myself. Later, as she was leaving, we sent over a another couple of handfuls. She was there with a man who was taking great pains to help her carry her possessions in a broken canvas bag.

Ninety minutes later, after everyone was fed and the hall was cleaned up, I walked out to the curb to wait for the parking lot to clear (we were blocked in). One of the other youth groups was gathering in the area where I stood, and so I started to make my way through them to get back to my group. One of the teens in the group came up to me and asked, "Are you in my group?"

I laughed and said no. And then he did something totally amazing. He said, "Well, I'll give you a hug anyway! It's a great day, isn't it?"

It certainly was.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What hyperbole, Laura?

I'm just sayin'.

Why I'm Fat (and don't really care)

I'm feeling a little bit under the weather, which of course is code for I feel really poopy and want to go home and crawl under the covers but I have a responsibility to my family to earn a paycheck so I'm going to be brave and cough and sneeze all over my co-workers and students.

Well, that was succinct. Anyway, my poopy state requires that I sniff and snort, too. It seems that the best thing for me to do is drink lots of hot tea, which has been helpful in soothing my sore throat and helping some with the congestion.

That was a very good plan until the afternoon, when I realized that I had no more tea bags. It's not like we live in some crazy communist state and I can't travel 1.3 miles to a grocery store to get more. It's just that I'm achey and uncomfortable, and it's 24 degrees outside, so I decided to make do with what was in the office.

What, indeed, was in the office? A little can of General Foods International Coffees Suisse Mocha low calorie coffee drink mix (sugar free-fat free-naturally decaffeinated). So I made a cup.
What in blue blazes was I thinking? It tasted like shit. Ow, sorry for the little bomb, but...YUCK!

That's why I'm fat. I would have much preferred Starbuck's Supergigantic REAL Mocha made with whole milk, real espresso, and real cream. Duh. I still have time to rectify that error--I just have to find my parka and gloves.

A little waste of time for you today

I ran into this quiz which amused me, because, well, friendship seems to have come in at the bottom. Man, I'm a lousy friend. Ha. I guess I'm not very peaceful, either. Whatever.

Which Positive Quality Are You?
Your Result: Faith

You are Faith. Faith is the belief in better things, in spite of the cynicism and doubt that swirls around us. Faith gives us strength; it inpsires us to move forward and follow our hearts. "Faith tells us what the senses do not."

Which Positive Quality Are You?

Karen Marie's blog had some other quizzes, too. You may want to try out the high school one, for you brainiacs. I scored a 91; that's cuz I went to Catholic school for 9 years, and finished in public school. I'm sure it was the darn area of a triangle question that nailed me. I teach English--I don't need too many triangles in my life.

Ok, now get back to work.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My Computer Blew Up!!!!

OK, it was more like a less dramatic implosion. I got home on Friday afternoon, and it was dead. Deader than dead. It had no juice. My knight in shining armor went and bought a new power supply on Saturday afternoon, but it didn't work. Dead. Where's the coroner to sign the death certificate?

My hero will attempt one last cannibalistic trick to rescue the harddrive, but I fear the worst. I've lost all the pictures since the last back up disk, but you know what? I'm not even upset about it. Whatever. I save and save and save, but never do anything with all those saved things.

I'm really working on the zen of reducing all my things to fit into my trunk. Of course, I count my trunk as everything behind the driver's seat in my van, but hey, it's a start, right?

Meanwhile, click on over to Rosary Army and read my rant of the day, precisely on materialism and the myth of the perfect Christmas decoration. And while you're there, why doncha make a donation. They're the only people who actually let me write for them regularly.